Kate Milner Rabb.

A tour through Indiana in 1840; the diary of John Parsons of Petersburg, Virginia online

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as it is, most pleasant to look upon, with its broad
streets and its forest shade. Its material pros-
perity is shown in its new Court House, a two-story
brick building, forty by fifty feet, with a cupola,
which stands upon the public square, and which was
erected, I am told, at a cost of $3,420. I was shown,
too, the Baptist church, the first church erected in
Crawfordsville, on a lot given by Major Whitlock,
of whom I shall have more to say later, a building
of brick, used exclusively for church services, and
which was used by all sects until they were able to
erect edifices of their own. The Presbyterian
Church was established in 1824, and a building soon
after erected. As in the other places I have visited,
there has been the separation into old school and


new school, and the new school has only this year
erected a large frame structure. There are here
taverns, merchandise stores, in short the town is in
all respects most thriving.

Something of its growth and prosperity I learned
from Mr. Henry S. Lane 2 upon whom I soon called
in company with Mr. Jones, and to whom I had been
given a letter by Mr. Lockwood.

Mr. Lane is an ardent Whig, has served in the
state Legislature and is now a candidate for Con-
gress, and as he is a popular speaker, he is engaged
in the campaign almost constantly, so that we were
fortunate to find him in his office. Mr. Jones has
heard him frequently, and informs me that he has a
most winning address, that he abounds in anecdotes,
is very felicitous in illustrations and happy in his
applications of them, speaks most fluently, and has
such charm of manner that he is irresistible.

He welcomed us to his office, and on learning who
I was and the object of my visit from Mr. Lock-
wood's letter, made himself most agreeable. He is
a tall, slender young gentleman, just 29 years of age,
with light hair and gray eyes ; his expression is most
kindly, and never have I heard a voice of such
peculiar sweetness. From his voice, his charm of
manner, from his every movement and gesture, I
could comprehend his power over an audience.

'Henry S. Lane, born in Kentucky in 1811; studied law at 18;
settled in Crawfordsville in 1835; popular and successful criminal
lawyer; state Legislature, 1837; Congress in 1840; worked for
Mexican War and in this war was commissioned Captain and Lieu-
tenant-Colonel; became Republican on formation of that party;
elected Governor in 1861, served two days and became United States
senator; died 1881. "A gentleman, a patriot, a Christian." Editor.

He at once began to tell me of the town in which
he had cast his lines, as he expressed it, and cast
them, he added, in such pleasant places. The site,
he said, is an excellent one, surrounded as it is with
such fertile fields, and already the township in which
Crawfordsville is located is well settled, was so in-
deed in 1828. The location of the land office at once
added to its growth and prosperity, and now, he de-
clares, the town is a center of trade, of enterprise,
and of education, leading in politics, social life and
general progress.

He inquired as to the method of my travel from
the East, and when I replied that it was by the rail-
road, the stage, the canal boat, horseback, and
steamboat, he told me of the growing interest in
railroads throughout the state. Eight years ago, he
said, books were opened at the clerk's office for sub-
scription to the capital stock of the Ohio & Lafayette
Railroad, 3 which is to extend from New Albany to

Shares were sold at $50 each. A gentleman from
Salem, Mr. Booth, was the president, and two gentle-
men, to whom he introduced me later, Dr. Israel
Canby and John Wilson, were agents to solicit the
subscriptions. He has hopes yet that when the elec-
tions are over and the Whigs in power (he spoke as
though there was no manner of doubt as to the elec-
tion), the country might come out from under this'
cloud of depression and become sufficiently pros-
perous to undertake this new enterprise.

8 The present Monon line Louisville, New Albany & Chicago.


Mr. Jones remarked that he had heard that Mont-
gomery County was for Van Buren.

Mr. Lane smiled. "Most amusing! A super-
latively ridiculous idea! Never will Montgomery
swerve from her political faith to bow the knee to
the Baal of Van Burenism. If there be a county in
the state which will adhere to the correct principles
for which it has been so long distinguished, it is the
county of Montgomery. That she will carry the
whole Harrison ticket triumphantly next month,
there can be no question. ' '

Mr. Jones informed him that we had heard Gen.
Howard pronounce the Fourth of July address at

"Yes, and I have heard him pronounce political
addresses here and elsewhere and heard reports of
these speeches," said Mr. Lane contemptuously.
"He says but very little of Gen. Harrison, less about
Mr. Van Buren. The burden of his speeches is
system, system, Whig mismanagement, Bank of the
United States, soft sawder, democracy bah! But
enough of politics ! This young gentleman, I fancy,
would fain know more of our town. You will find
it agreeable, I am sure," he continued, turning to
me again with a smile. "While our citizens are in
the main of a most polished and intellectual cast,
their hospitality is of the genuine backwoods, log-
cabin kind, free from the affected cant and polished
deception of conventional life. Come, and I will
introduce you to some of our citizens. ' '

With that, he led us out upon the streets, into the
taverns, the stores of general merchandise, where he


presented me to many of the most respectable
citizens David Vance, the sheriff; John B. Austin,
George Miller, Frederick Moore, Robert McAfferty,
James Gregory these last-named gentlemen all
commissioners of the county, who told me something
of the labors of the early citizens, who rolled logs,
burned brush, blazed out paths from one neighbor's
cabin to another, and from one settlement to another,
made and used hand mills and hominy mortars,
hunted deer, turkeys, otter and raccoons, caught fish,
dug ginseng, in short, did everything necessary to
the making of a settlement, and now were reaping
the reward of their labors, taking their ease in this
pleasant and prosperous community.

I met also Maj. Henry Ristine, who had come here
in 1825 and had opened the first tavern; his son,
Benjamin Ristine, just my own age; Maj. Isaac
Elston, proprietor of one of the merchandise stores
and one of the early settlers; Mr. Nicholson, who
owns the tanyard and who told me of his voyage
here in a pirogue down the Ohio and up the Wabash
to Sugar Creek; Maj. Randolph Davis, Jeremiah
Stillwell, James Herron, Samuel Gilliland, Dr.
Israel Canby, Mr. Burbridge, the merchant, a most
interesting man; Maj. Whitlock, who was born in
Virginia in 1767, assisted in the erection of Fort
Washington at Cincinnati, engaged in Indian war-
fare at various times, and, under Mr. Jefferson, was
made paymaster, with the rank of major, in the
United States Army. Later he was made receiver
of public moneys at the Land Office, which, by direc-
tion of the Secretary of the Treasury, he located in


this town. He gave me much information of a
valuable nature and I found him most affable and

I now come to the most pleasant experience of
my many pleasant experiences in Crawfordsville,
which I have left to the last of my record, my visit
to Wabash College.

Young Mr. Jones had told me something of the
founding of the college but I was to hear it again
from another and a greater, on the evening on which
he took me to call at the home of the president, Dr.
Elihu Baldwin, who had been pastor of the Seventh
Presbyterian Church of New York City before be-
coming President of the College. It appears that on
this evening Dr. Baldwin was holding a reception at
his home to which Mr. Jones was invited and he
had asked the privilege of bringing me. When I
recalled that I had met in Indianapolis a daughter 4
of Dr. Baldwin, who had urged me when I told her
that I would probably include Crawfordsville in my
itinerary, to pay my respects to her father, he was
even more agreeable, and I had marked him at once
as a man of great urbanity as well as of kindness
of heart.

'Twas Dr. Baldwin who introduced me to Dr.
Hovey, professor of chemistry and natural science,
and Dr. Hovey told me the story of the founding
of the college in the wilderness, how he and four
other young men, all home missionaries to the Wa-

4 Either from haste or from failure of memory, Mr. Parsons has
omitted the name of this daughter of Dr. Baldwin who lived in
Indianapolis. Editor.


bash country and all very poor, finding the fields
ripe for the harvest and the laborers few, realized
that somewhere in this country a college must be
founded in which young ministers could be trained
for the service. Simply and modestly he told the
story of their labors, how Judge Dunn had given the
land; how they had organized the college seven
years ago, planning at first only a classical and Eng-
lish High School to rise into a college as soon as it
was demanded. He told the story of their early
struggle to secure funds, of the coming of Dr. Bald-
win and their help from the East, of their building,
and then of the disastrous fire two years ago ; and of
their determination not to be thus thwarted, and of
the new building now completed and occupied.
Simply he told the story, but it was as though his lips
had been touched with coals from the altar, and as
he spoke I pictured the scene he. described so vividly,
the earnest young men going to the spot in the
primeval forest selected for their building, and
kneeling there in the snow dedicating the grounds
to the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost for a
Christian college.

The same evening will ever remain a memorable
one to me for 'twas then I met for the first time a
man whom I regard as one of the greatest men I
have met in the Western country, Caleb Mills, 5 Pro-
fessor of Languages in the College.

Professor Mills is a native of New Hampshire

e Indiana's debt to Caleb Mills for its present school system is
too well known to make further note necessary. Its history is
given in "Caleb Mills and the Indiana School System," by Charles
W. Moores, published by the Indiana Historical Society. Editor.


and a graduate of Dartmouth College and of the
Andover Theological Seminary.

He came out to the Wabash country in 1833, a
young man who had just married. We at once en-
tered into conversation, for he expressed interest
in my journey and told me of his early visits in
southern Indiana and Kentucky in the interests of
schools, and how much he had desired to have a
college founded here in the wilderness. "Two
things," said he, "are most important in this coun-
try, the common schools and the preaching of the
gospel, and I hold one as important as the other."
He told me how in his travels through the country
he had come to realize that the children of men who
had come out to the Western country, themselves
college graduates, were to be deprived of the com-
monest education because of the lack of schools and
of suitable teachers and he saw that the population
would speedily sink lower and lower unless the
condition was soon remedied. It was necessary
that the people should be made to see that they must
have schools, and that in order to have schools and
to keep churches going, they must have a college
in which the young teachers and preachers could be
trained. His desire most of all was to establish a
classical school to train competent teachers to
spread over the country to teach the children of
these rapidly populating districts; to change public
sentiment in regard to free schools, to awaken it to
the need of carrying the means of education to
every door.

I was not slow to perceive as he talked, how fine


a scholar lie is, how modest, how courteous, how
conscientious. And as I looked into his face, and
met the kindly glance of his fine eyes, I thought,
here now is a man who has come into a community
without a thought of self, who is willing to give all
his strength, all his wisdom, for the betterment of
his kind. He more than any man I have met in this
country, has looked forward, has had a vision of the
days to come. He has been able to see the future
of this loved Wabash country, when its forests will
be leveled, its fields all tilled, its population doubled,
yea, trebled, and he is even now engaged in forging
the weapons by which its insidious enemy, Ignor-
ance, shall be laid low. Noble man! To hear him
was to forget all thought of self, to yearn to do
something, as he is doing, for the betterment of
one's kind. Long may it be before I forget that
kindly countenance!

Professor Mills lent me a catalogue of the College
from which I might copy some' of the items, for I
was interested to note how it compares with my own
University, and also with other institutions of learn-
ing in the state which it is my purpose to- visit. The
faculty consists of Dr. Baldwin, who is President
and Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy;
Mr. Hovey, M. A., Professor of Chemistry and Nat-
ural Science; Mr. John S. Thomson, M. A., Pro-
fessor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy;
Professor Mills, Professor of Languages; and Mr.
Thomas S. Milliga.n, B. A., Tutor. The courses are
divided into four departments, the Classical, the
Physical, the Rhetorical and the Department of In-


tellectual and Moral Philosophy. In Greek, Homer,
Xenophon, and Demosthenes are studied; in Latin,
Cicero and Horace with exercises in the composition
of Greek and Latin. In Physics, Algebra, Geome-
try, Trigonometry, Analytics, Mechanics, Optics,
Astronomy, Chemistry, these last two in lectures,
Mineralogy and Geology. In the Rhetorical depart-
ment, Rhetoric, Criticism, original declamation and
forensic discussions occupy the year, and in the de-
partment of .Intellectual and Moral Philosophy, the
texts include Paley's "Natural Theology," Butler's
"Analogy," "Moral Philosophy," "Evidences of
Christianity," and "Political Economy."

I made note also of the fact that the tuition is $7
a term, there being three terms a year, extending
from Sept. 17 to the last Wednesday in July, the
room rent, $3 a term, the board in private families,
$1.50 a week. For indigent students there is a text
book library from which books may be procured, and
these same indigent young men have an opportunity
to earn their expenses by cutting wood, being paid
31^4 cents a cord for their labor.

The senior class of this year numbers six, the
sophomore, five; the freshman, thirteen; the pre-
paratory, seventy-six, making a total of 100.

Mr. Jones desired that I meet some of his young
friends, and 'tis but an indication of the frivolity
of youth, I suppose, that I should turn so readily
from, the conversation of these great men and good
to the chatter of the young gentlemen by whom the
popular and vivacious Jones was surrounded.

Among them were all the members of the senior


class, Smith Fry, George Miller and Ebenezer
Palmer of Crawfordsville, Alex Lemon of Tippe-
canoe County, Jones's friend, whom he had come to
see graduate ; Mr. Newbury of Harrison County and
Franklin Robb of Princeton. Among the sopho-
mores I remember particularly Dr. Canby's son,
Charles; Maj. Elston's son, James; Henry Ristine,
Jr., and young John Maxwell Cowan, just 19, he
told me, whose father is a Virginian.

As I turned to meet them, they were in a circle
about Jones, who was taking on some airs, I per-
ceived, as a graduate and a student of the law, and
I fancied as I approached that he had been boasting
of his conquests. "And have you yet seen the fair
Susan?" asked one. "Of course that is why you
have returned you say it is Alex's commencement,
but we know it is Susan. ' '

As Jones blushed and turned the subject, my heart
lightened. He had referred to Julia several times
on our journey without a blush or an indication of
embarrassment. It must be Susan, then. My heart
warmed to him as I watched him in conversation
with his comrades. A fine fellow, Jones, a young
gentleman of parts !



THE road from Crawfordsville runs directly
south through Montgomery and Putnam
Counties into Greencastle, the seat of justice,
with but few stops at insignificant villages. The
county, so far as I was able to observe, is, in the
northern part, either level or slightly undulating ; in
the center, and Greencastle is situated in exactly the
center of the county, it is more rolling, and quite
hilly in the neighborhood of the streams. The
timber is the usual beech, sugar, walnut, ash, oak,
and poplar, and the soil, so far as I could observe,
a rich black loam, excellently adapted, I was in-
formed, to the production of wheat, corn, grass,
hemp and fruit.

The town of Greencastle, into which I came by
stage in the evening, is very small and unpre-
tentious. The houses are mostly of logs, with the
exception of the Methodist and Presbyterian
Churches, which are one-story brick edifices, and the
streets are so-called only by courtesy. Locomotion
is at all times difficult but, as one of the citizens
pointed out to me, jestingly, in muddy weather it is
necessary to exercise great precautions in crossing
the ravines on the logs which are used as foot-
bridges. I have already learned, however, that



these pioneer settlements are not to be judged by
their outward appearance, and that in the most un-
prepossessing surroundings I am likely to find
citizens of great business ability and men of educa-
tion and refinement, so that time only is necessary to
change the pioneer settlement into a thriving town.

I betook myself at once to the tavern of which I
had been told by friends in Crawfordsville, Wash-
ington Hall, kept by Col. John Lynch, which I dis-
covered to be an inn of some pretensions. Mine
host, I soon learned, is a great admirer of Andrew
Jackson, whom he in some measure resembles, and,
I noted, takes great pride in the resemblance. On
learning the nature of my journey, he immediately
made me most pleasantly at home, and introduced
me to a number of the respectable gentlemen of the
community, who were gathered in the cool of the
evening in the front of the tavern, engaged in con-

In the course of my travels, I have learned to
value the inn where, winter and summer, are
gathered the men of the community and the
travelers, the lawyers, and judges, where all public
questions are discussed, arguments engaged in,
sallies of wit exchanged. Certainly no better place
can be found for the traveler who would learn the
nature and temper of the community in which he
stops for the moment.

I was especially fortunate this evening, for here
I found gathered a number of the citizens, among
them Judge Joseph Parley, the first Probate judge,
I am told, associated in the publication of the first


paper, and a man who took part while still a resi-
dent of Kentucky in the expedition against the In-
dians who committed the great Pigeon Roost mas-
sacre, of which I have heard much since coming into
the state. Here were also several of the county
officers David Rudisill, the sheriff ; William E. Tal-
bott, the recorder of deeds ; William H. Shields, the
surveyor, and the county clerk, Arthur McGaughey.
This last-named gentleman I met again, for upon his
invitation I stopped at his farm, three miles south
of Greencastle, on my way to Putnamville, where I
found great pleasure in meeting his family, par-
ticularly his wife, a woman of unusual strength of
character and remarkable energy, of which last-
named quality she showed me an unusual product.
On a large and flourishing mulberry tree on their
place she has cultivated silk worms, prepared the
thread, and from it knitted a pair of gloves for
her son Edward, a young gentleman of my own

Mr. McGaughey is somewhat past 50, I should
judge, and is a native of Pennsylvania. He has
lived here several years, his daughter, Mary Jane,
being the first white child born in the county. He
told me something of the character of the settlers,
of whom he is able to speak with authority, by
reason of his long residence here. The early
settlers, he informs me, came mostly from Ken-
tucky, Tennessee and North Carolina, many of them
because of the growing disapproval of slavery, and
they are of high moral character, are honest, in-
dustrious, charitable toward their neighbors, and


amply imbued with the principles of the Christian

At the tavern I met also the proprietor of a farm
north of the town, Colonel Alexander Farrow, who
informed me that he had brought blue grass seed
from Kentucky and sowed it successfully in his
fields. He is a most interesting gentleman who
gave me much information concerning the Western
country, and was, so he told me, appointed a colonel
of the fifty-sixth regiment of militia by Governor
Noble. There was present also a lawyer, a Mr.
Henry Secrist, whom I found a most genial and in-
teresting gentleman, and who, I was told later, is
a brilliant, lawyer, a fine speaker, and a young man
of keen wit. To my great delight, I learned that
several of these gentlemen are trustees of the col-
lege, Mr. James Talbott, who is also the postmaster,
Mr. Rees Hardesty, a cabinet maker, a sturdy citizen
of great worth, and president of the board of trus-
tees, Capt. TV. H. Thornburgh, the most enterprising
business man of the town and a man of taste, as I
soon discovered in our conversation, and Dr. A. C.

Dr. Stevenson, who is a tall, dignified gentleman
is, I learned later from Col. Lynch, a physician of
prominence and a native of Kentucky, who sought
this state because of his opposition to slavery. He
conversed with me most entertainingly on the sub-
ject of education in the West, in which because, per-
haps, of my acquaintance with Professor Caleb
Mills, I take greater interest than heretofore. Dr.
Stevenson is one of the trustees of Asbury College


and is, as is Professor Mills, an advocate of the
establishment of free schools, in which, he insists, in
addition to the regular curriculum, training should
be given in agriculture and the mechanical arts. I
learned, too, that he has served in the Legislature
and is a follower and great admirer of Henry Clay.

Here to my great delight I heard again the name
of Calvin Fletcher, who, I am told, is one of the
trustees of the College.

From these gentlemen I learned something of the
establishment of the College, which is named for the
celebrated pioneer bishop, Francis Asbury. An-
other bishop, Bishop Roberts, has been most active
in its founding, and most deeply imbued with the
spirit of sacrifice, since, 'tis said, he gave out of his
salary of $200 a year $100 to the new institution.

It has been many weeks since I left my friend,
Louis Hicklin, the circuit rider, whose society I had
enjoyed so greatly in the early part of my journey
and from whom I had learned so much of the spirit
of these circuit riders, one of whom was described
to me as "a man of iron frame who traveled the
district from Bloomington to Crawfordsville, who
could swim rivers and climb mountains to reach his
appointment, and who died as he lived, full of faith
and the Holy Ghost," and now again I was come
among them and was to hear the story of their
carrying the tidings of this new school far and wide
among the people of their appointments.

These men had felt, as did the young Presbyterian
missionaries in Montgomery County, the need of a
higher institution of learning in the Western coun-


try, and accordingly three of their ministers, Calvin
Enter, Allen Wiley, of whom I had heard much in
Indianapolis, and James Armstrong, were requested,
in 1832, to report at the Conference on the advisa-
bility of establishing a higher school of learning to
furnish its people with both intellectual training and
the means for spiritual growth.

When the establishment of such an institution

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Online LibraryKate Milner RabbA tour through Indiana in 1840; the diary of John Parsons of Petersburg, Virginia → online text (page 18 of 26)