Kate Milner Rabb.

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

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was agreed upon, several towns were competitors
for the site, Putnamville, Eockville, Madison, In-
dianapolis, Lafayette and Greencastle, and a very
large subscription was offered by Putnamville in
particular, but Greencastle having presented the
largest subscription, was the site selected. At this
time, the population of the town numbered but 500.
The College, these gentlemen informed me, was
opened at first on a very small scale, in an old school
building, but last September the first regular faculty
entered upon the duty of teaching in the new build-
ing, with eleven students enrolled.

I bade good night to these new-found friends who,
in our few hours' intercourse had shown me such
courtesy that I consider myself justified in calling
them friends, and sought my bed, but I could not
sleep. All the while these gentlemen were talking
of the College I had been trying to remember some-
thing which had some connection with this school,
and which I should remember. And all at once it
came back to me.

On the day in Brookville which I spent with young
Mr. Shirk, one of the most delightful days of my
entire experience, he had told me of a young friend


of his who was in Greencastle attending Asbury Col-
lege, one Tom Goodwin, he had called him, who
would graduate in September, and he had urged me
to seek him out if by chance I should visit Green-
castle. Goodwin ! The name recalled, I determined
to seek him out early in the morning.

The next day chanced to be Saturday, and on in-
quiring of Col. Lynch, I was directed to the house
at which the young gentleman is boarding. I found
him, and, moreover, found him all that my friend,
Mr. Shirk, had described him to be. He is just 22,
a year younger than I; born in Brookville, but of
Virginia descent; he is tall, slender, with very keen
eyes, and a manner which I have learned char-
acterizes the Hoosiers, as they sometimes call them-
selves, of high degree; a free and easy manner,
though with no tincture of familiarity; a most en-
gaging warm-heartedness and interest in all whom
they encounter; a natural independence of manner
and thought most admirable in all its manifesta-
tions. All of these Mr. Goodwin possesses, and on
hearing my story and of my visit to Brookville and
of my friendship with Mr. Shirk, he again shook my
hand and offered himself as my cicerone.

Off we set toward the College, for it was a sight
of it that I most wished for at this moment, Mr.
Goodwin enlivening our walk by congratulating me
on making my journey in warm and dry weather.
"Better be glad that this is not a rainy day," he
said. " Do you see that gully? It looks bad enough
now, but when it has been raining for a week or
more, and the water is rushing along, digging it


deeper and deeper, and you have to balance your-
self along this bridge, if it is not broken down, or if
it is, on a log or two that some kind-hearted person
has laid across, and if your boots are so heavy with
the mud gathered up on the streets that you can't
calculate how and where to set them down, and may
slip, for as the old janitor says, 'hit's powerful
slippery mud,' then you can imagine that going to
college or at least going to the college building, is
pursuing learning under difficulties.

"Speaking of mud," he continued, "would you
like to hear of my first journey to this institution?"
And when I assented, he continued: "An agent of
the college came to Brookville and induced my
father to buy a scholarship, so in November, three
years ago, I set out by stage from Brookville to
Greencastle. You haven't seen our roads in winter
and wet weather, so you can have no idea what they
are like.

"I left Brookville Wednesday at noon, expecting
to reach Greencastle by Friday night. 1

"We should have known better, for it had been
raining for two weeks. However, with high hopes,
I left home in a two-horse coach in which my fellow
passenger and I traveled for seventeen miles. It
took us several hours to travel this distance, and at
that point we learned that the stage to Indianapolis
had been taken off on account of the roads, and that
we must transfer ourselves to a two-horse wagon
without cover or springs.

1 The distance to be traveled was one hundred and ten miles.



"Fifty-three miles stretched between us and In-
dianapolis, but as we started before daylight Thurs-
day morning, the driver assured me that we would
reach there by ten that night in time for me to
catch the stage to Putnamville.

"It rained all day, and the roads grew worse and
worse. The corduroy was floating like a bridge.
Creeks and rivers were bank full, and no bridges.
Night came on, dark as pitch, and we with no man-
ner of light, and at last our wagon broke down,
stuck in a mud hole.

"The driver finally decided that he would ride
one horse, carrying my trunk before him, while the
other passenger, who was the agent of the stage
line, would ride the other, with the mail pouch be-
fore him and me behind. In this manner, we
reached Indianapolis at 11 o'clock Thursday, too
late for the coach, which meant that I must spend
all the next day and till 10 o'clock at night, in

"We started for Putnamville the next night, to
find the mud even worse than before. In fact, there
was more water than mud from Brookville to In-
dianapolis, while this was mud deep and stiff, and
in a little while, at midnight, in fact, we the eleven
passengers, two of them females, found ourselves
stuck in a mudhole. Out we got the men I mean
and pried the coach out of the mud, then on again,
repeating this process many times. One took rails
from a fence and constructed a corduroy, and the
driver, pleased with our inventiveness, suggested
that we take more rails and carry them on two hun-


dred yards and more to another mudhole which was
worse than this. At this, one of our passengers, a
merchant who had been East for goods, and who had
led the rescue party, informed the driver in profane
language that while he did not mind paying his
passage and walking, he'd see him hanged before
he would carry rails and walk.

"In spite of all this, we finally came to Putnam-
ville, which, you may have learned, is on the Na-
tional Road. "What? No?" He made a gesture
of mock surprise. "Oh, yes, you haven't yet been
to Putnamville. When you pass through that settle-
ment, if you stop long enough, you will hear just
such laments as I did over the stupidity of the peo-
ple who would locate a seat of justice and a college
in a town that is not on the National Road. My
inn-keeper informed me that there was no stage to
Greencastle, and that my only way of getting there
would be to wait till Sunday, when, for the sum of
$2, he would convey me and my trunk thither in his
two-horse wood wagon, and wait I did. And while
I waited, I heard again and again the lament over
the stupidity of people who would locate a college
off the National Road, in such an out-of-the-way
town as Greencastle, which would never amount to
anything anyway, being off the National Road,
whereas Putnamville has all the advantages of loca-
tion and business. And so on, until I reached
Greencastle and stilled his laments with my $2."

I had not laughed so much since the day that Mr.
Shirk and I sat on our horses outside the country
church and conjured up a vision of the early set-


tiers. There is something most humorous about
this Goodwin, and anything he tells he knows how
to invest with interest. He has, too, a most con-
vincing manner.

We had by now come within the high board fence
which incloses the college grounds, and beheld the
campus, on which there is little shrubbery, only a
few locusts and other forest trees. The building I
viewed with much interest. It is constructed of
brick, with a hall through the middle, recitation
rooms on either side, and a chapel in the rear, with
an elevated platform. Recitation rooms are on the
second floor ; on the third, museums, the library and
the meeting rooms for the two literary societies,
concerning which I inquired with some interest.
They are called, he informed me, The Platonian and
The Philological, and their purpose is to improve
the young men in public speaking, and also to
familiarize them with the forms of transactions of
most deliberative assemblies. An attic occupies the
fourth floor, and there is a cupola, but, as yet, no

"This is not the building I saw the day after my
arrival," said Mr. Goodwin, "and I wasn't even
sure I would find any building, after what the tavern
keeper said to me. When I asked where the college
was he replied, 'I don't know for certain. It was,
last summer, at the district school house, but I have
hearn that they have moved it to the County
Seminary. Be you come to go to it? You'll not
find it much of a university, I reckon. '

' l However, I went to church the next morning, in


my Sunday suit of blue jeans, and summoning cour-
age to introduce myself to the minister, afterwards,
I received a warm reception, for I was the first stu-
dent who had come from outside the town.
Reverend James Thompson was the preacher, and
he called out, 'Hold! Stop, brothers! Here,
Brother Dangerfield, Brother Thornburgh, Brother
Cooper, Brother Hardesty, Brother Nutt, here is
Brother Tommy Goodwin come all the way from
Brookville to attend the institution!' And then,
sir; you ought to have seen the handshaking I got."

Having expressed a desire to examine the College
Catalogue, and make some notations in my book, as
I did of the "VVabash College, Mr. Goodwin procured
me one, from which I have set down the following :

The course of study for the Freshman year is
Sallust and Roman Antiquities ; Graeca Minora and
Algebra, continuing into the second session with
Cicero and Horace, Graeca Majora and Legendre's

The Sophomore year embraces Horace, Tacitus
and Juvenal, Graeca Majora, Trigonometry and
Analytical Geometry, continuing in the Junior year
into Calculus, Ancient and Modern History, Chemis-
try, Rhetoric and Logic.

In the Senior year, Natural Philosophy is con-
tinued from the second session of the Junior year,
Geology is taken up, Mental Philosophy, Political
Economy, the Law of Nations, Paley's Theology,
Moral Science and Evidences of Christianity. Par-
ticular attention is paid, I noted, to composition and
declamation, and the seniors are regularly exercised


in forensics. I noted, as of particular interest, that
instruction will be furnished, if desired, in the
Hebrew, French and German languages, "when
either the inclination of the student or his peculiar
destination may render them desirable."

The collegiate year embraces two sessions or
terms of twenty-one weeks each, the winter session
commencing the first Monday in November, after a
vacation of six weeks, the commencement exercises
being held in September. The tuition per term is
$12, $7 more than the tuition at the Wabash College,
the boarding in private families the same $1.50 a
week. The discipline is announced as mild but firm,
and parents and guardians are requested not to
furnish funds to the students, but to place the money
in the hands of some member of the faculty or some
other citizen, giving specific directions as to what
amount shall be furnished except for necessary ex-
penses a quarterly exhibit to be sent to parents
containing items of the accounts. There are about
120 students, all told, in the college at this time.

The other members of the senior class I met
through Mr. Goodwin. One of them, Mr. John
Wheeler, is an Englishman, a young gentleman of
25, with all the English characteristics. Mr.
Madden, the other member, is a Kentuckian, just
Mr. Goodwin's age, and possessed of the ardent
temperament of the Southerner. Mr. Goodwin I
have already described, and the three present a most
interesting contrast.

To Mr. Goodwin I owe also my acquaintance with
some members of the faculty. The next day was


Sunday, and he informed me that Dr. Simpson, 2 the
President of the College, was to preach on that day,
at the Methodist Church, and that it would be well
worth my while to accompany him thither. Ac-
cordingly, I went with him to the little one-story
brick church with its one coat of plastering and its
rude benches, where, in primitive fashion, the men
sat on one side of the room, the women on the other.

Perhaps I was a little more affected than I wish
to admit by the pioneer aspect of my surroundings ;
the rough church, the simple and, in many cases,
poorly dressed congregation; and when I saw Dr.
Simpson enter the pulpit, this very young-looking
man, stooped, with a shock of brown hair growing
very near his eyebrows, clad in the blue jeans of the
men of his congregation instead of the clerical black
to which I am accustomed, I felt great disappoint-
ment and even a wonder that my friend should have
brought me here. He evidently guessed my feeling,
for, catching my eye, he smiled and whispered,
' 'Just wait."

The hymn was sung, a hymn in which all joined,
untutored voices, 'tis true, but so full of faith and
hope and love that ere I knew it, my eyes were moist,
and I had entered into the spirit of the meeting.
The minister made the prayer and read the lesson,
and then Dr. Simpson stood forth, read the text,
and began his sermon. And had I thought him un-
gainly and rough and unprepossessing? Had I pre-
sumed to sit in judgment upon this god among men?
Scarcely had he begun to speak than he took on a

2 Later to become the celebrated Bishop Simpson. Editor.


new expression, his eyes burned, his face wore a
look of unearthly beauty. And his voice ; I kept no
record of the sermon, even the text has slipped my
memory, but it now seems to me that whatever
words he may have spoken, had they been in Greek
and Hebrew they would have had the same effect, it
was the voice, the manner, that swayed his audience.
For swayed the audience was by this pathos, this
power. One moment, a hush like death rested over
them, the next moment their shouted * * Amens ' ' rose
to the heavens. Never, never have I seen such a

And this young man, so Mr. Goodwin told me
later, has ever this effect. Always at first, the dis-
appointment over his youth, his shyness, his home-
liness, always the triumph of his spoken word.

Dr. Simpson, I learned later, is a native of Cadiz,
0., and is just 29 years old. He came here last year
from Allegheny College, where he was engaged in
teaching. His motto, inscribed in all his books, is
"Read and know. Think and be wise."

It was with great regret that I parted from
young Mr. Goodwin, but I wished to spend a day
in Putnamville, which from all accounts is one of the
most flourishing towns in this region, with a beauti-
ful situation on the National Road. I was directed
by friends to the tavern kept by James Townsend,
and never was a more happy direction given a

Mr. Townsend is known as the proprietor of
Putnamville, for he it was who laid out this thriving
town. Having inclinations toward civil engineer-


ing, he had already laid out the town of Morganfield,
Ky., to which he had gone from his native Mary-
land, before coming here. In his society, I found
myself quite at home, and yet, his attitude toward
some of the questions of the hour gave me food for
thought. Mr. Townsend is a man of 50. He lived,
as I have said, in Maryland and left it for Kentucky,
leaving Kentucky for this state because of his feel-
ing against slavery. He owned a large number of
slaves, so he told me, and on preparing to leave Ken-
tucky, he freed them all, and offered to bring them
North with him. To each of those who wished to
remain behind, he made a present of $50 in money;
for those who accompanied him, he has built cabins,
giving each a home. There are seven of these
former slaves, and when, in his company, I visited
them, old Grandmother Sibley, whom he had
brought out from Maryland; Aunt Hetty, Uncle
Tom, it turned my thoughts toward home. And yet,
when I reflect on my attitude toward this question
at the time I left my home and my attitude now,
for I must note down here that, little by little, the
strong convictions of Arnold Buffum and Louis
Hicklin and the many other wise and honorable
gentlemen I have encountered during my journey
through this state have unconsciously changed my
feeling on the subject of slavery; I do not believe
that I could willingly again become the owner of
human flesh and blood; and I am convinced that
this, more than any other one thing, has made me
wish to cast my lot in the new country.

Mr. Townsend 's wife is also a Southern woman,


and we found many subjects for conversation, for
she has visited widely and knows many of my
mother 's friends. I learned that she is a cousin of
Jefferson Davis, whom I had met while on a visit
only last year.

Putnamville is, I believe, one of the most flourish-
ing towns it has been my fortune to visit, and
through the kind offices of Mr. Townsend I have met
many of the respectable citizens and have seen most
of its industries, remarkable in number and variety,
it would seem, for a town only nine years old. The
National Road, here in a very good condition, is a
most interesting spectacle, with its red stage
coaches, passing frequently ; its barns, for the horses
are always changed here, the wagons pushing on to
the West; the "movers," the merchants with their
goods, a continual stream of travel from sunrise to
sunset. All this activity brings business to the
town, so its many industries are, after all, not such
a matter for surprise, but I continue to wonder
at the aggregation of men of fine education and
excellent family who have gathered into this

In company with Mr. Townsend I met Worthing-
ton B. Williams, a graduate of Dartmouth College,
who came here from Poughkeepsie, N. Y., to look
after lands bought by his father and who owns a
store of general merchandise and is a man highly
respected in the community; John Hendrix, who
came here from Kentucky to set up a sawmill and
gristmill; John S. Perry and Amos Welker, each
the proprietor of a pottery; William Eaglesfield, a


keeper of a tavern at Deer Creek ; Dan Hepler, who
owns a flourishing distillery; Jack Clark, a carpen-
ter and owner of a store of merchandise; Mr.
Smock, a merchant of prominence; Mr. Griggsby,
a very intelligent man, the proprietor of a harness
and saddlery shop, one of the most important call-
ings here, 'tis said, on account of the large amount
of travel along the road and necessary repairs to
harness, etc. ; Wesley Nance, a stock dealer and large
farmer; the proprietors of two tanneries, whose
names I failed to set down in my commonplace book
and hence can not reproduce here ; Gilmore Connelly
and Flower Swift, both of whom are proprietors of
large holdings along the National Road and citizens
of importance; Mr. Chapin; Benjamin Parks, a
Baptist minister and farmer from North Carolina;
and the pastor of the Presbyterian Church, founded
in Mr. Townsend's home, the Rev. Mr. Ransom
Hawley, who, with his wife, came out from Con-
necticut, where they had been prominent edu-

I met also the proprietor of another store and a
tailor shop, Albert Layman, a most interesting
gentleman, whose wife I found a charming female
from the East, a graduate, she tells me, of a female
college recently founded there by Miss Mary Lyon.
Her father, I learn, is judge of the Supreme Court
of New York. 3

Ever to live in my memory are the hours I spent
in company with Mr. Townsend's son-in-law, Dr. D.

Judge Estes Howe. The college referred to was Mount Holyoke.


W. Layman, 4 whose society I found most congenial
and whose story, he told me as we sat pleasantly
together on his porch in the evening.

The sun had set behind the forest trees on the
horizon, and the twilight was gathering around us,
and from the parlor came the tinkling notes of the
spinet which Mrs. Layman's father had purchased
from her French teacher in Kentucky and had
brought with him to Putnamville. The atmosphere
breathed romance, and as I listened to this story of
the National Road, and of the accidents by which
love comes, told in his gentle voice, with the notes of
the spinet struck at intervals, almost as an accom-
paniment, I was moved to wonder if I, too, was
destined in my wanderings to some such happy fate !
' "I was born in Pennsylvania," said he, "and be-
ing early left an orphan was reared by relatives in
Augusta County, Virginia. At the University of
Virginia, where I received my education, I formed
a warm friendship with a young gentleman who
came out to Terre Haute, and who wrote repeatedly,
urging me to come to him as soon as I had completed
my medical course.

"Accordingly, one day, driving my faithful horse
and carrying all my worldly possessions, I set out
over the National Eoad for Terre Haute.

"My first unusual experience was at Zanesville,
O., where I encountered' an epidemic of typhoid
fever, and remained for a week to assist in the care

* Father of Mr. James T. Layman of Indianapolis. After a long
and most successful career in Putnamville, Dr. Layman died in
Indianapolis in 1887 and is buried at Cro\vn Hill. Editor.


of the stricken. They besought me to remain
permanently, and 'tis true, the location offered
many inducements, but something pushed me on. I
refused their pleadings, and turned my face toward
the West.

"It was nightfall when I came through Putnam-
ville, and just as I reached Mr. Townsend's inn my
horse fell lame and I must perforce dismount from
my vehicle and remain until he had recovered. 'Tis
a matter of nine years now, and from a lad of your
age I have come to be thirty-two the horse is long
since over his lameness, and I am still here !

' ' The reason ? Mr. Townsend had a daughter just
seventeen, and the next morning after my arrival
I beheld her for the first time. She was pressing
grapes, all unconscious of my scrutiny, and when I
saw her lovely, serene face, her air of gentle dignity,
I resolved that if the fates were kind, she should be
mine, and I would remain in Putnamville ! ' '

He paused, and we sat in silence for a season,
pondering over who knows what life, youth, love!

From him and from others I have learned much
of the life and the work of this admirable man. His
only ambition is in the line of his profession, for
he puts his work above all else, and such is his popu-
larity that no other physician can gain a footing in
this locality. His calls are so many that he keeps
four horses always in his stable, driving them in the
summer and riding horseback in the winter when the
mud makes the roads impassable for vehicles. He
could have won political preferment. I am told he
was urged to accept the nomination for Congress


four years ago, but refused to sacrifice his pro-
fession to politics. He is interested in politics, how-
ever, for we have discussed the campaign fre-
quently, and he has told me that he was once a
Democrat, but because of his dislike for Andrew
Jackson has become an ardent Whig, and that he
particularly admires Gen. Harrison.

Mrs. Layman I found as lovely as he had pictured
her, a convent-bred girl of intelligence and charm.
It is with deep regret that I part from these
friends, who recall so vividly the atmosphere of
my home, and set my face toward Terre Haute.



LEAVING Putnamville, charged by Dr. Layman
with many messages for his friend in Terre
Haute, and thanking the providence that had
guided my footsteps among such delightful ac-
quaintances, I found myself in the stage coach, again
on the National Road, on which I had not been since
arriving in Indianapolis. This last stretch of road
toward the state 's western boundary was under con-
struction during last year and the year before, and
is in fairly good condition. There are some excel-
lent bridges with stone abutments across small
streams, and a notably long one, the yellow bridge,
just before one arrives in Terre Haute. There are

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Online LibraryKate Milner RabbA tour through Indiana in 1840; the diary of John Parsons of Petersburg, Virginia → online text (page 19 of 26)