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Kate Milner Rabb.

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

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ment, "and cares far more for hunting, fishing and
horse racing than for his business. I have heard
that he never scruples to close his store any day
in the week to pursue these pleasures."

A most striking man is Mr. Richard W. Thomp-
son, whom I had also heard spoken of at Terre
Haute, very erect, with fine black hair and eyes.
His face is not regularly handsome his features
are too prominent for that, but in person he is a
man of mark, and his voice, while not equaling that
of Mr. Promtt in sweetness, is of great volume; his
manner is strong, clear, emphatic, even vehement.
"He has few, if any superiors as a speaker in the
West," said Mr. Caddington, and I was fain to
agree with him.

Then my friend led me to the part of the grove
in which Mr. Dunn 5 was speaking.

He informed me that I was now to hear not only
a great orator, but one of the finest lawyers of the
state. "When he takes a case," said my friend,
"he inspires others with such confidence in his
strength that the case is considered as decided in
his favor beforehand. He is argumentative, im-
pressive, his will is invincible, and he is a master
of ridicule and invective. The Democrats, fear his
sarcasm more than that of any other of our speak-

8 George G. Dunn of Bedford, born in Kentucky in 1812; settled
in Monroe County, Indiana, and then located in Bedford in 1833.
Mr. Caddington 's statement is borne out by his biographers.
Editor.



A TOUR THROUGH INDIANA IN 1840 349

ers. You will see for yourself, sir, that as some one
has said of him, he embodies wit, drollery, invec-
tive, sarcasm, eloquence, in one symmetrical whole."

Mr. Dunn was indeed one of the most impressive
of the speakers. In person, he is most pleasing,
being tall and commanding, with fair complexion,
light hair, and blue eyes. I perceived at once that
Mr. Caddington spoke the truth and that he indeed
possesses all the qualities that gentleman attributes
to him. Indeed, I should much prefer having him
my advocate than my opponent. His voice is rich
and full, and he possesses great personal magnet-
ism, no doubt in part the secret of his power, 4 for
no one could listen to his mellow voice without at
once being persuaded of the justice of his cause.
I was moved beyond belief at his marvelous decla-
mation of the lines, "Now is the winter of our dis-
content made glorious summer by the sun of York."

The fourth speaker was a Mr. John Ewing, of
whom Mr. Caddington spoke with enthusiasm. He
is an Irishman, it seems, a gentleman of wealth, who
has become interested in politics, and having been
suddenly discovered to be a fluent and versatile
speaker, has been in constant demand this campaign.
He speaks a rich brogue, and this with his Irish
wit, his agreeable manner, his keen sarcasm, his
hail-fellow-well-met attitude toward all the people
make him a most popular speaker. At the moment
we approached the stump from which he spoke he
was reading a list of reasons from some Democratic
print of why the writer was going to vote the Dem-
ocratic ticket. Taking up each one, as "I intend to



350 A TOUR THROUGH INDIANA IN 1840

vote for Martin Van Buren because," etc., lie
quickly explained why the statement was untrue,
and this with so much wit that the audience was
continually in a roar.

I have made some inquiries concerning the state
of education in this city and have been informed
that in 1808 a university was established, from
which, by reason of some injustice, 'tis claimed, of
legislation, the state's support was withdrawn, but
which has recently been reestablished, and for
which is hoped a flourishing future. There is a
most interesting Catholic institution, St. Gabriel's
College, which offers a large and interesting curricu-
lum, providing greater instruction in languages -than
any other institution in the state. Instruction is
given, it is announced, in both ancient and modern
languages, to-wit : Hebrew, Latin and Greek, Italian,
Portuguese and Spanish, English, French and Ger-
man, the last three of which are taught by pro-
fessors to w T hom they are vernacular.

Besides all these branches, mathematics, philoso-
phy and the sciences, instruction is offered in draw-
ing, painting and vocal and instrumental music upon
the piano, violin, flute, guitar and clarinet.- The in-
stitution, 'tis said, is provided with a splendid phil-
osophical apparatus, an extensive library and ele-
gant specimens for the study of anatomy. There is
also in preparation a botanical garden designed to
contain the greatest possible variety of plants. The
scholastic year consists of two sessions of twenty-
two weeks each, and the terms, including boarding,
washing, mending, bed and bedding, medical attend-



A TOUR THROUGH INDIANA IN 1840 351

ance, paper, quills, ink and books per session, is $70.
Music and drawing are extra as are also modern
languages.

There is in the city also a most excellent school
for females, St. Mary's Academy, which is designed
"to promote the cause and enhance the value of
learning and virtue, and exert itself in accordance
with the character, necessities and increasing pros-
perity of the country."

The system of education in this Academy embraces
the English and French languages, Orthography,
Reading, Writing, Grammar, Practical and Rational
Arithmetic, Geography and the Delineation of Maps,
American and Modern History, Rhetoric and Belles
Lettres, Natural Philosophy and Chemistry, music
on piano, vocal music, drawing and painting in water
colors, plain sewing, tapestry, embroidering, bead
and lace work, in short all branches usually taught
in female academies. Board and tuition, bed and
bedding, washing, are $100 a year, and the use of
pens, ink, reading books and patterns for work are
62^/2 cents for the season. Music and the use of the
piano are $7 per quarter. I note these to compare
with the cost in other institutions and also because
my father and mother will be much interested in
these details.

As to religion, because of the age of this settle-
ment, there are several nourishing churches, St.
Francis Xavier, the oldest, founded in 1702, and also
the congregations of Methodist, Presbyterian and
Christian. A most interesting story was told me
that the first Protestant service in the town was held



352 A TOUE THROUGH INDIANA IN 1840

by a circuit rider who came through the place, whose
sole congregation was President Harrison, who, as
there was no table, held the candle while the minister
read the Scripture lesson.

Only last year the Episcopal Church was founded
here. The meetings, I am told, are held in the town
hall, and the females of the congregation have re-
cently raised the sum of $117.21 for the fitting up of
the hall for the services. The rector, the Eev. Mr.
Killikelly, 6 I have found a most intelligent and
agreeable gentleman.

What I see most clearly, in my mind's eye, when
I think of Vincennes is first, its old French houses,
quaint and low, which Judge Law had described so
eloquently, in one of which I took tea one never-to-
be-forgotten afternoon with a Mrs. Wolverton, most
charming young matron, and next its many mag-
nificent mansions, first among them that of Gen.
Harrison, whose plantation, "Grouseland," is quite
near the home of Judge Law, who took me to call
upon Mr. Drake, its present tenant, that I might
view the mansion. 7

I was charmed by the approach to the house. The
plantation is a large one, the grove of trees magnifi-
cent. I have not yet, I fear, dwelt sufficiently on the
trees of this Wabash country, the giant tulip pop-

The next year, 1841, Mr. Killikelly went East and to Europe to
raise funds for this church, and it is said that among the subscribers
were Queen Adelaide, widow of William IV, the Duke of Northumber-
land, the Archbishops of Canterbury and of London, and others whose
names are equally illustrious. Editor.

7 This historic house was saved from destruction by the Francis
Vigo Chapter, D. A. R., which purchased it in December, 1916.
Editor.




ST. FRANCLT XAVIER'J" CATHEDRAL, VINCENNEJ

Begun in 1826
Pen drawing by Willard Osier



A TOUR THROUGH INDIANA IN 1840 353

lars, some 190 feet high; the sycamores, the walnut,
white oak, sweet buckeye, sweet gum, elms, catalpas,
all enormously tall and of great circumference. Be-
sides this, there is the vineyard and a garden of ex-
quisite loveliness, with plants, shrubs and vines of
great variety, rivaling the garden of Judge Law.

The house has a magnificent situation overlooking
the river, and on this side it is oval, the other three
walls square. The mansion itself is constructed of
brick, the first brick house in the county, if not in the
territory, and erected at a cost of $20,000.

The main stairway is most beautiful, rising from
a commodious hallway, from the left of which opens
a stately room, 30x22 feet, I was told, the ceiling
13 feet high, the west wall of which, facing the river,
is oval. "This room," said Mr. Drake, "has been
the scene of many a gay and splendid gathering, for
here Gen. Harrison entertained many dignitaries
from the Old World, as well as from the East, in
royal style. After his departure his son Cleves
Harrison and his gay young wife dwelt here for a
season and made the house an assembly place for
youth, beauty, wealth, rank and title." There are
many chambers with beautiful woodwork, handsome,
mantelpieces, entrancing views from the windows,
and two verandas, one attached to the house on the
east side, the other on the front. There are heavy
walnut shutters to all the windows, and Mr. Drake
called my attention to a bullet hole in one, the re-
sult of a ball fired from a gun one night by an Indian
with the intention of assassinating the Governor,
while he was walking the floor with his little son in.



354 A TOUR THROUGH INDIANA IN 1840

his arms. He pointed out to me, also, a crack in
the wall caused by the great earthquake of 1811.

Of great interest to me, also, was the one-time
mansion of Col. Vigo, a most elegant residence, with
a veranda, the whole painted white, with blinds of
purest green. Its floors, 'tis said for I did not
view the interior are inlaid with diamond-shaped
blocks of black walnut and white oak, highly
polished. The story is told that Col. Vigo offered
the builder twenty guineas reward if he would
hasten its construction that he might offer the house
to Governor Harrison on his first coming to Vin-
cennes. On its walls, at that time, says Judge Law,
hung a handsome oil painting of Thomas Jefferson.

I can but name the other palatial dwellings, the
Bonner mansion Mr. Bonner is owner of the great
cotton factory a three-story house with the great
columned portico our Virginia builders delight in,
in a magnificent situation; Bellevue, the country
residence erected years ago by Judge Vanderburg,
now dead, and the home of John Wise, a most re-
spectable citizen and merchant, once the residence of
Judge Benjamin Parke, an early notable of the
.state, and which stands overlooking the river near
the Harrison mansion.

To Nathaniel Ewing's beautiful country home,
Mont Clair, I went one evening together with a com-
pany of young people, and never have I seen a more
beautiful and restful spot. We supped together on
the green sward in front of the house, while the sun
gave us a magnificent pageant at his setting, going
to rest right regally, with a mass of cloud drapery



A TOUR THROUGH INDIANA IN 1840 355

all crimson and gold floating about his couch, and
the full moon rose from the horizon like a giant
shield of copper, and finally, growing smaller and
more silvery, rode the heavens above us. And of
what did we talk, of what sing?

I have always loved the guitar. Some decry it
as an unimportant instrument, not realizing the rich
and mellow harp tones obtained by an accomplished
performer. 'Tis indeed an orchestra in little, and
the great Paganini himself said of it, "I esteem it as
a conductor of thoughts; I love it for its harmony;
it is my constant companion in all my travels."

'Tis not in the hands of a Paganini, however, that
I wish to see this instrument, but rather to see it
clasped by some fair damsel, its blue ribbon encir-
cling her neck, its strings touched by her tapering
ivory fingers. And "on such a night as this" 'twas
just a lovely young female, Aimee her name, from
which I guessed a French ancestress, who touched
the guitar and sang. She was a blonde of the most
delicate description, the seeming embodiment of all
most exquisitely ethereal and spiritual, endowed
with the voice of an angel, and this is the sad melody
she sang:

"0 there are tones of voices gone,

That breathed from lips now cold and mute
The echoes of a once-loved song,

The murmurs of a broken lute ;
That waken tears warm, gushing tears

The blighted hopes of brighter hours,
And win us back to parted years

To weep aloud our withered flowers.



356 A TOUE THROUGH INDIANA IN 1840

"And gentle locks that once were bright,

And smiles that lips we loved adorned,
Now fall with cold and faded light

Around the heart they once have warmed;
And mem'ry round her ruin rears

Her ivy mantled, broken urn,
And feeds with sighs and softer tears

The fires which round her altar burn. ' '

For a season we all sat silent, more moved than
we wished to reveal by the haunting sadness of the
melody, the moon, the summer night. And to what
did the song carry me back? Again I was sitting on
the deck of the steamboat, gliding down the Beauti-
ful River, again the moon was smiling down upon
the lovely face, the deep blue eyes of Miss Caroline
Hunter. Had I so soon forgotten her? Could I
ever forget her? Did I realize that I might soon
see her? My next stop is New Albany, and 'tis in
New Albany that Buford had informed me she
dwells, and intimated that I might even find him and
his wife there on my arrival. "Tis not unlikely,
for he will no doubt choose to remain in the north
through the extreme heat of the summer. New Al-
bany! Caroline! Of a sudden, I forgot the music
and the summer eve, I forgot my companions, and
starting up in feverish haste, most ungallantly de-
clared that the hour was late, and that I must seek
my inn, since in the morning I was to take the stage
early for my journey's end!



CHAPTER XXI

NEW ALBANY, JULY 30, 1840.

TRULY fortune hath favored me beyond belief
in ending my journey in this place, so red-
olent of the perfume of youth, romance and
beauty.

The trail from Vincennes to New Albany is one
of the oldest in the state, having been used by the
Indians in their journeys from Kentucky across the
Falls of the Ohio to Vincennes, one of the oldest
towns in the country. For a long time the stage
route followed exactly the old Indian trail, but in
1832 a new road was opened up, macadamized, and
made a toll road, the section over the Knobs alone,
I am told, costing $100,000. It is in this old part
of the state quite near New Albany that Corydon,
the state's first capital, is situated and greatly I re-
gret that lack of time prevents my visiting it. 'Tis
a quaint town, they say, and the old stone capitol
building quite pretentious.

Space will not permit my entering upon a descrip-
tion of this beautiful country, and I have in pre-
vious entries dwelt upon the giant trees, the in-
credible number of wild grapevines festooning them,
the wonderfully luxuriant vegetation, the feathered
songsters of brilliant hues, the flowers, all uniting
to form a picture of indescribable loveliness. The

357



358 A TOUR THROUGH INDIANA IN 1840

only point I will note is that as we progressed
farther south the vegetation increased in luxuriance,
and the canebrake, so familiar to the dweller in the
land of the cotton and the cane, was frequently to
be observed.

The first town of any size at which our stage
stopped was Washington, the seat of justice of
Daviess County, a flourishing town whose houses are
constructed in a genteel style. Mount Pleasant in
Martin County, on an elevated site, with fine springs,
came next, and then, Hindostan, a village with a
most interesting history, and to whose name the in-
habitants give a most rude and barbarous pro-
nunciation which I succeeded in understanding only
after frequent repetitions, Hindawson.

A gentleman on the stage coach, perceiving my
interest, gave me something of the history of this
town, now fallen into ruin and decay. A trail from
Clarksville (of which more anon) to Vincennes,
crossed the river at this point, and early settlers,
considering the situation an advantageous one, en-
tered land here prior to 1812, the first land, he as-
serted, entered from the United States in this coun-
try. A ferry was established, many settlers came
in, and for a season, the town promised to be one of
the most flourishing settlements in the state. An
early traveler, said he, wrote of it as "an infant
ville, Hindostan, on the falls of the "White River, a
broad crystal stream, running navigable to the Ohio,
over a bed of sand and stone, smooth and white as
a floor of marble, a pleasant, healthy place, the land
rich and inviting." This state of affairs continued





THE OLD STATE CAPITOL AT CORYDON
Pen drawing by Wilbur Briant Shook



A TOUR THROUGH INDIANA IN 1840 359

until 1820, mills and business houses flourishing, the
place far in advance of any settlement outside of
Vincennes and New Albany, when, in 1827, a mys-
terious malady swept over the community, like one
of the ancient plagues, and, in a night, the dead out-
numbered the living. The curse remained after the
plague passed on, and never again was it possible to
recall the first prosperity. The next year, the seat
of justice was removed to another town, the living
departed one by one, and now all that is left of
Hindostan is a few crumbling houses by the river,
which ripples on as gayly as ever, over its marble-
white bed of sand and stone. A village fallen to
decay is always a melancholy sight, but how much
more melancholy in these Western woods, where all
else is young and flourishing, and where age and
decay would seem to have no part.

Characteristic of this part of the state are the
many swift and beautiful streams, one of which,
Lick Creek, runs through the settlement of Paoli, a
flourishing post town an$ seat of justice of the
county of Orange. This town has six stores of
general merchandise, three taverns, two oil mills,
a cotton factory, a county seminary, and the land
surrounding it is, I am informed, good farming land,
in a high state of cultivation, and the farms are
abounding with the comforts and necessaries of life.

It was a matter of deep regret to me that here I
had not the time to go to view a great natural
curiosity nine miles west of this town. The place is
known as the French Lick, a spring of mineral water
which contains, said my informant, a large portion



360 A TOUR THROUGH INDIANA IN 1840

of some other substance than salt, though it has not
yet been sufficiently analyzed to determine precisely
the ingredients. It is of a bluish color and emits
a very strong, offensive odor, and is exceedingly
loathsome. 1

Our road, always beautiful, dropped farther and
farther to the south and we passed through Fred-
ericksburg, on the west bank of Blue River, and then
Greenville, twelve miles northwest of New Albany,
'tis said. When the location of the county seat was
in question Greenville was one of the contestants
and offered a considerable subscription. New Al-
bany's subscription was a few dollars larger, and to
it was added the donation of a bell for the Court
House, and this won the victory.

The range of hills known at New Albany as the
Knobs, and called by the Indians Silver Hills, hence
the legend that somewhere within this range lies a
silver mine known only to the Indians, is said by
my informant to run along the northern bank of the
Ohio from the western .part of the state to New
Albany, at which place it turns, circling the city and
runs through the county from south to north, mak-
ing a wide circuit from the river and returning to it
at Madison. Hills is a modest term for these giant
and beautiful elevations, thickly covered with trees
and undergrowth, from whose tops one commands
an entrancing view of the surrounding country. To

*The Gazetteer of 1849 states that this land was donated by the
state to Congress on the supposition that the salt might be in suffi-
cient quantity to make its possession valuable to the government,
but as the plan was not practicable, the lands were sold. The
Gazetteer goes on to state that "it has been learned that the waters i
are valuable for their medical properties." Editor.



the top of one of these, Bald Knob, a gentleman of
New Albany led me, one day, up the old Indian trail,
and ne'er shall I forget the view spread before my
eyes. The wide expanse of country, the sparkling
"Belle Riviere" visible in its turns above and below
the city, the Falls with their never ceasing, musical
roar ; the fields, covered with bountiful harvests ; the
range of Silver Hills, stretching to the horizon,
towering from 400 to 600 feet in grandeur and
beauty; in one direction Jeffersonville, named for
the great Virginian and laid out according to his
plan; on the other, New Albany, most charming
city, with its spacious streets, Water, High, Market
and Spring, running parallel to the river, its public
squares and market houses, its beautiful and com-
modious harbor surely 'twas with no more en-
rapturing vision than this that Satan tempted the
Master from the mountain top.

Some such view, though not so grand and far-
reaching, because it was from a lower knob, did I
see the time we paused at the Eising Sun Tavern
on the last hill top to be crossed before descending
to the level and New Albany. This hilltop inn was
built, I was told, by Caleb Dayton, who came here
from Connecticut in 1826. The inn is of logs but
was weatherboarded a few years ago, and is a hand-
some, substantial structure, with high gabled roof,
and great main room on one side of the hall, with a
deep closet with glass doors, and a monstrous fire-
place. The house has many windows, set-in porches
and large wagon yards and a stable to accommodate
- both stages and emigrants, and the sign painted



362 A TOUE THROUGH INDIANA IN 1840

with the rising sun hangs on an iron arm affixed to
a wooden post in front of the house that all may
see.

'Tis frequently quite merry here, my host in-
formed me, for great hunting parties come over
from Louisville to remain for a week, wearing their
fringed buckskin hunting suits, and with their mus-
kets and their hounds, and there is always the stage
both ways each day, to say nothing of parties of
emigrants pushing into the Wabash country. Mr.
Dayton also made known to me that this road was
known as the Daniel Boone Trace, because 'twas
said that the Indians once stole Daniel Boone 's
daughter in Kentucky and that the mighty hunter
pursued them over this road, overtook them, rescued
the girl and wreaked his vengeance upon her
captors.

Again under way, and down the steep hillside past
the famous big Raeger Spring, at which the horses
are always watered, and then, on and on, bits champ-
ing, harness rattling, till we are come into New
Albany !

I had known when I stood on the Dayton knob
and looked over the enchanted and enchanting coun-
try that I should love New Albany; even there
I felt its charm; how much more, as we drove
over its broad streets and drew up with great noise
and ceremony before the long, low, many-gabled,
many-windowed house on High Street, which bore
the name of High Street or Kale's Tavern, one of
the best taverns, the driver had already informed
me, west of the Allegheny Mountains, and one fre-



A TOUR THROUGH INDIANA IN 1840 363

quented, so he says, by the beauty and fashion of
the South, who flee hither up the Mississippi and
Ohio in the summer season to avoid the dread
scourge of the yellow fever. Mr. Daniel Webster,
he informed me, Mr. Van Buren, Mr. Henry Clay
and Gen. William Henry Harrison have been among
its distinguished guests, to say nothing of a long
array of less widely-known but most excellent
gentlemen. And this, it was explained to me later,
is not at all remarkable, for New Albany is the
head of navigation -of the Ohio, and tavern head-
quarters for all steamboat men. Naturally, it is, in
the season, the scene of much festivity and many
social gatherings.

When I entered the low-ceilinged cozy office room
I felt at once this atmosphere of hospitality and of
the charm given a house whose walls have witnessed


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Online LibraryKate Milner RabbA tour through Indiana in 1840; the diary of John Parsons of Petersburg, Virginia → online text (page 23 of 26)