Kate Milner Rabb.

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

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tion.' 2

"Kidwell has established here a little college and
a press for the dissemination of their sentiments.
I'll wager wait a moment. "

He spoke to the landlord and returned in a mo-
ment smiling, a small volume in his hand.

1 * I thought it would be safe to wager that I would
find in our good landlord's possession one of these
volumes, ' ' and he held out to me a small book which
I examined curiously and one of which I presently
purchased from Mr. Kidwell himself, going with Mr.
Owen, before the departure of the stage, to visit the
press and see the monthly "Philomath Encyclo-

' "The real cause for the opposition was KidwelPs position that
Christianity was not dependent upon certain portions of the Old
Testament nor upon the miracles of the New, a position which
would meet with little opposition to-day, though at that time it
provoked violent controversy." Eaarey. Editor.


pedia and Circle of the Sciences," which he prints

"Federurbian, or U. S. Sessions, Intended to Pro-
mote Learning and a Knowledge of Republican
Principles in the Mind of Our Youth ' ' stands on the
title page of this curious volume, together with the
name of the author, Henry Houseworth, Professor
of Languages and Science in the Western Union
Seminary, this being the name of the institution here
founded by Mr. Kidwell. It was published only last
year, and its contents cover a wide range of subjects,
being divided into various departments, national,
biographies, philosophers, miscellanies and ques-
tions and answers, and containing articles on the
Declaration of Independence, George Washington,
the national character of the Mexicans, the crocodile,
Mr. Adams 's reception at the Court of St. James, re-
marks concerning the savages of North America,
and selected verses. I thought it well worth the
modest sum asked for it, and shall enjoy the sur-
prise of my Virginia friends when they see a book
actually published in what they consider so wild a

Mr. Owen spoke with some feeling of the religious
controversies now raging in this section of the coun-
try, and praised the early legislators of the United
States, "the noble and enlightened spirits," he
called them, who framed our Constitution, who
recognized its sacred claims to free speech and
equal protection. "That same let-alone principle
in legislation," he said, "how great and impor-
tant are its results! In three little words how


much wisdom may be contained! Think of the
legion of horrors that has sprung from that
monster Intolerance ! ' '

He had, I observed, a habit of musing for a
season, and then speaking as though to himself.
After a time, he roused himself; perhaps it was
when we had passed through a forest where jolting
through bogs, over stumps, stones and corduroy
roads made conversation almost impossible, and
came into a clearing where a few log huts marked
a new settlement, dead upright trees standing in the
fields, dense woods all around shutting out the rays
of the morning and evening sun, and upon my re-
marking upon the striking pictures afforded by the
contrasts in these Western settlements, and the
difference between them and the scenery of my own
South, the groves of Georgia and Carolina redolent
with the luscious perfumes of magnolia blossoms,
the glades of evergreen oak and the savannahs
clothed with varied wild flowers, or the contrasting
scene to be found in these same states of brushwood
copses, sandy barrens, dismal woods of pitch pine
and untenanted morasses, he replied, with en-
thusiasm :

"Ah, but you should see the autumn glory of
Indiana's forests, the atmosphere of the Indian
summer, when for weeks not a cloud appears on the
horizon, and the rays of light are mellowed only by
that almost imperceptible haze which, the legend
runs, comes from the red men smoking their pipes
beyond the pasture ground of the buffaloes. The
oaks wear a mantle of dark crimson; the creeping

vines and underwood are dyed vermilion; the
poplars dressed out in yellow; the beeches robed in
purple ; a delicate flame color distinguishes the rock
maple, while the pine stands aside in its somber
green, and above, a sky of brilliant blue completes
the gorgeous livery of the scene."

He fell into silence again, and be it noted, that
such was my reverence and respect for him that I
ventured not to intrude myself upon his reverie, but
waited until his musings again found voice. The
sight of some women engaged in outdoor work in
one of these clearings, suggested his next utterance.

"Whenever I see women engaged in the hard
labor that life in the country places entails, I can but
ponder on their hardships and the injustice done
them by the laws of our state. No successful settler
would ever have built up his fortunes and made com-
fortable his home without the assistance of his wife,
she who saves while he accumulates, who so faith-
fully seconds all his exertions with her labors and
prudent economies. And yet, our iniquitous laws
take from her, if disease or accident deprive her of
his sustaining arm, the property which her watchful
care has mainly contributed to increasing and keep-
ing together. May heaven speed the day when these
unjust laws are changed ! 3

3 Through Mr. Owen's efforts there were procured for the women
of Indiana, at a later date: (a) the right to own and control their
separate property during marriage; (b) the right to their own
earnings; (c) the abolishment of the simple dower of the common
law and the widow's absolute ownership of the deceased husband's
property; (d) the modification of the divorce laws of the state so
as to enable a married woman to secure relief from habitual
drunkenness and cruelty. Editor.


"You are going to Centerville I ' * he asked pres-
ently, and I somewhat bashfully confessed that I
had taken that round-about route to Richmond be-
cause I had heard he was to speak there.

"You will find in that part of the state, " said he,
"many members of the Society of Friends, and no
doubt will encounter some discussion on the subject
of negro slavery."

This, I confessed to him, I had endeavored so far
to avoid. I am, I explained, by no means a bigoted
upholder of this institution, but, in view of all the
embarrassments and obstacles in the way of emanci-
pation interposed by the statutes of the slave-hold-
ing states, and by the social influence affecting the
views and conduct of those involved in it, one should
not pronounce a judgment of general and promiscu-
ous condemnation, implying absolute destitution of
Christian principle and feeling on the part of the
slave owner.

"No, of a certainty, no," said Mr. Owen, and
lapsed into silence for a season. Then, with a smile
I had come to watch for, so sweet it was, so indica-
tive of the man's fineness and nobility, "You seem
to be a reasonable young gentleman, and open to
conviction, so we will not discuss the question fur-
ther. You are now traveling upon soil which the
Ordinance of 1787 has forever dedicated to human
liberty; your feet are now set toward two settle-
ments made by the Society whose upholding prin-
ciple is that of individual freedom. When you min-
gle with some of these men, when you have longer
breathed the free air of our Western country, un-


tainted by any breath of human ownership of fellow
beings, I trust, I know, indeed, young sir, that the
scales will fall from your eyes.

"We were speaking of the fineness and ability of
these Westerners under their shell of uncouthness, ' '
he resumed after a season. "They have one vice
which is greatly to be regretted one which is in
reality responsible for many of their crimes and
offenses, the vice of intemperance. Against -this the
Friends have labored, and have indeed started a
Temperance Society. We at New Harmony 4 have
long stood against strong drink.

"This claptrap campaign, with its tin cups, its
barrels of hard cider, would indicate that we have
yet far to go in this reform," he added with some

The first settlement in the county of Wayne, I am
informed, was made by one David Hoover, who came
out from Ohio, found this garden spot and, return-
ing, brought back his family and others of his faith
to find homes in "The Twelve Mile Purchase,"
made from the Indians in 1810. Centerville is the
seat of justice, pleasantly situated on the National
Road, and I confess I was much impressed with this
place w T hen I first beheld it from the stage, and later
when walking about its streets. The town is level,
said to be healthy, and surrounded by fine farming
land. It contains mills and machinery of various
descriptions, several mercantile stores, three taverns,

4 "New Harmony in 1826 afforded the first known American ex-
ample of prohibition of the liquor traffic by administrative edict."
Lockwood. Editor.


several physicians and lawyers, a printing office, a
seminary and, so I was told, a large number of
mechanics of almost all descriptions.

Arriving with Mr. Owen, who most kindly intro-
duced me to the gentlemen who received him, I met
at once, I believe, most of the intelligent people re-
siding in the town and was the recipient from them
of many courtesies. I had been told at Brookville
of the Mansion House, kept by Henry Eowan, a com-
modious three-story brick structure, they said, with
accommodations in good style, but Mr. Owen as-
sured me that the Lashley House, a homelike, well-
ordered, and most excellent hotel, was always the
headquarters for prominent lawyers, and that there-
fore it had been named as his stopping place. We
accordingly put up at this inn, and here it was my
good fortune to meet, with Mr. Owen, James
Eariden, Judge Charles H. Test, John D. Newman,
John B. Stitt, Michael Wilson, Thomas Means,
Jacob Julian, and his younger brother, George W.
Julian. 5

To this last named young man, just my own age,
I soon learned, I took quite a fancy, and 'twas he
who, when Mr'. Owen was surrounded by a group of
men, took me for a walk about the town and talked
most entertainingly, taking me also to the home of his
mother, Mrs. Eebecca Julian, whose home is the
oldest house in Centerville. Mrs. Julian, it seems,

"George W. Julian, born near Centerville, 1817; admitted to bar,
1840; Whig, anti-slavery; elected to Congress as a Free Soiler, 1848;
Legislature, 1845; candidate for Vice-President on Free Soil ticket,
1852; Congress, 1848-9, '51, '61, '71; surveyor general of New Mexico,
1880-1890; died in Indianapolis, 1899. Editor.


is a remarkable woman of strong character, of whose
struggles and sacrifices in her widowhood her son
spoke most feelingly. This young Mr. Julian has
taught school for a season, and then engaged in the
study of the law, and he has just been admitted to
the bar. I confided to him my similar experience in
the law, and we soon found much in common.

He called my attention to many of the houses, the
brick house of Mr. Rawson Vaile, a teacher; the
home of Mr. Dill, whose colonial pillars reminded me
of my own Virginia ; the grand white brick house of
Mr. Pritchett and many others.

All of these men and many more I met the next
evening at the Lyceum, for Mr. Julian promised me
that if I would wait over for the meeting of the
Lyceum he would ride with me to Richmond on the
next day and introduce me to some of the most re-
spectable families there, and, as I had no letters to
any one in that town, I gladly availed myself of this

That morning, the morning of the next day, I had
the pleasure of observing the joint celebration of the
scholars of Miss Sarah Dickinson and Mr. and Mrs.
George Rea, who formed a procession at the Semi-
nary at 9 o'clock and marched thence to the Metho-
dist Church, where the address was made by John
B. Stitt, whom I was also to hear at the Lyceum that
night. The Centerville Musical Institute provided
the music for this occasion, and as one of two ex-
cellent bands had furnished music at Mr. Owen's
meeting the evening before, I perceived that the
atmosphere of Centerville savored not at all of the


backwoods, and that both literature and the arts
here flourished most amazingly.

I was the more convinced of this after meeting
John Finley, 6 the clerk of the Wayne County Court,
to whose home on Plum Street, I accompanied Mr.

Mr. Finley is a Virginian, I found, a man of genial
manners, and well endowed mentally. He has writ-
ten, Mr. Julian tells me, much verse, semi-humorous,
semi-pathetic, always on homely themes. The best
known of this is a poem entitled "The Hoosier's
Nest.'* He read us some verses recently written,
* * An Advertisement for a Wife, ' ' and at my solicita-
tion presented me with a copy in his own chirog-
raphy. Mr. Julian assured me that Mr. Finley is
not only a poet, but has capabilities for business,
and is a man highly esteemed by his fellow citizens.

The Lyceum I found of greater interest to me than
any form of entertainment I have as yet encountered
in the Western country wilderness I shall of a cer-
tainty not call it, for that would be a misnomer.
Seat of culture would be a better name for this town,
with its academies and schools, and its men and
women of culture and refinement. The Lyceum
meets weekly in the Court House, at 6 o 'clock in the
evening, and the public generally is invited to attend.
The question for the evening was, "Would it be con-
sistent with the genius of our institutions to add ad-
ditional qualifications other than the present to the

John Finley, born, 1797; clerk of Legislature, 1837; clerk of
Wayne County Court for seven years; author of "The Hoosier'a
Nest." Editor.


right of suffrage in this state?" Last week, I was
told, the question was, "Has Congress the constitu-
tional power to abolish slavery in the District of
Columbia, and if they have, would it be policy to
exercise it I"

The meeting was largely attended, many females
being among the listeners, and in addition to those
lawyers I had already met, I here made the acquaint-
ance of Dr. Richard H. Swain, Dr. John Pritchett
and Dr. Israel Tennis, Mr. Lot Bloomfield, a promi-
nent merchant; Mr. Burbank, another merchant;
Mr. David Commons and a Mr. Samuel Hannah, a
man, I learned, of much distinction. Mr. Hannah
was a pioneer of the county and is a member of the
Society of Friends. He has been sheriff of the
county, has served in the Legislature, was appointed
postmaster by John Quincy Adams, and removed by
Andrew Jackson. He was one of the commissioners
appointed to locate the Michigan Road. I found him
a most agreeable and intelligent man, and through
his offices I was presented to others, among them
some of the females in the audience, wives and
daughters of the members.

The scene was an interesting one. The western
window and the early hour of meeting made candle-
light unnecessary in the early part of the evening,
and the rays of the setting sun shone in upon the
intent faces of the gathering, some in staid Quaker
garments, others in worldly clothing of fine broad-
cloth with high stocks and ruffled shirt fronts, and I
had to admit to myself that nothing more enhances
female beauty than the dove-colored garments and


snowy kerchief prescribed by the religion of the

According to his promise, Mr. Julian met me be-
fore the tavern the next morning after the Lyceum
meeting, and together we took the stage for Rich-
mond, which lies six miles directly east of Center-
ville, on the east fork of the Whitewater. He was
a personable young man, in his broadcloth garments,
tall, with black hair, and bright hazel eyes, and while
I had been at once impressed with his dignity of
bearing, I had found him fun loving and most com-
panionable. I asked him at once why he had not
taken part in the debate the evening before, at the
Lyceum. He admitted that he had longed to do so,
but, said he, "I have a seemingly unconquerable
timidity. I fear to hear my voice in public. Some-
times I fear I shall never overcome it. I have been
this long time frequenting the courts, listening to
arguments, trying to acquaint myself with the cus-
toms of the profession in the hope that when the
time comes, I shall dare to address the judge and

We talked on many subjects as we rode, for I
found him full of knowledge of many things, and he
told me how he had worked, because of the priva-
tions entailed by his mother's widowhood, to obtain
the means for his education. "I gathered nuts each
year, a large crop of walnuts, one fall as many as
sixteen bushels, and sold the hulls at Nathan Bond's
carding and fulling mills at 6 cents a bushel for
money with which to buy my books and stationery."
And what books! I found to my surprise that he


was familiar with Plato, Dante, Bruno, Milton, had
read philosophy, history, biography, sermons. The
whole range of literature and history was his ! The
love of the woods was his, too, and as we passed over
the fertile country and through the great forests of
oak, beech, ash, poplar, maple and walnut, he pointed
out the plants, the flowers, the wildwood songsters,
with all of which he was familiar.

The soil of this country, he told me, is a rich loam
bedded in clay, well adapted to the cultivation of
grains of all kinds ; it is unrivaled in the exuberance
and variety of its productions by any county in the
state, and without doubt, because of the fruitful soil,
the salubrious climate and its moral population,
Richmond is rapidly advancing to wealth and inde-

Arrived at Richmond, I waited at the tavern, the
National Hotel, while Mr. Julian transacted some
business before walking abroad with me, and im-
proved the period by perusing a paper, The Jeffer-
sonian and Workingman's Advocate, its motto,
"A frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is
absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of
liberty," published, so I observed, by a Mr. Samuel
Eliot Perkins, who I learned later was a most able
lawyer of the town. The paper, I found to be an
excellent one, and I perused the foreign news,
especially, with great interest, having heard little
or nothing of it since I left Petersburg.

The Great Western, it seems, has recently arrived
with intelligence from Europe. Hostilities are
seemingly threatened between England and the


Sicilies over the sulphur trade. The belligerent at-
titudes assumed by England and China are unmiti-
gated, the cause and nature of the quarrel, the
East India Company's opium trade. A railway is
planned from London to Bristol, at a cost of $6,-
000,000. From the United States the news is of a
tornado which has nearly destroyed the city of
Natchez, and the arrival in New York of Fanny '
Elssler, the most brilliant, extraordinary and cele'
brated opera dancer in the world.

As its title would indicate, this is a Democratic
paper, and the first editorial proclaimed the Demo-
cratic attitude. "The Fourth of July meeting," it
ran, "must go on. We Democrats, being all hard-
fisted workingmen, have but little time to spend and
scarcely any money in making preparations for cele-
bration, but, though poor, we are honest politicians,
go for principle, and want no gull-trap shows,
parades and fandangoes. It will cost us Democrats
nothing for ribbons, silk stockings and gloves, ruffled
shirts, etc. We are all plain workingmen and want
things in a plain, equal, Jeffersonian, Democratic
way. . . ." I also read with some amusement vari-
ous flings at some of the gentlemen I had just met
at Centerville, who I inferred are of the Whig per-

"Rariden, Newman and Bloomfield owe their
future to David Hoover, Esq., but now that Samuel
Hannah has come and is elected to a clerkship, they
cling to him. ' '

I had just turned the page when a shadow fell on
the paper and I looked up to behold Mr. Hicklin of


Madison, my circuit rider friend, who, saddle bags
in hand, stood before me.

"I trusted I should meet you here," said he, "and
now, we three fellow travelers, Arnold Buffum the
Friend, you and I shall again sit in converse to-
gether, for he has even now come into this town.
And I have other tidings for you as well, ' ' he added.
"I have but just come from your friend Buford and
his ladies, and they hope ere long to meet you



GREAT was my joy at beholding again my
friend, the circuit rider, and also to hear that
he had so recently seen Buford and his wife
his ladies, he had said, but he explained no
further, and my tongue was tied when I undertook
to inquire if he had meant Mrs. Buford 's cousin.
Buford had intimated to me when we parted that
he and his wife might make some visits in Indiana
before setting off for the South, so that I had
cherished the hope of meeting them again and with
them, the fair Miss Caroline. Mr. Hicklin men-
tioned several towns which they contemplated visit-
ing, among them Vincennes, returning thence to
New Albany. As both these towns are included in
my itinerary, it is within the range of probability
that I may encounter them. Mr. Hicklin also asked
me to go with him on the morrow to Newport, a
small town in the vicinity of Richmond, where dwells
a well-known and worthy friend, Levi Coffin by name,
under whose roof Arnold Buffum is domiciled while
in this region. I agreed to this, and he bade me
farewell until the morrow, going on to an appoint-
ment at some neighboring post town.

Mr. Julian soon returned and together we set about
viewing the town, though, it must be confessed, we



spent more time and found more interest in an in-
terchange of ideas, happily finding so much that is
congenial in our tastes, so many questions for dis-
cussion, that time sped far too swiftly for our liking.
While perusing the paper, I had noted the adver-
tisement of a book store which interested me much;
a Mr. D. P. Holloway, a bookseller, had inserted a
notice in the paper that he had just received from
Philadelphia a small assortment of books in the
various departments of literature and science. Mr.
Julian readily acceded to my suggestion that we turn
our steps thither, and we did so, finding there much
of interest. Among the books I noted particularly
the works of Patrick Henry, Collins' Poems, "Lock-
hart's Burns," "The Life of Wilberf orce, " "The
History of the Jews," "The Pirates' Own Book,"
"The Sentiment of Flowers," "The Language of
Flowers." As I opened this small volume with its
colored frontispiece, a nosegay in a graceful vase,
and scrutinized the page on which, in a delicate com-
bination of learning and sentiment, stood first the
popular name of the flower, then its scientific name
and botanical description, its language, and a verse
full of sentiment, expressing the love, constancy,
affliction, despair, or whatsoe 'er the meaning may be,
memory carried me back to the day in the inn when
I had restored a similar volume to its fair owner,
and I at once purchased the book of Mr. Holloway.
Well, why not? The bookseller and Mr. Julian
thought it a gift for a sister, and I did not unde-
ceive them. 'Tis not beneath a man, is it, to learn
a language in which the fair sex is so proficient?


Suppose he is a faint heart, and fears to put into
words the sentiment he feels for the fair one, what
more fitting than that he lay at her feet a nosegay
whose lily, rose, and forget-me-not will breathe in
perfumed accents his undying love and devotion
his prayer that she be his?

Together with this I purchased an album, richly
gilt and profusely embellished with engravings from
the Scripture, as a gift for my mother, and also for
myself a supply of the gilt-edged paper and quill
pens for the excellence of which, it is said, Mr. Hollo-
way is famous. Mr. Julian purchased ' l The Life of
Wilberf orce, ' ' and after our having examined all the
collection and commented upon each volume in turn,
we again went forth on to the streets, where Mr.
Julian pointed out curious objects of interest to
me, as we continued our conversation, light, 'tis true,
but with enough sense scattered through it to keep
it from flying off to the moon.

Online LibraryKate Milner RabbA tour through Indiana in 1840; the diary of John Parsons of Petersburg, Virginia → online text (page 8 of 26)