William Chauncy Langdon.

The pageant of Corydon, the pioneer capital of Indiana 1816-1916; the drama of the preeminence of the town at the time when for twelve years it was the territorial and the state capital of Indiana online

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Online LibraryWilliam Chauncy LangdonThe pageant of Corydon, the pioneer capital of Indiana 1816-1916; the drama of the preeminence of the town at the time when for twelve years it was the territorial and the state capital of Indiana → online text (page 1 of 3)
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The Pageant of Corydon

The Pioneer Capital of Indiana




The Pageant of Corydon

The Pioneer Capital of Indiana
1816- -1916





JUNE 2 and 3, 1916


All Rights Reserved

New Albany. lad.

The Pageant of Corydon

The Pioneer Capital of Indiana


His Excellency, Samuel M. Ralston, Governor of Indiana,


Frank B. Wynn, Vice Pres. Harlow Lindley, Secretary

John Cavanagh Charles W. Moores

Charity Dye Lew. M. O'Bannon

Samuel M. Foster James A. Woodburn

Thomas J. Wilson, President Arthur Richert, Treasurer
H. W. Gudgeon, Secretary A. 0. DeWeese, Vice Pres.

Wilson E. Cook Lew. M. O'Bannon

Mrs. R. L. Miller Edward G. Keller

William Chauncy Langdon, Master of the Pageant
Charles Diven Campbell, Director of the Music

1 1 09 1 .


HE Pageant of Corydon is to commemorate the
time of the pre-eminence of the town, when it
was for twelve years, from 1813 to 1825, first the
Territorial and then the State Capital of Indiana.
Here in 1816 met the Constitutional Convention which formu-
lated and voted the first Constitution of the State of Indiana.
The historical interest of the village of Corydon centers nat-
urally in the Old Capitol, erected in 1812 as a Court House
and appropriated to the use of the Governor and Legislature
when Corydon became the capital in 1813, and in the Con-
stitution Elm, beneath whose shading branches the Conven-
tion met in 1816. The Pageant will be performed on the
Public Square in front of the Old Capitol.

The music, played by the Indiana University Orchestra,
is most of it from the music of the Pageant of Bloomington
and Indiana University, composed by Charles Diven Camp-
bell. The Hymn to America was composed by Brookes C.
Peters. Corydon is taken from the old Missouri Harmony
and orchestrated by Dr. Campbell.

In presenting the historical material a certain freedom
has necessarily been exercised for the sake of dramatic clar-
ity and effectiveness. In many instances the language of the
dialogue is in the actual words of the characters represented.
It has, however, seemed inadvisable to indicate these passages
by quotation marks, on account of the frequent necessity for
making slight changes, omissions, or additions in the word-
ing to suit the situation as represented. So also in producing
the pageant certain omissions have been deemed advisable
which it did not seem necessary to eliminate in the printed
form of the pageant. W. C. L.


Prologue: The Welcome of Old Corydon.

Episode 1 : The Completion of the Court House

Episode 2: Corydon, the Capital (1813).

Episode 3: The Constitutional Convention

Episode 4: The New Capital (1825).
Epilogue: The Blessing of the Years.
Finale : Centennial !

The Pageant of Cory don

The Pioneer Capital of Indiana


The Bell of the Old Capitol is rung a half hour before the
pageant performance is to begin, and again fifteen minutes
before the hour. The Bell is rung once more for the begin-
ning of the Pageant. The orchestra plays the Hymn to In-

While the orchestra is still playing, people of Old
Corydon come in from various directions, singly and in
groups, attracted by the sound of the bell and the music of
the orchestra. Seeing the audience, with interest and some
surprise they comment upon it to each other. They evidence
their appreciation of the importance of the occasion and of
the assembled audience, and several of them consulting to-
gether agree to call their Governor, General William Henry
Harrison. Four or five of them go to the door of the Capitol.
The door opens and Governor Harrison appears. He talks
with his neighbors, standing in the doorway a few moments,
and then cordially comes forward at their suggestion toward
the people of 1916 on the grandstand and addresses them,
while the others of the people of Old Corydon stand variously
grouped a little behind him. The music plays very softly as
he speaks.

HARRISON: Our welcome to you all, good friends! I bring
The welcome of Old Corydon itself.
You cry "Hello, the house!" We open the door


And answer "Welcome! The latch-string hangs


Are ye surprised to see us here again?
But where else should ye find us if not here
At home? It is not gone the so-called past.
Tis only that abstraction with the present
Obscures to your eyes things of other days.
Still must ye heed the things of former days
As ye do heed the things of days to come
Or blind and vain the labors of today !

These walls seem old to you; these elm-trees old;
These timbers weather-stained. A hundred years
Have beaten on this roof, you say, and on
The mounded shelters where you think we lie.
But look with our eyes, and you them will see
A stately pile, fresh-hewn from Nature's rocks,
Built strong to last forever, built for you
With our small means and ample labor, built
For you and for your children ! Do but see !

The Commonwealth we dreamed has far surpassed
The measure of our boldest, proudest hopes;
But axe and gun in hand, it was for you
We dreamed, and this old building stands to tell
The quality, the courage of our dream
And of our toil. Rock, solid rock, high built
Four square amid the roadless wilderness!
You, our children, no, they all are gone, with us
Across the stream, our children's children and
Their children, do ye understand our hopes
And heed our dream? In token cherish this
Old symbol of our pride and fortitude.

When we assumed the task of managing
The unformed territorial Commonwealth;
Our glory, when with your forefathers here

We made the State ; our sacrifice, when we

In turn gave up our dear pre-eminence

In favor of an unbuilt city to the north,

That this our State, your State, unhampered


Sweep forward faster toward her honored place
Among the mighty States of this our Nation!

Come, then, come and live with us a space
As we re-live again those precious days
Of eighteen twelve and thirteen ; then in turn
Of eighteen sixteen, eighteen twenty-five.


HOUSE (1812).

With the close of his address of welcome, Governor Har-
rison withdraws, and the music repeats the first theme of the
Hymn to Indiana. The people all withdraw toward the ends
of the grandstand.

A fife and drum strike up a parade quickstep of the War
of 1812. From one side and the other come Spier Spencer
and John Tipton, as Captain and a member of the Yellow

SPENCER: We'd better be starting, John. Get the boys to-
gether. Tell Sam to beat the drum. We'll give the
folks a little parade before we go.

TIPTON: Hey, Sam! Call them together!

The fifer and drummer come out, the drummer beating
his drum. They take their places out in the middle where
Captain Spencer and Tipton are standing. Then the fifer
plays aslo. The Yellow Jackets come out and gather together,
ready to fall into line. One carries the Yellow Jacket flag
furled. People of the town also come with them. Among
these comes Dennis Pennington with carpenter tools in his
hands and other men with tools from out of the Capitol.

PENNINGTON: Well, Spier Sheriff when you get back
from fighting the Indians we'll have the Court House
all finished for you! Tell Harrison to stop over and
see what we're putting up.

SPENCER: I'll tell them over to Vincennes, Dennis, you're
building us the finest Court House in the Territory,
that theirs is a lean-to aside of it!

TIPTON : And that's what it is, too a lean-to.

PENNINGTON : Well, as we said, boys, when we voted it, the
Capitol cannot stay way over there on the edge, now Illi-


nois is cut off and made a separate territory, and we
might as well be ready with good accomodations.

SPENCER : Now the fall in, Sam. Give you a little parade and
manoevres before we start, folks! The Vincennes trail
to meet Harrison, and on up the Wabash.

The fife and drum sound again. The sergeant forms the
company and the flag is unfurled. Captain Spier Spencer
takes command. He puts them through the drill and military
manoevres in accordance with the tactics of the time. Then
he halts them and breaks ranks.

SPENCER : Get your packs and come along now, boys !

The Yellow Jackets say good bye to their wives and fam-
ilies, put on their luggage and depart, some on horseback, most
of them on foot, following their Captain. The music of the
fife and drum continues fainter and fainter as they get far-
ther and farther away. Their people wave to them as they go.
The orchestra plays the Indian music from the Pageant of
Bloomington and Indiana University to mark the time that
elapses, during which the battle of Tippecanoe is fought.
In the Capitol is heard the noise of hammers, as the last
strokes are put on the building. Furniture of the time is
being carried in. Dennis Pennington is superintending the

PENNINGTON: Nearly done! Nearly done! Take that right
in ; put it in place !

Two women standing a moment together look up toward
the north. They point and then attract the attention of the

MRS. TIPTON : Who's that ! Just coming out of the woods over
on the hill?

MRS. SPENCER : It's the soldiers ! The Yellow Jackets !
MRS. TIPTON : Yes, it must be ! John, John !


The others look closely and a number of the younger peo-
ple start off to meet the returning soldiers. All go over to
that side of the Public Square, the workmen on the Capitol
coming out, their tools in their hands, to join the others and
welcome the Indiana fighters. In a few moments they come
marching in attended by the young people. Mrs. Tipton with
a cry of relief runs to her husband.

MRS. TIPTON : There is John ! John !

Mrs. Tipton runs to her husband. Mrs. Spencer starts
also, then stops, looks searchingly through the soldiers, looks
back to Tipton, realizes that Tipton is now in command of the
company, and stands still and silent.

MRS. TIPTON : Oh, Mrs. Spencer.

MRS. SPENCER : Where was it, John ? He is killed ?

TIPTON: It was up on the Tippecanoe, near the Prophet's
town. Yes, he was killed. Here is his sword. It was a

Att the neighbors stand silent and stitt. John Tipton
hands Mrs. Spencer her husband's sword. She takes it and
silently presses it to her breast.


TIPTON : We buried him at the foot of a tree on the battle-
field and cut his name in the bark of the tree.

Mrs. Spencer bows her head and quietly withdraws, Mrs.
Tipton going with her, and John Tipton folloiving them. Other
similar incidents repeat the character of the return of the
soldiers either the reunited families or the definite knowing
that the father or son or husband or lover will not come back.
In a moment Tipton returns.

TIPTON: The Court House finished. Dennis?
PENNINGTON : Nearly finished, John. We are putting in the


furnishings and I will hang the bell today. Will the
Governor be along this way soon, do you think, John?

TIPTON: I think so, Dennis. Come on, boys! Help move
in the furniture into the new Court House!

The soldiers turn to with a will and the work of finishing
the Court House proceeds rapidly. Squire Boone comes in
with three of his sons from a hunting trip, clad in his buck-
skins, carrying his rifle and over his shoulders a deer.

BOONE: Hello the house, all o'yer! Hello the Court House!
PEOPLE: Who's yere! Who's yere!

PENNINGTON: Hello, Squire! You're just about in time to
help us hang the bell ! Brought us some venison, too, I

BOONE: What, hanging the bell? Then of course you can
have the meat! Bill Harrison will be along here short-
ly too, I reckon. Saw him a-riding up to Ed Smith's
as I came down the hill over across the creek.

SMITH : I'll go up and meet him and bring him down.

Edward Smith hurries off towards his cabin. The last
furniture is put into the Court House and the bell is hauled
in on an ox cart. Edward Smith returns with Governor Wil-
liam Henry Harrison. He is dressed in civilian clothes, and
rides on horseback. The people all cheer enthusiastically.

PEOPLE: Hurray! Hurray! Hurray! Tippecanoe! Tippe-
canoe !

Governor Harrison takes off his hat and bows cordially,
heartily to all his friends, calling them all by their first names
as the cheering continues.

HARRISON : Court House finished, Dennis ! That is a splendid
building! Worthy of Corydon! (To Harvey Heth),


Well, Harvey, you and I sold this land to good purpose !
The County has built a fine Court House on it! And
that is the stray pen yonder, is it? (Cheers). Hello,
boys! No more fear from the Indians! Hello, Israel,
I'll have to get you to 'put a new shoe on my horse's
nigh foot in front before I go on. (To Henry Rice),
Hello, Henry, how's the fine brick hotel? This the bell?

COL. POSEY: That's the bell, Governor, and we ought to do
something to celebrate the completion of the Court
House, don't you think so?

HARRISON : Certainly ! Certainly ! Jennie Smith ought to sing
"Corydon" for one thing. Where's Jennie? Where's
Jennie, Ed? If you do not keep better watch over your
girls you won't keep them long, Ed! You would not
if I were just passing twenty! Jennie, my dear, sing
"Corydon" for us while Uncle Dennis hangs the bell,
and then at the end the bell shall ring out for the first
time and we all will give it a good Corydon cheer !

JENNIE: Sam, run home and get my Missouri Harmony for

Samuel Smith runs out fast to get the book, and soon re-
turns with it. Meantime, Dennis Pennington and the men un-
load the bell from off the ox-cart and carry it into the Court
House. There is a cheer as it disappears into the door.

EDWARD SMITH : Long time afore we'll see that bell again,
though we'll hear it right along often enough!

HARRISON: Now, Jennie! Wait. Here is a present I was
bringing to you. I will give it to you now in apprecia-
tion of your singing this song for us!

From his saddle-bags Governor Harrison produces a bun-
dle which he opens and discloses a beautiful shawl. Several
of the young women and girls instinctively step forward to
look at it with exclamations of delight. Governor Harrison
puts the shaivl around Jennie Smiths shoulders, and steps


back with a courtly complimentary bow, as her friends ex-
claim their applause. Jennie makes a curtsey.

JENNIE SMITH : Thank you, Governor, thank you very much !
HARRISON : Now, Jennie, now sing us "Corydon."

Jennie Smith sings the old song "Corydon" out of the
Missouri Harmony. Governor Harrison gets off his horse
and stands by her side as she sings.



What sorrowful sounds do I hear.

Move slowly along in the gale ;
How solemn they fall on my ear,

As softly they pass through the vale
Sweet Corj'don's notes are all o'er,

Now lonely he sleeps In the clay,
His cheeks bloom with roses no more,

Since death call'd his spirit away.

Sweet woodbines will rise round his feet.

And willows their sorrowing wave ;
Young hyacinths freshen and bloom,

While hawthorns encircle his grave.
Each morn when the sun gilds the east,

(The green grass bespangled with dew) ,
He'll cast his bright beams on the West,

To charm the sad Caroline's view.

O Corydon ! hear the sad cries

Of Caroline, plaintive and slow;
O spirit 1 look down from the skies,

And pity thy mourner below,
'Tis Caroline's voice in the grove.

Which Philomel hears on the plain,
Then striving the mourner to soothe,

With sympathy joins in her strain.

Ye shepherds so blithsome and young,

Retire from your sports on the green,
Since Corydon's deaf to my song.

The wolves tear the lambs on the plain,
Each swain round the forest will stray

And sorrowing hang down his head.
His pipe then in symphony play

Some dirge to sweet Corydon's shade.

And when the still night has unfurl'd

Her robes o'er the hamlet around.
Gray twilight retires from the world

And darkness encumbers the .ground.
I'll leave my own gloomy abode,

To Corydon's urn will I fly.
There kneeling will bless the just God

Who dwells in bright mansions on high.

Since Corydon hears me no more,

In gloom let the woodlands appear,
Ye oceans be still of your roar.

Let Autumn extend around the year ;
I'll hie me through meadow and lawn,

There cull the bright flow'rets of May.
Then rise on the wings of the morn,

And waft my young spirit away.

As the song comes to an end the bell rings out. All the
people cheer and cheer and cheer. The bell stops. Dennis
Pennington comes to the door of the Court House. His
brother, Watty Pennington, ivho built the walls, and Patrick
Flanigan, who put on the roof, are with him.


PENNINGTON: The Court House is completed and ready to
turn over to the County Court.

Again the people cheer. Governor Harrison mounts his
horse. The Yellow Jackets form in line. The Judges of the
Court of Common Pleas of Harrison County, Hon. Patrick
Shields, Peter Mclntosh and Moses Boone, come in preceded
by John Hurt, Sheriff, and attended by R. M. Heth, Clerk
of the Court.

PENNINGTON : Your Honors, I herewith notify you that the
building of this Court House is now completed accord-
ing to contract, at a cost of $1,500, and I herewith turn
it over to you for your acceptance.

JUDGE SHIELDS: In behalf of my associates and myself as
Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Harrison
County, I accept this Court House from Dennis Penning-
ton and declare it to be satisfactorily completed and ac-
cording to contract. (Cheers). Before personally en-
tering and taking possession in the name of the County
we direct that in honor of the memory of our late Sher-
iff and his soldiers, who died to defend the homes of
this County and of Indiana Territory from the Indians,
the Clerk of the Court read the names of those who
died at the Battle of Tippecanoe and that the Court
House bell be tolled while the names are being read.

All uncover. Captain John Tipton brings the Yelloiv
Jackets to Present, Arms! The Clerk of the Court advances
in front of the Judges and reads the names of the Harrison
County men who died at Tippecanoe, the bell tolling, and the
drum beating a muffled roll.

R. M. HETH: Died at the Battle of Tippecanoe, for their
homes, for the Indiana Territory, and their country:
Spier Spencer, Captain; First Lieut. Richard MacMa-
han, Capt. Berry, Marshall Dunken, Wm. Davis, Joshua
Shields, Samuel Sand, George Spencer, Robert Biggs.

JUDGE SHIELDS: We now direct the Sheriff to proclaim that
the Court of Common Pleas will henceforth sit in this
Court House.

JOHN HURST: Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! Be it known to every one
having business or pleas before the Court that by or-
der of the Judges and by authority of the Court of
Common Pleas of Harrison County in the Indiana Terri-
tory of the United States of America the Court will
hereafter sit in the new Court House now completed in
the Town of Corydon.

The Judges advance into the Court House, preceded by
the Sheriff and attended by the Clerk. The bells ring out
joyously again, and the people cheer. As the people go out,
led on one side by Governor Harrison, Edward Smith and
Jennie Smith, and on the other side by Captain John Tipton
and the Yellow Jackets, the Chorus sing in parts, but without
instrumental accompaniment, a stanza of the old song, "Cory-


What sorrowful sounds do I hear,

Move slowly along on the gale ;
How solemn they fall on the ear,

As softly they pass through the vale.
I'll hie me through meadow and lawn,

There cull the bright flow'rets of May,
Then rise on the wings of the morn,

And waft my young spirit away.



Several young men come in with farming implements
and axes, on which they lean, as one looks up the road toward
Louisville indolently and then tosses his axe down on the
ground. Some women come in passing by.

YOUNG MAN: Well, while we're waiting I'll pitch anyone a
game of horse-shoes.

A WOMAN : What are you waiting for ?
YOUNG MAN : The wagon.

A WOMAN: The wagon from Louisville, as usual? For all
the wagpn brings everything to Corydon, it'll never
bring you no luck, not till you get down and work.

YOUNG MAN : I can work.

WOMAN : I know you can work, none better ; but you won't. Al-
ways waiting for the wagon! Like a eastern man to
Henry Rice's brick hotel, had no plate, knife nor fork,
too modest to ask for them, and Henry says to him,
"Waiting for the wagon to bring them to yer, was yer?"

YOUNG MAN : But it will be different when the Capital comes
to Corydon. There'll be something to do then.

WOMAN : That may be, but it won't be for anything you have
done to bring it here. It'll be account of what Uncle Den.
nis does. He's a powerful smart man. There ain't none
can get ahead of him.

Meantime the young men have pitched horse-shoes.
They are interrupted by the arrival of the wagon from Louis-
ville. It is badly mired and bears the marks of a hard trip
over bad roads. Two prosperous looking men from Madison
are with it.

MADISON MAN : Corydon ! Well, I hope that brick hotel they
tell about has good fare for man and horse.



MADISON MAN: Whats that? The Court House?
DRIVER : That's the Harrison County Court House.
MADISON MAN : Too pretentious for a Court House !
YOUNG MAN : That's what we think !

MADISON MAN: You Corydon people, young man, are too
presumptious. You mean to suggest, I take it, that you
will get the Capital.

YOUNG MAN: That's what I meant; What are you going
to say about it? Or do?

MADISON MAN : Nothing in the question to fight about ! Cory-
don is off the line of travel. All the south, Kentucky,
Virginia, the Carolinas come into Indiana through Mad-

YOUNG MAN : And Louisville.

MADISON MAN: Besides, Madison is offering $10,000 for
it; and the vote was a tie, I happen to know, in the
Council. If Governor Harrison had not vetoed the bill
because he owns property at Vincennes, we'd a had it
before this.

YOUNG MAN: And Corydon got a tie vote without $10,000,
I happen to know. Uncle Dennis Pennington is there;
he'll fix it!

SEVERAL : Yes, he'll fix it ! He'll get the Capital for Corydon !

From the north come several men riding horseback.
Eager for news, the Corydon people greet them.

MEN: Will you light? Where from? What's the news?
RIDER: No, we must push on. We're from Vincennes.
MEN : Vincennes ? What's the news ?


RIDERS: Nothing. Hello, hello! See here!

They greet the Madison men, take them to one side ivhile
the others watch with much curiosity. The Madison men
show great disgust and anger at what they hear and then all
four mount their horses and ride off toward Madison. In a
moment Dennis Pennington comes riding down the road from,
the north. There are loud and hearty cheers for him as he
rides in among his neighbors.

PENNINGTON : Ye've won, friends ! Ye've won !
ALL: What, won? Won?

PENNINGTON : Won ! Corydon is the Capital of Indiana Ter-
ritory !

There is long, loud and continued cheering as they throng
about him.

ALL: How'd you do it, Dennis? How'd you do it, Uncle

PENNINGTON : Here, let me down ! Take my horse ! There's
not so much to tell. There was tie vote after tie vote,
until it seemed as most like as if tie votes was the pass-
ing compliment and every cabin in Indiana had had its
compliment, when

ALL: What then, Uncle Dennis, what then?

MRS. SPENCER: Did you let them know the Governor owned
land here, Dennis?

EDWARD SMITH: That's what he done? Told them Harru
son owned land to Corydon and if they wanted to move
the Capital it was here they had the best chance, for
then old Bill would help them all he could !

ALL: Hurray for Uncle Dennis! Hurray! Hurray!


PENNINGTON: Well (laughing) they did seem to have some
such idee, that even if Harrison wa'n't Governor no
more, he had influence. (Loud and long cheering) .
Now, friends, neighbors, we must get ready for the Gov-
ernment. John Gibson is Acting Governor and he never
wastes much time. And President Madison will be send-

1 3

Online LibraryWilliam Chauncy LangdonThe pageant of Corydon, the pioneer capital of Indiana 1816-1916; the drama of the preeminence of the town at the time when for twelve years it was the territorial and the state capital of Indiana → online text (page 1 of 3)