Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Lesson in Indiana History-Part 2

If you've never driven through a covered bridge, you really should try it sometime.

Stopping in the middle and viewing the rough hewn beams and timbers can evoke images of a time long past. As we drove our Jeep through the bridge to the other side, I found myself wondering how many horse drawn buggies of yesteryear had clip-clopped over this sturdy old monument to history. I could imagine barefoot kids with picnic baskets and cane poles headed to Cornstalk creek to fish or play in the water on a hot summer day. Maybe Chief Peter Cornstalk and his people had even caught fish in this very creek? It was supposedly named for him. I was even beginning to think that maybe there really had been a Chief Peter Cornstalk after all!

Continuing on our journey, the country gravel road followed the creek twisting and turning for a while. To our left, fields of corn and beans were starting to turn golden for the upcoming fall harvest. We soon found ourselves at the proverbial fork in the road and had to decide which way to go. Should we veer slightly to the left and stay on what we learned was Cornstalk road or do we go right, which looked every bit as inviting. It didn't seem a hard decision as we both felt drawn to the left and with that, decided our muse was telling us to 'stay the course' and so we did.

Within no time we came upon a small wooded and somewhat overgrown meadow. Had the roadside frontage not been cared for and mowed, we might have missed another opportunity to visit history. There, not but a few feet from the road stood a small marker identifying the Cornstalk Cemetery, established, 1829.The temptation to explore the old gravestones was too great. The thought of tromping through weeds, poison ivy, burrs and stickers could not deter me from getting a closer look. I must admit though, the idea of slithery, crawly things hiding in those weeds did make me pause,
but not for long! I wanted to explore what was there.

Headstones of five Civil War Veterans from the Indiana and Virginia infantries


Look closely in the weeds toward the back of the picture and you will see headstones standing tall next to the trees and in the streaming sunlight

Grave stone of infant Mary Graybill, 4 months, 13 days
Died 1841


The largest and most ornate headstone in the plot. Dates on most markers were from the early to mid 1800's

As we wandered through the weeds and grave markers in the eerily quiet solitude of the place, one could only wonder about the people buried in this somewhat forgotten glen.
Who were they, what had their lives been like?

Although the stones we found in the Cornstalk Cemetery most certainly were those of settlers from the area, it made me more curious than ever to get home and Google Chief Peter Cornstalk. Who was he?

I'm guessing that my next Blog post will have something to do with that very subject!

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Lesson in Indiana History-Part 1

Sunday, Sept. 20th, was not a particularly unusual day, except maybe to me since it was the 2nd anniversary of my 28th birthday! To everyone else, it was just a gloomy pre-fall day with the threat of rain in the air.

With no particular plans for the day, I decided I wanted to hop in the Jeep and just drive. You know, head out for no where special in mind and see what the day brings. We like to call it, "following our muse". Maybe we would find a unique antiques store or some out of the way dive to eat lunch, who knows! It's something we like to do and unknown adventures are always around the next corner. Little did we know this adventure would turn into a history lesson!

Leaving the house and heading west on State Rd. 47 we breezed through Thorntown. Living only 10 or so minutes away, we weren't too interested in stopping as next weekend is the annual Festival of the Turning Leaves and we will likely end up there anyway. For information on this quaint little festival, visit the website at: You will also find some interesting facts about the town's birth. The Festival is a great event for families and only a short drive north and west of Indianapolis.

Following State Road 47 out of Thorntown led us through some beautiful rolling farm land. Lovely grand old homes, horses a'plenty and we were even surprised to see a couple of longhorn cattle. A few miles out of town, we spied a sign announcing a community called Darlington. Never having been there, and since it's not even on the map, we couldn't resist and veered off to the right. At first we weren't certain we'd made a good decision as the first thing we came to was a stately old cemetery, with five of the largest crows I've ever seen standing guard over several tombstones. It was a Kodak moment for sure and wouldn't you know, I hadn't brought my camera.

Despite the seemingly good sized cemetery, the community of Darlington is charming, albeit small. Unable to locate a diner or cafe or actually, anything that was open, we moved on. As we left the quiet little burg we were surprised to find a beautiful covered bridge on the outskirts of town. Built in 1866 and 166 feet long, the bridge did not appear accessible by car. We chose not to get out and walk down to visit the bridge, our muse seemed to be pushing us on.

If you are thinking about visiting the Thorntown Festival,
a quick side trip to visit this historical bridge in Darlington would make for a great family outing

Leaving Darlington and passing through Crawfordsville, we continued our trek down St. Rd 47 and somewhere between there and the unincorporated community of Parkersburg, the sun came out. A historical marker on the side of the road caught our attention so we stopped to check it out. Nearby this marker there is also a sign pointing out a natural spring that was established in 1822.

The historical marker was quite interesting! Chief Peter Cornstalk??? Never heard of him! I remember learning about the Miami tribe of Indians when I was in school, but not this particular Chief. Was it a joke, a name someone made up??? Surely not as this information was prominently displayed on a Montgomery County Historical Marker.

It was disappointing that the sign mentioned the Indian villiage had been only 3 miles from the spot but gave no further direction as to East, West, North or South. As we continued on our journey, I determined to Google the Chief when I got home and was certain I would never find information to support the marker.

Just after driving through Parkersburg (and not blinking) a road sign appeared telling us that Racoon, Indiana was just off the beaten path to our left. Suddenly our muse kicked into high gear and we were off like a shot. At the time we had NO idea why we felt compelled to check out this supposed town named after a furry Indiana native but we did. We are not sure if we ever really drove though Racoon, Indiana. If we did, all that was there were a few houses, some occupied, some abandoned.

The paved road we were on came to a abrupt end and we found ourselves sailing down a gravel path that looked, for all the world, more like a private drive than a public road. Normally a gravel road would not have been our choice no matter what our muse was saying but that's because we typically have the top off the Jeep on our adventures. Not this day though and we forged ahead. We wound our way past farms, trees and hills when all of a sudden around the next bend we came face to face with a covered bridge. Not a bridge we had to get out and walk to in order to visit, but a real covered bridge we could drive over! I yelled "stop" to my pilot as by now I realized I had my camera phone with me and nothing was going to keep me from capturing a shot.

To my amazement another marker declared the bridge and the creek passing under it, named for Chief Peter Cornstalk. This sign having been placed there by the Putnam County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The creek, Cornstalk Creek, had a small measure of water flowing down it's banks with a few floating fall colored dappled leaves dotting the top of the water here and there.

I'm going to stop my adventure here for now and will post Part 2 shortly. Don't want to bore anyone with such a long tale and besides, it's late and am having trouble keeping my eyes open! I hope you will stay tuned for Part 2 as the adventure became even more interesting after we passed through the Cornstalk Bridge! You won't want to miss it.

About Me!

I set up this blog back in June I think and that's as far as it went. I am such a perfectionist that I couldn't make myself sit down and write about anything because I wasn't sure I'd get it right or what should I write about that someone would want to read AND somebody might read it so it has to be right....right?

Well today I decided enough is enough and I'm just going to get started. I'm not perfect (of course I 'think' I should be!) so my blog shouldn't have to be either! So we shall see what comes out. To get going, I'm going to jump in and tell you a little about me.

I was raised in the country in the middle of Indiana. Farm country. My dad worked a full-time job, a couple of part-time jobs and he also farmed on the side. Mom worked at home raising all 4 kids. We kids grew up running around the acres, getting dirty so mom had plenty of work to do and probably wreaking more havoc than either of our parents thought necessary! We played and worked from dawn til dusk. My 3 brothers helped dad with the farming. I didn't, I was just 'a girl' and women's lib hadn't hit the newstands and tv's yet. A bone of contention with me that I didn't realize until later in life, but that's a whole other story!

My 'farm' job was to feed the sheep, my ponies and later, my horse. Of course, being the girl, housework was always included. One of my favorite memory's was getting to ride in the big red grain truck to the elevator on Saturdays whenever there was a load to sell. I loved it! I remember the dusty smell, the noisy sparrows rushing in to get their share of the goods! The best part was getting a coke out of the machine. Back then, cokes were sold out of those machines for a dime I think and were bottled in glass, not cans like we have today! If we were lucky OR good (not sure what the criteria was) we'd get to bring home bakery goods that sat on the table all morning to be enjoyed by us and anyone stopping by.

I have lots of stories I could tell about growing up on the farm but then I'd be here all day so I think I will fast forward to today and save some of those early memory's for another time. Suffice it to say that I believe you can take the girl out of the country but you can't take the country out of the girl. And that's me. I grew up, got married, moved to town, had kids, moved back to the country and here I am. I've lived the majority of my life, except for maybe 8 or 9 years, in the country. Consequently, I'm pretty sure that many of the stories that I hope to write on this blog will have something to do with my rural roots!

Thanks for stopping by!
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