I have a friend who is very Irish. She’s got the white skin, the red hair, grandparents named Patrick and Bridget…everything. But there are a few branches on her mother’s side that are German…very German. These include generations of people ALL named Emil. I can imagine family gatherings with that family was a lot like my Brown side. We have like 800 Johns. My dad is a John, but when we’re at a family gathering in Ohio, his name is Tom. It was easier that way than having all 800 Johns turn around when someone calls for you. Anyway…I imagine that’s how it was in her very German family with Emils. They were probably nicknamed Heinrich, Klaus, and Lou… or something.
Anyway, when she was in town visiting last year we started working on her family tree. We worked for hours, well into the night. We worked until all her makeup had washed off from tears of laughter. What we discovered was that my friend Amy had VERY deep roots in Southern Indiana in the Catholic German community. One town that stood out to us was Cannelburg, mostly because we had never heard of it before and it was just so obscure. We decided then and there that we WOULD go to Cannelburg. That is what we did last week. We went to Cannelburg and discovered some great places down in Southern Indiana.
I geeked out the nights before our departure and made a Google map of our trip. Of course I forgot to send it to myself before we left and I had to wing it. It worked out.
Stop 1: Bloomington, IN – Farm
Farm is actually a restaurant. Not a farm. They specialize in locally grown and organic foods. They are well known for their breakfasts, and for good reason….jeezy creezy it was good. I could have survived on the biscuits alone, but I ate way more than that. Amy and I went to Indiana University Bloomington, so it’s a nice time when we can revisit Kirkwood and reminisce. I’m glad Farm wasn’t around when I was in school. I would have been even broker.
Stop 2: Scotland, Indiana
Scotland was not the goal. In fact, neither of us had ever heard of Scotland, Indiana. As we drove down the road towards Daviess County Amy saw a small blue sign that just said, “Historic Site”. She made it very apparent that she thought we should go back and see what the site was, and we did. We drove up a massive long hill and came upon the town. We saw what I believe was the “historic site” immediately on our left. This used to be a hotel, and as I drove around the back to turn around there were two remaining outhouses. Fabulous.
I felt a little bit like we were the only people in the whole town, except I also felt like we were being watched the whole time…very Children of the Corn. A very manicured grey poodle ran manically across the street a lot. Like frantic street-crossing. Back and forth. Amy was solicited in the street by a black cat while she tried to take the following pictures. She hates cats. It amused me.
We were running low on gas, and I was afraid a Scotland native was going to grow weary of our picture-taking, so we left.
Stop 3: Some Big Lake or something, Daviess Co. or possible Martin Co., Indiana
So we stopped and got gas. I was pumping and Amy ran in to get something to drink. I’m not sure where my mind was, but it certainly wasn’t on the task at hand. When I finished pumping I pulled up to the gas station and waited for Amy. When she came out she looked a little frazzled. She told me about the conversation of the locals that were in the gas station and the fact that every one of them was smoking in the store. She got out as soon as she could and just hopped in the car. Neither of us were paying attention like we should. I pulled out of the gas station and headed towards Loogootee, what was to be our next stop. About a half hour later I heard Amy say, “Oh Erie! We have to stop!” She explained that our gas flap was open. So I pulled into a parking lot about 1 minute later. It was a parking lot for a lake-side restaurant. As I was opening the door to get out Amy said, “I think there’s supposed to be some big lake around here or something.” I looked up. Ummm….We were completely surrounded by a lake. We were literally on a large peninsula. And I just looked at her and looked at the lake. Really? So that was hilarious, and then I got out and realized that not only was the gas flap open, I didn’t even put the cap on! WHAT?! All of our brain power had obviously been sucked away by Scotland’s charms.
Stop 4: Loogootee, Indiana
We learned that a number of Amy’s ancestors were buried in St. John’s cemetery in Loogootee. They were also baptized and married in its church. The cemetery was a small and peaceful place FULL of surnames we recognized in her tree (Norris, Arvin, McAtee, etc.).
We found good old Hillary, one of her great great great grandfathers (who we often refer to as Hilaire, because of what seems to be a Hilaire-ious census error). We both felt close to Hillary (who’s name is misspelled on his headstone – what?!). So we both had our pics taken with him, in his final resting place.
The church, located about a mile from the cemetery, was “whimsical” as Amy said. Hand-painted angels adorned the walls. Pink was the color palette of choice.
We couldn’t spend too much time in Loogootee so after the church we drove through kind of quickly to get to our next stop.
Stop 5: Washington, Indiana. Daviess County.
I recently read a book that I randomly came upon in a Half-Priced Books. It was called Indiana Gothic, by Pope Brock and was amazing! It was written in a style that reminded me of In Cold Blood, in the sense that it was a true story written like a novel. This Mr. Brock wrote the story of some of his own ancestors that lived in Daviess County around the turn of the century, and later. He had some DRAMA up in his family. His family never talked about but it was saved in the history of public record and newspapers. Almost all of the story took place in Daviess County, specifically Washington, Indiana. So it was kind of fun for me to visit this place. We drove around downtown looking for the library, and finally found it. We headed inside to the Genealogy section and had all of 15 minutes to do a little searching. In that VERY short time we found a ton of stuff. We realized that one day of research in that little room would fill in some gaps. Maybe on her next trip to Indiana.
When the library closed we drove around town for a few minutes. I gave Amy the task of map-reader since I was driving. I quickly learned that Amy doesn’t like to read maps. She may have liked to read maps before she moved to New Orleans, but now life must be lived, and maps are a hindrance. Or maybe she never liked to read maps. So I showed her how to use the maps app on my iPhone and she just continued to stare out the windows with iPhone in hand. This is how the conversations would go:
Me: So where next?
Me: Where to? Do I need to turn here? Check the map.
Amy: Oh, Ummm… (turning phone, looking confused, looking out the window again) Where are we?
Me: Amy! You’re supposed to be the map reader.
Amy: Stop yelling at me! You’re making me work too fast!
So, we finally got moving to our next stop after some wandering…
Stop 6: Black Oak
Really not much going on here. Like…for real. Nothing. We did come upon a LOT of Mennonites in this area. I’m pretty sure the majority of people that lived here are German Dutch or Mennonite or Amish. Most homes had a carriage. We did come upon a very strange place here called the Candy Haus. We thought, “Yay! A small local family owned shop! Let’s stop!” So we followed the signs and came upon a house with a sign inviting us in. What I saw was very strange. There was a strange booth in front of the house with the same vinyl siding as the house, with a man talking on a phone. A woman dressed in a long dress and head covering was walking out towards the booth to go talk to the man. Amy kept asking me to stop and I had to repeatedly say, “Amy! They’re in a phone booth! In their front yard! I am not stopping!” I think after the 3rd or 4th time I explained it to her she also decided that stopping would be weird…you know, while they were in the phone booth.
We drove on.
Stop 7: Cannelburg. Finally.
This location was our main goal. Many of Amy’s family members lived in farmland immediately surrounding Cannelburg (also sometimes spelled Cannellburg). Cannelburg was very similar to Black Oak, but actually still had the post office that Black Oak has since lost. The post office and meat processing center seems to be the center of this bustling town (even though it’s not nearly big enough to be a town). As we were driving around town, I saw a street we hadn’t driven down yet (keep in mind we drove through the rest of the streets in like 10 minutes, including Amy’s stops to take photos). We turned down the road and what I saw was amazing. A shed, made of wood with some weird metal covering, with a sign proclaiming it as the “town” jail.
At first we thought Cannelburgians were just Hilaire-ious. But then we started discussing whether this actually could have been a jailhouse for the town. We decided that it totally was, and knowing Amy’s love for bourbon, her family members were probably there from time to time.
That was it. That was Cannelburg. At first it was sort of a letdown, but the “jailhouse” made this stop totally worth it.
We wanted to get to French Lick so we started out of town and started the scenic drive.
Stop 8: Shoals, Indiana
Shoals, Indiana is one of the prettiest little areas I have seen in Southern Indiana. I have been through a lot of our state and had never been to Shoals. I might be back.
Stop 9: French Lick, Indiana
We both love French Lick and West Baden, Indiana. If you live in Indiana or Kentucky and have never been here, please go. You will be shocked and amazed by the two gorgeous hotels located here. Not only are the hotels gorgeous, but the renovation of the hotels and creation of the casino in town has lead to a movement of economic revitalization in the community. The downtown has way more going on, and it’s so cute.
On the drive to French Lick I had a small meltdown. I get carsick now. This is something that’s gotten progressively worse since I’ve gotten older. It’s usually fine as long as I’m driving. The roads from Cannelburg to French Lick were SOOOO windy though. I don’t think it helped that I was very hungry. When we found a place to eat in French Lick I was truly thinking to myself, “I can’t get back in that car tonight. We are going to have to stay here. Or Amy will have to drive back and Andrew will have to pick me up tomorrow. I cannot get back in that car.” I didn’t say these things out loud cause I was REALLY hoping it would pass. It did. We got a mediocre dinner downtown and headed over to the West Baden Hotel, the more impressive of the two hotels. We stopped at the precious little ice cream shop and I got some Rocky Road, which brought be completely back to life. We sat in the massive atrium, ate, people watched, and just relaxed.
Stop 10: Home
We rocked out to Elvis Presley. Isn’t Suspicious Minds a fabulous song?
We got home.