A Return to Daviess County

Months ago I made my first trip to Daviess County.  I posted about it in December here.

My friend Amy was back in Indianapolis, taking a vacation from New Orleans (huh…).  We decided last fall that we just hadn’t gotten enough of this area and that we would have to come back.  So that’s what we did this weekend.  It was a delight.  We learned a ton!  We found many many tombstones of family members.  We visited the home churches of Amy’s family.  We even danced in a cornfield and in a Dairy Queen drive-thru.  It doesn’t get much better than that on a chilly spring Saturday.

Stop 1: GOP Conference Cornfield

We left Indianapolis early after a delightful breakfast at Sister’s Restaurant.  We took I-70 over to Cloverdale and went south all the way to Washington.  The drive was beautiful.  The weather was weird.  Super cloudy and eerie, and then the clouds would go and it was bright blue skies, and then back to grey and sad, then BLUE!  We got pretty close to Washington when we saw a sign for a Historical Marker down another road.  We stop for all historical markers.  So we turned down a small country road, crossed some RR tracks and ended up at a marker in the middle of a cornfield.

We learned from the marker that the GOP had a rally/conference/meeting in this cornfield during the elections in 1938.  We also discovered that they buried a time capsule at the site that is not to be opened till 2038.  I loooove time capsules (or at least the idea behind them), so needless to say I got really excited.  As I was lying on the ground, posing for a picture with the time capsule spot I saw a dead turtle near my head and ran away.  Bleh.

I might be too excited about this time capsule. I kind of want to show up for this opening in 2038. I wonder if the neighbors would think that was weird.

We then walked on the dusty road a bit and smelled the air because it was so so so clean.  It was absolutely silent.  I forgot now nice it is to be in the country sometimes.  We attempted to enjoy the country by dancing and playing airplane in the road.  It was enjoyable.  It worked.

Erin airplaning

 

Amy dancing

We drove through a couple of small towns of note:

  • Freedom, Indiana – Home of an Indiana libertarian that Amy heard speak, who moved here because the name of the town was “Freedom”.  Gag.
  • Elnora – Sad.  This town looked like it had seen better days.
  • Newberry – Cute but very tiny town.

We finally got to Washington and Amy got us to the library without any help of a map.  Amazing!  Yay Amy!  I think she has such a good memory of how to get there because of the stress I caused her trying to get there last time.

Stop 2:  Washington Public Library, Washington, Indiana

Simply put, this is a beautiful Carnegie library.  It’s just so pretty.  The exterior is solid and the interior is broken into small rooms, but somehow still feels open and airy.  I loved it.  We came here last time we were in town and got here 15 minutes before it closed because it closes at 2 on a Saturday!  What use is that?

We camped out at a room in the genealogy section on the other side of the bookshelf from a serial grunter.  We knew exactly how successful his research endeavors were going based on the grunting.  He was often confused, frustrated, and then every once in awhile successful (these were a higher pitched grunt-more of a sigh).

We began scanning the shelves and immediately found histories of the Arvin family, which was the maiden name of Amy’s grandmother.  There was even a published book about the entire history of the Arvin family in the area and how they got there.  It was pretty amazing.  We found her great grandfather, great great grandfather, and so on.

Now, one thing about my friend Amy is that she is really Catholic.  Like we’ve been working on her tree for a while now and I hadn’t found a single relative of hers yet that was not Catholic.   It’s a part of her identity.  I can only imagine a tragedy unfolding if she ever found out she wasn’t 100% Catholic (oh…the guilt).  Then the Arvin book did what I was supposed to keep secret if I ever found out.  Henry Arvin, the man who brought the family to Indiana was a Catholic convert (a 400 pound one at that, who was too big to farm) and was most likely Baptist before he converted to his wife’s religion.  Amy went through a series of facial transformations that had me laughing so hard I thought I was going to run the grunter out of the room.

This is her actually finding the text that he was a convert. When she gasped I grabbed my camera.

Feeling the shock.

Attempting to deal with the news.

After the discovery of the Arvin information we continued to find information of the family in wedding records, church records, and county information.  It was a pretty successful trip despite the fact that we only had 3.5 hours there.  Before we left I used the information we got from our research there to plot out the next portion of our trip.

Stop 3: St. Peter’s Church – Montgomery, Indiana

St. Peter's Cemetery in Montgomery, Indiana

We headed to St. Peter’s Church in Montgomery, a large church in a tiny town.  The older part of the cemetery here was much larger than that of the rest of the cemeteries we visited that day.  It was on a hill and quite scenic.  We were able to find quite a few people named Arvin, including a grandparent!  Win!

As we were driving out of Montgomery, we saw a sign for an Amish Village down the street.  Obviously we had to go.  We turned a corner and there was an entire “village” of white buildings with a couple buggies and some horses.  There were also a TON of older folks milling around the grounds and shopping.  What we came upon was Gasthof Amish Village.  There was a hotel, a bakery, an antique shop (maybe more than one), a restaurant, buggy rides, nature, and more.  We walked around in sort of a stunned, open-mouthed stupor.  Where did this come from?  Where are we?  Is that singing?  What is this place?  We gave up trying to figure out most of the answers to these questions and continued onto Cannelburg!

Stop 4: Cannelburg, Indiana (again!)

We visited Cannelburg the last time we were here and loved it.  We had to go back to see the Catholic Church and see if we missed a cemetery that might have been there.  All Saints Catholic Church was there and we decided that those parishioners were most likely buried in St. Peter’s.  We revisited our favorite Cannelburg landmark, the Cannelburg Jailhouse.

Amy got gutsy, got out, and decided to give a little peek inside said jailhouse to find out what’s going on in there.

Amy being brave.

Turns out it was just a shed.  Boo!  I think she was hoping to see some shackles and a tin cup for water.  No such luck.

Stop 5 : St. Mary’s Cemetery (unplanned)

This was unplanned because this church has burned and is no longer listed on any maps.  In fact, the cemetery that is adjacent to the burned church is not even listed on Google Maps.  I have looked for it since and cannot find it again!  Well, I’m glad we turned around and followed the signs toward St. Mary’s because we found a ton of Amy’s relatives there.  For those of you looking for this place, the church (no longer open) and cemetery are located at County Road 1200 East and County Road 350 North, on the NW side of the intersection, just south of West Boggs Lake. The most important things we found here were numerous McAtee graves.

St. Mary's Cemetery - Headstone of Daniel McAtee, Amy's 4th great grandfather

We loved that we found this place without planning for it.  The opportunity presented itself and we had to go.  And it was awesome.

Stop 6 – St. Martin Church and Cemetery, Whitfield, Indiana

Based on Google Maps I was pretty sure Whitfield was going to be a small town.  I was right.  I’m pretty sure Whitfield consists of the church and a couple of houses.  The church is a pretty white building, reminiscent of New England country churches.   The Anticipation service was going on at St. Martin while we were visiting the cemetery and when church was out we were able to actually go inside.  It was an older church and the interior was cozy and simple.  The churchgoers seemed friendly and didn’t look at us like we were criminals, which was nice.  Amy was convinced that most of these people were probably her cousins.  She was waiting to get invited home to meet the relatives.

St. Martin Church, Whitfield, Indiana

We found the one grave we were really hoping to find, that of Anna Dell (McAtee) Arvin.  This is Amy’s great grandmother.  She was delighted to find it.  It wasn’t until we got to St. Martin that she felt any sort of connection to the area.  Earlier, as we were driving away from Montgomery, I said, “It’s so weird that your people are from here…isn’t it?”  And she said, “I was just thinking that.  I feel like no connection to this.”  But she loved St. Martin, and now wants to go to the Hog Roast they’re having this summer.

Stop 7 – Hindostan Falls, AKA Disasterland

Things had been going too well.  Other than a Mexican food lunch and stomach issue, the trip had been too perfect.  So something had to go awry.

When I looked at the map, I noticed that heading away from Whitfield and driving towards French Lick we could make a little stop in a town called Hindostan Falls.  There isn’t anything left of the town anymore (which used to be the almost the same size as Louisville back in the earlier part of the 19th century).  It’s now a small recreational area.  That would be nice, right?  No.  It wasn’t.

The drive started out fine, till we saw two cars pulled off on the side of the road.  It looked like a back country drug deal.  I’m sure it wasn’t, but I made a joke about it and Amy got stressed.  Then the County Road we were on turned into a gravel road.  Amy got more stressed.  A bridge showed up ahead of us and she said, “You’re not taking my car over that, are you?”  I really considered turning around because she looked like she was going to have a panic attack.  Then as I was getting ready to switch into reverse, a truck pulled up behind us.  “Welp, looks like we have to go over!”.  And we did.  And it was fine.  The road turned back into pavement and it seemed like we were out of the woods.  I wasn’t aware that we would soon be in the mud.

Brooks Bridge - On the way to Hindostan Falls.

Southern Indiana has seen its fair share of flooding this spring.  I was not, however, aware that there were still flooding issues.  The street began to look dirty, then muddy, then mud.  Like there was no street.  Just mud.  I soon realized that if I stopped the car, we would probably stay stopped for good.  So I very very carefully maneuvered the car into a U-turn and started going back the way we came.  The man in the pickup truck was walking towards us with two kids.  As we got closer, I rolled down my window as I slowly rode by and said, “This mud is horrible!  I had no idea!”.  He said, “Just be careful, I looked over at the river and all of a sudden my truck was off the road.”  I realized that they were walking cause their massive truck got stuck.  I realized there was nothing we could do for these people.  If we stopped we would stay stopped.  We had no phone reception.  We couldn’t help push that thing out, they needed a massive truck for a tow.  Their only chance was to get to one of the neighboring houses, and luckily there were a few nearby.  I just kept thinking, “Move on!  Save yourself!”

Driving out of the mud. Ugh. Muck muck muck.

We finally got back to pavement and decided to NOT go back towards the scary bridge.  We passed a church that we were convinced was called “The Church of the Gross” because they had a very unfortunate graphic designer for their font.  It was, in fact, called the Church of the Cross.  We laughed…a lot.  We soon made it to French Lick. (sigh)

Stop 8 – French Lick, Indiana

When is French Lick not a good idea?  Never.  Both Amy and I love French Lick.  We stopped by the French Lick Winery for dinner and had a wine tasting while we were waiting for our food.  Neither of us bought any wine, but I was definitely tempted.  After dinner Amy was very interested in a mini-Blizzard from Dairy Queen.  And who am I to say “no” to Dairy Queen?

Amy played DJ during our entire trip and did a pretty good job throughout.  When we got to Dairy Queen she really hit her DJing high point.  She turned on the new Justin Timberlake and Timbaland song, Carry Out.  If you haven’t heard this song, I would highly recommend it.  I was skeptical of it myself, but after watching the ridiculous video I was completely won over.  We danced.  The guy behind us was very amused.  And then MotownPhilly came on.  It was kind of awesome.  We listened to three fabulous dance tunes before we got our mini-Blizzard.  We didn’t mind waiting.

Post blizzard we headed back towards Indy.

Stop 9 – Home

Dead dead deadski.  Home and to bed.

 

 

 

 

O Cannelburg, O Cannelburg, How Lovely are Thy Jails

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.

Scotland, Indiana.  National Register of Historic Places

This is Scotland. The Scotland Hotel is the blue building on the left. This is now a residence, but there is a marker in front of the home declaring its place in the National Historic Register.

Stop signs, Scotland, Indiana.

Scotland really wants you to stop here. One stop sign is just not enough. Also they want you to know that they are an OFFICIAL community. They have a sign that says so. It doesn't matter that this is a sign from when Robert Orr was governor of the state (1981-1989).

General Store in Scotland, Indiana.  Osh Kosh B'Gosh advertisement.

A fun little general store we saw as we drove around town. This place was vacant except for the many motorcycles inside.

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.

Daviess County and Martin County Indiana

So here I am, in front of the MASSIVE lake Amy just kind of missed, putting on the bright yellow gas cap we both missed.

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.).

Catholic cemetery, Martin County, Indiana

St. John's Cemetery in Loogootee, Indiana on a cloudy day.

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.

Hillery McAtee, Martin County, St. John's Cemetery

Amy, showing love to the McAtee ancestry. "What up, g-pa?!"

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.

St. John's Catholic Church in Martin County, Indiana, Loogootee.

St. John's Catholic Church in Loogootee. You could use this church as the template for an 8 year old girl's bedroom concept. Very pink.

It was just sitting there! I kind of wanted to take one. Like they were preparing to sell them at the next bake-sale.

Confessional sign

How awesome is this sign that was built in over the confessional booths? What is with that fabulous font?! I kind of loved it.

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?

Amy: What?

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.

Cannelburg jail, Daviess County, Indiana

If you cannot read the sign in this picture, it reads Cannelburg Jailhouse, Est. 1890.

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.

Overlook in Shoals Indiana

They had an amazing little overlook along the route to French Lick so we had to stop and take pictures.

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.

French Lick church

Please visit French Lick and West Baden. This is part of the adorable downtown, settled in what is known as Springs Valley.

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.