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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.