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Appendix V. – The Past and Present of Indiana Contrasted – Progress

            Many contrasts between the past and present of this region have already been incidentally presented, and many others will at once occur to the mind of every reader.  One of the most striking of these contrasts will be seen in the simple statement, derived from the records, that the total of the taxes of Wayne county for the year 1818 (the duplicated of that year was the earliest one I could lay hands on), amounted to only $3,539 48, while for the year 1856, the same total was $90.312 98, not including the taxes on railroad stocks, amounting to about $1,000 more.

            Although, in his Memoir, Judge Hoover declines attempting to not the march of progress which he has witnessed, he had, on the advent of the locomotive at Richmond, March 18, 1853, made a fair essay in that direction, an extract from which, as published in the newspapers of that time, I annex:

            “This is a day that should be remembered.  What a field is open for contemplation and reflection!  What new scenes and changes have taken place within the last fifty years, especially to one who has passed through the whole scene, from the time there was no road, not even a ‘blazed’ pathway in what is now Wayne county.  I much regret that I have not the capacity or the language to do justice to my feelings on this occasion.  Forty-seven years ago, myself and four others traced a section line more than thirty miles through an unbroken forest, to where I am now living.  At that time the Indian boundary was about three miles west of Richmond.  The country west of it, to the Pacific, then belonged to the natives.  In the language of Milton ‘the world then lay before us, where to choose.’  The first human beings we saw were two Indian trappers and their squaws.*  They were encamped near where the Railroad Bridge now stands.  They informed us by holding up their fingers, that it was about ‘three miles to white man’s house.’  We then went down the stream to where Richard Rue then lived.  Richard Rue, George Holman, Thomas McCoy and a few others had located themselves there the spring before, in the year 1805.  With these exceptions there were but few settlers within twenty miles of this place.  The principal settlements in what is now the State of Indiana, at that time, were at Vincennes, and what was called Clark’s Grand, and about Lawrenceburg, scattering up Whitewater to some distance above Brookville.  I have not the statistics before me, but I do not suppose there were ten thousand inhabitants in the bounds of what is now the State of Indiana, and what now contains at least one million of inhabitants.”

 

                *This appears to have been a favorite region with the Indians, judging from their occasional mounds, which may yet be seen, in the most beautiful localities.  These contain bones, and the other things usually to be found in similar works.

                Extract from an “Annuary, or a bird’s-eye view of the world, cast in rhyme, from the altitude and for the latitude of Richmond, Indiana,” published in the “Palladium,” January, 1854.

 

 

Of Richmond, first, I tune my strain –

The Queen of all the Hoosier plain –

By Art and Nature Jointly crowned,

A fairer nowhere can be found.

But late she was a rustic maid,

In sweet simplicity arrayed –

A grave and quiet Quaker dame,

To whom earth’s jars were but a name:

Long held she thus her peaceful sway,

Unknowing increase or decay.

But lo! What marvels now appear,

Revealed in scarcely half a year!

The placid face she used to wear

Is changed to one of busy care;

She now affects “the latest style,”

And scarcely can forbear a smile

At the demure and simple ways

Which signalized her earlier days;

She scorns the “Warner Building,” quite

Nor things “Friends’ Meeting House” a sight.

“Improvement” is the magic word

From all her streets and borders heard;

The fierce imprisoned Power of Steam

In fetters strong is heard to scream,

The while he crowds and commerce brings –

A fiery dragon, scorning wings!

The throng and bustle daily here

Seem – I confess the notion’s queer –

Like “Yearly Meeting” all the year!

“Old Settlers” in amazed surprise,

Can scarcely believe their very eyes;

And could John Smith return to greet

Hiss village on her ancient seat,

Not Rip Van Winkle was more sorely

Puzzled than he would be, most surely!

I doubt if He’d believe his senses,

Or think the times would “pay expenses!”

 

‘Tis said – I vouch not for the truth –

That in this region’s freshest youth,

While yet the Red man’s sway was o’er it,

And Nature’s glass unmarred before it –

Thick waived the old woods on its bosom,

O’er many a low, wild shrub and blossom –

The stream, by bridge or dam unspanned,

Flowed free, rejoicing all the land,

While from each cliff ‘neath which it passes,

The cedars hung in blackening masses –

That even then were heard portents,

Revealed by all the elements,

Of wondrous subsequent events,

That oft, at summer day’s declining,

In one harmonious strain combining,

Soil, stream, woods, rocks, rehearsed the story,

A future city’s pride and glory,

Destined upon this spot to stand,

And bless and beautify the land.

The trembling Indian heard the token,

By all the winds and waters spoken,

And knew that he his favorite home

Must yield, in stranger wilds to roam;

But the good Carolina fathers

Heard not the voice, reserved for others,

Nor here thought but of a plantation,

Perchance for many a generation,

Nor of the smiling country round,

Save as the Red man’s hunting-ground,

From which, at will, to make selections

“Of game and range and quarter sections,”

And, faithless thus on Pisgah’s height,

Saw not the future’s goodly sight.

 

But lo! Revealed to modern eye,

The sure word of this prophesy!

A prosperous city’s peopled mart,

Replete with comfort, taste and art –

And, in as sure anticipation,

Its rapid, steady augmentation.

 

A greeting, now, to good “Old Wayne” –

Lost Paradise restored again –

The Nonpareil of all the West –

The very best among the best!

The favorite of all her sons,

Her daughters and her little ones –

Their pride and pleasure when at home,

Their longing “wherso’er they roam” –

The wonder, envy, admiration,

Of God’s sublunary creation –

O’erflowing with angelic women,

Nor wanting more in good and true men –

Blest in the various means of wealth,

And doubly blest in constant health –

Crowned with new progress, ancient glory,

The paragon of song and story!

 

Such, truly, is the brightest gem,

Of Indiana’s diadem;

But countless others sparkle there,

Only less wondrous, rich and rare;

In sooth, her treasure is not told,

Her scroll of progress yet unrolled:

As yet we only view the dawn –

The “perfect day” hastes beaming on,

When, on our banner’s azure field,

Ours to no sister star shall yield.

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