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            The following, which is a sort of epitome of the most interesting points in the annals of this region during the war of 1812, first appeared in the Indiana Republican, published at Indianapolis.

 

 

LINES ON A LAND WARRANT:

 

Granted by the United States, January 13th, 1853, to Rebecca -------, widow of Isaac -----, Private Captain Enos Butler’s Company, 8th Regiment, Indiana Militia ( Col. Geo. Hunt, Commander), in the war of 1812.

______

 

WITH ORIGINAL HISTORICAL AND TRADITIONAL ANNOTATIONS

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PART I.

 

What subtle magic dwells in thee,

            Thou pictured Parchment Scroll?

For as I gaze, methinks I see

            The Past its page unroll,-

 

That fresh, ideal page, as yet

            By actual eye or pen untraced,

But worthy to be nobly writ,

            And ne’er to be effaced.

 

And two score years are gone – they stand

            For nought before my vision now,

But still I see my native land,

            God’s crown upon her brow,-

           

His crown of dark and mighty woods,

            Gemmed thick with flowery, grassy vales;

She chants, amid her solitudes,

            On all the murmuring gales.

 

Swelling upon my wondering gaze,

            O’er Whitewater’s wide-branching streams,

Extends, unmarred, the boundless maze—

            A sea of verdure gleams,-

 

Save that, at wide-spread intervals,

            The dark green maize luxuriant grows,

And hearth-fire smoke, from cabin halls,

            Curls o’er the forest bough!

 

And “deadenings” dim the greenwood’s pride,

            And scattered “clearings” cloud the skies—

An infant Empire’s altar fires

            To Him who bids her rise!

 

Scarce fairer shone Kentucky’s face,

            With Nature’s music all in tune,

And fraught with all her wealth and grace,

            To valiant Daniel Boone,-

 

When, like a captive damsel bright,

            In bridal vestments rich arrayed,

She yielded to her own true knight—

            The proud and peerless maid!

                 __________

 

Lo, where the forest melts away

            Before the sturdy woodman’s hand,

I, in this magic scroll, survey

            A manly figure stand.

 

Where, now, young Richmond’s spires ascend,

            He hurls the leafy giants down;

Then seeks, by Noland’s winding stream, [1]

            A spot to make his own.

 

I mark his late and early toils—

            I mark his lowly cabin rise,

Where the majestic woods around

            Almost shut out the skies.

 

Wild vines and shrubs and flowers are there;

            The hawthorn blossoms by the stream,-

In sooth, a sylvan scene more fair

            Ne’er graced a poet’s dream.

 

I mark the household fires first rise,

            Where manhood’s pride, and woman’s truth

In simplest guise, Home’s altar reared,

            In strong and hopeful youth.

 

The ax and maul, the plow and hoe—

            The busy wheel and sounding loom—

Fed well, and clad from top to toe—

            Gave strength and healthful bloom. [2]

 

‘Twas Eden bright on earth renewed,-

            But lo, that manly, vigorous frame,

With deepest reverence now I see—

            It bears a father’s name!

 

And gazing still, I half forget

            That now, for thirty years and more,

That form has mingled with the dust

            On Wabash’s lonely shore,-

 

That sweetest glade above the stream,

            Where late I reared, to mark the spot,

A simple stone—that there he sleeps

            Alone, but unforgot.

 

Alas! How bitter was his fate—

            A pioneer with grief alone—

While others reap the harvest rich

            His toils and sufferings won!

 

But truce to private woes—for lo!

            The prospect widens—and I see

Innumerous woodland germs revealed

            Of empire yet to be—

 

Innumerous scenes of toil and grief—

            Vast sacrifice of blood and tears!

That ease and luxury might fill

            The land through future years!

 

O, “men of these degenerate days!”

            How little do you think, or care,

Of those whose toils and sufferings

            Won you your homes so fair!

 

Arouse ye from your sordid sins,

            And prune your flaunting follies down;

Think of your plain, unselfish sires,

            And strive for such renown!

 

 

PART II.

 

Such was the scene, one autumn bright,

            While yet stood ripe the ungathered corn,

When “wild war’s deadly blast” abroad

            On all the winds was borne!

 

For great Tecumseh’s soul had breathed

            Throughout his race, in the North-west,

To hurl the invaders of their soil

            Forever from its breast.

 

And nearer drew the threat’ning cloud,

            And wilder and more fearful grew,

Although the savage had been foiled

            At dark Tippecanoe.

 

Ah! Then, by lonely cabin hearths,

            Hoe many a bosom thrilled with fear—

The blight of budding hope and joy

            In that declining year!

 

In midnight vigils, lone and long,

            How many a mother pressed her child,

While but the piercing, wintry wind

            The tedious hours beguiled!

 

While, like true men, the pioneers

            Swift rallied at their country’s call

Mustered at famous Salisbury town,  [3]

            I see them gathered all.

 

Brave, simple, upright, stalwart men—

            With hunting-shirt and rifle dight—

Of generous feeling—prompt of deed—

            They form a goodly sight.

 

What though rude passion o’er their minds—

            What though the intoxicating bowl,

Inspiring fierce and brutal strife,  [4]

            Too often claimed control?

 

Yet they were men, and not in vain,

            The infant land to them appealed,

To hold the savage horde at bay

            In fort or tented field.

 

And now, to this or that consigned,

            These rural heroes wend their way,-

But long will they delight to tell,

            Of that great “Muster-day!” [5]

 

Now scour they the green wood wide,

            To seek the savage in his lair, [6]

While many a massive block-house [7] owns

            Their watchful, guardian care.

 

Yet for the savage, be it said,

            He aimed to shed no peaceful blood,-

While those who sought to do him wrong,

            He marked and understood.

 

Charles Morgan oft had rashly vowed

            That he would have an Indian’s life—

Ere long, his own skull bare was laid

            Beneath the scalping knife!

 

While sugar-making in the woods—

            He and his brother, by their fires—

The unseen marksman sought the sweets

            His fierce revenge requires.

 

Across the raging, flickering flames

            He case his warm and bleeding prey—

Sad sight, those mutilated forms,

            At coming dawn of day! [8]

 

Such was the fate of one, the pride

            Of all Kentucky’s “chivalry,”

While peaceful, persecuted [9] “Friends,”

            Dwelt from all danger free.

 

Such scenes conspired to freeze all hearts

            With horror and abiding fear—

Their dearest hope, the storm would pass,

            And loved peace re-appear!

 

Meantime, not all was dark within

            Each forest fortalice—for there

The merry jest and laugh oft-times

            Dispelled war’s sterner care.

 

And manly pleasures were their pride,

            To leap, to wrestle, or to run,

Or fling the quoit—old Greece ne’er saw

            Her wreaths more nobly won.

 

By day to test the rifle’s aim

            At target or the living chase—

At night the song [10], from woman’s lips,

            Cheered the ride dwelling place.

                     ___________

 

Such are the visions, as I gaze,

            That strangely from thy page unroll,

In living hues of light and shade,

            Thou pretty Parchment Scroll!

 

I rouse to see my native land—

            Still fresh and fair her glorious face—

Time has but touched her lineaments

            With a maturer grace.

 

Then, thanks to God for such a land—

            For those whose willing hearts were bared

To shield her in her hour of need—

            Worthy her best reward!

 

No advocate of blood am I—

            No scorner of the red man’s right—

Yet wife and child’s appealing eye

            Might well make true men fight!

 

And He, their common Father, who

            Placed the two races face to face,

Decide between them—we, at best,

            Ill suit the Judge’s place.

 

May our great nation ne’er be known—

            (The wish I dare, and close my song),

Than guerdon thus her pioneers—

            To do a greater wrong!

 

So, to the latest bound of time—

            Battling for Country and for Right—

Her generous care shall make her sons

            Invincible in fight!

 

WAYNE COUNTY, INDIANA, 1855.

 


[1] Noland’s Fork of Whitewater, so called from its first settler, Daniel Noland.

[2] For the enlightenment of the “nice young men” and lack-a-daisical misses of the present day, it may be necessary to say that the above is a strictly accurate picture of the general mode of life in the West at the period referred to, and, indeed, for several years later.

 

[3] Salisbury, the first county seat of Wayne county, was laid off in May, 1812—the spring preceding the time we have referred to.  It is described as follows on the recorded plat, in the handwriting of George Hunt, then Clerk and Recorder:

                “The town of Salisbury stands on a beautiful site on the waters of Clear Creek, Wayne County, Indiana Territory, in a neighborhood environed by rich land, etc.  No better water in the world—the air salubrious—while its elevated situation commands an extensive and beautiful prospect,” etc., etc.

                Old citizens of Indiana remember the long and bitter feud between Salisbury and Centreville, as to which should be the county seat.  The question finally entered into the politics and legislation of the State.  The latter at last triumphed; and the site of the former is now driven over annually by the plow.

 

[4] I have heard from old settlers, graphic accounts of the drunken revels and “free fights” of those days on similar occasions, participated in promiscuously by whites and Indians,--fisticuffs, “gougings,” etc., but the subject is not attractive enough to call for amplification.

[5] In these “piping times of peace,” when the Militia laws are so utterly set at nought, it is difficult to realize the importance and interest which occasions of this kind once possessed.  But I have not space to enlarge.

[6] These forays were generally bloodless—resulting in the burning of the Indians’ towns and cornfields, and in similar exploits.

[7] These were scattered over the country, some ten miles distant from each other.  I need not describe them.

 

[8] This event took place as above described, I believe, on the evening of the 10th of March, 1813, near the now village of Washington.  Morgan seems to have been a good specimen of the type so well characterized by Judge Hall, in his “Legends of the West,” as “The Indian Hater.”  Tradition furnishes, besides, the special agent and motive for his murder.  This agent, it is said, was an Indian, of more than ordinary talent and ferocity, named “Johnny Green,” who had his wigwam on the branch of Whitewater, which has ever since, in memory of him, been called Green’s Fork.  I find some account of this man, having partial reference to this murder in the “Wayne County Record,” newspaper, Feb. 26, 1845, from which I extract a few items, of more than ordinary interest.  The leading traits which Johnny Green got credit for, are thus set down:

 

                “Dark rumor whispered that his sport,

                Betrayed the tiger in his heart;

                That he would ape, with wild delight,

                His murdered victims’ frantic fright,-

                Mark how the suffering mother died

                The fallen husband’s form beside—

                And imitate the babes which he

                Had dashed to death against a tree—

                Depict their agonizing look,

                And how their frames with tremor shook,-

                And all his bloody triumphs tell

                In living pantomime of hell.”

 

                About this time a scouting party, organized to reconnoiter the frontiers, passed into the neighborhood of the Indian town on Blue River (then at peace with the whites), where Green then happened to be, and, at his request, agreed to let him accompany them to the white settlements, promising him he should receive no injury.  But no sooner had they got him fairly into their power, than they bound him, and some of them insisted on having his life.  He was taken to Col. Hunt’s, seven miles south of Centreville, where a number of men collected to decide on the punishment of the prisoner, and such was the division of opinion on the subject, that a conflict came very near ensuing.  A large majority, however, were for immediate death.  This was stoutly opposed by Thomas McCoy, a stalwart Irishman, and others; but finding their remonstrances ineffectual to prevent the treacherous, dastardly determination of the majority from being executed, McCoy, in the face of his enemies, cut the ropes which bound the captive, mounted him behind him on his horse, and carried him beyond the reach of danger.  Morgan was present on this occasion , and displayed an eager thirst for the blood of the prisoner.  Hence, it is said, the murder of himself and brother not long afterward—victims of the vengeance of Johnny Green.

            A young man named Shortridge, having gone a short distance from a blockhouse, near where stands the present village of Milton, was also, about this time murdered by the Indians.  He had on at the time portions of the dress of one George Ish—like Morgan, a violent Indian hater—and hence, it is supposed, was mistaken by them for the latter,--a further proof that they sought “to shed no peaceful blood.”

 

[9] The Quakers of those days—then, as now, numerous in this part of the country—were insulted and barbarously maltreated, on account of their conscientious scruples against doing military duty.  They were fined and cast into jails, where, during the winter season, they suffered greatly.  Another broad contrast with the state of things at the present day!

 

[10] Such ballads as “John McAfee,” “Naomi Wise,” etc.  I know old ladies whose memories are perfect magazines of this sort of literature, some of which in sentiment, if not in execution, is by no means contemptible.  

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