Whiskey And The Canal Workers
By Carolyn I. Schmidt
Once the construction of the Wabash & Erie Canal had begun in 1832, the problem arose of canal laborers getting drunk from whiskey. Jesse Lynch Williams, Engineer of the canal and later Chief Engineer of all of Indiana’s canals, strongly supported the prohibition of whiskey to workers along the canal line. He supported the rule of prohibition.
Hugh McCulloch wrote that “Mr. J. L. Williams, the engineer, who is a pious and worthy man, has informed me that the rule has been strictly attended to. No instance to his knowledge has occurred in which ardent spirits have been given to the workmen. I am confident the contractors have no desire to be released from their obligations; if no higher motive, self interest would prompt them to adhere to the rule.” The rule, however, was hard to enforce, and not all contractors were vigilant.
The Rev. James Chute, who arrived in Ft. Wayne in June 1831 stated, “‘The influx of strangers into this part of our county to labor in our canal has been very unfavorable to the cause of virtue and temperance. A large portion of these emigrants are Irish and Scotch Catholics, ignorant, superstitious and vicious. The contractors upon the canal obligated themselves not to give ardent spirits, but in some instances they have broken over, being too much influenced by the character of their workmen.”
It was hard to prevent doggeries from being set up near the canal line and whiskey being sold to the laborers even though canal contractors, such as Marshall W. Wines, supported the temperance rule. These dens would arise at intervals as canal construction progressed and contractors had to attempt to get rid of them.
The Wabash & Erie Canal was built through Huntington, Indiana around 1835-37. Later in a Huntington Herald Press newspaper column by F. S. Bash on October 13, 1928 entitled “Jacob Schaffer Tells Bash How He Tamed Horse Named After Some of Writers’ Kin” the following story about a little brown jug was related:
“I spoke about Mack [McCarty] being a good man to work for…And by crackey! How he did despise a liar and dishonest man! No one of that stripe could work for him a minute it he knew it. But one day I remember when his own step-son did something that was crushing to the old boss. I had to tell on the boy in order to clear myself from blame. In that day contractors kept a jug of whisky on the works. A man could take a nip at ten and three o’clock if he cared to. A good many of them did. I was hauling lumber from town for the covered bridge on the range line road. John sent the jug in with me to be filled at a certain store. The step-son was with me and declared he was going to play a trick on the carpenters. He emptied half the liquor into a big bottle, then made me stop at the spring where he filled up the jug with water. The men said the stuff was awful thin. Mack investigated. He thought maybe I was to blame, so I told him just what happened. I never did find out what he did to the boy that night.”
The Indianian, published in 1898, describes the use of whiskey on the Central Canal during its construction:
In the spring of 1837 an engineering party started from Indianapolis to plan and construct the southern division of canal that was to start in Indianapolis, follow the White River to Newberry and connect with the Central Canal that had already been built north out of Evansville. A surveying party set out but was never heard of past Martinsville. At that time Port Royal was an important town in the county. “It had a tavern, blacksmith, wagon, shoemaker and hatter’s shops; also a store and a ‘doggery.’ There were about 150 inhabitants, some of whom wore ‘store clothes’ and talked politics. The lawyers, legislators and judges stopped to stay in all night, or get a drink while going to and fro on business at the State Capital. But after work began on the canal and feeder dam, and Waverly was lined up, everything turned toward that ‘ center of gravity,” and left the ‘Port’ to starve and dry up…
“The contractors came in due time, with a small army of Irishmen, with their carts and wheelbarrows, picks and spades. Shanties were hurriedly improvised near by the work, where bed and board were furnished the sons of Erin, with three ‘jiggers’ of whisky per day. The Whisky was intended to browbeat the malaria, which was always lurking in the river bottoms in those days, particularly in the summer and fall months. On Sundays the dose was double, to make sure the antidote, as it has long been known that malaria renews the fight about once in seven days. Salve was kept hard by those who got pealed during the hours of recreation. ‘Shillalahs’ could usually be had for the cutting, on either bank of the canal, while Irish wit lent enchantment to the work.
“At Waverly Irish brawn made the dirt fly out of muck ditch and canal, while the woodwork, which was to take the place of masonry for the time being, in the great feeder and the locks, aqueducts and bridges, was given to Hoosiers, who knew how to swing the ax and broadax to perfection, while an Irishman was as awkward with implements as a woman.”
The Wabash & Erie Canal was being constructed through Gibson county, Indiana in the 1850s. Later Col. William M. Cochrum wrote an article about this canal that was later published in Gil Stormont’s History of Gibson County, Indiana recounting the influence of whiskey during canal construction:
“About a half gill of raw whiskey was given the men four times a day. Whiskey at that time was as free from law restrictions as water and everyone that wanted a ‘doggery,’ as they were called, could have it by building a little log shanty and purchasing a barrel of whiskey at twenty-five cents a gallon. These lax laws resulted in many little drinking dens along the canal.
“Stewart and Rockefellow had the section at Dongola and on both sides of the Patoka river, also the building of the aqueduct across the river. The William H. Stewart of the firm mentioned was the father of Dr. William H. Stewart, of Oakland City, Indiana. The above mentioned works were very busy ones, and many men were engaged on them. As soon as they got well under way, a man named Bev Willis built a small ten-by-fifteen shanty boat on the Patoka river. It was situated near where the present iron bridge spans the river at Dongola. Willis was from a good family, but was a wild fellow and in a short time had a den full of drunken sots. There was little attention paid to him until some of Stewart’s best men began to neglect their work. Then Stewart went to see him and gave him one week to get away with his boat and whiskey. Bev sold his whiskey to another doggery man some miles farther west on the works, tore his boat to pieces and went to California.
“Soon after this a man named Spradley, from Warrick county, came to Dongola, hunting a place where he could build a whiskey shanty. He boastingly said that he would teach the canalers that they would have to get busy before they drove him away. He had two barrels of whiskey hauled to this place where he built his doggery, and for a couple of days dispensed liquor without interruption. Then Stewart took two or three of his bosses, with picks and went to see the brave Warrick county man. When the latter saw them coming he made it convenient to get away. Stewart and his men broke open the barrels and poured the whiskey on the ground. This ended the liquor traffic at Dongola.”
Thomas B. Helm in The History of Wabash County, Indiana tells of a Wabash & Erie Canal drowning due to drinking in 1854:
“On Wednesday, June 8, 1854, at LaGro, a man named William Walker, addicted to intemperate habits, at one of the numerous drinking places in town, imbibed quite freely of intoxicating beverages, and about 10 or 11 o’clock at night, having in the meantime had his bottle filled, put it into his pocket and started for home. His route lay across the canal, and it was necessary for him to pass over it at the lock in order to reach his domicile. After leaving the doggery, he was not seen again alive. The next day he was reported missing, and in the afternoon suspicion as to his safety being aroused, the short level of the canal was drawn off, and a search made for the missing man., Soon after, his body was discovered below the lock, and drawn ashore with a boat hook. The probabilities were that in attempting to cross over on the lock, he had lost his balance and fallen in, but was so much under the influence of liquor that he was unable to extricate himself and was drowned. When the body was brought on shore, his wife stood by in an agony of grief, and received his lifeless remains. His age was apparently about thirty-five years. The Coroner, upon investigation found the facts substantially as given above. The deceased had a bottle of whisky in his pocket. That told the story.”
“In labor camps, Irishmen staid off boredom by the usual pastime of clubbing each other over the heads smartly, though as a rule not fatally. .. All in a day’s fun., Contractors kept work gangs in tact by patching up the damage with crude first aid, a wise practice, for the Irish, undisturbed by union organizers worked faithfully on the standard quota of three jiggers of whiskey a day, double allowance on Sunday.” according to Paul Fatout’s Indiana Canals.
Even as late as 1896, when Robison amusement park was built near the dam for the St. Joseph
Feeder Canal that had fed water into the Wabash & Erie Canal at its summit in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, there was trouble with whiskey. Old Fort News in an article about Robison Park by CSI member Casey Drudge published in 2000, says:
“It was the intention of park management that there would be no undesirable people or activities on the park grounds. Six policemen were on duty at the park to make sure that goal was attained. The original force consisted of Phillip Lintlage, John Aiken, Peter Collins, Edward Tanner, and Henry Sanders. In keeping with the intent of maintaining a good, wholesome environment for visitors, liquor was not allowed on the property. However, that didn’t stop the entrepreneurship of various fortune seekers.
“A man named Colonel Allen floated a small barge on the east side of the St. Joseph River, just opposite the Robison Park. From there he dispensed, for a small fee, liquor to the patrons of the park who felt they needed it in order to enjoy the park more fully. His customers could rent a rowboat, graciously made available by Robison Park, row across the backwater lake to the 35 by 12 foot barge, and imbibe some spirits. However, an unforeseen obstacle presented itself to some of these people on their return trip. For some reason, the rowboats didn’t seem to go very straight on the return trip.”
Despite best intentions by canal officials, it was very difficult to keep the canal laborers from obtaining spirits. Much like trying to enforce the laws during Prohibition in the 1920s, local entrepreneurs found ways to circumvent the rules and easily moved their doggeries along the canal.
Combined Database of Canal Land Entries
by Carl Leiter
Carl Leiter (June 8, 1921—May 26, 2015) was a Canal Society of Indiana member from Kokomo, Indiana. He researched databases and found who purchased the “canal lands” in Howard county, Indiana, that were set aside by the federal government to sell and fund the Wabash & Erie Canal. The canal did not run through these lands. An example of his research is shown at the end of the article that can be found on the internet by searching for Red Dog canal scrip.
The combined database is a listing of land in Howard County sold as “canal lands” by the State of Indiana with the names of the original landowners or patentees. These lands were in the Seven Mile Strip, a portion of the Big Miami Reserve, and contained approximately seventy five square miles, which later became Ervin, Monroe, and Honey Creek townships. These were the first public lands opened to settlement in Howard County, and this file provides the names of the county’s first settlers together with their location, acreage, date of acquisition, and other pertinent data.
Canal lands were tracts of public land acquired by the federal government from various Indian tribal owners, then awarded to the state for the purpose of financing canals during the first half of the 19th century. The Seven Mile Strip, one of several such tracts, was acquired in the Miami Treaty of 1834, and was obtained expressly to provide funds for extending the Wabash and Erie Canal from the mouth of the Tippecanoe River south to Terre Haute, Indiana. [This was not part of the original land grant. It was another grant made to extend the canal.]
The Miami Treaty of 1834 failed to be ratified until 1837, thereby delaying early settlement.
However, a number of pioneer hunters and farmers moved into Howard County’s portion of the Big Miami Reserve ahead of the public land survey, which was carried out in 1838 and 1839, and by the time the county’s canal lands were placed on the market in 1844 and 1845 an orderly settlement was well underway in the Seven Mile Strip.
Howard County was not yet established when the canal lands went on the market. Since the State of Indiana handled the land sales, land auctions were scheduled at the county seats in those counties holding jurisdiction over the tract, and Seven Mile Strip lands in Townships 23 and 24 North were entered at Delphi in Carroll County. The procedure is described well in the words of a writer in the Howard County historical atlas of 1877:
“This land was divided into classes and appraised as first, second and third class lands, and put at three different prices to correspond, but was not thoroughly graded. …The payments were in installments, and upon full payment the State made deeds to purchasers. First-class lands were priced at five dollars per acre, second-class at three dollars and a half and third-class at two dollars, payable one-fourth in cash, and one-fourth annually, with interest.”
Placing canal lands on the market was a political issue, as they were in direct competition with Federal Land Office sales, and this was a valid complaint since canal lands held a distinct advantage over lands auctioned at federal land offices. This was due to a form of local currency called scrip.
The above sample of $5 “Red Dog” scrip was issued
at Peru, Indiana, March 26, 1845. Note lady with dog.
This $1 “Blue Pup” was sold at Attica, Indiana,
Sept. 24th 1842.
The state supplied the Wabash and Erie Canal Company with a colored paper currency for meeting expenses of supplies and labor. This currency had the figure of a dog printed on it and had a different color for each tract of canal land it was based upon. Such scrip came to be called Red Dog, White Dog or Blue Dog, depending on its color, and it was Blue Dog that was circulated for Seven Mile Strip land. So scarce was hard cash and so prevalent was Blue Dog in north central Indiana at the time that banks and merchants issued scrip of their own of fractional value, popularly called ‘Blue Pup.’
Within a short period of time Blue Dog had depreciated to from thirty to fifty cents on the dollar, and since Blue Dog was expressly accepted at face value to purchase land in the Seven Mile Strip, it was bought up for that purpose alone. Thus, the canal lands of Howard County were snapped up ahead of other public lands, for nowhere else could land be purchased at such bargain rates. Thus, not only did the Seven Mile Strip attract the county’s first settlers, but it drew them in number as well even after the remainder of the county was put on the market.
The first canal lands went on the market in Howard County in 1844, when some forty tracts were purchased in Township 23 North, Range 2 East, mostly in what is now Monroe Township. In 1845 more than a hundred tracts were purchased in canal lands when Township 24 North, Range 2 East (Ervin Township) was put on the market, and more than one hundred seventy settlers bought canal lands in 1846, the peak year for canal land sales. These 1846 purchases were in both Ervin and Monroe townships, which were in Range 2 East of the Second Principle Meridian.
A record of canal land sales covering the entire state was maintained in the office of the State Auditor, where they consisted of several volumes made up of Abstracts of Sale. Such records were filed alphabetically by the name of each county that eventually controlled those particular lands. Howard County canal land Abstracts are filed in Volume X, which, together with a number of other volumes of the states’ canal lands, are in the keeping of the Indiana State Archives in Indianapolis.
Due to the fragile nature of these individual abstracts and the massive bound volumes in which they exist, photocopying was prohibited. This database was created from many sheets of hand-copied data derived from several trips over a period of a few weeks in March, 2002. Also, data from a Land Office Microfilm Reel entitled “Miami Reserve Book 1” of unspecified, but later date was studied in the Genealogy & Local History Services Department of the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library. This film contains names of both similar and alternate canal land purchasers in Howard County and was useful in the verification of details such as name spellings, tract locations, and certificate numbers. Additional and contradictory data for each land tract was inserted in a column added to the file for that purpose.
The database file includes the following columns: the patent number, if one was given, the certificate number (which was the single most important identification in the file of abstracts), the full name of each primary owner, along with that of his “Assignee,” if one was given, the date of the patent [year, month, day], and location of each tract [congressional township, range and section numbers], along with a fractional description of the tract within the section. For convenience, each section was quartered, and these were again quartered, if necessary. A description such as “N, SW” would indicate the north half of the southwest quarter of that section. “NW, SE” would indicate the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter, a 40-acre tract. Half-quarter sections, 80 acres, were by far the most frequent parcels, while quarter sections of 160 acres were not as frequent as 40-acre tracts or quarter-quarter sections. Unusual combinations frequently occurred, with a landholder holding adjoining half-quarter sections in different quarter-sections. In no instance in the more than 600 entries did any tract exceed 160 acres in size, and the smallest tracts approximated 40-acre (quarter-quarter) purchases.
No attempt has been made to establish the exact number of original landholders in the canal lands of Howard County. It should also be noted that Section #16, the “School Section” of each congressional township, is not included in this file. School Sections were the property of each local county and the records of those land sales, if they exist at all, should be found in the local County Recorders’ offices. This is true of School Sections in federal land records as well route.
Sample of Canal Land Entries
An article entitled “Historical Treasure: Canal built with unique currency” by Sylvia Jurgonski was published by the Terre Haute Tribune-Star on February 12, 2022. It tells more about canal scrip. Thanks to CSI director Jeff Koehler for sending it in to headquarters.
Historical Treasure: Canal built with unique currency | Valley Life | tribstar.com
CSI Annual Meeting & 40th Anniversary Tour
The Canal Society of Indiana will hold its annual meeting as part of its 40th Anniversary Tour “Celebrating Anniversaries.”
Wabash—Erie Canal Aqueduct #5 over Eel River in Logansport—picture of painting in museum
40th Year of Canal Society of Indiana
190th Year of Wabash-Erie Canal Groundbreaking
Wabash & Erie Canal— Cass & some Miami County sites
Saturday, August 27, 2022 — 9:30 A.M. to 5:30 P.M.
Cass County Historical Society
421 East Broadway
Logansport, Indiana 46947
Indiana’s Central Canal
All work stopped on Indiana’s Central Canal in 1839. Water was let into the portion that had been completed from Broad Ripple to Underhill’s Mill in June 1839. By 1847 this portion had fallen into disrepair. The following article details the changes that needed to be made for this watered portion to be operable.
NOTICE TO BIDDERS.
SEALED PROPOSALS will be received by the undersigned at the office of Auditor of State next Thursday, the 18th of February, at 2 o’clock, P.M. for repairing the CENTRAL CANAL from Underhill’s Mill to Broad Ripple
The work will be divided and contracted for in separate sections, as follows:
SECTION No. 1, removing all the Guard Lock Timber, Gates, Filling, &c. down to a point 4 feet above the foundations of the Lock. SECTION No. 2, furnishing all necessary materials, and rebuilding Guard Locks and Gates, filling cribs, and making necessary embankment and protection about the same. SECTION No. 3, repairing breach in Tow-path at Smith’s Farm. SECTION No. 4, repairing breach in Tow-path at head of “Pitt’s Bluff.” SECTION No. 5, repairing breach in Tow-path at “Lower Bluff.” SECTION No. 6, removing the Aqueduct at Fall Creek, including abutments, piers, foundations, and all the drift about the same. SECTION No. 7, furnishing all necessary materials and rebuilding the Fall Creek Aqueduct, digging necessary pits, abutments and piers, and making the necessary embankment and protection about the same. SECTION No. 8, furnishing all necessary materials, digging pits, and constructing a Culvert at Pogue’s Run, or an Aqueduct as may be determined at the day of letting, and making the necessary embankments and protection about the same.
The Contractors on Sections 1 and 6 will be entitled to all the old timber removed, on the Guard Lock and Aqueduct, except the foundation of the Aqueduct, which is reserved for the use of the State, and they will be requested to place all the old material, so as not to interfere with the after operations on these sections.
The Contractors for refinishing the Guard Lock and Aqueduct, will be charged with all the old timber, stone and iron, that the superintendent may permit them to use, in the construction of their jobs.
Sections 1 and 6 must be finished by the 15th of April.
Sections 2, 4 and 5, must be finished by the 1st of May.
Sections 3, 7 and 8, must be finished by the 1st day of August next, and the Contractors on these sections will be required to enter into contracts subjecting them in a penalty of 20 dollars per day, for each and every day they may be behind their time, unless the Superintendent shall be satisfied that the delay was unavoidable. The Contractors on section 7 will in like manner, be entitled to 5 dollars per day for each and every day his job may be finished prior to the time allowed him in his contract.
The rules and regulations, observed in the first construction of the Canal, will be enforced so far as they are applicable.
Plans, specifications, and estimates, can be seen at the Auditor’s Office, for 7 days previous to
Bidders will state a separate price for each item contained in the estimates on each section.
TERMS OF PAYMENT — Cash, at regular monthly estimates, reserving 15 per cent until the final estimate.
B. BROWN, Sup’t I.D.C.C.
INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 29, 1847.
In 1850 the Central Canal was sold at auction to George Shoup, James Rariden and John S. Newman in 1850, who then sold it to Francis Conwell and others. Later it was passed on to the Indianapolis Water Company.
Canal Notes 4 – Wild Water
By Tom Castaldi
Can you name a state with rivers flowing in every direction of the compass? Well, in Indiana, the Saint Mary’s flows north, the Tippecanoe to the south, the Maumee heads its waters east and the Wabash moves slowly and deliberately to the west. But these streams are wild ones draining the excesses of melted ice, snow or rainfall, as well as holding reserves of moisture for dry rain-less seasons on a natural basis. It was the river and creeks that became the source of water that filled the Wabash & Erie Canal, eliminating strong downstream currents, for a more controlled movement of cargo, people and water wheels.
Canals though, must be free of too much water from feeder dams built across the rivers in dry seasons or natural rain fall in wet times. Excess water flowing in from a feeder or being dispelled from the canal created a slight current that was strong enough to put to good use.
Large water wheels turning in the running water moved grist stones to make flour from grain, or turned saw blades to cut logs into boards, or rotated smaller wheels that connected with machines by long leather belts.
What remains of one feeder dam can be seen in the Wabash River at the Historic Forks of the Wabash Park in Huntington County. Old timbers and fieldstones from the structure lie at the bottom of the river to this day. And, remnants of an overflow structure called a waste weir were visible in the towpath a few yards west of Clear Creek on the south side of U. S. Highway 24 until they were removed during highway expansion. Controlling the level of the water in the canal established another resource. Without the wild river feeders, canals could not have become a reality. Without the water in the canal, heavily laden boats could not be urged along by horse or mule, and without the excesses of canal water, mills could not be operated that gave birth to modern day industry. Even with rivers flowing in all directions, it took the canals to put the river’s resources to good use.
Correspondence Between Indiana Legislature
And Charles Butler
In the May 2020 issue of “The Tumble” we ran an article, “Renegotiating Indiana’s Debt: The Butler Bill.” Here are letters exchanged between the Indiana Legislature and Charles Butler concerning what they felt was a job well done.
Evansville Journal, Evansville, IN
March 5, 1846
CORRERSPONDENCE WITH MR. CHAS. BUTLER,
Indianapolis, Jan. 19, 1846
CHARLES BUTLER, Esq:
Dear Sir.— As the time approaches when we shall separate from each other, and break these relations of social and business intercourse which have subsisted between us for several week past, the undersigned, members of the Legislature and citizens of Indiana, now convened at the seat of Government, cannot in justice to their own feelings, return to their homes, or permit you to leave the state, without some expression of that respect and esteem we entertain for you personally, and the obligations we are proud to acknowledge, in common with our fellow citizens, for your instrumentality in the negotiations now so happily closed.
You came among us a stranger, charged with a mission, the result of which, for good or evil, affected alike the honor, the interest, and the destiny of our State. You entered upon the discharge of the arduous and responsible duties committed to your care, with an energy and zeal evincing a just appreciation of the magnitude of the charge, and at the same time with that spirit of conciliation and kindness which disarmed prejudice and converted enemies into friends.
While with-heartfelt satisfaction we congratulate you upon the auspicious termination of your labors, alike honorable to the State, and, as we hope, satisfactory to our creditors, we must be permitted to remark, that no small share of our gratification at this result arises from the reflection that it vindicates the integrity and honor of Indiana, and proves the sincerity of those declarations so often promulgated to the world, of her earnest desire to meet all her engagements and redeem her plighted fate, the moment she had the ability to do so.
|Very respectfully, &c.||Joseph Lane||E. Chapman||G. F. Cookerly|
|Dennis Pennington||Jno. Tomlinson||S. A. Verbrikey||L. H. Scott|
|John Zenor||William Watt||Jno. F. Allison||Thos. H. Blake|
|James G. Read||Daniel A McRae||Wm. G. Cpoffoin||R. H. Fauntleroy|
|Jno. S. Simonson||Christian Parker||Thos. J. Todd||Hugh Stewart|
|Henry Secrest||C. V. Jones||Jno S. Davix||Jas M. Ray|
|Thos. Dowling||Andrew Jackson||William P. Dole||L. Penn|
|Samuel Hall||M.L. Howell||H. H. Barbour||N. B. Palmer|
|M. Stapp||Wm. R. Nofsinger||Jonathan S. Harvey||S. G. Dodge|
|Conrad Baker||Wm. G. Pomeroy||Wm. G. Montgomery|
Indianapolis, February 13, 1846
Hon. DENNIS PENNINGTON and others:
Gentlemen—I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 19th of January, and whilst I duly appreciate the kind expressions it contains as to the manner in which I have discharged my duty, in the recent negotiation with the Legislature, for the payment of the State debt, I feel no less indebted to you for the assurances which it affords of your high personal regard. It is true, as you state, that I came among you a stranger little known to the citizens of Indianapolis, and less to the members of the Legislature; but I should be wanting in gratitude if I did not before leaving the State, acknowledge the kindness and attention I have received from both.
There are citizens of your State, some of whose names appear on the letter which has drawn forth this response, and others whose names are not there, for whom I shall always cherish the highest regard, and without whose steadfast co-operation, I feel warranted in saying, the measure could not have succeeded, who yet regarded the effort, on my first arrival, a fruitless one, and so frankly advised me.
No one not familiar with the history of it, could for a moment appreciate the difficulties in the way of harmonizing so many minds on a subject of such great importance, and which had been for so long a time, a truly ‘vexed question.’ It is unnecessary for me to enter into them. I allude to them merely with the view of remarking, that the final result was one which gave greater satisfaction to the friends of the measure, as it overcame difficulties which seemed at first as insuperable.
Some of these difficulties are well expressed in a letter which I have unexpectedly just received from one of the most intelligent and influential members of the House of Representatives, written since his return to his home, who in the honest discharge of his duty opposed the bill throughout until the last amendment of Mr. Secrest rendered it acceptable to him, in which he says: “It need be no wonder if there was excitement, if we consider the weight of the subject—the feverish anxiety of the public mind—the great anxiety of the friends of the extension of the canal, to much overlooking, as some suspected, the consequences to the State in General—the circumstances attending the debate—the impression that our agents, in selling our bonds, or a portion of them, had connived with the purchasers and acted improperly, and the difficulty of distinguishing between the several classes of purchasers—all were naturally confounded together—public feeling excited against all and concentrated upon your head as the agent of all;” and here I desire to say in justice to those who felt and acted with the writer of this letter, that no one can suspect the purity of their motives, and whilst they exerted themselves at intermediate stages to resist the passage of the bill, it cannot be doubted that they will exhibit a corresponding zeal in support of a measure which by so strong a vote has now become a law of the land.
Whilst in my incipient movements I met with much to encourage me; and here I avail myself of the occasion to say that throughout the whole of it, I was encouraged and sustained by a large number of good men in and out of the Legislature, belonging to both of the political parties, into which the State is divided. Their countenance and support sustained and animated me from beginning to end, and I cannot therefore assent to your suggestion that the success of the measure is so much to be attributed to my instrumentality.
I hope I shall be pardoned for alluding to one whose name appears at the head of your list—I mean the venerable Dennis Pennington—in terms which shall convey a faint sense of the respect which I entertain for him, and with which I shall always cherish his memory. In the outset of the business when oppressed by the difficulties to which I have alluded, I deemed it my duty to pay him my respects personally, and confer with him on the subject of my mission. It was with some misgivings as to the result of the interview that I proceeded to his lodgings, for I had been informed that he represented a people which from the first had been strenuously opposed to the State policy which had produced her heavy debt; but I shall never forget the prompt and cheering welcome which I receive from this father of the House, nor the characteristic frankness and benevolence with which he said to me when the subject of the public debt was introduced, — “Sir, the boys have got us into a bad scrape and we must get them out of it; it is an honest debt and it must be paid.” I need not say that I left him with a grateful heart; this expression of his sentiments was a token by which I was encouraged to press onward in the performance of my duty, and the impression produced by this interview was more deeply engraved on my heart, when subsequently, after the passage of the bill in the House, and he was designated by its general desire to be the bearer of it to the Senate, I witnessed the scene when he formally announced it to that body.
When it is considered that for a long time it has been believed that it was almost impracticable for the people of Indiana to pay their public debt, or at least that it would require a very heavy taxation, it is quite natural for some to suppose that the provision now made out of the revenue is too small, and not in proportion to the resources of the State, and that the general arrangement is not so favorable to the bond-holders as might have been expected.
I may as well state, gentlemen, frankly the principal reasons which influenced me in making my second proposition which proposed to charge one-half the interest of the public debt upon the Wabash & Erie canal. The general conviction was found to be in accordance with the opinion expressed in the Executive Message, that the ability of the State to pay the interest in full, according to the terms of her bonds, on her large public debt, depended upon the revenues to be derived from that canal.
If the canal, when finished, proved to be productive then the State would have the ability to pay: if not, then
she would not. A simple calculation, which any one may make for himself, will show that laying the canal out of view and suffering the present state of things to continue in the finances of the State for only four years longer, and it would require a property tax, from and after first of January, 1851, and not less than sixty-five cents on the hundred dollars (putting the entire property of the State at a fair valuation) and a poll tax at seventy-five cents to meet the interest simply on the then public debt of the State, with the State expenses. With my knowledge of the resources of the State I could not for a moment believe that the people would sustain this burden; and the certain prospect of it, in the meantime, would operate to effectually check immigration into, and perhaps cause emigration out of the State, and thereby lessen her means to meet even a smaller burden.
The only question with me therefore was as to the proportion of interest in my opinion the bond-holders might safely agree to look to the canal. My proposition contemplated looking to it for two-fifths of the interest, and to taxation for the remaining three-fifths. But joint committee declined this proposition for the reason unquestionably that they believed this latter amount was yet too large to be raised by taxation, having regard to the average ability of the different counties in the State, and my second proposition which formed the basis of the bill was made with a single desire to adapt the arrangement to the undoubted ability of the people, and place it beyond any question.
Entertaining these views in regard to the whole subject, and having previously agreed to look to the canal for two-fifths of the entire interest, (which in effect would be taking it for a corresponding portion of the principal,) in modifying that proposition and agreeing to look to it for one-half, I had to determine two points; one was, whether the people of the State would have the disposition and the ability to provide by taxation for the payment of more than two and a half per cent, and the other was whether the canal when finished would probably furnish a security for the remaining portion.
In settling the first point, I was not only guided by the decision of the committee (which was constituted with a design to represent the entire State) and the advice of other intelligent and influential members of the Legislature, and the opinions of many of the most intelligent and excellent private citizens from different parts of the State, with whom I had an opportunity of conferring during the winter, but also by a more careful examination of the resources and condition of each county, as exhibited in Auditor’s office, in order to ascertain the probable average ability of the State, taking the counties separately and aggregately, for while one county like Wayne might have the ability and might be willing to pay a tax of 35 cents on the $100, to redeem the credit of the State, another county might not have the ability to pay more than twenty-five cents. The result of this inquiry and comparison taken in connection with my opinion on the subject of the canal as hereafter expressed, — caused me to yield to the decision of the committee on my first proposition the more willingly, and it led me to my second.
I had no reason to doubt, nor do I doubt, that the committee composed as it was chiefly of intelligent farmers from different parts of the State, who could not be presumed to be influenced by any other consideration than a desire to do right towards the creditors of the State, acted in this matter under a high sense of their duty to their Maker and their country. The dictates of conscience and patriotism would prompt them to this course of conduct.
In regard to the revenue to be derived from the completion of the Wabash and Erie Canal, and the reliance of the bond-holders on it as contemplated by my second proposition, the estimates of Messers. Fauntleroy and Ball and the concurring judgment of intelligent and sound business men, and a reference to the income of similar works in other sections of the country, satisfied me that if the canal could be finished within the period contemplated, it might ultimately be safely relied on for a revenue sufficient to meet the remaining portion of interest; and whenever that result shall be attained, by the progress of the country and the increase of business in the great west, (as the revenue controls the value) the canal itself will constitute an ample security for a corresponding portion of the principal. It is true that in order to secure such a result, there is a certain outlay of a large amount of money to be made, and that for many years no considerable revenue can be expected from the work itself; and it is also true that there are risks and contingencies involved which belong to and are inseparable from, works of this kind, and all of which must be borne by those who shall make the advance of money required to finish it, with the certain prospect that it will be some years before they will be renumerated even to the extent of the interest. Independent of the considerations which are not connected with the restoration of the credit of the interest there could surely be an inducement for capitalists to come forward and make an advance for the purpose mentioned, when the only security the State could offer, is the work itself and its lands, and when the same might at any moment be freely invested for the same interest in the stocks of solvent States, at less than par.
In reflecting upon the past, and calmly reviewing the circumstances which attended the negotiation and the considerations which controlled it throughout on my part, and on the part of the committee and the Legislature, so far as I know, I am impressed with the feeling that the provisions that the Legislature have made by the act in question for the relief of the creditors of the State, while it does not meet what they had a right to expect, and what I had hoped to have secured, is nevertheless one, that is honorable to the State of Indiana, and will I hope be accepted by the bond-holders—an opinion which I shall not hesitate in justice to the people of Indiana, as well as to those whom I represent, freely to express.
In justice to myself, however, and in view of the facts of the case, embracing fully its difficulties, I feel bound to acknowledge that the propositions presented by me to the joint committee would either of them have been more in accordance with my views and wishes, but my failure in that respect as it should not now, so it shall not with me cast the least shadow upon what I have finally assented to. The power was with those who unquestionably had the right to decide upon the full scope and bearing of the terms purposed, and who must be considered to be the best judges of the extent to which they might be deemed practicable.
In a few months we shall hear from the bond-holders, and shall then know all, in the meantime, you may well rejoice at what has been done, and when the debt shall be fully adjusted upon an enduring basis, and you shall see your great canal progressing to completion, and your State rapidly increasing in all the elements of greatness, your gratification will be complete.
That we may all of us live to rejoice in that consummation of our intercourse and labors this winter is my earnest desire.
I will add, that I can reflect with satisfaction that in the conduct of this negotiation, I am not conscious of having addressed any argument or persuasion to any gentleman in the Legislature or out of it, which was not perfectly consistent with self-respect, and with the respect due to the representative character and to honorable and upright men. My reliance from the beginning has been on the moral power of the great question, addressing itself as it did to the sense of honesty and patriotism of the citizens of the State.
Gratefully acknowledging your many acts of kindness, and with my best wishes for your prosperity, I am, gentlemen,
Your obedient servant, Charles Butler
To Hon. Dennis Pennington, and others.
The End Of The “Ben Franklin III”
By Carolyn Schmidt
When the new “Ben Franklin III” was delivered and launched in the Whitewater Canal at Metamora, Indiana on October 12, 1989, no one could have foreseen her final days. Expectations for drawing crowds to the old canal town were high. She was to replace the “Ben Franklin II” launched in 1980 and was scheduled to be put into service for the 1990 season with appropriate dedication activities at that time. The “Ben Franklin II” sat it the canal near her for awhile before being destroyed.
“Ben Franklin III” was a model of a typical, canal era, line boat. She was built in Pascagoula, Mississippi by the Marine and Industrial Fiberglass Company. She was 75 feet long, eleven feet eleven inches at the maximum beam and drew 5½ inches of water. Her hull was of fiberglass cast in one piece and was unsinkable. She could accommodate 80 passengers.
That winter she was stored in the Millville Lock. She was floated into the lock and lowered onto a wooden cradle as the canal water was let out of the lock. Then she was covered to protect her from the weather. The following spring a dedication ceremony was held at the bridge crossing the Whitewater Canal. The “Ben Franklin III” was docked by the bridge and both were festooned in patriotic colors.
Over the years many visitors rode the boat for about a mile round-trip through Duck Creek Aqueduct, the only known covered aqueduct in use today in the United States. When the aqueduct needed repairs, the canal had to be drained which kept “Ben Franklin III” from operating that season. At other times she could not operate due to the silt in the canal or not enough water. COVID put a stop to her operation at the end of the 2019 and the entire 2020 season. The number of passengers carried on her dropped in the past years so that the fees to ride the boat have not covered expenses.
“Ben Franklin III” was inspected for safety about every 5 years. The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, which is developing a comprehensive site evaluation, announced its plan to take the boat from the Whitewater Canal on January 25, 2022 and dry dock it for inspection if the weather permitted. Several other announcements were made for removing her, but either there was not enough water in the canal, the boat was iced in, there was too much water in the canal, etc. until at last the weather and the canal cooperated. On Monday April 14, straps were put under her and a huge crane lifted her from the canal, placed her on a truck bed and transported her to the canal administration’s parking lot where she was lowered onto blocks.
While being raised from the canal bed under the supervision of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, observers thought she might break. She had gained 14,000 pounds in water weight. Water had seeped in through cracks in her fiberglass hull. She appeared to be in bad shape with peeling paint, warped boards, and moss growing in crevices.
Once the boat was on the blocks in the parking lot, movers breathed a sigh of relief. She had made the move in one piece.
Unfortunately by Tuesday morning the front of the boat had cracked and broken off. Local newspapers, television and Facebook ran articles and pictures of her. The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites (ISN&HS) posted the picture below on Facebook. This was later followed with a letter of what that organization is doing regarding the Whitewater Canal site in Metamora.
The following letter was sent to interested individuals and also posted on Facebook by the Indiana State Museum & Historical Sites:
“Since the Ben Franklin III canal boat was removed from the canal on April 11, members of the Metamora community have reached out to ask about the future of the boat and the Whitewater Canal State Historic site. We would like to provide you with the current information and status.
The long-term goal is to continue the legacy of the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site and preserve the canal’s historic value for future generations. We know that since the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site was created in 1946, it has periodically required a major capital investment every generation or so. For several years, we have been looking at what needs to be done from a structural perspective to repair the aqueduct, the waterwheel, the two locks and to acquire a new boat. These are the main components to developing a strategy to resolve both the short-term and long-term issues for the site.
“The first step was engaging an engineering firm with historic-preservation expertise to evaluate what structurally was needed to repair these four main pieces. Next, we had a preliminary cost estimate analysis done to assess those plans. This estimate told us what it would cost to address current problems. What we also need to determine is what needs to be done to forestall future issues. The current estimated cost is $6.6 million for the aqueduct, the waterwheel and the locks. We anticipate the capital cost of a new boat to be an additional $1 million.
“We presented this first stage of information to our board on September 1, 2021.
The costs break down like this:
-The Duck Creek Aqueduct, a National Historic Landmark and the only historic covered aqueduct of its kind still in existence, will cost $4 million for repairs and reinforcements to help prevent damage in case of severe flooding on Duck Creek.
-Lock 24 – located by the horse barn – will cost $1.4 million to repair. This lock is essential to keeping water in the canal, and it is also the place where a boat would be drydocked. Due to the pressure from the surrounding earth, the canal wall must be removed, reinforced and reconstructed. In addition, the lock doors are inoperable and need to be replaced.
-Lock 25 – located by the mill – will cost $1.2 million to repair. In addition to the current work to replace the waterwheel, the site needs wall repairs, stone masonry work and repairs to the stone steps, wood steps and guardrails.
“Additionally, the waterwheel will cost $250,000 to build and install.
“The next step is to work with civil engineers, DNR Division of Historic Preservation & Archaeology, the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites board members, the community and the governor’s office to determine a long-term, sustainable strategy based on the current information. We will continue to provide updates as we make progress.
Cathy Ferree is president and CEO of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, which operates the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site.
On May 5, 2022 a structural engineer examined the 75-foot-long boat and determined it had reached the end of its usable life. On May 9 disposing of the boat began and was expected to take two days. The Ben Franklin III had served on the Whitewater Canal for 33 years.
Delphi’s Canal Park Off To A Good Start
By Mike Tetrault, Executive Director Carroll County Wabash & Erie Canal, Inc.
On Friday, April 9, the Carroll County Wabash and Erie Canal, Inc. hosted our first group tour of the year (and the first group tour we have had in a while!). It was a group of international students from Purdue who are studying engineering. The group had so much fun during their visit to Canal Park that they had tons of good things to say about their time here. They took a boat ride on “The Delphi” that was narrated by Carl Seese, toured the Canal Interpretive Center’s museum and had lunch in the con-ference room.
The group ended up being smaller than initially planned, and that felt like a bit of a bummer. Howev-er, as they were heading out, their coordinator told us that now she wants to bring students from her future groups this summer, which would be a total of 150+ students! Additionally, she commented that this would be a perfect spot for their next annual office retreat.
It is really encouraging to be reminded what a special place we have here, and the value of welcoming our guests with the genuine hospitality that I’ve seen all around our park. We have the privilege of serving large and small groups, and you never know when one positive connection may lead to many more in the future!
Welcome New Members
The Canal Society of Indiana welcomes the following new members who have joined at the single/family rate of $20 unless otherwise noted or who have been given gift memberships:
Mary Pollitt – Metamora, IN
Phil & Lori Rice – Jacksonville, FL $100 Frog Prince
In Memoriam: Mary Grimes
Mary (Valandingham) Grimes passed away in Muncie, Indiana on Sunday, January 23, 2022 at age 86. She was born to Elmer and Christine Valandingham in Dallas Texas on January 4, 1936.
Mary grew up in the Roman Catholic faith and graduated from Ursuline Academy of Dallas in 1952. She then worked for the Foreign Service. She was stationed in Afghanistan, Vietnam and Thailand and traveled extensively in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. She then moved to Muncie, Indiana and was married to Dr. Thomas P. Grimes, a professor at Ball State University. Mary became the Secretary to the Associate Dean and was later Business Manager for the Whitinger College of Business at Ball State until she retired in 2000.
Mary loved to read, and was a movie fan. She enjoyed gardening and singing with the Masterworks Chorale. She and her husband Tom joined the Canal Society of Indiana in 1995 and have supported it throughout the years. They attended many early canal tours and are pictured in the April 2002 “Canalabration” tour headquartered in Ft. Wayne.
Surviving are Dr. Thomas P. Grimes of Muncie; children, Dr. Linda Grimes of Irvine, KY, Lee Grimes (Loretta) of Burlington, KY and Patty Welch of Fairport, NY; one grandson, Spencer Grimes of Rincon, GA; nephew, Darrell McDonald of DeSoto, TX and cousin, Windy Marie Tag of Dallas, TX.
She was preceded in death by her parents; one sister, Ruth; two brothers, John and Everett; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.
Her funeral service was officiated by Father Christian DeCarlo at The Meeks Mortuary and Crematory, Mt. Pleasant Chapel in Muncie, Indiana on Friday, January 28, 2022 at 1:30 p.m. She was laid to rest in Dallas, Texas at Restland Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to Daughters of Charity: https://daughtersofcharity, org/donation-form/.
In Memoriam: Terry K. Woods
Terry K. Woods, canal author and researcher, passed away on May 6, 2022 at age 85. He was born in Canton, Ohio, to Kenneth Clarence Woods and Fanchon Caroline (Mowry) Woods on March 2, 1937.
A lifelong resident of Canton, Terry was graduated from Timken High School in 1955 where he was involved in jazz band. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Ohio State University. He served as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky and in France. He received a Masters Degree from the University of Akron. He worked as an engineer for E. W Bliss Company, then Timken Company and retired in 2001 from Goodyear.
He and his wife of 55 years, Rosanne (McFarland) Woods, had five children: Susan (Mike) Cammel, Kevin (Michelle) Woods, John Woods, all of Canton; Robert (Leslie) Woods of Cincinnati, and Kathleen (Jeremy) McIntyre of Gainesville, Florida. They also had nine grandchildren. He is survived by them as well as numerous sisters and brothers-in-law, nieces, and nephews.
Terry enjoyed coaching a little league team. In 1994 his team won the league championship.
Terry was also a member of the Massillon Train Club and the Massillon Museum. He wrote a book on Massillon.
Terry was an avid canaller. His research into Ohio canals included many personal interviews with old canallers and looking at primary resources such as old canal documents. This led to numerous newspaper columns and the publishing of five books on canal history. He served as president of the Canal Society of Ohio, the American Canal Society, and the New York Canal Society. He was an active member of the Canal Society of Indiana, which ran his articles that pertained to Indiana’s canals in “The Hoosier Packet” and “The Tumble.” He also belonged to the Pennsylvania Canal Society. Terry and his wife, Rosanne, attended many canal tours held by these societies. In recent years he sent out bi-monthly columns entitled “Canal Comments.” He will be missed by all his canal friends.
Fr. Benson Okpara led a Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday, May 14, 2022 at 10 a.m. in St. Michael The Archangel Catholic Church. Terry was laid to rest in Sunset Hills Memory Gardens with Military Honors.
Problems With W & E After Its Closure
Years after the Wabash & Erie Canal was officially closed to traffic, it caused problems for those who lived nearby. It remained an open ditch for years and was only filled in around more populous areas. In many places the canal was sold to the railroads.
A lawsuit was threatened against the Evansville, Washington and Brazil Railroad due to canal problems at Elnora (Owl Prairie, P. O) and was reported in the Fifth Annual Report of the State Board of Health of Indiana for the Fiscal Year Ending October 31, 1886 as follows:
“WABASH AND ERIE CANAL.”
“From time to time since the autumn of 1885 complaints have reached this office [State Board of Health] in regard to the condition of the Wabash and Erie Canal, in Daviess County. The Evansville, Washington and Brazil Railroad, in constructing their track through said county, used the towpath of the canal for a roadbed, felling the timber which had grown thereon into the canal, thereby obstructing the natural flow of the water. The water thus became stagnant and the physicians and citizens along the line of the road were of the unanimous opinion that much sickness was caused thereby. In January, 1886, the Daviess County Board of Health made formal complaints to this Board, setting forth the matters alluded to above, and demanding proper relief. Accordingly, in February, a communication was address to D. J. Mackey, Esq., President of the Railroad, who promised to remedy the matter by removing the obstructions from the canal. A considerable time elapsed and nothing was done. In July, 1886, the Secretary of this Board visited Elnora and vicinity, in said county, and made a personal inspection, and found matters to be as had been represented. The water in the canal had been obstructed and a green scum had formed over it. It had become very foul and offensive, and undoubtedly was very dangerous to the public health. Citizens of that town reported numerous cases of typhoid fever and several deaths from the disease, which they regarded were caused by the condition of the water in the canal. Further correspondence was had with the authorities of the railroad, and after further delay a part of the obstructions were removed, and to some extent a free flow of water was made. However, full relief is not yet given and we hope to compel such measures as will remove all cause for complaint. Dr. W. H. H. Strouse, the efficient health officer of the county, espoused the cause of the people, and did all in his power to place the canal in a good sanitary condition and remove the cause of disease from the county. Unless there is a complete compliance with the reasonable demands of the people, the authorities of the railroad will be called upon to answer in court for violation of the Rules of the Board of Health (section 2067 of the Revised Statutes of 1881) in their efforts to give proper relief to the people.”
ELNORA—Originally know as Owl Town with the post office called Owl Prairie, this village in Elmore Township wasn’t laid out until September 25, 1885, shortly before the citizens complained about the canal. William C. Griffith and A. R. Stalcup platted the town with nine blocks and fifty-three lots after the Evansville & Indianapolis Railroad was completed in 1885. It was named Elnora after William Griffith’s wife. Today its population is about 640.
The Wabash and Erie Canal served the small community from approximately 1852 to 1860, but it was not a prime canal port. The railroad was thought to make it become an important buying and shipping point for corn, wheat and other farm products. The post office name was changed to Elnora on January 1, 1886. The businessmen in the town at that time were A. R Stalcup, general store and livery; Taylor & Williams, druggists; George D. Abraham, dry goods; and John Edmundson, blacksmith.
Below is a picture taken by Bob Schmidt in 1998 of the Wabash & Erie Canal north of the Booneville-New Harmony Road in Warrick county, Indiana that will give you an idea of how the canal might have appeared in 1885 at Elnora. Similar remains can still be found today in Allen, Parke, Gibson, Fountain, etc. counties in Indiana.
Canal Clippings From Old Newspapers
Evansville Daily Journal, Evansville, Indiana
June 28, 1859 —Praise of an Illinois Democrat
The rapid progress of the accumulation of wealth, and of the growth of refinement—not to say of luxury—in the Western States, is strikingly evinced by a description which we find in the Chicago Democrat of ex-Gov. Matteson’s magnificent palace at Springfield, the capital of that State. The accounts which we have recently had from Illinois have not been on the whole very encouraging. The railroads, not long since so highly cried up, and thought by the owners of the stock to be so valuable and improving a property, have ceased to pay dividends, and some of them we believe to pay the interest on their bonds. A large part of the farmers are said to be in a bad way, unable to pay their debts, and many of them threatened with execution. It is some satisfaction, in the gloomy state of things, to find an ex-Democratic Governor able to build and to furnish so magnificent a residence as that which the Democrat describes.
It is said to be much larger and, externally, a more imposing building than any other in the town, except the State capitol. It is surrounded with handsome grounds and gardens, well furnished with greenhouses and conservatories; but it is to the magnificence of its internal arrangements that the Democrat’s description is chiefly confined. A part of the basement is occupied by two steam engines, employed to warm the house and to furnish steam and power for use in the cooking and laundry departments. Adjoining are two kitchens, furnished with every appliance for the most refined and luxurious cooking. A magnificent hall leads to the dining-room and parlors, the walls of which are all painted in fresco—the principal rooms being also ornamented with magnificent carvings. The ceiling of the dining-room has an allegorical representation of the four seasons, each a female of rare beauty. The walls are divided into panels containing paintings of game, fish, sheaves of wheat, clusters of grapes, and other appropriate subjects. The furniture of the dining-room is of massive polished oak; the chairs magnificently wrought, and cushioned with green velvet. There are two extension tables each 25 feet long, and able to seat fifty guests. The walls and ceiling of the drawing-rooms, the parlors, and other portions of the house, have fresco paintings of the principal events in American history. In the drawing-rooms and parlors are ten magnificent pier-glasses. There are twenty sofas in the parlors, all elegantly got up. The carpets are of the costliest pale velvet, gorgeous to the eye and soft to the tread. There are six-first-class guest chambers, and seven second-class. The first-class have rosewood furniture, with crimson satin hangings, and are fitted up with every possible convenience and luxury. The silverware for the house, as also the glass and crockery, is now being manufactured in New York, and the Governor is said to have a son abroad employed in the purchase of paintings and statuary.
What renders the indulgence, in these hard times, in such expense and luxury the more remarkable is that Governor Matteson, like other good citizens of Illinois, has had his losses, having been, according to his own account, swindled within two or three years last by some fraudulent rascals out of a large sum of money. Our readers cannot have forgotten a gross fraud attempted to be perpetrated on the State Treasury of Illinois, which came to light some four or five months since, and of which, at the time, we gave an account. It appeared that in 1852 Mr. Matteson, then Governor of the State, directed that a large quantity of paid checks and other cancelled evidence of State indebtedness, which had long been deposited in the Canal office, at Chicago, should be removed to the State Department at Springfield—a proper order enough since the canal had ceased to be a State work. In compliance with this order, the documents of that description in the Canal office—consisting largely of certain checks drawn by the Canal Commissioners in 1839, under authority of an act of the Legislature, on the Chicago Branch of the State Bank, and which had been paid and returned to the Commissioners, also, certain checks of the same sort, which, though duly argued had never been paid or put into circulation—were packed partly in a trunk and partly in a shoe box, both of which were sealed up, sent to Gov. Matteson at Springfield and actually delivered into his custody. Upon search being recently made in the State Department at Springfield, the trunk was discovered still sealed up, and apparently untouched, but the shoe box was nowhere to be found.
It would seem that during the time that Mr. Matteson remained Governor, this unlucky shoe-box must have fallen into bad hands. At all events Gov. Matteson, who, besides being a leader of the Democratic party, was a great purchaser of State indebtedness, just before he went out of office presented to the Clerk of the Fund Commissioners checks, which subsequent investigations proved must have come out of the very box, for which, under a law of the State, authorizing the funding of State indebtedness, he received bonds to the amount of $8,000, besides, as we understand it, as much more in cash. About a month after, in February, 1857, he presented a new batch of these checks, for which he received bonds to the amount of $49,000. On the 13th of March following, he presented still a third batch of these checks, for which he received bonds to the amount of $31,500.—Such was the testimony of the Fund Commissioners’ clerk before the Investigating Committee of the Legislature, but there must have been more of these checks thus funded, as it was stated in the course of the investigation that Matteson had received in bonds about $107,000, and that the amount in bonds and money thus drawn out of the State Treasury amounted to $223,000. It was rather an odd circumstance that the bonds thus obtained by Gov. Matteson were issued not as due to him but to a number of imaginary persons; but this was alleged to be a fancy of the Ex-Governor’s, which he always carried out on similar occasions.
The account which the ex-Governor gave of this transaction was, that he had bought these checks, without the slightest suspicion of their real character, of sundry persons, whom he did not know, who had offered them to him in the ordinary course of his business, part of which was the purchasing up of claims against the State. How unsuspicious the ex-Governor was in this transaction, was indeed evinced by the fact that thirty of these checks had special endorsements upon them, which destroyed their negotiability, and that a hundred and five others were not only untrimmed and without the name of any payee, but were regularly numbered in succession, showing conclusively that they had been handed over in a lump to be funded just as they had been taken from the shoe-box, so that before coming into ex-Governor Matteson’s hands they could scarcely have passed into the hands of anybody else except of the man who took them out of the box. It was also a provoking circumstance and one calculated to excite great sympathy for the ex-Governor, that he was the sole victim of this fraud, as none of these checks had ever been offered for sale to anybody else; though it might indeed be said that if the ex-Governor had been cheated, he had been cheated with his eyes open and in a way not very creditable to his sagacity as a financier and man of business.
Evansville Daily Journal, Evansville, Indiana
June 28, 1859 SUEZ CANAL.—The work of constructing this great undertaking was formally commenced on the 25th of April last, and the first sod turned by M. Ferdinand de Lesseps, in the presence of the contractor of the works, a large staff of engineers, and native workmen, assembled at the point determined on for the outlet of the canal on the Mediterranean, the construction of jetties, and harbor of Port Said.
Evansville Daily Journal, Evansville, Indiana
June 29, 1859 — Canal Meeting.
Pursuant to previous notice, a small majority of the stockholders of the Southern Canal Company met at the Court House in Evansville, June 24th, 1859, at 2 o’clock P.M. The meeting was organized by the Hon. Wm. Hawthorne, and Mr. Wm. Heilman Secretary.
On motion, a Committee, composed of Robt. Burnes, M. W. Foster, Wm. H. Walker, Wm. Heilman, and Samuel Orr, were appointed to examine the report of the Board of Managers, and also to select a time for the annual election of Managers for the Southern Division.
On motion, this meeting adjourned to meet at 8 o’clock in the evening.
In the evening the meeting assembled, according to adjournment with Mr. Hawthorne in the chair.
The Committee, appointed at 2 o’clock, made their report, which was read, and the following resolutions were adopted.
Resolved, That the annual election of Managers, for the Southern Canal Company, shall be held on the first Wednesday of October, of each and every year.
Resolved, That as there has been serious trouble existing in regard to paying abstracts arising from expense of the office at Evansville, therefore,
Resolved, That any expenses incurred by the associates, not proper to be included in the Superintendent’s abstracts, that the same be certified by the President of the board of managers, and attested by the Secretary, and shall then be paid by the Trustees, and that a copy of this resolution be sent to the Trustees by the Secretary of this meeting.
On motion, Mr. Cook was called on to read the report of the managers, which he did, and explained the matter satisfactorily.
There being no other business, on motion the meeting adjourned.
WM. HAWTHORNE, Ch’m. W. HEILMAN, Sect’y.
Evansville Daily Journal, Evansville, Indiana
July 20, 1859 Canal Repairs.
MR. EDITOR:—We wish to inform the parties concerned, through your paper, of the progress made in repairing the Southern Division of the W. & E. Canal under our supervision, and the condition of the finances of the Southern Canal Company. The timber for docking at Pigeon Summit is all on the ground and the docking about half done. The balance of the docking and cleaning out of the Summit so as to give three feet or water, can be completed in fifteen or twenty days of fair weather. All other repairs to be made with timber are in a favorable state and can be completed in about the same time. So far, the repairs have cost much less than was anticipated. If the subscriptions are paid promptly we confidently expect to have all the contemplated repairs finished by the 10th of August, unless the weather should be unusually unfavorable.
Some of the largest subscribers have failed to pay their first installments, and two have absolutely refused to pay, and by some who paid the first installment this is the pretext for refusing the second or any subsequent installment, until those who have paid none shall be compelled to pay the installments due from them. This course is calculated to seriously embarrass the managers and delay the work. If we entertained any doubt as to the validity of the interruptions we would of course stop the work, but being advised that we can compel subscribers to pay, we are disposed, if necessary, to use our own funds and credit and complete the repairs as speedily as possible, and await the result of legal measures to reimburse us.
We wish subscribers all to understand that their subscriptions must be paid, and while we are disposed to grant every reasonable indulgence to those who are willing to pay, we intend, without delay, to have all who refuse to pay the first or second or any other installment, and we do not intend to prevent the misconduct of one to excuse misconduct on the part of any other.
Z. H. COOK
Evansville Daily Journal, Evansville, Indiana
July 20, 1859 The Canal Repairs.
We are very sorry to learn, by the card of the Managers, that any of the subscribers to the Canal fund have raised quibbles against the payment of their subscriptions. This was unexpected, when the prospects of the enterprise had become so flattering—after it had been ascertained that the costs of repairs would not be one-half the original estimates, and after an unusually abundant harvest had secured the prospects of a much larger business than was calculated upon when the subscriptions were made. The prospects now are that only one half of the amount originally contracted to be given for the work will be required to complete the repairs. The Managers did not contemplate calling only for the first and second installments, unless some unforeseen accidents should make unexpected expenditures necessary. To refuse to pay under these circumstances, would indicate that there was no intention of paying at all when the subscriptions were made.
Such proceedings place the managers, who have entered into contracts and incurred personal liabilities, in an embarrassing position, from which honorable associates will feel it an imperative duty, at any personal costs, to relieve them at once. The circumstance is to be regrettable also for its influence upon the country subscribers. Our business men have not enjoyed the highest reputation in the country for liberality and public spirit, and the facts disclosed by the Board of Managers are not calculated to remove these impressions or inspire a higher degree of confidence between town and country in future joint enterprises. Those who entail this discredit upon the character of the city should be held responsible in public opinion for the damage they have done to the honor and good name of the city. The course which the managers announce is the right one; the subscriptions are legally valid, and good faith to all interested, make it a duty of the Board to enforce payment without respect to persons.
July 25, 1859
Evansville Daily Journal, Evansville, Indiana
A NEW MACHNIE. — Messrs. Allis & Howes have brought to this city a new Stave Machine which is pronounced superior to any in use, which they have put up at Reitz’s Flour Mill, on the [W & E] canal. It will be in operation this morning at 9 o’clock, and all who are curious in machinery are invited to come and see its work. It cuts staves and heading for barrels, and can be used for shingles.
August 1, 1859
Evansville Daily Journal, Evansville, Indiana
The Canal. — The managers of the [W & E] Canal have been pushing the work on repairs forward with great energy during the present month. —We learn from Messrs. Cook and Lawrence, who have been giving their personal attention to the work, that the contractors are making rapid progress with their jobs. All the bars and shallow places from here to Pigeon Summit are being removed, and the leaks thoroughly and permanently stopped. This portion of the Canal will be in order and the water let on, in the course of ten days.
The heavy work at Pigeon Summit is nearly finished; the docking by timber will be completed in a few days. For about a mile at this point, the mud in the bottom of the Canal is being removed to the depth of ten and eighteen inches. The banks have here been raised and strengthened, so as to bear six inches higher level of water than they have sustained before. By means of the excavation and the increased level, twenty-two inches more of water than formerly will be obtained on the Summit.—This will enable boats to pass on the Summit with as large loads as they can carry in other parts of the Canal. In about two weeks if the weather be favorable—the work on the summit will be complete.
The aqueduct over White river has been put in complete order, and the managers believe the structure will require little or no repair for four or five years. The most material parts of the work are as sound as they ever were, and are likely to remain so for many years. The injuries it had apparently sustained were exaggerated, and what it had suffered was caused chiefly by neglect. In letting off the water, the structure rose to its proper level, and by tightening the bolts and braces and keying it up, it can easily be kept in its proper place, and made more secure than it ever was. The repairs of this work, which were estimated by the engineer of the Trustees under the old administration, at a cost of $6,500 or more, have been made at an expense of only a few hundred.
The bars are being excavated and the leaks effectually stopped along the whole line to Newberry; from Newberry to Worthington, a section of fifteen miles, the worst in the Canal north of Newberry, is undergoing a thorough repair, and will be in order by the time Pigeon Summit is completed. From Worthington to Terre Haute the Canal is in comparatively good order; what ever repairs it may need will be made at once.
From Terre Haute to the Lakes, the Canal, now in complete navigable order.—The water on the whole line was let in on the 29th inst., and an active business has already commenced on it, in transporting the heavy harvest of wheat that is seeking the Eastern markets, and in the freights of heavy merchandise from the East for the supply of the Upper Wabash country, which, after a suspension of many months, is loading the descending boats. In about fifteen or twenty days, at farthest, the whole line of the Canal from the Ohio river to Lake Erie will be in better navigable order than it ever has been; better in every respect than when it came from the hands of its contractors.—The Board of Managers certainly deserves the hearty thanks of their fellow-citizens for the manner in which they have discharged their duties. They have repaired the Canal and put it in a more reliably navigable condition than any one supposed it could be made, at less than half the original estimated costs.
They have had the work well and cheaply done; and now comes the pay day. They have entered into contracts and assumed personal liabilities on the faith of the subscriptions made by our citizens. The laborers and contractors have labored hard and more faithfully during the sweltering days of last month, in land and water,—in danger to health and life— to complete, in time, their several jobs. In a few days they will be awaiting their money, which they have so faithfully earned. Every dictate of honor and good faith forbids that they should be disappointed for a day, the only resources of the Managers are the subscription lists and their private credit. To compel them to resort to the latter would be as dishonorable on the part of the subscribers, as it would be to delay payment to the workmen. Everyone ought to make prompt payment of his subscription a point of honor, class it among the obligations to be first discharged.
We learn there are complaints among the water renters from the Canal, in this city, against the temporary privations they are likely to incur by drawing off the water on the lower level to clean it out. This is an indispensable work, and the inconvenience is unavoidable. The best consolation we can offer the sufferers, is for them to reflect how much worse it would have been their condition had the Canal remained in the hands of the Trustee, and been permitted to become useless and dry. What would have been the value of their water privileges? Now, by suffering a temporary inconvenience, and by promptly paying up their subscriptions, they will be insured of a copious supply of water for all time to come; and also a cheap and reliable navigation for all their freight up and down the Canal.