When it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Riley statue at the courthouse

You have no doubt heard the saying “When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck.” That quote is from James Whitcomb Riley, the Hoosier Poet. He is from Greenfield, Indiana, a small town east of Indianapolis.

Riley was noted for his down home use of dialect that epitomized rural Indiana. He is famous for his remarkable volume of poems. He wrote and published over 1000 verses. His most popular are “Little Orphant Annie”, “The Raggedy Man,” “Our Hired Girl,” “A Barefoot Boy,” “The Bumblebee,” “Granny,” and “When the Frost Is on the Punkin.”

Mural with verses from his “Wet Weather Talk” poem

Chief Tecumseh statue








It is always fun when travelling to come across an interesting attraction. We found this striking likeness of the famous Chief Tecumseh near the Wabash River levee in Vincennes, Indiana. The statue is the creation of Peter “Wolf” Toth, a Hungarian artist, and is the most recent addition (the 74th) to the “The Trail of Whispering Giants” series of statues scattered across the country.

Polygonal barn built in 1910 in central Indiana

In 1910 a Mr. George Rudicel constructed a rather unusual barn. It has twelve sides, thus the name polygonal. The cone shaped roof is capped with a polygonal cupola and it topped by a square smaller cupola. There is also a large dormer facing the road. This barn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. It is on CR 700S in Noble Township, Shelby County.

As seen from County Road 700S.

Note the face of the dormer matches the polygonal angled panels

Christmas Star on top

Round barns were designed for dairy farming, and were not useful for general farming use. By the late 1920’s round barns had fallen out of favor: there was an ag depression after WWI, and easy  to construct prefabricated barn packages were now available. There were 226 round barns in Indiana but 100 of these have vanished from the Hoosier countryside. Many round barns have been restored and are well maintained. The Rudicel barn, aka locally as the Montgomery round barn, is in need of maintenance and a good coat of paint.


Historic Starr Piano and Gennett Recording Studio

Original Gennett Records logo

Richmond Indiana is a history filled city on the Ohio-Indiana border in the central part of the state. Both I-70 and Historic US 40 run through Richmond. One of the historic sites in Richmond is the remains of the old Starr Piano manufacturing plants and the Gennett Recording studios.

Starr made high end pianos beginning in the 1870’s. The remaining Starr pianos are highly sought after by collectors and musicians alike. The Gennett recording Studios were in business from 1920 to 1934. The records were made in a primitive concrete and brick building with little acoustical features. Legend says that an Oriental rug from the Gennett mansion was used as a wall hanging to deaden the echo sounds during the recording sessions.

Louis Armstrong’s place on the Walk of Fame

Today the Starr Gennett Foundation continues to keep the music history of the 20’s and 30’s alive with many events at the site of the old factory building. One of the many memorials to music is the Walk of Fame. The Starr-Gennett Foundation website details this feature: “In 2007, as part of its ongoing effort to promote and celebrate the music legacy of Starr Piano Company and its subsidiary, Gennett Records, the Foundation inaugurated the Gennett Records Walk of Fame to honor those who recorded for Gennett Records and whose work contributed significantly to American history. Selected by a national panel of music experts, those honored are musicians who created the distinctly American musical genres of jazz, blues, country, gospel, and popular music. However, the Gennett studio recorded the spoken word as well as the music of American Indian and other ethnic groups.”

Many famous musicians of the times got their first recordings made at Gennett. Hoagy Carmichael’s big band recorded there. Louis Armstrong got his start in the Gennett studio. The Great Depression, however, signaled the end of Gennett Records as it did many other record companies of the times.

The old factory now refurbished for concerts

Unique view of the old factory






The remaining portion of the brick factory now has a modern steel structure and metal roof system. This building is used for concerts, meetings and other civic events. It is interesting to think of the tremendous musical history represented at this Indiana site. Hand made pianos and the beginnings of several genres of music began here. When in Richmond be sure to seek out the old Starr Piano building. You just might hear echoes of music from the past.

A Vice President’s family log cabin

Shelbyville, Indiana is a small town in central Indiana and was home to Thomas A. Hendricks, Vice President to Grover Cleveland. A replica of the Hendricks family log cabin is on display at the Shelby County Fairgrounds.

Reconstructed log cabin made from original logs from the Hendricks family cabin

Thomas A. Hendricks was a politician and lawyer who served as the 16th governor of Indiana from 1873 to 1877 and the 21st vice president of the United States from March until his death in November 1885. Hendricks also served Indiana in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. He was born in Ohio and his family moved to Shelbyville in 1822.

Information plaque mounted on the cabin

Vintage postcard of the original cabin, courtesy Indiana Historical Society

Thomas A. Hendricks








Hendricks was married to Eliza Morgan, and they had one child, a son who sadly died at age three. Hendricks was very popular with the people, and unfortunately he died on Thanksgiving night during his first year in office as Vice President. Hendricks is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.


Finks Road stone arch bridge

Ripley County, Indiana is allegedly home to 11 stone arch bridges. The Fink Road bridge spans a branch of Laughery Creek, one of the main waterways in the county. This is a smaller single arch bridge that is not really obvious from the road.

Hard to see the stone arch through the vegetation

All you see are guardrails

Courtesy bridgehunter.com by Anthony Dillon

Stonework in B&W

This bridge was probably built around 1900 and refurbished in 1993. This turn of the century time frame saw many stone arch bridges constructed. The Fink Road Bridge, while only 60 feet long, has an unusual full 19 feet wide two lane spacing. It shows the high degree of craftsmanship typical of the times.


Indiana’s “Grave in the middle of the road”

A history and legend filled roadside oddity can be found on CR 400S outside of Amity, Indiana  which is south of Indianapolis in Johnson County. The story begins in 1808 when 14 year old Nancy Kerlin married William Barnett. The couple had 11 kids.

The only marker on the grave

Fast forward to 1831, the year of Nancy’s passing. She had a favorite spot on a rise overlooking nearby Sugar Creek. This became her final resting place. Stories say that others began to be buried there as well, creating a small country cemetery. A road was discussed through the cemetery, but Nancy’s son refused to move his mother, so the road went around her.

The road still splits around the graves

In the early 1900’s CR 400 was plotted out, again right through Nancy’s grave site. This is when her grandson Daniel Doty showed up with his shotgun refusing to allow any such activity. Don’t mess with Grandma’s grave! Thus the county said fine, they would run the road on either side of the grave.

The old raised grave mound, photo by Rick Hinton

Over the years vehicle traffic, including large farm machinery, took its toll on both the protection barriers and the grave mound itself. Then in 2016 it was decided that the grave should be lowered and covered with a low profile concrete structure. Archaeology students from the University of Indianapolis excavated the grave and were surprised by the discovery of not just Nancy’s body but remains of six others.

New (2016) historical plaque

The bodies of two women, a man and four children were reburied in individual coffins. The low profile concrete structure now protects Nancy and other early Indiana pioneers. Today flowers and hundreds of coins adorn the surface of the grave in the middle of the road.

An 1871 Methodist Church

According to Shelby County Indiana history, following is part of the backstory  of Jollity United Methodist Church: “Back in the gray and misty dawn of the history of Jackson Township, Shelby County, there came two men who settled in what is now known as the Jollity Neighborhood.  These men, William Shipp  and  Burgess Waggoner, brought their families from Kentucky and settled near the Brockman Cemetery.”

The first church was a wooden frame building about a mile from the existing church. The cost of this was around $300.00. It was replaced in 1871 with a new brick church edifice on a new corner of land. The church is on the Shelby/Johnson County line, closer to Franklin than to Shelbyville.

Church Marquee with Holy statue in background

Memorial Flowering Dogwood, planted in April, 1989






Unfortunately a tornado hit the church in 1877. It was repaired, and over the years renovations and building additions were constructed, one with several small Sunday School rooms, a fellowship hall and a kitchen.

Mr. Reasner must have loved horses

Research has determined that the name of the church, Jollity, is most likely named after Frederick Jollity, the man who originally surveyed Johnson County between 1820 and 1830. The church started as a small group of neighbors who came to Indiana in the 1820’s. The National Methodist website lists the current congregation as 18 members, probably close to the original size of the group.



The 1886 Moscow Bridge rebuilt in 2010

In June of 2008 an F3 tornado ripped through the small town of Moscow in Rush County, Indiana. Tragically one life was lost, several homes were destroyed and the 1886 Kennedy covered bridge was ravaged and tossed into the river below. Through the heroic effort of the community, businesses and others, a reconstruction project was begun. Original pieces of the bridge were salvaged. With the balance of new materials, a faithful reproduction of the original E L Kennedy double-span Burr-Arch bridge was rebuilt by the Don Collom and Sons company from Bridgeton, Indiana. It was dedicated in September, 2010.



The Moscow Covered Bridge remains the heart and soul of not only the town, but a valuable part of the history of Rush County as well.

This ferry ran from 1802 to 1978

Aurora, Indiana and Petersburg, Kentucky were connected for nearly two centuries by ferry that transported people, vehicles and goods back and forth across the Ohio River. From the first two horse powered days until the 15 car ferry in service at the end, the Aurora Ferry Company provided uninterrupted service seven days a week.

The history of the ferry

This canoe with the accompanied bronze plaque makes up a memorial marker for a long time icon of the Ohio River. From 1802 to 1978 a ferry ran back and forth across the Ohio. You can see this on the Ohio River Scenic Highway that runs along the river through Aurora, Indiana. The bridge that killed the ferry is out of sight in the background.