Impressive Civil War Memorial includes an anachronism

Sitting on the north side of the Johnson County Courthouse in Franklin, Indiana is a striking memorial/fountain commemorating the valor of Union Soldiers from Johnson County during the Civil War. John Vawter was a businessman and banker from Franklin. He donated the memorial in 1905. It includes a bronze statue by artist Rudolph Schwarz.

This is a wonderful memorial to the men who served in the Civil War. The anachronism? As a history nerd who has been interested in, and studied military history, I need to point out that the arms and accoutrements on the cavalry trooper looking out over the battlefield are of a kind that did not even exist in 1861 to 1865.

Detail of the Model 1873 Trapdoor Springfield

The carbine is a Springfield “Trapdoor” that fired a 45/50 cartridge. This firearm was not invented until 1873, and was issued in both rifle and carbine lengths. The cartridge box on the trooper’s belt appears to also be from the 1870’s and designed for brass cartridges. The statue is a very good portrayal of a trooper from the mid 1870’s on.

This is an impressive memorial, complete with all branches of the services represented under the lion heads fountains. It is interesting that the statue artist picked the wrong model for his rendition of the trooper. It doesn’t take away from the honor given to the Civil War soldiers from Johnson County.

The Willard offers history, food and drink, and a ghost

Franklin, Indiana is south of Indianapolis and is the county seat of Johnson County. One of the most noteworthy places in Franklin is The Willard, now a family friendly restaurant housed in an historic brick building a block north of the courthouse. Originally a home, the property has seen several uses and additions over the years. Check The Willard website for a detailed history.

Main entrance of the restaurant

We were in Franklin for a dental appointment and decided to try out the American cuisine at The Willard. There was a decent crowd when we got there, and as we ate there was a constant stream of customers coming in to the facility. We were seated in the main dining room, while lots of folks took advantage of the outdoor seating.

Vegetarian pizza, stuffed w/veggies

Outdoor seating visible left, background









One of Willard favorites is pizza, and Sher did order the small vegetarian pizza. As you see in the photos it was packed with veggies. I had to try the breaded tenderloin and fries. The sandwich breading was different and not as “crunchy” as most recipes. It was tasty however.

Full service bar past the arched brick wall

From the lobby, curved staircase visible

At the top of the main stair

Passageway past the bar and bistro tables














The building has been around since 1860, and quite a few old details make the place very interesting. The main curved staircase has a beautiful stained glass window at the top landing. The marble fireplace and original Willard Hotel sign compliment main dining room where we ate. And even though there is no prominent mention of her, a ghost named Eliza, a former love scorned owner of the property can be seen moving about the building in a rage. Seems she caught her fiancé in a compromising situation with her sister on a table in the kitchen.

Highway 40 sale was hot but successful

The US Highway 40 cross country yard sale concluded today after 5 days of very hot, sunny weather. Overall it was a successful sale, though crowds were slightly smaller than in past years.

Wide angle view of the interior of our booth.

The pictures show our booth and some of the other vendors who took advantage of this great site which used to house a church. There were close to 30 different vendors, restrooms and plenty of parking. The first time we set up here several years ago there were at most 7 or 8 vendors.

Memorial Day haunting quatrains honoring war dead

Memorial Day in 2023 will be held on May 29th. Originally called “Decoration Day” it started after the end of the Civil War and became an official Federal Holiday in 1971. Memorial Day is observed all across the nation in towns large and small. Many courthouse lawns are decorated with crosses bearing the names of local men and women who gave their lives serving in the armed forces while protecting our freedoms.

One of two National Cemeteries in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana with 2nd quatrain, 1st stanza of O’Hare’s poem displayed

Theodore O’Hara (1820 – 1867) was a poet, lawyer, soldier and adventurer from Kentucky. He penned a haunting poem, “Bivouac of the Dead” honoring the dead from Kentucky killed in the Mexican War of 1847. At the end of the Civil War it became a memorial to Confederate dead, however the second quatrain of the first stanza has become an honor to any soldier killed in battle. That quatrain can be found in cemeteries across the nation and even the gateway to Arlington National Cemetery bears an inscription from O’Hara’s most noted poem.

Following is the complete poem, 12 stanzas with two quatrains per stanza. It is worth reading from start to finish.


The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat
The soldier’s last tattoo;
No more on life’s parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame’s eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.

No rumor of the foe’s advance
Now swells upon the wind;
Nor troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind;
No vision of the morrow’s strife
The warrior’s dream alarms;
No braying horn nor screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.

Their shriveled swords are red with rust,
Their plumed heads are bowed,
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,
Is now their martial shroud.
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow,
And the proud forms, by battle gashed
Are free from anguish now.

The neighing troop, the flashing blade,
The bugle’s stirring blast,
The charge, the dreadful cannonade,
The din and shout, are past;
Nor war’s wild note nor glory’s peal
Shall thrill with fierce delight
Those breasts that nevermore may feel
The rapture of the fight.

Like the fierce northern hurricane
That sweeps the great plateau,
Flushed with the triumph yet to gain,
Came down the serried foe,
Who heard the thunder of the fray
Break o’er the field beneath,
Knew well the watchword of that day
Was “Victory or death!”

Long had the doubtful conflict raged
O’er all that stricken plain,
For never fiercer fight had waged
The vengeful blood of Spain;
And still the storm of battle blew,
Still swelled the gory tide;
Not long, our stout old chieftain knew,
Such odds his strength could bide.

Twas in that hour his stern command
Called to a martyr’s grave
The flower of his beloved land,
The nation’s flag to save.
By rivers of their father’s gore
His first-born laurels grew,
And well he deemed the sons would pour
Their lives for glory too.

For many a mother’s breath has swept
O’er Angostura’s plain —
And long the pitying sky has wept
Above its moldered slain.
The raven’s scream, or eagle’s flight,
Or shepherd’s pensive lay,
Alone awakes each sullen height
That frowned o’er that dread fray.

Sons of the Dark and Bloody Ground
Ye must not slumber there,
Where stranger steps and tongues resound
Along the heedless air.
Your own proud land’s heroic soil
Shall be your fitter grave;
She claims from war his richest spoil —
The ashes of her brave.

Thus ‘neath their parent turf they rest,
Far from the gory field,
Borne to a Spartan mother’s breast
On many a bloody shield;
The sunshine of their native sky
Smiles sadly on them here,
And kindred eyes and hearts watch by
The heroes sepulcher.

Rest on embalmed and sainted dead!
Dear as the blood ye gave;
No impious footstep shall here tread
The herbage of your grave;
Nor shall your glory be forgot
While fame her records keeps,
Or Honor points the hallowed spot
Where Valor proudly sleeps.

Yon marble minstrel’s voiceless stone
In deathless song shall tell,
When many a vanquished ago has flown,
The story how ye fell;
Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter’s blight,
Nor Time’s remorseless doom,
Shall dim one ray of glory’s light
That gilds your deathless tomb.

Highway 40 Yard Sale starts May 31, 2023

U.S. Highway 40, also known as the National Road, begins in Baltimore and runs west for 824 miles and ends in St. Louis. Since 2003 a remarkable event takes place along the entire route. The week following Memorial Day thousands of people set up flea market type displays on the sides of the road, selling everything you can think of.

This year the sale starts on Wednesday, May 31 and runs through Sunday, June 4th. You’ll start to see people setting up as early as Sunday May 28th. Many different places turn into both large and small markets. Parking lots, large and small fields, front yards, churches, empty building lots all transform into individual antique, flea market and craft booths. Lots of folks who live on Highway 40 take advantage of the event and have their own yard sale.

Sellers stay all week with their goods

Buyers include serious antique collectors, hobby collectors, and people looking for unique bargains and treasures. Some folks travel hundreds of miles over several days while others just cruise 40 in their own county. The sale really has a festival feel, and it is exciting when you find that special item! For more information on being a seller or a buyer see their Facebook page.

Displays at Ford’s Garage

Ford’s Garage in Noblesville, Indiana is one of a chain of 24 restaurants. The lion’s share, 18, are located in Florida with others in Texas, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky. The first one opened in 2012 in Ft. Meyers, Florida. It was a mere mile away from the winter residence of Henry Ford himself.

The outside, patio seating is behind the 4 openings

The overall ambiance and décor of the Noblesville establishment, like all of the locations, is based around a 1920’s service station. You have to have cars at a service station, thus you are immediately seeing vintage Ford Model A cars on the outside of the facility.

The entrance

Front door handles

Shop rag and hose clamp for tableware!

Ford Garage branded on the bun!














Once you’re seated, and even on the way to your table, your eyes are filled with all kinds of Ford and automotive items. The more you look, the more you’ll see! Ford memorabilia and 1920’s pictures and car items are everywhere.

The way to the restrooms

Unique RR sink

The quote on the back wall is Ford’s “any color as long as it’s black”

Nice old race car











This is a wonderful and fun place. The food and drinks are great. The whole Ford theme is most interesting. If you want a unique dining experience Ford’s Garage is the place for you.


Antique cars and gourmet burgers

Ford’s Garage in Noblesville, Indiana is not a place to have your car repaired or serviced. No, it is one of a nationwide chain of restaurants that features vintage Ford cars and an overall historic automotive theme giving the feel of a 1920’s service station.

Touted as a gourmet burger and craft beer establishment, our table was in the open air portion of the seating areas. We had already looked at the menu online, and had a good idea what specialty drinks we were interested in trying. Sher ordered the Lincoln Punch and Maj had the Model Tea. (Note the Ford auto name connections!)

” Lincoln Punch” made with Mount Gay Rum, Blackberry Puree, Pineapple Juice, Orange Juice, and Lemon Juice

“Model Tea” made with Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka, Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka, Peach Schnapps, Lemon Juice, and Sweet Tea










Looking at the menu for the large number of gourmet burgers available was kind of a wow, what to order moment. All of the burgers are made with a 1/2 pound of Black Angus beef. A bison burger is also on the menu. When Maj mentioned to our server that he was looking at the burgers, she immediately recommended “The Estate Burger”.  That was a good choice as it turned out.

Smoked Gouda Cheese, Sweet Red Onion Marmalade, Arugula, Tomato, Fried Onion Straws, and White Truffle Bacon Aioli on a Brioche Bun

Sher and our son shared a couple of appetizers. As is true with most menu items, the Ford auto theme is utilized again. The “Giant Funnel Tower of Jumbo Piston Onion Rings” and “Edsel’s Hot Pretzels” were complimented with “Ford’s Fries”. As the photo shows, the onion rings were served on a tall funnel!

Salted Soft Pretzels, Served with Ford’s Beer Cheese and Honey Mustard Dipping Sauces

Jumbo Piston Rings Served with Homemade Chipotle Ketchup and Hidden Valley Ranch®









We had a most enjoyable time at Ford’s Garage in Noblesville. The service was good and the food was delicious and filling, too. The ambiance of the place is very unique and provides a fun dining event for you and your family or group. There is such a wide variety of good stuff on the menu, both the food and drink. Ford’s Garage should be on your dining agenda. Be on the lookout for other Ford’s Garage franchises around the country.

Historic Seagram’s Distillery in Lawrenceburg

Driving along US 50 through Lawrenceburg, Indiana, it is hard to miss the large complex of tall red brick buildings and multiple silver tanks that are part of the former Seagrams Distillery plant that straddles the Lawrenceburg and Greendale city boundaries. The current owner/operator of the facility is now MGP Ingredients, based out of Kansas.

This building has multiple floors of aging racks for 550 pound barrels of whisky

The Cincinnati Magazine published a fascinating and detailed story about the history of the Seagram’s Distillery, its current owners, and the ins and outs of the distillery business around the country. Read that article here. 

This paragraph is from the Cincinnati Magazine article.  “According to (Master Distiller Greg) Metze, it all starts with the water. MGP Ingredients sits on an aquifer, just a short walk from the Ohio River (most of the facility is actually in Greendale). That 56-degree water—low in sulfur and iron, high in calcium, and limestone-filtered—lets MGP make a lot of whiskey, and also have a continuous source for cooling the equipment. That’s why there were so many distilleries in Lawrenceburg in the 1800s. MGP’s began life as the Rossville Union Distillery in 1847; after Prohibition, in 1933, it was purchased by the legendary Canadian company Seagram. Right next door was Squibb, which opened in 1846 (though another distillery, Dunn and Ludlow, was on that patch of land in 1807) and became part of the Delaware company Schenley in 1933.”

More aging racks, and the tower houses multi-story continuous column stills

We were on a day trip to southern Indiana, the Ohio River and Lawrenceburg. The Seagram’s facility is huge, and we decided to drive over to the site, having never done that before.   Unfortunately we discovered that the new owners do not offer public tours of this historic distillery. At one time the Seagram’s plant employed over 2800 at the distillery and bottling plant. It is truly an iconic business with a rich and colorful history.


Got lunch at a local Mexican restaurant

Lunch time today led us to a local Mexican restaurant in one of Shelbyville Indiana’s strip malls. This one has has been open for a few years and goes by the name Cholula and bills itself as having authentic Mexican food.

The decor is the first thing you notice when you enter the restaurant. The tables are all decorated in Old Mexico theme artwork. The highbacked chairs are also adorned with brightly colored rustic scenes from south of the border. In addition, there are a couple of vintage black and white  scenes from old Mexico.

Our tabletop art

Chairback art

Awesome old photos

The lunch crowd had pretty well finished when we got there, so immediate seating was no problem. Like most all restaurants of this genre a bowl of fresh chips and a couple of bowls of salsa were soon on our table. We then ordered margaritas.

The margarita!

The typical appetizer









Our food was ordered, and in a short period of time it was brought to our table. The food was hot and delivered on hot plates too. Sher ordered a good vegetarian plate with a bean burrito, cheese enchilada and rice. I had the beef chimichanga with all the trimmings and rice.

Sher’s vegetarian plate

Maj’s beef chimichanga






All in all the food was ok, really about the same as most midscale Mexican restaurants.