The Indiana Homeby Logan M. Esarey
"The Indiana Home " - describing early 19th-century pioneer lifeways of southern Indiana - is as much an Esarey family narrative as an academic production. Shaped by childhood experience, as well as Logan's trained eye as a historian, it grew directly out of face to face engagement with the pioneers who had settled in southern Indiana in his grandparents' generation.
The volume was first published in 1943, soon after Logan's death (September 1942). As fellow historian R. Carlyle Buley notes in the Foreward, the essays and stories in The Indiana Home were not intended for publication but were found among Logan's "very miscellaneous notes and papers." Evidence of the family nature of these essays is Buley's statement that they were prepared primarily for "students and grandchildren."
The enduring value of these essays comes from the great depth of their description and the preservation of cultural contexts in the ways of seeing things (see an excerpt below). Generated directly from face-to-face experience with people who knew this life intimately, the essays have the authenticity of their place and time. Since those times are ever more gone now, Logan's primary goal - to acquaint latter day descendants with the details of their ancestors' lives - is served even better now than when he first brought these texts into being. This is a direct link into a fully fleshed out way of life and first hand account of personal history.
The Indiana Home
1. The First Inhabitants
2. A Cabin in the Clearing
3. The Indiana Home
4. Farm Life in the Fifties
5. The Settler Becomes a Citizen
Excerpts: (from "A Cabin in the Clearing")
"The roof was made of clapboards split with a frow from some nice straight-grained oak. Each clapboad was about four feet long, six inches wide, and an inch think. These were laid on overlapping and held in place by weight poles."
"Some time before winter a small house was built over the spring. This in time grew into a house for the storage of vegetables, meats, milk, and fruits, serving the pioneers as an icehouse or refrigerator. A pool of water was provided just large enough for a gourd or bucket and not large enough to permit the water to become warm in summer or freeze in winter."
"The garden belonged to the women and on it depended the table, the one great attraction of pioneer life. Long, hard work developed enormous appetites... The first warm days in March a brush pile was burned and in the mingled soil and ashes the cabbage, tobacco and pepper seeds were strewn. The tender plants were covered to protect them from frost. As soon as all danger of frost was over and 'the sign was in the head' they were transplanted or 'set out' in the garden. There were early Winnigstadt cabbages for summer use and big 'Drumheads' for fall and winter. A pot of 'biled' cabbage with a chunk of fat meat for 'seasonin' was mighty 'fillin...' Equally 'pushin' were the lettuce and radishes."
The Indiana Home is available from Indiana University Press and easily found in used book venues.