Starting out the new year, our speaker was Ashley Petry. She was our guest a couple of years ago. She has written another book, “Indianapolis - An Illustrated Timeline,” that she shared with us at our meeting with everyone wearing face masks.
We had a nice turnout. Society president Barry Browning introduced the author to members and guests. Earlier I had met my friend and the organization’s treasurer Sharon David in the hallway. We went into the meeting together.
Ashley’s program was built around the history of Indiana and Indianapolis. She discussed how Indiana was founded along the Ohio River when rivers were the main way to move anything. So it was important to work and live near a waterway.
The first state capital was in Corydon on the Ohio River. Ashley provided slides, one of them showed the outline of Indiana which then divided the state into three different population areas. The lower third was bordered along the south of the Ohio River and was the only section that showed population growth.
The state legislature at that time began discussing how difficult it would be for people and goods to be moved from the upper third of the state to the state capital. At some point, plans began to build a town or city very near the middle of the state.
It took quite a long time to decide on the location and the potential of moving materials up and down White River was really misunderstood.
The legislature couldn’t even agree on a name for the new city which seems difficult to believe today. Finally, they came up with the Greek word, “polis,” for city. So we live in “Indianacity” or as we know it as “Indianapolis.”
When the new home and facilities were ready in Indianapolis, only then could all the state’s official documents and records be moved from Corydon. The move involved a couple of elected state officials (secretary and treasurer) to transport everything on horse-drawn wagons. All the state’s money was also in those wagons.
As they traveled, Petry pointed out, they tried to find a cabin to stay overnight. The men stayed with the wagons and protected materials and the state’s money. Women and children who accompanied the wagons could sleep inside.
With no roads, I’m thinking that they mostly went from one place to another by using paths that local residents had developed.
Many years ago, I helped develop a city tour of Indianapolis. It was fun to explain to visitors that Indianapolis was a planned city. It was originally set up to be just a one-mile square city. The boundaries were North, East, South, and West streets.
The governor’s house was supposed to be located at the center of the Monument Circle area, but that never happened. Petry pointed out that no governor’s wife was inclined to hang their laundry out on a clothes line in the middle of the city.
I would have really enjoyed sharing some of these stories that I just learned last week during my city tours. Thanks to Ashley Petry for a great program.