WALKS and TALKS
WITH THE FARMERS AND THE BEES
In 1884 William G. Norris then "Editor & Proprietor" of the North Vernon Plain Dealer published this series of rather creative articles authored by
Alpheus W. Blinn. Mr. Blinn taught in the area and also at Eleutherian College in Lancaster in Jefferson County, he was known as "Professor" Blinn.
ARTICLE NUMBER ONE - September 3, 1884
"The pleasant escape from the confinement and monotony of the school room and the shop for the open, unbounded freedom of the country. We
breath more freely; we think more freely. The severe conventionalities of town and cities relax, and we feel a new exhilaration. The simplicity and directness of
the farmer, too, is an inspiration. Content to breathe his native air on his own ground, he is the most natural of men. He has more time, and he thinks more than
the denizens of the town.
In the city you may best study the progress of art, but among the country homes, we may best see the real advance in the elements that bless
and ennoble society. Here we study domestic virtue and cultue, and see the true glory of the American home, the best prophecy of America's great future.
The commonwealth of the bees, connected with almost every farm, is typical of the industry and order of the human home. He is a wise man who
can say with an old poet:
"The daily labors of the bee,
Awake my soul to industry;
In constancy and nuptial love,
I learn my duty from the dove."
Let us visit a few of the homes of Jennings.
Looks out upon a broad and beautiful domain, divided by the meandering waters of Coffee Creek (I wish the fathers and mothers of this country
had been a little more classical in their names,) and extending toward the setting sun. In looking out upon his varied landscape of valley and hills and brook, I have
felt the inspiration of the poet.
"Ever charming, ever new.
When will the landscape tire the view."
Mr. Deputy is filling usefully, I believe, the functions of Trustee of Montgomery township. The schools under his administration, I believe, are
advancing. He has a hospitable home presided over by a lady of rare excellence and culture. A family of sons gives a high promise of usefulness to society. One of them
returned recently from a visit to the South richly laden with intelligence gathered by observations upon men and manners, and natural scenery, and with marine collections
from the coast.
He has learned to look with his eyes and to listen with his ears, and to classify and compare his observations; one of the best lessons for the young.
Enjoys a wide domain, extending from the Muscatatuck towards the Occident. His fields covered with shocks of golden grain, his well-filled barns, his
rustling corn, attest his careful husbandry. His bees, too, seem to be in full sympathy and gather their "luscious hoard" without any apparant discord or tricks. Peter, I
believe draws noble lessons from the commonwealth of the bees. I do not know whether he would imitate them in treating the drones in human society or not. One of his virtues
is he steadily votes the Republican ticket when it is right. Mr. Stewarts home is proverbial for its unostentatious hospitality. With hearty directness he says: "You are
welcome; no matter about the fineness of your coat, or your dialect, or your religion,so you are an honest man." A noble lady graces the home, diffusing blessings and beauty.
For her son, Ulysses,-he calls himself "Jake"-I predict distinction and usefulness in life; he has the stamina.
Has a magnificent farm. I know not whether I would abuse the superlative if I were to say it is the magnificentest farm in the county-and he is reputed
to be a successful farmer.
"Whose herds with milk,
Whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire."
Mr. Lawrence is conservative in politics but he is a successful manager of bees. A very excellent lady makes his home beautiful and a generous hospitality
About the time of the Chicago Convention, in June, after a very heavy rain, Mr. Lawrence with his son Dan attempted to ford the creek upon a mule; said
mule slipped and father and son were precipitated into the foaming flood. The good wife, who enjoys the ludicrous, laughed heartily and then most graciously ran to meet her
dripping husband with a dry shirt.
Is a substantial farmer, and I believe he votes regularly the Democratic ticket. He is an original man. He copies nobody, and nobody can copy him. The
Latins would say he is sui-generis, as the Irish orators said of Napoleon: "A man without a model and without a shadow."
Howbeit, he has a very hospitable home, and a lady of great excellence crowns it with blessings. How blessed is the influence of the mother in the home.
How are these the nurseries and fertilizing streams in our American life. I am greatly indebted to this family for kind hospitalities. I have partaken of their venison and
honey, I am reminded. It is said that Mr. Lawrence's bees plunder their feebler neighbors at Mr. Wilkerson's which Mr. Lawrence, as an honest man, will not permit.
Mr. Wilkerson has a deep sink in his pasture, not distant from his home. A member of the swine faternity fell to the bottom, and the general opinion
was that Mr. Wilkerson was minus a hundred weight of pork.
But lo! Wonderful instinct! The beast found his way to the light more than half a mile distant.
Mr. Wilkerson, his neighbors say, is an impracticable man, but they do not understand his mental processes. "I'm sure," says a neighbor, "that is a heap
of chaff." "No," says Henry, "there are some grains of wheat in it but it is not worth the sifting." "Yes, but I mean to know."
It is pleasant to have the shake of the hand of such a man.
Paris, Ind. A.W.B.
Article Number Two - September 10, 1884
Stands peer to any man in the grandeur of his domain and the beauty of his home. He bounds upon Solomon Deputy in the Coffee Creek valley. I have thought his landscape
peculiarly peotical. The hills with every position covered with lowing and bleating herds, the valley with groves and growing fields, the gushing fountain flowing through his garden and
beneath his yard, for a landscape for the poet.
But the family is the realm of the chief glory. I know whereof I affirm; I know not a more beautiful home. I need hardly say why. Under the genial wand of wife and
mother what beauties rise and flourish and bloom! How the virtues and graces of childhood are developed! Why should women desire to mingle in the muddy pool of politics?
"Her might is gentleness;
She winneth her way
By a soft word, a gentle look."
Is known everywhere as "Uncle Sol." If you meet an elderly gentleman riding a good horse, coming forward as if in haste, you may presume it is Solomon Deputy. But
if in addition his wardrobe seems to be chosen in defiance of all taste, his hat perhaps without a brim, and he accosts you with heartiness and enquires about cattle, you may with confidence
take him by the hand as an honest man. His dress will be no discount upon his manhood.
In passing through the Coffee Creek valley, one can not ignore the splendid domain of Uncle Sol. The rustling grain and the great herds covering his pastures announce
a farmer of thrift and enterprise. The village-like collection of buildings invite you to his homw. He says plainly "Come in." You feel at home, you will find Uncle Sol a gentleman in his
home without pretending to be one; it comes natural to him. Beauty and taste meet you; an accomplished lady makes the home a paradise of order, a school where the virtues and graces of youth
J.(JOHN) H. ROGERS
Well known farmer in Marion township who exercises the important function of selecting those who are "to rear the tender thought and teach the young idea how to shoot."
I was happy to ride through his domain, covered with golden grain that was ready to be garnered, and to see the most luxuriant corn fields of that fertile valley. I
thought that the corn in its rustle spoke joyfully of a fertile soil, genial skies and showers, and of skillful cultivators, and modestly hinted "See the blessings of Republican adminnistration;
what need of a change!" I think Mr. Rogers will advance the standard of the schools of Marion township.
Comes, he says, from Irish and Scotch ancestry. He may be proud of both sides, as united they make a good composition. The one has vivacity, wit and sympathy; the other
has force and integrity.
Mr. Arbuckle might be a poet, for his home is beautiful. Undulating pastures and meadows, smiling fields and lowing herds, with the domes and minarets of Commiskey in the
distance, make up a pleasing landscape. It is a hospitable home presided over by a worthy lady. How does domestic virtue sancify the homes of this valley!
Mr. Arbuckle, I think, has Scotch enough in his composition to be very stubborn, perhaps mulish when there is an attempt to drive, but I hope he has the integrity of heart,
that seeing the right, he has the sincerity and boldness to do it. He votes the Republican ticket.
Paris, Sept. 8. A. W. B.
Article Number Three - September 24, 1884
Who does not know Fielding Lett? Behold, his domain extends towards the setting sun from Eli Wells'. I have enjoyed much in riding through his extensive farms and wondered
why one man should pay taxes for so many acres.
Mr. Lett seems to be one of the many exceptions to the familiar distieh
"Man wants but little here below
Nor wants that little long."
Tis not worth while to quarrel with Nature. Mr. Lett has acquisitiveness; he was born to it and his enjoyment is in the exercise of his predominant faculty.
Now if in following this tendency of Nature, he can serve society; if he can make his large means subservient to the good of humanity, the harmony of Nature will be answered.
William the Conquerer brought his Norman chivairy and the feudal system into England in the 11th century, but Mr. Lett is perhaps doing a better work for Indiana by introducing the Norman horse, an
improved breed of draught horses.
He is doing another good work for the farming community in the culture of fish. His fine artificial lakes, filled with multitudes of the finny tribes, of the most approved
species, are pleasant features of his enterprise.
A worthy lady who makes the home home also manages a large community of bees, a most interesting part of that center of industries.
What does not enthusiasm achieve in any calling! Mr. Lett is an enthusiast in a special calling, and presses every instrumentality to its success. And he achieves success. I
see upon a higher plane of culture him who was before the successful man of the world. He has acquired a wider spiritual vision by the unsealing of the unspiritual eye. He sees life as it is; that
this life takes hold on two worlds; that man lives not for himself alone, but for the race. How this revelation flashes new light upon his path! How expanded are his aspirations! God is a common
father, all men a brotherhood. Is he a man of superior talents and learning? They belong not to him to be wasted in display or vain glory; but they belong to humanity to be consecrated. Is he a
statesman? How large is his survey of public affairs?
"He scattereth plenty o'er a smiling land,
and reads his history in a nation's eyes."
Is he a mmerchant? His ships sail home with treasures to bless society; to open the hall of music and the gallery of art; to endow the hospital for the unfortunate and the sick.
Is he a farmer with wide domain? Behold, how every rustling blade, every ripening ear, every lowing herd speaks of blessing! The school, with its rich library and philosophical apparutus, opens wide its
portals to all seeking knowledge and development. This is consecrated wealth; this life is a benediction.
Some weeks since, in riding, I enjoyed a distant view of Mr. Law's elegant mansion, and recently I had the pleasure of a nearer view and acquaintance with his beautiful home. His
farm lies upon Tea creek, as thou looking toward Lovett and the rising sun. In approaching his fine residence the long avenues of pines and cedars, the well kept lawns and the shaded pastures near, were
a pleasant picture. His ample barns and water-supplies evidenced attention to the numerous herds wandering in distant pastures. His rich corn fields lying in the valley of the Muscatatuck I did not see;
but I saw the home-the very sanctum anctorum of our American promise, the nursery of our virtue and freedom. I had heard of Mr. Law's family virtues where, I think, the best part of man and woman is seen-
I mean ti say where the real man and woman is seen. In the arena of politics, the mart of business, or in the social circle, the character of a man is not so truly seen as in the family. Here Mr. Law
impressed me as a gentleman.
And when I saw the lovely children and the noble lady, so graceful and dignified, so kind and pains-taking for the pleasure of others, so-everything that enobles domestic life, I
thought "How can Mr. Law be other than a good man?" I speak reverently; I bow down to the sancitity of home.
The family rode to meeting in the big jolt wagon in the most democratic way, picking up half the neighborhood. "Madam," said I: "would it not be pleasanter for you to ride in your
family carriage?" She answered "Oh, no, it would not be so social; we could not have the company of our neighbors." That spoke very much. It needs no commentary. I thank that family for a new inspiration.
Whitier wrote truly:
"Each good word and action moves
And Marathon looks upon the sea."
Is engaged largely in farming and in commerce. His wide domain stretches toward the setting sun and Fielding Lett's, and as thou lookest towards Commiskey. The scenery is not picturesque
as that of Greece where-
"The mountains look on Marathon,
And Marathon looks upon the sea."
While the situation is not poetical, it is practical, and Mr. Wells is a practcal, matter-of fact man. He builds no castles in the air. I must qualify this a little. He has built
a fine mansion on terra firma, but in the upper air, he has an observatory, whence, with a fine telescope,he often surveys the heavens. Venus and Jupiter are familiar friends, and old Saturn with his rings
he expecto to cirumnavigate this fall. Tis said that not long since, Mr. Wells took an aerial flight in a baloon of which his wife knew nothing until his return. He promises, however, in his next voyage to
have a seat for two.
Possibly, I may be making a revelation that Mr. Wells may not approve,for though he loves to sail, he does not seek notoriety.
I learned that his present place in the political field was entirely unexpected as it was unsought. He is a man that has not sought office. That public trust and responsibility should
seek him is all the better. He is highly practical. Success in a widely diversified business is a test of ablility. Whatever he may think of aerial voyaging, he expects to confine himself to the earth at
present. Meteorology and the motions of the planets, he will observe in passing.
His is a fine home. A lady to lead the train of the graces, music, love and duty; children developing in intelligence and culture. What could he have more?
What can office add to such a man? It sometimes happens that-
"We drop the Man in our account
And vote the mantle into majesty."
Paris, Ind. A. W. B.
Article Number Four - October 15, 1884
Next to Fielding Lett, is perhaps the largest farmer in the county. Mr. Lewis is a man of mark. Mr. Blaine is scarcely more marked among the farmers of Jennings county. A man of great originality
of mind, a thinker, and close observer, he makes everything his own. His mind is a store house of the most practical knowledge which he has classified for me. You are impressed with the amplitude of his wisdom in the
common business of life. I know not with what other teacher a young man could acquire so much knowledge of the real substantial business of life. Le me see if I recall aright the lessons of wisdom I have heard from his
lips. First, every man should have a wife, and wife should he held as a partner in business, with equal voice and interest in the business of the firm, with frequent posting of books, and inventories of stock, and
retrenchment or expansion as the business might warrant. Second, the utmost confidence between the partners. The man should have no secret expenses, nor should he enter into important engagements without consulting his
partner. Third, punctuality to every engagement, always on time. Fourth, the most heaven-attesting truth and integrity.
By these priciples he rose to a large affluence. A man of decided character, he impresses himself upon all around him. Even the lower animals seem to acknowledge his superior power. I noticed
the cows in his barnyard seemed to be under discipline. I rode with him some distance in his carriage. I found he had a pair of colts, and was alarmed. "Don't fear," he said, "I have tamed them." I was amazed at their
docility. He had indeed the "mystery of commanding." Mr. Lewis has built as if for ages. A worthy lady makes it a home beauty and hospitality. I am very sorry that Mr. Lewis is suffering from rheumatics. May his sons
and daughters by filial duty crown the later life of father and mother with blessings. May health be restored, and the sun set be in glory!
W.(William) H. CONNER
Looks out upon Sherman and the railroad, and says, "Hurry on in your noise and bustle, I ask no favors of you," and he need not. He has a splendid domain, farm added to farm, covered with lowing
herds. Fortune seems to smile upon him; a good woman certainly does. Mr. Conner says, "I am the monarch of all I survery," and he is; but there is a queen that shares his throne and his power. At any rate there is power
behind the throne, and in the home domain she is supreme. The house has order and beauty; the piano evokes sweet music; that poppies, and pinks, and dahlias, and hollyhocks bloom in beauty; the commonwealth of bees obey
the harmony, and W. H. Conner, under the silken wand of his frau, is happy.
"A discreet woman is a crown of glory to her husband," said Solomon.
I owe very much to that hospitable family.
Is one of the solid men of Jennings county. His farms are seen as thou lookest from Paris toward the north. I have known Mr. Lowry exteriorly; an affable, genial and honest gentleman, I should-think.
Loving to indulge a pasquerade at the relgious seets, and at the Republicans, he seems nevertheless, disposed to judge men candidly.
I have desired to know mroe of his interior and home life. Why this interest? Mr. Lowry holds no fortune, in reversion for me, I know, but he jolds an influence in reversion for society. A man's home
life, I have before said in these "talks," is his best life, because it is his truest life.
every home is a center of a distinct civilization. Every home is sending blessing or bale into society, therefore I am interested in studying the home life. Mr. Lowry is a man of large means and
popular talent to impress men. The character of his children impresses me favorably; noble, lady like dignity, and simple directness are promising characteristics.
Mr. Lowry, I should think, is a man of incessant activity in business. He seems always in haste. In his frequent drives he seems always to have a friend in company. I am indebted to him. Passing the
same with me, he offered me a seat in his carriage; while giving me pleasure, I think his own benevolence was strengthened. Shakespear never uttered a truer sentiment; "The gift is twice blessed." As I rode the beautiful
sentiment of the Christian post thrilled my mind.
He doubles the length of his lifelong ride,
Who shareth his fortunate place with another,
And the pleasures of a thousand lives is his,
Who holds the world in his sympathies,
To give is to live,
To deny is to diie.
I have earnestly desired for Mr. Lowry that he could see the evidence that the Republican is the true Democratic party, and if he could attain a Christian philosophy, he would find a grander world
surrounding him, and a grand life beckoning him.
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