July 14, 2017
Sitting in La Grange, Kentucky. Very interesting day getting here. We danced around St. Louis rush hour traffic with Peggy’s masterful guidance. We used the ring road towards Chicago and after crossing the Mississippi we headed south the the highway that bee lined us across southern Illinois. Uneventful trip and arrived in New Harmony, Indiana by late morning.
For those of you who slept through your American History class, New Harmony was founded around 1814 by a Christian group known as the Harmonists. They originated in Pennsylvania and attempted to create a Utopian society in the American wilderness on the Indiana side of the Wabash River. They worked to create a Christian community modeled on the early Christians depicted in the Acts of the Apostles. They created a communal system that successfully manufactured hemp rope and created a community of some 200 households.it lasted some 10 years before returning to Pennsylvania and selling their holdings in Indiana. The purchaser was none other than the Bristish Utopian industrialist Robert Owen. He bought New Harmony settlement in one transaction in 1824 and at toted unsuccessfully to recreate his successful Scottish model in the American woods. It failed in a couple of years. Settlers seeking a good deal swept in. Amongst the deal hunters was William Maxwell, my 3rd great grandfather, and his family including my 2nd great grandmother Lucinda Mary aged 3.
We spent a couple hours in New Harmony wandering around the early homes as well as the charming present day downtown. The docent at the visitor center (the modernistic building was designed by the same architect who designed the Getty Center in LA) explained to us the Harmonist theology and how it is reflected in the modern community. Not only was the historical core maintained, but unique elements like the roofless church, the labyrinth model based on the one at Chartres Cathedral, and the Yellow Tavern all helped to create a wonderful time for us. We left the town and drove the back roads to Poseyville where the Maxwells could have lived although the records indicate only Posey as their residence. Poseyville and New Harmony are both in Posey County. This is one of the challenges in doing family research. Anyway, we continued east on the freeway.
Having trouble with posting pictures…….
We took a scenic small road through the hills and valleys of southern Indiana. Charming countryside with plenty of lush greenness. We even found a cute little winery with plenty of sweet fruity wines. Not our taste but we enjoyed the visit. We soon found ourselves on another small road heading for Orange County and its Capitol of Paoli. Why? In 1813 a settlement of anti-slavery Quakers from North Carolina was created at Lick Creek near Paoli. William Maxwell moved there from his birthplace in North Carolina by 1824. It is Paoli that Lucinda Maxwell is born in 1827. Thanks to Peggy’s sharp eyes, we found the actual Friends Church and graveyard while leaving Paoli. What is really interesting is that not only that we found the birthplace of great great grandma, but that the church was a part of the underground railroad. The church gave freedmen land to farm. The graveyard of this little church contained recent burials with pictures of Black folks buried there. There were descendants of the original freed slaves. I do not know if the Maxwells were involved in these heroic activities, but it was cool to know the type of people that they hung out with.
From there we headed towards Louisville in preparation for our journey through Ohio tomorrow.we did encounter our first serious traffic jam outside Louisville. Not. Ad compared to a normal day in LA. Stopped at a rest stop and the attendant explained what was going on in Kentuckian. I have not idea what he said. We reach La Grange on the road to Cincinatti. A quick basic dinner at the Cracker Barrel chain was complete with a weeks worth of cholesterol.just part of the deal.
All in all, a great day.