Source: Saturday Evening Journal, June 21, 1884 - thanks soooo very much to Kim Hancock for sending this to us - wow look at early C'ville
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE OLDEST INHABITANT
Crawfordsville in 1835 - The Sign of the Indian Chief = Old Houses - James G. Fahr - By Stage to Indianapolis Cornelius Vanarsdall, the father of William Vanarsdall, is the oldest citizen of Crawfordsville.
An interview with him recently developed some interesting fact in regard to the town and it subsequent growth. Mr. Vansarsdall came to Montgomery county in 1835, removing to Crawfordsville five years later. It was then a small village, surrounded on every side by dense forests, made almost impenetrable by an undergrowth of pea vines and shrubs, the trees being bound together by wild grapes and other vines. The town extended east to the Elston residence, which was built in 1834, north to Market street, west to West street, and south to Pike street. South of Pike street, at that time, there were a few cabins here and there in the clearing. The old Canby house, afterwards bought and used for a public school, was a small brick building to which additions were made later. That part of town around the old Catholic church was field which belonged to Major Whitlock, who lived in the residence now occupied by Miss Janey Jones. The house was then a small trame building, to which additions were gradually made from time to time. The other houses which were standing at that time were the Fry homestead, now occupied by Mrs. Mary Sloan, the Herndon residence and the house now owned and occupied by R.K. Krout. It was built, and one like it across the street, which was bought and remodeled by Ira McConnell, by a man named James G. Fahr, about 1830. He was a native of Ohio and was employed as a gardener by the college, which was at first known as Wabash manual Labor and Teachers' Seminary, with an agricultural department. The man was a free thinker - something rare and held in detestation in those days. He retained his position until the Faculty discovered that he was inculcating the principles of Tom Paine and Voltaire among the students much more rapidly than they were able to ground them in the teachings of Paul and Peter. The McConnell house was intended for his brother, but the man coming to look at it was dissatisfied with both houses and the village, and it was never completed until it was purchased by the late Alvin Ramey. Where Campbell Bros. dry goods store now stands was what was known as the Old Ramey Tavern, with the sign of an Indian Chief. The stage made two weekly trips between Indianapolis and Crawfordsville. The roads were terrible and the male passengers were expected frequently to alight and assist in prying the vehicle out of the mud with a rail. The mail was carried in a crate on two wheels, and it is presumed made better time that the coach, liable at any moment to sink to the hubs between the interstices of corduroy road. Where the block of buildings since erected by Paul Hughes now stand was a small store owned by William Miller, the first white child born in the county, and in whose house the Circuit Court of Montgomery county held its first sessions. The old Court House, which was torn away to give a place to the one erected in 1875, was completed. A small house stood on the corner afterwards occupied by Center church. The Methodist church was a small frame building standing on the site of the present edifice. The old college building, which was afterward destroyed by fire, stood on the hill east of Blair's pork house. The first Commencement, at which two young men were graduated, one of whom is still living, occurred three years later. Mr. Vanarsdall could remember no one of his own age still living who was a resident of the town at that tme. He has lived to witness many changes, not only in the aspect of his surroundings, but in the manners and custom's of the times. We have graded streets, stone crossings, substantial sidewalks, gas, railroads, the telephone and telegraph, handsome business houses, Queen Anne and Eastlake residences, a splendid college heavily endowed, public schools with a corps of twenty teachers and an attendance of over one thousand pupils. The political parties of that day have lost their names, and under the guise of Republicans and Democratic have relinquished many of their cherished traditions. Yet not withstanding the increased luxury and convenience and the abundant facilities for enlightenment and education, it is extremely doubtful if people today are better, more comfortable and happy than they were in the days of old fashioned simplicity and hospitality. Where much is given much, is required, and the nerve and sinew of the man of today is taxed to the utmost in his unceasing efforts to "keep up with the times."