Sarah Butler Hendricks
Prose and Poetry, undated
The following texts are available at the Duggan Library Archives, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
They were transcribed for the Hanover Historical Texts Project in Fall 2006 by the students of His234 "Studies in American Cultural History: The Middle Class," taught by Sarah McNair Vosmeier.
Sarah Butler (Hendricks) writings, 1854 (introduced and transcribed by R. J. Laws, '07).
"Nell Norwood" is an article written by Sarah Butler around 1854 describing some of the local area around Madison and Hanover Indiana, specifically a waterfall, Chain Mill, and the gorge it falls into. Sarah also recounts the local fable about how the gorge and falls were made.
Sarah Butler, article published in Madison paper, 1854, Manuscript Set 67, Box 1, Folder 9, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Indiana).
by Sarah Butler
I've been roaming again, Messrs. Editors, -making friends with
the birds and wild flowers, talking to the cascades, and holding delightful
communion with nature in her most witching forms. This is just the season
for a ramble in the country; there is a soft voluptuousness in the air when
the Sylph of Spring comes forth from her hiding place, touching earth and
sky with her magic wand till one is dyed in that deep cerulean hue, and the
other smiles in the most beautiful verdure hue and there starred with some
delicate blossom, a little volume of poetry in itself. Did it never occur
to you that the world is one vast library, containing primers for the infant
mind, beautiful histories for the youthful intellect, and [tomes] that require
close application and deep research from the [maturer] understanding; we are
all students admitted to its free use some for a little space only, others
for a long term of study, and every moment must be diligently improved for
we know not how long our scholarship may continue, nor when the great librarian
will summon us to an examination whose result shall determine our failure
blessedness or misery.
And where do you think I have been wandering now- to Clifty?
Yes, and to another Fall that is not quite so familiarly known to our good
citizens; we asked a busy farmer's lad by what name they distinguished the
pretty little cataract, and he answered "Chain mill Falls." Sad,
is it not, that utility must thus supplant romance till even the appellation
of such a charmed spot must bring only visions of labor and the stern realities
of life to the eye that has never gazed upon its picturesque beauties.
It's a strange wild scene there, Messrs. Editors; you would
enjoy it I know, and having seen it, perhaps a tradition of its origin might
interest you. Shall I repeat it? Centuries ago before the pale face had ventured
to the shores of the New World, when the red men had undisputed possession
of this fair land, and roamed through its forests fearless and free the hills
and [vallies] along the shores of the Ohio were favorite haunts for some of
their wandering tribes. Two hostile hands that had often met in battle chanced
to select neighboring sites for their encampments, the one in a quiet valley,
the other on a hilltop just beyond. This unexpected encounter was at once
traced to a design of the Great Spirit, and they passed the wampum belt, and
the fumes from the sacred calumet rose and danced away towards the sunset
as peace was acknowledged between them.
But the chief [chahtotopha] had a dream, it was the [Eirl?]
One that came and prompted him to treachery, and he seized his bow and scalping
knife and went forth from birchen tent to rouse a few trusty followers to
the carnage. Slowly and stealthily they crept along the hillside, and just
as day dawned in the East the unsuspecting [slumberers] in the valley wakened
to the sound of the war-whoop, sprang from their quiet rest to see the tomahawk
glittering above their heads, and to fall with brave resistance before the
perfidious enemy- [chahtotopha] was content, and when the hateful deed was
ended he assembled his comrades to join in the loud [pean] of triumph, and
to celebrate their victory in the horrible distortions of the "scalp-dance".
But the Great Spirit was offended; they had been faithless to the Red Pipe
that he had consecrated, false to their own natures, and disobedient to his
irrevocable mandate. He spoke in thunder, is angry eye flashed in the lightning,
the valley opened, and the frontier Indians were swallowed up in the frightful
fissure; then there came a resistless torrent sweeping down the glen, and
when the waters subsided the scene was such as we behold it now. The valley
had become the ravine, and the hillside whose breastplate was borne away in
that terrible convulsion of nature now offers itself a "leaping rock"
to the babbling brook that meanders through the forest. And even yet the Storm
[God?] has not forgotten that eventful day for often times he sends his clouds
and winds and pours forth all their fury in that glen till roaring waters
rush angrily over the precipices and their voice is a terrible reminder of
the avenging power of the [Idonitte's?] hand. Rather fanciful is it not, but
as Indian traditions sometimes cast an additional interest about the scenes
of nature why not receive them and cherish them as pleasant relief of the
ancient occupants of our country that are now sleeping with their fathers
under some verdant sod.
And there on the hillside screened from the ravine by the dense
foliage of the beech and elm we were surprised by the appearance of a deserted
village. It reposed in solitude, no "hollow sounding bittern" disturbed
its quiet, but the blast came and the frail tenements were unroofed in dis-dainful
merriment, and the wind whistled and laughed at its own wild freaks. We paused
at one of the dwellings and peeped in at the open door, but all was loneliness
within; there lay the embers on the hearth just as they had died out after
the departure of its occupants, and no cricket lent its merry song to enliven
the desolation around. The heart that throbbed with delight, or beat to the
measured pulse of sadness was no longer there for Erin's sons had left their
Summer homes for abodes more secure from the penetrating breath of Winter.
The axe was silent, the spade was laid to rest on their laboring ground, and
the forest could no longer attract those sturdy spirits from the city's precincts.
It's a pleasant drive to those Falls, Messrs. Editors, and you
can ramble over the hills only taking a little heed to your footing in [clambering]
amongst the rocks. One of our party unexpectedly assumed a very humble [attitude?]
in the course of our explorations but that was merely an amusing episode is
our chapter of accidents and even the victim of our merriment did not regret
it. [chary] you and many of your friends enjoy the same ride and admire the
[pecthiact?] gone scenery with as much zest as our happy little party.
Sarah Butler Hendricks writings, undated (introduced and transcribed by Kelly Eckstein, '09).
Sarah Butler Hendricks was born on January 26, 1835 in Madison, Indiana. She attended and graduated from the Springler Institute in New York City and came into contact with people such as Henry W. Longfellow, Helen Hunt Jackson, Bancroft the historian, and Dr. Lyman Abbott. The following poems were penned by Sarah Butler Hendricks; the dates are unknown. The poems are thought to be unpublished until now. One poem is signed "Sallie" and the other "Ida." This is assumed to be because signing one's own name would have been immodest. They were donated by Hendricks's descendant Victor K. Hendricks in 2000. [source: Biographical Sketch, MSS 67 Box 1 Fd. 9, Hanover College Archives]
Sarah Butler Hendricks, writings, Abraham W. and Sarah Butler Hendricks Correspondence Collection 1824-1887, Agnes Brown Duggan Library, Hanover College Archives, Hanover College (Hanover, Indiana).
I approached a River. __"Oh! tell me mighty River,"
said I, "wherever do thy waters flow and whither art thou journeying?"
Soon its deep voice answered me. __ My birthplace was the hill top; there I
dwelt, a little fountain, o'er curtained with flowers and kissed by the gentle
breeze. There I remained not long but as a little rivulet I wandered down the
mountain side, flirting with the flowers and serenading them with my gentle
murmurs till, in my playfulness, I leaped [sic] from a little rock into a green
mossy bed below. Then a stream I wandered on through vast forest whose innumerable
inhabitants visited me often, and where many fair flowers bent lovingly over
my rippling surface. In my wanderings I met many of my kindred, and as we kissed
each other we determined to continue our journey together. Thus have we formed
a mighty river, flowing through vallies [sic] where lofty trees bend gracefully
over our waters, as if seeking therein a mirror for their lovely forms. And
in our journeyings [sic] we have seen villages gradually becoming vast cities,
and towns springing up as if by magic where vast forests were once flourishing
in all their grandeur.
But these bright scenes are o'er,
And darkly flows my wave__
I hear the Ocean's roar,
And there must be my grave.
The Thread of Life
It is early Spring, yet Winter, as if unwilling to resign his
power, still lingers with his stormy winds and howling tempests. __ Upon a downy
couch within a luxurious chamber a lovely infant is sleeping; and as it hears,
perchance, the "Angel's whisper," its rosy lips are parted with a
Spring has again clothed the earth in her flowery mantle. The "bright hind warblers" have returned from their wanderings in Southern lines, and are again making the forests vocal with their melody. Then little brook released from its riy [sic] fetters goes singing on its way. Oh! surely everything should joyfully welcome the return of Spring __ et [sic] fair-haired boy is wandering along the shaded walk of a beautiful garden. Tired of his kite, he has laid it down upon a grassy mound, and behold him chasing the gaudy butterfly, which, as he eagerly stretches puts forth his tiny hand to secure it, suddenly starts from its flowery resting-place, and soars away from his enraptured gaze. Ah! Gentle child may such not be thy fate with other pleasures! But may thy older years be happy as thy childhood was!
It is a lovely Summer evening. The air is almost heavy with the
perfume of innumerable flowers. The cloudless sky is gemmed with myriads of
bright stars, while Cynthia, appearing in the East, is shedding her welcome
radiance upon this beautiful earth. __ In yonder garden wanders a noble youth,
but think you he is alone? _Ah! no! Upon his arm is leaning a fair and gentle
girl, and as he whispers words of love a bright smile plays over her features.
These to them are indeed happy days, when not a cloud has yet dimmed life's
young morn', and no sad memory of blighted hope has cast its shadow o'er their
hearts. Truly these are silver threads woven into the web of life!
Many merry peals are ringing out from the turret of a village
church, for it is the bridal day of a fair lady. The glorious sunbeams streaming
through the stained-glass windows of the little edifise, [sic] reveal a lovely
scene. Before the altar kneel a noble pair who are about to taking [sic] upon
themselves the solemn vows of the marriage covenant; while near them stand the
proud and happy parents. __ The impressive ceremony is concluded! The benediction
has been pronounced, and as the bridal procession leaves the church, the sweet
strains of the organ reverberate through the building. Noble pair! May you long
be happy! But let your happiness be tempered by the remembrance that there are
black as well as golden threads in the web of life!
The noise and bustle of day are giving place to the silence and serenity of the twilight hour. The sun's last bright beams are still lingering as if loth [sic] to depart; displaying to the eye the gorgeous pencillings [sic] of an autumnal sky. __ Upon a couch within an elegant villa lies a gentle lady-dying! They have borne her far away from her native Isle to a Southern clime but the Stern Destroyer has chosen her for his victim, and he will not relent. The fatal mandate has gone forth and cannot be recalled. Ah! Mourner, these are threads of sorrow! Yet, weep not! She, thy gentle partner, too pure and good for earth, has gone to inhabit mansions in the skies! There will her gentle voice, which knew not a harsh tone, join the heavenly choir in swelling the mighty chorus to the praise of the Lamb which was slain! There never will a tear dim the brightness of that eye but joy eternal will be hers! Prepare to meet her there!