Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Marshall County

Last year I had a ton of fun researching poets and poems from places where my ancestors lived for Bill's Great American Local Poem and Song Genealogy Challenge and I'm very excited that he will be hosting it again this year!

I had another poem planned for this year but at the last minute stumbled upon this one by accident:
In the solitary forest
By the rushing "yellow water"
Which the Indians called Wy-thou-gan,
When the birds were singing gaily,
In the Moon of Leaves were singing,
Came the white man to our county.
In the forest swung their axes,
Felled the trees and built their cabins,
Built them for their families' coming,
Coming hither in slow ox-carts.
Here to battle with the forest
And the wolves within its shadows.
Strong and brave their hearts and spirits
To endure the storms of winter
And the drought and heat of summer.
Children, let us all be brave as they were-
We are proud of them, our fathers,
And we're proud of Marshall County.  - Minnie H. Swindell
I don't know what the name of the poem is, I found it at the beginning of Minnie's book Marshall County which is a history of the county written in 1923.  It isn't a great poem, but I like it and it tells me a little something about a place I didn't know much about to begin with.  The Marshall County in question is Marshall County, Indiana which is just south of South Bend.

My Barger/Berger ancestors settled there in the 1830s when it was still the wilderness Minnie describes.  The "rushing 'yellow water'" refers to the Yellow River (though it makes me think of something else entirely...).  What is interesting is that the author seems to have "borrowed" from Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha which contains:
"...In the solitary forest
By the rushing Taquamenaw,
When the birds were singing gayly,
In the Moon of Leaves were singing..."
I am working on a book about my Bergers for my grandmother for Christmas so I've had Marshall County on the brain.  While I had found several nice poems about Indiana in general, this was the only I could find that had to do with Marshall County specifically.


  1. Leah, this is great. Thank you for participating!

    BTW, my Aunt Dorothy married a
    Bargar, my Uncle Chuck from Ohio!

  2. Nice poem your research has turned up, Leah. Thought I recognized the cadence of the first few lines! Good choice for our challenge.


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