Shaping the Circle

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Soldiers' & Sailors' Monument
Soldiers' & Sailors' Monument

"Images of Yesteryear"

"Many a German-American will probably look back and let the images of yesteryear pass through his mind. He may think of the days when Indianapolis was a modest small town, when, on the place where nowadays the magnificent Soldiers Monument boldly pushes aloft, an old lady used to lure her out-of-tune harmonium into playing some disgruntling tunes, or he might remember a haggard old man who made his listeners' flesh creep with preachments of hell and eternal damnation. He will recall the time when the plowman followed the long furrows behind his plough, singing or swearing, in the place where today huge smokestacks bear witness to the industrial drive of the city. He will remember the days when wheat flourished under God's sky, where today a crop of a different kind blossoms in luxurious dwellings. He will call back to memory the fine Sundays when he went hiking with the whole family in the beautiful green woods, sincerely glad to be far away from crowds and their busy bustle. There, under the forest's green roofs, he told his family about the days of happiness and sorrow in Germany. Today the electric streetcar rattles there through endless rows of houses. He will be carried back in his thoughts to the time when he crossed the ocean on the rocking deck of a sailboat, looking East with melancholy and West with faint hope, and he will remember the extreme happiness of finally entering, after long and fearful weeks, the land of his future, America."

The Hoosier capital was not the large metropolis that it is today when the Germans began to arrive in considerable numbers. In 1850 the little village of Indianapolis was only thirty years old, and it was just eight years previously that the land sales had ended in the city. . . .The exact year that the first Germans came to Indianapolis will probably never be known, but it is certain that quite a number of families of German origin were in the city by the 1840s. They came to a city in which frontier customs were just beginning to fade from the picture.

 


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Updated: 29 April 2004, RKB
Comments: speccoll@iupui.edu
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