On the road for thirty-seven days, William Campbell’s journal tells us that Archer and the caravan have traveled over five-hundred miles. As these four families, and their enslaved people from Lexington, Virginia move to Saint Charles County in Missouri they would also travel through today’s West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. In 1829, roads were often former animal traces, or Native American migration routes. They went were people needed to go…the Mill, church or courthouse. And the mill, the mercantile and the school were built along the roads…
Location, Location, Location
Came next day to the big White River at Hindostin. A year ago this was a flourishing town, but it is going to ruins in consequence of the county seat having been removed higher up the river. White River is a beautiful stream sufficient for navigation of large keel boats in season when waters are full. We forded it easily. Encamped at Washington, the county town of Davies County, a tolerably decent village.*
Sign: Site of Hindostan (.6 mile south) First settled in 1818, Hindostan became county seat of Martin County, boast a population of approximately 1,200 “A Great Sickness struck in 1828, brings death to the inhabitants. The town was never occupied again.
In 1829, your town’s location on a road that was well traveled was very important. Roads led to where people wanted to go! The County seat, the mill, any other important destination. Roads grew out of a need to get somewhere. Each and every stop by William Campbell is because it is that County’s Seat of Government. However, County Seats move.
An epidemic of cholera broke out in Hindostan in 1820. Water- and insect-borne illnesses were the bane of many towns on the Midwestern frontier. Situated along rivers for the purpose of easy transportation, towns were often built on flood plains that bred insects in huge numbers. Drinking wells, and cisterns would be overcome by floods, and become contaminated. However, at that time, it was thought that disease spread, by person to person contact. Even, it was believed that those buried in cemeteries, continued to exhume diseased vapors into the air. Many would enact laws that all cemeteries be outside of city limits, at least by a mile, to protect the residents. The ferocity of the epidemic that struck Hindostan however, caused an entire population to succumb to disease and abandon the area. By 1824, less than half the population remained in Hindostan, though many seem to have stayed in the county.
An economic depression around 1820 worked alongside the epidemic to drive people away. Some families who had bought land on credit defaulted and fled the area. Hindostan may have lost as many residents to the economic depression as to sickness. Residents who remained were unable to pay their taxes and county and local creditors foreclosed on their property. Hindostan is in Orange County and not to be confused with Hindustan, in Monroe/Madison County.
The site is now the location of an Indiana State Fishing and Recreation area. A historic marker on County Road 550 stands a half-mile north of where the town was. No buildings survive, but there are a few surviving pioneer cemeteries nearby, a restored church, and numerous square holes in a large flat rock along the river drilled to support the former mill at Hindostan.
*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor is Dorris Keeven-Franke.
The journey continues on 27 September 1829 https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/27/27-september-1829-thirty-second-entry/