Rivers of America

"Way Down in the Paw-Paw Patch," a song about the Wabash River from Songs of Rivers of America, p. 191:

[alternate link to sound file: click here]

Series impact: reader history in The Wabash

Griffith annotation in The Wabash
Annotation by Blanche Kessler Griffith in The Wabash (copy 1).

The handwritten memories of Blanche Kessler Griffith fill two pages of a copy of The Wabash in the image above. A transcription follows:

Blanche Kessler Griffith. Born in Park Co. Indiana on an 870 acre farm.

We called the farm "Sycamore Dell." my Fathers name was Jacob Perry Kessler. my mothers name was Rosanna Tarvin. We lived in a white Colonial house on a Hill. We could see the Wabash from our House & the sunset on the Wabash was beautiful.

There was a gravel lane leading to Sycamore Dell from the Highway which was called the "Kessler highway." Large maple trees formed an arch over the drive way. The yard had many pine trees and of course maple trees. We had large orchards and a chesnut grove all kinds of berries. We knew many of the river folks. We used to get fish from them & give them apples and vegtables and milk. I remember going to take milk to a baby on a housboat with my mother.

This annotated copy of The Wabash was donated to Lovejoy Library years ago. We don't know for certain when Griffith grew up on Sycamore Dell. Census records suggest that her parents died in the early 1920s, so her memories probably date back to the 19th century. The Wabash was published in 1940.

Constance Lindsay Skinner wanted the books to influence the minds of the readers the way the landscape shaped the lives of its inhabitants. She hoped that contemporary readers would appreciate their experience of the natural world and connect that experience to regional history. Skinner would have been delighted that Griffith felt inspired to annotate The Wabash.

Illustration from The Wabash
Illustration from The Wabash.

-- Written by Matthew Paris


Fitzgerald, Carol. The Rivers of America: A Descriptive Bibliography. New Castle: Oak Knoll Press, 2001.

"Parke County Death Index." Compiled by Carolyn Weatherman, Hannah Lee, and Lynn Lee. Parke County INGenWeb.

Song of Rivers of America. Edited by Carl Carmer; music arranged by Dr. Albert Sirmay. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1942.

Wilson, William E. The Wabash. Illustrated by John De Martelly. Rivers of America. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1940. (Copy 1 is the annotated volume.)