Fountain County Courthouse Murals
Guided Tour
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First Floor, South Wall:
Arrival of the Pioneers

Soon after the formation of the state, a land office was opened at Terre Haute and, after Montgomery County was formed, another land office was opened in Crawfordsville in 1823. The opening of these land offices allowed pioneers from the East and South to claim land and to establish new homes in the wild frontier we now call Fountain County.

The early settlers of the county came up from the south along the Wabash and its tributaries. They were from Kentucky, Virginia, and the Carolinas. Others traveling from the east following early traces and Indian trails were pioneer families from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the eastern states.

The pioneers entering the wilderness brought with them their traditions. The grandmother with her Bible (grandmother of the artist Johnson) represents tradition and the deer over the fire represents Hoosier hospitality. The woman pictured (daughter of artist Johnson) found apples, persimmons and grapes planted by early French explorers, and these indicate the fertility of this land. The pioneer fiddler (artist’s grandfather) denotes his Scotch ancestry. The children playing are grandchildren of artist Johnson (Winifred Clark and her brother). The dog’s name was thought to be Peppy.

The Conestoga wagon carried a bride and groom (John Nave and Anna Margaret Umbarger) in their wedding clothes; they are indicative of the future generations to enjoy the efforts of these pioneers.

The native parakeets are symbolic of the abundance of wildlife found in the frontier region. The Indians lurking in the trees represent the dangers and fears facing the pioneers.

Early settlements were almost always along the Wabash, where a steady water supply, ready transportation and an abundance of game and fish were assured. Steamers such as the ‘Victory’ plied the river, bringing news of the more civilized world.

At the end of the day, the pioneer father waters the teams, while the mother prepares a brimming pot of stew from a Virginia ham. The children supplied an important part of the labor. At night, the family retires, exhausted, inside the covered wagon.

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