Exploration and Travel in Indiana History


The works below are accounts by or about explorers and travelers in Indiana history. See the right column for more info about this website.



A Friendly Mission: John Candler’s letters [to his wife] from America, 1853-1854

Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society. 1951
Candler, John Go to Book

John Candler was an English Quaker on an Anti-Slavery mission to the U.S. He visited numerous states, but his travels in Indiana make up a significant part of the book. The account is of value for several reasons, including a look at Quaker efforts toward abolition, and also as a portrayal of western modes of travel in the 1850s.

“Journal of Ebenezer Mattoon Chamberlain 1832–5”

Indiana Magazine of History Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 233-259, 1919

Bloomington: Indiana University
Chamberlain, Ebenezer M.; Fogle, Lousie, ed.Go to Article

A lively and sometimes amusing account of a young man who went west, hoping to begin a law career. As he was nearly penniless, he generally traveled on foot and stayed at the homes of strangers. The account includes rich details of life and travel in the 1830s, and many interesting incidents.

For memoirs and biographies of life on the frontier in the Old Northwest, see:
Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History
;
Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Wisconsin History

“Mrs. Lydia B. Bacon’s Journal 1811-12”

Indiana Magazine of History Vol 40, 1944, 367-86; Vol 41, 1945, 59-79

Bloomington: Indiana University
Crawford, Mary M., ed.Go to Part 1|Go to Part 2

In 1811 Lydia Bacon traveled with her husband, a lieutenant in the U.S. Infantry, from Boston through Pennsylvania, then down the Ohio River to Vincennes. She stayed in Vincennes through the winter of 1811-12 while he participated in an Indian campaign in the area. After the battle at Tippecanoe in November 1811 the couple traveled by horseback through Kentucky with his troops, then on toward Detroit. Enroute she and other ladies were taken prisoner by the British. Mrs. Bacon recorded much of the trip in letters home, and twenty years later used those letters to write a book, which was published as The Biography of Lydia B. Bacon. Because the published version of the book had been over-edited, the editor of this two-part article drew upon her original manuscript.

Journal of Thomas Dean: A Voyage to Indiana in 1817

Ft. Wayne: Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County. 1955
Dean, ThomasGo to Book

Thomas Dean (1779-1842) was a successful Quaker businessman in Oneida County, New York who went west to secure land for the Brothertown Indians; then living in Oneida County. The voyage to southern Indiana was made entirely by water, and took the party, mostly made up of Indians, down the Ohio River to the Wabash, then up the Wabash to the mouth of the Mississinewa River, near present-day Peru, IN. He also made a long overland journey in Indiana and canoed down the Maumee.

“A Journal of Travel from New York to Indiana in 1827”

Indiana Magazine of History Volume 17, Issue 4, December 1921, pp 338-352

Bloomington: Indiana University
Judah, Samuel BernardGo to Article

memoir, personal journal, travel account

Explorers and travelers in Indiana history

Indiana as Seen by Early Travelers; a collection of reprints from books of travel, letters and diaries prior to 1830

Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Commission. 1916
Lindley, Harlow Go to Book

Editor Harlow Lindley was the Director of the Department of Indiana History and Archives at the Indiana State Library. This volume of nearly 600 pages contains excerpts of accounts by 33 early visitors to Indiana. A sample of these include:

-Imlay, George – A Topographical Description of the Western Territory of North America, 1793.
-Ashe, Thomas – Travels in America Performed in 1806.
-Cutler, Jervasse – A Topographical Description of the Indiana Territory, 1812.
-Brown, Samuel R. – The Western Gazetteer, or Emigrant’s Directory, 1817.
-Warden, D. B. – A Statistical, Political and Historical Account of North America, 1819.
-Teas, Thomas S. – Journal of a Tour to Fort Wayne and the Adjacent Country in the Year 1821.
-Faux, W. – Memorable Days in America: Being a Journal of a Tour to the United States, 1823.
-Reed, Isaac – The Christian Traveller, 1828.
-Coffin, Charles F. – Personal Recollections of Charles F. Coffin of Wayne County, Indiana from 1824 to 1833.

For several early-19th century descriptions of the Great Lakes states and adjoining areas, see: Settlers’ Guides for the Great Lakes Region

For historic maps of the Great Lakes region and states, see:
Great Lakes Maps, Atlases & Map Collections
;
Ohio Maps, Atlases & Map Collections;
Indiana Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers;
Illinois Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers;
Michigan Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers;
Wisconsin Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers

A Traveler’s Impression of Indiana in 1851

Fort Wayne. 1954
Staff of Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen CountyGo to Book

This small book consists of excerpts from a 2-volume work by J. Richard Beste entitled The Wabash, or, Adventures of an English Gentleman’s Family in the Interior of America. It is an account of a trip that Beste, his wife and 11 children made from England in the early 1850s. You can find the full two-volume work on this website, at Explorers and Travelers in Great Lakes History.

For memoirs and biographies of life on the frontier in the Old Northwest, see:
Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History
;
Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Wisconsin History

A Tour through Indiana in 1840: the Diary of John Parsons of Petersburg, Virginia

NY: R. M. McBride. 1920
Rabb, Kate Milner. ed. Go to Book

23-year-old John Parsons, a recent graduate of the University of Virginia, made a tour of Indiana in 1840 to look into the possibility of purchasing land and settling there. His modes of transport included the stage coach, canal boat, steamboat and one of the early railroads. He carried letters of introduction to the “most respected families” of various Indiana towns, whom he describes. The account also describes the 1840 presidential campaign.

Indiana: A Guide to the Hoosier State

NY: Oxford 1941
Writers’ Program of Work Projects Administration, comp.Go to Book


You can find more works like these at our other ‘Explorers and Travelers’ pages. Check ‘Explorers and Travelers in Great Lakes History’ for more material covering Indiana.

Explorers and Travelers in Great Lakes History

Explorers and Travelers in Illinois History

Explorers and Travelers in Ohio History

Explorers and Travelers in Michigan History

Explorers and Travelers in Wisconsin History


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