Tuesday, July 11

Buying Swampland

Tuesday will be day three of visiting assisted living set-ups while my brother-in-law keeps Mom occupied at her home in Florida. It's the day my sister joins in the search. It's the first item which might start causing family stresses between us.

'Cause I'm willing to give her plenty of leeway with living arrangements provided she a) has possible companionship b) has someone to keep track of her medication and c) doesn't drive. My sister may be in favor of a stricter confinement. My sister's more concerned about the forgetfulness. I'm not sure who's right.

Just a word, though, about the place I looked at today. It's just a couple of miles away, on what's left of Bacon's Swamp (what the wetlands people at the Indiana DNR call Bacon's Lake in some of the literature I looked at today. I'm not sure if that's in deference to the retirement village on its shores or some age-old distinction.) The Bacons owned the place in the 1820s, meaning they're some of the earliest whites in the area. It's said their farm, and the swamp, was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The swamp is (so I read) the southernmost sphagnum bog in the US and attracted an otherwise alien fauna. (There was some scholarly work done in the 20s on Bacon's Swamp which I've been intending for the last ten years to go look up.)

It covered 100 acres.

They built a road through the swamp in 1914. It sank.

They built another road through it in 1937. It failed to float.

When the post-war construction boom hit the Mallot Park area construction fill was thrown in the swamp. When four children drowned in two separate incidents in the 50s the city instituted a "Fence n' Fill" program. Mosquitoes were also cited as a problem. A conservation effort sank, like those earlier roads.

It's sobering to realize that my basement may be over there somewhere.


isabelita said...

Complete sympathy on the assisted living search. My husband and I have been able to provide it for my mother, who's been living with us for 3 1/2 years - she's 88+ - although it would be nice to have a bit more elbow room around here. Our 25 year old son is here, too, which has been a lifesaver for us. We've been using an in-home care service out here in Seattle, since my mom hasn't needed, thus far, to go into what she calls "a home." We have looked at some around here, but my husband was the one who said he thought we could provide a better quality of life for her, at least for a while.
I realize we need a plan to back up the in-home care, but they offer a raft of services.
Fortunately, we've all been getting along with one another.
I am the main caretaker, and it's like being a new parent, kind of in reverse. You don't know exactly what's coming, and it's generally not good. I make this comparison because I stayed home with our son for the first five eyars of his life, and I 've had some echos of that experience at the other end of life's continuem.

Anonymous said...

Late comment, but there you are: Doghouse, when you talk about Indiana swamps I immediately go back in time to my girlhood, and reading Gene Stratton Porter--especially A GIRL OF THE LIMBERLOST. Such cool stuff! Sometimes when I'm deep in the Florida hammock, I imagine I'm Elnora Comstock....

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, Bacon Swamp. Grew up on Evanston Ave, just South of the place, in the 50's. With the lurid tales of children drowning in quicksand spread among the neighborhood parents, it was considered off-limits to us kids, not that it ever really stopped us from exploring of course. (Interestingly enough, a huge pile of cleared timber which sat in the open field just SE of the swamp where the Nazarene Church now stands, as well as a seriously deteriorating barn nearby, were just fine to play in....how we managed to build "forts" in what we called the Log Pile without one of us being killed by shifting and rotting tree trunks is anybody's guess).
Anyway, most of the open field SE of the swamp has now been paved over for decades, beginning with a Marsh store, and later Jubillee City....but we found some rather interesting artifacts on what must have been the Bacon Family's land in that field. Wasn't unusual at all to find rusted out bits of what was probably horse tack, etc, but disturbingly, we used to find quite a few bone fragments after a good rain, and to this day, some of them I'm certain were human. It certainly wouldnt have been out of the question to have had a small family cemetery there which Time Forgot, but these were a bit too close to the surface for that I'd imagine. Given it was purportedly a stop for the Underground Railroad, I've often wondered if there may not have been a few hastily dug, shallow graves on the back side of their land.....or perhaps something more sinister, who knows. I DO, however, know the difference between a human pelvic bone and an animal one, and am convinced to this day that there may be some rather interesting things underneath all that asphalt. I've been tempted to go back to the few unpaved areas to dig in recent years, but haven't done so.
As to the swamp itself...no quicksand, but the shallow lake bottom and pools of standing water with all that peat made for a very glue-like gumbo to try to extricate one's self from if you were dumb enough to go wading. Easy to see how some kids drowned there.
And as a last note: In the late 60's, we discovered there was some really awful, wild ditchweed Marijuana growing behind Jerry Alderman Ford. We gave ourselves many a sore throat and awful headaches trying to get high on the stuff, to no avail.
Anyway, if anybody has some sources on the history of the old Bacon Land, or the swamp itself, I'd be interested to either swap some more tales or get some further information on a place that was the focal point of my kid-hood.
You can write me at Chessgms2@aol.com

Anonymous said...

A bit of self-updating to some of my own questions.......in case some future also-curious person happens across this like I did myself.......

It appears that the land roughly running from the Glendale Mall down to the 52d-Keystone area was once owned by two families, the Bacon's to the South more where I lived, and the Dawson's more up around the Glendale area, with much of their land extending Westward clear over into Broad Ripple proper, up to about the present day location of Dawson's Lakes, the two little oxbow lakes just N of the Westfield Blvd bridge over White River.
Interestingly, the Dawson and Bacon families apparently both had small cemeteries located right around the corner of Keystone and Kessler. That weird fenced off area on the SE corner of Kessler and Keystone, with the marker and flag? It's apparently all that's left of the Bacon family plots, and allegedly, the rest of the graves were.....uhhhhhhh.....'relocated' to Crown Hill around 1910, save the remaining one they have marked---and probably a few more they hadn't.
Here's where it starts getting fun again, tho.
Depending on whose account you're listening to, apparently the Dawson family home once sat on what is now School #59 on the NE corner of Kessler/Keystone, and THEIR family cemetery was to the immediate South. It was described as being close enough to the Bacon cemetery so as to almost have appeared to have been a single burial ground.
However, what used to be a small wooded area at the NW corner of Keystone and Rural, just a couple blocks East where a medical building and many years earlier, the Glendale movie Cinema I and II were built sits on the site of what may be the actual Dawson cemetery, or at least a portion thereof. Against neighborhood protests when the medical building was constructed about a decade ago, apparently human bones were unearthed during construction. Rumors abound that much of the immediate area was unscrupulously plowed over for a lot of post WWII housing, tombstones were shoveled into trucks and landfilled.......well, along with God only knows what else, as most of the houses in that area tend to have, uhhhh, basements.....shudders......

I can personally confirm a bit of this myself, as a grade school friend lived near the corner of Kessler and Tacoma, and we used to hang out in the woods which are now underneath the medical office and the Cinema's.......and I literally stubbed my toe on an old, half buried and toppled over grave marker I'd guess around the mid-1960's before any of that construction took place.


Version Two comes from the semi-legendary Jinx Dawson, a family heir and a rather colorful individual. (Ms. Dawson was the lead singer for the 70's pioneering Goth/Occult band, Coven, and has at least in past years been a self-professed Satanist, just to make it even that much more tabloid-ish). She claimed in a recent NUVO interview that the Dawson family home was actually located on the NW corner of Keystone and 62d, rather than the Washington Township version of it being located at Keystone/Kessler. Actually, Ms Dawson's version would actually make the most sense on the surface of things, at least in terms of the location of the family homestead.
At any rate, the area appears to have more than just a small bit of real and semi-macabre history to it....from Bacon's Swamp as a stop along the Underground Railway, to public schools and housing additions being built atop 1840-era cemeteries with little regard to what was being paved over. Ahh, Progress......and where is that little gal fro Poltergeist II when you really need her, hehe?
Chessgms2 (On AOL)