Leading the Future: Rare Land Grants of Founding Father, Patrick Henry

*Post written by Aaron Allen, student assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

Most people would never think of Virginia as part of the United States’ western boundary; however, this was not always the case. Through much of the late eighteenth century, America’s early territories did not extend past the Mississippi River. Virginia, a state that today is only 42,775 square miles was more than twice that size between 1755 and 1792. Even after the formation of Maryland, Carolina, and Pennsylvania reduced, its size Virginia still had more than 100,000 square miles (Exploring land Settling Frontiers, 2016).

Portrait of Patrick Henry, n.d. (© iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

Portrait of Patrick Henry, n.d. (Credit: Encyclopædia Britannica)

Records of ownership and receipts of sale of this vast land are currently preserved today. Inside of the Schlamp-Meyer Family collection at Rice Library, there are multiple land grants from the commonwealth of Virginia in 1786. Three of these documents in particular award. “tracts or parcels” of land to three different men. Three land grants are signed Patrick Henry, then governor of Virginia and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Patrick Henry is famous for his role in the American struggle for Independence, namely for his quote “Give me liberty or give me death”. He served as the first governor of Virginia and served two different terms (1776-1779; 1784-1786) (Meade, n.d.).


Map of the United States in March 4, 1789. This image was taken from http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~walker/1789usmap.jpg

Map of the United States on March 4, 1789 (Credit: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~walker/1789usmap.jpg)

In 1786, America’s western border did not stretch past the Mississippi River. At the time, Virginia was comparable to Great Britain in land mass (Exploring land Settling Frontiers, 2016).  Documents from the period make it possible to literally touch a tangible piece of our country’s past. Bearing the signature of a prominent early American political figure makes them even more significant.

The University Archives and Special Collection at Rice Library, Patrick Henry’s land grants from the Schlamp-Meyer Family Collection (MSS 157) is available for viewing online, 24/7. If you are interested in viewing these documents in person, feel free to come in during the archives’ normal business hours or set up an appointment.


Exploring land, settling frontiers (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.virginiaplaces.org/settleland/

Meade, R. D. (n.d.) Patrick Henry. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Patrick-Henry

#ThrowbackThursday: Firestone Tire Ash Tray

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

In an archive, you never know what you will find in one. Two words you will never hear in the same sentence is “fire” and “archive”. The two do not jive together. Located in the John Payne collection is a Firestone Tire ashtray.

Left to right: Yellow and Red box for Firestone Tire Ashtray and the Firestone ashtray, n.d.

Top shot of a Firestone ashtray and box, n.d. (Photograph Credit: James Wethington)

The business begun under the leadership of their namesake, Harvey Firestone. Firestone Tire started in 1896 in Chicago until they moved the business to Akron, Ohio in 1900. They supplied tires for buggies, wagons, and other vehicles. (Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2017). Firestone became the first global and American tire business for automobiles. Firestone became the first original supplier for Ford Motor Company (Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, 2017).

Top shot of a Firestone ashtray, n.d.

Overhead shot of a Firestone ashtray, n.d. (Photograph Credit: James Wethington)

In Firestone’s time, he stood up and promoted innovative in business and commercial practices. For instance, he “… promoted the use of trucks for hauling freight and lobbied for the construction of vast highway systems. In protest over the British-held monopoly over the production of raw rubber in Southeast Asia, he established his own large rubber plantations in Liberia” (Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2017). The next time you are on the road driving and you see car tires or a truck driver, remember Harvey Firestone.


Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (2017). Harvey S. Firestone. Retrieved May 18, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Harvey-S-Firestone

Firestone Tire and Rubber Company (2017). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firestone_Tire_and_Rubber_Company

Exploring the Tri-State: Burdette Park

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

Lake View, Burdette Park, Evansville, Indiana. Circa 1947. (Photograph Credit: University Archives and Special Collection, RH 033-444).

Burdette Park Postcard, circa 1947 (Credit: University Archives & Special Collections, RH 033-444).

As we continue to discover various parks and recreation areas, look no further than our backyard in Evansville. Most Evansville and Tri-State residents have heard of and spent time at Burdette Park. It is a staple attraction on Evansville’s West Side for outdoor activities in all year round with an aquatic center, shelters, BMX track, and chalets.

Aerial view of Burdette Park, circa 1980. (Photograph Credit: University Archives and Special Collections, RP 031-013).

Aerial view of Burdette Park, circa 1980. (Credit: University Archives & Special Collections, RP 031-013).

Burdette Park has an interesting history in Evansville. The park’s origin is unknown; however, the naming of park was in memory of a local solider, Everette Burdette, from Evansville, who died in combat during World War 1. Burdette received their charter in 1921. By 1935, Burdette Park hosted between three to four thousand guests a week; however, it did not become a public park until 1936. By the 1950’s, Burdette was on the verge of shutting down until Vanderburgh County Commissioner, Charles Ellspermann, stabilized the managerial position at Burdette by hiring Francis DeVoy in 1961 (Burdette Park: Our History, 2017).

There is no cost to enter the park; however, as previously mentioned, Burdette has an aquatic center, shelters, BMX track, and chalets. One of newest features of the park is the USI-Burdette Trail. Completed in 2012, a three mile paved trail connects Burdette Park and the University of Southern Indiana allowing for “… hikers, bicyclists, and runner” to experience the beauty of Southwestern Indiana.

USI-Burdette Trail Logo (Photograph Credit: USI Web Services, n.d.)

USI-Burdette Trail Logo (Photograph Credit: USI Web Services, n.d.)

If you are interested in visiting Burdette Park or the USI-Burdette Trail, the costs of using their facilities is located on the Burdette Park and USI pages.


Burdette Park: Our History (2017). Retrieved from http://www.evansville.in.gov/index.aspx?page=3551

University of Southern Indiana (2017). USI trails. Retrieved from https://www.usi.edu/trails/

Exploring the Tri-State: Clifty Falls State Park

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

As summer appears, there are beautiful parks and recreational areas located throughout Southern Indiana and Kentucky for individuals and families. Over the next couple of weeks in our newest blog series, “Exploring the Tri-State”, let us explore these stunning locations and as Levar Burton stated, “Don’t take my word for it”. Our first location is Clifty Falls State Park.

Clifty Falls at Clifty Falls State Park, 2006 (Photograph Credit: Wikipedia.org)

Clifty Falls, 2006. (Photograph Credit: Wikipedia.org)

The founding of Clifty Falls State Park occurred in 1920 in Madison, Indiana (United States Department of the Interior, n.d.). According to Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources (n.d.), “Clifty Creek’s stony bed is littered with fossil remnants telling of a long vanished marine ecosystem that teemed with life that included ancient corals, ancestral squids, brachiopods and more”. There are four waterfalls: Big Clifty Falls is 60 feet, Little Clifty Falls is 60 feet, Hoffman Falls is 78 feet, and Tunnel Falls is 83 feet (Clifty Falls State Park, 2016).

Clifty Falls State Park Railroad Tunnel, 2008. Photograph was retrieved from Sean Lewis from https://www.flickr.com/photos/transluminate/3154213938.

Clifty Falls State Park Railroad Tunnel, 2008. (Photograph Credit: Sean Lewis from https://www.flickr.com/photos/transluminate/3154213938)

The other attraction at Clifty Falls State Park is an abandoned railroad tunnel. It dates to 1852; moreover, there are numerous railroad fragments located throughout the park, known as “Brough’s Folly”. Named after John Brough, he tried to create a section of railroad for the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad; however, he was not successful (United States Department of the Interior, n.d.). Visitors may view the tunnel from May to October; however, the closure of the tunnel occurs from November to April to protect the bat population and prevent the spread of white-nose syndrome (Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources, n.d.).

If you are interested in visiting Clifty Falls State Park, the admission cost is located on the Indiana Department of Natural Resources page.


Clifty Falls State Park (2016). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifty_Falls_State_Park

Indiana Department of Natural Resources (2017). Clifty Falls State Park. Retrieved from http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2985.htm

United States Department of the Interior (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/madison/Clifty_Falls_State_Park.html

“Knecht” the Dots: Life through Art

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

Some individuals are gifted with the ability of drawing and art. We see this from these drawing by Karl Kae Knecht. Produced in 1909, Knecht draw a picture of what he and his wife, Jannie, did throughout 1908. He is synonymous for bringing Mesker Park Zoo, Evansville and Indiana’s first zoo, in 1928. After a successful fundraiser in 1929, Kay the Elephant was purchased (Evansville Museum, 2017).

Club Treasurer: February 14, 1910 to February 14, 1912. Karl Kae Knecht, Courier Cartoonist, 1912.

Karl Kae Knecht, 1912.

Knecht was born in 1883 in Iroquois, South Dakota Territory. He came to Evansville in 1906 to work at the Evansville Courier after completing his degree at the Art Institute of Chicago. Knecht served as a cartoonist and the first photographer at the Evansville Courier. Knecht remained with the Evansville Courier until 1960, after working there for fifty-four years. Knecht passed away July 28, 1972 (Evansville Museum, 2017).

These beautiful, one-of-a-kind sketches can be viewed at the University Archives and Special Collections; however, if you are interested in viewing some of Knecht’s cartoon, the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library digitalized many of his original cartoons.


Evansville Museum (2017, April). The far-reaching impact of Karl Kae Knecht. Retrieved from https://evansvillemuseum.org/events/pen-paper-remembering-karl-kae-knecht/


“Haynie” In There: The Man, The Myth, The Memory

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

Many Evansville natives know about Haynie’s Corner. According to Visit Evansville, Indiana (n.d.) states, “Where the artists live and play. They are open for business to display and sell their art during several evening events throughout the year. Along with locally owned restaurants in historic homes and structures, night spots, and outside areas for public enjoyment, Haynie’s Corner Arts District is alive with events that encourage people to walk the tree-lined streets to enjoy the architecture of this neighborhood district.”

George Haynie, n.d.

George Haynie, n.d. (Credit: University Archives and Special Collection, MSS 287)

Haynie owned a drugstore on the corner of Adams and Southeast 2nd Streets, after its construction in 1895. The drugstore was there until a fire destroyed on March 27, 1944. The damages were estimated at $20,000 or $227,000 today. Today, there are fountains in place where Haynie’s Corner was located in cool visitors off. Today at 5:00 PM at Haynie’s Corner, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke is hosting a plaque dedication ceremony honoring George Haynie, the namesake (USI Web Services, n.d.). This is a free event for the public.


USI Web Services. (n.d.). Main Navigation. Retrieved May 05, 2017, from https://www.usi.edu/usitoday/announcements

Visit Evansville, Indiana. (n.d.). Haynie’s Corner arts district. Retrieved May 05, 2017, from http://www.visitevansville.com/cultural-districts/haynie%E2%80%99s-corner-arts-district

A Nation Divided: Confederate States of America War Bonds

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

The Confederate States of America was a group of eleven Southern states who seceded the Union following the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 because of his anti-slavery platform (Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, n.d.).

Secession started in 1860 until mid-1861 as the following (University of Georgia, 2016):

  • South Carolina: December 20, 1860
  • Mississippi: January 9, 1861
  • Florida: January 10, 1861
  • Alabama: January 11, 1861
  • Georgia: January 19, 1861
  • Louisiana: January 26, 1861
  • Texas: February 1, 1861
  • Virginia: April 17, 1861
  • Arkansas: May 6, 1861
  • North Carolina: May 20, 1861
  • Tennessee: June 8, 1861

The creation of government of the Confederacy began in February 1861 until the Confederate Army’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia on April 9, 1865 (Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, n.d.). Rick Winters, an Evansville-native who served in the Vietnam War, donated this piece, donated this rare piece of American history.

One thousand dollars. No. 28123 Eight per cent, July 1, 1868. The Confederate States of America Loan. Authorized act of Congress. C.S.A. February 20, 1863 On the 1st day of July 1868, the Confederate States of America will pay to the Bearer of the Bond, at the seat of government or at such place of deposit as may be appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury, the sum of ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS with interest there on from date, at the rate of eight per cent per annum payable sum annually on the surrender of the annexed Coupons. This contract is authorized by an act of Congress approved February 20, 1863 entitled [and set to] authorize the issue of BONDS for funding Treasury notes and is upon the [express] conditions that said Confederate States may from time to time extend the time of payment for any period not exceeding thirty years from this date at the rate of interest, upon the surrender of the Bond. In Witness whereat the Register of the Treasury in pursuance of said act of Congress hath here unto ser his hand and affixed the seal of the Treasury at Richmond, this 2nd day of March 1863.

Confederate States of America bond, March 

Numerous novels such as North and South trilogy by John Jakes, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, Gone with the Wind by Margeret Mitchell, The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, and so many more have used the American Civil War as a background for their stories. If you are interested in viewing this artifact, you may schedule an appointment or come in during normal operating hours.



Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (n.d.). Confederate States of America. Retrieved May 03, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Confederate-States-of-America

University of Georgia. (2016, April 6). Dates of secession. Retrieved May 03, 2017, from http://www.libs.uga.edu/hargrett/selections/confed/dates.html