The Old Settlers' Days Festival in Salem Indiana dates back to September 29th 1875. On that historic day in 1875 Washington County residents first came together to celebrate the lives and contributions of their pioneering forefathers. At the initial Old Settlers' Days many of the original Washington County settler's were grey haired and elderly but many spoke at great length and with great passion about their earliest pioneering experiences in the county.
Our lives have changed greatly over the years and the Old Settlers' Days Festival continues to evolve as well. What remains constant however, is our festival is a celebration and tribute to the pioneering spirit of our earliest Washington County Settlers.
What would Old Settlers Days be if we didn’t mention all the amazing demonstrations and music happening at the village? Saturday and Sunday we have invited a number of musicians into the village including the Corydon Dulcimer Society, fiddlers, mandolin players and more. There will be a featured stage near the village for performers who wish to make use of it and as always the church is open for inspired music and improvisation. Please feel free to grab your instrument and head on down too as we would be glad to have you! Our Blacksmiths, soap makers, spinners, chair cainers, toy makers, fur trappers, gun smiths, frontier distillers, town criers, flint knappers, snake oil salesmen, storekeepers, yeomen farmers, scrimshaw artists, carvers and more are back this year to share our collective history with you as well as our town mayor George Beck and some new additions including our old time barber Spud Shocke and even an undertaker and doctor!
The Corydon Dulcimer Society will play in the Pioneer Village on Saturday from 11:30am - 12:30pm. Don't miss the sweet sounds of the the society as they perform a myriad of civil war entries as well as songs pertaining to that hushed spirit moonshine whiskey.
The Old Settlers Days committee as well as all of our Demonstrators and the Stevens Museum will take a moment to remember two of our fallen “Morgan’s Raiders” from the 9’th KY Calvary on Saturday during our opening ceremony at 10:00 on the village green. Tony and Rob were truly a huge part of what made Old Settlers Days something special in past years and we plan to let the world know just how much they meant to us. Join us in a 21 gun salute and a moment of prayer for our fallen but never forgotten friends.
You think you’ve got the skill to call a hog home? How about that rooster call of yours? Ever thrown a skillet in anger? Come on down to the village on Sunday and put your skills to the test at 3:00 p.m. Bring a friend, have a blast, and take your chance at winning something you can truly brag about!
On both September 21st and 22nd the Salem Indiana Mounted Search and Rescue team will be on hand playing the part of the Salem Indiana Home Guard, on patrol for notorious Southern Scoundrels and other heathens up to no good. The good citizens can swear out an arrest warrant at the general store for any citizen for only five dollars which will then be put into action by imprisonment in the town jail for five minutes, accused can bail out of jail for an equitable five dollars at any time after the arrest is made. The resulting money collected will go to fund future Old Settlers Days festivals and a donation will be made to the Salem Mounted Search and Rescue Team. Prominent citizens beware there may already be a list with your name on it!!!
With word of General Morgan’s men having sacked the state capital of Corydon our governor Oliver P. Morton has sent a small contingency of Union Soldiers to help protect our little town! You will see our boys camped out near the town and doing their regular rounds of the village property! Be sure to stop and talk to them and thank them for their service in protecting us, they each have a story to tell and a lot of soon to be history to share!
The Salem Leader reported on September 21-22 1930 a Large illegal “Likker” Still found near the Monon Depot!!! Gallons of illegal moonshine seized and barrels of mash dumped. One arrested and two others at large, thought to be producing more moonshine at an as yet undiscovered still site!
Have you ever wondered how Moonshine was truly made here in Washington County or what kind of law defying characters were brave and/or dumb enough to make it? What, you didn’t think Moonshine was made here? Ha! Most of our citizenry is made up of good 'ol boys from the hills and hollers and we have a long tradition of making whiskey here in our home county.
Come on down to the Depot on Saturday at 1:00 and again on Sunday at 1:00 and learn what prohibition was truly like in the “dry” era as our three notorious moonshiners, Alan Bishop, Tom Baker, and Berry Grover, teach us a little something, something, about how things got “did” around these parts.
Don’t tell the boys now but we hear tell that the Salem Mounted Search and Rescue team is on to their little operation and planning to do a bit of intervention!
Join us Saturday evening at 7:00 PM for an intimate night of storytelling around the campfire. Jeremy Elliot and Alan Bishop as well as special guests will relate local bear stories, ghost stories and more! Have something you want to share? Please come down and let us know all about it!
Local instrumentalist Tom Rasley graced us last year with his stirring rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” during our opening ceremony and will return this year to pay tribute to our country and the fallen hopes of the confederacy. Tom will deliver inspired performances of both “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Dixie” during the opening ceremony at the village starting at 10:00 am on both Saturday and Sunday.
Tom will also return to perform and intimate acoustic set highlighting his new album Heartland at the Depot at 2:15 on Saturday. Tom is a skilled instrumentalist who has played on over 65 recording projects and has toured 26 states and Canada as well Tom has taught thousands of players in his private studio and at guitar schools all across the country and was Director of the Norwich Guitar School and the National Guitar Workshop. For more information check out www.rasley.com
Saturday evening put on your finest and head down to the basement of the Stevens Museum for an evening of enlightening conversation and first hand friendship with the President of these United States of America. A catered meal will be provided and the President will be on hand to regal you with stories of his boyhood and early political years as well as the current turmoil of this “Civil” war. General admission ticket is $12.00, Reenactor Tickets are $6.00, donations are also accepted. Purchase tickets Saturday at the event.
This is sure to be a grand old time to be spoken of for years to come and in publications from coast to coast! Don’t miss this, your very own opportunity to have a personal moment with your president!
Copperheads and Peace Democrats to demonstrate their support of the South in the village!
The current chatter of the town is that a contingency of native Washington County Copperheads are planning to make their appearance and views known to the citizenry by flying flags and banners during our upcoming festivities. These “Peace Democrats” as they call themselves or “Copperheads” as they are better known amongst Union favoring Republicans count amongst themselves many notable members of our community who either wholly support the South in their mission to secede from the Union by right of the constitution or force of number (depending on whom one might ask) or at the very least appear to show some sympathy to the confederate cause.
On Sunday September 21 2013 make plans to come and relive the shock of the citizenry of our country at the Village Depot at 2:00 as President Lincoln and His wife Mary view the last play they will ever enjoy together. Only five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee Surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant our faithful president was felled while attending a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre by the hand of the now notorious John Wilkes Booth.
This was not Lincoln’s first close call with death or ill fate during the “Civil War” (Or War of Northern Aggression for you Copperheads out there) as Booth himself, a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle, had in fact attended the president’s inauguration and can in fact be seen in a startling picture of the day. Booth had also in fact planned originally to kidnap Lincoln, a plan which he saw as inferior after attending a speech three days prior to the assassination in which Lincoln announced his plan to enfranchise the now freed slaves.
The Assassination of President Lincoln was not the sole black mark of the foiled plan by Booth however as Booth had several co-conspirators in his grand plan to decapitate the Federal Government and give the South time to restructure after the war. Lewis Powell was to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward at his home, George Atzerod was to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson at his residence, and David E Herold was to guide Powell to a safe house and out of Washington to meet up with Booth in Maryland.
Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée Clara Harris attended the play with the President and his Wife and were there to see the horror firsthand as Booth made his daring escape and the president lay clinging to life for hours.