At the time of the arrival of the Scribner brothers, New Albany was a wilderness, not only heavily timbered with birch, poplar, and sugar trees, but the ground was thickly covered with all kinds of undergrowth. On the second day of March, 1812, the Scribners began clearing a spot for building a log cabin. It was a large double cabin, with a wide hall between, and a kitchen attached to one of the wings. This was the first Indiana home of the Scribner family. It was located on what is now the south side of Main between East Sixth and Seventh streets. During the summer of 1813 a large number of men were hired to clear the ground of underbrush, and chop down trees, and, during the next year quite a number of cabins were built on Main Street as far down as West Second street. On the second and third of November, 1813, the first public sale of lots in the town of New Albany took place, and, in the latter part of 1814 the first frame residence was erected by Joel Scribner on Main street east of State. This is the "Scribner House" which was the home of Joel Scribner until his death, and of members of his family for more than a hundred years. In 1917 it was sold by Miss Hattie Scribner to Piankeshaw Chapter D.A.R. and has been recently restored by them. The house has a basement - two parlors and a hall on the first floor - three bed rooms and hall on the second floor - and a third-story bed room. In this room there is a little window on the east side between two parts of the large chimney. There are two long porches in the rear of the house on the first and second floors. A wheel and a long rope with a large hook attached is fastened to the roof of the upper porch and was used to draw up buckets of water, baskets of wood, etc. This can still be seen at the old house. Much of the Scribner furniture is in the house, including a table and chair brought over the mountains by the family when they first came to New Albany.
Large oil portraits of Dr. William Scribner and his wife hang over the fireplaces in the front and back parlors, and a large portrait of their son, Edward, as a small boy is very quaint and adds to the attractiveness of the house. The Scribners were highly educated and cultured people and the old home was for many years a center of the social, religious, and musical life of the city.
On the corner west of this home was another house built by the Scribners and known as the Harvey Scribner House. This old frame house was torn down about four years ago.
Soon after Joel Scribner built his home, his mother, Mrs. Phoebe Scribner erected a frame house on the southeast corner of west Main and First, where she and her two daughters Esther and Ann Scribner resided. It was in the back parlor of this house that the First Presbyterian Church was organized in 1817, and it is said that the first Sunday School in Indiana was also organized in this house by Mrs. Nathaniel Scribner and Miss Catherine Silliman. In 1819 Dr. David Hale, son-in-law of Mrs. Scribner erected two ends adjoining the house and it became The Hale Tavern or High Street House. Dr. Hale was an elegant gentleman of the old school, wearing ruffles in his shirt front and with the dignified manner of the ruffled shirt period. His wife, Esther Scribner Hale was a lady of refinement and culture and under their management the Tavern had a well-earned prestige. The stage lines between Louisville and Vincennes always made stops at Hale Tavern, driving up with a merry horn blast every night and morning. A sandstone pavement extended along the front of the Tavern and wooden hitching racks were at the pavement edge. A huge bell in a heavy frame work clanged out loudly when meals were ready.
Twelve dormer windows were in the roof, six front, and six back. There were five front doors - one entered the office, a center door opened into the hall, a single door entered the Tavern parlor and a large double door at the east end of the building gave entrance to the dining room.
The old Scribner parlor which became the Tavern parlor had its high black mantel with corner cupboards at each end of the room. This parlor was the center of much of the political life of the community. All prominent men who were visiting in New Albany, or who were en route to the State Capitol at Corydon in the early days were entertained there. Governor Jennings was a frequent visitor, and Daniel Webster, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor and Oliver P. Morton were guests there. After Dr. Hale's death the Tavern had many landlords, and was later known as the Commercial House. It was torn down by Mr. S. J. Gardner who purchased it in 1919.
Mr. Seth Woodruff was one of the most prominent of the early pioneers and in 1819 he opened a tavern in his home on the north side of Main street between east Third and Fourth. The house was two stories in height and so arranged upstairs with folding doors that two or three rooms could be thrown together into one large room which became the first court room in New Albany, and also a place of meeting for the pioneer Baptists of the town. Woodruff's Tavern was used for a court room until the erection of the first Courthouse in 1823. During the 1850s the Tavern was purchased by Mr. W. C. DePauw who remodeled and enlarged the building, and it became known as The DePauw House. It contained about sixty rooms heated by means of small stoves or grates.
A very old house which was also the home of the Woodruff family is still standing on the north side of West Main at the east corner of Seventh. This was a frame house with porches on the side. It has been purchased by Mr. John Lyons and covered with concrete blocks. It was in this home that Misses Adela and Ella Woodruff spent their girlhood. An old square Steinway piano in a rosewood case which belonged to them is now in the Scribner House. It was in the 1937 flood floating in the water, but has been restored and is as good as ever.
Another very old frame house was built in the 1820s by Samuel Beeler on the north side of East Market street between Fourth and Fifth. This house stood for more than a hundred years and was torn down about 1930. It was the home of my great-great-grandparents who came to New Albany in 1819.
The first brick house in New Albany is said to have been located on the northeast corner of east Third and Main. It was torn down some time ago. The second brick house - large, and for those early days quite imposing in its appearance - was built by General Paxton on the corner of Main and Pearl where the Goodwill is now located. The third brick house was built by Nathaniel Scribner and this became his home until his death. He also had his office there. The house is still standing and has long porches in the back of the first and second stories. It has for years been known as the Clapp house. Two chairs that were used in this house by members of the Scribner and Clapp families are now owned by the D.A.R. and are in the back parlor of the Scribner House. These were presented to the D.A.R. by Mrs. Oscar Barth.
Another very old building which is still standing dates back to about 1821. It is located on the southeast corner of Pearl and Main, the present location of the New Albany Steam Laundry. It was built by Mr. Elias Ayres, one of the very early merchants of New Albany. He had a general merchandise store on the first floor and his residence was upstairs. Mr. Ayers was a brother of Mrs. John Day, my husband's great-grandmother, and it was he who persuaded the Day family to come to New Albany. Mr. Silas Day went to work for his uncle when he was fourteen years old and afterward became a partner in the firm. Mr. David Hedden was also a partner and the firm was known as Ayers, Hedden and Day.
In the early days many of the homes were used as Taverns. In the 1820s Patrick Leyden built his home and Tavern on the Paoli Pike just north of Daisy Land. The house consisted of three large rooms on the first floor and three on the second. Each room had an outside door with a window on either side, and in each room there was a large fireplace with a high black mantel. The ceilings were quite low. The kitchen and dining room were at the rear and separated from the main building by a covered passageway. The house was torn down a number of years ago. It was here that the Leydens lived and reared their seventeen children. The Leyden daughters were said to be among the most accomplished young ladies of their time.
On the northwest corner of the alley on Main street between west First and Second there is a large brick house which was the home of Andrew Israel. It is nearly a hundred years old and in the 1840s was known as the Israel House, a family hotel or boarding house. Many prominent people of the city boarded there, and among these was Judge W. T. Otto, who afterward became Assistant Secretary of the Interior under President Lincoln.
On the west side of First street just south of Market, is standing a brick house which was built in 1831 by Mr. Jesse Reed, a cabinet maker and grandfather of Miss Sarah McCulloch, who now lives next door. She has a very beautiful hand-carved side board and a four poster bed that Mr. Reed made and used in this house.
On the east side of First street between Market and Spring is a double house which was the home of Mr. Charles Sackett. Later Mr. Sackett built the large brick house one door south and lived there with his family until his death.
Another old home in the west end is the Bushnell home built and owned by Mr. Walter Creed's grandfather. The back part of this house is still standing at the southwest corner of Market and Park Place, and a filling station is built in front. Across the street on the northeast corner is the old Captain Meekin home, built by Mrs. Charles Fawcett's great-grandfather.
On the southeast corner of Park Place and Market is the Humphrey home where Mrs. George Cannon spent her girlhood. This house was built in 1867. South of this on Park Place is a large brick house built by Mr. James Brooks, who was the first president of the old New Albany and Salem Railroad, now the Monon.
This was Mr. Brook's home until he erected a "mansion" at the northwest corner of east Ninth and Market. The lot extended from Market to Spring and from Ninth to the alley. This was later the home of Mr. Lawrence Bradley. After Mr. Bradley's death the house was sold to Mr. Michael Hassenmiller who remodeled it. Later it became the property of the Kenney family. Recently, it was purchased by the Knights of Columbus for a clubhouse. The home of Mr. Brooks on Park Place was occupied later by Mr. John F. Gebhart and family. Next door to this house is the old home of Captain Hiram Reamer, and, at the corner of Park Place and Main stands the Austin house and store. This is very old. On the west side of Washington street two doors north of Market is a very old red brick house known as the Hopper house. This is the former home of the Williams family, one of whom is Mrs. Craig of Cedar Bough. Several doors north of this is another old brick house built by Mr. Royse, father of Mrs. I. B. Friend, Sr. He also built the large house on the southwest corner of Spring and Washington street. Three doors north of the Park Christian Church is a two-story frame house - the old home of Captain William Merker and family. Mrs. Joseph Lloyd, a daughter of Capt. Merker was born in this house. It was originally a one-story but as the family increased a second story was added.
The Lonnon house on the northeast corner of the alley on west Market between Lafayette and Fourth streets is very old, and around the corner on the east side of Fourth street is the old Hooper home. It is said that this was the home of Mr. Edward Brown, father of Mrs. Hooper. It is a large double house and of very old-type architecture, and must be more than a hundred years old. At 315 west Sixth is a double brick house built high, with two flights of stairs on the front. This is more than a hundred years old and is known as the Jennings house. In 1847 my grandmother and grandfather Stran were married in this house. On the south side of Main between west Fourth and Fifth is a brick house which was the Tellon home. It was built by Peter Tellon who came from France and had a shipyard on the river back of his house. This home was quite a social center in the early days.
On the north side of west Main, two doors from the corner of Eighth is a very old red brick house known as the Tuley house. This was the home of Mr. Lawrence Tuley's grandfather. On the north side of west Market, two doors west of Seventh there is standing a double frame house. This was the home of Mr. William Beeler.
One of the very old houses still standing was the home of Peter Stoy Sr., pioneer of the Stoy family in New Albany. In the 1820s he erected the large brick house on the southeast corner of the Alley on west Main street between First and Second, and the family lived here for a number of years, later moving to another large brick house on the south side of west Market between Fourth and Fifth on the east corner of the alley. This house in most recent years was the home of Captain William Adams. It was in this home that Mr. Peter Stoy's daughter, Mrs. Moody, lived with her son, William Vaughn Moody, who attended school in New Albany. Mr. Moody later became famous as a poet and writer. Across the street from the Stoy house is a red brick house built by Mr. Thomas Smith about 1840. His son, Judge Smith, also resided there.
The home of Mr. Peter R. Stoy, son of the pioneer, was on west Market street one door east of the Park Christian church. This house was later purchased by the church for a parsonage.
On State street north of Spring, where the garage now stands, was a large white brick house for many years the home of Mr. E. R. Day, my husband's grandfather. Two doors north was the home of Mr. R. P. Main. This house was later used as the office of the Courier Journal.
There were two fine brick houses located on Pearl street where the Elks home now stands. The one on the corner was the home of Mr. John B. Ford and next door was the home of Mr. William S. Culbertson. The large brick house on the southeast corner of East Third and Spring was built by Mr. Thomas Danforth and was later the home of the Spence family.
Across the street where the St. Mark's manse now stands was a long brick house, the early home of the Winstandley family. The white brick house that stood on the corner where St. Edward's Hospital is now located, was the home of Mr. Charles Shipman. It was built by him and later he also built the brick house at Twelfth and Main afterward purchased by Mr. R. G. McCord and known as the McCord home. The house at Thirteenth and Market (now the Eagle's Hall) was built by Mr. John E. Crane and was later the home of the Reily family. The house now occupied by the Catholic Community Center was the home of Mr. John F. Gebhart. The house owned by Mr. Frank Baker was the home of Mr. Jesse J. Brown and family. Mr. John McDonald's home was built by Mr. William S. Culbertson Sr. in 1868. He also built the house next door for his son, Mr. Samuel Culbertson. The architect for those houses was a Mr. Banes. The house where Klerners live was built by Mr. Phineas Kent and is copied from a French chateau. It was later the home of Mr. Randall Crawford, and of Dr. Elijah Newland, grandfather of Mr. Newland DePauw who resided in this home in later years. The house where Lappings live was built by a Mr. Marshall and later owned by Dr. Newland. Mr. and Mrs. Newland DePauw lived in this house when they were first married. The August Barth home, next to the Klerner house, was built by a Mr. Pepin, who later moved to Washington D.C. The house then became the home of the Cromie family until it was purchased by Mr. Barth. Across Tenth street is the old Kent house built by Mr. Bela Kent, and the home of the Kent family until the death of his daughter, Mrs. Bixby, a short time ago. The large frame house next door is the old John B. Nunemacher home. His daughter, Miss Elizabeth Nunemacher, tells me that it was built in 1826. Across the alley from this house is the old Malbon home now occupied by the Clarks. It is nearly a hundred years old and was the home of Mr. Malbon, former Mayor of New Albany, and later his daughter's family, the Emerson Gordons, lived there.
The Oscar Barth home, on the south side of Main between Seventh and East Ninth, was built by Mr. W. C. DePauw, and was his winter home. His summers were spent in the DePauw home on the Charlestown Road where Beechwood avenue and DePauw Place are now located. The house on Main street next to the old W. C. DePauw home is known as the Peter Mann home. The three-story house located two doors east of Sixth on the south side of Main is the old Lapsley house. This was the home of Mrs. Mary Ann Ayres Lapsley, former wife of Mr. Elias Ayers. It was later the home of Judge Howk. Next door, on the corner of Sixth, is the Bicknell house which was built by Dr. John Sloan as his residence and office. Later it was the home of Admiral Bicknell who married Dr. Sloan's daughter. Across Sixth street is the old Cannon house. This was built prior to 1850 by Captain Samuel Montgomery, and occupied by the Montgomery family for years. Later it was the home of the Cannons. Across Main street is the old Bragdon home where Mr. Charles Hassenmiller now lives. Next door is the home recently occupied by Mrs. Kate Wade. It was built by her father, Capt. I. P. Smith, and has been the family home until the death of Mrs. Wade. Mr. John Crawford, a prominent builder and architect, built the brick house on the north side of east Main three doors east of Thirteenth. Mr. Crawford's daughter married Dr. Morrill and this house was their home for years. Mr. Crawford also built the home of Captain Hangary at the southwest corner of east Ninth and Market now owned by Mrs. Moosemiller, Capt. Hangary's granddaughter.
The Beach, Stotsenburg, and Hangary houses on Main street were built in the 1860s. The Goetz apartment house at east Ninth and Elm was built by Dr. Gordon and was later the home of Prof. Borden. The circular stairway is an interesting feature of this house.
The Erni house, northeast corner of east Eighth and Spring, was the home of Mr. J. F. McCurdy, and the house where Mr. Rollin Cheney now lives on Vincennes street next to the High School was built before the Civil War by Mr. John Childs and was later the home of Mrs. Cheney's grandfather, Mr. Brown.
There is an old brick house back in the yard on the south side of Oak between east Fifth and Sixth. This was the home of Mr. Stephen Hedden, great-grandfather of Mr. Kirke Hedden. Mr. David Hedden, son of Mr. Stephen, built the large brick house on Dewey street for many years the home of the Hedden family. Next door to this, on the west, is a large square frame house known as the old Butler home. On the east side of the Hedden home is the large brick house known as the old Conner home. It was built in 1856 by my husband's grandfather, Jefferson Conner Sr. Shortly before the house was finished the panic of 1857 forced him to sell the house. It was purchased by his brother, Captain Thomas Conner, grandfather of Mr. Thomas Guthrie whose parents, Miss Lucy Conner and Mr. James Guthrie were married in this home.
The brick house on Market Street below Ninth which was purchased and remodeled by the Masons, was built nearly a hundred years ago by the father of Captain Thomas and Jefferson Conner Sr. - Mr. John Conner Sr. - pioneer of the Conner family in New Albany. Mr. Conner cleared the ground, made brick on the premises, and erected his home, a large two-story brick house. A hand-powered elevator was in the home - the first installation of its kind in a private home in this locality. Mr. Conner lived in this house until his death in 1852 when it became the home of his daughter's family, the S. S. Moores. It was later the home of Mr. John K. Woodward.
Bank street was a prominent residence street in the old days. The frame house at 325 Bank, the home of the Forman family, was built by Mr. Phineas Kent, who sold it to Mr. John S. McDonald Sr., who lived there until he built a new residence at the corner of Vincennes and the Charlestown Road, known later as the Breyfogle place. Mr. McDonald later built the house at Eleventh and Main now owned by Miss Sue Green. This was the McDonald home for years. When Mr. McDonald sold the Bank street house it was purchased by Mr. R. G. McCord who made it his home until he sold it to Mr. Shipman. In April 1872 the house was purchased by Mr. James Forman, grandfather of Mrs. Morris Best, and it has been the home of the Forman family for sixty-five years.
Across the street from the Forman house on Bank street was a large brick house known as the Conner house. It was the home of Jefferson Conner Sr. and later his son, Harvey Conner and family, lived there. On the northeast corner of Bank and Spring streets was a fine brick residence built by Mr. Henry B. Shields, and was later the home of Dr. Newland. The house was sold for use as a High School and early in the 1900s it was torn down and the Carnegie Library built on the site. The second house north of the Library was built by Messrs. John and William Culbertson for their mother, Madam Culbertson. The large brick house next door was the home of Mr. John Culbertson, whose wife was Miss Mary Bicknell, sister of Judge George Bicknell. Mrs. David Bowman, who was a neighbor and frequent visitor in this house, describes it as follows: "Mrs. Culbertson was queenly. She had a beautiful soprano voice, highly cultivated, and she was an exceptionally fine housekeeper. The rooms in the house were large with high ceilings, and the drawing room was about thirty by seventeen feet. There were three wide windows in the room draped with crimson over real lace hanging from brass cornices. The walls were papered with a chaste pattern in white and gold. The woodwork was finished in white steamboat paint. A rich velvet carpet covered the floor. The graceful chandeliers were of brass and crystal. Over the square piano, that stood between the two doors opening into the central hall, hung a large painting of the Roman Forum which was one of many paintings brought from Europe. It was said to have hung in the Tuilleries during the French Revolution, and its beautiful surface was marred by a sword thrust received during the Reign of Terror. In the library across the hall were other choice paintings. There were some beautiful pieces of furniture that would have delighted the soul of antique hunters. One piece was a small cottage melodeon for the use of the children. In one corner of the library was a unique arrangement of pipes from many countries."
Another beautiful home described by Mrs. Bowman was the Woodward home on west First street between Main and Market. She says: "The lovely things in this home that caught my childish fancy were the delicate misty lace curtains at the windows, the magnificent light velvet carpet with a pattern of green ferns, the beautiful statuary, really good pieces brought by the family from Europe."
Mrs. Bowman also mentions the Kerr home on Main between Eleventh and Twelfth. She says, "The walls of the library were covered from floor to ceiling with books, and I believe it was said to be the finest library in the state at that time." Mr. Michael C. Kerr, owner of the home was Speaker of the House of Representatives in Washington D.C.
In describing the Bank street neighborhood Mrs. Bowman said that Judge John S. Davis lived in the brick house on the southeast corner of Bank and Elm. In the next block on the east side of the street was a large two-story frame house, the home of Mr. Joseph Cadwalader, great-grandfather of Mr. John Rasmussen. Across the street from this house was the home of Mr. Morris McDonald Sr., later occupied by his daughter and her husband, Mr. James Dunbar.
In the year 1852 Mr. John Crawford built and sold to Mr. Silas Day the large brick house on the west side of Bank street now owned by the W.C.T.U. This was an example of a New Albany home of the better class in the 1850s and 1860s, and Mrs. Bowman, a daughter of Mr. Day, gives us a glimpse of the family life. She says, "I have a vivid memory of a morning when the family gathered in the back parlor for prayers, a daily institution in our home. I can see the large room, the light filtering through the shutters upon the white and gold walls, the green velvet carpet, the black haircloth furniture, and the tamboured muslin curtains, and I can see the form of my sister, a bride, lately returned from her wedding journey, sitting at the melodeon, leading us in our usual morning hymns. I remember her morning robe of buff pique, form-fitting, and opening all down the front over an underrobe of white embroidery. She looked beautiful to my admiring eyes. The melodeon was always used at prayers and to accompany hymn singing on Sunday evenings.
The big concert grand piano in the front parlor was only used for secular music. Thanksgiving was our big family day. All went to church in the morning for a patriotic service, and then gathered at the old home for dinner. Usually there were guests and two long tables were stretched full length to accommodate the happy crowd, never fewer than twenty - sometimes over thirty. These tables were loaded with the traditional Thanksgiving dainties and solids."
"Perhaps you would like to hear about one of these dinners. Mrs. Lapsley and the Haskins family were added to our large family, and thirty-two sat at the table that day - the children at the extra table. A bowl of fruit and flowers formed the centerpiece, and the children were delighted with their substantial table decoration - a well-roasted suckling pig, with a small red apple in his mouth, kneeling in a bed of parsley. The first course was oysters served in an ice bowl, which was a square block of ice chipped out to form a bowl. After the soup and fish came the big Thanksgiving turkey - two turkeys in fact - baked ham, baked beans, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, etc., two quivering molds of jelly - cranberry and lemon, and following - pie - mince and pumpkin, ice cream, fruit cake - black and white, nuts and grapes.
The afternoon belonged to the children, and on this particular occasion they were all piled into a big four-horse sleigh and taken for a merry ride. Then, in the twilight came the usual hymn singing, and shadow pictures, charades and the Virginia reel."
"There was much entertaining in a quiet way in the old home. As a child I was often sent to homes of friends, sometimes to the home of a newly-made member of our church, or to that of a stranger lately come to town, having been carefully coached in my little formula of invitation. Thus: Mrs. S. C. Day presents her compliments and would like to have Mr. and Mrs. Blank take tea or dinner as the case might be, carefully mentioning the day and hour. Then there was a stir-about in the kitchen, with some dependable colored auntie always ready on call to serve on such occasions.
I can see the long table with its sweeping linen damask, the silver caster in the center, the silver service on its tray at the head of the table, the gold-banded china, and the dishes set precisely in pairs down its length. Fried or smothered chicken or slices of pink ham or smoked tongue, Saratoga potatoes, and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers in summer, or chicken salad and oysters in some form in winter - with hot biscuits, brown and melting in one's mouth. Sparkling jelly or preserves, Edam cheese served from the shell, and finally ambrosia, which was sliced oranges with fresh coconut grated over the top, or canned peaches or pears in their amber syrup or, in summer, whatever fruit was in season - and always two or three kinds of cake."
"Church socials were held in the homes with often a hundred people present. Candy pullings and charade parties were favorite forms of amusement. Croquet parties were popular in the summer, when often the grounds were lighted with a locomotive headlight. Sometimes these parties ended in a watermelon feast. In winter ice skating was a favorite sport, also roller skating."
"There were many handsome drawing rooms in New Albany homes, and evening parties were more or less formal. Usually during the season there were a few grand parties with two or three hundred guests, where all who could wore strictly evening dress, and others were just as happy in their Sunday best. At these grand parties the supper of several courses was ordered from a Louisville caterer and served by him. Oysters fried and in stew, salads, cold meats and accompaniments followed by several kinds of ices and sweets."
"New Albany was always attractive to visitors who loved to come and were loath to go. There was a touch of New England formality about her social life - a conventionality that blended charmingly with a southern warmth and freedom, and her people were neighborly and 'folksy.' There was much calling and returning of calls. Neighborly 'spend the evenings' with always something good to eat. Also spending the day meant from ten to five."
"Musical entertainments of various kinds were popular in the homes, as New Albany was always fortunate in having good musicians. The Choral Union gave two concerts during the winter at the Opera House. These were important social events. The Opera House was opened in 1867 with a week of Italian Opera."
Mrs. Bowman has given us an interesting picture of the generation our mothers and grandmothers knew. It is the spirit of that generation instilled into the minds and hearts of its children that has influenced the character of our community, and given us the New Albany we know today.