Out of Harmony - Indiana Histories

Lucy Jayne Kamau looks at the competing versions of the nineteenth-century pioneer past that folk history and the heritage industry have forged.

Two very contrasting versions of the county's past can be found in the rural backwater of Posey County, Indiana. One is an official history as displayed at Historic New Harmony, an outdoor heritage museum; the other is a folk history narrated by persons from the area and also described in local histories of the county. The stories they tell are quite different.

Posey County is located at the confluence of the Ohio and Wabash Rivers. It was first settled by European-Americans in 1805 when families crossed the Ohio River from Kentucky and settled at what is now the county seat of Mount Vernon. They were the people known as 'back- woodsmen', small farmers who produced much of their own subsistence. In its short history not much has happened in Posey County. There would be no official history, much less a heritage museum, were it not for two unusual groups who settled along the Wabash, seventeen miles north of Mount Vernon at a place called New Harmony.

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