The Hoosier's Nest and Other Poems

John Findley - author of "The Hoosier's Nest"by John Finley

Moore, Wilstach & Baldwin, Printers
No. 25 West Fourth Street

Morrisson-Reeves Library Call # RC 811 F51h

For more information about John Finley, Mayor of Richmond, Indiana from 1852 - 1866, and the origination of the word "Hoosier", enjoy these articles:


   Untaught the language of the schools,
Nor versed in scientific rules,
The humble bard may not presume
The literati to illume;
Or classic cadences indite,
Attuned "to tickle ears polite;"
Contented if his strains may pass
the ordeal of the common mass,
And raise an anti-critic smile,
The brow of labor to beguile.

   But ever as his mind delights
To follow fancy's airy flights,
Some object of terrestrial mien
Uncourteously obtrudes between,
And rudely scatters to the winds
The tangled threads of thought he spins.
Yet why invoke imagination
To picture out a new creation,
When nature, with a lavish hand,
Has formed a more than fairy land
For us - an El Dorado real,
Surpassing even the idea?
   Then who can view the glorious West,
With all her hopes for coming time,
And hoard his feelings unexpressed
In poetry or prose, or rhyme?
What mind and matter, unrevealed;
Shall unborn ages her disclose!
What latent treasures, long concealed,
Be disinterred from dark repose!
Here Science shall impel her car*
O'er blended valley, hill, and plain;
While Liberty's bright natal star
Shines twinkling on her own domain.

   Yes, land of the West! thou art happy and free!
And thus evermore may thy hardy sons be,
Whist thy ocean-like prairies are spread far and wide,
Or a tree of thy forests shall tower in pride.

   Blest Indiana! in thy soil
Are found the sure rewards of toil,
Where honest poverty and worth
May make a Paradise on earth.
With feelings proud we contemplate
The rising glory of our State;
Nor take offense by application
Of its good-natured appellation.
Our hardy yeomanry can smile
At tourists of "the sear-girt isle,"
Or wits who traveled at the gallop,
Like Basil Hall or Mrs. Trollope.
'T is true among the crowds that roam
To seek for fortune or a home,
It happens that we often find
Empiricism of a kind.
   A strutting fop, who boasts of knowledge,
Acquired at some far eastern college,
Expects to take us by surprise,
And dazzle our astonished eyes.
He boasts of learning, skill, and talents
Which, in the scale, would Andes balance;
Cuts widening swaths from day to day,
And in a month he runs away.
   Not thus the honest son of toil,
Who settles here to till the soil,
and with intentions just and good,
Acquires an ample livelihood:
He is (and not the little-great)
The bone and sinew of the State.
With six-horse team to one-horse cart,
We hail here from every part;
And some you'll see, sans shoes or socks on,
With snake-pole and a yoke of oxen;
Others with pack-horse, dog, and rifle,
Make emigration quite a trifle.
The emigrant is soon located-
In Hoosier life initiated:
Erects a cabin in the woods,
Wherein he stows his household goods.
At first, round logs and clapboard roof,
With puncheon floor, quite carpet proof,
And paper windows, oiled and neat,
His edifice is then complete.
When four clay balls, in form of plummet,
Adorn his wooden chimney's summit.
Ensconced in this, let those who can
Find out a truly happier man.
The little youngsters rise around him,
So numerous they quite astound him;
Each with an ax or wheel in hand,
And instinct to subdue the land.
   Erelong the cabin disappears,
A spacious mansion next he rears;
His fields seem widening by stealth,
An index of increasing wealth;
and when the hives of Hoosiers swarm,
To each is given a noble farm.
These are the seedlings of the State,
The stamina to make the great.
'T is true, her population, various,
Find avocations multifarious;
But having said so much, 't would seem
No derogation to my theme,
Were I to circumscribe the space,
To picture but a single case:
And if my muse be not seraphic,
I trust you'll find her somewhat graphic.

   I'm told, in riding somewhere West,
A stranger found a Hoosier's Nest
In other words, a buckeye cabin,
Just big enough to hold Queen Mab in;
Its situation, low but airy,
Was on the borders of a prairie;
And fearing he might be benighted,
He hailed the house, and then alighted.
   The Hoosier met him at the door - 
Their salutations soon were o'er.
He took the stranger's horse aside,
And to a sturdy sapling tied;
Then having stripped the saddle off,
He fed him in a sugar-trough.
   The stranger stooped to enter in - 
The entranced closing with a pin - 
And manifested strong desire
To seat him by the log-heap fire,
Where half-a-dozen Hoosieroons,
With mush-and-milk, tin-cups, and spoons,
White heads, bare feet, and dirty faces,
Seemed much inclined to keep their places.
But Madam, anxious to display
Her rough but undisputed sway,
Her offspring to the ladder led,
And cuffed the youngsters up to bed.
   Invited shortly to partake
Of venison, milk, and johnny cake,
The stranger made a hearty meal,
And glances round the room would steal.
   One side was lined with divers garments,
The other spread with skins of varmints;
Dried pumpkins overhead were strung,
Where venison hams in plenty hung;
Two rifles placed above the door;
Three dogs lay stretched upon the floor - 
In short, the domicile was rife
With specimens of Hoosier life.
   The host, who centered his affections
On game, and range, and quarter sections,
Discoursed his weary guests for hours,
Till Somnus' all-composing powers
Of sublunary cares bereft 'em;
And then - 
No matter how the story ended;
The application I intended
Is from the famous Scottish poet,
Who seemed to feel as well as know it,
That "buirdley chiels and clever hizzies
Are bred in sic' a way as this is."

*Railroads were problematical in 1830, when this was written.


Location Glen Miller Park
Richmond, Indiana
Corner of U.S. 40 East and North 22nd Street
Admission Free Hours Public Access
Contact the Old National Road Welcome Center for more information.
5701 National Road East
Richmond, IN  47374
Phone 800.828.8414
WayNet is Sponsored by:
Reid Health
We R Richmond - Richmond Community Schools
Morrisson-Reeves Library
City of Richmond, Indiana

Did You Know?

Richmond, the county seat of Wayne County, is 966' above sea level.