A Landing a Day

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Archive for August, 2011

Mt. Vernon, Indiana

Posted by graywacke on August 27, 2011

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Dan –  Wow.  An eastern state.  A USer.  A nice change of pace as I landed in .  . . IN; 17/23; 3/10; 11; 158.1.  Here’s my landing map, showing that I landed right along the Ohio R, near the town of Mt. Vernon:

Here’s a broader view, showing that I landed in far southern IN:

Here’s my GE shot showing that I landed right on the edge of a farm field along a little drainage-way that heads into the river:

I hardly need to go through my watersheds, but I always do.  I landed in the Ohio R watershed (122nd hit); on to the MM (773rd hit).

Here’s a StreetView shot looking SW towards my landing, which is about 2/3 of mile away:

This, about Mt. Vernon from Wiki:

Mt. Vernon was named for George Washington‘s plantation at Mt. Vernon.  That name derives from Edward Vernon, a British naval hero, under whom Washington’s half-brother served, and in whose honor Rule Britannia was written.

How about that!  George Washington’s hometown was named after a British Naval Hero.  A little irony there . . .

As you can see on my landing map, I landed right next to a big island out in the river – Diamond Island (it’s the land on the other side of the river you see on my GE shot).  Here’s a page about Diamond Island  from the Ohio River Guidebook by Jerry Hay:


And this, from Wiki about Diamond Island:

Diamond Island is an island in the Ohio River. It has an area of about one half square mile. In the late eighteenth century, it was a hideout for river pirates, most notably, Samuel Mason and his gang as well as notorious serial killers, the Harpe Brothers.

Diamond Island is also known as the site of the Diamond Island Massacre:

In 1803, Barnard family was emigrating from Virginia when one son, James, shot a deer on the bank. The family landed the boat to retrieve the deer and were ambushed by ten Native Americans, who were hiding in the canebrake. The first to board the boat was killed by Mrs. Barnard with an axe. Mr. Barnard killed shot two before he was killed. The son, James, ran away with a corn knife, pursued by two. When one fell behind, James turned to fight, and the last pursuer fled.

When James returned to the boat, his mother and father lay dead, and his two younger brothers and one sister were missing. What became of the three children was never known.

OK, so Wiki decided to feature the rather grim story about the Barnard Family.  I Googled Barnard and Diamond Island, and there is only one reference – a book by Harold Allison entitled “The Tragic Saga of the Indiana Indians.”  I went to Amazon, and there it is.  It can be yours if you’re willing to pay the purchase price – a mere $322.  OK, OK, that’s the price for a new book.  If you’re willing to settle for a used book, it’s a bargain at only $122.

I have to admit I’m a little suspicious about the validity of the story.  It seems to me that if it really happened, there would be more than one internet reference . . .

Anyway, moving right along to the notorious serially-killing Harpe brothers.  Here are some excerpts from “Jon’s Southern Illinois History Page”, by Jon Musgrave:

Two centuries ago this fall a murder spree began stretching from the Cumberland Gap in westernmost Virginia to Cave-in-Rock and Potts Spring in southeastern Illinois.

During the next nine months the murderers killed at least 40 men, women and children on the frontier until a posse caught up with the killers and took the leader’s head on Aug. 24, 1799. Known as the brothers Micajah and Wiley Harpe, the two started out life as first cousins William and Joshua Harpe. In addition to their other aliases, frontier historians simply remembered them as Big and Little Harpe.

James Hall, a Philadelphia native and judge in Shawneetown during the 1820s, wrote the first histories about the characters. His introduction from his 1828 “Letters from the West” serves best for the story:

“Many years ago, two men, named Harpe, appeared in Kentucky, spreading death and terror wherever they went. Little else was known of them but that they passed for brothers, and came from the borders of Virginia. They had three women with them, who were treated as wives, and several children, with whom they traversed the mountainous and thinly settled parts of Virginia into Kentucky marking their course with blood. Their history is wonderful, as well from the number and variety, as the incredible atrocity of their adventures…”

Click here to check out Jon’s full article, which tells the whole story . . .

The other bad guy associated with Diamond Island is Samuel Mason.  He was more of a run-of-the-mill river pirate, not killing folks willy-nilly like the Harpes.  They did operate on the river at the same time, and apparently knew each other.  In fact, according to Wiki, Sam Mason died when he was with one of the Harpe brothers:

While being transported back up river, Mason and gang member John Sutton (aka Wiley Harpe) overpowered their guards and escaped, with Mason being shot in the head during the escape.

I’ll close with this nice Panaramio shot of the Ohio from Henderson KY, just upstream from my landing (by “MasterPoopie”):


That’ll do it. . .



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