Sassafras Tea, Civil War and the Underground Railroad

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A tiny historic hamlet, Vernon, founded in 1815, sits on the banks of the Muscatatuck River.

On July 11, when John Hunt Morgan demanded the surrender of Vernon. Colonel Hugh T. Williams, Indiana Legion, replied that Morgan “must take it by hard fighting.” No major battle occurred and Morgan‘s cavalry withdrew toward Dupont, Jefferson County where legend has it that a young girl yelled a curse at Morgan’s Raiders as they road by and one of the soldiers told her he’d come back to marry her and so he did.

The town has another connection to the Civil War. The 1820s Federal style row houses were stops on Indiana’s Underground Railroad and have changed little since then.

Take time to stroll the historic downtown, stopping at the North American House built in 1838 by Thomas J. Storey and now the home of the Jennings County Historical Society and Museum. The house was used as a stagecoach stop and an inn. The house has also served as a drug store, wallpaper store, boarding house, and private residence.

Moved from North Vernon to Vernon, the smallest Victorian Pattern home in Indiana from North Vernon is located next to the Jennings County Museum. The ornate but tiny (300 square feet), one room house was formally a railroad office owned by Eldo Hicks who with his four sons engineered railroad bridges from this small office from the late 1880s to about 1910.

Every April, the Jennings County Historical Society hosts the Sassafras Tea Festival and Civil War Living History, a wonderful gathering of re-enactors who take over the courthouse square with their encampments, making breads and meals over fires, showcase crafts from that time period, host a Blue/Gray Ball and re-fight the battle between Morgan and the Union soldiers.

At A Glance


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