I have been taking this blog along to meander Indiana through history (the state’s) and memory (mine). So let me not pass up a perfect prompt in the appointment of Norbert Krapf as Indiana’s poet laureate, as noted earlier.
Norbert Krapf is a native of Jasper, Indiana, in Dubois County. Because Jasper was settled in the 1840s by German Catholics, it is very well known to the Hoosier history community as a classic example of nineteenth-century immigration. It retains its ethnic and religious character far beyond most Hoosier counties.
Touring the churches of Dubois County, which seem more like magnificent cathedrals, you have to be impressed. The Sisters of St. Benedict in Ferdinand certainly can be proud of their newly restored chapel, my favorite. The present-day nuns live up to their heritage of energetic, forward-looking women who wanted to build something big. They also continue their tradition of hospitality with a retreat and conference center where I have stayed overnight. It’s another world, and as their website demonstrates, the sisters are far from behind the times.
In southwestern Dubois County, amongst a little pocket of Protestants, a colleague and I recently conducted computer training at a middle school. Again, an influx of immigrants is changing the landscape, as the school has had a sizable population increase of Mexican children.
Taking a break from our session, we headed back to Jasper and stopped at the Schnitzelbank restaurant. Managing to be southern German and down-home southern Hoosier at the same time, this one is worth a trip, maybe even worth a poem.