Three years after the David family passed through Michigan City, Harriet Martineau and her family were following nearly the same path to Chicago, and likewise were stalled by horrible weather. About seven miles from Michigan City, the travellers got the news that a bridge had washed out ahead, and they were forced to seek shelter at the nearest house they could find.
This must have been a common occurrence for the early settlers of this area: heavy rains come through, and you wonder how many travelers will wash up at your doorstep this time.
I’m not going to get into Harriet Martineau’s whole story. Suffice it to say that she’s kind of a big deal, an immensely talented writer and thinker, and has her own lengthy Wikipedia article.
She paints a richly detailed picture of pioneer-era Indiana. What struck me most about her observations, though, was a section describing the rambling property of the family that took them in during the storm:
Their estate consists of eight hundred acres, a large portion of which is not yet broken up. The owner says he walks over the ground once a year, to see the huckleberries grow. …I have no idea, however, that the huckleberries will be long permitted to grow in peace and quiet, in so busy a district as this is destined to become. The good man will be constrained by the march and pressure of circumstances, either to sell or to cultivate.
The property value had exploded in the three years since the owner had moved from Ohio, and 1836 was also the year that Michigan City became officially incorporated.
Martineau’s party carried forth the next day into town and onward towards Chicago. While traveling along “a road winding in and out among the sand-hills,” they saw the wreck of the Delaware, the steamship they had considered taking across the lake, but opted instead for the rainy overland journey they’d just experienced. Lucky break!