Monday, March 10, 2014

Sol's Berry Farm

We live near a bump in the road called Solsberry.    Most people assume that 'Solsberry' is a corruption of Salisbury, named after the city in Wiltshire, England, and that we dumb Hoosiers just couldn't spell. 

They have a point - the town of Gnaw Bone, Indiana is indeed a corruption of the French name, Narbonne. 

Hey.  We don't speak French in Indiana.

Except maybe in French Lick.  Which was named because a French trading post was set up near a salt lick.  But probably, no one has spoken French there in a long time.

Except maybe the high school French class.   And maybe those international students from IU who went to see the casino. 

And my friend in Lafayette [which was named after a French guy].

At any rate, in our case, Solsberry was not named for Salisbury.   It is named for Solomon Wilkerson. 

You see, Sol took advantage of the plethora of wild berries around here and picked and sold them.   People loved Ole Sol's berries.

Yep.   You see where this is going, right?

Sol is memorialized in the Solsberry Cemetery, where you can see his original limestone gravestone [above] and where they've put this beautiful plaque telling his story.   This is what the plaque says:

"Solomon Wilkerson  1800 - 1875. 

Solomon Wilkerson founder of Solsberry, was born in North Carolina in 1800 and moved to Monroe County, Indiana, in 1820 where he married Polly Anderson in 1833.  In 1835 they moved to Greene County, Indiana and erected the first house in what is now known as Solsberry.

In 1850 Solomon platted the site for Solsberry.  It was divided into 34 lots, each of them being 66' x 132'.  The streets were 66' wide and the alleys were 12' wide.   The street running north and south was named Washington, and the street running east and west was named Main.  Because the blackberries and blueberries were plentiful in the area, Solomon picked and sold them; hence the town was name for 'Ole Sol's berries'.

Solomon was held in high esteem, serving as Justice of the peace for several years.  In 1875 he died after being thrown from a horse near Bateman Ford, on Richland Creek, northwest of Solsberry."

Here's a closer up pic of the original marker.  It's a good thing it's protected - the limestone is melting away with time and exposure to the elements.

Sol has a facebook page, where you can go see a picture of him.  

Here is an old map of Greene County from 1879, just 4 years after Sol died.   See if you can find Bateman Ford on Richland Creek.


There's not much left of the town except an intersection and a cluster of houses.   We have a post office and a fire station and Yoho General Store.   [You ought to stop by Yoho and get some ice cream - it's tasty!]  The folks who live here are super friendly so wave when you come to town.  You'll get a smile and a long chat if you have the time.


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