In a past column I related some of the historic events of the Merom area, which is in western Sullivan County near the Wabash River. This is also a very scenic site as most of the town is located on a high bluff overlooking the Wabash.
Merom was the location of a college and for years was the scene of a famous Chautauqua that featured several noted speakers and drew thousands to its varied events. Below the high bluffs that extend for some distance along the river is a 33-acre island that divides the Wabash into two channels.
During the Civil War many of the men in the western Sullivan County area joined the Union Army and went off to serve in this terrible event. As so often happens some men take advantage of such a situation for their own evil activities. Paul Lindsay was such a man. He had been in and out of trouble several times and when he saw a chance to further his criminal activities he acted.
Lindsay gathered a large gang of thugs, used the island in the Wabash as a base and began to terrorize the Merom area. Horses were stolen, People robbed and it seemed no one was safe even in their own homes. This went on for some time, but when some of the men who went off to fight for their country came home on furlough, these fighting Hoosiers joined with other Merom men to get rid of these bandits.
The angry men went to the island and raided the outlaw camp. The details on just what happened are rather cloudy, but Lindsay’s gang was never again a threat to the Merom area. We don’t even know what happened to Lindsay. He may have been invited to a necktie party.
When the first settlers arrived in the Merom area they found the remains of a large Native American village on the bluffs overlooking the Wabash. The village was located at a site where it was protected on three sides by the steep slopes of the river bluff.
On the southeast side of the town was an earthen wall that protected the only segment of the village not bordered by the bluffs. It was plain to see that this had indeed been a large settlement. But who were these long lost people?
Using their fertile imagination the settlers came up with all kinds of stories to explain this strange relic of the past. It was give the name Fort Azatlan and some believed that a rogue band of Aztecs from Mexico had ventured north to what was to become Indiana and built this fort.
This legend persisted for several years until archaeologists visited the site and found out it was constructed by the Native Americans who have been known to history as the Mound Builders.
Little traces of Azatlan remain today. …….