Mussel Bound in Indiana

by Steve Robert Simmons
(St. Paul, MN)

White River (IN) and vintage shell buttons

White River (IN) and vintage shell buttons

By 1915, the high-quality mussel shells of the East Fork of White River (Indiana) became known to the Muscatine, Iowa button manufacturers. They began ordering quantities of shell button blanks from factories there. At the high point, one factory in Martin County, IN, employed 300 people to gather mussels from the river in support of its blank-production operation. Buttons themselves were not made there; only blanks were cut and then shipped to Iowa for finishing. (adapted from essay titled "Mussel Bound"}


I'm an essay writer from St. Paul, Minnesota--and a proud owner of a Kari Pearl. My family's roots are in southern Indiana along the East Fork of White River. That is where I first became acquainted with freshwater mussels as a boy. Much later I was introduced to the button-blank industry that once flourished there for almost thirty years prior to World War II. My new personal essay, titled "Mussel Bound," brings together stories of mussels, buttons and family, and I'm pleased to share these with you.

To read my entire essay (and view accompanying photos), please go to the complimentary WordPress site that contains my writings:

http://steverobert.wordpress.com

After you've accessed the site, please click on the title "Mussel Bound" and scroll down to read the entire essay. There is the option to post a response to the essay at the WordPress site--or you may wish to comment here on Kari's site. Either way, I welcome your responses.

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Dec 21, 2013
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You're the first!
by: Anonymous

Thanks for being the first to post a resonance to my essay, Kari. Yes, it would have been special to view the prehistoric shell mounds that once existed along some rivers in the Midwest. They may still exist in some places, but I haven't seen them. I think the ones that were in Martin County, IN, may have lasted into the 20th Century, which is amazing since some of those would have been established several thousand years ago. I look forward to hearing from others who read the essay and have responses to share.

Dec 21, 2013
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Thanks for your comprehensive article
by: Kari

Thanks for your comprehensive article about shelling in Indiana. It would be fun to see original native American shell mounds. I'm sure if we took the time to cook the mussels right, they might not be too bad. It's interesting to have the Indiana connection with Muscatine button companies. Whenever a street is dug up here broken cut out shells come to the surface. It must have been a very interesting time in our USA history. I appreciate you putting a link to your article on my site. God bless!

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