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Picture of AuthorLuke Woodard

Hoosier Connection: His family was among the first to pioneer Indiana. He spent much of his life in ministry for the Quaker Church. Among some of the locations he spent time while in Indiana were Kokomo, Lafayette, Richmond, and Muncie.

Works Discussed: "Sketches of a Life of 75, Pioneer Days", "Grandfathers Dream and other Poems", and "Poems for the Fireside"

Born in East Central Indiana, near New Garden or Richmond, Indiana, of Cader and Rachel (Outland) Woodland, Luke called Indiana home. He married Elvira Townsend and had two daughters. He is most notable for his missionary work and religious writings about his beliefs and the Quaker church. His experience went beyond Indiana to New York, Canada, and other locations across the US.

Woodard includes in his collections, topics on Quaker faith, changes in season and time, and his experiences, and nature as symbolism within his beliefs. The changing landscape and disappearing wildlife was a concern to Woodard. He has many collections of poetry and short stories, but his collections that include writings on Indiana and nature are Pioneer Days, Grandfathers Dream and other Poems, and Poems for the fireside. He has also written an autobiography called Sketches of a Life of 75, which makes references to Indiana and the loss of wildlife. In the chapter "Retrospect" Woodard explains how Indiana used to be..

Our own State of Indiana, even within my memory, was to a large extent, covered with virgin forests, in which wild game was abundant-deer, wolves, bears, raccoons, opossums, porcupines, pheasants, squirrels, wild turkeys, quails and wild pigeons. Very few of the species above named are now to be found in our State, and such as remain have become scarce. (214)

The change in the landscape would be difficult for someone who cherishes nature and grew up surrounded by it. In the book, Pioneer Days, Woodard asserts paradise is found in Indiana.

I have seen one Paradise, or such is seemed to .....childhood’s eyes-
‘Twas on the gentle slope, where stood
The dense and towering Maplewood,
In summers robed with emerald green,
With the blue sky revealed between,
Like vista’s opening up to bliss
In autumn, with tints manifold;
Scarlet amber, orange, gold-
What paradise exceeded this? (12-13)

Paradise was not only found in the vistas, but in his experiences within nature. His childhood experiences with a brook he visited frequently year round developed his vision of Indiana as paradise.

The brook in which I used to wade
Still flows beside the sycamore,
Beneath whose shade, in days of yore,
I angled for the nimble trout,
And threw the shining fellows out.
That brook had many charms for me,
Which none but childhood’s eye could see.
My bathing place at hour of noon,
In the sultry days of June;
And when by Winter’s frost congealed,
My place to sport on soles of steel. (Pioneer Days, 3)

The experiences were not the only rich for the young, but also for early pioneers. The abundance in fertile soil and game promoted further development as well as further destruction of the landscape as Woodard explains in Pioneer Days.

For Indiana’s virgin soil,
In garden plot and wood bound field,
Gave rich return to honest toil,
And not less bounteous was the yield
Of luscious fruits on the vines and trees,
And berry bushes, wild and tame.
We gathered garnered store of bees,
And stream and wood gave fish and games. (Pioneer Days, 18)

In the collection, Grandfather’s Dream and other Poems, he covers bachelorhood, pioneer days, religion, and seasons. The most significant poems are “ The Pioneer’s Reminiscences”, “November”, and “Autumn”. In the Pioneer’s Reminiscences he recalls days of tilling the virgin Indiana soil. First, trees were cut to clear the land. Then the farmers tilled the rootbound soil. At the end of the growing season, each man saw an abundance of crops in the fall. In “ Novemberand Autumn”, he remarks about the scenery after harvest, the brown leaves and naked trees, the silence of the meadow, the busy huskers, and the coming snowflakes. (204)

The destructive force of white mans development reoccurs as a theme in the collection, Poems for the Fireside. The poem, The Destruction of the Forests”, which also appears in Pioneer Days, challenges man’s hand on nature. This challenge came at a time when the idea of Manifest Destiny was the common paradigm. Woodard was saddened by destruction of his childhood playground and inspiration.

The ax-the unrelenting ax!
Primeval nature’s direst foe-
Before its merciless attacks
The forest melts away like snow.

No longer things are as they were;
The era has departed when
Was heard the pheasant’s challenge whir,
Like distant thunder, down the glen. (Pioneer Days 19-20)

Because of the decreased amount of forests, Woodard sees the encroachment of the raccoon, the silence of the hoot-hoot of the owl, and the clear skies as wild pigeons that no longer blanket the sky.

Nor hear we now the hunter’s hound
Hard following the fleeing deer;
And bears and wolves no more abound,
The dread pests of the pioneer.

Nor baited trap within the copse
Awaits the unsuspecting quail,
Nor turkeys rove where Autumn drops
The brown nuts in the woodland vale.

The porcupine, with pointed quill,
The Indian, with hi rude skin tent,
The nightingale, the whippoorwill-
These with our virgin forests went.

I cannot see without a sigh
These grand primeval forests felled,
Where Nature has sublimity
By hand of are unparalleled!

For me the dense and pathless woods
Have charms not found in fairest streets’
I hail these sylvan solitudes
As my most pleasurable retreats!

The brook, the warbling bird, the breeze,
Awaken chords within my heart
Untouched by all the melodies
Produced by practiced hand of art.

And when I fain would feast my eyes
On lovely tints, and beauty’s hue.
‘Tis Nature’s picture galleries
Afford what most I love to view

It seems like sacrilege to mar
Those stately, cloud-embracing trees;
To waste, like desolating war,
Those patriarchs of centuries. (Poems for the Fireside, 164-65)

Luke Woodard was deeply touched by the natural world. He made many connections between his faith and nature. Though he does not specifically state locations by name, his discusses a topic that affected Indiana in major ways, deforestation and a decrease in biodiversity. His concern for the environment would have been unusual during this time because of the reigning idea that man was to be over nature, rather than part of nature. Woodard loved the Indiana landscape and wildlife, it was his paradise.



Woodard, Luke. Grandfather’s Dream and Other Poems. n. p.: n. pub., 1900-1907?

--. Pioneer Days. Nicholson Press. Richmond, Indiana. 1900-1999?

--. Poems for the Fireside. Nicholson Printing and MFG Co. Richmond, Indiana. 1891

--. Sketches of a Life of 75:in three parts, biographical, historical, and descriptive. Nicholson Printing and MFG Co. Richmond, Indiana. 1907


Woodard, Luke. Grandfather’s Dream and Other Poems. n. p.: n. pub., 1900-1907?