John D. Shane's Interview with Jane Stevenson, [ca. 1841-1842]
For readers unfamiliar with John Shane's historical collections, I have transcribed the following interview with Jane Stevenson of Woodford County, Kentucky (DM 13 CC 135-43), taken shortly before her death. The interview is undated, but probably took place in 1841 or 1842, when the informant was in her early nineties. Shane ends his nine-page transcription with the following note about his subject:
Familiarly known as "Aunt Jane." Had been bedridden for many years, previous to her decease. The time I obtained the preceding notes, she was very much enfeebled in body, scarcely could speak audibly, or for a moment at a time. Yet her mind was clear, and her memory held what she wished to communicate, without incoherence of thought, or even broken expression. It was on account of her bodily weakness, that I deferred securing further information to a more favorable time. That time never came.
Shane's interview with Stevenson is typical of his collection in that she structures her narrative around encounters with Native Americans and by her own experiences of coming out, settling a station, moving out, and helping to found local institutions--in this case, a Presbyterian meeting house in Woodford County, Kentucky. It is also somewhat atypical of his earlier interviews in that the account is relatively brief and somewhat sparse in detail, doubtlessly due to the informant's advanced age and frail health. Because Jane Stevenson came of age and moved west during the height of the armed struggle for the Ohio Valley, it also lacks some of the complexity of perspective found in other accounts more influenced by the advent of peaceful times. Nevertheless, Stevenson has a story to tell, and she communicates it with considerable effect.
In transcribing Shane's notes, I have largely retained his spelling, capitalization, and punctuation, while spelling out most abbreviations for the sake of clarity. Because Jane Stevenson died before he could check his notes with her, Shane included none of his customary marginal notations and elaborations with this interview, although he did insert a few bracketed queries on points about which he was unclear. After acquiring Shane's notebook at auction, Lyman Draper under-