ANDERSON — There were no roads. When Madison County pioneer settler Conrad Crosley set out from his home to get tea for an ailing neighbor in the 1820s, he wound up riding 120 miles on horseback on little more than paths.
Today, all that’s left to mark Crosley’s act of generosity, and indeed, the whole of his vibrant life, is the stone that marks his grave.
Anderson resident Chet Green tracked down Crosley’s gravestone, along with those of a number of other local pioneers, for his recently released film, “Stories in Stone.” It tells the fascinating stories of individuals, like Crosley, who lived on the then-untamed Indiana frontier, fraught with hardship.
“These people weren’t famous. They were just normal, every day folk like you and I. They were ordinary people that it was mainly through their death that they gained any notoriety in life,” said Green. “The only thing that’s left are the stones in the cemetery. … This is the only thing that’s left that lets us know these people walked the earth.”
Green spent two years researching the stories, tracking down gravesites, writing a script and recording it, performing and producing music, filming and editing. The result is an intriguing hour-long documentary that looks into our past with a thoughtful eye, and one that searches out beauty in the telling. It was filmed entirely in Madison County, telling the stories through narration and local visual imagery where the pioneers once trod.
Among the lives that Green explores are two bankers who had a shootout in downtown Anderson, a joyful 18-year-old girl on the cusp of marriage whose life was tragically touched by an all-too-common experience of the times, another young woman whose birth and death were both surrounded by mystery.