Art in the Blue River Quaker Settlement


Mrs. Viola Lindley taught art classes in the Blue River Settlement Area for more than 40 years.

Mrs. Viola Lindley - Grandma Moses of Indiana - Pictured at Age 89Mrs. Viola M. Lindley was known as the "Grandma Moses" of Indiana. Even though Mrs. Lindley would modestly tell admirers that "it's only now that I feel that I am getting good at painting" while her talent truly began as a child.

Mrs. Lindley's talent was discovered by her parents. "I started to paint almost as soon as I could hold a brush" Mrs. Lindley recalled. Her father was a Quaker Minister and enrolled her into an art school in her native Illinois. She continued her education at the Cincinnati Art Institute and the Chicago Art Institute.

While her initial training occured in the United States, she was soon sent abroad where she advanced her studies under several well known European artists.

Returning to the United States with professional qualifications she began teaching art in Chicago. It was here where she met her future husband (William B. Lindley) and the idea of relocating to the Quaker Community in Salem began.

Mr and Mrs. Lindley moved to the Blue River Community and took up residence in the The William B. Lindley house. The William B. Lindley house is a log home built around 1814. The home was in the Lindley family for more than 150 years, and was one of the slave stations for the Underground Railroad. The William B. Lindley home was referred to as "Blue River Pines" by Mrs. Lindley.

Mrs. Lindley was a witty person whose secondary pleasure in life is to have people visit her, but only when she's wasn't painting. Such periods of rest for her were hardly frequent.

Mrs. Lindley was not one who would go for modern art in her day. She is the common art lovers' "Rembrandt". Everything she painted is true and satisfying to anyone who appreciates art for what it portrays. A visitor could spend hours taking in the numerous paintings that adorned the walls of every room in her home. One portrait, a very effective one which she claims as her conception of Madonna, was her prize possession and considered her best.

Although she uses every spare moment for her personal work, she still found time to conduct weekly art classes in her kitchen studio at Big River Pines. She would welcome somewhere between 25 and 35 adults and children for weekly lessons. At her death at age 90 she taught art classes in the Blue River Settlement Area for more than 40 years.

Mrs. Viola Lindley - Grandma Moses of Indiana - Pictured at Age 73Monday was set aside as Mrs. Lindley's "day off" which merely means that she had no art school students on that day. She would use her Monday's to supervise her lawn and garden and to meet and talk with friends, and to make occasional trips to Nashville, Indiana, where she was a member of the Brown County Art Colony.

"I can teach anyone the mechanics of painting" Mrs. Lindley said "But the real purpose and meaning must come from within. Inspiration is the guiding hand of true artists." Despite the moniker of "Grandma Moses" Mrs. Lindley specialized in still lifes and landscapes.

Painting was her chief interest but she doesn't stand short in other artistic fields. When canvas painting gets a bit tiresome, she turns to china painting or poetry writing. She designs her own decorations, paints them on the china and then fires the china in her own kiln. A thorough study of Mrs. Lindley finds her to be a "master of all trades". Equally efficient was she as a hostess and cook.

Her Blue River Pines home was well-known to those in southern Indiana who enjoyed art, conversation, good food and homey surroundings.

Click here for more information on the Restoration of Blue River Pines 


Viola Morroway Wolfe Lindley

  • Born - February 7th 1868
  • Died - December 5th, 1958


Husband - William Braxton Lindley

  • Born - October 7th, 1861
  • Died - December 1940


My Old House

My Old House hovers me,
It fathers me, it mothers me.
Dearer to me than all the world.
Is my Old House.

It’s doors open wide for me,
With promise of rest, care free-
Arms that push the world outside-
My doors are kind to me.

The fire on the hearth stone grows,
By it’s flame I find repose,
And dreams and visions come,
Dear old fire place of mine.

When I’m happy and dance,
O’er the floor madly prance
It’s boards vibrate to my step,
The floors of my old house.

And if sadness is mine
The walls say “We are thine,
We will cuddle thee from the storm.”
Dear old walls of mine.

With old houses and friends
Our joy never ends,
Heaven comes into our life.
Old houses and friends.

My old house hovers me,
It fathers me, it mothers me,
Dearer to me than all the world
Is my old house.

- Viola Lindley