Much is known about the early history of Monroe County because a significant amount has been written. The earliest and most comprehensive county history is that compiled by Charles Blanchard in Counties of Morgan, Monroe and Brown published in 1884. Several decades later, in 1922, Forest M. “Pop” Hall also provided a good bit of local history in his book, Historic Treasures. His material was mostly gleaned from newspaper clippings.
Pictures, on the other hand, are a whole different story. There are no early photos of Monroe County for the simple reason there were no cameras in the early part of the nineteenth century. When they did come along, they were few and far between, expensive, complicated to operate and quite heavy and bulky. An exception to the dearth of early pictures is the limited work of Cornelius Pering who did some miniature watercolors and at least one oil painting on canvas depicting Bloomington.
The watercolors were part of a letter sent by Pering from Bloomington to friends in England in 1833. A few years later, about 1846, Pering created the oil painting depicting the Monroe County Female Seminary with additional buildings in the background. Eventually, this painting became the property of Maria Louisa (Arnold) Hinkston/Hickston Bollman who was living at the time with her husband and daughter a block or so north on the Seminary on College Avenue.