"On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away," written by Terre Haute native Paul Dresser and dedicated to 14-year-old Mary E. South of Terre Haute, whom Dresser had never met, is the state song of Indiana. First published in July 1897, the song was adopted as the official state song on March 14, 1913, by the Indiana General Assembly.
Paul Dresser was the brother of noted Hoosier writer Theodore Dreiser. Paul supposedly was so scandalized by his brother's frank writings that he changed his name from Dreiser to Dresser.
The following are the lyrics to the song:
Round my Indiana homestead wave the cornfields,
In the distance loom the woodlands clear and cool.
Often times my thoughts revert to scenes of childhood.
Where I first received my lessons, nature's school.
But one thing is missing in the picture,
Without her face it seems so incomplete.
I long to see my mother in the doorway
As she stood there years ago her boy to greet.
Oh, the moonlight's fair tonight along the Wabash
From the fields there comes the breath of new mown hay.
Thro' the sycamores the candle lights are gleaming,
On the banks of the Wabash, far away.
Many years have passed since I strolled by the river,
Arm in arm with sweetheart Mary by my side.
It was there I tried to tell her that I loved her,
It was there I begged of her to be my bride.
Long years have passed since I strolled thro' the churchyard
She's sleeping there my angel Mary dear.
I loved her but she thought I didn't mean it.
Still I'd give my future were she only here.