Archives - 2018
The Hoosier History Live archives are now organized by year. See the links above for all 10 years of our show descriptions and resources.
To listen to podcasts of old shows, just click on the link right below the show's headline.
Iconic signs across Indiana
Podcast coming soon!
(December 8, 2018) For 60 years in Indianapolis, a signboard has been showcasing weekly puns and wordplay submitted by the general public and employees of OneAmerica, formerly American United Life Insurance (AUL). A pun on the marquee of the signboard at the 38-story One America Tower in downtown Indy during Halloween season: "Swiss and Gouda screamed when they saw the Muenster."
Since the 1930s, a billboard on US 40 as motorists approach Terre Haute has been touting Clabber Girl Baking Powder and welcoming visitors to the city, which, the sign notes, lies five minutes ahead. The billboard - among the oldest in Indiana - is temporarily down for restoration work by Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, which has purchased the sign and surrounding property from the Hulman family of Terre Haute. Founded in 1899 by the family of Terre Haute business and civic leader Tony Hulman, Clabber Girl Corp. erected roadside billboards during the 1930s to help make the brand a household name.
The OneAmerica/AUL signboard, which announced its first message in 1958, and the Clabber Girl billboard are among iconic signs across Indiana that Hoosier History Live explores during this show. Nelson's studio guests are:
In addition to the studio guests, our show features phone-in reports about other iconic signs in Indiana. They include a sign in the Clinton County town of Colfax that promoted a bygone restaurant famous for its fried catfish. Although Miller's Restaurant - which drew patrons from across the state - closed more than 18 years ago, its promotional sign remains as a Colfax landmark.
The signboard tradition at then-AUL began when the company was headquartered in a building on Fall Creek Parkway on the near-northside of Indy. According to the company, the first signboard apologized to motorists for inconveniences caused by construction of the headquarters building. An early signboard pun dealt with safe driving: "Avoid that rundown feeling - Obey stop signs."
During the subsequent 60 years, some of the signboard's messages have been era-specific. "If you eat like a piggy - You won't be a Twiggy" was a message on the signboard during the 1960s, when English fashion model Twiggy, known for her slender shape, was a household name.
Other messages have been evergreen. "Give dandelions an inch - and they'll take a yard" and "Ideas are like children - your own are wonderful" were posted by then-AUL during the 1960s, but they could be on the OneAmerica signboard today with no update, tweak or historic context needed.
To share details about the sign in Colfax still touting the long-closed catfish restaurant, correspondent Phil Brooks, a Hoosier History Live listener based in Brownsburg, calls in during the show to explain who has been paying the electric bill all of these years for the illuminated sign. He also reports on other landmark signs across the state.
For the Clabber Girl billboard, which had deteriorated, Rose-Hulman has hired an artist from the Terre Haute area to do the painting portion of the restoration work. The project also involves improving the billboard's wooden frame, the mechanics of the clock and other features. Rose-Hulman took ownership of the historic sign and surrounding property as part of the purchase in 2017 of more than 1,100 acres from the Hulmans.
During our show, listeners are invited to call in and describe their favorite iconic signs across Indiana. The WICR-FM studio's phone number is 317-788-3314.
Roadtrip: Fairbanks Art & Natures Park - "100 Acres"
Guest Roadtripper Terri Gorney of Fort Wayne is vice president of Friends of the Limberlost and also a Master Gardener. Terri suggests a visit to the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park at Newfields (formerly known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art) on the northside of Indianapolis.
Scattered among the natural beauty of the park are sculptures that create moods from whimsical to contemplative. Favorites include Funky Bones, a giant skeleton lying on the ground that invites kids (and young-at-heart adults) to engage in some playful climbing. Park of Laments draws visitors through a long, enclosed tunnel to enter a castle-like courtyard enclosed by stone basket walls.
Located on 38th Street just west of the museum, the park is free and open to the public. Visitors can enter the park from its parking lot at 1850 W. 38th St.; Newfields members can park at the museum and gain access via the pathway leading down over the canal.
Terri says the Art and Nature Park is a great place to get away from it all, right in the heart of Indianapolis. Whatever the season or weather, this is a great place to get your nature on!
A restaurant that's been open on the eastside of Indianapolis for nearly 60 years has a distinctive sign. The sign depicts the large head of a farm animal at the driver's wheel of a car. During the 1960s and '70s, the restaurant primarily was known as a drive-in. Although drive-through service is still available today, the indoor dining area is the busiest aspect of the historic eatery.
Its sign with the farm animal and the car is a riff on the name of the eastside Indy restaurant.
Question: What is the historic restaurant's name?
The prizes this week are a gift certificate to Calvin Fletcher's Coffee Company in Fountain Square, courtesy of Calvin Fletcher's, and four tickets to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Cumberland Gap and Hoosier pioneers
(December 1, 2018) What would a site near the junction of Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee have to do with Indiana's early heritage?
More than you might expect! But to understand the connection, a little geographical history is needed.
The Cumberland Gap is a pass in the Cumberland Mountains in far-southeastern Kentucky that many early pioneers of European heritage used to reach the wilderness territory that would later be known as Indiana, where they established settlements on the frontier. For many decades before Europeans' arrival, Native Americans also had been using the narrow passageway through the mountain range, which otherwise posed a nearly insurmountable challenge to those traveling by foot, horseback or wagon.
In the spirit of the early adventurers, our show explores a range of aspects related to the Cumberland Gap - also known as the Cumberland Pass - and the travelers who came through it. Our guide is Nelson's studio guest, Ron Morris, a history professor at Ball State University. An avid hiker, Ron has visited the gap several times and researched the history associated with those who used it as a gateway to what was then called "the West," including the frontier lands that became the state of Indiana.
In regard to the pioneers' westward push through the Cumberland Gap, Ron notes that "What they were doing was illegal initially," citing a 1763 royal proclamation issued by the British that decreed that land beyond the Cumberland Mountains was to remain the territory of Native Americans.
Many of the early settlers who traveled through the Cumberland Gap were of Scotch-Irish heritage, Ron says. They are people who came (or whose ancestors came) from Scotland to northern Ireland, including the Ulster area, before they crossed the Atlantic to settle in the Carolinas, Pennsylvania, Virginia and other eastern parts of what eventually became the United States.
Among those who used the Cumberland Gap to explore the west was Kentucky frontiersman and folk hero Daniel Boone (1734-1820). His younger brother, Squire Boone (1744-1815), spent the final years of his life in far-southeastern Indiana; he is buried in a cave that bears his name in Harrison County.
Our guest Ron Morris lives in the far-eastern Indiana town of Centerville in a historic home on the Old National Road (now U.S. 40). He has been a Hoosier History Live guest several times, most recently for a show in 2017 about Indiana State Forests.
Some history facts:
Roadtrip: Loblolly Swamp and the Limberlost Wetlands
Guest Roadtripper Kathleen Angelone invites us to join her on a trip to the Loblolly Swamp, part of the Limberlost Wetlands made famous by Hoosier author, naturalist and feminist Gene Stratton Porter.
Kathleen suggests we begin our visit at the Limberlost State Historic Site in Geneva, where we can gather information on the area and tour Porter's home. For visitors who call ahead and are willing to pay a fee, a naturalist offers a guided hike through the Limberlost Wetlands.
Sadly, much of the rich ecological habitat of the original Loblolly Swamp was lost in the late 19th and early 20th centuries due to draining and exploitation by farming, timber, and gas and oil production - which Gene Stratton Porter fought with little success.
More recent preservation and restoration efforts have proven more successful: between 1700 and 1800 acres have been reclaimed as a wetlands nature preserve. And if you're a wildlife enthusiast, you're in for a treat: the area is a great place to watch spring and fall migrations - which include a variety of ducks, birds and monarch butterflies, among other wildlife. Short Eared Owls winter in the area.
Be sure to listen to Kathleen's Roadtrip report to hear all about the area's connection to Gene Stratton Porter's novel Girl of the Limberlost, which, by the way, JK Rowling (of Harry Potter fame) listed as one of her five favorite and most influential books.
Sounds like we're in for a magical Roadtrip!
The Indiana town of Cumberland, founded in the 1830s, straddles two counties. Part of the town is in far-eastern Marion County, and the other part is in Hancock County.
Much further east, another Indiana town has a "twin city" just across the state line in Ohio. The Indiana and Ohio towns have identical names. Both towns play up their adjacent relationship on the border of the two states. They even host a joint festival called State Line Heritage Days.
Question: What is the shared name of the adjacent Indiana and Ohio towns?
Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prizes this week are four tickets to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and a gift certificate to the Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of the Story Inn.
Artwork inspired by Indy city history
(November 24, 2018) As a boy in Detroit during the late 1960s, Kipp Normand was introduced to Indianapolis by listening to radio broadcasts of the Indianapolis 500.
"I thought, 'How marvelous . . . a city obsessed with speed,'" Kipp recalls.
Since moving to the Hoosier capital in 1990, he has delved into the city's history. Kipp also has become a well-known multimedia artist who, as he puts it, makes "box constructions, collage and assemblage using castoff materials and found objects." Much of the artwork is inspired by episodes in city history, ranging from the triumphant and colorful to the shameful.
To explain how Indy's history has inspired his artwork - and to share details about the heritage of his adopted hometown - Kipp is Nelson's in-studio guest. His city history-inspired artwork recently was exhibited at the Harrison Center for the Arts, where Kipp has a studio. His artwork includes:
"I want to encourage you to become historians of this city," Kipp said to his artwork's viewers in an statement about his recent exhibit. He told Nuvo, the alternative newspaper: "This is an opportunity to tell the stories of Indianapolis. The familiar stories and those that ought to be familiar."
Roadtrip: Lafayette and its French connection
Guest Roadtripper and educator Andrea Neal takes us to Lafayette to learn about the town's history and its ties to the American Revolution via a French general.
Invited by the Indiana General Assembly in gratitude for his military service, Lafayette took a day trip to Indiana while visiting Louisville. He crossed the Ohio River to Jeffersonville, where he was "greeted on the Indiana shore by a salute of thrice 24 guns, discharged from three pieces of artillery stationed on the river bank," according to Baird’s History of Clark County.
Chicago-based sculptor Lorado Taft (who would later serve as a teacher and public lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) was commissioned to memorialize Lafayette in marble on the grounds of the courthouse in Tippecanoe County. He holds a sword next to his heart in his right hand and has a cape draped over his left arm.
Intrepid Roadtrippers can visit Lafayette themselves to check out the statue. And to learn more about the town's history, be sure to listen to Andrea's report!
An outdoor mural that's 60 feet tall was recently completed in downtown Indianapolis by local artist Pamela Bliss.
She is known for her outdoor artwork depicting famous Hoosiers, including murals of Kurt Vonnegut on Massachusetts Avenue in downtown Indy, Hoagy Carmichael In Richmond and Wendell Willkie in Rushville.
Pamela's new mural depicts a former pro athlete with deep Indiana connections. The painting rises up six stories on the side of a building at E. Michigan and N. Delaware streets.
According to a recent Fox59 report, Pamela has said that a dedication of the mural is planned for next year so that the former athlete it portrays can see the mural in-person and celebrate with Hoosiers.
Question: Who is the former athlete?
Hint: Although retired from playing sports professionally, the subject of the new mural remains in the public eye as a TV commentator for the sport that made him nationally famous.
The prizes this week are a gift certificate to Calvin Fletcher's Coffee Company in Fountain Square, courtesy of Calvin Fletcher's, and four tickets to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Cryptology, kindergarten and farmwife advice: Hoosier visionaries
(November 17, 2018) A master decoder of secret messages from foreign governments wouldn't seem to have any connection to an early advocate for free kindergarten.
Or to a columnist who offered insights about the challenges of running a farm.
The link between the three people: All were Hoosiers who became pioneering figures in their endeavors. And, during the course of the Hoosier state's history, all three made an impact beyond Indiana.
The cryptologist was Herbert Yardley (1889-1958), a native of Worthington in western Indiana who headed up one of the federal government's first decoding departments, which became known as the "Black Chamber." Yardley is credited with decoding telegrams from Japan, the Soviet Union and other nations during the 1910s and '20s. Thanks to the decoding of sophisticated diplomatic missives, the U.S. won major concessions from Japan during a 1921 naval disarmament conference.
The kindergarten visionary was Eliza Blaker (1854-1926), who started free preschools for low-income families in Indianapolis during the 1880s. She also founded a training school for kindergarten teachers, influencing hundreds of educators in Indiana - and beyond, because the teaching methodology at what was known as "Mrs. Blaker's College" inspired preschool teachers in other states as well. In 1930, Blaker's school was absorbed into Butler University.
The newspaper columnist who offered advice and insights from the perspective of a farm wife was Rachel Peden (1901-1975), who lived on a farm near Bloomington. For nearly 30 years beginning in the 1940s, she wrote newspaper columns chronicling her rural experience: "The Hoosier Farm Wife Says" ran in the Indianapolis Star, while "The Almanac of Poor Richard's Wife" ran in a Muncie newspaper. Peden used the pen names “Mrs. RFD” and "The Hoosier Farmwife." She also wrote books that were nationally distributed and often drew on the experiences of her rural neighbors.
Yardley, Blaker and Peden are among 40 notable Hoosiers whose impact is described in Indiana Originals (Arcadia Publishing), a new book by Ray Boomhower, senior editor at the Indiana Historical Society. Ray, who is Nelson's studio guest, describes the notables as "bold visionaries."
The son of a railroad telegrapher in Worthington, Yardley initially took up that occupation before becoming a master cryptologist. With him at the helm, the Black Chamber - officially called the American Cryptographic Bureau - decoded more than 45,000 telegrams "from the governments of such major powers as Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, China and the Soviet Union," Ray writes in Indiana Originals. Although the Black Chamber shut down in 1929, Yardley eventually used his skills to become a national expert in the card game poker. (His book The Education of a Poker Player, initially published in 1957, went through 12 printings of the hardback edition alone.)
Just as Yardley didn't invent cryptology or poker, Blaker did not originate the idea of kindergarten, which began in Germany during the 1830s. But she became a Midwest pioneer, initially organizing women to set up a free kindergarten on the near-westside of Indy in 1881. The next year, she opened the Kindergarten Normal Training School, later known as the Teachers College of Indianapolis.
During a 44-year period, Ray writes, Blaker "oversaw the education of thousands of youngsters and provided training for thousands of preschool teachers." She crusaded to give young children instruction that was, to use Blaker's phrase, "character forming."
By the time Blaker died in 1926, Peden was an editor at Farm Life, a nationally distributed magazine based in Spencer, Ind., that had one million subscribers, according to Indiana Originals.
After the magazine shut down during the Great Depression, Peden and her husband started a cattle, corn, hay and silage farm on Maple Grove Road near Bloomington. Her first book, Rural Free: A Farm Wife's Almanac of Country Living, was published in 1961.
Roadtrip: Civil War monument in Greencastle
Guest Roadtripper Jinsie Bingham of Greencastle, retired radio station owner and member of the Broadcasters Hall of Fame, invites us to visit the city's Civil War monument in Forest Hill Cemetery.
The monmument depicts a soldier majestically facing west, toward the rising sun, symbolically looking toward the future.
"But he's been cleaned up," says Jinsie. The monument had deteriorated over the years since it was dedicated in 1870. Repairs were spearheaded by the Heritage Preservation Society of Putnam County, and the monument was rededicated in a ceremony in July of this year.
As reported by the Banner Graphic, the rededication ceremony took inspiration from the original dedication of the memorial in 1870, "with a mix of civilian and military participants marking the occasion."
In addition to speakers from local education and government institutions, the ceremony was solemnized by the "presentation of colors, the firing of volleys and the playing of taps," conducted by the state chapter of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.
Known as "Uncle Blue" by locals, the monument is unusual as a war memorial in that it shows a seated soldier facing west and gazing to the future. The soldier also appears to be guarding the many Putnam County Civil War veterans buried around him.
A famous American inventor got his start as a teenage telegrapher in Indiana, just like cryptologist Herbert Yardley, whose career is among those featured on this show. The future inventor - who achieved international fame - was born in Ohio in 1847 and spent much of his childhood and adolescence in Michigan. As a teenager, though, he worked as a telegraph operator in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.
He was fired from his jobs in both cities, however, including one at Union Depot, the predecessor in Indianapolis of the Union Station railroad hub, when he was 17.
The early job troubles in Indiana did not discourage the young inventor, who moved out of state and later reaped enormous success. By the time he died in 1931, he held more than 1,000 patents. Later in life, he primarily was based out of New Jersey, with a winter home in Fort Myers, Fla.
Question: What future inventor was fired as a teenage telegraph operator in two Indiana cities?
Cataloging the influence of Sears Roebuck on Indiana
Sears Roebuck catalog and Sears kit homes
(November 10, 2018) Amid the news of the Sears bankruptcy and expected closing of yet another wave of stores, we turn back the pages of history to explore the enormous impact of the Sears Roebuck Catalog 100 years ago, particularly on small towns and rural areas.
In addition to delving into the heyday of the catalog (with more than 500 pages, it has been called "the amazon.com of its era" by social historians), we also explore Sears kit homes that were built across Indiana beginning in 1908.
The mail-order catalog began earlier, during the 1890s, and offered products ranging from household appliances to hats, shoes, undergarments, sleds, dolls and baseball mitts from Sears. Rival retailer Montgomery Ward had been selling goods by mail even before that, having been established in 1872.
Nelson's studio guests are Paul Diebold of Indiana DNR's division of historic preservation and archaeology, an expert on Sears kit homes, and public historian Glory-June Greiff, who has researched the impact of the catalog.
"Sears and Ward's catalogs had a tremendous impact, particularly on more isolated rural dwellers," Glory-June says. "[The catalogs] changed advertising in newspapers, too, and eventually led to more and better products offered in previously monopolistic general stores."
Eventually, she adds, the catalogs even resulted in a clamor for improvements to county roads, "especially farm-to-market roads so that rural dwellers could more easily pick up their catalog orders. No RFD [Rural Free Delivery] then." In fact, the popularity of catalog-ordering was a major factor in establishing RFD.
Although the most prevalent Sears kit homes were bungalows and cottages, the ready-to-assemble houses came in dozens of styles. Aspiring homeowners were sent lumber and other supplies along with an 80-page instructional booklet, Paul Diebold notes.
At The Farm at Prophetstown in Prophetstown State Park in Tippecanoe County, there's even a replica of a Sears kit farmhouse as well as a recently restored kit home that was moved from nearby Lafayette.
The kit homes - Sears preferred the phrases "Sears Modern Home" or "Sears Catalog Home" - were available for order for 32 years, ending in 1940. The kit homes were particularly popular in cities like Indianapolis that had direct railroad connections with Chicago-based Sears, Paul says.
By 1915, when Sears opened its first retail store in Chicago, the catalog and kit homes had become iconic. According to news accounts about the recent bankruptcy, at its retailing peak Sears had 4,000 department stores across the country,
The recently announced closings include Sears stores in Greenwood and Terre Haute. Sears has been an anchor of the Greenwood Park Mall since the regional shopping center opened in 1966. A wave of closings announced earlier this year included the store at Castleton Square Mall, the only remaining Sears department store in Indianapolis.
Sears began as a watchmaking company in the 1880s. Like Sears, Montgomery Ward was based out of Chicago; it initially sold goods exclusively by mail. During our show, Glory-June will discuss retail options that were available to rural dwellers before Ward and Sears - and "how the catalog companies changed all that."
According to the New York Times, some editions of the Sears Roebuck catalog "would fatten to more than 1,000 pages" during the early 1900s.
"It educated millions of shoppers about mail-order procedures such as shipping, cash payment, substitutions and returns," according to an article published on the Smithsonian website. "It used simple language and a warm, welcoming tone."
The JC Penney chain opened a department store in downtown Indianapolis in 1950. The opening of the Penney store on Monument Circle was controversial because a majestic structure was demolished during the late 1940s to make way for it. Some historic preservationists consider the tearing down of the building, which was massive and lavish in architectural detail, to be the most outrageous demolition in the history of the Hoosier capital.
The Penney store remained on Monument Circle for nearly 30 years. Today, the site is an office complex that includes Anthem, the health insurance provider.Question: What building was demolished to make way for the JC Penney store in downtown Indianapolis?
Covered bridges across Indiana: encore presentation
(November 3, 2018) Indiana was once a land of wooden covered bridges. From 1820 to 1922, more than 600 covered bridges were built across the Hoosier state.
Today, about 90 of these historic gems remain.
To explore them, Nelson's studio guests are two past presidents of the Indiana Covered Bridge Society: Margaret Smith of Indianapolis and Larry Stout of Rush County. Larry helped spearhead the restoration of the historic Moscow Covered Bridge, which had been demolished by a tornado. This is an encore of a show originally broadcast on Oct. 22, 2011.
Some fun facts, courtesy of Margaret:
The heyday of covered-bridge construction was the 1880s. Bridges were covered to protect their flooring and interior from the elements.
Parke County, which is known as the "Covered Bridge Capital of the World," has 31 covered bridges that remain. The annual Parke County Covered Bridge Festival brings thousands of visitors to the county in far-western Indiana.
In Rush County, a tornado that roared through in 2008 tossed the Moscow bridge (built in 1886) into the Flatrock River. Reconstructed using 30 percent of its original wood, the Moscow Covered Bridge reopened with a community celebration in September 2010.
Indiana Landmarks has honored our guest Larry Stout, president of Rush County Heritage and a resident of the village of Gowdy, with the Servaas Award for lifetime achievement. His preservation efforts extend far beyond covered bridges, but his county - as well as Parke and Putnam counties - is particularly known for them.
Why those counties? Although there were several builders of covered bridges across Indiana, the three generally considered to have been the most significant were two historic bridge builders based in Rockville in Parke County (the businesses of J.J. Daniels and Joseph A. Britton), as well as the firm run by A.M. Kennedy (and later by his sons and grandsons) in Rushville.
In fact, the Moscow Covered Bridge reconstructed after the tornado was originally built by the Kennedy family. Larry Stout lives two miles north of it and two miles west of the Forsythe Covered Bridge, which also was built by the Kennedys.
Many covered bridges were painted red. The Kennedys, though, favored white. In total, Rush County has six covered bridges, all still in use. Some of the other covered bridges across the state no longer carry traffic. They have been bypassed by modern roads or preserved in parks.
"The bridges are located in many out-of-the-way places today, but they once were hubs of commerce," Margaret notes. "Many were railroad bridges. Often, they were the largest covered areas in a community."
That meant, she adds, that they frequently served as the settings for "political rallies, community gatherings and revival meetings - even weddings."
Roadtrip: The Apple Works, near Trafalgar
Guest Roadtripper Daina Chamness suggests that for a crisp and cool autumn adventure, we head south from Indianapolis to The Apple Works, near Trafalgar.
The Apple Works is a privately owned orchard that was started in 1989 by owners Rick and Sarah Brown when they began planting apple trees on their land. They've now grown into many acres of fun for adults and children alike, and they are open to the public seven days a week.
The Apple Works has a country store as well as offerings for the kids, including train rides, apple shots (large slingshots for pitching apples), pony rides, a corn maze and wagon rides to the pumpkin patch.
2018 Update: Since recording this show in 2011, Daina has become a real-life, full-time Roadtripper!
Having rented out their suburban house in Greenwood, Ind., where they raised seven children, Daina and her husband Larry (along with their new dog Finnegan) have taken to the road full time. They moved completely into an RV and are presently touring the American Southwest.
Word has it they are enjoying their travels and carefree lifestyle, especially the snow-free winters in Arizona.
Celebrating Charles Braun and 35 years of legal advice on WICR
WICR recently held a reception to celebrate Charles Braun's 35 years of hosting the live call-in legal advice talk show Legally Speaking. The program was initiated by then-UIndy president Gene Sease in 1983; Legally Speaking is believed to be the longest-running legal advice talk show in America.
Fans turned up at the reception to applaud Charles' show and salute the station's innovative mix of jazz, classical music and local talk. UIndy communications students run the board at WICR, making the station a hands-on learning experience.
Legally Speaking airs weekly Saturdays from 11:00 to 11:30 a.m. on WICR 88.7 FM.
Halloween heritgage in Irvington
Halloween heritage in Irvington
(October 27, 2018) A direct link to the neighborhood's namesake, author Washington Irving (who featured the creepy Headless Horseman character in his short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"), has never been conclusively proven as the explanation. Whatever the reason, Irvington on the eastside of Indianapolis is considered to be one of the most Halloween-focused neighborhoods in the entire country.
The multi-event Historic Irvington Halloween Festival - which recently was named "best neighborhood festival of the year" by Indianapolis Star readers - is only one aspect of the spooky doings. On typical Friday and Saturday evenings in October, more than 200 people - once, as many as 400 - are led by historian Al Hunter on an Irvington Ghost Tour. Neighborhood houses - which have a vast range of architecture and styles, from Italianate, Second Empire and Queen Anne to bungalows and Sears kit homes - are festooned with cobwebs, skeletons, black cats with illuminated orange eyes and other ghoulish decorations.
There's even a coffin race. A Halloween parade and street fair. And a costume contest for dogs as well as people.
Back on Halloween night in 1927, a parade of masked adults and children on East Washington Street - along with scores of revelers and onlookers - became "the largest gathering in Irvington's history up to that time," according to Steve Barnett, executive director of the Irvington Historical Society.
Steve, who also is the official historian of Marion County, is among Nelson's studio guests to share insights about the evolution of the Halloween heritage in Irvington. Our guests also include Don Flick, an Irvington-based architect, and Ron Huggler, an Irvington resident who has boyhood memories of a Halloween window-painting tradition when it began after World War II.
Founded in 1870 as a village, Irvington was annexed into Indianapolis in 1902. "The best-known and oldest celebration is the Halloween festival," according to Historic Irvington (Arcadia Publishing, 2008) by Julie Young. Haunting tales gradually developed about many of the neighborhood's homes, including a cottage once rented by serial killer H.H. Holmes (of Devil in the White City infamy). In 1894, Holmes lived in Irvington following his murder spree during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair in Chicago.
Some history facts:
Some of the ghost stories highlighted during Al Hunter's tours date back to the era when Irvington was the home of Butler University. From the mid-1870s until the 1920s, when Butler moved to its present home on the north side of Indy, the university was located in Irvington. Many of the neighborhood's spacious houses were built for Butler faculty members.
The Bona Thompson Memorial Center on University Avenue, which was built in 1903 as Butler's library, is the setting for one of Al's ghost stories. Today, the Bona Thompson houses the Irvington Historical Society and is the setting for exhibits and events, including a recent talk about Frankenstein. Mary Shelley's classic novel is celebrating its 200th anniversary and is the focus of special events across the state, many initiated by Indiana Humanities.
Frankenstein's monster - along witches, goblins, mummies and vampires - are typical sites in Irvington during Halloween season. So is the occasional Headless Horseman. According to Historic Irvington, 19th Century civic leader Jacob Julian, a co-founder of Irvington, named the village-turned-neighborhood after Washington Irving at the suggestion of his daughter. Irving was the Julian family's favorite author.
Roadtrip: Allison House in Nashville, Brown County
Guest Roadtripper and food and travel writer Jane Ammeson suggests a visit to the Allison House, a charming historic home and inn in downtown Nashville, Ind., that welcomes guests who want to enjoy the quiet charm of the town and scenic rolling hills of Brown County.
Now known as the Allison House Inn, the home was recently purchased by Tonya Figg and her husband Ted Deckard, whose family has a long history in Brown County. If you visit the inn, Tonya and Ted can make suggestions for places to eat, backroad studio tours, art galleries featuring local and heritage artists, as well as the many outdoor activities offered by nearby Brown County State Park.
If getting away from the busy-ness of daily life sounds like the cure for what ails you, this Roadtrip is one you won't want to miss!
Major warnings were issued for Halloween activities 100 years ago in Indianapolis. In 1918, a range of warnings and restrictions - particularly on outdoor activities and public gatherings with large crowds - were typical in many American cities.
During October 1918, World War I was still underway, although nearing conclusion. But the war wasn't the reason for the restrictions and warnings involving that year's Halloween festivities.
Question: What was the reason?The prizes this week are four tickets to the International Festival, Nov. 8 through 10 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, courtesy of the Nationalities Council of Indiana, a pair of tickets to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and a gift certificate to Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn.
Luddite learns to listen to history podcasts
Retired independent bookstore owner Kathleen Angelone of tells us that her children taught her how to listen to history podcasts on her phone.
"It’s easy" she says. "It’s a great thing to do when you are walking, lying down, or cleaning the house. Also, you don’t have to think too much."
Long term proprietor of Bookmamas in Irvington, Kathleen intended to close the shop in March of this year so that she could retire. She was delighted when Indianpaolis writer Elysia Smith offered to purchase the business, which reopened this summer under the name Irvington Vinyl and Books.
Kathleen has agreed to advise Hoosier History Live with its online distribution project. “I’m your demographic,” she says. Thanks for the help, Kathleen!
How to get teens to care about historic buildings
(October 20, 2018) A former grocery store built in 1870 in the town of Ferdinand in Dubois County is, to say the least, unimpressive looking.
The three-story structure on Main Street has few distinctive features other than a blue awning out front. It has stood vacant for more than a decade following a series of retail and commercial uses, and its weathered exterior conveys the long period of neglect. In addition to serving as a grocery store, over the years the structure has housed a fertilizer and lawn mower business and an express lube oil change service.
Even so, two students at Forest Park High School chose the 19th century building, one of the oldest in Ferdinand, as the structure they would most like to see creatively re-used. In a video and an essay, the teens trace the history of the building back to its construction; the lot it is located on was initially owned by the Catholic priest who founded the town.
The teens envision a range of ideas for creatively repurposing the former grocery, including converting it into a café. Another of their ideas reimagines it as a town hall housing the mayor's office and a museum about Ferdinand's heritage.
Melissa Martin, managing director of Great Towns Inc., an Indianapolis-based non-profit, put together the competition at the high school in order to generate enthusiasm for historic preservation among teenagers. The contest was a pilot project Melissa hopes to replicate in towns across the state.
To share advice about how to spark interest among young people in historic buildings, Melissa joins Nelson as a studio guest. So does Brent Mather, an Indianapolis-based architect and architectural historian. As a principal with R&B Architects, he works with developers in small communities across the state, including projects focusing on adaptive reuse and historic preservation.
Teens often are apathetic about old buildings that may have seen their glory days unfold generations ago. To some young people, a historic distinction can seem irrelevant.
"But if there is an emotional connection," Melissa says, "all of a sudden a place can take on new significance."
Melissa has been involved in preservation efforts since the 1970s, when she helped with the renovation of historic homes in the Lockerbie neighborhood of downtown Indianapolis.
Roadtrip: Johnny Appleseed's grave in Fort Wayne
Although his life has become the stuff of legend, John Chapman (AKA Johnny Appleseed) was a real person, Randy assures us. Chapman was born in 1774 in Massachusetts and planted his first apple tree nursery in 1797, in Warren County, Pennsylvania. He spent the next 48 years planting a series of apple tree nurseries throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana, helping pioneers in the "western lands" get a head start on establishing their farms by selling them sapling apple trees.
Chapman seems to have first arrived in Fort Wayne around the late 1820s; from then on he was in and out of the area, tending the appletree nurseries he had established nearby in Indiana and Ohio. Just one example of his prodigious planting: His nursery in Eel River Township (near Fort Wayne) contained 15,000 apple trees, all planted by hand from seed.
John Chapman died at age 70 and was buried in what is now known as Johnny Appleseed Park in Fort Wayne. In addition to paying your respects to the man whose tombstone proclaims "He Lived for Others," you can take advantage of various recreational opportunities at Johnny Appleseed Park. These include camping, boating and access to the delightful Rivergreenway Trail, a "linear park" that offers 25 miles of pathway for hiking and biking along the rivers of Fort Wayne and New Haven, Ind.
Bring a picnic lunch on your excursion , and be sure to include some apples - or better yet, apple cider!
Ferdinand, the Dubois County town of about 2,100 people, is the hometown of a public figure in Indiana who is the subject of this week's History Mystery.
Her father ran a jewelry store in Ferdinand, and she graduated in the 1970s from Forest Park High School, the school currently attended by the students who have proposed creative ways to repurpose a historic building in town, the focus of this week's show.
In 2012, the public figure from Ferdinand was elected to a top post in state government. She resigned four years later to take a statewide leadership position in education.
Question: Who is the public figure and leader in state government whose hometown is Ferdinand?
Hint: She was a studio guest on Hoosier History Live in 2014.Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prizes this week are four tickets to the International Festival, Nov. 8 through 10 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, courtesy of the Nationalities Council of Indiana, a pair of tickets to GlowGolf, courtesy of GlowGolf, and a gift certificate to Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn.
Singing the praises of the Hoosier Hot Shots
Have you heard of The Hoosier Hot Shots?
(October 13, 2018) With percussion instruments that included a makeshift washboard and a stage routine punctuated by comic banter between their musical numbers, they were nationally known entertainers from the 1920s through the mid-1940s.
The Hoosier Hot Shots were regulars on National Barn Dance, one of the most popular radio shows in the country, broadcast on WLS-AM in Chicago. They were featured as a novelty act in Western movies starring Gene Autry and slapstick comedies with the Three Stooges. They were headliners in vaudeville venues and recorded much of their music at Gennett Studios in Richmond, Ind., which launched the recording careers of many American jazz, blues, country and gospel stars during the era.
The three primary members of the Hot Shots band were Otto "Gabe" Ward, who was born in Knightstown and grew up in Elwood, and two brothers, Ken and Paul "Hezzie" Trietsch, who hailed from the small town of Arcadia in Hamilton County. The Indiana State Museum periodically has exhibited Gabe Ward's clarinet and Hezzie's unusual washboard instrument, which he made by hand; the exhibits also have included vintage posters for some of their 21 movies.
As we turn our spotlight on the colorful and quirky Hoosier Hot Shots, Nelson is joined in studio by Todd Gould, a senior producer/director at WTIU-TV in Bloomington and a broadcasting instructor at Indiana University. For three years, Todd and his WTIU colleagues have been working on a documentary about Gennett, where, in addition to the Hot Shots, emerging stars like Hoagy Carmichael, Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton recorded. (Hoosier History Live explored the impact of the recording history made at Gennett Studios on a show in 2013.)
In an article about the Hoosier Hot Shots in an upcoming issue of Traces, the Indiana Historical Society's magazine, Todd writes:
"During two of the most tumultuous times in our nation's history, the Great Depression and World War II, Americans found comfort in the silly songs and crazy antics of a band from the flatlands of central Indiana ... Their sound and lyrics were unlike anything Americans in the early 20th century had ever heard before."
A sample lyric from a Hot Shots song:From the Indies to the Andes in his undies
And he never took a shave except on Mondays
He didn't eat a thing but chocolate sundaes
'Twas a very, very daring thing to do.
In addition to Todd Gould, Nelson is joined in-studio by Hamilton County historian David Heighway, who has researched the deep roots of the Trietsch family in the county. Ken Trietsch (rhymes with "beach") played the guitar and banjo while Hezzie played the washboard - as well as cowbells, horns, pie tins and, as Todd puts it in his Traces article, "other assorted gear that looked more at home in a farmhouse kitchen than on a stage."
Periodically during our show, we feature brief excerpts of the Hoosier Hot Shots' recordings to give listeners a flavor of their distinctive routines.
Their signature line was a question - "Are you ready, Hezzie?" - posed by Ken Trietsch to his jokester brother just as the Hot Shots were about to kick off a routine.
Ken (1903-1987) and Hezzie (1905-1980) Trietsch came from a musical family in Hamilton County of five sons, all of whom played multiple instruments.
They met Gabe Ward (1904-1992) in the 1920s when all of them became members of the Rube Band, a vaudeville troupe known for playing "wildly extemporaneous, comical versions of the day's popular songs," according to Todd's article in Traces. After the Rube Band dissolved, the three Hoosiers eventually started performing on radio with the Hot Shots name.
Major success followed on National Barn Dance, which also launched the careers of Gene Autry, Patti Page and other entertainers. By the mid-1930s, the Hoosier Hot Shots had added a fourth member, Illinois native Frank Kettering, who played the bass fiddle, organ, piccolo and other instruments.
Among the quartet's most popular songs was Whistlin' Joe from Kokomo. According to Todd's article, the song was one of several Hot Shots' tunes featuring the names of Indiana towns.
During World War II, the Hoosier Hot Shots joined USO tours of North Africa and Italy. (Kettering, though, was drafted. He was replaced by a series of musicians who also weren't from Indiana.) The band's popularity waned by the early 1960s.
Click on the links below to listen to samples of songs from the Hoosier Hot Shots catalogue:
Roadtrip: Eleutherian College
Guest Roadtripper Mark Furnish invites listeners to join him on a journey to learn about the short but significant life of Eleutherian College, one of only three institutions in antebellum Indiana to provide education regardless of race or gender.
Located in Lancaster Township of Jefferson County, only ten miles north of the Ohio River and the slave state of Kentucky, the school actively enrolled black students from throughout the South between 1848 and 1861, brazenly defying Indiana's "Negro Exclusion Law" of 1852, which prohibited the migration of free African Americans into the state.
As Mark explains, "The school was the product of a community of white abolitionists, largely but not exclusively New England in origin and Baptist in faith, who battled slavery for roughly thirty years by means legal and illegal, including working closely with free blacks and whites throughout the region as part of the Underground Railroad." Mark wrote a dissertation on Eleutherian College while completing a PhD at Purdue University
The nonprofit organization Historic Eleutherian College Inc. was established in 1994 to restore the original building and educate the public about its historical significance. Those interested in witnessing first-hand this important site of African-American history in Indiana can do so by contacting the organization and making an appointment to see it in person.
Not only did two of The Hoosier Hot Shots grow up in Hamilton County, so did the breeder who initially owned and trained Trigger, the horse who became famous in Hollywood. Last January, Hamilton County historian David Heighway was among our guests when Hoosier History Live explored the Indiana roots of Trigger's owner, Noblesville native Roy Fletcher Cloud.
Although Trigger is eternally associated with Roy Rogers, the celebrity stallion initially appeared in a classic move in 1938 that didn't star the cowboy actor. The movie wasn't a Western; in fact, it wasn't even set in the United States. And Trigger was known then by his original name, Golden Cloud.
Question: What was the classic movie in which the stallion made his debut before becoming Roy Rogers' faithful steed?
Hint: In the mystery movie, the horse was ridden by Olivia de Havilland.
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prizes this week are four tickets to the International Festival, Nov. 8 through 10 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, courtesy of the Nationalities Council of Indiana, and a pair of tickets to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Chautauquas across Indiana, then and now
What brought those illustrious Americans - along with Shakespearean troupes, artists, fitness advocates, scientists, musicians and more - to small Indiana towns during the late 1800s and early 1900s?
They came to communities that put together a Chautauqua, a cultural, educational and entertainment assembly that was an unforgettable, enriching experience for thousands of Hoosiers.
Now overseen by the Chautauqua Institution and attended by more than 100,000 people over a nine-week period each summer, the New York gathering has continued uninterrupted for over 170 years since its original inception. Alas, the circuit Chautauquas had ceased operation by the onset of the Great Depression.
To explore Chautauquas across Indiana, then and now, Nelson is joined in-studio by Greensburg Community High School history teacher John Pratt. With his students, John organizes a Chautauqua in the spring and fall. The next Chautauqua gathering in Greensburg - the 22nd that John has initiated - is being held on Nov. 8; it features appearances by guests ranging from a Holocaust survivor to a paleontologist.
On our show, Nelson's guests also include Terry White, an author and historian in Winona Lake, the setting for one of the largest circuit Chautauquas in the entire country. According to Terry's book Winona Lake at 100 (2013), Helen Keller spoke in 1915 at the town's Chautauqua. In 1897, notable visitors - who typically traveled by train on the circuit - included African-American social reformer and educator Booker T. Washington. In 1928, Winona Lake residents enjoyed humorist Will Rogers.
For the second portion of our show, we have a "Chautauqua, then and now" report by phone from Camille Fife, an award-winning historic preservationist and civic leader in Madison. The town, which had a flourishing Chautauqua beginning in the early 1900s, hosts a contemporary version that primarily is focused on artwork exhibits.
Some history facts:
On the Chautauqua circuit, performers and lecturers typically spoke under massive tents or stood on platforms. For the revived Chautauqua in Greensburg, the auditorium stage at Greensburg Community High School is used.
More than 100 years ago, many small towns were able to arrange appearances by famous Americans like Helen Keller if a railroad line passed through the area; celebrities often spoke in Greensburg, for example, because they were traveling between the larger cities of Cincinnati and Indianapolis.
Even the tiny, unincorporated community of Burney - which is near Greensburg in Decatur County - hosted John Philip Sousa, according to our guest John Pratt.
In Winona Lake, a local music director and songleader named James Heaton became affectionately known as "Mr. Chautauqua," according to Terry White. A native of England, Heaton moved to Winona Lake in 1908, managed the "platform programs" for about 20 years and served on stage as a master of ceremonies.
Clement Studebaker (1831-1901), president of the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company, served for a few years as board president of the New York-based Chautauqua Institute. Other members of the Studebaker family also periodically served on the board.
Roadtrip: Out to Old Aunt Mary's in Greenfield
Guest Roadtripper Jeff Kamm invites us on a jaunt to quintessential small-town Indiana: Greenfield, located about 30 minutes east of Indianapolis in Hancock County.
If you associate Greenfield with the "The Hoosier Poet," James Whitcomb Riley, there's good reason: the famed author and creator of the character "Little Orphant Annie" was born in Greenfield in 1849. His childhood home there is now a museum that promises to "take you back to life in the 1850s and '6os" when you stop in for a visit (open April through October).
And if you're a fan of James Whitcomb Riley, Jeff tells us that now is the perfect time to visit Greenfield: This weekend marks the town's annual celebration of his birthday with a festival featuring over 400 vendors, a parade and other entertainment.
Each year the festival selects one of Riley's poems to set the tone: this year it's "Out to Old Aunt Mary's," a tale of a summertime trip to visit a beloved family member. With a little luck, the weather for the festival this year will include "sunshine spread as thick as butter on country bread," as the poem goes.
And while you're out Greenfield way, consider a side trip to nearby Tuttle's Orchards, where you can pick apples, pumpkins (a.k.a " punkins" - the frosty sort - to Riley fans!) and sample local delicacies.
Clement Studebaker, the eldest of the brothers who founded a business that made wagons (and later cars) lived in an ornate mansion in South Bend more than 120 years ago, when he regularly attended Chautauqua gatherings in New York.
Today, the historic Studebaker mansion - once the setting for many of the family's grand parties - is the site of one of the best-known restaurants in South Bend.
The restaurant carries the name that Clement Studebaker gave to the mansion when his majestic home was being built in the 1880s. The Romanesque-style landmark is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Question: What is the name of the Studebaker mansion-turned-restaurant in South Bend?
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prizes this week are six tickets to the Indianapolis Scottish Highland Games to be held Saturday Oct. 13 at German Park in Indianapolis, courtesy of the Scottish Society of Indianapolis, as well as a gift certificate to Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn.
Honoring veterans, gaining insight
World War II vets and their insights
(September 29, 2018) It's become an annual tradition on Hoosier History Live: a show that shares the stories of Hoosiers who served in - or whose lives were altered by -what many historians have described as "the most significant and influential event of the 20th Century."
Almost all veterans of World War II are more than 90 years old now, so first-hand accounts are dwindling of the global conflict in which the roles of Hoosiers ranged from combat pilots and gunners on battleships to nurses and medics.
For this show, Nelson's guests include a 93-year-old South Bend native who went from being a basketball star at South Bend Central High School to an Army Air Force radio operator on a B-24 bomber plane that flew combat missions over Italy. A few months ago, Jim Powers flew in a bomber plane again for the first time in more than 75 years as part of a Wings over Indy program that salutes veterans.
"Every day when we got back [from combat missions], the mechanics patched the holes in our plane from the flak fire," Jim is quoted as saying in a new book, Our Service Our Stories, Vol. 2.
Ron May is the author of the book, which tells the harrowing World War II experiences of 26 veterans who live in Indiana. Ron is a chaplain who serves a retirement community in Zionsville where Jim Powers lives today; he joins him as a studio guest for this show.
Nelson’s guests also include the author of another new anthology that features interviews with World War II veterans. Kayleen Reusser, whose third book of veterans' stories is titled We Gave Our Best, is an author based in Bluffton in northeastern Indiana. The new book features the personal narratives of 34 veterans from several branches of the military, including both men and women who served. Kayleen also has accompanied Hoosier veterans on an Honor Flight of Northeast Indiana trip to Washington DC.
During our show, Jim Powers describes a mission in which his B-24 had to make a crash landing; Jim and other crew members were missing in action for two days.
After the war, Jim Powers became an outstanding high school coach and was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
At South Bend Central, he was mentored by a future legend: Coach John Wooden, then near the beginning of his spectacular career. In fact, Jim Powers was among the guests on a Hoosier History Live show in 2014 that explored the life of Coach Wooden. Jim Powers did not talk of his World War II experiences during that interview.
By the end of World War II, our guest Jim Powers had flown on more than 40 missions, including one of the final bombing missions in the European theater.
Other Hoosier veterans profiled in Ron May's new book include Ray McDonald, a Gary native who enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1945. The next year, he was part of the occupation forces of Japan. His son Robert McDonald, also a native of Gary, served as the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs during the Obama administration.
With her three books and a series of newspaper columns written for The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, our guest Kayleen Reusser has interviewed a total of more than 250 veterans of World War II. Women veterans featured in Kayleen's books include Fort Wayne resident Lorraine Davis, who joined the Coast Guard. Serving as a cryptographer, she was forbidden to talk about her duties of decoding messages. She has passed away since her interview with Kayleen.
In addition to being an author and a chaplain, our guest Ron May is a history reenactor, portraying Indiana native Ernie Pyle, the World War II journalist widely admired by the American public. Ernie Pyle told the stories of ordinary soldiers, reporting from the front lines and rotating among the various branches of service as he joined U.S. troops fighting in North Africa, Europe and the Pacific.
In April 1945, as the war was winding down, Ernie Pyle was killed by a Japanese machine gunner when his jeep came under fire.
His remains were eventually brought to the United States, but he was not buried in his hometown of Dana in far-western Indiana. Instead, Ernie Pyle's remains were buried in another state.
Question: What is the state where Ernie Pyle was buried?The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prizes are a Family 4 Pack (four admissions) to the Indiana State Museum, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum, and four admission to GlowGolf, courtesy of GlowGolf.
Roadtrip: Rising Sun and Ohio County
Guest Roadtripper Kendal Miller tells us that Rising Sun, Ind. and surrounding Ohio County in southeastern Indiana can make a great Roadtrip destination for those interested in history.
Situated on the beautiful Ohio River, Rising Sun was founded in 1814 as the county seat and is home to the oldest courthouse in continuous use in the state of Indiana; it was built in 1845.
Those interested in African American history will be curious to learn about recent revelations that Rising Sun was an instrumental part of the Underground Railroad. While the research on specific sites involved has not yet been released, the Ohio County Historical Museum will soon erect a historical marker commemorating this aspect of its past.
And if agricultural history is your thing, nearby Heritage Farms at Willow Creek is home to one of Indiana's top 10 Bicentennial Barns and boasts one of the few working 19th century hay presses in the state.
As you plan your Roadtrip to Rising Sun, think about scheduling it for October 12 and 13, the weekend of the town's annual Navy Bean Festival. You'll enjoy great food (topping the menu is navy bean soup of course), festival rides, live music and a festival parade in which you can pay your respects to this year's reigning Navy Bean Queen.
Epidemics in Indiana history: encore presentation
(rebroadcast September 22, 2018) With flu season on the horizon, Hoosier History Live will revisit a show from November 15, 2014, exploring epidemics in Indiana's past.
Did you know that a malaria epidemic swept Indianapolis just as the Hoosier capital was getting under way in the 1820s? Some doctors blamed the epidemic on the swamps and marshland that were on the new city's site, chosen because of its central location.
The impact of that early epidemic, plus others that affected Indiana, are the focus of this encore broadcast featuring two Indianapolis-based medical historians as Nelson's studio guests.
The influenza epidemic of 1918, a cholera epidemic of the mid-1800s, the polio scare that prevailed for most of the first half of the 20th century and the AIDS epidemic that caused panic during the 1980s and '90s are among the crises explored during the show.
Nelson and his guests also explore the devastating impact of tuberculosis during the late 1800s and early 1900s - even though "epidemic" may not be the most accurate term to describe the widespread TB cases. (Tune in to the show for an explanation.)
Our studio guests are:
During the show, our guests share insights about the panic over potential epidemics, including a swine flu scare in 1976, when a vaccination program encountered various public relations problems. Fears of an epidemic proved unfounded.
Time-traveling much farther back, outbreaks of cholera during the 1830s, '40s and subsequent decades caused extreme panic in many Indiana communities.
Take the town of Aurora on the Ohio River, which had a population of 2,000 in 1849. Fourteen deaths from cholera were reported in one day, according to a historical account supplied by Dr. McNiece, an associate professor at the IU School of Medicine. During the next three weeks in 1849, 51 other victims died in Aurora. As a result, 1,600 of the 2,000 residents fled the town.
Also in 1849, the town of Madison reacted to outbreaks of cholera by creating a board of health with the power to quarantine residents and to impose fines on people who brought the disease into the city.
On Hoosier History Live, we have explored some epidemics during previous programs. In 2012, Hoosier History Live described various aspects of the polio epidemic, including the involvement of Eli Lilly & Co. in distributing the polio vaccine during the 1950s.
For this show, we broaden the focus and explore that epidemic as well as several others.
In 1892, the country mourned when First Lady Caroline Scott Harrison died of tuberculosis in the White House.
During her tenure as First Lady, she secured funding for an extensive renovation of the White House and oversaw the work.
One of the highest-profile victims of the disease in the 1890s, Mrs. Harrison is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. Her husband, former President Benjamin Harrison, also is buried at Crown Hill.
The couple were survived by two daughters.
A few years after Mrs. Harrison's tragic death, an Indiana chapter of a national organization was founded and named in her honor. To this day, the chapter carries her name. The national organization is one that she helped organize.
Question: What is the organization?
Roadtrip: The many delights of Linden, Ind.
Guest Roadtripper and film historian Eric Grayson tells us, "I'm suggesting a visit to the historic tiny town of Linden, Ind., which is on 231 between Crawfordsville and Lafayette and was platted in 1851."
Eric continues: "Linden has a railroad depot museum, the Linden Depot Museum, which preserves a 1908 depot intact, with interactive history displays, including a telegraph and several model trains. The museum is famous for its Christmas decorations; look for a visit from Santa coming up soon."
Linden also has a Carnegie Public Library still in use; in addition, the town features one of Eric's favorite vintage ice cream stands, the Lindy Freeze. It is one of those independent ice cream places from the 1950s and is famous for its Peanut Butter Mountain sundae.
Lindy Freeze is right next to Linden Park, and if you're very lucky, the railroad won't have cleared the brush in October, when several kinds of butterflies use the park as a staging area on their migration southward.
Early Mexican heritage in Indiana
(September 15, 2018) Although current immigration from Mexico has been in the news almost daily of late, how many Hoosiers know about the deep history of Mexican heritage in Indiana that began nearly 100 years ago?
With the start of Hispanic Heritage Month on Sept. 15 - and Mexican Independence Day on Sept. 16 - we spotlight early immigration to Indiana and the roots of the state's population that has Mexican heritage. For a range of reasons, 1919 was a pivotal year for Mexican arrivals in the Hoosier state, according to Nicole Martinez-LeGrand.
Nicole, whose ancestors came from Mexico to the Indiana Harbor area of Lake County as early as 1918, is the coordinator of multicultural collections for the Indiana Historical Society. She has organized Be Heard: Latino Experiences in Indiana, an exhibit of early photos of - and artifacts associated with - Indiana's early Latino population, including a doll that belonged to her Mexican ancestors.
In addition to Nicole, Nelson's guests include Miriam Acevedo Davis, president and CEO of LaPlaza Inc., a non-profit that helps the Latino community in central Indiana with a range of services, including connecting Hispanics to educational and medical services. Because LaPlaza serves residents from more than 20 countries in Latin America - and because the Indiana History Center exhibit also features items associated with various Hispanic homelands - we periodically broaden our exploration during the show beyond early Mexican heritage.
But that will be the primary focus. According to Nicole, a massive strike in the U.S. steel industry in 1919 - as well as the Mexican Revolution that extended from 1910 to 1920 - were among the factors that led to waves of Mexican immigration to northwest Indiana. Many settled in East Chicago and other communities in Lake County. Like Nicole's ancestors, they took jobs in the steel mills alongside waves of Eastern European immigrants.
Mexican immigrants helped raise funds for Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in East Chicago; in 1927, it opened as the first Latino Catholic Church in Indiana, according to Nicole's research. A ledger kept by Nicole's great-grandmother, who raised funds for construction of the church, and the family's storyline is featured in the Be Heard exhibit.
Other factors affecting the impact of early Mexican heritage in Indiana involved restrictions on Eastern European immigration to the U.S. after World War I. Enacted during the mid-1920s, those restrictions resulted in an increase in the percentages of Mexican immigrants. We explored the restrictions on Eastern Europeans in the 1920s during a radio show on July 7 about Ellis Island, immigration and Indiana (click here for the podcast).
During the mid-1920s, the parents of Irene Osorio immigrated from Mexico to Indiana Harbor. Irene, who lives in Crown Point today, is a call-in guest during the show.
Her parents, whose families had owned a hacienda in Mexico that was affected by the revolution, opened a printing shop that published Indiana's first Spanish-language newspaper. It provided updates about post-revolutionary Mexico and offered information to help readers adjust to their new homeland.
Although the initial newspaper stopped publishing during the 1930s, family members eventually founded The Latin Times, a newspaper that served the Latino community in northwest Indiana until the early 1980s, when it ceased publication.
By then, many Mexican families had been living in Indiana for multiple generations. During the steel strike of 1919, East Chicago-based Inland Steel actively recruited large numbers of Mexicans and other Latinos to the area. Initially, many were "unaccompanied young men known as solos," according to the Be Heard exhibit. Once the strike ended, wives and other family members often joined the young men in northwest Indiana.
In addition to working in the steel mills, the exhibit notes, "Latinos also developed their own small businesses, including a print shop, bakery, restaurants and grocery stores."
An international consulate in the United States is similar to a branch office of the foreign country's government. In 2002, the Mexican Consulate made Indianapolis history by becoming the first international consulate in the Hoosier capital.
The Mexican Consulate originally opened in a landmark building that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Before the consulate opened in the massive, historic structure in downtown Indy, Mexican citizens and immigrants living in Indiana who needed documents such as birth and death certificates had to travel to a consulate in Chicago.
After being housed for several years in the landmark structure - which was built in the 1880s - the Mexican Consulate moved to a self-standing building on the southeast edge of downtown Indy.
Question: What landmark building was the initial home of the Mexican Consulate in Indianapolis?
Roadtrip: Beasley's Orchard - a hayride to the pumpkin patch, and more!
Guest Roadtripper and history enthusiast Jake Oakman says that with the nip of autumn in the air, it's a great time to head out to Beasley's Orchard near Danville in Hendricks County. Beasley's is open year round and is only a short drive from Indianapolis. It has great u-pick apple tree orchards and pumpkin patches, delicious apple cider and a Barn Market.
If the prospect of picking apples and sipping cider isn't enough to lure the kids away from their videogames, consider this Beasley's entertainment option: apple cannons! Visitors can launch apples from air-compressed cannons, shooting at targets or just letting them rip! Even adults are sure to find fruit-based artillery fire to be a real blast!
Jake points out that Beasley's Orchard is probably most famous for its Corn Maze; the intricate designs can only be seen from thousands of feet in the air, but the real fun lies in finding your way out of the eight-acre labyrinth of maise.
"It all adds up to a perfect destination for spending a day with friends and family," says Jake.
A type of desk created during the 1870s in Indiana became famous across the country and is considered one of the most significant successes of the state's woodworking industry. The desks, which featured built-in pigeonholes with specialized storage for letters, were made by an Indianapolis furniture shop.
Often made of walnut, the desks were known for consolidating work and storage space by providing nooks and crannies.
The name of the desks was derived from the Hoosier businessman who established the furniture shop in Indianapolis. John D. Rockefeller, Ulysses S. Grant and other famous Americans used the desks, which often had folding doors that could be locked, protecting the contents.
Question: What was the name of the Indiana-made desk?
Because this is an encore presentation, we will not be accepting calls for the History Mystery.
Guest Roadtripper and historic preservationist Maxine Brown of Corydon will tell us about the challenges in correctly decorating and furnishing what she calls "the modest home of an everyday African American living in the 1890s."
The Carter House in Corydon was owned by Leonard Carter (1845-1905), an African-American Civil War veteran born in Floyd's Knobs, Ind., who fought with the Civil War 28th U.S. Colored Troops, Company C, and was wounded at the Battle of Petersburg (also known as the Battle of the Crater, which serves as the opening scene in the movie Cold Mountain).
After the Civil War, Leonard Carter settled in Corydon and married Easter Perry in 1866. They had nine children, and he built a small bungalow for his family at 545 S. Floyd St. around 1891. The Carter House was saved from demolition and is being restored. It has been moved to Hill Street, close to the Leora Brown Colored School, another African American landmark in Corydon. The Carters and some of their children are buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Corydon near where the house stands now.
(June 2, 2018) At the end of January, the widow of the shopping mall magnate who co-owned the Indiana Pacers announced she was donating a 107-acre estate to the Great American Songbook Foundation based in Carmel. Since then the foundation, which was founded by acclaimed entertainer and music historian Michael Feinstein, has been exploring whether a museum could be developed on the Asherwood estate.
That's the most recent chapter in the rapid evolution of the songbook foundation, which is affiliated with the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.
With a mission to "preserve and elevate" the legacy of pop, jazz, Broadway and Hollywood music from the 1920s through the 1960s, the Great American Songbook Foundation now has more than 100,000 donated items. They include the papers of composer Meredith Wilson (best known for The Music Man) and entertainer Ray Charles, as well as the piano of composer Johnny Mercer.
As we spotlight the foundation - including its programs for aspiring performers and, at the other end of the age spectrum, for early-onset Alzheimer's patients - Nelson is joined in studio by Chris Lewis, the foundation's executive director, and Lisa Lobdell, its archivist.
Our show precedes a summer foundation program that's been drawing attention far beyond Indiana's borders: the Songbook Academy, an internship program for high school singers interested in performing Great American Songbook music.
The foundation's archive began with the personal collection of Michael Feinstein, a five-time Grammy Award nominee. For decades, he had been given artifacts (often by fellow celebrities) ranging from original sheet music and orchestrations to theatrical memorabilia. An example (with a Hoosier connection) was mentioned in a 2011 article in The New York Times about the foundation: A limited-edition score of Red, Hot and Blue, a 1937 Broadway musical - signed by its composer, Indiana native Cole Porter - was given to Feinstein by the show's star, Bob Hope.
Could such treasures end up in a museum at Asherwood, the estate formerly owned by Mel Simon, who died in 2009, and his wife Bren?
Nelson asks his guests about that possibility for the estate, which includes a mansion of 50,000 square feet. An article in The Indianapolis Star about an April fund-raiser at Asherwood quoted our guest Chris Lewis as describing Bren Simon's gift of the estate as "transformative" for the songbook foundation.
Our guest Lisa Lobdell is credited with initiating Perfect Harmony, one of the foundation's on-going programs. Based on aspects of music therapy, Perfect Harmony uses Great American Songbook tunes in interactive ways with Indiana residents who are in the early stages of Alzheimer's.
There's also a Great American Songbook Foundation Hall of Fame. Honorees have included, in the posthumous "legends" category, composers Hoagy Carmichael, who grew up in Bloomington and Indianapolis, and Cole Porter, who was born in Peru, Ind. At the Palladium, the foundation has had exhibits about the composers and other Hall of Fame inductees, including entertainers Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. (Our guest Chris Lewis participated in a Hoosier History Live show last September about Sinatra's connections to Indiana.)
Our guest Lisa Lobdell says a myth about the songbook foundation is that its archives primarily consist of Michael Feinstein's collections.
"We have grown so quickly that we don't have room for (most of) Michael's collection here," she reports. "We have some materials donated by him, but few are archival. The majority belong to our growing library collection of books, CDs, LPs, DVDs and sheet music."
The Songbook Academy also has evolved. It's a seven-day summer intensive that has been attended by high school singers from as far away as Boston and Rochester, N.Y., as well as Indiana cities like Lebanon and Winona Lake. The teenagers receive instruction in presenting themselves on stage; phrasing when they perform Great American Songbook-era music and other topics related to their performance. Their instructors have included acclaimed singer and educator Sylvia McNair, who is based in Bloomington, as well as performers based on the East and West Coasts.
"The Great American Songbook is about the diversity of our country," Feinstein emphasized to the New York Times for the 2011 article. "Many writers came from New York or even Hollywood, but they came from everywhere, including Hoagy Carmichael and Cole Porter from Indiana."
Guest Roadtripper Suzanne Stanis, Director of Heritage Education at Indiana Landmarks, invites us to learn about two distinctive farmsteads that sit between the Mississinewa River and the meandering Frances Slocum Trail, just outside of Peru, Ind. Both farms have family connections to Great American Songbook composer Cole Porter and reveal the story behind his name.
The bright red English barn of the Cole-Kubesch Farm proudly hails the words "Good Enough" on its gable end. As Suzanne tells the story, upon purchase of the farm in 1904, the owner's wife, Mrs. J.O. Cole, reckoned it was "good enough" for her and the name stuck.
Just down the road is an imposing Neoclassical house with large columns supporting a two-story porch. Next to the house a large barn displays the name Westleigh Farms. Although Cole Porter (whose first name pays tribute to his mother's family name) never lived in the house, he visited his parents Kate and Samuel Porter there over the years. Kate's father J.O. Cole owned the Good Enough farm and constructed the house at Westleigh for his daughter and son-in-law in 1913. Kate noted that Cole would occasionally compose music at the Westleigh piano during visits because it was so quiet. No doubt compared to his homes in Paris and New York City, the sounds of the rural farm had to be a welcome respite for Cole.
Both farms remain in the Cole-Porter families, with the current owner of Westleigh representing the sixth generation of the family.
Bloomington native Hoagy Carmichael is credited as the composer of the music for more than 45 songs that became hits, including such classics as "Stardust," "Georgia on My Mind" and "How Little We Know."
Since Carmichael's death in 1981, his biographers and music historians have contended that the Academy Award-winning composer also deserves credit for helping create the lyrics and titles of many of his songs.
Many of his songs were influenced by Indiana places and people, but Carmichael also composed songs about other states and cities. They include a song popular in the 1940s that extols a city during the month of June. The song, which periodically can be heard on WICR-FM (88.7), has a title featuring the city's name and a reference to June.
Question: What is the song?
Hint: The city is in a Southern state.
The prize is two passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, a gift certificate to Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of the Story Inn, and two passes to GlowGolf, courtesy of GlowGolf.
If your business or organization would like to contribute prizes for our History Mystery contest, we would love to have them! Ideally they fit in a standard mailing envelope, such as coupons or vouchers.
Your organization gets a mention on the air by Nelson, as well as a link to your website on our enewsletter and website! If interested, contact producer Molly Head at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(May 26 2018) In 2017, the Indianapolis 500 was won by a driver born in Japan. Over the last 15 years, victorious drivers in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" have included natives of Colombia, Brazil, Scotland, England and New Zealand.
So while race fans are probably well aware of the prominence of foreign drivers in recent years, they may not know that the impact of international racers was nearly as significant during the early era of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, beginning just a few years after the inaugural Indy 500 in 1911.
The early streak of victories by drivers born overseas - and racecar entries by automakers based in foreign countries - preceded a "drought" of foreign winners that lasted about 45 years during the middle of the 20th century.
In 1913, the Indy 500 was won by a Frenchman driving a car made in his homeland. Other European entries that year included competitors from England and Italy.
Another driver from France won the Indy 500 in 1914. The next year, an Italian sped to Victory Lane. Then came the fabled Chevrolet Brothers, who had lived in France and Switzerland. Two of the three Chevrolet brothers, who died nearly penniless, are buried in the Holy Cross and St. Joseph Cemetery on the southside of Indy.
Indianapolis native Mark Dill, an auto racing historian and marketer now based in Cary, N.C., is Nelson's studio guest to describe the international drivers and overseas automakers who competed in early Indy 500s. Mark has written an article about the history of early drivers for the racetrack program that will be distributed at this year's Indy 500; he oversees an extensively researched and illustrated website about auto racing history.
Mark notes that "1913 was a pivotal year, distinguished as being the first to attract international factory entries." The race was won that year by Jules Goux of France; his car was a French-made Peugeot.
"Legend has it that Goux consumed six pints of Champagne during pit stops," Mark says, "but the reality is probably a different story. Goux competed in five Indianapolis 500s, finishing first, fourth and third in his first three efforts."
Three of his competitors in the 1913 race drove Isottas manufactured in Italy. "The Isottas traveled across the Atlantic Ocean aboard the Lusitania and arrived just three days before the race," Mark explains. (Two years later the Lusitania, a British ocean liner, was torpedoed by Germans during World War I.)
Of the Indy 500 in 1914, Mark says: "The French dominated, finishing in the top four places." The triumphant drivers included winner Rene Thomas, who drove a Delage made in France.
The next year, the winner at the Speedway was Ralph DePalma, who had been born in Italy.
"DePalma was as American as Mario Andretti,” Mark explains, noting that “Race promoters liked to bill him as the 'Italian champion,' even though he did not grow up racing there. IMS was keenly interested in attracting European car companies in the earliest years. The idea was that it would create more interest for fans and a better measuring stick for U.S. car companies in product improvement."
This was the era of the three Chevrolet brothers: Louis, Arthur and Gaston, founders of the Chevrolet Motor Company. Although Louis is considered to have been the most successful driver among the three, youngest brother Gaston was the sibling who captured the checkered flag at the Speedway, winning the Indy 500 in 1920.
During our show, Mark discusses the dramatic lives of the Chevrolet brothers. He also explores some of the reasons for the long drought - following Gaston's win in 1920 - of foreign-born winners of the Indy 500. The drought lasted almost without interruption until the victory in 1965 by popular Jimmy Clark of Scotland.
Mark Dill was a guest on Hoosier History Live two years ago for a show that also focused on Indy 500 drivers, but looked at the opposite end of the spectrum of drivers' origins. That show highlighted Indiana natives who won - or became fan favorites - in early Indy 500s.
In 1917, the Indy 500 was canceled due to World War I. Mark Dill is among the historians who contend that Louis Chevrolet might have won that 500, noting that the eldest brother was on an impressive streak in 1917, roaring to victory in several other races.
Known for his fiery temperament, Louis Chevrolet clashed with his business partners and abruptly quit the company that bore the Chevrolet name, "forsaking any rights to the car brand or stock ownership," Mark notes.
Louis Chevrolet also clashed with his brother Arthur, who moved to Louisiana. That's where Arthur committed suicide in 1946 and is buried in an unmarked grave. For several years, racing enthusiasts had incorrectly assumed Arthur was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery with Louis and Gaston, who had settled in Indianapolis.
Gaston was killed during a race in Beverly Hills in 1920, several months after winning that year's Indy 500. All three Chevrolet brothers - particularly Louis and Arthur - were regarded as brilliant mechanics.
If old gas station memorabilia is your passion, guest Roadtripper and travel and food writer Jane Ammeson recommends a stop at Route 32 Auctions in Crawfordsville. You'll see vintages gas pumps, an old general store, metal and neon advertising signs and replicas of old service stations. Here's a place that truly evokes Indiana's auto heritage!
The collection also includes rows of the differently colored Standard Oil crowns that once topped gas pumps, a rare two-pump oil cart and an even rarer Satam 4-Door Cabinet Petrol Pump.
Route 32 Auctions is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and "lookers" are welcome: there's no pressure to buy anything. The business is run by avid collectors Kevin and Jill Parker of Crawfordsville.
Jane reminds us that back in the 1920s and 1930s, Crawfordville had a Nash dealership and you could fill your tank at one of the 40 or so Parker Red Hat gas stations in the area.
"There's beauty in these wonderful artifacts!" says Jane.
A landmark at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a Japanese-style structure that locals and fans worldwide refer to as "the Pagoda," as our guest, auto racing historian Mark Dill, has noted.
The original Pagoda at the racetrack opened in 1913 as a building for Speedway officials, the press and telegraph operators. Painted green and white and made of wood, the first Pagoda burned to the ground in 1925. A new Pagoda was constructed in time for the Indianapolis 500 in 1926.
By the mid-1950s, however, a taller, modernistic structure made of steel had replaced the Pagoda; that building stood for more than 40 years. It was demolished to make way for the current Pagoda, which was completed in 2000. Designed as a tribute to the racetrack's heritage and painted green and white like the original, the current Pagoda is 153 feet tall.
Question: Name the steel structure replaced by the current Pagoda.
(May 19, 2018) He may be the most famous Hoosier author you've never heard of.
In 1915 an Oxford literary scholar deemed him "the greatest living American writer." His work was regarded as part of a Golden Age of Indiana Literature, on par with the writing of such luminaries as Booth Tarkington and Theodore Dreiser. His earnings as a writer financed the construction of a lavish English Tudor estate near the banks of the Iroquois River in Newton County, where he hosted parties for Presidents and celebrities. By the 1920s he had accumulated enough wealth that he could help fund the construction of a football stadium at his alma mater.
In spite of the fame and fortune he achieved in his lifetime, however, Indiana author George Ade (1866 - 1944) has drifted into obscurity. His works are not even currently stocked by the bookstore at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center in downtown Indianapolis.
But an enterprising resident of Newton County in northwest Indiana hopes to change all that.
Hoosier History Live associate producer and guest host Mick Armbruster is joined in studio by Mike Davis to explore the life, humor and literary legacy of George Ade. Mike has portrayed Ade in historical reenactments and is organizing an upcoming musical show dedicated to Ade's creative work as a song lyricist. Mick also welcomes Jeannie Logan of Indianapolis, who will star as vocalist in that show featuring Ade's songs. Pianist David Meek, also of Indianapolis, will provide accompaniment and additional vocals for the musical performance and also joins Mick and his guests in discussing Ade's place in Hoosier cultural history.
In many ways, Ade's life reflects essential elements of the American experience at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Born to an immigrant father and second-generation mother and raised on a farm near the small town of Kentland, Ind, Ade showed early academic promise and attended Purdue University on scholarship.
At Purdue, Ade distinguished himself as a writer for the school newspaper and made lasting friendships that would serve him in his writing career. Purdue's enduring importance to Ade is evident from his philanthropic efforts there later in life: a substantial gift from him helped fund the construction of the Ross-Ade Stadium in 1924.
Like many young people of the era who had grown up in rural America, Ade chose to relocate the big city to begin his career. Within a few years of graduating from Purdue, Ade took up residence in Chicago and found work reporting the weather for a daily paper. His colorful sketches of how the weather impacted the lives of everyday citizens made such an impression that he quickly was granted a humor column, "Stories of the Streets and of the Town." The newspaper sketches and "fables" of ordinary city folk - which Mike notes reveal Ade's remarkable powers of observation - later served as the basis for several best-selling books.
Later in his career, Ade applied his satirical take on life to writing works for musical theater; at one point he had three theatrical works playing on Broadway simultaneously. Guest Jeannie Logan describes Ade's lyrics as "sophisticated and witty" and compares them to the sly humor of Noel Coward.
As Mike Davis points out, "[Ade's] contributions to the theater changed Broadway by introducing the story style of musical that is popular today."
Ade's talents as a lyricist will be heard in their original musical context in an upcoming dinner theater project Mike is organizing with Jeannie and David. The meal will recreate the chicken dinner George Ade was famous for serving guests, as well as feature renditions of music from two of his plays, The Sultan of Sulu and Peggy from Paris. There will be two performances, June 3, and June 10, 2018 at the Old Colonial Inn in Kentland.
What unique insights about life do Ade's writings offer us today? Does his humor hold up for a contemporary audience?
Join us in exploring the range of George Ade's creative work as we talk with guests Mike, Jeannie and David about their efforts to breath new life into this Hoosier writer's literary legacy.
Guest Roadtripper Tim Myer invites us to Brook, Ind. in the northeast corner of the state to visit the elegant home of George Ade.
Ade built the English Tudor-style estate in 1904 as a retreat from his hectic schedule in Chicago, where he lived at the time. Ade originally intended to build a simple cabin, but once he hired Chicago architect Billy Manns, the project grew enormously in scope.
By the time construction was complete, the project had become a two-story, grand Elizabethan manor home surrounded by landscaped gardens, pool, pool house, garage, greenhouse, barns, outbuildings and a caretaker's home. A passionate golfer, Ade added a golf course and country club in 1910. He named the estate Hazelden in honor of his English maternal grandparents.
Ade's home quickly became the social center of the area and hosted visits from four U.S. presidents, as well as some of the nation's most celebrated personalities of the time.
Of the many notable parties and events held at Hazelden, Tim our draws our attention to one of the most famous: a political rally in 1908, in which William Howard Taft kicked off his run for the presidency. Historical accounts estimate the crowd in attendance to be over 25,000.Hazelden may be toured by appointment only; please call the Newton County Historical Society at 219-474-6944 to schedule a visit.
While we are exploring the life of George Ade, whose body of literary work includes book and lyrics for a string of successful Broadway musicals, Mick will pose a question about another Hoosier of musical inclination, Cole Porter. The Peru, Ind. native wrote the words and music for hundreds of songs, but only rarely alluded to Indiana. Listening to his music, one might never guess he was a Hoosier.
One notable exception: a song in which Porter refers to a river in Indiana - in fact, the river's name is in the title of the song. We won't reveal the 1943 show that the song comes from, but we will note that the song was performed by Ethel Merman, starring in her fifth Porter musical.
Question: What is the name of the Cole Porter song which refers to a river in Indiana?
Hint: It's not "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away" which was written by Paul Dresser and adopted as the Indiana state song in 1913.
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prize is two passes to the Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of the Story Inn, and two passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
(May 12, 2018) At about 11:10 pm on the night of November 10, 2012, an explosion rocked the Richmond Hill subdivision, an explosion so powerful a wildlife video camera 15 miles away captured its sound. Earthquake detection equipment in Martinsville, Indiana, 30 miles away, also registered the shock of the blast . . . Closer to Richmond Hill, people living in a five-mile radius of the neighborhood heard a huge boom and then felt their houses shake.
That description of a tragic incident in a neighborhood on the southeast side of Indianapolis - an explosion and its aftermath that killed a young married couple, injured at least seven other people, destroyed five houses and damaged more than 80 others - sets the scene in the first chapter of Love and Greed in the Heartland: The Richmond Hill Murders (Camino Books, 2017). Nelson's studio guests are the book's co-authors, Robert Snow, a former captain in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (and former commander of its homicide branch) and Russ McQuaid, an investigative reporter for Fox News 59/WXIN-TV in Indianapolis.
Russ covered the explosion, its aftermath and the trial of Mark Leonard, the mastermind behind the devastating blast. In late January of this year, Leonard died while serving two life sentences at the Wabash Correctional Facility in Sullivan County. In addition to being convicted of two counts of murder, he was convicted on several other charges, including multiple counts of arson. Four other people - including Leonard's girlfriend, Monserrate Shirley, who owned the house that exploded, and his half-brother, Robert Leonard - also were convicted on various charges for their roles in the crime that was the focus of national news for days.
As our guests write, the Richmond Hill explosion was the result of "an insurance fraud scheme gone fatally wrong." The perpetrators hoped to collect about $300,000 in insurance money. When the explosion occurred - killing neighbors Dion and Jennifer Longworth - Mark Leonard and Monserrate Shirley were 90 miles away at the Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, Ind.
During our show, Bob Snow and Russ McQuaid share insights about the events that led up to the explosion, the subsequent trials and the impact on the lives of the Hoosiers involved. Bob Snow is the author of 17 books, including several dealing with true crime. He and Russ McQuaid, a veteran investigative journalist, dedicate Love and Greed in the Heartland to the Longworths.
As the investigation of the explosion unfolded, authorities learned that Mark Leonard and Monserrate Shirley had traveled to casinos for three consecutive weekends. Each time, they boarded her cat - a detail that heightened suspicions among investigators, as well as the general public. Eventually, evidence surfaced that the couple had unsuccessfully attempted to blow up the house two times prior to the massive blast that devastated the Richmond Hill neighborhood.
Because of extensive publicity across central Indiana about the explosion and subsequent investigation, the trial of Mark Leonard was moved to South Bend. By then, Monserrate Shirley had reached a plea agreement in which she shared details with prosecutors and pled guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit arson. In Love and Greed in the Heartland, our guests note that her initial insurance claim even included an unsubstantiated statement that she had lost an original Picasso painting in the explosion.
According to several accounts, Mark Leonard had suffered large gambling losses and other financial setbacks in the months before the explosion.
As if the details of the perpetrators' attempt at insurance fraud weren't appalling enough, while he was in jail awaiting trial, Mark Leonard apparently attempted to arrange for a hitman to kill a witness in the case.
As our guests sum up this shocking, tragic episode in the history of Hoosier crime:
Occasionally ... a crime occurs that stuns even those hardened by years of witnessing the darker side of human behavior. A crime occurs that makes even seasoned police officers and reporters shake their heads in disbelief. The deadly Richmond Hill explosion was just such a case.
Ever give an elephant a bath? Feed a giraffe his favorite snack? Meet a kangaroo up close and personal?
Guest Roadtripper Ken Marshall suggests a visit to Wilstem Ranch in the beautiful rolling hills of southern Indiana, near French Lick and its fabulous West Baden Springs Hotel and French Lick Resort. The Wilstem Ranch is a 1,100 acre property that served as a hunting retreat for wealthy tourists in the early days of the twentieth century.
In its current incarnation, Wilstem Ranch offers visitors the opportunity to interact directly with animals rather than hunt them. Along with the exotic elephants, giraffes and 'roos, visitors can meet and socialize with the ranch's more everyday animal residents, including pigs, goats and horses.
And if schmoozing with four-legged friends isn't your cup of tea, the ranch also offers ATV tours, horseback trail riding tours and zipline rides. On-site lodging is available as well.Learn more from Ken on Saturday. And to sneak a peek of elephant bath time at Wilstem Ranch, check out this video.
In the aftermath of the tragic explosion in 2012 that devastated the Richmond Hill subdivision, an elementary school on the Southside of Indianapolis served as a relief center. The elementary school is in the Metropolitan School of Perry Township.
According to Love and Greed in the Heartland: The Richmond Hill Murders, co-written by our guests Bob Snow and Russ McQuaid, many residents of Richmond Hill were evacuated to the elementary school. Upon hearing about the explosion, local nurses showed up at the school to volunteer their services and treat wounded residents.
Question: What is the name of the elementary school?
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prize is two tickets to Glow Golf, courtesy of Glow Golf, two passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to the Sieberling Mansion in Kokomo, courtesy of the Howard County Historical
(May 5, 2018) Two Pulitzer Prize-winners, a classic about the American dream, a page turner about a home invasion by criminals and an account of harrowing conditions in a mental health facility.
Those are descriptions of bestselling novels by Indiana-born authors whose books inspired movies during the Golden Age of Hollywood. This show spotlights the movie versions of these novels, which include the Magnificent Ambersons (1942), A Place in the Sun (1951), The Desperate Hours (1955), The Snake Pit (1948), The Robe (1953) and Raintree County (1957).
Dan O'Brien, a former TV sportscaster and screenwriter based in Greenwood, is Nelson's studio guest to share insights about the transformation of the Hoosier novels into films. The Indiana-born authors associated with the movies to be discussed include:
This list isn't all-inclusive of Hoosier novels turned into movies, of course. We have explored other bestsellers - including Ben-Hur, Friendly Persuasion and Going All the Way - during previous shows. And for this show we sticking to the Golden Age of Hollywood, generally regarded as the years between the early 1920s and the early 1960s. That means the film versions of The Fault in Our Stars by Indianapolis-based novelist John Green and The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, a Bloomington native, are not up for discussion.
There's plenty of Hoosier turf with the Golden Age movies, however. Although the Midwestern city in The Magnificent Ambersons is called Midland, it instantly was recognized as Indianapolis when Tarkington's novel was published. Orson Welles was said to have been fascinated both by Tarkington (1869-1946) himself and by the award-winning novel. According to some accounts, Welles wanted to make his debut as a director with the film version of The Magnificent Ambersons rather than with what is considered his masterpiece, Citizen Kane (1941). Our guest Dan O'Brien says Welles was convinced the character of Eugene (an inventor played in the movie by Joseph Cotten) was inspired by Welles' own father, who may have known Tarkington.
Of all of the movie versions of novels on our agenda, the 1953 opening of The Robe "was probably the most anticipated Hollywood premiere, not only due to the popularity of the novel, but because it was the debut of Cinemascope," Dan says. The plot of The Robe is about the aftermath of the crucifixion of Jesus. Hoosier-born author Lloyd C. Douglas (1877-1951) was an ordained Lutheran minister who did not write his first novel until age 50.
Two years after The Robe's spectacular premiere, a Broadway version of The Desperate Hours opened in 1955; it starred Paul Newman (in the role of the criminal later played by Bogart in the movie) and Karl Malden, who grew up in Gary, Ind. Dan notes the film version opens with a tracking shot through a neighborhood intended to represent suburban Indianapolis. The house invaded by criminals was actually a set built on a studio backlot; according to Dan, it subsequently was used in many movies and TV series, including Leave it to Beaver and Marcus Welby MD.
Filming of The Desperate Hours unfolded smoothly, but that was not the case for Raintree County, which was plagued with problems. Ross Lockridge Jr had committed suicide the year his novel was published (it sold 400,000 copies in 1948, becoming the most popular book of the year); during the filming, Montgomery Clift was involved in an auto accident that left the star disfigured. Raintree County, a historic saga set during the Civil War era, is centered on the life of John Shawnessy (played by Clift), a teacher and poet who must choose between his sweetheart, a local girl, and a visiting southern belle, played by Elizabeth Taylor. Lockridge used Henry County, Ind., as the inspiration for fictional Raintree County.
Lockridge's cousin Mary Jane Ward (1905-1981) is credited with focusing national attention on the need to improve mental health care following the publication of The Snake Pit. Although Olivia de Havilland won two Oscars for other films, she has been quoted as saying her performance in The Snake Pit was her best work.
While we're focused on Hollywood films with a Hoosier connection, let's lot not forget the most iconic Hoosier film of them all: Hoosiers, of course. The 1986 basketball Cinderella story starring Gene Hackman and Barbara Hershey was filmed at various locations around Indiana, and this week's guest Roadtripper Jeff Kamm takes us to a few of those sites in and around the town of Lebanon.
Jeff's first stop is Lebanon's Memory Hall gymnasium, which played the role of Jasper Regional in the movie. Memory Hall was built in 1931 and served as the Lebanon varsity gymnasium until 1968, when a new school and gym were constructed in another part of town.
Then it's on to the site of the Avon Theater on the northwest corner of the town square in Lebanon. The colorful marquee of the Avon appears briefly in Hoosiers on the night of the state finals. Sadly, the theater was consumed by fire in 1999; the site is now occupied by a flower shop.
Next stop on the Roadtrip: the Elizaville Baptist Church just northeast of Lebanon, which served as the setting for the film's town hall meeting scene, where a vote is cast to determine whether Coach Dale will remain or lose his job.
Finally, Jeff takes us to the rural crossroads of Terhune in the northeastern corner of Boone County, which appears in the film's opening scene when Coach Dale is making his way to Hickory. The grain elevator visible in the scene is long gone, but the general store where the men are loafing out front is still standing.
Fans of Hoosiers won't want to miss this exciting Roadtrip to filming locations of this sports classic!
Hoosier connections to the 1942 movie version of The Magnificent Ambersons include an editor on the film who later became one of the top directors in Hollywood.
He was born in Winchester, Ind., grew up in Connersville and graduated from Connersville High School.
During the 1930s, he obtained an entry-level job at RKO Studios. His work on The Magnificent Ambersons was an unpleasant experience, however, because he was ordered to make drastic cuts to the movie in the absence of its famous director, Orson Welles, who was infuriated.
The Hoosier went on to tremendous success during the 1950s and '60s. He directed a wide range of movies, including some of the era's biggest box office hits. Two of the movie musicals he directed during the 1960s won the Academy Award as Best Picture of the Year.
Question: Who was the Indiana-born Hollywood director?
The prize is two tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair on May 12 in Brown County, courtesy of the Story Inn, and two passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
(April 28, 2018) Even though Madam C.J. Walker died 99 years ago, developments continue to unfold with the legacy of the African-American entrepreneur, who was the first woman in the country to become a self-made millionaire. Some highlights:
To share details about these developments and others, A'Lelia, a journalist and historian, is Nelson's studio guest. She grew up in Indianapolis, attended North Central High School and Harvard College and lives in the Washington D.C. area. For 30 years, A'Lelia was a network TV news executive and producer; she worked for NBC News and ABC News.
As she continues to research Madam Walker, A'Lelia says she turns up new insights about her ancestor, who was named Sarah Breedlove at her birth in Louisiana to parents who were former slaves. Breedlove was orphaned at age 7, married as a teenager and widowed at 20, with a young daughter to support. Before she achieved success as an entrepreneur, she worked at a series of grueling jobs, including washerwoman.
A'Lelia has been a previous guest on Hoosier History Live, including a show in March 2014 about the history of the four-story Madame Walker Theatre Center, housed in a landmark triangular building at the corner of Indiana Avenue and West Street in downtown Indianapolis.
The $15.3 million renovation is expected to include improvements to both the exterior and interior, which features distinctive Egyptian and West African motifs.
The rebranding will include the renaming of the theater center as the Madam Walker Legacy Center. That involves aligning the spelling of "Madam" with the way that the entrepreneur signed her name: without the letter e on the end. Although Madam Walker envisioned the theater, the building did not open until several years after her death in 1919, and the "Madame" reference in the name of the structure was not coordinated with her preferred spelling of her name.
The landmark building was designed by the Indianapolis firm of Rubush & Hunter, the architects for such other historic structures as the Columbia Club, Circle Theatre (now the Hilbert Circle Theatre) and the Indiana Theater building, which houses the Indiana Repertory Theatre. According to an article in the Indianapolis Business Journal last month, the Madame Walker Theatre Center "suffered severe damage when water pipes burst" during the winter. Not only will the $15.3 million renovation repair the damage, it will upgrade the theater's sound system, air conditioning and other aspects of the building, which has 48,000 square feet.
Madam Walker moved to Indianapolis in 1910 in part because the city's central location - and the presence of Union Station as a railway hub - enabled convenient shipping of her hair care products to a broad market. In addition to being sold across the country, the products were purchased by women in Central America and the Caribbean. Within a year of Madam Walker's move to the Hoosier capital, she had 950 sales agents nationwide, according to our guest A'Lelia Bundles.
A'Lelia's books emphasize Madam Walker's advocacy for women entrepreneurs as well as her philanthropy. A convention of her sales agents in 1917 probably was one of the first national meetings of businesswomen, A'Lelia says.
Rather than focusing on a single location of historic interest, guest Roadtripper Jeannie Regan-Dinius of the state Department of Natural Resources is taking us around Indiana to look at recent award-winning historic preservation projects. Our far-ranging Roadtrip will take us to Tippecanoe, Harrison, and Putnam Counties, where Jeannie says she will share some "great stories about how Hoosiers are working to preserve their cultural heritage."
First stop, the Ouiatenon Preserve in Tippecanoe County, where local preservationists have won the Indiana Archeology Award for their efforts to protect the original 1700s-era location of Fort Ouiatenon, the first European settlement and the first of three forts built by the French in the 18th Century in what would later become Indiana.
Next up, the Greenbrier and Cold Friday Cemeteries in the Harrison-Crawford State Forest in Harrison County, where a country restoration team has been recognized for their efforts to preserve historic burial grounds. Their work includes restoring tombstones that were broken or toppled in recent acts of vandalism.
And for our last stop, Jeannie will lead us to the Putnam County Civil War Memorial Monument, built in 1870 to honor the 321 soldiers from Putnam County who died in the war. Local preservationists have received a matching grant in support of their efforts to restore stonework and other elements of the memorial that have deteriorated in the century and a half since its construction.
It's a long Roadtrip in terms of miles, but we know Jeannie will go out of her way to make it fun!
Madam Walker was only in her early 50s when she died in 1919. According to All About Madam C.J. Walker by our guest A'Lelia Bundles, the famous entrepreneur's high blood pressure caused various health issues, including failing kidneys.
During the previous year, 1918, a disease epidemic resulted in the deaths of more than 20 million people around the world - the worst epidemic of the disease in recorded history. Hundreds of Hoosiers died during the outbreak, including dozens of soldiers living in barracks at Fort Harrison in Indianapolis.
Question: What was the disease that caused the horrific epidemic in 1918?
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prize is two tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair on May 12 in Brown County, courtesy of the Story Inn, and two passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
As you have probably noticed, we've been placing a link to our podcast at the top of each week's Hoosier History Live newsletter and website, making each show available a week after the original broadcast.
We do experience an occasional technical glitch, but with the help of our Hoosier History Live tech team and the capable studio engineers at WICR, we're committed to making the nation's only live talk radio history show available in the podcast format. This does involve additional expenses, and so we appreciate the sponsors who have supported these efforts in exchange for underwriting credits on the podcast.
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Hoosier History Live partygoers rang in our show's second decade on March 1, 2018, with a fun-packed anniversary soiree at the Indiana Landmarks Center in Indianapolis. Speakers included Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, Danny Lopez, who serves as chief of staff at Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb's office, as well as producer Molly Head and our show's host, Nelson Price, who reigned as usual over the live Hoosier History Mystery contest.
Check out these photos from our swank affair!
You can't put on a bash like the Hoosier History Live 10th anniversary party without a little help from your friends. Or a lot of help, as the case may be. In no particular order, here are the folks we're writing about in our gratitude journal:
The party sponsors: Jim and Marjorie Kienle, Scott Keller Fine Art and Antiques Appraisals, Indiana Landmarks and MBP Catering.
The historic re-enactors: Abe Lincoln (Danny Russel), Johnny Appleseed (Hank Fincken), President Benjamin Harrison (Charles Braun), and May Wright Sewall (Jan Wahls)
The Indiana Album, which took time to scan interesting photos from Indiana’s past!
And finally, the many folks who work behind the scenes every week to make Hoosier History Live a success and who put in the extra effort to make this party a night to remember: Eric Manterfield, Sarah Witwer, Barbara Goddard, Sherril Adkins, Chris Fry, Garry Chilluffo, Cheryl Lamb, Richard Sullivan, Mick Armbruster, Gary BraVard, Marsh Davis, Mark Szobody, Sari Swinehart, Robin Knop, Lauren Del Rosario , Mario Laing, Alex Riddle, Sidney Bunch, Janet Gilray, Dan Wethington, Bob Foster, WICR 88.7 FM, Henri Pensis, Chris Shoulders and Joan Hostetler.
So during this encore of a show originally broadcast Nov. 12, 2016, we explore the evolution of Main Street in Zionsville, where the 1950s was a pivotal era for creating a "colonial village" theme among the street's merchants. Also on the show, we dig deeper into the history of the Boone County town, which was founded during the early 1850s.
For this program in our rotating series about town and county histories across Indiana, Nelson's studio guests are Marianne Doyle, who lives in a Civil War-era home in Zionsville, and Lynne Brown Manning, a fourth-generation Zionsville resident who is president of the Zionsville Historical Society. Marianne had been the Boone County historian for 19 years when our show originally was broadcast; since then, she has retired from that position.
Lynne's grandmother founded the historical society. Her mother was executive director of the Greater Zionsville Chamber of Commerce for part of the era when the business revival - known as the "miracle on Main Street" movement - unfolded.
According to Marianne, the town's current population is around 28,000. The area primarily was farmland and wilderness prior to the mid-1800s, when promoters of a railroad between Indianapolis and Lafayette encouraged settlement.
Railroad promoters included William Zion, an early settler and business leader in Lebanon (he became the new town's namesake, even though he never lived in the village) and landowners Mary Hoover Cross and her husband, Elijah Cross. Zionsville became a stop for trains, with tracks initially located right on Main Street.
Prior to the railroad, the building of Michigan Road was a key factor in the evolution of Boone County and Zionsville. An early village along the Michigan Road in Boone County - known as Eagle Village - was the forerunner of Zionsville, Marianne says.
During our show, we explore the impact of the interurban rail system on Zionsville, as well as the bricking of Main Street in 1911.Our guests Lynne Manning and Marianne Doyle are the co-founders of the Zionsville Little Theatre Company. Lynne also is the drama club director for Zionsville West Middle School. Both of our guests have served as board members of the Maplelawn Farmstead in Zionsville.
Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff tells us: "I know I've taken you to Delphi before, around five years ago, but so much is happening there, we're going back!"
Along the preserved stretch of the Wabash and Erie Canal, it seems there is something new every week, Glory says. "The Canal Interpretive Center is an amazing small museum; all along the canal are rehabbed historic buildings and replicas to help interpret the full story of the canal, not to mention several bridges that have been rescued from miles around. If you love hiking and nature, there are numerous trails that nearly all intersect at Canal Park."
Who would have dreamed that the long-neglected 1860s Delphi Opera House could be so beautifully restored? Well, it has been, and its success no doubt has been the stimulus for a number of other rehab projects taking place.
As Glory notes, "Downtown Delphi is looking better than it has in years!"Before leaving Delphi, don't miss the lovely Water Maiden sculpture on the Murphy Memorial Fountain on the southwest corner of the courthouse. "This charming little bronze girl is one of my personal favorites," Glory says. "It's the work of Myra Reynolds Richards (1882-1934), who headed the sculpture department at Herron School of Art in Indianapolis."
(April 14, 2018) Shortly after the Civil War, a notorious crime spree unfolded across the Midwest that included the country's first robbery of a moving train. The perpetrators were bandits in a gang organized by brothers who grew up on a farm near Seymour, Ind., in Jackson County. The outlaws also pulled off what may have been the first peacetime train robbery in U.S. history.
The notorious Reno Brothers - whose history-making train robbery occurred on Oct. 6, 1866 - is the focus of our show. The gang included brothers Frank, John, Simeon ("Sim") and William Reno, who had begun looting businesses before the Civil War.
Their most infamous crime occurred May 22, 1868 as the Jefferson, Madison & Indianapolis Railroad train was proceeding through Marshfield, Ind., about 17 miles south of Seymour. The Renos and their gang boarded the train, overpowered the engineer, threw one of his co-workers out a door, broke into an express car and eventually made off with about $96,000.
As train robberies and other crimes by the Reno gang persisted, Jackson County residents formed vigilante committees. Pinkerton detectives were hired to capture the gang.
To describe the Reno Brothers' crime spree, William "Bill" Bell, a retired law enforcement officer based in Indianapolis, is Nelson's studio guest. Bill, who writes for several magazines about the Old West, has researched and written about the Reno Brothers for Wild West magazine. In a 38-year career, Bill worked as a police officer, deputy sheriff, U.S. border patrolman and as a U.S. Customs worker. He is a member of the Scarlet Mask Vigilance Society, which is named after one of the vigilante organizations that, as Bill puts it, "finally put a stop to the depredations of the notorious Reno Brothers."
According to Bill's research, the Reno family came to Indiana in 1813, when the grandfather of the brothers arrived from Kentucky. Frank, John, Sim and William Reno grew up on a 1,200-acre farm. Another brother, Clinton, and a sister, Laura, "apparently never entered into the illicit activities of their siblings," Bill writes.
As an early headquarters, the Reno Brothers and their gang used a dilapidated building in the small Jackson County town of Rockford; later, their base was a hotel in Seymour. Before the historic train robberies, the Renos committed a series of post office robberies and murders.
According to Bill Bell's article, the Reno gang's robbery of an Ohio & Mississippi Railroad train as it left the Seymour depot in 1866 means that the brothers can be blamed for "opening the door to the train robbery era, which featured Jesse and Frank James, and, later, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."
The Reno Brothers were suspects in arson fires that swept through Seymour and in the slayings of residents who could have testified against them in court.
In 1868, several members of the Reno gang, including Frank, William and Sim Reno, were captured in separate apprehensions. They were taken to New Albany, the Ohio River town in Floyd County with a "big stone jail, considered the strongest in southern Indiana," according to Bill's article. (John Reno had been arrested previously and was imprisoned in Missouri, where members of the Reno Gang had robbed banks and a county treasurer's office.)
Determined to make the Reno Brothers pay for their crimes, nearly 100 members of a vigilante society in Jackson County took trains to New Albany one night in December. The vigilantes showed up at the Floyd County jail at about 3 a.m., masked and armed with revolvers and clubs. They overpowered the jailers, the Floyd County sheriff and Floyd County commissioners, and dragged Frank, William and Sim Reno one-by-one out of their cells and executed them by hanging. After the lynchings, the vigilantes returned by train by Seymour.
The bodies of the three Reno Brothers who had been lynched were turned over to their sister Laura and were buried side by side in Seymour City Cemetery. The fenced graves of the infamous bandits can be visited by going up a stone walkway from 9th St in Seymour.To learn more about the Reno Brothers' lasting impact on American culture, listen to "The First Train Robbery," a bluegrass song written by Chris Stout and performed here by Larry Cordle.
During the 1930s, John Dillinger drew national attention - and designation as "Public Enemy No. 1" - for bank robberies across his home state of Indiana and beyond.
Dillinger's biggest heist was from the robbery of a bank in an Indiana city that's home to a university. The robbery occurred in October of 1933, and Dillinger and his gang absconded with a haul of about $75,000 in cash and bonds.
When authorities were alerted that Dillinger had robbed the bank, roadblocks were set up near the university town. Even so, Dillinger and his gang managed to escape from the area in their getaway car.
The bank robbery in the university town was recreated in the movie Public Enemies (2009) starring Johnny Depp as the Indianapolis-born outlaw.
Question: What was the university town?
Hint: It was not Bloomington or West Lafayette.
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prize is two passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and a gift certificate to the Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn, and two tickets to the Seiberling Mansion in Kokomo, courtesy of the Howard County Historical Society.
Bishop William Paul Quinn, a traveling missionary and preacher, organized the AME congregation in Richmond in 1836. Quinn was instrumental in establishing the African Methodist Episcopal Church in free and slave states prior to the Civil War. In 1844, the AME General Conference elected him its Fourth Bishop.
The building was originally built in 1854 for the local German Methodist Church, but was eventually sold to the Hicksite Friends, a Quaker faction. The Bethel AME congregation gained ownership of the building in the late 1860s.
The Indiana Historical Bureau is working with Bethel AME and the City of Richmond on the installation of a new state historical marker commemorating Bishop Quinn. The marker will be dedicated in June at Bethel AME Church.
(April 7, 2018) In 1832, there were only three faculty members at what is today Indiana University, and those three became embroiled in a bitter feud with aspects that remained a mystery until recent years.
In this show we explore the early faculty war at the school known as State Seminary when it was founded in 1820 in Bloomington. By 1832 it had become Indiana College with two dozen students and colorful Andrew Wylie serving as the first president. Wylie was preceded on campus by Rev. Baynard Rush Hall, a Presbyterian minister who had been hired as the school's first professor.
Wylie and Hall were the central figures in the faculty war, which one of our guests, IU historian Jim Capshew, says became fodder for a "durable legend." The war was sparked by what Jim describes as a "mysterious, unsigned letter" addressed to Hall with blistering descriptions of him as "indolent, careless, superficial and shamefully neglectful of his duties."
The identity of the letter writer was not publicly revealed for 177 years. In 2009, our other guest, author and historian Dixie Kline Richardson, disclosed the information in her book Baynard Rush Hall: His Story, the only biography of IU 's historic professor, who taught ancient languages.
In addition to exploring the faculty war and the lives of Wylie (1792-1851), who died following a wood-chopping accident, and Hall (1793-1863), this show explores the Wylie House, the restored home of the first IU president. Built in a blend of Federal and Georgian styles during the 1830s, it is now a house museum open for tours and the setting for concerts and other cultural events. The Wylie House (where the first president and his wife, Mary Ann, lived with 10 of their 12 children) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
During our show, Jim Capshew also describes some of the events planned for the IU Bicentennial in 2020. Jim was our guest for a show in May 2012 about the life of Herman B Wells, the longtime chancellor and president often called "Mr. IU." Jim is the author of a widely acclaimed biography of Wells, for whom he worked as a personal assistant during his junior and senior years of college at IU.
Our guest Dixie Kline Richardson became intrigued by the life of Hall (who left Bloomington in 1832 after the faculty war) when she was a staff writer for the Spencer Evening World newspaper in Owen County during the 1970s. She spent years researching her book about Hall, who suspected Wylie had written the scathing letter. Wylie, though, denied it.
The third faculty member in the earliest years of IU was John Hopkins Harney, a professor of mathematics and science. He sided with Hall in the faculty war that was an inauspicious beginning for the university that would become the alma mater of hundreds of thousands of students.
According to folklore, during the dispute Wylie and Harney met on a narrow bridge over the Jordan River that flows through the Bloomington campus. The encounter ended with Harney in the water.
Wylie - who, like Hall, was a Presbyterian minister - had come to IU following stints as president of two colleges in Pennsylvania. Several of the early IU students had been attending the Pennsylvania colleges and followed Wylie to Bloomington to complete their degrees. When Wylie and his large family arrived in 1829, Bloomington was a small town of barely 1,000 residents who lived in log cabins and, in a few cases, brick homes.
As part of the IU Bicentennial, oral interviews about the university's history are being conducted with alumni, staff and faculty. Historical markers, along with other endeavors commemorating the milestone anniversary, are planned as well. Those who would like to learn more can visit the project website.
"The IU Bicentennial is not just a big birthday party," our guest Jim Capshew says. "[It's] a serious effort to explore the good, the bad and the ugly . . . in our history and learn from it going forward.”
The name of one of Purdue University's early presidents lives on in Indianapolis as the name of a public high school. The high school is named in honor of the educator, who served briefly as Purdue's president during the 1870s.
The honor was granted not because our mystery man had occupied the top administrative role at the West Lafayette campus, however. Rather, his name was adopted as the name of the high school several years before his death in 1919 because of his early leadership role in Indianapolis schools.
Question: What is the name of the high school?
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prize is four passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and a gift certificate to the Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn.
Milan Ind. (pronounced in the Hoosier vernacular as MY-lan, in contrast to the Italian city of mee-LAHN it was named after) has a rich and storied history. But the small town might not offer enough attractions to justify a day-long road trip. Guest Roadtripper and film historian Eric Grayson suggests that we combine a trip to Milan with a stop in Batesville, another historically significant small town in the southeast corner of the state.
Milan, of course, earned its place in history because of the Milan Miracle, the town high school's triumph in the 1954 high school state basketball championship, which served as inspiration for the 1986 movie Hoosiers. To learn more about the legendary David-and-Goliath victory, you'll want to visit the Milan 54 - Hoosiers Museum, which offers extensive photographic and motion-picture documentation of the historic championship game.
Incidentally, Roadtripper Eric Grayson spent two years restoring the 16mm films of the 1954 Milan basketball game; the restored compilation is now available on DVD.
Other Milan attractions include the newly restored water tower and the Masonic Lodge. For lunch, Eric recommends the Reservation, a favorite among locals.
After visiting Milan you can head north a bit to Batesville, known for its German heritage and food. If your taste tends toward the Teutonic, check out The Sherman restaurant, which offers an open-air Biergarten and live entertainment to go with the Brats and Schnitzel. The landmark Sherman House hotel opened in 1852, and the architecture is distinctly German Tudor in style.
And if you still have the energy after your day of small-town Hoosier tourism, catch a movie at Batesville's restored Gibson Theatre, originally built in 1921.
(March 31, 2018) In our previous shows about jazz history during the heyday of clubs on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis, the spotlight mostly has been on male musicians like the late Wes Montgomery and David Baker.
As we salute Women's History Month, our focus in this show is on women who influenced the great jazz musicians, but who primarily were behind the scenes as teachers and mentors during the early and mid-1900s. Nelson is joined in studio by Aleta Hodge, author of the new book Indiana Avenue: Life and Musical Journey From 1915 to 2015 (ASH Consulting), which features profiles of the significant people and places involved in the legendary jazz created there.
Among the "hidden figures," as Aleta calls the Indianapolis female jazz musicians whom history has largely forgotten:
In addition to those historic women, we also highlight some contemporary women who continue to make an impact on the Indiana music scene. They include Rosemarie Gore Bigbee, a veteran teacher at Broad Ripple High School whose vocal performing career ranges from opera to children's television. During the 1990s, she portrayed the character Rainbow Rosie in a series broadcast on WFYI-TV/Channel 20 in Indianapolis.
Even though the musicians who were celebrated during the Indiana Avenue jazz heyday of the 1940s and '50s tended to be male, a few female performers achieved fame. They included the popular Hampton Sisters and pianist-vocalist Flo Garvin. We have explored their careers during previous shows, including two programs in November and December 2016 with music historian David Leander Williams.
This time around, the focus primarily is on women whose names are not as well-remembered, but whose impact was significant. Our guest Aleta Hodge grew up near Attucks and has interviewed dozens of people connected to Indiana's jazz heritage, including descendants of the musicians influenced by the historic women mentors.
In her book, Aleta describes Attucks, which opened in 1927, as a "musical breeding ground for many future jazz entertainers and educators." (We explored Crispus Attucks High School history during a show in February 2014.)
Marian Burch, who was one of the few women teachers in the high school's music department from the 1930s through the '60s,was multi-talented. In addition to having a widely acclaimed singing voice, she played various stringed instruments and the piano. Her great-granddaughter, Amanda King, is a contemporary jazz singer who regularly performs in San Francisco and Las Vegas.
Several of the other women educators primarily taught private lessons. At age nine, Rosemarie Gore Bigbee began taking piano lessons from Trillie Stewart., who already had trained the Montgomery brothers and David Baker. Trillie Stewart's son, Frank Smith, is a renowned jazz bassist. According to Aleta, Frank Smith benefited from tips by Wes Montgomery (who was often considered the most innovative jazz guitarist of the 20th century) in his family's home thanks to the role of Trillie Stewart as a mutual mentor.In addition to Indiana Avenue: Life and Musical Journey from 1915 to 2015, our guest Aleta Hodge has written two other books, both offering financial advice, including one focused on tips for women entrepreneurs.
One of the most popular figures in the Indianapolis jazz scene was not a musician. He was the host of jazz radio programs Saturday evening and Sunday morning on WICR-FM for many years before his death in 2012. For nearly 20 years, he also served as a jazz columnist for Nuvo Newsweekly and helped organize jazz concerts in central Indiana.
He grew up during the heyday of jazz on Indiana Avenue and befriended many of its legendary figures, including Wes Montgomery. A few years before his death at age 79, he was inducted into the Indianapolis Jazz Hall of Fame.
Question: Who was he?The prize is four passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to the Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn.
Guest Roadtripper Jake Oakman, backroads Indiana traveler and history enthusiast, points out that baseball season is here and that Indiana is ripe with destinations for a baseball Roadtrip.
Jake tells us that Parkview Field in Fort Wayne was built as the new home of the Midwest League's Fort Wayne TinCaps in 2009, replacing the old Memorial Stadium. The stadium is also one of the central components of the Harrison Square revitalization project in downtown Fort Wayne. Why "TinCaps"? The team name was adopted when they moved into the new stadium and alludes to the character of Johnny Appleseed, based on the real-life John Chapman. Chapman, who spent his later years in Fort Wayne and is buried there, is often depicted in fictionalized versions of his life as wearing a tin cooking pot on his head.
While Parkview Field is one of the newest Midwest baseball venues, Bosse Field in Evansville is among the oldest. It opened in 1915 and is still going strong as the home field for the professional minor league Evansville Otters of the independent Frontier League; it hosts high school and American Legion games as well. The historic stadium was also used by Columbia Pictures for filming numerous game scenes in the 1992 comedy-drama, A League of Their Own.
Enjoy your spring Roadtrip!
(March 24, 2018) Hoosiers who have celebrated more than 90 birthdays have lived through a lot of state history. Not only have they been eyewitnesses to the great milestones of the twentieth century, many have remained hale and hearty far beyond the average American lifespan. Those who continue to enjoy an active life into their tenth decade undoubtedly have insights and advice to share with the rest of us.
To tap these insights - including what expectations to let go of and how to keep thriving mentally and physically - the format of our show is a round-table discussion with guests in their 90s. Two of our guests have made previous appearances on Hoosier History Live to talk about the local history they have seen unfold:
On this show, our guests share life lessons and a range of tips about how to flourish after age 90, a demographic that is growing rapidly. According to Georgia's book, the number of Americans age 90 and older has tripled in the past 30 years.
Mrs. Osili, who turns 94 next month, competes in local and national championships in the card game of bridge and has attained the title of "national life master." Her three children include Indianapolis architect and civic leader Vop Osili, who was named president of the Indianapolis City Council last month.
Georgia Buchanan's son, Bryan Hadin, was born in 1963 with special needs. For many years, he participated in various competitions with Special Olympics. Georgia is a long-time arts advocate; her career as a print and broadcast journalist included media work in Indianapolis and in Washington D.C.
Our guest Tom Ridley, who was born in 1922, lives in the Ransom Place neighborhood, not far from where he grew up. He met his late wife when they were in kindergarten; she went on to become an IPS teacher. His father-in-law was a musician in clubs on Indiana Avenue.
Contrary to prevailing stereotypes about the elderly, some of our guests are active on the Internet, continue to drive and live independently. All three are widely known for their energy and enthusiasm.
Ninety years ago, in the decade when this week's guests were born, a major landmark was being planned and built on the north side of Indianapolis. When the building opened in 1928, it was the largest structure of its kind in the entire country.
For many decades, the building was the venue for a major sports event that, beginning in 1930, was sold out for 60 consecutive years.
Question: What is the name of this landmark building?
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prize is four passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two admissions to GlowGolf, courtesy of GlowGolf.
Guest Roadtripper, journalist, and public historian Eunice Trotter invites us to learn about Chapman Harris and underground railroad activity in Madison and Eagle Hollow, a community just east of Madison, both located along the mighty Ohio River.
Chapman Harris was a free African American who was born in Virginia and in his youth heard of Indiana as a "free land." He came to Madison by steamboat in 1839 at age 37 and worked as a Baptist minister, teamster, and farmer. Chapman Harris and his family owned land in both Madison and Eagle Hollow and lead efforts to help enslaved persons crossing the Ohio River into the free state of Indiana.
Harris was known for his imposing size and bearing; a newspaper profile written about him after the Civil War noted that "He walks among men with a natural grace and dignity inseparable from fearlessness and strength of will."
The Indiana Historical Bureau, Jefferson County Commissioners, and Visit Madison, Inc. erected a marker for Chapman Harris in 2016. The marker is located, along the Ohio River at intersection of Eagle Hollow Rd. and SR 56 (Ohio River Scenic Byway) just east of Madison.
If your business or organization would like to contribute prizes for our History Mystery contest, we would love to have them! Ideally they fit in a standard mailing envelope, such as coupons or vouchers.
Your organization gets a mention on the air by Nelson, as well as a link to your website on our enewsletter and website! If interested, contact producer Molly Head at email@example.com.
(March 17, 2018) It's not blarney: Of all the European ethnic heritage groups that found a new home in Indiana during the 19th century, the Irish are the second largest, outnumbered only by the Germans.
For our show about Irish immigration to the Hoosier state, what more ideal day than St. Patrick's Day to spotlight the significant links between the Emerald Isle and Indiana?
According to the book The Irish in America (Hyperion, 1997), Irish immigrants quickly became the "muscle power" of the American labor force, particularly after the infamous potato famine began in 1845. Even before that devastating blight spurred an emigrant exodus, Irish-born brawn in Indiana was helping build the Old National Road, the Wabash and Erie Canal and other canals. As early as 1832, canal companies based on the East Coast were specifically recruiting Irish immigrants to come to the Hoosier state, according to Peopling Indiana: The Ethnic Experience (Indiana Historical Society Press, 1996).
Three guests with deep Irish ancestral roots join Nelson in studio:
By 1860, 15 years after the potato famine began, one-fourth of the Irish population had come to the U.S., according to The Irish in America.
Peopling Indiana reports this history stat: In 1900, six of the ten Hoosier counties with the highest numbers of Irish immigrants were either on the old Wabash and Erie Canal line or on the Old National Road, alluding to Marion, Allen, Cass, Tippecanoe, Vigo and Wayne counties.
Of course, the Irish connections to Indiana go far beyond the hard work of digging the state's canals. At the University of Notre Dame, sports teams have been known for generations as the Fighting Irish. (Never mind that Notre Dame was founded by a French priest.)
In Indianapolis, Irish immigrants started the city's first Catholic church, St. John's. Its majestic steeples are often seen on national TV broadcasts of Indianapolis Colts games because St. John's neighbor is Lucas Oil Stadium.
In the recent Indianapolis Star article about our guest Mary Coffey, she shared her favorite Irish music and cuisine, mentioning shepherd's pie and Guinness stew. Mary referred to the Irish as "perhaps the inventors of comfort food."
Our guest Kevin Charles Murray helped form a committee that constructed a monument in Holy Cross Cemetery on the southside of Indy to memorialize the Irish regiment in which his ancestor served during the Civil War. Kevin has a collection of Irish American sheet music from the early 1900s. Last month, he traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with the Irish ambassador to the United States. Kevin's house in Ireland is in County Donegal.
County Donegal also is where our guest John Hegarty attended elementary school and high school. “Being schooled in Ireland, I learned Gaelic and Irish history,” John says. “I was very active in Gaelic football.” At Scecina, John was the soccer coach for many years and escorted several of his teams on trips to Ireland.
Some other facts regarding Indiana's connections with Ireland:
In Indianapolis, an Irish immigrant is honored with the city's largest monument dedicated to an individual person. The immigrant, who served as mayor of Indianapolis from 1895 to 1901, was enormously influential in national and state Democratic politics. After his term as Indy's mayor, he became a major owner of the French Lick Springs Hotel in southern Indiana, making it one of the country's most popular upscale resorts.
He was born in Ireland in 1856, but came to America as a child with his family.
Question: Who was the Irish immigrant who served as Indianapolis mayor?
Hint: The monument dedicated to him is located in Riverside Park, which was the focus of a History Mystery last month.The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prize is four passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and a gift certificate to Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn.
With a growing interest in fermented foods and unique regional flavors, lovers of fine food have turned their culinary attention to pickles. Not only do pickles deliver a powerful tang that complements many foods, they may have significant health benefits, thanks to the Lactobacillus cultures that are an essential part of the pickle-making process.
To learn more about the delights of pickles and a prominent Hoosier company that makes them, guest Roadtripper and writer Jane Ammeson invites us to tag along on a visit to Sechler's Pickles in St. Joe, Ind, located in DeKalb County in the northeast corner of the state, not far from Fort Wayne.
Founded in 1914 by Ralph Sechler, the company got its start with the advantage of being able to ship its product via the many railroad stations that operated in the St. Joe area at the time. Over a century later the company is still thriving. Instead of aiming for the mass market, however, it caters to a niche of pickle aficionados who appreciate the company's 54 different varieties of pickles, ranging from Candied Sweet Orange Strips to Jalapeno Dilled Gherkins. Sechler Genuine Dills - still using the original recipe - are a best-seller.
As part of your visit to Sechler's Pickles, you'll want to take a tour of the plant, available April through October. Call 800-332-5461 to check on specific tour times.Or to fully immerse yourself in the wonder of pickles, plan to attend the annual St. Joe Pickle Festival (July 19-21); in addition to a factory tour of Sechler's, you can relish parades, competitions, fireworks, food vendors, kids activities, live music and performances - all celebrating the distinctive pleasure of pickles. We hear its a barrel of fun!
(March 10, 2018) A few times each year, Hoosier History Live opens the phone lines for the entire show so listeners can inquire about any aspect of our state's heritage that interests them.
Between phone calls, our host, Nelson Price, discusses mascots of Indiana high schools (as a salute to March Madness and Hoosier Hysteria) and first ladies of Indiana (in honor of Women's History Month). He is joined in studio by our show's associate producer, Mick Armbruster, who interviews Nelson about these topics and an array of others related to our heritage. In addition to his unofficial title of "connoisseur of all things Hoosier," Nelson calls himself a "garbage can" of Hoosier trivia.
Listeners are invited to call in with questions; the WICR-FM studio number is (317) 788-3314.
Regarding high school mascots: Amid many bulldogs, panthers, warriors and wildcats, there are some truly distinctive mascots. At Delphi High School in the Carroll County town of Delphi, athletes are known as the Oracles. That's a nod to the Oracle of Delphi in ancient Greece, where the city of Delphi was considered to be the center of the world.
In the scenic Ohio River town of Rising Sun, Ind. - known for its spectacular views of the sunrise - the sports teams are proudly called the Shiners. Perhaps surprisingly, only one high school in Indiana has the word Hoosiers in its mascot name. That's the Indiana School for the Deaf, where the basketball team is called the Deaf Hoosiers and plays a range of high school opponents.
The definitive resource about mascots is Hoosiers All: Indiana High School Basketball Teams (Hawthorne Publishing), a book by Emerson Houck, a retired Lilly executive. Emerson spent years traveling the byways of Indiana to track down the mascots for every high school that ever existed in the state, including long-closed and consolidated ones. Emerson was a studio guest on Hoosier History Live in 2009 for a show about the most colorful and obscure mascots; sadly, he passed away in January.
According to his book, Indiana has about 400 public and private high schools now, compared to more than 1,200 in the mid-1900s. More than 800 schools, Emerson wrote, have been "lost to consolidation, the ravages of time or shifting demographics."
Although many anthology books have been written about Indiana's governors, only one has been published about their spouses. It's First Ladies of Indiana and the Governors, 1816-1984, which has long been out of print. During our show, Nelson, who knew the book's author, the late Margaret Moore Post, will share anecdotes from her book as well as insights from his own interviews with several modern-era first ladies. Some history facts about our first ladies:
Our mystery this week involves a small city in Indiana with a population of about 16,000, where the high school's sports teams are officially called the Hot Dogs, aka the Fighting Hot Dogs.
Why did this city's only public high school adopt the lowly wiener sausage as their mascot? They have their reasons - which will be revealed on Saturday's show, along with several of the town's other claims to fame.
Question: What is the Indiana city in which the high school mascot is the Hot Dog?
Hint: During the summer, the city's biggest event is the Hot Dog Festival.
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prize is four passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and a gift certificate to Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn.
(Mar. 3, 2018) As Hoosier History Live salutes Women's History Month, our spotlight is on women military veterans from Indiana. Two of these veterans are Nelson's studio guests on this encore show that originally was broadcast on March 5, 2016. Along with other women veterans - some who served in war, others in peacetime - our guests on the show include members of a group writing memoirs about life in the armed services.
Nelson and the veterans are joined on the show by their writing instructor, Shari Wagner, who was Indiana's poet laureate at the time. A few months after our show was broadcast, a collection of their memoirs was published by the Indiana Writers Center as a book, Finding Our Words: Stories and Poems of Women Veterans, which is available for order online.
Women in the group range from 30-somethings to a 93-year-old veteran of World War II. During our show, the guests discuss everything from their enlistment experiences in the military (including survival training) to their transition to civilian life. Nelson and Shari Wagner are joined by:
Leslie also has been a "Navy wife" because her husband, Ronald, a Noblesville native, is a veteran. He served 12 years aboard nuclear submarines.
(Feb. 24, 2018) Because the ever-changing Indiana weather always is top of mind, Hoosier History Live revisits a topic we explored back in 2014. Rather than sticking to Wicked winter history, as we called that show, this show broadens the focus and explores all aspects of our weather heritage in the Hoosier state.
To provide insight into the history of Hoosier weather, Nelson welcomes back the jaunty, multimedia meteorologist who bills himself as Indiana's Weatherman: Paul Poteet, the Indianapolis-based forecaster, weather historian and veteran broadcast personality.
Paul, who launched his own weather site in 1998, grew up in the small town of Andrews near Huntington in northeastern Indiana; he got his start as a teenage disc jockey in Huntington.
Since then, he has popped up as a weatherman on various TV and radio stations in Indiana, including nearly 15 years on the morning show of WRTV-Channel 6 in Indianapolis. He's currently a freelance contributor to several broadcast shows, including Daybreak on WISH-TV-Channel 8.
During our 2014 show, Paul and Nelson shared their memories of extreme weather in Indianapolis, including the coldest day in the city's recorded history. It was Jan. 19, 1994, when the air temperature dipped to -27° F, not counting wind chill.
In contrast, the highest temp ever recorded in Indy was 106° F. That was on July 14, 1936.
According to Paul's research, the biggest snow season in Indy history was the winter of 2013-14. A total of 52.2 inches had fallen that winter by the time warm weather arrived. In second place is the winter of 1981-82, with 51 inches.
Third place goes to 1977-78, which included the Blizzard of '78. That winter isn't the snowiest; as Hoosiers who survived the blizzard can attest, it wasn't just the amount of snow that made it so treacherous, but instead a "perfect storm" of several factors - including the extreme wind chill - that paralyzed the Hoosier capital.
During our previous show with Paul, he reported that the Indy metro area generally averages 26 inches of snow per winter season. In stark contrast, the South Bend area is impacted by the infamous lake effect, in which cold winter winds pick up moist air from the Great Lakes and dump it inland as snow, resulting in an average total winter season snowfall of 66 inches.
Paul also identified the date on which the Indy metro area received the most single-day snowfall in recorded history. It was March 19, 1906, when 12.1 inches of snow came down. A weather-savvy listener called in to note that on Dec. 20, 1981, Indy had the unfortunate distinction of being the coldest city in the entire country. It was -11° F in Indy that day.
Accurate weather statistics go back to the late 1800s, Paul says. That's when weather bureaus were established across the country, followed by the widespread use of the telegraph to transmit weather data. Although professional meteorological record-keeping dates only to the 1870s, detailed and descriptive accounts of the daily weather go back much earlier thanks to diaries and other personal written records.
Some history facts:
Check out these audio excerpts from our Jan. 16, 2008 show on the Blizzard of '78:
Although cities and towns near the Ohio River were significantly impacted by the Flood of 1937, it isn't considered the worst statewide flood in Indiana history. The greatest flood across the state occurred earlier in the 1900s and was blamed for the deaths of 200 Hoosiers.
More than 200,000 people in the state were left homeless; levees burst and rivers overflowed throughout Indiana.
The catastrophic flood occurred in March. It followed days of hurricane-like winds and relentless, pelting rainfalls. Indianapolis became known as "the city underwater." In Peru, Ind., where several circuses spent their off-season, hundreds of lions, tigers and other animals drowned in their cages. Terre Haute was still recovering from a tornado, which hit the city the weekend prior to the greatest flood in Indiana history. The most devastating flooding occurred on Easter weekend.
Question: What year was the greatest flood in Indiana history?
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prize is four passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and a gift certificate to Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn.
Guest Roadtripper, historian and IUPUI adjunct faculty member William Selm shares some German Hoosier heritage in this week's Roadtrip. William invites listeners to join him as he explores the naming of the monumental brick and stone building at Michigan Street and Massachusetts Avenue in Indianapolis, known for the past hundred years as The Athenaeum.
William tells us that for the first 23 years of its existence, the building was known as Das Deutsche Haus, reflecting its role as a meeting place for social clubs composed of the city's German immigrants.
On February 22, 1918, however, the building was renamed The Athenaeum. The name change was not the idea of its owners, the Sozialer Turnverein. Rather, it was the result of an anti-German campaign during World War I orchestrated by the Marion County Council of Defense and the Indianapolis Star. According to writer Kurt Vonnegut Jr., the government and the press had fomented a campaign of "hatred of all things German."
At the time of the renaming, a tablet bearing the new name ATHENAEVM was bolted above the west wing door, covering the original tablet, which had the old name Das Deutsche Haus in raised gold fraktur letters.
On 22 February at 5:30 PM, to mark the centenary of the name change, The Indiana German Heritage Society and the Athenaeum Foundation unveiled a half-size replica of the original sign, affixed above the west wing doors.Listeners can check out the new sign for themselves by visiting the Athenaeum. Be sure to consult their events calendar to take advantage of the building's busy schedule of arts and cultural happenings, and plan your trip to include dinner at the Rathskeller restaurant in the building's basement, with its beer-hall atmosphere and lively local music scene.
(Feb. 17, 2018) This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest African-American orators and social reformers in history, Frederick Douglass (1818-1895). Although Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland and lived in New England after escaping bondage, his work as an abolitionist sent him on extensive travels, including trips to the Midwest. As a result, Douglass has more links to Indiana than many realize.
In 1843, only a few years after escaping slavery, Douglass came to Pendleton, Ind., with a small group of other abolitionists. They were assaulted by a white mob in an attack that left Douglass seriously wounded.
After achieving national fame, Douglass returned to Indiana in 1880 at age 62. This time, he visited Noblesville, where he delivered a major speech that was received positively, with extensive press coverage. During the speech, he reflected on the assault in Pendleton 37 years earlier.
As Hoosier History Live salutes Black History Month, we explore those episodes and other connections between Douglass and Indiana. Nelson is joined by two studio guests:
Frederick Douglass was born into slavery on a plantation in Maryland; as a youth, he was regularly whipped and beaten. After escaping at age 20, he was based in Rochester, N.Y., and Washington D.C. for most of his career.
Our guest Celeste Williams said she was encouraged to research Douglass' visits to Indiana and write her play by Noblesville resident Bryan Glover, a descendant of some of the founders of the Roberts Settlement, an historic community of African Americans in Hamilton County.
Roberts Settlement residents were instrumental in arranging for Douglass to speak in Noblesville in 1880 at a political rally for the Republican Party. Celeste says she took the title of her play from the words of Douglass' speech:
"I believed then as I do now that all the American people need is more light. I believed then if I could impress them with the idea of wrongs and cruelties suffered by the black man, if I could unfold the evils of the hideous monster - slavery - that the American people would crush and destroy it."
With the words "I believed then," Douglass alludes to his trip to Pendleton in 1843 when he and his companions were assaulted and thus unable to deliver speeches they had prepared.
In his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, the great orator describes the Pendleton assailants as "a mob of about 60 of the roughest characters I ever looked upon."
When Douglass traveled to Pendleton in September 1843, he was 25 years old. According to his autobiography, the abolitionists found it "impossible to obtain a building" in which to speak, so they erected a platform in the woods. That' s where the mob descended, hurling stones and swinging clubs at the abolitionists, who sustained various injuries. Some of the abolitionists, including Douglass, were knocked unconscious; his right hand was severely broken.
A "kind-hearted" Madison County resident, a Quaker, took Douglass by wagon to his home where his wounds were treated by the man' s wife. "But as the broken bones were not properly set," Douglass later wrote, "my hand has never recovered its natural strength and dexterity."
According to the Madison County Historical Society, one of the mob organizers initially was jailed for participating in the attack. That enraged other county residents, about 40 of whom showed up to protest "the imprisonment of a white man for assaulting a Negro." After Madison County officials negotiated a compromise with this mob, the group disbanded, and the imprisoned assailant was released without standing trial.
When Douglass returned to Indiana 37 years later to speak in Noblesville, he visited Pendleton to look at the site of his assault. He also met with the Quaker woman who had treated his wounds "like the Good Samaritan of old," he wrote.
In addition to Noblesville, where Frederick Douglass delivered a major speech in 1880, another town in Hamilton County has a significant connection to an abolitionist. The town, which has a population of about 2,700, is the location of an historic cabin where George Boxley, a white abolitionist, lived.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Boxley Cabin was built in 1830 and is located in a park in the town. A native of Virginia, George Boxley was a successful mill owner and merchant in his home state, but was jailed there for his anti-slavery activities. Boxley was a fugitive when he fled to Hamilton County and helped start a new town. He was a strong believer in education and is credited with starting the first school in the township.
Years later, the Monon Railroad passed through the town. Like Carmel, a much larger city in Hamilton County, the mystery town also is known for the success of its high school' s football team in state tournaments.
Question: What is the town in Hamilton County where abolitionist George Boxley lived?The prize is four passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and a gift certificate to Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn.
Guest Roadtripper and travel writer Jane Ammeson suggests a visit to Spring Mill State Park near Mitchell in south central Indiana to see its picturesque Pioneer Village. The village features a three-story gristmill built in 1816 that continues to grind corn into meal for making bread. Founded in 1814 by the Hamer family, the village once served as a stagecoach stop and had a distillery, tavern, apothecary and mercantile store.
Visitors can learn about how the corn, pork and whiskey produced in the area were shipped down river on flatboats built from trees felled from the forest and cut at the village's sawmill. Plant lovers will want to check out the village's historic gardens, which have been immaculately restored.
One of the log cabins in the Pioneer Village - a rather fancy affair with a middle area open for wagons to pull in - belonged to pioneer Sally Cummins White, known in later years as Granny White. She was a remarkable woman, with a long and adventurous life; Jane will share some of her fascinating story during the show.
Another Village cabin of note bears a family connection to Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln, who grew up in Indiana.
Jane suggests that overnight visitors to the Village might want to stay at the Spring Mill Inn. "Be sure to try their scrumptious desserts," says Jane. "Many of them come with their own special story, including the Granny White Orchard Cake.
(Feb. 10, 2018) In the first half of the 20th century, an era of widespread racial discrimination in the United States, many hospitals in Indiana declined to allow African-American physicians to practice medicine or perform surgeries. In several cases, Hoosier hospitals even refused to accept black patients. Hospitals that served African Americans during the early and mid-1900s often did so in small, insufficient "colored wards" in their basements. Young black Hoosiers often were discouraged from pursuing careers as surgeons, nurses and other medical professionals.
Hoosiers seeking to serve the health-care needs of the black community persevered, however, even in the face of the daunting challenges of discrimination. Patients who could not be accommodated in overflowing "colored wards" would often be taken in by black churches.
And during the early 1900s, a hospital, a surgery center and a clinic for African-American patients were built in Indianapolis.
All this is explored during our show as Hoosier History Live salutes Black History Month. Later this year, the dedication of an historic marker is planned for the former site of Lincoln Hospital, which was established by black physicians in Indianapolis. Located at 11th Street and Senate Avenue, Lincoln Hospital was open from 1909 to 1915.
A longer-lasting facility, Ward's Sanitarium, was a surgery center and clinic in Indianapolis opened by Dr. Joseph Ward (1872-1956), a trail-blazing African-American physician. Other African-American medical pioneers included Dr. Harvey Middleton Sr. (1895-1978), a cardiologist who advocated for opportunities for black physicians to serve on the staffs of Indiana hospitals.
To discuss the health care scenario for African Americans in Indiana during the first half of the 20th Century, two guests join Nelson in studio:
Norma also has written about a major, unlikely benefactor of Lincoln Hospital: none other than Carl Fisher, the flamboyant founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. During our show, Norma explains why Fisher, who launched the Indianapolis 500 in 1911, took a keen interest in the hospital for African Americans.
Also during our show, Harvey Middleton Jr., a resident of Tampa, Fla., calls in to share insights about his father. In 2015, an interior road on the campus of Eskenazi Hospital was named Dr. Harvey Middleton Sr. Way in honor of the pioneering physician. Eskenazi is the successor to Wishard Memorial Hospital, which, in turn, evolved out of the old City Hospital.
According to our guests, City Hospital had a "colored ward" in its basement for a few black patients during the early 1900s. When the segregated ward overflowed, local churches - including Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church - often set up beds for patients.
Neither Dr. Ward nor Dr. Middleton Sr. were native Hoosiers. Dr. Ward was born in North Carolina, where his mother had been a slave. He received his medical training in Indianapolis and opened an office on Indiana Avenue in 1901. Ward's Sanitarium, which opened in 1910, also initially was located on Indiana Avenue.
"By 1922, African Americans needing surgery were coming to him from as far away as Bedford to Kokomo to Terre Haute to Richmond - a radius of approximately 100 miles," our guest Leon Bates has written. According to Leon's research, Ward also served as a medical doctor in the Army during World War I. In the war, he was one of 104 African-American physicians in the Army.
Dr. Middleton was born in South Carolina. In 1928, he moved to Anderson, Ind., to join the staff of a local hospital. He relocated to Indianapolis during the mid-1930s and established a private medical practice. As a cardiologist, Dr. Middleton began treating - as a volunteer - patients at City Hospital's outpatient heart clinic. In 1942, City Hospital invited him to serve as a full-time staff member.
“Later, he became one of the first physicians in Indiana to use EKG technology to detect heart problems,” according to Eskenazi Health.
Although Indianapolis Motor Speedway founder Carl Fisher was a donor to Lincoln Hospital, which was founded in 1909 by black physicians who were not allowed to practice in other hospitals, the color barrier at the Indianapolis 500 was not broken until more than 80 years after that.
In 1991, a racecar driver who grew up in California became the first African American to compete in the Indy 500. He also competed in the Indy 500 in 1993.
Question: Who was the first African-American driver to race in the Indianapolis 500?
Hint: Our mystery driver competed in many forms of auto racing, including the Trans-Am Series, IndyCar, Champ Car, IMSA, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Craftsman Truck Series
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer, so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prize is two passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to GlowGolf, courtesy of GlowGolf.
Guest Roadtripper Rachel Berenson Perry, Indiana State Museum Fine Arts Curator Emerita and freelance historian, tells us that the Swope Art Museum in downtown Terre Haute is a gem. Although modest in proportions, the Swope has an extraordinary collection of nearly 2,500 works of American art and is well worth a visit.
The founding collection of the Swope focuses on American regionalism and includes works by Thomas Hart Benton, Edward Hoppe and Zoltan Sepeshy. The museum also features works by artists from the mid 20th to early 21st centuries, including pieces by Robert Rauschenberg, Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol, Robert Indiana and Eva Hesse.
If Indiana artists are your thing, the Swope is the place for you: one gallery is devoted to artists from the Hoosier Group, including J. Ottis Adams, William Forsyth, Otto Stark and Theodore C. Steele. Brown County Impressionists are represented by such artists as C. Curry Bohm, Carl C. Graf and Genevieve Goth Grath.
Admission to the Swope is free; hours of operation are Tuesday through Sunday noon to 5:00 pm and Friday noon to 8:00 pm.
(Feb. 3, 2018) Patent medicine tonics to treat "nervous disorders" - including mail-order products marketed by Miles Laboratories in Elkhart - were popular during the late 1800s and early 1900s. So were herbal remedies like Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound, which purported to cure a variety of "female complaints." Hoosier History Live explored them during an intriguing show last March about Health care during the Gilded Age.
Tonics, lotions and potions weren’t the only "cures" sold during that era, though.
Exercise fads, diets and various healing techniques also swept the country. For insights about them, we welcome a return visit by studio guest David Schuster, associate professor of history at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. David has done presentations about the healthcare market during the Gilded Age and subsequent Progressive Era (periods stretching generally from 1870 to 1920) at the Indiana Medical History Museum.
Beginning in 1876, health activist and physician John Harvey Kellogg presided at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. Under Kellogg’s direction, the Wabash Sanitarium - also called the Wabash Valley Hospital - opened in 1906 in Lafayette. During our show, David Schuster discusses the dietary and fitness advice advocated by Kellogg (1852-1943), a vegetarian who, with his brother Will, primarily is remembered for the development and marketing of breakfast cereals, including corn flakes.
During the early 1900s, President Teddy Roosevelt called for Americans to live a "strenuous life" that, as David puts it, "manifested itself in healthy lifestyles of camping, exercise and shopping - yes, shopping was seen as a way for women to stay active and healthy."
As part of the "fresh air movement" that swept the country, sick women and children - along with nursing mothers - frequently were brought to Fairview Park on the northside of Indianapolis. The 246-acre park had been developed in 1890 by the Citizens Street Railway Company; its streetcars took women and children to the park for the tranquility of flowers, trees and ponds. In the 1920s, Fairview Park became the new site of Butler University, which had been located in the eastside neighborhood of Irvington during the Gilded Age.
During our show, David also discusses the rise during the late 19th century of spiritual healing led by movements such as "New Thought" and Christian Science.
The Wabash and Battle Creek sanitariums were affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as was John Harvey Kellogg. His treatments often involved hydrotherapy and extensive exposure to sunlight.
Kellogg advocated exposure to fresh air, particularly the "invigorating" cold air in winter. An equipment company Kellogg founded in 1890 manufactured "therapeutic machines" that he invented, including an "electrotherapy coils" device, a foot vibrator and a contraption that repeatedly slapped the body as a form of stimulating massage.
Across the country, an open-air school movement began during the early 1900s. Children who were tubercular, anemic or suffering from other disorders were sent to such schools, which emphasized good nutrition, outdoor physical activity and training in the manual arts. In Indianapolis, the Lucretia Mott School on the near-eastside became the city’s first open-air school in 1913.
This program is the first of two shows focusing on aspects of healthcare in earlier eras.
A few years before parks advocate and fitness enthusiast Teddy Roosevelt was elected to the U.S. presidency, an Indianapolis mayor pushed the city to acquire about 1,000 acres for park land. Mayor Thomas Taggart initially was ridiculed for the purchase of the flood-prone acreage. But the land became one of the largest and most popular parks in the city, with three golf courses, tennis courts, playgrounds and other amenities.
The park in Indy also has a large, historic memorial to Taggart, who served three terms as mayor from 1895 to 1901. Like Teddy Roosevelt, Taggart was a lover of the outdoors and an advocate of a vigorous, healthy lifestyle.
Question: Name the park with the memorial to Taggart that was developed on flood-prone land.
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Mick pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer, so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prize is two passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn.
Guest Roadtripper Rachel Hill Ponko of the Indiana Historical Society says there is no time like 2018 to visit the Landmark for Peace Memorial, located in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Indianapolis.
"April 4, 2018, marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's tragic death in Memphis and Sen. Robert Kennedy's extraordinary speech here in Indianapolis," says Rachel. "A growing group of community members and leaders are now working with the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative (KKMI) on upgrades to the site, as well as a series of special events."
Fifty years ago, Kennedy delivered news of King's shooting in an impromptu speech from the back of a flatbed truck. Kennedy had been urged to cancel his appearance in Indianapolis that evening; local police feared he might face a riot. Instead of cancelling, however, Kennedy used the occasion to deliver a message of peace that calmed the crowd and left a deep impression on those who heard it.
Today, the Landmark for Peace Memorial at 17th and Broadway Streets features the outstretched hands of Kennedy and King reaching toward each other. Visitors can also enjoy playgrounds, picnic shelters and green space. Come April, a banner will be added to the Visitors Center, courtesy of KKMI, in partnership with IHS.
Special events include a screening of the documentary A Ripple of Hope on Tuesday, April 3, at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History, as well as two commemorative events onWednesday, April 4, at MLK Park.
"Some will choose to attend the events, while others may seek out a quiet moment in the park," says Rachel. "Whatever your preference, there is no place like the memorial to reflect on the lasting influence of these two men."
(Jan. 27, 2018) The American dream takes many forms. For many Jewish Hoosiers during the early to middle years of the 20th century, it took the form of the family-owned scrap yard, independently operated and passed down from one generation to the next.
For many of these families, the road from impoverished immigrant to wealth and social prominence was paved with the detritus of an industrial economy: Crushed automobile frames. Mangled copper wiring. Smashed aluminum cans. All were to be melted down and turned into raw materials that fed the booming American economy during the second half of the 20th century.
This week's Hoosier History Live show explores the prominent role of scrap metal recycling among Jewish families in Indiana. Guest host Mick Armbruster is joined in studio by three guests, each with a unique perspective on the history of the Jewish salvage industry in Indiana:
Before a wave of consolidation changed the industry in the late 1990s, almost 90 percent of American scrap yards were owned by Jewish families, a statistic that seems to hold true for Indiana as well. Why did so many prominent scrap businesses in Indiana and the Midwest carry Jewish family names? What was it about salvage that attracted Jewish entrepreneurs and encouraged them to build thriving businesses in this field?
To answer these questions, we dig into aspects of American history that include a strong Jewish contingent among fur trappers and traders in the Midwest during Colonial and Pioneer eras. Later, Jewish peddlers helped settle the frontier territories. Historians have called Jewish peddlers "foot soldiers in the far-reaching revolution" that brought manufactured consumer goods to far-flung residents of the American frontier.
Coming from a tradition of entrepreneurship in the Old Country, Jewish immigrants often were well-suited for the role of peddler in their new homeland, and low start-up costs made the profession accessible to even the poorest among them. In some cases, anti-Semitism played a role in shaping the economic destiny of Jews during the frontier era and early Hoosier statehood; as Trent will explain, Jews were forbidden from owning property in some areas of Indiana, making the nomadic life of the peddler one of their few options for engaging in trade.
The same economic and historical forces that made peddling a common career choice among Jewish immigrants to America applied to the scrapping trade as well. Rather than sell goods to customers, the scrappers purchased the rags, metal, and animal hides consumers cast off, but that still had value as raw materials. As the businesses of the early horse-and-wagon scrappers grew, they evolved into the scrap yards that eventually became a major force in the U.S. industrial economy.
Guests Marty Kroot and Joan Wolf both grew up in Jewish families that owned salvage businesses. They share some of their early memories of the family junk yard, including Marty's experience learning the trade while still a teenager. He cut his salvage teeth at the Alex Cohen’s Sons Inc. scrap yard on the southside of Indianapolis, which his father, the late Sam Kroot, purchased in 1949. Joan explains the important philanthropic role played by many Jewish scrap business families in Indiana.
Marty also shares his perspective on how the salvage business has evolved over the years, from predominantly family-owned companies to the huge global conglomerates that dominate the industry today.
Among Jewish Hoosiers who have gone on to achieve national prominence, some stand out as true celebrities. Robert Wise, who was born in Winchester, grew up in Connersville and made his mark in Hollywood directing such hit films as West Side Story and The Sound of Music. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Samuelson, born in Gary, served as adviser to President John Kennedy and popularized the term "stagflation" in the '70s. In more recent years, Hoosiers have taken pride in Indianapolis native and astronaut David Wolf, who graduated from North Central High School and Purdue University and has served on four space missions.
For today's History Mystery, we turn to a star in the realm of classical music. Our mystery Jewish Hoosier was born and raised in Bloomington and began taking violin lessons at age four. Ten years later he appeared as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and at age 17 he made his Carnegie Hall debut with the St. Louis Symphony.
A complete list of his musical prizes and accomplishments would stretch on for pages and would include Grammy awards, Oscar-nominated performances and a presidential appointment. We hope that among his proudest achievements, however, are being designated an “Indiana Living Legend” in 2000 and receiving the Indiana Governor’s Arts Award in 2003.
Question: What is the name of this Jewish Hoosier, widely regarded as one of the most celebrated violinists of his era?
This week's guest Roadtripper Wendy Soltz invites us to the northeast corner of the state to reflect on the legacy of the Jewish community of Ligonier, specifically the Ahavath Sholom Temple, one of only two remaining 19th-century synagogues in Indiana.The temple was built in 1889 to serve a growing community of German Jewish immigrants and their descendants, and its name Ahavath Sholom means "peace-loving" in Hebrew. The brick synagogue was constructed in typical German Gothic style and features details specific to a Jewish place of worship, such as the protruding Torah ark at the back of the building, which at one time would have held the Torah scrolls inside.
Visitors to Ahavath Sholom temple are immediately struck by three large leaded-glass windows displaying scenes of Biblical King David's life, along with menorahs and the Star of David. On either side of the Torah ark, the stained-glass windows depict the Ark of the Covenant and burnt offerings.
Due to a shrinking of Ligonier's Jewish population starting in the 1930s, Ahavath Sholom reduced their religious services to high holy days and eventually closed by the 1950s. The building was used by other congregations for several decades but eventually was purchased by the Ligonier Public Library and now serves as a museum of the town's history and its Jewish heritage.
Wendy welcomes Hoosier History Live listeners to come visit Ahavath Sholom, but you'll have to wait until summer to complete this Roadtrip; the temple is open from June through October on Saturdays 1-4 p.m. and on Sunday and Tuesday afternoons by appointment (call 260-894-4511 to arrange a time).
Fanny Vandegrift was more than 10 years older than Stevenson. Born in 1840 to a prosperous family during the early years of the Hoosier capital, she had left an unfaithful first husband (whom she later divorced) when she met Stevenson at a dinner party in Paris during the 1870s.
Stevenson, the author of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), wrote most of his best-known works after he met Fanny Vandegrift; some historians even regard her as his muse.
Indianapolis historian Sharon Butsch Freeland, who has researched and written about Fanny Vandegrift's colorful life, is Nelson’s studio guest.
Fanny's father, a prosperous lumber dealer in Indianapolis, was a close friend of Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, the preacher at Second Presbyterian Church during the 1840s. (Beecher, the brother of Uncle Tom’s Cabin novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe, eventually moved to New York and became one of the best-known clergymen in America.) In fact, Beecher baptized young Fanny in the White River.
According to Sharon's research, the Vandegrifts initially lived in a red brick home across from Monument Circle, then known as Governor's Circle. At the time, Second Presbyterian was adjacent to the house; since the late 1950s, the church has been in the 7700 block of North Meridian Street.
Also unearthed by Sharon: the Vandegrifts owned a farm in Hendricks County, the farmhouse of which still stands. Fanny stayed with her parents at the farmhouse during a rocky period with her first husband, Sam Osbourne, who lived in Nevada and California, where he patronized saloons and brothels, according to historians.
In the 1870s, Fanny and the couple’s three children moved to Europe. She eventually enrolled as an art student at an academy in Paris, where she met Robert Louis Stevenson, who was in frail health. When they married in 1880, she had just turned 40 and he was 29. The couple honeymooned in California, where they decided to live during the first years of their marriage.
Although the marriage initially upset Stevenson's family in Scotland, Sharon writes that they were won over after the novelist took Fanny to Edinburgh to meet them. "Fanny's father-in-law was so impressed with her literary judgment that he made his son promise never to publish anything without Fanny's approval."
In 1880, the Stevensons moved to Samoa in search of a climate that would provide relief for his respiratory problems. Robert Louis Stevenson died on his village estate in Samoa in 1894 at age 44. Fanny lived until 1914 and is buried next to Stevenson on Mount Vaea, which overlooks the Samoan capital of Apia and its harbor.
Some history facts:
In 1894, an internationally famous British novelist - not Robert Louis Stevenson - visited Indianapolis during a lecture tour. The British novelist met with Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley and climbed to the top of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument during his stay in the Hoosier capital.
In 1994, on the 100th anniversary of the novelist's visit, a plaque was installed at Union Station, where he disembarked from his train.
Question: Who was the British novelist?
Hint: He created a fictional character who continues to enjoy widespread popularity in modern times. A major motion picture released in 2009 is the most recent of scores of movies featuring the character,
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer, so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prize is two passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to GlowGolf, courtesy of GlowGold.
Jeannie Regan-Dinius of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation, suggests a Roadtrip to seek out pioneer-era tombstones made from Hindostan whetstone. Whetstone grave markers were among the first commercial gravestones used in Indiana; they are made of sedimentary stone quarried from ancient river beds in southwestern Indiana. The term "whetstone" can be traced to the practice of using these flat, smooth stones to sharpen tools.
Whetstone grave markers were seen as an improvement over their wooden or fieldstone predecessors and were widely employed in Indiana in the first four decades of the 19th century. However, production peaked during the 1840s and began to decline due to competition from white marble grave markers that could be transported from distant quarries via the growing regional railroad system. The Indiana limestone industry also began to produce and market commercial gravestones around this time, as well.
Whetstone grave markers are among the oldest preserved graves in the southern part of the state, and they're not hard to spot in old cemeteries. They usually have a specific tombstone shape (see photo above), and their color is often tan, buff or light brown and streaked with rust (in contrast to the white or off-white of marble or limestone). The inscriptions on whetstone grave markers are usually still legible because the stone's relative softeness allowed for a deep carve; unfortunately, due to the layered nature of the stone, the grave markers are also prone to splitting and flaking away over time.
More than 1,400 whetstone headstones have been identified in cemeteries throughout southern Indiana and southeastern Illinois near the Wabash River. Jeannie tells us that we might find some of these treasures in Greenlawn Cemetery in Vincennes, which is the oldest established cemetery in the state, or in Rose Hill in Bloomington.
(Jan. 13, 2018) On the shores of Lake Michigan at the Indiana Dunes, five distinctive houses - including the legendary House of Tomorrow - are the focus of nearly as much public interest as the famous sand dunes. Designed as showplace homes for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, the houses were brought by barge to the resort town of Beverly Shores, Ind., after the fair closed.
During the 80-plus years since arriving at their permanent location, the former exhibit houses - which include residences known as the Florida House and the Cyprus House - have had their share of ups and downs.
That's particularly true for the House of Tomorrow, which was built to embody futurists' ideas about how Americans would live during the 21st Century. With floor-to-ceiling glass walls, the 12-sided house had the world's first General Electric dishwasher, an automatic garage-door opener and central air conditioning. Its first-floor service area even included a small airplane hangar, on the assumption that personal air travel would be common in the years ahead.
Perched on the Dunes, the five former exhibit houses are the only remaining structures from the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, which had a "Century of Progress" theme. Since the mid 1960s, the houses have been part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Owned by the National Park Service, the houses are leased to Indiana Landmarks, the historic preservation organization. Landmarks, in turn, subleases them to tenants who agree to maintain them.
Four of the houses - including the pink Florida House, which has patios with sweeping views of Lake Michigan - are in good shape. But not the House of Tomorrow, which fell into shocking disrepair during the 1990s and is currently unoccupied. A $2.5 million fund-raising campaign is underway by Indiana Landmarks to finance the major restoration that is already in progress at the house. It no longer has an airplane hangar.
Todd Zeiger, director of Indiana Landmarks' northern regional office in South Bend, is Nelson's studio guest to describe the colorful saga of the five distinctive homes in Beverly Shores.
At the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, 1.2 million people paid 10 cents apiece to tour the House of Tomorrow.
In 2016, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated the house a "National Treasure," a label "reserved for significant structures in dire straits," according to a story in the Indianapolis Star. Because of their location on the Dunes, the houses take a beating from Mother Nature; wind, sand and the harsh winters of far-northern Indiana conspire to make preservation an on-going challenge.
The town of Beverly Shores was created during the late 1920s and early '30s by two brothers, Chicago-based developers Frederick and Robert Bartlett, as an exclusive resort for "affluent individuals interested in escaping their crowded urban environment," according to Beverly Shores: A Suburban Dunes Resort (Arcadia Publishing) by Jim Morrow, a preservationist in northern Indiana. The town, which has a population today of about 600 residents, was named for Robert Bartlett's daughter, Beverly.
"The House of Tomorrow’s nationwide publicity made it an extremely attractive promotional addition to Beverly Shores from Robert Bartlett's perspective," Morrow writes. "Bartlett had the house sited high on a dune overlooking the lake to take advantage of its transparent walls."
Chicago architect George Fred Keck designed the House of Tomorrow, which the press in 1933 described as "America's First Glass House."
The Florida House was designed by a Miami-based architect. The pink, Modernist-style house at the Chicago World's Fair captivated visitors, many of whom were living in houses built in Tudor, Queen Anne, Italianate and other architectural styles prevalent during the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
When the House of Tomorrow fell into disrepair, the former showplace house was listed periodically on the "10 Most Endangered" sites, Indiana Landmark’s annual index of historically significant structures in jeopardy of survival. A rare type of barn is on the current "10 Most Endangered" list.
Less than 100 of this kind of barn remain across the Hoosier state. A county in northern Indiana calls itself the "world capital" of the unusual barn style. Most of these barns in Indiana were built between 1874 and 1936.
Question: What type of barn is it?
(Jan. 6, 2018) To kick off the 10th year of Hoosier History Live, we will spotlight Indiana natives who had an impact on Western movies. Specifically, we will look at three Hoosier-born actors who portrayed cowboys during the early years of Hollywood. We're also champing at the bit to share facts about the Indiana connections of the most beloved horse in movie history.
Although Trigger is eternally associated with Roy Rogers, the breeder who initially owned and trained the famous horse grew up in Noblesville. Even before Roy Rogers mounted the golden stallion in movies and a long-running TV series, the horse - originally named Golden Cloud - was ridden by Olivia de Havilland (as Maid Marian) in the classic The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).
Before Trigger rode into viewers' hearts as Rogers' faithful steed, three well-known stars of early Westerns had grown up in Indiana:
To discuss the Hoosier roots of these actors and Trigger's owner, Noblesville native Roy Fletcher Cloud, Nelson will be joined by two studio guests.
David Smith, well-known to many Hoosiers following a long career in central Indiana TV, is the author of Hoosiers in Hollywood (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2006), which features profiles of Jones, Maynard and Lane. For 10 years, David was the host of the When Movies Were Movies program on WISH-TV in Indianapolis.
Hamilton County historian David Heighway has researched and written about Roy Cloud (1881-1940), who headed west around 1900 after growing up in Noblesville. In a blog post about Cloud that David Heighway wrote for the Hamilton East Public Library, where he works in collections services, he reports that Cloud managed a farm in southern California. Cloud purchased and trained the palomino stallion that later became nationally famous as Trigger.
Speaking of fame: In Hoosiers in Hollywood, David Smith describes Buck Jones as "the most beloved and idolized" of early Western stars, topped only by Tom Mix. Mix wasn't a Hoosier, but he had connections to Indiana that David Heighway will discuss during our show.
At the peak of his fame during the 1920s, Mix created a sensation when he visited Indianapolis, where he was greeted by the governor and mayor before dropping in to see patients at Riley Hospital for Children. Among those who interacted with Mix was an old Hoosier friend: Noblesville native Otis Bart, who had performed with the movie star in Wild West shows before Mix made it big in Hollywood.
According to a blog post David Heighway has written, Otis Bart even loaned money to Tom Mix during their Wild West show days. An Indianapolis News account of the 1925 visit, which David includes in his blog post, describes Mix as one of the highest-paid Hollywood stars at the time, earning nearly $7,500 weekly.
In contrast, Ken Maynard apparently had a hard-scrabble youth in Columbus; according to Hoosiers in Hollywood, he even ran away briefly at age 12 with a traveling medicine show. In his teens, he toured with Wild West shows and a circus, perfecting a rope-twirling trick.
In Hollywood, Maynard had a rapid rise to stardom, with his horse-riding prowess showcased in a string of Westerns. His brother, Kermit Maynard, also became an actor in cowboy movies. According to Hoosiers in Hollywood, however, "the brothers did not get along well." David Smith's book also describes how Ken Maynard's short temper and alcoholism contributed to the demise of two marriages as well as turbulence on his movie sets.
Buck Jones, though, is "fondly remembered as one of the most well-liked cowboy stars," David writes. "He was a kind and sincere person." According to reports, many cast and crew members of Jones' final film wept when they learned of his death in a nightclub fire in 1942.
History fact: Among the young actors who had small parts in Westerns of the 1930s starring Buck Jones was Marion Mitchell Morrison, known professionally as John Wayne.
In addition to being the origin of Trigger's original owner, Noblesville was the hometown of a top American fashion designer whose glamorous clients - beginning in the 1940s - included movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, Doris Day and Lena Horne. He was considered one of the first American fashion designers to become as revered in the world of haute couture as his counterparts in Europe.
He was born in Noblesville in 1900 and, as a boy, worked in his father's hat shop.
Hint: The designer was part of the Harry Levinson family that became well-known in Central Indiana as a retailer of men's clothing. But he changed his surname as a young man.
Question: Who was our mystery fashion designer?
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer, so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prize is a gift certificate to Story Inn, courtesy of Story Inn; and a Family 4 Pack to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Michael Homoya of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources suggests a Roadtrip to Pine Hills Nature Preserve for an outstanding winter hiking experience and a spectacular walk atop the Devil’s Backbone.
Pine Hills, which is now a part of Shades State Park, offers rugged hills covered with scattered stands of evergreens mixed with hardwood trees. The area's white pine, hemlock and Canada yew trees are relics which have persisted since the period following the last glacier, when the climate was much colder.
Indiana's mountain-free landscape is not exactly known for inspiring excitement, but Pine Hills offers some of the most dramatic topography in the Hoosier state. Deep ravines, technically known as "incised meanders," cut through the hills and create steep-sided ridges, often called "backbones." As Michael explains, the ridges were formed by melting glacial water thousands of years ago and are recognized as some of the most remarkable examples of this type of geographic formation in the eastern United States.
If you decide to go walking on the Devil's Backbone, however, be careful! You'd have a devil of a time escaping serious injury from the 70-100 foot drop to the valley floor below!
Do you own a business or work for an organization that could use a marketing boost? Contributing prizes for our weekly History Mystery on-air giveaway can be a great way to spur interest among the educated, affluent listeners of Hoosier History Live. In exchange for your prize contribution, you get a linked reference to your organization in the History Mystery section of our website and weekly email newsletter, as well as a mention by Nelson on the live show.If you are interested in contributing, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. The prize or voucher must be something that can be mailed in a regular business-size envelope and must also arrive in advance to our office before being offered in our newsletter. Tickets to dated performances are great, but must be offered well in advance.
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