Hoosier History Live! features host Nelson Price, Saturdays noon to 1 p.m. on WICR 88.7 FM in Indianapolis.

Saturdays, noon to 1 p.m. ET on WICR 88.7 FM.
And always online at hoosierhistorylive.org!

April 6 show

Governors of Indiana

Indiana's first governor, Jonathan Jennings, is shown in an official portrait painting."Historically, the office of governor in Indiana has been a weak institution compared to the strength of the state legislature and in contrast to the office of governor in some other states. Over time ... the office has been transformed into one with considerably more power."

So begins a book co-edited by two distinguished Hoosiers who will be Nelson's studio guests for a show exploring the colorful array of Indiana's chief executives since statehood in 1816 - as well as various patterns among the political leaders who have held the top office.

The Governors of Indiana book cover.Our guests will be Linda Gugin, a professor emeritus of political science at Indiana University Southeast, and James E. St Clair, a journalism professor at ISU. They co-edited The Governors of Indiana (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2006), an anthology to which dozens of writers contributed profiles of the Hoosier state’s leaders.

Our first governor, Jonathan Jennings, was a longtime foe of slavery who resigned in 1822 after being elected to Congress; he struggled with alcoholism in his later years. During our show, Nelson and his guests will explore how Jennings and other early Indiana governors - including William Hendricks of Madison (our third governor) and Paris Dunning of Bloomington (our ninth) - dealt with slavery-related issues.

In their book, Professor Gugin and Professor St. Clair identify the two "most powerful governors" as Civil War-era leader Oliver Perry Morton, a Republican from Centerville, and Franklin native Paul V. McNutt, a Democrat who was the state's chief executive during the Great Depression. (Gov. Morton, an ally of President Lincoln, was the focus of a Hoosier History Live! show last December. Our guest was historic preservationist and Ball State professor Ron Morris, who has purchased Morton's house.)

A vintage postcard image shows the Indiana governor’s residence in Corydon. The house no longer stands.We will explore how Morton, McNutt and other governors handled conflicts with the state legislature.

By the way, Morton had lost his first race for governor, in 1856, during a bitter election in which, according to our guests' book, Democrats resorted to "overt appeals to racism." The election demonstrated "the polarized nature of the state at the time," with the Democratic candidate, New Albany lawyer and orator Ashbel Willard, prevailing in almost all of the southern counties and Morton in the north.

In 1860, Willard became the first of four Indiana governors to die in office. The most recent was Corydon newspaper publisher and state legislator Frank O'Bannon in 2003.

During our show, Nelson and his guests will explore how various civil rights and social justice issues have been handled by governors. A former first lady, Zerelda Wallace, became a leading suffragist during the 1870s and '80s, lobbying the legislature for women's rights and founding suffrage groups in Indianapolis. She was the second wife of David Wallace, who had served as governor in the 1830s. His sons from his first marriage included Lew Wallace, who went on to write the international bestseller Ben-Hur.

James St. Clair and Linda Gugin.During the 1920s, Gov. Ed Jackson, a Republican lawyer from Lafayette, was generally perceived to have been controlled by the Ku Klux Klan. The notorious Grand Dragon of the KKK, D.C. Stephenson, befriended and endorsed Jackson. The governor refused calls to resign when Stephenson was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of a statehouse worker who had accused him of raping her.

Other governors had opposed the Klan, including Warren McCray of Kentland. In the early 1920s, he vetoed a proposed "Klan Day," which would have featured "a nighttime cross burning at the Indiana State Fair," according to The Governors of Indiana. Indiana Gov. Ed Jackson served during the 1920s.But McCray's reputation was tarnished in 1924 when he was charged with selling and distributing fraudulent promissory notes. He served more than three years in a federal penitentiary in Atlanta but eventually received a full pardon from President Herbert Hoover.

Two governors, both Democrats, went on to become U.S. vice presidents. They were Thomas A. Hendricks of Shelby County, who was elected veep under Grover Cleveland in 1884 (Hendricks died after eight months in office), and Thomas R. Marshall of Columbia City, who served under Woodrow Wilson and is best remembered for his witticisms, including: "What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar."

(Indiana's first territorial governor, William Henry Harrison, decades later was elected president after moving to Ohio.)

In addition to co-editing The Governors of Indiana, our guests Linda Gugin and James E. St. Clair are the co-editors of Justices of the Indiana Supreme Court (IHS Press, 2010).

History Mystery

Ever since Indiana shifted its capital from Corydon to the new city of Indianapolis during the 1820s, the governor's mansion has been located in various sites and in various houses. The current Indiana governor’s mansion is on Meridian Street in Indy.Beginning in the 1970s, a historic mansion at 4750 N. Meridian St. has served as the governor's residence.

However, the first governor's mansion in Indy was built during the 1820s at a different site. The mansion was unused by several governors and their wives, who refused to move into it. Finally, the mansion fell into disrepair and was demolished.

Question: Where was it located?

To win the prize, you must call in with the correct answer during the live show and be willing to be placed on the air. Please do not call if you have won a prize from any WICR show during the last two months. The call-in number is (317) 788-3314, and please do not call until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air.

The prize is a pair of tickets to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana Historical Society, and a pair of tickets to the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home. These prizes are courtesy of of Visit Indy.

Roadtrip: 'Follow the North Star' at Conner Prairie

Visitors experience the “Follow the North Star” re-enactment at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park. 2013 image courtesy Conner Prairie.

"Rotating Roadtripper" Rosemary Arnold will be calling in on Saturday to tell us about Conner Prairie's "Follow the North Star" program, which enables visitors age 12 and older a nighttime experience of being a fugitive slave on the Underground Railroad, fleeing from captivity and risking all.

Since 1998, nearly 60,000 people have participated in this 90-minute program, which offers a powerful diversity training experience. This month the program will be offered April 12-13, 19-20 and 26-27, and Rosemary Arnold of Conner Prairie Interactive History Park directs the program.

Your Hoosier History Live! team,

Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
Richard Sullivan, webmaster and tech director

Pam Fraizer, graphic designer
Garry Chilluffo, creative consultant
Michele Goodrich, Jed Duvall, grant consultants
Joan Hostetler, photo historian
Dana Waddell, volunteer-at-large


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Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Acknowledgments to Print Resources, Monomedia, Indiana Humanities, Visit Indy, WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Heritage Photo & Research Services, Derrick Lowhorn and many other individuals and organizations. We are an independently produced program and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorships, grants and through individual tax-deductible contributions through Indiana Humanities. We do not receive any government funding. Visit our website to learn how you can support us financially.

April 13 show

Jazz recording heritage in Richmond

Gennett Records label for Kansas City Stomp by Jelly Roll Morton.Memphis, Chicago, New York City and Nashville, Tenn., have long been hailed for the significant roles their recording studios played in the boom of American popular music. Why do some say Richmond in far-eastern Indiana almost should be mentioned in the same breath?

Consider that during the 1920s the parade of future musical legends who traveled to the town - specifically, to the Starr Piano Company and its Gennett Records division - included Louis Armstrong, Indiana native Hoagy Carmichael, cowboy singer Gene Autry and Jelly Roll Morton, who recorded nine piano solos at the Richmond studio in 1924.

"Gennett was among the first record companies to cater to both the segregated white and black record markets," according to Rick Kennedy, author of Jelly Roll, Bix and Hoagy, whose book, first published by IU Press in 1994, is being released in an expanded, revised edition.

Rick will be among Nelson's guests, as will Bob Jacobsen. and David Fulton, president and treasurer, respectively, of the Starr-Gennett Foundation, a non-profit that is helping Richmond reclaim its remarkable heritage in recording jazz, blues and country music. The Starr Piano Co. in Richmond, Ind., is pictured in this vintage postcard. The Gennett Records label was based here.To honor the city's rich but frequently overlooked heritage - which ended with the Great Depression - the foundation has established a Gennett Records Walk of Fame and an annual music festival in September near the Whitewater River.

That's also near where the riverside piano factory and recording studio made so much musical history. Performers recorded on the Gennett label - either at its Richmond studio or one in Manhattan - included Duke Ellington, Joe "King" Oliver and legendary cornet and piano player Bix Beiderbecke, who befriended and influenced a young Hoagy Carmichael. The musical director and lead soloist of the Wolverine Orchestra (usually known as the Wolverines by jazz enthusiasts), Beiderbecke died at age 28 in 1931.

Jelly Roll, Bix and Hoagy book cover.As Rick puts it in Jelly Roll, Bix and Hoagy, Beiderbecke "was immortalized by musicians and journalists as ... the sensitive musical genius who drank himself to death before the world could fully recognize his command of a misunderstood art form." (Beiderbecke's tragic life loosely inspired the 1950 movie Young Man with a Horn, in which Hoagy played a character based on himself.)

The musical history in Richmond accelerated in the 1890s when piano retailer Henry Gennett bought an interest in a pre-existing piano company and renamed it Starr.

The saga that unfolded, according to Rick's book, included a legal fight over patent infringement between Gennett and mighty Victor Records, which in 1917 had produced the world's first jazz records. (They featured the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.) Gennett was joined by other small labels. They prevailed in 1922, breaking Victor's stranglehold, "resulting in new record labels and greater competition," as Rick puts it.

Later in 1922, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings made their recording debut at the Richmond studio.

"Ragtime, jazz, blues, gospel, country and other 'new' sounds swelled the mainstream of popular music with the help of instruments and recordings produced by Starr and Gennett for international distribution," according to the Starr-Gennett Foundation.

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