Hoosier History Live!
Books by Nelson Price
Oct. 3 show
Greensburg and Decatur County history
Known far and wide as "the town with the tree growing out of its courthouse," Greensburg has a trove of other distinctions and folklore.
All of it will be fodder when Hoosier History Live explores the heritage of Decatur County and Greensburg during a show in our rotating series about the heritage of Indiana towns and counties.
The Decatur County Courthouse was built in the 1850s. According to Magnificent 92 (IU Press, 1991), a visual history book about the state's courthouses, the first reports of a tree atop the 115-foot clock tower date to the early 1870s. No wonder Greensburg is nicknamed "Tree City."
Fasten your seat belts, though, for aspects of the town's heritage that may surprise you, including its claim to fame as the birthplace in 1874 of flamboyant Carl Fisher, founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Greensburg, which is located about 45 miles southeast of Indianapolis, also was a stop on the fabled Chautauqua circuit that brought top cultural, artistic and political figures to towns across the country during the early 1900s. Chautauqua visitors to Greencastle included Helen Keller, John Phillips Sousa and William Jennings Bryan.
In recent years, one of Nelson's guests, John Pratt, a widely acclaimed history teacher at Greensburg High School, has been recreating the town's Chautauqua heritage. With his students, John puts together modern, semi-annual Chautauqua events featuring national and state public figures. Some of them (like Lech Walesa of Poland) have participated by Skype, while others have come to Greensburg. His next Chautauqua will be Nov. 5.
Nelson's guests also will include William Smith, an attorney and former Decatur County prosecutor who has researched the county's Underground Railroad heritage. He is a board member of the Indiana Freedom Trails Association.
During the Civil War, Greensburg resident Elizabeth Finnern accomplished a distinction as unusual as a courthouse tree. Determined to fight for the Union cause alongside her husband, she cross-dressed as a soldier. Mrs. Finnern served in the military for about one year until her secret was discovered. Even after that, she remained with her husband's unit as a nurse. Our guests plan to share details.
Our guest John Pratt was born Jan. 2, 1963, making him the first baby born in Decatur County that year; he went on to graduate from Greensburg High. (In college, he wrote his first major paper about his hometown's best-known distinction; the paper was titled A Tree Grows in Greensburg.) Before his current job on the faculty at his alma mater, John taught at North Decatur High School for five years.
A few years ago, John and his students re-enacted a speech in 1968 by Bobby Kennedy in Decatur County; during our show, he will share insights about that event. (Also during his 1968 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bobby Kennedy made a historic speech in Indianapolis on the night that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.was assassinated. The impact of that speech was the focus of a Hoosier History Live show in August.)
Regarding the Underground Railroad heritage, several accounts note that African-American families had moved into Decatur County by the 1840s. They became involved in local efforts to help fugitive slaves travel through Indiana en route to Canada.
And the courthouse tree? Since the 1870s, it has been considered a freak of nature. The current tree in the courthouse is at least the 13th.
Roadtrip - Historic eateries in Fort Wayne
"This week's Roadtrip is something a little different," says guest Roadtripper and film historian Eric Grayson. "You like history and you like eating on the road? Well, Fort Wayne is loaded with great historic eateries. A lot of people consider Fort Wayne as one of our premiere 'foodie towns,' so we're going to do a moveable feast this week."
For breakfast, Eric recommends Cindy's Diner. It's small but with some great food, and it's a historic diner built in 1952. They're famous for their "Garbage," which is a blend of eggs, ham and potatoes.
With a full belly, and being downtown in Fort Wayne, you can find plenty of historic buildings, from the restored courthouse to the Lincoln National Bank Building (which has a little snack bar inside, if it's open), and then you should be ready for lunch.
Eric continues: "I recommend Powers Hamburgers, which has been around since 1940. People confuse it with White Castle, because the buildings look similar, although the food is quite different. The burgers are grilled to order, with the most fragrant grilled onions, and guaranteed to clear your sinuses. Try the chili, too. Great old art deco building alone on a corner, hasn't changed in years."
After lunch, see if you can get in to tour the Embassy, which is one of Eric's favorite historic theaters, and don't miss the art museum.
For dinner, says Eric, you have to go to Coney Island, not to be confused with the one in New York. This is the kind of place you would normally find in New York, but it has been in Fort Wayne since 1914 and owned by the same family since 1916.
"The staple item here is the Coney Hot Dog, which is great," Eric says. "The baked beans are excellent, too, from a family recipe."By the way, our Roadtripper also runs the popular Vintage Movie Night at Garfield Park Arts Center in Indianapolis. Coming up Saturday, Oct. 17, at 8 p.m. is the 1931 film Frankenstein.
Greensburg native Carl Fisher, the founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, always was driven to top himself. When the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911 turned out to be a success - as did the race in subsequent years - Fisher decided to create a tourist resort far from Indiana.
He developed swampland in the South into what he promoted as "the most beautiful little city in the world." Many critics were skeptical, but the resort city, like the Indianapolis 500, became a rousing success. Carl Fisher is still hailed as the "father" of the resort city, even though, for various reasons, he had lost much of his fortune by the time he died in 1939.
Question: What is the resort city that Carl Fisher founded?
Please do not call into the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win the prize if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months.
The prize pack includes four tickets to the Indianapolis Scottish Highland Games on Oct. 10 in German Park in Greenwood, courtesy of Scottish Society of Indianapolis, two tickets to the Indiana History Center featuring the new exhibit You Are There 1816: Indiana Joins the Nation, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Underwriting the project
We are not staff members of any organization; rather, we are a small, independent production group trying to keep Hoosier History Live on the air, on the web and in your inbox. Your gift goes primarily to support those individuals who are working so hard on the project, as well as to help defray the costs of maintaining our website, our email marketing software and our audio editing costs.
If you believe in supporting local artists, writers, historians and performers, look no further!
It takes only seconds to help us out. Just click the yellow "Donate" button, above. Or, if you prefer the paper method, you may make out a check to "Hoosier History Live" and mail it to Hoosier History Live, P.O. Box 44393, Indianapolis, IN 46244-0393.
We also try to maintain some of those old-fashioned journalism principles about trying to keep editorial content separate from financial contributions.
For questions about becoming an underwriting sponsor (the underwriter level includes logos on our website and newsletter and spoken credits in the live show), contact our producer, Molly Head, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (317) 927-9101, or Garry Chilluffo, our media+development director, at email@example.com.
Also, the Irvington Library Listening Group continues to meet on a regular basis from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturdays to listen to and discuss the live show. If you think you would enjoy listening with fellow history lovers, just stop by the library at 5626 E. Washington St. in Indianapolis and ask for the listening group.
If you are interested in forming your own listening group, all you need is a relatively quiet room with comfortable chairs and either a radio or an online listening device. A weekly listening group is an easy way to get "regulars" into your organization or place of business.
The Central Library in Indianapolis is willing to provide a space for a listening group if someone would volunteer to host the group. For more info, contact producer Molly Head.
New contributors and volunteers assist the program
Thanks to new contributors Sally Cook and Jim and Nancy Johnson, who visited the yellow button on either our e-newsletter or our website.
And thanks to Heather Kaufman-McKivigan and Jeff Kamm for helping to procure images and "learn more" web links for our newsletter and website. We also appreciate our official Tweeter, Robin Knop. It takes a village.
Oct. 10 show
Camp Chesterfield and Spiritualism history
Just north of Anderson on the banks of the White River is a historic, 34-acre enclave that has long been known as a "hub of Spiritualism."
Camp Chesterfield, the home for more than 120 years of the Indiana Association of Spiritualists, consist of 65 buildings. They include historic cottages (such as cabins for mediums), two hotels, folk art shrines and the spacious Cathedral of the Woods.
Spiritualism attached a huge national following beginning in the mid-1800s; it grew particularly during eras of war - such as the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War I - when, as the Indiana Preservationist puts it, "the bereaved sought communication with those they lost."
Indiana Landmarks has placed Camp Chesterfield on its "10 Most Endangered" list. That's because many of the camp's historic buildings, such as the Sunflower Hotel, built in 1914, stand vacant or, in the case of other structures, are underused.
Camp Chesterfield is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its significance as a spiritualist camp of the type that was widespread throughout the East and Midwest during the early 1900s.
To explore the history of Camp Chesterfield and of Spiritualism, which is defined in The Spirits of Lily Dale (Glade Press, 2010) as "the philosophy, science and religion of continuous life," Nelson will be joined in studio by two guests:
The camp includes a memorial dedicated to "the world's greatest religious leaders" that features limestone busts of Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Zeus and others. There also are a memorial to Native Americans, as well as "toad stools" - stone seating areas where mediums once gave outdoor readings.
Seances have been conducted for generations at Camp Chesterfield. According to the Indiana Preservationist, Spiritualists believe it's possible to "communicate with the dead, especially with the aid of skilled mediums."
According to The Spirits of Lily Dale (the title refers to the center of the Spiritualist movement in western New York), many leaders of the anti-slavery, women's rights, temperance, prison reform and labor reform movements were involved in Spiritualism.
Camp Chesterfield began as a summer tent camp in the 1890s.
Calendar itemkeeper, listening-group host opportunities
Would you be interested in placing the Hoosier History Live show topic and dates and times and ways to listen on the Bicentennial calendar and various other free community calendars across the state? This is rather detailed online weekly public relations work, but it would help get the word out about our show. If interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and please include your phone number.
Would you be interesting in hosting or facilitating a listening group at Central Library in Indianapolis each week? You would be responsible for being there each week during the live show and making sure a listening device is available. And generally facilitating the discussion. If interested, please email email@example.com, and please include your phone number.
Original history journalism every week
Hoosier History Live really needs your financial support!
The 2015 year is coming to a close, and we are having difficulties keeping our operation going. If you like what we are doing as a small production group, please consider visiting the yellow Donate button on our website or enewsletter. Or, if you prefer the paper method, you may make out a check to "Hoosier History Live" and mail it to:
Hoosier History Live
We are a self-supporting small production group, and the money goes primarily to those who are working so hard on the project, as well as goes to pay for technical fees associated with keeping the website and enewsletter going. If you value what we are doing, please consider supporting us financially.
A note of support
'We hope to see it broadcast far and wide'
A particularly nice letter of support came in some time ago from authors James Alexander Thom and Dark Rain Thom. We like to re-read it from time to time!
Shows, we got shows
We have more than 200 Hoosier History Live! radio shows completed, as a matter of fact. And we need to get show audio onto the website, which we are doing by and by, but we sure could use some sponsorship assistance as we edit and publish audio for each archived show. Take a look at the list below and check out all the opportunities for sponsoring a slice of original Hoosier History Live! content on the Web.
No one else is doing anything quite like what we're doing. We are the nation's only live call-in radio program about history. We offer a permanent and growing archive of quality content, available for sponsorship opportunities.
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of Hoosier History Live!, click here or call Molly Head at (317) 927-9101 for more info.
What people are saying about Hoosier History Live!
"Hoosier History Live is a fun and interesting way to learn about the heart and soul of Indiana. No boring classes or books here! The production team does an outstanding job."
Judy O'Bannon, civic leader and public broadcasting producer
"The folks at Hoosier History Live! are able to find great stories and the people to tell them - people and stories that you seldom hear on the national air."
Dr. James H. Madison, author and IU history professor
"As museums and educational institutions scramble to make their offerings more interactive, more entertaining and more 'relevant' to today's digitally obsessed consumers, Hoosier History Live! seems to have mastered that formula."
Glynis Worley, rural Bartholomew County listener
"Hoosier History Live! is a perfect place to consider and reconsider history ... not just what happened in the past, but what it may mean in the present. Nelson Price is the perfect host: enthusiastic, curious and knowledgeable. Tune in to Hoosier History Live! and be prepared to be surprised."
James Still, playwright in residence, Indiana Repertory Theatre
"Hoosier History Live! is a fantastic opportunity for people to not only learn about history, but also become a part of the conversation. Much like our mission, the telling of Indiana's stories, Nelson and his guests wonderfully connect people to the past!"
"The links on the Friday Hoosier History Live! enewsletter are a great way to learn more about history, and from a variety of sources."
"Distilling life experience into stories is an art. Telling stories of life experience for Hoosiers past and present will shape the lives of young people and enrich the lives of all in our state. Mr. Nelson Price brings alive the life experience of notable Hoosiers in Hoosier History Live!"
David T. Wong, Ph.D., President
"Nelson Price, more than anyone I know, infuses joy into the pursuit of history. And that joy rings out loud and clear on the radio show, Hoosier History Live!"
"No, I haven't heard of another call-in talk radio show about history. Our airwaves are now full of the worst vitriol! Give me the phone number for the show. I want to call in!"
Ken Burns, speaking at a preview of his film "The War" at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, April 18, 2007
Home | About us | Support the show | Contact us | Archives | Listen
© 2008-2015 Hoosier History Live. All rights reserved.