Hoosier History Live!
Books by Nelson Price
Nov. 29 show
Jennings County and Vernon
A county and its largest town in southeastern Indiana may have short lists of residents, but their histories are deep, rich and on full display to this day.
"More than 100 of its buildings date back to the 1800s, which is remarkable in a town with a population of less than 400," travel writer Jane Ammeson has written of Vernon.
Its rich heritage is intertwined with a raid during the Civil War, the Underground Railroad, paintings by acclaimed artist T.C. Steele, railroad history, a courthouse square and buildings that date to the 1820s and '30s.
Noting that Vernon was platted in 1815, a year before Indiana even achieved statehood, Jane writes that the town "is considered one of the best examples of a mid-19th-century Indiana community."
She will join Nelson in studio to share insights about Vernon and its home county, which is located about halfway between Columbus and Madison.
They also will be joined by Dan Wright, the mayor of Vernon; he has the distinction of being the state's only elected mayor of a town. (All of the other elected mayors are affiliated with cities.)
In 1863, Jennings County was in the path of Gen. John Hunt Morgan and his band of Confederate marauders as they made their way across southern Indiana. Pillaging and looting during a journey that became known as "Morgan's Raid," they demanded that the town of Vernon surrender. Instead, residents refused and deceived Morgan into altering his destructive path.
Civil War re-enactments are staged to this day, particularly during Vernon's annual Sassafras Tea Festival & Civil War Living History.
Other history facts we will explore during the show:
Several of the streetscapes in Vernon - and rural scenes in Jennings County - that were depicted in paintings by Steele during the 1880s and '90s look unchanged today. Paintings by Steele, arguably Indiana's best-known artist, include Street in Vernon (1886) and Hills of Vernon (1894).
The origin of the name "Muscatatuck" apparently is unclear, but the inspiration for Vernon is undisputed. The town's name is derived from Mount Vernon, the stately home of George Washington. Vernon was founded in 1815, so Washington's presidency would have been a vivid memory for the earliest residents.
Famous natives of Jennings County included Jessamyn West (1902-1984), the author of the bestseller The Friendly Persuasion (1945). Like many of her books, it was a fictional version of the lives of her Civil War-era ancestors, who were Quakers in southern Indiana. When she was a child, Jessamyn West's family moved to southern California.
Roadtrips: Christmas at the Capital, Statehood Day and Festival of Trees
Jim Corridan of Indiana State Archives suggests we join Gov. and Mrs. Pence, as well as Lt. Gov. Ellspermann, on Dec. 5 and 6 for Christmas at the Capitol. From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday the 5th and 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday the 6th, the Friends of the Indiana State Archives are hosting youth choirs from across the State to sing in the Capitol.
The event is free and open to the public, and the rotunda will be newly decorated for the holidays.
And the next week is Indiana's 198th birthday. On Thursday, Dec. 11, the public is invited to attend the annual Statehood Day celebrations in the Capitol building.
The event includes presentations by members of the legislature, judiciary, Gov. Pence, and the placing of Indiana's Constitutions on public display in the Statehouse rotunda. The hourlong event starts at noon on the 11th.
And Amy Lamb of the Indiana Historical Society suggests a Roadtrip to the new Festival of Trees, a winter wonderland of 25 exquisitely decorated trees open now through Jan. 3.
The popular A Christmas Story living room is back, allowing you to step right into a classic movie scene. You can have your photo taken next to the famous leg lamp (in a pink bunny suit, if desired), or visit the new holiday selfie station.
Other daily activities include a singalong from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Cole Porter Room. Every Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., drop by to create a special handmade craft to take home with you, or get a special winter face painting. Additional weekend programming will include film screenings, a visit from a vintage Santa, painting and much more.
IHS also will offer three free admission days as holiday gifts to the community. Visit on Dec. 6 for the 12th annual Holiday Author Fair (noon to 4 p.m.), on Statehood Day (Thursday, Dec. 11) or on Saturday, Dec. 20, when you can record a video memory relating to L.S. Ayres and Company that may become part of You Are There: That Ayres Look next spring.
In addition to IHS's normal hours of Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday hours of noon to 5 p.m. have been added between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. For more information, including specific weekend offerings, call (317) 232-1882 or visit indianahistory.org.
Even though Vernon in Jennings County is the smallest town in the state to be a county seat, another county has the distinction of being Indiana's smallest. This mystery county is the smallest of the state's 92 counties both in population and in size.
Hint: Like Jennings County, it also is in southeastern Indiana.
Question: What is the county?
The call-in phone number is (317) 788-3314, and please do not try to win the prize if you have won any prize from WICR during the past two months. Please do not call into the show until Nelson has posed the question on the air.
The prize pack includes four passes to the NCAA Hall of Champions and a gift certificate to Le Peep Restaurant, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four admissions to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Underwriting the project
Hoosier History Live welcomes new or renewal contributors Sue and Craig Thomson, Teresa Baer, Jane Hodge, Paul and Billie Fouts, Steve Barnett, Joe Young, Howard Creveling, Eunice Trotter, Dana Waddell and Clay Collins, Lorraine and Richard Vavul, Linda Gugin of Evansville, Marion Wolen, Jim and Marjorie Kienle, Tom Castaldi, Stacia Gorge, David Willkie, Kevin Murray, Jeff Swiatek, Dixie Richardson, Sharon Butsch Freeland and several anonymous contributors.
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 go to our website and click the yellow "Donate" button. 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 will list you on our website, unless you wish to remain anonymous. You also may memorialize a loved one if you wish; just make a note with either your online contribution or on your paper check. Thanks!
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. If you have any questions at all about how we are organized, please feel free to talk to our producer.
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.
By the way, it's easy to form your own listening group; all you need is a relatively quiet room with comfortable chairs and either a radio or an online listening device to pick up the show from the live Web stream on Saturdays. We do have listeners all over the country. A weekly listening group is an easy way to get "regulars" into your organization or place of business.
A nice comment
Janie reads us 'cover-to-cover'
"I read the entire Hoosier History Live e-newsletter each week, cover to cover," says Jane "Janie" Hodge, an Indianapolis educator and former WTTV Channel 4 children's TV personality. "Or, as it is online, I should say top to bottom! I look forward to receiving it."
Who makes the enewsletter? The trio of Nelson Price, Richard Sullivan and Molly Head combine their talents and create it each week. In a world of seemingly increasing mediocrity in media, these three individuals seem to enjoy doing things well.
Dec. 6 show - encore presentations
Rare movies with Indiana connections + Danville history
As a treat for listeners who missed some of the most popular shows in our Hoosier History Live archives, we will broadcast two of them, back-to-back. The shows, both of which are 30 minutes, typify how we cover the waterfront of Indiana topics:
Rare movies with Indiana connections
During this show, don't expect a discussion of Hoosiers (1986), Breaking Away (1979) or Rudy (1993), movies with well-known links to the Hoosier state.
Dozens of more-obscure films, both silent movies and talkies, also have major connections to Indiana because of their topics, settings, cast or directors.
To explore these movies, some of which are in danger of being "lost," Nelson is joined in studio by Indianapolis-based film historian and collector Eric Grayson in this show that originally aired on Nov. 27, 2010.
Eric's vast collection of rare 16mm and 35mm films includes movies based on bestselling books by Hoosier naturalist Gene Stratton-Porter, including a 1934 movie version of her masterpiece A Girl of the Limberlost.
Eric also shares insights about a movie he hosts for public screenings: The Great Dan Patch (1949), a biography of the fabled harness racing horse born in Oxford, Ind. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Dan Patch became a sensation at racetracks because of his amazing speed and stamina.
Also during our show, Eric and Nelson explore silent movies starring Fort Wayne native Carole Lombard. The glamorous star, who later married Clark Gable, is far better known for her sound movies of the 1930s and early '40s. But Eric owns rare prints of Lombard's earliest movies, silents such as Smith's Pony (1927) and Run, Girl, Run (1928).
Other movies discussed during the show include The Hoosier Schoolmaster (1935), a movie based on a bestselling novel by Vevay native Edward Eggleston. He created the storyline from the experiences of his brother, who had been a school teacher in 19th-century Indiana.
Danville town history
For the second encore show (original air date: March 6, 2010), Nelson is joined in studio by Danville lawyer and civic leader Jeff Baldwin, the author of Danville (Arcadia, 2009), a visual history of the town in Hendricks County.
A lifelong Danville resident, Jeff notes that the town was devastated by a 1948 tornado. Evidence of its destruction is still being discovered by residents when they dig in many yards and unearth shards of glass.
On a more lighthearted topic, Jeff points out that Danville once found itself in the national spotlight when a mysterious "Danville Turkey" showed up in the middle of Main Street and stopped traffic by strutting back and forth for days. The turkey could not be shot because it was not in season. As a protected animal, it also could not be adopted.
During the show, we also explore the bygone Central Normal College, which specialized in training teachers. According to Jeff's book, at the turn of the last century, Central Normal had trained more teachers than IU, Purdue, and the forerunners of Ball State and Indiana State combined. Central Normal closed in 1951.
A nice 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!
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James Still, playwright in residence, Indiana Repertory Theatre
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Ken Burns, speaking at a preview of his film "The War" at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, April 18, 2007
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