A bicentennial guide to backroads Indiana
(April 23, 2016) - In South Bend, there is a 38-room historic home of a nationally known family that made farm equipment, including the chilled plow. An industrial park has an open-air exhibit and a smokestack from the Oliver Chilled Plow Works, the factory owned by the Oliver family. The patriarch, J.D. Oliver, founded the factory in 1853.
In Bloomington, historic houses in the Vinegar Hill neighborhood near the Indiana University campus showcase the use of Indiana limestone in several architectural styles, from Greek Revival to Art Deco.
"Many of the homes were built by big names in the limestone industry, including master carvers whose decorative skills were reflected in carvings, ornamental panels and sculptures adoring the facades," notes Andrea Neal, an Indianapolis-based journalist, historian and educator. She joins Nelson in studio to share an array of sites the public can explore to savor the state's heritage.
Dozens of the sites are featured in Andrea's book, Road Trip: A Pocket History of Indiana, that the Indiana Historical Society Press will publish in May. She also has been describing the sites in "Indiana at 200", a syndicated column Andrea has been writing for newspapers across the state in connection with this year's bicentennial.
All corners of the 19th state are represented, from South Bend (where the Oliver mansion has special exhibits) to Jeffersonville on the Ohio River, where Andrea recommends a visit to the Howard Steamboat Museum. It's located in a historic mansion built by the son of steamboat entrepreneur James Howard. He founded Howard Shipyards in 1834. River traffic remains important to Indiana's economy, Andrea says, noting the legislature recently increased investment in the state's ports.
Elsewhere in southern Indiana, Andrea recommends a visit to the Museum of the Coal Industry in Lynnville. "It tells the story of the southern Indiana company town and has lots of coal industry memorabilia," Andrea reports.
Andrea, an eighth-grade teacher at St. Richard's Episcopal School, and our host Nelson were colleagues for many years at The Indianapolis Star, where Andrea was editor of the editorial page. On Hoosier History Live, Andrea was a co-host in 2014 for one of our all call-in "Ask Nelson" shows. In addition, Nelson and Andrea are board members of the Society of Indiana Pioneers. Andrea also is a board member of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.
In this show, she shares tips about sites that many Hoosiers many not know about. They include an exhibit about aviation pioneer Horace Hickam at the Owen County Heritage and Cultural Center. A native of Spencer, Hickam (1885-1934) is the namesake of a U.S. Air Force base in Hawaii.
During the bicentennial year, Andrea urges Hoosiers to tour the Indiana Statehouse, which was built in the 1880s. The statehouse features busts of - and information about - historic Hoosiers.
They include James Hinton (1834-1892), the first African-American elected to the Indiana General Assembly. A Republican who represented Indianapolis in the House of Representatives, Hinton fought for the Union Army in the Civil War and helped organize the 28th U.S. Colored Troops regiment from Indiana. He was elected to the state legislature in 1880, just 10 years after the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, allowing African-Americans to vote.
The Potawatomi were forcibly removed from Indiana in 1838 on what became known as the Trail of Death to Kansas. The heritage of the Potawatomi is honored every September in Rochester during the Trail of Courage Living History Festival. Historic markers along the Trail of Death commemorate camp sites and stops during the march of Potawatomi men, women and children. Many perished from exhaustion, disease and the effects of the weather during the 660-mile march, which was led by Gen. John Tipton. The markers describe the number of deaths recorded at the sites and the distance traveled between stops.
Roadtrip: Geneva in northeast Indiana
Guest Roadtripper and film historian Eric Grayson suggests a Roadtrip to Geneva in northeast Indiana.
"If coming from Indianapolis, go north on I-69 and then east on S.R. 18 to the town of Montpelier, where you can have lunch on the way at the Tin Lizzy," Eric tells us. "This is a seasonal place, open mostly in the summers, but it's full of architectural ornaments from closed and abandoned buildings.
"Outside it, at the intersection of Highways 3 and 18," he continues, "you'll see a giant Paul Bunyan holding a small ice cream cone. How can you beat that?"
Eric recommends the tenderloins, an Indiana tradition.
Then, going further east on S.R. 18 and then north on S.R. 27, one arrives at historic Geneva. Geneva always was a small town, and it still is, but it had a huge claim to fame: It's where Gene Stratton-Porter first fell in love with the Limberlost swamp. Her house still stands there, and it has been restored as the Limberlost State Historic Site.
They've just recently spruced up the whole place, and there's a new interpretive center in the back that opened a couple of years ago.
"I'm also told that they are restoring parts of the swamp, and it's now a haven for birds and other wetland wildlife," says Eric. "This is with the cooperation of Geneva's biggest industry, Red Gold, which is just outside of town. Red Gold is not offering tours at the moment, but you can drive by and see the huge factory there."
During a recent Hoosier History Live show, the Roadtrip report was about a state park in southern Indiana. The state park includes a natural landmark that served as the meeting place of two famous explorers in the early 1800s. In fact, the state park takes its name from the natural landmark. The state park also has 220 acres of ancient fossil beds.
Question: What is the Indiana state park?
The prize pack includes a four tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair on Saturday, April 30 in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn, and two tickets to the Indianapolis Museum of Art and two tickets to the President Harrison Presidential Site, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Merle Bettenhausen on his racing family
(April 16, 2016) - With the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 next month, all aspects of the history of Indy-car racing and its colorful personalities have become topics for water-cooler discussion.
Significant racing personalities of the last half of the 20th century certainly include the Bettenhausen family, who have endured tragedy as well as triumphs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and elsewhere on the racing circuit. The patriarch, Tony Bettenhausen Sr. (1916-1961), a fan favorite who finished near the top in the 500-Mile Races of 1958 and '59, was killed in a crash at the Speedway during practice in 1961.
Nelson is joined in studio by the middle of Tony Sr.'s three sons, Merle Bettenhausen, who lives on the westside of Indy.
Merle has been working with veteran sportswriter Gordon Kirby on an upcoming photo-filled book about the family, Tony Bettenhausen & Sons: An American Racing Family Album (Racemaker Press).
Also in 1972, Merle Bettenhausen was involved in a major accident at Michigan International Speedway in which his right arm was torn off. With a prosthetic arm, Merle made a comeback the next year, competed in midget races and pulled off wins.
The youngest brother, Tony Bettenhausen Jr., competed 11 times in the Indy 500. His best finish was in 1981, his rookie year, when Tony Jr. came in seventh. Gary and Tony Jr. drove in their final Indy 500 as teammates in 1993.
Tragedy followed the family even after the brothers retired as drivers. In 2000, Tony Jr., by then the owner of a racing team based in Indy, was killed along with his wife, Shirley, and two business associates in the crash of a private plane.
Merle, our guest, was 17 years old when his father was killed in May of 1961. Tony Sr. was test-driving the car of a fellow driver when the fatal accident occurred.
Gary Bettenhausen also endured a major accident. He suffered serious, permanent injuries to his left arm during a crash in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1974. Yet he continued his career as a race driver for nearly 20 more years. Gary Bettenhausen died at age 72 in 2014.
The upcoming book is divided into sections (with on- and off-track photos) focusing on Tony Sr., Gary, Merle and Tony Jr., along with personal recollections and commentary by Merle.
"It's doubtful there's ever been a more determined or star-crossed family in auto racing history than the Bettenhausens," Robin Miller, the well-known sportswriter and racing commentator, has written. "But throughout their victories, gut-wrenching defeats and tragedies, it was a family shaped by hard work and heart."
The Bettenhausens started out in Tinley Park, Ill., where Tony Sr. was born in 1916. He made his Indy 500 debut in 1946, the first race after the competition had been discontinued during World War II. During the 1950s, Tony Sr. won two national Indy-car championships, as well as hundreds of midget and stock car races.
Gary Bettenhausen not only is remembered as a fiercely competitive driver, but as a compassionate and valiant one. During the Indy 500 in 1971, he slammed on his brakes and leaped from his still-moving car to help a rival, driver Mike Mosley, who was pinned in a burning car. Gary pulled Mosley from the wreckage.
Our guest Merle Bettenhausen became the guardian of his two nieces, the daughters of Tony Jr. and Shirley, after the fatal plane crash. Although Merle competed in midget races after the accident in which he lost his arm, he eventually stopped racing and lived in Wisconsin for several years.
Merle moved back to Indianapolis and has been involved in the retail auto business. A popular public speaker, Merle - along with his sister, Susan - supplied many of the 350 photos that will be included in Tony Bettenhausen & Sons. The book also will include complete statistical data of the family's racing careers.
Additional research by Jeff Kamm.
Unlike the Bettenhausens, who settled in Indiana, most of the Andretti family was based in Nazareth, Pa. That's where Mario Andretti has lived for most of his adult life and where his son, Michael, and grandson, Marco, grew up.
But Mario's twin brother, Aldo Andretti, has lived in Central Indiana for more than 40 years. Aldo's son, John Andretti, became a well-known Indy car and NASCAR driver, competing in both the Indy 500 (where his top finish was fifth in 1991) and the Brickyard 400.
John Andretti, now 53, attended a high school in the Indianapolis area. He even met his future wife, Nancy, at the high school.
Question: What high school is John Andretti's alma mater? Hint: It is located less than two miles from the Speedway.
The prize pack includes a two tickets to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Track Tour and two tickets to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four tickets to the premier of the "Roots of Destiny" documentary about the Indiana ancestral home of Barack Obama in Tipton County, courtesy of the Dunham House Educational Foundation. The premier is Saturday evening, April 30, at the Ricks Centre in Greenfield.
Roadtrip: Twin Swamps in Posey County
Guest Roadtripper Michael Homoya, who is a botanist and plant ecologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, suggests a Roadtrip to Twin Swamps Nature Preserve, where you will think you're in the Deep South instead of the Hoosier state!
Twin Swamps is a cottonwood-bald cypress swamp and an overcup oak swamp, with an area of southern flatwoods between the two. This preserve is one of the few existing remnants of such communities, which once occurred over large portions of the Ohio and Wabash River Valleys. The natural bald cypress swamp occurs near the northern limit of its range.
Michael tells us that we won't see alligators or Spanish moss, but otherwise we'll see many species in common with the southern states. Twin Swamps is located in Posey County, near where the Wabash River and Ohio River merge, about 25 miles southwest of Evansville and 20 miles south of New Harmony.
There's a boardwalk into the swamp that is part of a mile-long loop trail. And for our bird-loving friends, you'll see the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and the brilliantly colored Prothonotary Warbler.
Columbus architecture and city history
(April 9, 2016) - The American Institute of Architects once asked its members to rank U.S. cities on architectural quality and innovation. Columbus, Ind., finished sixth - behind only the significantly larger cities of Chicago, New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Boston.
The modern architecture in Columbus (pop.: 45,000) has been showcased in national media ranging from CBS Sunday Morning and USA Today to Travel & Leisure and Smithsonian magazines.
Now it's Hoosier History Live's turn to explore the architectural heritage of the Bartholomew County city with one of its best-known media figures/historians as our guest.
Nelson is joined in studio by Bartholomew County historian Harry McCawley, the retired associate editor of The Columbus Republic; he continues to write a popular weekly newspaper column that often focuses on local history. Harry, a civic leader who has been president of the Bartholomew County Historical Society, also has edited several books focusing on Columbus history.
Key figures in the story of the Columbus architectural heritage include renowned Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, who designed the city's First Christian Church in 1942, and his son, Eero Saarinen, who designed the Irwin Union Bank and Trust in 1955 - several years after having designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
Columbus business and civic leaders who spearheaded the crusade to lure top architects with diverse, innovative designs included J. Irwin Miller (1909-2004). For nearly 50 years, Miller was at the helm of Cummins, Inc., a Fortune 500 company based in Columbus that manufactures diesel engines.
Eero Saarinen also designed the Miller House, the former residence of the Miller family that is located on more than 13 acres of landscaped gardens. The Miller House, which has been featured in Architectural Digest, is owned today by the Indianapolis Museum of Art and has become a popular destination for tours. (Famous furniture designer Charles Eames created furnishings for the Miller family.)
In downtown Columbus, historic structures include the Irwin family's ancestral home, which was built during the Civil War era. Today, it is a bed-and-breakfast called the Inn at Irwin Gardens.
Our guest Harry McCawley shares details about the origins of the city's architectural heritage. Much of the trigger was the critical need for new schools for children of the baby boom generation; Miller is said to have looked at the unimpressive design for a school and said, "We certainly can do better than this."
The eventual result has been dozens of award-winning designs and sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In addition to First Christian Church, a National Historic Landmark that is considered to be the first American church designed in a contemporary style (it has indirect lighting and interior brick walls, both considered cutting-edge in 1942), several other houses of worship are architecturally significant. They include North Christian Church (designed by Eero Saarinen with a hexagonal roof topped by a towering spire); St. Peter's Lutheran (Gunnar Birkerts was its architect), and First Baptist Church, designed by Harry Weese of Chicago, who also was the architect for some local schools.
The glass-walled Columbus Republic newspaper building also is considered architecturally significant; according to Harry McCawley, it "spurred downtown redevelopment."
During our show, Harry also shares insights about the beginnings during the 1800s of Columbus, which has marketed itself with the slogan: "Different By Design."
When the city was founded in the 1820s, it briefly was known as Tiptonia in honor of Gen. John Tipton, an early landowner. Following a dispute between Tipton and county officials, he left the area ("In a huff," according to our guest Harry McCawley) and the town was renamed Columbus; the disgruntled general allowed his name to be attached to Tipton and Tipton County farther north in Indiana. For various reasons - including his ruthless treatment of the Potawatomi Indians - Gen. Tipton is a controversial figure in Indiana history.
Fast-forward to issues in the 20th century about attitudes toward minorities. Under the leadership of J. Irwin Miller during the 1960s, "Cummins used corporate muscle in forcing Realtors and landlords" to end discriminatory practices toward African Americans, Harry McCawley says. "(Miller) wanted the community opened to people of all colors mostly because it was the right thing to do, but also because Cummins was trying to attract top young executives and engineers from elsewhere."
That also was part of the motivation for encouraging impressive architecture in Columbus, Harry notes. Miller and other business officials, he says, "felt the need to provide prospective leaders of their community with surroundings that might keep them in the community for decades instead of using Columbus as a stepping stool on their individual career resumes."
The distinctive architecture, Harry emphasizes, "was as much a business decision as it was to provide residents with a model community."
A popular destination for visitors to Columbus is an ice cream parlor that opened in 1900. Founded by three brothers from Greece, the landmark eatery has a tin ceiling, a self-playing pipe organ, a mahogany back bar, stained-glass windows and a soda fountain museum.
Although the historic ice cream parlor no longer is owned by descendants of the three Greek brothers, the family's name has been retained on the landmark eatery. In 2009, the ice cream parlor reopened after being closed for two years for a major renovation.
Question: Name the landmark ice cream parlor in Columbus.
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to the Claddagh Irish Pub and Restaurant, two tickets to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four tickets to the premier of the "Roots of Destiny"documentary about the Indiana ancestral home of Barack Obama in Tipton County, courtesy of the Dunham House Educational Foundation. The premier is Saturday evening, April 30, at the Ricks Centre in Greenfield.
Roadtrip: DeMotte in northwestern Indiana
Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff suggests a Roadtrip to Demotte and Jasper County in northwestern Indiana. She tells us that "this part of the state was, for the most part, settled much later than the rest of the state, owing to the vast and seemingly impassable swamps, which were largely drained in the late 19th century."
Glory continues: "Today we call those wetlands, and some are being restored. Driving in this country of wide open spaces can be disconcerting! Jasper County, at the southern edge of this region, has many interesting sights."
Founded in 1882, DeMotte owes its existence to the railroad that still runs through town. At the corner of 9th and Birch is the DeMotte Library, a branch of the Jasper County Public Library system, housed in a former Catholic church that was expanded to four times its original size in 1992. The library is also home to the DeMotte Historical Society.
Hungry? Just off Highway 231 at the south edge of DeMotte is Jim's Cafe, open for breakfast, lunch and supper.
"This my kind of small-town cafe," Glory says, "but if it doesn't float your boat, DeMotte has plenty of other restaurants. Just cruise the main drag, which is 231."
Several miles due east of DeMotte is the fascinating Dunn's Bridge, which several years ago was in a decrepit state.
"This is the so-called Ferris Wheel bridge," Glory says, "and there is a good case to be made. The bridge is looking much better these days, and the county has created a very nice little park around it, with a picnic area and canoe launch into the Kankakee River."
Farther east is Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area, where in spring, but especially in late fall, you can see thousands of sandhill cranes. They're harder to predict in spring, but always worth a look!
Historic markers across Indiana
(April 2, 2016) - Currently under way: plans for Indiana historic markers in Brown County to honor the bluegrass music heritage (including what's now called the Bill Monroe Bean Blossom Music Festival) and in Bloomington (near the basketball stadium on the Indiana University campus) to commemorate the racial barrier in Big Ten basketball shattered by Shelbyville native Bill Garrett during the late 1940s.
Surprising omissions among the 603 state historic markers: There are none commemorating Madam Walker, James Dean and Booth Tarkington. An organization, group or individual has never initiated a proposal for a marker on a site associated with those famous Hoosiers.
To explore all aspects of state historic markers, Nelson is joined in studio by two guests from the Indiana Historical Bureau, which administers the marker program. His guests are Chandler Lighty, the historical bureau's new executive director, and Casey Pfeiffer, the marker program's manager.
Note: To be commemorated with a state historic marker, an event must have occurred at least 50 years ago; an individual must be dead for 20 years. (So a site associated with a notable like Kurt Vonnegut, who died in 2007, won't be eligible for 11 more years.)
State historic markers cover a range of topics, from military and women's history to milestones in industry and business. Our guest Chandler Lighty, who became the historical bureau's director earlier this year, says he wants to "ramp up" the marker program and, in particular, increase the number of markers related to cultural and sports history, as well as the heritage of ethnic and minority groups that now are "not equitably represented."
The text on some markers - including several involving Native American history that were erected more than 40 years ago - is dated or even inappropriate, our guests concede. Examples include the marker at a Grant County site of a Miami Indian cemetery. The text inaccurately implies that white pioneers introduced the Miami to the practice of burying their dead; in fact, the Miami and other Native American tribes had burial practices long before whites arrived.
Some marker insights:
State markers have been approved in recent years for sites associated with the Indianapolis Times (the long-gone newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize in 1928 for exposing the KKK's influence in Indiana politics) and, in Allen County, for Philo Farnsworth, a pioneer in the invention of television.
According to the Indiana Historical Bureau, events or people commemorated with state markers must have had statewide significance, not just an impact on a local community.
"Sometimes, counties or local communities will install their own markers if the topic is not eligible for a state marker," Casey Pfeiffer notes.
State markers, in addition to the crest featuring the shape of Indiana, have a dark blue background with gold lettering; the signs are cast aluminum.
During the 1990s, several historic markers were erected on sites associated with the Underground Railroad; state officials looked at extensive documentation before the markers were approved. (Hoosier History Live explored myths and folklore about questionable Underground Railroad sites during a show in 2013.)
A few state historic markers feature a visual image in addition to text. These include a marker in Terre Haute that commemorates the iconic design of the Coca Cola bottle. In 1915, Root Glass Works in Terre Haute won a national competition to create the design.
No state historic marker pays tribute yet to famous Indianapolis novelist and playwright Booth Tarkington, who won two Pulitzer Prizes. If a marker ever is erected, several choices for a site would be logical. One option would be near the historic mansion on North Meridian Street where Tarkington lived from the early 1920s until his death in 1946.
Another appropriate site for a marker would be a distinctive Indianapolis neighborhood often identified with Tarkington. That's because he used the historic neighborhood as the setting for his masterpiece, The Magnificent Ambersons (1918). He changed the names of both Indianapolis and the neighborhood in his bestselling novel - calling the city "Midland" and the neighborhood "Amberson Estates."
Question: The elegant homes of the central characters clearly are modeled after the spacious houses in what neighborhood?
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to the Slippery Noodle Inn and two admissions to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of Visit Indy, and two tickets to the premier of the "Roots of Destiny"documentary featuring the Indiana ancestral home of Barack Obama.
Roadtrip: Camp Atterbury
Guest Roadtripper Ken Marshall tells us that Camp Atterbury, just north of Columbus, Ind., offers surprising options for visitors. Think camping, hiking, a shooting range and even a small museum that tells the story of the historic WWII military base.
Horseback riding? It's available to the public nearby at Hoosier Horse Park. Ken will be making a personal visit to Camp Atterbury and will have a full report for us on Saturday.
Monika Herzig on Indiana women jazz musicians
(March 26, 2016) - Plenty of Hoosiers - and certainly many WICR-FM listeners - are aware of Monika Herzig, one of Indiana's best-known and most acclaimed jazz musicians.
But Monika, a jazz pianist and composer, emphasizes that many of her predecessors (including some whose accomplishments came during the ragtime era of the early 1900s) and peers have been overlooked. So, during Women's History Month, Monika has been paying tribute in performances across the state to an array of women jazz musicians, particularly composers and instrumentalists who often were overlooked.
She is Nelson's studio guest to share insights about the women musicians, including some who were part of the heyday of the Indiana Avenue jazz scene in Indianapolis.
A native of Germany, Monika has been a faculty member at Indiana University since 2002, has toured internationally (opening for the likes of Bette Midler and Sting) and has performed at countless jazz festivals, including Indy Jazz Fest. Her upcoming release is titled The Whole World in Her Hands.
During our show, Monika shares insights about jazz musicians, including:
Our guest Monika Herzig has organized more than 40 concerts with internationally known artists. Regular and upcoming performances include:
For her Women's History Month events about jazz musicians, Monika often has been joined by musicians such as violinist Carolyn Dutton, who lives in Brown County, and Indianapolis-based saxophonist Amanda Gardier and clarinetist Shawn Goodman. Their careers and impact also are explored during our show.
Among historic women composers during the ragtime era, Monika shares insights about Julia Niebergall (1886-1968) of Indianapolis. A friend of May Aufderheide, Niebergall was a pianist whose compositions included Hoosier Rag (1907). She periodically taught music at Manual High School.
The Indiana jazz scene recently lost a popular vocalist. Mary Moss - who had been a longtime regular performer at the Jazz Kitchen and the Chatterbox, two Indianapolis jazz clubs - died in January. During our show, Monika will discuss the legacy of Mary Moss, who was known as "The Lady with a Song."
Our guest Monika Herzig has collaborated on several projects with legendary jazz composer, musician and educator David Baker. In fact, she is the author of a book titled David Baker: A Legacy in Music.
A native of Indianapolis and graduate of Attucks High School, David Baker began his career as a trombonist and toured with several big bands.
After suffering a broken jaw in a car accident, he stopped playing the trombone and switched to another instrument - one that rarely had been heard in jazz music. David Baker is credited with pioneering the use of the musical instrument in jazz.
Question: What is the instrument?
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 the prize if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You also must give your first name to our engineer in order to be placed on the air.
Roadtrip: Rochester in northern Indiana
Guest Roadtripper and film historian Eric Grayson recommends a Roadtrip to the town of historic Rochester, which was founded in 1835. Eric tells us, "It's way up north on the new U.S. 31, and the first sign we've arrived will be the Fulton County Historical Society. This is a large museum with a number of outdoor exhibits, including a barn that they just had to restore after some damage last year. See if you can time your visit to one of the events that they have several times a year."
For lunch, consider a stop at the Rochester Flagpole, which is a local stop that has been open since 1949. They've had some ownership changes, but they're still open, and it's Eric's firm opinion that they have the best strawberry sundae in the state.
Not far away is the 1895 Fulton County Courthouse, which notable for its 10 lion sculptures.
And just outside of town is a historic lake - Lake Manitou. This is a natural lake that was dammed to expand it in the 1800s. Says Eric: "Beautiful lake, full of fish, great for swimming and canoeing."
James Alexander Thom on 1865 steamboat tragedy
(March 19, 2016) - One of Indiana's most acclaimed novelists is our studio guest to share insights about the Hoosier state's links to a tragedy on the Mississippi River during the aftermath of the Civil War and President Abraham Lincoln's assassination.
The fire and explosion in 1865 of the Sultana - a steamboat carrying about 2,000 passengers, including many Union Army soldiers who had survived the horrific Andersonville prisoner-of-war camp - has been called "America's worst maritime disaster."
It's the focus of Fire in the Water (Blue River Press/Cardinal Publishing), the newest novel of historical fiction by James Alexander Thom, 82, whose great-grandfather survived the infamous Andersonville camp in Georgia.
Jim and his wife, author Dark Rain Thom, are Nelson's guests for a show that also, as a salute to the state's bicentennial this year, includes insights about the Native American presence here in 1816, when Indiana became the 19th state. Dark Rain, a Shawnee, is the co-author with her husband of Warrior Woman (2004), a novel about the life of a real Shawnee leader of the 18th century.
The Thoms are renowned for the extensive historical research they undertake in writing their books. For several years, they provided riverboat commentary on the Delta Queen as historical lecturers.
The Sultana, a wooden steamboat, exploded near Memphis, Tenn., while transporting five times the legal maximum of passengers; Jim describes them as "a pathetic human cargo of 2,000 sick and ragged survivors" of Andersonville. The explosion on April 27, 1865, happened the day after John Wilkes Booth was killed. The protagonist in Fire in the Water boards the Sultana to travel from the Deep South to Illinois to meet up with Lincoln's funeral train.
Some chapters in Fire in the Water also are set in Madison, the scenic Indiana town on the Ohio River. In addition, Madison is the hometown of some major characters in the novel.
Jim and Dark Rain Thom live in a 170-year-old log cabin in Owen County that he reconstructed on ancestral property.
He was the recipient of the inaugural Indiana Authors Award in 2009 by the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation. The byline "James Alexander Thom" first gained national fame with his novel Follow the River (1981), which landed on The New York Times bestseller list.
His other works of historic fiction include Long Knife (1979), which focuses on the exploits of George Rogers Clark during the Revolutionary War, and Panther in the Sky (1989), which focuses on the great Shawnee Leader Tecumseh.
Along with Dark Rain, Jim was a Hoosier History Live guest on April 2, 2011, for a show that tapped their advice about writing historic fiction. Jim had recently written The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction (Writers Digest Books, 2011), for which he has subsequently won awards. He also has been inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.
In Fire in the Water, the protagonist, a war correspondent, describes the Sultana as a "Tub of Doom." Of the 2,000 passengers aboard the tremendously overcrowded steamboat, about 1,700 died - more fatalities than occurred with the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912. (Hoosier History Live explored the Titanic tragedy - and the 14 passengers aboard the ocean liner with Hoosier connections - during a radio show in 2010.)
According to historians, the significance of the Sultana disaster was overshadowed by other enormously consequential events that also happened during April 1865, including the Lincoln assassination. Fire in the Water opens with news of the assassination reaching people in the Deep South, including the war correspondent, who is on his honeymoon. To cover the slain president's funeral, he decides to board the Sultana with his bride in Vicksburg, Miss.
Hundreds of POWs recently released from the Andersonville camp, including many Hoosiers, also boarded the Sultana in Vicksburg. As one of the largest Confederate military prisons, Andersonville held more than 45,000 Union Army soldiers. Nearly 13,000 died, even though the camp existed for only 14 months; fatalities were attributed to malnutrition, disease and poor sanitation.
The fire on the Sultana, which occurred seven miles north of Memphis, began with the explosion of the boilers on the side wheel steamboat.
Our distinguished guest, historical fiction author James Alexander Thom, was a Marine during the Korean War. So was an Indianapolis native who later became a well-known political figure. Like our guest James Alexander Thom, he was sent to Korea during the war. He was a Marine from 1950 to 1952, saw combat and endured two fierce winters in Korea.
The future politician had been born in Indy in 1932. He graduated from Shortridge High School in 1949, then served in the Marines. After that, he enrolled in Indiana University. In addition to a long political career - he held public office almost without interruption from 1964 until retiring in 1997 - he worked as a deputy sheriff in Marion County, a lawyer, an author and a college instructor.
Question: Who was he?
Roadtrip: Falls of the Ohio State Park
Guest Roadtripper and Indy-based history writer and enthusiast Jeff Kamm suggests we enjoy spring at the beautiful Falls of the Ohio State Park on the banks of the Ohio River in Clarksville, Ind., across from Louisville.
The Falls were an early river navigation landmark for Ohio River traffic, and Merriwether Lewis and William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition met for the first time at this location, and they set off westward just past the Falls.
Ask Nelson and fellow author Doug Wissing
(March 12, 2016) - This all call-in show is another in our occasional "Ask Nelson" format - an opportunity to inquire about any aspects of our Indiana heritage, particularly "connections - sometimes unexpected - that bind us Hoosiers to the outside world."
Those are the words of an award-winning Hoosier author/journalist who joins our host, Nelson Price, a fellow author/journalist, on this show.
Nelson's co-host is Bloomington-based Douglas Wissing, whose new book, IN Writing: Uncovering the Unexpected Hoosier State (a joint publication of Indiana University Press and the Indiana Historical Society Press), explores everything from Indiana's links to Tibet to a fruit known as "Indiana's banana" and a brewery in the Calumet Region that some have called the "world's best."
In between taking phone calls from listeners, Nelson and Doug delve into all of those topics, as well as the legendary Studebaker Brothers from South Bend.
Topics covered include the unlikely connections between Indiana and Tibet. In IN Writing, Doug includes observations about the Tibetan Cultural Center, which was established near Bloomington by the late Thubten Norbu, the older brother of the Dalai Lama, in the 1980s.
Nelson also interviewed Norbu several times during the evolution of the distinctive cultural center, which has been visited by celebrity Buddhists like Richard Gere, as well as by the Dalai Lama.
Also among Doug's 10 books is Pioneer in Tibet (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), which chronicles the adventures of Dr. Albert Shelton (1875-1922), an Indianapolis-born explorer, physician and Protestant missionary. According to Doug, the only place in America during the early 1900s to learn the Tibetan language was, of all unlikely places, Indianapolis.
Doug's other books include Indiana: One Pint at a Time (IHS Press, 2010), which, like IN Writing, tells the story of Three Floyds Brewing, a brewery in Munster. In IN Writing, Doug notes that the company - located in a former warehouse in an industrial park - in 2010 "received perhaps the ultimate honor when judges at ratebeer.com ranked the brewery the best in the world."
Elsewhere in northern Indiana, the Studebaker Brothers thrived for generations as the largest employer in South Bend. The five wagon-making brothers, the sons of a blacksmith, are profiled in Nelson's book Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (Hawthorne Publishing, 2005). During this show, Nelson plans to share insights about the brothers, whose business, later the Studebaker Corp., eventually made popular cars in South Bend until the assembly line shut down in 1963.
During an "Ask Nelson" show in November, the influx of phone calls from listeners meant our host never had the opportunity to talk about the five brothers. One of them initially become affluent, thanks to the California Gold Rush - but not for the reason you might expect.
We certainly appreciate the phone calls during these shows; in fact, they are encouraged. So the phone lines remain open throughout the entire program, even as Nelson and Doug share a cornucopia of insights about all things Indiana, including the rather obscure pawpaw. In IN Writing, Doug describes his first taste of the "greenish yellow, oblong fruit" as a 5-year-old boy in southern Indiana.
Nicknamed the "Indiana banana," the pawpaw is thought to have been brought to the Hoosier state and elsewhere by Native Americans. They are credited, according to Doug, with bringing pawpaw trees from northern Florida.
In IN Writing, Doug also devotes a chapter to the use of a famous Indiana product - limestone - in the construction of the Empire State Building in New York City.
As part of his research, Doug apparently stood on a swaying catwalk on the 60th floor of the Empire State Building a couple of years ago. The building was the world's tallest "skyscraper" when it opened with 103 floors in the early 1930s. During our show, Nelson asks Doug to describe his experiences on the catwalk, as well as insights about Indiana's limestone companies and quarries he has visited.
Limestone from the Hoosier state also was used to construct the Indiana State Capitol Building, which was built for $2 million in 1888. With a design similar to the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C., the Indiana Statehouse is featured in Indianapolis Then and Now (Pavilion Books), a visual history book put together by a team consisting of Nelson, co-author Joan Hostetler and photographer Garry Chilluffo. (An extensively revised edition of the book has just been released.)
So Nelson shares details about the Statehouse - our third, and the second one located in Indy - during the show. The initial Indiana State Capitol Building in Indianapolis was built during the 1830s with, among other materials, stucco - which did not hold up well.
As with previous "Ask Nelson" shows - which have featured media co-hosts like gardening guru Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, "Indiana's Weatherman" Paul Poteet and Will Higgins, history reporter for The Indianapolis Star - the phone lines are open throughout the entire program.
Not only are there several connections between Tibet and Indiana, the Hoosier state also has a link to Singapore. During the last 30 years, a well-known public figure in Indiana served as the U.S. ambassador to Singapore, an island nation in southeast Asia.
Question: Who was he?
Women military veterans and memoirs
(March 5, 2016) - Not all of them have "war" stories per se, because some served in peacetime. But all of the members of a special group of diverse Hoosier women are military veterans. And they are working on their memoirs.
As Hoosier History Live salutes Women's History Month, Nelson is joined in studio by two of the military veterans, as well as by their instructor. She is Shari Wagner, Indiana's poet laureate, who is guiding the veterans with their memoirs in a series of workshops by the Indiana Writers Center.
The women, who range from 30-somethings to a 93-year-old veteran, meet at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. In addition to Shari, Nelson's guests are:
Leslie also has been a "Navy wife" because her husband, Ronald, a Noblesville native, is a veteran; he served 12 years aboard advanced attack nuclear submarines. The Bales' two grown sons, like their parents, also work at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.
The group of memoir-writing women served in almost every branch of the military. According to instructor Shari Wagner, their memoirs will be published by the Indiana Writers Center in a book this summer. The memoirs include poetry as well as prose; the project to tell the women's military stories is funded by the Allen Whitehall Clowes Charitable Foundation.
Shari, who is not a military veteran, is Indiana's fifth poet laureate and the author of two books of poetry, The Harmonist at Nightfall: Poems of Indiana (Bottom Dog Press, 2013) and Evening Chore (Cascadia Publishing, 2005). She grew up near a 10-acre woods in Wells County and now lives in Hamilton County with her husband, Chuck, a poet and English teacher at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.
During our show, Anita and Leslie discuss everything from their enlistment experiences in the military to their transition to civilian life and the process of writing their memoirs.
Last November, their writing group was the focus of a story in The Indianapolis Star. In the article, some of the women shared insights about the rigors of survival training during their military service; the training often included, as The Star put it, "intense physical and mental challenges that few women attempted 30-plus years ago."
Our guest Leslie Bales writings include accounts of survival training and sexual harassment. In addition, she says her experiences as a staff sergeant in the Air Force and that of a Navy wife have helped her "understand and support the challenges service members and their families face today."
Our guest Anita Siccardi, who is in her mid-70s, began her career as a school nurse in Pennsylvania and was an instructor at the IU School of Nursing when she decided to be an Army nurse at about age 50.
After returning to civilian life - and before becoming the nursing school dean at Marian University - Anita also held various posts at the University of Indianapolis, including director of graduate nursing.
Our guest Shari Wagner teaches memoir writing to people of all ages and backgrounds. During our show, Shari also discusses her activities as poet laureate, which involve traveling around the state.
Shari's poetry is featured in the anthology And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2011); her projects currently underway include a book of poems in the voices of various men and women from Indiana history.
A city in Indiana is particularly known for the contributions during World War II of "Rosie the Riveters," women who went to work in factories. That's because factory production in the city sharply increased during the war, with women undertaking many of the jobs, including welding.
More than 5,000 workers, mostly female, built various fighter aircraft at a factory in the Indiana city during World War II. Thousands of other women built ships, including battleships. A welding school was quickly set up in the city to train new factory workers, the majority of whom were women.
Question: What is the Indiana city?
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to the Hard Rock Cafe, two admissions to the NCAA Hall of Champions, and two admissions to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Roadtrip - Colored Women's Federation Club
Guest Roadtripper Dona Stokes-Lucas, a researcher, tour guide and co-chair of Indiana Freedom Trails, suggests a visit to the former clubhouse of the Colored Women's Federation Club at 2034 N. Capitol Ave. in Indianapolis.
The Club was founded by African-American journalist Lillian Fox (1866-1917), a civic leader who first wrote for the Indianapolis Freeman, a leading national black newspaper at the time. She later joined the The Indianapolis News as Indiana's first black columnist. In 2014, she was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.
Interested in other stops along the Indiana Women's History Trail? Here's a map put together by The Indianapolis Star.
How to furnish an historic home
(Feb. 27, 2016) - Maybe your home's interior has a Victorian-era theme. Or is your preference for an even earlier period, like the Colonial era? Perhaps, though, a much later era, such as the 1950s or '70s, is your decorative dream.
To offer advice about furnishing homes with "period" themes, Hoosier History Live calls in three experts with track records of making period-appropriate decorating decisions about distinctive homes, including some of Indiana's historic sites. Our topics include plenty of do's and don'ts. We also will explore the care, treatment and placement of period furniture in this information-packed show, which originally aired Jan. 10, 2015.
Nelson's guests are:
Along with advice for homeowners, our guests share anecdotes related to their restoration, furnishing and conservation experiences.
Regarding antique furniture, they talk about reproductions - along with, as our guest Link Ludington puts it, "reproductions that area now legitimate antiques." In addition, he discusses whether "investing" in antiques is a good idea; tips about starting collections; fakes and forgeries, and "matching furnishings to the period and style of a house versus eclectic collections."
Some other tidbits:
Feb. 25 is our anniversary party!
Indiana is 200, and Hoosier History Live is 8
Can you believe it? Hoosier History Live has been on the air eight years.
To celebrate, we are throwing another of our famous anniversary parties!
If you have not yet RSVPed for "Indiana 200, Hoosier History Live 8," please RSVP today!
Scan-a-thon! In addition to all of the soiree featured events listed above, you also have an opportunity to bring your interesting old Indiana photographs, along with description, to a Scan-a-thon at the party presented by the Indiana Album. Trained volunteers will register and scan your photos while you celebrate, and you may pick them up before you leave.
We could also use a few more volunteers at the party. Email email@example.com
What did Indiana look like 200 years ago?
(Feb. 20, 2016) - Amid the hoopla about the Indiana Bicentennial this year, have you been wondering what kinds of wildlife, trees and plant life were thriving here in 1816?
In addition to describing the dense forest that apparently prevailed in 80 percent of the state, Michael even has identified the species of trees that were thriving on what became the site of downtown Indianapolis. (The city was not platted until the 1820s. Corydon was the capital in 1816.)
Bison could be found in various regions of the state in 1816, Michael notes. So could such now-gone or greatly diminished (in Indiana) animals and birds as the gray wolf, mountain lion, black bear, Carolina parakeet, ivory-billed woodpecker, prairie chicken, porcupine and avocet. (During a Hoosier History Live show in 2014, we explored passenger pigeons and other extinct species of birds.)
According to research by our guest Michael Homoya - who has studied accounts of pioneers and early travelers as well as surveyors' notes - major types of trees in the 1816 wilderness that became downtown Indy included American beech, black walnut, elm, ash and sugar maple.
What natural phenomenon occurred within five months of Indiana becoming the 19th state in 1816?
"A mass emergence of 17-year cicadas," Michael says. The next emergence of the cicadas, he adds, will be in 2021.
In 1816, the 20 percent of the state that wasn't forest consisted of prairies, barrens and marsh, according to Michael. Northwestern Indiana included, as he puts it, "vast prairies as far as the eye could see."
Michael Homoya, a plant ecologist, has written an article for Outdoor Indiana magazine's January/February issue that describes the new state's landscape in 1816. He is the author of Orchids of Indiana (Indiana University Press) and was our guest in 2014 for a show with gardening expert Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp about plants that are native to the Hoosier state and early botanical explorations.
During our What did Indiana look like 200 years ago? show, Michael discusses the importance of knowing the state's early natural landscape as a "baseline." He also shares details about the aspects of the natural vegetation that have been altered the most.
Some other landscape topics related to 1816 Indiana that Michael and Nelson explore:
Canebrakes. "This is a grassland type essentially gone from Indiana's landscape," Michael notes. "Some were several thousand acres in size prior to settlement, occurring mostly along the lower Ohio and Wabash rivers."
Dense forests and streams. Michael will describe the water quality of the streams 200 years ago, as well as details about the timber lands, natural lakes and open wetlands then.
Landscape diversity. The Hoosier state, then and now, is said to be something of, in Michael's phrase, "an ecological mash-up." Plants and animals in various parts of the state reflect different regions of the country. Swamps in some parts of Indiana, for example, have species similar to those found in the Deep South.
Squirrel "invasions." Mass migrations of squirrels occurred during the 1800s, startling early Indiana residents. Accounts of early settlers described large numbers of squirrels swimming across the White River, Wabash River and Ohio River. This phenomenon, which Michael says "is essentially non-existent today," also was explored during a Hoosier History Live show in January 2014 about quirky aspects of our heritage.
In addition, Michael Homoya tackles the question: "Are there areas existing today that still look as they did in 1816?"
Additional research courtesy Jeff Kamm.
The oldest tree in Indianapolis is generally considered to be an oak tree located in a historic neighborhood. The tree, a bur oak, may be nearly 400 years old. Motorists often drive to the historic neighborhood to see the oak tree.
Question: In what historic neighborhood is it located?
Roadtrip - New visitor center coming for Levi Coffin House
Guest Roadtripper Kisha Tandy of the Indiana State Museum tells us about upcoming improvements to the Levi Coffin House in Fountain City, a home once known as the "Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad."
The home is about to become part of a $3.2 million improvement effort, and most of the money will go toward creating a 5,200-square-foot visitors center adjacent to the 1839 home.
The home's owners, Levi and Catherine Coffin, Quakers from North Carolina, were thought to have helped 2,000 enslaved persons escape to freedom in Canada prior to the Civil War. The house has hidden doors, secret nooks and a water well in the basement.
When completed, the improvement would be the largest to date at the handful of small, state-owned museums around Indiana known as Indiana State Historic Sites.
Maps of Indiana
(Feb. 13, 2016) - On a map created in 1778, the name "Indiana" appears for a region that later became part of West Virginia. Other maps from the late 1700s and early 1800s reflect border disputes between Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and the Hoosier state.
During the early auto era, the first so-called "highway map" of Indiana may have been one distributed in 1919. A map of Indiana's gravel roads was produced in 1895, while a bicycle route map helped 1901 travelers.
All of them are among the historic maps we explore as Nelson is joined in studio by two Indiana Historical Society staff members. Eric Mundell and Amy Vedra are co-authors of Mapping Indiana (IHS Press), a new book that features 107 of the more than 1,700 maps in the society's collections. A special exhibit, also titled "Mapping Indiana," has opened at the IHS; like the book, the exhibit includes Old World depictions of North America, including the area that became Indiana.
"Early mapmakers often were working with unknown areas," notes Eric, a sixth-generation Hoosier who is the director of collections management at the IHS. Amy, his colleague, is a native of Griffith in northwest Indiana and the IHS director of reference services.
Among the oldest maps in the IHS collection - which spans five centuries - is one created in 1540 by Sebastian Munster, a well-known German mapmaker. Although its depiction of North America is "malformed," as Amy puts it, our guests report that the map has held up well because it, like others during the era, was created on "rag paper," a type of cloth.
In Indianapolis, early mapmakers included civic leader William Sullivan (1803-86), an engineer and surveyor who created hand-drawn "bird's-eye view" depictions of the Hoosier capital during the 1830s. Mapping Indiana also includes early bird's-eye view" depictions of such Hoosier cities as Lafayette, South Bend, Greencastle and Madison.
How to Drive to Brown County is the title of a map produced in 1918 for early motorists. The map includes "road conditions" information as it guides travelers to the isolated, hilly county then becoming known for its colony of artists that included Hoosier Group painter T.C. Steele.
According to our guest Eric Mundell, investors in the undeveloped region labeled "Indiana" (that later became a portion of West Virginia) on the 1778 map included Benjamin Franklin. A settlement planned for the area in the late 1770s never happened.
But the word "Indiana" continued to pop up on maps of wilderness areas that eventually became parts of other states - indicating the name was being kept in mind as pioneers moved west.
Other map heritage facts:
For much of the 20th century, a globe-making company was based in Indianapolis. Although the company became best known for globes, it also made and sold maps and atlases.
Its products included globes promoted as the "most usable" in school classrooms.
Beginning in 1921, the company moved several times within the Hoosier capital. For a while, it was located on West 62nd Street. Before that, the business was in a building on LaSalle Street. From the 1930s through the mid-1960s, the globe-making company was located in downtown Indy.
Question: What was the name of the company?
Roadtrip - Wander and reflect at St. Mary-of-the-Woods in Vigo County
Want to wander around a beautiful, quiet, heavily wooded spot? Guest Roadtripper and architectural historian William Selm suggests a visit to the beauty spot of Vigo County, Saint Mary-of- the-Woods College campus near Terre Haute.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is a Roman Catholic, four-year liberal arts college, now co-educational. The college was founded in 1840 by Indiana's only canonized saint, Mother Theodore Guerin.
At age 93, memories of Walker Theatre, Indiana Avenue and more
Now 93 years old, Mr. Ridley lived through the heyday of Indiana Avenue, when nightclubs featured jazz musicians who became national stars. He attended Attucks High School before and after service during World War II. That military service included disembarking from a ship on Utah Beach on D-Day in June 1944.
So Mr. Ridley truly has lived through history - local, national and international. He is Nelson's studio guest to share insights as Hoosier History Live salutes Black History Month.
These days, Mr. Ridley is a beloved docent at the Walker Theatre, where he shares memories from the very beginning of the cultural landmark. During his boyhood in the 1920s and '30s, the Walker building included a basement shop, the Coffee Pot, that Mr. Ridley says became a popular hangout for his friends.
"Outside the Coffee Pot, on the corner, the young men would come and look at pretty ladies, who were all dressed up in their finery," he writes in his self-published memoir, From the Avenue. "These same ladies could enjoy the attention of the gentlemen in their zoot suits, which sported very full-legged pants and were narrow at the cuff. Some of us guys wore more conservative clothes, but all were custom made by the local tailors. ... The idea was definitely to see and be seen on this corner."
To this day, Mr. Ridley lives not far away, in the neighborhood now known as Ransom Place.
Like the Walker Theatre, Attucks High School opened in 1927. One of Mr. Ridley's older brothers, Martin, was in the first group of freshmen.
Mr. Ridley began attending Attucks in 1936 but did not graduate until 1947. That's because his high school years were interrupted by World War II. In his memoir, Mr. Ridley writes that his first experience with "blatant, hard-core" bigotry came during military training at camps in Georgia and Mississippi.
After the war, Mr. Ridley returned to Indianapolis and spent most of his career working for the U.S. Postal Service. In his memoir, he describes becoming "one of the first African Americans to work as a window clerk" in the Hoosier capital.
"I have lived through the Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights movement, integration, Vietnam, Afghanistan and the election of a black man as president of the United States," Mr. Ridley writes in his memoir. "When I stop to think about it, it is a bit overwhelming."
Mr. Ridley was born on Dec. 19, 1922. When he attended the grand opening in 1927 of the Madam Walker Theatre as a 5-year-old boy, the building's namesake had been dead for eight years.
But Madam Walker (1867-1919) had the vision for the landmark building. When it opened, it included - in addition to a stage and movie theater - corporate offices for her Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Co., a beauty salon, a ballroom and the Coffee Pot cafe.
Madam Walker became wealthy by founding a company that created popular hair-care products, including shampoos, ointments and combs. While patronizing a downtown Indy theater in 1914, Madam Walker was startled when she was told tickets for blacks had increased sharply higher than admission for whites. She promptly instructed her attorney to sue the theater.
"Legend has it that she also vowed that day to build her own movie theater," writes A'Lelia Bundles, the great-great granddaughter of Madam Walker, in one of several books about her famous ancestor and the historic theater building.
As a docent at the Walker, Mr. Ridley has shared the building's history to hundreds of visitors. He also shares memories about growing up near "The Avenue," as Indiana Avenue was known during its musical and cultural heyday.
Among the popular musicians who performed in clubs on Indiana Avenue was Mr. Ridley's future father-in-law, Ben Holliman. He played the banjo, ukulele, saxophone, mandolin and other instruments. Holliman, who performed in bands with jazz notables such as Noble Sissle and Reggie Duvall, died in 1975. His daughter, Mr. Ridley's wife, Louise, a teacher for Indianapolis Public Schools, died in 2010.
Mr. Ridley met his future wife when they attended kindergarten at former IPS School 4.
Roadtrip - Chapel in the Meadow at Camp Atterbury
Guest Roadtripper Rachel Hill Ponko, director of public relations at the Indiana Historical Society, suggests a visit to Camp Atterbury, south of Indianapolis near Edinburgh and now a training base for the Indiana National Guard.
During World War II, about 3,000 Italian POWs were housed at Camp Atterbury and were allowed to work on farms within a 25-mile radius. The Italian POWs also used scrap materials to build a chapel called the Chapel in the Meadow. There are four frescoes on the walls and two cross-shaped windows on either side of the building.
The Indiana Historical Society will open an exhibit, You Are There 1943: Italian POWs at Atterbury that will allow visitors to walk through a life-sized replica of the chapel. The exhibit is set to open in the spring of 2017.
The small Camp Atterbury Museum also is open to the public; you can an learn more about the history of the Chapel in the Meadow and of Camp Atterbury.
Famous graduates of Attucks High School include a singer who has been the star of concerts at the Madam Walker Theatre.
The soprano, an Indianapolis native who has been nominated for a Grammy Award, is best known for her opera performances, including at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. She also has performed with symphonies and opera companies everywhere from Philadelphia and San Antonio to Paris.
She graduated from Attucks in 1982, then studied at the Indiana University School of Music. In addition to opera, she performs African-American spirituals and a range of popular music.
In 2009, she was inducted into the Indianapolis Public Schools Hall of Fame.
Question: Who is she?
Toys, toys and more toy heritage
(Jan. 30, 2016) - In terms of the social impact across the country and business impact across the state, Indiana's heritage with toys has not just been fun and games.
Consider an early gyroscope, the Pet Tornado, cartoon characters Garfield and Clifford the Big Red Dog, Raggedy Ann, Lincoln Logs and croquet sets made in the 1870s, as well as a digital "animated version of the rubber duck" enjoyed today. All of them have had deep Hoosier roots.
To explore enough Indiana toy connections to fill a playroom, Nelson is joined by studio guests including Kara Reibel, a freelance writer and editor who has researched the links between nationally distributed toys and Hoosiers.
According to Kara, the "Original Gyroscope" was first manufactured in 1917 by Hoosiers. The gyroscope - as well as the Pet Tornado, the "Original Blocks and Marbles" and other "nostalgia toys" - are made today by TEDCO Toys in Hagerstown.
The South Bend Toy Company, which began by making croquet sets and expanded to products such as rocking horses known as "Shoo Fly Rockers," was one of the northern Indiana city's largest employers for more than 100 years. (After a series of corporate acquisitions and mergers, the plant in South Bend shut down in 1985.)
And talk about a big footprint: Guinness World Records lists Garfield, the comic strip about a cantankerous cat created by Jim Davis, who grew up on a farm near Fairmount, as the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world.
Jim Davis and his team at PAWS Inc., which is headquartered on a wooded retreat near the town of Albany, draw the strip and create an array of Garfield products such as dolls with suction-cup paws, books and posters.
Clifford the Big Red Dog was created by Kokomo native Norman Bridwell, who died in 2014 at age 86. Bridwell attended the Herron School of Art, then moved to the East Coast and reaped widespread success with Clifford, the slightly clumsy main character in read-aloud books for young children and a TV series. The books have been translated into 13 languages.
Our guest Kara Reibel is the community relations specialist at Carmel-based pi lab, which is enjoying success with Edwin the Duck, a computer app-enhanced children's educational toy. Often touted as an "animated version of the classic rubber duck," Edwin was honored earlier this month at a "Last Gadget Standing" competition in Las Vegas.
Some fun facts related to our toy heritage:
So what's the Lincoln Logs link with Indiana?
The popular toy was invented by prominent architect John Lloyd Wright (1892-1972), the son of an even more famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Shortly after Long Beach, Ind., was founded as a resort town on Lake Michigan during the early 1920s, John Lloyd Wright moved there to set up an architectural practice. He designed several homes and other structures in Long Beach, which is in LaPorte County.
Initially, Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls had hair made of brown yarn. Since the early 1950s, though, the siblings have been red-haired. In the beginning, when the dolls were hand-made, cardboard or candy hearts were sewn into their chests. The hearts could easily be felt when Raggedy Ann and Andy were hugged.
Clifford the Big Red Dog made his debut in 1963. His "owner" is a little girl named Emily Elizabeth, who rides her huge dog like a horse. (Bridwell named Clifford's owner as a tribute to his daughter, also Emily Elizabeth.)
Garfield was "born" in 1978, meaning the world-famous cat turns 38 this year. According to research by our guest Kara Reibel, eleven Garfield books have made The New York Times bestseller list; the first, Garfield at Large, was published in 1980.
Final fun fact: Also according to Kara's research, Academy Award-winning movie star Halle Berry has a Garfield tattoo.
Additional research for this article provided by Jeff Kamm.
Roadtrip - Greensburg, more than a courthouse tree
Guest Roadtripper John Pratt, a history teacher at Greensburg High School, suggests a Roadtrip to his hometown of Greensburg. Every visit to the small town of 11,000, southeast of Indianapolis in Decatur County, begins at the downtown courthouse to take a glimpse at the famous tree growing from the courthouse tower. But there is much more to see.
The town square is filled with restaurants, antique stores and an art gallery. A short walk to 413 N. Franklin St. takes you to the Italianate Greek Revival home of B.B.Harris, a member of Morgan's Raiders. And across the street is the Porter Oliger-Pearson Funeral Home. The funeral home building is the former home of former Lieutenant Governor Will Cumback, who cast Indiana's first ever Republican electoral vote, and that going to his friend Abraham Lincoln.
Heading south, you can enter the Decatur County Historical Museum, filled with a treasure trove of early Native American artifacts and local historical items. One block further south takes you back to the courthouse square, where presidential candidate Robert Kennedy gave a speech in 1968 as he marveled at the mulberry tree on top. Directly across the street, no visit is complete without a visit to Storie's Family Restaurant, the famous local eatery known for tenderloin sandwiches and homemade pie.
Garfield creator Jim Davis always has maintained that the cat's owner, socially awkward Jon Arbuckle, is based on Jim Davis himself. Like the cartoonist's parents, who owned a cattle farm near Fairmount, the parents of Jon Arbuckle have a farm.
Also like Garfield's owner, Jim Davis has a brother. The real-life brother has the same nickname as the brother character in the popular comic strip.
Question: What is the brother's nickname?
Jill Ditmire of WFYI and Bookmamas feature Then and Now book
It's here! A major revision of the visual history book Indianapolis Then and Now (Salamander Press), written by our host Nelson Price, has become available.
Nelson's collaborators are co-author and photo historian Joan Hostetler of Heritage Photo, who tracked down the vintage "Then" images, and Garry Chilluffo of Chilluffo Photography, who took the "Now" color photos. More than half of the book has been revised in the new edition of the book, which originally was published in 2004.
And Bookmamas in Irvington will host a party for the book release at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 31, at its store at 9 S. Johnson Ave. in Indianapolis. The party is free and open to the public, and of course you get to meet Nelson, Joan and Garry in person. And you can buy a book and have it signed, if you so choose!
First Lady Karen Pence on Indiana's bicentennial
(Jan. 23, 2016) - She has been an art teacher and watercolor artist specializing in portraits of historic buildings and homes. Since Karen Pence became Indiana's first lady in 2012, she also has created a charitable foundation and, as an entrepreneur, has launched a small business that she oversees from an office in the governor's residence.
Mrs. Pence also is the official ambassador for Indiana's 2016 Bicentennial, a role she discusses as she joins Nelson in studio. Nelson also is joined by Perry Hammock, executive director of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission, who shares insights about projects and events underway or planned in communities as Hoosiers celebrate the state's 200th birthday.
Mrs. Pence, 60, grew up in the Broad Ripple neighborhood of Indianapolis and taught in Indianapolis-area schools for about 13 years. Her own educational background is intriguing: As an elementary student during the 1960s, Mrs. Pence - then Karen Batten - attended Park School, a forerunner of Park Tudor. (In that era, girls could attend Park School at the elementary level; Park did not become fully co-ed until its merger with Tudor Hall in 1970.) She is a graduate of Chatard High School and Butler University.
During our show, Nelson asks Mrs. Pence about her life as a Hoosier. A bit of trivia: According to an Indianapolis Star profile in 2012, future Gov. Mike Pence proposed marriage as the two walked along the canal - and fed the ducks - near Broad Ripple. The Pences, who were married in 1985, are the parents of three grown children: a son, Michael, and two daughters, Charlotte and Audrey.
As the Bicentennial Ambassador, Mrs. Pence has been traveling across the state. So during our show, Mrs. Pence and Perry Hammock discuss a range of local projects; Perry shared details about several others when he joined Nelson for a Hoosier History Live show last September that previewed the Bicentennial - or, in the case of some counties and towns that were organized before Indiana's statehood in 1816, followed up on local celebrations that already have occurred.
Mrs. Pence has created the Indiana First Lady's Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit that awards scholarships and grants working to help children and families; recipients have included Riley Hospital for Children's Art Therapy initiative. According to an article in The Indianapolis Star, $165,000 was awarded to groups and individuals in 68 counties in 2014.
She also is the founder of That's My Towel Charm Inc., a small business. According to the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, the charms designed by Mrs. Pence are "similar to those used to differentiate wine glasses, but are aimed at bath and beach towels."
As a teacher during the 1980s and '90s, Mrs. Pence taught at schools ranging from Orchard School to John Strange Elementary, Acton Elementary and Fall Creek Elementary. In addition to traveling across Indiana to promote the Bicentennial, Mrs. Pence also has been on the road to visit local schools to tout educational and art initiatives.
Another bit of trivia: According to the profile story in The Star, she was in the midst of painting a portrait nearly 20 years ago of the governor's residence - her current home at 4750 N. Meridian Street in Indianapolis - when security ordered her to leave. The Pences, by the way, have been living full-time in the residence, in contrast to their predecessors, Mitch and Cheri Daniels, who just used the historic mansion for special functions.
Certainly the Bicentennial will involve special events there, as well as at hundreds of other sites. As a tribute to the Bicentennial, the U.S. Postal Service a few weeks ago unveiled a new postage stamp set for release later this year. The image on the stamp is a photo depicting a brilliant sunset over a cornfield in northern Indiana.
In addition to sharing details about the Bicentennial postage stamp, our guest Perry Hammock highlights projects such as:
Roadtrip - Vincennes, the Old Cathedral and state preservation
She tells us: "Though its Native American history extends much further, the official date of European settlement for Vincennes is 1732, when it was established as a French fur trading post. Today French culture is reflected in early architecture and the traditional church fricassee dinners."
The city also boasts the largest memorial monument west of Washington, D.C. and the first Catholic parish in Indiana. The George Rogers Clark Memorial, a National Historic Landmark and part of a National Park, was dedicated in 1936 to commemorate Clark's taking of the British-controlled Fort Sackville in 1779.
Construction of the Basilica of Saint Francis Xavier, also known as the Old Cathedral, began in 1826. Its crypt holds the remains of the four bishops, including that of Simon Bruté, who supervised the Cathedral's construction. Following structural repairs in 2006, artists renewed the interior of the Cathedral, including faux stone and wood finishes and gold gilding.
Grouseland, constructed 1802-1804 for territorial governor and ninth U.S. President William Henry Harrison, is an impressive Federal-style home built when most of the state's population still lived in log structures. The home is owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution, who recently received a grant to complete a historic structures report which will guide future preservation efforts.
Suzanne also tells us about Preserving Historic Places: Indiana's Statewide Historic Preservation Conference, which will be held in Vincennes April 27-29, 2016. Here's an opportunity to tour our oldest town, as well as learn more about our state's heritage. Online registration opens Feb. 1.
A major legacy from Hoosier state's centennial in 1916 is the creation of Indiana's state park system. The first two state parks created 100 years ago were McCormick's Creek and Turkey Run.
During the 1920s, a state park was created that features a large grist mill built in 1817 and several historic cabins. The structures had been part of a flourishing village during the early 1800s. But for several reasons, including the coming of railroads that bypassed the small town, the village declined and was abandoned by the 1890s.
Today, the state park features a "Brigadoon"-like recreation of a pioneer settlement. In addition to the grist mill and restored, historic cabins, the recreated village includes structures built elsewhere during the pioneer era and moved to the state park, as well as re-creations of historic buildings. Some of the cabins are furnished with oil paintings and historic quilts.
Question: What is the Indiana state park with the Brigadoon-like village created from a town that had been abandoned?
The prize pack includes a two tickets to the Indiana State Museum, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum, and tickets to Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Fishers and two tickets to Rhythm Discovery Center, courtesy of Visit Indy.
How to excite young people about history
(Jan. 16, 2016) - With colorful and captivating characters, perpetual conflicts, unsolved mysteries and dramatic changes in everything from fashion to modes of transportation, history surely has the potential to be intriguing.
But sparking interest in previous generations and earlier eras can be a challenge. Even the word "history" can be a turn-off for teenagers and children.
To share advice for parents, grandparents, educators and anyone else seeking to ignite a history passion in young people, Nelson is joined in studio by two teachers hailed for success in this endeavor:
Both of our guests say they use the compelling story of Tecumseh, the Shawnee chief based in Indiana during the early 1800s, as a way to intrigue young people. Often considered the greatest Native American leader in history, Tecumseh traveled from the Alleghenies to the Everglades to the Ozarks in his crusade to unite diverse tribes into a confederacy to stop the waves of white settlers.
In fact, our guest Shane Phipps says he has posed this question to his students: "Should Andrew Jackson continue to be honored on the $20 bill or replaced by someone like Tecumseh?"
When dealing with students, Shane also stresses "big-picture topics that flow as an undercurrent" throughout the course of history and the connections between events in various eras.
"As an example," he says, "I begin teaching the causes of the Civil War while we are still studying the 13 colonies, because that is where the roots lie."
"As he advanced in age, his eyesight began to fail, and it became impossible for him to read the information on the tombstones, many of which are so worn that they are difficult for those with perfect vision to read," Shane recalls. "So I, as a teen, was called upon to be my grandfather's 'eyes' so that he could gather information."
Our guest Chris Edwards emphasizes that delving into history enhances young people's ability to analyze evidence, connect information to other subjects, present an argument and other skills. He wrote his history books when his youngest son, 6-year-old Ben, was a toddler and was being treated for a rare brain cancer at Riley Hospital for Children.
"I wasn't sleeping anyway, so I thought I would write a history of the world," Chris says. Ben has been in remission for five years.
Regarding enthusiasm for history: Both of our guests emphasize to young people that all of us, every day, are making history of our own.
The Carter Journals, the new book by Shane, focuses on the colorful lives of the young protagonist's ancestors on the frontiers of North Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana.
Several scenes are set in the Indiana Territory (before statehood was achieved in 1816), with episodes unfolding in Vincennes and on the Tippecanoe and Wabashrivers. Later episodes involve escaped slaves on a Whitewater River canal boat, with the southern Indiana towns of Brookville and Metamora as settings.
The Carter Journals concludes with young Cody Carter exploring the strife that unfolded in Indiana during the Civil War when Morgan's Raiders charged through towns and counties in the southern part of the state. In 1863, Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan led soldiers as they used steamboats to cross the Ohio River from Kentucky into Indiana. Then the Confederates ransacked homes, stores and farms, burning bridges as they charged.
Shane notes that fictional Cody Carter's grandfather is "loosely based" on his paternal grandfather.
Roadtrip - Enjoying the snow on Hoosier slopes
Sam Alderfer, Guest Roadtripper and Social Media Coordinator for the Indiana Bicentennial Commission, suggests we take a Roadtrip to one of Indiana's two major ski slopes in operation during the winter season, Perfect North Slopes and Paoli Peaks.
"Indiana is not the state you'd expect to have a ski industry, let alone ski resorts," Sam tells us. "This Midwestern state is better known for its steel production and agriculture. However, the state gets an average of 22 inches of snow each year. Southern Indiana, in particular, has hills that can reach more than 800 feet above sea level."
He continues: "Nestled in these southern Indiana hills are Indiana's two unexpected ski slopes. Together with packages from the nearby hotels, the slopes offer a ski vacations that are more like what you might find in the Rocky Mountain ski facilities."
Perfect North was formed by the Perfect Family and others in 1980 in Dearborn County in the southeastern part of the state. Initially funded by the sale of cattle by Clyde and Ella Mae Perfect, the ski resort began with two handle tows and a rope tow on two ski runs on the "big" hill, as well as two rope tows on the bunny slope. The resort now boasts five chairlifts, which includes one blue square (intermediate) and two black-diamond (expert) ski runs. Perfect North did not allow snowboarding until 2002.
Perfect North is also home to one of the country's most talented skiers, Nick Goepper, who won a bronze medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics. He also has won three gold medals and a silver at the Winter X Games in the Slopestyle contest.
If you are up for a special challenge, visit Paoli Peaks in Orange County. Paoli Peaks is one of the few resorts that has extensive night skiing. During most of the ski season they are open after dark until 9 p.m. on weeknights. A few times a year, however, they offer "Old School Midnight Madness," when they reopen the slopes starting at midnight up until 6 a.m.
A high school in Hendricks County is the alma mater of our guest Chris Edwards, who today lives in New Palestine and teaches at Fishers High School. The Hendricks County high school resulted from the consolidation more than 40 years ago of high schools in three small towns.
Each of the three towns had its own high school for decades prior to consolidation in the mid-1970s. The consolidated high school is located in one of the three towns. The school has a distinctive name that reflects its heritage as a result of a merger.
Question: Name the high school in Hendricks County and the town in which it is located.
Hidden history treasures
(Jan. 9, 2016) - Tucked away in an attic or closet, you discover long-forgotten diaries, photos, letters or a manuscript for a book.
How do you know if they are historic treasures, or of little interest beyond your family?
To offer advice, tips and anecdotes about what's valuable historically and what's not (note the emphasis on "historic"; our focus isn't on monetary worth), three guests join Nelson in studio. The guests have different areas of focus regarding hidden history treasures, ranging from vintage photos to Civil War letters of a Hoosier soldier to the manuscript of a novel forgotten for 65 years. Our guests are:
During our show, Tom describes his visit to a Delphi house whose owner wondered whether her ancestor's hand-written collection of recipes would be of general interest. Although that wasn't the case, Tom was intrigued when she mentioned that a trunk in her closet contained 660 letters.
They turned out to be extraordinarily significant: letters written by an Indiana soldier fighting in the Civil War, as well as mail to him from his relatives on the Hoosier home front. The latter is particularly rare, Tom says.
"Letters received by soldiers often didn't survive because they were carried from camp to camp and even into battle," he explains. "I went back to her house for days and days with a portable camera - this was in the 1960s - and photographed these Civil War letters."
Tom, a native of South Bend, also once was contacted by a woman who had original letters from a famous American associated with his hometown. She owned six letters written by South Bend politician Schuyler Colfax, who served as vice president under Ulysses S. Grant. Before that, Colfax was speaker of the house during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, who became a close friend. (Colfax, who was invited to accompany the Lincolns to Ford's Theater on the night of the president's assassination, is generally thought to have been the last public figure to shake his hand.)
Discoveries of historic gems like the Colfax letters are counterbalanced by letters, photos and manuscripts that have little significance other than just being old. Experts also note the popularity of TV shows like Antiques Roadshow sometimes elevate expectations about the worth of more than just furnishings, collectibles and other artifacts in attics and closets.
On the other hand, our guest Joan Hostetler of the Indiana Album notes that many ancestral photos have value beyond the immediate family because they depict neighborhood history, former fashions and hairstyles, architectural history or images of bygone restaurants (including drive-ins), schools and stores.
"As a society, we edit out embarrassing incidents," Joan adds. "For example, the KKK was huge in Indiana, yet it is difficult to find snapshots of Klan rallies, initiations and other events. After the downfall of the Indiana Klan ... members distanced themselves from the organization. They, or their descendants, often discarded photographs documenting their involvement with the Klan."
Joan also indicates another challenge with vintage images that may have been treasured by previous generations: "As our society has become more digital, younger people do not understand how traditional photography worked and are discarding items such as slides and glass negatives."
She notes that members of the Woodruff Place Civic League, which represents one of the most distinctive historic neighborhoods in Indy, have shared four boxes of glass negatives from 1895 to 1905. They depict everything from the nearby former U.S. Arsenal (now the site of Arsenal Tech High School) to Spanish-American War soldiers at a former camp located at the current Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Our guest Joan Hostetler collaborated with Nelson, our host, and photographer Garry Chilluffo on Indianapolis Then and Now (Salamander Books), a visual history of the Hoosier capital that originally was published in 2004; a substantially revised edition is being released this month.
Deep Forest, the book discovered as "hundreds of rumpled old papers" by our guest Martha Sue Batt, draws on the experiences of her grandfather's Hoosier ancestors. When her grandfather died in 1950, Martha Sue was in the first grade. Neither she nor other surviving relatives were aware that Emsley W. Johnson Sr. had spent years researching and writing a novel that reflected the state's earliest history.
Although some diaries have only sentimental value to family members, others are immensely valuable to historians. Those diaries include a multi-volume set written during the 1830s and '40s by an early Indianapolis civic leader.
A lawyer, banker, and politician, he was born in New England and came to Indianapolis just as the new Hoosier capital was getting under way in the early 1820s. He owned a farm of nearly 270 acres just southeast of the Mile Square and may have begun writing extensive diaries soon after his arrival. But only his diaries written beginning in 1832 - about a dozen volumes - survive.
A devout Methodist who was dedicated to civic improvement in his adopted hometown, he served in the Indiana state legislature and helped organize everything from a bank to an early charitable organization called the Indianapolis Benevolent Society.
His extensive diaries - which describe the daily weather and a range of other aspects of life - are considered among the most important accounts of early Indianapolis.
Question: Who was the diarist?
Roadtrip - Miller Beach in Gary
Guest Roadtripper and author and travel writer Jane Ammeson suggests a Roadtrip to Miller Beach, four miles east of downtown Gary on Lake Michigan. Jane will tell us that this jewel of a beach community, with some longtime family-owned restaurants and an art scene, used to be used as a setting for silent movies.
The fabulous the two-story beachfront structure now known as the Aquatorium is a former bathing pavilion; now renovated and open to the public for a stunning view of Lake Michigan. It is located in Marquette Park, which includes 241 acres of walking trails, lagoons, sand dunes, an indigenous oak savanna and 1.4 miles of beach. Remember that in Indiana, treasure is everywhere!
200 years, 200 influential Hoosiers
Did you know, though, the Breathalyzer was invented by a Hoosier?
Or that a teacher from Clinton County became known as the "Mother of the Dick and Jane books" used to teach Baby Boomers to read?
The influential people involved with these innovations are among the 200 deceased Hoosiers profiled in a new book published in connection with the state's 200th birthday during this new year.
Indiana's 200: The People Who Shaped the Hoosier State (Indiana Historical Society Press) includes household names like Kurt Vonnegut, Madam Walker, James Whitcomb Riley and John Dillinger.
The book's co-editors - Linda Gugin and James St. Clair, emeritus professors at Indiana University Southeast - join Nelson in studio to kick off Hoosier History Live's eighth year on the air. Our focus primarily is on significant men and women who aren't typically discussed. Among those whose lives and impact are explored:
To put together Indiana's 200, our guests Linda Gugin and Jim St. Clair oversaw a massive project years in the making. The profiles of the 200 notables were written by dozens of authors, including Nelson, our host.
Linda and Jim have been co-editors of other anthology book projects for the IHS Press, including Governors of Indiana; in April 2013, they were guests on our radio show to share insights about an assortment of the Hoosier state's chief executives.
This time around, we focus on notables from an array of walks of life. In addition to the Koch family, Little Turtle and the others previously mentioned, we explore:
Hoosiers featured in the new book Indiana's 200 include an African-American athlete credited with breaking the color barrier in Big Ten college basketball.
A star on Shelbyville High School's team that won the state tournament in 1947, he was named "Mr. Indiana Basketball" that year. Initially, though, no coach from a white college team even attempted to recruit him. Herman B Wells, then president of Indiana University, eventually pushed for the Shelbyville player to be recruited.
After becoming a fan favorite at IU, where he was named the Most Valuable Player, he played briefly for the Harlem Globetrotters. Then he became the coach at Attucks High School in Indianapolis, which won the state tournament in 1959. He died in 1974.
Question: Who was the history-making basketball player from Shelbyville?
Roadtrip - Red Skelton Museum in Vincennes
Guest Roadtripper Ken Marshall suggests a Roadtrip to Vincennes in western Indiana not only for its early territorial heritage, but for its fabulous Red Skelton Museum. Comedian Red Skelton, who starred in both radio and television, is yet another celebrated Hoosier and was a native of Vincennes.
The 3,500-square-foot interactive museum looks at the comedy much as Red would see it. It opened in 2013 and focuses on Red's life and the many characters, such as Freddie the Freeloader and Clem Kadiddlehopper, he brought to life through his radio and television shows.
The Red Skelton Museum Gift Shop includes "Red" DVDs, signed and numbered acrylic reproductions of Red Skelton's paintings and more.
The Museum is attached to the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center, featuring a European opera-style theater that seats more than 800. "The Red" is located on the campus of Vincennes University, just one block from Red Skelton's birthplace.
Families and children: evolution of outreach
(Dec. 26, 2015 - encore presentation) - In Indiana today, you won't find places called the "Home for Friendless Women" or agencies known as "benevolent societies."
Those were some of the ways, though, that outreach was handled with families, children and other Hoosiers in need more than a century ago. During the Civil War, some early social service organizations focused on helping widows and children of soldiers, whose deaths often left their families destitute.
To explore the evolution of outreach to Hoosiers in need during this encore broadcast (original air date: Dec. 20, 2014), Nelson is joined in studio by guests from organizations whose heritages stretches back more than 100 years. Their names have changed - sometimes several times - as their approach to outreach has evolved.
Families First, a nonprofit that is generally considered to be the oldest social service agency in the state, traces its founding to Thanksgiving Day in 1835. That's when a group of early Indianapolis movers and shakers, including attorney/banker Calvin Fletcher and civic leader James Blake, met to share ideas about helping families who were poverty-stricken because of a lack of jobs at the city's earliest factories and mills.
The civic leaders established the Indianapolis Benevolent Society, which, following various name changes in the 180 years since then, is now known as Families First.
Our guests include Edie Olson, the current president and CEO of Families First, an agency that now offers services ranging from counseling to domestic-violence treatment and parent-education classes. During the show, she shares insights about the evolution of social outreach in central Indiana.
In 1880, according to a history of the Children's Bureau, "Across the state 700 children (were) living in county 'poor asylums,' a situation that many recognize as totally unacceptable."
To help, the organization founded the first orphanage in Indianapolis, which opened at Capitol Avenue and 14th Street.
Today, the Children's Bureau of Indianapolis (the agency's name since 1961) offers a range of services, including an adoption recruitment program for families involved in the state's foster-care system. The Children's Bureau offices are in the Gene Glick Family Support Center, 1575 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St.
Shopping center history in Indy
(Dec. 19, 2015) - Retail frenzy is at its peak, ideal for an exploration of the dawn of shopping centers in the Hoosier capital.
For this show, Hoosier History Live time-travels to the 1950s, which included the openings of what originally were known as Eastgate Center and Glendale Center. According to our guest Jeff Kamm, Eastgate became "the first large-scale suburban shopping center in Indianapolis" when it opened in 1957 at East Washington Street and Shadeland Avenue on the far eastside.
With our guide Jeff, who has researched and written about the early shopping-center scene for Historic Indianapolis, we explore Southern Plaza, Eagledale, The Meadows and other shopping centers, including some that are bygone and others that have evolved substantially since their debut.
When Glendale opened in 1958 at East 62nd Street and Keystone Avenue with the first "suburban" store of beloved L.S. Ayres, it was an open-air mall. In 1969, a roof was added, a blessing for shivering shoppers during the cold months in Indy. In 2008, Glendale returned to its origins as an open-air center. Today it is known as Glendale Town Center.
Glendale also had Ayres' rival retailer, a Block's department store, "in its original lineup," as Jeff puts it.
Eastgate, which featured a Sears and J.C. Penney when it opened, flourished for nearly 20 years. As Jeff notes in his Historic Indianapolis article, Eastgate early on also was the site of a Sam's Subway, a popular eatery with several Indy locations.
According to Eastside of Indianapolis: A Brief History (The History Press, 2009) by Julie Young, Eastgate during its heyday on 40 acres featured more than 40 stores. They included Wasson's, Sears & Roebuck, J.C. Penney, Murphy's and Harry Levinson's,, a men's clothing retailer. But by 2004, when Eastgate closed, it had been in a long, steady decline that included an era as a consumer mall.
On the Southside, Southern Plaza Shopping Center opened in 1961, with Block's and Penney as the anchors.
Eagledale on the Westside and The Meadows on the near-Northside both date to the 1950s.
Wasson's also opened stores at Eagledale and The Meadows. A locally owned competitor to Ayres and Block's - although considered less upscale - Wasson's had a flagship store downtown and a heritage that dated to the 1880s, according to a recent "Retro Indy" story in The Indianapolis Star.
In the late 1960s, Wasson's was purchased by a Chicago-based retailer, which shut down all of the stores by mid-1980.
During our show, Jeff and Nelson also explore the locally based Ayr-Way chain. A discounted version of L.S. Ayres, Ayr-Way was "an early superstore ... with an attached grocery," according to Jeff. Ayr-Way was purchased by Target circa 1980.
(Hoosier History Live explored the history of Ayres in a January 2013 show with guest Ken Turchi, the author of L.S. Ayres & Company: The Store at the Crossroads of America. Listen to audio of that show.)
Eastgate, Glendale and other early shopping centers often paved the way for much larger malls that were developed nearby. In some cases, the newer malls pulled customers away from the shopping centers and were a factor in their demise. (Case in point: Washington Square, which opened in 1974, and Eastgate.)
Southern Plaza continues to this day, but its original anchors, Block's and Penney, eventually relocated to Greenwood Park Mall.
Block's had been founded by Hungarian immigrant William H. Block, who had studied to be a rabbi in his homeland before moving to Indianapolis in 1896, as Nelson describes in his Indianapolis Then and Now book. Block's sons oversaw expansion of the department store in various shopping centers not only in Indy but also, like Ayres, elsewhere across the state.
After a series of ownership changes, though, all of the Block's stores in Indiana became part of the Cincinnati-based Lazarus chain in 1988. Eventually, the Block's-turned-Lazarus stores were closed.
Our guest Jeff Kamm, a history lover with a background in the hospitality industry, is the operations manager for the International Center. He was a studio guest in May for a show about the history of another of his passions: bygone roadside motels.
When Glendale Shopping Center opened on the northside of Indy in 1958, its tenants included - in addition to L.S. Ayres and Block's - a locally owned retailer that was known for its upscale men's, women's and children's clothing.
Like Ayres and Block's, the retailer's flagship store was located in downtown Indy. In addition to the Glendale store of the clothing retailer, branches were opened in Broad Ripple and, eventually, even Fort Wayne. With its original store, dating to the 1800s, the retailer was credited with pioneering fixed prices for customers in Indianapolis.
All of the stores had been closed by the early 1990s, and the final downtown location was demolished to make way for Circle Centre mall.
Question: What was the longtime retailer known for high-end clothing?
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to Rick's Cafe Boatyard Restaurant, two tickets to the NCAA Hall of Champions and two passes to Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Fishers, all courtesy of Visit Indy.
Roadtrip - Brookston, just north of Lafayette
Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff suggests a Roadtrip to the small town of Brookston in White County. She tells us: "I love having breakfast or lunch at the Klein Brot Haus, a bakery and restaurant at 106 E. 3rd St. in downtown Brookston. The railroad town was founded in 1853 and was named for a railroad official, James Brooks, and it's on State Road 43."
And if you're a connoisseur of Carnegie libraries, Brookston has one of those, too, built in 1915.
A little southeast of Brookston is the even smaller town of Battle Ground, site of the famous Battle of Tippecanoe, whose hallowed ground is today a National Historic Landmark. It's a quiet place to walk about and contemplate what happened there so long ago. There you'll find a museum, and a huge granite memorial erected in 1908.
Just a bit farther to the east you'll find Prophetstown State Park, which celebrates the geography of the prairie.
"Its beauty is more subtle than some of our other state parks," Glory tells us, "although in late summer the prairie is ablaze in colorful flowers."
Jingle Bell Rock and Indiana's Bobby Helms
(Dec. 12, 2015) - Put down the eggnog and raise your hand if, during the yuletide season, you are among the few who have never heard the classic pop tune Jingle Bell Rock.
Ever since 1957, when the song originally was recorded by Indiana native Bobby Helms for Decca Records, Jingle Bell Rock has been a seasonal favorite. It is played on radio stations and at shopping centers, holiday bazaars, festivals and wherever merry-makers gather 'round to celebrate the holidays.
Hoosier History Live explores the colorful heritage of the song, as well as the life of Bobby Helms (1933-1997), the multitalented musician who was born in Bloomington, lived for many years in Martinsville and made Jingle Bell Rock famous. His big year was 1957, when Decca also released two other hit songs recorded by Bobby Helms: My Special Angel and Fraulein.
Nelson is joined in studio by John Kleiman, a Greenfield native who became Helms' personal manager (and close friend) for the last 10 years or so of the musician's life.
John, who lives on the eastside of Indy, also is a screenwriter - his credits include the movie Pushed Too Far (1988) starring Claude Akins - as well as an author, poet and music-industry veteran who has worked closely with many Nashville-based country entertainers and members of the Grand Ole Opry.
Referring to Jingle Bell Rock, John says: "Bobby originally did not want to do it because he didn't believe it was right to mix rock and roll with Christmas. So the song does not mention Christmas anywhere."
Although accounts differ about credits for the lyrics and music, John Kleiman says Helms wrote most of the words and that the tune was a joint effort between the Hoosier and Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland, who plays the guitar lead-in on the original version of Jingle Bell Rock.
In the nearly 60 years since the tune was released, Jingle Bell Rock has been covered by vocalists ranging from Brenda Lee, Johnny Mathis and Neil Diamond to the Jonas Brothers and Amy Grant. It has been featured on the soundtrack of movies such as Home Alone 2 (1992).
Bobby Helms was 63 years old when he died of emphysema and asthma in 1997. He had been performing most of his life, having grown up in a musical family. In the early 1950s, he began performing with his brother, Freddy, as The Helms Brothers; a regional success, the duo appeared on Hayloft Frolic, a TV show in Bloomington.
As a solo entertainer, Bobby Helms kicked off his long career with Fraulein, which climbed to No. 1 on the country music charts in April 1957. Next came My Special Angel, which also hit No. 1 on the country charts in October of that year, followed by the eternal Jingle Bell Rock, which was released two days before Christmas.
John Kleiman has managed a country music venue in addition to his career as a personal manager, writer, poet and songwriter. His books include Cast a Giant Shadow, a biography of another famous person associated with Martinsville: the late Sandy Allen, who was the world's tallest woman. John's song Soldiers Prayer was recorded by Bobby Helms.
Not only has Bobby Helms been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, an exhibit earlier this year at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tenn., celebrated another singer with deep Indiana roots.
Although this singer was born in Kentucky, she moved to Wabash, Ind., when she was just 3 or 4 years old and considers it her hometown. She graduated from Wabash High School and enjoyed her biggest hit in the mid-1970s with a soulful tune that topped both the pop and music charts. She also won a Grammy Award for the song.
The singer continues to perform across the country; in recent years, she has released albums of children's music and songs written by famous Hoosier composer Hoagy Carmichael.
Question: Who is she?
Hint: Her older sister, who is associated with Kentucky, also is a famous singer.
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to Cadillac Ranch Bar and Grill, two tickets to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center and two tickets to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, all courtesy of Visit Indy.
Roadtrip - Pigeon River
Guest Roadtripper and volunteer naturalist Terri Gorney of Fort Wayne suggests a visit to Pigeon River Fish and Wildlife Area near Mongo in far northeastern Indiana. It is one of the many natural gems operated by the DNR, and it's a great place for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking and, of course, for Terri, birding! Canoes and kayaks also can be rented at the Trading Post in Mongo.
Terri tells us that osprey were successfully re-introduced 10 years ago at Pigeon River, and platforms have been built for nesting. The National Audubon Christmas Bird Count takes place this year on Dec. 20. Pigeon River also is a major resting place for Indiana's famous sandhill cranes in spring and fall migration. More than 1,300 cranes - a high number - were counted on Nov. 9 by Mark Weldon, curator of the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.
Scottish heritage in Indiana
(Dec. 5, 2015 - encore presentation) - To kick off the merry month of December in high style - or should that be Highlands and Lowlands style? - we present one of our ethnic heritage shows.
Scottish heritage in Indiana is the focus of this encore broadcast of one of the most popular programs in our Hoosier History Live archives. (Its original air date was Jan. 3, 2015). Scots became the fourth most numerous European heritage group in Indiana, according to Peopling Indiana: The Ethnic Experience (Indiana Historical Society Press, 1996). They were exceeded only by residents of German, Irish and English descent.
"A trait of Scots who are immigrants is the tendency to assimilate rather than cluster," says Dr. Lee Cloe, a Noblesville native and charter member of the Scottish Society of Indianapolis. "While in most large cities, one can find 'Chinatown,' 'Greektown' or other groupings, you will not see a 'Scottstown.' Normally after two generations, they did not refer to themselves as Scots, but Americans."
Dr. Cloe, a retired U.S. Air Force pilot, training officer and commander (he retired with the rank of major), joins Nelson in studio for this show.
So does Carson Smith, a past president of the Scottish Society of Indianapolis. Carson frequently was quoted by Indiana media during the referendum in his ancestral homeland in 2014 to break from the United Kingdom after more than 300 years. The move to secede was unsuccessful. Scotland accounts for one-third of the U.K.'s land, 8 percent of the population and 10 percent of the tax revenue, according to news reports at the time.
Ever wonder what the term Scotch-Irish means?
Our distinguished guests provide explanations, along with sharing insights about how and why a mix of people with Scottish heritage were among the first people to survey the early Virginia Colony and European heritage settlers to penetrate the Appalachian Mountain range in the 1780s.
Today, Scottish societies flourish in Hoosier cities such as Bloomington and Fort Wayne.
In our rotating series during our nearly eight years on the air, Hoosier History Live has explored a vast range of ethnic heritage groups in Indiana. Our series has included shows about the Irish, Russians, Cubans, Scandinavians and, most recently, Persian/Iranian immigration.
Dan Wakefield on the home front during WWII
Dan Wakefield recalls "looking for enemy planes from the porch of my house" during his junior air raid warden stint.
He shares details about that stint - as well as other insights about the home front in Indiana during the war, including anti-Japanese propaganda told to school children, backyard victory gardens and hunts for scrap metal to assist the war effort - as he makes a return visit as Nelson's studio guest.
Many of these aspects of home-front life are featured in the new re-release of Under the Apple Tree (Hawthorne Publishing), Dan's coming-of-age novel that originally was published in 1982. The central character is a boy who is not quite 11 years old when the plot begins in 1941.
Dan, whose other bestsellers include Going All the Way (1970), was named the "Lifetime Achievement Honoree" earlier this year as part of the NUVO Cultural Vision Awards. In 2012, he also received a lifetime achievement honor as part of the Indiana Authors Awards. And a proposal to name a Broad Ripple park in his honor is being considered by Indy city officials.
As a Boy Scout during World War II, Dan attended a summer camp where Gov. Henry Schricker described how Nazis tortured American soldiers (including former Boy Scouts) who refused to reveal secrets. The horrific details lingered for weeks with the campers, as they do in a scene involving a fictional politician in Under the Apple Tree, which is set in Illinois.
In addition to discussing aspects of home-front life on our show, Dan explains why he did not set Under the Apple Tree in Indianapolis, unlike Going All the Way. The latter was made into a movie starring Ben Affleck that was filmed in Indianapolis in 1996.
Dan Wakefield, who graduated from Shortridge High School in 1950, returned to live in his hometown in 2011 after spending decades in Miami, New York City and Boston.
Since his return, he has been our guest for shows about Indy landmarks from the 1950s - the decade in which Going All the Way is set - as well as about Kurt Vonnegut. Dan, a close friend of the literary great, edited and wrote the introduction for Kurt Vonnegut Letters (Delacorte Press/Random House, 2012).
In Under the Apple Tree, a scene in the first chapter involves Artie, the main character, sipping a "rainbow Coke" (made from every kind of syrup at a soda fountain) on a Sunday - Dec. 7, 1941 - when he hears a radio broadcast about the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Before too long, Artie, like Dan Wakefield, is serving as a junior air raid warden. He also starts collecting scrap metal; according to Dan, children were told that "7,700 pans made a pursuit plane."
During our show, Dan shares details about how children pasted "defense stamps" over cartoon depictions of Japanese; "Slap the Jap Right Off the Map" was a slogan frequently emblazoned on the stamps.
Meanwhile, families who lost loved ones in war service placed blue and gold stars in their windows.
Other aspects of life on the home front featured in Under the Apple Tree include gas rationing stickers; the Green Hornet hero and Ovaltine, a popular hot beverage. Artie's older brother Roy, a high school student, quickly enlists in the Marines, as did a neighbor of the Wakefield family.
Dan grew up in the 6100 block of North Winthrop Avenue. The city park that may be named in his honor is nearby at Broadway and 61st streets.In addition to writing Going All the Way and Under the Apple Tree, Dan is the author of three other novels and 15 non-fiction books, including memoirs. He also has had a long career as a journalist.
At Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, classmates of our guest Dan Wakefield included another future famous Hoosier. Both were members of the Class of 1950. Both wrote for The Echo, the widely acclaimed daily newspaper at Shortridge.
Instead of becoming a writer, though, the classmate eventually enjoyed a long career in Indiana politics.
Question: Who is he?
The prize pack includes a two passes to the Eiteljorg Museum, two tickets to the Mind Tripping Show, a comedy club in downtown Indy, and two tickets to the NCAA Hall of Champions, all courtesy of Visit Indy.
Ask Nelson - and Indy Star's history reporter
(Nov. 21, 2015) - A couple of times every year at Hoosier History Live, we like to take full advantage of the fact that we are a live, call-in show. So we turn the tables on our host, author/historian Nelson Price, open the phone lines and give our listeners an opportunity to question the interviewer who calls himself "a garbage can of useless Hoosier trivia."
For these "Ask Nelson" shows, our host typically is joined by a media colleague who pitches in and shares history insights.
This time, Nelson's co-host is one of his former colleagues at The Indianapolis Star.
Will Higgins writes about local history and preservation for the state's largest newspaper; like Nelson, Will grew up in the Hoosier capital.
In between calls from listeners, the co-hosts typically interview each other.
Their topics include the history of Keystone at the Crossing, the bustling, upscale retail area on the northside of Indy.
Remember the anachronistic silo that served as a landmark to the shopping area during the 1970s and '80s? The silo stood tall during the era when the elegant Fashion Mall was co-existing with the Bazaar, an unusual, "open" concept in retailing that involved a lot of wicker and ramps.
Both Nelson and Will have written about various aspects of the area's heritage, Nelson for a revised edition of his Indianapolis Then and Now visual history book that will be published early in the new year, and Will for stories in The Star about the late Oliver P. Daugherty, who left 16 wooded acres that became a public nature preserve near the mall. (Daugherty, who died in 2009, lived in a house that his great-grandfather built in the mid-1800s; even as retailing boomed around his land, Daugherty had refused to sell it to developers.)
Other topics include the South Bend-based Studebaker Corp., which made automobiles, including the sleek Avanti, until the assembly line finally shut down in 1963.
According to recent news reports, entrepreneurs and city officials in South Bend hope to convert a sprawling, six-story former Studebaker building into a hub for high-tech businesses and maybe even condos, shops and restaurants.
Will has written about pioneering industrial engineer Raymond Loewy, who designed the Studebaker Avanti. In 1963, Loewy donated a rare Picasso to the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science, which forgot it owned the glass sculpture until it was uncrated three years ago; Will shares details during our show.
Also during our show, co-host Will shares details about notorious Morris Lynn Johnson, a bank robber who, as Will puts it, "was the scourge of Indianapolis from the 1950s to '70s."
According to Will, Johnson, who is in his late 70s, robbed far more banks than the much better-known John Dillinger and broke out of prison three times, compared to Dillinger's two. Will has interviewed Johnson, who is imprisoned at a federal penitentiary in Arkansas.
More broadly, Will also discusses what he calls "history chic" - "how millennials are much more interested in local history than previous generations."
Primarily, though, these all-call-in shows are an opportunity to call in and ask questions of - or share insights with - our Hoosier history-loving co-hosts. Media notables who have joined our host for previous "Ask Nelson" shows include gardening guru Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, "Indiana's Weatherman" Paul Poteet and Sam Stall, who writes "The Hoosierist" column for Indianapolis Monthly magazine.
Clement Studebaker, the second-oldest of the five brothers whose business made wagons (and, later, cars) lived in a South Bend mansion built in the 1880s. Designed in the Romanesque style, the mansion was Clement Studebaker's home until his death in 1901.
After that, the Studebaker mansion, which has a distinctive name, had a series of varied uses. For many years, though, the historic mansion has been a popular, upscale restaurant in South Bend. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
Question: What is the name of the Clement Studebaker mansion-turned-restaurant?
Hint: Clement Studebaker's close friend was Benjamin Harrison, the only president elected from Indiana. The mansion-turned-restaurant's name is derived from an event associated with Harrison's family.
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to Cadillac Ranch Restaurant, courtesy of Visit Indy, two admissions to Glow Golf, the miniature golf course at the Circle Centre Mall, courtesy of Glow Golf, and two tickets to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Roadtrip - Historic Lafayette
Says Eric: "First off, we go to Lafayette's Columbian Park Zoo. This is a rather small city zoo, but it's quite beautiful and well-cared-for. It dates back to the 1870s, but it's been updated a lot since then; you can still see a lot of old buildings there. From there, check out the Tippecanoe County Courthouse, which was built in 1881. If you're a sculpture fan, there's a Lorado Taft fountain on the corner, which is one of his earliest commissioned works."
For lunch, just down the street from the courthouse is McCord Candies, which is not just a wonderful candy shop but has a full lunch counter and a soda fountain. Bonus: you can watch a video of candy canes being made by hand at McCord's during the 2007 Christmas season.
We'll cap the Roadtrip off with a visit to the John H. Myers Bridge. This is an old bridge that, as in so many communities, has been converted into a pedestrian bridge. At the head of the bridge is the Big Four Depot, built in 1902.
"Out on the bridge, depending on the time of day, it's not hard to see blue herons," Eric says, "and there are a number of eagles who live nearby. Some people have reported seeing two or three at a time."
Kurt Vonnegut's siblings
(Nov. 14, 2015) - The youngest sibling in a family from Indianapolis became an internationally known literary figure.
Another, who as a boy enjoyed experiments with his chemistry kit in the family's basement - became one of the world's foremost experts on climate control, particularly cloud seeding and other ways to enhance precipitation.
And another sibling became an artist but died young amid some family tragedies.
Her book explores the relationships among Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), the author of Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Cat's Cradle (1963) and other bestsellers, and his brother, who patented a series of "cutting-edge" technologies related to weather control, and his sister, who often served as the muse for Kurt's writing.
Fresh from appearances in Indianapolis as part of the annual Vonnegut Fest, Ginger is our guest to share insights about the siblings, whose grandfather and father were prominent Indiana architects.
Their great-grandfather, Clemens Vonnegut, immigrated from Germany in the 1850s and founded a hardware store. By the time it sold in the mid-1960s, Vonnegut Hardware had expanded to a chain and had become the oldest family-owned business in the Hoosier capital.
Alice Vonnegut Adams, who was born in 1917, became the first of the three siblings to pass away, succumbing to cancer in 1958, just two days after her husband was killed in a freak train accident. Kurt Vonnegut and his first wife, Jane, took in their orphaned sons and raised them with their own three children. (Years later, Kurt and his second wife, Jill, adopted a daughter.)
Bernard Vonnegut (1914-1997) earned a Ph.D. and, during World War II, worked in the Army's chemical warfare laboratory on secret ways to de-ice aircraft.
Kurt Vonnegut had been majoring in chemistry at Cornell University but was placed on academic probation and dropped out during the war. As a private in an Army infantry regiment, he was taken prisoner by the Nazis during the Battle of the Bulge. Along with other POWs, he was imprisoned in an underground meat locker in Dresden, an experience that later served as the basis for Slaughterhouse-Five.
"He (Kurt) had learned early that the best way for a third child to be heard at the dinner table was to crack a joke," our guest Ginger Strand writes in The Brothers Vonnegut. "Being funny was the only way he got them to stop interrupting and listen to him. Besides, his brother was brilliant, and his sister was artistic and beautiful. He couldn't compete on brains or glamour. So he nurtured his penchant for humor."
In an interview with Nelson, our host, Kurt Vonnegut once said, "I write with my sister in mind. The jokes are ones that she would enjoy."
Alice, like Bernard and Kurt, spent most of her adult life on the East Coast. After World War II, Kurt Vonnegut lived in Chicago for a while, though. He completed his college studies, majoring in anthropology at the University of Chicago, and then moved to upstate New York.
That's where, during the 1950s, both Vonnegut brothers worked for General Electric. In her book, Ginger describes how Bernard became a "leading scientist at what was called the House of Magic, GE's research lab ... the nation's oldest and most renowned industrial lab."
Kurt, meanwhile, worked in the PR department at GE. His stint in PR, although unlikely for a writer known for his irreverence, was one that Kurt Vonnegut thoroughly enjoyed, he later told interviewers, including Nelson.
In her book, Ginger describes how the central character in Cat's Cradle, an absent-minded scientist, is based on Bernard's favorite boss at GE. The plot involves "Ice-9," a more stable version of ice that melts only at a high temperature. When it comes into contact with water (including parts of the human body, which primarily is water), Ice-9 causes crystallization - and often, as a result, death.
In the 1920s, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. lived with his two older siblings, Bernard and Alice, and their parents in an Arts and Crafts-style house on the northside of Indianapolis. With oak woodwork, built-in bookshelves and leaded-glass windows, the fashionable house was the family home while Bernard and Alice attended the exclusive, private Park School and Tudor Hall, respectively.
With the onset of the Great Depression, the Vonneguts endured significant financial setbacks. To economize, young Kurt Jr. was sent to public schools, and the family moved in the early 1930s into another house. Although only one or two blocks from the initial home - and located on the same street - the family's second house was less impressive.
Question: What is the street on the north side of Indianapolis where both houses were located?
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to Rick's Cafe Boatyard, courtesy of Visit Indy, two admissions to Glo Golf, the miniature golf course at the Circle Centre Mall, courtesy of Glo Golf, and two tickets to the Indiana State Museum, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum.
Epidemics in Indiana history
(Nov. 7, 2015 - encore presentation) - Flu season is upon us, and the Ebola panic of last year certainly hasn't been forgotten. So Hoosier History Live will explore epidemics in Indiana's past.
Did you know 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, is the focus of this encore broadcast (original air date: Nov. 15, 2014) 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 on previous programs.
In 2009, Bill Beck was a guest for a show about the 1918 influenza epidemic and its Indiana impact. That horrific epidemic, which ravaged North America and Europe, is considered to have been the world's worst flu epidemic; it coincided with - then persisted after - World War I.
In 2012, Hoosier History Live explored various aspects of the polio epidemic, including the involvement of Eli Lilly and Co. in distributing the polio vaccine during the 1950s.
For this show, we broaden the focus and explore those epidemics, as well as several others.
Race relations in 1950s Indy: rare perspectives
(Oct. 31, 2015) - While growing up in Indianapolis during the 1950s, one of our guests, a white youth, attended Shortridge High School and lived near Woodstock Country Club. But Dwight Ritter spent much of his time in black neighborhoods, befriending peers who went to Attucks High School.
Our other guest grew up on the near-eastside and, in fall 1951, was among the small group of African-American students who attended Tech High School in the second year that school's student body was integrated. Bob Taylor became an outstanding basketball player at Tech but befriended - even though he played hoops against - many of the players on the legendary Attucks teams that won back-to-back state championships.
To share insights from their unusual perspectives of interacting extensively with the opposite race during an era in which much of the Hoosier capital was segregated, Dwight, now 74, and Bob, 78, are Nelson's studio guests.
Dwight, who eventually attended what was then the John Herron Art Institute, as well as Indiana University, became a writer, graphic designer and lyricist based in Cape Cod. He returned to his hometown in connection with the publication of his coming-of-age novel, Growin' Up White (Iron Press), which describes Indy as a "hotbed of bigotry" during the 1950s.
After graduating from Tech in the Class of '54 (which, with 740 students, was less than 5 percent black then), our guest Bob Taylor earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue. He went on to a distinguished career as an engineer in the aerospace industry, followed by a 20-year career at Eli Lilly and Co. In 1990, he became the first African-American trustee at Purdue.
Growin' Up White describes several clashes between whites and blacks, ranging from the casual use of racial slurs to violent episodes in which popular students at Shortridge harassed black peers from Attucks. Although Dwight changed the names of most people and fictionalized some settings in his novel, he says many of the episodes are derived from incidents that occurred during his boyhood.
Names of several city landmarks and institutions - from Shortridge and Attucks to the long-gone Fox Burlesque Theater, the Golden Hill neighborhood and the former WFBM Radio - are sprinkled throughout the novel.
Like the book's protagonist, Dwight says he spent much time as a child and teen in black neighborhoods for several reasons.
His father was a doctor and civil rights activist who often came to the aid of black residents, including some injured in assaults by whites. And because his mother also worked (a classically trained pianist, she enjoyed a thriving career as a performer and teacher), young Dwight often was entrusted to the care of the family's African-American housekeeper. In her neighborhood, he developed friendships with black children and teens.
"I tried to 'hide' those friendships from my classmates at Shortridge," Dwight says. "Frankly, most of my Shortridge friends were racist."
Our guest Bob Taylor attended an all-black elementary school because, he notes, in the 1940s Indianapolis Public Schools grade schools were not yet integrated. Even so, he interacted as a child with white peers because his family's home was in a "borderline" neighborhood near Brookside Park, where children of both races played - although, in Bob's recollection, seldom together.
His oldest siblings attended Attucks, but Bob says he was given the choice of enrolling there or at Tech; he opted for the latter in part because of its proximity to his home.
"For those of us who were basketball players, the (racial tension) wasn't too bad," he says. "We were excluded from the social life at Tech, which is why we went to parties with friends from Attucks and Shortridge."
The Tigers basketball teams at Attucks, led by future NBA star and Olympic gold medalist Oscar Robertson, became the first from an African-American high school in the country to win a state championship in any sport when they captured successive titles in 1955 and '56.
But Bob Taylor's team at Tech won the city championship in 1954, beating Attucks - even though several of the future state champion players were on that year's Attucks team.
Growin' Up White describes the range of reactions in Indy's white community to the ascendency of the Attucks teams.
Much of the novel, though, unfolds earlier in the 1950s, when the main character ages from 11 to 13; he poses disciplinary problems, which author Dwight Ritter says is a reflection of his own adolescence. His rebellious nature was another reason his parents entrusted much of his care to their beloved housekeeper, a strict disciplinarian.
After graduating from IU and marrying, Dwight left Indiana in 1964. As a lyricist, he has written music for the Sesame Street TV series; as a graphic designer and artist, he has done a vast range of work. He also produced and directed the PBS documentary Being Amish.
During his return visit to his hometown, Dwight has been teaching art to youth at Christamore House on the near-westside. After our show, he signed copies of Growin' Up White at Bookmamas in Irvington at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Roadtrip - You are There 1816: Indiana Joins the Nation
Guest Roadtripper Rachel Hill Panko, director of public relations at the Indiana Historical Society, recommends a visit to You Are There 1816: Indiana Joins the Nation at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center in downtown Indianapolis.
Visitors are able to step through an image of the cover of the Indiana Historical Society's copy of the 1816 Indiana State Constitution projected on a very fine screen of mist. From there, visitors enter a room in Corydon where debates have been taking place between Hoosier delegates to the Constitutional Convention, and actors pull visitors into the conversation.
Discussion topics include the requirement of all young, able-bodied men to serve in a state militia, the creation of a state-supported system of education and the prohibition of establishment of private banks. The handwritten IHS copy of the original 1816 Constitution also is on display as you enter the exhibit.
Serving up Hoosier heritage food
In this encore broadcast of one of the most popular shows in our Hoosier History Live archives (its original air date was Aug. 30, 2014), Nelson explores classic Hoosier foods - and topics related to the state’s traditional cuisine - with one of the state's best-known food journalists. Jolene Ketzenberger, the Indianapolis-based founder and editor of the local food website EatDrinkIndy, has covered the Hoosier culinary scene for more than 20 years.
Here's a taste of her take on the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, which has been identified with Indiana for generations:
"I think it's clearly a cousin to the schnitzel, which seems reasonable, considering the German heritage of many Hoosiers."
During the show, Jolene and Nelson discuss Nick's Kitchen in Huntington, which claims to have invented the pork tenderloin sandwich. The restaurant's beginnings date to 1904, when founder Nick Frienstein began selling his wares from a street cart. A few years later, Nick's brother started frying - and breading - pork cutlets to sell as sandwiches.
Some sandwiches served elsewhere have much more limited appeal, including one that Jolene calls a "southern Indiana classic": the brain sandwich.
Jolene, who enjoys shopping in farmers markets and trying new recipes, reports she felt compelled to make a brain sandwich so she could include it in her Cafe Indiana Cookbook (2010), which she co-authored with Joanne Raetz Stuttgen.Tune in to the show to savor the details about the brain sandwich.
During the show, Jolene also shares her research that indicates the Beef Manhattan sandwich may have originated in Indy.
Topics also include the national impact of Ball Corp.; its factory in Muncie was opened in 1888 by five Ball brothers, who achieved tremendous success, particularly with their famous Mason jars. The glass jars were used across the country for canning many homegrown products, including some, like tomatoes, that also have a long association with Indiana.
Here are Jolene's "Learn more" website picks:
Persian/Iranian heritage in Indiana
(Oct. 17, 2015) - Iran has been in the headlines continually. So it is timely for our rotating series about the ethnic heritage of Indiana - which has explored a vast range from German, Irish and Scottish to Cuban, Colombian/Venezuelan and Russian immigration - to look at the Persian and Iranian heritage in the Hoosier state.
Nelson's studio guests include Cyrus Jafari, a Realtor and entrepreneur in Indianapolis who grew up in Iran and immigrated at age 24 in 2001. Cyrus, past president of the Society for the Preservation of Persian Culture, is the owner of Showcase Realty. He also owns the former Earth House (a historic structure that once housed the Lockerbie United Methodist Church) and eventually hopes to open a Persian coffeehouse there.
Nelson and Cyrus are joined by Shayda Bradley, the executive director of design and construction for IU Health. A native of Iran, she left the country at age 18 in 1978 following the overthrow of the shah. The assets of her family, which she described as "educated and middle class," were frozen. Like Cyrus, Shayda is a past president of the Society for the Preservation of Persian Culture.
"Basically, people who have come from Iran are in one of two groups," Cyrus says. "The first group came before the revolution in 1977 and often were supporters of the shah. The newer group, people like me, grew up in Iran after that and never experienced what the country was like in the past."
In addition to Cyrus and Shayda, our guests include Aline Swanson, international relocation specialist for the International Center. She describes various services offered by the center, as well as the challenges that typically confront immigrants, including Iranians. (A native of Brazil, Aline has become an American citizen.)
According to Peopling Indiana: The Ethnic Experience (Indiana Historical Society Press, 1996), few Iranians came to Indiana - or even to the United States - before 1900. During the last 50 years, though, many have come to study medicine, engineering and other fields at universities.
Although our guest Cyrus Jafari grew up in Iran, he was born in the United States because his father came to study electrical engineering.
After leaving Iran, our guest Shayda Bradley eventually made her way to Purdue University. She earned degrees in engineering and construction technology and has lived in Indianapolis for more than 30 years. Before her current executive position with IU Health, Shayda and one of her sisters ran a boutique. Then they designed and marketed upscale, fashionable clothes for women.
Because of the volatile relationship between Iran and the United States, Cyrus reports that some immigrants are reluctant to identify their heritage.
"If you are ashamed to be Iranian, you tend to call yourself Persian," he says.
Cyrus, who has dual citizenship, has been able to travel freely in and out of his homeland; he visited Iran last year.
Roadtrip - Valparaiso
Our Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff tells us: "Valparaiso is an interesting city on the historic Lincoln Highway - both routes - in northern Indiana. That is, it's on the original 1913 route that ran through Goshen, Elkhart, South Bend and LaPorte, and also the straighter version rerouted in the 1920s that became (mostly) part of the original U.S. 30. Tracking the above-ground archaeology remaining of this road is always a good excuse to head up that way!"
Valparaiso, which had become a bit sleepy, has really awakened in recent years. Its downtown, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is buzzing with restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries and boutiques, many housed in cool historic buildings. I can recommend Bon Femme Cafe right on Lincolnway, which offers tasty food and an interesting atmosphere. Is your sweet tooth aching? The many cupcakes at Designer Desserts may soothe it! There are any number of other shops to explore as well."
Valparaiso is the seat of Porter County and boasts a historic courthouse with a checkered history. Built in 1885 (replacing an earlier brick structure on the same site), the current building suffered a severe fire in the 1930s that destroyed its tower. The courthouse was partly restored, forgoing its tower, so it remains a bit of an architectural oddity.
Immediately southeast of the courthouse is the Porter County Jail and Sheriff's House, built in 1860-1871, that today houses a museum and the Historical Society of Porter County, definitely worth checking out.
And the town is home to Valparaiso University, which boasts a wonderful collection of outdoor public sculpture on its campus.
A founding member of the International Center of Indianapolis is a well-known artist who was born in India. He was trained as an architect and came to the Hoosier capital during the 1960s to be a city planner for then-Mayor Richard Lugar.
Eventually, he became a full-time artist who has won acclaim for his pen-and-ink drawings of landmarks including churches, monuments and memorials in Indiana, his homeland of India and elsewhere around the world. Although he was one of the first members of the Sikh faith (the world’s fifth largest religion) to settle in Indianapolis, the metro area now has several Sikh temples. The artist helped start the International Center in the early 1970s.
Question: Who is the well-known artist?
Hint: He has been a Hoosier History Live guest when we have explored the Sikh heritage in Indiana.
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to the Tin Roof in downtown Indy and two admissions to the Indianapolis Children's Museum, all courtesy of Visit Indy, and two passes to Glo Golf in the Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis, courtesy of Glo Golf.
Camp Chesterfield and Spiritualism history
(Oct. 10, 2015) - 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, consists 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 attracted 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 is 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 is 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. In the beginning, according to Chesterfield Lives, a privately published history of the camp, visitors had to bring "their own camping equipment and hay for horses."
"Almost every town and area had a Spiritualist organization or group of people who gathered together for meetings," according to The Spirits of Lily Dale, referring to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Sometimes thousands of people would gather at conventions and seasonal camp meetings.
At Camp Chesterfield, a chapel in the woods serves as the setting for "message services" as well as weddings and funerals; in addition to the chapel, the spacious Cathedral of the Woods was built in 1954. Six years earlier, the Western Hotel opened to supplement the Sunflower Hotel.
"With a shrinking budget and congregation, the Indiana Association of Spiritualists struggles to maintain Camp Chesterfield," the Indiana Preservationist notes.
In addition to Camp Chesterfield, other historic sites on the "10 Most Endangered" list include the Indiana Medical History Museum and the once-lavish but long-deteriorating Rivoli Theater on the eastside of Indianapolis.
Roadtrip - Historic New Albany, Ind.
Our guest Roadtripper is the distinguished Dr. James Glass, principal of Historic Preservation & Heritage Consulting. Jim suggests a Roadtrip to New Albany in the southern part of Indiana along the Ohio River.
New Albany, he tells us, was the largest city in Indiana in 1850 with 8,181 people (Indianapolis had 8,012), and was also the second-largest city along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers in the building of steamboats before the Civil War.
A few other quick facts:
Anderson, the city closest to Camp Chesterfield, was named after a Native American leader. Chief William Anderson was a widely admired leader of an Indian tribe that lived along the banks of the White River and in the woodland areas where such towns as Muncie, Noblesville and Anderson later were founded.
In fact, the village of Anderson initially was known as Anderson Town in an even more specific reference to Chief William Anderson.
In what has been described as a forced removal, the tribe left Indiana during the 1820s. Chief Anderson and the rest of the Native American tribe eventually ended up in Kansas.
Question: Name the tribe of Native Americans.
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to Iozzo's Garden of Italy in downtown Indy, courtesy of Visit Indy, two passes to Glo Golf in the Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis, courtesy of Glo Golf, and 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.
Greensburg and Decatur County history
(Oct. 3, 2015) - 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 is fodder as 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 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?
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.
Mormon heritage in Indiana
(Sept. 26, 2015) - With the recent opening of the first Mormon temple in Indiana, we will explore the heritage of the faith in the Hoosier state. During our more than seven years on the air, Hoosier History Live has explored the heritage of Methodists, Amish, Quakers, Jews and even Sikhs.
Thousands of people attended ceremonies in August for the dedication in Carmel of the temple for Mormons, who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Before the opening of the 34,000-square-foot building, the closest temples (the most sacred space of the Mormon faith) were in Chicago, Louisville and Columbus, Ohio.
But there has been a Mormon presence in Indiana stretching back even before the 1840s. To share insights about the evolving heritage, Nelson is joined in studio by three guests:
According to various news accounts, Indiana today ranks 26th among the states in Mormon population.
There are about 42,000 Mormons in the state today, with more than 3,600 in the Indianapolis area, according to reports when the temple opened. It is located at 116th Street and Spring Mill Road in Carmel.
For many generations, though, Mormons across Indiana have worshipped in chapels, and congregations will continue to do so. In central Indiana, Latter-day Saints chapels can be found in Cumberland, Brownsburg, Plainfield, Fishers and other communities.
According to our guest Ruth Ellen Homer, Mormon founder Joseph Smith (1805-1844) spent some time in Indiana. In 1834, he led a group of Mormon men through the state on the National Road as they traveled west. They entered the state at Richmond, passed through Indianapolis, camped near an intersection of the National Road (today's U.S. 40) near Plainfield, and they crossed the Wabash River at Clinton.
Ruth Ellen Homer, who was born in Salt Lake City, represents the Mormon church on the board of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation. She has lived in Indiana since 1972. During our show, she shares insights about the church's outreach programs, including humanitarian relief.
Our guest Rick Hightower served as a missionary in the Philippines and today is a high priest, an office in the church's lay priesthood. In addition to his previous work for TV stations, he also was a spokesman for the former ATA Airlines.
Our guest Dallin Lykins is a fluent Spanish-speaker whose specialties as an attorney include immigration law. He has ancestral ties to early Mormon families in the Columbus area.
According to an article in The Indianapolis Star, when plans for the temple were announced in 2011, the number of Mormons in the state has increased by at least 50 percent since 1990.
"There are about the same number of Mormons in Indiana as there are Jews," the Star article noted. "There are more Mormons here than Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus."
Roadtrip - 'Repurposed' Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis
Guest Roadtripper Charles Braun, longtime central Indiana attorney and host of WICR's Legally Speaking radio show on Saturdays from 11 to 11:30 a.m., encourages us to visit Fort Harrison State Park on the northeast side of Indianapolis.
Fort Harrison was opened as a military base in 1906 and was named in honor of President Benjamin Harrison, Indiana's only U.S. president. The fort was a major military base during both World War I and World War II, and used for housing during the 1987 Pan Am Games.
Fort Harrison was decommissioned as a military base in 1991 and the site was thoughtfully converted to Fort Harrison State Park. The park features a former Citizens Military Training Camp, Civilian Conservation Corps camp, and a World War II prisoner-of-war camp.
There also are picnicking and walking and jogging trails with hilly terrains and spectacular views of Fall Creek. Old officers' quarters have been converted into an inn for guests, and dining facilities include the Garrison Restaurant and Cafe Aubrey. Adjacent is the beautiful 18-hole Fort Golf Course, designed by Pete Dye and one of the most challenging courses in the state.
In addition to being the site of the state's first Mormon temple, which was dedicated in August, Carmel has deep connections to other faith traditions. The town was formed in 1837 by early setters, many of whom were members of a specific religious movement.
These families settled in the rural Hamilton County area that became Carmel following a significant migration to Indiana from North Carolina of members of the faith group.
Question: What is the faith tradition?
The prize pack includes two 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 State Museum, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum, and a Family 4-Pack to Conner Prairie, including the 1859 Balloon Voyage, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Lenape (Delaware) Indian heritage in Indiana
(Sept. 19, 2015 - encore presentation) - "I think in Indiana, as in many places, it's only been in the last 30 to 40 years that we've chosen to look outside of myth ... to truly understand the first peoples who lived in our state."
That comment from a historian introduces a documentary about the Lenape tribe of Native Americans. It's the tribe that was known as the Delaware Indians by white settlers. Watch the half-hour documentary here.
The Lenape lived in the woodlands of east central Indiana from the 1790s into the early 1820s; during that time, they founded villages or trading posts that evolved into towns, including Anderson, Muncie and Strawtown.
Under the terms of the Treaty of St. Mary's negotiated in 1818, the Lenape gave up their claims to Hoosier soil and, as part of what has been called a "forced migration," moved a few years later to Kansas.
Eventually, the Lenape were moved again, this time to Oklahoma, the tribe's home state in modern times.
Considering that the Lenape had lived in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware for generations even before being relocated to the Indiana Territory, is it any wonder that one expert in the documentary calls them "possibly the most moved group in American history"?
In this encore broadcast of one of the most popular shows in our Hoosier History Live archives (its original air date was Aug. 16, 2014), Nelson is joined in studio by two guests who share insights about the Lenape tribe's life on Hoosier soil and impact here. The guests are:
In the early 1800s, Lenape leaders in Indiana included Chief William Anderson, for whom the largest city in Madison County is named. The Lenape who moved to Kansas included Anderson's daughter, Mekinges, who became the first wife of frontier entrepreneur and fur trader William Conner, namesake of Conner Prairie. They had six children, all of whom moved with their mother to Kansas. Conner remained in Indiana, remarried (a white woman) and had more children with his second wife.
Our guest Mike Pace, a former assistant chief of the Delaware Tribe, has spoken across the country - and even overseas - about aspects of Native American heritage.
Wendell Willkie, unlikely presidential candidate of 1940
(Sept. 12, 2015) - In a recent article in The New York Times headlined "Before Trump or Fiorina, There Was Wendell Willkie," esteemed presidential historian Michael Beschloss wrote:
"If either Donald Trump or Carly Fiorina receives the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, it will be a rare achievement. Only once in American history has a major political party granted its prize to someone whose principal qualification was to have served as a chief executive."
That "someone" was a colorful Hoosier. Elwood native Wendell Willkie, whose rollicking presidential crusade was headquartered in Rushville, was a maverick Republican in 1940 when he took on Franklin D. Roosevelt in his quest for a third term.
Last month, commemorative events celebrated the 75th anniversary of an August 1940 rally in Elwood for Willkie that drew a crowd of 215,000. That makes it the largest political gathering in Indiana history. By the time Willkie wound down on the sweltering, 102-degree afternoon, nearly 360 people needed to be treated for heat-related disorders.
Amid the anniversary and the presidential nomination season underway, David Willkie is Nelson's studio guest to share insights about his grandfather, who died suddenly of heart disease in 1944 at age 52.
David, who grew up in Rushville and has worked as a staff member for former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, is in his 40s and never personally knew his grandfather. He has fond memories, though, of his grandmother, Edith Willkie, who almost became the nation's first lady.
Wendell Willkie, a utility company executive and attorney who never had held elective office of any kind, was the dark horse nominee of the Republican Party. The chant "We want Willkie! We want Willkie! We want Willkie!" swept delegates to the GOP national convention in Philadelphia, which had been deadlocked on more traditional candidates. Willkie won on the sixth ballot.
Although Willkie lost in the general election, President Roosevelt eventually designated the Hoosier to be his personal representative to the Allied nations in Europe. Regarded as socially progressive, a champion of civil rights and an internationalist, Willkie also became the author of a bestselling book titled One World.
A note about that historic speech in Elwood: According to David Willkie, family folklore is that his grandfather inadvertently forgot his speech when he arrived at the massive rally, which jammed roads for miles far beyond Madison County. So squad cars had to be dispatched to weave among the bumper-to-bumper traffic and fetch the speech.
David shared that anecdote when he was our guest for a show in 2012. Much of that program, though, focused on an unrelated event: The 20th anniversary of David Willkie's highly publicized fund-raising stunt in 1992 to save the Athenaeum in downtown Indy. (David camped on the slate roof of the historic structure for 60 days.)
For this show, the full focus will be on his grandfather, who took Indiana - and the entire country - on an unforgettable ride 75 years ago.
Born in 1892, Lewis Wendell Willkie was the son of two attorneys. (His mother, Henrietta Willkie, is considered to have been among the first women admitted to the Indiana bar.) When the family's finances declined with the end of the natural gas boom in east central Indiana, Wendell held down a series of jobs. They included working as a short-order cook and driving a bakery wagon.
At Indiana University, where Willkie was a member of the Class of 1913, he met his lifelong rival, future Indiana Gov. Paul McNutt, a Democrat. (If FDR had not sought a third term, McNutt was considered a likely Democratic presidential nominee - meaning the 1940 race for the White House could have been a battle between two Hoosiers.)
Eventually, Willkie became a prosperous attorney, then one of the country's top utility executives. He tangled with FDR over the government's new Tennessee Valley Authority, which Willkie regarded as competing with his electric company's holdings in Tennessee.
During the 1940 presidential campaign, Willkie made a show of turning down the support of religious and social leaders whom he considered bigots.
"I don't have to be president of the United States," he said, "but I do have to live with myself."
His grandson, our guest David Willkie, was an economic adviser to the U.S. Senate's Foreign Relations Committee when he was on Lugar's staff. Before that, he was a business industry expert for the TV show 60 Minutes.
Roadtrip - New butterfly garden in Marion
Guest Roadtripper and volunteer naturalist Terri Gorney of Fort Wayne suggests the new Butterfly Garden at Matter Park in Marion in Grant County as a place to take a relaxing walking trail along the Mississinewa River.
The new butterfly garden was created by the Marion Garden Club and the Marion Parks Department. It is intended in part to be a way station for Monarchs as they migrate across America. Monarchs do have very interesting lives; perhaps Terri will tell us more!
While in Marion, don't forget to visit the Quilter's Hall of Fame, the home of renowned quilter Marie Daughtery Webster, whose granddaughter bought the home when it was condemned in 1993 and donated it to the Quilters Hall of Fame as its permanent home.
Also stop by the Hostess House, which was designed by African-American architect Samuel Plato. Marion is about halfway between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.
During his 1940 presidential campaign, Wendell Willkie delivered a rousing speech from the balcony of a landmark building in downtown Indianapolis. Among the thousands of Hoosiers who gathered on Monument Circle to hear Willkie's speech was 8-year-old Richard Lugar. The future U.S. senator has said that he was inspired by Willkie and in awe of the majestic building with the balcony.
By the end of the 1940s, though, the landmark building had been demolished. Constructed in phases in during the late 1880s, the ornate building included a hotel and a theater with the largest stage in the city. Famous actors and singers often waved to the public from the exterior balcony where Willkie spoke in 1940.
Question: Name the bygone building.
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to Brics ice cream station in Broad Ripple, and two and two tickets to the NCAA Hall of Champions, courtesy of Visit Indy, as well as two tickets to the Indiana State Museum, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum.
Bicentennial projects across Indiana, both upcoming and completed
(Sept. 5, 2015) - In Spencer County, where young Abe Lincoln and his family moved in 1816, Boy Scouts have been collecting seeds descended from squash apparently grown by the Lincolns. Local residents are planning to plant and harvest the squash with a link to the "Great Emancipator."
In Crawfordsville, the tower on the Montgomery County Courthouse was struck by lightning in 1941; its bell was donated to the World War II effort. A new courthouse bell has been obtained and will be installed in the tower, which is being restored.
They are among the dozens of projects planned for next year in counties and towns when Indiana celebrates its 200th birthday. To share details about what to expect, Perry Hammock, executive director of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission, is Nelson's studio guest.
He also shares insights about projects that already have occurred in counties and towns that were organized before Indiana achieved statehood - and, as a result, have already had local bicentennial celebrations.
Perry and Nelson primarily focus on local, grassroots projects involved with the Bicentennial, rather than the major state projects. The 2016 Bicentennial Celebration includes the construction of a $25 million building for the Indiana State Archives (Hoosier History Live explored the archives - and the dismal condition of the current facility - in a radio show on May 16) and the creation of a Bicentennial Plaza at the Indiana Statehouse.
The $55 million allocated by the state for the Bicentennial also includes the cost of a torch relay to all 92 counties.
Last month, the Bicentennial Commission chose a design for the commemorative medal of the 200th birthday. The winning design, selected from submissions by 60 artists, features a page being turned in Indiana history, with representations of the Civil War, farming and medical research. The design was created by Donna Weaver, an artist in Switzerland County; the commemorative medal with her design is expected to be available to the public in November, according to the Associated Press.
In December 1816, the same month that Indiana became the 19th state, seven-year-old Abe Lincoln moved with his family from Kentucky to southwestern Indiana.
How, though, do the local folks know that the squash seeds truly are descended from those grown by the Lincolns? That's among the questions Nelson asks Perry Hammock, whose commission has endorsed nearly 500 Bicentennial projects and events.
The Lincoln Boyhood National Museum is coordinating the squash project and has been distributing seeds. Their goal is to have every Spencer County and Perry County garden "growing the 'Lincoln squash' in 2016"; that year's harvest will feature contests recognizing the largest squash, best pie and other accomplishments.
Other Bicentennial projects include, in White County, the creation of a statue of the county's namesake, Isaac White, a soldier who was killed in the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. The statue will be erected on the courthouse lawn in Monticello.
Our guest Perry Hammock became director of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission in March 2014. Before that, he spent 33 years on the staff of Ivy Tech Community College.
His predecessor at the Bicentennial Commission, former executive director Chris Jensen, joined Nelson and distinguished historian James Madison, a Bicentennial Commission board member, for a show in June 2013 that explored the Centennial in 1916, including the challenges then, as well as the celebrations.
Roadtrip - Simple delights await in Starke County in northern Indiana
Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff tells us to "head on up U.S. 35 out of Logansport - a road largely developed and routed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s, by the way - to Starke County, where many simple delights await you.
The hamlet of Bass Lake, on the southwestern corner of one of Indiana's largest natural lakes, is just off 35; it boasts one of the state's few remaining drive-in theaters, the Melody. (Interestingly, during Christmas season, it is the site of a living Nativity put on by a local church.) Try to make it before winter (they are closed then) so you can stop at Fingerhut's Bakery, located in what was once a bank building. Great doughnuts, but good food, too. Bass Lake once was a state park - or technically, a state beach - that was deaccessioned some years ago and is now run by the county.
If you miss Fingerhut's at Bass Lake, do not despair, for their mother location is only a few miles to the west (take SR10) in North Judson, and that one is open year-round. North Judson is home to the annual Mint Festival on Father's Day weekend, celebrating the crop ubiquitous to that area, although mint farming is not as widespread as it once was. (Indiana is still among the top 10 producers of mint, though!)
Did we mention the WPA? Right in the middle of town is Norwayne Field, today a park but built as a baseball field in a natural depression with bleachers up the sides. Note the unusual concrete track along the side of the bleachers; it was intended as a snow slide in winter for sledders. North Judson also boasts the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum, which on Saturdays offers train rides.
Before heading home, you might want to head up Ind. 39 a few miles and turn east to Toto, an odd little place that must be seen to be appreciated. The tiny town in the middle of nowhere is old, but it attracts thousands of people each year to its huge discount stores and odd shops. There's a great little grocery store that in spring stocks a huge array of wonderful plants, and places to eat as well.
Continue east on the county road and you'll soon find yourself back on Highway 35.
One of Indiana's first counties to be organized celebrated its bicentennial in 2013. Located in far-southwestern Indiana, the country was organized in 1813.
Its county seat is a town to which a teenage Abe Lincoln walked so he could sit in courtrooms and observe cases argued by a local lawyer, who mentored him. (The bicentennial county is located next to Spencer County, where the Lincoln family lived.)
Another town in the county is known for its historic Main Street and scenic, "river village" ambience; the town is nestled on the Ohio River. Some of the county is considered to be part of the metro area of Evansville, which is located in another bordering county, Vanderburgh County.
Question: Name the far-southwestern county that celebrated its bicentennial in 2013.
Hint: It often is listed among the 10 fastest-growing counties in the state.
The prize pack includes two tickets to the Hoosier Hops & Harvest Festival at Story Inn in Brown County on Sept. 12, courtesy of Story Inn, as well as two tickets to the Indianapolis Children's Museum, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Impact of Bobby Kennedy's speech in 1968
(Aug. 29, 2015) - On April 4, 1968, when Loraine Morris showed up for a speech at an Indianapolis park, she was an 18-year-old senior at Tech High School.
She witnessed an historic event. At the rally, Bobby Kennedy announced the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with an impromptu talk that now is regarded as one of the best American speeches of the 20th century.
As the Indiana Repertory Theatre prepares for the debut of a play about the impact on Hoosiers of what unfolded that night, Loraine, now a mother of three adult children and the grandmother of seven, is among Nelson's studio guests. So is James Still, the award-winning playwright-in-residence at the IRT. His play, titled April 4, 1968 and described as "an intimate look at an Indianapolis family's collision with history," debuts at the IRT on Oct. 20.
Our studio guests also include Marion County Superior Court Judge David Dreyer, who has helped organize commemorative events at the site of the famous speech, which now has a Landmark for Peace Memorial honoring Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.
Members of the Kennedy and King families have visited the sculpture at what is now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park at 17th and Broadway streets.
"My family was living at 19th and Park (Avenue), so we weren't that far away from the park," Loraine Morris recalls. "I vividly remembered President Kennedy's assassination, and I always was interested in history. So a classmate at Tech and I were allowed to leave school early. We were the first two people to show up for Bobby Kennedy's speech."
Bobby Kennedy, who would be assassinated two months later, was campaigning for the Democratic nomination for U.S. president. His talk, during which he spoke publicly for the first time about his brother's assassination, often is credited with preventing racial violence in Indianapolis.
As James Still has researched the event and its aftermath, including the impact of Dr. King's assassination on Hoosiers, he has done oral interviews with residents who attended the rally in 1968.
James has been a guest on previous Hoosier History Live shows when he has written other plays that have touched on aspects of Indiana's heritage. They have included a look at Abraham Lincoln (who was the focus of his play The Heavens Are Hung in Black) and pioneer entrepreneur William Conner (who was explored in the play Interpreting William).
Although James grew up in Kansas and lives on the West Coast, he has been the IRT's playwright-in-residence for 13 years.
Our guest Loraine Morris is retired after a 23-year career with Indianapolis Public Schools that included working as a counselor and classroom assistant.
Judge David Dreyer, our third guest, is a board member of the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative, a non-profit that has been developing educational programs and community events at the park.
In May 1968, one month after Bobby Kennedy's speech at the park, he pulled off an upset victory in the Democratic presidential primary in Indiana. His crusade is described in the book Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary (Indiana University Press, 2008) by frequent Hoosier History Live guest Ray Boomhowerof the Indiana Historical Society.
About 2,500 people attended Kennedy's speech at 17th and Broadway. He had been urged to cancel by city leaders, including then-Mayor Richard Lugar. They were concerned about racial tension in the wake of the assassination earlier that day of Dr. King, who had won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Instead of canceling, Bobby Kennedy stood on a flatbed truck and broke the news of Dr. King's assassination in Memphis.
The audience for Kennedy's talk ranged from members of the Black Panthers to teenagers like our guest Loraine Morris and Teresa Lubbers, now Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education. Other future civic leaders in attendance included former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Theodore Boehm, former State Rep. Bill Crawford and the late Julia Carson, who became a member of the U.S. Congress.
Initially, Kennedy's five-minute talk received little attention. Local media coverage was minimal. In addition, the speech was overwhelmed by reports about King's assassination and funeral, plus rioting that ensued in more than 110 U.S. cities.
Roadtrip - Multitrip-worthy Greenfield
It's a place with so much history that it's good for several trips. James Whitcomb Riley grew up in Greenfield, and for a good walk, Eric recommends Riley Park, where you can visit the real Old Swimmin' Hole that Riley wrote about.
It's right off U.S. 40, the National Road, and the Works Progress Administration worked in this park during the New Deal years. There's a shelter house, a remnant of rock garden, and the log cabin may have been moved there by the WPA. If you're sports-minded, the park includes a skate park, basketball courts and a sledding hill.
For dinner, try Carnegie's, located in Greenfield's old Carnegie library, with an upscale menu.
If you're still up for dessert, Eric recommends Litterally Divine Chocolates. The name is not a misspelling; it's a play on words with the owner's last name, Litteral. The location is in a historic building on U.S. 40, just down the street from Riley's boyhood home.
In 1985, a road in Indianapolis was renamed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street. The 3.5-mile stretch runs from Michigan Street downtown to West 38th Street. According to an account in The Indianapolis Star, the Hoosier capital is one of about 700 cities across the country with a street that has been renamed in honor of the civil rights leader.
Question: What was the previous name of the road in Indianapolis? Hint: It was not called Michigan Road, which remains the name for the thoroughfare north of West 38th Street.
The prize pack includes two tickets to the Hoosier Hops & Harvest Festival at Story Inn in Brown County on Sept. 12, courtesy of Story Inn, as well as Family 4-Pack to Conner Prairie, which includes for tickets for the 1859 Balloon Voyage, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Plainfield and Brownsburg town histories
The authors of both books, which are part of Arcadia's "Images of America" visual history series, are among Nelson's three guests, who are genealogists and librarians.
Linda Cook, a longtime Brownsburg resident and the author of the new book about the town, works at the Brownsburg Public Library and is a volunteer for the Indiana Pioneer Cemeteries Restoration Project.
Reann Poray, the author of the Plainfield book, manages the Indiana Room at the Plainfield-Guilford Township Public Library, where our third guest, Meredith Thompson, also works. Meredith is a volunteer for the Indiana Genealogical Society.
At the Plainfield library, Reann and Meredith have been digitizing information about the Indiana Boys' School, which had an impact on life in Plainfield for generations.
"What is interesting is that the town helped support the institution and vice versa," Reann notes. "The (school's) bakery supplied bread to sell locally, the garden shop sold vegetables, the ice shop sold ice, the print shop took outside orders (and) the sports teams competed with Plainfield and other Hendricks County teams."
In 2005, the Indiana Boys' School was closed after 130 years as a reform school as part of a restructuring to become the Plainfield Re-Entry Educational Facility.
In the Brownsburg area, many early settlers and civic leaders were buried in Greenlawn Cemetery, which our guest Linda Cook has been researching. Her book notes that many of the earliest graves have identifying tombstones, "though graves of Quakers, Native Americans and the poor were sometimes marked with fieldstones."
Elm trees have been proliferous in Plainfield and Brownsburg, with one bygone elm in particular becoming the focus of folklore known by many Hoosiers. In 1843, Martin Van Buren, who had objected to funds to upgrade the National Road, was "ceremoniously tossed" (as Reann puts it in her book) from his stagecoach into the muddy road. An elm tree on the site became famous. But it was extensively damaged by lightning in 1928, and the remains eventually were removed.
Hoosier History Live explored the heritage of the National Road (which runs through Plainfield and now is known as U.S. 40), as well as the heritage of the Lincoln Highway in northern Indiana, during a radio show in September 2013.
The creation of another road - Crawfordsville Road on the westside of Indy - was a key factor in the evolution of Brownsburg.
The town also was enhanced in 1918 with the opening of a Carnegie Library, although it was closed in 1981 with the creation of the current library. The architect for the Carnegie Library, Merritt Harrison, later designed the Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Plainfield residents also were served by a Carnegie Library, which opened in 1913. That historic building today houses the Triangle Fraternity, a social and academic organization of architects, engineers and scientists. (History fact: During the early 1900s, more Carnegie Libraries were built in Indiana than in any other state.)
According to our guest Reann Poray's book, the early Quaker settlers inspired the name Plainfield because of their "plain and simple lifestyle." She notes that Quakers (also known as the Society of Friends) opened Central Academy, an early school.
During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Plainfield also was the site of the Keeley Institute, an early drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.
For decades beginning in 1913, a large Van Camp Packing Company plant in Plainfield employed town residents. Workers at Van Camp (which merged with Stokely Company in 1933) packed tomatoes grown by Hoosier farmers.
Both Plainfield and Brownsburg are growing quickly. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the population of Plainfield was 27,631, up substantially from 19,439 in 2000. Comparable census figures for Brownsburg are 21,285, up from 14,520.
Roadtrip - State Fair: The Indiana Musical
Guest Roadtripper Daina Chamness tells us to catch State Fair: The Indiana Musical at the Pioneer Village Opry House at this year's 2015 Indiana State Fair. Final performances are Friday, Aug. 21, and Saturday, Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. Admission is free with fair admission.
This whimsical musical will take you back from the 1930s through the 1960s with a sugar cream pie contest, clog dancers, singing, a champion boar, favorite fair food and, of course, a State Fair romance!
The musical is directed by one of Indy's favorites, Mac Bellner of Hogeye Navvy.
Brownsburg is the adopted hometown of the twin brother of a famous race driver. The twin brother settled in Brownsburg more than 35 years ago. As a teenager and young man, he also had been a race driver. After two near-fatal accidents, though, he left the sport.
Meanwhile, his brother enjoyed a legendary career in several auto racing circuits before retiring in 1994; the brother never has been an Indiana resident but often is considering an "honorary Hoosier" because of his impact at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Question: Name both of the twin brothers: the Brownsburg resident, as well as his much more famous sibling. The first names of both brothers must be provided.
The prize pack includes two tickets to the Hoosier Hops & Harvest Festival at Story Inn in Brown County on Sept. 12, courtesy of Story Inn, as well as a gift certificate to Iozzo's Garden of Italy, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Postcards from Indiana
(Aug. 15, 2015) - Here's a dispatch worthy to send far and wide: Beginning in the late 1800s and early 1900s, almost every small town in Indiana had its own postcard.
So did landmark buildings and institutions. Not just hotels, spas, restaurants and drug stores, but sanitariums, prisons and asylums, as well.
Also during that era, one of the country's most popular postcard artists was based in Indianapolis.
"In the century before Twitter, text messaging and Snapchat, people who wanted to send a short and concise message simply picked up a postcard at the newsstand or drugstore and dropped it in the mail," notes Indianapolis attorney Libby Cierzniak in a recent article for historicindianapolis.com. Libby, a partner at Faegre Baker & Daniels, collects vintage photos, postcards, advertising and other memorabilia about the Hoosier capital.
She has written a profile of Cobb X. Shinn, an Indy-based artist of the early 1900s who designed nationally distributed postcards. Although her research indicates Shinn was creating more than 400 different designs annually by 1912, he specialized in postcards that depicted frogs dressed in formal attire.
Libby, a board member of the Old Northside Neighborhood Association, is among Nelson's studio guests as we explore vintage postcards across Indiana.
Other guests are two members of the Indianapolis Postcard Club:
According to the Smithsonian Institution, the postcard era began in the early 1870s with the debut of government-produced, pre-stamped postal cards. (During earlier eras, so-called "mailed cards" were sent by some people who wrote notes on them.)
In Libby's article, she notes that the popularity of postcards boomed to such an extent that, by 1912, the U.S. Postal Service was processing an average of 8 million postcards daily.
Shinn, who was born in 1887 and studied at what was then called the John Herron Art Institute, designed thousands of the postcards. Many of his designs, according to Libby's article, appeared in a series of four to 16 cards that were sold as sets. They included a "Tin Lizzy" series that featured Model T Ford. Shinn's small studio was at the corner of Ohio and Alabama streets.
Lavish buildings in Indiana that were promoted with postcards included the two world-famous resort hotels in southwestern Indiana, the French Lick Springs Hotel and the West Baden Springs Hotel. Some postcards even were devoted exclusively to promoting the mineral waters available at the hotels, including Pluto water sold at French Lick.
Our guest Chuck Hazelrigg owns postcards from the early 1900s of Indiana towns including Mexico, Milroy and Topeka.
"Typically," he says, "a postcard of a small town from that era is a photo of the town's main street, usually a dirt road, with a telephone pole and a general store. It might have a sign that says "Fresh Meat'."
Prisons, asylums and other institutions often used postcards as a way for superintendents and other staff members to communicate with families of patients and prisoners, Chuck says. His collection includes postcards of Central State and another mental health institution, Logansport State Hospital.
Referring to the mountains of postcards of small towns more than 100 years ago, Chuck notes, "Remember, not everyone had a telephone in 1902 or 1904. In fact, many people didn't. So mailing a postcard was a quick, efficient way of communicating then, even between people who lived in the same community."
A flurry of other history facts:
Roadtrip: Restored lakeside resort near Pokagon
Guest Roadtripper and volunteer naturalist Terri Gorney of Fort Wayne tells us to "turn right rather than left" when driving north from Fort Wayne on I-69 and take the Pokagon State Park exit. When you turn right, you reach the Trine State Recreation Area at 145 W. Feather Valley Road, Fremont.
Trine is separated from Pokagon by I-69 (turn left for Pokagon). Much of the land at Trine, in the Seven Sisters Lakes area, was a lakeside resort called Wing Haven, which was operated as a lakeside resort by from 1948 to the 1970s by Ben and Helen Swenson, "refugees" from Chicago who formerly had served as innkeepers at the Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon.
Trine was acquired by the Department of Natural Resources in 2007 and is open to the public. You can rent old cabins from the property's Wing Haven era, and fish, hike and rent canoes to explore the glacier-formed natural lakes in the area.
By the way, Terri also serves as unofficial social media director for Hoosier History Live for northwestern Indiana; she shares our Facebook posts all over the state!
During the yuletide season more than 60 years ago, postcards of an Indianapolis landmark were distributed that depicted a gigantic replica of Santa Claus. The replica, called "Santa Colossal," had been erected at the historic structure during the Christmas season of 1949. Towering more than 50 feet tall, Santa Colossal was made of Styrofoam and, thanks to a sound system, "sang" holiday greetings.
Even though "Santa Colossal" later was chopped up and used for insulation, he had been so popular at the landmark building - where he was seen by tens of thousands of people - that his image was distributed on postcards about the structure for several subsequent years during the Christmas holidays.
Question: What was the well-known building in Indianapolis that once housed "Santa Colossal" and spawned countless postcards with his image?
Hints: The structure, which was constructed in 1888, still stands. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The prize pack includes two tickets to the Hoosier Hops & Harvest Festival at Story Inn in Brown County on Sept. 12, courtesy of Story Inn, as well as two passes to the Indiana State Museum, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum.
Natural gas boom of 1880s and '90s
(Aug. 8, 2015 - encore presentation) - An entire region in east central Indiana became the setting in the 1880s and '90s for, as one of our guests puts it, "one of the great natural resource discoveries of American history." The natural gas boom in Indiana also is regarded as one of the most dramatic eras in the state's history.
Alas, the boom - which significantly affected cities such as Muncie, Kokomo, Anderson, Marion, Elwood, Gas City and Fairmont - did not last, even though many civic leaders, businesses and residents assumed the plentiful natural gas would never run out. For most industries, businesses and homeowners, the era was over by 1910 or much earlier.
In this encore broadcast of one of the most popular shows in our Hoosier History Live archives (its original air date was June 7, 1014), we explore what unfolded with the natural gas boom and bust.
Indiana became one of the country's top glass-producing states during the natural gas boom. Nelson is joined in studio by two guests:
According to our guest Jim Glass, Indiana's "gas belt" covered 2,500 square miles, making it the largest gas field in the country in the 1890s.
A range of industries requiring large quantities of fuel were attracted to east central Indiana as a result. They included glass (Muncie became the country's No. 2 glass-producing city after Pittsburgh, Jim writes), brick, wire and nail, iron and strawboard, an early type of cardboard.
So why did the natural gas boom end so quickly?
"No effort to conserve," Jim writes. "No one wanted to believe the gas would run out, despite plenty of scientific evidence."
History of women's voting rights
(Aug. 1, 2015) - With the 95th anniversary of women's voting rights, Hoosier History Live explores how the suffrage movement unfolded, both in Indiana and across the country.
The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - extending voting rights to women - was ratified in August 1920. Alas, some of the early suffrage leaders did not live long enough to cast a ballot in the November 1920 election, the first presidential race in which women could vote.
Nelson is joined in studio by two guests:
With Jill and Laura, we explore the formation of the Indiana Woman's Rights Association and the lives of pioneers such as Amanda Way (1828-1914), a native of Randolph County who became known as the "mother of women's suffrage" in Indiana.
A historic marker for Amanda Way was dedicated a few years ago in her hometown of Winchester. A teacher, minister and a battlefield nurse during the Civil War, she organized a pivotal convention in 1851 in Dublin, Ind.; it is considered a milestone in women's rights movement.
The upcoming SheVotes event will be at the Propylaeum, in Indianapolis at 1410 N. Delaware St. The Propylaeum was founded by May Wright Sewall, an Indianapolis-based suffragist who died in 1920, just before the 19th Amendment was ratified. (We explored her life during a radio show in March 2012.) Much of the SheVotes event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. For questions, e-mail SheVotescommittee@gmail.com; event details are at www.propindy.org.
The ratification of the 19th Amendment occurred after decades-long crusades, both in Indiana and nationally. To plan strategies, women often met secretly or under the guise of "playing cards" and other social activities.
The National Women's Party was formed in 1916 and was led by Alice Paul (1885-1977), an activist whose life we also explore. She helped draft an early version of the Equal Rights Amendment, which was first introduced in Congress in the 1920s. In 1977, Indiana became the 35th - and last - state to ratify the ERA. (To make the ERA a constitutional amendment, 38 states needed to ratify it.)
Our guest Laura Albright notes that women continue to be underrepresented in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress.
Women account for under 30 percent of state legislators across the country. According to statistics Laura has shared, Indiana ranks 34th among the 50 states, with women constituting 20.7 percent of the Indiana General Assembly.
About 22 percent of the U.S. Congress is female. Currently, two of Indiana's nine members of Congress are women.
Even before women achieved success nationally by winning the right to vote in 1920, some states opened up voting in statewide races. Laura says this "limited form of suffrage" primarily prevailed in Western states, including Wyoming. Those who objected to suffrage expressed several concerns, including predictions that women would be "monolithic," voting as a massive bloc, Laura says.
To celebrate the victory in 1920 over that kind of opposition, organizations involved in the upcoming SheVotes event include the Indiana and Indianapolis chapters of the League of Women Voters, the National Organization for Women and the American Association of University Women, along with the IU School of Law-Indianapolis. Suffragist re-enactors and a brass band playing music of the era also will be featured during the Aug. 26 event.
Roadtrip: Riding the rails in style
Can you imagine flying down the track as a young girl in the 1950s in wealthy industrialist Henry Flagler's 1898 private railcar, with its carved and inlaid mahogany interior?
Guest Roadtripper Margaret Smith, now a retired professor of biology from Butler University, recalls exciting trips as a child on the Flagler railcar, which became known as the "Duchess".
Margaret tells us that her enigmatic uncle, Ike Duffey, had purchased the railcar in 1951, using it to entertain family and friends. Her uncle had organized a professional basketball team, the Anderson Packers, and owned and ran a large meatpacking company. He was also the president of the Indiana Central Railroad.
"I have many memories of trips taken on this elegant, luxurious private car with family and other friends of my uncle," Margaret tells us. "I remember once Gov. Harold Handley was a guest on a trip. We were often invited to go on trips to South Bend to attend Notre Dame football game and Cincinnati for baseball games. Meals and drinks were served in the fancy wood-paneled dining room, and guests would visit in the comfortable living room late into the evening. I remember being particularly fascinated with the three bedrooms; so tiny but with every amenity."
Margaret tells us that she is pleased that the Flagler car has been preserved at the Indiana Transportation Museum in Noblesville. It is not generally open to the public, but private tours may be arranged. Margaret also tells us that she is very proud of the fact that both sides of her family have been in Indiana for more than 150 years.
The town of Winchester in far-eastern Indiana - in addition to being the hometown of 19th-century women's rights activist Amanda Way - is known for a food product. The world's largest maker of a type of food is located in Winchester.
The food is often associated with Hoosiers. The business that produces it in Winchester has been a family-owned operation for more than 65 years.
Question: What is the food product?
The prize pack includes a family 4-Pack to Conner Prairie, including four tickets for the 1859 Balloon Voyage, courtesy of Conner Prairie, as well two passes to ComedySportz and two passes to a tour of Lucas Oil Stadium (this does not include admission to an event; just the tour) courtesy of Visit Indy.
Want to meet Nelson in person?
(July 2015) - Our intrepid host Nelson Price will be doing a couple of upcoming appearances that are free and open to the public. He'll be doing his presentation about famous people from Indiana, both historic Hoosiers and contemporary notables whom he has interviewed, at two public libraries in Columbus and Greenfield.
His presentation is accompanied by an extensive display of photos and illustrations featured in Nelson's books, including Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman.
In addition to hosting Hoosier History Live, Nelson does give professional presentations and tours. For booking information, costs and availability, he may be contacted directly.
Jeanne White-Ginder, Ryan's mom
Since then, Jeanne White-Ginder has become an international advocate for AIDS education and prevention. A few months after Ryan died at age 18 in 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Ryan White Care Act; in 2009. President Obama signed an extension of the act in a ceremony at the White House with Jeanne at his side.
On July 24, 2015, she was named a Living Legend by the Indiana Historical Society; on the following day, she was Nelson's guest on our show. Nelson is the author of The Quiet Hero: A Life of Ryan White (Indiana Historical Society Press), a new biography of the teenager, a hemophiliac who contracted AIDS from a contaminated blood-clotting product.
"I could not be more proud to be his mother," says Jeanne, who moved to Leesburg, Fla., in the late 1990s with her husband, Roy Ginder.
Telling the "mom's story," Jeanne speaks overseas, around the country and across Indiana - including, most recently, in Scott County, which has been grappling with an epidemic of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Ryan White was barely past his 13th birthday when he was diagnosed with AIDS at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Despite pockets of intense community opposition, he crusaded to attend Western Middle School in Russiaville. As a newspaper reporter, Nelson covered various aspects of the story, including the White family's eventual move to Cicero, where Ryan is buried.
Celebrity supporters of the Whites included rock stars Elton John and Michael Jackson, as well as Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis, who joined Jeanne and Nelson for events in April in connection with the 25th anniversary of Ryan's death.
During our show, Jeanne discusses the impact, then and now, of Ryan's crusade on her family members. They include Ryan's younger sister, Andrea, who had been a state rolling-skating champion at age 12 in Kokomo; today, Andrea is a 6th-grade teacher in Florida.
Jeanne graduated from Kokomo High School in 1965; shortly afterward, she began work at Delco Electronics Corporation, which produced auto engines and electronics. At the factory, she met Wayne White, who became her first husband. The Whites were divorced by the time Ryan was diagnosed with AIDS during the Christmas season of 1984. (Wayne White died several years ago.)
When Ryan crusaded to attend school, the opposition took several forms, ranging from lawsuits and petitions to repeated, regular trash dumps on the White family's lawn. Some parents set up a private school so their children would not be in the same building with Ryan.
In 1987, the family moved to Cicero, where Ryan attended Hamilton Heights High School. By then, he had become a national celebrity with his appearances on talk shows and speeches to teacher conventions, groups of children and even a presidential commission (that included members of the Cabinet and of the U.S. Congress) on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.
Since her son's death, Jeanne has carried on his advocacy work, serving, for example, on the advisory board of the AIDS Institute. She frequently speaks at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, where the furniture from Ryan's bedroom is displayed in a permanent exhibit that honors three inspirational young people.
In addition to Ryan, the exhibit, titled "The Power of Children: Making a Difference", salutes Holocaust victim Anne Frank and Ruby Bridges, an African-American girl who helped integrate schools in the Deep South during the early 1960s.
Hoosiers named Living Legends - in addition to Jeanne - were Jack Everly, pops conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; Evansville-based philanthropists Dick and Rita Eykamp, and civic leaders Jerry and Rosie Semler of Indianapolis.
Roadtrip: Cats on patrol at the Boone County Courthouse
Guest Roadtripper and history enthusiast Bonnie Carter of Zionsville suggests we visit the town of Lebanon, about 25 miles northwest of Indianapolis.
At the heart of Lebanon's downtown stands the 1912 Beaux-Arts Boone County Courthouse. The columns at the north and south entrances to the courthouse stand 35 feet tall, and they're made entirely from local Indiana limestone.
When you walk inside; look up at the beautiful stained-glass rotunda. Chances are you will see either "Boone" or "Panda," the two cats who call the courthouse their home.
Courthouse Maintenance Director Mike Miller says it is the job of Boone and Panda to look out the window for pigeons and scare them off. The maintenance crew says it is working, not only for the courthouse and the dome, but also for all of downtown Lebanon as well.
"The mess was falling in front of the entrance door, and we were having to clean that up on a daily basis," said Miller. "We did not want that."
Hungry? Check out the Bijou Restaurant, just south of the Boone County Courthouse, which offers French dining in a beautifully restored late-1800s building. Just a stroll away is the specialty shop Mount's Flowers & Gifts.
And do take a look at the Theatre at the Milk Building, home of a local theater troupe whose site is the repurposed Condensed Milk Co. building.
During the historic 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis, legendary diver Greg Louganis won both gold medals in his sport and gave one of them to Ryan White.
The lavish opening ceremony for the Pan Am games featured 6,500 performers, including hundreds of Hoosier gymnasts, dancers, musicians, aerialists and athletes. Ryan's sister, Andrea, who had been a state-champion roller skater at age 12, was among the skaters who performed during the opening ceremony, a multi-sensory spectacle that was produced by Disney.
Question: What venue in Indianapolis was used for the opening ceremony for the 1987 Pan Am Games?
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to the Tin Roof, A Live Music Joint, courtesy of Visit Indy, and a family 4-pack to Conner Prairie, including the 1859 Balloon Voyage, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Two sensational murders in the 1920s
(July 18, 2015) - One murder case involved a bootlegger who killed his wife - and attempted to pin the crime on their chauffeur.
The other case involved a woman, called a "feminine Bluebeard" by journalists in the 1920s, who poisoned her husband. Make that two husbands. She probably poisoned one of her fathers-in-law as well.
The setting for the first case during the Roaring '20s was urban: East Chicago, which was a boom town in 1923. That's when handsome bootlegger Harry Diamond shot his wife, Nettie Herskovitz Diamond, who had been a wealthy widow when she married him.
The setting for the other crimes was much more rural: Hancock County. That's where Clara Carl poisoned her husband, Frank Carl, when the couple was living in the small Indiana town of Philadelphia. She probably also poisoned Frank's father, 85-year-old Alonzo Carl, as well as her first husband, Robert Gibson.
To explore the murders that drew national attention to Indiana during the early 1920s, Nelson is joined in studio by two guests who have researched the lurid crimes:
Both Jane and Brigette have been popular guests on previous Hoosier History Live shows.
Most recently, Jane was a guest on a show last November about Jennings County and the historic town of Vernon. As the co-author of the visual history book Brown County (Arcadia Publishing, 2010) Jane also was a guest on a show about the history of that scenic county.
Brigette also was the guest on a program about the real-life girl who inspired Riley's classic poem Little Orphant Annie.
That's a far cry from the "tabloid fodder" (to use a phrase in Jane’s book) that resulted from the murder cases we explore. When Nettie Diamond was shot and savagely beaten on Valentine's Day 1923 by her husband in their Hudson sedan, some newspapers described it as "the most famous murder case in the history of Lake County."
Despite her horrific wounds, Nettie lived long enough to identify Harry as her assailant. He eventually was held in Valparaiso on the day of a massive Ku Klux Klan march in front of the jail; Harry, who was of Russian Jewish heritage, feared for his safety. Nettie's heritage was Romanian, one of the dominant ethnic groups in East Chicago during the era.
With both of the murder cases that we explore, sensational trials followed the crimes. During the trial of Clara Carl, the Hancock County prosecutor referred to her as "rotten to the core."
She received a life sentence at the Indiana Women's Prison and was assigned to feed chickens in the prison yard. In 1925, she made a daring escape by scrambling onto the roof of the chicken house, then climbing over the prison wall.
Tune in to our show to hear Nelson's guests describe the eventual outcomes of both cases.
Roadtrip: Kokomo, the 'City of Firsts'
"Oh, you can still go to Highland Park southwest of downtown and see some of the most bizarre artifacts in Indiana; that would be Old Ben, the huge stuffed bull, and the gigantic sycamore tree stump," says Glory. "And Kokomo still has several wonderful museums and attractions; the Gilded Age Seiberling Mansion, home of the Howard County Historical Society, and the Elwood Haynes (inventor of the first car in America) Museum have always been favorites. But stroll around downtown and sample some of its delights. There are lots of fascinating shops. And walk through the jaw-dropping Art Deco courthouse (you can't miss it!)."
Kokomo was and is an industrial city. The Industrial Heritage Trail, which runs through downtown, lies on a former railway line. Not all industry is gone, though; check out Kokomo Opalescent Glass, the nation's oldest art glass company, at 1310 South Market. They have a gift shop full of stunning glassware, and you can arrange to take a tour, which is very cool. Although, Glory tells us, "not in terms of temperature!"
Prohibition prevailed during the 1920s, when the sensational murders in East Chicago and Hancock County occurred. During that era, speakeasies were thriving in an Indiana city that had a population of more than 60,000 people then.
This Indiana city had a German beer-making district that flourished before Prohibition. Even though the beer business was associated with the German heritage of the city, the town's name is derived from a French phrase.
After Prohibition, the beer-making industry in the city never fully recovered, although some nationally distributed beers continued to be brewed there for many years. The city's population declined after the 1920s but has climbed back to about 60,000 people today.
Question: What is the Indiana city with a French name and a German heritage of beer-making?
Hint: A university is located in its downtown.
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to Burgerhaus restaurant, right on the Central Canal in downtown Indy! and two admissions to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, all courtesy of Visit Indy.
Vinyl records and albums: play 'em again
Stop the music. A comeback is under way for singles and albums on vinyl - the way hit songs performed by entertainers from Frank Sinatra, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to the Jackson Five, Linda Ronstadt and John Mellencamp were introduced.
To explore the heyday, decline and recent re-rise of vinyl records and albums, Nelson is joined in-studio by three Hoosier guests. They include a record collector/seller who has an inventory of more than 250,000 albums and 80,000 singles. He is Larry Landis, who operates Legend Records inside the Main Street Shoppes in Westfield.
One of our other guests, Rick Wilkerson, reports that sales of vinyl records have been increasing by 50 percent annually in recent years. Rick, the owner of Irvington Vinyl, says vinyl records now account for 6 percent of total music sales, so it's still a relatively small portion.
So our guests also include John Scot Sheets, the owner of Affordable Hi Fi, who repairs and sells record players and turntables. John also is a musician and songwriter.
According to an article in Senior Life, a monthly newspaper serving the over-50 set in central Indiana, our guest Larry Landis' collection includes "bootleg albums, mint pressings, limited editions and albums that still contain all of the posters, stickers and freebies originally included."
Despite the continual technological advances, some folks still prefer to listen to albums and records the old-fashioned way; increasing numbers of young people, even teenagers, are joining the crowd. Nelson and his guests explore why.
His guests also share insights about which vintage albums and records are in demand. And which are not.
FYI: "LP" is an abbreviation for "long play." Music historians credit Columbia Records with introducing LP albums on vinyl in 1948. LP quickly became the standard format for vinyl albums; it typically allows at least 10 recordings on a single disc.
Some vinyl-records trivia connected to the Hoosier state:
Roadtrip: Works of African-American contractor and architect Samuel Plato
Guest Roadtripper Kisha Tandy of the Indiana State Museum suggests a Roadtrip to learn more about African-American contractor and architect Samuel Plato, who lived and built homes in and around Marion, Ind., from 1902 to 1921.
Born in 1882 in Alabama, Plato graduated from State University Normal School in Louisville in 1902 and then completed a mail-order program in architecture with International Correspondence Schools. Plato left a structural legacy of churches, homes and United States Post Offices not only in Marion but also in Louisville, Ky., where he moved after leaving Marion. He died in 1957.
On Saturday, July 25, you'll have an opportunity to explore the architectural works of Plato at a daylong tour in Marion hosted by Indiana Landmarks' African American Landmarks Committee. The program is based at the Plato-designed Wilson-Vaughan Hostess House. Tickets are $40 per person, $25 per member of Indiana Landmarks. Lunch is included. Register online at https://platoexperience.eventbrite.com or call Chris DellaRocco, (800) 450-4534 or (317) 822-7923.
In 1977, a singer who grew up in Wabash, Ind., and graduated from Wabash High School had a cross-over hit with a tune that topped both the pop and country charts. She won a Grammy Award for the song, which remains her biggest claim to fame.
She also has recorded music composed by Indiana native Hoagy Carmichael.
Question: Who is she?
Hint: She has an older sister who also is a famous singer - but who did not grow up in Indiana.
Colorful Indiana-born baseball players
(July 4, 2015) - A Hoosier from Michigan City pitched the only "perfect game" in a World Series. Another major league baseball player from Indiana, a superstar for the New York Yankees, wore a number on his uniform (23) that symbolized a family tragedy.
They are among the baseball figures we explore as Nelson is joined by Indianapolis-based sports historian Pete Cava, the author of an upcoming, definitive book titled Indiana-Born Major League Baseball Players: A Biographical Dictionary, 1871-2014 (McFarland Publishing).
So many native Hoosiers have excelled in the major leagues (10 natives of Indiana are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.) that we can't cover all of the stars in a single show. Instead, we focus on some of the most colorful anecdotes associated with pro baseball players during our program with Pete, who has had an extensive career writing about baseball and Olympic sports.
His new book, which will be published in the fall, includes an entry about Tommy John from Terre Haute, the former pitcher who underwent a pioneering type of elbow operation that ever since has been known by his name. "Tommy John surgery" has saved the careers of many pitchers, Pete notes.
The player whose uniform number symbolized a family tragedy was Evansville native Don Mattingly, who created a sensation with his stellar play as a Yankees first baseman during the 1980s.
Southern Indiana also was the home turf of a first baseman who Pete contends has been unfairly neglected by the Hall of Fame. Princeton native Gil Hodges (1924-1972) was a hard-hitting first baseman for the Brooklyn (and later Los Angeles) Dodgers. Then, Hodges managed the New York Mets to a shocking upset in the 1969 World Series. The team has gone down in history as the "Miracle Mets."
During the 1956 World Series, Michigan City native Don Larsen of the Yankees pitched a "perfect game" that, to this day, is the only one in the history of the World Series.
So who inspired the Peanuts trivia question? A shortstop named Ollie Bejma (1907-1995), a South Bend native who captivated spectators in the 1930s on a short-lived major league team from St. Paul, Minn. More than 35 years later, he was saluted in Peanuts by Schulz, a Minnesota native.
During our show, Pete also shares insights about an outfielder and manager in the early 1900s who committed suicide in French Lick. The unexpected death of Charles "Chick" Stahl, who killed himself in 1907, has been shrouded in mystery for more than a century. He grew up in Fort Wayne and played for - and managed - Boston-based teams.
Other major league baseball players that we explore include:
Roadtrip: Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary in Connersville
Guest Roadtripper Terri Gorney of Fort Wayne suggests a visit to the Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary. Owned and operated by the Indiana Audubon Society, the sanctuary is located in Connersville in Fayette County.
Alice Green Gray gave the initial 264-acre property to the Indiana Audubon Society in 1943 as a living memorial to her daughter Mary, who preceded her in death. Congressman Finley H. Gray willed additional property to the society in 1947, bringing the total to more than 600 acres.
Interestingly, the Grays offered the "Canal House," the headquarters of the Whitewater Canal that passed through Connersville, to the Indiana Audubon Society to sell in order to generate funds for the sanctuary.
Ongoing research at the sanctuary includes three decades of turtle studies, graduate-student research looking for relations between forest plant species and breeding birds, plant populations, Monitoring Avian Populations and Sustainability (MAPS) with bird banding, and hummingbird banding during migrations and breeding seasons. More than 107 ruby-throated hummingbirds have been banded this year at the Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary.
Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are active with projects at the sanctuary. Projects include bridge building, chimney swift towers for nesting, invasive plant eradication, erosion control and bluebird box installations.
The bird sanctuary is open 365 days a year during daylight hours. There is no set fee; a donation box is located next to the parking lot.
A long-retired Major League Baseball pitcher from Indiana is known for playing the harmonica. He has played Take Me Out to the Ballgame and other tunes at concerts and sporting events.
Born in 1926, he played in the Major Leagues from the late 1940s through the late 1950s. He pitched in five World Series, retired at age 32 and moved back to his hometown in Indiana. Last year, he was a guest on Hoosier History Live.
Question: Who is he?
(June 27, 2015) - With a flurry of new YMCAs opening recently or anticipated soon in the Indianapolis area, it's easy to forget that the Y's roots stretch back more than 160 years in the Hoosier capital.
Amid the attention focused on new or expected YMCAs in the CityWay area of downtown Indy, the Avondale Meadows neighborhood long described as "struggling," Pike Township and even an unusual Indy Bike Hub YMCA, Hoosier History Live explores the heritage of the Y in central Indiana and elsewhere in the state.
It's a story that begins in 1854 in the Hoosier capital, just 10 years after the first Y opened in England.
Wealthy entrepreneur Madam Walker became an important supporter of the Senate Avenue YMCA, which opened in 1912 as the first Y for African-Americans in Indianapolis. (The building, now long demolished, was dedicated by Booker T. Washington.)
Nelson is joined in studio by Eric Ellsworth, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, which includes YMCAs in Avon, Fishers and the former Fort Harrison.
Other guests include Dr. Stanley Warren, the author of The Senate Avenue YMCA for African-American Men and Boys (Donning Company Publishers) and a retired college and high school history teacher. (Last year, Dr. Warren was a Hoosier History Live guest for a show about Attucks High School; he was a student and, later, a teacher at the school.)
A potpourri of YMCA heritage facts:
In northern Indiana, Camp Tecumseh has become a beloved site, with a heritage of more than 90 years. Established in 1924 by the YMCA and northern Indiana residents, Camp Tecumseh is on the banks of the Tippecanoe River near the towns of Brookston and Delphi.
According to the camp's history, the name of Camp Tecumseh was suggested in the 1920s by an 11-year-old boy from the town of Battle Ground, Ind.; he wanted to honor the legendary Shawnee leader. Today, Camp Tecumseh is visited annually by more than 35,000 people for summer camps, field trips, meetings and retreats.
Some trivia about Camp Tecumseh: During the first summer, campers slept in tents. Subsequently, cabins were built during the mid-1920s; one of the original cabins remains as a historical monument. (In the early 1970s, summer campers included future movie and TV actor Greg Kinnear, a native of Logansport.)
In contrast to the rural setting of Camp Tecumseh, the Senate Avenue YMCA was in an urban part of downtown Indy. According to the book by our guest Dr. Warren, the idea for the Senate Avenue Y began in 1901 with a gathering of African Americans known as the Young Men's Prayer Band.
Although the Senate Avenue YMCA eventually was closed (as were its successor, the Fall Creek YMCA, and the massive Central YMCA, which had been a longtime landmark at West New York and North Illinois streets), several YMCAs have been opened since the 1990s or are planned for downtown Indy. They include a Y that opened in 1993 in the historic Athenaeum building.
In the Indy suburbs, the Fishers Y opened in 2002 as the first all-new YMCA facility in the metro area in more than 40 years.
The CityWay Y under construction is expected to be the largest Y in central Indiana, both in size and membership. In addition to the pools, basketball courts, running track and yoga studio, it will include a teaching kitchen, a cycling studio and a working garden on the roof.
Roadtrip: Seven Pillars and Miami Nation of Indiana
Guest Roadtripper Andrea Neal, a teacher and writer, suggests we visit the Seven Pillars southeast of Peru in Miami County along the Mississinewa River. Seven limestone pillars jut from the water, creating the appearance of a cliff with rounded buttresses and alcoves. In the Miami language, this place is called aašipehkwa waawaalici, meaning "caves in the cliff," and continues to be a site of importance for the Miami Nation of Indiana, which owns a 37-acre parcel of land on the other side of the river.
To the extent Indiana is still "land of the Indians," the Seven Pillars formation is its spiritual center.
Since 1897, however, the Miami have been fighting to gain back their political identity. An administrative decision by assistant attorney general Willis Van Devanter - since conceded by the federal government to have been based on erroneous application of the law - cost the Miami of Indiana their status as a federally recognized tribe. They've tried almost every legal avenue to to get it back.
"We're not giving up," declares Chief Brian Buchanan. "Our people are as upset now as they were 100 years ago."
In 1978, the Department of the Interior set up a new process for acknowledging Indian tribes. The Miami applied for recognition but were denied on grounds there was a gap in proof of the existence of a continuous tribal community with functioning political system since the 1940s. The Miami challenged the ruling in court without success. They've also asked Congress for legislation restoring their tribal rights but so far have not found enough members of the Indiana delegation to champion the cause.
Buchanan says members will continue to do what they can through the political system to win back their tribal recognition. Just as important are the cultural activities that distinguish them as Native Americans. One recent effort has been to revive the dormant Miami language. Also, their annual powwow near Rockville gives the public a chance to experience native customs and music. As Indiana celebrates its bicentennial, the Miami want Hoosiers to know they are alive and well and dedicated to preserving their culture into the future.
You can also follow Andrea Neal's "Indiana at 200" on social media at https://www.facebook.com/IndianaAt200 or at @IndianaAt200.
In 1894, the YMCA in Crawfordsville may have been the setting for a historic "first" in Indiana. That is, the first event of its kind in the state.
Recently, research by some historians has questioned the accuracy of this "first" claim in terms of Crawfordsville.
They contend the "first" may have happened at a YMCA in Indianapolis or Evansville. But for generations of Hoosiers, the Y in Crawfordsville has been associated with the historic "first" for Indiana that happened in 1894.
Question: What was it?
The prize pack includes a family 4-Pack to Conner Prairie, including four tickets for the 1859 Balloon Voyage, courtesy of Conner Prairie, as well as coupon for Bee Coffee Roasters, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Insects and Indiana
(June 20, 2015) - With summer in full swing, Hoosier History Live will cover the waterfront regarding our insect heritage in a show certain to create plenty of buzz.
Topics for this show range from which insects were here - and which ones were not - when pioneers arrived in the 1800s to advice related to the increasing popularity of beekeeping in urban and suburban neighborhoods.
We also explore the invasive beetle that has been decimating ash trees across the state.
He is Tom Turpin, a professor of entomology and a popular, witty public speaker. In his talks, Dr. Turpin shares tips about:
His Bug Bowl, which Dr. Turpin began as a creative activity for his students in 1990, has drawn international media coverage and has expanded to include the general public in the West Lafayette area and far beyond.
Events include cockroach racing and cricket spitting contests. (The cockroaches compete on a ramped track with Plexiglas. Their racetrack is known as Roach Hill Downs.) The Bug Bowl also features exhibits of honey bees, food cooked with insects and an insect petting zoo.
On a more serious note, Dr. Turpin shares insights during our show about the emerald ash borer, a beetle that has been killing ash trees across Indiana and elsewhere.
Recent news reports have described extensive damage to ash trees in Logansport and surrounding areas of Cass County. But ash trees in all areas of the state have been affected by the beetle, which is not native to Indiana.
"Unfortunately, a lot of the 'pest insects' are ones that have been introduced over the decades," Dr. Turpin reports.
During our show, Dr. Turpin also discusses the opposite situation: insects that may be vanishing from Indiana.
He recently explored that issue in a column, titled "On Six Legs," that he writes for the Purdue Extension. His recent column focused on questions from Hoosiers who have been wondering why they no longer see large, colorful moths - commonly known as giant silkworm moths - that they recall from childhood. Unlike many moths, giant silkworm moths are brightly colored and have "conspicuous eye spots," Dr. Turpin notes.
During our show, he shares insights about whether the distinctive moths are indeed less populous in Indiana. He also discusses which spiders found in Indiana are dangerous and which are harmless.
In addition, Dr. Turpin assesses the early studies of moths in Indiana by naturalist Gene Stratton-Porter, the author of best-selling books including The Girl of the Limberlost (1909). Her collections of moths are displayed at her Limberlost Cabin, an Indiana State Historic Site in northeastern Indiana.
Dr. Turpin, a native of Kansas, has lived in Indiana since the early 1970s.
Teaser alert: He says most insects with stinging capabilities are not deliberately aggressive with people. Tune in to find out how to avoid angering them.
A famous Hoosier was trained as a zoologist and started his career by studying wasps. Some of his research focused on their mating habits.
Later, he became a household name for a different kind of research, some of it quite controversial. He died in 1956.
Question: Who was he?
Roadtrip:Pine Hills Nature Preserve
Pine Hills is part of Shades State Park, but it has some special Indiana history to it. Eric recommends going early in the morning to take in the scenery, with the birds, creeks and cliffs.
"The cliffs are spectacular, and the trails take you over each one," Eric tells us. "The most famous is The Devil's Backbone. This is a rock formation about six feet wide, but on either side is a sheer dropoff of more than 100 feet. At the top, you'll find graffiti from as far back as the 1840s."
Eric continues: "After hiking around for a long day, you'll probably be hungry. If you're in the mood for some home-town cooking, try going to the Cozy Corner in Waveland, which is a great little place. Waveland is also the boyhood home of artist T.C. Steele."
If you're more in the mood for a State Park experience, Shades doesn't have an Inn, but nearby Turkey Run does, and the food there, says Eric, is excellent.
Flag of Indy, anthem, 'Indiana' movie and other symbolism
You won't confuse it with the official state of Indiana flag, which has a torch and a burst of 19 stars symbolizing the Hoosier state as the 19th to enter the Union. Gold and dark blue are the predominant colors on the state flag, which is well known.
The obscure flag representing the Hoosier capital has a white cross and a lighter shade of blue, with a white star in the middle of a red circle. To explore the city and state flags as well as other symbols, Nelson is joined on this show by a beloved historian who occasionally wears a lapel pin depicting the Indy flag. On this encore broadcast of one of the most popular shows in our Hoosier History Live archives (its original air date was June 21, 2014), our guest is George Geib, who retired in 2014 after a long career as a distinguished professor of history at Butler University.
During our show, Professor Geib and Nelson explore products created to tout the Hoosier state and its capital city, in addition to the seldom-seen city flag. If you want to catch the flag of Indianapolis in action - flapping in the summer breeze - visit the City-County Building. Along with the American flag, the city flag flies on a pole in the courtyard on the south side of the 28-story office tower.
Professor Geib and Nelson also share details about a silent movie, titled Indiana, produced in 1916 in connection with the celebration of the Centennial of Indiana's statehood.
The state flag also was an outgrowth of the Centennial. As part of the celebrations in 1916, the General Assembly called for the adoption of a state flag. The Daughters of the American Revolution sponsored a contest to select the winner. Mooresville artist Paul Hadley created the winning design.
The flag for the city of Indy, on the other hand, was created in 1962 by Roger Gohl, then an 18-year-old freshman at the Herron School of Art.
In addition to discussing the flags during our show, Professor Geib shares insights about a song that some sources used to claim was an official anthem of Indianapolis.
As for Indiana, the silent movie made in 1916: It featured footage of Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley surrounded by children on the lawn of the Lockerbie residence now known as the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home. Riley, who was in declining health during the filming, died later in 1916.
This and that
Meet host Nelson Price on June 16
(June 2015) - Our host, Nelson Price, will kick off the Indiana Historical Society summer author series with a presentation at noon on Tuesday, June 16, about his newest book, The Quiet Hero: A Life of Ryan White. The talk is free and open to the public. The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center is at 450 W. Ohio Street in Indianapolis and has its own parking lot just north of the building.
People are encouraged to bring their own lunches - or to purchase food from the Stardust Terrace Cafe - for the presentation. No RSVP is needed. And if you have another of Nelson's books, feel free to bring it for him to sign.
Hoosier History Live wishes to thank our new Tweeter, Robin Knop! Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Our intrepid producer Molly has (sort of) figured out Facebook, but she says learning one social media platform per decade is quite enough!
(June 6, 2015) - Quilts have been part of the fabric of Hoosier heritage since the state's beginnings nearly 200 years ago.
So it's high time Hoosier History Live explored all aspects of quilting, from the influences of pioneers, Amish and Mennonite groups to myths about the Underground Railroad and quilts; appraising and storing quilts, and the modern and art quilt movements.
During our show, we also explore revivals of the quilting that unfolded during the 1920s - a Hoosier entrepreneur became known as the top national expert of quilting then - as well as a revival under way in connection with Indiana's upcoming Bicentennial in 2016. At the Indiana State Museum, a special exhibit, 19 Stars: Quilts of Indiana's Present and Past, opens June 13. It features a collection of contemporary and historic quilts, including some that date to the late 1830s or early 1840s.
Nelson is joined in studio by Mary Jane Teeters-Eichacker, curator of social history at the state museum, where she oversees a collection of more than 700 quilts. They include an internationally known collection of Amish quilts from Indiana called the David Pottinger Collection.
Other guests on our show include Elizabeth Bollinger Braun, a professional quilt appraiser and quilt collector. Although Elizabeth lives in Indianapolis, she grew up on a farm in northern Indiana near Amish communities. She attributes her interest in quilts to her German, Pennsylvania Dutch and Mennonite family heritage.
In addition to Mary Jane and Elizabeth, Nelson is joined by Judy Pleiss of Indianapolis, who has created one of the quilts that will be exhibited at the state museum. Judy describes herself as "hooked" on quilting since the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976; she has taken classes from renowned quilters and has studied fabric-art techniques.
As many quilting enthusiasts across the country know, the Quilters Hall of Fame can be found in Indiana. It's in Marion - specifically, in the restored home of 1920s quilting entrepreneur Marie Webster, who drew widespread acclaim for her innovative designs. The author of the first book about American quilting history, Marie Webster (1859-1956) ran a mail-order quilting business from her home, which is a National Historic Landmark. She is credited with inspiring a national revival in quilting during the 1920s.
Today, many Hoosier quilt artists have been inspired by the upcoming Indiana Bicentennial to create quilts with themes featuring 19 stars. That's because Indiana became the 19th state in 1816.
According to our guest Mary Jane Teeters-Eichacker, the inclusion of stars in patterns also was a favorite of quilters during the 1800s and 1900s.
Contemporary quilters represented in the state museum's upcoming exhibit live in such Indiana cities as Crawfordsville, Anderson, Noblesville, Gas City, Newburgh and Indianapolis.
At the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Ky., our guest Elizabeth Braun has studied quilt dating and appraisal; we explore both topics during our show. Elizabeth, a clinical nurse specialist and a legal nurse consultant, was taught to sew by her mother, a professional tailor. She has won several state and local awards for needle crafts.
Our guest Judy Pleiss, who formerly worked at a quilt shop in Carmel, reports that she keeps informed about developments in quilting via the Internet. Over the years, she has developed her own style and techniques.
"I continue to love traditional quilts, but am not really interested in making them in the traditional way," she says. "I love bright and exuberant color, am inspired by the beauty of the natural world, and find improvisational work exhilarating."
Amish residents account for about 12 percent of the population of a county in northern Indiana.
The county has such a deep Swiss heritage that some of its best-known towns were named in honor of cities in Switzerland. The population of Amish in the county - which is not LaGrange or Elkhart counties - is growing because of the large size of Amish families, which have an average of seven children.
In recent years, a glockenspiel (clock tower) has been built in the county, modeled after Swiss clock towers.
Question: What is the county in northern Indiana?
Hint: The northern Indiana county also has an Indiana State Historic Site. It's the historic home of a famous author, naturalist and photographer who died in 1924.
The prize pack includes a family 4-Pack to Conner Prairie, including four tickets for the 1859 Balloon Voyage, courtesy of Conner Prairie, as well as two discounted tickets to Segway of Indiana White River State park tours, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Guest Roadtripper William Selm suggests a quick trip east of Indianapolis on the Old National Road to the town of Knightstown, which is perhaps most famous its Hoosier Gym, which served as the home court for the Hickory Huskers in the movie 1986 movie "Hoosiers".
Roadside motels: bygone Americana
Many bit the dust long ago, but Hoosier History Live explores their heyday - as well as their decline - just as many folks hit the road for vacations. During our show, we even explore still-familiar chains such as Holiday Inn. But our focus is on the bygone style and architecture familiar to motorists from the 1940s through the '70s, rather than the type operated by the international conglomerate today.
Jeff, a graduate of Purdue's hospitality and tourism management program, worked for 10 years managing various hotels in the Indy area; today, he is the operations manager for the International Center.
Jeff and Nelson are joined by Joan Hostetler, founding director of the Indiana Album, who also collaborated with Nelson on the visual history book Indianapolis Then and Now and related projects; aspects of our heritage that Joan has extensively researched include roadside architecture.
Certainly the design of many roadside motels and hotels was distinctive, such as the orange and blue appearance associated with Howard Johnson Motor Lodge chain. According to our guest Jeff Kamm, the first Howard Johnson Motor Lodge opened in 1954 in Savannah, Ga.
About 30 years before that, towns during the 1920s began establishing free "auto camps" as Americans took to the roads with the boom in car ownership, Jeff notes.
Prior to - and sometimes simultaneously with - the evolution of the roadside motel came lodging spots that consisted of cabins for overnight guests clustered around a check-in office. They were known as tourist cabins or cabin courts.
According to Jeff's research, by 1956 about 500 roadside motels were scattered across Indiana. Along U.S. 40 across Indiana that year, there were 120 of the motels.
The first Holiday Inn in the Indy area opened in 1960 "across from the main gate of the area's biggest attraction, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," Jeff writes in his historicindianapolis.com article. The Holiday Inn in Speedway featured the neon green sign that became such a common sight across Indiana and the rest of the country.
His article notes that the oversized neon signs and some other once-standard features of Holiday Inns have vanished as the chain evolved.
"Drivers may recently have noticed a pile of rubble on U.S. 31 immediately south of the I-465 interchange," Jeff writes. "This is the last reminder of the Holiday Inn in the Circle City in its traditional incarnation."
In recent years, many former roadside motels across Indiana - particularly those that were locally owned - have been converted into apartments or lodging spots with extended-stay occupancies.
Remnants of a few auto camps or tourist cabins remain across Indiana, including in Hendricks County, according to our guest Jeff Kamm, who grew up in Plainfield.
Early auto camps sprang up along the Lincoln Highway in northern Indiana during the 1920s near cities such as Elkhart and Columbia City.
Along the National Road (U.S. 40), the cabins could be found near cities such as Richmond and Cambridge City.
According to Jeff, developers began building connected cabins (thereby saving on materials), which kicked off the era of the motel as the most popular roadside lodging spot. In 1946, Best Western created a "membership association" of motels.
After the opening in Indianapolis of the first Holiday Inn on West 16th Street near the speedway, the chain quickly built several other motels in the Hoosier capital. By 1967, Jeff reports, there were seven Holiday Inns in Indy, including one on Pendleton Pike and another near the site then of the city's airport.
Some of these original Holiday Inn buildings became a Motel 6 or a Classic Motor Inn before being razed. The former Holiday Inn site near the old airport, Jeff reports, "now operates as the more upscale Crowne Plaza."
It was not a roadside motel. Instead, it was a historic hotel with a heritage in Rushville that dated to the 1800s. For several generations in the 1900s, it become one of the best-known lodging spots in Indiana. In 1940, the hotel even served as the headquarters for Indiana native Wendell Willkie's presidential campaign against Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Owned beginning in the 1920s by generations of a family in Rushville, the hotel - which took on the family's name - became a popular overnight spot for motorists traveling between Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Sugar cream pie served in the hotel's dining room had scores of enthusiasts across the state. For many decades, the hotel also served as a major social venue for events in Rush County and surrounding counties.
Although the hotel in Rushville eventually was converted into apartments, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Question: Name the former hotel.
Roadtrip: Concerts on the Canal in downtown Indy
Guest Roadtripper Katie Keesling of the Indiana Historical Society tells us that Thursday nights are heating up in downtown Indianapolis for another exciting summer of Concerts on the Canal, presented by MainSource. The 2015 lineup on the Kruse Family Stardust Terrace includes Endless Summer Band, Gregg Bacon and Living Proof.
All shows are from 6 to 8 p.m., with the Fourth of July Celebration from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Free and reserved seating is available. The Indiana Historical Society will be setting up cornhole bag-toss games across the canal for the grass sitters!
And, thanks to Citizens Energy Group, the History Center is free all day Thursdays until 8 p.m. during concert season.
Ernie Pyle and John Bartlow Martin, journalists
(May 23, 2015) - One of the most acclaimed war correspondents of the 20th century was killed 70 years ago. Another journalist became the dominant writer for the popular "big slick" magazines of the 1940s and '50s.
During our show about the lives and careers of these two iconic journalists, Hoosier History Live focuses on what they wrote about their home state. Particularly in the case of Martin (1915-87), it wasn't always flattering.
Nelson is joined in studio by two authors of books about the journalists:
After his career as a magazine writer, Martin became a speechwriter and close adviser to Democratic politicians, including Bobby Kennedy.
Pyle, a Pulitzer Prize winner, rotated among the various branches of the military during WWII, shivered in foxholes and joined U.S. troops fighting in North Africa, Europe and the Pacific. He had attended IU, where he was editor of the campus newspaper, but he dropped out before graduating to work at a newspaper in LaPorte.
Martin, who endured what he described as an unhappy childhood, attended DePauw University and was expelled after wild behavior. Eventually, he returned to earn his diploma and went on to be a star writer for the Saturday Evening Post, Life, Harper's, Look and other magazines.
Martin's books included Indiana: An Interpretation (1947), which, according to Ray's biography, some conservative bookstores in the Hoosier state refused to sell.
Pyle, on the other hand, almost always enjoyed huge, popular success with his writing. His columns were appearing in 400 daily newspapers and 300 weeklies when he was killed. He was portrayed by Burgess Meredith in the movie The Story of G.I. Joe (1945).
The only child of sharecroppers, Pyle was born near Dana, where the Ernie Pyle World War II Museum celebrates his achievements. During our show, Owen Johnson shares insights about Pyle's days at IU, where he was a manager of the football team and crusaded to get smoking permitted on campus.
Owen also discusses Pyle's attendance at the Indianapolis 500 and his various return visits to his home state after he became famous. Before World War II, Pyle was a roving, human-interest columnist for the Scripps-Howard newspaper syndicate. Often filing stories as "The Hoosier Vagabond," he reported everywhere from Chesapeake Bay in Maryland to Good News Bay in Alaska.
As for John Bartlow Martin: He grew up in a hard-scrabble neighborhood on the near eastside of Indianapolis and graduated from Tech High School. For much of his magazine-writing career, he was based out of the Chicago area. Martin gained national attention for his expose about a coal mining explosion and often wrote about historic murders. He also wrote an investigative series about the Teamsters and the labor union's powerful leader, Jimmy Hoffa, a native of Brazil. Ind.
Martin is credited with helping coin the phrase "vast wasteland" in the early 1960s to describe TV. In addition to helping Bobby Kennedy, Martin wrote speeches for public figures such as Newton Minow (who used the "wasteland" phrase in a famous speech) and Adlai Stevenson.
Another Indiana-born journalist became famous during more than 50 years that she was based in Paris.
The journalist, who was born into a prominent Indianapolis family in 1892, wrote columns, profiles and vignettes that were published in The New Yorker magazine and often packaged as "Letters From Paris."
Her profile subjects included Pablo Picasso and Charles de Gaulle; during the 1930s, she also wrote dispatches about Hitler's rise to power. Her friends included Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker.
The journalist, who seldom returned to Indianapolis, died in 1978. Her colorful life and career were the focus of a Hoosier History Live show in 2009.
Question: Who was she?
Roadtrip: Middlebury in northern Indiana
"If you want to experience genuine Midwestern Americana," Jane tells us, "this is it."
Quilt gardens throughout Amish County can be seen by taking the 90-mile Heritage Trail Driving Tour that winds through all of Amish County in northern Indiana. The tour includes a free audio driving tour that can be downloaded to your cell phone.
Another well-known attraction in Middlebury is the Krider "World's Fair" Garden, on Bristol Street by the Greenway Park. It is a community park, open every day from sunup to sundown. The town long was home to a thriving mail-order business, Krider Nurseries, which brought home much of an elaborate display at Chicago's 1933 Century of Progress exhibition - including the giant mushroom in the park.
What's in our State Archives?
The Indiana State Archives are the trove for all of that, as well as much more.
But most of the priceless documents, records and photos are not in climate-controlled areas. They are in a warehouse so antiquated the Indiana General Assembly has approved construction of a new state archives building. According to a recent story in the Indianapolis Business Journal, possible sites in downtown Indianapolis include one on the Central Canal near the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center.
To explore all of this, Nelson is joined in studio by:
Since 2001, the state archives have been kept in a warehouse at 6440 E. 30th St. in Indianapolis.
In addition to the state constitutions, Dillinger prison records and DOC mug shots, the archives have extensive records documenting the Civil War.
Our guest Steve Towne, the author of several books and articles about the Civil War, says the surviving records from the administration of Gov. Oliver P. Morton (the state's governor during the 1860s) "are probably better and fuller than those for any other Northern state governor." Steve's newest book, Surveillance and Spies in the Civil War (Ohio University Press, 2015), is about U.S. Army espionage operations in the Midwest to detect anti-government conspiracies.
The state archives also house registries for "negroes and mulattos" from the 1850s; the 1851 state constitution required such registries.
In addition to documents and photos, digital archives are maintained by the state archives.
During our show, we explore the range - and condition - of the various historic records, as well as the pros and cons of possible sites for the archives building. The warehouse on the eastside was intended as a temporary repository when the archives were moved there nearly 15 years ago.
The first state constitution in 1816 was prepared in Corydon, Indiana's first capital, by delegates who often met under elm trees. It decreed Indiana would not be a slave state.
During the 1840s, a major financial crisis in the Hoosier state - blamed in part on spending to build canals - prompted calls for another constitutional convention. The 1851 constitution prohibited overspending.
In addition to housing the constitutions, the state archives include Indiana Supreme Court decisions and the Indiana prison and reformatory records of Dillinger (1903-1934), who became known as "Public Enemy No. 1" during the Great Depression. Dillinger was born in Indianapolis, but his family moved to a farm near Mooresville when he was a teenager. He spent much of his young adulthood at the Indiana State Reformatory in Pendleton and the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City.
John Dillinger, whose prison and reformatory records are housed at the Indiana State Archives, robbed banks in five states during the 1930s. His largest haul came from a robbery in October 1933 of a bank in an Indiana town. With three gang members, Dillinger, who had recently escaped from a jail in Lima, Ohio, robbed the bank of about $75,000. The bank building was on the courthouse square of the Indiana town.
Question: What is the town?
Roadtrip: Hesston Steam Museum in La Porte
Our Guest Roadtripper is Ted Rita, general manager of the Hesston Steam Museum in La Porte in northwestern Indiana. This is the place for you if you love steam engines! You can ride the museum's one-quarter scale and one-eighth scale steam railroads that meander over bridges and through an enchanting wooded landscape. You can even enjoy a special treat at Doc's Soda Fountain.
The Hesston Steam Museum is filled with all kinds of steam power machinery, including a steam-powered saw mill, a railroad steam crane, and a steam-powered electric power plant. The museum opens Memorial Day weekend on Saturday, May 23, with fun for the entire family.
Back in a week!
Probable pre-emption May 9
(May 7, 2015) - The University of Indianapolis softball team has qualified for the NCAA tournament, which involves rounds of playoff games on Saturday (May 9). WICR-FM will be broadcasting the Greyhounds action live, so we expect Hoosier History Live to be pre-empted.
Please rejoin us May 16, when we expect to return with a fresh, live show.
Abe Martin's creator, Kin Hubbard
(May 2, 2015) - "You can take a voter to th' polls, but you can't make him think."
"When a feller says, 'it hain't the money, but th' principle o' th' thing,' it's the money."
"Now an' then, an innocent man is sent to th' legislature."
Do these quips sound as relevant today as they did a century ago? If so, that's testament to the talents of one of Indiana's best-known cartoonists - and the enduring appeal of his nationally syndicated character.
Abe Martin, the cracker-barrel philosopher who "lived" in Brown County, appeared in more than 300 newspapers across the country in the early 1900s. Will Rogers praised his creator, Indianapolis-based cartoonist Frank McKinney "Kin" Hubbard, as "America's greatest humorist" when he died.
To explore the life and career of Kin Hubbard (1868-1930) - and the impact of his folksy Abe Martin character - Nelson will be joined in studio by Steve Barnett, executive director of the Irvington Historical Society.
For most of the peak years of his career, Hubbard lived in the Irvington neighborhood on the eastside of Indy. A memorial to the cartoonist is at the corner of East New York Street and Emerson Avenue; at the memorial's dedication, Steve met Hubbard's son.
Hubbard placed his pipe-smoking, suspender-wearing Abe Martin character in Brown County in part because, during the early 1900s, the hilly, isolated county had one of the state's highest poverty and illiteracy rates. So the notion that a rustic Brown County resident could be a font of wisdom was considered humorous.
Abe Martin made his first appearance in 1904 in The Indianapolis News, Hubbard's "home" newspaper. Hubbard was born in Bellefontaine, Ohio, and dropped out of school there before the seventh grade.
More than 25 books of Abe Martin's witticisms eventually were published.
Hubbard's fans ranged from peers like Will Rogers to contemporary-era notables such as our guest Steve Barnett's former boss, the late Andy Jacobs. The longtime congressman from Indianapolis, who died in 2013, had an extensive collection of Abe Martin books and memorabilia.
A further sampling of Abe Martin quips:
"It's no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be."
"We'd all like to vote fer th' best man, but he's never a candidate."
"T' err is human, but t' admit it haint."
Quips like those became so popular across the country that Kin Hubbard and his wife, Josephine, moved into a posh North Meridian Street mansion for the final year of his life - an ironic abode for the creator of a bumpkin character. In 1930, Hubbard died suddenly of a heart attack at the peak of his success at age 62.
Another irony: Hubbard had seen Brown County only once - during a brief train ride - in the first few years of the Abe Martin cartoon.
"He was in no rush to go again, for he had learned the natives thought he was making fun of them and did not always approve of the kind of characters he created," according to The Life and Times of Kin Hubbard by Fred C. Kelly (Farrar, Straus and Young, 1951). "A visit, he feared, might be embarrassing, even dangerous."
Fortunately, Brown County residents welcomed the cartoonist during his periodic road trips. Sadly, though, the Hubbards endured a tragedy during a car ride elsewhere in Indiana with their infant son, Kin Jr., in 1919. Their car broke down, slid down an embankment and plunged into a creek. The baby was pinned beneath the car and drowned.
Although the cartoonist was said to be affected forever by the tragedy, the output of his humor continued at a steady pace. By the time of his death, Hubbard had written more than 8,000 Abe Martin quips.
A well-known quip - "What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar" - typically is attributed to a famous Hoosier political figure of the early 1900s. Many historians, though, believe the quip may have originated with Kin Hubbard's folksy Abe Martin character.
The politician usually credited with the remark about five-cent cigars was known for his wit. He served as governor of Indiana before being elected to a national office. He died in 1925.
Question: Who was he?
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 in to the show until Nelson has posed the question on the air.
Roadtrip: Glory's road to Hope
"The town square is charming, and only a few steps away is the Yellow Trail Museum , open weekends only," Glory tells us. "There are also several unusual shops on the square. Hungry? Try the Corner Café on the southwest corner of the square, one of those iconic small-town cafes with attached walkup ice cream stand. Or perhaps your tastes might run to Auntie Amiee's Country Tea Room on the north side of the square, open for lunch six days a week."
Preservationists will love the historic commercial buildings and residences; Hope was founded in 1830 by Moravians, and some pre-Civil War structures still survive. An 1837 cabin was moved from two miles east of town to a lot across SR9 from the Corner Cafe. Art and artisan enthusiasts will enjoy the Haw Creek Heritage Center, a branch of the Bartholomew County Historical Society. It's southeast of downtown at 111 Aiken Street, next to the fire station.
Book-launch events draw plenty of interest
(April 2015) - With the launch of The Quiet Hero, A Life of Ryan White, author Nelson Price, the host of Hoosier History Live, is making a string of public appearances to promote the book.
The big book-launch event on April 1 at the Indiana Historical Society was a great success, with a full house of history fans there to buy books and get them signed by Nelson, along with Jeanne White-Ginder and Olympic diver Greg Louganis, who drew inspiration from Ryan White.
Hoosier History Live salutes our host for his continuing success as an author!
In the news:
Buy the book:
HIV history in Indiana
(April 25, 2015) - The current HIV outbreak in Scott County, which is drawing national attention to the county in southeastern Indiana, provides our show an opportunity to set in historic context the virus that causes AIDS.
So Hoosier History Live explores the history, from the beginnings of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, including early efforts to educate people about the virus. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, more than 10,000 Hoosiers are living with HIV/AIDS today.
Nelson is joined in studio by three expert guests who have been involved in different aspects of HIV awareness, advocacy for victims and education, some of them since the early era of AIDS deaths. His guests are:
Paula began her career in HIV prevention following the death of her brother in 1994. Tonja's organization, which is nearly 80 years old, began as the Anti-Syphilis League of Indiana in 1937.
Awareness of AIDS began, both nationally and across Indiana, during the early 1980s with the deaths of victims, including gay people and hemophiliacs, who were infected as a result of tainted blood transfusions or products used to treat their blood-clotting disorder.
In Scott County, where the outbreak has resulted in front-page coverage by The New York Times, the epidemic has been attributed to needle sharing among intravenous drug users. Calling the situation "a public health emergency," Gov. Mike Pence has authorized a short-term needle exchange program in the mostly rural, economically struggling county.
Back in 1981, florist Coby Palmer and others organized the first fund-raising event for HIV/AIDS in Indianapolis during an era when many funeral homes refused to handle AIDS patients. Indy Pride Bag Ladies, an organization that evolved from that event, is considered to be among the country's oldest AIDS fund-raising organizations.
Some of those organizers continue to be involved with Step Up; "step" is an acronym for Services/Training/Education/Prevention. Our guest Paula French, Step Up's co-executive director, has been named an outstanding HIV/AIDS educator by the American Red Cross.
The Damien Center, named in honor of a Catholic priest who delivered compassionate care to people with leprosy, was established in 1987.
Both nationally and in Indiana, 1995 was the peak year for AIDS-related deaths. More than 50,800 people died across the country that year.
In the years since then, AIDS in this country has gone from being an inevitably fatal disorder to a chronic one that can be controlled with treatment plans that include a variety of medications. Even so, experts say the Scott County epidemic emphasizes why vigilance about HIV/AIDS remains crucial.
Ryan White, the Kokomo teenager with AIDS who crusaded to attend school during the 1980s, had a prized possession given to him by Michael Jackson.
The gift from the pop superstar even served as a makeshift memorial for Ryan when he died in April 1990. It was placed on the front lawn of the White family's home in Cicero, where they had moved; notes, flowers and balloons were left by well-wishers next to the gift from Michael Jackson.
Question: What was the gift that Ryan White treasured?
Roadtrip: Ruth at Indy Eleven Theatre
Guest Roadtripper and writer Rita Kohn will be calling in about her new play Ruth, starring Miki Mathioudakis, which opens on Thursday, April 30, at 8 p.m. at IndyFringe's new Indy Eleven Theatre in downtown Indy at the corner of Massachusetts and College avenues.
Ruth takes place around 968 BCE, when famine was part of life and homeless widows had to find their way to safety with determination, ingenuity and faith.
You will be able to travel treacherous paths from Beth-lehem in Judea, to Moab, and back to Beth-lehem. Judge for yourself the timelessness of the struggles and triumphs of Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi.
Tickets are available online. Here's an opportunity to see original work by two hometown favorites: playwright Rita Kohn and actress Miki Mathioudakis!
Ask Nelson - and gardener Jo Ellen, too
(April 18, 2015) - To celebrate spring, Hoosier History Live opens the phone lines throughout this show for listeners to call in and ask our host, author/historian Nelson Price, questions about our Hoosier heritage.
As a spring bonus, Nelson is joined by our favorite gardening guru. Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, an author who writes the popular Hoosier Gardener column featured in The Indianapolis Star, co-hosts the show with Nelson.
That means listeners were invited to pose any questions under the sun about flowers, plants and other gardening issues to Jo Ellen, who is secretary of the Garden Writers Association and co-author of The Indiana Gardener's Guide.
In between fielding calls from our listeners, Nelson and Jo Ellen interview each other.
During the show, Jo Ellen shares tips about spring clean-up in gardens, as well as planting tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other warm-season crops before Mother's Day. She also discusses cool-season annuals (including snapdragons and wallflowers) that can be planted now.
Jo Ellen asks Nelson about his brand-new book, The Quiet Hero: A Life of Ryan White (Indiana Historical Society Press). It's a biography of the Kokomo teenager, a hemophiliac who was infected with the virus that causes AIDS during the 1980s. Ryan became the focus of national attention because of his crusade to attend Western Middle School in nearby Russiaville.
As a newspaper reporter, Nelson covered Ryan's crusade; he was among the media horde on the lawn of the White family's home in Cicero (where they eventually had moved) on April 8, 1990, the day Ryan died. This month's publication of The Quiet Hero coincides with the 25th anniversary of Ryan's death.
Ryan and his mother, Jeanne White-Ginder, also are among the contemporary and historic notables profiled in another book by Nelson, Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (Hawthorne Publishing).
So our listeners call in with questions about famous Hoosiers ranging from Letterman (who will retire next month as host of NBC-TV's long-running late-night talk show) to Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, the former president of the University of Notre Dame who died earlier this year.
Several of the notables - such as basketball icon Bobby Plump, Hoosiers screenwriter Angelo Pizzo and jazz great David Baker - also have been Hoosier History Live guests. So has Jo Ellen, who most recently joined Nelson for a show last spring about flowers and plants that are native to Indiana.
She has been writing and speaking about gardening for more than 25 years. Jo Ellen also is a garden coach and a landscape consultant. A 25-year veteran of newspaper journalism, she is the author of The Visitor's Guide to American Gardens (Cool Springs Press, 2011) and contributes to Indiana Gardening magazines. Jo Ellen also is a director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art Horticultural Society and, as a speaker, can be reached at GreatGardenSpeakers.com.
During our show, she shares insights about upcoming plant sales, as well as about potential challenges for gardeners with the trend of keeping chickens in backyards, even in urban and suburban neighborhoods.
Her expertise makes for an ideal pairing with Nelson as we put out the welcome mat for listener phone calls.
Roadtrip: Maplelawn Farmstead in Zionsville
Guest Roadtripper Bonnie Carter, Zionsville resident and Maplelawn volunteer, suggests a Roadtrip to Maplelawn Farmstead at 9575 Whitestown Road in Zionsville. The farmstead offers an opportunity for visitors to experience a 1920s-30s Depression-era Indiana family farm.
The farmstead dates back to 1835, when it was established by John and Jane Wolf. Heirs sold it to Alfred Elroy and Elmira Moore Scott in 1900, who farmed and maintained the buildings for 65 years. The farmstead remained in the Scott family until the death of Lester Bradley, the surviving spouse of Scott heir, Alyce Scott Bradley, in 2000. In 2003, the land was sold to the town of Zionsville to be developed into a community park.
The Zionsville Historical Society, community volunteers and donors were inspired to form a committee to preserve the farmstead with the house, outbuildings, farm equipment and household items for educational purposes. In 2004 the Zionsville Parks & Recreation Department approved the motion to keep the farmstead as is, and Maplelawn Farmstead, Inc. was born.
Now Zionsville residents and visiting families enjoy programs and activities presented in the rustic barns and house. The land has survived the Depression and drought, revealing stories of survival in those times. Events that interpret the area in the 1920s and early 1930s have included kids' summer camp, classic movies shown on the side of the dairy barn and mystery dinners in the house. Many different groups have held their meetings at the farmstead, surrounded by beautiful gardens and nostalgic farm buildings.
Bonnie suggests we visit maplelawnfarmstead.org to see what's happening this season.
Famous Hoosiers profiled in Indiana Legends, the book by our host, Nelson Price, include Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, the beloved former president of the University of Notre Dame. Rev. Hesburgh, who died in February at age 97, was listed for decades by Guinness World Records for having "the most" of something.
Question: What was it?
The prize pack is two tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair in Brown County on April 25, courtesy of Story Inn, and a pair of tickets to the Indiana State Museum, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum, and a pair of tickets to the NCAA Hall of Champions, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Morel mushrooms, ramps and other foraging foods
(April 11, 2015) - Not only do foodies salivate about morel mushrooms, those who forage for them across Indiana treasure the delicacies so much they often keep their locations top-secret.
At the dawn of peak morel hunting season, Hoosier History Live delves into the sponge-like mushrooms, as well as other food that involves foraging. On this radio roadtrip (or woods excursion), we explore the hunts for morels, an annual tradition undertaken by generations of families and friends.
Our guests also share insights about how to avoid the unpleasant (even poisonous) varieties of wild mushrooms; how to prepare morels, and just why on earth there is so much frenzy about them.
Nelson is joined by two well-known experts in the central Indiana dining world:
A front-page story last spring in The Indianapolis Star reported on some "morel maniacs" who faced criminal charges for trespassing on private property in Hamilton County. The rare mushrooms sometimes can be sold for $50 per pound.
With their distinctive, honeycomb-shaped tops, morels even have achieved their own celebratory festival in Indiana. The third annual Brown County Morel Festival will be April 23-25. Featuring guided hunts, mushroom auctions, classes, live music and crafts, the festival is based at Bill Monroe Music Park and Campgrounds.
Like other mushrooms, morels sometimes are served sautéed and buttered, sometimes battered and fried.
Although morels enjoy most of the hype, more than 2,000 species of mushrooms grow in Indiana, according to several sources. There even are several species of morels. In Indiana, most morels are black or yellow.
A serving of fun facts:
Our guest Becky Hostetter grew up near Bloomington and began her morel-hunting adventures with her mother. Before launching Duos, Becky owned Essential Edibles, a vegetarian restaurant, with her husband, David, for 10 years.
Our guest Jolene Ketzenberger has covered the Hoosier culinary scene for more than 20 years. Her food journalism has appeared in Indianapolis Monthly, NUVO Newsweekly, Indianapolis Business Journal and the Indianapolis Star. Last August, she joined Nelson for a Hoosier History Live show about pork tenderloins, persimmon pudding, sugar cream pie and other Hoosier heritage food.
Roadtrip: New Deal murals in Covington
Guest Roadtripper Terri Gorney of Fort Wayne, who also volunteers at several conservation organizations, including ACRES, DNR and Limberlost, suggests a Roadtrip to Covington in Fountain County in the central western part of the state.
The Art Deco Fountain County Courthouse and its interior art collection of New Deal murals once were described by the by Indianapolis Star as "the most significant example of a New Deal art and architecture in Indiana." The courthouse was constructed during 1936-1937 with Indiana limestone, and its architects were Louis R. Johnson of Covington and Walter Scholer of Lafayette.
And the impressive array of New Deal murals the inside of the courthouse make it seem more like an art museum than a government building. Much of the work is by Covington native Eugene Savage, who created the first murals under the Works Projects Administration in 1937. Savage was also strongly influenced by Thomas Hart Benton, and as he became well-known he directed other local artists in the painting of additional murals for the courthouse that reflect the county's history from the early 1800s to 1940. The murals cover more than 2,500 square feet of wall.
Terri also points out that Covington has ties to Lew Wallace. Wallace's mother is buried in the local cemetery, and the Fountain County clerk's building served as his first law office. And the Lew Wallace Museum and Study is a short 30 minutes away in Crawfordsville.
An unusual type of fruit has been nicknamed the "Indiana banana." The fruit, which is light green and ripens in the fall, grows wild on trees that have the same name as the fruit.
Its flavor has been compared to a cross between a banana and a mango. Although the trees can be found in many Eastern, Midwestern and Southern states, several varieties are thought to have originated in Indiana, accounting for the "Indiana banana" nickname. Even so, the trees - which have maroon-colored flowers - are not as common as persimmon trees, which bear fruit also identified with the Hoosier state.
Question: What is the unusual fruit known as the "Indiana banana"? Note: our "foodie" guests are not eligible to answer this one!
Donald Davidson on Clark, Carnegie and more
(April 4, 2015) - Fifty years ago, the Indianapolis 500 was won by one of the most popular drivers in history.
In fact, legendary broadcaster Tom Carnegie once confided to our host Nelson that Scotland native Jimmy Clark, who was killed during a race three years after his triumph in 1965 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was one of his two favorite drivers.
To share insights about Clark, Carnegie and other aspects of the Speedway's colorful history, a "walking encyclopedia" is our guest. Speedway historian Donald Davidson joins Nelson in studio.
A native of England who became obsessed with the Speedway as a boy overseas, Donald showed up at the race track in 1964 and instantly wowed Hoosiers with the depth of his 500 Mile Race trivia. In addition to Donald's arrival in 1964, Jimmy Clark (who had captured Rookie of the Year honors the previous year) was the leader at one point during the 500, although the race ultimately was won by A.J. Foyt.
Also during the 1964 race, another popular driver, Eddie Sachs, was killed during a horrific seven-car accident. Sachs, by the way, was the other driver whom Tom Carnegie identified to Nelson as his all-time favorite.
"He was a showman, just like me," Carnegie (referring to Sachs) told Nelson, whose profile of the "Voice of the 500" is the cover story of the current issue of Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, the magazine published by the Indiana Historical Society.
Our guest Donald Davidson is quoted throughout the article about Carnegie, who died in February 2011. Beginning with his first gig as the track announcer for the Indy 500 in 1946, Carnegie, Nelson writes, "went on to announce an astonishing 61 Indianapolis 500s, 12 Brickyard 400 races and six U.S. Grand prix competitions, achieving a broadcasting version of a track record that probably will never be equaled."
Donald Davidson is equally treasured as a Speedway institution. He was a Hoosier History Live guest in March 2011 for a show about the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, which made its debut in 1911.
This time around, Donald will time-travel 50 years in reverse, to Jimmy Clark's spectacular victory in 1965 at the Indy 500. The Scotsman became the first foreign driver since 1916 to win the race, accelerating a "British invasion" that paved the way for subsequent successes by drivers such as Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart.
In Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500 (CMG Publishing, 2006), which Donald co-wrote with Rick Shaffer, he describes Clark as "shy, polite, driven and adored by the American public." The 1965 race, which Clark led for 190 of the 200 laps, featured "as dominant a performance as ever seen at the Speedway."
Clark, a two-time Formula One champion, was 32 in 1968 when he was killed during a race in Germany.
His rookie year at the Speedway, 1964, also was notable for some famous guests who, four months after the race, stayed at the bygone Speedway Motel. The Beatles bunked there while in town for their legendary concerts at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
During our show, Donald shares what he knows about the Beatles' visit to the racetrack. Donald reports he enjoyed a chat in 1964 about the Fab Four with Ed Sullivan, the host of the TV variety show that, earlier during the year, introduced the Beatles to the American public. Sullivan also visited the Speedway in 1964.
This Speedway historian extraordinaire, among other honors, has been inducted into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
Roadtrip: 1864 interracial collaboration in Fletcher Place
As Indiana continues to address the issue of diversity, Guest Roadtripper Georgia Cravey - a librarian, researcher and independent scholar - tells us that an 1864 interracial collaboration helped to create the formation of the USCT 28th, the only African-American Civil War troops from Indiana. And two historical markers on Virginia Avenue in Indianapolis tell more of the story.
Says Georgia: "Rev. Willis R. Revels, pastor of Bethel AME Church, and Calvin Fletcher, a powerful white local business leader and attorney, were critical to the organization of the USCT 28th. Together the two men convinced Gov. Oliver P. Morton to authorize the enlistment of black Hoosiers in the Union Army."
Revels served as a recruiting officer and as a surgeon for the regiment. Fletcher allowed troops to muster and train on a portion of his Virginia Avenue farm known as Woodlawn. The encampment was dubbed Camp Fremont, named for Gen. John C. Fremont. Details about life in the USCT 28th are available to us thanks to letters exchanged among members of the Trail family, who sent four sons to fight. The troops departed Indianapolis in April of 1864.
History buffs can take an easy stroll on the Virginia Avenue leg of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail in the historic Fletcher Place neighborhood and encounter two state historic markers that document this history. The marker that commemorates the USCT 28th stands at the intersection of McCarty Street and Virginia Avenue near the site of Camp Fremont.
Fletcher's marker stands at the intersection of Virginia Avenue, Fletcher Avenue and East Street.
"Opportunities for refreshments along this portion of the trail are plentiful," says Georgia, "but in keeping with the topic, I recommend a caffeinated beverage from Calvin Fletcher Coffee Shop, a nonprofit operation midway between the two historical markers. You can watch the passing scene on the Cultural Trail or contemplate the Kipp Normand installation in the windows while you sip your latte. The shop is a community gathering spot with an inclusive atmosphere that would make Calvin Fletcher proud."
Tom Carnegie, the legendary sports broadcaster and track announcer at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, once told Nelson, our host, that he noticed a transformation in Indy 500 drivers when one particular race driver showed up.
Unlike drivers of previous eras, whom Carnegie characterized as typically "a rough bunch," this driver had graduated from Brown University and was an accomplished engineer. A native of New Jersey, he competed in his first Indy 500 in 1969. Popular, well-spoken and handsome, he eventually was an Indy 500 champion. Tragically, he was killed in 1975 during practice for a Grand Prix race overseas.
Question: Who was the driver?
The prize pack is two tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair in Brown County on April 25, courtesy of Story Inn, and a pair of tickets to the Indiana State Museum, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum, and a Family 4 Pack to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
A nice comment
Janie reads us 'cover-to-cover'
(2014) - "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.
Interurbans: Their rise and fall across Indiana
(March 28, 2015 - encore presentation) - With mass transit proposals continually in the headlines, consider this:
Interurbans were intercity electric railways popular 100 years ago - and, believe it or not, the Hoosier state had one of the most extensive systems in the entire country. It's the focus of this encore broadcast of one of the most popular shows in our Hoosier History Live archives; the original air date was Sept. 28, 2013.
Interurban lines connected small towns with most of Indiana's big cities, and the cities with each other. Lines radiated from Indianapolis to Fort Wayne, Louisville, Lafayette, Peru, Terre Haute and Richmond (and six other routes). These interurbans then connected with others, reaching Chicago, Toledo, Columbus and even farther. A separate hub centered on Evansville.
To explore the rise and fall of the interurban system, Nelson is joined in studio by two experts:
The first interurban line in Indiana opened in 1898, from Anderson to Alexandria. The first interurban to Indy opened on New Year's Day in 1900 and brought passengers from Franklin and Greenwood to the Hoosier capital.
Today, the only remaining passenger interurban in the state - and one of the few left in the country - is the popular South Shore line that links South Bend with Chicago.
The bygone Traction Terminal in downtown Indianapolis, which opened in 1904, was easily the nation's largest interurban station. A nine-story building with a train shed, the Traction Terminal was demolished in 1972. The final interurban departed from Indianapolis in September 1941, bound for Seymour.
According to Electric Railroads of Indiana (Hoosier Heritage Press, 1980) by Jerry Marlette, a total of 111 interurban companies had operated more than 3,000 cars in the Hoosier state during the interurban era. Only Ohio had more miles of interurban lines than Indiana's 2,100 miles under wire.
Of Indiana's 92 counties, 68 were served by at least one interurban line. In addition to the massive Traction Terminal in downtown Indy, Muncie was known for its impressive interurban station.
Vestiges of the interurbans do still remain. In southern Marion County, the contemporary names of some streets - Stop 11 Road, for example - date to their heritage as stops on an interurban line.
"Learn more" videos; click to watch and listen:
Roadtrip: Feast of the Hunters' Moon
Guest Roadtripper Joan Hostetler of Heritage Photo Services reports on the annual Feast of the Hunters' Moon, which takes place Oct. 3-4 at Historic Fort Ouiatenon Park near West Lafayette, Ind. The annual festival is a re-creation of the annual fall gathering of the French fur traders and Native Americans that took place at the fort in the mid 1700s. Joan says it's a great place to experience the sounds, smells and sights of this era.
Period re-enactors from Indiana and elsewhere participate in this event, attended by thousands, which includes everything from battle re-enactments to musical performances to dozens of booths with goods that are similar to items available during this historic period.
History of Indiana women's prisons
(March 21, 2015) - When the Indiana Women's Prison opened in 1873, it was described as the first state-run women's prison facility in the entire country.
Even before that, though, privately run prisons for women - many of them known as Magdalene Laundries and overseen by orders of Catholic nuns - existed in the Hoosier state and elsewhere.
Even during Women's History Month, the heritage of prisons for women is rarely explored. But it is the focus of our show, and it currently is being researched by Hoosier women. They include inmates at the Indiana Women's Prison who have undertaken historic research for college-level classes.
Nelson's studio guests include Kelsey Kauffman, a Greencastle-based instructor who is the volunteer director of the higher education program at the Indiana Women's Prison. In addition to assisting the women in writing a history of their own prison, Kelsey has taught at various colleges, including DePauw University.
Nelson and his guests share insights about various historic "firsts" (including a camp that enabled visits by children of inmates) during the last 20 years at the Indiana Women's Prison. For more than 100 years, the prison was located at a site on Randolph Street on the near-eastside of Indianapolis. The women's prison was relocated in 2009 to its current site on the far-westside of Indy (the former site of the Indiana Girls School) because of the need for more space.
During our show, Nelson and his studio guests are joined by phone by Michelle Jones, an inmate at the women's prison who has been researching - and writing articles for academic and historical publications - about the evolution of punishment for women in Indiana.
A current snapshot of the state-run sites, according to DOC statistics:
Before the Indiana Women's Prison opened in 1873, women felons had been detained at early state prisons that also housed male inmates, including one in Jeffersonville. After reports that male guards and others at the Jeffersonville facility were abusing women inmates, Quaker reformers - including Rhoda Coffin and Sarah J. Smith - crusaded for the creation of a separate correctional facility in Indiana for women.
Several Magdalene Laundries already had been established across the country, including one in Indianapolis. Although Magdalene Laundries were privately run (by Catholic organizations), they received women who had been convicted of crimes in county courts.
According to an article in the Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences co-written by our guest Michelle Jones, Magdalene Laundries primarily housed prisoners who were considered "fallen women." Rather than felons who had been convicted of violent crimes, the women had been convicted of sex-related crimes such as prostitution.
Historic research indicates the women were forced to perform "arduous physical labor," particularly scrubbing laundry amid grim conditions. The model was an initial Magdalene Laundry in Ireland that became infamous.
For all of the 20th century, the Indiana Women's Prison was located on a 15-acre site at Randolph Street. According to DOC spokesman Doug Garrison, portions of the buildings at the site are more than 100 years old. Since the move of the women’s prison in 2009, the Randolph Street site has housed low-risk male inmates transitioning to the work force.
Current programs at the women's prison include Wee Ones Nursery (WON), in which some inmates may keep their babies on a 24/7 basis in a specialized housing unit. Other programs include instruction from community volunteers in literacy and parenting.
Our guest Kelsey Kauffman, who has visited more than 80 prisons, is the author of Prison Officers and Their World (Harvard University Press, 1988). Our guest Michelle Jones has undertaken extensive historic research; during the show, Michelle explains how she was able to accomplish that while in prison.
The country's oldest Catholic liberal arts college for women is in Indiana. Its heritage dates to the 1840s, when a group of pioneer Catholic nuns came to the Indiana wilderness. Their leader established an academy for girls that became the liberal arts college for women.
Question: What is the Indiana college?
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 in to the show until Nelson has posed the question on the air.
The prize pack is two tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair in Brown County on April 25, courtesy of Story Inn, and a pair of tickets to the Indiana State Museum, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum, and a pair of tickets to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Roadtrip: Camp Dellwood on Indy's west side
Guest Roadtripper Suzanne Stanis of Indiana Landmarks tells us that just minutes west of busy downtown Indianapolis lies an oasis providing outdoor adventure to girls since 1926. Camp Dellwood is tucked into the woods along Girls School Road, where it offers a variety of experiences - from primitive camping to technology workshops.
The original Marion County Girl Scout camp, known as Camp Ada Boyd Holliday, was located at 75th Street and College Avenue beginning in 1922. It moved to the Girls School Road address when the Indiana School for the Blind constructed its new campus along College Avenue. Dorothy Dell Moffat, a Girl Scout and college student at the time, donated $30,000 to purchase land on the west side of Indianapolis from the Pugh family estate.
150 girls attended the first summer camp. The nearby Girls School provided drinking water for the campers. The girls swam in nearby Eagle Creek until Booth Tarkington led a campaign to build a swimming pool that opened in 1929.
Today, Camp Dellwood thrives year-round with camps and a Math & Science Center. The Girl Scouts of Central Indiana celebrate Camp Dellwood's 90th anniversary in 2016 and look forward to the construction of a new Leadership and Learning Center near the camp at 21st Street and Girls School Road.
Landmarks across Indiana with Marsh Davis
The long-ago City Hall of Indianapolis. And a bridge over the Wabash River near New Harmony that spans Indiana and Illinois - and is the focus of governmental squabbling over responsibility for the structure.
Some of the landmarks in our spotlight have been featured on past or present 10 Most Endangered lists that Landmarks compiles annually about historic structures across the state whose fates are in jeopardy.
With other landmarks, an ideal (or practical) use for them - including the majestic, 105-year-old building that served as City Hall in Indy until the 1960s - has been debated for years. This week, city leaders announced the Neo Classical building (at the corner of Alabama and Ohio streets) will become the lobby of a boutique hotel.
Nelson seeks insights and reactions from Marsh Davis, a native Hoosier who has led Landmarks since 2006. For years before that, Marsh was a staff member at Landmarks - with an interlude as the leader of historic preservation in Galveston, Texas.
Some history nuggets about the various landmarks:
The bridge is included on the current 10 Most Endangered list put together annually by Indiana Landmarks. The organization is headquartered in the former Central Avenue United Methodist Church in the historic Old Northside neighborhood of Indy.
During our show, Marsh Davis also will discuss the evolution of the historic preservation movement in Indiana, including the beginnings of Indiana Landmarks, the largest statewide preservation organization in the country.
Speaking of historic homes: Some in northwest Indiana were designed in the 192os, '30s and '40s by architect and inventor John Lloyd Wright, son of the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright. For many years, John Lloyd Wright (1892-1972) was based in Long Beach, a northern Indiana resort in LaPorte County.
It's where he designed houses and other structures, including the Long Beach Town Hall, which once was on the 10 Most Endangered List. So Marsh and Nelson discuss John Lloyd Wright's work during our show, as well as the Evansville bus station, New Harmony bridge and other landmarks.
Hoosier History Live history fact: For a show on March 30, 2013, we explored houses across Indiana designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. You can listen to audio of that show right from our website.
In an Indiana city, one of the best-known historic landmarks is an extremely unusual jail built in the early 1880s. The jail, the first of its kind in the country, was built with cells that revolve on a turntable. By rotating a hand crank on which the turntable pivoted, a jailer could bring one of the cells - shaped like slices of a pie - to the opening.
The rotary jail fell out of favor by 1930, though, for several reasons. Its revolving cell block was considered unsafe because prisoners could not be evacuated quickly in case of fire.
Closed long ago as the county jail, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 because of its unique design. Now a museum, it is considered the only operational rotary jail structure - with a cell block that still spins - in the entire country.
Question: Name the city or county in Indiana where the landmark is located.
Roadtrip: That Ayres Look
Guest Roadtripper Amy Lamb suggests you step into a world of business and fashion with the Indiana Historical Society's newest exhibit, You Are There: That Ayres Look, which will open March 14 as the latest addition to the Indiana Experience at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis.
L.S. Ayres and Company spent more than a century catering to the needs of Hoosiers - and capturing their hearts along the way.
Through augmented reality, original items, videos and other graphics, guests will enjoy a multifaceted illustration of the company, its people and its innovations. They can also interact with costumed actors representing historical real-life characters from 1959, such as owner Lyman Ayres II, Ayres Fashion Bureau director Elizabeth Patrick and Ayres model Bea Fatout.
Guests also will be able to listen to stories of several people connected to Ayres who are still alive today and have shared their experiences in their own words.
By the way, you can listen here to the podcast of the Hoosier History Live show about L.S. Ayres and Company that originally aired on Jan. 13, 2013.
Reflections of World War II veterans
(Feb. 28, 2015) - At least once per year, Hoosier History Live tries to showcase the remembrances of Hoosiers who survived World War II.
This year, our focus will be on veterans from northeastern Indiana. Nelson's guests include a 93-year-old Army veteran from Fort Wayne who was involved in the Battle of the Bulge and a 90-year-old Bluffton veteran of the Army Air Corps who helped Polish people freed from a concentration camp.
Both veterans are profiled in World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans (Oak Creek Publishing), by Kayleen Reusser, an author based in Bluffton. Kayleen, who has interviewed more than 75 veterans of World War II, joins Nelson in studio.
So does Bob Foster of Fort Wayne, who was among the thousands of Allied troops who arrived in Normandy, France, in mid-June 1944 for the Battle of Cherbourg. Six months later, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge, one of the war's most brutal conflicts.
Our guest Don Shady of Bluffton was a pre-med major at Indiana University before enlisting in the Army Air Corps. He co-piloted a C-47 in Allied attacks on Germans, then he was part of a rewarding event at war's end. His crew transported Polish prisoners of war - who had been liberated - back to their homeland from German-held territory.
Kayleen's book features the stories of veterans of the Marines and Navy, as well as the Army and Army Air Corps. A middle school librarian who has written 12 children's books, she profiles veterans from Wells, Allen, Adams, Huntington and Whitley counties in World War II Legacies.
Referring to Bob Foster's arrival for the Battle of Cherbourg, she writes:
"He and other Allied troops disembarked from Landing Ship Tanks (LSTs) by descending 20-foot ladders into cold water before scrambling toward shore. The troops' marksmanship skills were of little help as they became easy targets for German marksmen on shore."
Although Bob Foster survived that conflict, he was injured during the Battle of the Bulge, which unfolded in frigid temps; soldiers fought while sleeping in foxholes filled with snow.
Bob Foster also discusses his role in capturing German POWs. And Don Shady shares insights about the Siege of Bastogne, a battle between American and German forces in Belgium at Christmas time in 1944.
During our show, Kayleen talks about common themes among the Hoosier veterans, such as their youth when they were dispatched overseas. Many were just 18 or 19 years old.
"Someone who would have been in his early 20s," she notes, "might have been called the 'old man'."
Her book features an account by an Army Air Force veteran from Fort Wayne who had to evacuate his plane over occupied France. He was hidden for three months by farmers in the French Resistance movement.
During a show last year, we focused on insights from veterans featured in another book, World War II: Duty, Honor, Country (iUniverse). Our guests included Noblesville resident Merrill "Lefty" Huntzinger, a staff sergeant in the 2nd Infantry Division who landed on Omaha Beach a few weeks after D-Day.
Last August, about seven months after our show aired, Lefty passed away at age 90. Here is our enewsletter for that Jan. 11, 2014 show.
Roadtrip: Lost Creek in Vigo County
Guest Roadtripper Dona Stokes-Lucas, genealogist and co-chair of Indiana Freedom Trails, says that Lost Creek in Vigo County near Terre Haute was one of the "crown jewels" of her further discovery of early African-American settlements in Indiana.
Dona tells us that Vigo County was formed in 1818, and by the 1820 census there were already 26 free blacks living in the county. The population of free blacks in the county continued to rise; 425 in 1840, 748 in 1850, 706 in 1860 (a slight decrease) and 1,099 in 1870. In 1850, there were 41 black landowners, whose real estate was collectively valued at $37,850.
An AME church was established by 1840 in Lost Creek, and a Baptist church was organized by 1850, an organization that still holds services today.
Two of the African-American cemeteries remain in Lost Creek: Roberts and Stewart Lawn. Descendants of these black pioneers still live on the same land, some for more than 150 years.
Lost Creek Settlement descendants Dorothy Ross and daughter Dee Reed live on a homestead there that has been recognized by the state as a "Hoosier Heritage Farm," and they maintain an impressive archive and records of their family history. They also helped to organize the Lost Creek Community Grove Restoration and Preservation Foundation.
Dona was one of several researchers participating in the Early Black Settlements initiative, which has documented 61 early farming communities in 43 counties in Indiana. Some of the better-known communities are Lyles Station in Gibson County and Roberts Settlement in Hamilton County.
You can click on this interactive map to learn about early black settlements in your county. The Early Black Settlements initiative was funded by Lilly Endowment.
One of the few remaining World War II battleships called LSTs - for Landing Ship, Tank - has been docked at an Indiana city in recent years. LSTs were designed to land tanks, soldiers and supplies directly onto enemy beaches so they were instantly ready for battle.
The LST docked at the Hoosier city participated in several operations, including D-Day at Omaha Beach. One of only two of the naval landing ships from the war to be preserved in this country, the LST at the Indiana city is a museum and memorial for those who served aboard them.
Question: At what Indiana city is the LST docked?
Civil War and African Americans in Indiana
(Feb. 21, 2015) - During the final years of the Civil War, African Americans from Indiana fought in a regiment called the 28th U.S. Colored Troops. Earlier during the war - before that regiment was organized - blacks from Indiana joined fighting units from other states, including a legendary infantry from Massachusetts depicted in the movie Glory (1989).
As Hoosier History Live salutes Black History Month, we explore a range of aspects related to the Civil War, including life for African-American families who remained on the home front in Indiana. In Putnam County, a black man who enlisted in the 28th Regiment may have been intentionally poisoned before he could serve in combat, according to research by one of our guests.
Nicole Etcheson, a Ball State University history professor, became intrigued by the life of Robert Townsend, who may have purchased a poisoned pie when the 28th Regiment was being mustered in Indianapolis. Nicole says she researched Townsend after discovering he was the only African American in Putnam County with a tombstone from the 1800s.
In addition to Nicole, Nelson is joined by historic preservationist Maxine Brown of Corydon. As she reported in a Roadtrip during a show last month, Maxine has been coordinating the renovation of a historic house built by a Civil War veteran wounded in the Battle of Petersburg, also known as the Battle of Crater.
The veteran, Leonard Carter (1845-1905), was born in Floyd's Knobs, but he settled in Corydon with his wife after the war. The small bungalow that he built for his family - known as the Carter House - was built circa 1891.
Maxine also shares insights about a former slave, Lucy Higgs Nichols, who served as a nurse for the Union Army. After the war, the Grand Army of the Republic admitted Lucy Higgs Nichols, a Tennessee native who lived in New Albany, as their only honorary female member in the country.
According to some accounts, more than 1,500 black men from Indiana fought in the Civil War. That happened even though the 28th Regiment wasn't formed until 1864 because some Hoosiers persisted with objections to black soldiers.
Earlier in the war, African Americans who wanted to fight for the Union cause had to enlist in other state's regiments, including the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Glory, the movie starring Denzel Washington that focused on that unit, won three Academy Awards. Historians say the valiant efforts of the 54th infantry - particularly during the Battle of Fort Wagner in South Carolina - made other Northern states realize they had neglected a great source of soldiers by not recruiting African-American men.
Even so, obstacles remained.
According to our guest Nicole Etcheson, several reports during the Civil War in Indiana described the sales of poisoned food to black troops. Robert Townsend, who lived near Putnamville, had purchased a pie from a peddler before falling violently ill and eventually passing away in 1865. His pension records link the illness to the pie, Nicole says.
Although Lucy Higgs Nichols, the nurse, eventually was granted a pension, she is said to have died penniless in 1915. In New Albany, the Carnegie Center for Art and History has a permanent exhibit about her; a historic marker in New Albany also honors Lucy Higgs Nichols.
During our show, our guest Nicole Etcheson discusses the treatment of African-American veterans after the Civil War. She is the author of A Generation at War: The Civil War in a Northern Community (University of Kansas Press, 2011).
Our guest Maxine Brown has won praise for her preservation work with African-American landmarks in southern Indiana. They include the Leora Brown School, a cultural center housed in a restored school - once known as the Corydon Colored School - where, before desegregation, generations of African-American children were educated.
The Carter House, which was saved from demolition, is being moved to a site near the Leora Brown School.
Roadtrip: Exotic Feline Rescue Center
If you take the historic Old National Road (U.S. 40) west from Indianapolis, you'll run into the Oasis Diner just outside of Plainfield. This diner has just been reopened after being moved west from its previous location.
"I can highly recommend the Oasis for both its history and its food," says Eric. Originally built and shipped to Indiana from New Jersey, this diner has been lovingly restored.
If the wait is too long at the Oasis, then you may want to continue west on U.S. 40 to the Harmony Diner in, yes, the small town of Harmony. Then, to get to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center, turn south on Harmony Road. It eventually passes over I-70 and becomes Barnett Street and finally County Road 200 East. But stick with it!
Once you pass through the very tiny town of Center Point, watch for the sign for the Exotic Feline Rescue Center, where you will turn east and arrive.
This is a fabulous place, especially if you like big cats. You'll see tigers, panthers, leopards, bobcats, and lions. These animals have been rescued from abusive owners and other horrible situations, but they're given separate pens, which are huge, so they can live out the rest of their lives in peace.
The Exotic Feline Rescue Center is truly a rescue center, not a zoo, but they welcome visitors.
"If you're lucky," says Eric, "all the lions will roar in competition with any Harley-Davidson motorcycle that comes by."
You also can hear Eric "Dr. Film" Grayson at an upcoming Vintage Movie Night at Garfield Park in Indianapolis.
Two years after the Civil War, Madam Walker was born in Louisiana. Her parents had been slaves on a cotton plantation there.
The future hair-care entrepreneur may have become the country's first African-American millionaire after she moved in 1910 to Indianapolis and built her factory that made hair-care products. But her name was not Madam Walker when she was born in 1867.
Question: What was her birth name?
The prize pack is a gift certificate to Bee Coffee Roasters Cafe, a pair of tickets to the Eiteljorg Museum and a pair of tickets to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Victorian mourning and the Lincoln funeral train
(Feb. 14, 2015) - The spring will mark the 150th anniversary of the funeral that became the largest in the country's history until then - and the Abraham Lincoln funeral train came through the Hoosier state.
Hoosier History Live will pay tribute to the anniversary with a show about the Lincoln funeral cortege - the assassinated president's body lay in state at the Indiana State Capitol in April 1865 - as well as Victorian-era mourning customs.
Artifacts related to Victorian mourning are included in an exhibit that opened this month at the Indiana State Museum titled "So Costly a Sacrifice: Lincoln and Loss." The exhibit features dozens of artifacts related to the Civil War and Lincoln, including a Confederate artillery shell that hit troops commanded by Col. Eli Lilly and the last portrait painted of Lincoln (1807-1865) from life.
En route on a 20-day journey from Washington D.C. to Springfield, Ill., the Lincoln funeral train had three significant stops in the Hoosier state:
Our previous shows about Abraham Lincoln have focused on earlier eras because the 16th president spent so much of his young life - from ages 7 to 21 - as a Hoosier.
Guests on a show last February about young Abe's relationships with his parents included Dale Ogden, chief curator of cultural history at the State Museum. Dale, an expert on Lincoln's years in Indiana, will join Nelson in studio for this show as well.
Another guest will be Al Hunter, a history columnist for The Weekly View, a community newspaper that serves the Eastside of Indy. Al has written two books about the historic National Road in Indiana. He has been working on a book about the entire journey of the Lincoln funeral train, with a particular focus on the trip's final portion from western Ohio, across Indiana, and to its final destination.
According to Al, so many people dropped buttons, keys and other personal remembrances into the open casket at each stop that the president's coffin continually had to be "swept," or cleaned of memorabilia.
Because Lincoln was shot on Good Friday (and died the next day), his passing during Easter weekend "became almost a religious experience" for residents of Northern states like Indiana, Dale Ogden says.
He notes that, because the telegraph was a relatively new invention in 1865, the assassination also became "the first national event the country experienced simultaneously." In earlier eras, news traveled slowly by letter or word of mouth.
During our show, Dale also will share insights about the approach to death and mourning during the Victorian era. Most funerals were held at home in a greeting room (hence, the origin of the term "funeral parlor"); socio-economic classes handled mourning in different ways.
The state museum's exhibit includes the funeral wardrobe of a family from Corydon, as well as a child's coffin, circa 1870, from Noble County. The average life expectancy during the era was 45 years old, a statistic skewed by so many deaths of children and infants.
During our show, Dale will talk about what has been called the "unprecedented carnage" of the Civil War. By the end of the war, more than 25,000 Hoosiers had been killed in battle or died of diseases that quickly spread in the soldiers' camps.
"The carnage of the Civil War is almost impossible to overstate," Dale Ogden says.
With Lincoln's death soon after the war ended, the president also, Dale notes, was regarded as a "martyr." To enable as many Americans as possible to pay their respects, the funeral train took a circuitous route from Washington, D.C.
In the eastern half of Indiana, the funeral train ran on tracks that nearly paralleled the Old National Road. So, in addition to Richmond, the train passed through Centerville, Cambridge City and other towns before stopping in Indianapolis, where the slain president's coffin was transferred to a hearse drawn by four white horses. Led by Gov. Morton, a procession formed to accompany the hearse to the Statehouse.
According to our guest Al Hunter, mourners included residents of Philadelphia and dozens of other cities who flocked to Indianapolis because their hometowns were not on the train's route. The heavy rainfall meant that some outdoor events - including a speech by Gov. Morton, a fierce ally of Lincoln and supporter of the Union cause - were canceled or shifted indoors.
On April 30, 1865, public viewing at the Indiana State Capitol began at 8 a.m. It continued until 10 p.m.
Roadtrip: Pogue's Run in Indianapolis
Guest Roadtripper Jim Lingenfelter of Five2Five Design Studio suggests we explore the stream Pogue's Run, which he describes as "a dubious historic remnant that flows through several historic neighborhoods and ends underground through downtown and into the White River."
Pogue's Run has been called a source of pestilence, a major pathway for early settlers, an impediment to growth of the city and a location for two major urban art installations.
Starting near Brightwood on the near east side, Pogue's Run flows through Brookside and Spades Parks, Windsor Park and Cottage Home neighborhoods, Tech High School and the Legacy Center before going underground near the Holy Cross neighborhood.
Prior to the arrival of early white settlers George Pogue and John Wesley McCormick, Indians and wildlife would often follow Pogue's Run as a pathway. Pogue (c.1763-1821) was a blacksmith from Connersville, Ind., and in 1819 he blazed a trail that corresponds with the present-day Brookville Road. The creek became known as Pogue's Run after Pogue mysteriously disappeared from Indianapolis in April 1821; his body was never found.
When Indianapolis was laid out, only Pogue's Run running diagonally across the southeast portion of the "Mile Square" disturbed the orderliness of the grid pattern. Alexander Ralston had to make compromises due to the stream's location within the congressional donation lands given for the future Indianapolis. Before the state government could be moved to Indianapolis from Corydon, $50 was spent to rid swampy Pogue's Run of the mosquitoes that made it a "source of pestilence."
In the so-called Battle of Pogue's Run on May 20, 1863, during the American Civil War, several Democrats leaving the state party convention on the railroad running parallel to Pogue's Run threw various firearms and knives into the creek because Union troops were looking for contraband weapons. Two decades later, in 1882, the Run flooded, killing at least ten people.
The Pogue's Run Art & Nature Park can be seen south of I-70 on the east side of Indianapolis; it's a 43-acre refuge for wildlife and art. Best to get off the interstate and just go explore the trails!
Abraham Lincoln was the first person to lie in state at the Indiana Statehouse. The second person, a Hoosier who achieved national fame, died in 1916. According to several accounts, more than 35,000 people filed past his casket at the Statehouse.
Question: Who was the famous Hoosier?
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314, and please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air. Please also do not call in to the show if you have won any prize from WICR in the last two months.
Bart Peterson, former Indy mayor
(Feb. 7, 2015) - In 1999, Bart Peterson made history as the first Democrat to be elected mayor of Indianapolis since the 1970 merger, known as Unigov, of most aspects of city and Marion County government.
He served eight years as the top elected official in the Hoosier capital until he was defeated in a major upset in 2007 by previously little-known Greg Ballard.
Now, as the race to succeed Mayor Ballard heats up, former Mayor Peterson, 56, is Nelson's studio guest for a "modern city history" show as we explore his life before, during and after his stint on the top floor of the City-County Building.
Since 2009, he has been the senior vice president for corporate affairs and communications for Eli Lilly and Company, the pharmaceutical giant. (History fact: His job at Lilly once was held by former Gov. Mitch Daniels.)
A lifelong resident of Indy, where his late father, Howard Peterson, was a prominent developer of the Castleton area, the future mayor graduated from North Central High School in 1976. He also is a graduate of Purdue University and the University of Michigan Law School. As a law school student, he suffered major injuries as a pedestrian in a horrific traffic accident.
Before winning election as mayor, Bart Peterson's jobs included serving as chief of staff for then-Gov. Evan Bayh.
Does he ever foresee running for public office again?
That's one of the questions Nelson plans poses to the former mayor, who is the latest in a series of former and current mayors of Hoosier cities to be guests on Hoosier History Live. They have included Indy's current mayor, Greg Ballard, as well as Bill Hudnut, the former four-term mayor of Indy.
Others have been Chris McBarnes of Frankfort, who became the youngest mayor of an Indiana city when he won election at age 23 in 2011; Dan Wright, the current mayor of Vernon, the state's only elected mayor of a town (rather than a city), and Wayne Seybold, who has been mayor of Marion since 2003.
During former Mayor Peterson's two terms in office, he was known as an advocate for making Indy a destination for arts and culture. His defeat for a third term has been blamed in part on voter frustration with property tax increases.
Two years ago, former Mayor Peterson and his wife, Amy Minick Peterson, moved into the historic Lockerbie neighborhood in downtown Indy. The couple met when he was in law school; the Petersons have a daughter, Meg, who is in her 20s.
Bart Peterson's job with Lilly has involved extensive travel, most recently to Hong Kong and Europe. When Lilly, one of the world's largest drug makers, announced his appointment, The Indianapolis Star reported he would oversee about 440 people, including lobbyists and communications specialists, as well as manage an annual budget of about $200 million.
He also is a former trustee at the University of Indianapolis, which houses the Mayoral Archives. It's a collection of documents, photos, recordings and artifacts from the administrations of mayors ever since Richard Lugar took office in 1968.
Following voter protests over rising property taxes, Greg Ballard defeated him (51 percent to 47 percent) in an outcome that has been described as one of the "biggest upsets in Indianapolis history."
Some history facts:
Roadtrip: Indy jazz, Pookie Johnson and more
The African-American jazz scene along Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis represents one of the richest parts of our state's heritage. It's time to celebrate Black History, and Katie Keesling of the Indiana Historical Society suggests that we head to the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center at 450 W. Ohio Street in downtown Indianapolis for some of its upcoming black heritage programs.
On February 12, IHS will host I Heart Indy Jazz!, an evening of history, storytelling and music celebrating the late Indianapolis great Alonzo "Pookie" Johnson. The program starts at 6 p.m at the Stardust Terrace Cafe, and two of Pookie Johnson's sons will perform and reminisce about their father and other Indianapolis legends.
On Feb. 14, guests at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center can explore Indiana jazz from noon to 4 p.m. - listen to jazz renditions of Cole Porter songs, see Deborah Asante perform Rollin' Down the Avenue at 2 p.m. and participate in other family activities. Guests also can catch a screening of Chris Rock's documentary, Good Hair on the evening of Feb. 19 at the History Center. Advance registration is encouraged for the Feb. 12 and Feb. 19 events. To register, visit www.indianahistory.org.
Not only was future Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson a member of North Central High School's Class of '76, so was a talented musician. The classmate went on to become an enormously successful pop singer, songwriter and producer.
A winner of 10 Grammy Awards, he has turned out nearly two dozen No. 1 hits since 1987. In addition to his hits as a singer, the native Hoosier has created hits - as a songwriter or producer - for such stars as Madonna and the late Whitney Houston.
In 2007, when the North Central alum was named a Living Legend by the Indiana Historical Society, his high school classmate, Bart Peterson, presented him with the award.
Question: Who is he?
Guinness World Records and Hoosiers
(Jan. 31, 2015) - During Super Bowl weekend, Hoosier History Live focuses on history-making achievements in offbeat athletic endeavors - as well as a buffet of other kinds of world records.
That's because our focus is on Indiana people and places associated with Guinness World Records.
There are more of these connections than you might assume, in part because the famous Guinness Book of World Records has a long track record; it's celebrating the 60th anniversary of its annual editions. In addition, the records chronicled in the books - which rotate listings every year - draw on a massive international database at Guinness that stretches back a century or more.
Nelson is joined in studio by two Hoosiers who have set Guinness records. We also explore world records that have involved the Indiana State Fair, Children's Museum of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis 500 and Tamika Catchings, the star player for the Indiana Fever.
Our guests are:
A London-based crew from Guinness came to Kevin's house last October to photograph his collection, which consumes his basement.
"They told me the Guinness database has 60,000 verified world records, and only about 3,300 to 3,500 are selected to be included in each year's edition," Kevin says.
By the way, "Batman collector" isn't his vocation. He's a songwriter, guitarist and the owner of Uncle Albert's, an amplifier repair business.
David, the rope warrior, has been featured in national media, including Good Morning, America and The Today Show. In Indiana, he has appeared at events with popular Tamika Catchings, who holds the world record for the most free throws (more than 1,709) during a career in the WNBA. She also holds the world record for the most steals (more than 930) during a WNBA career, according to an account in The Indianapolis Star.
The rump-jumping record, which David achieved on the set of a Los Angeles-based TV show in 1998, involved 56 consecutive revolutions.
During our show, we also explore two Guinness World Records that have involved the Children's Museum. Leslie Olsen, the museum's media manager, phones in to share details about a record set last October when 250 preschool students gathered at the museum for a vocabulary lesson. Organized by PNC Financial Services, the Hoosier preschoolers were among 4,000 children in 37 cities who set a record for simultaneous participants in such a lesson.
The other Guinness record related to the Children's Museum involves Leonardo, the mummified dinosaur that is exhibited. Unearthed in Montana in 2002, Leonardo is cited by Guinness as the "most complete dinosaur fossil" ever discovered.
Franklin County in southeastern Indiana also is credited with a Guinness record. According to Pam Beneker, Franklin County's recorder, the county set a world record "for the largest serving of fried chicken - 1,645 pounds - during the Franklin County Bicentennial." The feast was in July 2010.
Speaking of food: Remember the world's largest popcorn ball that was exhibited during the "Year of Popcorn" in 2013 at the Indiana State Fair? It set a Guinness World Record by weighing 6,510 pounds.
Fun fact: The 2013 edition of the Guinness book lists a distinction from 1952 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. At age 22, Troy Ruttman became the youngest winner in Indy 500 history.
Back to David Fisher, the rump jumper and our guest; he performs rope-jumping tricks and techniques at school assemblies across the country and even at international sporting events and parades. They have included the 1994 Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia (spectators included Boris Yeltsin) and presidential inaugural parades for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Our guest Kevin Silva, 53, also has enjoyed international exposure; his vast Batman collection was featured in an article and photos in The Daily Mail of London, for example. The collection is displayed in Kevin's personal "Batcave," the basement of his house. Memorabilia include rare comic books and props from the TV series that starred Adam West and Burt Ward, who have signed some of the collectibles. As a 5-year-old kindergartener, Kevin was given his first item, a Batman lunchbox.
Roadtrip: Zionsville's trains, trolleys and Main Street bricks
Why are the bricks in the middle of Main Street in Zionsville a different color? Bonnie Carter, a longtime Zionsville resident and history enthusiast, will explain. Trains and trolleys played a major role in the town, which was platted in 1852.
Zionsville's trains were vital communication links and the major reason for Zionsville's growth. On Feb. 11, 1861, Abraham Lincoln's train from Springfield, Ill., stopped in Zionsville for him to speak about his coming presidency, and this area is now Lincoln Park on First Street.
By 1902, Zionsville was ready for faster and more frequent transport to Indianapolis and many other Hoosier towns. The Indianapolis, Lebanon & Frankfort Traction Co. closed the deal to construct a trolley line using heavy wooden "combine" cars in the center of Main Street.
Area resident Thelma Shelburne Dye remembered riding first to school in Zionsville, to her doctor in Indianapolis and eventually to Purdue in nice, comfortable, reliable cars. By 1930, automobiles and buses were faster and reasonably priced so that trolley travel became obsolete. The electric trolleys were abandoned.
In 1911, bricks were first laid on Main Street after much controversy over the costs. When the bricks needed to be replaced, there were not enough available in the country to match the more than 90-year-old pavers. The solution was to use similar but different color bricks in the center to represent the old trolley tracks.
Credits to Ralph & Jan Stacey, Remembering Zionsville (2009) by Joan Lyons and History of Boone County, Indiana by Boone County Historical Society & Friends (1984) for stories and information.
Note: If you are an interurban buff, you will enjoy these videos. Courtesy Pictorial Indiana.
Ripley's Believe It or Not drew national attention beginning in the 1930s to an Indiana town. The newspaper feature created by cartoonist Robert Ripley focused on the town because it has the name of a folk character.
In one cartoon, Ripley identified the town as having the only post office in the entire country with the folk character's name. As a result, the Indiana town received a surge of letters from around the world; it continues to receive thousands of them every year, particularly during a certain month.
In tribute to the interest generated by the publicity from Ripley that began more than 80 years ago, the town paid tribute to Ripley's Believe It or Not in 2010.
Question: What is the Indiana town?
Figure skating heritage in Indiana
(Jan. 24, 2015) - Nine figure skating clubs across Indiana are affiliated with the U.S. Figure Skating Association. They include the Winter Club of Indianapolis, which is turning 75 years old and has been a part of the lives of thousands of Hoosiers, from preschoolers taking their first steps on ice to skating devotees in their 80s.
Indiana also has produced Olympians in figure skating, as well as influential coaches and judges.
Just as the national championships in figure skating are unfolding on network TV, Hoosier History Live explores the heritage of the sport across Indiana, where well-known venues have included the Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds (it recently was renamed the Indiana Farmers Coliseum), the home of the Winter Club since 1940.
Nelson's guests are:
The evolution of figure skating in Indiana was affected by some historic tragedies. They included a plane crash in Belgium during February 1961 that killed top American skaters and coaches. Among the fatalities was Danny Ryan, a coach in Indianapolis who had been the first American to win a medal in ice dancing at a world championship.
On the positive side, Hoosier figure skaters who have competed in the Olympics included brother-sister pairs team from Marion of Wayne and Natalie "Kim" Seybold (who were crowd favorites during the 1988 Calgary Olympics) and Jill Watson of Bloomington, who won a bronze medal, also at the 1988 Olympics.
Wayne Seybold, currently the mayor of Marion, and his sister were guests on a Hoosier History Live show in 2010 about their careers.
Like our guest Michael Fisher, the Seybolds began as competitive roller skaters, then switched to figure skating - even though, in their case, there was no ice rink in Marion. The Seybolds traveled to Fort Wayne, then Indianapolis and, finally, to Delaware as they advanced in their skating careers.
Influential Hoosier coaches have included Sandy Schwomeyer Lamb, a Shortridge High School graduate who pioneered figure skating as a sport in the Special Olympics. Her sister, Judy Schwomeyer Sladky, is considered a pioneer in ice dancing.
(Sandy Lamb also was an early coach of our guest Kelley Morris-Adair. Today, Kelley travels to rinks around the country to work with coaches on figure skating skills and ice-dancing choreography.)
Many accomplished skaters were influenced by the late Pieter Kollen, who coached at the Indiana/World Skating Academy at Pan American Plaza in Indy. In 2012, the academy moved to another well-known venue - the Carmel Ice Skadium - prior to the closing of the ice rinks at Pan Am Plaza.
In addition to figure skating clubs in central Indiana, others affiliated with the U.S. Figure Skating Association include clubs in Fort Wayne, South Bend, Columbus and Evansville.
Roadtrip: Winter fun in Ellenberger Park
In 1909 the city of Indianapolis acquired part of the Ellenberger family farm in Irvington for use as a community park. The land, known as Ellenberger Woods, had long been enjoyed by residents of the area who took advantage of its wooded paths and creek.
German-born landscape architect George Kessler's plan for the park included the existing well-worn paths and linked the Ellenberger land to Garfield Park via the construction of Pleasant Run Parkway. The city added an outdoor ice skating rink in 1962, enclosing it in 1987 for year-round skating.
With increasing competition from commercially operated rinks and maintenance challenges, Indy Parks closed the rink in 2009. The building remains as locker rooms for the adjacent swimming pool.
Winter fun has not ceased at the park. The beloved sledding hill, enjoyed by several generations of Indianapolis families, continues to provide thrills for all ages, as demonstrated by this little daredevil in a 2009 YouTube video.
A national Hall of Fame is in Marion, Ind., the hometown of Wayne and Kim Seybold, the former Olympic figure skaters. The Hall of Fame has nothing to do with sports. Instead, it celebrates a domestic art.
Located in a restored house that is on the National Register of Historic Places, the Hall of Fame honors a domestic art that has been associated with generations of Hoosier women. For more than 35 years, the Hall of Fame has been in Marion, where Wayne Seybold has served as mayor since 2003.
Question: What is the national Hall of Fame located in Marion?
The prize pack is a gift certificate to Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn, and two passes to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum and two passes to tour Lucas Old Stadium, courtesy of Visit Indy.
William Forsyth's colorful life, plus Portfolio Club history
(Jan. 17, 2015) - Undoubtedly, artist T.C. Steele continues to be the most frequently celebrated member of the nationally renowned Hoosier Group of painters who flourished during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The life and career of Forsyth (1854-1935) are the focus of a new biography, and his paintings are featured in a retrospective exhibit at the Indiana State Museum.
In addition, a cultural organization with which Forsyth was affiliated is about to celebrate a milestone. The Portfolio Club - which counted Forsyth, Steele and other influential Hoosiers among its members when the club was founded in 1890 - turns 125 years old this month. Forsyth served as its third president.
To explore a palette of topics related to all of this, Nelson is joined in studio by three guests:
Forsyth was a key figure in founding what was then known as the John Herron Institute of Art in Indianapolis. As an instructor there through the early 1930s, he enormously influenced subsequent generations of Hoosier artists.
In her new book, Rachel explores Forsyth's lifelong jealousy of (and eventual estrangement from) Steele; she contrasts Forsyth's "blue-collar upbringing" with Steele's cultured family. (History fact: The Portfolio Club was inspired as a result of the urgings of Libbie Steele, the artist's first wife.)
Like other members of the Hoosier Group, Forsyth studied at the Royal Academy of Art in Munich. Although known for a fiery personality, Forsyth had a flair for teaching and was loyal to serious art students. In her biography, Rachel praises his constant experimentation with various art mediums, subjects and styles.
In addition to Forsyth, members of the Portfolio Club during its long history have included architects Bernard and Kurt Vonnegut Sr. (the grandfather and father of the novelist); jazz photographer Duncan Schiedt, who died in 2014, and Ferdinand Schaefer, founder and conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
The Portfolio Club provides scholarships, including one that is endowed at what is now the Herron School of Art & Design at IUPUI.
In Irvington, Forsyth and his family lived in a rambling house (with a studio next to it) near Pleasant Run Creek. Forsyth became an avid gardener; his house and studio have been demolished, but a historical marker was erected on the site in 1984.
In addition to his paintings of Irvington and a range of sites across Indiana, Forsyth's works included drawings, painted china and even plaster sculptures. In her book, Rachel describes his experimentation as "fearless."
He painted landscapes, as well as portraits, creating artwork with watercolors, oil on canvas, charcoal on paper and in other ways. During the 1920s, he spent summers at Winona Lake in northern Indiana and painted scenes there.
Eventually, Rachel writes in her new book, Forsyth "exhibited more, won more awards and medals, and wrote more comprehensively about the Hoosier Group and Indiana art than Steele."
The introduction to her book is written by Susan Forsyth Selby Sklar, the painter's granddaughter. Rachel's other books include T.C. Steele and the Society of Western Artists (IU Press, 2009).
Roadtrip: The road to Liberty
Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff suggests a scenic drive through eastern Indiana. Her directions from Indianapolis for this adventure are:
"Take U.S. 52 down to Rushville, perhaps stopping at the legendary Kopper Kettle in Morristown for lunch. But be hungry; the Kopper Kettle serves mounds of traditional food, family-style. Its over-the-top interior (especially at Christmas!) alone is worth stopping for. Or you might want to just wait until you get to Liberty."
Take heart, Liberty is not far!
Yes, Liberty, Ind., is one of our smallest county seats, only a little over 2000.
Most of its downtown is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and features numerous 19th- and some early 20th-century styles, great to explore. The focal point is the beautiful Richardsonian Romanesque courthouse built in 1890.
Don't miss the New Deal-era post office, completed in 1937-38; go inside to see its mural Autumn Fields by Avery Johnson. The square also features interesting shops.
Hungry? Try the Liberty Bell restaurant, a down-home place just a little south of the square on Main Street (Ind. 101). For lighter fare or an ice cream treat, Glory recommends J's Dairy Inn, 207 W. Union, just west across the tracks from the old depot.
Perhaps most people know of Liberty through its proximity to Whitewater Memorial State Park, only a few miles south on Ind. 101, worth mentioning, of course! But if you're an explorer of old roads, you might want to take U.S. 27 southwest out of Liberty. Union County borders Ohio, and at the state line you'll find yourself in West College Corner, Ind., but a few steps later, in College Corner, Ohio. One post office serves both. Says Glory: "Love these state-line towns!"
The Hoosier Group of artists included, in addition to William Forsyth and T.C. Steele, a painter whose son made a lasting cultural impact. The son, who grew up in Indianapolis, created the Raggedy Ann doll and books.
His artistic father was a friend of Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley. The son, who became a cartoonist for the Indianapolis Star and other newspapers, is said to have based Raggedy Ann on his two favorite Riley poems, Little Orphant Annie and The Raggedy Man.
The first book, Raggedy Ann Stories, was published in 1918. The floppy dolls were created as spinoff products to promote the book.
Question: Who was the Hoosier creator of Raggedy Ann?
How to furnish an historic home
(Jan. 10, 2015) - Maybe your home's interior has a Victorian-era theme. Or is your preference for an even earlier period, like the Colonial era? Perhaps, though, a much later era, such as the 1950s or '70s, is your decorative dream.
To offer advice about furnishing homes with "period" themes, Hoosier History Live calls on three experts with track records of making period-appropriate decorating decisions about distinctive homes, including some of Indiana's historic sites. Our topics include plenty of do's and don'ts. We also explore the care, treatment and placement of period furniture.
Nelson is joined in studio by:
Along with advice for homeowners, our guests share anecdotes related to their restoration, furnishing and conservation experiences.
Regarding antique furniture, they talk about reproductions - along with, as our guest Link Ludington puts it, "reproductions that are now legitimate antiques." In addition, he discusses whether "investing" in antiques is a good idea; tips about starting collections; fakes and forgeries, and "matching furnishings to the period and style of a house versus eclectic collections."
Link, who says his career has been shaped by "a lifelong interest in the architecture, decorative arts and furniture of the 19th century," is the vice president of the Cornerstone Society Inc. It is the historic preservation advocacy organization in Madison.
Some other tidbits:
Often described as the "crown jewel" of this historic district in Madison, the Lanier Mansion was built in the 1840s by early Indiana architect Francis Costigan, who designed other buildings in Madison and Indianapolis. In the 1850s, Costigan designed a hotel in Indianapolis at a site on South Illinois Street that, ever since, has been the setting for a hotel. A few months ago, Le Meridien opened on the site, replacing the Canterbury Hotel; the current structure dates to the 1920s.
In Madison, the historic district includes more than 130 blocks. Homes are said to reflect every era of the Ohio River town's development between 1817 and 1939.
With its Corinthian columns on the south portico, Doric pilasters (ornamental columns) and other features, the Lanier Mansion in Madison is considered one of the best examples of Greek Revival architecture in the country.
Few of our listeners live in a house with that kind of rich history and spectacular features. But our guests offer advice for a range of owners of houses with period-focused themes. Link, for example, shares his take on "buying what you like and can afford instead of what someone tells you to like."
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?
The prize pack is a gift certificate to Bee Coffee Roasters, downtown Indianapolis and on Lafayette Road, and two tickets to the President Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, and two tickets to the Eiteljorg Museum, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Roadtrip: Carter House in Corydon
Guest Roadtripper and historic preservationist Maxine Brown of Corydon will tell us about the challenges in correctly decorating and furnishing of 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, Indiana, 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.
Maxine Brown says that the house will feature a mixture of styles and period pieces, and she will be using a three-quarter-size bed donated by Habitat for Humanity. She hopes the house will be ready for touring by this summer.
Scottish heritage in Indiana
(Jan. 3, 2015) - To kick off our seventh year on the air in high style - or should that be Highlands and Lowlands style? - Hoosier History Live will present one of our popular ethnic-heritage shows.
Scotland made headlines 'round the world awhile back with the vote on independence from the United Kingdom, so doesn't it seem logical to explore immigration to Indiana from the land of bagpipes and kilts?
Scots became the fourth most numerous European heritage group in Indiana, according to Peopling Indiana: The Ethnic Experience (Indiana Historical Society Press, 1996). They were exceeded only by residents of German, Irish and English descent.
"A trait of Scots who are immigrants is the tendency to assimilate rather than cluster," says Dr. Lee Cloe, a Noblesville native and charter member of the Scottish Society of Indianapolis. "While in most large cities, one can find 'Chinatown,' 'Greektown' or other groupings, you will not see a 'Scottstown.' Normally after two generations, they did not refer to themselves as Scots, but Americans."
Dr. Cloe, a retired U.S. Air Force pilot, training officer and commander (he retired with the rank of major), joins Nelson in studio.
So does Carson Smith, a past president of the Scottish Society of Indianapolis who was frequently quoted by Indiana media during the referendum in his ancestral homeland last fall to break from the United Kingdom after more than 300 years. (In case you missed the outcome, the move to secede from the United Kingdom was unsuccessful. Scotland accounts for one-third of the U.K.'s land, 8 percent of the population and 10 percent of the tax revenue, according to news reports at the time.)
One of the best-known figures of early Indiana - frontier military leader George Rogers Clark, a Revolutionary War strategist - was of Scottish heritage. Famous for defeating the British at Vincennes(which had been renamed Fort Sackville) with a ragtag army during the winter of 1779, Clark (1752-1818) founded the town of Clarksville on the Ohio River. His brother, William Clark, became the renowned explorer of Lewis & Clark fame.
Ever wonder what the term Scotch-Irish means?
Our distinguished guests explain, along with sharing insights about how and why a mix of people with Scottish heritage were among the first people to survey the early Virginia Colony and European heritage settlers to penetrate the Appalachian Mountain range in the 1780s.
According to several sources, many Scots were recruited to help build railroads in the area around Columbus, which hosts a popular Scottish Festival every September. Even so, our guest Dr. Cloe notes that Scots did not tend to arrive in "waves" to Indiana, unlike some other ethnic heritage groups.
He adds that not all place names in Indiana have the kind of direct link to his ancestral homeland that you might assume. Dr. Cloe notes the town of Scottsburg in southern Indiana was named in honor of Horace Scott, a railroad president; Scott County was named after Gen. Charles Scott, who fought in the Revolutionary War.
Some history nuggets:
Our guest Carson Smith, who has had a long career as a sales representative, is a past president of the Indiana society of the Sons of the American Revolution and was the first editor of The Thistle, the newsletter of the Scottish Society of Indianapolis.
In addition to his military background, our guest Dr. Cloe was an administrator or specialist with universities in Indiana and with various state and city agencies. In 2008, our first year on the air, Dr. Cloe was a guest on one of our first ethnic heritage shows.
Since then, Hoosier History Live has expanded from 30 minutes to an hour and has explored ethnic heritage groups, including Germans, Irish, Cubans, Italians, Greeks, Scandinavians and Russians, as well as Colombians and Venezuelans.
(Note: Not all of our past programs are audio-archived for online listening. As a small, independent production group, we need financial assistance in order to accomplish this.)
The oldest private college in Indiana was established by an educator of Scottish heritage. Located on a scenic campus in far southern Indiana, the liberal arts college began as an academy in 1827 and has had a long affiliation with the Presbyterian Church.
Attended by about 1,150 students, the college is near the banks of the Ohio River.
Question: What is the Indiana college?
The prize pack is a gift certificate to the Claddaugh Irish Pub & Restaurant, two tickets to the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home, and two tickets to the President Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Digital Roadtrip: The Indiana Album
Not all Roadtrips are physical places. The Internet also allows us to travel to and explore the past!
Guest Roadtripper Joan Hostetler of Heritage Photo & Research Services will tell us about The Indiana Album, a community-submitted digital album of Indiana-related photographs lingering in albums, attics and basements and now finding their way to the web.
Tune in this Saturday to learn more about this Indiana Bicentennial project and how you can participate. By the way, The Indiana Album is seeking help in identifying the photo of this mystery bridge.
(Dec. 27, 2014 - encore presentation) - Lost cemeteries periodically make headlines across Indiana. Last year, Indianapolis police reported the discovery of a human jawbone in Garfield Park on the city's south side. The question arose: Could the historic park, the oldest public park in Indy, be the site of a lost cemetery?
To explore lost or "nearly lost" cemeteries across the state - and issues associated with the forgotten or neglected burial grounds - Nelson is joined in studio by two expert guests in this encore presentation of a show that generated a lot of interest. Its original broadcast date was June 1, 2013.
The guests are Jeannie Regan-Dinius, cemetery and burial ground registry coordinator for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and pioneer-cemetery advocate Theresa Berghoff, an Elwood native who now lives in Indianapolis.
They share details about lost graveyards everywhere from Berne in Adams County and the Madison County community of Leisure to a site near Kessler Boulevard and Keystone Avenue on the north side of Indy, and Rome in southwestern Indiana.
Nelson and his guests also explore Greenlawn Cemetery, which was founded in 1832 near White River and Kentucky Avenue in Indy. More than 1,600 pioneers had been buried in Greenlawn when, because the graveyard was prone to flooding, city leaders initiated a mass reburial more than 150 years ago with the creation of Crown Hill Cemetery, the country's third-largest private cemetery.
In 2008, our guest Jeannie Regan-Dinius helped oversee the move of 33 tombstones and remains of Hoosier pioneers from a mid-1800s cemetery in the Castleton area of Indy to Crown Hill. Shortly after the reburial - which was initiated to allow for the widening of I-69 near its interchange with I-465 - Jeannie joined Nelson for a Hoosier History Live show during our first year on the air.
During this show, Jeannie is joined by Theresa Berghoff, a cemetery restorer whose ancestors included Revolutionary and Civil War veterans buried in Wayne County. Theresa, who has helped restore tombstones, describes lost or "nearly lost" cemeteries in Richmond, and in the Augusta community in Pike Township on the northwest side of Indianapolis.
In Richmond, Maple Grove Cemetery, which apparently had been the site of more than 500 graves, was closed during the late 1800s. The cemetery's land then became part of Glen Miller Park. Many of Richmond's first settlers were buried in Maple Grove Cemetery.
Some "learn more" websites:
Families and children: evolution of outreach
(Dec. 20, 2014) - In Indiana today, you won't find places called the "Home for Friendless Women" or agencies known as "benevolent societies."
Those were some of the ways, though, that outreach was handled with families, children and other Hoosiers in need more than a century ago. During the Civil War, some early social service organizations focused on helping widows and children of soldiers, whose deaths often left their families destitute.
To explore the evolution of outreach to Hoosiers in need, Nelson is joined in studio by guests from organizations whose heritage stretches back more than 100 years. Their names have changed - sometimes several times - as their approach to outreach has evolved.
Families First, a nonprofit that is generally considered to be the oldest social service agency in the state, traces its founding to Thanksgiving Day in 1835. That's when a group of early Indianapolis movers and shakers, including attorney/banker Calvin Fletcher and civic leader James Blake, met to share ideas about helping families who were poverty-stricken because of a lack of jobs at the city's earliest factories and mills.
The civic leaders established the Indianapolis Benevolent Society, which, following various names changes in the nearly 180 years since then, is now known as Families First.
Our guests include Edie Olson, the current president and CEO of the Families First, an agency that now offers services ranging from family counseling to domestic-violence treatment and parent-education classes.
She shares insights about the evolution of social outreach in central Indiana. So does Tina Cloer, president and CEO of the Children's Bureau.
It began in 1851 as the Widows and Orphans Friends' Society, spinning off from the Benevolent Society.
In 1880, according to a history of the Children's Bureau, "Across the state 700 children (were) living in county 'poor asylums,' a situation that many recognize as totally unacceptable."
To help, the organization had founded the first orphanage in Indianapolis, which opened at Capitol Avenue and 14th Street. The orphanage was built for $1,200 in 1855, according to a history of the Children's Bureau.
"In the late 1850s, the women of the Widows and Orphans Friends' Society were reluctant to accept 'tainted money' from theater folk," the bureau's history notes.
That attitude changed, though, in the late 1860s when local theaters offered to put on performances to benefit orphans. Also during the 1860s, a Home for Friendless Women was opened in the Hoosier capital.
During the 1870s, financial turmoil followed the Civil War. That meant about 20 percent of the population in the Hoosier capital was on what were known as "relief rolls," according to a history of Families First put together by Pat Ankers of the Indianapolis Woman's Club.
Her history notes that, during the late 1870s, the Benevolent Society opened a "Friendly Inn" that provided meals and lodging to "transients" in exchange for work in a lumber yard.
The initial orphanage - called the Indianapolis Orphans' Asylum - moved in 1880 to a building at College Avenue and 13th Street in the Old Northside neighborhood. The three-story structure had served as the first home of Butler University, then known as Northwestern Christian College. The orphanage was closed in the early 1940s.
Today, the Children's Bureau of Indianapolis (the agency's name since 1961) offers a range of services, including an adoption recruitment program for families involved in the state's foster-care system. The Children's Bureau offices are in the Gene Glick Family Support Center, 1575 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St.
The benevolent society underwent a series of name changes, becoming known as the Family Service Association of Indianapolis. To avoid confusion with state agencies that have similar names, it became Families First in 2009. Funding comes from various sources, including United Way.
In addition to helping start the Indianapolis Benevolent Society, which evolved into today's Families First, civic leader Calvin Fletcher was a prominent banker and attorney in the earliest days of the Hoosier capital. His extensive diaries are considered a trove for historians about daily life for decades in the young city.
His family was associated with an Indianapolis-based bank that traced its origins to 1839 and had various names initially. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, descendants of the Fletcher family continued to be directly involved with the bank.
For decades during the 20th century, the bank was well-known by a four-letter abbreviation. The acronym was a household "word" in Indy during the 1970s and '80s. Eventually, though, the bank was absorbed by larger ones based out of state.
Question: What was the acronym during the 20th century for the bank once associated with the Fletchers?
The prize pack is a gift certificate to Ram Restaurant, two passes to the Indiana State Museum and two passes to Conner Prairie, courtesy of Visit Indy. 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 in to the show until Nelson has posed the question on the air.
Roadtrip: Albany with a real hardware store
Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff suggests a trip to Albany (not New Albany!). It's northeast of Muncie on an elbow of S.R. 67, where it meets S.R. 28.
It's a quintessential small town that saw its heyday more than a hundred years ago during the Gas Boom, although it had been founded much earlier, in 1833.
Glory says she always looks forward to a treat at Dairy Dream (not Dairy Queen!) which (in season) not only offers ice cream sodas, among other frosty treats, but quite a large variety of food beyond the usual drive-in fare. It's located on S.R. 67, which bypasses downtown.
Glory continues: "Also on 67, so many times I passed a little stone cottage that I imagine was once upon a time a filling station but today is The Cottage at 112 W. Walnut. I finally stopped! A little family operation, they offer some of the most fabulous fudge I've ever tried - and believe me, I've tried a lot!"
She also recommends the "great coffee" at The Cottage and notes that they also offer their own fragrant candles.
But don't skip downtown. There's a real hardware store at 209 W. State (which is S.R. 28), called C.J.'s Hardware, where you can find exactly what you need. The building has a fascinating history, too; ask the owner about it!
Dime stores have almost disappeared these days, but the Albany Dime Store at 136 W. State lives on, and it even has the old-fashioned candy in glass cases that these sorts of places always had.
In winter the Dairy Dream is closed, but never fear, downtown you'll find Milton's Family Restaurant at 220 W. State Street, serving a variety of tasty down-home meals, perfect after your explorations.
Johnny Wooden: Hoosier hoops icon
(Dec. 13, 2014) - How often are two statues erected in honor of the same person in one year?
The first statue of Wooden (who died in 2010 just a few months before his 100th birthday) is a bronze sculpture near Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indy. The other is outside Pauley Pavilion at UCLA, where Wooden coached the Bruins to 10 NCAA championships in 12 years, one of the most astounding dynasties in all of sports.
Far beyond sports, Wooden became known as a motivator and folk philosopher because of his "Pyramid of Success," used as a blueprint by thousands of Americans.
Before all of that, Wooden was an outstanding basketball player at Martinsville High School and at Purdue University. In fact, he became the first person named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach.
To explore the life and impact of this remarkable Hoosier, Nelson is joined in studio by three guests:
"The respect his former players had for him was unprecedented, in my opinion," Mark says about Wooden, whom he interviewed. In addition to hosting his radio show, Mark writes for pacers.com.
Our guest Barb Morrow, who is based in the northeastern Indiana town of Auburn, has interviewed Wooden's daughter, in addition to former players and others who knew the Hoosier icon.
In her book, she explores how Wooden's long life intersected with those of other famous Hoosiers - from John Dillinger to former IU coach Branch McCracken - as well as the social history that unfolded during his era.
For example, she explores Wooden's progressive views on race relations, including his decision in 1948 while coaching at Indiana State (then known as Indiana State Teachers College) to play Clarence Walker, an African-American from East Chicago, in a post-season tournament. She calls that "a history-making move that paved the way for other blacks to play in national tournaments."
During our show, we also clarify some misconceptions about Wooden's life, as well as explore little-known or often-overlooked episodes. Regarding the latter, our guest Mark Montieth points out that Wooden's pro career as a player often has been neglected in discussions of his life. After graduating from Purdue, Wooden played for the first truly pro team in Indianapolis, the Kautskys, during the 1930s.
Our guest Jim Powers, who says, "I am so proud to have been one of his 'boys'," cites as a favorite saying associated with his mentor: "Make each day your masterpiece."
A sampling of other homespun wisdom Wooden passed along to the world included: "Make friendship a fine art" and "Build a shelter against a rainy day."
Wooden credited those nuggets to a seven-point creed that his father wrote on a crisp white card that Wooden carried in his wallet daily.
In turn, his "Pyramid of Success" features "bricks" at the base of the pyramid such as "Industriousness" and "Enthusiasm"; they are topped by "Faith" and "Patience," among other qualities.
The future motivational icon grew up in a Morgan County farmhouse without electricity or indoor plumbing. During his high school years, his father quit farming because of financial pressures.
From those humble beginnings, John Wooden went on to coach UCLA not only to 10 championships, but to a history-making winning streak that lasted 88 games. The streak ended in 1974, one year before Wooden's retirement as coach.
His roster of players during his UCLA heyday included future pro superstars Lew Alcindor (who later became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Bill Walton, who clashed with Wooden over the length of his hair - but who always respected the coach and expressed appreciation in later years for what he taught on and off the basketball court.
Among those in subsequent generations who say they were influenced by Wooden's techniques is the native Hoosier now serving as UCLA's coach. Steve Alford, the former New Castle and IU star player, has written the foreword to Hardwood Glory.
Hoosiers who played for Coach Johnny Wooden's championship teams at UCLA included a South Bend native who later became a popular TV actor. Born in South Bend in 1946, he was an outstanding player at South Bend Central High School, where he was coached by our guest Jim Powers.
From 1966 to 1968, he played for Wooden at UCLA, where his teammates included Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). During the years he played for UCLA, the Bruins won two NCAA national championships.
As a TV actor, the South Bend native is best remembered for his role as a police officer in a critically acclaimed TV series during the 1980s. He was nominated for an Emmy Award for his role in the program; it was known for intertwined story lines, some of which continued over several episodes, then unusual for a TV series.
Question: Who is the basketball star-turned-TV actor from South Bend?
The prize pack includes a signed copy of the book the book Hardwood Glory: A Life of John Wooden, courtesy of author Barb Olenyik Morrow, and four passes to the NCAA Hall of Champions and four passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Roadtrip: Big high school gym contest in Indiana
Guest Roadtripper Suzanne Stanis of Indiana Landmarks suggests a trip to Martinsville in Morgan County to see what was billed in 1924 as "The Biggest Gym in the World."
With more than 5,000 seats, the gym could handle the entire population of Martinsville, which numbered 4,895 in 1920 - with room to spare.
The Artesians' enormous home went on to be dwarfed by other gyms, including the 9,000-plus-seat New Castle Field House and the 8,000-plus-seat Anderson Wigwam, but the Martinsville shrine to Hoosier Hysteria remains.
Today the Glenn Curtis Memorial Gym, named in honor of the Martinsville High School coach who brought home three state basketball championships, is part of West Middle School.
Rare movies with Indiana connections + Danville history
(Dec. 6, 2014 - encore presentations) - 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.
Jennings County and Vernon
(Nov. 29, 2014) - 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 joins Nelson in studio to share insights about Vernon and its home county, which is located about halfway between Columbus and Madison.
They also are 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 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.
James Whitcomb Riley: before he was famous
(Nov. 22, 2014) - Long before the "Hoosier Poet" became known across the country as a spellbinding entertainer, he had a colorful life. That was so even before young James Whitcomb Riley worked as a musician and sign painter on the traveling medicine show circuit, which Hoosier History Live will spotlight along with other, captivating aspects of the famous Hoosier born in Greenfield in 1849.
We explore Riley's complicated relationship with his father, a Civil War veteran; his role in a hoax about a poem described as the long-lost work of Edgar Allen Poe; his schooling, childhood antics and sorrows; the visit of a Confederate soldier and a haystack of other aspects of the early life of the Hoosier who had written more than 1,000 poems when he died in 1916.
Nelson is joined in studio by three guests who have immersed themselves in Riley's pre-fame life. They include historic re-enactor Danny Russel, a popular entertainer/educator who periodically portrays Riley during our show as he shares some of Riley's poems, both obscure and famous.
Our guests also include two Hancock County residents deeply involved with the James Whitcomb Riley Boyhood Home in Greenfield. They are Brigette Cook Jones, president of the Hancock County Historical Society, and Gwen Betor, past president of the Riley Old Home Society. (Brigette is secretary of the society). Both Brigette and Gwen are longtime docents at the home Riley's father built on the Old National Road (now U.S. 40).
As a boy, Riley became captivated by the circus, imitated entertainers and once was given a flying squirrel that he featured in his routines - before things came to a sad end. Nelson and his guests share insights about that episode during our show, as well as insights about the series of jobs Riley attempted before he became a celebrity. They even included work as a Bible salesman and a shoe clerk.
So prepare for revelations, even if you grew up keenly aware of Riley's classic poems - such as When the Frost Is On the Punkin - and his national impact.
Expect some of our show topics to be humorous, such as Riley's desperate attempts as a boy to remove his freckles and what happened when he received his first pair of long pants.
Other topics are poignant, including the end of his engagements to two women. His relationship with one fiancée ended in connection with his loss of a newspaper job in Anderson. And that's related to the "Poe poem," which was revealed as a fraud.
"People don't realize how much he struggled before he become such a huge national celebrity," our guest Brigette Cook Jones says.
History trivia: Our guest Danny Russel portrays other historic figures with Indiana connections, including Abraham Lincoln. And Brigette Cook Jones joined us in October 2011 for a show about the real Hoosier who inspired Riley's classic poem Little Orphant Annie.
Roadtrip: Evansville African American Museum
The museum is located in Lincoln Gardens, a "New Deal" public housing project built in 1938. Lincoln Gardens now houses the museum; it is located in the African American community of Baptisttown.
Similar to Lockefield Gardens, which was constructed and completed in Indianapolis between 1935 and 1938, and the Indiana Avenue neighborhood in Indianapolis, Lincoln Gardens was a largely thriving, self-sufficient community.
The Evansville African American Museum features panels presenting the history of Baptisttown and a wonderful display of artifacts related to Lincoln High School, which served African American students 1928-1962 and is now Lincoln Elementary school. The museum also features traveling exhibits.
Sondra Matthews, founder of Our Times newspaper in Evansville, led the effort to establish the museum in 2007.
After he became famous across the country, James Whitcomb Riley befriended many other notable Hoosiers, including fellow literary greats.
In 1893, another native Hoosier who was enjoying national attention joined the "Hoosier Poet" for a celebrity appearance at the World's Fair - the Columbian Exposition - in Chicago.
The other notable Hoosier was the author of a historical novel that became a runaway national bestseller. He also had claims to fame in several other endeavors, including military exploits. At the World's Fair, he joined Riley in the spotlight when "Indiana Day" was celebrated.
The other Hoosier literary figure even had served as the governor of a new territory of the United States and as a diplomat.
Question: Who was he?
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 Indianapolis Zoo and four passes to the NCAA Hall of Champions, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four admissions to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Epidemics in Indiana history
(Nov. 15, 2014) - Amid the intense focus on Ebola and widespread concerns (or needless panic, according to many experts) about the possibilities of an epidemic in this country, Hoosier History Live explores epidemics in Indiana's past.
Did you know 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.
With two Indianapolis-based medical historians as studio guests, Nelson explores the impact of that early epidemic, plus others that affected not only Indiana, but places far beyond our borders.
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 our show.
We also explore the devastating impact of tuberculosis during the late 1800 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.)
And we explore episodes of 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.
In July 2009. Bill Beck was a Hoosier History Live guest for a show about the 1918 influenza epidemic and its Indiana impact. In July 2012, we explored various aspects of the polio epidemic, including the involvement of Eli Lilly & Co. in distributing the polio vaccine during the 1950s.
Now we broaden the focus and explore those epidemics, as well as several others.
In many Indiana towns, outbreaks of cholera during the 1830s, '40s and subsequent decades caused extreme panic.
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.
Decades before that, a malaria epidemic swept Indianapolis in 1821 just as the brand-new city was being developed on lowlands and swamps. A burial site for pioneers who were victims of the epidemic was called Plague Cemetery; it was located on the current site of Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. In recent years, a marker has been installed on the historic Plague Cemetery site - which, ironically, is near a complex of classroom buildings for IU medical students.
Some of the historic epidemics - including the reactions to AIDS beginning in the early 1980s - have involved widespread misinformation about the ways the diseases and disorders can be transmitted.
Other epidemics, including polio, were brought under control with the development of vaccines.
According to the Indiana Historical Society, the peak years for polio cases in the Hoosier state were 1949 and 1954, with, respectively, 1,147 and 1,448 new cases reported. In 1955, Dr. Jonas Salk developed the polio vaccine.
The 1918 influenza epidemic, which ravaged North America and Europe, is considered to have been the country's worst flu epidemic. It coincided with - then persisted after - World War I. Both of our guests have presented programs about that horrific epidemic at the Indiana Medical History Museum.
Even though Ebola cases primarily have been confined to West Africa, the Indiana State Department of Health has opened a 24-hour call center to answer questions from the public. The phone number is (877) 826-0011.
Roadtrip: 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, and look for a visit from Santa coming up next month."
Linden also has a Carnegie Public Library still in use, and one of Eric's favorite vintage ice cream stands, the Lindy Freeze. It is one of those independent ice cream places from the 1950s that 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.
In 1892, the country mourned when First Lady Caroline Scott Harrison died of tuberculosis in the White House.
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.
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?
The prize pack is a gift certificate to LePeep Restaurant and two passes to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four admissions to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Kidnapping of free blacks in early Indiana
(Nov. 8, 2014) - After Indiana became a state in 1816, our first governor called attention to a problem: the kidnapping of free African-Americans, who were taken to the South and sold as slaves.
This problem - although seldom mentioned today - was serious and pervasive enough that the state's first governor, Jonathan Jennings, felt compelled to urge legislation to prohibit it.
To explore the kidnapping problem - sometimes called "man stealing" in the 1800s - Nelson is joined in studio by two guests who share stories of African-American families who were affected. Nelson's guests are:
Among the kidnapped African Americans were members of a family who had lived in Vincennes. Jim Corridan will explain what happened to Jack Butler, his pregnant wife and six children, who were kidnapped after they moved to Illinois from a Knox County farm owned in part by William Henry Harrison. Jack Butler had been born free in Maryland circa 1776.
Much of the information about the kidnapping issue - including the concerns of Gov. Jennings - has been researched by Maxine Brown, a Corydon-based historic preservationist.
Maxine, who organized a recent conference that included presentations about the kidnapping issue, recommends the book Freedom at Risk: The Kidnapping of Free Blacks in America 1780-1865 (University Press of Kentucky, 1994), by Carol Wilson. According to Maxine, kidnappings were so common that historians have been unable to compile accurate statistics.
During our show, Georgia Cravey shares insights about a Henry County family affected by kidnapping attempts. The situation involving the family of William Trail is described in letters in a collection at the Indiana Historical Society.
Also during our show, Jim Corridan discusses what sort of justice was available for free blacks in early Indiana.
In the family situation that Jim will describe, although Jack Butler had been born free in Maryland, he wound up as a slave in Kentucky. Butler escaped and made his way to Vincennes.
He worked for Indiana's territorial governor, William Henry Harrison, as an indentured servant (later ruled a form of slavery by the Indiana Supreme Court). Through a series of episodes that Jim will describe, Butler and his family became free but were kidnapped, sent to Louisiana and sold into slavery.
Upon learning of this, Harrison fought for the family's release and the conviction of the kidnappers. According to Jim, many current and former Vincennes residents wrote depositions in support of the Butler family during a trial in Louisiana.
Our guest Jim Corridan is president of the Grouseland Foundation. Grouseland is the restored historic home built in Vincennes by Harrison, who later in life moved to Ohio and was elected U.S. president.
Our guest Georgia Cravey grew up in Charleston, Ill., the site of an early Lincoln-Douglas debate, as well as of a Copperhead riot. In the case she discusses that involved kidnapping attempts, William Trail (1784-1858) settled with his family in Henry County during the 1830s.
Roadtrip: Wilderness to World-Class at the Athenaeum
Guest Roadtripper and teacher Robin Knop of Herron High School suggests a "don't-miss" musical performance coming up next week! Wilderness to World-Class: Indy's Story through Song will be performed by Herron High School students and special guests at the Athenaeum Theatre on Nov. 11 with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and the show starting at 7 p.m.. Tickets are $5, and they are free for ages 12 and under.
The performance is part of the city's 2014 Spirit and Place Festival. The musical is based on Indianapolis playwright Claude McNeal's past production of Indy in Revue. Wilderness to World-Class is a dramatic, historical and original musical telling the journey of one man's family as they witness Indianapolis' growth from its founding in the 1820s to the capital city it is today.
The show will highlight important people, places and events in Indianapolis history using narration, audiovisual tools, dance and song. Attendees will receive a specially designed bike map featuring many of the downtown sites mentioned in the show.
Wilderness to World-Class is collaborative production by Herron High School and Claude McNeal Productions.
A neighborhood in Indianapolis has deep connections to African American history. Located northwest of Monument Circle, the neighborhood included the homes of many black business and civic leaders of the 1800s and early 1900s.
Now considered a historic district, the neighborhood takes its name from a civic leader who was the corporate attorney and manager for the businesses of hair products entrepreneur Madam Walker. With his extended family, he lived in the neighborhood, where some homes date to the 1890s or even earlier.
In fact, the neighborhood - long before being known by its current name - was identified as far back as the 1830s as an area of African American settlement.
Question: What is the Indianapolis neighborhood?
The prize pack is a gift certificate to LePeep Restaurant and two passes to the Indiana State Museum at White River State Park, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four admissions to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Amish in Indiana
(Nov. 1, 2014 - encore presentation) - Only two states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, have larger Amish populations than Indiana.
The 49,000 Amish here live in about 22 distinct communities scattered across the state, from Elkhart and LaGrange counties in northern Indiana to settlements near the towns of Washington in southern Indiana, as well as Berne and Geneva in the northeast.
In this encore broadcast of one of the most popular shows in our Hoosier History Live archives (its original air date was Oct. 5, 2013), Nelson's guest is Steve Nolt, a history professor at Goshen College and co-author of a book that poses these questions:
"What is it about the Amish that both enchants and perplexes us? ... Could a horse-and-buggy people be more satisfied than the rest of us, with all our modern conveniences?"
Steve is the co-author of The Amish (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), which explores all aspects of the "intensely private and insular" folks known, as his book puts it, "for their simple clothing, plain lifestyle and limited technology."
During the show, Steve and Nelson explore the ever-increasing population of Amish in Indiana (the average family has seven children), as well as their values, schools and their shift from an almost exclusive focus on farming to jobs in factories and businesses. Employers include the RV industry in the Elkhart area - even though the Amish do not own or drive motor vehicles.
In addition to being the co-author of The Amish, Steve Nolt is the author or co-author of several other books about the Amish and has collaborated on multiyear projects about their religion, history and distinctive culture.
According to his book The Amish, which was co-written by Donald Kraybill and Karen Johnson-Weiner, about two-thirds now support themselves in Amish-owned small businesses or by working in non-Amish factories and shops.
During our show, Steve Nolt addresses misconceptions about the Amish, who recently have become, as his book puts it, "popular culture icons of tourism and reality TV shows, even as they have deftly learned to flourish in a digital world."
He emphasizes that the Amish are not homogeneous. Some communities in Indiana include families who send their children to public schools until the eighth grade. Children in other communities almost exclusively attend private schools.
Founded more than 300 years ago in Europe as an offshoot of the Anabaptist Christians, the Amish Church faced persecution. The first Amish settled in Pennsylvania during the 1730s. According to The Amish, many families headed west - including to Ohio and Indiana - during the 1800s because of rising land prices in the eastern United States.
In northern Indiana, the towns of Nappanee and Shipshewana - both with Amish communities that date to the 19th century - have been popular in recent decades for tourists and shoppers intrigued by products such as quilts and baked goods. The Amish typically refer to outsiders as, simply, "the English."
In The Amish, Steve and his co-authors explore Rumspringa (which translates as "running around"), the rite of passage when adventurous teenagers in many Amish communities enjoy the freedom to experiment with cultural influences before deciding whether to be baptized and officially join the church.
During our show, Steve and Nelson explore misconceptions about Rumspringa, which drew widespread attention in the late 1990s following a series of alcohol and drug arrests of "wilding" Amish teenagers. Typically, Rumspringa ends with marriage, according to The Amish. Activities during the rite of passage vary widely among Amish communities, with many youth never engaging in mischief.
In Indiana, about two-thirds of the Amish live in the northern part of the state; LaGrange and Elkhart counties have the largest concentrations. Nearly 22,000 Amish people live in those two counties. The Amish population in Adams County is 7,200. In Daviess County in southern Indiana, it is 3,805.
Overall, only about 14 percent of the Amish today are farmers, according to some reports. In contrast, 61 percent were farmers in 1970.
In addition to holding jobs in RV factories, many Amish in Indiana work in furniture-making and home construction.
Historic women's groups
(Oct. 25, 2014) - As Election Day approaches, Hoosier History Live explores the heritage and community impact of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters - as well as the cultural and civic impact of two other historic women's groups that are more than 100 years old.
The Indianapolis Woman's Club was founded clear back in 1875, so it will turn 140 in February.
And the Woman's Department Club of Indianapolis celebrated its centennial in 2012; its heritage is intertwined with the Hoosier Salon and what became the Visiting Nurses Association in Indianapolis, among other well-known organizations.
All three women's groups pre-date November 1920, when women finally got to vote in a presidential election for the first time. (Both the Indiana and Indianapolis chapters of the League of Women Voters were founded several months earlier that year.)
To explore the deep heritage of the three groups and how they have evolved, Nelson is joined in studio by three guests:
Members of the Woman's Club are expected to research and present papers; their topics cover a vast range, from arts and culture to science and education, but not religion or politics.
Although the League of Women Voters does not endorse candidates, it studies various issues and then forms policy positions. Topics range from immigration to, on the local level, redistricting reform.
The name of the Woman's Department Club derives partially because, in 1912, "departments" were set up to provide activities and community outreach. They included an "art department," "music department" and an "education department."
A charter member of the club was appointed to the Indianapolis School Board.
According to info supplied by Bonnie, the first women's club in the country may have been a group organized in the historic village of New Harmony in southwestern Indiana.
A collection of treasured paintings, many done by the renowned Hoosier Group of artists in the early 1900s, hung in a former clubhouse owned by the Woman's Department. The clubhouse, on North Meridian Street, was sold in 1964. Then the paintings were housed at the Indianapolis Museum of Art before being sold at auction in 2001.
Proceeds from that sale of artwork (which included paintings by T.C. Steele and William Forsyth) were used to create a fund for scholarships in education and in endeavors supporting the arts. Among various outreach activities, the Woman's Department funds scholarships in nursing and sponsors awards for artists.
Today, the Woman's Department meets at the historic Indianapolis Propylaeum in the Old Northside neighborhood. So does the Woman's Club, whose founders in 1875 included educator May Wright Sewall, a dynamic civic leader who became an internationally known suffragist and an ally of Susan B. Anthony.
May Wright Sewall (1844-1920) also founded the Propylaeum. Her life and impact were the focus of a Hoosier History Live show in March 2012 with historian Ray Boomhower and Jan Wahls, a member of the Propylaeum Historic Foundation.
About the time women won the right to vote in 1920, suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt and others, as Erin puts it, "saw the need to keep all these mighty women organized."
The League of Women Voters was envisioned to help them - and future generations of women - become informed, active citizens.
Some history facts:
Roadtrip: Civil War sites in Indy
Guest Roadtripper William Selm, historian and adjunct faculty member at IUPUI, tells us to look around Indianapolis for hometown reminders of the Civil War.
"We are in the midst of the American Civil War Sesquicentennial," he says, "and 150 years ago the war was still raging in its fourth year. Indiana was thick in the fight under the leadership of the war governor, Oliver P. Morton. This titanic conflict in American history is remembered throughout Indianapolis, and the most obvious reminder is the beloved Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in the very center of the city."
Indianapolis also was the site of a prisoner-of-war internment camp. Camp Morton was opened in April 1861 as a training recruitment camp for Indiana volunteers. It was located in what had formerly been the Indiana State Fairgrounds before the fairgrounds relocated to 38th Street.
Camp Morton has an official cast-metal marker at North Alabama and 19th streets near where the camp entrance was. The prison camp's Col. Richard Owen, known to be kindly and humane, was remembered and honored by his former charges by a bronze bust that is near the center of the Indiana Statehouse.
The grimmer side of Camp Morton is remembered by the large granite Confederate Memorial in Garfield Park, just inside the southeastern entrance. It originally stood as the funerary monument in Greenlawn Cemetery, where the Confederate soldiers who died in captivity in Indianapolis were originally buried. The monument lists all the names of the Confederate soldiers, as well as their state regiments. A number came from border states that officially remained in the Union.
Other reminders include three Abraham Lincoln monuments, the Oliver P. Morton monument at the east entrance of the State House, the Camp Sullivan marker in Military Park and many others. The most recent reminder is the Indy Eleven Football (soccer) Club, named for Gen. Lew Wallace's (Brookville-born) 11th Indiana Regiment.
Bedford native Becky Skillman served two terms as Indiana's lieutenant governor after winning election in 2004 on the Republican ticket with Mitch Daniels. Although she became the first woman elected to the state's No. 2 post, Becky Skillman was not the first to serve in the office. In an earlier state administration, a woman was appointed to be Indiana's lieutenant governor when an opening occurred.
Question: Name the first woman to serve as the state's lieutenant governor.
Hint: Her stint in the office occurred during the last 15 years.
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to the Mikado restaurant and two passes to the IMAX Theater at White River State Park, courtesy of Visit Indy, and a pair of passes to GlowGolf at Circle Centre mall, courtesy of GlowGolf.
Marketing Indiana - and the lieutenant governor
(Oct. 18, 2014) - "Honest-to-Goodness Indiana" made its debut earlier this year as the marketing slogan for the Hoosier state. Since then, it has been heard in TV commercials and featured on billboards, and it has popped up in magazine ads.
To share insights about the state's marketing campaigns and techniques, current and past, Nelson is joined in studio by two state officials - one of them No. 2 in the chain of command. Listen to "Honest to Goodness Indiana" here.
Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann, who manages six state agencies, including the Office of Tourism Development, is one of the guests. A native of Ferdinand in southern Indiana, Lt. Gov. Ellspermann has a doctorate in industrial engineering and had a varied career in research, business and politics before she was elected in 2012 on a ticket with Gov. Mike Pence.
She is joined on the show by Mark Newman, executive director of the Office of Tourism Development, as we explore the strategy for the Visit Indiana campaign, including the "Honest-to-Goodness" tagline and the cities and states where it is being used.
TV commercials feature an "Honest to Goodness" tune sung by pop musician-songwriter Jon McLaughlin, who grew up in Anderson. Sequences in the commercials or references in the lyrics (or sometimes both) highlight sites ranging from The Dunes at Lake Michigan, the French Lick Springs Hotel and the Joseph Decuis gourmet restaurant in Roanoke to bustling Massachusetts Avenue and the Central Canal in downtown Indy.
"Honest-to-Goodness" replaced "Restart Your Engines," which had an eight-year run as the state's marketing slogan.
"Many tourism officials around the state complained that the last brand platform was too Indianapolis-centric," the Indianapolis Business Journal reported in March. The same article - as well as others written in reaction to the introduction of the "Honest-to-Goodness" slogan - included some criticism that it was too folksy.
Just as the Hoosier state is diverse, so is the background of Lt. Gov. Ellspermann. She grew up in a family of six children, graduated from Purdue with a degree in industrial engineering (her advanced degrees, including her Ph.D., are from the University of Louisville) and owned a small business for 20 years. Then she became the founding director of the University of Southern Indiana's Center for Applied Research and Economic Development.
In addition to exploring various aspects of marketing Indiana during our show, Nelson asks the lieutenant governor about her journey to the state's No. 2 post. Before being selected as Mike Pence's running mate, she had served one term in the Indiana House, representing a district that included Dubois, Perry, Spencer and Warrick counties.
Before our guest Mark Newman joined the state tourism office in 2012, he was a vice president of marketing with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; prior to that, he had worked as chief operating officer of Indiana Sports Corp.
Fun facts: According to an article in The New York Times earlier this year, the slogan for Texas is "It's Like a Whole Other Country." In North Carolina, it's "Beauty Amplified." The Cornhusker state markets itself as "Nebraska Nice" and Connecticut as "Still Revolutionary."
In the re-branding process for Indiana that resulted in the “Honest to Goodness” slogan and other aspects of the current campaign, nearly 8,000 people ultimately participated, our guest Mark Newman told the IBJ. They responded to surveys, participated in focus groups or were involved in other ways.
According to several news accounts, Indiana is near the bottom of the states - 47th - in spending for tourism promotion.
During the 1980s, a major tourism promotion highlighted the "Wander Indiana" slogan, which was featured on state license plates. Apparently like just about any slogan, "Wander Indiana" also was met with criticism, including that it implied the state was slow-paced and unfocused.
When the "Honest to Goodness" campaign was unveiled in February, state officials indicated it eventually will be featured in national and regional magazines, including some associated with popular TV channels such as a the Food Network. State officials emphasized that efforts were made to feature diversity in the campaign, including diverse regions across Indiana.
Roadtrip: New Albany, on the Ohio River
She explains: "One of Indiana's earliest towns, it's a preservationist's delight, with two centuries of buildings, many of which are undergoing rehab and adaptive reuse, and a great downtown to explore!"
The town founder's Scribner House from 1814 still stands, owned by the DAR. And a Greek Revival early state bank from the 1830s now houses a club. Lots of great public art, too!
Some of Glory's recommended sites:
For good eats, just walk around downtown, and there's food everywhere for all tastes. You might try The Exchange, located in an 1870s building on Market Street.
Thousands of tourists are drawn every October to Parke County for the Covered Bridge Festival. Located in far-western Indiana, Parke County markets itself as "the covered bridge capital of the world" because it still has 31 of the historic structures.
The county's 58th annual Covered Bridge Festival concludes Sunday (Oct. 19). Some of the most prolific builders of covered bridges during the 19th and early 20th centuries were based in Parke County.
However, another county in Indiana was the home of a rival covered-bridge maker that built at least 58 of them.
Unlike the covered bridges in Parke County, which tend to be red, this county's builder preferred to make white covered bridges. Many of them were decorated with scrolls - script-like designs - on the exterior.
Six historic covered bridges are still standing in this county. One of the six was reconstructed after it was destroyed during a tornado in 2008. The reconstruction used some of the bridge's original wood, which the tornado had flung into a river spanned by the bridge.
Question: What is the Indiana county?
Ask Nelson - and the Hoosierist, too
(Oct. 11, 2014) - Expect a bonus opportunity with our invitation to Hoosier History Live! listeners to call in and ask our host, author/historian Nelson Price, questions about our Hoosier heritage.
During this show, which featured open phone lines throughout for callers, the bonus opportunity involves a media colleague who, like Nelson, loves Hoosier trivia.
Sam Stall, who writes The Hoosierist column for Indianapolis Monthly magazine, joins Nelson in studio as co-host for the show. The Hoosierist is a question-and-answer column in which Sam tackles just about any question under the sun related to Indiana - from our natural landscape to weird statistics.
During the show, Sam shares details about the highest natural point in Indiana, which certainly is not known for mountain ranges or anything even resembling them. A teaser: The high point is called Hoosier Hill and is located in a far-eastern region of the state.
Nelson, in turn, shares insights about his areas of expertise, including famous people from Indiana and Indianapolis city history, drawing from his books Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (Hawthorne Publishing) and Indianapolis Then and Now (Thunder Bay Press).
Because the pro baseball season is nearing its annual climax with the World Series, Nelson discusses a colorful Hoosier baseball player who became a household name thanks to his triumphs 96 years ago. In the 1908 World Series, former Indiana farm boy Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown was a pitcher who won the series for the Chicago Cubs. To this day, the Cubs have never won another World Series.
A native of tiny Nyesville in far-western Indiana, Mordecai Brown achieved stardom despite suffering a severe injury during a childhood accident with a corn shredder. As Nelson will explain, some analysts contended Brown's disfigured right hand actually gave his curveball an exceedingly sharp, downward break that proved challenging for batters. He eventually became the first native Hoosier inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Other topics Nelson and Sam explore during the show:
Want to weigh in on any of these topics? This show will be your opportunity. During our last "Ask Nelson" show, callers phoned in to supplement the history insights or provide first-person accounts related to the topics.
We ran out of time before Nelson could share some insights about internationally famous violinist Joshua Bell, a Bloomington native. So he discusses an anecdote related to the first time he interviewed Joshua, who was disembarking from a commercial airline with his Stradivarius violin (estimated value: $2 million) in tow. (Several years ago, Joshua upgraded to an even more expensive Stradivarius.)
Regular listeners may recall that Sam Stall, "The Hoosierist" columnist, was a Hoosier History Live! guest in October 2012, joining Nelson for a Cafeterias across Indiana show. Sam's other books - he has written two dozen - include Tray Chic: Celebrating Indiana’s Cafeteria Culture (Emmis Books, 2004).
Roadtrip: Sarah Bolton, and Sarah Bolton Park in Beech Grove
Guest Roadtripper Andrea Neal, columnist for the Indiana Policy Review and founder of Indiana At 200, tells us that, "Pioneer poet Sarah T. Bolton has been lost to history, but in the 1840s and '50s she was a famous Hoosier."
She continues: "Her poetry was known across the country, and her most famous poem, Paddle Your Own Canoe, was set to music and translated into a dozen foreign languages."
Bolton was born Sarah Tittle Barrett in 1814 in Newport, Ky., and moved as a toddler with her parents to Jennings County. Not liking the isolation, her father sold the farm and took the family to more civilized Madison, where Sarah studied Latin and read Virgil and other classics. Her first published poem appeared in the Madison Banner in 1826. She was not quite 14.
In 1831, Miss Barrett married newspaperman Nathaniel Bolton, and the two moved to Indianapolis, where they ran a dairy farm and wrote and immersed themselves in public affairs.
Bolton was a prominent figure in Indiana and was often asked to write poems for public occasions. Although anthologies of Bolton's poetry are no longer in print, she was widely published for her era. During the Civil War, her Union Forever! poem was credited with rallying the North.
By 1871 Bolton had retired from the spotlight and bought land at Beech Bank southeast of Indianapolis - now Beech Grove - where she lived her golden years in relative quiet. She died in 1893.
She is memorialized at a community park purchased by Beech Grove in 1930. The city's website notes, "The park reflects the life and beauty that Mrs. Bolton often spoke of in her poetry."
In addition to being the site of the highest natural point in Indiana, Wayne County, on the state's far-eastern border, is the home of a historic candy business. Located in the town of Hagerstown, the candy business was founded in 1890 and became well-known for its caramels. For decades, visitors have been able to arrange to see the caramels and other treats being made at the Hagerstown business.
After 120 years, ownership of the candy enterprise was sold by its founding family, although their name has been retained on the business, which is continuing as a landmark in Hagerstown.
Question: Name the historic candy business.
The prize pack is a gift certificate to Le Peep restaurant and two passes to the IMAX Theater at White River State Park, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four passes to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
World War I and Indiana
During the horrific conflict that broke out in 1914 (although the United States did not enter the war until 1917), about 1,420 Hoosiers were killed in combat, according to some accounts. Thousands more were injured, suffered from shell shock or had their lives significantly altered in other ways.
Judge Osborne, a former high school history teacher, is the founder and curator of the Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes, which has had special events commemorating World War I's centennial. In June, volunteers in Vincennes dug trenches on the museum's property so young Hoosiers could see how the war was fought; re-enactors portrayed Allied and German soldiers. The museum also has exhibited a restored French Renault hospital field truck from 1914.
The war's end in November 1918 was celebrated for months afterward. To welcome home Indiana's returning soldiers, thousands of people flocked to downtown Indy on May 7, 1919 for a celebration that featured a massive replica of the Arc de Triomphe (victory arch) in Paris.
Our guest Judge Osborne is an avid military collector and historian. He established the non-profit Indiana Military Museum in 1982 as a way to enhance education of U.S. military history and preserve significant artifacts.
None of the 4.7 million U.S. veterans of World War I remain alive. The U.S. death toll was more than 116,500.
Even before the United States entered the war, America suffered casualties. In 1915, the British ocean liner Lusitania was attacked by Germany; its sinking killed nearly 1,200 passengers, including 128 Americans.
In Indiana, a military camp was established at scenic Winona Lake during the war. At Camp Winona, mechanics and truck drivers were trained for the war effort. According to the book Winona at 100, challenges at Camp Winona - as well as other military camps - included fatalities from diseases such as influenza and pneumonia.
During the war, Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis became one of the country's biggest training sites. The fort (now Fort Harrison State Park) had three large officer training camps during the "Great War." At a specialty camp, about 10,000 troops at Fort Harrison received instruction as engineers and railroad specialists, according to the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis.
Also according to the encyclopedia, various auto-related manufacturers in the Hoosier capital, including companies then known as Prest-O-Lite and Allison Engineering, converted to making, respectively, munitions and airplane engines. The city's gas company converted some operations to make explosives.
Hoosiers who served in World War I included future Republican presidential candidate Wendell Willkie, a native of Elwood. Willkie was in the U.S. Army in France as the war wound down. Indiana-born composer Cole Porter claimed to have served in the French Foreign Legion, but his biographers have disputed that. Tony Hulman, the future owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was a teenager who served with the ambulance corps of the American Red Cross during the war.
And Gene Stratton-Porter, the famous naturalist/novelist from northeastern Indiana (her bestsellers included A Girl from the Limberlost), donated $5,000 to the Red Cross during the war; her husband's relatives were surgeons in France.
During the war, a key national figure in the Red Cross also was a Hoosier. Previously a small operation, the Red Cross grew dramatically because of the unprecedented need for medical care. Vincennes native and Indiana University graduate Ernest Bicknell, who had been national director of the Red Cross, traveled to Europe to oversee several relief efforts.
Women's organizations and churches across Indiana also focused to the war effort. A "socks for soldiers" crusade spearheaded by Hoosier women involved knitting thousands of socks for Indiana regiments as they left for France, according to the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis.
After the war ended and the signing of peace treaties, including the Treaty of Versailles, the American Legion was founded in 1919. The new organization chose Indianapolis as the site of its national headquarters, where it remains to this day. Construction of the five-block Indiana World War Memorial Plaza (including what is sometimes called American Legion mall) followed.
Roadtrip: Logan Street Stroll in Noblesville
Guest Roadtripper Janet Gilray of Legacy Keepers Music points out that a new self-guided walking tour of downtown Noblesville and adjacent Logan Street, just to the east of downtown, is available.
William Connor and Josiah Polk platted the town of Noblesville seven years after Indiana became a state, with the town boundaries being the White River, Harrison Street, 12th Street, and Cherry Street on the south.
Logan Street Stroll highlights include:
Additionally, a Logan Street Shuffle will be held on Oct. 12 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Logan Street Sanctuary at 1274 Logan Street in Noblesville, including performances by the Riverboat Floozies and a steampunk fashion show.
A nationally famous building in southern Indiana was used as a hospital for soldiers wounded during World War I. In 1918 and 1919, U.S. Army soldiers returning from Europe were treated in the atrium and other areas of the landmark building.
Its role as a wartime hospital was a striking departure from the reason the impressive structure attained fame. The ornate building, which opened in 1902, had been visited by hundreds of wealthy Americans.
After its stint as a World War I hospital for soldiers, the building returned to its pre-war grandeur. But the Great Depression had a significant impact on its operation.
Question: Name the historic building in southern Indiana.
The prize pack is a gift certificate to the Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of the Story Inn, and two passes to the NCAA Hall of Fame, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four passes to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
History of TV in Indy
(Sept. 20, 2014) - With the headlines about a major switch in network affiliations of TV stations in Indy, what better opportunity to spotlight the history of TV in the Hoosier capital?
As Hoosier History Live will explore with two broadcast veterans in Indiana as Nelson's guests, the shuffling of network affiliations has happened previously, although not often.
David L. Smith, who began his TV career in 1951 (with WTTV) during the dawn of television in the Hoosier state, joins Nelson in studio. His long list of credits include working in management for 20 years at WISH and hosting a popular series, When Movies Were Movies, that aired for 10 years beginning in 1971.
His books include Indianapolis Television (Arcadia Publishing, 2012), which explores the evolution of TV in the Hoosier capital and highlights a parade of personalities whose careers were linked to various TV stations in Indy.
They include David Letterman (a weatherman during the 1970s), the troubled former Hollywood actress Frances Farmer (who was the host of an afternoon movie show during the 1960s) and Channel 4 children's TV personalities Janie Hodge and Cowboy Bob.
Another well-known name who got her start in Indy TV was hired by a former Channel 8 news director who joins Nelson and David Smith on the show. Jane Pauley was hired in 1972 by Lee Giles, whose long, award-winning career as a news director at WISH was preceded by on-air posts in the news department, including anchor and Statehouse reporter.
Both of our guests were working in the Indy TV market during the late 1970s when two stations switched network affiliations. Channel 13/WTHR-TV (formerly WLWI) had been affiliated with ABC-TV; Channel 6/WRTV had been an NBC affiliate. The two stations switched networks as part of a power play.
The maneuvering so enraged the then-general manager of Channel 13 that he resorted to a late-night, on-air act of frustration that Dave Smith will describe during our show.
He also recounts the incident in his Indianapolis Television book, which traces the beginnings of experimentation with the medium in the Hoosier capital during the late 1930s. (A ham radio operator who was studying electrical engineering at Purdue may have been the first to broadcast a TV image in Indiana, the book reports.)
Some history facts:
Several of the initial staff members at Channel 4 were Indiana University students, according to our guest Dave Smith's book Indianapolis Television. After being hired at the TV station in 1951, he did on-air work and also produced, directed, edited film and served as a cameraman.
In addition to Dave's later, long stint at Channel 8, which included serving as program and production manager, he was a telecommunications professor at Ball State University. His other books include Hoosiers in Hollywood (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2006) and a biography of movie star Clifton Webb, an Indianapolis native.
Both of our guests, Dave Smith and Lee Giles, have been presidents of the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers and have been inducted into its hall of fame. Lee Giles also has been inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame; his 40-year career at WISH-TV included 35 years as news director, a remarkably long tenure in a post that typically turns over every few years.
WISH-TV was not always a CBS affiliate. During the 1950s, it had carried NBC programming before switching to CBS. The upcoming switch of CBS to WTTV, which has been an independent station, means that Channel 4 will begin carrying the network's popular programs - as well as many Indianapolis Colts games - in 2015.
By the way, several well-known news anchors and personalities in the Indy TV market have been studio guests on Hoosier History Live! since our debut in January 2008. They include retired Channel 8 news anchor Mike Ahern (he was a guest on show in October 2009 about the legendary House of Blue Lights) and Barbara Boyd, who, at Channel 6, became the first African-American woman in Indiana to anchor a news broadcast. Dave Smith's book mentions the attention she drew as a consumer reporter when Barbara reported about her own mastectomy from her hospital bed.
Roadtrip: Decatur Sculpture Walk
Guest Roadtripper Terri Gorney of Fort Wayne, who also volunteers at several conservation organizations, including ACRES, DNR and Limberlost, suggests that we visit the small Adams County town of Decatur in northeast Indiana for its third annual Sculpture Walk.
Decatur is the birthplace and boyhood home of David Smith, one of the most well-known sculptors of the 20th century. You can also see the work of artist Greg Mendez, also a native of Decatur and inspired by David Smith. Here's a town that is proud of its artists!
This year there are 17 outdoor sculptures and six in downtown businesses, as well as permanent private sculptures.
While in Decatur, you can visit Storybook Park, established in 2013 next to the Adams Public Library. It was designed by another Decatur native, landscape designer Nick Girod. There is also a beautiful Peace Memorial on the courthouse lawn. Enjoy an ice cream at the Ice Cream Depot or lunch or dinner at Marko's on Second Street, Back 40 Junction, or the Galley.
One of the longest-serving weathercasters in Indianapolis TV history was a viewer favorite on WISH-TV/Channel 8 from the late 1950s (when he was hired as an announcer) until his retirement in 1991.
During the brutal Blizzard of 1978, he was a nearly round-the-clock presence on Channel 8 as he provided Central Indiana residents with constant updates about the historic winter storm. His trademarks included horn-rimmed eyeglasses and a weather van with his name emblazoned on it. In the 1950s, before joining WISH-TV, he was an announcer and host on Channel 4/WTTV.
Question:Who was the longtime Channel 8 weatherman?
The prize pack is a gift certificate to the Tin Roof, a live music joint in downtown Indianapolis, and two passes to the Eiteljorg Museum, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four passes to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Another show online!
Show on grocers now available for listening
From family grocers to supermarkets. This show, originally aired on July 19, 2014, is now available for downloading and listening thanks to the generous support of Bruce and Julie Buchanan.
Remember, friends, we at Hoosier History Live are more like a small family corner grocery than anything else!
Independents make great radio. And a big thanks to creative collaborators Richard Sullivan, Nelson Price and Molly Head, who put together this newsletter each and every week.
Nelson in print
These 5 famous Hoosiers reinvented themselves
Just in time for Labor Day, host Nelson Price has penned another piece for The Indianapolis Star about historic - and current-day - prominent Hoosiers who began new chapters in their work lives after initially taking a different direction entirely.
Historian Jim Madison's insights on Hoosiers
(Sept. 13, 2014) - Indianapolis Monthly magazine called him "probably the closest thing Indiana has to a historian laureate."
His eagerly awaited new book, Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana (co-published by Indiana University Press and the Indiana Historical Society Press), explores the entire sweep of the state's heritage, starting centuries before the arrival of French fur traders during the early 1700s and concluding with economic and political upheavals of the 21st century.
James Madison, professor emeritus of history at Indiana University, is Nelson's special in-studio guest to share insights about a range of topics, including how the Hoosier character has been shaped by ethnic immigration, farm-to-city migration and manufacturing trends.
Some topics addressed in Professor Madison's new book that we explore during the show:
"Who at the state's Centennial in 1916 could have imagined Japanese auto factories sprouting in Indiana cornfields?" Professor Madison asks in Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana. "Who could have imagined Hoosier kids playing soccer when everyone knew that hands and feet were meant for basketball? Who could have imagined a mosque on Hoosier soil?"
Most of the state's earliest white settlers migrated from what Professor Madison's book calls the "upland South," meaning they often were "people too poor to own slaves." He cites 1850 census data indicating 44 percent had come from southern states, followed by 31 percent from Ohio.
In 1851, the state had a second constitutional convention because, in part, of a financial crisis stemming from debt incurred by what Professor Madison's book calls "canal mania": the frenzy to build canals, which quickly became obsolete with the railroad boom.
The "new" Indiana Constitution of 1851, which prohibits the state from going into debt, "contributed generally to the shaping of a more conservative outlook in Indiana," Professor Madison writes.
He is a member of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission that is overseeing celebrations for the state's 200th birthday in 2016. (For a Hoosier History Live show on June 22, 2013, he was a studio guest about the upcoming Bicentennial and how the state celebrated the Centennial in 1916.)
Professor Madison also is the author of several other books that explore various aspects of the state's heritage, including a biography of entrepreneur/philanthropist Eli Lilly, a look at a lynching in Marion in 1930, and The Indiana Way: A State History (IU Press, 1986).
In his new book, he explores the notorious Ku Klux Klan, which had a stranglehold on Indiana during the 1920s, and various misconceptions about that era. He also traces farm-to-city migration, citing the 1910 census showing that, for the first time, the number of rural Hoosiers declined while the urban population increased significantly.
During an earlier era, according to Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana, pioneer women here were marrying younger and having more children than women who remained in the East.
"The birthrate in Indiana in the 1810s ranked among the highest in the world," Professor Madison writes.
His book explores early African-American settlements such as Lyles Station in Gibson County.
And he describes the letters written during the Civil War by young Hoosier soldiers as "among the most interesting documents in all of Indiana history." As they marched through the South, the soldiers "saw firsthand the reality of slavery" and, in their letters home, challenged the South's "sunny depiction" of itself.
In chapters focusing on post-World War II eras, Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana explores the state's manufacturing heritage and evolving attitudes toward foreign investment, particularly in auto production. Whereas auto-related businesses typically had been located in northern Indiana for most of the 20th century, Professor Madison describes the tendency of Japanese companies since the 1980s to select small town or rural locations, often near such southern Indiana communities as Greensburg and Princeton.
In agriculture, he recounts the development of "industrial-type operations" such as the massive Fair Oaks Farms in northwest Indiana.
Roadtrip: Indiana Bicentennial Train
Amy Lamb of the Indiana Historical Society tells us to get on board the fall 2014 run of the Indiana Bicentennial Train. In a unique collaboration with The Indiana Rail Road Company and Norfolk Southern Corporation, the train will visit Columbus (Sept. 18-20), Jasper (Sept. 25-27), Terre Haute (Oct. 2-4) and Bargersville (Oct. 9-11).
Originally known as the Indiana History Train, the Indiana Bicentennial Train has welcomed more than 71,000 visitors in its six years of travel. It consists of three 65-foot renovated Amtrak freight cars and features a free traveling exhibition, The Next Indiana.
In addition to the exhibition, temporary "depots" are set up at each venue to provide an enjoyable, comprehensive experience. Visitors can participate in hands-on and educational activities, catch a 1916 interpreter presentation, connect with the mission and offerings of the Indiana Historical Society and purchase items from a pop-up History Market.
The Bicentennial Train and its accompanying activities are all free and open to the public, operating 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Every visitor will receive a complimentary pass to visit Indiana Experience at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center. For more information, call (317) 232-1882 or visit www.indianahistory.org/train.
By the early 1900s, according to statistics in James Madison's Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana, South Bend was the nation's sixth-largest manufacturer of farm machinery. A major reason was the presence in South Bend of a family-owned business that made plows. In fact, the family's factory became the world’s largest maker of plows.
A Queen Anne-style mansion built in the 1890s - and owned by the South Bend family for 72 years - is open for tours and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Question: Name the South Bend family that became wealthy in the plow-manufacturing business.
The prize pack includes four passes to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, a gift certificate the restaurant Mikado in downtown Indianapolis, courtesy of VisitIndy, and a pair of passes to GlowGolf in the Circle Centre Mall, courtesy of GlowGolf.
Prohibition in Indiana
(Sept. 6, 2014) - As the country moved to enact Prohibition, Indiana "was very much a battleground," according to an expert who will be a guest on our show.
Consider the number of Hoosier breweries that were in business, particularly in Terre Haute and Indianapolis. As Indianapolis-based author/historian Jason Lantzer notes, one of the major breweries was led by the maternal grandfather of Kurt Vonnegut.
On the other hand, many towns and counties across the state were "dry" for several years before January 1920, when the 18th Amendment - which was widely known as Prohibition - became part of the U.S. Constitution.
And Indiana had one of the best-organized state branches of the Anti-Saloon League, according to Jason, who is the author of Prohibition Is Here to Stay (University of Notre Dame Press, 2009) and the upcoming Interpreting the Prohibition Era at Museums and Historic Sites (R&L Publishers).
Jason, who also is the coordinator of the honors program at Butler University, joins Nelson in studio for a show exploring the colorful era of speakeasies, bootleggers, moonshine and temperance advocates such as suffragist Frances Willard, who was named the national head of the Union at an event in Indianapolis. (Jason notes that a bronze plaque about her ascendancy in 1879 is displayed in the rotunda of the Indiana Statehouse.)
Jason and Nelson are joined in studio by Katherine Gould, associate curator of cultural history at the Indiana State Museum, which will host a traveling exhibit, American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, that opens Sept. 20.
The exhibit, which was created by the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, spans the beginnings of the temperance movement from the early 1800s up through the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.
State Museum officials note that famous figures with Hoosier connections who crusaded for Prohibition included Billy Sunday (1862-1935), a pro baseball star who became one of the country's best-known evangelists.
Beginning in 1911, the former Chicago baseball player was based for much of the year in Winona Lake in northern Indiana. A major Christian campground with a Billy Sunday Tabernacle was built in Winona Lake, as was a home for Sunday and his family, a bungalow that he called Mount Hood.
Prohibition Is Here to Stay, our guest Jason Lantzer's first book, is a biography of another influential clergyman who crusaded against alcohol abuse. Rev. Edward Shumaker was a Methodist minister who, for nearly 25 years, led Indiana's chapter of the Anti-Saloon League, exerting influence far beyond the Hoosier state in what many called a "noble crusade."
Indiana went "dry" in April 1918, nearly two years before the nation, according to the Indiana Historical Society. Even several years before that, some Indiana counties such as LaGrange and Randolph already had prohibited the manufacturing, sale and transportation of alcohol.
In 1923, during the height of Prohibition, Indiana lawmakers passed the state's first drunk-driving law. The punishment was $500 and a jail sentence of up to six months, according to the historical society. Repeat offenders faced prison terms as long as five years.
Many suffragists crusaded for Prohibition because they had seen the devastating impact of men's alcoholism on their wives and children. In addition to Billy Sunday, advocates for Prohibition included May Wright Sewall, an Indianapolis-based suffragist, civic leader and educator.
According to the historical society, which hosted an exhibit titled "Busted: Prohibition Enforced" in 2011, about 30 breweries and more than 2,500 saloons across the state closed their doors when Indiana went "dry." (After the launch of the historical society's “You Are There” exhibit, Hoosier History Live explored some aspects of Prohibition during a show on June 25, 2011.)
The upcoming exhibit at the Indiana State Museum will feature recreations of a church where visitors can hear temperance speeches, as well as a speakeasy where they can learn to dance the Charleston and learn slang of the Roaring '20s.
The historical society's exhibit focused on the raid in 1920 of a major bootlegger operating out of a barn near New Bethel (now Wanamaker) in far-southeastern Marion County. A photo of that raid - considered the largest bootlegging bust in the Midwest since Prohibition began - not only inspired the historical society's exhibit, it is featured on the cover of the upcoming book by our guest Jason Lantzer.
Suggested "learn more" websites:
Roadtrip: Pleasant Run bike tour in Indy
Guest Roadtripper Suzanne Stanis of Indiana Landmarks suggests an opportunity to embrace the German philosophy of sound mind and body through exercise while exploring German-born George Kessler's marvelous park and boulevard system In Indianapolis.
In 1908, landscape architect George Kessler presented a plan to the Indianapolis Park Board that would use the natural terrain of Indianapolis to weave a system of boulevards and parkways connecting public parks. Today this plan, expanded upon by Lawrence Sheridan in the 1920s, connects 12 parks. Its system of roadways and parks encompasses 3,474 acres and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Fun fact: Did you know that Indy finally named a city park for George Kessler in recent years? It's at 25th and Pennsylvania streets in Fall Creek Place.
There's an opportunity on Sept. 27 for a 15-mile round trip bike ride exploring Pleasant Run from Garfield Park to Irvington in Indianapolis. Highlights of the tour include historic Garfield Park, Pleasant Run Parkway, Bona Thompson Memorial Library in Irvington, and the Fountain Square neighborhood. More information on the bike tour is on the Indiana Landmarks website.
A county in Indiana is considered by many historians to have been the site of the country's first successful commercial winery. European immigrants to the county set up vineyards and established the winery during the early 1800s. Some historians say the immigrants may even have introduced grape cultivation to the United States.
As a salute to its wine-making heritage, the Indiana county celebrates an annual wine festival. It typically features a grape stomp, riverboat cruises and music, as well as tents showcasing Indiana wineries.
Question: What is the Indiana county?
The prize pack includes four passes to the Indiana State Museum for an opportunity to see "American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition," which opens Sept. 20, two tickets to the tickets to the Hoosier Hops & Harvest Festival at Story Inn, courtesy of Story Inn, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Serving up Hoosier heritage food
To explore classic Hoosier foods - and topics related to the state's traditional cuisine - Nelson is joined in studio by one of the state's best-known food journalists. Jolene Ketzenberger, the Indianapolis-based founder and editor of the local food website EatDrinkIndy, has covered the Hoosier culinary scene for more than 20 years.
Here's her take on the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, which has been identified with Indiana for generations:
"I think it's clearly a cousin to the schnitzel, which seems reasonable considering the German heritage of many Hoosiers."
Did you know a historic restaurant in northeastern Indiana claims to have invented the pork tenderloin sandwich? Nick's Kitchen in Huntington dates its start to 1904, when founder Nick Frienstein began selling his wares from a street cart. A few years later, Nick's brother started frying - and breading - pork cutlets to sell as sandwiches.
Regardless of their origin, pork tenderloins have been a longtime hit with Hoosiers but are seldom served in other states. Other sandwiches are even more regional in appeal, including one that Jolene calls a "southern Indiana classic": the brain sandwich.
Jolene, who enjoys shopping in farmers markets and trying new recipes, reports she felt compelled to make a brain sandwich so she could include it in her Cafe Indiana Cookbook (2010), which she co-authored with Joanne Raetz Stuttgen.
"When I was testing the recipe, the power was out," she recalls. "So we were eating fried brains by candlelight - very zombie-esque, which seemed to amuse my boys."
Jolene and her husband, John, are the parents of three children. Her food journalism has appeared in Indianapolis Monthly, NUVO Newsweekly, the Indianapolis Business Journal and the Indianapolis Star. A regular judge at food and cocktail competitions, Jolene is at work on a book focusing on the evolution of the food scene in Indy.
The Hoosier capital was the setting for the launch of Van Camp's canned pork and beans. (Stokely-Van Campwas based in Indy. Pork and beans were marketed across the country under the Van Camp's label.)
According to Jolene's research, the beef Manhattan sandwich also is said to have originated in Indy. She reports the sandwich "doesn't seem to exist in New York's Manhattan or much outside of Indiana."
Some other food-heritage tidbits we explore during the show:
For decades, the Ball Blue Book was, as Jolene puts it, the "go-to canning guide."
Eventually, though, home canning sharply declined in popularity. In Muncie, glass production ended during the 1960s as Ball Corp. diversified. In the late 1990s, the company moved its headquarters to Colorado.
But canning may not be just a part of Hoosier history. Jolene reports signs of "renewed hipster interest" in it; she says canning seems to have developed a "cool" reputation among some foodies.
Tune in to the show for more insights about this enticing topic.
Jolene's "learn more" website picks:
Guest Roadtripper Joe Frost of Indiana Landmarks' Eastern Regional Office and Indiana National Road Association will suggest a Roadtrip to a National Road town about 30 miles east of Indianapolis, Knightstown.
From the 1940s through the early 1980s, a beverage with a trademarked name was distributed out of Indianapolis and became enormously popular with children. Sold in bottles (and, later, in cans) like soft drinks of the era, the beverage was promoted at various times by Hoosier celebrities such as Channel 4/WTTV personalities Cowboy Bob and Sammy Terry.
The creator of the beverage had a background in the dairy and ice cream business, which was reflected in its flavor. Distribution of the beverage extended far beyond Indiana, even though it was bottled in the Hoosier capital.
Question: Name the beverage.
The prize pack includes two tickets to the tickets to the Hoosier Hops & Harvest Festival at Story Inn, courtesy of Story Inn, four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Underground Railroad reality and myths
(Aug. 23, 2014 - encore presentation) - If you believe folklore across Indiana, just about every historic house, inn and tavern - particularly those with hidden rooms, cellars or attics - served as a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Exaggerations and misconceptions abound regarding the movement before and during the Civil War to help escaped slaves, according to experts.
To share insights about the myths and reality regarding the extent and nature of the Underground Railroad network in Indiana - including what is and isn't confirmed - two experts join Nelson in studio during this encore broadcast. (The original air date of this show was June 29, 2013.)
Nelson's guests are Kisha Tandy, assistant curator of social history at the Indiana State Museum, and historic researcher and genealogist Dona Stokes-Lucas of Indianapolis. Dona also is a board member of Indiana Freedom Trails Inc., a nonprofit established to pull together, verify and preserve information about Underground Railroad history in the Hoosier state.
Oral histories, diaries, notations in family Bibles and letters have been crucial in figuring out the routes, buildings and people associated with the effort to help runaway slaves - or freedom seekers - as they passed through Indiana.
According to several accounts, St. Joseph County, which includes South Bend, served an integral role with slaves as they headed north. And because of the prevalence of anti-slavery Quakers in Wayne County and other parts of far-eastern Indiana, that region also had a flurry of clandestine activity.
During the show, Dona and Kisha also discuss the frequency with which so-called slave catchers from the South - often mercenaries - combed Indiana in search of freedom seekers.
Article details 'overlooked yet influential Hoosiers'
(July 6, 2014) - Hoosier History Live's host, Nelson Price, has penned an article for indystar.com that focuses on notable Hoosiers, present and past, who deserve more attention.
Says Nelson: "I picked five diverse Hoosiers, three of them historic figures and two contemporary. One of the latter is archaeologist/anthropologist Christopher Schmidt (of U Indy's Indiana Prehistory Lab), whom I regard as a rock star. He has been a radio show guest twice so far."
Others in the article include:
So ... click over to the story on the indystar.com website and take a look at Nelson's most recent published piece of history journalism!
Another rousing success!
The sixth anniversary party for Hoosier History Live! on Feb. 27 was yet another rousing success.
About 200 guests hailing from all corners of the state, from Fort Wayne to Jeffersonville, attended our gala, which was hosted by Indiana Landmarks at their state headquarters, the beautifully renovated Central Avenue United Methodist Church.
The party was attended by dozens of the distinguished Hoosiers who have been studio guests on the radio show during the last six years, including notables such as novelist James Alexander Thom and his wife, Dark Rain Thom; Jane “Janie” Hodge, the pioneer of children's TV programming, and Jesse Kharbanda, president of the Hoosier Environmental Council.
Hoosier History Live! wishes to thank the following performers, costumed re-enactors and others who contributed to the evening's success: Hank Fincken as Johnny Appleseed, Danny Russel as Abe Lincoln, kilted members of the Scottish Society of Indianapolis as a nod to our many programs about ethnic groups in Indiana, Shirley Judkins on the grand piano performing Indiana's Songwriter Legends, and Janet Gilray as "Ms. Melody" of Legacy Keepers and Dan Wethington of bluegrass band Cornfields & Crossroads. Photos by Frank Espich of the Indianapolis Star.
Birthday cake and mini cupcakes by Chef Maureen Dunlap, and photography by Bill Holmes.
Acknowledgments also to Garry Chilluffo, Mark Szobody, Marsh Davis, Sharon Gamble, Doris Bond, Laura Yeo, Leah Cody, Carol Simmons, Gary BraVard, Clayton Ryan, Jed Duvall, Lockerbie Pub, Richard Sullivan, Pam Fraizer, Tom Rea, Lorraine Vavul and Jeanne Blake.
Lenape (Delaware) Indian heritage in Indiana
(Aug. 16, 2014) - "I think in Indiana, as in many places, it's only been in the last 30 to 40 years that we've chosen to look outside of myth ... to truly understand the first peoples who lived in our state."
The Lenape lived in the woodlands of east central Indiana from the 1790s into the early 1820s; during that time, they founded villages or trading posts that evolved into towns, including Anderson, Muncie and Strawtown.
Under the terms of the Treaty of St. Mary's negotiated in 1818, the Lenape gave up their claims to Hoosier soil and, as part of what has been called a "forced migration," moved a few years later to Kansas.
Eventually, the Lenape were moved again, this time to Oklahoma, the tribe's home state in modern times.
Considering that the Lenape had lived in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware for generations even before being relocated to the Indiana Territory, is it any wonder that one expert in the documentary calls them "possibly the most-moved group in American history"?
To explore the tribe's life on Hoosier soil and impact here, Nelson is joined in studio by two guests:
During the early 1800s, Lenape leaders in Indiana included Chief William Anderson, for whom the largest city in Madison County is named. The Lenape who moved to Kansas included Anderson's daughter, Mekinges, who became the first wife of frontier entrepreneur and fur trader William Conner, namesake of Conner Prairie. They had six children, all of whom moved with their mother to Kansas; Conner remained in Indiana, remarried (a white woman) and had more children with his second wife.
During one of the first Hoosier History Live! shows after our debut in January 2008, we explored some aspects of the Lenape (Delaware) tribe in a show about the publication of Long Journey Home (Indiana University Press, 2008). It's a book of oral histories and color photos put together by Indianapolis-based author Rita Kohn and photojournalist Jim Brown.
Our upcoming guest Chris Flook and other Ball State faculty and students already have won four national awards for The Lenape on the Wapahani River. According to their documentary, the Lenape were known as "the grandfather tribe" when they lived near the Delaware River and elsewhere on the East Coast and in the mid-Atlantic region.
By the 1790s, when the Lenape were moved to the dense forests of central Indiana, though, they had lost stature, their numbers "decreased by disease and warfare," the documentary notes. The diseases included smallpox, influenza and other illnesses brought by European settlers to which Native Americans had not developed immunity.
Our guest Mike Pace, a former assistant chief of the Delaware Tribe, has spoken across the country - and even overseas - about aspects of Native American heritage.
In addition to helping oversee the new documentary about the Lenape, our guest Chris Flook put together Indiana's Courthouse Squares, a website showcasing all 92 county courthouses and town squares (or their equivalents) in the state. In connection with that project, Chris was a guest May 23 for a Hoosier History Live! show focusing on Courthouse Squares across Indiana.
During the early 1800s, a Native American tribe flourished across much of the northern one-fourth of what become the state of Indiana. In fact, many names of towns, lakes and parks in far-northern Indiana are derived from this tribe's language. Examples include Lake Maxinkuckee at Culver; the town of Wakarusa and Pokagon State Park.
Known for their colorful attire, the Native American tribe often wore ruffled shirts, jewelry and pants with ribbons instead of the buckskin worn by some other tribes. In 1838, this tribe was forced out of Indiana by white soldiers who led Native American men, women and children on a grueling march to Kansas, during which dozens of Indians died from disease, exhaustion and other factors.
Question: Name the Native American tribe.
The prize pack includes two tickets to the tickets to the Hoosier Hops & Harvest Festival at Story Inn, courtesy of Story Inn, four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff tells us that, "Just up the old Michigan Road from Indy, about 75 miles, is Logansport in Cass County, which, given its key location at the confluence of two rivers (the Eel and the Wabash), was an original town on this historic route."
Logansport, she also notes, also was a port on Wabash and Erie Canal.
"I'd always been intrigued by this town, with its plethora of historic buildings and layers of transportation history, but in recent years Logansport has been making very good use of its historic assets. In 2009 it was designated a Preserve America Community."
A historic railroad depot anchors a riverside public space, the Little Turtle Waterway Plaza, a nice place to start an exploratory walk downtown that still boasts a number of great old buildings, many of which now house interesting shops and restaurants.
In the past few years quite a lot of new public sculpture has appeared downtown, including a carousel horse. Clearly, this is a tribute to the 19th-century carousel carved by master craftsman Gustav A. Dentzel in Riverside Park on Logansport's east side. Despite the fact the carousel is a National Historic Landmark, rides are only 75 cents. Maybe you'll catch the brass ring!
Riverside Park, as its name implies, is a pleasant place to spend an afternoon. Don't miss the miniature golf course not far from the carousel!
Adds Glory: "I'm fond of old drive-in restaurants, and Logansport has two I recommend. The Char-Bett is located in a 1930s former gas station on the outskirts of town on the old Michigan Road (State Road 25) heading northeast toward Rochester: tasty drive-in food and all manner of ice cream treats, including sodas, which can be hard to find these days. And the Sycamore Drive-In is just off old U.S. 24, once a major route, at 316 20th St. They, too, offer sodas among their ice cream treats and a nice assortment of drive-in fare."
The Redheads and all-girl bands of 1920s, '30s
(Aug. 9, 2014) - Even though they became nationally known during the 1920s as The Parisian Redheads, many of the band members were not red-haired - and, rather than Paris, they were based in Indiana.
In the 1930s, the all-female orchestra/dance band, which was promoted as "America's Greatest Girl Band," became known as The Fourteen Bricktops.
The colorful history of the now-forgotten novelty band - which was based in Indianapolis, with a pianist born in the eastern Indiana town of Portland, a saxophonist from Elwood, a harpist from Richmond and other Hoosier "lady musicians" - is the focus of our show. Nelson is joined in studio by Evan Finch, an Indy-based advertising copywriter who has extensively researched The Parisian Redheads and other all-female orchestras.
"So-called 'ladies' orchestras had existed since the late 19th century due to the fact that male orchestras rarely hired female musicians," Evan notes in an article in the upcoming summer issue of Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History magazine. It's the popular magazine published by the Indiana Historical Society.
"As a result, women formed their own groups."
However, the impresarios behind The Parisian Redheads were two men, Charles Green and Harry Z. Freeman of Indianapolis, both of whom had experiences with organizing musical programs on the Chautauqua circuit. That well-known cultural circuit also had provided opportunities for many of The Parisian Redheads, several of whom were classically trained musicians, according to Evan's article.
"By the end of 1926, the group had become a local sensation," Evan writes. "In Indianapolis alone, within a space of four weeks, the Parisians played a reception forQueen Marie of Romania, opened the city's Marott Hotel and graced the stage of the Circle Theatre."
Of the original Redheads, only pianist/singer Martha Tripper (a Portland native who later moved to Kokomo) was a natural redhead, Evan reports.
"The other women were required either to dye their hair or wear red wigs when appearing in public. In the name of success, the musicians went along with the gimmick, although not always happily."
The Redheads expanded to a 13-piece orchestra in 1927 and attained national success. According to Evan, the performers eventually included a "Mistress of Ceremonies," a woman who dressed in a man's tuxedo and "sang, danced, conducted and otherwise functioned as the band's public face."
Some fun facts:
During the show, we feature some musical interludes to give listeners a flavor of the Redheads (Bricktops) in performance.
Evan and Nelson also share info about other all-female musical groups from Indiana. They have included the Hampton Sisters, who went, as the Indianapolis Star once put it, "from a child act to jazz legends."
The Hampton Sisters included pianist Aletra Hampton and bassist Virtue Hampton Whitted, who were 92 and 84 years old, respectively, when they died just months apart in 2007. The group also included, at various times, two other Hampton sisters, Carmelita and Dawn.
Group members also changed over the years with The Parisian Redheads-turned-Fourteen Bricktops (also known by other names, such as the Paramount Parisians, early on).
Even though the Bricktops broke up in the 1930s, some of the musicians enjoyed flourishing careers long afterward. Bricktop member Ruth Hutchins Thrasher became, as Evan puts it, "a valued member of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra - and played several different instruments for them over the course of four decades."
Why the emphasis (or insistence) on red hair?
"In addition to adding an extra layer of novelty, red hair gave the band a visual identity - and a hair color associated with free-spiritedness seems in tune with the Jazz Age," Evan writes in his upcoming Traces article.
He notes that, as the years passed, dozens of women musicians from across the country joined the band. But the group always had Indiana musicians, including Bobbie Greiss, a singer-dancer who grew up in Indianapolis and was recruited as the group's conductor. Trumpet player Lillian Evans was a native of Dublin in Wayne County, while another trumpeter, Alice Miller, attended Tech High School in Indy.
Other members of the Parisians (or of the Bricktops) included saxophonist Bernice Lobdell of Huntington; accordionist Jeane Brown of Greencastle, and saxophonist Marietta Gift of Converse.
In 1929, the band played the Palace in New York City and shared a bill with the famous Marx Brothers. As the vaudeville circuit declined, the Bricktops transformed into a dance band.
"The success of the Parisian Redheads and the Fourteen Bricktops proved that a band of women could compete successfully with men, both in terms of performance and financial reward," Evan writes.
He adds: "In the many years since the Bricktops' dissolution, opportunities for female musicians have improved. In 2010, it was estimated that the membership of America's top 15 orchestras - once almost exclusively male - had become 35 percent female."
To learn more, Evan recommends:
One of the country's most popular bandleaders during the 1930s and '40s was a native of Linton, Ind. He grew up in the town in the far-western part of the Hoosier state, then enjoyed great success at nightclubs during the Big Band era.
The native Hoosier also was a hit on radio as the sidekick to comedian Jack Benny during the 1930s and '40s. Eventually, the bandleader starred in his own radio show with his wife, a glamorous movie star. He also appeared in more than a dozen Hollywood films, often playing a character like himself.
But his best-known connection to the movies may have been serving as the voice of an animal in a Disney cartoon movie. The bandleader died in 1995 at age 91.
Question: Who was he?
The prize pack includes two tickets to Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre and two passes to the Indianapolis Zoo, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Roadtrip: Roberts Settlement in Hamilton County
Guest Roadtripper Kisha Tandy, a curator at the Indiana State Museum, suggests a Roadtrip to Roberts Settlement, which once was a flourishing farm community of African-American pioneers from North Carolina who moved north to make their home in Jackson Township in Hamilton County.
The history of Roberts Settlement sheds light on a group of individuals who owned land and established communities in Indiana before 1850.
The first residents to Roberts arrived in 1835 as free blacks. The settlement included homesteads and a school and church. Descendants continue to meet annually on July 4th for the Roberts Settlement Annual Homecoming to celebrate their family and heritage. And one always can stop by to look at the Roberts Chapel Church and Cemetery.
Kisha also recommends the book Southern Seed, Northern Soil (IU Press, 2002) by Stephen Vincent about African-American farming communities in the Midwest. She also reports that a documentary has been made about the topic; learn more on Saturday's show.
(Aug. 2, 2014) - Carmel resident Natalia Rekhter immigrated from Russia in 1991. So she is among those who have come from her homeland to Indiana since the mid-1980s, which is when the bulk of immigration from Russia here began - much later than that of many of the other ethnic heritage groups that Hoosier History Live! has explored in our rotating series. The exceptions involve significant Russian Jewish immigration in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Here is a link to Natalia's blog.
Natalia, who immigrated with her husband and young son, will be among Nelson's studio guests. She is director of development at the Indianapolis Russian School, which was founded 21 years ago by a group of Russian immigrants who wanted their children to learn about their heritage. Beyond classes in the Russian language, the school offers instruction in everything from math to chess.
In addition to a growing Russian community in the Indianapolis area, New Castle also has become the home of many immigrants since the mid-1980s, Natalia reports. She is originally from Ivanovo, a Russian province about 200 miles north of Moscow.
In an article in The Indianapolis Star last February, Natalia, 47, indicated that economic reasons motivated her family's immigration. In Russia, four generations of her family (six people) lived in a two-bedroom apartment.
Alex, who also makes musical instruments and is a violinist, grew up in Moscow. He immigrated in 1989 - a few months before the breakup of the Soviet Union - with his wife, daughter and parents. In his homeland, Alex had played the violin in a prestigious orchestra based in Moscow. He says his family primarily immigrated because of "political differences" in his homeland.
In addition to Alex and Natalia, Nelson will be joined by Carmel resident Anastasia Klauz, 24, whose family is from St. Petersburg. They immigrated when Anastasia was just 4 years old. Today, she is a family therapist for Eskenazi Health.
According to Peopling Indiana: The Ethnic Experience (Indiana Historical Society Press, 1996), large waves of Jewish immigration to the United States from Russia - as well as from Poland, Lithuania, Romania and other Eastern European countries - occurred from 1880 to 1924.
In Indiana, the major areas of settlement tended to be in the northwest part of the state, as well as in Indianapolis and Vincennes. Decades later - during the Soviet Union era - Jewish organizations across Indiana helped with the resettlement of other waves of immigrants.
According to the Russian and East European Institute at Indiana University, many Russian immigrants or Americans with Russian heritage settled - at least temporarily - in Bloomington "at the height of the Cold War" during the early 1960s.
That’s because Russian language instruction was being offered by IU and the U.S. Air Force.
"During World War II, IU began a long partnership with the U.S. military to teach foreign languages," the institute notes.
"Bloomington in the 1960s had a very large Russian community," according to the IU institute. "The decade was an ideal time for IU students to study the Russian language. While many Russians moved away when the Air Force Language Program ceased, there remained a corps of instructors."
Since 2009, the Indianapolis Russian School - that our guest Natalia Rekhter is affiliated with - has been located at University High School, a private, college prep school in Carmel. The Russian school offers piano lessons for children 5 years old and older; private tutoring for children and adults in the Russian language; document translation and other services.
In our rotating series about ethnic immigration to the Hoosier state, Hoosier History Live! has explored German, Irish, Scottish, Brazilian, Columbian and Venezuelan, Greek and Cuban immigration, among an array of others. In 2008, our first year on the air, we explored our state's Jewish heritage. Last summer, we delved into aspects of Swedish and Norwegian heritage.
(Note: We are linking to past show newsletters for shows produced since October of 2009. The German, Scottish, and Greek heritage shows were produced before that time. We need support for archiving all of our 300-plus show enewsletters and audio archives. We are operating on a very limited budget.)
Mikhail Baryshnikov, the expatriate Russian dancer, has collaborated several times with a famous choreographer born in Indiana. She was the choreographer for the 1985 movie White Nights, which starred Baryshnikov and was set in Russia. During the 1990s, the choreographer toured with Baryshnikov; they performed concerts in Indiana and elsewhere across the country that featured various forms of dance.
She was born in the town of Portland in far-eastern Indian in 1941. She has gone on to become a dominant international figure in dance, winning Tony and Emmy Awards. In addition to collaborating with Baryshnikov, she has collaborated with pop star Billy Joel for a Broadway show and choreographed sequences for the movie Amadeus (1984). In 2008, she was honored by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Question: Who is the Indiana-born choreographer?
The prize pack includes a four tickets to the tickets to the Hoosier Hops & Harvest Festival at Story Inn, courtesy of Story Inn, four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Roadtrip: Vernon, Ind.
Guest Roadtripper and freelance writer and photographer Jane Ammeson, who specializes in food, travel and personalities, suggests a Roadtrip to the charming town of Vernon in Jennings County, which is about 70 miles southeast of Indianapolis. That's Vernon, the historic village south of the larger town of North Vernon!
Jane reports that on July 11, 1863, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, who was marauding through southeastern Indiana after crossing the Ohio River from Kentucky, arrived with his men just south of Vernon on the banks of the Muscatatuck River. Having defeated the Indiana Home Guard near Corydon, Morgan and his raiders had looted and burned their way through the hamlets dotting this part of the state.
Morgan demanded the town surrender, but instead of laying down arms, Colonel Hugh T. Williams of the Indiana Legion told Morgan he "must take it by hard force."
Instead Morgan moved on to DuPont, where he and his men stole 2,000 hams from Frank Mayfield's meat packing plant and tied them to their saddles before riding on again.
"We bluffed him," says Wanda Wright of the Jennings County Historical Society Museum. "He didn't even come into Vernon."
Listed as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, Vernon, platted in 1815 which is a year before Indiana became a state, is considered one of the best examples of a mid-19th-century Indiana community. More than 100 of its buildings date back to the 1800s, which is remarkable in a town with a population of less than 400. T.C. Steele, one of the state's most famous artists, used Vernon as the scenes for some of his best works including Street in Vernon (1886), Oaks of Vernon (1887), Vernon Beeches (1892) and Hills of Vernon (1894).
The Jennings County Historical Society is headquartered in an old stagecoach stop and inn built in 1838, located near the town square with its 1859 Italianate-style courthouse.
Vernon also hosts a huge Antique and Collectibles Market each Labor Day weekend!
Vernon and Jennings County are also the settings for the 1956 movie Friendly Persuasion starring Gary Cooper and Dorothy McGuire about a Hoosier Quaker family during the Civil War. The movie is based on Jessymyn West's novel 1945 novel, The Friendly Persuasion, about the same topic. Jessymyn West was born in Vernon in 1902 to a Quaker family and moved to California with her family when she was 6.
Indy Mayor Ballard on Marines history and 'old' Cathedral High
(July 26, 2014 - encore presentation) - An Indianapolis native, he grew up on the Eastside, attended the "old" Cathedral High School (when it was located downtown and had all male students) and eventually enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
So there's much local history turf to cover with Mayor Greg Ballard of Indianapolis as he joins Nelson in-studio during an encore presentation of a show exploring history topics that have been intertwined with his life. (The original air date of this show was June 15, 2013.)
You won't want to miss Mayor Ballard's recollections of incidents that unfolded during the years that he hitchhiked from his Eastside neighborhood to Cathedral. Like generations of teenage boys before him who attended the downtown Cathedral, Greg Ballard, a member of the Class of '72, relied primarily on hitchhiking to get to and from school for four years.
During the show, Mayor Ballard, now 59, also shares details about the unlikely way his decision to enlist in the Marines occurred. After a 23-year military career, Mayor Ballard, a Republican, retired as a lieutenant colonel from the Marines in 2001 and returned to his hometown to enter private business.
He also discusses other links between the Hoosier state and Marines, in addition to sharing his own experiences. His decision to enlist eventually led to assignments in places such as Okinawa, Japan; Saudi Arabia during the first Persian Gulf War; and Stuttgart, Germany, as well as in Michigan and North Carolina.
Before that, the future mayor attended Cathedral on a scholarship. His years there were preceded and followed by major changes. Since its founding in 1918, Cathedral had been located at 14th and Meridian streets.
In 1976, four years after he graduated, Cathedral merged with Ladywood, an all-girls Catholic academy located on the northeastside, a decision that was presented as a financial necessity for both schools. (The merged, co-ed school, which took the Cathedral name, is on the former Ladywood site on East 56th Street.) Previously, while Greg Ballard was attending Cathedral, Ladywood had merged in 1971 with Cathedral's "sister" school downtown, St. Agnes Academy.
Greg Ballard grew up in a family of five children. After graduating from Cathedral, he attended Indiana University, where a pivotal event occurred related to his decision to join the Marines.
He had never run for political office before defeating incumbent Bart Peterson in the 2007 mayoral election in what has been called one of the biggest upsets in Indy's political history.
Hoosiers who have achieved distinction in the Marines - and are discussed during the show - include David Shoup (1904-1983), a Tippecanoe County native who grew up on farms there and near Covington. A Medal of Honor winner during World War II, Shoup led the U.S. invasion during the Battle of Tarawa in the Pacific Theater of the war. He rose to become the 22nd commandant of the U.S. Marines Corps, serving in the top post during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. Shoup, who later became a vocal critic of the Vietnam War, is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Other Hoosiers who have served in the Marines - and who are discussed by Mayor Ballard during the show - include Carol Mutter, a retired lieutenant general who lives in Brownsburg. She was born in Colorado and became the first woman to receive the rank of lieutenant general in the Marine Corps.
Encore Roadtrip: Monument Circle for kids
Guest Roadtripper Kelly Young of Baise Communications reported that she took her kids for a recent tour of Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. Her children were fascinated by Christ Church Cathedral, with its early gothic revival architecture, Tiffany stained-glass windows and pipe organ.
Kelly's daughter had studied President Lincoln in school and was fascinated to learn that the church bells had rung out as Lincoln's body lay in state at the nearby Capitol.
Kelly and crew then crossed the street, headed up the 330 steps (yes, walked!) to the observation level of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument for a great view of the city, and they visited the Civil War Museum in the lower level.
They topped off their Roadtrip with ice cream from the Chocolate Cafe, and then a quick trip back in time for Kelly at Rocket Fizz, a candy shop with nearly every type of novelty candy. Both of these sweet spots are right on the Circle.
From family grocers to supermarkets
(July 19, 2014) - For about 103 years, the Italian ancestors of Tom Castaldi were in the food business, primarily in Logansport, where they owned neighborhood grocery stores. Beginning in the 1880s, his great-grandparents' store sold not just "fruits, vegetables, tobaccos, but also ice cream and (even) featured an oyster bar," according to Tom.
For generations, these family-owned stores were cherished in neighborhoods and villages across the state, from Lockerbie and Broad Ripple in Indianapolis to Logansport, where a candy case from the final Castaldi family's store is displayed at the Cass County Historical Museum.
In addition to exploring family-run grocery stores and their social impact, Hoosier History Live also delves into the entree across Indiana of grocery chains, including those that eventually introduced the supermarket concept.
Indianapolis-based writer, researcher and editor Sharon Butsch Freeland (writer of numerous Historic Indianapolis articles) dug into the entrance of Cincinnati-based Kroger in the Indy market for a Feb. 12, 2013, article at historicindianapolis.com.
According to Sharon's thoroughly researched piece, Kroger entered the Indianapolis market clear back in the mid-1920s by acquiring an existing family-owned chain of 72 neighborhood groceries. So the initial Kroger stores in the Hoosier capital undoubtedly were located in small storefronts; the supermarket concept was introduced later.
Tom and Sharon join Nelson in studio to share insights about family-owned neighborhood groceries and their modern-era successors, the supermarket chains. This show undoubtedly will include tidbits about the evolution of the ways Hoosiers have shopped, cooked and lived.
Some history facts:
Tom's great-grandfather, Lorenzo Solimano, had been born in Genoa, Italy in 1838. With his wife Mary, Lorenzo (who changed the spelling to Laurence) opened the first Logansport store in the 1880s. The last store was closed in 1983. The exhibit about the stores at the Cass County Historical Museum is titled "Growing Up Grocery."
"Customers came in the neighborhood store up to the counter and gave their list of items - one by one - to the owner or clerk, who, in turn, fetched them off the shelf and stacked them on the counter," Tom recalls.
He adds: "My grandfather or father may not find it unusual to see hardware items in a modern 'mega-market.' But they would be rather surprised that I got my flu and shingles shots in a grocery pharmacy department."
The debut of the supermarket concept - which involves customers helping themselves to spacious aisles of products in a free-standing store with its own expansive, often four-sided parking lot - is unclear.
According to some accounts, the A&P chain introduced the supermarket concept in the 1930s in Pennsylvania. Other accounts point to a Kroger store in the Queens borough of New York City, also in the 1930s. The supermarket concept grew rapidly after World War II.
According to Sharon's research, a pivotal episode in the Indy area was the opening of a so-called "drive-in" Kroger (that is, a store with its own, expansive parking lot), which made the front page of The Indianapolis News in 1932.
"Before the 1930s, most grocery stores were narrow storefronts in commercial buildings that also contained other types of businesses, or groceries were rooms added on to the fronts of residences," Sharon notes. "Customers walked or took a bus to the nearest neighborhood business to get their goods, and usually bought only what they needed for that day or a few coming days."
In 1931, Marsh had opened its first store; it was in Muncie. According to an article in The Indianapolis News in 1961, at which point the chain had 65 stores in five states, the first Marsh in Indy opened at East 52nd Street and Keystone Avenue in 1957. (Generations of family ownership of Marsh ended in 2006 when the company was purchased by Sun Capital Partners, based in Florida.)
O'Malia Food Markets made its debut in 1966 with a grocery in Carmel. Generations of Indy shoppers also patronized Atlas at East 54th Street and College Avenue (where a teenage David Letterman was a clerk in the 1960s), and Guidone, a grocery store at East 10th Street and Arlington Avenue owned by Italian immigrant Joe Guidone that was popular during the 1960s and '70s.
Small, family-owned stores of yore like the ones owned by the Italian ancestors of our guest Tom Castaldi often offered two cherished services, he notes: "No-interest credit and home delivery."
However, Tom notes the selection of grocery items was limited compared to modern supermarkets.
"Perhaps the neighborhood grocery had two types of pork and beans, or green beans, in cans on the shelf. Now the 'mega-stores' have shelving in rows as long as our entire building, with many brands of the same vegetable type."
He describes his growing-up years in a house adjacent to his family's grocery store this way: "It was like having a huge pantry available."
In the 1890s, a Civil War resident living in Greenwood started a dairy business that became one of the best-known in Central Indiana for more than 60 years.
The dairy's headquarters on East 15th Street in Indianapolis was particularly memorable. Its corners were shaped like giant milk bottles. At stables nearby, the dairy kept horses to deliver milk to customers.
At one point, the dairy became the largest milk company in the state. It was sold in 1963 to Maplehurst Jersey Farms.
Question: What was the dairy?
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to McNiven's restaurant and two passes to the Indianapolis Zoo, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Roadtrip: More Swiss adventures, and 'bird town' designation
Guest Roadtripper Terri Gorney of Fort Wayne, who also volunteers at several conservation organizations, including ACRES, DNR and Limberlost, adds to last week's Berne report with notice of its upcoming Swiss Days festival on July 24, 25 and 26.
Terri reports that Swiss Days are celebrated with authentic Swiss costumes, great foods, crafts and merchandise, and you can also enjoy polka, accordions, gospel singers, a quilt show, an antique tractor and engine show, sawmill demonstrations, cheese making, wiener-dog races, sand sculptures, kid's tractor pull and a parade. Indiana certainly cherishes its many ethnic traditions.
During the festival, Berne will also be named "Bird Town No. 7" by the Indiana Audubon Society. This is a designation awarded to those communities that demonstrate an ongoing commitment to the protection of birds. Other "Bird Town" Hoosier communities include Geneva, Chesterton, Rome City, Nashville, Fort Wayne and Kendallville.
Judge Sarah Evans Barker, history-maker in Indiana courts
(July 12, 2014) - Even before becoming Indiana's first woman federal judge, Sarah Evans Barker was making history. More than 40 years ago, she became the first woman in the Hoosier state to be an assistant U.S. attorney.
Now, as U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker shifts to "senior status" - that is, a reduced caseload (only by 20 percent, though) - she is Nelson's in-studio guest, as Hoosier History Live! focuses on her pioneering life and career.
Known for her keen insights, eloquence and wit, Judge Barker also, for more than 20 years, has been a top civic leader in her home state, a distinction that has been noted in her raft of honors. They have included being named a Living Legend in 2010 by the Indiana Historical Society and, most recently, the Lifetime Achievement honoree of the 2014 Cultural Vision Awards.
She also is renowned, every July 4 season, for presiding at the naturalization ceremonies for hundreds of immigrants as they become new U.S. citizens.
A native of Mishawaka, Judge Barker has said she was a "late bloomer" and did not set out to become a judicial pioneer - or even, necessarily, a lawyer. In a recent interview with Nuvo Newsweekly, which presents the Cultural Vision Awards, Judge Barker attributed her decision to attend law school to a pivotal piece of advice she received at Indiana University.
Years later, after her marriage to Ken Barker, then a partner at Bose McKinney & Evans in Indianapolis, the couple made another major decision. More than 35 years ago, they decided Ken Barker would be a stay-at-home dad (with their three children) while she pursued her legal career.
"There were no patterns," Judge Barker once told the Indianapolis Business Journal. "We had to make it up as we went."
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan nominated her at age 40 to be U.S. judge of the southern district of Indiana, with the result that she became the first woman on the federal bench in the Hoosier state.
Since then, Judge Barker has presided over several of the most high-profile federal cases in the state, including those involving overcrowding at the Marion County Jail, a proposed ban in Indianapolis on pornographic material, the sale of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple and class-action lawsuits involving Firestone tire.
She has served on national panels on judicial ethics and on the boards of history-focused organizations, including the Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana Bicentennial Commission that's overseeing celebrations for the state's 200th birthday in 2016.
Last month, Judge Barker served as the emcee for an Indiana State Museum Foundation gala that honored another trail-blazing woman, Rabbi Sandy Sasso of Indianapolis. Rabbi Sasso was the first woman in the country to be ordained as a rabbi in the Jewish reconstructionist movement; her pioneering role was the focus of a Hoosier History Live! show last October.
According to a profile of Judge Barker in 19 Stars of Indiana: Exceptional Hoosier Women (IU Press and IBJ Media, 2009) by Michael Maurer, she grew up as a "tomboy" in Mishawaka:
"I was not interested in sewing and cooking. ... I did them, but only so I could also take woodworking and sheep-raising, which were regarded as 'boys' projects."
But she didn't consider attending law school until a dorm counselor at IU suggested it during her junior year.
Judge Barker graduated from the American University School of Law in Washington D.C. After that, she worked as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill until marrying Ken Barker, whom she had met in Mishawaka.
In addition to being the parents of three grown children - Katie, Susan and Grady - the Barkers now are grandparents.
Some history facts:
For our show with Judge Barker, we have a special format and won't be taking call-in questions and comments from listeners. However, we will have a report from our Roadtripper correspondent and the History Mystery.
Learn more: Video interview with Judge Barker from the Indianapolis Business Journal
Although U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was born in Buffalo, N.Y., he grew up in northern Indiana and graduated from La Lumiere School, a boarding school in LaPorte.
Decades earlier, another U.S. Supreme Court justice also had deep connections to Indiana, albeit to the other end of the state. He was born in southern Indiana in 1890. His family members were farmers near the Ohio River. The future Supreme Court justice attended Indiana University, where he was a student leader.
In the 1930s, Hoosiers elected him to the U.S. Senate. A Democrat, he helped spearhead Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" legislation through Congress.
The native Hoosier was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by Harry S. Truman. He served on the court from 1949 until 1956.
The prize pack includes two admissions to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, courtesy of Visit Indy, four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Roadtrip: Swiss-influenced Berne
Says Eric: "Berne fashions itself as a Swiss town, and they have a lot of historic and new buildings that show a Swiss influence. The area is full of Amish, so watch out that a stray horseshoe nail doesn't pop your tire. No such luck for me!"
Berne was founded in 1852 Mennonite settlers from Switzerland, and the railroad went through in 1871. Despite some new buildings, such as their 2010 clock tower, there's a lot of history in Berne. Most of the historic downtown is intact, full of nice antique stores.
There's a great cheese factory called Swissland Cheese, and there's an old restaurant in town called Palmer House that is famous for pies. If you're in a hurry, there's a newer place called The White Cottage that has excellent soups and sandwiches.
If you like bed-and-breakfasts in historic buildings, the Schug House from 1907 is an outstanding one, serving food from the local area.
Presidential visits to Indiana
Harry Truman got a speeding ticket near Greenfield during a road trip with his wife, Bess, in 1953 after they had left the White House.
During this patriotic-themed weekend, Hoosier History Live! explores the range of visits by American presidents (including future presidents, former presidents or their families) to the Hoosier state.
Nelson is joined in-studio by two author/historians who have written about some of the POTUS visits:
Of course, Benjamin Harrison, the only president elected from Indiana, made several visits to his home state after he won the country's top office in 1888.
Abe Lincoln, who lived in southern Indiana from ages 7 to 21, spoke from the balcony of the Bates House in downtown Indy as he traveled in February 1861 from Springfield, Ill., to the nation's capital for his inaugural. His talk touched on the need to preserve the Union.
During the Centennial celebrations in 1916 of Indiana's statehood, Woodrow Wilson attended a parade on Monument Circle and spoke at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Our guest Al Hunter notes that two years earlier, when Wilson was president of Princeton, he visited Butler University, which then was located in Irvington.
Both Roosevelts - Teddy and FDR - also made multiple visits to the Hoosier state. In 1902, Teddy, who was suffering from a serious injury to his leg, spoke in Tipton and Noblesville during train stops. While in Indianapolis later on that trip, he was rushed to St. Vincent Hospital for treatment.
FDR visited Vincennes for the dedication of the George Rogers Clark Memorial in the 1930s. And in 1936, he opened the Indiana State Fair.
He stayed at the ornate French Lick Springs Hotel in 1931 when he was maneuvering to be the Democratic presidential nominee. The resort hotel became internationally known beginning in the early 1900s when it was purchased and lavishly enhanced by Thomas Taggart, a former Indianapolis mayor and nationally powerful Democratic power broker; the 1931 gathering attended by FDR was the National Governors Conference. Truman also visited French Lick in 1944.
But the best-known visit by Truman unfolded during June 1953 when the former president and his wife, Bess, took a road trip in their car - without Secret Service protection - to savor America. During the journey, which is the focus of the book Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of an American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo (Chicago Review Press, 2009), the Trumans were house guests at the North Meridian Street mansion of another nationally powerful Democrat, banker Frank McKinney Sr.
It was during this road trip that Truman received a speeding ticket near Greenfield.
So many presidents have visited Indiana during our nearly 200 years of statehood that we can't explore all of them. But here’s a sampling of others:
In October 1976, First Lady Betty Ford visited Indianapolis to celebrate the opening of a new building. It houses a cultural institution that, even then, had been a part of the community since the 1920s at various locations.
Its new building, though, was regarded as a major step forward in civic pride. Mrs. Ford received a guided tour the night before the new building opened to the public.
Question: What is the cultural institution?
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to Dick's Last Resort restaurant, courtesy of Visit Indy, four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Roadtrip: Auto heritage mecca in Auburn and Dekalb County
Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff asks, "How about a trip to Auburn? It really doesn't take long from Indianapolis via I-69, and you can stop in downtown Fort Wayne at the Pembroke Cafe for yummy bakery treats or an early lunch of soup, salad or sandwiches. Or catch them on the way back for supper."
The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum is only one of the many intriguing places to visit in Auburn and the surrounding area, way up in the northeast corner of Indiana. The museum is an Art Deco delight, filled not only with a myriad of examples (all restored and runable!) of the three cars of its name, but numerous others, including many one-offs made in Indiana (and some cool Studebakers - Glory is from the South Bend area).
Indiana once was second only to Michigan in automobile production, and though many have closed in recent years, it remains home to a variety of auto parts manufacturers.
The A-C-D Museum focuses on the cars - and also on the men who designed and built them. The office of E.L. Cord looks as if he just stepped out for lunch, for example. Over the years, the museum has added several interactive exhibits incorporating materials from the extensive archives.
An amazing number of museums are located in and around Auburn. Adjacent to the A-C-D Museum is the National Auto and Truck Museum, located in adjacent historic buildings, containing trucks spanning several decades, as well as numerous postwar classic cars. The museum also houses a huge collection of model trucks and automobiles.
Other museums include the Hoosier Air Museum at the DeKalb County Airport on County Road 62.
And then just outside Auburn off I-69 are two separate museums funded by the Kruse Foundation, the National Military History Center and the Kruse Automotive and Carriage Museum. There are even more museums in the DeKalb County towns of Garrett and Butler.
But Auburn itself is a nice county-seat town fill of beautiful old buildings if, like Glory, you enjoy walking amidst such treasures. Don't miss the courthouse, built in 1911, and the Eckhart Library on South Jackson Street, also opened in 1911.
All this walking might leave you wanting ice cream or a little snack, and there's a great little drive-in in the 1400 block north of Main Street, the old highway going north out of town. It has just been remodeled, so it doesn't have that wonderful '60s look anymore, but, says Glory, "I can vouch for the fact that their shakes are still great!"
Passenger pigeons and other extinct or endangered birds
(June 28, 2014) - Passenger pigeons and Carolina parakeets are long gone from the Hoosier state - as well as everywhere else. In fact, the last wild passenger pigeon was shot in the southeastern Indiana town of Laurel in 1902, according to one of our guests.
Not only does Hoosier History Live! explore species of birds that once existed in Indiana, we also look at some of the 26 bird species considered endangered in the state. Whooping cranes and cerulean warblers are among them. Nelson is joined by three guests:
According to our guest Don Gorney, the Carolina parakeet was "the only parrot species native to the eastern United States." It was gone from Indiana by the mid-1800s. So was the ivory-billed woodpecker, which Don describes as "the largest woodpecker found in the U.S." Like the passenger pigeon, those two species are extinct.
Whooping cranes, although small in number and listed as federally endangered, regularly migrate through Indiana, Don reports. Other species listed as endangered in Indiana - in addition to the cerulean warbler (which Don describes as "a small, bluish warbler of hardwood forests") - include the piping plover.
"This pale, small shorebird no longer nests in Indiana," Don says, "but it does migrate through in small numbers."
According to our guest Joel Greenberg, this year marks the centenary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon. Although the last wild bird was shot in 1902 in Indiana, the final passenger pigeon in captivity died in 1914 in the Cincinnati Zoo.
"The story of the passenger pigeon," Joel writes, "is a cautionary tale that no matter how common something is - be it alive or something inanimate like fuel or water - we can cause its depletion if we are not careful in our use."
According to Joel's book, when European settlers arrived in North America, "25 to 40 percent of the continent's birds were passenger pigeons, traveling in flocks so massive as to block out the sun for hours or even days. The downbeats of their wings would chill the air beneath and create a thundering roar that would drown out all other sound."
Among those who documented the presence of immense flocks of passenger pigeons in the Midwest was John James Audubon (1785-1851), the famous naturalist, artist and ornithologist.
Passenger pigeons were described as trim, muscular, speedy and nomadic. Unlike the carrier pigeon (rock pigeon) that originated in Europe and is now a common site in cities, passenger pigeons were native to the eastern half of the United States and Canada, Joel notes.
In addition to the passenger pigeon and the Carolina parakeet - a gregarious species that our guest Don Gorney says traveled in "loud flocks which made it easy for farmers to shoot many of them at a time" - another extinct bird that once lived in Indiana was the Eskimo Curlew. Don describes it as "a large snowbird that once was present in very large numbers as it migrated through the United States to its breeding grounds on the Canadian tundra."
Among the species that currently are endangered in Indiana, the cerulean warbler "needs large forest blocks to nest, but this type of habitat is disappearing," Don says.
According to our guest Damon Lowe, of the 26 bird species listed as endangered in Indiana, four also are on federal lists.
The upcoming exhibit at the Indiana State Museum will explore the impact that passenger pigeons have had on society and the story of their decline as well as highlight other species that are threatened. The exhibit eventually will travel to other state historic sites, including the Limberlost and Gene-Stratton Porter sites (in Geneva and Rome City) and Angel Mounds.
Roadtrip: Upcoming county fairs
What can be more nostalgic than the sights, sounds and smells of a trip to the county fair?
Guest Roadtripper Daina Chamness of Yours Truly Foods and other culinary adventures too numerous to count will talk about upcoming county fairs.
As the Marion County Fair winds down this Sunday, you'll have the St. Joseph, Pulaski, Boone, Shelby, and Bartholomew county fairs to looks forward to around the upcoming 4th of July weekend. Tune in this Saturday for all the particulars!
In northern Indiana, a wildlife area has become a popular destination for visitors to watch thousands of a species of migratory birds that stop there during the fall. In what has been described as "one of the most impressive wildlife spectacles in the Midwest," thousands of the birds - flying from all directions, with distinctive cries - gather in the northwestern Indiana area to feed before continuing their migration to the south.
Question: What is the species of bird that gathers there by the thousands in the fall?
The prize pack includes two tickets to the Eiteljorg Museum, courtesy of Visit Indy, four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Flag of Indy, anthem, 'Indiana' movie and other symbolism
(June 21, 2014) - Did you know the city of Indianapolis has an official flag? You won't confuse it with the official state of Indiana flag, which has a torch and a burst of 19 stars symbolizing the Hoosier state as the 19th to enter the Union. Gold and dark blue are the predominant colors on the state flag, which is well-known.
The obscure flag representing the Hoosier capital has a white cross and a lighter shade of blue, with a white star in the middle of a red circle. It was designed in 1962 by an 18-year-old freshman at the Herron School of Art, according to an article in The Indianapolis Star published in 2012 on the flag's 50th anniversary.
Our guest is a beloved historian who occasionally wears a lapel pin depicting the Indy flag. George Geib, who retired last month after a long career as a distinguished professor of history at Butler University, joins Nelson in studio as we explore an array of symbols for the city of Indy and for the Hoosier state. Just like our host Nelson, Professor Geib is the author of books about various aspects of Indianapolis history.
During this month that includes Flag Day, Professor Geib and Nelson also explore products created to tout the Hoosier state and its capital city, in addition to the seldom-seen city flag. (If you want to catch the flag of Indianapolis in action - flapping in the summer breeze - visit the City-County Building. Along with the American flag, the city flag flies on a pole in the courtyard on the south side of the 28-story office tower that houses city offices, including, on the top floor, Mayor Greg Ballard's office.)
By the way, the state flag also was an outgrowth of the Centennial. In 1916, the General Assembly, as part of the Centennial celebrations, called for the adoption of a state flag. The Daughters of the American Revolution sponsored a contest to select the winner. Mooresville artist Paul Hadley created the design that won among more than 200 entries.
The lapel pin (depicting the city of Indy flag) worn by our guest Professor Geib was given to him by former Mayor William Hudnut. In addition to writing books about aspects of the capital city, including Indianapolis: Hoosiers' Circle City (Continental Heritage Press) and Indianapolis First (Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce), Professor Geib has been named a Sagamore of the Wabash and has served on many civic and historic boards, including the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission.
Professor Geib has been investigating whether, as some sources claim, the city of Indy has an official anthem. He shares results of his research during our show.
As for Indiana, the silent movie made in 1916: Here is some of the footage (James Whitcomb Riley with Children on Lockerbie Street) featuring Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley surrounded by children on the lawn of the Lockerbie residence, now known as the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home.
According to an Indianapolis Star story in 1916, the Indiana movie also included footage of a massive pageant held for several consecutive evenings at Riverside Park that celebrated the Centennial. The pageant and other details about the way the Centennial was celebrated - as well as plans for our upcoming Bicentennial in 2016 - were explored during a Hoosier History Live! show last year with James Madison, a professor emeritus of history at IU who is a member of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.
To give you a sampling of other film from the 1916 era, we are including this Indianapolis 1916 Ford newsreel footage featuring shots of Monument Circle, trolley cars going by, "Pearl Street, the Grand Canyon of Indianapolis," and other magnificent sights!
Also from that era, More Indianapolis 1916 features shots of Lockerbie street, James Whitcomb Riley with cigar, Centennial parade on Monument Circle with U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and Indiana Governor Samuel Ralston, 30,000 schoolchildren participating in a flag drill, the (now-gone) Emrichville Bridge over White River, scenes from Riverside Park, and much more!
With Professor Geib during Saturday's show, we also explore a fascinating footnote to Indy's history known as "Hanna's Folly." In 1831, civic leader Robert Hanna launched a steamboat on the White River to prove that the waterway was so navigable that it could be a major trade route.
Problem was, the steamboat (named the Robert Hanna in his honor) ran aground on sand in the shallow White River and remained stranded for an extended period, becoming a laughingstock. Professor Geib shares details about the embarrassing incident in early Indy history.
Obviously, the ill-advised steamboat never became a symbol of the Hoosier capital.
The flag designed in 1962 that does symbolize Indy (even though many folks don't know about it) was created by Roger Gohl, a Herron freshman. According to the Indianapolis Star story, he entered the competition because he wanted the $50 offered to the winner by the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce.
The flag's wide, white cross symbolizes Indy as the "Crossroads of America," the city's longtime slogan.
Learn more: Indiana state symbols.
Roadtrip: Roann, Ind.
Guest Roadtripper and freelance writer and photographer Jane Ammeson, who specializes in food, travel and personalities, tells us that "a former railroad town located on the Eel River in Wabash County, Roann (population 400), is hardly on anyone's list of places to go. But with a restored wooden covered bridge, grist mill built in 1855, the Paw Paw Township Carnegie Library (out of 238 such libraries, Roann's is the 214th smallest in size) and a generations-old family restaurant, Lynn's, in the downtown, Roann has kept its small town charm."
Jane Ammeson continues: "Historic homes and businesses in pristine shape, an original log cabin built in 1863 and a vibrant community heritage dedicated to the enhancement and preservation of the town's cultural and architectural heritage resulted in the Roann Historic District officially being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. Roann is definitely a bypassed gem."