1821 James Blake arrived on horseback in the new city of Indianapolis. Originally from Pennsylvania, he became one of the founders of the new Indiana capital. During the next few years, he built the first plaster and frame house, opened the first mill, helped organize the first 4th of July Parade, and supervised the construction of the first Statehouse in the city.
1907 Dedication ceremonies were held for the statue of Governor Oliver P. Morton on the east side of the Indiana Statehouse. The army band played “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a thirty-foot flag covering the monument was lifted to reveal the tall statue of Morton flanked by two Union soldiers. Indiana Governor James F. Hanly praised the former Governor for his leadership during the Civil War. Among others on the program were Vice President Charles Fairbanks and Sculptor Rudolph Schwarz.
1916 Over 35,000 mourners filed past the casket of Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley as he lay in state in the rotunda of the Indiana Statehouse. Many of those paying their respects were children, whom Riley had favored in his work. Surrounding the bier were thousands of flowers, including Riley’s favorite, red roses. A private funeral was held later at Riley’s home on Lockerbie Street in Indianapolis.
1924 In the Paris Summer Olympics, 19-year-old Euphrasia Donnelly from Indianapolis won a Gold Medal as a member of the United States Women’s Swimming Team. Her team, which included the legendary Gertrude Ederle, set a new world record in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay. She later served on the faculty of St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Terre Haute.
1948 The Freedom Train arrived in Vincennes and began its journey through Indiana. The seven-car train, dedicated to American democracy, contained over 100 priceless historical documents. Stops were also made in Terre Haute, Logansport, Indianapolis, Muncie, South Bend, and Fort Wayne.
1961 The summer theater season was in full swing in Indianapolis. Big-name performers were on stage each week at Starlight Musicals on the Butler University campus and at Avondale Playhouse in the Meadows Shopping Center on East 38th Street. At Starlight this week was veteran actress Margaret Hamilton, reprising her role as the witch in “The Wizard of Oz.” At Avondale, Hollywood legend Pat O’Brien and his wife Eloise were starring in “Our Town.”
How well do you know the poetry of James Whitcomb Riley? Fill in the blanks below.
1. Oh, it sets my heart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock, when the frost is on the ________and the fodder’s in the shock
2. When the Saturday’s chores were through. . . and we went visiting, me and you, out to old Aunt__________
3. Oh, the _________man, he works for pa, and he’s the goodest man ever you saw
Hoosier Quote of the Week
“Egotist: A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.”
– – – Ambrose Bierce (1842 – circa 1914) Journalist, short story writer and poet who grew up in Kosciusko County
Did You Know?
Although Oliver P. Morton was the 14th Governor of Indiana, he was the first native Hoosier to serve as the state’s chief executive. The 13 men who preceded him came from a wide variety of states. Jonathan Jennings, the first governor after statehood, was born in New Jersey. Subsequent early governors hailed from Georgia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, Vermont, North Carolina, and New York. As time passed, more and more native Hoosiers made their way to the Statehouse. Of the 49 chief executives, nearly half (23) were born in Indiana. Of course, all those who have sat in the Indiana governor’s chair were Hoosiers at heart, regardless of birthplace.
Note: Although Eric Holcomb is referred to as the 51st Governor of Indiana, only 49 men have held the position. Isaac Gray and Henry Schricker each served two non-consecutive terms and are therefore counted twice.