1860 Ashbel Willard, the 11th Governor of Indiana, died at the age of 39. He was the first Indiana Governor to die in office. He had served in the Indiana House of Representatives and was Lieutenant Governor under Governor Joseph Wright. As the state’s chief executive, he won approval for a plan for a new state prison which was later built in Michigan City. Plagued by poor health most of his life, the young Governor died from respiratory problems. His body lay in state in the Senate Chamber of the old Statehouse before burial in his hometown of New Albany. Pictured: A detail from the official Governor’s portrait by Indiana artist George W. Morrison.
1874 William S. Wooton received a patent for a large office desk, designed to be a “one-man office.” Manufactured in Indianapolis, the Wooton was called the “King of Desks” and featured over 100 letterboxes, cubbyholes, and drawers. The desk was made in a variety of hardwoods and was favored by such business leaders as John D. Rockefeller, Joseph Pulitzer, and Charles Scribner. U. S. Grant owned a Wooton desk, and a special model was made for Queen Victoria.
1924 Riley Hospital for Children opened in Indianapolis. Named for the Hoosier Poet, James Whitcomb Riley, the hospital opened its doors on Riley’s birthday, October 7. Hundreds of children attended dedication ceremonies. A reporter for the Indianapolis News described the new facility as “a haven of hope and happiness for thousands of little Hoosiers.”
1940 Four movie theaters in South Bend hosted the world premiere of “Knute Rockne, All American.” Many of the stars of the movie were in town to attend events honoring the famous Notre Dame football coach. Among the Hollywood visitors were Bob Hope, Anita Louise, Charlie Ruggles, Pat O’Brien (who played Rockne,) and Ronald Reagan (who had the role of team star George Gipp.)
1970 WFYI, Channel 20, began broadcasting in Indianapolis. The city’s first non-commercial TV outlet was made possible by volunteers led by Ardath Y. Burkhart, whose “Ardath’s Army” went door-to-door raising the money to build the station. Among those on the air for the first broadcast were Indiana Governor Edgar Whitcomb and Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar. The channel was part of the PBS network, and many original supporters were mothers who wanted their children to be able to watch “Sesame Street.”
2008 Senator Barack Obama addressed a crowd of 21,000 in the grandstand at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Noting the recent collapse of the economy, the Presidential candidate said, “There are better days ahead. . . this isn’t the time for fear or panic.” The Illinois Senator campaigned heavily in the Hoosier State. His appearance at the fairgrounds was his 46th visit to the state for the election year.
There are many interesting museums in Indiana. Match each one below to its location.
1. Red Skelton Museum 2. Old Rotary Jail Museum 3. Howard Steamboat Museum 4. Clabber Girl Museum 5. Elwood Haynes Museum
A. Crawfordsville B. Terre Haute C. Kokomo D. Vincennes E. Jeffersonville
Hoosier Quote of the Week
“I can’t imagine being an American icon! It would be pretty difficult to look at your face in the mirror and think that of yourself without laughing and spitting toothpaste all over.”
– – – Jane Pauley
Mary Alice Smith Gray
Did You Know?
The cornerstone for the Riley Hospital for Children was laid in October of 1922. One of the special guests at the ceremony was 72-year-old Mary Alice Smith Gray. As a young girl, she had worked as a housekeeper in the Greenfield home of Reuben and Elizabeth Riley. As the legend goes, little Mary Alice was quite a storyteller and, when her work was done, would often sit with the family and relate imaginary tales involving elves and fairies. One of the Riley children was so enchanted by her stories that, years later, he wrote a poem entitled “Little Orphant Allie.” A typesetter misread the name and made it “Annie.” Now you know how “Little Orphant Annie” became one of the best-loved James Whitcomb Riley poems of all time.