1865 The side-wheeler steamboat Sultana exploded on the Mississippi River near Memphis. The boat, built to carry 376 passengers, was vastly overloaded with paroled Civil War prisoners of war. Many of the over 1,200 who died were from Indiana. A monument (pictured) in the Beech Grove Cemetery in Muncie honors the 55 Delaware County members of the 9th Cavalry, 121st Regiment, who died in the disaster.
1884 Benjamin Wallace of Peru, Indiana, introduced his traveling circus show with the impressive title of “Wallace and Company’s Great World Menagerie, Grand International Mardi Gras, Highway Holiday Hidalgo and Alliance of Novelties.” The first performance in Peru drew huge crowds and Wallace went on to become one of the biggest circus promoters in history.
100 YEARS AGO
1921 Eleven members of the graduating class of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College traveled to Washington, D. C. They were greeted by President Warren G. Harding and also met Madame Jusserand, the wife of the French Ambassador. At the Capitol, they met their senators and representatives and sat in the galleries to observe the sixty-seventh Congress. While in the city, they gave a musicale at the Immaculata Seminary.
1935 James Martin, the postmaster at Santa Claus, Indiana, died at the age of 60. To children around the world, he was Santa Claus himself. For 28 years, he ran the post office from the back of his general store. Each Christmas, with the help of community members, the office handled thousands of letters from children to Santa Claus. Martin and his assistants did their best to reply to each letter. Many times the child received a requested gift.
1949 George Crowe became the first African American from Indiana to sign with a major league baseball team. The state’s first “Mr. Basketball,” he joined the Boston Braves. Born in Whiteland, he graduated from Franklin High School and Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis.)
1961 The first commercial jet landed at Weir Cook Airport in Indianapolis. The TWA Corsair 880 brought 85 passengers from New York City in one hour and 33 minutes. Mayor Charles H. Boswell and other officials greeted the arrival and accepted a plaque from the airline. Mayor Boswell called it “a great day for the city of Indianapolis.”
Abe Martin Sez:
It’s purty hard t’ believe ever’thing is for th’ best when it rains on circus day.
1. Each state is represented by two statues in the National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol. Which two of the following represent Indiana? a/ Benjamin Harrison b/ Lew Wallace c/ Oliver P. Morton d/ Jonathan Jennings
2. Whose statue stands in front of the Scott County Courthouse in Scottsburg? a/ Abraham Lincoln b/ Zachary Taylor c/ William H. English d/ Thomas Posey
3. Whose statue stands in front of the Hancock County Courthouse in Greenfield? a/ James Whitcomb Riley b/ John Hancock c/ James Madison d/ Sarah Bolton
Hoosier Quote of the Week
“One of the advantages bowling has over golf is that you seldom lose a bowling ball.”
– – – Dick Weber (1929-2005)
Born in Indianapolis, he became a legend in bowling and was a founder of the Professional Bowlers Association.
Did You Know?
Weir Cook Airport was named for aviator Harvey Weir Cook, born in Wilkinson, Indiana. In World War I, he flew with Captain Eddie Rickenbacker in the famed “Hat in the Ring” 94th Aero Squadron. After the war, he helped found the United States Air Mail Service. One of the first transcontinental airmail pilots, he was also an energetic and competitive “air racer” whose air race pilot’s license was signed by Orville Wright. During World War II, he served as commander of air bases in New Caledonia. In 1943, he was killed in a crash while searching for an enemy submarine. He is honored with a statue (pictured) at the main entrance of Indianapolis International Airport.