Hoosier History Live! features host Nelson Price, Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on WICR 88.7 FM in Indianapolis.

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Dec. 29 show

Lincoln's ally, our Civil War governor

Oliver P. Morton photograph. created from a wet collodion glass negative made by the Mathew Brady Studio, circa 1867. Library of Congress, Brady-Handy Collection. Research courtesy Heritage Photo and Research Services."If it was worth a bloody struggle to establish this nation, it is worth one to preserve it."

So declared (in a speech delivered a few months before the firing on Fort Sumter, S.C.) one of the nation's most ardent advocates of the Northern cause, an avid supporter of President Abraham Lincoln and the dominant figure in Indiana politics for much of the 1860s and '70s.

Gov. Oliver Perry Morton even was considered as a presidential nominee by the Republican Party (which he helped found in Indiana) more than a decade after Lincoln's assassination.

Amid the acclaim and awards being heaped on the current movie Lincoln, we will explore the colorful life of the attorney from Centerville in Wayne County who rose in politics to become Indiana's governor from 1861 to 1867.

Our distinguished guest will be an educator who also has been garnering awards - and who has purchased Oliver P. Morton's historic home, which had been greatly deteriorating.

Ron Morris stands in front of the Oliver P. Morton home in Centerville, Ind. He purchased the home in 2012.Ron Morris, a Ball State University professor of social studies, is renowned for the ways he uses landmarks to spark interest in history among young people. In September, Indiana Landmarks named him a winner of the Sandi Servaas Memorial Award for his outstanding achievements in historic preservation.

Ron will share insights about the life of Oliver P. Morton, whose statue in front of the Indiana Statehouse is a familiar sight for thousands of Hoosiers every day. Thanks in many ways to Morton's dedication to the Northern cause, Indiana ranked second in the percentage of men of military age to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War.

"To admirers, Oliver P. Morton was a strong, decisive and effective leader, most notably during the Civil War, and one of the state's greatest governors," according to Governors of Indiana (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2006). Civil War-era Indiana Gov. Oliver P. Morton is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis."To detractors, he was a crafty opportunist who shifted positions according to the prevailing winds and a power-hungry schemer who used questionable tactics to assemble and perpetuate his political machine."

Morton's critics accused him of greatly exaggerating the presence in Indiana of Copperheads and other Southern-sympathizing groups late in the war so he could expand his powers and become, as some argued, a "virtual dictator."

His historic home in Centerville was purchased last July by Ron Morris, who plans to stabilize it from the elements, then restore it, room by room, to the period between 1848 and 1862. Ron lives nearby in another historic home built in 1830 on the Old National Road in Centerville. He is the author of  Bringing History to Life: First Person Presentations in Elementary and Middle School Social Studies (Roman and Littlefield, 2009).

"You can step outside of a classroom in any community and give a class a 3D sense of place and the past," Ron told the Indiana Preservationist, a publication of Indiana Landmarks.

Morton (1823-1877) was the first Hoosier by birth to serve as the state's governor.

Known as the "soldier's friend", he worked tirelessly during the Civil War to make certain "our Indiana boys" were supplied with everything from uniforms and overcoats to weapons and medical supplies. He visited training camps and battlefields, establishing hospitals near the front lines to care for wounded soldiers who could not be transported back to Indiana for treatment.

Oil painting of Gov. Oliver Perry Morton by American artist James Forbes. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Bureau.Morton even traveled to Washington to personally request that Lincoln intervene and supply overcoats to shivering Indiana soldiers who were on Cheat Mountain in West Virginia as snow was falling.

Several years before the war, Morton had been an anti-slavery Democrat. Then he helped form the People's Party, a forerunner of the Republican Party in Indiana.

The pre-Civil War era in Indiana is familiar turf for our guest Ron Morris, who has produced video games about the Underground Railroad and Morgan's Raid, the swath of destruction waged by Confederate soldiers across southern Indiana.

After the war, Oliver Perry Morton suffered a stroke but was elected to the U.S. Senate. He was serving there in 1876 when, partially paralyzed from the stroke, he placed second on the initial balloting for the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention. The ultimate nominee was Rutherford B. Hayes from Ohio, who moved into the White House  in 1877. Later that year, Morton died following another stroke; he is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery.

Roadtrip: New interpretive panels along Indiana National Road

A new interpretive panel goes up in front of Rising Hall, one of the architectural gems along the Old National Road on the south side of U.S. 40 at the Putnam-Hendricks county line. Image courtesy Greencastle Banner-Graphic.Chris Gahl of Visit Indy suggests we forgo I-70 and take a slower Roadtrip along Indiana's historic Old National Road, also known as U.S. 40, where 15 new interpretive panels have been installed by the Indiana National Road Association (INRA).

The Old National Road in Indiana stretches east to west from Richmond to Terre Haute and was our nation's first federally funded interstate highway. In 1811 construction started in Cumberland, Md., and went westward toward Vandalia, Ill., and by 1834, Indiana's section of the road was completed.

Thousands of settlers used the road to move west, and by the 1850s, the traffic included families in covered wagons and stagecoaches, as well as farmers moving their livestock to market.

In 1994, the Indiana National Road Association (INRA) was created to assist in designating the National Road as a National Scenic Byway. More information is available from Joe Frost, the association's executive director, at (317) 822-7939 or jfrost@indianalandmarks.org.

History Mystery

Oliver Perry Morton, Indiana's governor during the Civil War, studied at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, for a few years as a young man. He left to study law.

Pictured is Upham Hall at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 2009. Indiana Gov. Oliver P. Morton and another famous Hoosier both studied here as young men.  Miami University in Ohio also was the alma mater of another famous Hoosier who, like Morton, had a connection to the Civil War.

Question: Who was this other famous Hoosier?

To win the prize, you must call in with the correct answer during the live show and be willing to be placed on the air. Please do not call if you have won a prize from any WICR show during the last two months. The call-in number is (317) 788-3314, and please do not call until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air.

This week's prize is two tickets to the Indiana Experience, two tickets to the NCAA Hall of Champions, and two tickets to the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Your Hoosier History Live! team,

Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
Chris Gahl, Roadtripper
Richard Sullivan, webmaster and tech director

Pam Fraizer, graphic designer
Garry Chilluffo, creative consultant
Michele Goodrich, Jed Duvall, grant consultants
Joan Hostetler, photo historian
Dana Waddell, volunteer-at-large


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Jan. 5 show

Sharing memories in captivating ways

It's the dawn of a new year, and you have history - personal history - to share. But how do you package your memories and reflections in ways that will interest other people?

Around 1915, the Warsaw Band was formed. During its seven-year history, the group received acclaim when, during a parade in Anderson, Ind., the street lights went out and all of the bands were forced to stop playing except the "lively" Warsaw Band. Unlike all the others, the Warsaw Band could not read a note and played only from memory. Image courtesy remember.com.This is the show for you, whether your memories are about Labor Day on Lake Monroe, the Pan Am Games of 1987, the notorious Snake Pit at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or the crowd sensations inside Lucas Oil Stadium during the Super Bowl last February.

Memories about several of those places, milestones and events have been posted on remember.com, a website founded by two native Hoosiers that's intended to be a "a global memory bank" for people to share common experiences.

One of the co-founders of remember.com, Indianapolis entrepreneur Jason Becker, will join Nelson in studio to offer tips and advice about how to spark interest among other people (particularly total strangers) in verbal snapshots of your experiences.

Nelson also will be joined by Lyn Jones, an assistant professor of English at Ball State University who has taught a wide range of Hoosiers - from at-risk youth to war veterans, mothers of children with disabilities and senior citizens - how to write memoirs. Lyn helped launch the Memoir Project at the Writers' Center of Indiana.

A sampling of Lyn's tips: Talk to someone who can help you cue a memory. And hunt up photos, objects and mementoes that will help you remember.

Jason, a 2004 economics graduate of DePauw University, advises: "Re-immerse yourself totally in the experience, in what it felt like - what you saw, heard, smelled and felt."

He plans to share some of the most compelling memories that have been posted on remember.com since its debut in 2010. If the website develops as planned, noted an article in the Indianapolis Business Journal, it could become "the one-stop kind of site (for memories) that Wikipedia is for knowledge or Facebook is for friends."

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