Hoosier History Live! features host Nelson Price, Saturdays noon to 1 p.m. on WICR 88.7 FM in Indianapolis.

Saturdays, noon to 1 p.m. ET on WICR 88.7 FM.
And always online at hoosierhistorylive.org!

June 22 show

Centennial in 1916, bicentennial in 2016

President Woodrow Wilson, Gov. Samuel Ralston and Mayor Joseph E. Bell view the Indiana centennial parade from Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis in 1916. Photo research by Joan Hostetler, Heritage Photo. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society, Bass Photo Collection.As Indiana prepares to celebrate a big birthday, Hoosier History Live! will look ahead and back. That is, we will explore what happened in 1916 when Indiana celebrated 100 years of statehood. And we will explore plans under way for the upcoming bicentennial in 2016.

In one sense, the 1916 centennial hoopla will be hard to top: It's credited with sparking the process to create Indiana's first state parks.

To share insights about the 100- and 200-year celebrations, Nelson will be joined in studio by Indiana's widely admired and award-winning historian, James Madison, a professor emeritus of history at Indiana University and the author of several books about various aspects of the state's history, and by Chris Jensen, executive director of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

Chris Jensen.According to an article in Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History magazine, the 1916 centennial was "conducted with great energy and little funding," although it ended up having a "lasting impact" on the 19th state.

President Woodrow Wilson spoke at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum. A weeklong pageant (called the Pageant of Indiana) was held at Riverside Park in Indianapolis. James Madison.A silent movie (titled Indiana) was filmed in which Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley appeared (click link to view a portion of the film commission by the Selig Polyscope Co. All seven reels of this epic may be lost.)

And high school students across the state donned American Indian outfits and feathers.

Enthusiasm generated during the centennial eventually resulted in the purchase of Indiana's first two state parks, Turkey Run in Parke County and McCormick's Creek in Owen County. Civic leader Richard Lieber, who chaired the centennial's park committee, served as a "tireless advocate" of the purchases, as Traces put it.

For the 200th celebration, our guest Jim Madison is one of 15 distinguished Hoosiers who have been appointed to the bicentennial commission, which is overseeing the planning and execution of statewide events. Program cover from the Indiana centennial pageant in 1916.The commission is being chaired by former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, a Republican, and former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, a Democrat. The state's first lady, Karen Pence, is serving as the official bicentennial ambassador.

Jim Madison is the author of several books about various aspects of Indiana history, including The Indiana Way: A State History, A Lynching in the Heartland and Eli Lilly: A Life. He also is a trustee of the Indiana Historical Society and a board member of Indiana Humanities.

According to information from our guest Chris Jensen, the goal of the 2016 celebration is to "honor our state's 200 years of history, but to do so in a modern way that engages all Hoosiers and leaves a lasting legacy for future generations."

Plans are being developed for a Bicentennial torch relay that will run through all of the state's 92 counties. The relay will highlight passing the torch from one generation to the next.

The bicentennial commission also hopes to spark "legacy projects" across the state. Specifically, the commission wants to work with communities to identify local projects that are dedicated to the bicentennial, but that also will have a lasting impact. Under a Bicentennial Nature Trust dedicated to nature conservation, 35 projects in 28 counties already have received $8.1 million in grants, according to Chris Jensen. The trust is funded by money from the state and the Lilly Endowment.

In addition to the state park system that was kicked off in 1916, the centennial also spurred the formation of groups such as the Society of Indiana Pioneers, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and honoring the work of the state's pioneers. A Centennial Medal with the phrase “The admission of Indiana to the Union” was created by Hoosier sculptor Janet Scudder. The figure of Columbia represents the United States, and the child represents the new state of Indiana. The Corydon statehouse and Constitution Elm are in the background. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Bureau.Members are descended from settlers who arrived during the pioneer era, generally defined as before 1840. (Nelson is a board member of the Society of Indiana Pioneers.)

"Local historical societies were forming or reactivating across Indiana," Traces reported, referring to the impact of the 1916 centennial.

But the hoopla took awhile to ignite. According to a booklet published after the 1916 festivities, an initial challenge involved galvanizing Hoosiers about the state’s 100th anniversary.

"The people of Indiana as a whole knew little and therefore cared little about the centennial anniversary. ... There was the usual amount of inertia to overcome."

According to an Indianapolis Star account about the Pageant of Indiana in Riverside Park, its huge cast "nearly matched the number of onlookers," but it was nevertheless a "hit." The pageant, which reviewed the state's history, opened every afternoon for six days and continued after sunset, with electric torches providing the illumination.

Re-enactors - who included adults, as well as 1,500 high school students and children - portrayed French soldiers, Native American warriors, Quaker farm wives and famous Hoosiers such as Gen. Lew Wallace, author of Ben-Hur.

Roadtrip: Danville's Courthouse Square

The Royal Theater in Danville, Ind., in the Tudor style.Guest Roadtripper Eric Grayson, film historian, suggests we head just a bit west of Indianapolis on State Road 36 to visit Danville, which has a classic Indiana small-town courthouse square. The square boasts a wonderful 1907 courthouse and is home to one of the most moving Memorial Day displays in the area.

Crowning the square is the historic Royal  Theater, which one of Indiana's only movie theaters in the Tudor style. The facility has been lovingly maintained and run by the Shearer family for the past several years.

Next door to the Royal is an outstanding Italian restaurant, Frank's Place, run by a real Italian. It's in a historic building, but the inside is all-new, and the smells are great.

Around the corner, of course, is the legendary Mayberry Cafe, a takeoff on television's classic Andy Griffith Show. The Mayberry Cafe has a 1963 police squad car parked in front, so you can't miss it!

History Mystery

One of Indiana's first counties to be organized already is celebrating its bicentennial this year. Located in far-southwestern Indiana, the county was organized in 1813.

Pictured is an Ohio River walkway in this “mystery” Indiana County that is celebrating its bicentennial.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 celebrating its 200th birthday this year.

Hint: It often is listed among the 10 fastest-growing counties in the state.

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.

The prize is a  pair of tickets to the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home and four admissions to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Your Hoosier History Live! team,

Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
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


Core Redevelopment logo.Lucas Oil

Indiana Landmarks logo.Story Inn

Indiana State Museum logo.Indiana Historical Society logo.

Please tell our sponsors that you appreciate their support: Core Redevelopment | Indiana Historical Society | Indiana Landmarks | Lucas Oil | Story Inn.

Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Acknowledgments to Print Resources, Monomedia, Indiana Humanities, Visit Indy, WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Heritage Photo & Research Services, Derrick Lowhorn and many other individuals and organizations. We are an independently produced program and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorships, grants and through individual tax-deductible contributions through Indiana Humanities. We do not receive any government funding. Visit our website to learn how you can support us financially.

About the show

This 'n that

If you would like to help Hoosier History Live! out with its fund-raising efforts, please contact the producer, Molly Head, at molly@hoosierhistorylive.org. Although we "look" pretty good, we are still very much of a mom-and-pop operation, spending much of our energies keeping the basics going each week. All of us working on the project are multi-taskers by way of necessity.

Vintage microphone.If you would be interested in grant writing, or if you enjoy promoting corporate or organizational sponsorship, please contact Molly Head.

Also, the Irvington Library Listening Group continues to meet on a regular basis from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturdays to listen to and discuss the live show. If you think you would enjoy listening with fellow history lovers, just stop by the library at 5626 E. Washington St. in Indianapolis and ask for the listening group.

By the way, it's easy to form your own listening group; all you need is a relatively quiet room with comfortable chairs and either a radio or an online listening device to pick up the show from the live Web stream. We do have listeners all over the country - and in fact a few listeners in Europe who are former Hoosiers!

Hoosier History Live! wishes to thank David Meek, E.F. Wilde, Theresa and Dave Berghoff, Margaret Smith and Certain Proud Parents for their new or renewal contributions.

We regularly get callers in to the show who tell us how much they enjoy Hoosier History Live! We'd like to think that we offer a fresh perspective, and that we have the perfect combination of "learning, plus exploring history in an entertaining way." We need help to continue to be on the air, and in your in box as a weekly enewsletter.

For more information, visit "Support us" on our website, where you can also "click to donate."

June 29 show

Underground Railroad reality and myths in Indiana

If you believe folklore across Indiana, just about every historic house, inn and tavern - particularly those with hidden rooms, cellars or attics - were stops on the Underground Railroad.

Exaggerations and misconceptions abound regarding the movement before and during the Civil War to help escaped slaves, according to experts.

Re-enactor DeAlden Watson tells the story of freedom seekers crossing the Ohio River into southern Indiana at the Progressive Journey Conference in October of 2011. He is standing outside the Second Baptist Church in downtown New Albany, which is believed to be a site that assisted escaping slaves. Hoosier History Live! photo.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 - Nelson will be joined in studio by two experts. They are historic researcher and genealogist Dona Stokes-Lucas of Indianapolis and Kisha Tandy, assistant curator of social history at the Indiana State Museum.

A board member of Indiana Freedom Trails Inc., a non-profit established to pull together, verify and preserve information about Underground Railroad history in the Hoosier state, Dona has been a popular guest on Hoosier History Live!, as has Kisha.

Dona has joined us for shows about roots tracing, as well as about various aspects of Underground Railroad heritage in Indiana. The Underground Railroad era generally is defined as beginning in the mid-1830s.

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.

How, though, do you document something that obviously was kept secret?

In addition to tackling that issue - Nelson plans to ask Dona and Kisha how people can determine the reliability of diary entries or letters - we also will explore which regions of the state had frequent stops on the Underground Railroad. And which ones had very few.

Learn more: Clickable map showing Underground Railroad sites in Indiana.

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Hoosier History Live!
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