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February 12, 2022

Ask Nelson…  and Al Hunter, too

Ask Nelson Banner

On the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, and during a show when our host, Nelson Price, is joined by a co-host known for his fascination with the 16th president, you might assume some Lincoln anecdotes will be among the topics.

But when Indiana historian and author Al Hunter participates in our periodic series in which listeners are invited to call in throughout the program with any questions about Indiana’s heritage, the anecdotes won’t involve Lincoln’s youth, when he lived in Indiana from ages 7 through 21.

Osborn OldroydEven so, the Lincoln-related fodder will have connections to the Hoosier state when Nelson and Al interview each other in between calls from listeners to the WICR-FM (88.7) studio at 317-788-3314. Al’s books include The Petersen House, the Oldroyd Museum and the House Where Lincoln Died, a look at the row house where Lincoln was taken after he was shot in April 1965.

Although the house is near Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C., there is a connection to Indiana. A long-time curator at the historic house, Lewis G. Reynolds, was from Richmond, Ind. Not only did Reynolds (1858-1940) live for a while on the second floor of the Petersen House, he oversaw the move of an array of Lincoln artifacts from the residence to Ford’s Theatre, where the intriguing collection remains today.

Al will share insights during our show about Reynolds, who, as a young boy, had a personal interaction with Lincoln: During a visit to the White House in 1864, he sat on the president’s knee.

Elizabeth ChandlerAnother Hoosier had an equally intriguing connection to Lincoln. For his history column in the Weekly View, a newspaper that covers the eastside of Indianapolis, Al has written about Elizabeth Chandler, who eloped with her fiancé in March 1862. After an unlikely series of events, they were married in the White House by President Lincoln, with First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln among the witnesses. It was the only wedding at which Lincoln ever officiated in the White House. At his invitation, the newlyweds even spent their wedding night at the White House.

After the Civil War, Mrs. Chandler and her husband, James Henry Chandler, moved to Indiana. During our show, Al will discuss Mrs. Chandler, who, as a widow, lived in Anderson, Ind. That’s where she died in 1934 at age 92.

Also during our show, Nelson will share insights about the history of the Indiana Statehouse, where the General Assembly is currently in session. The statehouse, which was built in 1888 for $2 million, is featured in Indianapolis Then and Now, a visual history of the city that Nelson co-wrote with photo historian Joan Hostetler.

Nelson also will discuss some notables featured in another of his books, Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman. They will include Anita DeFrantz, 69, who became the first African American and the first woman to serve on the International Olympic Committee.

With the Olympics underway, and as a salute to Black History Month, Nelson will describe how Anita DeFrantz, who grew up in Indianapolis, carved out a trail-blazing career connected to the Olympics. Ironically, she was not an athlete at Shortridge High School (where she was a member of the class of 1970) because, during that era, there were no organized sports for girls there or at many other high schools.

For listeners with questions or comments about these topics or any other aspect of Indiana’s heritage, this show provides a special opportunity. Typically, phone calls are limited to the final 20 minutes of our show. This time, we will have open phone lines throughout the entire program for callers to pose questions to Nelson and Al Hunter.

Al has been a guest on several previous Hoosier History Live shows, including a program in 2020 that explored haunting tales about historic places and people. He is well-known for leading popular tours about haunting folklore every October through the Irvington neighborhood of Indianapolis.

Roadtrip: Ferdinand and the enterprising Sisters of Benedict

Peter Muller houseGuest Roadtripper, author, and food and travel writer Jane Ammeson suggests a visit to the German heritage inspired town of Ferdinand in Dubois County in southwest Indiana. At first, she says the town of 2000 seems like a place to pass through on the way to somewhere else. But it has enough to offer for a day or even overnight trip. Its crown jewel is the Monastery of the Immaculate Conception, a grand castle-like monastery founded by four Sisters of Benedict in 1867.

But there’s more. The Monastery also features St. Benedict’s Brew Works, thought to be the only U.S. craft brewery on the grounds of a women's religious community. Here one can get a glass of craftily named artisan beers such as Raising Lazarus IPA, Sanctimonious Stout, St. Mary Red, and Dark Souls. Open just a few years now, St. Benedict’s Brew Works has become so popular that they’ve also opened tap rooms in Rockport, a historic city on the Ohio River and nearby Jasper.

And the Monastery’s gift shop is also a growing enterprise. Needing more space, the Sisters moved it from the Monastery itself to near the brewery towards the back. Better foot traffic? The gift shop has, of course, religious items such as nativity scenes, angels, handcrafted Benedictine book beads, rosaries, decorative crosses, and Swedish handweaving towels and clothing made by the Sisters. Not only can you buy these items at the gift shop and online through their website, but the Sisters’ handiwork is also available on Amazon. Seriously.

There’s a bakery on site and, using cookie molds brought across the ocean by the original Sisters, the gift shop is known for its cookies, including Shortbread, Gingersnaps, Buttermint with Chocolate, Springerles, and their recently introduced Mint Julep Cookies. But the Sisters didn’t stop there. You can buy their Bourbon-soaked Fruit Cakes, soup mixes, and more. The Hildegarde (named after one of the original Sisters) cookie and Hildegarde Crunch Mix were both juried as Indiana Artisan certified. A high honor indeed!

For more food, Jane says a must stop is Fleig’s Café. Don’t be fooled by the exterior; this is the place for serious Southern food with a German accent, fried chicken, fried chicken livers, fried German potatoes (they call them German fries down here), mashed potatoes and gravy, brats, sauerkraut, neck bones (and no, I’ve never ordered those and don’t exactly know what they are), pork chop sandwiches, and noodles. It's all house-made and now it is Keto-friendly.

Off Main Street (which as far as Jane could tell is the only street with a stop light), Tradition Arts Today is a non-profit with the mission of creating connections by providing traditional artists a venue to display and sell their art. It’s located in the Georgian-Italianate former home of Peter Muller, a successful Ferdinand businessperson. There are a unique variety of items including handwoven rugs, scarves, throws, and shawls, jewelry crafted from reclaimed treasures, paintings, sculptures, artisan soaps with hand-knitted or crocheted washcloths, photography, handmade children’s clothes, baby quilts, wall art, and wooden trays. Other items include stained glass Cardinal Lanterns. Described as a perfect funeral gift, they’re made by artist Lynn Holland and are based on a belief that visits from the red bird cardinals represent departed loved ones attempting to contact us.

Jane says there are 41 places of interest on the self-guided walking/driving tour map of Ferdinand which can be found at visitduboiscounty.com/plan-your-visit/ferdinand-historical-walking-tour. Which she says is pretty impressive for a town of 2000. Let’s go!

Hoosier History Live looks back

Hoosier History Live has featured Hoosiers who served during what has been called "the most significant and influential event of the 20th century". We had invited survivors to share insights about their lives before, during and after World War II on our June 2016 show. Our guests were Paul Maves, a retired civil engineer who then lived on the west side of Indianapolis. During World War II, he was a bombardier with the Army Air Force and served with a squadron that provided aerial support during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. And our guest Walter Dreyfus, then from Greenwood, was retired from the insurance industry. A Navy veteran, Walter served on ships off North Africa, Italy, England and France. He helped ready some minesweeper ships for the D-Day invasion and helped retrieve - and do sea burials for - bodies found after the historic invasion. Both of our veteran guests have passed away. Also in the studio that day was author Ron May, who had interviewed both veterans for his book “Our Service Our Stories.”

Hoosier History Live has produced a number of shows focusing on World War II, called "the most significant and influential event of the 20th century”. Other Hoosier History Live shows have featured interviews with veterans of WWII, including programs in January 2014 and February 2015. Guests on those shows included veterans whose stories are shared, respectively, in the books World War II: Duty, Honor, Country and World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana.


Nelson Price, host and historian
Molly Head, producer/general manager, (317) 506-7164 
Ryan DeRome, associate producer

Cheryl Lamb, administrative manager
Richard Sullivan, senior tech consultant
Pam Fraizer, graphic designer
Garry Chilluffo, consultant


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