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Hoosier History Live is an independently produced new media project about Indiana history, integrating podcasts, website, newsletter, and social media, created and produced by Molly Head. Its original content comes initially from a live with call in weekly talk radio show hosted by author and historian Nelson Price. You can hear the show live Saturdays from noon to 1 pm ET. It’s over the air in Central Indiana at WICR 88.7 fm, or you can stream at the WICR HD1 app on your phone.

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October 28, 2023

Indiana state flag: the back story

It may be easy to unfurl a flag, but there sure are a lot of twists in the story of how the current Indiana state flag became the official symbol. At one point, even the Stars and Stripes (a k a the American flag) was the official flag for the Hoosier state.

The backstory about the state flag and several untold, related stories are described in a new book, The Indiana Flag: Who Really Designed It?. The author, Morgan County resident David Reddick, will be Nelson's studio guest to dig into the history that he's unearthed about the blue and gold flag with the torch and 19 stars. (Refresher history tidbit: In 1816, Indiana became the 19th state to enter the country.)

Also during our show, David Reddick will share insights about the life and career of Paul Hadley (1880-1971), the watercolor artist from Mooresville credited with designing the state flag. According to folklore, Hadley won a contest sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1916. The actual story is more complicated, David Reddick says.

Since the 1880s, there actually have been multiple flags that have been designated as the official one for the state. According to David's book, the first flag was a rush job (and featured a buffalo) that was designed so the state would be represented by a symbol at the dedication of the Washington Monument in 1885 in Washington D.C.

In 1901, at the request of a Civil War veteran, the Indiana General Assembly adopted "Old Glory" (the Stars and Stripes) as Indiana's state flag. At the time, the U.S. flag featured only 45 stars because that's how many states were in the country, David Reddick notes. His book describes how a subsequent flag designed by another Civil War veteran, I.B. Arnold of Richmond, likely influenced Paul Hadley's final design. For many years, Paul Hadley's design was designated as the "state banner", not the official flag.

According to David's book, Paul Hadley was a "quiet, modest and dignified" nature lover with a Quaker background who never learned to drive a car. In the 1920s, he taught at what was then the Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis.

In Mooresville, which touts itself as "the home of the state flag" on monuments north and south of the town limits, a Paul Hadley Bicentennial Park was dedicated in 2016. The artist is recognized in Mooresville in other ways as well, including as the namesake of Paul Hadley Middle School, which opened as a junior high in 1966.

Our guest David Reddick is a former journalist and insurance industry executive. He served as Morgan County's representative for the Indiana Bicentennial when the state celebrated its 200th birthday in 2016.


"Hoosier History Live is a bright spot in my media constellation. I also frequently forward your weekly enewsletters to friends around the globe. I may now be a Californian, but my Hoosier interest is endless. The podcasts and streaming are good tools. By all means, persevere!"

- Tom Cochrun, former news anchor, WTHR-TV Channel 13 Indianapolis

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Roadtrip: Eagle Cotton Mill in Madison

Guest Roadtripper Casey Pfeiffer of the Indiana Historical Bureau suggests we visit the former Eagle Cotton Mill located in Madison in southeastern Indiana along the Ohio River. Built in the 1880s, the Eagle Cotton Mill shipped goods such as twine, candle wick, and fabric via the Ohio River to national and international markets in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The mill helped rejuvenate Madison's river commerce during this period. It became a major economic driver and employer for the community and featured a largely female workforce.

Over the years, the building was repurposed for other manufacturing businesses, including the production of canvas goods, WWII combat gear, and later plastic products. The Eagle Cotton Mill building, which was listed on Indiana Landmarks' 10 Most Endangered list, was renovated as the Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites hotel and conference center in 2021.


It’s in our ARCHIVES . . .  

"Spelling bee craze, unusual Civil War soldier and more from Greensburg"

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Don’t be fearful of tech as so many of us are! Click on this link to hear the podcast of this Decatur County backstories show originally recorded in 2022 with guest John Pratt. John is a high school history teacher in Greensburg, the county seat of the southeast Indiana County, and author of “Historic Tales of Decatur County Indiana."

In the podcast you’ll hear about how Decatur County claims to have hosted the first citywide spelling bee. And a direct link to "The Hoosier Schoolmaster", a best-selling novel in 1871 that was set in the county and includes a riveting episode with a spelling match; it is credited with causing the popularity of bees to boom.

In the podcast John also describes the unusual life of Greensburg resident Elizabeth Finnern (1820-1907), who was determined to serve alongside her husband in the Union Army during the Civil War and may have cross-dressed as a man to do so.

What’s our point? There is a lot of treasure in the Hoosier History Live ARCHIVES which we have painstakingly put together all these years. And there is an ARCHIVES link at the top of our website, www.hoosierhistorylive.org, and also a link at the top of our weekly enewsletter.


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Podcast listening, and Hoosier History Live copyright policies

We still do a live radio show every Saturday from noon to one broadcasting on WICR 88.7, but more and more of our listeners are listening to our podcasts, which are basically audio copies of our live shows. Our website is www.hoosierhistorylive.org, and you can sign up at our website to get our free weekly newsletter.

At the top of our newsletter and website we put notice, and links, to our newly published podcasts. We also provide a link to ARCHIVES, which is a list of our past enewsletters and published podcasts.

If you have a preferred podcast provider like Apple Podcasts or Spotify, you can use their search function to call up Hoosier History Live as well. Look for the yellow Hoosier History Live logo.

We copyright our work, and we have a crew of very talented people putting it together. But we WANT you to share it! We believe that learning should be accessible to everyone! You are welcome to copy, link to, or forward any of our Hoosier History Live material. Just please do not edit it! Our underwriter logos and voiced credits are on our material; and these underwriters make our work possible. 


We'd like to thank the following recent individual contributors who make this show possible. For a full list of contributors over the years, visit  Support the Show on our website.

  • John and Flo Stanton
  • Susan Life and Mark Ostendorf
  • Dave and Theresa Berghoff
  • Joseph B. Young III
  • Tom Cochrun
  • Norma Erickson
  • Marion Wolen
  • Jane Ammeson
  • Kathleen Angelone
  • Bruce and Julie Buchanan
  • Mark Ruschman
  • Robin Winston

Molly Head, executive producer (317) 506-7164 
Nelson Price, host and historian
Corene Nickel, web designer and tech manager

Richard Sullivan and Ryan DeRome, tech consultants
Cheryl Lamb, administrative manager
Pam Fraizer, graphic designer


Please tell our sponsors that you appreciate their support!

Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Acknowledgements to WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Monomedia, Henri Pensis, Maddie Fisher, Austin Cook, and many other individuals and organizations. We are independently produced and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorship and through individual contribution, either online at our yellow button on our newsletter or website, or by U.S. mail. For organizational sponsorship, which includes logos, links, and voiced credits in our podcasts and in our show, please contact Molly Head at (317) 506-7164 or email her at molly@hoosierhistorylive.org.

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