Hoosier History Live banner

Hoosier History Live is an independently produced new media project about Indiana history, integrating podcasts, website www.HoosierHistoryLive.org, weekly enewsletter, and social media. 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 at WICR 88.7 fm or stream the show live at the WICR HD1 app on your phone, or at our website.

Listen to the podcast:

May 04, 2024

Deaths in the White House, including a First Lady

Sure, the White House has been the setting for hundreds of joyous and celebratory events. But the historic home of U.S. presidents and their families also has been a setting for deaths, including that of the only First Lady from Indianapolis. Not only did Caroline Scott Harrison, the beloved wife of President Benjamin Harrison, die in the White House, so did his grandfather.

William Henry Harrison, the shortest-serving president in history, had only held office for 31 days when he died in 1841 at age 68. He had been elected to the presidency as a resident of Ohio; beginning at age 27, though, he had served as the first governor of the Indiana Territory and lived in Vincennes.

During our show, we will explore these deaths as well as others with connections to the presidency of Benjamin Harrison, a Republican who was elected in 1888 after having served as a U.S. Senator from Indiana; the deaths include tragedies involving two of his Cabinet members. Also, just one month after Caroline Scott Harrison succumbed to tuberculosis in 1892, her father, John Scott, a retired college professor and Presbyterian minister, died in the White House, where he had been living with the First Family.

Nelson will be joined in studio by Jennifer Capps, the veteran curator at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site in Indianapolis, where a current exhibit, Death in the White House explores these losses in the mansion of the country's chief executive. The exhibit includes displays about Victorian-era mourning customs, so Jennifer will share insights about them during our show.

Details about the death of Caroline Scott Harrison, who had delivered the first public speech by a First Lady, have come to light thanks to the new availability of a personal diary kept by her long-time seamstress, Josephin Kneip. She was in the room at the White House when Mrs. Harrison died.

In recent years, new insights – or at least revised, possible explanations – also have surfaced about the death of William Henry Harrison. During a damp, bone-chilling day in March 1841, he delivered the longest inaugural address in presidential history. His refusal to wear an overcoat was long assumed to be a factor in his pneumonia, which was thought to have caused his death in April. In 2014, though, the New York Times published a front-page article that reported the primary cause may have been an infection from extremely unsanitary water in Washington D.C. during the era.

A tragic fire near the White House caused the deaths of the family of a member of Benjamin Harrison's Cabinet. The house of Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy was destroyed in a roaring inferno in 1890 that killed his wife and daughter. According to news accounts, President Harrison rushed to the scene and helped resuscitate Secretary Tracy, who had nearly succumbed as well.

One year later, Secretary of the Treasury William Windom died suddenly just after delivering a speech at Delmonico's, a legendary restaurant in New York City.



Donate button.

Your contributions help keep Hoosier History Live on the air, on the web, in your inbox, and in our ARCHIVES!


Latest Podcast Available!

April 13, 2024 -Some landmark structures in Indy, then and now Click here for podcast.

For a complete list of show podcasts and show enewsletters, please go to ARCHIVES on our website.


Trivia prizes sought

Our "History Mystery" on air contest continues to be very popular!  If you are an organization or business that would like to contribute tickets or admissions, please contact our host Nelson at nelson@hoosierhistorylive.org.

Prizes must fit in a standard business envelope. Hoosier History Live prefers to "snail mail" prizes to our trivia winners. And If prizes are time sensitive, they need to be offered well in advance of the event so that we can get them out in time.


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

  • Anonymous
  • Marion Wolen, honoring Richard Sullivan
  • Margaret Smith
  • Charlotte Ottinger
  • Bruce and Julie Buchanan  
  • Sandra Hurt
  • Chuck and Karen Bragg
  • Ken and Luan Marshall
  • Tom Swenson
  • Mike Freeland and Sharon Butsch Freeland
  • Dr. William McNiece
  • Serita Borgeas
  • Richard Stroup in memory of Robert W. Stroup

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
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, Caden Colford, Jace Hodge, Jake Helton, 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.

Donate button.

Your contributions help keep Hoosier History Live on the air, on the web, in your inbox, and in our ARCHIVES!

© 2024 Hoosier History Live. All rights reserved.

Share this email
Manage your preferences | Opt out using TrueRemove®
Got this as a forward? Sign up to receive our future emails.
View this email online.
This email was sent to [% member:email %].
Continue receiving our emails, add us to your address book.