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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.

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June 29, 2024

Madge Oberholtzer: A follow-up about the woman who helped bring down the KKK

New information continues to emerge about a woman whose deathbed testimony in 1925 helped end the stranglehold of the notorious Ku Klux Klan in Indiana. And there are multiple, new efforts underway to spotlight the legacy of Madge Oberholtzer, the victim of a lurid crime by KKK leader, D.C. Stephenson, her neighbor in the Irvington neighborhood of Indianapolis.

So Hoosier History Live will follow up a show from 2021 with Charlotte Ottinger, the author of a trail-blazing biography titled Madge: The Life and Times of Madge Oberholtzer published by the Irvington Historical Society. A registered nurse who also lives in Irvington, Charlotte will return as Nelson's guest to share more insights about Madge, who was brutally raped by Stephenson, the Grand Dragon of the KKK, during a train trip to Chicago with him and one of his associates.

After being brought back to her family's home, Madge courageously recounted details of Stephenson's physical and sexual assault. Her statements resulted in his eventual conviction of second-degree murder in a sensational trial that helped end the clout of Stephenson, who had intimidated Indiana political and civic leaders.

The research and book by Charlotte, who examined autopsy results, as well as the book The Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland by esteemed Indiana historian James Madison, served as resources for a nationally distributed book published last year: A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan's Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them by a Seattle-based author, Tim Egan. He has publicly thanked Charlotte and James Madison, who was a guest on a Hoosier History Live show in 2020 that described the KKK's stranglehold in Indiana during the 1920s.

The renewed attention on Madge Oberholtzer has inspired a California-based playwright as well as an author of historical novels, with the results expected next year, according to Charlotte. She also reports that a grant has been received for a mural in Irvington to honor Madge Oberholtzer, who spoke out about Stephenson. He previously had abused and sexually assaulted other women, behavior that also was known by several men. "They never came forward," Charlotte emphasizes.

Charlotte interviewed several members of the extended Oberholtzer family for her book, which features rare photos; she reports that additional photos of Madge have surfaced since its publication. Madge, a state employee and former teacher, was 28 years old when she died in 1925.

The house where she lived with her parents as well as Stephenson's house still stand in Irvington. Stephenson's conviction in her death was the culmination of a trial at the Hamilton County Courthouse in Noblesville, following a change in venue.

"Law schools across the country still examine the Stephenson-Oberholtzer case, familiarizing themselves with (her) dying declaration in their evidence classes", Charlotte reports.




More about our Hoosier History Live online collection . .

Remember that Hoosier History Live's most valuable asset is our online product. The Hoosier History Live ARCHIVES is essentially our collection of previously aired shows that have been turned into podcasts, as well as their accompanying newsletters. And yes, we do control our online product (it's about the only thing we do control!), and yes, we do want you to share our enewsletters and podcasts!

And here is another great show to listen to also about Madge Oberholtzer, originally recorded in March of 2021, also with guest Charlotte Ottinger:

Click here for podcast

The brutal rape of Madge Oberholtzer by KKK leader D.C. Stephenson and her subsequent death after a suicide attempt have been the subject of groundbreaking research by our guest, Charlotte Ottinger. Oberholtzer's deathbed testimony helped send Stephenson to prison.

Latest Podcast Available!

June 15, 2024 -An acclaimed race driver and a sportswriter: two lives cut short Click here for podcast.

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

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Hoosier History Live past party photos

A couple years ago Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Johnny Appleseed, Mayor Joe Hogsett, May Wright Sewall, and lots of former show guests celebrated a Hoosier History Live anniversary at the Kurt Vonnegut Library and Museum. Hoosier serial killer Belle Gunness, portrayed by Sally Spiers, even showed up looking for a husband to come help her work on her northern Indiana farm! As an independent media production group, we are thrilled to still be going.


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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.

  • Jill Lough Chambers
  • Jeanne Burke
  • Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp
  • 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

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

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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.

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