#FlashbackFriday: Pearl Harbor Attacks

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant at the University Archives and Special Collections.

In one sentence, U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt (1941) summed up the emotion of the Pearl Harbor attacks: “YESTERDAY, December 7, 1941 a date which will live in infamy the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan”.

On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the United States on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. The Pearl Harbor attack was planned by Yamamoto Isoroku; moreover, they had “… 6 aircraft carriers, 2 battleships, 3 cruisers, and 11 destroyers, sailed to a point some 275 miles (440 km) north of Hawaii. From there, about 360 planes in total were launched” (Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2017). The attack began at 7:55 AM and after the attack, there were “… more than 180 aircraft were destroyed. U.S. military casualties totaled more than 3,400, including more than 2,300 killed. The Japanese lost from 29 to 60 planes, five midget submarines, perhaps one or two fleet submarines, and fewer than 100 men” (Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2017).

USS Mt. Vernon, photograph signed "Your shipmate, Emory P. Eldredge, Captain, U.S. Navy" "USS Mount Vernon (AP-22) was a troop transport that served with the United States Navy during World War II. Prior to her military service, she was a luxury ocean liner named SS Washington, 1945. Source: Charles LaFollette collection, MSS 005-021.

USS Mt. Vernon with a signature from Captain Emory P. Eldredge, 1945. Source: Charles LaFollette Collection, MSS 005-021.

At the University Archives and Special Collections, we have over twenty collections relating to World War II, such as the Ken McCutchan, Dorothy Zehner, Owen Hamilton, Paul Grimes, and many other collections. On our online digital gallery, we have more than six hundred digital various media items available, such as images, text, and media files.

References

Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (2017, February 23). Pearl Harbor attacks. Retrieved on November 27, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/event/Pearl-Harbor-attack

Roosevelt, F. D. (1941) Speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt, New York Transcript. [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/afccal000483/.

Posted in #OnThisDay, American history, history | Leave a comment

Santa Claus is coming to town

*Post written by Mona Meyer, Archives and Special Collections Metadata Librarian.

Wait a minute—he already lives here! Did you know that there is a town in southern Indiana named Santa Claus? Santa Claus, IN 47579.  Population 2,411 in the 2017 estimated Census.  Some 60 miles ENE of Evansville.

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Statue of Santa Claus, 1949. Source: Thomas Mueller collection, MSS 264-1846.

If you have children or are young at heart, you probably know it as the home of Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari, with “top-ranked roller coasters and one of the world’s largest water parks.”  But there’s much more to it than just a theme park—here, to quote Paul Harvey, is “the rest of the story.”

The small town in Spencer County was settled in the 1800’s. It was surveyed and mapped in 1846, but there were settlers there at least as early as 1820.  The post office opened in 1856, and that’s probably when the town was named. There are a number of different stories about this, and the facts may never be known.  One source said the town had no name, another said it was originally named Santa Fe.  Either because there was another Santa Fe, Indiana, or because the town needed any name, legend says that during a December meeting to discuss this, the doors blew open and sleigh bells were heard on the wind.  The children cried, “Santa Claus!,” and thus Santa Claus, IN was born.

In the 1930’s, residents began to capitalize on their town’s name, with souvenir shops, toy manufacturers, and candy makers creating medieval themed architecture.  The Curtiss Candy Company from Chicago built the Santa Claus Candy Castle, seen here in 1940.

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Santa Claus Candy Castle, 1940. Source: Thomas Mueller collection, MSS 264-1976.

At about the same time this 40 ton, 22 feet tall statue was erected in a scenic overlook park, along with a wishing well and a log cabin.  The dedication was “to the children of the world in memory of an undying love.”  This statue was restored in 2011.

Children standing around Santa Claus statue, 1940. Source: Thomas Mueller collection, MSS 264.2174.

Children standing around Santa Claus statue, 1940. Source: Thomas Mueller collection, MSS 264.2174.

Promotion of Santa Claus as a tourist destination really hit its stride with the entrance of Louis J. Koch on the scene.  A wealthy industrialist from Evansville, Koch thought other families like his would enjoy spending time together in a happy atmosphere.  He purchased 260 acres of land in the area and began development of Santa Claus Land.  World War II put a halt to the project for some years, but work began in earnest in 1945 and the park opened the next year.

The park opened a year later all decorated in festive holiday attire and filled with attractions straight out of Santa’s sack of treats. Designed in an appropriate alpine architecture, Santa’s Headquarters included Toyland, a restaurant, a gift shop, a large doll house with more than 1,100 antique toys, a variety of playground equipment, a museum filled with antique toys, toys from foreign lands, and a selection of current toys that children could point to when they sat upon Santa’s knee to tell him what they wanted for Christmas.”

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Another way to tell Santa what you want for Christmas is to write him a letter.  Since 1914 children have been able to receive letters from Santa sent from Santa Claus, Indiana.  The post office, which normally gets 13,000 pieces of mail per month, receives over 400,000 during the month of December.

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In 1983, the post office began a contest to design a special Christmas postmark.  Local high school art students submit entries and a new postmark is made each year.  You can take or send your Christmas cards to the Santa Claus post office to have them stamped with this special art work.  The 2018 contest was won by Savannah McCutchan.

Santa Claus, IN has grown and changed quite a bit since most of these photographs were taken in the 1940s.  The post office has moved and modernized.  The attractions at Holiday World are far more sophisticated to appeal to 21st century taste.  But members of the Koch family are still involved with the operation of the parks, and the family vibe still reigns supreme.  And you thought it was all about roller-coasters!e

Resources consulted:

Photographs from the collection of Tom Mueller (1910-1993), a self-employed photographer who also worked for the Evansville Courier and PressMSS 264

Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari

Santa Claus postmark

Town of Santa Claus, Indiana: Our History…The Facts

Town of Santa Claus, Indiana: Our History-The Legend

United States Census Bureau.  American FactFinder. (online)

Posted in Indiana history, Trains | Leave a comment

Serendipity: The Life of Kenesaw Mountain Landis

*Post written by Mona Meyer, Archives and Special Collections Metadata Librarian.

You just never know what you will find when you dive into one of our photographic collections!  The collection in question here contains the work of Helen Wallace. Helen Wallace was born on December 5, 1891 in Mt. Carmel, Indiana. She studied at the Chicago Art Institute and was a staff artist for the Chicago Herald Examiner during the 1920’s. She worked as a portrait painter, illustrator, and fashion sketcher. Wallace passed away on November 22, 1979.

Amongst the drawings of fashion and socialites, this sketch appeared. On the back it was innocuously labeled, “Former Judge Landis as he appeared the other day at a Salvation Army campaign luncheon at the Sherman Hotel listening to the reports of the campaign.”  It turns out there’s quite a story behind this dapper man enjoying his cigar.  First, there is his name—Kenesaw Mountain Landis. For reasons variously attributed to his parents’ inability to agree on a name, to his father’s insistence, he was named for the site of a Civil War battle in Georgia.  His father, Abraham H. Landis, was a surgeon with the 35th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment and was wounded at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in 1864.  (Note that the name of the mountain was misspelled when given to the child.)

Sketch of Kenesaw Mountain Landis smoking a cigar by Helen Wallace, n.d. Source: Helen Wallace collection, MSS 056-012.

Sketch of Kenesaw Mountain Landis by Helen Wallace, n.d. Source: Helen Wallace collection, MSS 056-012.

That is quite a name to live up to!  Landis was up to the challenge. The family moved to Logansport, Indiana, and Landis later played first base for a semipro team in Goosetown, IN and became its manager at the age of 17.  He dropped out of high school and held a variety of jobs, among them a court reporter. It was here he began to shine—he caught the attention of influential men and first was an aide to Indiana’s Secretary of State.  At the age of 21, he was admitted to the Indiana bar.  At this time, there were no educational or examinational requirements to pass the Indiana bar—Landis had not even been to law school!  He eventually did enroll in and graduate from law school at what today is Northwestern University and opened up a practice in Chicago. Continuing his climb, he was secretary to Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of State by the age of 26, and in 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him to a newly created federal judgeship in Chicago.  He made a name for himself in United States v. Standard Oil of Indiana, taking on John D. Rockefeller himself and levying a fine of $29.2 million.  An appeals court later overturned the verdict.

Taking on John D. was no small task, but that is not really, why Judge Landis is remembered to this day.  Remember that 17-year-old first baseman?  Landis loved baseball, and he really loved Chicago’s teams.  “In 1915, Landis presided over an antitrust case involving Major League baseball, as it had been established for a little more than a decade, with its American and National leagues. The upstart Federal League charged that the Major Leagues were, in essence, a huge trust, and the structure should be dismantled. The Federal League, it claimed, should have equal access to every player now under contract, and should be allowed to offer players as much money as the market would bear, as in an open economy. Landis knew this was a time bomb of sorts, and could have far-reaching implications. Knowing the flimsy legal structure of organized baseball, he issued a stern warning to both parties, saying, “Both sides must understand that any blows at this thing called baseball would be regarded by this court as a blow to a national institution.” His decision was — to make no decision, until the Federal League gave up the pursuit. A sports writer opined, “Many [people] felt that Landis had saved baseball in 1915.”” (http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h2074.html)  As if baseball’s reputation wasn’t tarnished enough after this, the Black Sox scandal soon hit the news–members of the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series.

In an attempt to restore public faith in America’s game, Landis agreed to become baseball’s first commissioner in 1920.    National League President John Heydler said,  “We want a man as chairman who will rule with an iron hand.  Baseball has lacked a hand like that for years. It needs it now worse than ever. Therefore, it is our object to appoint a big man to lead the new commission.”  Heydler and his colleagues got this in spades in Judge Landis.  He decreed, “Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player that throws a ball game, no player that entertains proposals or promises to throw a game, no player that sits in a conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing games are discussed, and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever again play professional baseball,” He banished the 8 players for life.  He took on those who gambled on baseball, blacklisting 7 players and suspending 38 others.  No one was too big for Landis to take on.  Babe Ruth attempted to cash in on his fame in 1921 by booking post-season exhibition games, but Landis said no go.  When Ruth defied him, Landis fined him all his World Series winnings and suspended him for the first 6 weeks of the next season.  The Babe was not happy, but he never crossed Landis again.  Over the next 24 years, the judge did much to improve the game of baseball and restore its reputation.  Players and fans loved him; those in authority, not surprisingly, did not.  Kenesaw Mountain Landis served as Major League Baseball’s first commissioner until his death in 1944.  Two weeks after his death he inducted into Cooperstown’s Hall of Fame.

All this from a simple pen drawing in a collection mostly associated with fashion!  You just never know…

Resources consulted:

National Baseball Hall of Fame website (https://baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/landis-kenesaw

Major League Baseball history website (http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/history/mlb_history_people.jsp?story=com_bio_1)

U.S. History website (http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h2074.html)

Society for American Baseball Research website (https://sabr.org/latest/richards-legacy-judge-kenesaw-mountain-landis)

Watson, Bruce.  “The Judge Who Ruled Baseball.” Smithsonian. v.31, no. 7 (October 2000) p. 120+ (https://login.lib-proxy.usi.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/236865919?accountid=14752 )

 

Posted in art collections, Baseball, sports | Leave a comment

Gone, But Not Forgotten

Four Freedoms monument in Evansville, Indiana, 1978. Source: Gregory Smith collection, MSS 034-2350.

Four Freedoms monument in Evansville, Indiana, 1978. Source: Gregory Smith collection, MSS 034-2350.

*Post written by Mona Meyer, Archives and Special Collections Metadata Librarian.

If you have watched the 4th of July firework on Evansville’s riverfront or driven down Riverside Drive, you’ve probably seen this. It’s the Four Freedoms monument, celebrating freedom of speech, freedom of oppression, freedom of religion, and freedom from fear. These rights are guaranteed by the 1st amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.”

Draft of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's speech on freedom, 1941. Source: https://fdrlibrary.org/documents/356632/390886/ffdrafts.pdf/48fdda5f-b33f-4097-b040-6248fe56d69b

Draft of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech on freedom, 1941. Source: fdrlibrary.org/

In his 1941 State of the Union address, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, attempting to rally support for the Allied forces in World War II (keep in mind this was before Pearl Harbor, so the United States was not yet part of the war effort), talked about these freedoms as rights that every human being ought to enjoy. “These freedoms, Roosevelt declared, must triumph everywhere in the world, and act as a basis of a new moral order. “Freedom,” Roosevelt declared, “means the supremacy of human rights everywhere.””

But back to Evansville’s Four Freedoms monument, built to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial in 1976–it also contains 13 steps which represent the 13 original colonies, and 50 pedestals with each state’s name and seal.  But those limestone columns are the interesting part.

Each is 26 ft. tall, topped with an Ionic-style capital. They pre-date this memorial by nearly 100 years.  Back in the age of train travel, Evansville had a number of different railroad depots.  The one for the C&EI Railroad (Chicago and Eastern Illinois) was built in 1882.  Standing at 28 SE 8th Street, the entrance to the depot was adorned by 4 columns, 26 feet tall, with Ionic capitals…that’s right—the columns for the Four Freedoms monument came from the C&EI Railroad station.  The depot itself was razed in the 1960’s, but the columns were saved and repurposed some years later on Evansville’s waterfront.

Central & Eastern Illinois (C.&E.I.) railroad station in Evansville, Indiana, 1965. Source: Sonny Brown collection, MSS 228-0645.

Central & Eastern Illinois (C.&E.I.) railroad station in Evansville, Indiana, 1965. Source: Sonny Brown collection, MSS 228-0645.

Before and after pictures–looking pretty good for 136 years old!

Four Freedoms momument, 2012. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Four_Freedoms_Monument,_Evansville,_Indiana.JPG

Four Freedoms momument, 2012. Source: Wikimedia.org

The first and third photographs in this blog are from collections owned by University Archives and Special Collections.  The first is from the Gregory Smith (1956-2012) collection.   Smith was a local boy who graduated from UE with a degree in journalism.  The third photograph is from the Sonny Brown (1932-2015) collection.  Brown was a photographer for the Evansville Courier newspaper.

Resources consulted:

Four Freedoms Monument

Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park

Rice Library Digital Collections, specifically:

Gregory Smith collection (MSS 034)

Sonny Brown collection (MSS 228)

United States Courts

Posted in Evansville, Indiana, Landmarks, Local history | Leave a comment

100th Anniversary of the End of World War I

*Post written by Mona Meyer, Archives and Special Collections Metadata Librarian.

November 11, 1918—specifically, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month—World War I ended with the signing of an armistice in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France.  WWI was also called the Great War, and “the war to end all wars.”  That phrase was coined by author H.G. Wells, who hoped that the horrible destructiveness of the war would forever deter humankind from resorting to war to settle political disputes.

The shot that started the war was fired on June 14, 1914 in Sarajevo, and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie. Eventually, the players in the conflict were Austria-Hungary and its allies, Germany, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire (the Central Powers), lined up against the Allied Powers of Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, Japan and the United States.  The United States, very isolationist at that time, tried to remain neutral and did not enter the war until late in the game.  The 1915 sinking of the Lusitania and the subsequent loss of 128 Americans aboard that British ship distressed the United States but did not push it into war.  In March 1916 a German U-boat torpedoed the French passenger ship the Sussex, killing many, including Americans.  The U.S. threatened to cut off diplomatic relations with Germany.  Germany responding by claiming that she, too, cared as much about the “sacred principles of humanity” as the Americans did, and took every precaution to safeguard non-combatants.  Dutch editorial cartoonist Louis Raemaekers (1869-1956), who later toured the U.S. to sway popular opinion, made it abundantly clear in this cartoon just how credence he put in Germany’s protestations.

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The cartoon’s caption was, “Indeed, I am the most humane fellow in the world.”

Tensions escalated: “On January 31, 1917, in an effort to end the military stalemate in Europe, Germany declared that it would wage unrestricted warfare against all shipping vessels, neutral or belligerent, in the war zone. Although Wilson broke diplomatic relations with Germany, he refused to ask Congress for a declaration of war, arguing that Germany had still not committed any “actual overt acts” that warranted a military response.” (https://www.apstudynotes.org/us-history/topics/us-entry-into-wwi/)  Those overt acts soon occurred with the sinking of four unarmed American vessels; in April 2017 President Woodrow Wilson asked for and received a declaration of war from Congress, and the U.S. was now in World War I.

Entering into the war meant that the U.S. needed soldiers, and Evansville played its part.  Here, draft numbers are posted outside the Evansville Courier newspaper office at 125 Main St., and a crowd waits to see who was called up.

3. MSS 264-2981

Posting World War I draft numbers in Evansville, Indiana, 1918. Source: Tom Mueller collection, MSS 264.2981.

Silent film heartthrob Douglas Fairbanks came to Evansville to promote war bonds in April 1918.

Douglas Fairbanks promoting war bonds in Evansville, Indiana, 1918. Source: Tom Mueller collection, MSS 264-1166.

Douglas Fairbanks promoting war bonds in Evansville, Indiana, 1918. Source: Tom Mueller collection, MSS 264-1166.

More than 135,000 Indiana citizens served in World War I, and 3,000 of those paid with their lives.  A local boy by the name of James Bethel Gresham was one of the first three Americans killed in the war.  He was born in Kentucky in 1893 but moved to Indiana in 1901 and attended Centennial School.  He enlisted in 1914, and his unit, Company F, 16th Infantry, was among the first of the American Expeditionary Forces to set foot in France, where he was killed in a raid November 3, 1917.

James Bethel Gresham, an Evansville, Indiana native, was one of the first three American soldiers, 1920. Source: Book, Sons of Men, 1920.

James Bethel Gresham, an Evansville, Indiana native, was one of the first three American soldiers, 1920. Source: Sons of Men, 1920 (Book).

In memory and honor of his sacrifice, a local fund drive raised money to build a house for his mother at the corner of Wedeking and Herndon Avenues.  She lived there until her death in 1927; the house is now being restored as transitional housing for veterans.  This photograph came from Willard Library (https://www.willard.lib.in.us/online_resources/photography_gallery_detail.php?ID=15)

James Bethel Gresham memorial home, n.d. Source: Willard Library.

James Bethel Gresham memorial home, n.d. Source: Willard Library.

Another local boy who made the ultimate sacrifice was Everett Burdette.  Born in 1895 at Fort Branch, IN, he, too, was educated at Centennial School.  In May of 1918 he was sent to Calais, France, and on September 1 of that year was killed by a shell at the battle of Mt. Kemmel.

Everett Burdette, namesake of Evansville's Burdette Park, 1920. Source: Sons of Men, 1920 (Book).

Everett Burdette, namesake of Evansville’s Burdette Park, 1920. Source: Sons of Men, 1920 (Book).

Burdette Park at 5301 Nurrenbern Road, a very popular park and swimming pool in Evansville, is named in his honor.

Pool at Burdette Park in Evansville, Indiana, c. 1980. Source: Regional Photographs collections, RP 031-013.

Pool at Burdette Park in Evansville, Indiana, c. 1980. Source: Regional Photographs collections, RP 031-013.

The U.S. entry into World War I helped to turn the tide in the Allies’ favor.  While it would be unfair to the other Allied combatants to say that we “won” the war, the benefit of the infusion of fresh troops and equipment at a critical time cannot be discounted.

Liberation of Luxembourg by American troops, 1918. Source: Roy Kennedy collection, MSS 256-009.

Liberation of Luxembourg by American troops, 1918. Source: Roy Kennedy collection, MSS 256-009.

Luxembourg is a small landlocked country bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany.  Although a neutral country, it was invaded by Germany in 1914.  It was permitted to keep its own government and political system, but the German army was omnipresent.  As the war came to an end and Germany withdraw, it was agreed that the American forces under the command of General Pershing would be the ones to liberate Luxembourg.

The war won, now the U.S. faced the logistical nightmare of getting all its troops home.  The public wanted its boys home by Christmas, but this simply wasn’t possible.  The Navy commandeered cargo ships, passenger ships, battleships, cruisers, and even German ships to get the job done.  Doughboys received an enthusiastic welcome home with ticker-tape parades, marching bands, etc.  Here’s a postcard produced by the YMCA that echoes that sentiment.

YMCA postcard welcoming returning American soldiers home, 1918. Source: Roy Kennedy collection, MSS 256-077.

YMCA postcard welcoming returning American soldiers home, 1918. Source: Roy Kennedy collection, MSS 256-077.

For more information on this topic, take a look at some of the sources used in this blog posting.  In addition, Rice Library’s University Archives and Special Collections has a number of photographic collections that deal with American military history.  Of particular interest for this blog is the Roy Kennedy collection, MSS 256.  Kennedy not only fought in WWI himself and took photographs, he also had contact with German photographers (presumably after the war) and received many photographs of scenes behind German lines.

References Consulted

Aboukhadijeh, Feross. “U.S. Entry into WWI” StudyNotes.org. Study Notes, LLC., 17 Nov. 2012. Web. 25 Jun. 2018. https://www.apstudynotes.org/us-history/topics/us-entry-into-wwi/

The History Channel: This Day in History (https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/world-war-i-ends)

1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War  (https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/raemaekers_louis)

Raemaekers’ cartoon history of the war, compiled by J. Murray Allison.  New York, The Century Co., 1918-19.   Available in Rice Library Special Collections  D526.2 .R37  (v. 2 only)

Sons of men: Evansville’s war record / compiled by Heiman Blatt.  Evansville, Ind.: Abe P. Madison, c1920.  Available in Rice Library Special Collections/Regional Collection D570.85 .I7 E97

U.S. World War I Centennial Commission/Indiana WWI Centennial (https://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/indiana-wwi-centennial-home.html)

“Why is WWI called the “war to end all wars”?” eNotes, 7 May 2013. https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/why-wwi-called-war-end-all-wars-433321. Accessed 25 June 2018.

World War I: United States–Bringing the Boys Home  (http://histclo.com/essay/war/ww1/cou/us/after/w1cusa-btbh.html)

“Why is WWI called the “war to end all wars”?” eNotes, 7 May 2013. https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/why-wwi-called-war-end-all-wars-433321. Accessed 25 June 2018.

World War I: United States–Bringing the Boys Home  (http://histclo.com/essay/war/ww1/cou/us/after/w1cusa-btbh.html)

Posted in European History, Evansville, Indiana, history, Local history, World War 1 | Leave a comment