“The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow…”

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

You probably recognize this as a lyric from the musical Annie, which premiered on Broadway in 1977 and won a Tony award for Best Musical. There were Broadway revivals in 19997 and 2012, it was made into a movie in 1982 and again in 2014, and there was even a television version in 1999. Suffice it to say that Annie was a hit. But did you know there was a Hoosier connection?

This is a two-part connection, so bear with me. In the last blog, I wrote about Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley. He wrote a poem entitled “Little Orphant Annie” in 1885, based upon a true childhood encounter. “Mary Alice “Allie” Smith was an Indiana neighbor of the Riley family. When her father was killed in the Civil War, twelve-year-old Allie—the name change was a typographical error—came to live with the Rileys; the future poet was a child himself. Allie apparently entertained the other children of an evening with scary stories that made a huge impression on young James.

Little Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay,

An’ wash the cups an’ saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,

An’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’ sweep,

An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-an’-keep;

An’ all us other childern, when the supper things is done,

We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun

A-list’nin’ to the witch-tales ‘at Annie tells about,

An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you

Ef you

Don’t

Watch

Out!

Onc’t they was a little boy wouldn’t say his prayers,–

So when he went to bed at night, away up stairs,

His Mammy heerd him holler, an’ his Daddy heerd him bawl,

An’ when they turn’t the kivvers down, he wasn’t there at all!

An’ they seeked him in the rafter-room, an’ cubby-hole, an’ press,

An’ seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an’ ever’wheres, I guess;

But all they ever found was thist his pants an’ roundabout–

An’ the Gobble-uns’ll git you

Ef you

Don’t

Watch

Out!

An’ one time a little girl ‘ud allus laugh an’ grin,

An’ make fun of ever’one, an’ all her blood an’ kin;

An’ onc’t, when they was “company,” an’ ole folks was there,

She mocked ‘em an’ shocked ‘em, an’ said she didn’t care!

An’ thist as she kicked her heels, an’ turn’t to run an’ hide,

They was two great big Black Things a-standin’ by her side,

An’ they snatched her through the ceilin’ ‘fore she knowed what she’s about!

An’ the Gobble-uns’ll git you

Ef you

Don’t

Watch

Out!

An’ little Orphant Annie says when the blaze is blue,

An’ the lamp-wick sputters, an’ the wind goes woo-oo!

An’ you hear the crickets quit, an’ the moon is gray,

An’ the lightnin’-bugs in dew is all squenched away,–

You better mind yer parents, an’ yer teachers fond an’ dear,

An’ churish them ‘at loves you, an’ dry the orphant’s tear,

An’ he’p the pore an’ needy ones ‘at clusters all about,

Er the Gobble-uns’ll git you

Ef you

Don’t

Watch

Out!

This poem just begs to be read aloud. It’s easy to see why a gifted orator/actor such as Riley could make it such a hit on his lecture circuits.

Little Orphan Annie comic strip, n.d. Source: https://blog.retroplanet.com/little-orphan-annie-comic/

Little Orphan Annie comic strip, n.d. Source: https://blog.retroplanet.com/little-orphan-annie-comic/

That’s step one. Harold Gray (1894-1968) was born in Kankakee, Illinois, but his family moved to West Lafayette, Indiana while he was still in school. He graduated from Purdue University, another Hoosier connection, in 1917 and found work with the Chicago Tribune. For 4 years he worked as an assistant to cartoonist Sidney Smith, developing his own love and talent for the art. In 1924, he proposed a new comic strip, to be called Little Orphan Otto. “Believing a character who had no allegiance to family or society would free them up for adventures, he decided to make his protagonist an orphan. Originally a young boy named Otto, Gray decided to switch genders when he realized that of the 43 strips running at the time, only three featured women in prominent roles. Little Orphan Otto became Little Orphan Annie, entering syndication in 1924.

That was step two. Apparently, Riley’s poem was reprinted in the Tribune at that time, hence the inspiration. To be fair, the connection is a bit thin, based mostly on the name, but it is there. “A staunch conservative, Gray often used the powerful platform he had as a widely distributed cartoonist to comment on the politics of the day. Opposed to government interference in private financial affairs, in 1936 he ran a series of strips in which “Daddy” Warbucks is harassed by “political racketeers” and denounces virtually anyone holding public office. Newspaper editors were not pleased, claiming Gray was being too subversive for the funny pages. West Virginia’s Huntington Herald-Dispatch pulled the strip and replaced it with a banner that read: “Deleted! For violation of reader trust!” The syndicate soon circulated word that Gray would be starting a new story, one free of any political subtext. … For a 1956 story in which Annie runs afoul of a vicious street gang, papers including the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and the Ohio State Journal suspended the strip for depictions of muggings, knives, and other unsavory content. Annie returned to their pages only after her dalliances with juvenile delinquents had come to an end.” Gray’s comic strip was extremely popular, continuing for 44 years until his death. After his death, other cartoonists took over, and sometimes “classic Annie strips” were rerun, until it was finally cancelled in 2010.

NOTE: The original matron at the orphanage was named Miss Asthma, as seen in this comic strip—the name was changed to Miss Hannigan for the musical and then maintained in the movie.

Watch out for those gobble-uns!!

Resources Consulted

“Harold Gray.” Encyclopedia Brittanica online.

“Harold Gray.” Lambiek Comiclopedia online.

Rossen, Jake. “10 Things You Might Not Know About Little Orphan Annie.” Mentalfloss.com, April 30, 2018.

Stein, Sadie. “Gobble-uns.” The Paris Review, October 7, 2014 (online)

Posted in Cartoons, children's literature, Famous Hoosiers, movies | Leave a comment

Hoosier Authors: James Whitcomb Riley

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

James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916) was born in Greenfield, Indiana; his father was an attorney and member of the Indiana legislature who named his son after his friend, former Indiana governor and U.S. Senator James Whitcomb. Despite his father’s aspirations for him, the young Riley was a far less than stellar student and lacked any sense of ambition for a professional career like his father’s. Indeed, one of his teachers, despairing of Riley’s inability to grasp mathematics, focused instead on literature, reading, and acting.

Leaving school at age 16, Riley tried his hand at a number of jobs: sign painting, clerking in a shoe store, and working in a traveling medicine show. Surprising, both the sign painting and medicine show jobs proved beneficial for Riley’s future success. He encountered rural life (important for his poetry) and in his medicine show performances. developed those recitation and acting skills his teacher had nurtured in him.

Riley’s experiences soon convinced him that poetry—writing, publishing, and reciting—was his métier. He took a job as a reporter for the Anderson Democrat, and began to submit his poems for publication in local newspapers. Their reception was not always as he hoped. “In a rather spiteful response to this cool reception, he decided in the summer of 1877 to prove his point that any poem would become successful and popular if the author were assumed to be “a genius known to fame” by perpetrating a literary hoax: he wrote a poem which he entitled “Leonainie,” signed it with the initials “E.A.P.,” concocted the story that this was a long-lost poem by Poe newly discovered on the fly-leaf of a dictionary owned by a local gentleman, and arranged for it to printed in the Kokomo Dispatch.” (Critical Survey…., p. 2765)

What Riley considered to be merely a local joke soon grew to what, in today’s parlance, we’d call viral. Within a month the fraud was exposed and Riley confessed and was fired by his editor. In an ironic twist, there were those who firmly believed the poem was indeed authored by Poe, and regarded Riley’s confession as the true fraud! Although the scandal haunted Riley the rest of his life, he landed on his feet and was immediately hired by the Indianapolis Journal.

Entrance of the Savoy Hotel, n.d. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/locosteve/16310406416

Entrance of the Savoy Hotel, n.d. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/locosteve/16310406416

Indianapolis became Riley’s home during the 11 years he spent with the Journal, and indeed, for the rest of his life. He formed a lucrative deal with Bobbs-Merrill publishing company, which by 1949 had sold more than 3 million copies of his works. In 1881, he signed with Redpath Lyceum Bureau Circuit, and became a wealthy and immensely successful performer. “Riley….was a charismatic speaker: having developed a striking stage presence, Riley could slip in and out of Hoosier dialect at will, and had so perfectly rehearsed his comic commentaries on his own poems that they seemed to be the spontaneous remarks of an unusually witty, genial man of the soil. The Riley-the-poet whom thousands flocked to see and hear was in fact a character or persona created by Riley-the-actor, with every gesture, aside, and intonation meticulously prepared in advance.” (Critical Survey…., p. 2766) He became well known enough to share the stage with literati such as Mark Twain, James Russell Lowell, and William Dean Howells. In 1891, he conducted a “triumphant” tour of Britain and was toasted at London’s famous Savoy Hotel.

Riley was extremely popular during his lifetime, and upon his death in 1916, “some thirty-five thousand people passed his bier under the dome of the Indiana state capitol.” (Dictionary, p. 434) His popularity, built largely upon his oratorial skills, soon declined. His poetry is seen as sentimental and romantically harkening back to a simpler time that never really existed. His use of “rural Hoosier” dialect may ring offensive in modern ears.

The Raggedy Man’s so good an’ kind

He’ll be our “horsey,” an’ “haw” an’ mind

Ever’thing ‘at you make him do—

An’ won’t run off—’less you want him to!

I drived him wunst way down our lane

An’ he got skeered, when it ‘menced to rain,

An’ ist rared up an’ squealed and run

Purt’ nigh away!—an’ it’s all in fun!

Nen he skeered ag’in at a’ old tin can …

Whoa! y’ old runaway Raggedy Man!

Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

This is the 4th stanza from “The Raggedy Man,” published in 1890. Riley said that the Raggedy Man was not a tramp, just a poor hired hand who played with the children. The story is told from a child’s perspective and that colors the narrative, yet it’s still difficult to hear.

3. Riley Hospital License Plate

Riley Hospital for Children License Plate, n.d. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Specplate_rcf-large.jpg

Today, James Whitcomb Riley is probably better known for things named for him, such as the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. The hospital is renowned for its groundbreaking research and treatment for Indiana children, regardless of the ability to pay.

There are a couple of schools named for Riley in Indiana—a high school in South Bend and an elementary school in Indianapolis. There once were more, including this no longer existing school in Mt. Vernon. Located at 1000 West 4th Street, this building now serves as the Metropolitan School District of Mt. Vernon’s office.

James Whitcomb Riley Grade School in Mt. Vernon, IN, 1950. Source: John Doane collection, MSS 022-0041.

James Whitcomb Riley Grade School in Mt. Vernon, IN, 1950. Source: John Doane collection, MSS 022-0041.

Some 29 volumes of early edition, some first editions, Riley works were donated a few years ago–stop by University Archives Special Collections and look.

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In the next blog, we’ll explore Riley’s connection to today’s musical theatre.

Resources Consulted:

Critical Survey of Poetry. English Language Series. Frank N. Magill, ed. Rev. ed. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 1992.   REF PR502 .C85 1992

Dictionary of Midwestern Literature. Philip A. Greasley, general editor. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001. REF PS273 .D53 2001

MSS 022, the John Doane collection—photographs held by University Archives Special Collections, available online

Posted in Hoosier Authors, Indiana history, literature | Leave a comment

Indiana Invaded

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

Did you know that a Civil War battle was fought in Indiana? It took place on July 9, 1863 in Corydon, only lasted an hour, and was probably not all that important in the overall arc of the war. But it is an interesting part of Indiana history, so let’s peek at it.

Battle of Corydon plaque found in Cedar Hill Cemetery, 1986. Source: Regional Photographs collection, RP 031-087.

Battle of Corydon plaque found in Cedar Hill Cemetery, 1986. Source: Regional Photographs collection, RP 031-087.

Portrait of John Hunt Morgan, n.d. Source: https://www.battlefields.org/learn/biographies/john-hunt-morgan

Portrait of John Hunt Morgan, n.d. Source: https://www.battlefields.org/learn/biographies/john-hunt-morgan

First, the villain of the piece (at least in the eyes of the those in Corydon)—John Hunt Morgan. Morgan was born June 1, 1825 in Huntsville, AL, but moved to his mother’s home state of Kentucky as a child. He served in the Mexican War and upon his return to Kentucky, formed the Lexington Rifles militia company at his own expense.

Remember that Kentucky did not secede and join the Confederacy. Morgan did not share this sentiment, however, and threw himself wholly into the cause, leading his Lexington Rifles to join up with General Simon Bolivar Buckner in Bowling Green. After taking part in the Battle of Shiloh, Morgan was promoted to colonel and attached to a division fighting with the Army of Tennessee.

Morgan, it seems, did not put much stock in that attachment. One source said he had little respect for officers’ decisions. He marched to his own drummer when he, against explicit orders to stay in Kentucky, crossed the Ohio to begin raiding. On July 7, Morgan and some 2000 troops seized 2 steamboats and crossed the river to near Mauckport, IN. “Colonel William J. Irvin of the “Harrison County Home Guard,” with a group of 100 men, positioned a cannon borrowed from the Crawford County Legion near an old farm house at Morvin’s Landing, a few miles east of Mauckport. Two shots were fired, but without much success. Irvin had ordered the men to fire at the boilers of the two boats, but Col. John Timberlake, Provost Marshal, fearing women and children were aboard the boats, countermanded the order and instructed the gunners to fire at Morgan’s troops on the Kentucky shore. It would prove a fatal mistake. The men on the Indiana shore were quickly silenced by Morgan’s parrot guns and retreated into the woods. Their loss was two men, Jeremiah Nance and Lieutenant James H. Current. After the rebels had crossed the river, Morgan ordered both the Alice Dean and John T. McCombs to be burned. Basil Duke, Morgan’s second in command as well as his brother-in-law, interceded, on behalf of Captain Ballard of the John T. McCombs and his boat was spared. The Alice Dean, however, did not fare so well and was put to the torch. All the local people had fled from their homes that night and Morgan’s men made camp for the night.

During the night the people of Corydon threw up what defenses they could from rails and logs, etc., and sent an urgent appeal to New Albany for its legion to come and provide support. Shortly before noon on the 9th, some 400 men of the Harrison County Home Guard (officially the Sixth Regiment of the Indiana Legion) faced Morgan’s superior forces. Completely outnumbered, the battle was brief, about an hour in duration, before the Home Guard was forced to retreat and surrender the town of Corydon. “Four of the guards were killed, several were wounded, 355 were captured, and the remainder escaped. The victory was not without cost to the Raiders. Eleven Raiders were killed and 40 were wounded. Morgan paroled the prisoners upon entering the town of Corydon. The Raiders began collecting the spoils of victory. Most of the afternoon was spent plundering the stores and collecting ransom money. The Harrison County treasurer was relieved of $690, two leading stores were relieved of $600 each, and contributions of $700 to $1,000 were demanded from the three mills to save them from being burned.

Gravestone remembering Morgan's Confederate dead in Cedar Hill Cemetery, 1986. Source: Regional Photographs collection, RP 031-088.

Gravestone remembering Morgan’s Confederate dead in Cedar Hill Cemetery, 1986. Source: Regional Photographs collection, RP 031-088.

Headstone of Green B. Bottomer, a member of Gen John Hunt. Morgan's command, in Cedar Hill cemetery, 1986. Source: Regional Photographs collection, RP 031-090.

Headstone of Green B. Bottomer, a member of Gen John Hunt. Morgan’s command, in Cedar Hill cemetery, 1986. Source: Regional Photographs collection, RP 031-090.

After wreaking havoc in Corydon, the Morgan’s raiders continued north to New Salisbury and Salem. “For three weeks Morgan terrorized the local defenses of southern Indiana and Ohio before he was captured at Salineville by Union cavalry under Gen. Edward H. Hobson and sent to the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus. Incredibly, on November 26, 1863, the same day Gen. Patrick Cleburne was doggedly defending Ringgold Gap in northern Georgia, Morgan escaped from prison and made his way back into Confederate lines. Morgan was appointed head of the Dept. of Southwestern Virginia in April, 1864, and determined to attack Knoxville, Tennessee, a city with a largely pro-Union citizenry. While bivouacked in Greeneville, Tennessee on September 3, Morgan was caught in a surprise attack and shot and killed by a Union private who had once served under him.

Corydon/Harrison County maintain a small 5-acre Corydon Battle Park to mark the site of the battle. A period cabin, cannon, and plaques tell the story.

The Confederate dead from the Battle of Corydon are buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery. John Hunt Morgan is buried in Lexington.

Cedar Hill Cemetery historical marker, 1986. Source: Regional Photographs collection, RP 031-089.

Cedar Hill Cemetery historical marker, 1986. Source: Regional Photographs collection, RP 031-089.

It may have only lasted an hour and could be “much ado about nothing,” but to those who lived through the Battle of Corydon, it certainly was a big deal. Not all history has to be monumental!

It may have only lasted an hour (watch a reenactment) and could be “much ado about nothing,” but to those who lived through the Battle of Corydon, it certainly was a big deal. Not all history has to be monumental!

Resources Consulted

Battle of Corydon

Battle of Corydon, Indiana – July 9, 1863: CivilWarTalk forum

Corydon’s Historic Civil War Battlefield

John Hunt Morgan. American Battlefield Trust.

RH 031 Regional History (digital) Photograph Collection

Posted in Civil War, history, Indiana history | 1 Comment

“America’s Best Idea”

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

Hawaii Volcano National Park, n.d.

Hawaii Volcano National Park, n.d.

Denali National Park, n.d.

Denali National Park, n.d.

Grand Tetons National Park, n.d.

Grand Tetons National Park, n.d.

What do these images have in common, other than incredible beauty? You probably guessed that they’re all national parks, specifically: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Denali National Park, and Grand Tetons National Park. Invaluable treasures, the parks encompass over 84 million acres in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands.  In 2017, 330,882,751 visitors enjoyed the scenic beauty. The National Park Service has kept yearly visitation figures since 1904; the 113-year total is a whopping 13,918,617,696!   Follow this link to see more details about the most popular sites to visit: Visitation Numbers: National Park Service.

The parks are beautiful and clearly beloved, but how did all this begin?  According to National Park Service (History Channel online),  “Prior to the nineteenth century, most Europeans and Americans viewed nature solely as a resource for food, clothing and shelter. In Europe, early attempts at nature preservation centered upon the efforts of wealthy landowners to conserve trees for timber and wildlife for game hunting. While America’s national parks drew upon earlier examples of European woodland preservation, they were a uniquely American idea rooted in democracy, philosophy and art.”

Early in the nineteenth century, the philosophy of transcendentalism became prominent.  Transcendentalists “were critics of their contemporary society for its unthinking conformity, and urged that each person find, in [Ralph Waldo] Emerson’s words, “an original relation to the universe.”” Inspiration and truth were found in the beauty of nature.  At the same time, most Americans believed in the doctrine of manifest destiny—that it was our inherent right and moral imperative to expand westward, to colonize the continent.  As travelers headed west, word came back of “awe-inspiring scenery in places such as California’s Yosemite Valley and along Wyoming’s Yellowstone River.” The naturalist and conservationist John Muir traveled extensively in the West and published a series of articles touting its wonders.  “It was California’s Sierra Nevada and Yosemite that truly claimed him. In 1868, he walked across the San Joaquin Valley through waist-high wildflowers and into the high country for the first time. Later he would write: “Then it seemed to me the Sierra should be called no [sic] the Nevada, or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light…the most divinely beautiful of all the mountain chains I have ever seen.””  His words inspired President Theodore Roosevelt, who joined Muir on a camping trip in Yosemite in 1903 and gained a passion for conservation. “President Theodore Roosevelt saw in conservation a means of keeping the natural wealth of the United States for the public and not leaving it as it had been for the economic benefit of entrepreneurs. In a move to preserve prehistoric Indian ruins and artifacts on public lands, he signed the Antiquities Act of 1906, using it to create eighteen national monuments by presidential proclamation, including Devils Tower in Wyoming; El Morro in New Mexico; and, in Arizona, Montezuma Castle, the Petrified Forest, and the Grand Canyon. During his tenure as president Roosevelt established 150 national forests, 51 bird preserves, and 4 game preserves.  In those same years Congress established 5 national parks, including Crater Lake in Oregon, Wind Cave in South Dakota, and Mesa Verde in Colorado. Roosevelt increased natural forest lands from 43 million to 194 million acres.

Theodore Roosevelt, n.d. Source: Unknown.

Theodore Roosevelt, n.d.

Theodore Roosevelt was a great supporter of national parks, but he did not establish the first national park.  This was done by on March 1, 1872, when President Ulysses S. Grant approved the establishment of Yellowstone National Park.  Yellowstone was not only America’s first national park, it was also the first in the world.  The legislation that Grant signed “set aside 1,221,773 acres of public land in the future states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, broke with the established policy of transferring public lands in the West to private ownership.” Following his lead, Congress created three more national parks: Mount Rainier in 1899, Glacier in 1910, and Yosemite in 1890 (Yosemite was established as a state park in 1864 and returned to the U.S. in 1890).

Historic map of Yellowstone National Park, 1904. Source: https://bit.ly/2RS9H6H

Historic map of Yellowstone National Park, 1904. Source: https://bit.ly/2RS9H6H

By 1915, the United States had 8 national parks, but no centralized control. Over the years these parks had been administered by the Departments of War, Agriculture, or Interior, leading to an array of management and conservation decisions and activities.  Some resources were protected against human interference while others were not.  On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act, which created the National Park Service under the Department of the Interior.  The first Superintendent of Parks was Stephen Mather, a self-made millionaire who was deeply influenced by his encounter with John Muir in 1912. “Mather was a leader in the transformation of the poorly managed and underfinanced national parks and monuments into the centrally administered National Park Service. Under his dynamic leadership, Grand Canyon, Acadia, Bryce, Zion, Lassen, Hawaii, and Mount McKinley National Parks were established. He successfully lobbied for enabling legislation that ensured the future creation of other parks, including those that involved purchase from private owners in the eastern United States, such as Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah, and Mammoth Cave.” He paid salaries out of his own pocket, persuaded wealthy friends to purchase and donate land to the National Park Service, and even purchased and donated land himself. He waged a tireless public relations and lobbying campaign to promote the parks, professionalized the positions of park superintendent and ranger, and worked with the automotive industry to encourage park visitation. After his untimely death in 1929, it was noted: “There will never come an end to the good that he has done.

The truth of this judgment can be seen in the 417 parks, monuments, historic sites, battlefields, recreational areas, rivers, trails, and parkways administered by the National Park Service today (60 of these are officially ‘national parks’). Indiana has George Rogers Clark National Historical Park in Vincennes, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Porter, and the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City.  If you’ve not visited these, follow the links for more information. Two of these (George Rogers Clark and Lincoln Boyhood) are within 1 to 1.5 hours from campus.

The George Rogers Clark Memorial was dedicated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on June 14, 1936 and became part of the National Park Service in 1966. The memorial honors the capture of Fort Sackville to Clark on February 25, 1779.  The fort was on or near this site. In this 1978 photograph, the memorial is seen from the Wabash River. Source: Gregory Smith collection, MSS 034-2234.

The George Rogers Clark Memorial was dedicated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on June 14, 1936 and became part of the National Park Service in 1966. The memorial honors the capture of Fort Sackville to Clark on February 25, 1779. The fort was on or near this site. In this 1978 photograph, the memorial is seen from the Wabash River. Source: Gregory Smith collection, MSS 034-2234.

264-1601

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Visitor Center, under construction in 1941. This building was completed in 1943; the angle of this photograph makes it difficult to see the semi-circular shape of this building. Source: Thomas Mueller collection, MSS 264-1601.

“Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore hugs 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan and has much to offer. Whether you enjoy scouting for rare species of birds or flying kites on the sandy beach, the national lakeshore's 15,000 acres will continually enchant you.  Hikers will enjoy 50 miles of trails over rugged dunes, mysterious wetlands, sunny prairies, meandering rivers and peaceful forests.” Source: https://bit.ly/2AMsHd2

“Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore hugs 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan and has much to offer. Whether you enjoy scouting for rare species of birds or flying kites on the sandy beach, the national lakeshore’s 15,000 acres will continually enchant you. Hikers will enjoy 50 miles of trails over rugged dunes, mysterious wetlands, sunny prairies, meandering rivers and peaceful forests.” Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/noaa_glerl/8741872906

University Archives and Special Collections has a few more photographs from visitors who fell under the spell of the parks as did so many others. If Yellowstone was our first national park, Canada’s was Banff National Park, established in 1885.  It’s in Alberta, covering 2,564 square miles of the Canadian Rockies.  Here’s a glimpse of its beauty, taken in 1954.

mss 129-101

View at Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, 1954. Source: Olive Carruthers collections, MSS 129-101.

Take a look at this 1974 photograph of the state of Wyoming taken from NASA’s Skylab space station.  It shows a number of national parks, including the oldest.

A near vertical view of the snow-covered northwest corner of Wyoming as seen from the Skylab space station in Earth orbit. A Skylab 4 crewman used a hand-held 70 mm Hasselblad camera to take this picture. A small portion of Montana and Idaho is in this photograph. The dark area is Yellowstone National Park. The largest body of water is Yellowstone Lake. The Absaroka Range is immediately east and northeast of Yellowstone Lake. The elongated range in the eastern part of the picture is the Big Horn Mountains. The Wind River Range is at bottom center. The Grand Teton National Park area is almost straight south of Yellowstone Lake. Approximately 30% of the State of Wyoming can be seen in this photograph, 1974. Source: Lee William Jones collection, MSS 244-0255.

A near vertical view of the snow-covered northwest corner of Wyoming as seen from the Skylab space station in Earth orbit. A Skylab 4 crewman used a hand-held 70 mm Hasselblad camera to take this picture. A small portion of Montana and Idaho is in this photograph. The dark area is Yellowstone National Park. The largest body of water is Yellowstone Lake. The Absaroka Range is immediately east and northeast of Yellowstone Lake. The elongated range in the eastern part of the picture is the Big Horn Mountains. The Wind River Range is at bottom center. The Grand Teton National Park area is almost straight south of Yellowstone Lake. Approximately 30% of the State of Wyoming can be seen in this photograph, 1974. Source: Lee William Jones collection, MSS 244-0255.

The National Park Service (NPS) publishes information about a diverse array of topics.  Since the NPS is a government agency, these publications are government documents.  These are distributed through the depository library system.  Rice Library is such a depository library, and owns a selection (not nearly all) of NPS publications.  Below is a sampling of these, all of which are available to be checked out.

All photographs are from: https://bookstore.gpo.gov/agency/national-park-service-nps

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If you’re intrigued and want to know more about this topic, I suggest watching The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, a documentary by Ken Burns.  It’s available in the DVD section on the first floor, with this call number: SB482.A4 D85 2009b.

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (General Collection: SB482.A4 D85 2009b)

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (General Collection: SB482.A4 D85 2009b)

What national parks have you visited?  What’s your favorite?  Why?  If we get enough response, I’ll post a short update to this blog.  You can respond anonymously or provide your name if you want to be credited.  In the meantime, enjoy our country’s ‘best idea!’

Resources Consulted:

Brief History of the National Parks (Library of Congress)

John Muir: A Brief Biography (Sierra Club)

National Park Service (History Channel online)

The national parks: America’s best idea.  PBS documentary by Ken Burns.  DVDs, Audiovisual Materials, 1st Floor  Call Number:  SB482.A4 D85 2009b

Scott, Gary.  The Presidents and the National Parks (The White House Historical Association)

Quick History of the National Park Service

Stephen Tyng Mather (American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration)

Transcendentalism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

U.S. National Parks—In the Beginning (National Geographic, May 26, 2010)

Visitation Numbers: National Park Service

Posted in American history, history, Nature, nature photography | Leave a comment

Gypsies in Evansville

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

Did you know that the king and queen of the gypsies lived in Evansville in the latter part of the 19th century and are buried at Oak Hill Cemetery? Let’s take a brief dip into the culture and then I’ll tell you the story.

First, terminology. Gypsy is a pejorative term, dating from the time when this ethnic culture was thought (mistakenly) to have originated in Egypt. “Roma is the word that many Roma use to describe themselves; it means “people,” according to the Roma Support Group, (RSG) an organization created by Roma people to promote awareness of Romani traditions and culture. They are also known as Rom or Romany. According to Open Society Foundations, some other groups that are considered Roma are the Romanichals of England, the Beyash of Croatia, the Kalé of Wales and Finland, the Romanlar from Turkey and the Domari from Palestine and Egypt. The Travelers of Ireland are not ethnically Roma, but they are often considered part of the group.”

It is now believed that the Roma came from India and began their westward migration about 1,500 years ago. “A study published in 2012 in the journal PLoS ONE concluded that Romani populations have a high frequency of a particular Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA that are only found in populations from South Asia.” As further proof, linguistic studies have shown that the Romany language has its roots in Sanskrit and is related to other Indian languages such as Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and Punjabi.  There are an estimated 8-10 million Roma worldwide, with some 1 million in the United States. There is much more to learn about the Roma, their culture, myths about them, and how they were/are persecuted, so look at the links listed below.

This map shows the migration of Roma people from northwest India to Europe. Credit: PNAS and https://www.livescience.com/44512-gypsy-culture.html

This map shows the migration of Roma people from northwest India to Europe. Credit: PNAS and https://www.livescience.com/44512-gypsy-culture.html

Meanwhile, back to the Evansville connection.

Stanley-Harrison House, n.d. Source: Ken McCutchan collection, MSS 004-10-5.

Stanley-Harrison House, n.d. Source: Ken McCutchan collection, MSS 004-10-5.

This elaborate house was built at what became 525 East Olmstead Ave. shortly after the Civil War. (It was razed in the 1960’s.) The second set of owners were two Roma families–the Stanley’s and the Harrison’s—Isaac Harrison was married to Adam Stanley’s sister, Elizabeth.  They lived here for about 10 years before moving on.  According to a presentation given by local historian Ken McCutchan (1913-2002) in 1998,

“In the latter part of the 19th century a tribe of wealthy Romany gypsies had their headquarters in Evansville.  The leader of the tribe, a man named Isaac Harrison and his wife, Elizabeth, dubbed King and Queen of the Gypsies, owned a large tract of land along Stringtown Road near Pigeon Creek.  On the property was a large, beautiful Victorian house that they occupied when not traveling.  The house stood in the center of what is now the 500 block of Olmstead Ave.  Harrison reportedly had stables of fine horses, and once a year the members of the tribe would converge on his property and pitch their tents for a tribal convention.” (MSS 004-10-5)

Gravesite of Elizabeth Harrison, n.d. Source: https://bit.ly/2R6uKCK

Gravesite of Elizabeth Harrison, n.d. Source: https://bit.ly/2R6uKCK

Elizabeth Stanley Harrison (May 17, 1831-November 1895) was born in England, as was her husband, Isaac (1837-1900). Their tribe of Romany immigrated to the United States in the mid-19th century. Little more is known about them, but their funerals (particularly hers) made the headlines. Elizabeth Harrison died in Corinth, MS in 1895, but was returned to Evansville so her widespread family could gather for her funeral. Her funeral did not take place until April 1, 1896, and a crowd, said to number 6,000, showed up hoping to see a spectacle—it had been rumored that her wagons and possessions would be burned.  There was no spectacle—the service, held by a Presbyterian clergyman, was a simple one. Mrs. Harrison’s family and friends had been staying at a place called Lake Park (location not identified) and there was a huge procession of several thousand from there to the gravesite.

Four years later Isaac Harrison was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery. He died in Alabama, but only had to be held in the vault for three weeks until his burial. His death was a tragedy—he was separating his sons who were quarreling, and one of them accidentally shot and killed him. That son (Harry) fled and was persona non grata; he seems to be the only one of the clan not buried at Oak Hill.

“Today, most Roma have settled into houses and apartments and are not readily distinguishable. Because of continued discrimination, many do not publicly acknowledge their roots and only reveal themselves to other Roma.” But it’s interesting to learn about the Evansville connection!

Resources Consulted:

Bradford, Alina.  “Roma Culture: Customs, Traditions & Beliefs.”  Live Science (online), January 16, 2017.

MSS 004: Kennneth McCutchan Collection

“Roma.”  New World Encyclopedia online.  Entry last modified July 2015.

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