10,000 more pages of the South Bend News-Times added

We recently ingested another 10,000 pages of the South Bend News-Times from November 1919 through May 1921.  That brings our total to 1,930 issues, or 30,000 pages of the South Bend newspaper from 1913-1922.  Over the next two months, we’ll upload another 20,000 South Bend pages which will fill in the current gap from October 1915 to December 1917, and finish digitizing the title through 1922.

One story you can find in the recently uploaded pages is about the death of University of Notre Dame football legend George Gipp.


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The Evansville Daily Journal


The Evansville Daily Journal of Vanderburgh County was established in 1834 by William Town but did not appear as a daily until 1848, a year after Evansville was recognized by official charter as a city of Indiana. Town relocated to Evansville from the east and worked as both a grammar school teacher and printer. In March 1834, he disseminated the first issue of the Evansville Journal and General Advertiser [LCCN: sn84023915], which was a pro-Whig (later Republican) paper. He remained the newspaper’s owner until his death in 1839.

William H. and John J. Chandler became the joint owners and editors of the paper in 1839. Under their management the paper was published as the Evansville Journal and Vanderburgh Advertiser. The title was eventually shortened to Evansville Journal. A year later John left the paper and his brother William became the sole owner, publishing the paper under the firm name of WM. H. Chandler & Company. William Chandler debuted the Tri-weekly Journal in 1846 and the Evansville Daily Journal in 1848.


The Evansville Daily Journal endorsed Whig Party candidate Zachary Taylor in the 1848 presidential election. Taylor was nicknamed “Old Rough and Ready” for his victories in the Black Hawk War and Second Seminole War. He died in office on July 9, 1850.

In 1848, Addison H. Sanders purchased the Journal from William Chandler. Sanders oversaw the increased circulation of the Journal throughout southwestern Indiana between 1849 and 1856. He focused on improving the city department portion of the newspaper. The expansion of the paper paralleled the economic growth of Evansville during the 1850s, when the population of the city grew to 4,700. White newcomers were attracted to jobs with railroad firms, saw mills, and factories. Free blacks living in Evansville (about a hundred) also held both skilled and blue-collar jobs despite being barred from coming into Indiana in 1851 by Article XIII of the state constitution.

In October 1856, the Journal passed to Francis Y. Carlile. By April 30, 1858, Carlile had partnered with Indiana printers Frank M. Thayer and John Henderson McNeely. They formed the Evansville Journal Company (later Evansville Journal-News Company) and started to publish the paper under the name of that firm. Among the improvements the new proprietors made to the newspaper office was the installation of a steam engine and power press. Before more improvements could be made the newspaper office was destroyed in a fire. Its proprietors immediately arranged for the Journal to be printed from another newspaper office until it could be relocated. The company ultimately purchased a building located on Fifth Street between Main and Sycamore.

Carlile left the Journal in November 1859, selling his interests to James H. McNeely. By 1860, Evansville was the third largest city in Indiana behind Indianapolis and New Albany with a population of 11,484. Under the maintenance of the McNeely brothers and Thayer the Journal advocated for the election of Abraham Lincoln for president and unflaggingly supported the Union side during the Civil War.

Excerpt from a letter written by a soldier in the 17th Indiana Regiment, Napoleon B. Risinger, published in the Journal on September 17, 1861.

Excerpt from a letter written by Napoleon B. Risinger, a soldier in the 17th Indiana Regiment, which was published in the Journal on September 17, 1861.

John W. Foster purchased the interest of James McNeely and replaced him as partner in June 1866. Edward Tabor, a former bookkeeper for the paper, subsequently joined Frank M. Thayer, John McNeely, and John W. Foster as a partner in the Evansville Journal Company. In 1869, the Journal reported a circulation of 2,000 for its 8-page daily issues and 5,000 for its weekly issues.

Claude G. DeBruler purchased Foster’s interest and replaced him as partner in November 1872. Thayer left the Journal in 1883. James McNeely purchased DeBruler’s interest in 1885 although he had been listed in the newspaper as a proprietor since 1883. Following the departures of Thayer and DeBruler as well as Tabor’s death, the McNeelys became the joint owners of the Journal in March 1885. By 1889, James McNeely was editor-in-chief while his brother John fulfilled the role of river editor. Jessie McDonald (later Mrs. William Torrance) eventually oversaw the society department of the newspaper.

The Journal published a “Colored News” column in or near the want ads section between the early 1890s and 1909. The column had a black editor and covered goings-on in the black community such as church events as well as illnesses and funerals. Outside of the short, segregated column the newspaper’s derogatory tone towards blacks reflected the intense racial bigotry that affected the city’s black population, which at 7,405 approximated that of Cleveland, Ohio.

During the McNeely brothers’ maintenance of the Evansville Journal-News Company the circulation of the Journal grew to 9,844 for daily and Sunday issues, which were 8 and 16 pages respectively, by 1900. That was more than the Evansville Courier the Journal’s pro-Democratic competitor, which had a circulation of 8,555 for dailies 10-20 pages and Sunday issues 24-36 pages, in the same year. By 1920, the Journal had a circulation of 15,765 for week-days and 12,232 for Sunday issues. The Courier surpassed the Journal that year with a circulation of 23,893 for week-days and 20,978 for Sunday issues.

In 1923, the McNeely brothers sold the Journal to the Evansville Courier Company. The Courier office published its Sunday edition together with the Evansville Journal as the Sunday Courier and Journal between June 24, 1923 and 1936. The Evansville Courier Company suspended the Evansville Journal in November 1936. The newspaper’s masthead displayed slightly different titles over the course of its run including the Evansville Daily Journal, Daily Evansville Journal, Evansville Journal, Daily Journal, and the Evansville Journal-News. A former city editor at the Journal during the 1880’s characterized the paper as “a power in the republican party of the state” that supported the elections of several Republican candidates for state and federal offices including Benjamin Harrison (Senator from Indiana 1881-1887; President 1889-1893) and Charles Warren Fairbanks (Senator from Indiana 1897-1905; Vice President 1905-1909).


Bigham, Darrel E. We Ask Only A Fair Trial: A History of The Black Community of Evansville, Indiana. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1987. Published in association with the University of Southern Indiana.

Bigham, Darrel E. An Evansville Album: Perspectives on a River City, 1812-1988. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1988. 

Esarey, Logan. History of Indiana from its exploration to 1922. Rochester, Indiana: Tombaugh Publising House, 1981.

History of Vanderburgh County, Indiana, From the Earliest Times to the Present, With Biographical Sketches, Reminiscences, Etc. Madison, Wisconsin: Brant & Fuller, 1889.

Iglehart, John E., ed. An Account of Vanderburgh County from its organization. Dayton, Ohio: Dayton Historical Publishing Company, 1923. 

Patry, Robert P. City of the Four Freedoms: A History of Evansville, Indiana. Evansville: Friends of Willard Library, 1996. 

Thornbrough, Emma Lou. “African-Americans.” In The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, ed. David J. Bodenhamer and Robert G. Barrows, 5-14. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994. 

Census Record:

U.S. Bureau of the Census. “Population of the 100 Largest Urban Places: 1860.” Internet Release date June 15, 1998. https://www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0027/tab09.txt . 

Clipping File:

Evansville—Vanderburgh County. Newspaper histories. Library Development Office, Indiana State Library, 315 W Ohio St, Indianapolis, IN 46204.


Geo. P. Rowell and Company’s American Newspaper Directory. New York: Geo. P. Rowell & Co., Publishers & Newspaper Advertising Agents, 1869.

Geo. P. Rowell’s American Newspaper Directory. New York: The Printer’s INR Publishing Company, 1909.

N.W. Ayer & Son’s American Newspaper Annual and Directory: A Catalogue of American Newspapers. Philadelphia: N.W. Ayer and Son, 1920.

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Groundbreaking Ceremony for The Multimillion-dollar Levi Coffin House Interpretive Center, Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A special groundbreaking ceremony for the multimillion-dollar Levi Coffin House Interpretive Center will be facilitated by the Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites and the Levi Coffin House Association on Wednesday, October 29, near the Levi Coffin House at 113 U.S. 27, Fountain City, Wayne County.

The new 5,156-square-foot facility will commemorate Levi and Catharine Coffin, conductors on the Underground Railroad, as well as the thousands of men and women who came to the couple’s home following the “mysterious railway tracks” to freedom.

According to Tom King, president and CEO of Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites, the Levi Coffin House “stands as a reminder of courage and conviction – not just that displayed by Levi and Catharine, but also of those whose desire for freedom and dignity led them to escape the burden of slavery.”

Levi Coffin House Historic Site

Levi Coffin House Historic Site

The budget for the new center, which includes the cost of repairs to the house, is $3.2 million. Nearly 70 percent of commitments for that amount have been received to date.

Model of the Future Levi Coffin House Interpretive Center, 2016

Model of the Future Levi Coffin House Interpretive Center, 2016

The projected completion date for the new interpretive center is sometime in 2016, which will coincide with Indiana’s Bicentennial celebration.


“I think the good Lord’s been watching over this building and given it all the right owners down through the years,” said Janice McGuire, president of the Levi Coffin House Association.

Read about the Wayne County Historical Society’s efforts to preserve the Levi Coffin home in 1899.



The Indianapolis Journal, Volume 49, Number 197, 16 July 1899

News Releases

Sheeley, Rachel E. “Levi Coffin House center to break ground.” October 25, 2014. http://www.pal-item.com/story/news/local/2014/10/25/coffin-house-center/17946033/

Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites. Immediate Release: “Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites move forward with Levi Coffin House Interpretive Center.” October 14, 2014. http://www.indianamuseum.org/newsroom/article/id/219


Levi Coffin House Historic Site: http://www.waynet.org/levicoffin/

Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites : http://www.indianamuseum.org/

Archeological Dig at the Future Levi Coffin Visitor Center : http://www.waynet.org/waynet/spotlight/2009/090330-levicoffin-visitor-dig.htm

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Hoosier State Chronicles and Indiana Memory Are Back Online!

After several weeks of being unavailable, you will find that the Hoosier State Chronicles and Indiana Memory are back online!  We apologize that the sites have been down for so long, but to make it up to you we’ll upload another 10,000 pages this week!

You’ll also notice that we’ve re-branded the Indiana Digital Historic Newspaper Program as Hoosier State Chronicles.  We even have a mascot: Eli the Paperboy (named after Indiana’s first newspaper publisher, Elihu Stout).  You can find Eli at the top of this blog. We hope you like the new look.

Happy searching yesteryear’s news!

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Theodore Roosevelt Hospitalized at Indianapolis

Maybe you’ve been watching Ken Burns’s The Roosevelts on PBS.  Did you catch the part about Teddy Roosevelt being injured in Pittsfield, Massachusetts on September 3, 1902?  Roosevelt continued with his itinerary after the accident.  Twenty days later, the injuries he sustained in the accident required surgery.  Specifically, surgeons need to remove an abscess on one of the President’s ankles.  It just so happened that TR was in Indianapolis when he had the surgery at St. Vincent’s Hospital.  You can read more about Roosevelt’s visit to Indiana and his surgery at Indianapolis in the pages of the Indianapolis Journal and the Indianapolis News.

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30,000 More Digitized Newspaper Pages

We recently uploaded another 30,000 pages of digitized Indiana newspapers to our collection.  The additions include the Indianapolis Journal from May 1888-April 1893, the South Bend News-Times from July 1913-October 1915, and the Vevay Times and Switzerland County Democrat for 1840.

A National Digital Newspaper Program grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, in cooperation with the Library of Congress, funded the creation of most of this content.

In the next few months we’ll upload more of the South Bend News-Times through 1922.  We are also currently working to add issues of the Vevay Weekly Reveille from 1853-1901.

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“Indiana’s Literature: The State in the Republic of Letters”

The Indiana State Sentinel - November 27, 1889 - Page 4Between 1880 and 1920, Indiana produced authors such as James Whitcomb Riley, Booth Tarkington, and Meredith Nicholson. This period became known as the Golden Age of Literature in Indiana. However, as J. W. Carr points out in his Indiana State Sentinel newspaper article, “Indiana’s Literature: The State in the Republic of Letters,” Indiana was the birthplace and home to numerous authors throughout the state’s history. Carr acknowledged that beyond the breathtaking landscapes and the hard working men who transformed the state from forests to homes, schools, churches, and the like, all connected by the man-made railroad, sat a far greater achievement produced by the State of Indiana: a man of culture, scholar, and genius.

Weaving a brief synopsis of Indiana’s history with biographical sketches and sample pieces from early Indiana authors, Carr discussed why Indiana’s literature deserved special attention.

First, Carr stated the territory of Indiana did not receive its first governor until 1800, thereby limiting the development of the state for the past seventy-five years. Carr exclaimed, “How short a time in which to uproot savagery and plant civilization in which to produce a literature! Such progress is wonderful. If it had occurred in ancient times it might probably have been called the eighth and greatest wonder of antiquity, but occurring in the nineteen century it is only a part of the last and greatest wonder of the world—the development of a great American state.”

Second, he pointed out the difference between the authors of Indiana and other states. Indiana produced so many poets or prose writers that “genius is the rule and not the exception.” Furthermore, Indiana had more than just poets and prose writers, the state’s writers encompassed historians, novelists, journalists, those who write on the subjects of legal, philosophy, and science. This was important to notate because despite producing “more than 200 writers who have achieved at least a local reputation in the republic of letters,” very few authors achieved national recognition and praise.

The Republic of Letters is an overarching term for philosophical ideas and principles spread through the written word. Particularly prevalent during the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, ideas, concepts, and critiques were spread internationally where it then transformed/merged to fit various political, social, culture, religious, etc. groups. Overall, the Republic of Letters is a term used to describe the way ideas were spread within societies.

Third, within his biographical sketches of the authors, in particular those who also taught, Carr compared their work to well-known poets and teachers of Milton, Longfellow, and Lowell. By doing so, he drew the connection between well-known poets and Indiana poets to show why Indiana authors deserved fame and recognition.

The biographical sketches and sample works of five poets from Indiana’s early history Carr provides are: Julia L. Dumont, John Finley, John B. Dillon, Laura M. Thurston, and M. Louisa Chitwood.

Julia L. Dumont (neé Corey) was one of the first writers in Indiana’s history. She was born in October 1794, in Waterford, Ohio and received an education at Milton Academy, in Saratoga County, New York. In August 1812, she married John Dumont, and in March 1814, the couple moved to Vevay, Indiana, where she resided until her death on January 2, 1857. Carr states, “she was a poet of considerable ability, but she is chiefly remembered as the preceptress [a female teacher] of Edward Eggleston.” Carr published a few lines from her poem, “Poverty.”

Julia L. Dumont

John Finley was a state and local politician (he served as a member of Indiana Legislature, Enrolling Clerk of the State Senate, Clerk of Wayne County Courts, and the Mayor of Richmond, Indiana for eight years) and the editor of the Richmond Palladium. However, primarily, he was remembered for his poems, “The Hoosier’s Nest” and “Bachelors Hall.” He was born on January 11, 1797 in Brownsburg, Virginia and moved to Richmond, Indiana in his early twenties. He was married twice; first in 1826 to Rachel H. Knott in Yellow Springs, Ohio and after her death, he married Julia Hanson on April 9, 1830 in Indianapolis. In 1830, Finley wrote “The Hoosier’s Nest” for the Indianapolis Journal, which Carr published a portion of in his newspaper article. Additional information on John Finley can be found here.

John Finley

John B. Dillon was an historian, state librarian, secretary of the State Historical Society, and an early poet of the state of Indiana. He was born in Virginia, relocated to Cincinnati as a child where he subsequently learned the printer’s trade, and moved to Logansport, Indiana when he was 30 years old. Between 1846 and 1857, Dillon wrote the first history of Indiana, which received high praise and literary merit. Part of Dillon’s poem, “The Burial of the Beautiful,” was published in Carr’s article. Additional information on Dillon can be found here.

John B. Dillon

Laura M. Thurston (neé Hawley) was not only a poet, but also one of Indiana’s early teachers. She was born in Norfolk, Connecticut in December 1912 and educated at the Hartford Female Seminary. She taught in Hartford, New Bedford, Connecticut, Philadelphia, and New Albany, Indiana. In September 1839, she married Franklin Thurston, a New Albany merchant. On July 21, 1842, just shy of being 30 years old, she died in New Albany, Indiana. Two of her most popular poems are “Green Hills of My Fatherland” and “Crossing the Alleghanies.” Carr published a portion of “The Paths of Life,” which he described as “a farewell address, or rather, a parting song to a graduating class. This poem is a model of its kind—beautiful, didactic—a literary gem—a sermon.”

Laura M. Thurston

M. Louisa Chitwood was born on October 29, 1832 and educated in the small village of Mt. Carmel, Indiana in Franklin County. Prior to dying at the age of 23 on December 17, 1855 in Mount Carmel, Indiana from typhoid fever, Chitwood wrote beautiful poems that showed her extraordinary gifts as a writer. George D. Prentice, an editor, politician, and Chitwood’s friend, published her poems after she died. Carr included a stanza of “The Graves of the Flowers” to highlight Chitwood’s gift as a poet.

M. Louisa Chitwood

In addition to a stanza of “The Graves of the Flowers,” Carr included a sonnet that Benjamin S. Parker wrote as a tribute to Chitwood.

Benjamin S. Parker


For additional information on Indiana’s early poets and poetry, see Poets and Poetry of Indiana: A Representative Collection of the Poetry of Indiana During the First Hundred Years of its History as Territory and State, 1800-1900. Compiled and Edited by Benjamin S. Parker and Enos B. Heiney. (New York: Silver, Burdett and Company, 1900).

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Today in Indiana History: Wendell Willkie Accepted Republican Nomination for President

August 17, 1940  – Wendell Willkie accepted the Republican nomination to run for President in his hometown of Elwood, Indiana. Over 260,000 were in the crowd.  Willkie became the fourth Hoosier resident to receive a party nomination for President.  Indiana’s other presidential nominees included Benjamin Harrison (Republican, 1888), Eugene V. Debs (Socialist, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1920), and Frank J. Hanly (Prohibition, 1916).  Willkie lost the 1940 election to incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Willkie received 44.8% of the popular vote, but only won 82 electoral votes to FDR’s 449.  Read about Willkie accepting the nomination in the Hammond Times.


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The “Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World:” Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor (1878-1932)

In Print and On the Map: Articles in the Indiana Digital Historic Newspaper Database and Corresponding State Historical Markers

Historical Marker 3: Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor, Intersection of 38th Street and the Monon Trail, across from the Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis, Indiana

“Taylor was a marvel on a bicycle. Riding against the fastest bicyclists of America, Europe and Australia, he won national and world championships against racial prejudice, unscrupulous tactics of riders and unfair decisions of officials.” Chicago Defender, July 2, 1932

Around the turn of the twentieth century, the sport of bicycle racing had the same feverish popularity as the Indianapolis 500 race and the cyclists the same international celebrity status as contemporary major league sports starts. The fastest of all of those star cyclists in America and Europe was Marshall Walter Taylor, a Hoosier and African American.


Marshall Taylor, ca. 1900

Marshall Taylor, ca. 1900

 Marshall was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1878, one of eight children. He and his family lived in a rural area on the fringes of the city. His grandfather had been enslaved in Kentucky, and his father, Gilbert Taylor, was a Union soldier in the Civil War, after which he was employed by the Southards as a coachman. The Southards were a wealthy family and they gifted a young Marshall with his first bicycle. Soon he was bicycling along his long paper delivery route and practicing stunts when he was not working as a paperboy. Sometime between when Marshall was 10 to 13 years old, the Hay and Willits Bicycle Shop started to pay him to perform bicycle stunts in front of their store while dressed in a military uniform as a promotional draw.

According to an article published in the Washington, D.C. paper The Evening Star dated February 1, 1902, Marshall got his nickname “Major” from those performances, which eventually became his full-time job. The title would follow him into his prominent career as the famed cyclist Marshall W. “Major” Taylor. (Issues of the Courier are accessible via the Chronicling America website.)

Marshall also started to work as a repairman and instructor in a bicycle shop where Louis D. “Birdie” Munger was one of the managers. Munger had raced as a cyclist before he retired and started manufacturing bicycles in Indianapolis. He befriended Marshall, recognizing in the young teenager the potential to become a champion cyclist.

Despite being barred from being a member of bicycle riding clubs in the city and coming up against white cyclists who did not want to compete against an African American in a road race, Marshall did participate in a race that stretched 75 miles from Indianapolis to Muncie to Matthews. A blurb published in The Jasper Weekly Courier dated July 12, 1895, reported that “Marshall Taylor, a colored lad” was the winner of “one of the hardest road races ever run” from Indianapolis to Matthews. The writer wrote that Marshall was 18 years old at the time but he was actually only 17 in 1895. (Issues of the Courier are accessible in the Indiana Digital Historic Newspaper database.)

In the fall of that year Marshall accepted an invitation from Louis Munger to move to Worcester, Massachusetts, where the former shop manager planned to establish another bicycle shop. 


Louis D. “Birdie” Munger

Louis D. “Birdie” Munger

Marshall talked about his friend’s decision to move in his 1928 autobiography, The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World: the Story of a Colored Boy’s Indomitable Courage and Success against Great Odds, which he dedicated to Louis D. “Birdie” Munger, his “True Friend and Advisor.” He wrote the following lines about Munger’s move to Massachusetts:

“… members of the [bicycle] firm [in Indianapolis] objected strenuously to Mr. Munger’s befriending me simply because of my color, and I was inadvertently the cause of Mr. Munger’s severing relations with the firm and his decision to establish a bicycle factory in Worcester, Massachusetts. Before our train pulled out of Indianapolis Mr. Munger informed a group of his friends that someday I would return to that city as champion bicycle rider of America.” Marshall Taylor, 1928

On living in Worcester Marshall said, “I was in Worcester only a very short time before I realized that there was no such race prejudice existing among the bicycle riders there as I had experienced in Indianapolis.”

Marshall returned to Indianapolis in September 1896 to test his speed on the Capital City Cycling Club’s track in the city. Munger, who was at the time the founder of the Worcester Cycle Manufacturing Company, had signed Marshall up to be one of the participating cyclists, and as the event was whites-only, he also smuggled Marshall into the Capital City Track, located at 30th Street (38th Street today) and the Monon Railroad (the Monon Rail-Trail today).

The roaring crowd of spectators marveled as Marshall set two new records racing around the track, first in the one-mile and then in the one-fifth-mile. But, cycling officials did not recognize his record-breaking times as official. The officials and other cyclists at the track were also angry at Munger for smuggling in a black cyclist who had rocketed pass the record times previously set by white cyclists. Marshall was banned from racing on the Capital City Track following the event.

He persevered on to win his first official professional race three months later. Between 1896 and 1904 he reached the climax of his career as a cyclist, setting world records at various distances between one-quarter mile and two-miles. He participated in races in Chicago, Connecticut, and New York.

Marshall not only had to overcome competitors but also extreme racism during his races. Racing events in the South barred Marshall from participation, and when organizers did allow the foremost cyclist to participate he was met with violence such as having ice and nails thrown at him by spectators and white cyclists eager to jostle, box in, and shove him during a road race. Marshall was even pulled to the ground and choked by a competitor during a race event in Massachusetts.

In his autobiography, Marshall reflected on experiencing racially motivated violence during his career. He came to the following conclusion:

“Life is too short for a man to hold bitterness in his heart, and that is why I have no feeling against anybody … In fact, I have never hated any rider that I ever competed against. As the late Booker T. Washington, the great Negro educator, so beautifully expressed, ‘I shall allow no man to narrow my soul and drag me down, by making me hate him.’” Marshall Taylor, 1928

Marshall also competed in Australia, New Zealand, and throughout Europe, where black athletes encountered comparably less racist-charged violence. In August 1899 he won the world championship in the one-mile race in Montreal, becoming the second African-American to win a world championship in a sport. (George Dixon, a Canadian bantamweight and featherweight boxer, was the first African American to win a world championship title after defeating his opponent in the 1887 world bantamweight boxing match that was held in England.)

Marshall won the national championship in September 1900, becoming the American sprint champion in front of a crowd that numbered more than 10,000 people. His victories were chronicled in cycling journals and newspapers in America, including the Indianapolis Recorder and the Chicago Defender,and especially in periodicals in Europe. Fans as well as newspaper and magazine writers dubbed the Major the “colored Sprint Champion of America” and the “Black Cyclone.”


Marshall Taylor in the French press, ca. 1900

Marshall Taylor in the French press, ca. 1900

In 1901, Marshall traveled to Europe to compete in racing events. He did so only after promoters in France rescheduled races that had originally been set on Sundays out of respect to Marshall, who had up until then refused to participate in races on Sundays because of his religious convictions. Marshall was a committed Baptist who was known to not drink and compete fairly.


Marshall Taylor in Paris, 1901

Marshall Taylor in Paris, 1901

Between 1901 and 1904 Marshall defeated the best cyclists in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, winning most of the races that he participated in and proving his reputation as a world champion cyclist. He married Daisy V. Morris in March 1902 and also took briefs respites in Worcester during the last two years of competing. Marshall’s and Daisy’s daughter, Sydney Taylor, was born on May 11, 1904, in Sydney, Australia.

Marshall Taylor and his wife, Daisy, and daughter, Sydney, ca. 1906 or 1907

Marshall Taylor and his wife, Daisy, and daughter, Sydney, ca. 1906 or 1907

Marshall retired in 1910 at 32 years old. His post-racing career was beset with unsuccessful investments and the Wall Street Crash of 1929. By 1930 Marshall, who was at that time staying at a YMCA in Chicago, was estranged from his wife and had lost the earnings that he had made as one of the best-paid athletes during his prime. In poor health, he worked to sell copies of his autobiography, which he published in 1928.

Marshall “Major” Taylor died on June 21, 1932. He was 53 years old. His body was moved from Cook County Hospital’s charity ward to be buried at Illinois’ Mount Glenwood Memory Gardens. His grave went unmarked until 1948 when a group of former cyclists solicited money from Frank Schwinn, owner of Schwinn Bicycle Company, for the funds necessary to exhume Marshall’s remains and have them reburied in another area of the cemetery with a gravestone.


Marker for Marshall Taylor's grave at Mount Glenwood Memory Gardens, Illinois

Marker for Marshall Taylor’s grave at Mount Glenwood Memory Gardens, Illinois

Marshall’s and Daisy’s only child, Sydney, remembered her father as “‘a good man, a good father and a good husband … very gentlemanly.’”

While not faster than a speeding bullet, Marshall “Major” Taylor was, according to a writer for the African-American Registry, one of “the fastest humans on earth,” and certainly the fastest man alive on two wheels during the peak of his racing career between 1898 and 1910. The nicknames that followed him—the “Worcester Whirlwind,”the “colored Sprint Champion of America,” and especially the “Black Cyclone”—demonstrated the superhero status that Marshall reached through breaking world records and racial barriers in America and abroad.

The state marker recognizing his accomplishments was installed at the intersection of 38th Street and the Monon Trail in 2009 by the Indiana Historical Bureau as well as the Central Indiana Bicycling Association Foundation and Indiana State Fair Commission.

Taylor marker   Taylor marker side 2

Taylor’s legacy of sportsmanship and courage was also honored with the erection of the Marshall Taylor Velodrome (MTV) in 1982 and a memorial at the Worcester Public Library on May 21, 2008.

The Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation accepted a recommendation from the Mayor’s Bicycle Task Force to name the $2.2 million dollar velodrome (a track with banked curves for bicycle racing), built with public funds, after champion cyclist Marshall Taylor. The construction of the velodrome was financed with public funds. It was the first building with that type of financial backing in Indianapolis to be named in honor of an African-American individual, and is one of only 29 or so velodromes in the country.

The plan for the building was developed through a partnership between Indy Parks and the Lilly Endowment, which included building a track stadium, natatorium, and the MTV in time for the 1982 National Sports Festival, which was hosted in Indianapolis that year. At that time Indy Parks Director F. Arthur Strong said the MTV “could possibly be the fastest velodrome in the country,” pointing out the track’s smooth surface and natural protection from wind due to being build into a hillside. 

The dedication ceremony for the MTV was held on July 15, 1982. Marshall’s daughter, Sydney Taylor Brown, was presented with a key to the city at the event.

Since its establishment the MTV has hosted numerous national competitions and invitationals for Olympic gold medalists as well as men’s and women’s national/world sprint champions from America, Mexico, and Zealand.

During the 1980’s the velodrome was also utilized as a public venue for bicycle riding classes and amateur cyclist races. Then-manager Chuck Quast credited the MTV with giving the opportunity to kids to come “out of the woodwork” and train to become world-class athletes.

In April 2011 Marian University, in partnership with Indy Parks, became the manager of the MTV. The facility became the Indy Cyclopex: Home of the Marshall Taylor Velodrome. The velodrome still functions as a venue for cycling races and community programs.

Want To Learn More About Marshall W. “Major” Taylor? Check Out These …



Evening star. (Washington, D.C.), 01 Feb. 1902. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1902-02-01/ed-1/seq-9/>

Jasper Weekly Courier. 12 July 1895. Indiana Digital Historic Newspaper Program. Indiana State Library. < https://newspapers.library.in.gov/cgi-bin/indiana?a=d&d=JWC18950712.1.2&srpos=2&e=——-en-20–1–txt-txIN-%22Marshall+Taylor%22—–# >


Clipping File, “Bicycles, 1980-89,” Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, Indiana. 

Clipping File, “Biography, Taylor, J.—Taylor, O.,” Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Major Taylor Collection, Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana. (Donated by daughter in 1988).


Balf, Todd. Major: A Black Athlete, a White Era, and the Fight to Be the World’s Fastest Human Being. New York: Crown Publishers, 2008.

Ritchie, Andrew. Major Taylor: The Extraordinary Career of a Champion Bicycle Racer. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press, 1988.

Taylor, Marshall Walter “Major.” The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World: the Story of a Colored Boy’s Indomitable Courage and Success against Great Odds. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1971. Reprinted from a copy in the Fisk University Library Negro Collection; first published. Originally published in 1928.


African-American Registry. “George Dixon, an Early Champion Boxer.” Accessed August 14, 2014. http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/george-dixon-early-champion-boxer .

African-American Registry. “Marshall Taylor, Cyclist and Sports Trailblazer.” Accessed August 14, 2014. http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/marshall-taylor-cyclist-and-sports-trailblazer  .

Indiana Historical Bureau. “Marshall “Major” Taylor.” Accessed August 11, 2014. http://www.in.gov/history/markers/MajorTaylor.htm#2 ; http://www.markinghoosierhistory.org/search-our-marked-history/?ihb_marker_details_viewer=333

Indy Cycloplex. “History.” Accessed August 14, 2014. http://indycycloplex.com/track/history/ .

King, Gilbert. “The Unknown Story of ‘The Black Cyclone,’ The Cycling Champion Who Broke the Color Barrier.” Smithsonian magazine, September 12, 2012. Accessed August 14, 2014. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-unknown-story-of-the-black-cyclone-the-cycling-champion-who-broke-the-color-barrier-33465698/?no-ist .

Levin, Steve. “Obituary: Sydney Taylor Brown / Psychiatric social worker from Schenley Heights.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 18, 2005. Accessed August 14, 2014. http://www.post-gazette.com/news/obituaries/2005/05/18/Obituary-Sydney-Taylor-Brown-Psychiatric-social-worker-from-Schenley-Heights/stories/200505180219 .

Major Taylor Association, Inc. “May 21, 2008: Major Taylor statue dedication.” Accessed August 14, 2014. http://www.majortaylorassociation.org/events/2008may21.shtml .

Tolman, Lynne. Major Taylor biography at a glance.” Major Taylor Association Inc. Accessed August 14, 2014. http://www.majortaylorassociation.org/biography.htm .

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Today, in August 13, 1881, “The Land of Used-To-Be” by James Whitcomb Riley published in the Indianapolis Leader

On August 13, 1881, the Indianapolis Leader published “The Land of Used-To-Be” by James Whitcomb Riley.

The Land of Used-To-Be

Born on October 7, 1849 to Reuben and Elizabeth Riley in Greenfield, Indiana, James Whitcomb Riley became one of the most popular authors of his time and belonged to the Golden Age of Indiana Literature.

When Riley was 16 years old, he dropped out of school and began working a variety of jobs until he achieved success as a poet. He found success as a sign painter but quickly tired of the mundane work. Riley found more pleasure when he worked for traveling travel medicine shows because he was able to perform impressions, play the guitar, sing, recite stories, and hone his writing skills. However, the work was unstable and Riley often had to scrounge for money in order to support himself.

In 1877, The Anderson Democrat, a newspaper in Anderson, Indiana, hired Riley as an editor. Within weeks of him starting, the newspaper’s circulation doubled and Riley’s editing style was a hit with the newspaper’s readers. However, Riley’s true passion was writing poems, not editing newspapers. He constantly submitted poems to newspapers, but was frequently rejected. This did not deter Riley from continuing to submit poems, though. Rather, he devised a plan with John Henderson, the editor of the Kokomo Dispatch, a newspaper in Kokomo, Indiana, to publish his poem, “Leonainie” in the Kokomo Dispatch under the name of E.A.P., the initials of Edgar Allen Poe. Excited over the lost Poe poem, newspapers across the country republished “Leonainie,” which sparked interest and controversy over the poem’s style and lyrics. Ultimately, another local newspaper exposed Riley as the poem’s author and disgruntled people across the country condemned and chastised Riley for his actions.

The negative press contributed to Riley’s success and led him to become one of the most celebrated Indiana writers. After the scandal, the Indianapolis Journal hired Riley as the newspaper’s full-time poet and in the winter of 1880-1881, Riley toured Indiana, reciting his poetry wherever he was welcomed.

In 1883, Riley wrote and published his first book, The Old Swimmin’-Hole and ‘Leven More Poems, in what would become his iconic style of writing, the “Hoosier dialect.” By using language that resonated with the every day man and woman and Indiana culture, landscape, and people as his subject, the state of Indiana quickly fell in love with Riley and he became known as “The Hoosier Poet.”

Even though the Midwest recognized Riley for his talent, the literary elites on the east coast, who ultimately had the power to determine if a poet was or was not successful, did not recognize Riley’s talent. It was not until 1887 when the east coast literary critics recognized Riley’s poetic gift. In 1887, the International Copyright League invited Riley, among other writers such as Mark Twain and William Dean Howells, to speak at a program. Originally, Riley was only to speak one night, but after he read his poem, “When the Frost is on the Punkin,” the League asked Riley to recite another poem the following evening. Riley enchanted other several highly respected poets that night, including James Russell Lowell, who introduced Riley on his second night reciting his poems. Ultimately, Lowell’s approval of Riley was what sparked the east coast literary elites to acknowledge Riley for his talents.

Throughout his lifetime, James Whitcomb Riley published over 90 books and wrote more than 1,000 poems. Some of his most well-known poems include, “Little Orphant Annie,” “The Raggedy Man,” “The Runaway Boy,” and “When the Frost is on the Punkin.” Riley died on July 22, 1916 in Lockerbie, an Indianapolis neighborhood, and buried in Crown Hill Cemetery.

Additional Resources

In June 1912, Victor Talking Machine Company recorded James Whitcomb Riley reading roughly twenty of his poems. However, the Victor Talking Machine Company only released a limited number of recordings. The Indianapolis Public Library digitized seventeen previously unreleased recordings on its website, including “When the Frost is on the Punkin.” To listen to Riley read some of his most beloved poems, click here.

The Indiana State Library Treasures collection contains a wealth of sources pertaining to James Whitcomb Riley and is accessible to the public here.


The Indianapolis Leader, volume 3, number 1, August 13, 1881, page 3. Accessed August 12, 2014.

About The Kokomo Dispatch (Kokomo, IN). Chronicling America: Historic American Newspaper. Library of Congress. Accessed August 12, 2014.

Indiana State Museum. Uncovering an Indiana Treasure: James Whitcomb Riley. Accessed August 12, 2014.

The Indianapolis Public Library. “James Whitcomb Riley Recordings,” in the Digital Recordings. Accessed August 12, 2014.

Lilly Library at Indiana University. “‘…and touch the universal heart.’: The Appeal of James Whitcomb Riley.” Accessed August 12, 2014.


“The Land of Used-To-Be” 

by James Whitcomb Riley

And where’s the land of Used-to-be, does little baby wonder?
O, we will clap a magic saddle over papa’s knee,
And ride away around the world, and in and out and under
The whole of the golden sunny summer-time, and see!

Leisurely and lady-like we’ll jostle on our journey.
And let the pony bathe his hooves and cool them in the dew,
As he slides down the shady way, and lags along the ferny
And the green grassy ledges of the lane we travel through

And then we’ll canter on to catch the bubble of the thistle
As it bumps among the butterflies, and glimmers down the sun,
To leave us laughing, all content to hear the robin whistle.
Or guess what Katydid is saying little Kathy’s done.

And pausing here a minute, where we hear the squirrel chuckle
As he darts from out the underbush, leaves and honeysuckle
To wreathe around our forheads, riding into Used-to-be;

For here’s the very rim of it that we go swinging over—
Don’t you hear the fairy bugles, and the tinkle of the bells?
And the baby bumble-bees that tumble in the clover,
And dangle from the titled pinks and tipsy pimpernels?

And dont you see the merry faces of the Daffodillies,
And the jolly John-jump-ups, and the butter-cups a-glee,
And the low, lolling ripples ring around the water-lilies,
All greeting us with laughter to the land of Used-to-be?

And here among the blossoms of the blooming vines and grasses,
With a haze forever hanging in a sky forever blue,
And with a breeze from over seas to kiss us as it passes,
We will romp around forever as the little fancies do;

For all the elves of earth and air are swarming here together—
The prankish Puck, King Oberon, and Queen Titania, too;
And dear old Mother Goose, herself, as sunny as the weather,
Comes dancing down the dewy walls to welcome you and me.

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