Going Back to 1812

Microscope

Over the last week, we’ve uploaded another 22,409 pages!

This is a lot of great new content from Indiana territorial and early statehood days!  But we’ve also ventured later into the twentieth century with the Evansville Argus, Greencastle Daily Banner, and Greencastle Banner Times!

Here’s a list of hyperlinked titles from the recent upload:

As always, happy searching!

 

The Swimsuit Civil War

South Bend News Times June 15 1914

Summer heat wave?  One-hundred and one years ago in the Windy City, you’d have to tough it out, ladies — wind or no wind.  Because you’re living in “the most  censored city in the United States.”

Actually, while Chicago, Illinois, pioneered many forms of public censorship — legislators there passed the first movie censorship law in America in 1907 — the swimsuit civil war was a widespread American phenomenon.  Yet even as newspapers like the Chicago Daily Tribune protested wartime censorship in Parisonly French over the phone, s’il vous plait! (the paper called this “a form of censorship that was hard on Americans”) — as well as government ownership of telegraph wires in the United States, police officers on Chicago’s Lake Michigan beaches were on the prowl.

This newspaper clip appeared on June 15, 1914, in the South Bend News-Times in South Bend, Indiana, and referred to a new “Paris bathing suit” that had been called immodest over in Chicago.  Police officers were enforcing strict codes on the length of skirts allowed on Chicago public beaches.  Obviously these fashions are hardly risqué to us today.  It also seems like the Hoosier paper, by boldly publishing an image of the offending bathing suit on page 2, had different views altogether about ladies’ swimwear from the folks in charge over in the big city.

As Ragtime fashion took hold, America’s testy swimwear situation continued well into the 1920s.  Yet it’s an interesting fact that many officers who served in urban swimwear patrols were women.  This fabulous photo, taken on a Chicago beach in April 1922, speaks volumes about the complex fashion dilemmas that have always caused an uproar in America.  The figure in the straw hat, wearing pants and a jacket and hauling off two offending bathers, is a woman.  A generation earlier, in such an outfit, she herself might have been hauled off as a public offender and a threat to decency:


Swimwear Civil War -- Chicago 1920s

(Mashable: 1920s: The Swimwear Police)


The South Bend News-Times was a fairly modern paper.  Its editors had a great sense of humor, and as they followed the fashion trends of the World War I era into the Jazz Age, they often took the side of the “modern girl.”   Though the late Victorian Age — and what Mark Twain satirized as the Gilded Age, a time period he thought incredibly corrupt — could be far racier than it usually gets credit for, the News-Times offers some pretty good documentation of American public opinion as social mores began to change faster than ever.

The News-Times stands out for one other reason:  it had a regular women’s page and was one of the first Hoosier newspapers to publish an abundance of photographs — a tactic largely intended to drive up sales.  (The News-Times often struggled to stay in business and folded for good in 1938.)

On August 15, 1920, in the section “Camera News,” the editors printed this photo of San Francisco police “claiming war” on the one-piece bathing suit out West.  “The girls insist that they are both sensible and artistic,” the caption read, “but the police are hard-hearted.”  It’s hard not to believe the editors in South Bend sided with the bathers.


SB News Times - Camera News - August 15, 1920

(South Bend News-Times, August 15, 1920)


Back in 1913, the News-Times published a photo of Mrs. Charles Lanning of Burlington, New Jersey.  This case was more sobering.

In September 1913, Lanning was beaten by a mob on the Jersey Shore for wearing a “short vivid purple affair.”  The caption reads: “An extreme slit on one side of the skirt is what started the trouble.”  The New York Times carried the further information that Mrs. Lanning, who was married to a hotel proprietor, “was beset by 200 men at Atlantic City.”  Lifeguards managed to break through the crowd and get her away from the “rowdies” who had pelted her unconscious with sand and apparently with their fists, too.  The crowd then followed her to the hospital “to get another glimpse at the suit.”  When she got out of the hospital, some of her assailants were still standing there and Mrs. Lanning fainted.


SB News Times - September 12, 1913

(Mrs. Charles Lanning was assaulted on the Jersey Shore in 1913. South Bend News-Times, September 12, 1913)


American bathing suit ordinances, of course, met plenty of resistance.  In March 1922, Norma Mayo, a 17-year-old girl living on Long Island, was already getting ready to  commit civil disobedience the next summer against a New York judge, who had barely let her off the hook the previous summer for wearing an illegal swimsuit on the beach.  Fittingly, the Norma Mayo clip appeared right next to an article about Mohandas Gandhi, “chief leader of the Indian non-conformists” against British control of his country.


SB News Times - March 19, 1922

(South Bend News-Times, March 19, 1922.)


Here’s a few more colorful stories from the annals of Hoosier State Chronicles about the Battle of the Beaches.  Enjoy.   And remember, suits may be getting smaller, but we’re a-growin’.

Woman’s Sports Change Fashion” (December 4, 1921)

Statuesque Dancer Won Health By Dancing in Bathing Suit on Shore” (November 27, 1921)

Hawaiian Solons Debate Bathing Suit Legislation” (May 1, 1921)

With Hands and Feet Bound She Swam 600 Yards Across a River” (August 11, 1913)

Whether There Shall Be A Double Standard of Bathing Suits. . .” (July 29, 1913)


SB News Times - September 7 1921(South Bend News-Times, September 7, 1921)


John Dillinger -- Bathing Suits - 1934

Betty Nelson and Rosella Nelson, dressed in bathing suits, view the body of Indianapolis gangster John Dillinger, aged 32, at the Cook County Morgue, Chicago, Illinois.  Dillinger was killed outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago, July 22, 1934 — the height of the summer bathing season.  (Chicago Tribune historical photo.)

OK, now TAKE TWO:

John Dillinger -- Bathing Suits - 1934 (2)

(Chicago Tribune historical photo.)


Bathing Beauty - UNT

(She likes newspapers!  University of North Texas Libraries/Austin Public Library.)

Programming Note

As of June 4, 2015, INSPIRE.in.gov is being redesigned.

Consequently, the Indiana State Library’s portal to Newspapers.com is currently unavailable.

We’re working to restore access to this resource as quickly as possible.  I’ll be sure to blog again as soon as it’s back up.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience.

Don’t forget you can still search over 250,000 Indiana newspaper pages at WWW.HOOSIERSTATECHRONICLES.ORG.

The Specter Bulldog. . . and the Real John G. Heinl

Players Cigarettes Bulldog 2

This week, Hoosier State Chronicles is uploading a large run of Terre Haute newspapers from 1880 to 1903, digitized by the Vigo County Public Library.  While peering through a few issues, I ran across ads from a man who shows up in a bizarre Hoosier folktale.

Having grown up in the Wabash Valley, I’d heard the strange story of John Heinl and his constant canine companion — the emerald-eyed phantom bulldog, “Stiffy Green.”  Even as an occasional believer in the paranormal, I knew the legend wasn’t true.  Yet, like most Terre Hauteans, I also knew literally nothing about the famous dog’s owner.

As usual, fact sometimes outdoes fiction.  Here’s a bit about the real John Heinl, master of the green-eyed ghost hound, and an interesting Hoosier family.

John was his Americanized name.  According to his 1894 application for a U.S. passport, the man whose life story got lost in the “Stiffy Green” legend was born Johann Gradl Heinl on September 7, 1844, in the Bohemian town of Eger, today called Cheb, about a hundred miles west of Prague.  Until age twelve, Heinl was a subject of the Austrian Empire.

In 1856, with his parents and three brothers, Heinl boarded the Augusta Emma, bound out of the German port of Bremen for New York City.  The vessel’s passenger list shows that his parents traveled first class, while their four sons sailed in steerage below.   (It’s interesting that at age fourteen, John’s brother Lorenz, later a pioneer Hoosier florist, was already listed as a butcher.)

Johann Heinl - December 1854 Passenger List, Augusta Emma, Steerage

The family first settled in Toledo, Ohio.  On the chilly shores of Lake Erie, John apprenticed in the horticultural trade.  In 1863, aged nineteen, he and Lawrence moved west to the Wabash Valley, where by the end of the Civil War, they were running a greenhouse at 15th & Washington Avenue in Terre Haute.


John Heinl 1865(The specter’s master in 1865.  Wabash Valley Visions & Voices.)


Terre Haute was full of Europeans in the 1860’s.  Sometime before 1870, young John Heinl got to know another immigrant family, the Debses.  Jean-Daniel Debs and his wife Marguerite Marie Bettrich had come to Indiana from Alsace, France.  A literary man, Jean-Daniel named his first son after the French writers Eugène Sue and Victor Hugo.  Eugene V. Debs went on to become one of America’s greatest labor leaders and was the Socialist Party’s candidate for President five times.  In 1870, John Heinl, known to most locals today only as “Stiffy Green’s master,” married Debs’ sister, Marie — who also went by “Mary.”


Mary Debs(Marie Debs Heinl.  Wabash Valley Visions & Voices.)

Marie Heinl Debs(Marie wearing Alsatian costume in Colmar, France, her parents’ hometown.  Wabash Valley Visions & Voices.)


John and Mary Heinl lived at two addresses on North Eighth Street in downtown Terre Haute, just off the campus of Indiana State Normal School, later Indiana State University.  Mary’s brother, Eugene, lived around the corner.  And on the porch of the Heinl residence, there stood the shadow of a future legend:  a sculptured bulldog.

Meanwhile, Heinl’s greenhouses were booming (blooming. . .)  Heinl, his brother Lawrence, and John’s son Fred eventually opened several floral establishments around town, including one called “Floral Hall,” where they raised and sold chrysanthemums, palms, laurels, ferns, Parisian lilacs, African violets, and grapevines.  John also owned a flower plantation and hot houses near Tallahassee, Florida, where he cultivated plants and seeds for export to the Midwest.  Situated at the “Crossroads of America,” Heinl shipped flowers from his Terre Haute greenhouses by rail all over the U.S.


Heinl Florist - Terre Haute Daily News November 30 1889

(Terre Haute Daily News, November 30, 1889.)


Terre Haute Saturday Evening Mail - November 10 1894

(Terre Haute Saturday Evening Mail , November 10, 1894.)


Terre Haute Saturday Evening Mail - May 3 1879

(Terre Haute Saturday Evening Mail, May 3, 1879.)


Heinl & Weber Florists

(This greenhouse at 1630 Plum Street was owned by Heinl’s son Fred in 1911.  Wabash Valley Visions & Voices.)


A leading citizen and a Progressive, if not even a Socialist, John Heinl was president of the Rose Dispensary, a clinic and pharmacy offering free medical care to the needy.  He also served as Vice President of the Rose Orphans Home and was active on the boards of several banks as well as the Terre Haute Water Works.  Known for his impeccable honesty, in 1906 Heinl served on an investigative committee that dug into Vigo County’s pervasive political graft.

By the 1890s, he was also operating a travel agency, booking passage for steamships and tours back to his native Europe.  In 1895, John, Mary and their son Robert went on a ten-month European tour.


John G. Heinl - Indianapolis News February 2 1906(Indianapolis News, February 2, 1906.)


John G. Heinl -- Terre Haute Daily News 11-30-1889

(Terre Haute Daily News, November 30, 1889.)


Terre Haute Saturday Evening Mail - March 23 1895

(Terre Haute Saturday Evening Mail, March 23, 1895.)


There’s always a newspaper man in these stories.  Sure enough, John and Mary’s son, the distinguished journalist Robert Debs Heinl, Sr., born in Terre Haute in 1880, had his first job reporting for the Terre Haute Star.  Robert later worked for the Indianapolis Sentinel before moving to New York City.  A friend of Fiorello LaGuardia and President William H. Taft, Robert Debs Heinl became a nationally-known newspaper and magazine correspondent, traveled around Latin America, and wrote for National Geographic beginning in 1918.  He later became an editor at the Washington Post.

John Heinl’s grandson, Robert Debs Heinl, Jr., also became a well-respected author.  An officer in the Marine Corps, he was present at Pearl Harbor and fought at Iwo Jima, then in Korea.  A military correspondent for the Detroit News, Col. Heinl also authored an influential history of Haiti, where in the early 1960s he served as a U.S. military liaison and helped trained Haitian dictator “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s troops.  His son, Michael Heinl, great-grandson of “Stiffy Green’s master,” was allegedly almost abducted and tortured in 1962 at the dictator’s palace in Port-au-Prince, when he was twelve years old.  The dictator’s son, “Baby Doc,” one of Michael Heinl’s friends, apparently saved him from his father’s henchmen after he criticized the regime.

Now for the ghostly legend.

Florist John Heinl died at home on New Year’s Eve 1920.  Mourners laid him to rest in a marble mausoleum not far from the Debs family plot at Terre Haute’s Highland Lawn Cemetery, the second largest in Indiana.  Mary Debs Heinl followed him there in 1936, then their son Fred in 1955.

Somehow, the stone bulldog that had stood watch outside their house near the campus of Indiana State got put into the mausoleum with them as decoration.  The dog had faux-emerald eyes that shone in the night.

By 1968, students in the English Department at ISU, where Ron Baker had begun a Folklore program, were already collecting wild tales about “Stiffy Green” (also known as “Stuffy Green”), the “stuffed” hound visible through the window of the Heinl crypt.  A popular thrill for teenagers and even for couples on dates was to jump over the iron gates at Highland Lawn, peer through the mausoleum’s window with flashlights, and mess with Stiffy.


Stiffy Green

(Wabash Valley Visions & Voices.)


The local tale differed with the teller, but it went something like this:  John Heinl was an eccentric, lonely Terre Haute businessman who lived by himself and had only his faithful bulldog (“or wolf”) for a companion.  The two were inseparable and always went out walking together, Heinl typically smoking a big cigar.  As he got older, the strange man put it in his will that when he died, he wanted his pet bulldog stuffed and placed in his tomb.  Like in the ancient practice of horse burial, the two would keep each other company into the afterlife.  Finally, Heinl died and the dog was put to sleep.  The taxidermist’s work done, “Stiffy Green-Eyes” sat guarding his master’s tomb at Highland Lawn, snarling at grave-robbers and vandals.  (Heinl, the tale went, was buried with all his jewels.)

A popular alternative version has it that his master’s death left Stiffy so upset, he wandered away from home and waited at the mausoleum door for Heinl to come out.  Whenever the family brought the bereaved dog back to Eighth Street — did Mary Debs do the fetching?! — he ran off to the cemetery on U.S. 40 again, until finally his shattered heart died of grief.  Ghost-hunters reported seeing master and hound wandering the cemetery grounds at night.  Sometimes, the pooch howled awfully at strangers.

In 1985, when the real nocturnal prowlers started to shoot bullets instead of innocuous flashlights into Stiffy’s verdant eyes, the cemetery caretakers had to remove the statue.  It eventually ended up at the Vigo County Historical Society and was used in a children’s exhibit.  But Stiffy’s new caretakers never really squashed the famous legend.

Will Hoosier State Chronicles?  In case I did what vandals could never do and killed a great dog, here’s a few more stories for you.  Or maybe they’re bull, too:

“Bulldog Stopped a Runaway Horse,” Indianapolis Journal, January 17, 1904.

“Saves Self By Feeding Bull Dog Cuff Button,” South Bend News-Times, December 5, 1913.

“Filling a Bulldog’s Teeth,” Terre Haute Saturday Evening Mail, February 6, 1897.


Indianapolis Journal April 12 1892(Indianapolis Journal, April 23, 1892.)


 Bulldog With Hat - Leslie Jones

(Leslie Jones, “Bulldog With Hat.”  Boston Public Library.)


Are you a guardian of truth?  Know more about the Heinl legend?  Bark at me:  staylor336 [at] gmail.com

Newspapers.com Update: Greenfield Daily Reporter

Over the last two months, Newspapers.com uploaded another 40,000 pages of the Greenfield Daily Reporter.  Since the Indiana State Library is providing this content to Newspapers.com, the content is freely available to Indiana residents through INSPIRE.  Click here for access instructions.   Currently, there are 1,058,866 Indiana newspaper pages available through the INSPIRE portal.

At the end of June, Newspapers.com should wrap up digitizing the Greenfield Daily Reporter through 1963.  The Steuben Republican from 1860-1963 will be the next title added.

Harriet Colfax, Guardian of the Indiana Shore

Harriet A Colfax - Chicago Daily Tribune October 2 1904 (2)

Some people are shocked to find out that Indiana has a coastline, let alone six lighthouses.  You might be even more surprised to discover that for over forty years, the keeper of the Old Michigan City Lighthouse was a woman — and that in 1904, she was “the oldest lighthouse keeper in America.”

Harriet Colfax was born in 1824 in Ogdensburg, New York, a town on the St. Lawrence River looking over into Ontario.  As a young woman, she taught voice and piano in her hometown.  In the early 1850’s, Harriet moved west to Michigan City, Indiana, with her younger brother, Richard Wilson Colfax, who became editor of the Michigan City Transcript, a Whig journal.  (Richard died just after his twentieth-sixth birthday in February 1856 and is buried in the town’s Greenwood Cemetery.)  Some sources say Harriet worked at her brother’s newspaper as a typesetter, then taught school.  She never married, and after her brother’s death had few means of support.  So by 1861, when she was thirty-seven, she decided to do something totally different.

And the job would bring a house with it.

Until the 1890s, being a lighthouse keeper was still a political position, relying on appointments and sometimes even corruption.  On the Great Lakes and Atlantic Coast, these jobs were scarce and hard to come by.  Fortunately, Harriet had a relative who could pull some major political strings.

Her cousin Schuyler Colfax, born and raised in New York City, had also moved out to the promising new Hoosier State, where by age 19 he was editing the South Bend Free Press.  (In 1845, as the paper’s new owner, he changed its name to the St. Joseph Valley Register.)  In the 1840s, Schuyler Colfax wrote about Indiana politics for the influential editor Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune and as State Senator wrote for the Indiana State Journal.  In 1855, he got elected to Congress, where he spoke out against the extension of slavery into the West.  Nicknamed “The Smiler” — partly for his affability, partly for his intrigue — he was also one of the few people you ever see grinning in 19th-century photographs!


Schuyler Colfax

(Harriet’s cousin, South Bend newspaperman Schuyler Colfax, represented Indiana in the House of Representatives during the Civil War, served as Speaker of the House, then went on to become Ulysses S. Grant’s first Vice-President.  The Hoosier V.P. also helped found the Daughters of Rebekah, the women’s auxiliary of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.  Photo by Matthew Brady, National Archives.)


In March 1861, two years before he became Speaker of the House, Harriet’s cousin got her an appointment as the keeper of the Old Michigan City Lighthouse.

Contemporary accounts constantly referred to Harriet as small in stature and rather frail, so her cousin in Washington, D.C., might have had to exert some pressure — or selectively leave out that information — to get the family favor done.  Yet getting a post as lighthouse keeper wasn’t necessarily hard.  If we can believe one of his letters, in 1822 the English actor Junius Brutus Booth, father of John Wilkes Booth, was offered the position of lighthouse keeper at Cape Hatteras on North Carolina’s remote Outer Banks — a job he almost accepted.


Old Michigan City Lighthouse

(This photo from July 20, 1914, shows the Old Michigan City Lighthouse after it was converted into a duplex for the lightkeeper’s family and his assistant.  The tower and lantern dating from 1858 were removed.  U.S. Coast Guard photo.)


Michigan City lighthouse

(Harriet Colfax also tended the East Pier Lighthouse, which required a perilous walk down a long, icy causeway in winter.  The light is situated at the end of the breakwater at the mouth of Michigan City harbor, once a minor fishing and lumbering port.  Flickr Creative Commons photo, Tom Gill.)


Harriet A Colfax - Terre Haute Saturday Evening Mail January 19 1895(Terre Haute Saturday Evening Mail, January 19, 1895.)


In the opening year of the Civil War, with her new appointment in hand, Harriet moved into the three-year-old lighthouse built among cottonwoods and willows by the Lifesaving Service just back from the harbor.  (The plan was almost identical to two other light stations — Grand Traverse Light on Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula, and the station at Port Washington, Wisconsin, north of Milwaukee.)  A new Fresnel lens up top was visible for fifteen miles out on Lake Michigan.  Harriet Colfax had become the newest guardian of sailors along the occasionally storm-wracked Hoosier Coast.  She kept the difficult job for forty-three years.

Colfax’s most challenging task was getting out to the East and West Pier lights.  Until it collapsed in a windstorm in 1886, Colfax reached the West Pier beacon by rowboat.  Built in 1871 and situated at the end of a 1,500-foot long breakwater, the East Pier Light was replaced in 1904 and is still standing.  This light had to be lit every evening, fair weather or foul.  When “The Witch of November” blew in and Lake Michigan’s waves froze solid on top of the causeway, Harriet had her work cut out for her, and she had many harrowing brushes with a frigid death.  As the 49-year-old wrote in her logbook on May 28, 1873: “A terrible hurricane to-night at about the time of lighting up.  Narrowly escaped being swept into the lake.”

One of her main challenges in the days before kerosene was used to light lamps (a hazard in itself) was keeping oil from freezing while she carried it out to the beacons.  The West Pier could only be reached by rowboat.  In wintertime, whether she was walking or rowing, Colfax had to heat the lard oil at home, then act fast.  As she told the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1904 (the year of her retirement at age eighty):

The lard oil would get hard before I could get the lamp lighted, but once lit it never went out, you may be sure.  My lights never went out till I quenched them myself. . . I love the lamps, the old lighthouse, and the work. They are the habit, the home, everything dear I have known for so long. I could not bear to see anyone else light my lamp. I would rather die here than live elsewhere.

(Her cousin, Vice-President “Smiler” Colfax, lacked Harriet’s stamina.  He died in 1885, of a heart attack brought on by exposure to extreme cold after walking three-quarters of a mile in January weather in Minnesota.)


lighthouse lantern(Harper’s Young People: An Illustrated Weekly, May 2, 1882)


Harriet Colfax’s job, of course, wasn’t all hardship.  Life on the lake had plenty of attractions.  In her journals, she described spectacular rainbows and eclipses of the moon over the water.  Winter’s icy grip brought impressive displays of the Northern Lights.  And she sometimes got leaves of absence.  In 1876, she visited the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.

Nor did she live by herself.  In the 1860’s, a friend of Harriet’s named Ann C. Hartwell moved into the station.  Born in Ontario in 1828, Ann had known Harriet back in upstate New York as  a child and, like her, moved out to Michigan City in the 1850’s.  A story, possibly folklore, about a dead lover being the reason why neither of the two women ever married made it into the Indianapolis Journal on December 21, 1884:

Harriet Colfax - Indianapolis Journal December 21 1884 (2)

Though they lived together as friends, Colfax and Hartwell worked side-by-side to keep the lanterns lit.  The bravery of the famous Ida Lewis, who kept Lime Rock Light in Newport, Rhode Island, stirred up a lot of public fascination — some of it annoying — about females in the Lifesaving Service and helped propel the two Michigan City women to local fame.  (They weren’t the only women involved with keeping the Hoosier coast safe, by the way.  Harriet C. Towner was Colfax’s successor from 1844 to 1853, and Mary Ryan was stationed at Calumet City, Indiana, from 1873 to 1880.)

When Colfax finally retired from her job in October 1904, she and Ann had to move out of the lighthouse, which was owned by the Lifesaving Service.  Separated from her old home, Ann’s mental and physical health immediately broke down.  On November 4, a report made it into the Jasper Weekly Courier in southern Indiana that she had gone insane from grief — and of course, love:

Ann Hartwell - Jasper Weekly Courier, November 4 1904

Ann died just a few months later, on January 22, 1905, aged 77.  John Hazen White, the Episcopal Bishop of Indiana, presided at her funeral at Michigan City’s Trinity Cathedral.  Harriet, also struck with grief at the loss of her home and long-time companion, passed away on April 16.  The two are buried next to each other at the Greenwood Cemetery.

Their names shine bright on the long list of women lighthouse keepers of the Great Lakes.  But lest you think that Harriet’s story is impressive, here’s one even better:  Kathleen Moore, keeper of the Black Rock Harbor Light on Long Island Sound in Connecticut, was credited with saving twenty-one lives.  She retired in 1878.  Claims about her age differ, but Moore was born sometime between 1795 and 1812, took up lighthouse keeping before she was a teenager, and died in 1899.  You do the math!


Harriet A Colfax - Chicago Daily Tribune October 2 1904

Harriet A Colfax - Chicago Daily Tribune October 2 1904 (3)

(Chicago Daily Tribune, October 2, 1904)

Henri Marion, Naval Interpreter and Pigeon Expert, Dead at Culver, Indiana

Culver Postcard 1906

You can thank Jonathan Jennings for making the Hoosier State a Great Lakes State two-hundred years ago, when he got Congress to nudge the border with Michigan a few miles north.  But even with our gorgeous sand dunes stretched out under the shadow of the steel mills, Indiana hardly jumps to mind when it comes to maritime history.

That didn’t stop me from fishing for some home-grown Hoosier connections to the Life Aquatic.  (Did you know that even far-inland parts of the state, like Leavenworth down on the Ohio River, once had thriving boatbuilding enterprises, with craftsmen turning out graceful wooden skiffs shipped around the U.S.?)

One of Indiana’s surprising links to the sea was Professor Henri Marion, whose obituary ran in the South Bend News-Times on August 15, 1913.

Marion was born in Tours, France, in 1857, and emigrated with his wife Jeanne Marie to America around 1883, when the couple were still in their twenties.  The Marions may have lived briefly in Charleston, South Carolina, where their son Paul Henry Marion, who later served in the Navy, was born in 1884.  In 1886, Henri Marion was a language teacher at the Norwood Institute on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C.  An ad for the school listed him as a graduate of the prestigious Sorbonne in Paris.

By 1891, though, Marion had become a French professor at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

An esteemed instructor there, Henri Marion may have been involved in the early use of the phonograph in teaching languages to naval cadets.   Curiously, the French professor also got involved in another “linguistic” innovation involving technology — not “pidgin” English, but another kind of “pigeon” entirely.


Outing October 1894

(A pigeon-cote on the armored cruiser Constellation around 1894.)


The instructor was at the forefront of a U.S. Navy effort to improve the sending of messages via homing pigeon.     An issue of Outing in October 1894 has this to say about it:

The military use of messenger pigeons has grown up since the Franco-Prussian war, when pigeons were first extensively used during the siege of Paris.  In France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and Portugal, the organization of military pigeon posts is now very complete, some of the nations owning upwards of six-hundred thousand birds.  As homing pigeons are of no use as bearers of messages except after long and careful training, a service of messenger pigeons for naval or military use could not be improvised at short notice.

The United States messenger pigeon service has now been in existence for three years, under the charge of Prof. Henri Marion, United States Naval Academy, who has frequently urged that a permanent service be established along the Atlantic coast, from Portland, Maine, to Galveston, Texas. . .

In peace, the birds would be useful in giving notice of wrecks, fire at sea, lack of food, water or coal, or of any accident to vessels or machinery, if happening near the coast, and could frequently relieve the anxiety of friends of passengers on vessels overdue. . . When in October 1883 a light-ship broke from her moorings twenty-two miles from Tornung, off the mouth of the Eider, four pigeons were liberated from the ship and brought the news in fifty-eight minutes.

In 1896, Professor Marion filed a patent for a new watertight aluminum message holder that would be attached to the bird’s legs.  Scientific American reported that Marion’s improved “quill” weighed “less than eight grains” and can “be fastened to the pigeon in an instant.”


Henri Marion Homing Pigeon Patent 1896

(Marion’s patent for a message holder, October 1896.)


Around 1905, before he began spending his summers as a language teacher in northern Indiana, Henri Marion got involved with another strange naval odyssey:  the discovery of the remains of John Paul Jones.

The Scottish-born Revolutionary War hero was most famous for captaining the Bonhomme Richard in a famous battle against the British vessel Serapis, fought off Flamborough Head in Yorkshire in 1779.  Though hailed as the “Father of the U.S. Navy,” John Paul Jones fell from grace and entered the service of Catherine the Great’s Russian Navy in 1787, battling the Turks on the Black Sea, then wandered around Poland and Sweden, desperately looking for a country to serve.  Jones ended up in Paris in 1790 in the early days of the French Revolution.  Sick and miserably lonely, the 45-year-old hero died of a kidney ailment at his apartment in Paris in 1792.  One of the captain’s few friends found him dead, kneeling face-down at the edge of his bed, apparently in prayer before his spirit took flight (or set sail?)

Thinking (wrongly) that the U.S. government would be interested in repatriating the hero’s remains for an honorable burial in America, a French admirer sought to preserve his body, even as the American ambassador, Gouverneur Morris, refused to help give Jones a proper burial in Paris.  (“I had no right to spend money on such follies,” Morris wrote.)  Like his contemporary Mozart, who was chucked into a mass grave in Vienna just six months earlier, only a few servants and friends attended Jones’ burial in the St. Louis Cemetery, which was set aside for “foreign Protestants.”   The body was stuck in a lead-lined coffin filled with alcohol to aid preservation in case the American government ever ordered an exhumation.  Just a few weeks later, after 600 Swiss Guards died defending King Louis XVI at his palace and were tossed in a mass grave next to Jones’ new coffin, the exact site of his burial became more and more mysterious.

The horrible burying ground later became a garden, then a refuse dump covered by a midden full of animal bones and kitchen waste.  According to rumor, the neighbors held cock fights and dog fights at the site of the forgotten cemetery where America’s greatest naval hero lay.  A grocery store, laundry, and apartment house had also been built on top of it over the course of the 1800s.


John Paul Jones Last Cruise 1


In 1899, General Horace Porter, U.S. Ambassador to France from 1897 to 1905, began an amazing six-year search for Jones that culminated in the discovery, photography, and repatriation of his remains.  (I won’t spoil your lunch by posting the photos here, but I’ll just say he looks like King Tut.  You can see them here.)

Professor Henri Marion — of homing-pigeon fame — was Ambassador Porter’s interpreter in France.  Marion helped translate old documents and went on the archaeological digs that led to the discovery of John Paul Jones’ coffin.  Porter’s team battled worms, stench, and fetid water along the way.  His interpreter later wrote the definitive account of this search through subterranean Paris, a book published in 1906 as John Paul Jones’ Last Cruise and Final Resting Place at the United States Naval Academy.

Henri Marion accompanied the Revolutionary War hero as he sailed on his “final cruise” to Annapolis, Maryland, departing from Cherbourg, France, in July 1905, after lavish services at the American Church in Paris.   A 13-day crossing brought  Jones “home” to a ceremony presided over by President Theodore Roosevelt.  Jones’ bones were then laid to rest in a temporary vault at the Naval Academy on the shores of Chesapeake Bay.


Coffin of JPJ

(The coffin of John Paul Jones is lowered to the deck of the USS Standish off Annapolis Roads, July 23, 1905.  U.S. Naval Historical Center.)


Within a summer or two, the French interpreter who was so instrumental in the hunt for Captain Jones was in Marshall County, Indiana.  By about 1907, Henri Marion was serving as a French and Spanish instructor at the Culver Military Academy’s Summer Naval School, a preparatory program for teenagers interested in enrolling in the U.S. Navy.

Founded on the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee in 1894, the Culver Academy began its unique summer naval program, hailed as “the only naval school west of the Atlantic Coast,” in 1902.  Three years later, it had “125 students from twenty different states” (Plymouth Tribune).

An article in the nearby Plymouth newspaper reported on the mustering-in of a battalion of “Indiana state sailors” in 1909.  “A ship will be provided for them,” it said.

The naval instruction on Lake Maxinkuckee covers all the elementary work done by naval reserves and by the government naval training stations.  In addition, the formation of this battalion entitles Indiana to receive from the navy department a vessel for more extended drills and work in navigation on the Great Lakes.

Illinois has recently received the gunboat Nashville for this purpose and by next summer these Hoosier middies will probably receive a similar vessel.

A writer for the Indianapolis Journal in 1902 told potential tourists that “Visitors to Maxinkuckee during these months [July and August] will find the lake with quite a nautical appearance, the only feature lacking being the smell of the salt sea air.”

With the grounds illumined by Japanese lanterns, a ball was held at Culver that August.  By 1910, a floating dance pavilion called “The White Swan enticed local dancers at the popular lake resort to come enjoy the summer nights along Aubeenaubee Bay.  Guests sometimes arrived on the steamers that once plied Lake Maxinkuckee.  In 1903, Civil War naval veteran (and native Hoosier) Admiral George Brown came to visit the Culver cadets.


Culver Naval School Catalog 1904 (5)

(Naval students learn to dance at the Culver Summer Naval School.  This photo is from the institute’s debut 1902 catalog.  The cost of the 8-week program that year was $110, “including room, board, tuition and laundry.”)


Culver Naval School Catalog 1904 (3)

(“Marlinspike Seamanship,” as taught in the northern Indiana flatlands.  Students “will all be taught ship nomenclature, and the general principles which govern the building of wooden and iron ships.  They will be instructed in the use of the compass, and the lead-line and the log.  In connection with their work in seamanship, they will also be instructed in the courtesies and customs of the United States Naval Service. . . Cadets in the upper class will be taught the laws of gyratory storms. . . and will be required to learn thoroughly the ‘Rules of the Road’ for avoiding collisions at sea.”)


Country Life in America May 1907

(In May 1907, Henri Marion was mentioned in this ad from Country Life in America.  “Expert tutoring is given in any study; also a special course in modern languages, with the phonograph, under Professor Henri Marion, of the United States Naval Academy, and laboratory and other interesting special courses.”)


Culver Naval School Catalog 1904 (4)


Culver Naval School Catalog 1902 (7)


South Bend News-Times August 15 1913 (1)

South Bend News-Times August 15 1913 (2)

Possibly dealing with the effects of typhoid fever he contracted in Maryland in 1910, Henri Marion died in the hospital at Culver, Indiana, in August 1913 “after a general decline” — and not long after a fierce windstorm cut through the school and did huge damage.

The French instructor, interpreter, and pigeon-pioneer was buried at the Naval Academy’s cemetery in Annapolis.  The Culver Military Academy continues its summer naval school to this day.


Scene on Lake Maxinkuckee

(Culver-Union Township Public Library.)


Do you have a photo of Professor Marion?  I’m at staylor336 [at] gmail.com.  And take your own dive into history at Hoosier State Chronicles.

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The Man Behind the Curtain

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Then come  to a FREE demonstration of Hoosier State Chronicles on Thursday, May 21 at 1:30 pm in the Author’s Room (room 203) at the Indiana State Library (315 W. Ohio St., Indianapolis).  The program will be an hour in length, and will allow time for questions. No registration is required.

Stefan Boddie will lead the demonstration.  Boddie is the managing director of DL Consulting in New Zealand.  DL Consulting developed Veridian the collection management software which powers Hoosier State Chronicles.  Boddie will provide insights regarding how to best utilize the software’s features, and maximize your investigations into yesteryear’s news.

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Harry L. Kramer and the Candy Cathartic

Cascarets ad 2

In the sometimes not-so-good old days, Hoosier newspapers were overflowing with ads for what today we’d call snake oil.  Before the Civil War, when these papers typically only ran to four pages and often lacked enough subscribers to stay afloat, vast amounts of newsprint went to work advertising spurious quack panaceas.  As late as 1900, editors in need of underwriters for the news had no qualms about giving ad space to “doctors” who thought that cocaine could cure a sore throat or that an effervescent ginger “summer drink” could get rid of your cholera.

Nor did the amount of medical ads diminish after the war.

From the turn of the century until World War I, a massive national advertising campaign directed at mothers and kids touted a tasty cure-all with roots in the Wabash Valley:  Kramer’s Cascarets, “The Candy Cathartic.”

Born in Keokuk, Iowa, in 1861, to parents who hailed from Richmond, Indiana, Harry Lewis Kramer was a clever businessman and one of the most energetic and revolutionary advertisers of his day.

In 1890, the 29-year-old entrepreneur, who lived in Attica in Fountain County, attracted investors and started up a health resort at a spot near the spectacular Fall Creek Gorge in neighboring Warren County.

Built around a mineral spring discovered in 1884 by Civil War veteran Samuel Story (a victim of severe arthritis who noticed his ailment getting better when he sloshed around in the mud), the lavish hotel Kramer constructed first went by the name Indiana Mineral Springs, then as the Hotel Mudlavia, after the soothing mud-baths offered there.  A service town that popped up next door to the resort took the name of its postmaster, Kramer, and is still on the map, though the hotel has faded into legend.


Harry L Kramer - Fair Play Sainte Genevieve Missouri September 17 1904

(Kramer made sure his face was all over small-town American newspapers.  This clip appeared in Fair Play in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri, on September 17, 1904.  Printer’s Ink hailed Kramer as “a man of almost superhuman energy — a new Napoleon, perhaps. . . He writes his own advertisements, all of which are characterized by wonderful originality and a desire to get out of the beaten track.”)


Mudlavia Hotel 1

(Hotel Mudlavia near Williamsport, Indiana, around 1917.  This photo was taken by Anna Marie Landis, who worked at the famous resort.  Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library.)


Kramer’s sprawling Mudlavia health spa attracted the rich and famous — including boxing champion John L. Sullivan, Indianapolis poet James Whitcomb Riley, and Hoosier songwriter Paul Dresser. Papers lauded it at as “one of the finest sanatariums in the United States.”  Mudlavia ranked with the great mineral baths at French Lick, Indiana; Bedford, Pennsylvania; and Hot Springs, Arkansas.

The lure?  Not just nature — or the elaborate Chinese garden out back.  Pure mineral waters bubbling out of the Warren County hills offered relief from a vast array of bodily ailments.  Infusing water with mud, doctors and their assistants at Kramer’s resort offered a therapeutic “Magno-Mud” cure (sometimes misspelled “mango mud” in the papers), giving blissful relief to aching joints and muscles.  Kidneys and livers also went away from Mudlavia feeling much happier.


Mudlavia Hotel 2

(A guest at Mudlavia gets a mud bath, circa 1917.  An ad for Kramer’s chewing gum, “No-To-Bac,” hangs on the wall behind him.  Click to enlarge.  Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library.)


Closely tied to Kramer’s investment in this tranquil health spa in the luscious Hoosier woods was his other main business interest: a sugary substitute for the dreaded dose of castor oil once administered by American mothers everywhere.  This was Kramer’s nationally-famous “candy cathartic,” Cascarets.

Dozens of speedy and sure-fire purgatives feature in the annals of 19th-century medicine and journalism.  From a spoonful of old-fashioned castor oil itself to a gentler “Castoria” and a wide variety of sarsaparillas and “fig liver syrups,” our ancestors knew plenty of ways to achieve what they rightly saw as the highly-desirable result of these over-the-counter drugs:  a vigorous flush of the intestines.


warner's log cabin sarsaparilla

(Hoosiers William Henry Harrison and his grandson Benjamin Harrison appeared on this 1880’s ad for a cure-all wonderworker.)


I’m not sure if Kramer ever studied chemistry and medicine or just stuck to the business end of things.  But in the 1890s he made a fortune selling laxatives.  (The Attica entrepreneur also marketed a chewing gum called No-To-Bac, which claimed to help smokers kick the habit.)  Pioneered at a lab in Attica, by 1899 five million boxes of octagonal, chocolaty-tasting Cascarets were pouring out of Kramer’s factories in Chicago and New York.

“Cascaret Kramer” revolutionized American advertising, but he was no medical Napoleon.  Plant-based laxatives, used to flush out the bowels, had figured for millennia into folk medical practice.  The jolt to the nether regions customers got from these candy cathartics came from the drug’s most potent ingredient, the bark of a species of buckthorn tree — the cascara, native to the Pacific Northwest, northern California, and Idaho.  Early Spanish explorers called this diminutive tree the cascara sagrada (“sacred bark”).  Mixed with aloe and the roots of rhubarb, Native Americans on the Pacific Coast and in the Northern Rockies used it as a natural purgative.

By the late 1800s, trainloads of buckthorn bark were being shipped out of the Northwest to pharmaceutical companies around the world in quantities that endangered the tree’s survival.  Much of the bark went to the factories of the Sterling Remedy Company, Kramer’s wildly successful over-the-counter pharmaceutical enterprise.

Like other Americans,  Hoosiers were wild for a good clean-out.  Kramer helped create the craze.  On April 25, 1907, the Indianapolis News ran a full page-length ad (really a medical manifesto). “The Curse of Constipation” was almost certainly written by Harry Kramer.


Indianapolis News April 25 1907


Often Caused by Castor Oil and Salts

A Warning That All Should Read and Heed

Constipation is indeed the curse of mankind.  From a simple bit of carelessness this dreadful destroyer of life gets a hold on its victim and slowly but surely tortures him to a horrible death.

It is a fact that all people at some time or other become constipated, and if the warning be not instantly heeded, and the system put back into working order without delay, the victim is marked for death — a long, lingering one, often so disguised that no one would dream of its original cause.

It is also true that nearly every disease recorded by medical science has its beginning in constipation.  Yes, great learned men have said that if people would learn to keep their bowels in order there would be no disease.  Professor B. Howard Rand, the great professor of chemistry in the famous Jefferson Medical College, as a farewell advice to the newly graduating class of young doctors, always said “Trust in God and keep your patients’ bowels open!”

Going into amazing detail in the pages of the News, Kramer went on to describe how Cascarets “begin to cure the moment you begin to chew them.”  These buckthorn candies give “tone and strength” to the walls of the intestines and (so the ad went) help purify the blood, give “a ruddy complexion; bright eyes; clear, active brain; everything that makes life worth living.”  Kramer promoted his tablets as useful against ills far beyond those affecting the intestines.  Children’s diseases, headaches, nervous ailments, female complaints, skin diseases, appendicitis, oral thrush, and worms could all be kept in check or cured.

Some of the drug’s benefits were almost certainly mythic.  One of many printed endorsements ran: “After taking Cascarets for a few nights before writing, I was able to pass a tape-worm 24 feet in length.  Cascarets have our praise. . . — Mrs. Harry Wood, Kenneth, Indiana.”

Kramer sold his candy cathartic for a dime in handy, pocket-sized metal boxes.  “You don’t know until you try how much good is crowded into a little 10-cent box.”


Gunters Magazine Advertiser

(“Grandfather’s Cure for Constipation,” one of Kramer’s humorous ads, appeared in Gunter’s Magazine Advertiser in 1906.)


Cascarets - South Bend News Times November 20 1918

(Kramer’s clever marketing extended to kids, who often didn’t realize they were taking “medication” when they downed a sweet Cascaret.  “They are harmless and safe for the little folks.”  This ad from the South Bend News-Times on November 20, 1918, shows a “Kid’s Indignation Meeting.”  A marketing genius, Kramer often paid to have his ads run in the regular news columns of papers.)


South Bend News Times November 19 1918 (3)

(South Bend News-Times, November 19, 1918.)


Cascarets - South Bend News Times November 30 1918

(South Bend News-Times, November 30, 1918.)


Cascarets - Plymouth Tribune January 16 1908

(Plymouth Tribune, January 16, 1908.)


The name and popularity of the sugar-coated laxative became so widespread that it entered the popular vocabulary.  A polo team in Anderson, Indiana, took the name “Anderson Cascarets” around 1904.  In New York City, night-workers at banks began to be known as “Cascarets” because they “work while you sleep.”

sb news times November 3 1915

(South Bend News-Times, November 3, 1915.)


Cascarets ad 4


Kramer sold his product rights for the drug to the Sterling Remedy Company around 1918 so that he could focus on his health resort at Mudlavia.  (The company was then based in Wheeling, West Virginia.)

Tragically, on February 29, 1920, a fire in a linen closet reduced the vast wooden hotel to ashes.  Many sick patients at the sanitarium, unable to walk due to rheumatism, were barely able to get out alive.  Some guests jumped from third-story windows, then suffered in the February cold even as Mudlavia smoldered in front of them.  Over fifty-thousand dollars in jewels perished in the flames.

Harry Kramer planned to rebuild the hotel, but never did.  The advent of antibiotics and the coming of the Great Depression effectively ended the heyday of the great American health spas.  (The owners of the French Lick resort in southern Indiana sold it to the Jesuits for use as a school in the 1930s for $1.00.)

Kramer retired to 1012 Ferry Street in Lafayette and died of a heart attack in 1935, apparently while visiting the license branch of the Tippecanoe County DMV.  The inventor of Cascarets is buried at Lafayette’s Greenbush Cemetery.

A retirement home and restaurant were built on the site of Mudlavia.  They, too, burned down in 1974.  (Some ghost hunters claim the site is haunted.)  As late as 2008, the natural spring that once made this place famous was still being tapped by an Indianapolis-based mineral water company.  The FDA banned the use of cascara bark in 2008, when researchers discovered the plant has carcinogenic properties and (ironically enough) may contribute to liver ailments.

Harry L Kramer at Mudlavia

(Kramer in his office at Mudlavia around 1917.)


Mudlavia Hotel 7

(Mudlavia Hotel, Attica, Indiana.  Allen County Public Library.)


Have any stories of your own from Mudlavia?  What’s the scoop?  Contact Stephen Taylor at staylor336 [at] gmail.com

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