Notable Hoosier Obits: Lew Wallace

109 years ago tomorrow, in 1905, Indiana author, soldier, and statesman Lew Wallace died.

Wallace was born on April 10, 1827 in Brookville, Indiana.  His father, David, was a future governor of Indiana, and his mother, Esther, was the daughter of a three-term Congressman. Wallace spent his youth in Covington, Crawfordsville, Indianapolis, and Centerville.  He enlisted in an Indiana regiment at 19 years old and served in the Mexican-American War.  After the war, he began a law practice, won election as prosecuting attorney for Indiana’s first district, married (Susan Elston), had a son (Henry Lane Wallace), and served in the Indiana Senate.  He moved to Crawfordsville after the birth of his son, and maintained a permanent residence there the rest of his life.

A Wallace obit from the New York Tribune
A Wallace obit from the New York Tribune

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Governor Morton commissioned Wallace as adjutant general to recruit and organize Indiana’s quota of troops.  Wallace subsequently became colonel of the 11th Indiana Volunteer Infantry.  He rose through the ranks, and became a major-general by 1862.  He participated in the battles of Fort Donelson, Shiloh, and Monocacy.  He also administered the Middle Department and 8th Army Corps in Maryland and Delaware.  He subsequently sat on the court-martials of Abraham Lincoln’s assassins and Henry Wirtz.

After the war, he served as Governor of the New Mexico Territory from 1878-1881, and U.S. Minister to Turkey from 1881-1885.  He also began a literary career with his first novel, The Fair God, published in 1873.  He followed his debut novel with Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ in 1880, which became one of the best-selling novels of the 19th century.

He returned home to Indiana in 1885, continued to write, and administer his intellectual property, including the adaptation of Ben-Hur for the stage. Wallace died on February 15, 1905 at his home in Crawfordsville.  You can find a sample of the many obituaries about him from across the country (from Hawaii to Vermont, from Minnesota to Florida) at the links below:

A High Tribute to General Lew Wallace,” Pensacola [FL] Journal.

The Author of Ben Hui [sic] Is Dead,” Hawaiian [Honolulu] Star

Career Over for Gen. Lew Wallace,” Washington [DC] Times.

Death Summons General Wallace,” Minneapolis Journal.

General Lew Wallace,” Bourbon [Paris, KY] News.

General Lew Wallace Dead at Crawfordsville, Ind., Home,” Rice Belt Journal [Welsh, LA].

General Wallace Dead,” Alexandria [VA] Gazette.

Gen. Lew Wallace, Author of “Ben Hur” Is Dead,” Deseret Evening News [Salt Lake City, UT]

Gen. Lew Wallace Dead,” Brownsville [TX] Daily Herald.

Gen. Wallace Dead,” Washington [DC] Evening Star.

Great Man Passes Away,” Tazewell [VA] Republican.

Lew Wallace,” Salt Lake Tribune.

Lew Wallace Dead,” Bennington [VT] Evening Banner.

Lew Wallace Dead Stanch [sic] Friend of West End Came Quietly,” Bisbee [AZ] Daily Review.

Noted Author of “Ben Hur” Dead,” Los Angeles Herald.

Notable Hoosier Obits: William Hayden English

118 years ago today in 1896, William Hayden English died. English was a notable Hoosier politician, businessman, and author. English was born in Lexington, Scott County, Indiana on August 27, 1822. During his twenties, he worked in local and state politics, and held a federal appointment in DC. He won election to Congress in 1852 as a Democrat, and served in the House from 1853-1861. He is most remembered in his congressional career for authoring the controversial compromise measure known as the English Bill. In an attempt to politically resolve the violence in “Bleeding Kansas,” English’s bill offered federal lands to Kansans if they would ratify the pro-slavery, Lecompton constitution. Kansas voters rejected this compromise.

From the Shenandoah (PA) Evening Herald
From the Shenandoah (PA) Evening Herald. From Chronicling America.
From the St. Paul (MN) Daily Globe
From the St. Paul (MN) Daily Globe

English chose not to run for re-election in 1860, and returned to Indiana. He settled in Indianapolis, and engaged in banking. Although a Democrat, he did support the policies of Morton and Lincoln during the Civil War. English re-emerged as a political candidate in 1880, when the Democratic National Convention nominated him as candidate for Vice President of the United States. Democratic Presidential nominee Winfield Scott Hancock, and English narrowly lost the election to James A. Garfield.

English had an incredible personal fortune, and financed the construction of two Indianapolis landmarks in the 1880s. The famous English Hotel, and English’s Opera House.

From the San Francisco Call
From the San Francisco Call

You can read more contemporary accounts about English in Chronicling America. Including checking out some of his obituaries linked in this post.