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 EvansvilleArgus, Greencastle Daily Banner, and Greencastle Banner Times!
Here’s a list of hyperlinked titles from the recent upload:
Summer heat wave? One-hundred and one years ago in the Windy City, women would have had to tough it out, wind or no wind, due to 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 Paris — only 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.
The above newspaper clip appeared on June 15, 1914, in the South Bend News-Times in South Bend, Indiana. It 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. These fashions are hardly considered risqué 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:
The South Bend News-Times was a fairly modern paper. Its editors had a 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.
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 Timescarried 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 apparently pelted her unconscious with sand and their fists. 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.
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.
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’.
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.)
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.)
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.
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.”
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. 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.
A leading citizen and a Progressive, if not 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
(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.
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.)
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:
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 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!