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A Massacre of Mafia (The Indiana State Sentinel, March 18, 1891)

Courtesy of Hoosier State Chronicles.
Courtesy of Hoosier State Chronicles.

David C. Hennessy (1858 – October 16, 1890) was a police chief of New Orleans, Louisiana. His assassination in 1890 led to a sensational trial. A group of not guilty verdicts shocked the nation, and an enormous mob formed outside the prison the next day. The prison doors were forced open and 11 of 19 Italian men who had been indicted for Hennessy’s murder were lynched. The leaders of the mob justified the lynching by claiming the jury had been bribed, but only six of those lynched had been put on trial. In addition to the 11 lynch victims, five prisoners were severely wounded in the attack and died soon afterwards. Charles Mantranga, believed to be a ringleader, survived. A grand jury investigated and cleared those involved in the lynching. The word “Mafia” entered U.S. popular usage due to newspaper coverage of the trial and lynchings. The U.S. government paid a $25,000 indemnity to Italy to repair and restore broken relations due to the anti-Italian sentiment raging across America. The lynchings were the subject of the 1999 made-for-TV movie Vendetta, starring Christopher Walken.

The Democratic Emblem (the Rooster) Started in Indiana in 1840 before the Donkey in 1870! (The Indiana State Sentinel, 1845)

 

The front page of the Indiana State Sentinel, December 25, 1845. Courtesy of Hoosier State Chronicles.
The front page of the Indiana State Sentinel, December 25, 1845. Courtesy of Hoosier State Chronicles.

Although the donkey is used as a symbol of the U.S. Democratic Party, it has never been officially adopted. The rooster, however, was. The story begins in 1840, when the famous “Log Cabin Campaign” occurred.

It must be said that the donkey did come first. In 1828, Democrat Andrew Jackson was ridiculed and called a “jackass” by the supporters of John Quincy Adams during the heated presidential campaign. However, it wasn’t used until 1870 when Thomas Nast used it as a symbol for the Democratic Party. And it has been widely recognized as the party’s unofficial symbol since that time.

Now for the rooster. The origin of the rooster as the emblem of the Democratic Party was in Greenfield, Indiana. Joseph Chapman, a native of Greenfield, a Jacksonian Democrat, and a state legislator, was an acclaimed orator and derided by the opposition Whigs for his “crowing.” During his campaign for a seat in the lower house of the Indiana State Legislature, the Whigs’ critical “Crow, Chapman, Crow!” was seized by the Democrats and used in support of their candidate and Chapman won, despite the Whigs’ nationwide victory that year. Indiana Democrats, followed by the national party, soon chose the rooster as their symbol, and Chapman was hereafter known as “Crowing Joe Chapman.”

Jasper Weekly Courier (Friday May 16, 1913) Jasper Indiana, Dubois County

Samuel M. Ralston, Indiana: Governor, Senator, endorsed by the KKK and the front runner expected to be the next Democratic presidential nominee for the 1924 elections.

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Confederate Civil War ‘Dancing Circus Horse’

Courtesy of Hoosier State Chronicles.
Courtesy of Hoosier State Chronicles.

Samuel Moffett Ralston

(December 1, 1857 – October 14, 1925) was a Democratic politician, the 28th Governor of and a United States Senator from the U.S. state of Indiana. Born into a large impoverished family, he took many jobs as a child including working in a coal mine. He taught school and studied law, becoming a prominent state lawyer.

He became active in his local politics and eventually secured the Democratic nomination for governor. Because he served during the state’s 100th anniversary he is sometimes called the Indiana’s Centennial Governor. He was responsible for implementing many progressive era reforms in the state and putting down a violent riot in Indianapolis. He gained the support of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan for his anti-Catholic political positions, and with their support was elected to the United States Senate in 1922. He had become popular among the national Democratic party as the front-runner for the Presidential nomination in 1924, but he dropped out of the race because of his failing health.

Ralston campaigned for the United States Senate beginning in 1922. Because of his friendly relationship with the Indiana branch of the Ku Klux Klan, he was able to get their endorsement. Ralston delivered a speech at St. Mary’s of the Woods where he condemned religious interference with the state. The Klan’s primary goals at the time were to remove all Catholic influence from the government and public schools, and to shut down Catholic private schools. His speech earned him considerable popularity among the group who said he “was not afraid to tell off the papists to their faces.”

The Klan was one of the most influential groups within the state at the time, and they reprinted his speech and circulated it. Their support of Ralston was one of their most forceful attempts to have a candidate elected in Indiana, as they feared the Republican candidate who had publicly condemned the organization. The Klan fell apart in 1926—the year after Ralston’s death—after a scandal, revealing that the majority of Indiana’s politicians, including Ralston, had ties to the Klan.

Ralston won election to the United States Senator from Indiana defeating Albert Beveridge in November 1922. The New York Times ran a lengthy story on his wife, referring to her as a “Chicken Farmer” because she was reluctant to move to Washington D.C., she did not want to leave her chickens unattended. He took up his Senate seat on March 4, 1923. In the senate he advocated the adoption of the Melon Tax Plan, which was effectively a wealth redistribution plan.

In 1924 he was the front runner and expected to be the Democratic presidential nominee, but for reasons that were unknown at the time, he dropped out of the race just before the national convention. He later revealed that due to his failing health he did not believe he was fit to become President. His steadily worsening health lead to his death on October 14, 1925, he died in his home near Indianapolis. He was buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Lebanon.

A Circus Horse in Battle.

Colonel Charles Marshall, who was aid-de-camp to General Robert E. Lee and who went through the battles of the war with his chief told the following amusing story of his experience with a new horse: His old horse had been shot from under him in the fight of the previous day, and he had taken possession of an animal that seemed to suit the work. In the battle a few hours later he was riding across a field in which there were numerous stumps.

Suddenly the performance opened. The guns roared, and the air was filled with smoke and noise. Before Colonel Marshall knew what was happening the horse had his four feet on one of the stumps and was gaily dancing in a circle. In the meantime the firing was increasing, and the situation was anything but comfortable. But the horse kept on as if he were enjoying it.

“It was not until afterward,” said Colonel Marshall, “that I found the horse had belonged to a circus and had been trained to do this act amid the firing of cannon.”

Lt. Col. Charles Marshall

He was a personal aide to General Lee during the Appomattox Campaign, was born in Warrenton, Virginia in 1831. He was the great-grand nephew John M. Marshall, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1801-1835). Charles Marshall himself studied law but resigned from his Baltimore law firm after the war began. He joined Lee’s staff as an aide-de-camp in March 1862 when Lee was advisor to President Davis. Marshall’s legal training proved useful in drafting military legislation for submission to the Confederate Congress.

After Lee assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia, Marshall’s duties included preparing drafts of Lee’s dispatches. It was Marshall who penned Lee’s first response to Grant’s proposed terms for surrender. His letter requested the interview for that purpose.

Initially General Lee asked Colonels Marshall and Taylor to accompany him to the conference with Grant but Taylor declined. Consequently, with Lee for the meeting were Marshall, orderly Pvt. Joshua Johns, and members of Grant’s staff Col. Babcock and his orderly Capt. William Dunn. Upon reaching the outskirts of the village, Marshall and Johns road ahead to find a suitable place for the meeting. The first white citizen they encountered was Wilmer McLean.

At some point after the surrender meeting Lee directed Marshall to write a farewell letter to his army. Interrupted constantly, Marshall finally moved to General Lee’s ambulance to complete the historic task on the morning of April 10th.

Indiana State Sentinel: September 11, 1878 (Indiana’s Third State Capitol Building Design Released to the Hoosier Public)

Courtesy of Hoosier State Chronicles.
Courtesy of Hoosier State Chronicles.

On September 11, 1878 the Indiana State Sentinel released the architectural renderings of the proposed third capitol building for the state of Indiana, located in the 1825 appointed capitol city of Indianapolis. A total of $2 million dollars was set aside for the building’s construction which began in October of 1878 and completed in 1888.

Indiana’s capitol building, to this day, is the only state capitol building to house all three branches of government (judicial, legislative & executive) under one roof.

As depicted in the 1879 design, the architects intended the Italian-inspired great dome of the capitol building to be 234 feet tall!  Upon project completion, the dome actually measured 256 feet.  Noted, too, in the blueprints are the various statues positioned on the roof .  Most of these originally intended statues were eliminated from the budget, which is one of many reasons the building completed construction in 1888 consuming only $1.8 million of the $2 million funds set aside.

indiana state house
A contemporary view of the Indiana State House. Courtesy of the Indianapolis Star.