Notable Hoosier Obits: Lew Wallace

Lew Wallace – New York Daily Tribune – February 16 1905 – Chronicling America.

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.

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.

New York Daily Tribune, February 16, 1905. Chronicling America.

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

William Hayden English. Wiki Commons.

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.

Shenandoah (PA) Evening Herald, February 8 1896. Chronicling America.
St. Paul Daily Globe, February 8, 1896. Chronicling America.

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.

San Francisco Call, February 8, 1896. Chronicling America.

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

Brookville American and Other New Content Available in Chronicling America

The Library of Congress recently updated Chronicling America, and the following new Indiana newspaper content is now available:
Brookville American, 1858-1860; Indiana American, 1853-1857; Indiana State Sentinel (weekly edition), 1875-78, 82-89, 92-94; and more issues of the Wabash Express, 1860-1861.

If you are a regular user of Indiana newspapers on Chronicling America, you may notice that several Plymouth newspapers have disappeared from the site.  Those newspapers have been temporarily purged, but they should be restored within a week.

These additions will bring the total number of Indiana newspaper pages on Chronicling America to over 70,000.  Happy searching!

Notable Hoosier Obits: Thomas A. Hendricks

Indiana Governor and US Vice President Thomas A. Hendricks. Wiki Commons.

Some people can readily identify the eight Presidents of the United States who died in office (Wm. H. Harrison, Taylor, Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, FDR, and JFK).  It is probably much more of a challenge to recite the seven Vice Presidents who died in office (George Clinton, Gerry, King, Wilson, Hendricks, Hobart, and Sherman).  One of those VPs was Indiana’s own Thomas A. Hendricks, who died this day (November 25) in 1885 while serving as Vice President under Grover Cleveland.

Hendricks was born near Zanesville, Ohio on September 7, 1819.  He grew up in Indiana, and graduated from Hanover College in 1841.  He began practicing law in Shelbyville in 1843, served one term in the Indiana General Assembly, and served in the U.S. House from 1851-1855.  He lost the race for governor in 1860 to Republican candidate Henry S. Lane.  The General Assembly elected Hendricks to the U.S. Senate in 1862 and he served through the end of the Civil War and into Reconstruction until 1869.  Hendricks won election as governor of Indiana and served from 1873-1877.  He ran as Samuel Tilden’s vice president in 1876, but the Democrats lost that contest.  The Democratic convention nominated him again eight years later as Grover Cleveland’s running mate.  Hendricks served as Vice President of the United States from March 3, 1885 until his death on November 25, 1885.

You can find many obits for Hendricks in Chronicling America.  A few samples are below:

From the Wheeling (WV) Intelligencer
The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, November 26, 1885. Chronicling America. 
Maysville (KY) Daily Evening Bulletin
Daily Evening Bulletin (Maysville, KY), November 27, 1885. Chronicling America.
The Carbon Advocate (Leighton, PA)
The Carbon Advocate (Leighton, PA), November 27, 1885. Chronicling America.
Donaldsonville (LA) Chief
Donaldsonville (LA) Chief, November 28, 1885. Chronicling America.
Washington (DC) Evening Star
Washington (DC) Evening Star, November 28, 1885. Chronicling America.

Digitized issues of the Indianapolis News Now Available

Indianapolis News, January 4, 1916. Hoosier State Chronicles.

We are happy to announce that IUPUI’s Center for Digital Scholarship has recently made available 53 years of the Indianapolis News from 1869-1922.

You can access the digitized issues here.

The News began publication in 1869 as a Republican leaning, although officially independent, newspaper.  Its circulations outpaced its long-time rivals the Sentinel and the Journal by the late 19th and early 20th century.  The News consolidated with the Star in 1948, but continued to be issued as a separate title.  The News ceased publication in 1999.

Notable Hoosier Obits: Oliver P. Morton

Indiana’s wartime Governor Oliver P. Morton, circa 1860-1865. Photograph by Matthew Brady. NARA/Wiki Commons.

This day in 1877 U.S. Senator Oliver P. Morton died.  Morton served as Indiana’s governor throughout the Civil War.  He was an ardent Unionist, and some contemporaries charged that he exceeded his constitutional authority in some cases in an effort to squash dissent and disloyalty within the state.  Experts frequently list Morton as one of Indiana’s best governors, and as one of the strongest state governors during the Civil War.

Two obits/memorials from contemporary newspapers, one Republican, one Democrat, are below.  It is interesting that even the Democratic Sentinel offered praise of the deceased Republican politician.

Indianapolis Journal, November 2, 1877.
Indianapolis Daily Sentinel, November 2, 1877.

Haunted Hoosier History: Indianapolis Grave Robbers, 1902

On September 30, 1902, the Indianapolis Journal reported on “one of the most remarkable cases of grave robbing ever known” in Indianapolis.  Authorities arrested a ring of grave robbers who were supplying corpses to Dr. Joseph C. Alexander, an anatomy professor at the Central Medical College.

Read more about it by clicking here:

The Indianapolis Journal, September 30, 1902. Hoosier State Chronicles.

Haunted Hoosier History: John Coffee’s Ghost, Montgomery County

In 1885, neighbors of James and Mary McMullen recovered their smoldering bodies from their burning house near Elmdale.  Examination of their corpses revealed that they had been physically assaulted.  Authorities arrested 23-year-old John Coffee for the murders.  A jury subsequently convicted Coffee of the double homicide, and the judge sentenced him to be executed by hanging.  Coffee became the first person executed in Montgomery County on October 16, 1885.

The execution was held in the courtyard of the Montgomery County Jail, a building which still stands and exists as a museum today.  A newspaper account of the execution described it as “one of the most horrible affairs of the kind ever witnessed.  When the drop fell, the rope broke and the body dropped to the ground.  The neck was not broken, but the shock caused the blood to spurt from the wretched man’s ears.”  The executioners carried him back up the scaffolding, readjusted the noose, and Coffee was dropped a second time when the rope broke again.  After a third try, the executioners succeeded with their grisly task in front of a throng of admission-paying citizens who were “nearly overcome with horror.”

It wasn’t long thereafter that stories about Coffee’s ghost began circulating in newspapers.  Do you believe everything you read in the papers?  Or not?  Happy Halloween reading!

Newport Hoosier State, October 28, 1885
Jefferson Daily Evening News, November 11, 1885

Notable Hoosier Obits: William Merritt Chase

Today in history, on October 25, 1916, American Impressionist William Merritt Chase died.  Chase was born in 1849 in Williamsburg (now Ninevah), Johnson County, Indiana.  He spent some of his youth in Indianapolis before pursuing an art career in New York City, St. Louis, and Europe.

Two of his obits can be accessed in Chronicling America below.

Washington Times, October 26, 1916. Chronicling America.
New York Tribune. October 27, 1916. Chronicling America.

A Brief History of the Marshall County Independent (Plymouth, Ind.)

56 issues of the Marshall County Independent are available by clicking here.
56 issues of the Marshall County Independent are available by clicking here.

The 1900 U.S. Census reported that Plymouth, Indiana, located in a rich agricultural area in north-central Indiana, had a population over 3,600.  The town had supported two major newspapers, the Plymouth Republican and the Plymouth Democrat, since the 1850s.  With the rise of Populism in the 1890s, another newspaper debuted in Plymouth in 1894, the Marshall County Independent.

42 issues of the Semi-Weekly Independent can be accessed here!
42 issues of the Semi-Weekly Independent can be accessed here!

Albert R. Zimmerman started the Independent as an eight page weekly.  He took on A. D. Smith as a partner in July 1895, changed the paper to a semiweekly titled the Plymouth Semi-Weekly Independent, and began issuing a daily edition, the Plymouth Daily Independent.  Reported circulation for the Independent was 750 in 1897, barely half the respective circulations for its in-town rivals.  In 1896, Smith sold his interest to Zimmerman who then sold the paper to Silas H. Joseph and Clinton H. Grube.  The new owners split management and editing duties, but after a year they sold the Independent to Clay W. Metsker.

185 issues of the Marshall County Independent from 1897-1901 are available here.
185 issues of the Marshall County Independent from 1897-1901 are available here.

In 1897, Metsker changed the title back to the Marshall County Independent and by 1900 returned to a weekly publication schedule.  By then, the Independent was faring well in terms of circulation with its chief competitors, the Republican and Democrat.  In March 1902, Metsker purchased the Plymouth Democrat and continued issuing the daily edition as the Daily Independent, but he switched the title of the weekly edition from the Independent to the Weekly Democrat.  The acquisition of the Democrat nearly doubled the Independent’s weekly circulation from 1,650 to 3,200.  Metsker retired the Independent name completely in 1909 when he started issuing the daily edition as the Plymouth Daily Democrat.  Metsker sold the paper in March 1931.  The new owners changed the daily title to the Plymouth Daily News and discontinued the weekly edition of the Democrat in 1941.


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