Tag Archives: Indiana Tribüne

Movember: A Medical Moment

The Greencastle Democrat, January 26, 1900(The Greencastle Democrat, January 26, 1900.)


“Movember” or “No-Shave November” is a new tradition dating only back to 2003, when a group of Australians started growing “Mos” (Australian slang for “‘stache”) to raise awareness of men’s health issues, especially prostate cancer and depression.  As many cancer patients lose their hair, some men this season are paying homage to the golden days when spectacular whiskers grew wild and free.

There’s more than a little five-o’clock foreshadowing, then, in that mustachioed dandy from 1900 pictured above.  “Nervita pills” were  one of many old-time panaceas that purported to relieve some of the more difficult masculine ailments, though this one, of course, wouldn’t cure one of the worst, cancer.  Contrary to the cartoon version of history, the American public really did talk about sex-related issues back then — not necessarily on the front page, but certainly in the ads section, which was often full of treatments from doctors and drug store owners.

Since Hoosier State Chronicles often highlights episodes of American medical history,  here’s our tribute to “No-Shave November.”  We waded through a plethora of debonair mustachios and culled some worthy ones.  Many yet remain for your discovery.

Amazingly, as an Indianapolis barber feared in November 1902, these bold bristles would soon enough go out of style.  The Hoosier State’s own Benjamin Harrison was among the last generation of unshorn presidents.  Since William Howard Taft in 1913, no president has sported facial hair, with the possible exception of Richard Nixon, whose disastrous five-o’clock shadow contributed to his loss to JFK in 1960.  Even the boldest and most unconventional candidates in the coming election year don’t appear prepared to change this.

It was good business for the barber, at least.


Indianapolis Journal, November 16, 1902Indianapolis Journal, November 16, 1902 (2)Indianapolis Journal, November 16, 1902 (3)

(Indianapolis Journal, November 16, 1902.)


Indianapolis Recorder, January 15, 1910(Indianapolis Recorder, January 15, 1910.)


The Greencastle Democrat, October 30, 1903 (2)(The Greencastle Democrat, October 30, 1903.)


The Greencastle Democrat, January 16, 1897(The Greencastle Democrat, January 16, 1897.)


Indianapolis Recorder, February 19, 1910(Indianapolis Recorder, February 19, 1910.)


Indianapolis Recorder, July 30, 1910(Indianapolis Recorder, July 30, 1910.)


Indianapolis Journal, July 7, 1891(Indianapolis Journal, July 7, 1891.)


The following image from the cover of The Jewish Post (a national paper first printed in Indianapolis in 1933) isn’t Santa Claus, but a rabbi.  The paper’s Rosh Hashanah or Jewish New Years’ edition came out in September 1939, just a few weeks into World War II.


Jewish Post, September 14, 1939

(The Jewish Post, September 14, 1939.)


Indianapolis Journal, May 3, 1892

(Indianapolis Journal, May 3, 1892.)


Fort Wayne Daily News, August 29, 1896

(“A mix-up in bicycle polo,” Fort Wayne Daily News, August 29, 1896.)


Some native Hoosiers were known to sport impressive facial — or overgrowth, depending on your point of view.  Lew Wallace, the Crawfordsville native who became colonel of the 11th Indiana Infantry (a Zouave regiment), Civil War general, territorial governor of New Mexico, author of the novel Ben Hur, and U.S. Minister to Turkey.  Wallace’s Ben Hur came out on “this day in history,” November 12, 1880.


Lew Wallace(Major General Lew Wallace.)


Benjamin Harrison(A younger Benjamin Harrison, Indiana’s only president.)


Lawrenceburg’s James Henry “Jim” Lane became one of the most famous Jayhawk border fighters in Kansas during the run-up to the Civil War.  A fiery abolitionist, Lane served as Lieutenant Governor of Indiana before he became a U.S. Senator from Kansas and a Civil War general.  Wracked by depression, the famous wild and unkempt Hoosier Plainsman committed suicide in 1866 by shooting himself in the head while jumping out of a carriage.


Jim Lane(Jim Lane, Hoosier native and Kansas “Jayhawk.”)


In 1852, Lane was part of the welcoming committee at the State House when one of the most famously hairy men of his time, Hungarian revolutionary Lajos Kossuth, paid a visit to Indianapolis.  Kossuth — after whom a town in Washington County, Indiana, and a county in Iowa was named — had just escaped from Hungary via Turkey, been carried into exile on the USS Mississippi, and was touring the U.S., where crowds hailed him as a hero of democracy. Kossuth also inspired some Indianapolis men to become “hairy-faced bipeds.”


Kossuth in Washington D.C.(Lajos Kossuth, photographed in Washington, D.C., before he traveled west to Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and St. Louis in early 1852.)


Madison Daily Banner, March 3, 1852 (4)

(Madison Daily Banner, Madison, Indiana, March 3, 1852.)


One famous mustachioed American who often showed up in Indiana was the great boxing champion John L. Sullivan.  Sullivan was from Boston but often came to the small-town Midwest for championship matches and general showmanship.  He and his whiskers showed up in Logansport, Fort Wayne, and other towns in 1896.

Yet even the athletic Sullivan could have paid more attention to his own health.  A heavy drinker for most of his life, the boxer later gave up the bottle and turned Prohibitionist  Yet his overindulgence in food and booze led Sullivan to an early death at the age of just 59.  It was said he died with “barely ten dollars in his pocket.”


John L Sullivan(John L. Sullivan, 1858-1918.)


The Fort Wayne News, August 22, 1896 (The Fort Wayne News, August 22, 1896.)


Here’s another wild but lesser known visitor to the state.  The famous shagginess of Polish pianist and composer Ignaz Jan Paderewski, “Wizard of the Keys,” was something that newspapers often noticed and editorialized.

In April 1902, Paderewski performed at Tomlinson Hall (above the “city catacombs”) in Indianapolis.  This performer led a life as wild and varied as the direction of his hair.  In addition to his global career as a concert artist, Paderewski later become a wine-grower in California and a politician who helped re-establish Polish independence after World War I.  After Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1940, he became the head of the Polish parliament exiled in London. Paderewski died in New York in 1941.


Indianapolis Journal, April 6, 1902 (2)

(Indianapolis Journal, April 6, 1902.)


Indianapolis News, November 6, 1900(Indianapolis News, November 6, 1900.)


One last forgotten visitor worthy of note for his ‘stache was the spectacular Captain Jack Bonavita (real name John F. Gentner). The Indiana Tribüne announced Bonavita’s visit to “the Zoo” in 1901.  This wasn’t the Indianapolis Zoo, but the old Zoo Theater, a vaudeville venue that once sat next to the Cyclorama across from the State House.

A famous animal trainer in New York and Hollywood, Captain Bonavita also worked with the silent film industry.  Not long after this photo was taken, he was bitten by one of his trained lions in Indianapolis and spent some time at the City Hospital.  He recovered from that bite in 1901.  Tragically, in 1917, Bonavita was killed by a polar bear he was training.


Indiana Tribune, January 13, 1901

(Indiana Tribüne, January 13, 1901.)


While ladies are often divided on the virtues of male facial hair. . .

(Plymouth Tribune, March 5, 1903.)


. . . if you’re sporting any extra growth this season, Hoosier State Chronicles invites you to  take a bow.

Indianapolis Journal, February 2, 1890

(Indianapolis Journal, February 2, 1890.)

When Indiana Banned the German Language in 1919

Warren Times Mirror (Warren, PA), February 26, 1919(Warren Times Mirror, Warren, Pennsylvania, February 26, 1919.)


Several posts on Hoosier State Chronicles have focused on Indiana’s German heritage.  We would be remiss, then, not to examine the state legislature’s attempt to eradicate the teaching of German in Indiana schools.

On February 25, 1919, three months after the armistice that ended World War I, the Hoosier State became one of fourteen states to ban the teaching of German to children, a crime punishable by fines and imprisonment.


Anti-German propaganda
Devils and their master, the Kaiser.

From 1914 to 1918, the U.S. and its allies in Britain, France and Italy took dehumanizing propaganda to new heights.  Cartoonists, U.S. Army posters, and newspapers stoked bizarre, irrational distrust that engulfed America.  The results were sometimes petty, like renaming sauerkraut “liberty cabbage” and German measles “liberty measles,” but the U.S. and Britain could also engage in acts of brutality.

One of the stranger incidents resulting from First World War propaganda was the war on dachshunds — considered a German breed.  At the time the German language was being driven out of schools in England and the U.S. dachshunds were sometimes stoned or stomped to death in front of their owners.  (Novelist Graham Greene remembered this in his autobiography.)   When “patriots” harassed a Chicago dog breeder, he shot every dachshund in his kennels. Bulldogs, a symbol of Britain and the mascot of the U.S. Marines, were turned loose to attack and kill the “German” pets.  The Jasper Weekly Courierprinted in a heavily German town in southern Indiana, carried a syndicated story about this:

Jasper Weekly Courier, August 30, 1918(Jasper Weekly Courier, August 30, 1918. The U.S. Marines recruiting poster is here.)


Help Your Uncle Sam Do This(A website on pet health claims that “In the United States the poor Dachshund went from one of the ten most popular breeds in 1913 to being represented by 12 survivors in 1919.”  A “lonely dachshund” showed up in Topeka, Kansas, that year in search of a home.)


With Allied print media insisting that the Kaiser’s soldiers were bayoneting and committing other outrages, it’s easy to see how anxiety got out of hand, even in areas like Pennsylvania and the Midwest, which had large German-American populations.

Indiana’s 1919 anti-German law wasn’t the first of its kind.  Parents and school boards had already been striking German classes from school curricula before the U.S. even entered the war.  And devaluing the German language was a coast-to-coast phenomenon. The City University of New York reduced the value of its own German courses by one academic credit.   Evanston, Illinois, banned the language in its schools in 1918.  California kept up a ban on high-school German into the 1920s and in 1941 banned it in churches.  At a speech on Long Island in 1917, Theodore Roosevelt urged Americans to rid the country of German, otherwise America risked becoming “a polyglot counting house for dollar chasers.”

A sign painter in Indianapolis who opposed Gothic lettering mentioned that Americans were already burning German textbooks.  At Indianapolis’ Shortridge High School, a newspaperwoman connected to the Red Cross was applauded during a speech when she criticized the administration for not canceling German classes there.  The German teachers switched to teaching Latin.  Meanwhile, a new course on “contemporary war history” began and a hundred students enrolled.  At a time when the U.S. was claiming to oppose German militarism, Shortridge considered its military history course to be the first ever offered at an American public high school.


Lake County Times -- September 10, 1918 (2)
Hammond High School was already planning to phase out German by 1919 and was just waiting for the legislature to catch up. Lake County Times, September 10, 1918. Hoosier State Chronicles.

On the eve of the vote in Indianapolis, a visitor from Iowa spoke at the Statehouse.  Iowa’s Governor William L. Harding is considered one of the most dishonest and opportunistic politicians in American history.  Though he had curried favor with Iowa’s foreign-born citizens during his election campaign, when the war broke out he turned against them. Proponents of Indiana’s German-language ban were later accused of the same kind of hypocrisy.


WIlliam L. Harding
Iowa’s William L. Harding in 1915.

Harding’s 1918 “Babel Proclamation” in Iowa did more than simply ban German instruction, though.  The infamous law banned the speaking of all foreign languages in public, including Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch and Czech, which were still common in the Midwest.  Fearing “spies,” Harding made having a foreign-language conversation on the telephone, on street corners, and in churches and schools a criminal offense.  Iowa’s law was no empty threat. Violators were arrested and jailed.

Harding had plenty of admirers.  “Liberty Leagues” and “councils of defense” wanted laws to keep German off the streets and even ban it in private homes.  The author of the “Babel Proclamation” spoke in Indianapolis on February 13, 1919, a few days before Indiana outlawed the teaching of German in Hoosier elementary schools.


The Call-Leader (Elwood, IN), February 13, 1919

(The Call-Leader, Elwood, Indiana, February 13, 1919.)


The main proponent of Indiana’s bill was State Senator Franklin McCray of Indianapolis.  As Lieutenant Governor Edgar Bush reminded the General Assembly, this bill would overturn a long-standing law dating back to the 1860s.  Bush told the Senate:

Journal of the Indiana State Senate 1919
Journal of the Indiana State Senate, 1919. Google Books.

Indiana’s 1869 law likely had to do with teacher shortages and the fact that in German communities, it just made sense.

One of the most glaring oversights of the anti-German law was that many speakers of the language were Mennonites and Amish, Christian pacifists highly unlikely to be working as secret agents.

Though the German army committed real outrages in World War I and the bill’s proponents mentioned fear of “future German propaganda” aimed at American children, focusing on the atrocities of “Huns” was a sly way to pass a law that was deeply entangled with immigration, prohibition and labor unrest.  As 1919 dawned — one of the most turbulent years in American history — “wet” and “dry” advocates, capitalists and socialists, anarchists, pacifists and suffragettes battled for the “soul” of the country.

Many German-Americans were farmers or industrial laborers and had a history of being Socialists, pacifists and isolationists.  When the Socialist Party tried to steer America away from entering World War I, arguing that American entry would play into the hands of wealthy industrialists and bankers, pro-war advocates countered that anyone who opposed the war supported the Kaiser.  In 1924, Progressivist presidential candidate Robert LaFollette carried Wisconsin, a heavily-German state, partly as a result of his anti-war record.

German fondness for beer and liquor also earned the hostility of many Prohibition advocates, who had spent decades slowly “shutting off the tap.”  A nationwide ban on booze was just around the corner, coming in January 1920.  Yet as Chicago’s Lager Beer Riot back in 1855 proved, the history of Prohibition was closely tied to anti-labor attitudes.  Squelching the German language was part of the process of extinguishing German sociability at a time when workers got together in pubs and beer gardens to talk about labor grievances and organize.


Hun Rule Association
A World War I-era cartoon slanders “Huns” — Germans — as booze-lovers who cause crime, poverty and waste.

Kaiser Wilson, 1916
An American woman sends a message to “Kaiser Wilson” in 1916 — four years before women were given the right to vote.

While fear of “Huns” and “traitors” prompted anti-German bills, America’s social problems were reflected in the Indiana bill. That year, Gary would be shut down by a national steel strike, a federal raid on Communists led to the deportation of hundreds of European immigrants (including Hoosiers), and an anarchist bomb plot nearly killed several major U.S. officials.

Although the formal language of the Indiana law would be more formal, a state senator named Duffey, speaking on the Senate floor, lashed out at the “stupid heads” of Germany and their sympathizers in America, who threatened to strangle education and spread disloyalty.  Duffey finished off with a call for deporting traitors.  He didn’t know it yet, but he was sounding the keynote of 1919:

Journal of the Indiana State Senate 1919 (2)As revolutions and radicalism reared their head, the anti-German bill was about more than bigotry against German culture.  Many people who supported the law had German last names, after all, like Speaker of the House Jesse Eschbach.  Lieutenant Governor Bush read a letter at the Statehouse from “150 residents of Seymour of German extraction” who favored the language ban and asked why it was taking so long.  The Germans of Seymour probably didn’t want to be associated with “subversives,” “traitors” and “terrorists.”

The 1919 law completely banned German-language instruction up to the eighth grade.  It was followed by a law prohibiting high-school German courses.  Fortunately, the men who wrote these bills recognized that at the college level, “the contributions of Germany in literature were too great to be ignored.”  (Indiana University President William L. Bryan, who criticized the bills, agreed.)  The penalty for instructing children in German?  A fine of $25 to $100,  a jail sentence of up to six months, or both.

Urged by the Lieutenant Governor to enact “100 percent American” legislation, the Senate put the elementary-school bill up for a vote on February 17, 1919. Only one legislator, Senator Charles A. Hagerty of South Bend, voted against it.  Yet even Hagerty’s opposition seems to have been against the political opportunism of the bill’s promoters rather than a real concern for education. On February 25, the House also passed the bill and Governor James P. Goodrich signed the legislation.

The South Bend News-Times, a liberal paper, thought the bill a classic case of legislative overreach, since most German-Americans were already trying hard to adopt English in their churches and schools.  McCray had insisted that it would not interfere with the use of foreign languages in religious worship.  (Many Lutheran churches still used German, and it was the main language of instruction at a few major Catholic seminaries.)

Ironically, the anti-German bills were overturned in 1923 by another man named McCray — Governor Warren T. McCray, who also butted heads with the Klan.


Indianapolis Star, May 5, 1919(Indianapolis Star, May 5, 1919.)


A few months after Governor Goodrich signed Indiana’s law, an anti-German bill passed through Pennsylvania’s legislature, also by a large margin.  Pennsylvania Governor William C. Sproul, however, vetoed it.  Sproul’s remarks to the press were probably the most intelligent words to come out of the whole debate.

Mount Carmel Item (Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania), May 6, 1919 (1)Mount Carmel Item (Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania), May 6, 1919 (2)Mount Carmel Item (Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania), May 6, 1919 (3)Mount Carmel Item (Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania), May 6, 1919 (4)

(Mount Carmel Item, Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, May 6, 1919.)


Durham Morning Herald (Durham, NC), April 7, 1922

(Durham Morning Herald, Durham, North Carolina, April 7, 1922.)


Hoosier State Chronicles has digitized over 8,000 issues of the Indiana Tribüne, once a major German-language newspaper. Published by The Gutenberg Company in Indianapolis, the Tribüne was silenced on June 1, 1918.