Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Spring at the Study find the daffodils, tulips, magnolia and viburnum blooming profusely. The cool spring benefited the magnolia trees. The pink and white blooms created a wonderful show on the Study grounds. Museum visitors are in awe of these regal trees!

Daffodils and tulips invites the visitor to tour the gardens. The 3.5 acre Museum grounds are covered in spring beauty, saw-tooth violet, trillium, dog-tooth violets and many other wildflowers.

Visitors approaching the Study find themselves surrounded by the fragrance of viburnum. The small white viburnum bloom is packed with fragrance! The Study is graced by viburnum, mockorange, butterfly bush, hostas, iris and colorful annuals. No matter what time of year, there is always something of interest to the Study's visitors.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Podcast 2: Gail Stephens Discusses General Wallace & the Civil War

Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, Director of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, discusses General Wallace’s leadership during crucial Civil War battles with author and Wallace historian Gail Stephens from Maryland’s Monocacy National Battlefield.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lew Wallace: Atheist?

We here at the Museum like to monitor what's being said about Lew Wallace around the internet, and most of what we find is accurate and interesting. One of the more prevalent fallacies, however, is the story that General Wallace was an atheist who wrote Ben-Hur to disprove Christianity. Here is my reply to one blogger:

General Wallace was never an atheist. According to his Autobiography, published posthumously in 1907, he wrote that he was raised in the Christian tradition but wasn't a devout follower: "“At that time, speaking candidly, I was not in the least influenced by religious sentiment. I had no convictions about God or Christ. I neither believed nor disbelieved in them."

And Ben-Hur originally was to be a story about the three kings that attended Christ's birth:

" ‘Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship him.’ “Far back as my memory goes of things read by or to me, those lines took a hold on my imagination beyond every other passage of Scripture. How simple they are! But analyze them, and behold the points of wonder! "

It was a chance train ride with Capt. Robert Ingersol that solidified Wallace's desire to closely examine the life of Jesus:
"It is possible to fix the hour and place of the first thought of a book precisely enough; that was a night in 1876. I had been listening to discussion which involved such elemental points as God, heaven, life hereafter, Jesus Christ, and His divinity. Trudging on in the dark, alone except as one’s thoughts may be company, good or bad, a sense of the importance of the theme struck me for the first time with a force both singular and persistent. “My ignorance of it was painfully a spot of deeper darkness in the darkness. I was ashamed of myself, and make haste now to declare that the mortification of pride I then endured, or if it be preferred, the punishment of spirit, ended in a resolution to study the whole matter, if only for the gratification there might be in having convictions of one kind or another."

Wallace later said that through the research and writing of Ben-Hur, by learning of the story of Christ, "I found myself writing reverentially, and frequently with awe."

So although Wallace never intended Ben-Hur to be a de-bunking of Christianity, he still found himself transfixed, and transformed, by the life of Jesus Christ.

Another misconception is that General Wallace traveled through Europe to do research for his book, when in reality he had never visited the region prior to the book's publication. According to his Autobiography:

"In the next place, I had never been to the Holy Land. In making it the location of my story, it was needful not merely to be familiar with its history and geography, I must be able to paint it, water, land, and sky, in actual colors. Nor would the critics excuse me for mistakes in the costumes or customs of any of the peoples representatively introduced, Greek, Roman, Egyptian, especially the children of Israel. “Ponder the task! There was but one method open to me. I examined catalogues of books and maps, and sent for everything likely to be useful. I wrote with a chart always before my eyes - a German publication, showing the towns and villages, all sacred places, the heights, the depressions, the passes, trails, and distances. Travelers told me of the birds, animals, vegetation and seasons."

Later, when Wallace was appointed Minister to the Ottoman Empire, he traveled the region extensively and found that the geographical areas that he had written about were largely accurate. Imagine doing that in the late 1870s, with nothing but books and charts to aid you! That's just one of the many things that impress me about General Wallace.

As always, if readers want to know more about the fascinating life of General Wallace, they can visit our website, http://www.ben-hur.com/, or give us a call at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, 765-362-5769. We'd be happy to tell you all about our favorite guy!

Kara Edie, Visitor Services & Marketing Coordinator

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Birthday To Lew!

Today is General Lew Wallace's 182nd birthday, and we here at the Museum are celebrating! We've got delicious desserts, games and puzzles, prizes and awesome challenges (like walking on old-school stilts!). Things are warming up outside and the games are already in full swing inside. We'll be partying until 3 p.m. today, so come on over and say happy birthday to Lew!--Kara Edie, Visitor Services & Marketing Coordinator (that's me in the blue, klutzing it up on stilts)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Podcast 2: Discussion with Gail Stephens at the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum

Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, Director of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, discusses General Wallace’s leadership during crucial Civil War battles with author and Wallace historian Gail Stephens from Maryland’s Monocacy National Battlefield.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Podcast 1: Discussion with Howard Miller at the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum

Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko of the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum discusses Lew Wallace and the enduring cultural significance of Ben-Hur with Dr. G. Howard Miller, Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor of History at University of Texas at Austin.


Lew Wallace’s Birthday Celebration takes place on Friday, April 10, 2009

CRAWFORDSVILLE, IN, April 3, 2009— The 182nd birthday of Montgomery County’s favorite son, General Lew Wallace, will be celebrated on Friday, April 10, on the grounds of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum in Crawfordsville from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

On April 10, 1827, Lewis Wallace was born in Brookville, Indiana, and thereafter spent his life bringing honor to his home state: through his epic achievements in literature, including his masterwork Ben-Hur; through his capacity as senator, ambassador, artist, musician and inventor, and especially through his gallantry as a young man in the Mexican and Civil Wars, a role that is currently being featured in the Museum’s new exhibit, “Embattled: General Wallace’s Leadership in the Civil War.”

“We’ve got a lot of fun activities planned,” said Deb King, Museum Grounds Manager. “Weather permitting, we’ll have lawn croquet, walking on stilts, and scavenger hunts with prizes. Indoors, visitors can play a code-breaking game and even draw their own Civil War battle maps and direct their toy solider troops into battle.” Visitors can also help plant some of the gardens on the Museum grounds, including the Lew Wallace Children’s Garden. Activities are designed for visitors of all ages, and admission to the Museum will be free.
For further information about this special event, contact Grounds Manager Deb King at 765-362-5769 or email dking@ben-hur.com.