Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Grand Army of the Republic and the Lew Wallace Veteran Battalion

During observances of the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor this week it was announced that at the end of this year, the national association known as the Pearl Harbor Survivors Group will disband. As this group of men and women who shared a unique war-time distinction fades away, it harkens back to another organization that once played an important role in American military history.

Shortly after the end of the Civil War a fraternal organization was created in Decatur, Illinois. It was called the Grand Army of the Republic, or G.A.R. for short, and was composed of men who had honorably served in the Union army. At its peak in the 1890s it boasted almost 500,000 members across the country and was both a political and, at times, a social force of much influence. Generally supportive of Republican candidates, it also pushed for veterans' pensions and for voting rights for African-Americans. Five members of the G.A.R. were elected president and it assured that Decoration Day (Memorial Day) became a national holiday. It was formally dissolved in 1956 when its last surviving member died. The G.A.R. held annual encampments every year from 1866 to 1949. The first encampment in 1866 and last encampment in 1949 were both held in Indianapolis. Although it struggled at times to maintain its stature, its organizational structure was emulated by the American Legion, formed after World War I, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, created after World War II. Even today, many consider the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) a successor organization.

The G.A.R. was especially popular and powerful in the Midwest. In Crawfordsville, the locals created the Lew Wallace Veteran Battalion. The General himself was an important member of the battalion. Well over 100 men from Montgomery and surrounding counties joined the Lew Wallace Veteran Battalion. Boone County was particularly proud as they could count Ben Herr (not quite Ben-Hur) of the 72nd Indiana Volunteers as a member. The only requirement for membership in the Lew Wallace Veteran Battalion was an honorable discharge from service and the promise to wear dark colored clothes when on parade—no straw hats or linen dusters (long travel coats) permitted!

In September of 1887, Crawfordsville hosted a local encampment. A large tent city was established on the fair grounds called Camp Henry S. Lane, with flags of all sorts waving in the breezes and military music playing. The camp was electrified which lessened the need for men to gather around camp fires. However, a large camp fire was built the first night and Wallace delivered the first speech. The great spectacle of the event was a mock battle. The local paper admitted that owing to the confined space available it was going to be difficult to present much of a battle—but that the Rebel fort, which had been built for the occasion, would fall. The paper also suggested that people should probably leave their teams of horses downtown lest they become frightened and create pandemonium in the crowd. In addition to Wallace, important speakers included Colonel R.P. DeHart of Lafayette, the Honorable Andrew Marshall of Fountain County, the Honorable Joseph C. Suit of Frankfort and Generals George McGinness and Benjamin Harrison of Indianapolis. Over 2,000 men participated in the grand parade.

In 1895, the national G.A.R. encampment was held in Louisville. Initially, the Big Four (Monon) Railroad was selected as the official route to the meeting. With a round trip fare of $3.05, the Big Four promised to match any competing railroad that offered a lesser fare. A special train was to be arranged with hundreds on board. The train was to be decorated with the stars and stripes and the thirty-piece Lafayette Military Band was to provide music en route. Unfortunately, members of the committee got their signals crossed and transportation to Louisville was not quite as smooth as originally intended.

The encampment itself drew over 100,000 men from all over the country. General Wallace drilled and instructed the men prior to departure and then led the members of the Lew Wallace Veteran Battalion in the grand parade. A committee made all lodging arrangements (meaning a cot in the encampment), meal arrangements for the men and banners. The banners were attached to six-foot long staffs of Tennessee red cedar. As stated by the committee members, these Tennessee cedars had protected the boys during the fierce battles they fought and would now support the aging veterans as they again demonstrated their support for the Union. Wallace and his battalion were special features of the encampment and Wallace was booked for at least three camp fire speeches (New Albany, Jeffersonville, and Louisville). The battalion was also invited to attend the ceremonies dedicating the Chickamauga National Park.  

In 1899, Terre Haute hosted a G.A.R. encampment that the local papers called one of the most successful in years. The encampment easily doubled the population of the city and the Terre Haute Gazette issued a sixteen page special edition. General Wallace occupied a “conspicuous position on the front page. A small portrait of Governor Mount also appeared with many other celebrities of the civil war [sic].”

In 1909, Crawfordsville hosted a 30th annual encampment of the G.A.R. By this time many of the Union soldiers, including General Wallace, had gone to their great reward but they were not forgotten in this event hosted from May 19th through the 21st. The homes of Montgomery County Civil War Generals Wallace, Canby, Morgan, Manson, and Hawkins were all featured as was the home of Confederate soldier Maurice Thompson. Wallace’s Study was specially featured with special note made of Wallace’s painting of the Lincoln conspirators and his sketches of Commander Wirz of Andersonville. Other points of interest for the visiting veterans were Wabash College, the Henry Lane Home, the Masonic Temple, the Elks Home and the Public (Carnegie) Library. Even the country club that had served as Wallace’s country home and Oak Hill Cemetery were featured on tours. In the grand parade more than 5,000 men and women marched through a red, white and blue bedecked downtown.

The 1909 encampment was not the last G.A.R. event for Crawfordsville as picnics and gatherings continued for years. Men and women such as Louis Bischof, Henry Talbot, J. McCormick, Arch Austin, George Myers, J. Sellars, William Daggart, S.L. Ensminger, H. Cowan, B. Cowan and others continued to proudly remember the service of Union veterans. The local G.A.R. was also instrumental in the erection of the war memorial on the Courthouse grounds. After the death of Henry Talbot in 1924, almost sixty years after the end of the Civil War, the slow fade of the G.A.R. accelerated. As leaders such as Lew Wallace passed on, this important organization that meant so much too so many became a thing of the past much loved but no longer viable. Because of the buildings and memorials the G.A.R. sponsored, the elections it affected, the organizations it influenced, and the issues it addressed, its impact on communities throughout the country continues to be significant 145 years after it was formed and almost sixty years after it ceased to exist.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's Tea Time!

Holiday Tea Raises Necessary Funds for Lew Wallace Study

The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum hosted their 5th Annual Holiday High Tea & Fashion Show in two of Crawfordsville's most beautiful historic homes on Friday, December 2, from 3-6 p.m.  Over 130 guests took in the sights, sounds and delicious tastes of the Tea, which took place in both the Historic Elston Homestead  (now the home of Pat and Chris White, Wabash College's President and First Lady) and the Dorothy Q Chapter House of the Crawfordsville Daughters of the American Revolution.

Guests toured the richly-appointed homes decorated for the holidays, enjoyed tea and coffee along with an enormous variety of sweets and savories, enjoyed a live interactive fashion show with models mingling through the crowd, shopped from a gorgeous display of hand-crafted holiday wreaths created by area artists and designers, and listened to wonderful holiday music performed live by the T-Tones vocal group from Wabash College.

The Holiday High Tea is the second-largest annual fundraiser of the year for the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum, a National Historic Landmark and 2008 winner of the National Medal for Museum Service, the highest honor this country gives to museums.  Funds raised through the Holiday Tea go directly to the educational programming and collections care of the Museum.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Holiday High Tea Features Music, Food, Shopping and Fun

This holiday season, revelers will get a rare opportunity to see two of Crawfordsville’s most prestigious historic homes decked out in Christmas finery during the 5th Annual Holiday High Tea & Fashion Show, a fundraiser for the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum, on Friday, December 2 from 3:00-6:00 p.m.

This year’s event takes place at both the Crawfordsville chapter DAR House on Wabash Avenue and the old Elston Homestead on adjacent Pike Street, now home to Wabash College President Patrick White and his wife Chris.  These privately-owned homes, two of Crawfordsville’s most well-preserved architectural treasures decorated lavishly for the season, will feature live entertainment, an interactive fashion show, a sale of original themed holiday wreaths, and live holiday music from the T-Tones, a men’s vocal ensemble from Wabash College.

“Our Holiday High Tea has become a valued community event celebrating the advent of the holiday season in a beautiful historic setting,” said Helen Hudson, Chair of the Tea Committee.  “The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum, the Daughters of the American Revolution, Wabash College, and Crawfordsville Main Street merchants cooperate to create for us, and for our many out of town guests, a sparkling afternoon.”

High tea will be served at the Elston Homestead, complete with coffee, sweets, and savory snacks provided by the Tea Committee and Bon Appétit from Wabash College.  Local models will show off fashions from local boutique heathcliff, and the venue will be decorated with seasonal floral arrangements by Milligan’s Flowers & Gifts.  Homestead Greetings & Gifts will showcase the latest Vera Bradley designs, and door prizes from several local merchants will be awarded throughout the afternoon, giving event-goers several chances to win accessories and decorations to brighten their own homes. 

The Daughters of the American Revolution will be offering tours to Tea guests of their beautifully-appointed Dorothy Q chapter house, decorated in a Victorian Christmas motif where a unique display of original themed holiday wreaths will be available for sale.  These wreaths have been created especially for the Tea by artists and designers from throughout the area, and each one will be a fabulous décor item or holiday gift idea.

The afternoon’s festivities will not be limited to the tea, however.  Guests are being invited to make a day of their Crawfordsville sojourn, taking advantage of discounts and specials only for Tea guests throughout the downtown retail district, enjoying lunch at several terrific restaurants, and possibly even culminating their visit by purchasing tickets to the Sugar Creek Players’ presentation of “Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus”, which premieres at the Vanity Theater that night.

Reservations for the Holiday High Tea and Fashion Show are $25 per person and due by November 30.  To reserve places for you and your guests, call the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum at 765-362-5769.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Look Inside Our Collection: Randolph Rogers

Throughout his life Lew Wallace had a deep interest in the creative arts. He created original works of art and he acquired works by others. One of the most recognizable works he acquired was a bronze bust of himself created by the famed American sculptor, Randolph Rogers. Wallace’s bust is signed by Randolph Rogers and dated 1862. It was cast by Jules Berchem of Chicago. Who actually commissioned the bust and how it came to Wallace is unknown. It is, none the less, one of the most important works of art in the collection.

Randolph Rogers was born in Waterloo, New York, July 6, 1825. Growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, he moved to New York City at about the age of 20. Various accounts have Rogers moving to New York to pursue a career as a magazine illustrator but ultimately finding work in a dry goods store (some say a department store). At any rate his employers discovered his aptitude for carving and promptly financed his trip to Florence, Italy in 1848 so that he could pursue formal training. In Florence, he studied at the Academy of Saint Marks with Lorenzo Bartolini. When Bartolini died in 1850, Rogers moved to Rome where he established his own studio. It appears he may have returned to New York for a brief period, but for most of the rest of his life he lived and worked in Rome.

Rogers quickly established a reputation as one of the outstanding and most prolific American neoclassical sculptors of his generation. In 1852, he had a sculpture entitled “Night” exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York. Although this work has been lost, it was very well received. He followed this work with one entitled “Ruth Gleaning” in 1853. The enormous popularity of this statue led to his receiving the commission for the main entrance doors of the U.S. Capitol. The bronze doors stand seventeen feet tall and weigh an impressive 20,000 pounds. Called the Columbus doors, they represent scenes from the life of Columbus in bas relief. Throughout the 1850s, Rogers’ works were largely of mythical subjects in a neoclassical design or portrait busts. Perhaps his most popular sculpture was “Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii.” He sold almost 100 copies of this particular statue and it is considered by some to be the most popular American neoclassical sculpture ever created.

Just prior to the Civil War, Rogers received a commission to complete the Washington monument that stands in downtown Richmond, Virginia. This monument had been left unfinished by Thomas Crawford, its original designer. This was a fortuitous commission for another reason because in 1857, during his time in Richmond, Rogers married. Around this time he was also completing a statue of John Adams in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts and “Angel of the Resurrection” for the Samuel Colt monument in Hartford, Connecticut. Beyond these monumental works, Rogers was one of the most sought after sculptors by Americans who were completing their grand tours of Europe. It was customary for travelers who were preparing to depart Europe to sit for a portrait bust in one of the studios in Rome, and Rogers was one of the most popular artists.

By 1863, Rogers was beginning to receive commissions for busts and statues relating to the Civil War. In just a few years he became the preeminent sculptor for Civil War memorials and statues with notable commissions like the Soldiers Monument in Gettysburg, the Michigan Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Detroit (considered among the first large scale commemorations of the Civil War by a large city), an impressive statue called “The Sentinel” for Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, a statue of Abraham Lincoln for Philadelphia and one of William H. Seward in Madison Square Park in New York. In keeping with the Civil War commissions he was receiving at this time, he created the bust of Major General Lew Wallace in his Civil War uniform.

In 1873, Rogers was chosen a professor of sculpture at the Academy of Saint Luke in Rome, the first American to be so honored. In 1882, he suffered a stroke and was never able to work as a sculptor again. In 1884, he was awarded the order of the Caviliere della Coronoa d’Italia, an honorary knighthood bestowed in recognition of service to the Italian Republic.

Randolph Rogers passed away in Rome on January 15, 1892. Among the museums in America that boast works by Rogers are the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, the Detroit Institute of Art, the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian in Washington, the Brooklyn Museum/Luce Center for American Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and, closer to home, the Indianapolis Museum of Art which has it’s own version of Roger’s famous “Ruth Gleaning.” With the bust of General Wallace created by Randolph Rogers as part of our art collection, the Study is in good company.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wintertime Blues, I Mean Blooms

I am sitting at my desk, which I don't do very often, watching snow flurries out the window. Just 2 days ago, the weather was a balmy 68 degrees and I worked in the gardens. I am getting the gardens all prepped for the long winter with pulling up annuals,cutting back and mulching the perennials. I noticed some lingering color, even though we've had quite a few frosty mornings.

Myrtle, wild violets, Liberty snapdragons, Evolution salvia, Lady in Red salvia, Stella d'Oro daylilies, zinnias, Blue Hawaii ageratum, Harmony and Scarlet Sophia marigolds and chrysanthemums are just some of the flowers still blooming at the Museum. They may be covered in snow shortly or with Indiana's unpredictable weather, basking in warm temperatures again.

Bulbs are being planted and a layer of mulched leaves is being added to the gardens. It's wishful thinking that Spring will be here sooner, rather than later.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Museum Welcomes New Associate Director

Erin Gobel joined the staff at the Lew Wallace Study as the Associate Director in October 2011. Erin received a BA in history from Hanover College in 2007. She earned an MA in Public History and a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies from IUPUI in 2010.  She wrote her thesis about the Free Kindergarten Society of Indianapolis.  She interned and worked at the Indiana Historical Society, the Indiana Supreme Court, and the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site. She currently works part-time at the Rotary Jail Museum as the Curator. She also researches and writes National Register nominations as a consultant for Partners in Preservation.  She is currently working on the nomination for Dwight and Jamie Watson’s home on East Wabash Avenue.

Erin and her husband, Kyle, recently bought a house in Crawfordsville.  She enjoys baking and watching Purdue basketball and football. She also loves baby-sitting her two nephews.

“I’ve enjoyed my first few days working here and meeting everyone at the Study,” said Gobel.  “I’m looking forward to learning more about the educational programs offered, particularly the Lew Wallace Youth Academy. I’m really excited about this new opportunity.”

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hard hats and helmets

Fall- the time of cool, brisk mornings and quiet evenings. Time to slow down and look at nature and . . . . .don the hard hats, helmets and shoulder pads!

The beautiful colors of fall have arrived with the bright yellow hickory leaves, the orange-gold of the sassafras and the bright red leaves of the dogwood. A virtual artist's palette for a few weeks.

But be on the lookout for the dreaded head knockers! Walnut, hickory and oak trees are causing havoc all over the grounds of the Museum with the falling nuts. Crash, bam, kerplunk, thunk , splat are just a few sounds of the Museum. A visitor walking on the grounds may appear unsteady until you realize they are dodging the walnuts laying all over the ground.

Neighbors, preschoolers, school groups are visiting the grounds and collecting leaves and seeds for class projects. A great time to visit and see the beautiful trees and gardens- but bring your hard hat!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Interesting Finds in Lew's Reflecting Pool!

The archaeologists from the University of Indianapolis have made a couple of interesting discoveries this afternoon during their excavation of Lew Wallace's reflecting pool.  What do you think they could be?
These are two glass pieces being held together.  A drinking glass from long ago, perhaps?

This is a small, perfectly round and completely intact piece of mica.  What would that have been used for around the turn of the century?

The digging will continue in our "History Beneath Us" program on the grounds of the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum tomorrow from 1:00-5:00 p.m.  Drop by and watch us make more exciting discoveries!

Celebrate National Archaeology Month at the Study

The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum is celebrating National Archaeology Month with a continuation of its "History Beneath Us" archaeology dig this weekend in the backyard of General Lew Wallace's home and study.

A stately brick reflecting pond graced Wallace's grounds between approximately 1898-1903, after which the General filled in the pond because of concerns for the welfare of small children who might fall into the standing water when he wasn't around to help.  Today and tomorrow, professional archaeologists and students from the University of Indianapolis are continuing to uncover the western perimeter of the pond to define the original outline of the structure and aid in interpreting the grounds to the public.

So far, the digging has revealed the remarkably-intact wall of the pond and determined its original depth.  The archaeologists are combing through the original material used to fill the pond to see if artifacts can be found.  On previous occasions, the archaeologists have found sections of pipe, pieces of pottery, iron nails and a metal pot inside the pond.

See archaeologists in action during this weekend's "History Beneath Us" program on the grounds of the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum in Crawfordsville, today and Sunday until 5:00 p.m.  This program is free and open to the public; separate tours of the Museum cost $5 for adults and $1 for students.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Look Back: The Tribe of Ben-Hur

Of all of the many products, places, and institutions to carry the name Ben-Hur, perhaps none was more successful than the Tribe of Ben-Hur. Lew Wallace never belonged to this fraternal benefit organization, but he gave the enterprise his blessing in the early 1890s and was close friends with many of the founding members.

Headquartered in Crawfordsville for generations, the Ben-Hur Life Association was created by David W. Gerard in 1894. David Gerard had been born on a farm in Shelby County, Ohio in 1844. His family moved to Romney where his father, Abner, died when David was just five years old. His mother and brothers returned to Ohio where they struggled to make ends meet. By the age of 16, David was teaching school and by the age of 17 he was fighting in the Civil War. After serving for four years he returned to this area and taught school in Wingate (although it was called Pleasant Hill in his day). He met and married Elizabeth Krug and together they established their lives here.

Wallace and Gerard had already crossed paths at least twice by 1865. When David Gerard’s father died, Lew Wallace was a young attorney living in Covington. Wallace was called to help settle Abner Gerard’s meager estate. While Wallace remembered the family, at age five, David Gerard was too young to remember this initial meeting. Their lives crossed paths again during the Civil War.

Throughout the 1870s and 1880s as the economy prospered, Gerard kept thinking about establishing a fraternal insurance agency where the members would take care of their own. In 1893, Gerard and a small group of friends determined that in establishing such an agency, Wallace’s Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, would provide not only name recognition, but also a rich background from which they could develop the secret rituals and elaborate hierarchy that fraternal groups in the late 19th century were so fond of.

The group met with Wallace who readily gave his consent and assisted them in getting permission from Harper & Brothers to use the name of Ben-Hur and portions of the book. According to tradition Wallace even suggested the name Tribe of Ben-Hur as tribes were the organizational structure at the time of Christ. On January 9, 1894, papers were filed with the Secretary of State in Indianapolis. Early leaders in the Tribe included Gerard, Frank L. Snyder, S.E. Voris, Dr. J.F. Davidson, and John C. Snyder.

The first session of the Tribe, or grand conclave, as it was known locally was held on January 16, 1894. More organizational meetings followed and on Thursday, March 1, 1894 the community celebrated Ben Hur gala day. The town was filled to capacity with people from far and wide and by the end of the gala, 422 individuals had become charter members of the Simonides Court Number 1. The Tribe was unusual in its day as it allowed both men and women to join, and within in a few years had made provisions for children to be included in the benefits program.

Gerard was widely recognized as an organizational genius and within two years there were more than 5,000 members in the Tribe of Ben-Hur and “Courts” had been established in a dozen states from California to New York. The tribe was initially housed in an upstairs room of a downtown building called the Thomas Block, but the organization soon built their first Supreme building. Then 99 years ago in 1912/13, the Tribe built the ornate white terra cotta five-story building that has become a landmark on the corner of Main and Water Streets. 

While The Tribe of Ben-Hur continued to be based in Crawfordsville, it grew far beyond the confines of Montgomery County and it prospered. During the Great Depression when other insurance agencies and fraternal organizations were failing, the management of the Tribe was such that it continued to grow, astutely purchasing the resources of failing groups. Many of the founding members stayed with the Tribe until their dying day. This was true of D.W. Gerard who served as the Supreme Chief until his passing on January 3, 1910.

Ultimately, changing times and economies did affect the Tribe of Ben Hur and in the 1980s after 90 years of service, the fundamental nature of the organization was changed as it became known as USA Life Insurance Company of Indiana.  In 1988, the rituals, offices, obligations, and fraternal nature of this group inspired by Lew Wallace’s book quietly (and sadly for some in Crawfordsville) slipped into history.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Friendship with the Wallaces Shapes a Young Man's Life

Helping with the care and maintenance of the grounds of the Lew Wallace property by incoming freshmen at Wabash College is not a recent phenomenon. These young men have been helping the museum for years and actually helped General and Mrs. Wallace in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

One of the young Wabash men who worked for the Wallaces was Harry Wann. In September 1904, Harry was a seventeen year old freshman at Wabash. His older brother had attended Wabash and had worked for General and Mrs. Wallace at different times. As Harry was in need of money to support his education, he walked over to the Wallace home and introduced himself requesting an opportunity to work for Mrs. Wallace.

Some weeks after his meeting with Mrs. Wallace, she sent him a note asking that he bring all the students he could find to help rake leaves. As Wann recorded, the grounds were spacious and it was a real challenge to keep them neat and free of leaves. After this initial effort, Mrs. Wallace quickly came to depend on Harry for help and he was frequently at the home doing odd jobs.

By the fall of 1904, General Wallace’s health was declining. He often sat outdoors between the house and the Study to enjoy the fresh fall air. Ever curious Wallace would question Harry about his college studies, his ambitions, and even his eating habits! Harry didn’t have enough money for breakfast so he tended to skip that meal—Wallace grew concerned as he told Harry that breakfast was a very important meal. Although he was weak in body, Wallace continued to be strong in mind and he hired Harry to work in the Study. Wallace was still doing research and writing but it was too tiring to move about the Study pulling the books he needed from the shelves. To keep up with his research, he had the young man pull the desired volumes from the book shelves and bring them to the center desk.

As the autumn of 1904 turned cooler, Harry was hired to fire the furnaces in both the Wallace home and the Study. He also performed this same service for Susan’s brother Isaac who lived just up the street and Colonel Thompson who also lived nearby. Each evening Harry would stoke the furnaces and then at 5:30 the next morning he would make the same round to prepare the furnaces for the day.

When Harry was working at the Wallace home, the General would share stories of his experiences as Minister to Turkey as well as other episodes from a crowded life. Wallace’s health declined during the winter of 1904 and early in 1905 he took to his bed. Several times he sent for Harry to come to his bedroom to take dictation which Harry would write out in long-hand for the General to sign. Harry would post the letters the next morning.

On January 25, 1905 the General called for Harry to take dictation. The General dictated one letter regarding a typewriter he intended to purchase and a second letter to a nursery which included a list of plants and seeds for the spring planting. Harry completed the letters and prepared to leave. As he reached the front door, Mrs. Wallace detained him and asked Harry to refrain from sending the letter with the plant list as there was doubt as to her husband’s ability to garden come the spring. Harry headed back to Wabash College and laid the letter aside. He continued to come each evening and early each morning to tend the furnace, but he never saw the General again. Wallace’s health declined rapidly and he died on February 15.

After the General’s passing, Mrs. Wallace closed the house and she moved to Indianapolis for a time. A few months later, Harry received a note from Mrs. Wallace requesting him to retrieve her door key from Miss Millen (who was staying at Colonel Thompson’s home). In the note, Mrs. Wallace asked Harry to go to the Wallace house, and get two things for her. From the lowest drawer of her desk in the small (east) room, downstairs she wanted a manuscript of a play based on the Prince of India and then on the mantel was a letter from a friend. She asked Harry to add some Ben-Hur postcards from a local store; bundle it all together and send the package to her in Indianapolis via American Express.

As Harry wrote: “Needless to say, I was proud as a peacock, as a boy of seventeen, to be privileged to enter alone the privacy of the Wallace home to obtain, wrap and send to Mrs. Wallace the original MS. of the play “Prince of India.”

Harry Wann graduated from Wabash in 1908, taught German at Wabash for one year and then, perhaps remembering Wallace’s stories of the Middle East, he moved to Constantinople where he taught for three years. Wann returned to Wabash briefly in 1911 before moving on to teach at the University of Michigan. He pursued his doctorate and in 1917 was appointed head of the Romance Language Department at Indiana State University. Like Wallace, Harry Wann loved to learn. He participated in Community Theater, enjoyed singing in local choirs, and became a student once again when he enrolled at the Herron Art School in Indianapolis to learn the art of sculpting. As a sculptor he received a number of commissions.

In his 80s, as Wann reflected on his life and recorded his memories he continued to treasure the few months he worked for General and Mrs. Wallace. After a lifetime of accomplishment one of his prized possessions was the letter that was dictated to him and signed by General Lew Wallace on January 25, 1904 but never mailed.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Advance Taste Tix Now On Sale

Advance tickets for the fifth-annual Taste of Montgomery County are now on sale in select Crawfordsville locations.  Visitors can purchase Taste tickets at the Carriage House Interpretive Center of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, home of the Taste; the Montgomery County Visitors and Convention Bureau at the corner of Pike and Green streets; Kwik Kopy Printing at 123 East Main Street, Milligan’s Flowers & Gifts at 115 East Main, and Hovey Cottage on the campus of Wabash College.  Advance tickets are $4 for adults and $2 for students.  The Taste is an annual fundraiser for the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society, the organization that maintains General Lew Wallace’s original artifacts and keeps his legacy alive.

The benefits of purchasing advance tickets are twofold.  Advance tickets are $1 cheaper—adult tickets at the gate on the day of the Taste will be $5 and student tickets will be $3.  Advance ticket holders will also be able to get into the gate faster on the day of the Taste, as they won’t have to wait in line to purchase tickets.  This could be a real advantage when crowds gather for the live musical acts scheduled to play at this year’s Taste. Crawfordsville’s own Kenn & Keller will play from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.; Indianapolis’ Cool City Swing Band will bring the swing from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., and this year’s headliners, Healing Sixes will take the stage from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. for an exhilarating finale.

The Taste of Montgomery County will be held at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum on Saturday, August 27, from 12:00 to 10:00 p.m.  The restaurants and caterers showcasing their foods at this year’s Taste include The Iron Gate, The Juniper Spoon, Two Guys Cooking, The Big Dipper, Bon Appétit, Miller's Quality Meats & Catering, Arthur's Café, Norvell's BBQ & Catering, Applebee's, China Inn, Mighty Dogs/Athens Nutrition and Smoothies, Buffalo Wild Wings, Hawg Wild BBQ, Waynetown Bar & Grill, Coal Creek Cellars Winery, 1832 Brew and Creekside Lodge.

For more information about the Taste, visit our website at

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Look Back at GLWSM's Civil War Week 2011

From July 7-13, 2011, the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum hosted some terrific events to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War.
On July 7, Jeannie Regan-Dinius, Director of Special Initiatives, Division for Historic Preservation and Archaeology, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, spoke to a packed Carriage House about the history of the Underground Railroad in Indiana.  The audience response was such that the Museum is making plans to bring Regan-Dinius back for a second engagement!

On July 8, Joan Flinspach, CEO of Presenting the Past and former President of The Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne, illuminated the life and accomplishments of acclaimed Civil War photographer Mathew Brady for guests inside the Study.  The fascinating question-and-answer section afterward lasted almost until the sun went down!

The 7th Annual Lew Wallace Youth Academy completed its week of new experiences on July 9 with a visit to the Civil War Encampment, which was held on the Museum grounds on the weekend of July 9-10.  Academy students learned about Civil War-era surgery, embalming, armaments, and much more.

Throughout the weekend, visitors from throughout the Midwest met with living history interpreters from the Mid-States Living History Association to learn about the trials and triumphs of camp life during the tumultuous years of the Civil War.  Guests got to see a working telegraph, infantry drills and sharpshooter demonstrations, ladies' teas, camp music and seminars on saving history with the Curator of Social History at the Indiana State Museum, among many other things.

On July 13, guests were treated to an inside look into the private life of controversial First Lady Mary Lincoln during the lecture "Mary’s Legacy According to Her Son Robert Lincoln" by Donna McCreary, an award-winning living history presenter, educator and historian.

Civil War Week 2011 was an enormous success, and the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum staff would like to thank all of our partners for helping make it happen!

Saturday, July 2, 2011


CRAWFORDSVILLE, IN, July 2, 2011— The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum is commemorating the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War with a lecture series and live encampment that will dynamically illustrate the hardships and triumphs of that era.

Three free, in-depth lectures on some of the Civil War’s most compelling subjects will be held at the Museum beginning this week.  On Thursday, July 7 at 7:00 p.m., the Museum will be hosting Jeannie R. Regan-Dinius from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources as she discusses the Underground Railroad in Indiana, including its history in Montgomery County.  The following evening, July 8 at 7:00 p.m., Joan Flinspach of Presenting the Past will talk about famed Civil War Photographer Matthew Brady.  On Wednesday, July 13 at 7:00 p.m., living history presenter Donna McCreary will illustrate the life of one of the nation’s most controversial First Ladies in “Mary’s Legacy According to Her Son Robert Lincoln.”  These lectures are free but space is limited; call the Museum at 765-362-5769 or email to reserve a seat.

The scent of campfires and the sounds of Stephen Foster songs will fill the air once again at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum for its annual Civil War Encampment weekend, July 9 and 10.  The Museum’s partnership with the Mid States Living History Association, Inc. allows visitors a rare chance to dig deeper into the experience of life as one of General Wallace’s rank-and-file soldiers.

Mid States, an Indianapolis-based group comprised of living history interpreters from throughout the Midwest, will present several activities on the Museum grounds over the course of the weekend that offer a greater insight into life as a Civil War soldier or civilian.  In addition to live demonstrations of camp cooking, construction, medical care, music, telegraphy and artillery training, visitors will have the chance to interact with both General Lew Wallace and the Governor of Indiana during that critical time, Oliver Morton.

“Our Encampment weekends are always popular,” said Associate Director Amanda Wesselmann.  “It’s an immersive experience that lets visitors really appreciate what General Wallace and his soldiers had to endure during the Civil War, much more so than they could just by reading a book or sitting in history class.”

The live activities include “School of the Piece,” an instructional training exercise for cannoneers that demonstrates the degree of textbook and practical training required to function on the field of battle.  Visitors will also be invited to participate in infantry training drills using toy “Woodfield” (wooden) rifles.  Demonstrations in Civil War-era medical care, camp construction and cooking will also be held throughout the weekend.  New this year will be a sharp-shooter display and a ladies’ tea.

Visitors are invited to experience the live drama of the Civil War on Saturday, July 9 from 1:00 – 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, July 10 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum in Crawfordsville.  For further information, contact the Museum at 765-362-5769 or email

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Conspirators

Perhaps Lew Wallace's best-known painting (not that he was famous for art), The Conspirators made the journey from storage to the Study

Movers from Red Ball Moving carry in the custom-made box containing The Conspirators.

Museum staff and volunteers lift the oil painting atop the bookcases in the Study.

Museum Director Larry Paarlberg and Collections Manager Amanda McGuire examine the placement before descending their ladders. The current location not only shows off the painting but also what some of Wallace's artwork would have looked like next to the original colors of the Study interior.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Back Home in Indiana

Lew Wallace's Artifacts are finally back in the Study! Museum staff and volunteers will now spend days unpacking artwork and arranging furniture to reflect Wallace's use of the building.

The furniture, including the grandfather clock, are not in place, but at least they are in the building!

Movers from Red Ball Moving Company, generous supporters of the Museum, prepare to move Il Pensiero (The Thinker) to its pedestal.

Museum Director Larry Paarlberg adjusts the "Girl with Goats" majolica vase in its corner. The colors in the ceramics blend well with the newly restored wall in the southeast corner of the Study!

Associate Director Amanda Wesselmann and Grounds Manager Deb King unveil "The Turkish Princess," a gift to Wallace from Sultan Abdul Hamid II. She is now back in her familiar place above the bookcases.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Uncovering the Past

It's always thrilling to scrape away the covering of years and unveil more of what General Wallace's surroundings looked like when he lived among them.  The past weeks have offered exciting glimpses into both the interior and exterior of the General's study, through the tireless work of some true professionals.

Brian Fick and Mary Yeager of Acanthus Arts in Indianapolis have been hard at work conserving the beautiful decorative paint in places inside the study, and it's been amazing to watch the original colors begin to blossom.  The anteroom just inside the front door is swathed in deep jewel tones, and the dome now has a wide stripe of original paint uncovered down to the bookcases.  Visitors can now see not only the musical motif in the southeast corner of the dome, but the stylish method by which the paint fades from a deep green to a light silvery tone at the dome.

The colors of the plaster frieze just under the dome are being replicated according to the paint analysis done by Matthew Mosca of Washington D.C. in March.  It's easy to see how brilliant General Wallace's dome would've looked when all of the electric lights were on!

Outside, archaeologists from Weintraut & Associates in Zionsville are working with students from the University of Indianapolis to uncover General Wallace's backyard reflecting pool.  Over weeks of painstaking work, they have found the brick perimeter topped by capstones lying just inches below the surface of the lawn.

Keep an eye on this blog for further developments as we continue to work in restoring General Wallace's "pleasure house for his soul" to its original splendor!