Friday, October 26, 2012

Fall has hit with a vengeance with temperatures in the hi 70's and temperatures hovering around 45 degrees a day later. Typically unpredictable Indiana weather! The lawn is littered with leaves with only the pin oak and some gingko leaves left on the trees. The lawn mowers are chopping up the leaves and some of the leaves will be used as mulch on the gardens.

daffodils and magnolia blooming in the spring

We have been busy planting spring bulbs. Over 200 bulbs have been planted for an anticipated beautiful spring showing. Mixed giant alliums have been planted in front of the Study, with colors ranging from dark purple to white. Ivory Queen alliums have been planted with the white shrub roses for the last 3 years and make a beautiful showing. Red tulips have been replenished, adding to the 50 or so tulips planted a few years ago. The squirrels love to dig them up and chew on them, leaving half the bulb laying to waste on the ground.

Daffodils, a naturilizing mix, have been planted throughout the grounds. On the natural hillside, near the picnic area, by the Carriage House and in the gardens,  daffodils will be a beacon of color in an otherwise green oasis. Planted on a hillside of Siberian squill (bright blue blooms) the daffodils will provide a splendid photo opportunity. Crocus are being planted, in small groups, throughout the grounds. We are placing wire screening on top of the bulbs to protect them from the hungry squirrels.
 Wintertime blues can be lessened by imagining the bright and magnificent Spring color that is just waiting to burst through the ground.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Everyone's a Critic

Prince of India carving on Study Building
Lew Wallace is probably most famous as the author of Ben-Hur, which was the best-selling novel of the 20th century, but he wrote other novels, and they weren't all as well-received as Ben-Hur. The following is a letter written to him by a doctor from Colorado:

Dear Sir,

Perhaps advice may not be acceptable to you, and in case that it is not, allow me to make a request of you. It is this: in charity to English-speaking humanity, please do not attempt to write any more books of fiction.

Your first* book of the kind, or at least the first one of them that I got hold of, is a fine work. It is a beautiful story and beautifully told. The descriptions in it are superbly realistic, and an intense interest enthralls the reader from the beginning of the book to the end. I am speaking of Ben Hur, and I can not recall any book that gave me more pleasure in reading than Ben Hur.
With the next one I read, The Fair God (1873). I was awfully disappointed. It is hardly worth reading, and is inconceivably inferior to Ben Hur in every way.
But by far the worst of the lot is The Prince of India (1893). I have just managed to read the first volume, and that is all I could stand. It is apparently a rehash of the old yarn of the Wandering Jew, and certainly the most insipid and uninteresting lot of trash that I have had the misfortune to get hold of in years.
Had you been satisfied to stop writing after finishing Ben Hur your reputation as a writer of English literature would have been most admirable; but the effect of The Fair God and more particularly The Prince of India will be to leave the reputation of the author of Ben Hur decidedly clouded. So I repeat my request.
Please do not attempt to write any more works of fiction for you are evidently in your later years not equal to the attempt. In all kindness and thanking you for the pleasure your first book gave me, I am, most respectfully,
J.D. Brandon, M.D.


*Note: The Fair God was actually Lew's first novel, and Ben-Hur the second, though it was, of course, Ben-Hur that received widespread attention and secured Lew's fortune and reputation as a novelist.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Samuel K. Hoshour & Lew Wallace

Sometimes an educator is remembered less for their accomplishments than for the history made by their students. Such is the case with Samuel K. Hoshour. In 1840, when Lew Wallace was 13 years old his father, David, once again sought to impress the importance of an education on his son. David sent Lew to school in Centerville, Indiana (some reports report that the school was actually located nearby in Cambridge City). This area of Wayne County had been settled by whites beginning in 1814. It had a significant population of Quakers who held fast to their traditions of anti-slavery and the value of education. By 1827, the Wayne County Seminary was built and for more than 50 years it served as an institution of higher education.

The Seminary was later sold to the Methodist Church and renamed Whitewater College with the Reverend Cyrus Nutt serving as president in the 1850s. Nutt would later go on to serve as president of Indiana University. In addition to Lew Wallace, among the distinguished individuals educated in Centerville were Ambrose Burnside (Civil War general), John Stevenson Tarkington (father of Booth Tarkington), Emily Meredith (mother of Meredith Nicholson), and Oliver P. Morton (Indiana’s Civil War governor).

David sent Lew to Centerville because of Professor Samuel K. Hoshour’s great reputation as an educator. Professor Hoshour deserved this reputation, at least in Lew Wallace’s eyes. Hoshour was born in York County, Pennsylvania in December 1803. He was trained for the ministry in the Lutheran Church, but converted to the “Campbellite Doctrine” and was ostracized from his church. He travelled west with his wife, and settled in Wayne County in 1835 where he quickly developed a reputation as an outstanding instructor and intellect who could read five languages and speak three fluently.

Hoshour came nearest to being what young Lew imagined an ideal school master should be. While Hoshour wielded the rod, he did so with “discrimination and undeniable justice.” Wallace wrote: “He was the first to observe a glimmer of writing capacity in me. He gave me volumes of lectures on rules of composition, English, and style.” Hoshour invited Wallace to his home in the evenings to give Lew extra help with the thorny and perplexing problems of algebra.

Professor Samuel K. Hoshour
Recognizing that Wallace did not have an aptitude for mathematics, instead of beating the student, Hoshour humanely applied himself to cultivating the abilities he believed were within Wallace’s reach. In an evening’s interview with the student who could not find his way, Hoshour recognized Wallace’s native intellect and his interest in reading and self education. The Professor presented Wallace with lectures on rhetoric by John Quincy Adams that contained rules for composition. Wallace went on to write that Hoshour took a New Testament and gave it to the student, saying: “There, read that! It is the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. This was entirely new to me and I recall the impression made by the small part given to the three wise men. Little did I dream then what those few verses were to bring me—that out of them Ben-Hur, was one day to be evoked.”

Hoshour taught in Centerville and Cambridge City for eleven years. Teaching did not pay well, and he attempted to earn a better income to support himself and his family, but with health issues that began in the 1840s and a series of poor investments, after a decade Hoshour returned to teaching. In 1855 he joined the faculty of Northwestern Christian University (today’s Butler University) in Indianapolis. In 1858, he was pressed into service as president but after three years, he left the presidency and resumed teaching at the University. In 1862, he was appointed State Superintendant of Education. After a distinguished career in education he passed away in 1883 and was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.

As Wallace wrote in his autobiography: “I can see the professor standing in his door, lamp in hand and bareheaded, dismissing me for the night, with exactly the same civilities he would have sped an official the most important in the state. Ah, the kindly cunning of the shrewd old gentleman! He had dropped a light into my understanding and caught me. So, step by step, the professor led me into and out of depths I had never dreamed of, and through tangles of subtlety and appreciations which proved his mind as thoroughly as they tried mine. Before the year was out he had, as it were, taken my hand in his and introduced me to Byron, Shakespeare, and old Isaiah. The year was a turning-point of my life, and out of my age and across his grave I send him, Gentle master, hail, and all sweet rest.” Every educator who has sparked the imagination of a student would appreciate Wallace’s remembrance of the teacher who changed his life and changed history.

Lew Wallace An Autobiography, Harper & Brothers, 1906, pp 55-58
Montgomery Magazine, November 1980. “Wallace – the writer.” Pat Cline

The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum celebrates and renews belief in the power of the individual spirit to affect American history and culture.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Visitor Questions Answered

Every now and then I'll have someone ask me a question to which I don't have the answer. I always do my best to find out, but sometimes I don't find the answer until the visitor is already gone. Today I want to answer a few questions I've been asked lately.

What is this pedestal made out of?

This is an onyx pedestal from Rome, pale green with gold and white marbling.  It has seven metal rings around it. The pedestal stands in the mechanical room of the Study building, where our Ben-Hur exhibit is located.

Were the bricks around the inglenook painted?

No. The bricks were made that color, which is also used as an accent color on the outside of the Study building.

How tall was Lew Wallace?

According to his hunting license, he was 5'10".

What is this chunk of rock?

This is a piece of turquoise. Our records suggest Susan might have used it as a paperweight. You'll find it in one of the display cases on the south wall of the Study.

Anyone else have any questions? I love doing research to find the answers to these questions. I always tell people I learn things from our visitors just as often as they learn things from me! Chime in in the comments and play "stump the museum girl!"

Monday, October 15, 2012

Meet Our Lecturers

The last installment of the 2012 Civil War Lecture Series is scheduled for Thursday, October 18 at the Crawfordsville District Public Library. We will have two lectures that evening, beginning at 7pm.

Chuck Beemer will present "Breakfast at Fort Donelson," discussing Lew Wallace's actions at Fort Donelson in February 1862. Immediately following Beemer's presentation, Roger Adams will present "Tarnished Stars:  Lew Wallace and the Defense of Cincinnati, September 1862."

Chuck Beemer was born and raised in Crawfordsville and holds a MA from the University of Wisconsin and a JD from the University of North Carolina. He recently finished a manuscript, "My Greatest Quarrel with Fortune: Major General Lew Wallace in the West, 1861-1862." He is the Vice President of the Western North Carolina Civil War Roundtable and serves on the Wallace Scholars Advisory Board to the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum.

Roger Adams is associate professor of library science and curator of rare books & special collections at Kansas State University Libraries. He is from Kenton Hills, Kentucky. Growing up near the earthwork fortifications built in 1862 for the defense of Cincinnati led to a life-long fascination with Wallace. Adams serves on the Board of the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society and owns a large collection of Ben-Hur and other Wallace books.

Come out to this free event and benefit from the expertise of these two scholars. We'd love it if you would RSVP at (765)362-5769 or

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bohumir Kryl photos

Be sure to visit Wabash College's online photo album for great pictures of the Bohumir Kryl Project!

You can view pictures and download hi-res images.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Dramatic Club of Indianapolis

Mary “Haute” Booth Tarkington was one of the leaders of a theatrical group which was established in Indianapolis in 1889. This group, originally called the Matinee Club, of twenty-five women from the city’s leading families was formed to provide private staged performances. The first performance of this all woman group was staged in a private ballroom in a home at 10th and Delaware Streets. By 1890, men were assisting in the productions and the group combined with another to form the Dramatic Club. Mary’s brother, Booth Tarkington, joined the group and designed the logo.

Beginning in 1890, the group began assisting local charities which led to its most ambitious effort when the group “adopted” four French children after World War I. The club grew from 149 people in 1890 to over 400 by the early 20th century. By the 1920s, the performances had moved from the confines of private ballrooms to English’s Hotel & Opera House, the Murat Temple, and the Athenaeum. By the 1950s the performances had been moved to the Civic Theatre. It continues to be an important theater group in Indianapolis.

Throughout its existence the Dramatic Club has attracted some of the leading social, civic and business leaders of Indianapolis including members of the extended Lew Wallace family. In the 1916 Blue Book for Indianapolis members of the Wallace clan listed as members in the Dramatic Club included Zerelda Leathers Grover (niece of Lew Wallace) and Mary Booth Tarkington Jameson (sister of Booth Tarkington and niece by marriage of William Wallace and his wife Cordelia Butler). More distantly related people listed in the 1916 Society Blue Book included Booth Tarkington and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. James Leathers, and Mr. Donald Jameson.

Lew Wallace, Jr. ca. 1917
Closer to home, Lew Wallace, Jr. (Lew and Susan’s grandson) and their future grand-daughter-in-law, Josephine Parrott, were active in the group. Lew, Jr. had grown up primarily in Indianapolis although he spent time in Crawfordsville with his grandparents. By 1916 he had finished his college studies at Yale and was back home for a stay. He had paralleled his famous grandfather’s military career with a stint in the mid-1910s chasing Pancho Villa during the Mexican border dispute which was followed by his military service in World War I in 1917 and 1918. Just when and how Lew Jr. and Josephine met is not recorded, but after their inclusion in the Blue Book in 1916, they made the social columns again in 1917 when they wed. Lew, Jr. and Josephine had four children and at least one of them, Margaret (Maggie Daly) followed her parents’ lead and enjoyed a brief career on the stage in the 1940s before she married and began her own family.

The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum celebrates and renews belief in the power of the individual spirit to affect American history and culture.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Clear Your Schedule for Two Civil War Lectures

Make sure to keep the evening of Thursday, October 18, open to attend the last lecture of the 2012 Civil War Lecture Series. The lectures are being held at the Crawfordsville District Public Library in the Donnelley Room at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Chuck Beemer will present "Breakfast at Fort Donelson," discussing Lew Wallace's actions at Fort Donelson. The Battle of Fort Donelson in February 1862 was a strategic battle for the control of the Cumberland River in Tennessee. Brigadier General Wallace created a defensive line along Wynns Ferry Road against orders. The line held through three Confederate surges, protecting the Union right flank and leading the Confederates to surrender the fort the following day. Beemer will also discuss what these actions reveal about Wallace's character and personality.

Immediately following Beemer's presentation, Roger Adams will present "Tarnished Stars:  Lew Wallace and the Defense of Cincinnati, September 1862." Although Wallace lost his command after the Battle of Shiloh in April, 1862, he was called upon in September to help defend nearby Cincinnati, Ohio. Confederate armies had invaded Kentucky in the late summer and Cincinnati, with its strategic position on the Ohio River, was thought to be a prime target. Wallace was instrumental in preparing Cincinnati for such an attack and hoped to restore his military reputation along the way.

Both lectures are part of public programming associated with the museum's 2012 exhibit, "Courage & Conflict: Lew Wallace in 1862," on display in the carriage house on Study grounds until December 15, 2012.

Please RSVP for the lectures at (765)362-5769 or

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lew Wallace & Charles B. Landis

Charles B. Landis was a close friend of Lew Wallace. He also happened to be a United States Congressman elected from the 9th District near Delphi. Landis was born in Logansport and was an 1883 graduate of Wabash College. After graduating he worked on the Logansport Journal, but moved to Delphi in 1887 when he purchased the Delphi Journal. He served six terms in Congress from 1897 through 1909. As a newspaper man, Landis also served as the president of the Indiana Republican Editorial Association in the 1890s. After leaving Congress he worked for the du Pont Powder Company in Delaware. The paths of Wallace and Landis crossed frequently from the 1880s through the turn of the 20th century.

On February 14, 1905 Congressman Landis contacted J.J. Insley of Crawfordsville asking him to secure a copy of Ben-Hur with an inscription from Lew Wallace. Lew graciously acceded to the request and wrote on the flyleaf: “Charles B. Landis—our mutual friend, J.J. Insley sends me this book for autographing. He wishes to present it to you. You already know my deep regard for you and circumstances that make compliance with our friend’s wish a sovereign pleasure. Success to you in everything you undertake. There are rewards in good lives, and you are in the way of reaping them—go in that way. Lew Wallace, Crawfordsville.”

As it turned out, this testimony to a trusted friend is believed to be the last thing written by Wallace who died quietly the next day, February 15, after a long illness.

The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum celebrates and renews belief in the power of the individual spirit to affect American history and culture.