Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Reservations Open for 2013 Holiday Tea

Can you believe it's already November? Time goes so quickly...before you know it, it'll be Christmas! Which reminds me, our Holiday Tea and Fashion Show is approaching quickly.

Our Annual Holiday Tea is our second-largest fundraiser of the year. We have a wonderful time visiting with our friends, members, and supporters in a festive environment. It's one of the rare opportunities Lew's fans have to visit the home where Susan grew up. This year our second partner, along with the Elston Homestead, is Lane Place, where Henry and Joanna (Elston) Lane lived. Both historic homes will be beautifully decorated for the holidays. We're so excited to share this occasion with you!

The Holiday Tea will feature live holiday music from the Wabash College T-Tones, door prizes, refreshments and tea (of course), an interactive fashion show by heathcliff, artist-created holiday wreaths for sale, and, of course, lots of holiday cheer!

Tickets are $25 per person, and reservations are required. The event runs from 3-6 p.m. on December 6, and attendees can drop in any time between those hours. For reservations, call 765-362-5769 or visit our Holiday Tea website and make reservations online via PayPal.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Making A Historic Difference - Part Two

So last week I warned you I was going to ask you for money. Well, this is it--brace yourselves.

We would really appreciate it if you donated money to our Making A Historic Difference campaign.

(That wasn't so bad, was it?)

Thanks to our many generous supporters, we currently have $230,000 secured towards our $300,000 goal. The Jeffris Foundation granted us $100,000 for interior paint restoration, with the caveat that we must double-match that amount--that is, we need to raise $200,000 on our own to match their grant. Because we are owned by the City of Crawfordsville, the city has agreed to provide $30,000 for our efforts. Many private donors have given us $1,000 or more and will be honored with an engraved brick to be placed in front of the Carriage House. Lots of smaller donations have added up.

We're getting close to reaching our goal--but the last few milestones always seem to be the hardest to reach.

If you are able to give and want to be a part of this exciting effort to restore and preserve Lew's ornate interior decorations, won't you consider donating to the Making A Historic Difference campaign?

We've done our best to make the donation process as easy and painless as possible. You can donate from this blog post using your credit card. Our secure payments are processed through PayPal.

You can also donate by calling us at 765-362-5769 and providing your credit card information over the telephone.

Board Member Jerry Spillane was instrumental in helping us have a video created so you can learn more about the campaign. If you have four minutes, join me, Director Larry Paarlberg, and Jerry for a look around the Study.

It's exciting to be so close to reaching our goal. We hope you're excited too, and that you'll be with us through the whole process of restoring the Study interior to Lew's original vision. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Introducing Our New Website

We are going to be rolling out a new website in the next day or so. Don't worry, all the same information will still be there, along with some new stuff! And you won't have to update your bookmarks; we'll still be at www.ben-hur.com. We are changing the site's appearance, but the menu structure has a similar design as the old website. You shouldn't have to update any links if you've been linking to our website. We'll be using the name page names as far as possible.

So why change things, you're probably wondering?

Over 35% of our 2013 website traffic so far has come from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets; unfortunately, our old website wasn't built with a design that would respond to the various screen sizes--it just wasn't something we had to worry about back then. Our new design will adapt the display for optimal viewing across devices from iPhones to iPads to 23" computer monitors.

Here's the biggest change for you blog readers--our blog will no longer be located here at wallacestudy.blogspot.com but will be self-hosted at www.ben-hur.com/blog. If you use a feed-reader to keep up with our posts, you'll need to update your feed. To make it simple, we have a little RSS icon in the right sidebar of our blog page. If you'd prefer, you'll also be able to subscribe to our blog via email and have our entries sent straight to your inbox.

Our new site design will eventually incorporate an online gift shop and e-book sales. Our presence on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest will be better integrated with our website as well as the blog. We will continue to support online memberships and online donations, and this year for the first time Holiday Tea tickets are available to purchase by credit card on our website at www.ben-hur.com/programs/holiday-tea/.

I hope you like the new website design. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, I'm always happy to receive feedback from our members, supporters, and friends. Comment here, at the new blog, or email me with any feedback.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Henry's uniform, on loan from
Children's Museum of Indianapolis
If you're handing out sweets today, make sure to stop by the Study and hand some out to us! Director Larry Paarlberg is a fan of anything dark chocolate. Associate Director/Education Erin Gobel is a York Peppermint Patty fan. Grounds Manager Deb King likes peanut butter cookies. Associate Director/Collections Amanda McGuire prefers peanut butter M&Ms and dark chocolate. I personally will take anything that has the word chocolate in it, but Kit Kat and Butterfinger are a couple of current favorites. :) (We're also frequent customers at Dari-Licious!)

In Lew's day, Halloween wasn't celebrated much outside of Irish and Scottish immigrant communities, but even in the 1860s children did play dress-up. Lew and Susan's son Henry was eight at the outbreak of the Civil War, and he had a child-sized Union uniform and kepi. We currently have the uniform on display in our Carriage House. It is on loan from the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, and in less than two months, when our 2013 Generations exhibit ends, we'll be returning it to them. If you want to see it, make sure you stop in sometime between now and December 14!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Making A Historic Difference - Part One

If you're a Crawfordsville local, you may have seen signs around town with a big drawing of the Study and the phrase "Making A Historic Difference." You might be wondering why we're trying to raise $300,000 and what we're going to do with that money. We're going to have a series of posts on our blog about The Making A Historic Difference Campaign so you find out why we're so excited and, hopefully, get excited along with us.

Lew's mural

Ella Kostanzer was raised in Montgomery County and was teaching in Chicago when she visited Lew in his Study on January 1, 1900. She described a fresco painted inside the Study dome. An elaborate work of trompe l'oeil,
"The border around the skylight is handpainted, designed by the owner. It consists of implements of warfare in groups chained together. We see the shield, helmet, sword, bugle, breastplate, etc..." - Ella Kostanzer
Fast forward to 2011. Workers at the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum were in the midst of their Study Restoration Project designed to address structural deterioration and water damage inside the Study building. With the Study emptied of artifacts, it was an ideal time to have a paint analysis done.

After analysis by Matthew Mosca of Baltimore, we contacted Brian Fick and Mary Yeager of Acanthus Arts in Indianapolis. Thanks to their hard work, Lew's frescoes were partially uncovered.

That's great, but why are you asking for money?

Well, one of our goals here at the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum is to present the Study as close as possible to the way it looked when Lew used it. With very few exceptions, we have accomplished that. One of the exceptions, however, is the interior paint.

Except for the one corner of the interior paint uncovered by Acanthus Arts, the Study is decorated with paint put up in the 1990s. Not only is that historically inaccurate, but it's just not as dramatic as the paint decorations Lew had. We want to bring back the paint conservators and have them uncover all of the interior paint.

On top of that, we can't turn on the lights in the main room of the Study.

Lew had electricity in the building. Crawfordsville was one of the first cities in Indiana to be electrified. Lew was a wealthy man, and he spared no expense in creating this "pleasure house for [his] soul". The main room of his Study had almost 100 light bulbs in it. But the wiring in many places still dates back to the 1890s. No one wants to be responsible for burning down the Study, so we rely on natural light from the skylight. But we'd love to update the wiring so we can light the Study for evening events.

It'll be a lot of work, and it'll take a lot of money. The Jeffris Foundation of Wisconsin has generously awarded us a $100,000 grant, but we have to match that with $200,000 in funds we raise.

So this is where you come in.

We know you're a dedicated supporter of our museum and mission. After all, you read our blog, and you might even be a member of the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society. But right now we need a little bit more from you.

Yep, you guessed it, I'm about to ask you for money.

But we'll save that for next week. I want you to take some time to browse our website and Flickr account. Take a look at the pictures we have of Lew's amazing interior paint. Read the articles written for this blog in 2011 while the original paint analysis was being done. Then next week, when you're still on a sugar high from Halloween, come back to the blog and we'll talk about how much we've raised so far and how far we have yet to go.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

People Lew Knew: Robert C. Ingersoll

Why did Lew Wallace write Ben-Hur?

In 1876, Lew was on a train headed for a reunion of Union soldiers. Also on the train was Robert C. Ingersoll, a noted agnostic. During the trip, the two men began a conversation on the divinity of Christ and other religious issues. In his efforts to sway Lew with his views, Ingersoll’s arguments instead had an opposite effect.

When the men detrained in Indianapolis, Lew waved the waiting cab off, stating he needed to walk to clear his thoughts. As he walked to his hotel he realized he needed to create a powerful refutation of Ingersoll’s arguments, but that he was ill prepared to do so.

In the mid-1870s, Lew had drafted a short story about the three wise men and their journey guided by the Star of Bethlehem.  He ultimately decided expand this story, through exhaustive research, as a convincing argument supporting the divinity of Christ. This "redraft" of his short story became Ben-Hur.

That's the story we relate to visitors about how Lew wrote the best-selling novel of the 19th century. But a couple of weeks ago, some great visitors who stopped in while waiting on car repairs asked me what happened to Ingersoll, and I didn't know! I had to find out.

What about Ingersoll?

The son of a Presbyterian minister, Ingersoll was an attorney. He served in the Civil War with the 11th Illinois Cavalry Regiment. He fought and was captured at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. He became the Illinois Attorney General, was active in the Republican Party, was an abolitionist, supported women’s suffrage, was a noted orator, and a famed agnostic.

After their conversation, as Lew pursued his writing, Ingersoll also moved on. Later in 1876, Ingersoll nominated James G. Blaine for President at the Republican Convention in Cincinnati. Hayes. While Blaine lost to Rutherford B. Hayes, Ingersoll’s "Plumed Knight" nomination speech was electrifying and long remembered. Almost 50 years later in 1928, Franklin D. Roosevelt likely used that speech as a template for his "Happy Warrior" speech when he placed Alfred Smith’s name in nomination as the Democratic candidate for President.

In 1884, Ingersoll spoke at the Republican National convention in Chicago. On his trip home from the convention, Ingersoll passed through Crawfordsville. It’s not known whether Ingersoll and Lew crossed paths on this particular trip, but while in Crawfordsville, Ingersoll was encouraged to give an oration. Joanna Lane graciously offered the front porch of her home, Lane Place, for the event. The wife of Senator Henry S. Lane, Joanna was a committed Republican who did all she could to support the party. She was also a devout Methodist; sharing her lawn with the agnostic Ingersoll must have been a trial for her. The crowd was enormous and according to news accounts of the day, Mrs. Lane listened attentively.

Like Lew, Robert Ingersoll travelled in powerful circles. Walt Whitman considered Ingersoll the greatest orator of his time and stated: "It should not be surprising that I am drawn to Ingersoll, for he is Leaves of Grass... He lives, embodies, the individuality, I preach. I see in [him] the noblest specimen--American-flavored--pure out of the soil, spreading, giving, demanding light."  Ingersoll later delivered the eulogy at Whitman's funeral.

Ingersoll's Continuing Legacy

Ingersoll died in 1899 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. In 1902, a twelve volume set of his complete works was published. In the early 20th century he was referenced in works by authors such as William Faulkner, Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis, and P.G. Wodehouse.

More recently a popular edition of Ingersoll's work, edited by Pulitzer Prize winner Tim Page, was published in 2005, by Steerforth Press. Ingersoll's thinking is being brought to new audiences with, "What's God Got to Do With It: Robert Ingersoll on Free Speech, Honest Talk and the Separation of Church and State".

As Robert Ingersoll once said: "There are in nature neither rewards nor punishments, there are consequences." How interesting that one of the consequences of a conversation on a train in the 1870s questioning the divinity of Christ led to the creation of a work like Ben-Hur.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Review of Our Genealogy Lecture Series

We've been trying some new things out this year. One of those new things is live-tweeting our lectures. For those of you who aren't on Twitter, that may not mean anything, but it's a quick way of communicating little tidbits of information from our events to people who are unable to be here physically. Of course, if you're not on Twitter, you might feel like you're missing out on some of our services!

This is where another new thing comes in: We've collected those tweets using a service called Storify, so if you aren't familiar with Twitter, you can still read those tidbits easily. We've collected four of our genealogy lectures here for your enjoyment.

Jeannie Regan-Dinius kicked off our lecture series with a discussion of Indiana cemetery laws and how to preserve them and conduct genealogical research using cemetery records and tombstones.

1940 Census
Allison DePrey spoke about the 1940 Census, which was recently released to the public. She discussed what questions were asked, how to search the census records, and how to use the results for genealogy.

From Daguerreotype to Digital: Dating and Preserving Your Family Photos
Joan Hostetler of Heritage Photo and Research Services gave a great presentation on family photographs, and there was a great deal of audience participation as she helped people with their own collections.

Maria's Journey: Writing Your Family History
Ramon and Trisha Arredondo gave an entertaining and informative presentation on their own journey through researching and writing their book Maria's Journey, about Ray's mother.

We hope this proves to be a helpful service to you. Please let us know what you think!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

People Lew Knew: Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett

On May 30, 1881, Lew Wallace boarded a rail car on the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe to leave New Mexico Territory. Lew had calmed the Territory during his term in office from 1878 through 1881, and his tenure in office was considered successful. He accomplished much in addressing the critical issues of the Territory; however, his time out west was not wholly satisfying to him and not without controversy. Just a month before his departure, Lew wrote his wife, Susan, a long letter. In it he penned words that have resonated with governors of New Mexico ever since: “All calculations based on our experiences elsewhere fail in New Mexico.”

Although Lew left New Mexico and headed on to the publication of Ben-Hur and his service as U.S. Minister to the Ottoman Empire, he didn’t leave all of his New Mexico experiences behind him. While Lew was the Governor of the New Mexico Territory, Pat Garrett had been appointed Sheriff of Lincoln County by the Republican Party. Prior to that, Garrett had led a complicated life as a cowboy, buffalo hunter, and saloon operator. He was hot-tempered and had already killed a man. Within weeks of his appointment had already killed one of Billy the Kid’s gang members. Just days later, another gang member was killed and Garrett’s posse had captured the Kid.

A few months after his capture in April of 1881, Billy killed two prison guards and escaped. Lew had personally signed Billy's death warrant and ordered the posse that ultimately cornered the outlaw who had threatened to get Lew. This set up a massive man-hunt that was still in progress when Lew boarded his train to leave the Territory. In July of 1881, Pat Garrett shot Billy in a killing that remains controversial 130 years later.

Garrett’s term as Lincoln County Sheriff ended shortly after the killing. He ran for a number of political offices and lost each of them. As his career as a lawman foundered, Garrett moved back and forth between Texas and New Mexico throughout the 1880s and 1890s. With his rough persona and some of the whispers circulating about Billy's death, Garrett found it increasingly difficult to earn a living.

In December of 1901, the Crawfordsville Daily News-Review reported that thanks to Lew's intervention, Pat Garrett had been appointed collector of customs at El Paso, Texas. While Lew did accompany Garrett to the White House in support of the aging lawman, this newspaper report may have been giving Lew more credit than he deserved; Garrett had ingratiated himself with President Theodore Roosevelt, who made the appointment. 

As things turned out, Lew ultimately may have wished to distance himself from the former sheriff. Garrett served his five year term but was not reappointed. At a reception for Roosevelt’s beloved Rough Riders, Garrett showed up his friend, the notorious gambler Tom Powers. Among other things, Powers had been run out of his native Wisconsin after beating his own father into a coma. Photos of Garrett and Powers with the President opened Roosevelt to public criticism.

When his reappointment was denied, Garrett travelled to Washington to personally meet with Roosevelt. Instead of bringing someone with the reputation of Lew Wallace, as he had done in 1901, Garrett brought Tom Powers to the meeting! A plain-spoken man, Roosevelt made it clear to Garrett that he was not going to be reappointed. Although Lew Wallace and Pat Garrett shared a connection through their associations with Billy the Kid, these two men who brought law and order to the New Mexico Territory could not have been more different.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Follow Maria's Journey with Ramon and Trisha Arredondo

Book cover of Maria's Journey by Ramon and Trisha Arredondo
Everyone has a story to tell. Maybe someone in your family fought in World War II or marched with the Civil Rights Movement. Maybe one of your ancestors developed an important advancement in the medical or engineering fields. Maybe it's just a story about where you were the day you heard about JFK's assassination... the Challenger explosion... the World Trade Center collapse.

Whatever the story you have to tell, you'll want to join us this coming Thursday for our next genealogy lecture--Writing Your Family History!

Ramon and Trisha Arredondo of northern Indiana told an amazing story about their family when they wrote Maria's Journey, a true story about a fourteen-year-old Mexican girl named Maria, who entered into an arranged marriage to Miguel Arredondo. Maria, Miguel, and their young daughter immigrated to the United States in the 1920s and experienced the Great Depression, the Labor Movement, World War II, and other important eras in American history.

Join us Thursday, October 3 at 7 p.m. in the Carriage House for this fascinating discussion. Ray and Trisha will have copies of their book for sale and will be signing books while they are here.

This lecture is free and open to the public, but seating in the Carriage House is limited. Please RSVP so we can expect you by emailing study@ben-hur.com or calling us at 765-362-5769.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Smithsonian Museum Day Live!

Orange and yellow logo for Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live 2013
We are once again participating in the Smithsonian Magazine's annual Museum Day Live! Join us Saturday, September 28, and bring your pass to receive free admission for 2 people.

Visitors may gain free entry to the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum with a printed pass from Smithsonian Magazine. In order to receive your pass, you must sign visit the magazine's website, fill out some basic information, select what museum you want to visit, and print out your pass. This year, we are also experimenting with accepting the pass on the screen of your smartphone.

Two other museums in Crawfordsville are participating--the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County and the Rotary Jail Museum. Each pass is only good for one of those museums. The passes are limited to one per household, and are good for two people.

Last year we had great attendance for that day. This year we have a wedding on the grounds in the afternoon, so if you're planning to come, you might want to show up early in the day!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Come Play in the Dirt!

Mark your calendars for this autumn's History Beneath Us weekend. On September 22 & 23, archaeologists from the University of Indianapolis will be joining us to continue excavations on Lew's reflecting pool.
Anne Moore measures an archaeology site at General Lew Wallace Study & Museum
Anne Moore measures the dig site

Visitors will be able to observe archaeologists at work and learn about their methods. Anyone wishing to help with excavations is welcome to do so. Maybe you'll be the next person to find one of Old John's horseshoes. Or you might uncover pieces of window glass, a marble, or even animal bones!

Dr. Chris Moore of the University of Indianapolis and Anne Moore, along with U of I students, will be performing field work here at the Study most of the day Saturday and Sunday. We open at 10, and the archaeologists usually go to lunch sometime around noon. Then they'll be back in the afternoon until 4. Sunday's dig will have the same hours. This event goes on rain or shine, so come prepared for the weather!

This is a great time for scouts to work on badges. We've had several Boy Scout troops come on past weekends. This is also a great family activity. We'll have a kid's area set up where younger children can learn about archaeology while making "discoveries" of various (planted) items.

For more information about History Beneath Us, email us at study@ben-hur.com or call 765-362-5769.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

From Daguerreotype to Digital: Dating and Preserving Family Photographs

Lew & Susan Wallace Descendants pose for a family photo.
Come to the Carriage House for a closer look!
Is your family photo album neatly organized with all the names, dates, and locations written on the back? Even more organized, is it in archival scrapbooks with appropriate labels in chronological order? Or is it more like mine--a few haphazard scrapbooks and albums with photos that may or may not be labelled, with the extra photos shoved in boxes that aren't organized by...much of any criteria?

Whatever the answer, you may be interested in popping in for our upcoming genealogy lecture. If you're uber-organized, you can sit there and feel smug. If you're like the rest of us, you can learn how best to preserve your family photographs. And if your photos are unlabeled, you can learn how to be a photographic detective and figure out a little bit more about those unlabeled, undated, unidentified photos!

Join us September 12 at 7 p.m. at the Carriage House for this free lecture. Joan Hostetler of Heritage Photo and Research Services will discuss photographic processes and formats from the 1840s to the present. She will share clues for dating photos and techniques for preserving them. Bring your own family photos to learn more about them!

The lecture is free, but we do like to have a head-count beforehand, as space is limited. Please RSVP by emailing us at study@ben-hur.com or calling us at 765-362-5769.

If you're unable to join us that night, you can always follow us on Twitter, where we livetweet tidbits from the lecture with the hashtag #genealogy.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fall Events at the Study

Happy September! We have a busy fall planned. We'll blog about all of these events in more detail later, but for now, here's a quick overview of important dates at the Study in September and October. Visit our website for a printable PDF version of this schedule.

Jeanne Regan-Dinius speaks to a crowd at the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum Carriage House Interpretive Center

Sept 12 - 7 p.m. - "From Daguerreotype to Digital: Dating and Preserving Family Photographs" Genealogy Lecture - FREE at the Carriage House

Joan Hostetler of Heritage Photo and Research Services will discuss photographic processes and formats from the 1840s to the present, as well as clues for dating photos and techniques for preserving them. Bring your own family photos to learn more about them. Please RSVP.

Sept 21-22 - 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. - History Beneath Us Archaeology - FREE on the Study grounds

Assist archaeologists from the University of Indianapolis as they continue excavations on Lew Wallace's reflecting pool. Join in the fun by digging and sifting for artifacts. Great for the family or scout troop!

Sept 29 - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Smithsonian Museum Day Live - FREE with Smithsonian pass

Free admission to the Study with printed pass from Smithsonian Magazine. See the Smithsonian Magazine website for more information.

Oct 3 - 7 p.m. - "Writing Your Family History" Genealogy Lecture - FREE at the Carriage House

Ramon and Trisha Arredondo will speak about the process of writing their book Maria's Journey, a family story about immigration, the rise of the unions, the Great Depression, World War II, and more. Please RSVP.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Everyone Take a Deep Breath!

Now release it. Ahhhhhhhh!

The 7th Annual TASTE of Montgomery County is over, and we couldn't be more pleased by how everything came off. As many of you know, the TASTE is our biggest fundraiser of the year, providing funds for programming and exhibits. We also rely on the TASTE to raise awareness in the community about our museum and mission.

Celebrity TASTE Judges Lauren Lowry, Blake Lewis, Brandy Allen, Elizabeth RentschlerWe had around 2100 people attend the TASTE this year. (Our musical performances contributed significantly to that number, since the Big Swing Band is so...well, big!) We had visitors from eleven counties inside Indiana, including quite a few from Marion and Tippecanoe, and 6 other states, including Texas, Utah, and South Carolina.

We had all kinds of great food, from American to Mexican to Greek, and lots of coffee and tea beverages, as well as more adult offerings like strawberry daiquiris, Lift Off IPA from Daredevil Brewing Company, and Coal Creek Winery wines.

Every year we do two sets of awards: Judges' Choice and People's Choice. This year our celebrity judges included Lauren Lowry from Indy's Channel 8 and her husband Blake Lewis, Crawfordsville Planning Director Brandy Allen, and Elizabeth Rentschler from Lafayette's NewsChannel 18.

Taste of Montgomery County booth decorated by Bon Appetite as half princess and half pirate decor
Judges Choice
Best Entree - El Charro Taqueria
Best Dessert - Big Dipper
Best Booth Presentation - Bon Appetite

People's Choice
Best Entree - Juniper Spoon
Best Booth Presentation - Bon Appetite

Local musicians KSW@G were a great hit in our 1 - 3 p.m. slot. They were followed by the crowd-pleasing Big Swing Band from Lafayette from 4:30 - 6:30. Our evening act was The Michael Kelsey Group, featuring guest harmonica player L.D. Miller, and they brought down the house from 8-10.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this year's TASTE of Montgomery County a great success!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

TASTE 2013 Music

Can you believe it's August already? Where has the summer gone? The TASTE of Montgomery County is nearly here--and we have some fantastic music offerings this year!

Our opening act is a local favorite. KSW@G, featuring Stephanie Pool, Ken Lee, Wayne Lehr, and Chris "Gooch" Andel, will be performing from 1-3 p.m. With an act that includes hits from the 1950s to the present, they'll be sure to get your toes tapping.

A popular local act makes a return for the 4:30-6:30 p.m. time slot. The Big Swing Band from Lafayette will bring us swing and big band music, featuring vocalist Gail Biss. Bring your best dancing shoes and polish up your Lindy Hop and Jitterbug, because you'll want to get out and cut a rug!
The Big Swing Band performed at the 2009 TASTE of Montgomery County and were a real hit, so you won't want to miss it.

Playing from 8-10 p.m., our evening act is The Michael Kelsey Group out of Indianapolis. Michael Kelsey is a Lafayette native who has toured nationally with Blind Melon and Dishwalla and has opened for such acts as 38 Special and the Doobie Brothers. Though his main instrument is the guitar, Kelsey often reaches out to find improvisational instruments around him. As he experiments with sound and rhythm, his acoustic rock shows are always one of a kind. Check out his music and past performances at his website.

As hard as it is to believe, the TASTE is just over three weeks away. Don't miss your chance to enjoy an afternoon and evening of great music and delicious food. Advance tickets are already on sale at the Carriage House, Milligan's, and the Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Advance tickets are $4 for adults and $2 for students. Stop in and pick them up this week!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Moat Garden Magic

Grounds Manager Deb King has been hard at work on recreating Lew's Moat Garden. After filling in the moat, he had a round garden, and we're lucky enough to have pictures of it. Take a look at the original and all the progress Deb has made this year!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Visitor Questions Answered

Sorry about the lack of posts here lately. We've had a slight time management problem...but it's a good kind! We've had so many visitors it's been hard to get blog posts written!

I'm going to do a quick round-up of a few visitor questions that I've had over the past several weeks. I wasn't able to answer the questions definitely at the time, so I told people to check our blog and I would post when I found out.

Where did Lew and Susan meet?

They met at a party at Susan's sister and brother-in-law's home, Lane Place. Of course, Lew had already had encounters with Susan's family--when he was a boy, he sneaked into the Elston homestead hoping for a glimpse of their piano!

Is that Lew's sink?

It is! We think he had the sink so accessible so he could clean his paintbrushes. (No, that isn't Lew's fire extinguisher.)

Is that a water pipe?

Yes! That is an oriental narghile, or water pipe, that Lew brought home from Constantinopole.  It's made of clear, blue glass with floral designs painted on it and a terra cotta top piece. The flowers appear to be burgundy hibiscus, yellow roses, and bittersweet. On one flower petal is the sultan's tughra in a circle, on the next flower petal is a gold oval with:  "B. Fucmez - Constantinople" around some Turkish writing.  Under this is a small circle with what may be "LEW" in it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ben-Hur Around the World

The Wallace name has spread far and wide and with it the name Ben-Hur. Schools, taverns, and businesses of all sorts have traded on the marketing juggernaut that was Ben-Hur in the late 19th century.  There are a handful of places around the world that also took these names in tribute and likely in hopes of trading on the famous names.

The small community of Wallace, Indiana, is located in southeast Fountain County. Established in the early 1830s, the village had a blacksmith, cabinet maker, general stores, shoemaker and two doctors. When the community received its first post office, local leaders named it after Lew's father, Governor David Wallace. In 1951, there were eight students in the high school graduating class and Wallace could boast about the same number of firms that had been in business in 1880. As of the 2010 census, there were 105 people spread among 52 households in Wallace. 

It is interesting, given Lew Wallace’s lack of enthusiasm for traditional learning, that at least two schools in Indiana adopted his name. Lew Wallace High School in Gary, Indiana, has had an impressive history and continues to have an active alumni association. In Indianapolis, elementary school P.S. #107 is also named for Lew Wallace. At least one school in Albuquerque has also been named in honor of Lew Wallace, and New Mexico also has a Lew Wallace building as part of their State government complex. 

The name Ben-Hur saw greater utilization by people looking to identify their communities. Ben-Hur, California is an unincorporated community in Mariposa County. Again, a rural post office led to the naming of the community in the 1890s. The post office was closed in the 1950s, but the Ben-Hur name continues to be associated with the tiny settlement that remains. Ben-Hur in Lee County of western Virginia is another unincorporated settlement.

Yet another of the Ben-Hur communities is an unincorporated area in Limestone County, Texas. This town near Waco was originally named Cottonwood, but by 1895, there were three other communities in Texas named Cottonwood. The local residents decided to rename the town. At that time Ben-Hur, Texas, had a population of about 100. By World War II it had a thriving population of over 200, but today there are fewer than 100 people and a couple of closed businesses in Ben-Hur, Texas. 

Perhaps the most exotic of the Ben-Hur communities is a small settlement in the Kalahari Constituency of the Omaheke Region of Namibia on the border between Namibia and Botswana. Just how or why Ben-Hur was used to identify this settlement is not known.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Take a Walk in the Garden with Deb King

Grounds Manager Deb King invites you to visit us Sunday, July 14 at 6 p.m. for a Garden Tour.

Learn about her ongoing re-creation of the Moat Garden, the Montgomery County Community Foundation Going Green Grant she was awarded, and how she chooses what plants to grow here.

Discover plants such as ligularia, moonflower, celosia, and more. Come armed with questions. For a preview, check out Deb's 2013 Bloom Report and 2012 Bloom Report on our Facebook page.

Admission is $5. Some potted plants will be available in exchange for a donation to the garden fund.

Please RSVP or call 765-362-5769 to reserve a spot.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

Lew Wallace in the Movies

The name of Lew Wallace is widely remembered for the wildly successful movie interpretations of his masterwork Ben-Hur in 1925 and 1959. These were not the only times that the General’s name (and even the General) showed up in Hollywood movies. In 1914, Wallace’s book, The Prince of India, was adapted as a silent movie. This forty-four minute film moved along at a rapid pace and bore little resemblance to Wallace’s book. Starring Thurlow Bergen and William Riley Hatch, the plot involved a devil-may-care newspaper reporter, a stolen gem, a fun-loving Indian prince, a temptress, and a climatic scene with a run away trolley car. Lew Wallace would not have been pleased with the artistic license taken in the filming of this movie. 

The General himself has been represented in several productions. These include Land Beyond the Law (1937) which starred Dick Foran, a matinee idol of "B" movies and one of the movie industry’s most successful singing cowboys. Foran played wild and woolly Chip Douglas, who becomes a lawman after his father is killed in the New Mexico territory; through his efforts he helps avoid a range war. Although uncredited in the movie, Governor Lew Wallace is portrayed by Joe King. King was a talented character actor, director and writer. Working steadily from 1912 until 1946, he was in such significant movies as: They Died With Their Boots On, Sergeant York, Destry Rides Again, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Cain & Mable, and Anthony Adverse.

In 1955, director Mervyn LeRoy brought Wallace to life in Greer Garson’s, Strange Lady In Town. In this movie, which co-starred Dana Andrews and Cameron Mitchell, Garson sets a western town on edge when she arrives and begins her own medical practice. Her first patient in Santa Fe has a toothache and is brought in by Billy the Kid. After all sorts of intrigue, Garson’s character attends the Governor’s ball where she meets Governor Lew Wallace who happens to mention two things. First, that he is working on a novel called Ben-Hur, and second, that he has a chronic heart condition. The ever helpful lady doctor suggests that perhaps his collar is too tight. This “miracle cure” for a heart condition actually contradicts what the town’s male doctor has told the Governor and more intrigue follows until (spoiler alert) the lady doctor and the gentleman doctor ride off together in his buckboard at the end of the movie.

The actor who portrayed Lew Wallace was Ralph Moody, a big, burly man who looked nothing like the real Lew Wallace. Moody often played gruff old men or Native Americans. He had an extraordinary career as a working actor from 1948 to his death in 1971 with well over 100 appearances in both movies and on TV. He was, in fact, one of Jack Webb’s favorite actors and appeared frequently in Dragnet.

Strange Lady in Town also introduced audiences to Susan Wallace in one of her rare portrayals on screen. Mrs. Wallace was portrayed by Louise Lorimer. Like Ralph Moody, Ms. Lorimer was a talented actress who worked steadily from 1934 until her retirement at age 87 in1985. She played alongside some of Hollywood’s leading lights in both the movies and on TV. Among the more significant movies she worked in were: Gentleman’s Agreement, Sorry Wrong Number, The Snake Pit, Sorrowful Jones, The Heiress, The Young Philadelphians, and Marnie. Her appearance as Mrs. Wallace was only slightly closer to reality than Ralph Moody’s presentation of Lew Wallace.

More recently Wallace has been portrayed (often more accurately) in documentaries and videos, including a 2006 film called: No Retreat from Destiny: The Battle That Rescued Washington. This production tells the story of the Battle of Monacacy. On the History and Discovery Channels, documentaries on Billy the Kid often discuss Wallace’s governorship using period photos and an occasional actor portraying Wallace.

Beyond the feature movies, Wallace’s Ben-Hur also appeared in books and movies as part of the plot. In Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, the famed private eye, Philip Marlowe, enters a book store that he believes is a front for evil doings. In an effort to trap the seductive woman running the store, Marlowe asks: "Would you happen to have a Ben Hur 1860?" She asks: "A first edition?" to which Marlowe replies "Third. The one with the erratum on page 116." The lady obviously doesn't know her Ben-Hur (since it was published in 1880 and there is no edition with an erratum on page 116) and, therefore, isn't the store owner. In Anne of Green Gables, Anne is caught reading Ben-Hur at school when she is supposed to be studying another subject.

For over 130 years Ben-Hur and Lew Wallace have been part of popular American culture. The impact of Wallace’s book is demonstrated in the many ways it and its author have been incorporated in other creative endeavors over the past century. Keep your eyes open and ears tuned, as you never know when Lew Wallace or Ben-Hur will show up to move a plot along.  

Sources: Marie Stocks for finding blog comments on the Slate article regarding Wallace in the movies and Kyle Gobel for watching The Big Sleep. Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

Friday, June 28, 2013

People Lew Knew: Mahlon D. Manson, Crawfordsville General

On April 22, 1861, Oliver P. Morton, Governor of the State of Indiana and Commander in Chief of the Militia signed the enrollment paper for Mahlon D. Manson as Captain of the Crawfordsville Guards. This enrollment was countersigned by Lew Wallace. Before, during and after the Civil War, the lives of Mahlon Manson and Lew Wallace intersected many times.

Manson was born in Piqua, Ohio, about 1820. His father died when Manson was three years old. As a young man, he became a clerk in a druggist store and continued to pursue that profession. In 1842, he moved to Montgomery County, Indiana, where he taught school and pursued a medical degree by attending classes at the Ohio Medical School in Cincinnati and by taking a course or two in New Orleans. Although he pursued a medical degree, it appears he never practiced medicine and instead continued his career as a druggist.

Like Lew Wallace, when the Mexican War broke out Manson volunteered for service. Unlike Wallace, Manson saw significant action in General Winfield Scott’s campaign from Vera Cruz to Mexico City. After the War, Manson returned to Montgomery County and resumed his career as a druggist. Again like Wallace, he became heavily involved in the Democratic Party and in 1851 was elected to the State House of Representatives. In 1856, he was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention that nominated James Buchanan and John Breckinridge. He continued his support of the Democratic Party in 1860 when he supported Stephen A. Douglas for President.

When War broke out in 1861, he took an active part in raising the first company in Montgomery County under Lew Wallace.  Company G of the 10th Indiana selected Manson as Captain. He was quickly promoted to Major and just ten days later to Colonel. In June 1861, he participated in the Battle of Rich Mountain in (West) Virginia and in January of 1862 he was involved in the Battle of Mill Spring (Kentucky). His troops then removed to Louisville, Kentucky, and for much of the spring and early summer he remained in the area, receiving a promotion to Brigadier General.

In 19th century biographies that praised Brigadier General Mahlon Manson, some authors skipped over aspects of his military career. One battle that some early biographers minimized was the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky. Kentucky was a border state during the War and Indiana Governor Morton was deeply concerned about the possibility of losing Kentucky to the Confederates. In the summer of 1862, rumors began circulating about a large Confederate army massing near Knoxville and Chattanooga. By late August, Morton had rushed almost 15,000 men into Kentucky with another 5,000 on the way. General Don Carlos Buell, who had served at the Battle of Shiloh with Lew Wallace, was in charge of the district that included central Kentucky and sent Major General William Nelson along with Brigadier Generals Mahlon Manson and Charles Cruft to take command of the Union troops that were massing in Kentucky. Unfortunately, Buell didn’t send any significant troop support as he believed this Confederate threat was a ruse and that their true aim was to regain parts of Tennessee lost after Shiloh.

On August 29, the Confederate cavalry moving north in Kentucky encountered Union troops. Manson was in charge of the Union army in the area of Richmond. On August 30, after some early Union success, the Confederates began to take control of the field of battle. Out of a force of approximately 6,500 Union men, 206 were killed, 844 were wounded and 4,303 were taken prisoner. In contrast the Confederates saw 78 men killed, 372 wounded, and 1 missing. As some historians have reported, the Battle of Richmond was the closest thing to a battle of annihilation in the entire war. Manson was one of the Union men wounded (in the thigh) and captured. He was exchanged in a prisoner swap two months later. The few Union troops left after the battle fled to Louisville leaving much of central Kentucky and Cincinnati open and vulnerable—enter Lew Wallace.

Some of Manson's items on display at Richmond, KY
Photo by Stephanie Cain
With the catastrophic Union defeat the Confederate army was poised within about eighty miles of both Louisville and Cincinnati. Wallace, who was in the area, was asked to take command of the troops in Cincinnati and prepare the basically defenseless city for a likely Confederate attack. Wallace’s extraordinary organizational skills and military acumen served him well and within about ten days, he had transformed the defensive perimeter around Cincinnati as well as Newport and Covington, Kentucky. After a brief skirmish with the troops of Confederate General Henry Heth, on September 11, Wallace awoke on the 12th to the news that that the Confederates had withdrawn and Cincinnati had been saved from invasion.

In spite of his stunning defeat at Richmond, Manson’s military career was not over and he continued to serve as a Union leader. In May of 1864, he was involved in the Battle at Resaca (part of the Atlanta campaign) where he was again wounded. In an effort to demonstrate to General Haskell how he might best avoid enemy fire, Manson jumped up on the defensive works and was struck by a piece of shell that injured his right shoulder, forever disabling his arm. He was carried from the field, returned to duty a few days later and then had to be taken to Nashville where he was hospitalized for almost three months. Realizing that he would not be able to be fully effective, he resigned his commission in December of 1864.

The lives of Manson and Wallace would continue to influence one another. As a result of the Battle of Richmond, the Buell Commission was formed to inquire into Major General Don Carolos Buell’s performance with respect to the invasion of Kentucky. Buell was Manson’s superior who placed Manson in command, but failed to send significant troop support. Wallace was appointed chair of this commission which effectively removed Wallace from battle command for the balance of 1862 and much of 1863.

After the war, Manson continued his active involvement in the Democratic Party. In 1864, he was nominated for Lt. Governor, but lost. In 1866, he was nominated for Secretary of State, but lost. Then in 1868, he was nominated for as Representative of the 9th District in Congress—and again, lost. In 1870, he was nominated as Representative a second time, and he won—defeating Lew Wallace!

At this time, Manson also served on the Committee on Invalid Pensions. In 1873, he became a member of the State Democratic Committee, became its chairman in 1875 and was in an official capacity lobbying on behalf of Democratic interests in the controversial election of 1876 where Wallace represented Republican interests. In 1876, he was elected State Auditor and in 1884 elected Lt. Governor. He resigned his post as Lt. Governor to accept a post as a Collector of the Internal Revenue Service in Terre Haute.

Beyond their political intersections, Manson and Wallace would have crossed paths in other ways. The Mansons and Wallaces were both members of the Methodist Church in Crawfordsville, both men were members of the Grand Army of the Republic and the local Masonic Lodge, both were involved with the building of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Indianapolis and finally, both were laid to rest in Oak Hill Cemetery.

The parallels in the lives of Manson and Wallace, two of Crawfordsville’s five Civil War generals, are striking. Even the closing comments of one 19th century Manson biographer would equally describe Wallace.
"An eloquent orator, he commands the attention, convinces the reason, arouses the enthusiasm and awakens the zeal of his hearers. A brave and gallant soldier, a prudent and conscientious statesman, a public spirited citizen, a faithful friend, an honest man in business, and a true man in all the relations of life, it is not surprising that he holds a high position in the esteem and affection of the people of the State. He rose from poverty to justly deserved eminence and the bright light which beats upon his life discovers no flaw in his character. Not by accident or aid of others, but by earnest toil, constant perseverance, through smoke and blood of battle, he has attained success in life, military glory, political and social popularity and the love and honor of his fellow-citizens. Such men as he make all men their debtors."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Haunted Basements and the Mexican War

To put it politely, Lew Wallace was what today would be called an alternative learner. In his day, many in Indianapolis referred to Lew, the governor’s son, as rascal and worse. As a youth running around the capital city, Lew and his friends found their way into the basement of the Governor’s house that stood in the middle of the circle downtown where the Soldiers and Sailors Monument was to be built decades latter. For different reasons, this house was never occupied by any governors, but was used instead by others. One of the occupants was Judge Isaac Blackford who lived in and worked out of the old mansion. Many of the other local attorneys and judges began to use this house as an informal place to meet and socialize.

The basement of the house was a vast, unlighted cellar filled with boxes, barrels, and as Lew wrote in his autobiography, “. . . debris of such varied ins and outs as to be dangerous, if not quite impassable, to the unfamiliar.” The basement was also supposed to be haunted by a workman who, on good authority, was reportedly buried in deep, dark, dank cellar.

Lew and a few of his cohorts found this basement and its intrigue impossible to pass up and used the lower area of the house as a meeting and rendezvous spot much as the lawyers did upstairs. Boys being boys, they decided it would be fun to take long poles and begin punching the underside of the floors just as the attorneys were engaging in their debates and discussions. The more the men yelled and stomped their feet, the louder the boys would hit the underside of the floor. The rascals could easily hear when the men had had enough and were headed to the basement to apprehend the criminals so like rats, the boys scattered into the dark recesses of the cellar to preselected hiding places.

After a couple of these episodes, the men turned the tables and had the local sheriff of the court and several bailiffs lie in wait for the boys. At the first thump, the cellar doors were seized shut and with lanterns each boy was fished out by his shirt collar. As Wallace wrote: “With an inconceivable hardness of heart, the myrmidons took us up-stairs and before the judges. There I made the acquaintance of Isaac Blackford . . .” Lew continued his wayward existence and eventually struck out on his own when his father had had enough of his poor behavior and poor scholarship. During this time, young Wallace did undertake the study of law, but also grew increasingly interested in the turmoil in Texas and discovered that he had a gift for public speaking when he began recruiting men to fight in the Mexican War.

A few years after his escapade in the basement, imagine his dismay when he and others interested in pursuing a legal career appeared in court to take the bar examination. “We advanced and stood in a body outside the railing. As we did so, I observed the clear, gray eyes of his honor, Isaac Blackford, rest on me with a look so sharp and cold it shot me full of rigors. He had waited a long time for what the baseballists would call his innings. At last it was come. Would he make a worm of me and thread me on his hook?”

The good judge did not make a worm of Lew and thread him on a hook. The judge made no speech, but rather gave the young men their instructions and sent them with a bailiff off to a room to take the exam. The exam took hours and hours to complete and at the end of the ordeal, Lew was not particularly satisfied with his answers. As he recorded in his autobiography, at the bottom of the last page he wrote a note, “. . . the flippancy of which makes my face burn as I now write:
‘Hon. Isaac Blackford, Examining Judge:  Dear Sir,--I hope the foregoing answers will be to your satisfaction more than they are to mine; whether they are or not, I shall go to Mexico.  Respectfully, Lew Wallace.”
Two or three days after completing the examination, Wallace received a letter from the post office:  “Supreme Court-Room, Indianapolis.  Mr. Lew Wallace:  Dear Sir—The Court interposes no objection to you going to Mexico.  Respectfully, Isaac Blackford.”

As Wallace noted in his memoirs, the communication was not attached to a license to practice law. It took service in the Mexican War and the love of a good woman named Susan to bring Lew successfully back to his law studies in the early 1850s.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Learning about the 1940 Census

Our Genealogy Lecture series continued last night with a fun and informative talk from Allison DePrey about the 1940 Census.
Allison DePrey from IHS
talks about the 1940 Census

Allison DePrey is Assistant Coordinator for Education and Community Engagement at the Indiana Historical Society. She went over some interesting facts about the 1940 Census and discussed how to read the forms and maximize your research and understanding of the census.

The 1940 Census records were just released last year. Census records are held for 72 years before being released publicly, and they are an invaluable tool for genealogy researchers. The 1940 Census had some new features that previous census questionnaires didn't have, and the method used to take the census was new in 1940.

Here are a few tidbits we learned last night:

  • Section 14 covered highest grade completed in education for the first time on a census.
  • 16 supplemental questions were asked of only 5% of the population--place of birth, earliest language spoken, etc.
  • People probably didn't admit on the 1940 Census that they spoke German at home thanks to anti-German sentiment from WWI.
  • The supplemental questions asked for information about Social Security for the first time.
  • Before 1940 no record was made of who provided the information--it could have been a neighbor or milkman!
  • There were questions about place of residence in 1935, which reflected the impact of the Great Depression. About 14% of the population had migrated within the United States.

If you want to do genealogy research, start with the free official 1940 Census website. Other sources include Archives.com, FamilySearch.org, and Brightsolid. Ancestry.com also provides access to the 1940 Census.

Three additional Genealogy Lectures are planned throughout 2013.  Topics include Wallace family history (July 25), how to date and preserve your family photographs (September 12), and how to write your family history (October 3).  This lecture series is made possible through a grant from the Indiana Humanities Council in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Author Gail Stephens Stops In at Study

Lew Wallace scholar and author Gail Stephens made a brief stop at the Study Friday while traveling west. Gail serves on the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society Board of Trustees and wrote Shadow of Shiloh, winner of the 2011 William Henry Seward Award for Excellence in Civil War Biography. A volunteer at Monocacy National Battlefield, Gail has given talks here in the past about the Battle of Shiloh and the complex misunderstandings that occurred there.

While Gail was here, she graciously agreed to sign our stock of her book. If you come in soon, you can purchase an autographed copy of Shadow of Shiloh for only $27.95--but do it soon! Supplies are limited, and we aren't expecting to see Gail again until early 2014.


Friday, June 14, 2013

The Flag of the Nighthawk Rangers

Today is Flag Day--the anniversary of the day in 1777 that the Second Continental Congress adopted the United States Flag. It is also celebrated as the birthday of the United States Army, though according to Wikipedia, the Army is actually two years older than the flag.

Rather than talking about the US Flag, today I'm going to talk about a Confederate flag--one particular Confederate flag. This is the flag carried by Company F of the 17th Virginia Cavalry and captured by Union Colonel Clendenin at the Battle of Monocacy.

Company F was formed in September of 1862 in counties that now belong to West Virginia. Though West Virginia became a Union state, the members of Company F were dedicated Rebels. According to the West Virginia Reenactors Association website, many members of Company F even neglected to take the oath of allegiance administered to Confederates after the end of the war.

Lew Wallace acquired this flag after the Battle of Monocacy as a gift from a subordinate officer of his, Colonel Clendenin. In his autobiography, Lew gives a detailed account of how the flag came to be in his possession: 
One Confederate officer sat his horse in the middle of the street. He was the first to see the coming storm [of the Battle of Monocacy]. A bugle at his signal sounded the assembly, and snatching a flag from a man near by, the officer waved it shouting lustily. The rush to the banner was general, but formation was impossible. There was not time. Into the paralyzed mob the Federals burst, knocking out riders and men afoot, overturning horse, yelling like mad, and cleaving with vengeful fury. [Union Colonel] Clendenin spurred towards the gallant fellow with the flag. A pistol-ball outflew [sic] him. His opponent reeled in the saddle, and the flag-staff in his dying hand fell forward, its point lodging in the flank of a horse. A moment after he mustered his length in the dust; in another moment Clendenin, regardless of the press, dismounted and secured the trophy.
...A few days after the battle Colonel Clendenin brought the flag to me. I declined it, saying he had won it in combat against odds, and that he must keep it. He persisted, on the ground that as I had made the fight in the first instance, the trophies belonged to me of right, and that I must take and keep it as a lasting souvenir from him.
Lew brought the flag home and hung it in his Study, where he described it as an flash of electric crimson that caught the eye. Unfortunately, the flag's fabric deteriorated over time. The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum loaned the flag to Monocacy National Battlefield for restoration before their 140th anniversary. It is now on display at the Visitor Center.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lew Wallace and the "Hung in Black" Speech

One of our Facebook friends recently asked us about Lew's speech given in Philadelphia after Lincoln's famous "Hung in Black" speech. This blog post is adapted from our research and response.

On June 7 and 8, 1864, the Republican National Convention met in Baltimore and nominated Abraham Lincoln to a second term in the White House. Earlier that year, Lew Wallace had been appointed Commander of the 8th Army Corps in Baltimore by Lincoln. Lew had already successfully supported an election in Maryland that assured that the state would remain in the Union. Holding the Convention in Baltimore furthered the Union cause.

On June 16, the President traveled from Washington to Philadelphia for the Philadelphia Fair, which was being held as a benefit to the Sanitary Commission. The Sanitary Commission was a private relief agency established by federal legislation to support sick and wounded Union soldiers. Upon his arrival the President was greeted by local dignitaries and great applause by people lining Chestnut Street.

Buildings of the Great Central Fair
Seeing the exceptional response, the Executive Committee of the Fair raised the price of admission to $1 during the time the President was to be there. President Lincoln, Mrs. Lincoln, and one of their sons arrived at the Fair at 4:30. The crowd swelled to over 15,000 people as people strained to get a glimpse of Lincoln.

Late in the day, Lincoln returned to his hotel for the formal dinner. Joining him at his table were the Honorable Edward Everett (who had been the featured speaker at the Gettysburg Dedication in 1863), former Governor Cannon of Delaware, the Mayor of Philadelphia, several local dignitaries, and General Lew Wallace. The evening began with a toast to the health of the President by Thomas Webster, to which Lincoln responded. In acknowledging the toast he noted the work of the Sanitary Commission with comments that came to be known as his "Hung in Black" speech. Lincoln said:
Mathew Brady [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

I suppose that this toast is intended to open the way for me to say something. War at the best is terrible, and this of ours, in its magnitude and duration, is one of the most terrible the world has ever known. It has deranged business totally in many places, and perhaps in all. It has destroyed property, destroyed life, and ruined homes. It has produced a national debt and a degree of taxation unprecedented in the history of this country. It has caused mourning among us until the Heavens may almost be said to be hung in black....
After noting the important work of the Sanitary and Christian Commissions, Lincoln went on to say, "When is this war to end? I do not wish to name a day when it will end, lest the end should not come at the given time. We accepted this war, and did not begin it. We accepted it for an object, and when that object is accomplished the war will end; and I hope to God it will never end until that object is accomplished." 

These comments by Lincoln were powerful words at a difficult time. Although Lincoln had been re-nominated by his party, his re-election in the fall was by no means assured. The North was still reeling the devastating Battle of the Wilderness in May. After the Wilderness came Cold Harbor, where more than 9,000 men were killed in one hour. In the six weeks before this speech, General Grant’s army had seen 52,000 casualties; people as close to the President as Mrs. Lincoln were demanding Grant's removal. Lincoln stood firm: "I can’t spare him. He fights!" As losses mounted and morale in the North teetered, Lincoln also faced the popular George McClellan, who was running for President as a Democrat, and urging a negotiated settlement with the South to end the war. 

After Lincoln concluded his comments, the next toast was directed to General Wallace. Lew made a brief speech intended to support Lincoln’s stance by declaring that General Grant was the right man in the right place. Lew said his mind was free from all doubt that Grant would capture the rebel capital and capture Lee’s forces. 

After Wallace’s comments, Edward Everett was toasted. In contrast to his long speech at Gettysburg, Everett kept his comments brief, saying in part: "After such an address from the man who has borne upon his shoulder the cares and burdens of this struggle, what can I acceptably say?"

After a few additional comments and presentations, the evening wound down. Lincoln made a more visits around town that night but declined invitations to speak. The next day, Lincoln and his party, which included Wallace, returned to the White House, where additional battles and losses would occupy the President’s days. One of these would be the Battle of Monocacy Junction just three weeks later, where Lew Wallace delayed Jubal Early as the Confederate General advanced on Washington, D.C.