Tuesday, January 29, 2013

6 Questions with Board Treasurer Dale Petrie

Welcome to a new series here on the blog. With the start of a new year, the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society has four new board members, as well as several returning board members. Over the next several weeks, we will introduce blog readers to board members, both new and returning.

Our first Q&A is with Dale Petrie. He has been on the LWSPS board for 8 years and currently serves as treasurer. Dale is a 1975 graduate of Wabash College with a degree in Economics. He works at Sommer Metalcraft. Dale and Linda, his wife of 37 years, are the parents of two, Erin and Daniel.

Tell us something funny or interesting (or embarrassing, if you're brave!) about yourself.

One day I hope to read Ben-Hur.

How did your involvement with the Lew Wallace Study begin?

Appointed by the Park Board as its representative.

Why do you think the preservation of the Lew Wallace Study is important?

It's important to maintain historically important structures.

What is your favorite thing about Lew Wallace?

The variety of his skills and interests.

What is one thing you would like our blog readers and Facebook friends to know?

That Lew was a real person who walked the same streets as many of us do everyday, interacted with his neighbors, drank coffee downtown, and yet was a world renowned figure.

Our thanks to Dale for his dedicated service on the LWSPS board!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Henry Lane Wallace & His Interest in Architecture

In families certain attributes and interests often pass down through the generations. In the Wallace family a number of traits surfaced time and again including an interest in architecture. Lew is widely credited with the design and construction of his personal Study in the 1890s. What is less remembered is that his son, Henry, had a strong interest in architecture and contributed significantly a number of projects. In the 1890s, Henry worked closely with John G. Thurtle the architect who designed the Blancherne, the Wallace apartment building in Indianapolis. Henry oversaw the initial construction of the building for his father as well as the construction of a large addition and was the manager of the building for over 20 years.

Blacherne Building ca. 1915
Closer to home Henry played a critical role in saving two of Crawfordsville’s landmarks and making architectural changes that affected their presentation. After his parents’ deaths in the first decade of the 20th century, Henry inherited the family home on Wabash Avenue, the Study and its grounds. As Crawfordsville grew in the early 20th century, one of the impacts of this growth was increased interurban and rail service on the rail line adjacent to the Study grounds. In addition, Elston Avenue and Plum (Wallace Avenue) Street were developed. In 1909, in an effort to better separate the Study property from these changes, Henry contracted with the Poston Brick Company and Swan & Sons to build the brick walls on the north and west sides of the property. A couple of years later Henry contracted with John H. Warner to build the wall along the east edge of the property.
Brick wall added by Henry in 1909 seen behind Study running along
Elston Avenue and the rail line.
Pedestrian Gate at the foot of Pike Street installed by Henry.
Beyond the construction of the wall itself, Henry was also responsible for the construction of the stone and iron pedestrian gate at the foot of Pike Street and for the purchase and installation of the statue of General Wallace that stands on the west side of the Study on the site of the Ben-Hur beech tree. Henry contracted with local stone mason, Sidney Speed, to detail the stonework for each of these two impressive features. Beyond their architectural impact construction of the walls and gates may also have better protected the property from the public as the fame of Lew Wallace continued to grow. Casual visitors were wandering the property and at different times thousands of people celebrating a Wallace anniversary or Tribe of Ben-Hur meeting came to see the Study so control of access became an issue.
Bronze statue by Andrew O'Connor
with base designed by Sidney Speed.
Installed on site of the Ben-Hur
beech tree.

As part of his inheritance, Henry Wallace had also received his parents’ home on Wabash Avenue. He kept the home for many years even though his primary residence was in Indianapolis. In 1918, his youngest son, William, was killed in action in France during World War I. Perhaps it was no coincidence when Henry sold his parents’ home to the Tribe of Ben-Hur in 1919 and soon completed the final segment of the perimeter wall along the south side of the Study grounds. At the time that the family home was sold, there was some thought that the building would be preserved intact and turned into a museum celebrating the accomplishments of the Tribe of Ben-Hur with a nod to the Wallace family. For different reasons this anticipated project was never pursued.

After his work to improve the Study grounds, Henry was not done with his contributions to Crawfordsville. Henry’s grandparents’ home, the Old Elston Homestead on Pike had passed from his grandparents, Isaac and Maria Elston to his aunt Helen Elston Blair and her husband, Aaron in the 1870s. When their daughter Annie married Harry Taylor in the 1880s, both the Blairs and the Taylors moved to Indianapolis and the Old Elston Homestead was sold to another of Henry’s aunts, Mary Elston Braden and her husband Hector.

During the Braden ownership, the land surrounding the Old Elston Homestead changed. Pike Street was cut through the Elston Grove on the south side of the Homestead and a number of new homes were built along Main Street in the former front yard of the house on the north. The Bradens stopped using the original front entrance and began using a side door off of Vernon Court. Today, this door leads into the dining room of the house. Hector Braden died in 1912, and for several years the future of the Homestead was in doubt. By 1919, it was in poor repair and generally unoccupied. Annie and Harry Taylor tried to sell the house without success in an effort to distribute the estate to the surviving cousins. Looking for a fresh start, Henry Wallace and his wife Margaret purchased the house. This purchase coincided with Henry’s sale of his parents’ home and probably served as a distraction after the death of his son.

Henry put his interest in architecture to use and carried out an extensive remodeling that included reorienting the entrance of the house to the south side as it is today, adding some needed kitchen improvements to the north side and generally upgrading the house and grounds. Until their deaths in the mid-1920s, this served as Henry and Margaret’s primary home. After their passing, their surviving son, Lew Wallace, Jr. used the homestead as a summer home. When he was not in residence, Walter Elliott and Horace Harvey, who were grounds keepers and caretakers of the Wallace properties, were often in residence. This proved particularly true in the early 1930s when Lew, Jr. and his family made fewer and fewer trips down to Indiana from their home in Connecticut.
Elston Homestead ca. 1900 when the front door
opened onto Main Street, prior to the
remodeling by Henry Wallace


Elston Homestead during the ownership of Henry Lane Wallace
showing remodeling work underway.

In 1935, exactly 100 years after it was built, Lew, Jr. sold the home to his cousin, Isaac Elson, III. Isaac III made additional repairs and upgrades, building on the work conceived by his Uncle Henry ten years earlier. Isaac owned the homestead for almost 30 years before ownership was transferred to Wabash College.

It’s hard to imagine Crawfordsville without some of the landmarks that we enjoy today. The landscape of the community would certainly be drastically different without the contributions of two amateur architects—Lew Wallace and his son, Henry. Each in their own way built and then preserved buildings that have come to be considered the heart of this community.

Sources: “The Quilt Chronicles” by Martha Cantrell.

“Honoring a Lesser Known Wallace,” Montgomery Magazine, by S. Chandler Lighty, 2001

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

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2012 By the Numbers

Last month, Associate Director of Education Erin Gobel spent some time looking at our statistics and compiling some numbers we thought would interest our visitors and supporters.

For a larger view, click the picture. We also have a PDF version available for download.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Thomas R. Marshall and the Unveiling of the Lew Wallace Statue

One hundred and two years ago on January 10, 1910 the Statue of General Lew Wallace was dedicated in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol at a stirring unveiling ceremony and reception. After an invocation, the statue was unveiled by Lew Wallace, Jr., the General’s grandson. Joining members of Lew Wallace’s family was an impressive list of dignitaries that included James Whitcomb Riley and Senator Albert J. Beveridge. The statue was formally accepted on behalf of the State of Indiana by its 27th governor, Thomas R. Marshall.

Lew Wallace Statue by
Andrew O'Connor

Marshall was well acquainted with Lew Wallace as their paths had crossed many times—including the first time when they were on opposite sides of a lawsuit. Marshall was born in North Manchester in a politically active family in 1854. Four years later he attended one of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates and spent the debates sitting on the lap of either Abraham Lincoln or Stephen A. Douglas depending on which man was speaking at the moment. In 1869, at the age of 15 Marshall graduated from High School in Fort Wayne and his parents enrolled him at Wabash College. He joined Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, did all he could to promote Democratic politics, and graduated not knowing whether he wanted to be a preacher or a doctor.

He was a talented speaker and writer and he took a job with the school newspaper, The Geyser. In 1872, during his final year he wrote an unflattering column about a lady lecturer at the College implying that she was “seeking liberties” with the boys in her boarding house. The lady did not take kindly to the inference and hired Lew Wallace has her attorney who filed a suit for $20,000. Marshall fled to Indianapolis and hired the powerful attorney (and future President) Benjamin Harrison. Harrison and Wallace were long-time friends and ultimately Harrison was able to convince the woman to drop her suit by demonstrating that the charges were likely true and she probably didn’t wish to risk a public trial. When Marshall went to pay Harrison for his services, Harrison refused to charge Marshall, but instead gave the young man a stern lecture on ethics and proper behavior.

Marshall went on to graduate at the top of his class and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Like Lew Wallace (who was an honorary member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity), Marshall maintained a strong interest in his alma mater and like Wallace, Marshall went on to join the Masonic Lodge. As a result of the libel case he was involved in during his senior year, Marshall became interested in the law. He studied with different attorneys and quickly gained a wide reputation as a gifted orator.

After some devastating personal losses in the early 1880s, Marshall began drinking heavily for a few years and became an alcoholic. With the support of his wife (she locked him in the house for two weeks) Marshall gave up drinking and became an increasingly progressive Democrat and a Prohibitionist. It was his leadership in the Temperance movement that helped to propel him into politics and on January 11, 1909 to become the 27th Governor of the State.

As Governor and a personal friend, Marshall presided at the unveiling of the statue and offered a lengthy and mellifluous oration extolling the virtues Lew Wallace. With grand gesture he asked: “Do I attempt to paint the lily or to gild refined gold when I declare that the man who could do something in the hour of peace as well as in the hour of war to keep alive the traditions of the Republic is doubly blessed and doubly worthy of honor?” As the oration continued he went on to note that: “If other States produce lawyers of renown, it stands of record in the courts of Indiana that Wallace was opposing counsel to Hendricks, Harrison, Morton, McDonald, and Turpie.” The orator neglected to point out that in his opposition to Harrison, Wallace was suing a young Thomas Marshall!

After a speech that included references to the greatness of Greece and Rome, the “flaming spirit of patriotism,” “Divine destiny,” the Apostle Paul, Count Egmont, Napoleon, Goldsmith, Jefferson, the Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost, Demosthenes, Achilles, and Themistocles, Marshall wound down with concluding thoughts that included “. . .it would have been necessary for Lincoln to have waded through slaughter to a throne and to have shut the gates of mercy on mankind. Here he waded through slaughter only to a cross and opened wide the gates of mercy to mankind.” After great applause, Marshall’s finishing comments recognized the statue of Wallace stating: “. . . the statue of a full-orbed man, the rays of whose life were shed not only upon things temporal, but upon things spiritual; the rays of whose life helped to bring to fruition human freedom; and the rays of whose life are helping still to bring to fruition Divine compassion.” After the final applause, Marshall introduced James Whitcomb Riley and the program continued.

Just two years after this speech, Marshall’s leadership in the Democratic Party and Indiana’s critical role as a swing state led to his nomination as vice president on the Democratic ticket with Woodrow Wilson. While the two were successful in the election, they had very different personalities which led to Wilson limiting Marshall’s activities. Marshall went on to play an enormously important role in the Wilson administration as President of the Senate in the months leading up to World War I and as a gifted orator who travelled the country during the War. In the wake of Wilson’s stroke Marshall took over many of the public duties of the president but was prevented from seeing Wilson for the rest of his term. Rather than force a constitutional crisis, Marshall refused to fight Mrs. Wilson and the few close advisors who were permitted access to the president. Marshall did not see the president until the last day of Wilson’s administration.

Thomas R. Marshall
 After the end of the Wilson administration, Marshall returned to his law practice in Indianapolis and travelled widely. For all of his support of a progressive agenda, Marshall is best remembered for his wit. One of his favorite jokes was about a woman with two sons, one of whom went to sea and one of whom was elected vice president; neither was ever heard of again. On hearing of his nomination as vice president, he announced that he was not surprised, as "Indiana is the mother of Vice Presidents; home of more second-class men than any other” and after his election as vice president, he sent Woodrow Wilson a book, inscribed "From your only Vice."

His name was briefly floated for the 1920 presidential election, but he threw his support behind James Cox for president and Franklin Roosevelt for vice president. When the Republican team of Harding and Coolidge won, Marshall sent a note to Coolidge in which he offered him his "sincere condolences" for his misfortune in being elected vice president. Perhaps his most famous quip came during his service as President of the Senate when, in response to Senator Joseph Bristow's catalog of the nation's needs, Marshall leaned over and quipped the often-repeated phrase, "What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar".

The Wallace family maintained a friendship with Marshall over the years. In 1925, Lew Wallace, Jr. contributed some thoughts to Marshall’s autobiography Recollections of Thomas R. Marshall: A Hoosier Salad as he noted slightly tongue in cheek: “I first knew Marshall when Governor of Indiana—not too impressive then. He grew in stature as no other man, in politics, and public life, with whom I had some associations. There was something very “home spun” in his innate characteristics and growth that was very wholesome and appealing. He was often “the wise man for salt” in his ‘perfect salad.”

The statue that Lew, Jr. unveiled was made of white marble by Andrew O’Connor. Henry Wallace, Lew’s son and the father of Lew, Jr. so liked this statue that he asked the sculptor to make a bronze replica. After 100 years, this bronze version continues to grace the grounds of the Lew Wallace Study.

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

Friday, January 18, 2013

In the Gift Shop: Finding Indiana Ancestors

A new book has found its way to our gift shop as we prepare for our 2013 exhibit about Lew and Susan Wallace's descendants. Along with talking about the accomplished Wallace family, we will also be discussing how family research is done and how best to preserve your own family legacy.

We have added Finding Indiana Ancestors: A Guide to Historical Research to our gift shop offerings. Edited by M. Teresa Baer and Geneil Breeze and published by the Indiana Historical Society Press, this book is a treasure trove of information, how-tos, resources, and examples to help you navigate the speed bumps and detours along the road of your family history.

The book has six parts: Getting Started, Identifying Resources, Researching Records, Researching With Maps, Researching Ethnic Groups, and Providing Context and Accuracy. It provides an excellent foundation for beginning genealogists, but also contains in-depth resources that even experienced family researchers will find useful.

Are you interested in family history? Do you have a favorite book or website about genealogy?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Possible Return of Old Friends?

Red-shouldered Hawk on the nest in 2012
Long-time followers of our blog will remember that last year we had a family of Red-shouldered Hawks nesting on the Study grounds. This week, one of them has made repeat appearances. Tuesday Amanda spotted a hawk flying around, and today Larry, Stephanie, and Deb saw the hawk sitting on one of the picnic tables mid-morning...looking for lunch, perhaps?

Here's hoping the mated pair will return this year to raise a new family!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year's Gift

We spend most of our time here talking about Lew, but Susan was also an accomplished individual. She published six books and numerous articles and poems. Several of her poems are about special occasions. She wrote this poem for Lew, and we thought it would be a good one to share today.

A New Year's Gift

As I watch the old year out
I remember that sweet May,
Whose bloom and perfume linger
About my path to-day.
Fleeting years since then have swept
Some joy away from me,
Yet each one brought me nearer,
Nearer, love, to thee.

My heart in even currents
Beats echo to thy name;
Thy pulses leap to answer
The bugle call of Fame.
All the colors of my being
Have taken richer tone,
And deepened into stronger tints
In blending with my own.

Our morning-dreams are broken,
And castles, day by day,
With far and floating banners
In distance fade away.
Dim arcade and airy tower
I never more may see,
But all my lost ideals
Are found again in thee.

The tender spell of starry sky,
The charm of summer night,
Soft pictured dreams, and visions
That haunt the misty light
Of the shadowy Borderland
'Twixt Youth and Childhood free,
Can never fade from out my heart,
For they are part of thee.

But rosy morning blushing
To wake the world from rest,
And lily fair, and fairest rose
Upon her glowing breast,
And evening's balm and beauty,
And birds' sweet minstrelsy,
And all earth's summer lovliness,
Are nothing without thee.

Ah! were but mine the minstrel's hand,
The minstrel's heart of song,
How would I sing beloved years
Whose memories round me throng!
The past so dear--the future
A dread unbounded sea,
Is neither dark, nor drear, unless,
It parts me, love, from thee.

- Published in Home Journal