Art favorites: Louisa Fletcher

The image of Louisa Fletcher is arresting. With a shadow behind her, she looks almost like a real three-dimensional person. She exudes an air of confidence that only the wealthy elites can carry off. (Louisa was the great-granddaughter of Calvin Fletcher, a giant in early Indianapolis.) This painting was made shortly after her divorce to author and playwright Booth Tarkington, a fixture in late 19th/early 20th century Indianapolis.

Louisa Fletcher
Mary Shepard Greene Blumenschein
American, 1869-1958
1912
Indianapolis Museum of Art

Limberlost State Historic Site

Of course I visited the historic sites for Gene Stratton-Porter in reverse order. Seems like a normal Amy thing to do.

After visiting the Cabin at Wildflowers Wood last month, I stopped by the Limberlost State Historic Site, which is home to the Limberlost Cabin. Gene Stratton-Porter designed the Limberlost Cabin first and then later the Cabin in Wildflower Woods—or as Gene referred to them in her writings, Limberlost South and Limberlost North.

Gene was an internationally known writer, photographer, naturalist, and film producer. But when she designed Limberlost, she was none of these yet.

Gene grew up in Wabash County, Indiana, the last of 12 (!) children. In 1888, two years after marrying Charles Porter, she moved to Geneva. (Interesting side note: Gene’s full name is Geneva, the same name as the town that she lived in for 24 years.)

Charles was a wealthy man, 13 years her senior. He owned drug stores, the Shamrock hotel and restaurant, and farms (which were farmed by others). During the 1890s oil boom, he profited from oil wells on his farms. In 1895, he co-founded a bank with Andrew Briggs. (The current president is also Andrew Briggs—a fifth generation Briggs.)

While the Cabin at Wildflower Woods was built with her book profits, the Limberlost Cabin was built in 1895 with Charles’s oil money. It was at Limberlost that Gene started writing magazine articles and then books, using the LImberlost Swamp as her natural laboratory. During this time, her daughter gave her a box camera, and she dove into photographing wildlife.

As with the Cabin at Wildlfower Woods, when Gene built Limberlost, it had the latest fixtures: a flush toilet powered by a windmill and gas lights. (Electricity hadn’t replaced gas yet, but it would in Limberlost North.)

Cars were not yet a common mode of transportation. The first structure the docent and I approached was the carriage house and stable, where the gardener John Brenner lived from 1900 until his death in 1921.

The fence around the property, designed by Gene (and a harbinger of her naturalist tendencies and involvement in designing structures), is quite unique. The fence, which uses local limestone, is built to be wildlife friendly. Large gaps between the stones allow wildlife to freely wander. (So what, a rationalist might ask, was the point of the fence?)

Outside of the house, the docent pointed out a hollow sycamore trunk—a unique smokehouse that Gene had moved from an unknown location. Records indicate that it dates from the 1840s. It makes an appearance in one of her books: The Moths of Limberlost.

I learned that Gene didn’t own her homes in succession. She may have moved from Limberlost to Wildflower Woods in 1914, but she continued to own Limberlost until she moved to California in 1920. In fact, she owned a home in Fort Wayne too. Rather than just communing with the outdoors, Gene frequented Fort Wayne for shopping and socializing.

Limberlost Cabin is in many respects similar to the Cabin at Wildflower Woods. I could see where she expanded or developed rooms and design ideas in the later house. The foyer is similar—covered with wooden paneling—but smaller at the first cabin. The front room also has a large window but looks out at downtown rather than over an undeveloped lake. An enlarged bay room to the side of the dining room that houses plants becomes its own room in her later home.

Just like with Limberlost North, I had an outstanding private tour of Limberlost South. The docent clearly enjoys Gene’s works and shared stories as we walked through the house, even reading passages from her books that mention different people or places at Limberlost. Gene herself appeared in her works as the Little Bird Woman, her real-life nickname.

As we moved through house, the docent also showed me enlarged photos of scenes in the house that Gene took. In the front room, he pulled out a photo on poster board of the fireplace that we were standing in front of. The photo was of Gene’s daughter Jeanette lounging on the fur rug in front of the fireplace with the stuffed great blue heron on one side and the golden eagle on the other side. The only modern-day difference was the heron. It was a different stuffed bird. (I’m not sure what happened to him. Perhaps play wore him out.)

(Later in the house, the docent produced another photo that Gene took, revealing the quotidian aspects of her life. This photo was also of the heron and eagle but rather than resting stately on either side of the fireplace, they were involved in a child’s tea party. The eagle was draped with a shawl and the heron in a bonnet with his beak poking out. Utter silliness.)

The front room was Gene’s writing room, inhabited by a writing desk that was not hers but was used by a contemporary writer friend, Booth Tarkington. (Tarkington was a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner.)

The room is filled with her books. Kurt pointed to The Girl of Limberlost and recounted that in a 1999 interview JK Rowling was asked about her five favorite books as a child. She listed The Girl of Limberlost as one of those five. (And I thought back to how the docent at the Cabin at Wildflower Woods described Gene as the JK Rowling of her time.)

One other curious item in the room: the gas desk lamp. The desk lamp was fed from the room’s gas lamp in the ceiling via a long “extension” tube. I hadn’t seen anything quite like it before.

All seven fireplaces in the house are shallow gas fireplaces. Unlike the fireplaces at the Cabin at Wildflower Woods, these fireplaces have no special names or stories about their construction materials or design.

Behind the front writing room is the music room. The wall are covered with linecrusta, a type of embossed wall covering made with linseed oil. On one side of the room stands a piano (not the original…which is in the Cabin at Wildflower Woods), Jeannette’s banjo, and a violin. Again the docent produced photos showing the room with the same artifacts in it.

Immediately behind the music room is the downstairs bedroom suite: a bedroom, private gazebo porch, and bathroom. The headboard contains carvings of owls. (And prompted my memory about an early morning encounter with an owl. I described what I saw and heard to the docent who proceeded to imitate the calls of great horn owls vs. barred owls. It turns out he got his degree in wildlife something or other.)

The bedroom room holds a huge collection of moths behind glass. (Remember: Gene the naturalist.) Before opening the door leading from the bedroom, the docent teased me with tales of passageways. The door opens to a narrow closet that has another door that opens to a bathroom. (Strangely, in the closet is another door that leads to what was originally a broom closet. Later when the house started using coal, they converted the root cellar to a basement and added stairs to the basement from this broom closet. Interesting note about closets: Before the age of electricity, all closets had windows in them to let in light.)

The bathroom in the suite was also the darkroom. (Gene was given her first camera while living at this house.) Her ruby lamp for use in the darkroom sits on the sink, as if waiting for her. (In the Cabin at Wildflower Woods, she had a dedicated darkroom.)

Next to the bathroom is the kitchen. Well, what was originally the kitchen. Currently it is bare but planned to be renovated. (Until 2013, when the Visitor’s Center was built, the kitchen served as the gift shop.) The icebox, unlike at Limberlost North, is on a porch off of the kitchen.

Last, we visited the dining room, which has what I think of as a bay room (like a bay window but an actual room or extension off of a room) as a conservatory. In Limberlost North, the conservatory where Gene housed her plants was a room of its own. This conservatory has a door that leads to the porch shared with the icebox. Sliding glass pocket doors link it to the dining room. The conservatory is one of many areas of the house that appear in her works.

The upstairs remains unfurnished; it used to house the offices until the Visitor Center was built in 2013. The upstairs originally included the winter living room with fireplace (heat rises) and two bedrooms (only one of which has a fireplace).

By 1912, Limberlost Swamp was disappearing due to agricultural and business encroachments. (It turns out that she, or rather Charles, was responsible for some of this thanks to his numerous oil wells.) In 1914, she completed her new home on Sylvan Lake. In 1920, she sold Limberlost Cabin to a Dr. Price. (I noticed in Charles’ obituary, that a Dr. Price was one of his pallbearers.)

Bothered by hordes of people stopping by to visit the former home of the famous Gene Stratton-Porter (who by this time was a world-renown author with movies made from her books), the Prices moved upstairs and charged for tours downstairs. In 1946, Dr. Price died. His widow sold the house but continued to live upstairs and give tours until she retired in 1958.

The tour of Limberlost Cabin was fascinating and a welcoming rounding out of my knowledge about Gene’s life and influence. The Visitor Center (and tour) also includes lots of information about Charles, including his desk at the bank, the clock and statue that graced it, and the safe from the bank’s vault. (Again, the docent produced a photo showing all of the items along with Charles.)

I saw the safe up close and learned how it works. (Bank employees would literally set a clock inside the safe, which would open the safe at the set time.) I heard the story behind the marks on the safe (hammer marks in an attempt to jar the clock when the safe didn’t open when expected…turns out it was human error. The clock was not set to the correct time.)

As with the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site in Rome City, the Limberlost Historic Site was well worth it. The docent knew Gene, the place, and its history. He was clearly enthused and willingly shared knowledge. Visiting Limberlost was a sheer delight. Now to read about so-called Little Bird Woman as both the author of and a character in her works.

TV movie review: Hoosiers: The Story of Indiana—The 20th Century

Hoosiers: The Story of Indiana is a PBS documentary series based on the book by famous Indiana historian James H. Madison. The documentary series is split into four parts: Birth of a State, Split Rails to Steel Rails, The 20th Century, and The Next Indiana.

The 20th Century covers the period of time from after World War II to the present. The documentary is narrated by Madison and includes interviews with various people.

After World War II, Indiana was home to important car manufacturers, like Marmon, Stutz, and Duesenberg. Reliability runs to test and prove the technology going into cars started with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1911 and the initial win by the Marmon Wasp.

Cities thrived in Indiana. Indianapolis was one of the most modern cities. The Madame Walker Theatre was built on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis—the Harlem of the Midwest. French Lick was a bustling party town with 30 hotels and 15 casinos—and with 12 trains arriving daily. Opera houses existed in small communities, like New Harmony.

Indiana was awash with creative talent: singers like Cole Porter from Peru and Hoagy Carmichael of Bloomington; poets, writers, and playwrights like James Whitcomb Riley, Theodore Dreiser, and Booth Tarkington; artists like William Forsythe, Otto Stark, William Scott, T.C. Steele, and Frank Dudley.

The beauty of the Dunes was recognized and protection sought, originally by a Saturday afternoon walking club that morphed into the Prairie Club of Chicago that morphed into the Save the Dunes movement. The state park was formed in 1926, but it took Dorothy Buell another 40 years of organizing before the National Lakeshore was established.

The documentary spends quite a bit of time on racism in Indiana during the 20th century for good reason. The narrator relates the 1930 lynching of two black men in Marion. James Cameron, who escaped lynching, wasn’t pardoned until 1993.

The KKK was in its second of three incarnations. (These incarnations included combating reconstruction in the south after the Civil War, moral decay of God and country in the 1920s, and civil rights in the 1960s). One of out four Hoosiers and half of the General Assembly were members of the Klan. (Makes me wonder what skeletons may be lurking in my white family closet.) Grand Wizard D.C. Stephenson, who boasted “I am the law in the state of Indiana”, was brought down by Madge Oberholtzer after he brutally attacked, raped, and cannibalized her. The heyday of the Klan in Indiana was over (and hopefully will stay over).

The Calumet Region (Northwest Indiana) was the last of the frontier in Indiana. In 1906, US Steel bought a seven-mile stretch along Lake Michigan and set out to build a city, Gary. The company sought to avoid the mistakes that Pullman made with the Pullman company town and the 1894 Pullman strike (which incidentally, Eugene Debs was involved in). Gary flourished. Workers came from all over. The Region became a melting pot with people from over 80 different ethnicities. However, with the Great Depression, efforts were made to repatriate Mexicans. Half of East Chicago and Gary were forced out. (Hopefully, history will not repeat itself today.)

Continuing its military participation, Hoosiers fought in the wars. In World War I, 3,000 died. In World War II, the number was 12,000.

After the Second World War, the Indiana economy flourished with all sorts of industries and manufacturing: band instruments (Elkhart), TVs (Bloomington), cars (Kokomo, Anderson, Muncie, and others), diesel engines (Columbus), RVs (Elkhart), and trucks (Fort Wayne). Most car companies were bought or went under by the 1930s. Studebaker in South Bend, which started with wagons, progressed to buggies, then ended with autos, was the exception, not folding until 1963. In the 1980s, Governor Mutz, by brokering a deal with Subaru, initiated a wave of car manufacturers moving back into Indiana.

The documentary circles back around to racism in the 1960s. Housing covenants kept blacks from buying houses in white neighborhoods. Robert Kennedy, campaigning in Indianapolis on April 4, 1968, announced Martin Luther King’s assassination to the crowd he was addressing. His words are credited with keeping calm in the city. Crispus Attucks, a black high school in Indianapolis, won the 1955 state basketball championship, the first for black school to do so. In 1971, the courts ordered that Indianapolis schools be integrated through busing students. Just last year, in 2015 the court reversed this order, claiming that integration had been achieved (!).

Gary, once such a flourishing, vibrant city with top-notch schools and cultural venues, has been crumbling for decades. Built to house workers for US Steel, its fortunes fell with the company’s fortunes. In 1968, Gary elected its first African-American mayor and the first black mayor of a major city, Richard Gordon Hatcher. He watched business disinvestment in Gary and white flight ensue.

The documentary then focuses on two family businesses in Indiana and how they have thrived through the generations: Phillips Patterns and Casting, Nick’s Building Supply-Door Wholesaler. These mini-perspectives show how the companies reinvented themselves in order to survive and thrive through the decades.

Last, the documentary looks at the preservation movement in Madison, an early vibrant town on the Ohio River. Like lots of Indiana towns, once manufacturing started to leave the US and Indiana, the towns became shells of their former selves. Madison started to tear down its decaying buildings, but some residents realized the treasures that they were destroying. A strong movement was born to preserve Madison’s physical history. And now Madison is a popular destination for its beautiful historical buildings and homes.

The documentary continues with a fourth part that looks at Indiana in the future.

Walking among the dead: 200 Years of Fascinating Hoosiers

Perhaps touring cemeteries is not everyone’s cup of tea, but you can glean bits of history about your community and state from the silent tombstones in cemeteries. Especially in larger cemeteries, like Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.

Crown Hill was incorporated in 1863 and had its first burial in June 1864 (Lucy Ann Seaton). The 555-acre cemetery is the third largest non-government cemetery in the US. The cemetery grounds are open to the public for walking, biking, and yes, even picnicking. (A family plot near the Crown has a stone picnic bench to encourage this pastime that was historically done at the Crown before the cemetery existed.)

I often visit the cemetery to look for tombstones and family plots of famous people who I have encountered in my explorations around Indianapolis and the state. Sometimes I go out simply for a leisurely, prolonged walk among the peaceful roads and under the trees. I recently went on my first official tour of the cemetery: Two Hundred Years of Fascinating Hoosiers.

Understandably, the tour could not hit even a fraction of famous Hoosiers. (And what is famous for one person may not be for others. I am still on my quest to find two early important African American doctors in the huge African American section of the cemetery.) This tour focused on about a dozen people mostly concentrated in a particular section of the cemetery.

Some I knew. Some I didn’t. (Oooh. New people to research and learn about!) Some stories I knew. Some I had never heard (and wondered if they were apocraphyal…like Carl Fisher promoting his car dealership—the first—by floating a car sans engine overhead suspended from a hot-air balloon).

The Crown Hill Heritage Foundation, formed in 1984 to preserve the cemetery and its history, provides tours for a small fee ($5). The docent for my tour, Tom Davis, was quite knowledgeable about the cemetery and Indiana history.

Although we only stopped by a dozen or so graves, Tom peppered conversation about others buried in the cemetery as we walked from grave to grave. After seeing Paul Hadley’s grave with the newly installed flagpole flying the Indiana state flag (Hadley designed the state flag), Tom pointed out that many members of the Hoosier Group are buried in the cemetery. (Mental note: I’ll need to come back to see their gravesites.)

Two revolutionary soldiers are buried in the cemetery. (Another mental note to self.) Eleven Indiana governors, one Kentucky governor, and one Vermont governor are buried here. (Another mental note to self.) David Letterman’s dad is buried here; he comes to visit, but sporadically enough that he doesn’t always remember exactly where the gravesite is (and wanders around the section where his dad is buried calling out “Dad!”).

So whose burial sites did we see?

Paul Hadley (1880-1971)
Hadley created the state flag that was adopted in 1916. He was a resident of Mooresville and an artist (stained glass, watercolor painting).

Robert Hanna (1786-1858)
Hanna was a delegate to the 1816 Corydon convention (that led to the creation of Indiana) and a signer of the first Indiana constitution. He was originally buried elsewhere and then reburied in Crown Hill without a headstone. Recently a headstone was created and three elm trees planted around his burial site. (The Indiana constitution was signed under an elm tree, which inauspiciously died in 1925.)

Tom relayed the story of Hanna being the first and only person ever to take a steamboat up the White River, a river that was presumed to be unnavigable. He got the steamboat up the river (during high water levels) but then it proceeded to get stuck up river until the water levels rose again.

The numerous waterways in the state were replaced as the mode of transportation with the arrival of the railroad. Ironically, Hanna, the man who navigated the unnavigable White River, died after being hit by a train.

Eliza Blaker (1854-1926)
Blaker was an advocate of early childhood education, setting up kindergartens and then schools for teachers. Her school at 23rd and Alabama became what is now Butler University.

Tom shared how Eliza’s husband, who worked downtown, would walk her to and from the school every day, carrying her schoolbooks.

Jacob Dunn (1855-1924)
Dunn was a historian, author, and reformer. He was responsible for the secret ballot that we use in voting. And he was involved in the Indiana State Library and public libraries.

Booth Tarkington (1869-1946)
Technically named Newton Booth, Tarkington won Pulitzer prizes for two books that he wrote. He also was well-known for the numerous Broadway plays that he wrote, some of which ran simultaneously.

Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901)
President. Harrison is the only US President buried in the cemetery. He lies with his first wife, son, daughter, and second wife (who was the niece of his first wife).

Oscar McCulloch (1843-1891)
McCulloch was a pastor who originally believed in social Darwinism and that people were poor by genetics (!). (The latter belief is what led to the eugenics movement. Not a good period in Indiana or American history.) He later believed that it was possible to help the poor.

The McCulloch plot is shared with the Reynolds family. According to cemetery records, two of their dogs are buried in unmarked graves (Don and Rab). This was against cemetery rules but Reynolds was on the board, illustrating the age-old truth: if you are in power, the rules don’t apply to you.

Carl Fisher (1874-1939)
Crazy Carl Fisher is best known as the man who started the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a proving ground for testing cars. He began selling bikes with crazy promotional tactics and then moved on to selling cars (at the first car dealership) with crazy promotional tactics.

One tactic he used was suspending a car sans engine from a hot air balloon. As the story goes, Jane Watts saw him floating overhead and said, “I am going to marry that man!” (Jane was the first of several wives.)

Fisher was instrumental behind the trans-US Lincoln Highway, which ran from NYC to the West Coast. Fisher was also responsible for developing what is now Miami Beach and getting a highway built from Chicago to Miami Beach.

May Wright Sewall (1844-1920)
Sewall was a well-known reformer in education, women’s rights, and the suffrage movement. Interestingly, she and her husband were not religious but during her later years she became involved in spiritualism and wrote Neither Dead Nor Sleeping. Before her husband died, he told her that if he discovered that Jesus was real, he would find a way to tell her from the grave. A medium did repeat his words back to May and May became involved with communicating with the dead.

Eli Lilly (1838-1898)
The Lilly mausoleum houses a number of the Lilly family with others in nearby plots. Eli himself was a colonel in the Union Army and the founder of present-day Eli Lilly and Company. His mausoleum is a bit unusual as you can see into it and read the engravings on each slot where a casket lays.

James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)
Riley, the beloved Hoosier poet of the late 19th century/early 20th century was laid to rest on the Crown, the highest spot in the original city limits (842 feet above sea level). He passed away July 22, but his remains were kept in the Gothic Chapel on the grounds until his final spot on the Crown was ready in October the following year.

We actually visited his site the day after the anniversary of his burial. His resting place was adorned with wreathes from a school group that visited on the anniversary of his burial. Of course, his headstone was covered with coins, a tradition started after his death by children who collected coins to help pay for his burial. These days any coins left on his tomb are gathered and given to the children’s hospital that boasts his name.

The view from his tomb overlooks the city. As our tour ended, we watched the sun set over the tree line.

The tour whetted my appetite to spend more hours wondering the cemetery grounds. I had picked up lists of famous people buried there, lists of the different trees growing on the grounds, and maps for both. I will be back. If not for more tours, then for self-guided wanderings among the dead.

Hoosier literature during the Golden Age

Indiana experienced a golden age of literature starting in the late 1800s. Traditionally the age is described as lasting from 1880 (with the publication of Ben-Hur) until 1920 (with the publication of Alice Adams). However, works preceded Ben-Hur, helping pave the way for a literary renaissance (or naissance) that lasted into the 1920s.

Why were there so many Hoosier writers with nationally and internationally known works during this time period? As a recent returnee to Indiana who is trying to readjust to the limitations of physical activity imposed by Indiana weather, I was struck by Victor Powell’s speculation. According to the former dean of Wabash College,

“I cannot understand why all the people who have speculated on the causes of all the writing emanating from Indiana have not struck upon the obvious one. It is clear to me that the cause is Indiana’s climate. The summers are much too hot and humid to do anything physically vigorous and the winters, because we are not far enough north to enjoy skiing, sledding, and skating, nor far enough south to enjoy a truly mild climate, present us with damp, chill, and slush. Hence, for most of the year, the Hoosier stays indoors and dreams, and what could be more conducive to writing?”

In celebration of the state’s bicentennial, the Lew Wallace Study & Museum is hosting a special exhibit, which lists the following popular early Hoosier works that precede, include, and succeed the golden age of Indiana literature.

Year Title Author
1871 The Hoosier School-Master Edward Eggleston
1873 The Fair God Lew Wallace
1878 The Witchery of Archery: A Complete Manual of Archery Maurice Thompson
1880 Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ Lew Wallace
1883 ‘Leven More Poems James Whitcomb Riley
1883 Hoosier Schoolboy Edward Eggleston
1883 Old Swimmin’ Hold James Whitcomb Riley
1883 The Storied Sea Susan E. Wallace
1884 Autobiography Samuel K. Hoshour Samuel K. Hoshour
1888 Hawaii and a Revolution: the personal experiences of a correspondent in the Sandwich Islands during the crisis of 1893 and subsequently Mary H. Krout
1888 Land of the Pueblos Susan E. Wallace
1888 Life of General Benjamin Harrison Lew Wallace
1888 The Repose in Egypt Susan E. Wallace
1890 Rhymes of Childhood James Whitcomb Riley
1891 Short Flights Meredith Nicolson
1893 The Prince of India or Why Constantinople Fell Lew Wallace
1894 Ginevra: A Christmas Story Susan E. Wallace
1897 Commodus Lew Wallace
1898 The Wooing of Maikatoon Lew Wallace
1898 When Knighthood was in Flower Charles Major
1899 Along the Bosphorus Susan E. Wallace
1899 Fables in Slang George Ade
1899 The Gentlemen from Indiana Booth Tarkington
1900 Alice of Old Vincennes Maurice Thompson
1900 Sister Carrie Theodore Dreiser
1901 Graustark: The Story of a Love Behind a Throne George Barr McCutcheon
1901 The Bears of the Blue River Charles Major
1902 Brewsters’   Millions George Barr McCutcheon
1902 The County Chairman George Ade
1903 The City of the King: What the Child Jesus Saw and Heard Susan E. Wallace
1903 The Sherrods George Barr McCutcheon
1903 The Song of the Cardinal Gene Stratton-Porter
1904 Freckles Gene Stratton-Porter
1906 House of A Thousand Candles Meredith Nicolson
1906 Lew Wallace: An Autobiography Lew Wallace
1907 Raggedy Man James Whitcomb Riley
1907 Rosalind at Red Gate Meredith Nicolson
1907 The Port of Missing Men Meredith Nicolson
1909 The Girl of the Limberlost and Other Stories Gene Stratton-Porter
1910 Truxton King: A Story of Graustark George Barr McCutcheon
1911 The Siege of the Seven Suitors Meredith Nicolson
1912 A Hoosier Chronicle Meredith Nicolson
1912 Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall Charles Major
1912 The Hoosier Hand Book and True Guide for the Returning Exile George Ade
1912 Moths of the Limberlost Gene Stratton-Porter
1912 The Financier Theodore Dreiser
1912 The Spartan Caroline Dale Snedeker
1913 Laddie: A True Blue Story Gene Stratton-Porter
1914 American Citizenship Charles Austin Beard, Mary Ritter Beard
1914 Penrod Booth Tarkington
1914 The Titan Theodore Dreiser
1915 The Higher Education of Women May Wright Sewall
1915 The Woman Suffrage Movement in Indiana May Wright Sewall
1915 Woman’s Work in Municipalities Mary Ritter Beard
1916 Hoosier Mosaics Maurice Thompson
1916 Seventeen Booth Tarkington
1918 Daughter of the land Gene Stratton-Porter
1918 The Hand of the Potter Theodore Dreiser
1918 Lady Larkspur Meredith Nicolson
1918 The Magnificent Ambersons Booth Tarkington
1920 Anderson Crow, Detective George Barr McCutcheon
1920 Hand-made Fables George Ade
1920 Neither the Dead Nor Sleeping May Wright Sewall
1921 Alice Adams Booth Tarkington
1921 Her Father’s Daughter Gene Stratton-Porter
1922 Best Laid Schemes Meredith Nicolson
1925 An American Tragedy Theodore Dreiser

I was struck by the number of books that recounted travels to exotic locales, about Indiana, and suffrage—and a book by a female journalist about revolution in Hawaii. Some authors are well known to me. Others completely new. As a returning ex-pat, I am curious to see what Ade wrote in his work The Hoosier Hand Book and True Guide for the Returning Exile. (It looks like I will need to traipse down to the Indiana State Library to see a copy of that book!)

Although the golden age of Indiana literature officially ended in 1920, Indiana has continued to produce writers. The exhibit references the following modern authors.

Kurt Vonnegut
Eric Flint
Kate Collins
Ernie Pyle
Jessamyn West
Norman Bridwell
Paul Hutchins
Jane Lambert
Meg Cabot
John Green

The library of the first in the list, Kurt Vonnegurt, is moving to a new location in 2017—to Mass Ave (one of Indy’s cool alternative neighborhoods). The last in the list is the author whose work was recently made into a movie, The Fault in Our Stars.

Indiana weather may not just be responsible for a slew of writers as Powell speculated, but also for readers—like me—who seek to escape the heat and the cold.