Hoosier History Live! features host Nelson Price, Saturdays noon to 1 p.m. on WICR 88.7 FM in Indianapolis.

Saturdays, noon to 1 p.m. ET on WICR 88.7 FM.
And always online at hoosierhistorylive.org!

June 29 show

Underground Railroad reality and myths in Indiana

An 1838 Bardstown, Ky., newspaper advertisement offers a reward for the capture of a runaway slave. Image courtesy Library of Congress.If you believe folklore across Indiana, just about every historic house, inn and tavern - particularly those with hidden rooms, cellars or attics - were stops on the Underground Railroad.

Exaggerations and misconceptions abound regarding the movement before and during the Civil War to help escaped slaves, according to experts.

To share insights about the myths and reality regarding the extent and nature of the Underground Railroad network in Indiana - including what is and isn't confirmed - Nelson will be joined in studio by two experts. They are historic researcher and genealogist Dona Stokes-Lucas of Indianapolis and Kisha Tandy, assistant curator of social history at the Indiana State Museum.

A board member of Indiana Freedom Trails Inc., a nonprofit established to pull together, verify and preserve information about Underground Railroad history in the Hoosier state, Dona has been a popular guest on Hoosier History Live!, as has Kisha.

Re-enactor DeAlden Watson tells the story of freedom seekers crossing the Ohio River into southern Indiana at the Progressive Journey Conference in October of 2011. He is standing outside the Second Baptist Church in downtown New Albany, which is believed to be a site that assisted escaping slaves. Hoosier History Live! photo.Dona has joined us for shows about roots tracing, as well as about various aspects of Underground Railroad heritage in Indiana. The Underground Railroad era generally is defined as beginning in the mid-1830s.

Oral histories, diaries, notations in family Bibles and letters have been crucial in figuring out the routes, buildings and people associated with the effort to help runaway slaves - or freedom seekers - as they passed through Indiana.

How, though, do you document something that obviously was kept secret?

In addition to tackling that issue - Nelson plans to ask Dona and Kisha how people can determine the reliability of diary entries or letters - we also will explore which regions of the state had frequent stops on the Underground Railroad. And which ones had very few.

Learn more: Clickable map showing Underground Railroad sites in Indiana.

According to several accounts, St. Joseph County, which includes South Bend, served an integral role with fugitive slaves as they headed north. And because of the prevalence of anti-slavery Quakers in Wayne County and other parts of far-eastern Indiana, that region also had a flurry of clandestine activity.

During our show, we also will discuss the frequency with which so-called slave catchers from the South - often mercenaries - combed Indiana in search of freedom seekers.

Kisha Tandy, 2013.Related to that, we will explore the frequency with which home and business owners were prosecuted for harboring escaped slaves or helping them in other ways. In some cases, abolitionists arranged for medical care. Small groups of Hoosier women secretly gathered to weave blankets and clothes for the refugees, who often fled with scarcely any possessions.

Also during the show, Dona and Kisha will share insights about on-going efforts to preserve the Underground Railroad heritage across the state.

Dona Stokes-Lucas.For a program in 2011 with historic preservationist Maxine Brown of Corydon, Hoosier History Live! even explored freedom seekers in Indiana before the Underground Railroad was established - in some cases, several years before statehood was achieved in 1816. Maxine will also be our Roadtripper on Saturday.

Learn more: Click on these Hoosier History Live! show newsletters (2008 through 2013) with African-American history themes from our trove of 250 shows:

Roadtrip: Underground Railroad in Jeffersonville

Hannah Toliver historical marker.Guest Roadtripper and historic preservationist Maxine Brown of Corydon, founder of the Indiana African American Heritage Trail, suggests we take a Roadtrip to southern Indiana, that part of the state along the Ohio River rich with Underground Railroad activity because of its proximity to the slave state of Kentucky.

Hannah Toliver was a free black woman living in Jeffersonville before the Civil War and was an Underground Railroad activist. She was was arrested for aiding a fugitive slave from Kentucky, and she served time in the Kentucky Penitentiary in Frankfort before being released and returned to Jeffersonville. Her historical marker is on Riverside Drive in Jeffersonville.

Maxine Brown, who also known for having restored the Leora Brown Colored School in Corydon, will suggest Underground Railroad spots to visit in "her" part of the state.

History Mystery

In a small town near Richmond during the 1840s, a Quaker couple helped so many escaped slaves in their journeys to freedom that their home became known as the "Grand Central Station" of the Underground Railroad.

A bed can be moved to cover the small doorway to a hiding place in the historic home of our “mystery couple” in Wayne County. Image courtesy in.gov.Their red brick, two-story house in Wayne County had a cellar as well as a hidden, second-floor bedroom - actually, a large crawl space - where freedom seekers could hide.

Feeling passionately that slavery was wrong, the couple convinced other Quakers in their town to join their crusade. A prosperous banker, mill owner and merchant, he prevailed on townspeople to help transport and conceal escaped slaves. She persuaded her friends to gather at her spinning wheel and help weave blankets and clothes for the refugees.

Today, their home is a popular destination for school field trips.

Question: Name the Quaker couple.

Please provide their surname and both of their first names.

To win the prize, you must call in with the correct answer during the live show and be willing to be placed on the air. Please do not call if you have won a prize from any WICR show during the last two months. The call-in number is (317) 788-3314, and please do not call until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air.

The prize is a  pair of tickets to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, four admissions to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, and a gift certificate for Greatimes Family Fun Park on Indy’s southside. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Your Hoosier History Live! team,

Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
Richard Sullivan, webmaster and tech director

Pam Fraizer, graphic designer
Garry Chilluffo, creative consultant
Michele Goodrich, Jed Duvall, grant consultants
Joan Hostetler, photo historian
Dana Waddell, volunteer-at-large


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Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Acknowledgments to Print Resources, Monomedia, Indiana Humanities, Visit Indy, WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Heritage Photo & Research Services, Derrick Lowhorn and many other individuals and organizations. We are an independently produced program and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorships, grants and through individual tax-deductible contributions through Indiana Humanities. We do not receive any government funding. Visit our website to learn how you can support us financially.

In the news

IBJ covers Hoosier History Live!

Reporter Chris O'Malley of the Indianapolis Business Journal sat in on a recent program and shared some of the unique ambition and charm of Hoosier History Live! with IBJ's readers.

Indianapolis Business Journal story about Hoosier History Live, June 22, 2013.

July 6 show

Orville Redenbacher and popcorn heritage in Indiana

Popcorn festival float in Valparaiso popcorn parade.Chew on this: Not only is "Year of Popcorn" the theme at next month's Indiana State Fair, but the farm boy-turned-entrepreneur who became internationally known as "the Popcorn King" was a Hoosier.

Grandfatherly, bow-tied Orville Redenbacher (1907-95), who became a multimedia advertising icon, is far from Indiana's only link to the perennially, uh, pop-ular product that long ago became a household staple.

A farm agent who grew up near Brazil, Ind., Redenbacher studied at Purdue University and experimented for more 40 years with 3,000 hybrids of popcorn. He's credited with making the first significant changes in the treat since Native Americans introduced it to white settlers in the 1600s.

Orville Redenbacher was born in Brazil, Ind., in 1907 and became a famous popcorn entrepreneur with his namesake brand.His adopted hometown of Valparaiso, where Redenbacher lived for many years, continues to host an annual Popcorn Festival in his honor. The event, which includes a popcorn parade, typically is attended by 75,000 people.

Not only will we explore the colorful life of the "king of kernels," Nelson and his guests also will delve into the product's historic importance to Indiana's economy and heritage. Noblesville-based, family-owned Weaver Popcorn Company makes and distributes popcorn internationally (since 2010, Weaver Popcorn has even been sold at movie theaters in China) and is a leading maker of microwave popcorn.

To digest all of this popcorn talk, Nelson will be joined by Purdue staff writer and historian John Norberg, who interviewed Redenbacher and also was a colleague of the late Robert Topping, author of the definitive biography Just Call Me Orville (Purdue University Press, 2011).

Nelson's guests also will include Andy Klotz, public relations director of the State Fair, who will share details about the ways that the product will be showcased next month. Andy also will share insights about Weaver Popcorn, which was founded in the 1920s by Rev. Ira Weaver, another beloved Hoosier entrepreneur.

Valparaiso popcorn festival float features Orville Redenbacher, made of popcorn.Fun fact: When Nelson was researching Orville Redenbacher's life for his book Indiana Legends, he discovered the popcorn king always preferred his "salted, no butter."

At Brazil High School, Redenbacher captured state championships in 4-H club contests. He paid for his tuition at Purdue (which, as he put it, soon was "on the cutting edge of popcorn research") by scrubbing hog houses and tending chickens. Redenbacher became an agricultural agent in Vigo County, where he apparently was the first county agent in Indiana to broadcast live on radio from fields.

By the time Redenbacher died at age 88, he was a national celebrity, thanks to the use of his name and image on his product's label and in countless magazine ads and TV commercials. Even today, nearly 20 years after the death of Redenbacher (who is often described as popcorn's version of Col. Harlan Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame), ads and commercials still feature him, often accompanied by his grandson.

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