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.
Or listen live from anywhere at hoosierhistorylive.org!

Dec. 14 show

Indiana during the Ice Age, when mastodons roamed

A young boy is fascinated with the giant bones on display at the Indiana State Museum. Image courtesy Indiana State Museum.We will delve into the deepest era of Hoosier history - and the coldest.

To explore the Ice Age, including the landscape of - as well as plant and animal life (including mastodons) once found in - the part of Earth that eventually became Indiana, Nelson will be joined in studio by two experts from the Indiana State Museum.

His guests will be Ron Richards, senior research curator of paleobiology, and Ron's colleague Damon Lowe, chief curator of science and technology. They have been the key figures in putting together the blockbuster exhibit Ice Age Giants: The Mystery of Mammoths and Mastodons that opened in November at the State Museum.

According to Ron, mastodon bones have been discovered in most of Indiana's 92 counties.

The exhibit features actual skeletons, skulls and casts of Ice Age animals as well as fossils. The Indiana State Museum contends its collection of Ice Age bones is the largest in the Midwest. Some of the bones belonged to a mastodon that was discovered on a farm near Fort Wayne and has been named "Fred."

Damon Lowe.According to our experts, a frigid climate more than 80,000 years ago forced an expansion of the Arctic ice sheets. The largest sheet covered much of North America, including the future state of Indiana.

Ron Richards, senior research curator of paleobiology at the Indiana State Museum. Image courtesy Indianapolis Monthly.As described by the State Museum, mastodons like Fred were "shorter, stockier cousins" of mammoths, which also roamed prehistoric Indiana about 13,000 years ago. Mammoths were not as plentiful here as mastodons, though.

"Like modern elephants, mastodons could live 60 years or more, but few made it to retirement (age)," according to an article in Indianapolis Monthly magazine's November issue.

In conjunction with the Ice Age Giants exhibit at the State Museum, the nearby IMAX Theater is showing a movie, Titans of the Ice Age, that depicts the era in 3D. It's an age described as inhabited by "saber-toothed cats, giant sloths, dire wolves and woolly mammoths."

A skeleton of a dire wolf, a type of wolf that co-existed with mammoths and mastodons in Indiana, is displayed at the State Museum.

A mastodon skeleton, known as “Fred,” greets visitors at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis. Fred once weighed about 3 tons and stood 9 feet tall. Bone analysis through radiocarbon dating shows he is more than 13,000 years old. Image courtesy Indiana State Museum.The museum has been involved in what's known as "bone recovery" of prehistoric remains since the late 1970s. The first major excavation site was near Bass Lake in Starke County.

Since then, significant excavations have occurred near Hebron in northwest Indiana and near the city of Plymouth. Mastodon bones also have been found in a bed of the White River in southern Indiana. The average excavation takes two weeks and a crew of about 10 staff members from the State Museum and volunteers.

The skeleton of Fred, the mastodon, is about 9 feet tall and 250 feet long. His skull alone weighs 250 pounds.

Some other Ice Age history nuggets:

  • Our guest Ron Richards was involved in the discovery of the nearly complete skeleton of a peccary, a pig-like animal that existed in Indiana during ancient time. The peccary skeleton was unearthed in Crawford County.
  • In addition to differing in their size, mammoths and mastodons had different types of tusks. The taller, slimmer mammoths had tusks that were much more curved, projecting downward "like a walrus," according to the State Museum. Mastodons' tusks tended to project straight forward.
  • Ice Age Giants: The Mystery of Mammoths and Mastodons exhibit will continue at the State Museum until Aug. 17.

Roadtripper: Sing along with Handel's Messiah

A panorama photo of the 2012 holiday Sing-Along at the Indiana Landmarks building. The annual event features the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and Encore Vocal Arts. Image courtesy Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra.

Ever affable Guest Roadtripper Garry Chilluffo of Chilluffo Photography suggests we check out one of Indy's newest holiday traditions. It's the opportunity for any and all to sing selections from Handel's Messiah along with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and Encore Vocal Arts. No singing experience needed!

Sit in your section (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) or sit with your friends and family - whatever is most comfortable for you! You'll need a score. You can borrow one from a friend, download one from www.icomusic.org, or purchase a score for $5 at the performance itself.

The Sing-Along takes place Monday, Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Indiana Landmarks Center Grand Hall in Indianapolis. Tickets are $30 for adults and $12 for students.

Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra also performs Handel's Messiah on Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 3 p.m. at Tabernacle Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis.

History Mystery

One of the world's most famous sets of dinosaur fossils - the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex considered the most complete and best preserved ever found - is exhibited at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. However, there is an Indiana connection to the T-Rex. The specimen has been named in honor of the woman who discovered it. She is a paleontologist who grew up in Munster, Ind.

Although the future discoverer was born in Chicago, her family moved to Munster when she was a young child. She lived in the northwestern Indiana city until age 16.

In 1990, while excavating in South Dakota, she discovered the Tyrannosaurus skeleton, which is considered 90 percent complete. It's been exhibited at the Field Museum since 2000.

A T-Rex dinosaur with an Indiana connection is on display at the Field Museum in Chicago. Image courtesy Wikipedia.Question: What is the name of the dinosaur, which is also the first name of the paleontologist who discovered it?

The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call into the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win the prize if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months.

The prize is a gift certificate to New Orleans on the Avenue restaurant, courtesy of Visit Indy, and admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.

Last live show's answer. By request, we are publishing the answer to the last live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Nov. 30 show answer was: A STEER.

Known as "Old Ben," the steer has been displayed in Kokomo's Highland Park since before World War II. His weight upon his death in 1910 was estimated at more than 4,500 pounds. Old Ben was born on a farm in 1902 and apparently weighed at least 125 pounds at birth. During his life, the steer became famous and was exhibited at various festivals.

After Old Ben slipped on ice and broke both legs in 1910, he had to be put down. His owners had him stuffed and mounted by a taxidermist to prove to future generations of doubters that an animal of his gigantic size once existed. In the pavilion in Highland Park, Old Ben is exhibited next to a pile of hay.

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


Dave Piccolo ReMax Metro logo.Fadely College Counseling LLC logo.

Lucas OilStory Inn

Indiana Historical Society logo.Fountain Square Theatre building logo.

Please tell our sponsors that you appreciate their support: Fadely College Counseling | Indiana Historical Society | Lucas Oil | Re/Max Metro | Story Inn | The Fountain Square Theatre Building

Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Twitter logo for Hoosier History Live.Acknowledgments to Monomedia, 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 and individual contributions.  We do not receive any government funding.  Visit our website to learn how you can support us financially. Also, see our Twitter feed and our Facebook page for regular updates.

Year-end note

Holiday gifting to Hoosier History Live!

Donate to Hoosier History Live!

Hoosier History Live! welcomes new or renewal contributors Jim Fadely, Peter Gross, Dana Waddell and Clay Collins, Pat Garrett Rooney, Turner Woodard, Danny and Sofia Lopez, Theresa and Dave Berghoff, Margaret Drew, Joe Vuskovich, and Gary BraVard in memory of Sunny Brewer.

We are not staff members of any organization; rather, we are a small independent production group trying to keep Hoosier History Live! on the air, on the web, and in your inbox. Your gift goes primarily to support those individuals who are working so hard on the project, as well as to help defray the costs of maintaining our website, our email marketing software, and our audio editing costs. If you believe in supporting local artists, writers and performers, look no further!

Holiday gift boxes, wrapped with ribbons.It only takes seconds to help us out. Just go to our website and click the yellow "Donate" button. Or, if you prefer the paper method, you may make out a check to "Hoosier History Live" and mail it to Hoosier History Live, P.O. Box 44393, Indianapolis, IN 46244-0393. We will list you on our website, unless you wish to remain anonymous. You also may memorialize a loved one if you wish; just make a note with either your online contribution or on your paper check.

We also try to maintain some of those old-fashioned journalism principles about trying to keep editorial content separate from financial contributions.

For questions about becoming an underwriting sponsor (the underwriter level includes logos on our website and newsletter and spoken credits in the live show), contact our producer, Molly Head, at molly@hoosierhistorylive.org, or (317) 927-9101. If you have any questions at all about how we are organized, please feel free to talk to our producer.

Also, the Irvington Library Listening Group continues to meet on a regular basis from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturdays to listen to and discuss the live show. If you think you would enjoy listening with fellow history lovers, just stop by the library at 5626 E. Washington St. in Indianapolis and ask for the listening group.

By the way, it's easy to form your own listening group; all you need is a relatively quiet room with comfortable chairs and either a radio or an online listening device to pick up the show from the live Web stream on Saturdays. We do have listeners all over the country. A weekly listening group is an easy way to get "regulars" into your organization or place of business.

Dec. 21 show

Victorian-era and ethnic holiday traditions

Buckle up for a time-traveling sleigh ride with Hoosier History Live! as we explore holiday traditions of earlier eras - as well as yule-season and new year customs brought to this country by various ethnic heritage groups.

Nancy Grant's 1991 book "Christmas in America" highlights holiday traditions in the United States.Did your family or ancestors ever set out a pair of shoes for St. Nick? That footwear-shuffling Christmas season tradition was an Eastern European custom.

Ever wonder about the evolution of holiday greeting cards and what they would have been like during the Victorian era? An immigrant from an ethnic heritage group started the mass printing in America of holiday cards during the 1870s. (You will have to tune in to learn details.)

To share insights about ethnic immigration holiday traditions - cherished, bygone or transformed in various ways - Nelson will be joined in studio by a diverse group of guests. They also will share insights about folk traditions associated with the holidays during the Victorian and Edwardian eras stretching from the mid-1800s through the early 1900s.

Nelson's guests will be:

  • Nancy Grant, a journalist, photographer and speaker based in Louisville. During her career, Nancy has written about a wide range of topics, including the history behind some of the most popular Christmas traditions. Her book Christmas in America (1991) described the evolution of greeting cards, holiday trees decorated with lights and other traditions.
  • Period decorations adorn the Christmas tree in the front parlor of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.Olga  Imperial Keegan of Carmel, whose parents immigrated from the Philippines. A past president of the Association of International Women, Olga is a real estate agent and mother of four. She also has been a volunteer host for the International Center of Indianapolis.
  • And Rosaleen Crowley, a Carmel-based artist and poet who immigrated from Ireland in 1990. A painter, Rosaleen has just opened Roscro & Co., a new studio in Carmel, and has had a long career in education, speech and drama. She is a graduate of the National University of Ireland and the London College of Music. For 10 years, she owned a business that helped families adjust to their new communities and adapt to their host culture.

Fun fact: As regular listeners of Hoosier History Live! - or visitors to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site - may recall, the only American president elected from the Hoosier state has a yule-season claim to fame. Benjamin Harrison (who served from 1888 to 1892) and First Lady Caroline Scott Harrison became the very first First Family to have a decorated Christmas tree in the White House.

We explored this aspect of their heritage during a holiday season show in 2011 with Jennifer Capps, curator of the presidential site. During the show, Jennifer noted that President Harrison, who had a beard and a slightly stocky frame, portrayed Santa on at least one occasion.

© 2013 Hoosier History Live! All rights reserved.

Hoosier History Live!
P.O. Box 44393
Indianapolis, IN 46244
(317) 927-9101