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!

Feb. 1 show

Families, children, seniors and homeless: outreach heritage

A vintage photo of the Wheeler Mission wagon, date unknown. Image courtesy Wheeler Mission.In 1883, a small group of German immigrants to Indianapolis, motivated by their Lutheran faith, started a home for orphans.

Ten years later, other residents of the Hoosier capital founded an outreach organization called Door of Hope. Volunteers included William V. Wheeler, a hardware salesman.

And in 1902, a residence known as the Jewish Shelter House, which offered care and services to the elderly, opened in Indy. By then, various services to the city's indigent - including financial assistance - had been offered for more than 40 years by the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society.

The heritage of the faith-based social outreach services that evolved from these beginnings will be explored with Nelson's studio guests from Lutheran Child and Family Services, Wheeler Mission Ministries and the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council.

A woman and child enter the Lutheran orphanage on Indy’s east side in this vintage photo, date unknown. Image courtesy Lutheran Child and Family Services.Wheeler Mission, which is celebrating its 120th anniversary, had an early focus on outreach to women who had been disowned by their families, often for sexual activity; in the early 1900s, volunteers even operated a "rescue wagon."

According to several accounts, the focus of the non-profit organization shifted to helping homeless men during the Great Depression. Since 1929, Wheeler has had one of its highest-visibility sites at 245 N. Delaware St. in downtown Indianapolis.

Our guest Steve Kerr, Wheeler's development director, will trace the evolution of Wheeler, which in recent years has added programs and residential facilities for men and women seeking treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. Just last week, Wheeler announced it will break ground for a 12,000-square-foot facility for the homeless that will be adjacent to its existing shelter at 520 E. Market St.

Wheeler also operates several other missions, including two shelters for women and children in Indy and an addiction recovery center in Monroe County.

Lutheran Child and Family Services also has significantly expanded its services and evolved since the founding of the initial orphanage in the 1880s on East Washington Street by members of two Lutheran congregations.

Developments have included the opening in 1956 of Lutherwood, a residential facility (which has since been completely rebuilt), as well as the expansion of "counseling and compassionate care to families."
Sven Schumacher, CEO of the Foundation for Lutheran Child and Family Services (and himself a German immigrant in 1985), will share details.

Lindsey Mintz.Nelson also will be joined by Lindsey Mintz, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, the public affairs arm of the Jewish community. The Jewish Shelter House that opened at the turn of the last century eventually evolved into Hooverwood, a nursing facility that specializes in residential care, adult day services and other social services.

Sven Schumacher.The heritage of Hooverwood, which opened at its current location at 7001 Hoover Road in 1970, is just one aspect of a much larger history of social service delivery by the Jewish community in Indianapolis. Our guest Lindsey Mintz will discuss the evolution of a range of social services, including the Jewish Community Center and the Albert & Sara Reuben Senior and Community Resource Center. It provides a broad range of services and programming for both Jewish and non-Jewish residents of the Hoosier capital.

According to several accounts, a settlement house for recent Jewish immigrants to the city - with special programs to help those who were poverty-stricken - as well as a community center were established more than 100 years ago. That was shortly after the opening of the shelter house for the elderly.

Steve Kerr.The Jewish community, Lindsey says, regards as one of its primary responsibilities "to care for those most in need. It's not only the fulfillment of a commandment to do so, but also helps create and sustain a society that is ultimately a safer, more hospitable society in which the Jewish community can thrive."

A third-generation Hoosier, Lindsey grew up in South Bend and has been executive director of the JCRC since 2012.

At Lutheran Family and Child Services, which turned 130 years old in 2013, our guest Sven Schumacher has been CEO of the foundation since 2006. That was two years after the ground-breaking for a complete rebuilding of Lutherwood, which the non-profit describes as "the most ambitious building project in the history of the agency." Religious services at the Borinstein House in Indianapolis, which opened in 1929 following the establishment of the Jewish Shelter House in 1902. Image courtesy hooverwood.org.Additions to the facility at 1525 N. Ritter Ave. include dormitories, a chapel and a family center. Since the project's completion, Lutherwood has been able to treat 98 residential children as well as 60 students at its day school.

The first house, a small orphanage founded by the German immigrants in the 1880s, consisted of just nine rooms. It was overseen by Rev. Peter Seuel, a Lutheran minister who served as president until 1915. By then, the small orphanage had been replaced by a massive, three-story building on the near-eastside of Indy that served as a children's home until Lutherwood opened.

Today, Lutheran Child and Family Services partners on some programs with local German clubs and societies. Last year, the agency also began a collaboration with Community Health Network.

At Wheeler Mission Ministries, one of the key organizing figures, hardware salesman William Wheeler, also was a congregational leader at what became Central Avenue United Methodist Church. In fact, Wheeler oversaw the construction in the 1890s of the historic church building at 12th Street and Central Avenue that now is the state headquarters of Indiana Landmarks.

Wheeler Mission’s neon sign adorns its Indy building on North Delaware Street.According to A Door of Hope, a book about Wheeler Mission Ministries' history published in 1993, many women in the congregation at the Methodist church were worried about the fate of "unwed mothers, referred to as 'friendless women'." In rented rooms on the upper floor of a building on South Street in 1893, the new organization called Door of Hope offered a place where young women - who had been cast out by their families, abandoned by their lovers or referred by police and hospitals - could stay.

Contending the mission should be broadened, William Wheeler persuaded congregation members to offer help to entire families. He and others "began intervening in the lives of families with husbands and fathers in jail," according to A Door of Hope.

After the stock market crash of 1929, "Wheeler morphed into a refuge for men," according to a recent story in The Indianapolis Star. The evolution and expansions of services has continued for decades. The expansion announced last week is for a facility of 12,000 square feet for the homeless adjacent to Wheeler's existing men's shelter on East Market St. The new facility is part of $6.5 million in upgrades planned for Wheeler's various facilities.

Roadtrip: Farmland in Randolph County

Vintage view of downtown Farmland, Ind.Film historian Eric Grayson suggests a Roadtrip to Farmland in Randolph County, on the eastern side of the state. The small town has one of the most active historic preservation organizations in the state.

Farmland was originally a railroad town, and it still is. The few blocks of historic buildings are bisected by the railroad tracks. The flat terrain and open view from the tracks make this a great spot for taking sunset pictures.

Farmland has a nice little 1950s-style diner, The Chocolate Moose. The town also is famous for an annual Chili Cook Off. And there's a grain elevator next to the tracks that's now called the Ole Thyme Market.

Farmland also is home to the world-famous Courthouse Girls. The courthouse in Winchester, the county seat of Randolph County, was in danger of being torn down, so Historic Farmland mobilized its volunteers. They had some of their senior ladies pose semi-nude behind models of the courthouse to create a promotional calendar to help save the courthouse. And it worked!

History Mystery

In 1984, a soup kitchen and an overnight shelter opened in the basement of an Episcopal church in Indianapolis. The shelter and soup kitchen were run by a small group of volunteers inspired by an Episcopal priest who had been offering a place to sleep to homeless people. As a result of increasing need, the programs expanded and, in the late 1980s, a renovated building opened as an emergency shelter to assist homeless families with children.

In the decades since then, it has evolved into an agency that works to prevent homelessness with a range of programming. This has included a center on Central Avenue that provides emergency shelter, clothing and food for homeless families with children. In the agency's transitional housing program, families who leave community shelters can live for up to two years while working on long-term goals. The center for emergency shelter has the same name as the non-profit agency that runs it.

Question: What is it called?

Booth Tarkington.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 and Rhythm Discovery Center, courtesy of Visit Indy.

By request, we are publishing the answer to the live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Jan. 25 History Mystery question: Name the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who is entombed in a family mausoleum at Crown Hill.


The famous author and playwright, an Indianapolis native who was living in a mansion at North Meridian Street at his death in 1946, was entombed at Crown Hill. The Tarkington-Jameson family mausoleum is in Section 13 of the cemetery.

Tarkington won his two Pulitzer Prizes for the novels Alice Adams (1921), which more than 10 years later was made into a movie starring Katharine Hepburn, and The Magnificent Ambersons (1918), a novel about an aristocratic family in a Midwestern city called Midland; it was obviously based on Indianapolis.

His series of Penrod stories about adolescent growing pains are still praised as captivating by critics. The title character of Penrod inspired the name of an annual arts festival in Tarkington's hometown. Tarkington is considered one of Indiana's literary greats of the early 20th century, along with his friends James Whitcomb Riley and Meredith Nicholson, who also are entombed or buried at Crown Hill.

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


Lucas OilStory Inn

Indiana Historical Society logo.Fountain Square Theatre building logo.

Please tell our sponsors that you appreciate their support: Indiana Historical Society | Lucas Oil | 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.

It's on!

Anniversary soiree on Thursday, Feb. 27 - Be there!

Hoosier History Live 6th anniversary banner.

Hoosier History Live! celebrates six years on the air with our annual birthday bash, hosted by our friends at Indiana Landmarks. Mark your calendar for Thursday, Feb. 27, 5 to 7:30 p.m. The event will be at Indiana Landmarks Center at 1201 Central Ave. in downtown Indianapolis. Watch our website for details! Click here to RSVP!

Feb. 8 show

Abe Lincoln's parents: Thomas, Nancy Hanks and stepmom Sarah

As he often has been depicted, was Thomas Lincoln merely an illiterate farmer who objected to his son's passion for reading and learning when the family lived in the Indiana wilderness?

Thomas Lincoln.What was the relationship like between young Abe Lincoln and his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who died in Indiana when he was 9 years old? And what about the future 16th president's relationship with Sarah Johnston Lincoln, the widow from Kentucky who became his stepmother? Are there misconceptions about these parental relationships with Abe, who lived in southwestern Indiana during the character-shaping span between ages 7 to 21?

To explore these issues during the month when we celebrate the birthday of the "Great Emancipator" (1809-1865), Nelson will have three guests:

With our distinguished guests, Nelson will explore how Abe Lincoln's family life was greatly transformed during his years living in a small cabin in the frontier settlement of Little Pigeon Creek. The family of four - which included Lincoln's older sister, who also was named Sarah - evolved into a blended family after Thomas married Sarah (often called "Sally") Bush Johnston, who had children from her first marriage. And Dennis Hanks, the 18-year-old ward of Nancy Hanks Lincoln's aunt, moved into the one-room Lincoln cabin - and slept in the loft with young Abe - after his guardians died

Amid all of the changing family dynamics, our guests will share insights about the parents of the lanky, book-loving youth who grew up to become perhaps America's greatest leader.

Our guest Steve Haaff, who has studied almost every piece of furniture available made by Thomas Lincoln, contends the patriarch long was misunderstood by historians because, as Steve told the Evansville Courier-Press, "they didn’t speak the same language."

Steve, whose favorite style of furniture is Federalist, the type popular during Thomas Lincoln's era, says the family patriarch would have had to be highly skilled - and a master at calculations - to create the cabinets and other woodwork that he produced.

Nancy Hanks Lincoln died from what frontier communities called "milk sickness" - the result of drinking milk from infected cows that had eaten white snakeroot. In his book, our guest Bill Bartelt describes white snakeroot as "a simple and abundant plant with a delicate white flower. ... Since colonial time, deaths from milk sickness occurred in isolated areas with few residents, drawing little interest from the medical profession."

That changed, he continues, when the frequency of deaths swept through frontier settlements like Little Pigeon Creek. He notes that Lincoln and their neighbors would not have known "what caused the milk to become poisoned - and that mystery made it difficult to prevent the deaths."

A nice note of support

'We hope to see it broadcast far and wide'

A particularly nice letter of support came in some time ago from authors James Alexander Thom and Dark Rain Thom. We like to re-read it from time to time!

To Whom it May Concern:

Last Spring, my wife and I were interviewed by Nelson Price on his Hoosier History radio program, as authors of frontier and Native American history books. Mr. Price's program was so well prepared and conducted that we feel it should be made available to students and general audiences as widely as possible. His program is well-researched, all questions pertinent to the chosen theme, and moves along briskly. Listeners called in with questions and comments that were intelligent and relevant, a sign of an avid audience.

As historical writers, we try to overcome the public's indifference to history, to bring alive in any way we can the important lessons of the past, and are enthusiastic about programs and writings that make those lessons interesting. The Hoosier History Live program does that so well that we hope to see it broadcast far and wide over this historically significant State of Indiana. It is an excellent program, worthy of extensive distribution and strong support.

James Alexander Thom & Dark Rain Thom, authors
Bloomington, Indiana
July 14, 2011

© 2014 Hoosier History Live! All rights reserved.

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