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

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Our call-in number during the show: (317) 788-3314

Jan. 7, 2017 show

Bicentennial wrap-up

As Hoosier History Live begins its ninth year on the air, we close out a milestone in the state's heritage: the Indiana Bicentennial of 2016.

The final event was a watermelon drop in Vincennes on New Year's Eve.

One of our most frequent recent guests - Perry Hammock, executive director of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission - will join Nelson to look back at projects that unfolded across the state. According to Perry, 1,647 projects were initiated in honor of the 200th anniversary of Indiana achieving statehood. In December 1816, Indiana became the 19th state. To kick off the Bicentennial, Hammock participated in a previous melon drop year ago.

In addition to Perry's conversation in-studio with Nelson, the show will include phone-in reports from grass-roots organizers of Bicentennial projects. For example, Carroll County resident David McCain will share details about a local property owner's donation of land for creation of a Bicentennial Monument.

The monument, a bronze sculpture, will be built in Deer Creek Bicentennial Park, which was dedicated in the historic town of Delphi on Dec. 11 (Statehood Day). Delphi has reaped widespread acclaim for the town's preservation efforts, including showcasing its Wabash & Erie Canal heritage.

Delphi's Bicentennial Park, which remains under development, extends for about one mile from town and then into a rural historic district. The park is centered at Freedom Bridge, a pedestrian walkway over the Hoosier Heartland Highway.

During our show, reports about other Bicentennial projects are expected from organizers in Miami County (county seat: Peru) and Lawrence County, which includes Bedford.

As a salute to the connections between Lawrence County and the U.S. space program - three natives of the county have traveled in space as astronauts or payload specialists, including the late Virgil "Gus" Grissom - the county launched a "legacy tree" project. It involved seeds taken into space on an Apollo flight in 1984 by Bedford native Charlie Walker, a payload specialist.

The tree project will be described during our show by Marla Jones, an eighth-generation Hoosier who has served as Lawrence County's Bicentennial coordinator. In her "day job," Marla is the city of Bedford's business and community development coordinator. She refers to herself as an "Indiana Sesquicentennial baby" because she was born in 1966, when the state celebrated its 150th birthday.

Our Miami County correspondent will be Vicki Draper, a Peru native and retired fundraiser with an extensive background working with radio and TV stations. Bicentennial projects in Miami County included the dedication of a "lost" cemetery. A monument commemorating Waupecong Cemetery - as well as new headstones marking the graves of pioneers - was erected. About 20 years ago, farmers began discovering fragments of tombstones while plowing their fields.

Our guest Perry Hammock will devote the next several months to putting together an analysis of the Bicentennial, including a book-length publication. A similar "post mortem" occurred after Indiana celebrated its centennial in 1916. A Hoosier History Live show in June 2013 explored how the state marked that milestone 100 years ago.

During the past year, we have highlighted various aspects of the Bicentennial, often with Perry as a guest. Those shows include a "remote" (on-location) broadcast on Oct. 15 of the Hoosier Homecoming, an outdoor event at the newly created Bicentennial Plaza near the Indiana Statehouse. (You can listen to a podcast of that show by visiting our website at hoosierhistorylive.org)

A state-spanning key project of the Bicentennial commemoration was the Bicentennial torch relay. During the Hoosier Homecoming, the Bicentennial torch arrived from its 92-county journey.

Perry Hammock, who grew up on a farm near Lebanon, carried the torch in Boone County. About 2,000 torch carriers across the state included participants ranging from children to Hoosiers who are more than 100 years old.

History Mystery

The Indiana Bicentennial torch relay went through all 92 counties and covered about 3,200 miles. The torch was carried by about 2,000 Hoosiers during the journey.

A well-known Hoosier lit the torch last September in Corydon, the state's original capital. She also carried the torch on the first leg of its journey. The famous Hoosier is a civic leader known for her love of the state's history and culture. Although she did not grow up in Corydon, she has family connections to the southern Indiana city. She was a studio guest on Hoosier History Live in January 2011.

Question: Who was the first carrier of the Bicentennial torch?

The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to 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. You must be willing to give your name and address to our engineer and be willing to be placed on the air.

The prize is a pair of passes to Glowgolf, the miniature golf course inside the Circle Centre mall in downtown Indianapolis, courtesy of GlowGolf.

Roadtrip: Pierceton in northern Indiana


Joan Hostetler of the Indiana Album hails from Kosciusko County in northern Indiana and would like us to explore one of her favorite small towns there, Pierceton.

Joan tells us that small antique shops abound in Pierceton, on Ind. 13 southeast of Warsaw.

In 1853, John Butler Chapman and Lewis Keith employed surveyor Otho Means to lay out Pierceton as it is located today. The town was christened in honor of President Franklin Pierce.

The Pierceton post office was established in 1853, and Pierceton was incorporated as a town in 1866.

You can enjoy lunch or dinner at The Old Train Depot, a renovated train station built in 1867. And the Heirloom Tomato Festival is held in Pierceton each August.

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, media+development director


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Jan. 14, 2017 show - upcoming

How did Copperheads and Union supporters co-exist?

During the Civil War, Indiana sent a higher percentage of young men and teenage boys to fight for the Union cause than nearly all of the other Northern states

But there also were pockets of Southern sympathizers across the Hoosier state. They became known as Copperheads (alluding to the poisonous snake found in most of the South), Butternuts (because some Confederates wore uniforms of that color) and other names.

Hoosier History Live will explore how the two sides co-existed (or not) and various related aspects, including the motivations of Hoosiers who went to battle in the bloodiest conflict in American history. Nelson will be joined in studio by two guests:

  • Mike Murphy, a former state legislator who is the author of a new book, The Kimberlins at War: A Union Family in Copperhead Country (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2016). The book explores an extended family that sent "33 fathers and sons, brothers and cousins" to fight for the Union despite hailing from Scott County in southeastern Indiana, a region described as "rife with sympathy and support for the South." Mike, who now is senior vice president of Hirons and Company, an Indianapolis-based advertising and public relations firm, draws on a stash of 40 letters to and from the battlefield that survived in the Kimberlin family.

  • And Steve Towne, an archivist at IUPUI who is the author of Surveillance and Spies in the Civil War (Ohio University Press, 2015) and other books and award-winning articles about the Civil War. Steve has researched regions of the state in which Southern supporters, including spies, were concentrated. Some of the towns and counties may surprise listeners.

In The Kimberlins at War, Mike notes that, in 1850, one half of all Hoosiers were not native to the state - and that 39 percent came from slave-owning states.

"Most of the people of southern Indiana had 'connections' in Kentucky and Virginia going back several generations, writes Mike, who is a board member of the Indiana Historical Society.

Although he notes that "the initial reaction to the fall of Fort Sumter was a burst of patriotism" across Indiana, as news spread about the subsequent Battle of Bull Run, a Confederate victory in Virginia, many families endured intense debates. "Even entire towns debated the wisdom of taking up arms against the South."

Yet the young men in the extended Kimberlin family decided to fight for the Union cause. The result was a casualty rate of family members who were killed, wounded or died of battlefield disease that was "unmatched in recorded Scott County history." This unfolded despite the fact that, as the new book describes, much of the pre-Civil War economy in southern Indiana was agriculturally based (like the South) and dependent on shipping goods down the Ohio River for eventual sale in southern states.

Drawing on the rediscovered letters, Mike shares insights in the book - and will during our show as well - about whether the Kimberlins were fighting to save the Union, free the slaves or for other reasons. He also will discuss the family's interactions, including on the home front, with Copperhead neighbors.

In Surveillance and Spies in the Civil War, our guest Steve Towne explores the threat posed by Copperheads and secret societies determined to subvert the Union effort. Detectives were hired to track down spies for the Confederates living in Indiana and other states in the North.

During a Hoosier History Live show in May 2015 that asked What's in our State Archives?, Steve noted that more of the Civil War records of Oliver P. Morton, Indiana's powerful governor (and a staunch Union supporter), survive than those of almost any other Northern governor.

© 2017 Hoosier History Live. All rights reserved.

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