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I volunteer at the Indiana State Archives

The 1918 Spanish Influenza in Indianapolis

“Rich men, trust not in wealth, gold cannot buy you health, physic himself must fade. All things to end are made, the plague full swift goes by; I am sick, I must die. Lord have mercy on us!” – Thomas Nashe

During the autumn of 1918, amidst soldiers training and industry working in support of America’s fighting in WWI, with numerous war casualties overseas, war bond drives and parades, the women’s suffrage movement, enforcement of Indiana’s recent prohibition of alcohol, a general election and normal every-day life, the deadly Spanish influenza swept from the east coast to the west like wildfire. Many people had caught a milder version of the influenza with some deaths occurring in the spring and summer of 1918, but at the beginning of September soldiers stationed at Fort Devens, Massachusetts began to die from the disease in alarming numbers. It quickly spread to other bases and naval stations and the general population along the east coast, reaching the Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois and Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana by the middle of September.

September 20 – The Indianapolis Star reported that the “autumn influenza is to receive  the attention of Dr. John Hurty, secretary of the state board of health, and his assistants in all counties in this state. A survey of the complaint is to be made. Quarantines have proved to be unsatisfactory because of the highly contagious character of the disease. Stringent inspection of the war workers will be made by health service men from Indianapolis, to prevent a spread of the complaint.” 20,211 cases of the influenza had been reported in 25 army camps in the east, and Dr. Hurty was preparing for the worst.

September 24th –  8,000 cases of the influenza have occurred at the Great Lakes Naval Station, but the commandant believes the crisis has passed. John Philip Sousa decided not to play a concert there for fear of the disease. As the number of cases spread to 75,000 in the east, with 1,000 deaths in the last ten days, Acting Governor Calvin Coolidge of Massachusetts temporarily closed all public gatherings including theaters, schools and parades, but not the churches. He also asked for help from the Red Cross in Washington D.C. because the physicians and nurses were exhausted.

wp-15976354525851277893890.jpgIndianapolis Star, November 8, 1918

 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt came down with the flu upon returning from an inspection trip to Europe, but has recovered.

Surgeon General Rupert Blue of the United States Public Health Service said the disease was caused by the bacillus influenza of Pfeiffer, a bacteria. (He was partially correct. The influenza victims were first infected with an unknown virus, which weakened the body for the deadly pneumonia bacteria. But it was years before the virus was determined.) He also recommended that people wear gauze masks, (actually the microscopic virus pathogens were in the tiny droplets that passed through the pores of the gauze masks) and believed “a general quarantine was impracticable”. He probably believed this because the country was mobilized  for and busy with the war work.


wp-15961439580331128683160.jpgHundreds of The Indiana Gold Star Roll of Honor records are kept at the Indiana State Archives. I picked the soldiers and sailors that died from the influenza – pneumonia who were from Indianapolis.

Seventeen  Indiana doctors volunteered their services on the east coast as the epidemic continued to worsen there, and ten nurses were sent there from Fort Harrison, which is just northeast of Indianapolis.

September 27 – The Indianapolis board of health mandated these  emergency rules to be enforced: “that all street cars, office buildings and all places where crowds congregate, be thoroughly lighted, ventilated, scrubbed and cleaned daily; that the anti-spitting ordinance be rigidly enforced; that a report be made by physicians to the board of health of all cases of influenza; that all theaters refuse admission to patrons with colds, sore throats and other respiratory infections, and that the ticket tellers inquire of all patrons whether or not they have such infections; that all eating houses and food producing establishments thoroughly sterilize, either by live steam or dry sterilization, all dishes, knives, forks, spoons and glasses used by the public; that street cars be thoroughly scrubbed and fumigated at the end of each day’s run; that instructions be issued to principals, teachers, medical school inspectors and school nurses to exclude from school all children with colds, sore throats, coughs and other respiratory infections.” They also recommended that “all physicians, nurses and other individuals coming in contact with an active case of influenza or cold wear a surgical mask in order to prevent further infections.”

September 28 – Sixteen men out of twenty-four laborers employed by the Dunn-McCarthy Construction Company in Beech Grove, a suburb of Indianapolis,  have come down with the influenza. Three of them are patients now at St. Francis hospital.

September 29 – The Federal Government developed a vaccine for pneumonia to give to the soldiers and sailors, but it was not effective because the virus pathogen had not been isolated. About 200 mild cases of influenza were reported at Fort Harrison, which was put under quarantine, and another 200 cases at Vocational School No. 2, stationed at the Indiana State School for the Deaf located on Indianapolis’ northeast side. The next day, September 30, Fort Harrison reported 250 new cases, and the Vocational School reported 75 new cases, but the authorities said “none of these cases are of a character to cause alarm”, though many local men in other camps around the country died from the disease.


October 1 – The Indianapolis Board of Health reported fifty mild cases of the influenza in Indianapolis, including Mayor Jewett, with four deaths at the vocational detachment. Arsenal Technical School delayed opening for fear of infections. 88,000 cases were reported in the army camps around the U. S., with 6,769 cases of pneumonia and 1,877 deaths. Fresh air and sunshine was recommended as a cure. The Marion County unit of the American War Mothers  and the Red Cross asked for donations of fresh linen from the public for the vocational detachments, with a call for more nurses to help.

October 2 – Shipyards in New England and the North Atlantic coast were hit hard with the disease, and 43 states reported cases in the civilian population. The army reported 113,737 cases since the epidemic began on September 13, with 2,479 deaths; their hospitals were filled to capacity. Twenty-six year old Ethel May Lewis of Indianapolis, a department store employee, died a few days later, while 123 flu cases were reported in the city. There were about 1,000 cases in Greencastle and vicinity, 1,000 cases in New Albany,  400 cases at Princeton,  250 cases at Clinton, as well as cases in South Bend, North Liberty, Walkerton, Hanover College, Wabash College, and other communities around Indiana.

October 5 – 1,100 influenza cases were reported at Fort Benjamin Harrison, 128 cases of pneumonia, and 8 deaths. The football game between Butler College and Wabash college was called off due to 17 students with the disease at Butler College in Irvington, a suburb just east of Indianapolis.

October 6 – Dr. Herman J. Morgan, secretary of the Indianapolis Board of Health, ordered that beginning tomorrow morning all Indianapolis schools, theaters and moving pictures houses were ordered closed and a ban was placed on all public gatherings. Soon after he issued the order he received a telegram from Washington directing ” a similar movement in every city and town in the state, and practically every state in the union”.  This is the first time in its history that the whole state had been quarantined. 14 deaths were reported at Fort Harrison since October 1st. Dr. Morgan predicted that the epidemic will probably last six to eight weeks, but the ban will only be in effect until midnight, October 20. Only essential war activities will be allowed, and sick employees should be sent home and all windows and doors of the buildings should be left open for good ventilation. The city health officials required that there should not be public gatherings of more than twelve persons. They also ask people not to visit, to stay at home. All funerals are to be private. Outdoor juvenile sports such as football, baseball, and tennis are still allowed, but all college football games were banned. A fine of $5 to $50 for violators of this ordinance.

wp-15964862947121057146059.jpgIndianapolis Star, October 7, 1918

October 7 – Unfortunately, despite the almost total quarantine starting today, Indianapolis officials allowed a huge, patriotic Foreign Legionaire parade downtown in the afternoon, with the United States Air Service Band leading and local members of various foreign societies participating, attracting “thousands and thousands of people downtown.”. At least twenty-six society meetings were closed that day due to the epidemic, as well as schools and businesses, so they were all free to rush in crowds downtown! There was no public statement about the bad timing, nor of the probable ill-health consequences. The most over-riding concern of the public was honoring and paying tribute to the men and women overseas who were fighting the “huns”, not the danger of an invisible germ, and the result was fatal to many of the public.


October 8 : 1300 influenza cases at Fort Harrison, with 140 pneumonia cases, and 10 deaths in the last twenty-four hours. 100 nurses recruited to work either at Fort Harrison or any of the state vocational training camps. The Speedway Aviation Camp, with 1000 soldiers, has five cases of influenza. The Tippecanoe health commissioner prohibited the Depauw-Purdue football game to be played, and Indiana University can only play home games – the University is still in session.

By October 10, the number of influenza cases at Fort Harrison jumped to 1,662, two hundred and forty pneumonia cases, and fifty-four deaths. The number of beds at the Fort hospital increased from 300 to 1,600.

The Democratic and Republican campaign events were cancelled until after October 20; instead they will ” send out an enormous amount of ‘literature’, use advertising space in all street and traction cars in Indiana, and [put up] thousands of billboards in the last two weeks of the campaign”.

wp-15976381886561512296574.jpgIndianapolis Star, October 10, 1918

October 10 – Indiana University in Bloomington closed for ten days or longer and the approximate 2,000 students, including 739 women, were sent home. About sixty students there have the influenza. The 1,200 men stationed there in the S.A.T.C., the Army’s military training unit, will remain at the school. The female students at Depauw University in Greencastle were also sent home, with the S.A.T.C. remaining. There were 96 cases at Wabash College, which was also closed. The football game between Wabash University and Indiana University at Jordan Field was postponed until October 26, but the S.A.T.C. football squad was allowed to practice every day, “unless a Federal order is received.” The Hanover and Franklin College game was also cancelled. J. N. Hurty, secretary of the state board of health, canceled all football games in the state until the quarantine ban is lifted.

300 Influenza cases were reported in Lawrence County, 200 in Evansville, and many more in New Albany, Shelbyville, Noblesville, Petersburg, Hammond, Richmond, Greensburg, Marion, Garrett, LaFontaine and LaGoda, Indiana

As of October 10, the U.S. Army camps have reported a total of 211,000 cases of influenza, 25,083 cases of pneumonia, and 7,432 deaths across the country. 250 physicians have volunteered their services in the Eastern and Southern states. Indiana now has 1,353 influenza cases with 27 civilian deaths including James L. White of Indianapolis, Assistant General Manager of the Cole Motor Car Company. He had been with the company since its founding. Mrs. Esther C. Keyes, a volunteer nurse at the Arsenal Technical Institute, died of the influenza, leaving a husband and two children.

October 11 – The Indiana Board of Health ordered that quarantine signs will be placed on  all residences, about 6,000 throughout the state,” where proved cases of influenza have been reported by physicians”. “The placing of the sign will not establish an absolute quarantine on the persons in the house, but will be merely a precaution to protect other persons who may be unaware of the presence of the malady in the house.”

In New Albany, Indiana, both brides in a double wedding  last June died from the Spanish influenza.

The influenza continued to spread throughout the United States in epidemic proportions. At the army camps, “during the twenty-fours hours ending at noon, 12,321 new cases were reported to the office of the surgeon general of the army, with (2),797 new cases of pneumonia and 839 deaths.” There has been to date 3,800 cases of the Spanish flu in Indianapolis, of which 425 were reported in the last twenty-four hours, and 109 deaths due to the disease. There were fifty new cases  at Fort Harrison, and twenty-three deaths in the last twenty-four hours.


October 12 – Forty-two counties have reported 3,293 cases of the Spanish flu, outside of Marion County, but only half of Indiana’s counties have reported. East Chicago is having trouble enforcing the ban because Chicago has remained open. Wabash County had 357 cases and two deaths yesterday, including a female senior at North Manchester College. Butler College now has thirty-two cases. Fort Harrison reported 143 new cases and 6 deaths yesterday. The Liberty Kitchen is sending food to the sick soldiers, including “broth,  ice cream, fruit and fruit juices, custards and various sick room delicacies.” All “dry Beer” saloons were closed in Indianapolis due to large groups of patrons congregating in them.

October 13 – Indianapolis Mayor Jewett ordered Fire Chief Louks to thoroughly clean the streets of the downtown business district by flushing them with water, to halt the spread of the Influenza. Department stores have remained open, but sick employees should be sent home, and large groups should not use the elevators. Influenza cases in Indiana have now reached 7,000, with twenty-seven deaths, not counting Marion County or the army camps. Whisky has been confiscated in Indianapolis and sent to Fort Harrison to be medically used. Assisting in the care of sick civilians and soldiers are “the state medical societies, the State Nurses’ Association, the American Red Cross, the Public Health Nursing Association, the Federated Women’s Clubs, the Indiana Manufacturers’ Association, the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and other organizations.”

The State Board of Health ordered “Indiana industry, now largely employed in direct or indirect war work, should be kept in full operation despite the influenza epidemic.”  (coal miners and industry workers were the hardest hit with the influenza.) Also, Dr. Morgan of the Indianapolis board of health ordered that starting tomorrow “all retail stores, except groceries and drug stores, within the mile square will open at 9:45am and close at 6:15pm, by eliminating as much as possible the crowding of street cars during rush periods of the day.” Dr. Hurty of the state board of health believes that the flu epidemic will reach its peak tomorrow, and that older people seem to be immune to the disease for some reason.

October 14 – The mortality rate from the influenza has been 4 percent of the cases at Fort Harrison.

October 15 – The Red Cross headquarters sent 100 influenza masks to the Indianapolis Post Office for the clerks in its office. Only one delivery a day is made instead of the customary two deliveries on five of the routes. 463 new cases of the influenza was reported in Indianapolis yesterday, with 33 deaths. Assembly Hall on the Indiana University campus “has been turned into an improvised hospital” to care for the 100 student patients. I.U. President William J. Bryan is assisting there while wearing a mask. All retail stores in Kokomo have been closed.

A co-ordinating committee was formed due to the “exceeding serious condition of the state” “representing the Red Cross, the state board of health, the State Council of Defense, the National Council of Defense and the Volunteer Medical Service Corps of the United States Army”. Their meeting was held in the Hume-Mansur building in Indianapolis. 100 Indiana physicians have already volunteered their services out of state. The county health commissioners have been asked to provide the names of all physicians who would volunteer their time in Indiana. “They will be paid by the government through the Red Cross, $200 a month and $4 a day for maintenance and traveling expenses while in service.”

October 16 – Indianapolis has 300 new cases of influenza with 17 deaths. The Womens Motor Corps have transferred a total of about 550 patients from the training detachments at the Metropole Hotel, the Arsenal Technical High School and elsewhere to the barracks at the State School for the Deaf.

The Richmond Casket Company made one casket every four minutes for a total of 125 caskets for a rush order sent to Washington D.C.

Indiana University will not reopen until October 28 due to the Spanish influenza epidemic, a delay of one week. Ninety S.A.T.C students at the school have caught the influenza.

wp-15969164587731765665867.jpgIndianapolis Star, October 16, 1918

October 17 – DePauw University will delay its opening until October 28. Many deaths due to the Spanish influenza are reported around the state: in South Bend, Noblesville, Shelbyville, Brazil, Goshen, Newcastle, Columbus, Rochester, Seymour, Evansville, New Albany, Anderson and Hammond. Dr. Hurty found on inspection of the northern part of Marion County that “at least 50 percent of the population in the rural communities were infected with influenza”.

October 18 – Surgeon General Rupert Blue reports that the current pandemic has been exceeded only by the cholera epidemics in 1843 and the 1870s. The number of cases are probably under-reported because influenza is not a reportable disease. People do not seem to be aware that the secretions of the nose and mouth should go into a mask or handkerchief instead of those near them. For example: the state of New York has three hundred to four hundred deaths a day due to the Influenza. A person with a mild case of the flu can spread the disease to a person who might develop a serious case.

2,688 new cases of the influenza in Indiana were reported yesterday.  An Indianapolis bicycle policeman found fifteen individuals sick with the flu in one house, including a dead baby. The father of nine of them  said he was too ill to go to his job at a canning factory, or to attend to the rest of his family, and that they had spent all of their money. They will be transferred to the City Hospital. There are 350 cases at the Boy’s School in Plainfield, and 148 cases out of the 250  students at the White Institute (a Quaker-run home and school for poor boys in Wabash County).

wp-159743585783829279396.jpgIndianapolis Star, October 27, 1918

October 19 – Dr. Hurty of the State Board of Health extended the state quarantine to midnight, October 26. He realized that the ban is a hardship on businesses, schools, churches and other organizations, but he said that “the first consideration must be the public health”. There were 622 new cases of the influenza were reported the last two days in Indianapolis with 35 deaths, and 3,275 new cases in the state. “Many physicians in communities throughout the state have been so overworked that they have neglected to make complete returns”, under-reporting the actual cases. The proprietors of the dry beer saloons complain that the other retail stores in the city should also be closed, not just their businesses.

October 20 – The Indianapolis Star reported that “Since the beginning of the epidemic cases reported from camps in the U.S. total 283,331, with 14,153 deaths.” Vice-President Marshall is quarantined in an apartment in Washington D.C, apart from from his wife and baby who have the influenza. The Red Cross in Indiana is asking that all graduate nurses or women with practical nursing experience to assist in taking care of the growing number of sick in the civilian population. Those that don’t help are “unpatriotic” and “slackers”. Fort Harrison now has 120 cases of influenza and 360 cases of pneumonia. To speed up the production of caskets, “the War Industries Board has asked coffin manufacturers to make only the simpler forms of coffins at present”.

October 21 – A federal health official stated that while “the army and navy are fighting and conquering the Germans, we must fight and conquer the germs,” and “we must make our own masks and dressings.” Also, no operations should be conducted unless absolutely needed to save a life. Sixteen nurses have been afflicted with the disease in Indianapolis and one doctor has died.

wp-15972630388521707119936.jpgIndianapolis Star, October 22, 1918

October 22 – The nurses across the state are exhausted from the “stress of the influenza epidemic”. Twenty-one people have died from the disease today in South Bend. There is a shortage of casket workers to keep up with the demand caused by the epidemic around the country.

October 23 – The epidemic in Indiana seems to be coming in “waves”:

wp-1597216333276332812331.jpgIndianapolis Star October 23, 1918

October 24, 1918 – The proprietor of a theater in Muncie, Indiana believes his landlord should reduce the rent because the epidemic has forced his business to close. Indiana University will again delay reopening, until Monday, November 4. Health authorities advise that your telephone earpiece and transmitter should be cleaned thoroughly with an antiseptic fluid. A letter to the editor stated that worshipers should be allowed to attend church during the quarantine, for “social intercourse is a source of strength and creates good fellowship” through prayer. A young man recently discharged from the Army volunteered to help out at White’s Institute, a school for boys in Wabash. Nurses are still desperately needed. Sister Patrice Kennedy at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Indianapolis, died yesterday of the influenza. City Hospital is filled to capacity and no new cases are accepted.

October 25 – Many people are not taking the epidemic seriously, until it hits home. The state board of health delayed the ban on public gatherings to November 2. They don’t believe the peak of the epidemic has been reached yet. Indianapolis health officials will allow city barber shops to open from 8am to 6:15pm. Sixty-three new cases were reported in the city. The state board of health will allow the Purdue-Depauw to play their football game because it is an outdoor event, but President Thomas C. Howe of Butler College decided to cancel its football game with Wabash because of the epidemic.

School teachers in Indiana will receive their normal pay during the shutdown, as will the school janitors, though the school bus drivers won’t because of their contract. Christmas vacation will only be one day, and there will be no other vacation time allowed for the rest of the school year. Also, students will be given full credit for the partial term in school.

October 26 – Ten cases of the disease per 1,000 of population in a county is considered an epidemic.

wp-15974317871882009570578.jpgIndianapolis Star, October 26, 1918

President Mackintosh of Wabash College in Crawfordsville opened classes there, though there is still an influenza epidemic ban in the city. Twenty-three new deaths, twenty-one due to pneumonia and two due to influenza, were reported yesterday in Indianapolis. Dr. Morgan of the city’s board of health stated that he is mindful that the ban is very hurtful to business, but that “business concerns and places which are now closed may resume shortly if the citizens of Indianapolis will wear influenza masks.”

“A large crowd of soldiers, sailors and civilians will witness” the Purdue-Depauw football game this Saturday in Lafayette at 3pm, but the school is still closed. The state board of health believes that twenty-five percent of the actual number of deaths due to the disease have not been reported.

wp-1597436962512429875790.jpgIndianapolis Star, October 27, 1918

October 27 – Health officials warn against home remedies for the influenza and “nostrum vendors” (snake oil) that will cause more harm than good. “The chief reliance must be on medical attention, good nursing, fresh air, nutritious food, plenty of water and cheerful surroundings,” Ten nurses have died of the disease at Camp Sherman in Ohio, including Laure H. Burden of South Bend, Indiana.

wp-15974353524691242763945.jpgIndianapolis Star, October 27, 1918

Dr. Morgan stated that Indianapolis has done better with the influenza epidemic than other cities because they took precautions before the epidemic hit the city. For instance, Cleveland, Ohio now has a total of 10,223 cases of the disease, with 521 deaths. Cleveland has had to employ fifty additional water works employees to bury the dead. Steam shovels are being used in New York City to temporarily bury its dead, with a total of 4,897 deaths up to today.

October 28, 1918 – The soldiers in training at Butler College are now required to wear masks provided by the Red Cross and are not allowed off campus due to the influenza epidemic. The Army’s 300 special radio training will resume tomorrow at Indiana University.

October 29 – “The Indiana state board of health heartily joins with the Massachusetts board in urging life in the open air as a preventive and a cure for influenza and pneumonia. For prevention, also keep out of crowds as much as possible and avoid the cougher, the sneezer and the spitter as you would a pestilence.” The mortality in Indianapolis due to the epidemic is thirty-nine per 1,000 of  estimated population, compared to Philadelphia at 158.3, Baltimore at 148.8, New Orleans at 107.6 and Washington D.C at 109.3. The normal death rate during normal times in the United States is between 7 and 19.9 deaths per 1,000 of estimated population.

Purdue University will reopen the morning of October 30.

Dr. Morgan of the Indianapolis board of health believes that the ban on public gatherings will be lifted soon, but they will not close the city again; the “hardship” on business has been too great. Instead they will require people to wear gauze masks which has proven effective in other cities. Fifteen Indiana counties are still showing an increase in influenza and pneumonia cases.

wp-15975230667061413822254.jpgIndianapolis Star, October 28, 1918

“Miss Mae Phillips, 25 years old, graduate of the St. Vincent Hospital, died Saturday of influenza while nursing at the St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. Her mother and three sisters survive.”

October 30 – The Indianapolis board of health will lift the influenza ban in Indianapolis tomorrow morning. All businesses will be reopened, including motion picture theaters, vaudeville houses, cigar stores, billiard rooms, drydrink establishments, the central library and branches and churches.   The schools will resume on Monday, November 4, and the Republican party will resume its campaign for the election next Tuesday. The average number of new cases in the last three days in the city was “only” 117. The state ban will be lifted Saturday, November 2, though some of the western and southern counties will remain under quarantine due to rising number of cases. It is reported that many parents of sick children have died from the flu. Eleven boys and three officers at the Indiana Boys’ School in Plainfield have died of the disease.

October 31 – Charles E. Rush, city librarian, stated that as the city’s libraries will open as normal at 9am this morning, that to be fair there will be no charges on overdue books.

“Mrs. Mary McFadden Sabastian, a nurse at he Soldiers Home here (Marion, Indiana), was buried at the home cemetery with full military honors. She was held in high esteem by all the veterans and officials at the home for her faithful work as a nurse and kindly disposition. She died of the influenza-pneumonia.”

wp-15976170825471308983415.jpgIndianapolis Star, October 31, 1918

Depauw University will open today after being closed for twenty-one days, but its 400 female students  will be quarantined to prevent the spread of the flu to the S.A.T.C. students who have been stationed there. Butler College, which has been closed since October 7, will reopen Monday, November 4. Indiana University will also reopen Monday, November 4. Wabash College will remain closed due to the still dangerous conditions. Several churches in reopened Indianapolis will conduct prayer meetings tonight. Many organizations such as the Indianapolis Literary Club, the Century Club and the Womens’ Department Club will now hold meetings that had been postponed due to the epidemic. The Indianapolis health board will allow Halloween festivities, except parties with large gatherings. 

Indiana had 3,386 influenza-pneumonia deaths in October, with a total of 5,926 deaths from all causes, the most ever recorded in a single month in its history.

November 1 – Dr. J. N. Brown, secretary of the Indiana health board, will lift the state’s epidemic ban tomorrow night at midnight, except for some counties where the influenza is still not in control., especially in the mining districts. These closed counties’ health commissioners will decide when they should reopen. Officials state that the public must still “observe hygienic rules” to keep the disease from recurring, but they thank the public for cooperating with the shutdown to “stamp out the epidemic”. The Murat Theater in Indianapolis invited approximately 2,500 soldiers to view a performance of “Leave it to Jane” “as guests of the management”. The number of influenza cases  and deaths in the general public increased slightly after the ban was lifted.

The turnout of trick-or-treaters on Halloween was sparse, with some dressed like Charlie Chaplin.

wp-15976241339531507660566.jpgIndianapolis Star, November 6, 1918

November 3 – “Miss Florence Pickens, 30 years old, a graduate of the Methodist Hospital’s training school for nurses, died of the influenza at that institution. She was a member of the class of 1913…Miss Pickens was called to Indiana by the death of her brother, Clyde Pickens, a soldier, who was buried in Edinburg, Indiana, last week. On the day of his funeral she fell ill. Her body was taken to Edinburg yesterday and funeral services will be held tomorrow.”

November 4 – Miss Chloe Wilson, 32 years old and a nurse for twelve years, died of the influenza in the Deaconess Hospital, Indianapolis. She had volunteered her services two weeks ago working house-to-house when she fell ill. She will be buried in Spencer, Indiana.

November 4 – “Few, if any, families have escaped without one or more victims.”

The nation’s research scientists still had not found a cure for this new virulent disease. The epidemic in the United States “caused more deaths than occurred among the American Expeditionary Forces from all causes from the time the first unit landed in France until hostilities ceased”: about 78,000 in the U.S.compared to about 45,000 in Europe.

November 11 – Germany signed an armistice, a peace agreement, with the Allies.

The influenza-pneumonia epidemic did not go away like magic. Indianapolis had an average of forty-five to fifty cases a day the second week in November. Physicians in some counties refused to report their flu cases to the county health commissioners, probably because they didn’t want their counties to be quarantined again. Some of the open towns and townships had to close again. The number of cases in Indianapolis doubled to over 150 on November 14 – 15. Then, to make matters worse, on November 16, Indianapolis had a parade seventeen blocks long in a drizzling rain to celebrate the signing of the WWI armistice! So, naturally, there were 181 influenza cases reported on November 17 in Indianapolis.

wp-15976411174001818378046.jpgIndianapolis Star, November 19, 1918

November 19 – The Indianapolis board of health did not force a gathering-of-people ban again because thy believed “that such restrictions would be disastrous to business conditions”, particularly during the Christmas shopping season. It also closed the schools again  because “there would be great difficulty in enforcing the regulations among children”. Many club meetings and events were postponed, including the State Teachers’ Association convention.

Since the recent patriotic celebrations the number of influenza cases have increased dramatically. There were 656 new cases in the state yesterday. The health officials advise that an infected person should go to bed immediately after first feeling the flu symptoms. They also warn the public not to throw their used masks “in public buildings or on the streets”, but they can be used often if cleaned thoroughly by boiling, rinsing and drying.

This new phase of the epidemic is now affecting children below the age of 18 more than any other age group. Students of all grades are now being given “assignments of work for home study…to make up a part of the time that will be lost.”

The state board of health will leave the restriction notice decisions up to each county. Indianapolis health officials will canvas the city’s businesses, and will close them  if they will not follow the rule to enforce the new mask-wearing rule. The city’s schools commissioners asked why the high schools should remain closed if the theaters are allowed to open.

wp-1597871966545812490039.jpgwp-15978727159402089468746.jpgIndianapolis Star, November 20, 1918

November 20 – Richmond and Columbus, Indiana will resume their ban of public gatherings due to the upsurge of the influenza cases. The students at Indiana University will receive their assignments from their professors over the telephone. Kokomo will close their public schools.

In Indianapolis “About 100 boys of the Boys’ Club Association set out to make 1,500 masks. The girls of the City Hall Knitting Club made several dozen masks and distributed some of them in the building”, but then ran out of some material, “as a result some of the dignitaries of the municipal building will wear masks with pink ribbon attachments this morning.” Some tobacco smokers are poking a hole in the front of their masks to fit their cigar, cigarette or pipe in, but what about the chewers?

November 21 – “Children from 4 to 14 years old and older may be carriers of the disease, which may not develop in their cases, but by cross infection the disease will develop in all persons exposed.” “There are 147 new cases in the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphanage at Knightstown.” The number of influenza cases and deaths continue to rise since the lifting of the ban across the state. Regardless of the influenza, Governor Goodrich called for a conference of delegates from around the state to deal with post-war problems and re-adjustment to peace time.

Three men in an Indianapolis hotel lobby were arrested when they refused to wear a mask when ordered by police detectives. Nearly half of the patrons in a theater were not wearing masks.

November 22 – Many communities do not have physicians to attend to the sick because they have gone to war. Scores of people feel that the masks are a “nest for germs”, that they prevent “oxygenation”,and refuse to wear them; that the epidemic should just “run its course”. A letter to the editor states that the state is acting too autocratic with its mandated bans and masks, that the influenza is just a  seasonal cold. 1,678 new cases of the influenza were reported yesterday around the state. The Indianapolis board of health reported 249 new cases and threatened to close the city if masks are not worn. Masks have been proven to help suppress the disease.

wp-15990597316302084108329.jpgIndianapolis Star, November 22, 1918

November 24 – The spread of the Spanish flu has reached epidemic proportions in the state again, and  Governor Goodrich proclaimed that each county will organize an influenza commission to help their county’s board of health. (As it turned out, only fourteen communities in the state formed a commission. These  local commissions should have been formed in September when the epidemic was just getting started, which would have saved the state and local communities time, money and lives.) Statistics have shown that persons between the ages of twenty and thirty were more likely to die from influenza-pneumonia. 3,020 children have been made orphans in October due to the epidemic.

An advertisement in the Indianapolis Star: “Probably nothing will hasten the recovery [from influenza-pneumonia] and strengthen the patient more than an iron-tonic tablet called ‘Irontic’ or that well known herbal tonic, Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical discovery, which has been used by thousands in the past two generations.”

November 25 – The closing of schools has caused all school sports to be canceled. Board of health officials believe the new wave of influenza cases was caused by the numerous celebrations of the end of the war. Just one infected person will spread the disease to a whole community.

“Samuel C. Duvall, a prominent mechanical engineer, architect and draftsman and widely known in Indianapolis building circles, died yesterday morning at his home, 1121 North Arsenal Avenue, following a brief illness of bronchial pneumonia…He was superintendent in charge of the building of the new State Medical School being erected at the Robert Long Hospital” in Indianapolis. He also was superintendent in charge of the construction of Indiana University’s gymnasium.

November 26 – A sarcastic letter to the Indianapolis Star : Her family is now suffering from “sore throats, coughs and colds” because the board of health ordered them to wear masks. “So today my husband, father and myself are going to wear brown shoes. My sister hasn’t brown shoes, so is going to buy some. It does not make much difference what shade of brown, but they must be brown, this color being not only a preventative, but a ‘sure cure’. I know its true, because some one said so.”

wp-1599061010255109329719.jpgIndianapolis Star, November 24, 1918

Another letter: “If people will realize…that this Spanish flu is largely the result of fear that has been promulgated over the county through various channels, the first strong step to its elimination would be taken.”

The Indianapolis board of heath rescinded the order to wear masks, because the number of new cases for a two-day period dropped from 671 to 337 to 129. Though there was some opposition to the mask-wearing order, the board thanks the public for their cooperation. The state’s influenza epidemic continued to spread, though.

November 28 – A Thanksgiving Day message: “The President of the United States and the Governor of Indiana have issued their proclamations calling upon the people of this nation and state to assemble in the churches tomorrow to give thanks to a beneficent Heavenly Father for his manifold blessings during the past year.”  World War I had been won, but the scourge of the influenza epidemic and the loss of thousands of lives in the war, to me, does not seem like a blessing.

The influenza epidemic was not over. It spiked again in December, then went through milder waves through the winter and spring of next year. The influenza finally did “run its course”, by herd immunity.


December 2 – All Indianapolis schools opened. Masks were not mandated in the schools.

Indiana politicians did not publicly get involved with decisions to ban public gatherings, to mandate mask wearing, close businesses or churches, or close or open schools. Those decisions were publicly made by the state, county, and city boards of health, by Army officials and by university presidents.  Also, the President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, never publicly addressed the pandemic. I am sure though,  these important health issues were necessarily discussed with political officials behind closed doors, especially because of the simultaneous war effort, but the pandemic did not become a political issue in 1918. Maybe that is why the Great Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918 is not mentioned in history books.

This next record has nothing to do with the influenza epidemic, but I thought it was an interesting record of a dashing young WWI pilot with his girl. He unfortunately was killed in an air battle over France :



The Indianapolis Star

“The Spanish Influenza Epidemic In Indianapolis in 1918: A Study of Civic and Community Responses”, by Celeste H Jaffe

Written by Robert F. Gilyeat, volunteer at the Indiana State Archives

The 1890 Medical College of Indiana Received a Generous Donation

wp-15852115565771181568990.jpg“William Lomax, M.D., and his wife Maria Lomax, of the city of Marion, County of Grant, State of Indiana, do and have made a bequest to said college [Medical College of Indiana] of the following real estate….one hundred and sixty acres of land lying adjacent to the city of Marion, in Grant County, State of Indiana….An annuity to be paid while we are both living and to the survivor, of twelve hundred dollars ‘$1200’ per annum to be paid in monthly or quarterly installments, on account of the 160 acres of land, and a life estate to be run as long as we or either of us may live, in the real estate described in the city of Marion aforesaid, and an annuity of $100 for repairs and taxes on the same.”

“The annuity herein before referred to shall be a lien upon all the property or the proceeds of the property herein before described, for the payment of the same.”

The instructions of the Articles of Association required that the Medical College of Indiana shall be established in Indianapolis, Indiana. If possible the Medical College should be consolidated with De Pauw University, Indiana University, or Wabash College. This part of the instructions is very puzzling, because there there was already a Medical College of Indiana established in Indianapolis in 1869, and the College did not affiliate with Indiana University until 1908 to form the Indiana University School of Medicine.wp-1585214599172651084596.jpg

Maybe Dr. Lomax and his wife wanted to set up a rival Medical College of Indiana, but his obituary dated 27 April 1893 stated:wp-15852159521671196994775.jpg

So,if they had made the donation to the existing Medical College of Indiana, the other instructions of the Association must have not been honored. Maria Lomax did not die until 1910, but it is not known if the annuity continued up to that time. Nevertheless, many conspicuous Indiana doctors signed these Articles of Association:wp-15852170818231353372841.jpg

Photos of some of these doctors from the Wishard Scrapbook:

wp-15852326733001416314702.jpgDr. Elijah W. Elder

wp-1585232725325478292404.jpgDr. Edward Francis Hodges


Dr. Albert W. Brayton


Dr. William N. Wishard


Dr.James H. Taylor


Dr. Joseph W. Marsee


Dr. John H. Oliver


Dr. Lehman H. Dunning


Dr. Henry Jameson

Written by Robert F. Gilyeat, volunteer at the Indiana State Archives

Marion Motor Car Company, Indianapolis, 1904-1915

wp-15851298258981457099957.jpg1911 Marion Roadster

On Noveember 1, 1904 the Marion Motor Car Company was incorporated in Indianapolis, Indiana, by Linnaes C. Boyd, vice-president of the Indianapolis Water Company; Hugh McK. Landon, Secretary of the Indianapolis Water Company; Robert H. Hassler, mechanical engineer who invented shock absorbers for automobiles; Frederick A. Joss, an Indianapolis attorney; Charles A. Bookwalter, President of the Gem Garment Company; J. Arthur Hittle, automobile machinist; and Ida. G. Belser, stenographer.


In 1906 Harry C. Stutz joined the company as its chief engineer and designer. Besides the Bobcat Roadster, he also designed the 1911 Marion Model 33 “Bobcat” Speedster.wp-15851419343841371386493.jpg

To advertise the Marion brand autos, Harry’s brother Charles Stutz and Adolph Monsen would drive the Marion in races:wp-15851495078661212161901.jpgIndianapolis Star, July 6, 1909

wp-15851493900311698389156.jpgIndianapolis Star, July 8, 1909

Harry Stutz left the Marion Motor Car Company in 1909 to form his own company, manufacturing the famous Stutz Bear Cat in 1911, which was raced in the first Indianapolis 500 Race in 1911 under the Ideal Motor Car Company brand.

The Marion Motor Car Company manufactured 7,158 automobiles in all, but it was never a very profitable company. John N. Willys, President of the Overland Automobile Company, bought Marion in October, 1908, and used its factory to produce the Overland engines and parts. wp-15851523259032103696764.jpg

In 1914 J. I. Handley bought the assets of the company and moved it to Jackson, Michigan.


Written by Robert F. Gilyeat, a volunteer at the Indiana State Archives.


The Indianapolis Brewery and Other Early Breweries


In 1841 a young German immigrant named Charles Mayer opened a small general store in Indianapolis, Indiana, on West Washington Street. Besides selling dry goods, toys, nails, cigars and fishing lines, he sold glasses of beer from a keg in his back room. This beer was brewed from a local brewer named John P. Meikel, whose brewery was located  on 135 West Maryland Street.

The population of Indianapolis in 1840 was 2,692, but by 1860 the population of Indiana’s capitol city had grown to 18,611, the growth partly due to the influx of German immigrants, who enjoyed their beer. The number of saloons in 1857 were 23, but by 1867 the number had mushroomed to 107. Meikel had continued his brewing business till 1875, through the 1861-1865 Civil War that brought thousands of soldiers and extra business into the city. Taking advantage of this new commerce, German immigrants Peter Lieber, Christian F. Schmidt and Casper Maus had each opened successful breweries. In 1890 these three breweries were combined to form the Indianapolis Brewing Company. This combined company was owned by an English syndicate.




John P. Frenzel, whose parents were born in Germany, was president of the Merchants National Bank, and later formed the Indiana Trust Company. Albert Lieber was the oldest son of Peter Lieber, and incidentally was the grandfather of writer Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut wrote that his grandfather lived an expensive social life, and during the Prohibition years had to sell off his high-priced real estate holdings, including his mansion overlooking the White River. Albert Baker was the founder of the prominent law firm, Baker and Daniels, and Edward Daniels was his partner. John W. Schmidt was the son of Christian F. Schmidt and was the head of of Schmidt Brewery Company. I believe Paul de Fere and George W. Fuller, Jr. were from England.wp-1582815072029667302895.jpg



According to “The Journal Handbook of Indianapolis”, 1902, edited by Max R. Hyman,  the three plants of the Indianapolis Brewing Company had “a combined output of 500,000 barrels yearly. In the various plants employment is given to 1,000 hands, the products being excellent qualities of beer, the specially noteworthy brands being their Progress bottled beer and their ‘Tafel’ and ‘Duesseldorfer’ beers, which are both keg and bottled beers. These beers have a wide reputation for their superior quality and were awarded a gold medal at the Paris Exposition of 1900.”

Between the Civil War years and 1880 among smaller brewers were brothers Frederick and Henry Harting, Frank Wright of Capital Brewery, Peter Balz and Peter Poehler. Lieber, Maus and Schmidt dominated the Indianapolis brewing business during this time, and kept their separate brewery sites after they consolidated into the Indianapolis Brewery.


After 1890 smaller breweries sprang up, the most successful being the Home Brewing Company, the American Brewing Company and the Capital City Brewing Company. The Home Brewing Company was started in 1892 by August Hook, who had been the foreman of the C.F. Schmidt brewery since 1882. (Incidentally August’s son, John Hook, opened his Hook’s Drug Store at 1101 S. East Street in 1900, and became one of the prominent drug store chains in Indiana through much of the twentieth century.)

The American Brewing Company opened in 1897 by Joseph C. Schaf. He had been the Assistant Manager for the Indianapolis Brewing Company. The Capital City Brewing Company was opened in 1905 by Charles Krauss, who also owned a “Driven Wells, Cisterns and Pumps” company.

Before Indiana’s Prohibition law went into effect on April 2, 1918, almost two years before the 18th Amendment became a national law, fifteen breweries were listed in the Indianapolis City Directory. It was like the public’s thirst for beer was the strongest before its sale was illegal. It’s no wonder “speakeasies”, or “blind tigers” as the authorities labeled them, became popular during the Prohibition years.

Indianapolis Star, April 3, 1918




Written by Bob Gilyeat, with the help of Indiana State Archives archivist Vicki Casteel.

The 1892 Indianapolis Base Ball Club: The Beginning of Change

Owners and executives of the dominant National League and the defunct American Association baseball clubs met in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Bates House hotel from December 15 to December 18, 1891. The purpose of their meeting was to finalize the agreement to amalgamate the eight National League clubs and four of the solvent American Association clubs, to form a twelve-team National League. This new organization was proposed to stay in existence for ten years, to the year 1901. The seasons were to be cut in half, spring and fall, with the winner of each half-season to play  seven, nine or eleven games for the championship (they didn’t explain how this was to be determined); if the same club wins both half-seasons, then it wins the year’s championship.

The new twelve-team National League included the Boston Beaneaters, the Chicago Colts, the Brooklyn Grooms, the Cincinnati Reds, the Cleveland Spiders, the Pittsburg Pirates, the New York Giants, and the Philadelphia Phillies of last year’s league; with the Louisville Colonels, the Washington Senators, the St. Louis Browns, and the Baltimore Orioles of the old American Association. Chicago representatives argued for the inclusion of two clubs from that city, but only Albert G. Spalding’s Colts (the future Chicago Cubs) won out. The colorful owner of the St. Louis Browns, German immigrant Chris van der Ahe, was there with his thick German accent to persuade the League to include his team.


20191125_161956969701532.jpg                                                              Owners conferring

Local clothing store entrepreneur and Cincinnati Reds owner John T. Brush was asked by the Indianapolis Journal sports reporter why the meeting had been held in Indianapolis, and if Indianapolis will host a major league club. Brush answered that Indianapolis was a central meeting site for all the club owners; and that the Indianapolis population was too small to afford to pay for a major league baseball club, but he would see  to it that Indianapolis would get a minor league club. He was as good as his word:



The stockholders and directors of the Indianapolis club included Roscoe O. Hawkins – lawyer, John C. McCutcheon –  treasurer of the National Card Company, Ford Woods –  Assistant General Freight Agent of the CCC & St. Louis Railroad, Charles F. Meyer – owner of the Meyer Cigar & Tobacco Shop, Albert Lieber – Treasurer of the Indianapolis Brewing Company, P. F. Igoe – bookkeeper, Walter F. C. Golt – Assistant Cashier at the Indianapolis National Bank, Henry Jameson – physician, James H. Rice – loan company owner, Horace Smith, the notary public, a law partner with Hawkins, and John T. Brush – owner of the When Department Store in Indianapolis.

John T. Brush led a colorful life as a businessman/promoter. He was born in Clintonville, New York, on June 15, 1845. He was orphaned at age 4, raised by his grandfather, served in the Civil War, and then went into the clothing store business in New York. He moved to Indianapolis in 1875, and to promote his newly remodeled clothing store he advertised “WHEN?” for its opening date; then stuck with the designation “When” to name his store. To promote his store he had a popular band play on its second-floor balcony, and formed a local baseball team to promote his store and the city.

20191123_1550341450879685.jpg                                                                        John T. Brush

In 1890 Brush bought a share in the New York Giants franchise, and in 1891 purchased the Cincinnati Reds, appointing John McGraw as manager of the Giants and Joe Kelly manager of the Reds. He sold the Reds in 1902 and became majority owner and president of the Giants. Brush remodeled New York’s Polo Grounds in 1911, but died in 1912 of a long-term illness and a bad fall. There is now a John T. Brush Stairway leading to the old Polo Grounds from the bluff above; and Brush was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Honor Role of Baseball” as an executive in 1946.

The Indianapolis club was designated the Hoosiers. Golt was appointed president of the club, Igoe the secretary, and Meyer the treasurer. The players’ home uniforms were white flannel with black trimming and black stockings; for the away games they wore black flannel suits with white trimming and black stockings (they must have gotten really hot in the summer heat!). Season tickets were priced at $20 for 70 games, 50 cents a game for grandstand seats and 25 cents a game for the bleachers. Tickets could be purchased at the Victor Jones’ Cigar Store in downtown Indianapolis.

A new Western League was set up in the spring of 1892 that included the Columbus Reds, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Kansas City Blues, the Toledo Black Pirates, the Omaha Omahogs, the Minneapolis Millers, the St. Paul Saints/Fort Wayne, and the Indianapolis Hoosiers. Players were chosen from those who had not been selected by the National League teams. William “Billy” R. Harrington was chosen to manage the Indianapolis team. He began his career in 1882 when he organized the independent Chicago Blues, and his last appointment in 1891 was with the Milwaukee club of the defunct Western Association.

20191123_1542462065499848.jpg                                                         William “Billy” Harrington

The YMCA field on East Ohio St., just inside the city’s limits, was chosen as the club’s home field, and manager Harrington was put in charge of putting the grounds in shape. The grandstand was enlarged from 1000 to 3500 seats, and bleacher seats were added. The turf was scraped and new sod added, but the pitcher’s mound was left bare. There must have been a fence around the field, for during the season onlookers stationed themselves in trees and on roof tops. If women attended the games, a special section was marked off for them to sit. Fans boarded street cars to reach the field for a game, and professional baseball play was supposed to be illegal on Sundays. Peanuts and lemonade were sold for the fans’ refreshment. They played the game with only one umpire, officiating behind the catcher and much maligned by the fans and players. A flag with a  baseball pictured on it was flown from the courthouse roof when a game was to be played at home.

Among the nineteen players who played for the Hoosiers that year was 36 year old William “Old Hickory” Carpenter who had played third base as a left-hander for the Cincinnati Reds from 1882 to 1889. He was nick-named “Old Hickory” because he preferred a bat made of hickory wood. He was an outstanding player, but Indiana was the last stop of his career.  Another player, shortstop Billy Clingman, swung with a bat made from a wagon tongue. 34 year-old Moxie Hengel had been chosen the captain of the team at the start of the season, but he proved to be too alcoholic to play, so 32 year-old Billy O’Brien was chosen instead.

Brush’s Cincinnati Reds played a few pre-season games with the Hoosiers, with the Red’s famous and future White Sox owner Charles Comiskey playing first base; and ” ‘Artful’ Latham is on hand, and will turn his usual triple somersaults over the basemen’s heads for the amusement of the crowd”.

The first game was played on Saturday, April 16, against Milwaukee. The games usually started at 3:30 PM and lasted 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Unfortunately, Indianapolis lost the first eight games. They then beat the St. Paul Saints, but it was too late for manager Harrington who was replaced by Billy Sharsig. Sharsig had founded the Philadelphia Athletics in 1880, joined the American Association in 1882, successfully managed the club several years, but had to sell the club in 1891 when the American Association folded.


The first series of the Western League’s season ended on June 30, with Indianapolis posting 12 wins and 31 losses. Much was blamed on the poor weather and playing conditions in the springtime in Indianapolis and the poor quality of several of the ball players and low morale. In fact, by the end of the season the players had not been paid their weekly salary for two weeks. But much can be said about the weather; the Indianapolis club had to cancel more games than the other teams because of inclement weather, and the Indianapolis Journal nicknamed them “The Rainmakers”.

20191126_065954490023483.jpg                                                      Suggestions for Today’s Game

Among much horse racing news from Chicago’s Garfield Park, New York City’s Morris Park, the Latonia Race Track in Covington, Kentucky, and bicycle races sponsored by The American League of Wheelmen, the Indianapolis Journal usually devoted one to two columns about the Hoosier’s games. The reporter’s writing could sometimes be very creative. For instance: when the club could not win a game, “The Toboggan is Still Greased, and Indianapolis Plunges Forward.” Or, “the crowd went home with vocal cords hoarse and wobbly as violin strings after lying out in the rain over night;” or “that play fairly took the ginger out of their vertebrae;” and, “his saffron second-base play.” When the club was scoreless, the zeros on the scoring board “began to look like a a troop of ghosts fording a river in single file in a dream”.

The best description was: ” a diminutive kid, about two feet high, bare-footed with a ragged straw hat, ran out and met Mr. O’Brien and offered him his congratulations on that nice base hit. O’Brien took the extended paw, shook it and laughed heartily. The youngster trotted back and resumed his place on the bench, apparently satisfied with the tribute he had paid the genius.”

Sometimes the Journal would add cartoonish sketches to the articles:20191124_025548138294978.jpg

Then there was the batter who “gave the ball a swat that sounded like like a basket of eggs dropping on the pavement from a second-story window.” (a well-used soggy ball?)


Or the batter who went “down like a consumptive struck with a pumpkin.”


On July 1st the Hoosiers began the second series of the season amid talk that the Western League was breaking up because the clubs could not pay their debts, and by July 15th they played their last League game. Rumors were swirling around the possibility of new combinations of clubs, new leagues forming, and even that Indianapolis might take Baltimore’s place in the National League, but nothing came of this talk until 1893 when the Western League was reorganized. (This was transformed into the American League in 1901.) Three exhibition games were played with Columbus to benefit the players and to pay their past-due salaries.

Players began to scatter to other solvent Leagues and clubs or civilian jobs even before the Hoosier’s played their very last game. City and college club games would continue to be played in Indianapolis in 1892, but no professional baseball games were played in Indianapolis until 1893 when the Western League was reorganized as a minor league.

Written by Bob Gilyeat, a volunteer at the Indiana State Archives

Smith Brothers’ Cough Drops, Made in Indiana

20190309_125424442711305.jpgSmith Brothers’ factory in Michigan City, LaPorte County, Indiana

On June 30, 1937, Smith Brothers incorporated to manufacture and sell cough drops and cough syrup in Indiana. Their company’s original and main factory was built in the middle 1800s in Poughkeepsie, New York; and they built a new plant there in 1914.The company added this second plant in 1921 in Michigan City, but it was not incorporated in Indiana until 1937.


About 1847 Scottish immigrant James Smith received a recipe for a candied cough medicine from a customer at his Poughkeepsie, New York restaurant. He cooked a batch of it in his store’s kitchen and filled a bowl of the cough drops to sell to his customers. The cough medicine became popular enough to advertise in the local newspaper in 1852. After their father died in 1866, his sons William and Andrew took over the business and began to package the cough drops in boxes with the logo “Smith Brothers Cough Drops” and with the likeness of their bearded faces.


The brothers built a factory in Poughkeepsie to produce and package the cough drops when their candied medicine’s popularity grew; the new factory had the capacity to produce three tons of of cough drops a day.

After William died in 1913, his son Arthur introduced menthol flavored drops and cherry cough syrup in 1926; wild cherry cough drops were added in 1948. After the death of Arthur in 1936, his sons William and Robert took over; they incorporated the Michigan City plant in 1937. At its peak, this plant produced 60 tons of cough drops!


The Smith Brothers Michigan City plant closed in 1959; William had died in 1955 and Robert died in 1962. The company was sold to Warner-Lambert in 1963 and later production was moved to Chicago in 1977. Sales have dwindled, but the Smith Brothers company has been sold to Lanes Brands in 2016 who hope to revive the iconic brand.

The Smith Brothers Michigan City building was demolished in 1966, and now the site is a park-like setting including an amphi-theater on the banks of Trail Creek.

Written by Bob Gilyeat, a volunteer at the Indiana State Archives.


Rev Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple in Indianapolis


The story of Rev. Jim Jones is the story of a prodigiously energetic and intelligent man who slowly went insane, paranoid and hungry for power. He could be exceedingly kind, generous and responsible, yet also insecure, fearful, deceitful, demanding, controlling and increasingly messianic. Many believers revered him as a God-like prophet.


20190224_015715116205581.jpgRev. Jim Jones’ first Peoples Temple located at 1502 North New Jersey St, Indianapolis, IN.

James W. Jones moved to Indianapolis, Indiana in 1951 with his wife of two years, Marceline, to continue his college studies at the Indiana University campus in Indianapolis, and then to maybe study law. He had been a prodigal student and graduated near the top of his high school class at the age of 16. But he became discouraged with his studies and worked odd jobs instead, while his wife worked as a nurse. He mulled around ideas about communal living, racial equality, helping the poor and needy, but he did not believe in denominational religion, or in God for that matter. He only knew he wanted to be a leader.

One day his wife, who was religious, talked Jim into attending a Methodist Church. He discovered that the Church’s social agenda compared to his own social beliefs and he became interested. In a few months the Minister of the church asked him if he would like to be a student pastor at the church, which Jim accepted hoping to use his leadership skills within the church to carry out his social beliefs. He eventually discovered that the congregation was not very enthusiastic about integrating their church, so he decided to start his own non-denominational church. By 1955 he was able to get a loan from Indiana National Bank and Arsenal Building and Loan Company to buy a small church building in Indianapolis at 1502 North New Jersey Street. He incorporated this church in 1955 as The Wings of Deliverance and named it the Peoples Temple.



During the next two years Jones continued to hone his speaking skills to captivate and mesmerize his audience, and learned how to faith heal by detecting the problems that were hurting his believers beforehand.  He attended and preached at other evangelical churches to study successful evangelicals and to attract people to his congregation. He was only moderately successful until he organized in June, 1956, an evangelical convention at the spacious Cadle Tabernacle in Indianapolis. To attract a big crowd he arranged for William Branham, a popular evangelist and faith healer, to speak at the rally, together with Jones’ own sermons and faith healing.






The success of this rally attracted many more people to hear Jones preach at his little church, increasing the church’s offerings and gifts from $22, 536.37 in 1955, to 34,460.52 in 1956. With his increased success and growing integrated congregation, Jones found a larger church at 975 North Delaware Street. This impressive stone building had been the home of the Hebrew Synagogue before they moved to north Indianapolis. The Hebrew organization had not realized that Jones’ congregation was a non-denominational evangelistic group when they sold it to them.


This new home of Jones’ Peoples Temple was in an old, but prestigious area of Indianapolis, within sight of the historic President Benjamin Harrison Home, and the Jordan School of Music.

Jones’ new integrated, evangelistic Peoples Temple became well-known in Indianapolis for helping the poor and needy, serving free meals in its basement and providing medical help for the elderly. In February, 1961, the mayor of Indianapolis appointed Jones as the head of the city’s Human Rights Commission to help integrate the city’s public places such as restaurants, and to help integrate neighborhoods.

In December,1961, Jones took a two-year “sabbatical” in Guyana, Hawaii, and Brazil, using the church’s funds to pay his living expenses. For a many years Jones had a fear of dying in a nuclear holocaust, and he was looking for a place to move his congregation to a safer area. While in Brazil, Jones became interested in occult religions, especially their idea of the religious leader as a prophet from God.

After Jones returned to Indianapolis in December,1963, he found his congregation had dwindled without his leadership, but his thoughts were now focused on moving to California, to an area that was more receptive to his liberal social ideas. He asked his congregation to move with him, with the stipulation that they turn over all their assets to the Peoples Temple. Dozens of his worshipers decided to move to California with him in July, 1965.

In California Jim Jones increased his social work, developed a controversial reputation  with his drug and sexual abuse and extremist religious and community views, believing himself to be a prophet of God and forming a cult around his personality. He eventually moved away to Jonestown, Guyana in the summer of 1977 with his 900+ converts. In November, 1978, California Congressman Leo Ryan led an investigative delegation to Jonestown. At first the delegation was treated cordially, but the situated soon turned deadly. Leo Ryan and four others were shot to death as they tried to leave, and others were injured. Fearful that he had lost control over his communal “paradise”, Jones  persuaded his hundreds of converts to commit mass suicide by drinking cyanide-laced kool aid . Jones killed himself with a bullet to the brain when he knew his end was inevitable.

Reference: “Raven,The Inside Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People”, by Tim Reitman. This detailed, well-documented book tells the life story of James W. Jones.

Written by Bob Gilyeat, a volunteer at the Indiana State Archives.






Jmes W. Jones was born in 1931 and was raised in Lynn, Indiana, about sixteen miles from Richmond, Indiana. His father had been incapacitated during WWI by poison gas and spent his time in the small town’s pool hall. His mother took daytime jobs in Richmond. But James was a prodigal child; he could talk early and was independent. He felt different because his skin color was olive-like and his hair raven black. He was lonely. By the age of ten he started to attend the local churches on his own, and his favorite was the “holy-roller” Pentecostal Church. He felt more comfortable in the emotional brotherhood and feelings of equality with the poor parishioners. Even then he could keep his playmates captivated while attending his mock-pulpit lectures.




An Indianapolis Eulogy For Abraham Lincoln


Marion County Circuit Court Book 21


Monday April 17 AD 1865 and 19″ Day of the Term

Monday morning at the hour of Nine oclock on the 17″ day of April 1865, Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present the Hon Fabius M. Finch Judge

Death of Abraham Lincoln

On motion of Hon. James Morrison. It is ordered by the committee appointed at the meeting of the Indianapolis Bar on the occasion of the death of Abraham Lincoln, be entered on the records of this Court which is done in the words following to wit:

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States on the evening of the 14″ day of April 1865 is an event so shocking and deplorable as to fill the heart of every citizen worthy of his birthright, with the keenest anguish on this dreadful tragedy acted almost in the face of the nation, in circumstance of horror seems wanting. After a long season of gloom, the fruit of a desperate intestine war, the public heart was beating high with hope, as the triumph of our arms, the fall of the rebel capital, and the surrender of the rebel’s military leader, with his army, promised the speedy return of union and peace. The nation was elate with joy. The President not only shared these universal sentiments of delight, but was devoting his thoughts to confirm the public joy by measures that should insure the rapid pacification of the country with as little bloodshed or misery or individual wretchedness as possible. A day of general thanksgiving had been fixed – a day on which the nation was invited to praise God, the universal Father: to praise him in the spirit of worshippers who look on all men as brethren: to praise him without exulting over our enemies, but with prayers for their repentance and return to a true allegiance. At this auspicious moment, when the clouds are flying, and on their retreating folds the cheering colors of the rainbow gather, the hand of the assassin is bared, the people’s leader falls dumb in death and the Republic sinks under all the bitterness of our overwhelming sorrow.

The mode of the President’s death intensifies our anguish. Never before in this country has the pistol or the dagger of the assassin been employed to put out of the way a great public magistrate.


Monday April 17″ AD 1865 and the 19″ Day of the term

How twice in the same night a hideous spectacle, recalling the implacable hatred of darker ages, when we can discover the figures of Revaillac [“a French Catholic zealot who assassinated King Henry IV of France in 1610″ – Wikipedia] and Balthazar, is brought before our eyes in this the 19” century, in the midst of institutions that place power in the hands chosen by the public voice, in the capital founded by Washington the assassin appears and by his pistol shot, slaughtered the Chief Magistrate, by the side of his wife, in a scene of public festivity: while elsewhere in the same city around the bed of the Minister of State, prostrated by recent injuries, a crowd of assassinations cluster and culminate  in the effort to destroy his life. It is in the midst of such a complication of horrors that the political assassin first darkens our public reputation and casts our immovable shadow upon the pages of the future Bancroft or Prescott or Motley, who shall paint the closing scene of Mr. Lincoln’s career. We must take our share of the general shame that pours its bitter current of our cup of grief, shows that from our race and blood such monsters of crime and cowardice could spring!

The public sorrow deepens as we call to mind the character and services of the President. His reputation is with not a blemish. Pure and honest. Kind, strong and generous he stood before his country and the world, an example of inardent manliness and Republican simplicity. “A soul supreme in each hard instance tried. Above all pain, all passion and all pride. The rage of power, the blasts of public breath. The lust of lucre and the dread of death.”

His genial nature, his great heart full of tenderness and sympathy, his boundless charity for the faults of enemies as well as of friends: his unfailing good sense displayed in forms of reasoning and modes of expression entirely his own perfectly adapted to touch the Judgements and control the actions of plain men. Men were conspicuous in the high place he advanced, and have made his name a word of honor and love wherever it is breathed. The men of this generation can never estimate the value of his public labors. The work is so stupendous that at a near view we cannot see its vast proportions: time and distance will present to the eyes of another generation the symmetry and splendor of his administration.


Monday April 17″ AD 1865 and 19″ Day of the Term

We can see him displaying wonderful abilities, readiness in resources, a steady cheerfulness under the pressure of vast responsibilities, in the darkness of disaster, amidst the clamour of his own partizans, and when treason weaved its subtle web, under the dome of the Capitol and in the offices of every department he moved serene and unshaken, his clue through the mazes of danger and difficulty – devotion to principle : his support and consolation – a trust in the Providence of Almighty God – in truth he had

“Borne his difficulties so meek hath been

So clear in his great office, that his virtues

Will plead like angels, trumpet tounged, against

The deep damnation of his taking off.”

At a great national crisis when an exhausting war seems about to close in a series of victories: when the war of opinion seems about to be renewed, and policies are to be discussed and delicate questions must be settled before peace and union are permanent and universal, the Country looked to Mr. Lincoln with unshaken confidence in his sagacity and moderation. The Moses who stood on the top of Pisgah had indeed brought us through the wilderness, and his clear eye in the near distance the inviting land stretched out, where the missions of coming generations are to live prosperous, happy and glorious with one country and one destiny. How ardently we hoped he might lead us to our rest: how bitterly we mourn him dead, none but God can know.

O friends our chief state oracle is mute.

Mourn for the man of long enduring blood,

The statesman moderate resolute –

Whole in himself a common good.

Mourn for the man of amplest influence,

Get clearest of ambitious crime:

Our greatest yet of with least pretense,

Rich in saving common sense,

And as the greatest only ave,

In his simplicity sublime.

And there upon, on motion, Court adjourned until next Monday morning at Nine oclock. Read and signed,

T. M. Finch20190127_193843425261280.jpg

While this eulogy upon the assassination of President Lincoln is not as poetic as Walt Whitman’s famous poem “O Captain! My Captain!”, it shows heartfelt shock and sorrow three days after Lincoln’s death. Also, the mastery by the eulogy’s author of the character and importance of Abraham Lincoln’s guidance of the  United States through the Civil War is impressive; as well as his prophetic lament for the loss of Lincoln’s guidance after the War. Finch and his family moved to Indianapolis in 1859 after many years working as a lawyer and judge in Franklin, Indiana. I think he was chosen by his peers to write Lincoln’s eulogy because they knew he had a deep interest in literature, he was a published poet and a strong anti-slavery Republican with two sons in the U.S. Army.

Hon. James Morrison


Hon. James Morrison, who motioned that the Indianapolis Bar record a eulogy of Lincoln, was a prominent Indianapolis Democrat lawyer and judge who was not pro-slavery. He immigrated from Scotland with his parents,  and was an early Indianapolis settler who enjoyed his Havana cigars and fishing on the banks of the White river and Fall Creek.

This was a bi-partisan support for remembering President Lincoln’s unique greatness during tumultuous times; and they both knew his wise counsel and leadership would be sorely missed by the Nation. “How bitterly we mourn him dead”.

by Robert F. Gilyeat, an Indiana State Archives volunteer










Indiana World War Memorial



Barb Wood, the coordinator of the Friends of the Indiana State Archives and a long-time volunteer at the Archives, for several months processed the paperwork of the Indiana World War Memorial located in Indianapolis, Indiana. The paperwork consists of numerous plans and notes made by the Cleveland, Ohio architectural firm of Walker and Weeks, and are contained in 132 boxes and several roles. The paperwork dates from the early 1920s to the early 1930s.


Even though most of the exterior of the Memorial building had been finished by the time General John Pershing laid its corner stone in 1927, construction of its beautiful interior continued through the early 1930s.


The 132 boxes contain numerous artistic, detailed, hand-drawn plans for the exterior and interior of the Memorial structure and for the layout of the War Memorial Plaza. There are also many hand-written notes and instructions made by the firm’s architects, besides invoices for the material used and the work done.

by Robert F. Gilyeat, Indiana State Archives volunteer



A Bounty For Wolf Scalps in Early Indianapolis/Marion County, Indiana

Indianapolis, the capitol city of Indiana, was surveyed and designed in 1821 by Alexander Ralston, and Marion County was established on December 31, 1821.

The early Indianapolis/Marion County Indiana Commissioner Record books contain a detailed history of the county as recorded by the county commissioner. An interesting reference was a local law that a bounty would be paid to anyone who brought in a wolf’s scalp from a wolf killed in Marion County.


“September Session 1827, Ordered by the Board that the holder of any certificate for a grown wolf killed in the County under the law, approved Jan. 27, 1827 receive from the Clerk also an order on the County Treasury for one dollar for a grown wolf and for fifty cents for each one under six months old.”

This Order was amended in 1834 to say that a wolf’s scalp should be brought in to receive the bounty:


“It is ordered that for each wolf Scalp taken from a wolf hereafter killed, and which have heretofore been killed in this county and duly proved according to law and which have not been been paid for[,] an allowance of one dollar on each wolf over six months old, and on each wolf under six months old fifty cents is hereby allowed payable out of the County Treasury of this Board issue orders on the County Treasury to any person or persons producing said Scalps – and that the County Treasurer receive said orders as in any other case – and that the order heretofore made prohibiting such order be and the same is hereby repealed.”

It clumsily sounds like there was some confusion about how a hunter was to prove that he killed a wolf in Marion County to receive the bounty. So, the hunter was to bring in the wolf’s scalp. But, how prove that the wolf was over or under six months old?

Anyway, in 1840:


“Allowed Elias C. Baldwin for a wolf scalp taken from a wolf killed by him in Marion County & duly proved before the Clerk, on December 14, 1839 the sum of one dollar payable out of the County Treasury.”

There is also a list of men who were paid the bounty, available at the Indiana State Archives.

This bounty to kill wolves in Indianapolis/Marion County clearly shows that Indianapolis was literally planned and built in the midst of a forest.

A painting of Indianapolis in 1820:20181212_133210270289412.jpg


Side note: early on the County paid to have a pen built around the sheep that were grazing on the State House grounds. I wonder if wolves were sneaking into the Capitol’s settlement and killing the County’s sheep.

by Robert F. Gilyeat, an Indiana State Archives volunteer