Primary Source : May News from the Indiana Historical Bureau

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Get Involved: Marker Hunt 2012

Do you love historical markers?  If you do, and you like to travel, join in IHB's annual Marker Hunt!  The Marker Hunt serves many purposes.  It is IHB's inventory mechanism, allowing us to make sure all the markers we've placed are still standing.  But, more importantly, it helps us identify persistent vandalism, deterioration, and safety issues so that we can prioritize repair needs, assist volunteers in identifying markers needing a fresh coat of paint, and answer questions from the public about the state of the marker program. 
Putting our best foot forward for the bicentennial, IHB's goal is to have as many communities involved as possible, working toward having all 475+ Indiana State Historical Markers throughout the state rated in "Excellent" condition by 2016.  The Marker Hunt is easy, fun, and appropriate for individuals and groups of all ages.  All you need is a few minutes and a camera.  Learn more here.

Flickr Badge
IHB is now on Flickr!  Check out the progress that's already been made on this year's Marker Hunt and see recent repairs and restorations.


The [Mock] Campaign Trail

"What is Indiana's state animal?" This question ranks among IHB's top 20 research questions and internet queries!  Indiana is one of only 3 states in the U.S. without a land, marine, or domestic mammal as a state emblem. 
Last year, at the Indiana State Fair, we asked fairgoers to identify state emblems, from the state tree to the unofficial state beverage.  This year, we're going to mix it up with a good old-fashioned mock election. 
If we had a state animal what should it be?  We asked our colleagues at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Indiana State Museum to nominate native creatures past and present to compete in our first Unofficial Indiana State Animal Mock Election.  We'll be hosting meet-the-candidates sessions and primaries for the Prehistoric, Pioneer, and Modern parties on our Facebook page between May 15 and August 3. 
The Bean Count will occur during the fair, with voters casting their beans at our booth on Hoosier Heritage Day on August 9.  There will also be opportunities to vote early at the DNR Fish & Wildlife Building. 
Are you "registered" to vote?  It's easy.  Just  "Like" us on Facebook to learn about the candidates and vote in the "primaries" this summer.

Spotlight on John McClain

Marker Repair Volunteer

“I love the smell of Rust-o-leum in the morning," John McClain says jokingly, when asked why he participates in the Marker Repair and Maintenance program with IHB.  John has just completed restoration of the Danville's Main Street and Historic District marker (Hendricks Co.).  He elaborates on his motivation:
"I am of the opinion that it is an opportunity to honor two sets of Hoosiers: the first, of course, are those who felt an event was noteworthy enough to commemorate it with a placard and their effort to arrange for its creation. The second is the people and place being honored. As citizens – of a local community, a state, a nation – we have an obligation to respect and recall for future generations the progress made on our behalf by others who have come before us. I will likely never do anything famous or remarkable, so this allows me to ‘leave my mark’ on history by, in a small way, preserving it.”

Left: Danville's Main Street and Historic District before.
Right: Danville's Main Street and Historic District after.
Hetty Gray, Indy Racing before the 500 cover

Shop @ IHB

Ready for the race?  Indy Racing Before the 500: The Untold Story of the Brickyard is 40% off.  See all of IHB's Racing titles.

The First Indianapolis 500

Carl G. Fisher and his three partners in the venture, James Allison,  Arthur Newby, and Frank Wheeler built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the spring of 1909 as a test track for the growing local auto industry.
The first auto race was held on May 30, 1911, and initially named the "International Sweepstakes." The race was won by Ray Harroun. Driving the Marmon Wasp, at an average speed of 74.602 mph, it took Harroun 6 hours, 42 minutes, 8 seconds to take the first Indianapolis 500 checkered flag. The winning purse was $27,550, of which Harroun was to earn $14,000. However, the Marmon Company let Harroun keep it all, plus a bonus.  After the race, an exhausted Harroun promptly retired as a professional race car driver.

Indiana State Historical Marker Application Update

If you filed an Intent to Apply form by the deadline (4/30), you should have received a confirmation of receipt from IHB.  If you have not received confirmation, please contact us at 317-232-6276 as soon as possible.  Staff will be reviewing Intent Forms in the coming weeks, so please watch your email for next steps! 

Jewish American Heritage

May is Jewish American Heritage Month. 
Another save for Indiana Landmarks!  The historic Greensfelder Building in Logansport, Indiana, has been preserved, sold, and will be repurposed as an independent bookshop café.
Eli Greensfelder came to Logansport in 1872, established a clothing business, and became a leader of the Logansport Jewish community.  His sons, Melvin and Herbert Greensfelder successfully continued the business after their father’s death.  The brothers are also credited with resisting the Ku Klux Klan during the 1920s and 1930s. Melvin maintained a list of Klan members.  According to family legend, the brothers hired some Chicago “gangsters” to run the Klan out of town.
Learn more about the Jewish heritage of your county through the Jewish Heritage Initiative and check out these Indiana State Historical Markers:
A Jewish cemetery was founded by the Hebrew Society of Brotherly Love of South Bend in 1853.  By the twentieth century, the Jewish population in this area was second or third largest in state.
Market Street Temple in Indianapolis was built 1865-1868 to serve members in area's German Jewish neighborhood.


Why is the principal shopping street in Whiting, IN 119th Street instead of Main Street?
Around 1932, Hammond decided to change the names of its east-west streets to conform to the Chicago numbering system, and Whiting also agreed to the change.  For people driving south and east from the heart of Chicagoland  this makes good sense, but for someone approaching driving west, it can come as a real shock.  
Thanks to Patrick Furlong, Indiana University South Bend, for the answer to this query!