Monday, February 27, 2017

Hoosier Dusty Files - February 27, 1921 - Train Disaster At Porter, Indiana - 37 Killed

A Year of Indiana History - 2016
A Year of Indiana History - 2016

February 27, 1921 - Train Disaster At Porter, Indiana - 37 Killed
Train engineer W. S. Long and fireman George Fl. Block disregarded an interlocking signal, derailing eastbound Michigan Central train No. 20 about 6:20 PM. The Michigan Central, going a speed of sixty miles per hour, plowed into the westbound New York Central passenger train No. 151. The New York Central was going about forty miles per hour. People could hear the resulting crash miles away as the trains ground each other to wreckage, spreading carnage in their path.
Interlocking Signal
An interlocking signal is defined as, "An arrangement of signals and signal appliances so interconnected that their movements must succeed each other in proper sequence." The signal's design is to prevent two trains from proceeding through the same crossing at the same time. A signalman sets the device to warn oncoming trains to stop if their signal indicates the warning. If the train proceeds, a derailment device derails the train, stopping it.
The Accident
The Michigan Central operators, either asleep or otherwise negligent, ignored the signal and sped through the interlock at over sixty miles per hour. The train derailed and proceeded along for another 800 feet. The engine of the Michigan Central somehow jumped back on the rail. The New York Central train slammed into it just as it re-railed. Railroads constructed passenger cars during this era from wood. The impact of the trains splintered these trains, reducing them to kindling. The impact decapitated and otherwise mutilated most of the passengers in two of the cars. Steam from the boiler scalded the engineer and fireman of the New York Central to death. The New York Central locomotive dug a ten-foot deep trench in the ground. The engine and tender of the Michigan Central buried many of the passengers. 
Relief Operations
The wreck strained resources of the small town of Porter, Indiana to the breaking point. Rescue workers toiled by lantern light in the gathering darkness. Firefighers attempted to extinguish the burning wreckage with an inadequate stream of water. Workers used picks and shovels to try to extricate the screaming wounded from the wreckage. There were no doctors in the town, only four attendants. Food to give the survivors ran out by the day after the accident. Resident from surrounding towns rushed in what supplies they could find. Women tore their skirts to ribbons to improvise bandages for the stricken. It would take days to clean up the wreckage.

Indiana possesses a rich history that is fun to read and learn. This Hoosier Dusty Files is in an easy to read “this day in history format” and includes articles from the author's A Year in Indiana History series. Visitors may read the articles as they appear or purchase the book:
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
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© Paul Wonning

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Hoosier Dusty Files - February 26, 1886 - Eaton Mining and Gas Company - Muncie - Organized

A Year of Indiana History - 2016
A Year of Indiana History - 2016

February 26, 1886 - Eaton Mining and Gas Company - Muncie - Organized
Inexpensive energy is the lifeblood of the modern economy and by the middle of the Nineteenth Century; people began the large-scale use of fossil fuels. The first fossil fuels used were coal, kerosene and a gas derived from bituminous coal called coal gas.
Bituminous Coal
Bituminous coal is a soft black coal that contains a tar-like substance called bitumen. Bituminous coal is a middle grade coal, higher in quality than lignite coal but not as high quality as anthracite coal. Bituminous coal usually forms from lignite coal from the high pressures exerted by geologic forces.  Lignite coal is a soft, brown coal. Its heat output is lower than bibulous coal and is the lowest quality of coal available. Anthracite is harder than bituminous coal and has a higher heat output.
Coal Gas
Processors make this flammable gas from coal and deliver it via pipelines. Commonly called town gas, coal gas became popular during the mid Eighteenth Century because it was easy to handle and better than kerosene for heating, cooking, lighting and manufacturing. By the late 1800's gas streetlights in towns and cities were a common sight. The light produced by coal gas is bright yellow.
Kerosene
Refiners processed kerosene from crude oil. Kerosene is a liquid and found use mostly in lighting and heating. A byproduct of kerosene, gasoline, many considered a nuisance not useful for anything.
Natural Gas
Drillers searching for coal usually found natural gas in the process. This gas was highly flammable, hard to handle and considered a nuisance gas. Steel maker Andrew Carnegie pioneered using natural gas in his foundries in the 1880's and proved that using natural gas was feasible. In 1885, he claimed that using natural gas saved 10,000 tons of coal a day in his huge blast furnaces. On January 20, 1886 drillers discovered a huge gas well in Findlay, Ohio that drillers could not control, so great was its gas flow. The flame plume from the well burned for four months.
Gas in Indiana
A man named G. Bates found the first major deposit of natural gas in 1867 while drilling for coal. A decade later W. W. Worthington found another huge deposit in his futile search for coal. Both men, disappointed by the lack of coal, capped their wells.  A man named George W. Carter had traveled to Findley, Ohio, witnessed the huge gas plume and was struck by the possibilities. After returning to Indiana he convinced investors in Fort Wayne and Eaton Indiana that the hole drilled by W. W. Worthington was worth drilling. His persistence led to the formation of the Eaton Mining & Gas Company on February 26, 1886.

Indiana possesses a rich history that is fun to read and learn. This Hoosier Dusty Files is in an easy to read “this day in history format” and includes articles from the author's A Year in Indiana History series. Visitors may read the articles as they appear or purchase the book:
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
Facebook
@indianatreker
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© Paul Wonning

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Hoosier Dusty Files - February 25, 1779 - George Rogers Clark Recaptures Vincennes In From British

A Year of Indiana History - 2016
A Year of Indiana History - 2016

February 25, 1779 - George Rogers Clark Recaptures Vincennes In From British 
Colonel George Rogers Clark forced the British forces under British Lieutenant-Governor Henry Hamilton to surrender Fort Sackville. This returned the town of Vincennes to American jurisdiction. Clark and his men had captured the town, along with Kaskaskia, Cahokia and other small outposts the previous year. Lieutenant-Governor Henry Hamilton had retaken Vincennes on December 17, 1778. Then Hamilton, committing a fatal error, allowed most of his force to return home for the winter.
George Rogers Clark (November 19, 1752 – February 13, 1818)
John Clark and Ann Rogers Clark produced the second of their ten children on November 19, 1752. George Rogers Clark entered the world near Charlottesville, Virginia on the frontier. The family moved away from the frontier after the outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1754. Their new home was a 400-acre plantation that John Clark eventually increased to 2000 acres. His parents sent him to his grandfather's home so he could attend Donald Robertson's school. This famous school also educated James Madison and John Taylor, who attended at the same time as George Rogers Clark. His grandfather taught him how to survey land. At twenty, George joined a surveying team that traveled into Kentucky, which was part of Virginia at the time. The Treaty of Fort Stanwix had opened Kentucky to settlement and new settlers were flooding into the area. The Iroquois had signed the treaty had, but the various tribes that made up the rest of the area did not. British Lieutenant-Governor Henry Hamilton encouraged the Amerindian tribes to raid American settlements in Kentucky. Clark headed up defensive attacks against these tribes. In June 1778, he started a campaign to take the western British outposts along the Wabash and Mississippi Rivers. He saw success with his summer campaign. He captured all the British forts and eased the threats of attack on the Kentucky settlements.
British Lieutenant-Governor Henry Hamilton (c. 1734 – 29 September 1796)
His childhood obscured by the mists of time, Henry Hamilton was probably born near Dublin Ireland. He began his military career during the French and Indian War in North America, rising to brigade major. He sold his commission in 1775 and entered politics. The Crown appointed him Lieutenant Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs at Fort Detroit. He gained skill at working with the various Amerindian tribes. An amateur artist, Hamilton drew many pictures of the Indians that inhabited the area around Detroit. He left an extensive collection of work depicting them.
When war with the colonists began, the initial British policy was to leave the natives out of it. They did this in fear that the warriors would kill American civilians during their raids. Later he received instructions from the government to use the natives. He incited the tribes to attack the frontier settlements in Virginia and western Pennsylvania. He included a British officer in each raid to keep the warriors from killing civilians. This gambit failed and the natives killed and scalped many of the civilians. The raids were so fierce and successful that the colonist dubbed Hamilton the "hair buyer." He gained this name because of the number of scalps for which he paid a bounty to the Amerindians. After Clark's capture of Vincennes, he led a force of 600 men, a mixed force of Frenchmen, Amerindians and British. He was more confident of the loyalty of the Amerindians than he was the French component.
Vincennes
Founded in 1732 by French fur traders, Vincennes is the oldest European town in Indiana. Its location near the Buffalo Trace, which crossed the Wabash River nearby, was an excellent location. The town grew. The British gained control of the town in 1763 as part of the Treaty of Paris on February 10, 1763 that ended the hostilities. British Lt. John Ramsey traveled to the town in 1766. He enhanced the fort there, naming it Fort Sackville in honor of Lord George Sackville. The British held the town until July 1778, when an American force led by George Rogers Clark took it. The British reclaimed it in December 1778 when British Lieutenant-Governor Henry Hamilton retook it. It stayed in British hands for two months. Then, on a cold night in February, an American force rose from the icy waters that surrounded it and recaptured the town.
Francis Vigo (1747 - 1836) 
A successful St. Louis fur trader, Vigo made frequent trips to the trading post at Vincennes. Unaware that the British had recaptured the town, he traveled to Vincennes in January 1779. The British captured him. Not knowing he was an ardent supporter of the Americans and had worked with Clark, the British released him. They extracted a promise that he would do nothing to aid the Americans during his return trip. Honoring his pledge, he returned directly to St. Louis. After returning, he traveled fifty miles to Kaskaskia to consult with Clark. He informed him of the British strength and deployments at Vincennes. Clark immediately began planning his campaign to capture Vincennes.
The March
By February, the Wabash and Embarrass Rivers had flooded the area around Vincennes. Vincennes was a virtual island in flooded, icy river waters. Clark decided to do the unexpected and led his 170 men through 180 miles of flooded countryside in eighteen days. During much of this trek, they traveled up to their armpits in the frigid waters. They arrived on the outskirts of the town on Feb. 23, 1779. The French inhabitants of Vincennes had no love for the British and Clark knew this. He sent a message to the French, telling them he would attack the town the next day and warned them to stay indoors. The French responded by supplying the Americans with powder and other supplies they needed. Many of them joined the Americans. Thus, the Americans recaptured the town on February 24, 1778. Now they had to recapture the fort.
The Battle
Clark's forces surrounded the fort. Using flags and other ruses they fooled the British that they had a much larger force than they had. The American soldiers, equipped with famed long rifles, kept a hot and accurate fire on the fort’s walls. Under cover of this fire, others began tunneling under the fort's walls to plant explosive charges. They built barricades and dug entrenchments to provide additional cover. A dismayed Hamilton watched these proceedings and contacted Clark to begin negotiations. These, conducted in nearby St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, ended unsuccessfully. Clark demanded nothing less than unconditional surrender, which Hamilton refused to accept. After Hamilton's return, a band of Amerindian warriors returned from a raiding party. Unaware of the American presence, they walked into the middle of it and Clark's men captured them. Clark ordered five of the warriors tomahawked in front of the fort, further rattling the British inside. Hamilton consulted with his officers, who were unanimous in their desire to continue the fight. However, Hamilton did not trust the Frenchmen who made up a third of his force. They were reluctant to fire on the French outside that had joined the Americans. At ten o'clock AM on February 25, 1779, Hamilton marched his men out of the fort, laid down their arms and surrendered the fort. An American flag once more flew over Fort Sackville.
The Aftermath
Clark sent Hamilton back to Virginia. The authorities there did not consider him a prisoner of war because of his activities with the Amerindians. They considered him a war criminal and imprisoned him. They finally released him after the war and he returned to London. The Americans held the area that became the Northwest Territory at the end of the war. Thus, the British ceded the territory to the Americans. This would eventually become the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. Clark and his men with their heroics had gained a western empire for the new United States.
For more information about Vincennes, check out the author’s book
A Visit to Vincennes – By Paul R. Wonning
This article excerpted from the author’s book”
American History A Day at A Time - February – By Paul R. Wonning

Indiana possesses a rich history that is fun to read and learn. This Hoosier Dusty Files is in an easy to read “this day in history format” and includes articles from the author's A Year in Indiana History series. Visitors may read the articles as they appear or purchase the book:
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
Facebook
@indianatreker
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© Paul Wonning

Friday, February 24, 2017

Hoosier Dusty Files - February 24, 1887 - Black Day of the Indiana General Assembly

A Year of Indiana History - 2016
A Year of Indiana History - 2016

February 24, 1887 - Black Day of the Indiana General Assembly
A legislative brawl in the Indiana Statehouse leads to fistfights, gunshots, and finally, the Governor calling the police to put down the riot in the State Capitol. The melee added fuel to the call for a Constitutional Amendment to end State Legislatures electing United States Senators.
The Governor Wants to be a Senator
Democratic Governor Isaac P. Gray wanted to serve as Senator in the United States Senate. In the days before the Seventeenth Amendment, State Legislatures chose the state's senators. Thus, the Indiana General Assembly would have to elect him. Gray's problem was, he had been a Republican and some of his actions taken as a Republican made the Senate Democrats hesitate to send him to the Senate. Democrats controlled the Indiana Senate while Republicans controlled the House.
Strategy Gone Awry
Senate Democrats convinced the Lieutenant Governor, Mahlon D. Manson, to resign. Their strategy was, if there were no Lieutenant Governor to replace the Governor, they could not elect a sitting Governor to the US Senate. To counter this move, Gray and the Indiana Secretary of State decided that a mid-term election for Lieutenant Governor was constitutional, so they scheduled a special election to fill the vacant Lieutenant Governor seat. Gray's wish that a Republican would win the special election was granted when Republican Robert S. Robertson won the election. Gray hoped that Republicans would support his election to the Senate, since his replacement would be a Republican. This placed the Democrats in a quandary.
Legal Conflicts
The Democrats deemed the special election unconstitutional and elected their own Lieutenant Governor, Alonzo Green Smith. The Republicans countered by filing a lawsuit against Smith, preventing him from taking his seat. The case went before the Indiana Supreme Court, who decided that, since he had won a popular election, Robertson could not be denied his seat.
Black Day of the Indiana General Assembly
On February 24, 1887, Robertson arrived at the Senate Chamber to preside over the Senate. A group of Democratic Senators attacked him and beat him to the floor. The Senate president pro tempore ordered the doormen to expel Robertson. The doormen complied. Republicans soon raised a ruckus, demanding that Robertson be allowed to take his seat. When the Democrats resisted, fights broke out all over the Senate chamber. As the fighting progressed through the floor, one Democratic Senator pulled a gun and shot a hole in the Senate Chamber's ceiling. He then threatened the Republicans, saying he would start killing them if they did not desist in fighting. This halted the conflict in the Senate, but people outside the chamber, alerted to the happenings inside the Senate, began fighting. The fight soon spread to the House of Representatives. They overwhelmed the outnumbered Democrats and ran through the Capitol, dragging Democrats outside to beat them. Another group broke down the Senate door and began dragging Democratic Senators outside. Governor Gray was compelled to send for the police, who came and brought the conflict under control. Four hours of chaos led to a total shutdown of legislative activity for that session, as the Democrats refused to communicate with the Republicans and the Republicans refused to communicate with the Democrats. The legislative session ended the next day. Gray's hope of becoming a United States Senator ended with the session.
Proponents of ending the State Legislature's role in selecting the United States Senators used the Black Day as one of their examples of why Senators should be popularly elected. The Seventeenth Amendment was ratified in 1913, providing for direct election of US Senators by the people.

Indiana possesses a rich history that is fun to read and learn. This Hoosier Dusty Files is in an easy to read “this day in history format” and includes articles from the author's A Year in Indiana History series. Visitors may read the articles as they appear or purchase the book:
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
Facebook
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© Paul Wonning

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Indiana History Story a Day – March like the Indiana

An Indiana History Story a Day - March
An Indiana History Story a Day - March
Indiana possesses a rich history that is fun to read and learn. An Indiana History Story a Day – March like the Indiana Bicentennial History Series that preceded it, presents Indiana history in an easy to read “this day in history format” The thirty-one stories in the March edition include:

March 05, 1794 - President Washington Authorizes Formation of the Legion of the United States

March 07, 1917 - Act Authorizing Main Market Highways Signed

March 17, 1890 - Bowen-Merrill Company Fire - Thirteen Firemen Die

March 22, 1824 - Fall Creek Massacre - Pendleton

March 23, 1813 - Battle of Tipton's Island - White River



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© Paul R. Wonning 2017

Hoosier Dusty Files - February 23, 1875 - Charles G. Conn - Patent for Musical Mouthpiece


A Year of Indiana History - 2016
A Year of Indiana History - 2016

February 23, 1875 - Charles G. Conn - Patent for Musical Mouthpiece
Its not often that a bar fight injury results in the establishment of a successful business, but that is exactly what happened to Charles G. Conn.
Charles Gerard Conn (Jan. 29, 1844 - Jan. 5, 193)
Sometime after his birth in Phelps, Ontario County, New York, Conn's family moved to Elkhart, Indiana in 1851, when he was seven. Charles learned to play the cornet while quite young.
Civil War
When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted in the Army and was assigned to a regimental band. His enlistment expired in 1863, so he returned to Elkhart. He reenlisted in the Niles, Michigan in Company G, 1st Michigan Sharpshooters. Wounded during the Assault on Petersburg, the confederates captured him. He attempted escape twice, but was recaptured both times. At the end of the war, the Confederates released him from the Columbia, South Carolina prison camp. The Army discharged him honorably on July 28, 1865.
Return to Elkhart
After the war, he returned to Elkhart and married. He worked several businesses including a grocery and baking business, plating and engraving silverware, and manufacturing rubber stamps. He also played his beloved cornet in a local band. He also sold a health curative cream called "Konn's Kurative Kream," and invented sewing machine parts.
Bar Fight Leads to Invention
A night of drinking in an Elkhart bar led to an altercation outside. His companion took a swing at him, striking him in the mouth. The blow led to a lacerated lip and permanent disfiguration. The split lip made it difficult for him to play the cornet, thus he started to experiment with some of the materials he used in his businesses. He devised a rubber mouthpiece that conformed to his disfigured lip. He soon realized that many other people would want his invention, so he started manufacturing them in the back of his grocery store. He patented the device on February 23, 1875. Demand soon outpaced his output, so he rented an empty factory. Soon, he expanded into other musical instruments and paired up with a man named Eugene Victor Baptiste Dupont, a brass instrument maker. The two founded Conn & Dupont, which grew into a major music instrument manufacturer.

Indiana possesses a rich history that is fun to read and learn. This Hoosier Dusty Files is in an easy to read “this day in history format” and includes articles from the author's A Year in Indiana History series. Visitors may read the articles as they appear or purchase the book:
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
Facebook
@indianatreker
@MossyFeetBooks
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© Paul Wonning

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Hoosier Dusty Files - February 22, 1862 - First Confederate Prisoner of War Camp Opens - Camp Morton

A Year of Indiana History - 2016
A Year of Indiana History - 2016

February 22, 1862 - First Confederate Prisoner of War Camp Opens - Camp Morton
Confederate troops first fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina on April 12, 1861. On April 14, 1861, Indiana Governor Oliver Morton offered to raise ten regiments, or ten thousand men, in response to President Abraham Lincoln's call for troops to put down the southern rebellion. Raising this many recruits created the need for a recruiting and training camp. After surveying the land around Indianapolis, the only suitable place found was the land used as the State Fairgrounds, established in 1852. Thus, the thirty-six acre State Fairgrounds became a Union Army training camp and recruitment facility. Named Camp Morton, in honor of the Governor, the camp came under his direct administration.
Conversion to Prisoner of War Camp
Union victories at Fort Donelson in February 1862 created another need. The Union Army had captured thousands of Confederate soldiers. There was a need to house these prisoners. Union General Henry W. Halleck dispatched a request by telegraph for prisoner of war facilities and Governor Morton agreed to take up to 3000 prisoners on February 17, 1863. Morton assigned assistant quartermaster Captain James A. Ekin the task of converting the camp from a training camp to a prisoner of war facility. Ekin oversaw the conversion of livestock stalls into barracks, the installation of a wooden stockade wall around the camp. Workers installed entry gates, guard towers and sentry walkways. Workers also installed latrines. Five wells provided water.
Arrival of the Prisoners
Work had not completed on the camp when the first trains arrived on February 22, 1862 with the first prisoners. The prisoner population increased to over 4000 prisoners by April. The Army took over administration of the camp with the arrival of the first prisoners. The camp remained crowded until August 1862 when the Union and Confederate armies completed a general prisoner exchange. Camp Morton again became a training camp. By early 1863, there was again a need for a prisoner of war camp and the Army converted the facility again. The last prisoners were paroled June 12, 1865. During its operation, the camp housed an average of 3214, with the maximum of 4900 in July 1864. The deaths at the camp totaled 1700, or about fifty a month. The dead soldiers were interred at Crown Hill Cemetery.
After the war, the grounds reverted to the Indiana State Fairgrounds, which used the site until 1891. The Camp Morton site has since been platted and used as a residential neighborhood known as Morton Place.

Indiana possesses a rich history that is fun to read and learn. This Hoosier Dusty Files is in an easy to read “this day in history format” and includes articles from the author's A Year in Indiana History series. Visitors may read the articles as they appear or purchase the book:
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
Facebook
@indianatreker
@MossyFeetBooks
Twitter
@MossyFeetBooks
© Paul Wonning