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Military men & women

World War II


Robert Pugh: Robert Pugh was captured by the Germans and held as prisoner until March 1945.

World War II

Audio Interviews

NOTE: Interviews were originally recorded on cassette by the Montgomery County Historical Society, 1990-1999.

J Estel Bell: Bell was assigned to the 29th Infantry Division, 175th Regiment. He received the Bronze Star in 1945.

Eugene Brooks: Brooks was one of only 17 men from Company I who survived the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

Lawrence Brown: Brown was in the 247th combat engineers, where his official job was as a carpenter.

William Clark: Clark’s unit surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942 and was forced to march 80 miles on the Bataan death march.

Albert Delano: Delano was a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II.

Carl Downen: Downen was captured during the Battle of the Bulge, and held at Stalag IV-B as a prisoner of war from December 1944 until April 1945.

William Hawley: Hawley entered the Army Air Corps on Valentine’s Day, 1942, and was a communications officer in the 490th Bomb Squad.

William Morgan: Morgan was assigned to the destroyer USS J. William Ditter. He was in the Pacific fighting the battle of Okinawa when his ship was hit by a kamikaze pilot.

Roxie Remley: Remley was stationed in England in 1944. While she was serving in London, Remley met Queen Elizabeth II.

Raymond Swick: Swick flew nine bombing missions over Germany. On his last mission, his plane was shot down.

Phil Ward: Ward enlisted in the Marines two days before his eighteenth birthday. He served in Japan and fought in the battle for Iwo Jima.

Floyd Wells: Wells was stationed in Italy with the 302nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Batallion during the war.

Fred Whittington: Whitington joined the Army July 7, 1941. He served in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy.

Dwight and Doris Williams: Williams enlisted in the Navy on March 20, 1942, and served as the Chief Petty Officer aboard the ship LSM 173 during the Okinawa campaign.

Patricia Wilson: Wilson volunteered to go overseas. Her service took her to Australia, New Guinea, and Leyte.

Donald Wingert: Wingert served in the Army Air Force and received the Distinguished Flying Cross for 51 round trips resupplying the Army Air Forces based in China

World War II

Video Interviews

NOTE: Interviews were originally recorded on VHS tape by the Montgomery County Historical Society, 1990-1999.

Don Backe: Backe served on New Caledonia, Guadalcanal, and the Solomon Islands.

Ralph Barker: Barker was drafted late in World War II and served in the Philippines and Japan.

J. Estel Bell: Bell was drafted in 1944 and was sent to Europe shortly after D-Day. He fought in the Battle of Brest in France, and in Germany and Holland.

Eugene Brooks: Brooks was drafted in 1942 and was sent first to Leyte in the Philippines. He was injured in battle on Okinawa Island.

Bill Broshears: Broshears enlisted in the Air Corps and served in the Pacific during World War II. After the war was over, he helped deliver supplies to prisoner of war camps in Japan.

Charles Bunnell: Bunnell was an aerial gunner in the Air Force and served in Europe during World War II.

Bob Campbell: Campbell was drafted in 1942 and was sent first to Alaska with the combat engineers. He was then sent overseas and fought in Normandy on D-Day.

Mark Caress: Caress enlisted in 1942 and was assigned to the Air Force. He served in the Pacific Area in World War II.

Clare Chamberlain: Chamberlain joined the Navy in 1943 and trained as an aviation machinist. He was in the Navy V-12 program and was sent overseas to Japan and China in 1945.

William Clark: Clark joined the New Mexico National Guard and was sent to the Philippines in 1941. He fought in the Battle of Bataan and was taken prisoner and forced into the Bataan Death March by the Japanese after the American surrender.

Marion Cooper: Cooper was a captain in the Army and served in France in World War II. He was awarded a Purple Heart, Silver Star, and Bronze Star for his service.

Chuck Courtney: Courtney worked in the Navy Civil Service and served in the Navy in World War II.

Helen Cross: Cross served as a nurse in Europe during World War II.

Paul Cummings: Cummings was with the Air Force based in Italy during World War II. He also served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Hubert Danzebrink: Danzebrink recounts his experiences as a child growing up in Nazi Germany.

Kenneth Davidson: Davidson served in India and Burma during World War II. He was transferred to the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.).

Albert Delano: Delano served in the Army in World War II. He was captured in France by the Germans and sent to Stalag VII A.

Paul Dickson: Dickson was a tank gunner and served in France, Belgium, and Germany. He was wounded in Germany and received the Purple Heart.

Norman Dillman: Dillman served in the Marines in World War II and was stationed in the Pacific islands. He was also in charge of a group of 32 Navajo code talkers.

Lewis Douglas: Douglas enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942 and fought in the Russell Islands and Okinawa.

Carl Downen: Downen was born on February 2, 1916 in Sullivan, Indiana and attended Purdue University. He served in the Army from 1943-1946 and was a prisoner of war in Germany at Stalag 4 B. Mr. Downen moved to Crawfordsville, Indiana in 1954.

Edward Fendley: Fendley served on the USS Enterprise (CV-6) in the Pacific during World War II.

Wesley Greavu: Greavu served at the end of World War II and during the Korean War.

Lawrence Grimes: Grimes fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal.

William Hawley: Hawley was stationed in India and Burma with the 490th Bomb Squadron, known as the “Burma Bridge Busters.”

Joe Hinesley: Hinesley was taken prisoner of war and sent to a camp in Germany.

Russel Horner: Horner talks about the automobile business in Crawfordsville between 1933 and 1993.

Robert Hubbard: Hubbard served in the Air Force, flying missions from Italy over Germany. On his nineteenth mission over Munich, his plane was shot down and crashed in the Brenner Pass in Northern Italy. Hubbard was captured by the Germans and was sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in Poland.

Max Johnson: Johnson was in the 926th Army Signal Corps attached to the Eighth Air Force in Europe in World War II.

Laurel Kentner: Kentner served in Japan and the Pacific during World War II.

Allen Kinnaman: Kinnaman was a pilot in the Army Air Corps and served in Europe during World War II.

Marion Kirtley: Kirtley served in the United States Army Medical Corps in Europe.

Alexis Lebedeff: Lebedeff was assigned to the Army Specialized Training Program at Indiana University in 1945 to study Russian. He served in World War II and the Korean War.

Paul Ludwig: Dr. Ludwig served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and Korean War.

Reed MacBain: MacBain enlisted in the Navy and served in the Pacific during World War II.

Harold Manges: Manges served in World War II as a radar specialist with the Air Force in Africa and Europe.

Adrian Marks: Marks was a Navy pilot who rescued 56 sailors from the USS Indianapolis, which was torpedoed and sank in 1945.

Richard McGaughey: McGaughey enlisted in the Air Force in 1942 and served in the Pacific during World War II.

William Morgan: Morgan enlisted in the Navy in 1941 and served as a cook in the Battle of Okinawa and on a hospital ship in Japan.

Bob Morrow: Morrow and his brother Frank enlisted in the Marines near the start of World War II. Morrow went to scout and sniper training, was sent to New Zealand for more training and saw action in New Guinea, Guadalcanal, Guam and Iwo Jima.

Joe O’Rourke: O’Rourke enlisted in 1946 and was sent to Tokyo, Japan.

Joe Pointer: Pointer served in India and Burma during World War II.

Kenneth Pumroy: Pumroy attended Wabash College as part of the Navy V-12 Program.

Roxie Remley: In1942, Remley enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. She took part in a top secret experiment with a small group of women to see if they were capable of operating radar equipment in antiaircraft batteries.

Ned Rickett: Rickett was a Wabash College student who served in the Pacific Theater.

Jack Roberts:Roberts served as a gunner and bombardier in the U.S. Air Force in Europe.

Andy Robinson: Robinson was drafted in 1943 and assigned to the Quartermaster Corps.

Elton Ross: Ross served in the Army in World War II in the 14th Armored Division. He was wounded in action in France and received a Purple Heart.

Cecil Runyon: Runyon served in the China-Burma-India theater and was detached with Chinese forces under Chiang Kai-Shek during World War II.

Loran Rutledge: Rutledge was a machine gunner with the 103rd Infantry Division in World War II.

Clarence Givan, William Sanders, and John Wommack: All three men were present at the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mr. Wommack also was in the invasion of the Marshall and Gilbert Islands and in the Korean War.

John Servies: Servies was drafted in 1943 and assigned to chemical warfare camp. He was reassigned to cooks and bakers school and was in Manila during Japanese surrender.

Jim Smith: Smith served in France and Germany.

Raymond Swick: Swick served in the Air Force as a radio operator. On his thirteenth mission, his plane was shot down and he was hidden by the Dutch resistance.

Roland Tauscher: Tauscher was an army combat engineer during the invasion of Normandy, and transported supplies to the troops across France, Belgium, and Germany.

Russell Thompson: Thompson served in the Pacific Theater, in New Guinea, in the
Military engineers.

Jim Tribby: In this interview, Tribby speaks to Southmont High School students about his experiences in World War II (Bataan Death March, Philippines, 1942).

Vaught brothers: Six Vaught brothers were interviewed on July 16, 1993 by Bob Wernle and J. Marion Kirtley on behalf of the Montgomery County Historical Society. Nine of the fourteen sons of Wallace and Marie Vaught served in World War II.

Victoriano Viray: Dr. Viray lived under the Japanese occupation of the Philippines and was liberated by U.S. troops under General MacArthur.

Phil Ward: Ward served with the Marines in the Battle of Iwo Jima and helped raise the American flag.

Richard Ward: Ward was an Ensign with the United States Sixth Fleet. During the war, he patrolled San Francisco Bay in a minesweeper.

Robert Weliver: During World War II, Weliver served with the Indiana National Guard 139th field artillery unit and 38th Army division in New Guinea, Leyte, Bataan, and Japan.

Lloyd Wells: Wells served in World War II in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy.

Robert Wernle: Wernle served as an investigator for the Army and was present at the Teheran Conference.

Fred Whittington: Whittington was drafted and joined the Army July 7, 1941. He served in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy.

Clint Wilkins: Wilkins served in the Army Air Corps as a bomber pilot in Southeast Asia.

Dwight and Doris Williams: Dwight served as a storekeeper in the Navy during World War II and was in the Battle of Okinawa. Doris was with the Selective Service Office.

Patricia Wilson: Wilson served in Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines as a record clerk in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.

Donald Wingert: Wingert served in the Army Air Corps, flying supplies from India to China.

Kenneth Wolf: Wolf served as a tail gunner during World War II, flying missions over Germany. He received the Presidential Unit Citation.


Wilfred Arola: Arola was drafted into the Army and was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri as a communications instructor. He was later the owner of Uncle Smiley’s restaurant in Crawfordsville.

Hank Coyle: Coyle was drafted in 1951 and served as a medic in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) in Korea.

Don Hunt: Hunt served with the Marines in Korea.

Michael Hinkle: Hinkle was drafted in 1947 and served as a counter intelligence agent in Germany.

Joe O’Rourke: O’Rourke was assigned the Troop Information and Education officer at Camp Atterbury. He was waiting for orders to go to Korea when the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed.

James Stewart: Stewart served in the United States Army Engineers, 44th.

Tommy Thompson and Loran Rutledge: Tommy Thompson was drafted into the Army and was stationed in Korea in 1955. Loran Rutledge was interviewed by Alexis Lebedeff on behalf of the Montgomery County Historical Society. Rutledge was in charge of the kitchen with his Army unit. He was stationed in Korea for eight months.

Jerry Walls: Walls served in the Korean War for 11 months and received three battle stars.

Albert Zentko: Zentko was in basic training when World War II ended and was then stationed in Yokohama, Japan with the 431st Engineer Construction Battalion. Zentko was in the Army Reserves when the Korean War began. He was activated a few days later and served in the 3rd Division, 7th Infantry Regiment, Company G until 1951. He received four battle stars.


Joe Barton and Gary Bell: Gary Bell enlisted in the Navy and was a medic. He was wounded in action in Vietnam. Joe Barton was drafted into the Army and was a helicopter crew chief.

Larry Cooper: Cooper was drafted in 1968 and arrived in Vietnam in January 1969.

Michael Fry: Fry enlisted in the Army in 1967 and was sent to Vietnam in 1968. He was trained in crash and rescue, structural firefighting, and pipeline fires.

Mearil Martin: Martin was drafted into the Army and was assigned to an artillery unit in Vietnam.

Michael Martin: Martin was drafted into the Army in 1966 and was sent to Vietnam in 1968.

Ed Stewart: Stewart was drafted and was a tank commander in Vietnam. He was wounded in action and was rewarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

Sparky Watts: Watts served in the Air Force. He was a navigator in the Vietnam War.

Civic Engagement

  • Marcus Nichols: Marcus Nichols (1909-1962) spent the last 30 years of his life in Crawfordsville. He was a member of the Mayor’s Citizens Advisory Committee and president of the Crawfordsville branch of the NAACP (National Association for Advancement of Colored People).

Audio Interviews

  • Ernest Ball: Ernest Ball (born 1902) lived in Montgomery County all his life. He started working at the Old State Bank (later Elston Bank) in his early 20s, earning $10.00 a week. He has many bank stories from all around the county, and seems to remember all the bank robberies, including the one where he was forced at gunpoint to gather some money (“Well, he had his gun in his right hand in my back and he said ‘Get it all!'”).
  • Jess Caster: Jess Caster (born 1884) was born on the same farm where his father was born, and he lived in the county all his life. He remembers the good and bad in Montgomery Country during the Depression, including the Klan (“They never done nothing but lots of people join them, you know. Of course, it was $10.00 to get in. I didn’t pay much attention to them.”)
  • William Combs: Bill Combs (born 1900) was a lifelong mechanic and garage owner. He enjoys talking about automobiles, of course, and in this interview he remembers the Model T (from personal experience). Listen to him compare today’s cars with those of yesteryear. And who else knows why a Model T would sometimes backfire when cranked?
  • Lee Detchon: Lee Detchon (born 1900) talks about his art as well as other artists he knew in Crawfordsville (Fritz Schlemmer, Mary Oda, etc.). He also remembers Lew Wallace and other historic people and places around town.
  • Norman Dillman: Norman Dillman (born 1914) was a long-time resident of Waveland who speaks at length in this interview of his hometown during the 1930s when it was an important rail and logging town. He has especially vivid memories of the Waveland bank robbery in 1932 (“I was very impressed over one of the robber’s marksmanship because he stood in one place and shot all the street lights out”).
  • William Houlihan: William Houlihan (born 1891) lived in Crawfordsville all his life. In this interview, he talks about the events that preoccupied the city in the early part of the 20th century: paving the downtown streets, harvesting ice from Sugar Creek, the visit of the Ku Klux Klan, and more. His most interesting recollections, however, concern his employment with the interurban trains (“You could get a [base]ball excursion ticket for $1 round trip, go to Indianapolis, and get off next to the ballpark and see the ballgame.”)
  • Frieda Jones and Bud Marsh: The Crawford Hotel was built in 1899, and opened its doors for business on New Year’s Day, 1900. Mr. A.B. Jones ran the hotel when it opened. Frieda came to live at the hotel in 1922 with her husband, Marsh Jones (A.B. Jones’s son). Frieda and her son, Bud, share stories about the hotel, its guests, and the town of Crawfordsville.
  • Howard Sommer: Judge Howard Sommer (born 1901) finished law school in 1922 and came to practice in Crawfordsville where he was judge of the Montgomery County Circuit Court for more than 30 years. He reminds us that anyone who worked at the courthouse back then got admitted to the bar (“They didn’t have to have any particular qualifications!”)
  • Stanley Simspon and Bud Groves: Stanley Simpson (born 1906) was a lifetime resident of Crawfordsville, and Bud Groves (born 1910) spent most of his life in this area. Both reminisce during this interview about their experiences. Simpson remembers that he could always tell when woman in a vaudeville act was in town: she wore much more make up than local women (and he adds: “that’s the first time I ever saw a woman smoke”).
  • Louis Spilman: Louis Spilman was born in Crawfordsville on January 7, 1899. He served with Company C, 2nd Indiana Infantry (National Guard), became a pilot in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He piloted the first plane to land in Crawfordsville on May 25, 1918. A journalist, he became the owner of the News-Virginian newspaper in Waynesboro, Virginia, where he died March 17, 1986.
  • Azel Turnipseed: Azel Turnipseed (born 1890), a long-time county resident, talks about the early days of the 20th century when horse-power was still common. He grew up on a farm, served in the Marines in World War I, and then returned to farming. He clearly recalls walking four miles to school as a child (“If you followed a spring-toothed harrow all day behind a walkin’ plow, why four miles didn’t mean much to you!”)

Wabash College

The Crawfordsville District Public Library Local History Archives has an extensive collection of Wabash artifacts that may interest you. View all documents and images of Wabash College in the CDPL Local History collection.

Wabash Talking Record

The 1954 Wabash

The 1954 Wabash —
The 1953-54 school year at Wabash saw many changes: Chapel became compulsory two times a week, the campus center (Sparks) and dormitories were completed, talk of a new library began…and the Scarlet Inn still wanted to sell coffee at 5 cents a cup. Listen to Stan Huntsman, MVP of the Monon Bell game (Wabash won!) as well as to live recordings of Old Wabash and Alma Mater. Narrated by Robert Behrens. (5.75MB, 6m17s)

Caleb Mills and Joseph Tuttle

Caleb Mills was the first faculty member of Wabash College (1833) and served until his death in 1880. Mills is known for helping to create the public education system of Indiana. Read some addresses of Caleb Mills on the Internet Archive.

Joseph Tuttle became the 3rd president of Wabash College in 1862 and served in this position for 30 years. Read some addresses of Joseph Tuttle on the Internet Archive.

Montgomery County has enjoyed many famous literary men and women over the years, and many of their works can now be read online. Try some:

Lew Wallace

  • Browse digitized selected works of Lew Wallace on the Internet Archive
  • Read the full text of Ben Hur by Lew Wallace on Project Gutenberg
Lew Wallace

Lew Wallace was born in 1827 in Brookville, Indiana, the son of a lawyer, David Wallace. The family moved frequently, but settled in Indianapolis where David became active in Whig politics and was eventually elected governor of Indiana. Lew had a sketchy education, spending ‘a scant two months’ at Wabash College’s preparatory department, but his main source of training was his father’s library. He read law in his father’s office, but failed his first exam, it is suggested, because of his haste to get into the Mexican War. The military was a very important second career most of his life. Lew Wallace was undoubtedly the most famous of Crawfordsville’s many interesting authors. His novel, Ben Hur, a Tale of the Christ, was immediately successful when it was published in 1880. It became a best-seller, (not a usual term at that time) and was only surpassed by the Holy Bible for many, many years, perhaps until the advent of Gone With the Wind. Ben Hur was made into a stage play, a Klaw and Erlanger production which included chariots and horses clattering across the stage. A huge success in New York, it was also a road production which performed at the Strand Theater in Crawfordsville complete with chariot race and horses.

Ben Hur was an all-time best silent movie in the late twenties, and a film in 1959 starring Charlton Heston, which won eleven Oscars. Lew Wallace had a law office in Covington, Indiana, and then in Crawfordsville, prompted by his marriage to Susan Elston. He was a Civil War general, with a colorful and controversial record which is still a subject of argument and analysis. He was a member of the military commission that conducted the trial of John Wilkes Booth and the conspirators in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and his contributions are a part of the1865 report of that trial. He was a territorial governor of New Mexico, when Billy the Kid was being hunted and tried. In 1881 he was sent to Constantinople as ambassador to Turkey. In 1880, Ben Hur was published, and it is said that he wrote the first half in New Mexico and finished his novel at his study in Crawfordsville. He also found time to play the violin and do some painting, drawing and a bit of sculpture. Throughout his life he wrote, producing a long listing of plays, novels, articles and fiction on many subjects, and a voluminous correspondence available in various collections. Lew Wallace died in Crawfordsville on February 15, 1905. His Lew Wallace: an Autobiography, published posthumously in 1906, was considered less formal, easier reading than his usual style.

Susan Wallace

Susan Wallace

Susan Elston Wallace, Lew Wallace’s wife, was born in Crawfordsville on December 25, 1830, the daughter of Isaac Elston, founder of the bank, major landowner in Crawfordsville, and railroad pioneer. Elston gave all of his children land surrounding his home on East Pike Street, in the Elston Grove. Susan’s sister, Joanna Elston Lane, lived close in what is now the Henry S. Lane Historical Home.

Susan Wallace was also a gifted writer, confining herself to poems, travelogues and works for young people. The Storied Sea, The Land of the Pueblos, and Along the Bosphorus, and Other Sketches, are among her published works. She and Mary Hannah Krout, a favorite protégé, completed and edited General Wallace’s autobiography, after his death in 1905. Susan gives Mary Hannah all credit for the success of the project, and others give both of them credit for its more readable, conversational style. It is known that Susan had been a valued reader and editor of his works throughout his writing life, and there were those who thought he might have benefited from even more of her assistance. She was content to remain in his shadow, though, and was a devoted admirer. She died in Crawfordsville on October 1, 1907.

Maurice Thompson

  • Browse digitized selected works of Maurice Thompson on the Internet Archive
  • Read the full text of the Witchery of Archery (1878) by Maurice Thompson on the Internet Archive
Maurice Thompson

Maurice Thompson was born in Fairfield, Indiana, the son of a Baptist minister who moved his family frequently. He was educated first by his well-read mother, and then in a military academy in Georgia. He served in the Confederate army. He married Alice Lee, daughter of Col. John Lee, a southern railway builder and contractor, and became a civil engineer, long enough to find that he didn’t like that occupation. He studied law, and opened an office in Crawfordsville. After a time, he began work on the staff of the New York Independent, later serving as literary editor until the end of his life. He and his brother Will were partners in the Crawfordsville law practice, which was a career best suited to Maurice’s writing and many other interests.

Among Thompson’s most famous works was Alice of Old Vincennes, a best-seller of its day. This was published in 1900, not long before his death, and was a long awaited confirmation of his belief in his appeal to readers. He actually had many successes. The Witchery of Archery, which later was revised by Will, and How to Train in Archery, which he co-wrote with Will, were highly regarded and have been reprinted many times. He wrote many other novels, articles, stories and poems, which were published in periodicals, journals, and as volumes. He wrote about many locales, and having grown up in Georgia, customarily spent winters there and the rest of the year in Indiana throughout his life. Maurice Thompson died in Crawfordsville on February 15, 1901, survived by his wife and three daughters.

Some of his other titles include The Boys’ Book of Sports; Sylvan Secrets, In Bird Songs and Books; Stories of the Cherokee Hills; The Ocala Boy: a Story of Florida; and My Winter Garden.

Meredith Nicholson

  • Browse digitized selected works of Meredith Nicolson on the Internet Archive
  • Read the full text of The Poet (1914) by Meredith Nicolson on the Internet Archive
Meredith Nicholson

Meredith Nicholson was born in Crawfordsville in 1866. His father was a ‘substantial’ farmer and a member of Lew Wallace’s Zouaves, or Montgomery Guard. Edward Willis Nicholson became Captain of the 22nd Indiana Battery, served in the Civil War with Sherman, and fired the first gun at Shiloh. His mother, Emily Meredith, was a nurse in the South during the War. This was the background to Nicholson’s intense interest in the Civil War, as a writer and reporter.

He grew up in Indianapolis, and was educated in Indianapolis public schools. He left school at age 15, embarking on a series of odd jobs, always getting close to the field of writing. He worked for a law office, then at age 19 began to study law with the firm of Dye and Fishback. He finished his studies with William Wallace, brother of Gen. Lew Wallace, an outstanding Indianapolis attorney. At the same time, he was writing for Indianapolis newspapers, the Sentinal and the News. He put in a stint with a stock brokerage, then served as auditor and treasurer of a coal-mining company in Denver, Colorado. Back in Indianapolis at the turn of the century, he worked exclusively at writing, publishing The Hoosiers, historical essays, plus many poems and newspaper pieces. He published The Main Chance, Zelda Dameron, and, in 1906, The House of a Thousand Candles, one of his best-known efforts. Nicholson wrote many other works, including Honor Bright, a play with Kenyon Nicholson, and Tell Me Your Troubles, a play by Kenyon Nicholson based on a short story by Meredith Nicholson. His last work, Old Familiar Faces, was written in 1929. He had a life-long interest in politics and in 1913 was asked by Woodrow Wilson to serve as minister to Portugal, which he refused. In 1933-34, he was envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary from the U.S. to Paraguay, 1935-38 to Venezuela and in 1938-41 to Nicaragua. Nicholson died in Indianapolis in 1947. He was married to Eugene Kounty, who died in 1931. They had four children: Eugene, Charles, Meredith, and Elizabeth.

Mary Hannah Krout

  • Browse digitized selected works of Mary Hannah Krout on the Internet Archive
Mary Hannah Krout

Mary Hannah Krout was the oldest daughter of Robert and Caroline Brown Krout, born in 1851 in the home of her maternal grandparents. She was educated in Crawfordsville, first in subscription schools, then in Crawfordsville public schools. She was an enthusiastic student, and at age fifteen wrote “Little Brown Hands,” a poem which was published in a juvenile magazine, and was widely read throughout the country. The poem was included in schoolbooks and recited by schoolchildren for years to come.

Mary Hannah Krout taught at Bunker Hill School, and then in Crawfordsville, for eleven years. She was also writing for area newspapers, and in1979 got a job on the Crawfordsville Journal and contributed to Indianapolis and Cincinnati papers. On The Journal, besides reporting, she wrote a gossip column under the pseudonym “Heinrich Karl,” a lively, perhaps libelous account of Crawfordsville people and their activities, which was also sold to other papers. In 1881 she became associate editor, and in 1882 was hired as editor by the Terre Haute Express. Long hours eventually forced a partial retirement during which she kept writing, but was unable to work at a job. Susan Elston Wallace, as she did at other times in Krout’s life, sent money during her recuperation.

In 1888 she went to Chicago, “willing to do anything in the line of newspaper work only to gain a foothold,” and got a job on the Chicago Inter-Ocean. That paper sent her to Hawaii to cover the installation of the new provincial government. This led to her first book, Hawaii and a Revolution, in 1898, and later, two biographies of prominent Hawaiian women. In 1900 Alice’s Visit to the Hawaiian Islands, was published (Eclectic School Readings). Krout covered many places and important events of the day, calling on “the Boxers in China, alone except for a single missionary;” Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee; and wherever her employer sent her. In 1898 the paper was sold to The Chicago Tribune, and she continued with them, never exhibiting the appearance of the daring woman traveler she was, wearing “alpaca jackets with braid, boned collars on her shirt-waists and plenty of petticoats.”
At the same time, she lectured whenever possible on women’s suffrage, in America, in England, in New Zealand, China and Hawaii. She never married, but had no lack of suitors. In 1906, after a trip to Australia, she retired and spent the rest of her life in Crawfordsville until her death in 1927, living in the family home with three unmarried sisters and a bachelor brother. She was actively writing until her final illness, and worked with her friend Susan Wallace on the completion of The Memoirs of General Lew Wallace. She and Susan are given credit for making that the most readable of Lew Wallace’s works.

Caroline Virginia Krout

  • Browse digitized selected works of Caroline Virginia Krout on the Internet Archive
Caroline Virginia Krout

Caroline Virginia Krout was born in1852 in Crawfordsville, the second daughter of Robert and Caroline Brown Krout. Their first daughter, born just eleven months earlier, was Mary Hannah, who will be discussed later. The Krouts had nine children in all, of whom six lived, and of the six, all remarkable, the first two were especially so. Robert Krout was called a “Hoosier Bronson Alcott” in Indiana Authors and Their Books, having “a profound effect” on his brilliant daughters, and, later in the piece, “the tyrannical male who first convinced his eldest daughter that a campaign for equal rights for women was a project well in order…”

Caroline Krout was educated at a Crawfordsville subscription school, and then a public school. At age sixteen, her mother died, and, as Mary Hannah was teaching at Bunker Hill School, took over the running of the house and the care of her four siblings. Three years later, her sister Jane took over these chores, an occupation she kept for nearly seventy years, and Caroline began to teach at local schools at age nineteen. Five years later she quit, having become a “nervous invalid.” During the five years she was ailing, she began to write stories and articles in Inter-Ocean, Interior, Chicago Daily News, Chicago and other papers. Recovering somewhat, she became a court reporter in Crawfordsville. Through Mary Hannah, she found a job at Chicago’s Newbery Library, but poor health soon forced her return to Crawfordsville.

With the encouragement of Susan Wallace, Caroline began to write stories and articles for periodicals such as St. Nicholas and Cosmopolitan. In 1900 she published, Knights in Fustian, under the pen-name, Caroline Brown. This novel, although it received some critical carping, was a popular success. The then-governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, wrote to her, saying, “you have given me far and away the best and most vivid idea I ever had of the Indiana Copper-heads and also an exceptionally good picture in the western farming communities.”
Her next book, On the Wea Trail, used the same time period and locale as Alice of Old Vincennes, Maurice Thompson’s hugely popular novel, upsetting her greatly. Neither had any idea of the work-in-progress of the other, and Caroline was crushed, vowing to abandon her writing career. Thompson, when he heard of this, “exerted all of his native kindness to put her at ease.” She wrote two more novels, Bold Robin and his Forest Rangers, in 1905, and Dionis of the White Veil in 1911, then did retire from writing and lived as a “happy, home-loving recluse” until her death in 1931.

Richard Banta

  • Browse a digitized copy of The Ohio by Richard Banta on the Internet Archive
Richard Banta

Richard Elwell Banta was born in Martinsville, Indiana, on February 16, 1904. His family lived in Los Angeles for two years, then moved to Crawfordsville in 1909, where he attended public schools, then Wabash College. In college, he wrote articles and produced illustrations for the Chicago Daily News, College Humor, Weird Tales and other periodicals. With DeWitte O’Keiffe, Banta founded the college humor magazine, The Caveman, in1924. He was publicity director for Wabash, and edited The Wabash Bulletin in the 1930s. In 1932, he published Wabash College, the First Hundred Years, by Osborne and Gronert. Banta’s efforts as a publisher were as interesting as his published writings. One such work was Henry Hamilton and the Battle of Vincennes, the English general’s diary of his army’s journey from Fort Detroit and their subsequent defeat at the hand of George Rogers Clark and his band of ragtag soldiers and local Indians, in the Revolutionary War. Gronert described Banta as an untrained historian, but his history, the Rivers of America: the Ohio, published by Rhinehart in 1949, and many other well-researched regional and Ohio Valley histories effectively refute that label. He was a talented editor his whole life, and his Indiana Authors and their Books, Hoosier Caravan, and other works attest to his editorial and writing skill. He served in various capacities at Wabash College, in admissions, as assistant to the president, and with publications. Banta died in 1977, survived by his wife, Caroline French Banta, and his daughter, Kathleen Scott.

William Norwood Brigance

  • Browse a digitized copy of Your Everyday Speech by William Norwood Brigance on the Internet Archive
William Norwood Brigance

William Norwood Brigance was born November 17, 1896, in Olive Branch, Mississippi. His father raised cotton on the family plantation and sent his children, one boy and three girls, to the country school. William—or Norwood, as he preferred—lived there until he was 12 years old. He enlisted in the army in 1917 for training as an officer. After seeing combat in France with the 33rd Division, Brigance earned a master’s degree in history at the University of Nebraska and later taught speech class and coached debate at a Chicago high school. His successes as an energetic and enthusiastic teacher caught the eye of Wabash College President George MacIntosh, who was looking for an instructor to teach rhetoric and public speaking and to coach students in intercollegiate debate and oratory. In 1922, Brigance accepted an offer to teach at Wabash with the idea of staying for two years at Wabash and moving on. He stayed for 37 years, until his death in 1960.

With Brigance as teacher-coach to some of the ablest students at the college, Wabash gained the reputation as a “powerhouse” in oratory and debate. This success brought national recognition to these young men, their school, and to Brigance himself. Needing a Ph.D. in Speech, Brigance took a leave from Wabash in 1930 and earned the degree in just one year.

Brigance established himself as a prolific and elegant writer; his records cite over a thousand titles of articles in scholarly journals and popular magazines, public lectures, and books.Admired by his peers, he was selected to edit the Speech Association of America’s two-volume History and Criticism of American Public Address, a collection of essays on American orators. He also published his dissertation, a study of Jeremiah Sullivan Black, a strong defender of the Constitution. These works were templates for rhetorical studies for decades to follow.In all, Brigance wrote fourteen books, the last being Speech: Its Techniques and Disciplines in a Free Society, where he argued his philosophy that speech and democracy are essential ingredients of a free society, a reciprocal relationship echoing the Greek ideal of democracy going back to Isocrates. With these successes, in 1946 Brigance was elected president of the Speech Association of America. In 2007 William Norwood Brigance was recognized as a National Communication Association Distinguished Scholar.

Read about some more local authors!

Janet Snyder Lambert (1893-1973): the author of 54 young-adult fiction titles for girls from 1941 to 1969.

Beatrice Schenk de Regniers (1914-2000): a writer of children’s picture books.

Maurine Watkins (1896-1969): a journalist and playwright, Watkins wrote the play “Chicago” from which several films were adapted.

Read book excerpts from some more recent Montgomery County writers:

Karen Zach

Crawfordsville: Athens of Indiana (2003)

Jodie Steelman Wilson, Emily Griffin, Rebecca McDole

The Hidden History of Montgomery County (2012)

William Helling

Images of America: Crawfordsville (2011)