The 812 List, | Jan 28, 2016
8 bicentennials you probably didn't know about
Indiana celebrates its 200th birthday in 2016. What else happened the year the state was founded?
In the year 1816, the Indiana Territory was thriving. According to letters, court files and newspapers from the time, Indiana was the home of two future presidents, some of the first freed slaves and one business still in operation today. The year 2016 marks the 200th anniversary of Indiana’s statehood, but that’s not the only birthday candle we should be lighting. Here are eight other bicentennials in 2016.
1. The Western Eagle prints its final edition.
The Western Eagle, based in Madison, was the second-oldest newspaper in the Indiana Territory until it got too expensive to continue publishing. Its final issue included a plea for two “Strayed or Stolen” mares, a warning against counterfeiters and a poem entitled “The Wilderness” that extolls Indiana’s forests. (January 6)
2. Lydia Moss Bradley is born in Switzerland County.
Now a member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, Bradley was born in Vevay. She lived 31 years in her hometown before moving with her husband, Tobias Bradley, to Peoria, Illinois. Bradley was a respected philanthropist and the first female member of a bank’s board. She eventually founded a home for “Aged Women” as well as what is now Bradley College. (July 31)
3. Lyman Beeman is appointed coroner of Harrison County.
One of the original settlers of Corydon, he was later appointed the county coroner, but his promotion didn’t last long. Beeman resigned from this position on September 17, citing that “private concerns” took up too much of his time and attention. He suggested Israel Butts as his replacement. (June 20)
4. The Dexter Gardner & Son Funeral Home sells its first coffin.
The Vincennes storefront was originally a cabinetmaking shop and general store. A $2 coffin for “A. Wood” led to Mr. Gardner’s promotion to undertaker. Now the Gardner-Brockman Funeral Home, it the oldest business still running in Indiana. (August 24)
5. Susannah Michum frees her slaves.
After her husband’s death, Susannah Michum of Harrison County filed for the freedom of 18-year old Delphy and her 9-month-old child. She requested that they “enjoy all the rights that a free person of labour can.” The motion marks one of the first slave emancipations in the state of Indiana. (October 30)
6. Abraham Lincoln comes to Indiana
Lincoln was 7 when his family moved to Spencer County. They lived here for 14 years in a small log cabin while Lincoln did manual labor for his neighbors and occasionally went to school. The foundation of this homestead still stands as part of the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. (December)
7. William Henry Harrison returns to politics
Indiana’s first territorial governor, Harrison held the position for 12 years but left politics in 1814 because of a fight with the Secretary of War. He came back in 1816 as a member of the House of Representatives and went on to become president in 1840.
8. Salem’s “Stilted Castle of Justice” opens
A new county had to build a courthouse and a jail within a year of establishment. Salem’s first hastily constructed courthouse stood on shaky wooden arches and was dubbed the “Stilted Castle of Justice and Equity.” It opened in 1816 but didn’t last long; townspeople demanded a new building in 1824 due to structural concerns.