The Evansville Sunday Courier and Journal, July 5, 1936

Article was typed as it was worded in the newspaper.


Four More Historic Replicas and Lake Dedicated in Ceremonies at Rockport


Six Thousand Hear Speakers Laud Lincoln; WPA Head Defends Work Program

By J. Ben Lieberman (Courier Staff Correspondent)

ROCKPORT, July 4—With both the democratic and republican nominees for governor on the program, and a crowd of 6,000 gathered at the City park here, Rockport today spent this Fourth of July dedicating a lake and four additional buildings in the Lincoln Pioneer village.

The village, which has attracted thousands in the past year, was called a "national shrine" by Wayne Coy, state WPA administrator, in the dedicatory address, at the conclusion of a week’s "summer festival" celebration which began last Sunday.

Seat of Spencer county into which Abe Lincoln moved as a boy of seven and lived for 14 years, this town was colorful and hot again today, just as a year ago, when the pioneer village itself was dedicated. A mile-long parade through the bunting-topped city streets to the park was the morning highlight, with the afternoon crowded be speeches and music, after a picnic lunch on the old fair grounds.


Though the two major parties had their state gubernatorial choices on the platform, and both groups established "headquarters" underneath the grandstand, on the surface at least, the gathering was mostly non-partisan, with all speakers lauding Lincoln and the reconstructed pioneer village he inspired.

W. Clifford Townsend, lieutenant-governor and democratic choice, linked "Liberty and Lincoln" as two magic words, "inseparable in our thoughts or in our hearts," and warned that "liberty can be lost if we fail to understand its meaning and resent any invasion upon the most helpless of our fellow citizens as bitterly as we would resent an invasion upon our own rights."

In one other veiled hint of political purpose, Townsend stressed the "importance" of youth, as though "playing up" to the new electorate which has come of age since the last election. Speaking of the effect of Indiana upon Lincoln in his formative years, Townsend declared that "the youth of our nation are more important than the mature and the aged."


He added that "perhaps" he spoke with more fervor because many of his "working years were spent with youth, endeavoring to instill high aims and ambitions, to preserve in their minds the principles upon which our very civilization is founded."

Speaking extemporaneously, Raymond Springer, republican nominee for governor, drew the only applause that had even a semblance of spontaneity during the afternoon with his declaration that despite "subversive influences and ‘foreign isms,’ in this nation there is but one ‘ism’ and that is ‘Americanism,’ and shall continue to be."

Springer devoted his time to concurring with "that splendid address" of Townsend, and agreed that "liberty goes hand in hand with independence." He called Lincoln "not only a great American but a great world character."

Coy, delivering the dedicatory address for the village additions, built with WPA funds, gave the only really political speech of the day, likening the present national situation to that which faced Lincoln and comparing President Roosevelt—though without mention—to the martyred chief.

"Lincoln found a way, despite constitutional obstacles," Coy declared, "to free a race from physical bondage. Certainly this generation of our America must find a way to free our submerged millions from economic servitude."


Praising the pioneer village as "rapidly becoming a great national shrine," Coy said it was fitting that such a memorial should have been erected, and added that "it is also fitting that the government he died to save should have a hand in making it a reality."

In completing the Lincoln village project, Coy declared, "the Works Program administration and the agencies which preceded it in carrying on the works program have done more than merely provide needed employment to citizens of Spencer county and reconstruct historic scenes. The project has been in fact and industrial school, where three score men have acquired skill in handicrafts, and have learned to use the hammer, the saw and the plane in useful construction work.

"As a result of this training, these men will be more useful members of society when the opportunity for private employment is offered to them," he said.


Then he turned to "people in this country, perhaps in this audience, who declare that the government’s effort to provide employment on useful public projects for its needy unemployed is a wasteful and extravagant enterprise."

Quoting Oliver Goldsmith’s "Ill fares the land, to hast’ning ills a prey, where wealth accumulates, and men decay," he declared, "these lines should give pause to those who reckon costs in terms of money only and see no profit they cannot ring up in their own cash registers."

The afternoon meeting was called to attention by a cornet solo "bugle call" by Robert Atkinson of Rockport, followed by a selection by the Rockport high school band, Downey Keasner directing, which had played earlier in the day.

Mrs. C. D. Ehrman, president of the Spencer County Historical society, introduced the master of ceremonies, A. P. Eberlin, secretary-manager of the Evansville Chamber of Commerce and president of the Southwestern Indiana Civic association, and Eberlin in turn, introduced Mrs. Ehrman, following with the presentation of Mayor Harvey T. Chinn of Rockport, who welcomed the city’s visitors.


Greetings from Kentucky were offered by Thomas Finley, Madisonville attorney, who declared that "Kentucky folks and Indiana folks have always been friends" and said the stars of Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois are brighter on the American flag because of "their Lincoln."

A costumed reenactment of a Spencer county reception to President and Mrs. Lincoln followed on a platform beneath the speakers stand across the race track from the grandstand.

Welcoming back the Lincoln to the president’s boyhood home were William Parsley, Mrs. K. C. Atchison, Mrs. Carrie Halburge, Mrs. Ada Rhoades, Mrs. Laura M. Wright, Mrs. T. W. Savage, Mrs. Hilbert Bennett, Claude Snyder, Mrs. Gracie Allen, A. E. Shrode, and Edgar Houston. Parsley acted Lincoln, and the others portrayed leading local figures of the period.


Regrets were read from Senator Sherman Minton, who for the second successive year was unable to attend, and from C. B. Coleman, director of the Indiana Historical society, likewise unable to be present.

Others who could not appear were William Fortune of Indianapolis and Lew O’Bannon of Corydon. Special introductions included Mrs. George Honig and Judge Caleb Lindsey of Boonville.

Ross Lockridge, Indiana director of the Federal Writers’ project, speaking next, said the state is foremost in developing its local shrines, and lauded them as educational advantages.

Townsend spoke next, and then Springer, after a musical interlude by the Hartwell colored quartet.

After Coy’s address, seven young women in bathing suits paraded over the bridge from the park to the island in the new lake, as yet unfilled, in a symbolic ceremony. The young women were Ellen B. Parsley, Margie Parsley, Mary Jo Keliams, Helen Gentry, Rita Savage, Geneva Fortune and Peggy Hopkins.

The induction was given by the Rev. Wilbur M. Allen of the Trinity Lutheran church of Rockport, with the benediction by the Rev. Lee S. Jarrett, pastor of the Rockport M. E. church.


George Honig, Rockport artist and sculptor, formerly of Evansville, who first dreamed the pioneer village and directed the task of completing it, was introduced at the close of the program. He thanked "all who helped," and congratulated Mrs. Ehrman on her part. He called the shrine a "silent language" that "everyone can understand."

First on the day’s program was a "children’s hour," at 9 o’clock in front of the amphitheater, under the direction of Lucille Richards, Ethel Lawburg, Essie Lee Williams, and Charles Fay.

Winner of the colorful parade in the morning was the Rockport Kiwanis club, with a blue and white float bearing Lincoln the President portrayed by parsley. The Rockport Democrat float of red, white, and blue was second, with the T. C. Basye drug store float of white, with six girls in satin, riding.

During the day, most of the crowd visited the Village to be greeted by costumed "inhabitants" of the early settlement.

Included in the Springer party were Mrs. Thomas Groves of Tobinsport, eighth district chairwoman, Gene Scamahorn, Rockport eighth district chairman, Mrs. Louis Rausch, jr., of Evansville, Mrs. Eva S. Keown of Indianaoplis, and Travis Williams of Evansville.

In the Townsend party were Mrs. Coy, Ernest Weatherholt, Cannelton, eighth district chairman, Mrs. Gertha Powers, Boonville, eighth district chairwoman, and Vernon J. Ferguson, Grandview, Spencer county chairman.

Honig told The Courier that workmen would begin work on the corn cracker mill wheel and finish the lake on July 9. He said that $25,000 of the appropriation is left, and that future plans included a possible stone building to house a museum. To be built soon is a replica of the Lincoln flatboat in which he sailed to New Orleans in 1828.