The Owensboro Messenger, July 5, 1935


Rockport’s Shrine Is Formally Added To Nation’s Tributes To Martyred President With Program.


Rockport, Ind., July 4.—Dedication of the "Lincoln Village" here today drew thousands to hear the first martyred president eulogized and to see reemblazoned in pageantry epoch of pioneer life. A parade through the city in the forenoon when a long line of floats and gaily decorated cars bore toward the city park gave a hint of the larger exercises this afternoon in the county fair grounds.

Visitors came from various parts of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and other states, with a generous sprinkling of Kentuckians from distant points, eager to participate in formal recognition of another Kentuckian who spent his formative years in Spencer county before the larger vista beckoned to him in Illinois.

Mrs. Bess V. Ehrmann, president of the Spencer County Historical society, presided this afternoon, speaking briefly at the opening of the program, and as it proceeded she presented the various persons designated to introduce the speakers.

Dream Is Realized

To George Honig, sculptor and Lincoln historian, who came back from Evansville to reestablish a home in his native city and to fashion from his dreams this now material reproduction of a pioneer village, fell the part of formal dedication, after the life-story of the emancipator had been retold by those who spoke on different phases of Lincoln’s career.

Honig had drawn the plans for and directed the building of the village, located on a four-acre tract of the county fair grounds, fenced off by high palisades and picturesquely protected by replicas of early block-houses with projecting walls for the convenience of riflemen warding off the savage foes. The primitive store was there, the church and school house, a typical frontier home, with outdoor wells and a nearby garden, with the old bell to call the laborers from the fields, and many other reminders of the days which Lincoln spent in this vicinity.

Mayor Welcomes Throng

Mayor Harvey Chinn formally welcomed the visitors to Rockport, and the Hon. Edward Simpson, state legislator, presented Attorney General Philip Lutz who came down from Indianapolis to help dedicate the shrine. Taylor C. Bayse, local business man and a descendant of a pioneer family, introduced Judge Roscoe Kiper, of Boonville and Harold Van Orman, of Evansville, former lieutenant governor, who were followed by the historian and publicist, William Fortune, of Indianapolis, a native of Boonville.

Judge Kiper, prominent lawyer and jurist, read a thoughtful and searching paper on Lincoln and Van Orman, in characteristic vein, paid and eloquent tribute to the first great Republican, meanwhile chiding the distinguished Democrats present who lauded the illustrious leader of the opposing party. Van Orman more than the others, spoke so dramatically as to still the tumult and soon the thousands in the amphitheater and around it hushed their conversation and paused in their tramping to listen to one of Indiana’s favorite orators.

There was music and colorful garb, the quaint dress of the pioneers and the painted faces of make-believe Indians. The various exhibits in the village held the attention of visitors for a while, and then, before the speaking program and after it, became a homecoming scene of festivity, many having journeyed far to see reenacted the historically true story of Lincoln’s Indiana years.

Honig to Build More

Mr. Honig has not finished his task. He plans to build other cabins inside the stockade and to make it a mecca toward which Lincoln admirers will come. Within easy access, only 16 miles away and still in Spencer county, is the Nancy Hanks Park, a sector about the grave of Lincoln’s mother, making with Rockport’s Village dual shrines in the same county, one inseparably associated with the story of his mother, and the other a faithful and eloquently accurate reproduction of a frontier village of Lincoln’s time.

Just before the start of the afternoon program heavy, dark clouds rolled up, shot across with serpentine skeins of lightning accompanied by deep, rumbling thunder, but soon the disturbance passed away and the jubilate of oratory was on. The little city on the bluffs whose history is so vital a part of Southern Indiana’s was host to thousands. The anticipated event came and went and the "Lincoln Village" was dedicated.