The Rockport Democrat, July 12, 1935

Article was typed as it was worded in the newspaper.


Dedication of The Lincoln Pioneer Village at City Park Attracts Thousands; Day Unmarred By Accidents


On July 4th from 9 o’clock in the morning when the parade began to form, until 6 o’clock in the evening when the Indians made a scenic attack on a family of emigrants, traveling in an oxcart and seeking a "new country," Rockport was a busy, happy, democratic scene as a crowd estimated from 10,000 to 14,000 people helped to dedicate the Lincoln Pioneer Village, the country’s latest contribution to the memory of that great citizen. It was such a tribute that did honor to a sympathetic people and the village, a national shrine, at which all may bow in reverence to the memory of him whose wisdom, sacrifices, high sense of justice and love for humanity steered a torn and bewildered country along the path of brotherly love into a haven of rest and security. It was an event that in a setting of happiness, jollity, good-natured greeting of friends and sight-seeing, there was an air of reverence that lent a beauty and charm to the day’s program.

Mrs. Bess V. Ehrmann, who very ably and brilliantly presided over the dedicatory program, very aptly asked in introducing the sculptor, George H. Honig to the vast audience. "Do dreams come true?" Fourteen thousand people can vouch to the truth of one dream becoming a reality. The dream that came to the fertile mind of a young man thirty years ago, on Thursday stood forth in a beauty and glory that was a marvel of the thousands. Who can imagine the depth of the feeling of George Honig as he stood before the completed product and caught the full meaning of a dream that has cost him more sacrifices and hardships than any can know. But the joy that comes with a victory achieved—especially with one with the significance of this one, adds a beauty and glory to the sacrifices made in its achievement.

The Lincoln village covers a four acre tract and is enclosed by a stockade. It contains 11 buildings and cost $6,000 with approximately $3,500 of labor done by FERA workmen. Six months were required for its construction, and many years preceding that for research by Honig and others. It is an exact duplication of villages of the Lincoln era to the last detail. Costumes of the "pioneers" who "inhabited" the village Thursday also were authentic, many of them being composed of garments handed down in Tri-state families.

Mr. Honig has devoted years of study and research in ascertaining information on the buildings represented in the village and the houses are exact replicas, so far as knowledge of them can be ascertained, of the original buildings. The aim also was to have furniture of the Lincoln period in the buildings for the day and that idea was carried out in a very interesting manner. Those in charge of the buildings were dressed in pioneer style and fortunately enough of the old-style clothing could be obtained to carry out the scheme. Church of the pioneer style was conducted in the church building, a McGuffey school in that building, "Abe" sold good in the Jones store, and the Grass home of that pioneer settler was open for company, and so on throughout the village, a picture of which appeared in this paper on June 28th.

There were over 5,000 paid admissions to the village during the day. In addition to this there were likely half as many more complimentary, which included all taking part in the day’s exercises, honor guests, etc.

The dedicatory exercises began at 2:30 p. m., the officers and speakers being escorted to the grand stand by 50 young ladies led by the Dale drum corps, clothed in red and white. Amplifiers had been put up, which made the speeches plainly heard in all parts of the ground.

Mrs. Bess V. Ehrmann, president of the Spencer County Historical society, presided, and demonstrated a rare tact and ability. Mayor Harvey T. Chinn gave a welcome address in a very gracious manner and Rev. L. S. Jarrett gave the invocation. The speakers for the afternoon were Hon. Philip Lutz, attorney-general of Indiana; former Lieutenant-Governor Harold Van Orman; Judge Roscoe Kiper, of Boonville; Hon. William Fortune of Indianapolis; J. Roy Strickland, "Paragraphy," of the Evansville Courier and George H. Honig, artist and sculptor, to whom the county is indebted for the memorial.

Senator Sherman Minton and Representative John W. Boehne Jr., scheduled to speak sent telegrams of regret from Washington, D.C., explaining that national affairs were keeping congressmen busy at the capitol so that they could not attend the dedication. The telegrams were read by Hon. Edward C. Simpson, state representative from Spencer and Perry Counties. Mrs. Ehrmann introduced Mr. Fortune and Mr. Honig. Taylor C. Basye, president emeritus of Spencer County Historical society, introduced Van Orman and Judge Kiper and Representative Simpson presented Mr. Lutz. U. S. Lindsey, editor of the Rockport Journal, introduced J. Roy Strickland.

Lutz, first of the principal speakers, predicted a nation wide place and purpose for the Village "The world will make a path to this memorial," he said, "and those who come will consecrate their live anew to the principles held by Lincoln of friendship, loyalty, patriotism, sincerity, honor, honesty, fidelity and every attribute that Lincoln held to make him great in all the nations of the world."

He went on to suggest still another Lincoln memorial in the Tri-State, an institution dedicated to the same love for humanity that was Lincoln’s—a national university, hospital, foundation, or other agency "permanent, useful and serviceable" and predicted that it would some day be a reality.

Judge Kiper, recounting the story of Lincoln’s youth, declared that much of his strong, moral character came from his environmental influence in Spencer county, where he lived from the ages of seven to twenty-one. "His cogent reasoning, materialized in his utterances made in after life," the judge pointed out, "forcibly manifest the basic principles of life which were woven into his character then."

And that, said the judge, is true even though "It is seemingly a far cry from the days of the early environment of Abraham Lincoln, represented by the faithful reproduction of the scenes amid which the youthful Lincoln lived and was reared, to the arena in which he was afterward placed, as the chief actor, in the titanic struggle to preserve out national unity and give impetus to American ideals."

In his address, Van Orman sounded a cry for strong and intelligent leaders to build a strong democracy, pointing out that "good leadership attracts devoted and enthusiastic followers."

"Perhaps the most pronounced traits in the character of Lincoln were his broad charity and unbounded sympathy," he said. "These traits stand out prominently in everything he ever said or did and carry a significant message to a troubled world.

"The need for the application of Lincoln’s ideals to present-day problems must be evident to anyone who considers seriously the world in which he lives. We have come to realize that the problems of peace are just as difficult and more numerous than the problems of war. In these problems the spirit of Lincoln would be a mighty solvent, not only for America, but for the whole world."

Mr. Fortune, for years a close student of Lincoln, gave a brief talk, reviewing Lincoln progress and expressing sincere gratification in the latest monument to the memory of the great martyred president.

Mr. Honig was visibly affected on being presented to the great audience and he had much reason to be, as it was the greatest moment of his life—the dream of his life realized. In the kindest words he thanked all who had helped in the project and to these loyal friends a large measure of honor belongs "for making my dream a reality" and then went on to play for the future of the village.

"We dedicate it to Abraham Lincoln and the pioneers of Spencer county," he said, " and hope that it will be an everlasting memorial by constant building." There are 22 more log cabins and blockades, each telling its part of the Lincoln drama, yet projected, he said, hoping that "the Tri-State will now step in to help Rockport complete it."

Once finished, he added, "it will stand as a memorial to western democracy to the man who brought it to the company of world philosophies."

Mrs. Honig, "who stood by her husband through every bit of it," as Mrs. Ehrmann described her part in the dream’s fulfillment, was introduced to the audience, and she bowed with her husband.

Mrs. Ben Smith of Grandview presented a vocal solo, "In the Good Old U. S. A." as a musical interlude, while the Rockport high school band, with E. F. Nichols directing, played before and after the program from the amphitheater.

The dedicatory exercises closed with benediction by Rev. W. M. Allen, pastor of the Lutheran church.

The day’s exercises closed with a spectacular attack by Indians on a party of emigrants bound for a newer country in a covered wagon drawn by four oxen. This wagon containing the "family" was attacked"-by the Indians when nearing the amphitheatre. The "head of the house" to "save" his precious ones, turned his two yoke of oxen and made for the stockade for the protection, the little company defending itself as best it could with gunfire until within range of the stockade when "heap big shooting took place and a number of Indians killed. Being overpowered the redskins gave up and made peace with the whites. This stunt was put on by the local Kiwanis club, assisted by A. G. Bowman, of Kendalville, who is quite familiar with Indian lore and customs and with the Indian wearing apparel, he made the scene appear very real and this feature was very greatly enjoyed by the audience. With a large number of boys dressed in Indian garb Mr. Bowman illustrated a number of Indian dances in front of the amphitheatre for the entertainment of the crowd.

The parade was, we are quite sure, the most interesting ever seen in southern Indiana. It was almost a mile in length, and made up almost entirely of articles of "ye olden times," many of which had never been seen by the younger generation and contained the element of great educational value. It is sincerely hoped that some means can be devised to preserve these wonderful exhibits, which are now becoming very scarce. They should all be gathered into a museum for the benefit of future generations.

The floats were judged by Edward W. Smith, Owensboro, Chamber of Commerce; H. H. Wettmaihausen, Tell City Chamber of Commerce, and Arthur P. Eberlin, Evansville Chamber of Commerce. They awarded the first prize to Grandview, represented by a barge depicting Sandy Creek Landing, a flatboat representing the Lincoln family crossing the Ohio into Indiana. Congratulations to them on first honors.

The second honor went to the float representing a pioneer family moving in a covered wagon, by Floyd Pennington, and third to a float containing a collection of old-time farm implements, including shaving horse, wheat cradle, etc. by Gene Scamahorn.

Other contest winners were as follows:

Prettiest baby under one year, Sharon Fay Ehmer, daughter of C. C. Ehmer, Rockport; doll contest, Dorothy Goldman, Rockport; prettiest girl under 14, Caroline Bugby, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Edwin Bugby, Owensboro; twin running race, Denby Marshall and Lewis Frank, both of Rockport.

Girls’ bicycle race, Dorothy Goldman, Rockport; boys’ bicycle race, Alfred Hassel, Rockport; boys’ running race (under 14) J. C. Lloyd, Richland; hog-calling contest, E. G. Gentry, Rockport; husband-calling contest, Mrs. Russel Laird, Rockport, and male race, Paul Hamilton, Rockport.