“May a man tell what he can do until he tries? That, I take it, is the soul of the  Americanism which makes us a peculiar people.” –Lew Wallace

Gen. Lew Wallace in full dress uniform1827 – Lew Wallace is born in Brookville, Indiana, on April 10 to David and Esther Wallace.

1832 – The Wallace family moves to Covington, Indiana.

1833 – Esther Wallace dies of consumption.

1836 – David Wallace marries Zerelda Sanders.

1837 – David Wallace takes office as the 6th Governor of Indiana; family moves to Indianapolis.

1843 – Lew begins working as a copyist for the Marion County Clerk and begins studying the law at night.

1846 – Lew serves as a 2nd Lieutenant of the 1st Indiana Volunteers in Mexican-American War, but sees little action.

1849 – Lew passes the bar exam.

1850 – Lew sets up law practice in Covington, Indiana.

1852 – Lew marries Susan Elston, daughter of Isaac Elston, on May 2.

1853 – Henry Lane Wallace is born in Covington and family moves to Crawfordsville.

1856 – Lew is elected to Indiana State Senate; Lew organizes the Montgomery Guards, a militia unit that gains him statewide notoriety.

1861 – Lew is appointed Adjutant General of Indiana to begin organizing Indiana’s soldiers; Lew becomes Colonel of the 11th Indiana Volunteer Infantry.

1862 – Lew promoted to Major General and commands troops in Tennessee battles of Forts Donelson and Henry and Shiloh; Lew organizes a successful defense of Cincinnati, Ohio, in September.

1864 – Lew is appointed Commander of the 8th Army Corps at Baltimore by President Lincoln; Lew leads troops in the Battle of Monocacy, which saves Washington, D.C., from Confederate assault.

1865 – Lew leads secret mission in Mexico to stop flow of goods into the Confederacy; Lew is appointed second in command of the Lincoln assassination trial; Lew is appointed President of the Court for the trial of Henry Wirz, the commander of Andersonville prison.

1866 – Lew returns to Mexico and supplies the Juaristas with arms in their successful attempt to overthrow Maximillian.

1868 – Lew returns to Crawfordsville and builds a two-story Victorian home on land originally owned by Susan’s father.

1870 – Lew unsuccessfully runs for Congress.

1873 – Lew’s first novel, The Fair God, is published.

1878 – Lew is appointed to serve as Governor of the New Mexico Territory by President Hayes.

1880 – Lew’s second novel, Ben-Hur, is published on November 12.

1881 – Lew is appointed United States Minister to Turkey by President Garfield; Lew becomes good friends with Sultan Abdul Hamid II.

1885 – Lew returns to Crawfordsville.

statue of Lew Wallace, image courtesy of Architect of the Capitol

1893 – Lew’s third novel, The Prince of India, is published.

1895 – Construction of Lew’s study begins in Crawfordsville.

1899 – Ben-Hur adapted into a stage play and opens at the Broadway Theater in New York City.

1905 – Lew dies on February 15 in Crawfordsville.

1906 – Lew’s self-titled autobiography published with help from Susan and Mary Hannah Krout.

1907 – Susan dies on October 1 in Crawfordsville.

1910 – A marble statue of Lew placed in Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol Building in Washington; A copy of the statue is placed on the Study grounds in Crawfordsville (image at right courtesy of Architect of the Capitol).

1925 – First full length motion picture of Ben-Hur released, starring Ramon Navarro.

1959 – Re-make of Ben-Hur starring Charlton Heston breaks box office records and garners a record eleven Academy Awards®.

2016 – A third full-length, live-action version of Ben-Hur, starring Jack Huston in the lead role is released in August; Lew’s great-great-granddaughter Carol Wallace publishes a modernized version of the novel.