We had a fun little research project today and learned something new about Lew. I wanted to share it with all of you so you get a glimpse behind the scenes at how we are still learning stuff about Lew’s history.
One of our members kindly brought a picture for us to look at. It shows Lew standing on the front steps of the Study in the midst of a huge group of people, mostly women. We know it took place after 1898, when the Study was finished, and before 1905, when Lew died–probably before 1903, when his health went into decline. A closer look at the women’s outfits shows that most of them are wearing ribbons that seem to have writing on them.
Our Online Research Process
We scanned the image at a very high resolution and enlarged it on our computer screen (We’re not as high-tech as TV shows like NCIS or Criminal Minds, but we might as well let technology help us out!) and this allowed us to read one of the words on the ribbons: Landis. We knew from the member who brought the picture in that the Wingate family was in this picture. Larry knew that Landis was the last name of three important Hoosier brothers–Congressman Frederick Landis, Representative Charles B. Landis, and Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis (famous for his involvement in the Black Sox Scandal).
So was this a political rally of some sort?
But if it was a political rally, why are so many of the people women? They wouldn’t have the right to vote for roughly two more decades, depending on when this picture was taken?
We took another look at the ribbons and decided the other name looked like it ended with “–rbin” so that’s when we turned to Google. We tried searching Indiana plus names like Corbin and Durbin–and with Durbin, we had a hit! Winfield T. Durbin was the 25th Governor of Indiana. When did he serve? From 1901 to 1905.
At that point, we were pretty certain this was a political rally in support of Charles B. Landis, who served in the U.S House of Representatives from 1897 to 1909, and Winfield T. Durbin. Logic told us this must be a rally from the election of 1900. That gave us more information to narrow down our search.
The combination of search terms that led me to the Indiana Digital Historic Newspaper Program‘s website was “durbin landis rally crawfordsville 1900.” (The program is an ongoing project spearheaded by Wallace scholar Chandler Lighty.)
One of the many digitized newspapers on the site is The Indianapolis Journal. That paper’s issue for Wednesday, November 28, 1900, had an article with the headline “Dinner by Mr. Landis,” with a subhead that said it was “Given to the young women of a campaign glee club.”
You can view the entire newspaper at the link above, but here’s the text of the article:
Dinner by Mr. Landis
“CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind., Nov. 27. – Tonight at the Crawford House the Durbin and Landis Glee Club, of Wingate, was banqueted by Representative Landis. This club is composed of young women, and their presence at numerous rallies during the past campaign did much to aid the Republican cause. The members are from the homes of residents of the smaller towns and country and from the various walks of life. John C. Wingate accompanied the club to this city this afternoon and they spent two hours in company with Mr. Landis at the studio of General Wallace, where several group pictures were taken.
Sixty-five covers were laid at the banquet and the young women were seated at tables presided over by the following persons: Governor and Mrs. Mount, Representative and Mrs. Landis, John C. Wingate, General Lew Wallace and John R and Mrs. Bonnell. The menu was of the highest order, and the occasion was enlivened and made interesting by short speeches by Messrs. Landis, Mount, Wallace, Wingate, and Bonnell. The young women presented to Mr. Landis the banner which they had carried with the during the campaign, and they presented to Governor Mount and to General Wallace each a beautiful silk flag. Governor-elect Durbin and Mrs. Durbin sent their regets [sic] that they were not able to be here on account of their trip East.
This club was known four years ago as the Mount and Landis Club, and did much good work in the campaign then, and at the close of the campaign the members were banqueted at Wingate, at the home of John C. Wingate, when several prominent persons were present. The talks at the banquet table this evening were principally relative to the influence young women can exercise over young men when they are interested in a good cause.
Mr. Landis was initiated into the local lodge of Elks this afternoon.”
We were pleased to be able to give our friend’s picture back to her with the full story of how it came to be taken. It was great to follow the clues and learn that doing online research about Lew Wallace is not only possible, but also a lot of fun!