With the early May Indiana primary election over, you might think the world would turn its attention away from the Hoosier state. But that would be wrong. Indiana is going to be in the spotlight all year with hundreds of events and more than a dozen signature projects celebrating the state’s bicentennial. (Visit in.gov/ibc/ for bicentennial celebration details.)
Our city magazine peers at Indianapolis Monthly really outdid themselves with their fantastic special bicentennial issue, “200 Years of Indiana” (January 2016). In 32 pages, the Indianapolis Monthly editors shared dozens of Indiana stories — stories about our shared heritage (indianapolismonthly.com/indianas-bicentennial/).
Hoosiers certainly will be the center of attention with the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 May 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While the Speedway isn’t estimating ticket sales, motorsports insiders say attendance at the 100th running will likely be more than 250,000. Indianapolis Monthly rightly covers the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in its May issue (indianapolismonthly.com/archive/may-2016-issue/).
Earlier this year we began to think about how to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Indiana’s statehood. (Statehood Day is Dec. 11, 2016, if you’d like to mark your calendars.) How could we tell a uniquely Southern Indiana story on the occasion of the state’s anniversary?
In early February I received a notice of a press conference in Indianapolis: “Indiana State Museum to announce and unveil a previously unknown artifact from Abraham Lincoln’s life in Indiana. This is one of the most significant artifacts found since his death in 1865.”
I was immediately intrigued. Unable to attend the press conference I requested details immediately after the announcement:
The Indiana State Museum has unveiled a previously unknown artifact from Abraham Lincoln’s life in Indiana. Lincoln’s bench mallet (circa 1829) will be on public display for the first time in 188 years, on his birthday, Feb. 12 and remain on view through 2016 at the museum. “The mallet is an extremely rare and important find that connects Abraham Lincoln to his Hoosier roots and to the rail-splitter legend that every schoolchild in America has been taught for 150 years,” said Dale Ogden, chief curator of history & culture and the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection at the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites.
The story took shape as I read on. The Carter family of the Rockport/Reo area of Spencer County owned a mallet, also called a maul, made and used by Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the U.S. to drive iron wedges into logs, creating split rails for fences. In 1829, before he moved to Southern Illinois, Lincoln gave it to Barnabus C. Carter Jr. The mallet passed through five generations to its present-day owners, Keith Carter of Newburgh, Indiana, and Andrea Carter Solis of Saline, Michigan, formerly of Newburgh. The siblings are Spencer County natives.
Captivated, I vowed to talk with the owners and find out more. The resulting story, “The Lincoln Mallet” (page 36) is our tribute to the state’s 200th anniversary — our Indiana story. The year also marks 200 years since the Lincoln family arrived in Indiana (December 1816). I hope you enjoy our long-form journalism piece on the people, culture, and circumstances surrounding the Lincoln mallet. Our story includes a roundup of the many Abraham Lincoln sites and exhibits in Spencer County and Evansville, as well as details on the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites’ celebratory exhibition, “Indiana in 200 Objects.”
As always, I look forward to hearing from you!
Kristen K. Tucker
Publisher & Editor