Famous People from Indiana
Billy Sunday - He played and he prayed.
Some people never figure out their ideal career. Billy Sunday was fortunate
enough to figure it out twice. Sunday, born in Iowa, was a successful
professional baseball player who walked away from the game to preach. In 1911,
he moved his home base to Winona Lake in Northern Indiana, an area once known as
"The World's Largest Bible Conference." Today, The Village at Winona
(574-268-9888) is a charming community filled with artisan's shops, historic
sites, museums, recreation areas and restaurants. The Billy Sunday Home Museum
and Visitor Center (877-786-3292), where the famously energetic evangelist lived
until his death in 1935, has been restored to its original 1911 appearance, and
reflects Arts and Crafts décor of the time. His wife, "Ma" Sunday, who lived in
the home until her death in 1955, completed many of the home's paintings and
Marie Webster - Patchwork preserved.
Walk into any fabric store or bookstore in America, and you'll find row after
row of books on quilting. But every quilt book author owes a debt to Marie
Webster, the early 20th century woman who wrote the first authoritative book on
the history of quilting: "Quilts: Their Story and How to Make Them." Webster, at
the time a nationally known quilt designer, was also revered for making her
patterns readily available to the mass market.
Quilters Hall of Fame in Marion (926 S. Washington Street, Marion, Indiana).
Located in Webster's former home, where she
resided from 1902 to 1942, the Quilters Hall of Fame recognizes quilters and
other individuals who have greatly contributed to quilting.
Cemetery of celebs - Take a quiet tour.
At more than 555 acres, Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis is the final resting
place for more than 185,000 people, including several Indiana governors, mayors
and Civil War generals. Walking tours point out markers for many names you'll
recognize, including President Benjamin Harrison, Colonel Eli Lilly, beloved
Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley, and not-so-beloved bank robber John
Dillinger. Riley's grave is of special note. Located at 860 feet above sea
level, it's the highest point in the cemetery, and offers a spectacular view of
Before you see where Riley is buried, you might want to see where he lived. The
first writer to sell over a million dollars in poetry hails from Greenfield.
You'll find interesting memorabilia at the Riley Home Complex (317-462-8539),
his birth home.
Ernie Pyle - A different kind of war hero.
While the evening news can keep us informed of the day's events, it can also
feel like a competition as to who will get the story first. But during World War
II, a man named Ernie Pyle from Indiana had a different goal: to report on the
real story of life on the front. Soldiers respected him for his accurate
reporting and for his willingness to put himself right in the action. Americans
at home appreciated his true accounts of soldiers' actions and emotions. Today,
the Pulitzer Prize winner's words are preserved and his life is remembered at
the Ernie Pyle State Historic Site in Dana (765-665-3633), where you'll find the
home in which he was born, two Quonset huts, thousands of pieces of memorabilia,
the shovel he used to dig foxholes, a typewriter he used early in his career,
vignettes depicting his columns, and a jacket he wore while covering the troops.
Ken Bowersox - Reaching for the stars.
Lawrence County may be famous for its deep limestone quarries, but it's also
famous for what it sent to the heavens above them. Not one but three astronauts
hail from this area. Charles Walker has accumulated 20 days of experience in
space and traveled 8.2 million miles. In 1983, NASA confirmed him as the first
industrial payload specialist. Ken Bowersox served on the Hubble Space Telescope
servicing and repair mission-an 11-day flight that included a record five space
walks by four astronauts. Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom was one of the original seven
Mercury astronauts, selected in 1959. He died tragically in a launch pad fire in
what would have been the first manned flight test of the Apollo capsule. The
Grissom Memorial at Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell (812-849-4129) honors his
life and work.
John Mellencamp - A busy artist.
You may not be surprised to hear John Mellencamp's work coming from a stereo,
but you might be surprised to see it hanging on a wall. The Southern Indiana
Center for the Arts in Seymour (888-524-1914) hosts the only permanent exhibit
of Mellencamp's paintings. Mellencamp, the songwriter, singer, painter and
Seymour native, purchased the 1851 brick home and leases it to the county for $1
a year. The Center serves as a place for county residents to exhibit and learn
about the arts with classes, summer camps for kids, and studio time for members.
The Center also displays works by such artists as Nancy Noel, Maureen O'Hara
Pesta, and Richard Kingsley. The amphitheater at the Center hosts concerts and
James Dean - Two Fairmount favorites.
The Fairmount Historical Museum (765-948-4555) honors two creative men who were
born and raised in the Indiana town. Fans of James Dean, the Hollywood actor,
icon and legend, will enjoy looking at items that are related to and were owned
by James Dean and his family, including awards, clothing and motorcycles. Prefer
stars of more contemporary films? Garfield the Cat, who makes his movie debut
this year, was created by Fairmount native Jim Davis. Both Davis and his famous
orange feline are honored here.