TERRE HAUTE, INDIANA - If I ever did a series of Walk & Talks outside of Indianapolis, I’d want it to be in Terre Haute. I've walked the streets here from the time I was 18 until I was 22. Even after nearly 200 2 mile, 2 hour tours on Indiana Avenue, it's Terre Haute, is where I’ve walked the most.
I've always been interested in the history of Terre Haute, well ever since I committed to play football at Indiana State University. I’ve done a few stories in/ about Terre Haute. I've watched the "History of Terre Haute" documentary so many times I can almost quote it word for word. It was released during my senior year at ISU, I purchased my copy at Baesler's, Terre Haute people will know! I still watch it often.
Under The Arch: Terre Haute's Memorial Stadium - https://www.through2eyes.com/post/2019/05/09/under-the-arch-terre-hautes-memorial-stadium
Desired Things - https://www.through2eyes.com/post/2018/10/19/desired-things
Bottled Up: Coca-Cola In Indiana: https://www.through2eyes.com/post/2018/12/18/bottled-up-coca-cola-in-indiana
I would get lost in Terre Haute. explore new places, bring my friends with me to the Wabash River, Markle Mill, Deming Park and other fun places I would spend some of my free time.
Forrmer Site of Markle's Mill - Terre Haute, Indiana (2017)
The Scott College of Business was actually in a historic building that had been repurposed, I thought that was pretty cool. I took time to explore and appreciate the history around me. The history in Terre Haute, Indiana. The history wherever I am, is the history that matters most to me at the moment, I find myself right in it, I'm now part of it!
I went back to Terre Haute for homecoming in October 2021, it's special knowing how this city helped shape the man that I am. I am forever grateful to the city and to the people of Terre Haute. Here’s a story that the local news did while I was a student-athlete there.
I was really invested in the people and community of Terre Haute, I still am! I feel like we're all invested in each other, no matter where we go.
Okay, so I’m back in Terre Haute, just driving around. I wanted to go look at the Wabash River, AGAIN, and walk around Fairbanks park, a place I really like to go. I wasn’t lost here, but I found something new. The marker was new, but the story wasn't, this wasn't in that documentary I watched. An old story, but it was new to me. It’s important. I want you to read what I read, the text is below.
On February 26, 1901, a white mob lynched George Ward, an African American husband and father of two, near the old Wabash River Wagon Bridge. The day prior, a white woman had been shot and stabbed in the woods near Terre Haute and died later that evening. Fear and anger gripped the community.
Though there were no witnesses to the crime, Mr. Ward was arrested and reports of an alleged confession began to circulate. Less than an hour after he was taken into custody, a white mob formed outside the jail.
Around noon, the mob broke into the jail using a battering ram, seized Mr. Ward, and beat him until he collapsed. The mob then dragged Mr. Ward to the bridge and hanged him from a trestle using a noose made of rope and chain.
Unsatisfied, the mob, “in morbid fury,” cut down and burned Mr. Ward’s body on the west riverbank. At least 1,000 white men, women, and children came to watch the spectacle lynching. Some collected fragments of Mr. Ward’s remains as souvenirs.
Terrorized by the lynching, many members of Terre Haute’s Black community fled in fear of further violence.
None of the perpetrators or spectators were held accountable before the law or the community. Failure to hold mobs accountable fostered an era of violent Jim Crow segregation and racial bias. This era has a continuing legacy that endures today.
My college roommate, Marcus, was with my at the time. If you’ve been following/reading my stories for the last few years you know who Marcus is. Anyways, I was happy to see this marker here, despite how uncomfortable I might have felt reading it for the first time. Despite how we both felt reading it, it was important that we read it. So I want you to read it too.
I searched "George Ward" in the Indy Recorder archives. This wasn't a comfortable story to read either. The screenshot is from page 6 of the paper.
The next day I headed back for Indianapolis, I wanted to find a place I had never been before, a place I had only read about! The Lost Creek Settlement. It was pouring down rain on the morning I went, just like it is as I’m writing this story, it's 2/22/2022 by the way!
This time I was by myself, I had found Lost Creek, I looked all around me. This is it, it always give me chills when I visit an old Black settlement in Indiana. This marker and the stone underneath told the story of the people that were here, what they did, and what they looked like. The Lost Creek Settlement was one of dozens and dozens of early Black settlements across the state.
Lost Creek Settlement School Number 2 (Circa 1900)
I really feel like I have this ability to go back in time, get lost in history and find myself all over again. This is what I LOVE to do. I can see myself in that photo, in that school, learning where I fit into the world, just like I did at Indiana State.
It's wild to think that this photo above was taken at a rural settlement in the early 1900's just miles from the urban streets where George Ward's body was destroyed (1901).
Indiana Historical Society - Prior to the Civil War, rural settlements in Indiana provided refuge for free persons of color and emancipated slaves. One of these was the Lost Creek Settlement near Terre Haute, founded around 1823 and populated by pioneers chiefly from North Carolina. While there were only 26 free blacks noted in the 1820 census for Vigo County, by 1840 there were 425 and by 1850 there were 748.
It’s cool that this is 2’s Day, like the ultimate 2’s day, it’s great. Terre Haute is where I found, some of the most important parts of myself. My football number in college was 2, that’s the main reason why this thing is called “Through2Eyes”, haha this is my perspective, my journey of self discovery through Indiana history.
I’ve invited you all to see it, see me, as I lose myself in the stories of our state, with the intention of finding something that teaches me a little more about who I am, who we are, 2!