Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Alice Woods Ullman (1871-1959)

Author, illustrator, poster artist, and painter Alice Woods was born in Goshen, Indiana, on November 22, 1871. She attended the Girls Classical School of Indianapolis, the Indiana School of Art under William Forsyth and T.C. Steele, and the Shinnecock Summer School of Art under William Merritt Chase. She continued her art education at the Art Students League, the New York School of Art, and the Académie Colarossi in Paris. Her experiences as an art student in Paris gave her the material she needed for a novel, Fame Seekers, published in 1912.

Alice spent almost two decades in Paris and knew Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Margaret Cravens, and other members of the American art community. She married the painter Eugene Paul Ullman (1877-1953), another Chase student and a near lifelong expatriate. Together they had two sons, sculptor Allen Ullman and painter/illustrator Paul Ullman. After separating from her husband in 1914, Alice Woods Ullman returned to the United States and was associated with the artistic crowd in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Greenwich Village, New York.

Alice Woods wrote and illustrated stories for The Century, McClure’s, Pearson’s, The Smart Set, and other magazines. She also wrote six novels: Edges (1902), A Gingham Rose (1904),  Fame Seekers (1912), The Thicket (1913), The Hairpin Duchess (1924), and The Gilded Caravan (1927). In the Fame Seekers, Alice wrote: "Modern life has produced nothing more interesting, more charming or more alarming than the American girl," a sure indication of her interest in women’s stories and women’s themes. Perhaps she offered a commentary on her own marriage when she wrote that if the American girl, studying in Paris, ends "by marrying, [then] heaven help the man, for it is with the secret gnawing of compromise or condescension."

Alice Woods Ullman was a member of the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, the National Arts Club, the Woman’s Art Club of New York, and the Portfolio Club of Indianapolis. She died on July 24, 1959, in New York City.

The frontispiece of Alice Wood Ullman's 1904 novel, A Gingham Rose, created by the author herself. The drawing has a poster-like quality and is clearly influenced by the art nouveau style. It should come as no surprise that Alice was also a poster artist.
And a small monotype of eucalyptus trees, signed "Alice Woods," made perhaps before she was married to the painter Eugene Ullman. 

Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dale Van Pelt (ca. 1872-?)

Dale Van Pelt must have had an interesting career, yet I have found out only a little about him. He was born in about 1872 in Vevay, the seat of Switzerland County, Indiana. His birth may have coincided pretty closely with the publication of Vevay native Edward Eggleston's popular novel The Hoosier Schoolmaster: A Story of Backwoods Life in Indiana (1871), a fictional recounting of a real-life schoolteacher's experiences in neighboring Jefferson County. Eggleston's novel may offer a glimpse into what the young life of Dale Van Pelt must have been like.

In 1880, Van Pelt was enumerated in Pleasant Township in Switzerland County with his father (a physician), his mother, and other members of the family. Strangely enough, Calvin Bear, my distant relative, was listed on the same page of the census book. Before the decade was out (probably in 1888), Van Pelt set off for Purdue University. Located on the edge of the prairie, Purdue would have been a far cry from the river hills of southern Indiana. Van Pelt thrived there, however. Class historian, football quarterback, president of the Emersonian Society, and art editor of the Debris (the class yearbook founded a few years earlier by John T. McCutcheon), Van Pelt must have been a big man on campus. Upon graduating in 1892 with a degree in mechanics, he went to work as an artist with the Indianapolis Sentinel. Incidentally, Van Pelt's classmates included the poet Charles Cottingham and John S. Wright. I'd like to quote from the website of the John S. Wright Center at Purdue University for more on him:
The Center is named in honor of John Shepard Wright, a member of the Purdue University class of 1892 who, in 1964, provided the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources with a generous endowment for the promotion of forestry in Indiana. Mr. Wright was a botanist, an Eli Lilly executive, and a friend of many forestry leaders in Indiana, particularly Stanley Coulter, Purdue University Professor Daniel DenUyl, and Charles C. Deam, the first state forester of Indiana.
Purdue also holds some of Van Pelt's papers, a diary with sketches from a Purdue botany class. I suspect Wright and Van Pelt studied botany together, probably under Stanley Coulter (1853-1943). They may even have been friends.

The period in Dale Van Pelt's life between 1893 (when he was working for the Indianapolis Sentinel) and 1910 (when he was enumerated in the federal census) is a mystery to me. In 1902, he married Minnie M. Wherritt of Shelbyville, Indiana. In 1910, 1920, and 1930, the census taker found him living in Chicago and working as a commercial artist, illustrator, and engraver. During his Chicago years, Van Pelt shared a household with Winnie and their children, as well as with other members of their extended family.

Dale Van Pelt would have been about fifty-eight years old in 1930. He could easily have lived for a couple of more decades. But I'm afraid I don't know his fate. His drawings are probably hidden away in old bound volumes of newspapers or on reels of scratchy microfilm. A quick search might turn something up. For now, we'll have to be satisfied with an image from the Purdue Debris from over a century ago, not by him, but of him. The picture below is of the Emersonian Quartet, a vocal group with (left to right) Enos Shaw, high soprano; Dale Van Pelt, low bass (hence his proximity to the floor); Harry Scudder, fine tenor; and Charles Gough, big alto. The artist is unknown. The year was 1889.

Postscript, June 6, 2012: There is reason to believe that this drawing from The Indiana Woman, Irvington Edition, August 7, 1897, is the work of Dale Van Pelt. The time and place are right. The signature at the lower right may clinch it. If this is his work, it may be the first to be published in the last seventy years or more.

Text copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, December 15, 2011

J. Hugh O'Donnell (1899-1977)

John Hugh O'Donnell, better known to readers of the Indianapolis News as J. Hugh O'Donnell, was born on November 20, 1899, in Indianapolis. He won a scholarship to the Herron School of Art in 1916-1917, studying under Otto Stark, T.C. Steele, and William Forsyth. At Arsenal Technical High School, O'Donnell took evening classes from Elmer Tafflinger and subscribed to C.N. Landon's correspondence course in cartooning. The young artists's earliest cartooning credits may have been for The Arsenal Cannon, his school yearbook.

O'Donnell went right to work out of high school, taking a job at the front counter of the Indianapolis News in 1919. He moved up two notches in pretty short order, first to illustrator in the advertising department, then to staff artist in the editorial department, where he rubbed elbows with Kin Hubbard, Charles Kuhn, and Gaar Williams. O'Donnell worked as a staff artist from 1923 until being drafted in 1942. He served in a military police battalion and illustrated Leo M. Litz's Report from the Pacific, published in 1946. O'Donnell switched to the Indianapolis Times after a big shakeup at the Star-News in 1948. He retired from the Times in 1955.

J. Hugh O'Donnell illustrated Hoosier poet Bill Herschell's versifying for the Indianapolis News. He also created "Lucky Dollar," a character for a Red Cross television program. Named a Sagamore of the Wabash and a Kentucky Colonel in the same year, O'Donnell won a Freedom Foundations Award in 1952 and a Lincoln National Life Foundation Award in 1951. John Hugh O'Donnell died on December 30, 1977, and was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Indianapolis.

Note: J. Hugh O'Donnell the artist should not be confused with Rev. J. Hugh O'Donnell, president of the University of Notre Dame in the 1940s.

J. Hugh O'Donnell's depiction of "The City of Indianapolis," a B-29 that completed a bombing run hours before the cessation of  hostilities between the United States and Japan, August 14, 1945. From Report from the Pacific (1946) by Leo M. Litz, war correspondent for the Indianapolis News.
Here's a Navy airplane, a PBY Catalina, nicknamed "Dumbo," picking up Ensign Calvin B. Yoder, then 22, of Kokomo, Indiana, after his F6F5 Hellcat had been shot down in the Pacific in July 1945. Again, from Report from the Pacific. (Sorry for the blurred images--I have scanned them directly from the book.)
Another ship named "Indianapolis." This one--the U.S.S. Indianapolis--met an unhappier fate, having been torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on July 30, 1945. Of 1,196 men on board, only 316 survived, making the sinking of the ship the single greatest loss of life in the history of the United States Navy. There is a memorial to the Indianapolis in its namesake city today. Coincidentally, one of the survivors was an Indianapolis man, James E. O'Donnell. I can't say whether he is related to the artist. You can read more about the memorial at its official website, here. I'll wager that the person responsible for the website is not from Indianapolis: only foreigners call the city "Indy."

Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, November 28, 2011

Harvey Emrich (1884-1972)

Harvey Emrich was born in Indianapolis on October 9, 1884, and graduated from Manual Training High School in 1903. His post-secondary education came at the Herron School of Art (1903-1904), Butler University, and the Art Students League. Emrich also enjoyed the rare opportunity of studying art in France, but at the cost of going to war as a member of the American Expeditionary Force in World War I. As the war was drawing to a close, John Erskine, director of the YMCA for the AEF, instituted an art program for soldiers, in which Emrich took part and advanced his studies.

During the 1920s and '30s, Emrich was a member of the artists' colony at Woodstock, New York. Henry Maust, Hanson Booth, and John Striebel were among the other Hoosiers in residence there. Emrich created illustrations for a number of popular magazines, including Everybody's, Harper's, People's Home Journal, and Woman's Home Companion. He was also a fine artist and won a figure composition award (and a $200 prize) at the Hoosier Salon in 1928. He exhibited his work at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery, and with the Woodstock Artists Association. By the early 1940s, Emrich had returned to his hometown and was president of the Emrich Furniture Company on the west side of Indianapolis. He died in March 1972 at age eighty-seven.

"Noon" by Harvey Emrich, ca. 1928. I have seen another version of this painting in which the image is flipped. That one doesn't quite read right, so I have used this version instead.
An illustration by Emrich for All That Matters by Edgar A. Guest (1922), a book that included other illustrations by W.T. Benda, M.L. Bower, F.X. Leyendecker, Frederick Coffay Yohn, Robert E. Johnston, and Pruett Carter. Yohn was a fellow Hoosier, known for his battle scenes and historical paintings. Horses would appear to be an Emrich specialty.
A still-life painting by Harvey Emrich.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Paul Alexander (b. 1937)

Paul Alexander was one of the top science fiction paperback cover artists of the 1970s and '80s. Now retired, Mr. Alexander was born on September 3, 1937, in Richmond, Indiana, and graduated from Wittenburg University in nearby Springfield, Ohio, in 1967. He also studied at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. In his book Infinite Worlds: The Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art (1997), Vincent Di Fate includes Mr. Alexander with Dean Ellis, Christopher Foss, and John C. Berkey as "gadget" artists, "adept at painting futuristic hardware." The artist's talents were not limited to enormous spaceships zooming through vast realms of space, though. As the images below show, Mr. Alexander was equally adept at portraying human and not-so-human figures.

Paul Alexander's work was recently on display at the Communication Arts Technologies (CAT) Gallery at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland. Those works were part of an exhibit called "Worlds Collide: The Art of Science Fiction." You can view an online gallery at:

Cover illustration for Robert Silverberg's Those Who Watch (1978).
Another cover for another Robert Silverberg book, To Open the Sky (1978).
Finally, a cover illustration for Jehad by Simon Hawke, aka Nicholas Valentin Yermakov (1984).

Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Joseph Clemens Gretter (1904-1988)

Joseph Clemens Gretter lived a long and productive life, yet few readers knew him by anything other than his one word signature, "Gretta." The artist behind that signature was born on December 11, 1904, in the prairie country of western Indiana and grew up in Avery, Iowa. His schooling came at the Iowa Academy of Fine Arts, Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, and Art Institute of Chicago. His art career began in earnest in 1926 when he began drawing Hippity Skip Puzzles for the Chicago Tribune. During the lean years of the Great Depression, Gretter stayed busy illustrating series novels including the Ted Scott Flying Stories,  the X Bar X Boys, the Air Combat Stories, and the Hardy Boys. He also made his way into comic books.

In 1935, a former cavalryman and pulp fiction writer named Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson put together a 36-page, black-and-white, tabloid-sized comic book called New Fun Comics, the first comic book made up of all original material and the second newsstand comic book ever published. New Fun Comics #1 (Feb. 1935) marked several other firsts as well, including the first original science fiction feature for a comic book, "Don Drake on the Planet Saro." The author was Ken Fitch, the artist, Clemens Gretter. "Don Drake," probably inspired by Flash Gordon and Brick Bradford, ran in seventeen issues of New Fun and its successor, More Fun Comics, and even made the cover spot in April 1935. Gretter worked in comic books for many more years. His last known credited work showed up in Fatman, The Human Flying Saucer in 1967.

By the early 1940s, Weird Tales magazine had moved to New York City. A change in editorial personnel, writers, and artists accompanied that move. The art of Margaret Brundage, Virgil Finlay, and others was increasingly rare on the cover of "The Unique Magazine." Other artists had been brought in to take their place, including A.R. Tilburne (another Hoosier) and Clemens Gretter. Tilburne produced ten covers in as many years between 1938 and 1947. Gretter on the other hand drew just one, for the January 1942 issue, an illustration unrelated to the stories inside.

Clemens Gretter continued as a cartoonist and illustrator after 1940. Between 1941 and 1948, he ghosted Ripley's Believe It or Not! He drew his own fact-based features, In This World and In Our Time, syndicated between 1953 and 1988. In semi-retirement, Gretter painted portraits and wrote two books, The Genius of Man and Chain of Reasoning (1978). He also invented a building panel and was granted a patent for it in 1976. Gretter died on April 8, 1988, in Wilton, Connecticut, at age eighty-three.

An exciting and colorful cover by Joseph Clemens Gretter for Eustace L. Adams' War Wings (1937), typical work from the artist for series novels of that era.
"Don Drake on the Planet Saro" by Gretter and Ken Fitch, the first original science fiction story for a comic book. This is the cover of New Fun for April 1935. Don Drake could easily be the pilot on the cover of War Wings: their outfits are identical.
A cover by Gretter for Short Stories, August 25, 1940, illustrating a tale by H. Bedford-Jones, a prolific pulpster and a teller of weird tales.
Finally, Gretter's only cover for Weird Tales, from January 1942.

Note: This posting also appears on my blog Tellers of Weird Tales at

Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cornelia A. Brownlee (1887-1968)

Update (Oct. 13, 2013)
Cornelia Arnold Brownlee was born on February 8, 1887 (some sources say 1888), in Princeton, Indiana. According to public records, her father, Charles R. Brownlee, married Sallie G. Hall on June 18, 1874, in Gibson County, Indiana. By the time of the 1880 census, Brownlee was a widower and living with his mother-in-law, Catherine Hall, and her daughter, Mariah Hall. Charles Brownlee also had his two children, Paul S. and Therese Hall Brownlee, with him. Brownlee married Mariah Hall and from that marriage Cornelia Arnold Brownlee was born. Charles Brownlee's second wife died young, for on November 14, 1889, again in Gibson County, he married Charlotte Lockhart.

Cornelia Brownlee graduated from Princeton High School in the class of January 1905. She attended the Art Institute of Chicago, where she studied under John H. Vanderpoel (1857-1911). Cornelia also studied with Dudley Crafts Watson (1885-1972) and his sketching class in Paris and in Europe, and under a fellowship with the American Girl's Club in Paris. She was in Europe when war broke out in the summer of 1914. She arrived safely back in the United States on August 29, 1914. Cornelia traveled again to France and England in 1924 for her studies.

Cornelia Brownlee was living in Princeton and employed as an artist when the enumerator counted her in the 1910 U.S. census. By 1920, she was in New York City. She married Waldo Curyea Walker on August 27 of that year. Born in Oak Park, Illinois, Waldo C. Walker was an aviator in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War I, a newspaperman, and a writer of short stories. He later became circulation manager of the New York Times.

Cornelia Brownlee provided illustrations for Designer (Feb. 1921), Woman's Home Companion (Feb. 1924, Mar. 1927), and Collier's (July 23, 1927). Unfortunately I don't have any images to show. By the 1930 census she was living in Manhattan with her husband and still working as an artist. Nineteen forty found her in Putnam County, New York, above New York City. Waldo C. Walker died on September 8, 1961, in Carmel, New York. His wife survived him by nearly seven years. She died in Fairhope, Alabama, on February 25, 1968, at age eighty-one (or eighty) and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Notes: Cornelia Arnold Brownlee Walker should not be confused with Cornelia Brownlee (ca. 1879-1933) of Marion, Indiana. That Cornelia Brownlee was a music teacher.

Thanks to the commenters below for their information.

Original Article

The case of Cornelia Brownlee presents a mystery. There were at least two Indiana-born women--near contemporaries--who shared that name. One Cornelia Brownlee was born in 1887 in Princteon, Indiana, daughter of Charles and Charlotte Brownlee. She graduated from Princeton High School in 1905 and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago under the renowned teacher John H. Vanderpoel. She also went to Europe with Dudley Crafts Watson and under a fellowship from the American Girl's Club in Paris. In 1910, she was living in Princeton and employed as an artist. By the early 1920s, Cornelia was working as an illustrator for magazines such as Collier's, Designer, and Woman's Home Companion.

The other Cornelia Brownlee was born in Indiana in about 1879, perhaps in Marion. Her parents were John Q. and Frances Brownlee. She studied at the Strassburger Conservatory of Music in St. Louis and under W.H. Slierwood in Chicago and Rafael Joseffy in New York. In 1900, she was enumerated in the census while living in Crowley, Louisiana, and teaching music. This Cornelia Brownlee appears to have toured on the Chautauqua circuit during the 1910s. She was also head of the Illinois Wesleyan University music department from 1918 until an unknown date. From 1926 until 1933, Cornelia Brownlee taught music at LaGrange Female College in LaGrange, Georgia. On the night of November 15, 1933, she was traveling to Atlanta with some students when the car in which she was riding was involved in an accident. Cornelia Brownlee was thrown from the vehicle and killed. Seven students were injured. Her body was sent to her sister, Catherine W. (Mrs. William) Boynton, in Alton, Illinois.

I have also found a record for a Cornelia Brownlee who married Waldo C. Walker, a circulation manager for the New York Times. He passed away in 1961. Cornelia Brownlee Walker died in Alabama in 1968. The mystery remains. It's evident that Cornelia Brownlee the illustrator and Cornelia Brownlee the music teacher were two different women. But was Cornelia Brownlee the illustrator the same woman who married Waldo C. Walker? A second mystery: where is Cornelia Brownlee's art? I haven't been able to find any images of her work. I hope someone can offer a solution to the mystery.

Thanks to Jacqueline Hornsby, LaGrange College, and Clark Johnson, Troup County Historian, for information on Cornelia Brownlee.

Revised July 22, 2018 Copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Oscar L. Davidson (1875-1922)

Oscar L. Davidson was born on March 2, 1875, in either Ogden or Fithian, Illinois, but lived in Indianapolis for more than half his life. He was known as a woodcarver and illustrator of historic ships. In the eleven years prior to his death, he operated a commercial art business with his oldest son Austin. Davidson was a member of the Society of Indiana Artists, Indiana Illustrators Club, and Art Association of Indianapolis. He died at home in Indianapolis on January 3, 1922, and was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery.

Update (July 14, 2014): I received this image of a painting by Oscar L. Davidson from an anonymous reader. This reader believes the medium to be gouache. The date is unknown, but it appears to have been from the early 1900s, perhaps around 1910 to 1920. Note the reworked portion of the picture in the upper left. Thank you, Anonymous. 

Text and captions copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Clare Robin Zimmer (1889-1982)

Clare Robin Zimmer was born on October 2, 1889, in Elkhart, Indiana, and studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. As a young man, he worked as shoe store clerk in his hometown. Zimmer married in 1913, also in Elkhart. By 1917, he had two small children and was working as a commercial artist for Lammers Engraving Company in Cincinnati. Zimmer also lived and worked in Dayton, Ohio, in the same field. His son, Robert Clare Zimmer (1917-2006), was an engineer and professional soldier. The elder Zimmer died on February 28, 1982, in Florida. I know nothing more about him or his work and lack even an image for this posting. If anyone runs across something more on Robin Clare Zimmer, I would like to hear about it.

Copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Birthday to Indiana Illustrators

Indiana Illustrators began one year ago today, on September 29, 2010. One of the very best things about writing this blog is the comments I receive from family members of illustrators. Please feel free to write me at any time, by using the comments block below or by regular email at I'm especially interested in finding artwork created by Indiana illustrators and cartoonists inasmuch as their work has too often been thought of as ephemeral, and because of that, has disappeared from public view. Thanks for reading!
Copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wilson Reed Berry (1851-1928)

On Easter Sunday, March 23, 1913, after two days of high winds, heavy rains began to fall on the northern Indiana town of Logansport. By Tuesday, March 25, the Wabash River was out of its banks and beginning to inundate the city. Located at the confluence of the Eel River and the Wabash River, the longest in Indiana, Logansport was under water for three days. Miraculously, by noon on Friday, a week after the winds had begun, the river was back in its banks and Logansport had begun its recovery from that great and memorable flood.

Just east of where the Eel River flows into the Wabash, Biddle’s Island saw severe damage and destruction that spring. Both bridges to the island were out, one a wreck, the other swept away. A large house on the island, called appropriately enough “Island Home,” was also flooded. Built in the previous century by John Tipton, Island Home was long the residence of Horace P. Biddle (1811-1900), a lawyer, judge, poet, musicologist, and member of the Indiana constitutional convention of 1850. His house on Biddle’s Island “was filled with flowers, music, art, and the largest private library in Indiana of more than 8,500 books.” (1) An insatiable reader and largely self-taught, Biddle died in 1900. His house was eventually acquired by another autodidact, Wilson Reed Berry, a man who, in contrast, was not known to have read a book in his lifetime. The flood of 1913 inundated Island Home and damaged or destroyed Berry’s collection of paintings and pioneer artifacts, as well as (presumably) a letter from Queen Victoria congratulating Berry on his success as an artist. Despite the loss of his home and prized possessions, Berry soldiered on, painting until the end of his life.

Wilson Reed Berry, nicknamed Wils or Wiltz, came from a large Indiana farm family. He was born on April 22, 1851, in Cass County, the seventh of John H. and Harriett Reed Berry’s thirteen children. Descended from a Revolutionary War veteran, Wils Berry grew up near Adamsboro, Indiana. As a boy he was more interested in drawing and painting than any other profession or trade. At age twenty-one and encouraged by an older local artist, John Forgy, Berry submitted some drawings to the Beldon Atlas Company of Chicago. Hired as a sketch artist, Berry traveled for ten years over thirty states and into Canada, drawing and painting landscapes and pictures of farms and animals. Berry also drew the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, a work that was later sent to the royal family, the same work that won him accolades from Queen Victoria.

Berry's mother died in 1872 and his father remarried in 1874. Wils Berry may have met his future wife at his father’s wedding. Her name was Emma Conner and she had good reason to be there, for her mother, Ellen Sackett Conner, was John Berry’s bride. Wils Berry and Emma Conner were married on January 30, 1878, in Cass County. The young couple took a stagecoach across an iced-over Lake Ontario for their honeymoon trip. By year’s end, they had a son, Murillo, born in Canada on December 9, 1878. In their travels, the Berry family lived in hotels and boarding houses. In 1880, they were in Luzerne, Pennsylvania. Nineteen hundred found them back in Indiana, on a Fulton County farm. Eventually they returned to their home county to the south and settled in Logansport.

In the mid 1890s, Wils Berry taught painting at Michael’s College (formerly Smithson College), located north of Logansport at the summit of College Hill. Nearly two decades before a flood destroyed his home, a fire burned the main college building on October 6, 1896, leaving a mere shell of blackened brick and Berry without a job. Berry’s daughter remembered the event: “My mother and I were shopping when that happened. She thought it might have been our house on fire when she saw the smoke. My father didn’t really lose anything in the fire, but the college was destroyed and they never rebuilt it.” (2) To make up for the lost employment, Berry began giving private art lessons to the young ladies of Logansport. It was not uncommon after that to see him and his students about town, painting en plein air. (3)

By 1910, Berry was living on Biddle’s Island with his family gathered around him. In addition to Berry’s wife Emma, there was their oldest child, Don Murillo, a painter in oil and watercolor. (4) Younger brother Willis wielded a brush as well, but he worked as a painter of houses instead of canvases. Virgil practiced law, while Inez taught kindergarten. (The remaining child, teacher, sketch artist, and painter Percy Berry, had died nearly a decade before.) The flood of 1913 may have brought their family idyll to an end. By 1920, the Berrys lived on Gate Street in Logansport, but only Willis remained at home.

A sometime farmer and collector of paintings and artifacts from pioneer days, Berry painted and sketched throughout his life. In addition to drawing and painting pictures of family farms, he created murals, painted curtains for opera houses, and decorated circus wagons in nearby Peru, winter home of the nation's circuses. Logansport Republicans carried his painting “Abe Lincoln the Rail-Splitter” in their parades and displayed it in their headquarters. Berry also created works for hotels in French Lick and Huntington. Today his work is in the collections of  the Cass County Historical Society and the La Porte County Historical Society Museum. Wilson Reed Berry died on April 28, 1928, and is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in the county of his birth.

(1) “Judge Biddle of Biddle’s Island” by Richard B. Copeland, Logansport Pharos-Tribune, May 2, 2008.
(2) Quoted in an interview of Inez Berry Brunegraff (1890-1989) in the Logansport Pharos-Tribune, date unknown.
(3) Michael’s College was in operation from 1895 to 1896, hence Berry would not have taught there for long.
(4) Murillo Berry (1878-1965), also called Don or Don Murillo, was an artist like his father. Murillo’s full name may in fact have been Don Murillo Berry, perhaps after the Spanish Baroque painter Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1617-1682), or he may have assumed the name "Don" as an honorific.

I thank La Porte County Historian Fern Eddy Schultz for her extensive research on Wilson Reed Berry and his family and for her securing permission to publish Berry's painting below. Much of the information I used to write this article came from her. I also acknowledge the work of the Cass County Historical Society and Museum for their accounts of the razing of Michael's College and the flood of 1913.

Painter and illustrator Wilson Reed "Wils" Berry (1851-1928) in an undated photograph in the collection of the Cass County Historical Society and Museum.
"Granville Kesling Farm, Onward, Indiana" by Wils Berry, a watercolor owned by Dr. Peter Kesling and on display in the Kesling Room at the La Porte County Historical Society Museum, 2405 Indiana Avenue, Suite 1, La Porte, IN 46350. Photograph by Fern Eddy Schultz. These days, pictures like this one are taken from the air by pilot-photographers. In Berry's time, a sketch artist or landscape artist created views of the family farm, often more conceptual or idealized than naturalistic. And it was drawings like this one that would be reproduced in county atlases.
For example, this drawing (which may or may not have been created by Wils Berry), showing "Island Home" on Biddle's Island in Logansport, was probably printed in a county atlas. However, the source is unknown. Berry lived on Biddle's Island until the house shown here was inundated in the great flood of 1913. Judge Biddle had passed away many years before, in 1900. Despite the history of flooding, Biddles Island (without the apostrophe) is inhabited today. The foundation of Island Home may be hiding under the lawns of today's middle-class residences. Note the bridges in the foreground and background and the buildings of Logansport in the background on the left. The bridge in the foreground looks like the one in the photograph below.
The wreckage of the Biddle [sic] Island Bridge in Logansport, Indiana, following the flooding of March 25-28, 1913. I'm not familiar enough with Logansport to tell the view or if Island Home or its remains might be visible in this photograph (from the collection of the Cass County Historical Society and Museum).

For a brief time in the 1890s, Wilson Reed Berry taught painting at Michael's College in Logansport. Founded as Smithson College, the school is shown here in a photograph from the 1870s, in the collection of the Cass County Historical Society and Museum. The building, a grand Gothic structure, was reduced to a mere shell after a fire of October 6, 1896.
A view from Smithson College looking southward to Logansport. Smithson College was in operation from 1872 to  1878, but even in later years, when the facility was known as American Normal College (1883-1888) or Michael's College (1895-1896), it was still referred to as Smithson College. In any case, this photograph, in the collection of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, is undated but probably from the 1870s.

Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Clotilde Embree Funk Snapshots

Jim Deans, a reader of Indiana Illustrators, has kindly offered snapshots of Clotilde Embree from a family scrapbook. Clotilde was a friend of Jim's mother-in-law and other family members. These photographs, taken in about 1915 in Princeton, Indiana, show a glimpse of not just another time but another world. 

Photographs of Clotilde Embree and friends, taken ca. 1915 in Princeton, Indiana, probably at or near the home of Mary Skelton Welborn by an unknown photographer, submitted by Jim Deans, and owned by Catherine and Jim Deans.

Upper Left
(Left to right) Top-Mary Skelton Welborn; Clotilde Embree; unknown blonde with curls; Mary Catherine Welborn, daughter of Mary Skelton Welborn.
Bottom-Catherine Richards Butler; head of her brother, William Skelton Butler.

(Left to right) Top-unknown blonde with curls.
Bottom-Catherine Richards Butler; Clotilde Embree; William S. Butler (head in hands); Mary Catherine Welborn.

Bottom Left
Clotilde Embree. Jim Deans writes: "I'm guessing ca. 1915 since she looks about 20 and Catherine Richards, b. 1902, looks about 10 to 12 in the other photos."

Jim continues: "Catherine Richards Butler was the daughter of Jessie Valerie Skelton and Horace Graham Butler. Thus Mary Skelton Welborn was her aunt."

Thanks to Catherine and Jim Deans.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Herman Stoddard Vice (1884-1956)

Painter and illustrator Herman Stoddard Vice was born on June 21, 1884, in Jefferson, Indiana, a small town west of Frankfurt. He attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and was an artist closely associated with Chicago. Vice was a member of the Illinois Academy of Fine Arts, the South Side Art Association, and the Romany Club, as well as the Palette and Chisel Club and the Hoosier Salon. I don't know much more more about him, but I can say that he died on November 29, 1956, in Marion, Indiana, and was buried far from home at Grandview Cemetery in Southmont, Pennsylvania.

Women by the Sea, a painting by Indiana illustrator Herman Stoddard Vice.
Midwestern Landscape by Vice.

Revised and updated on December 6, 2019
Text copyright 2011, 2019 Terence E. Hanley