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Hoosier History Live

Jun 6, 2024

Sure, the White House has been the setting for hundreds of joyous and celebratory events. But the historic home of U.S. presidents and their families also has been a setting for deaths, including that of the only First Lady from Indianapolis. Not only did Caroline Scott Harrison, the beloved wife of President Benjamin Harrison, die in the White House, so did his grandfather.

William Henry Harrison, the shortest-serving president in history, had only held office for 31 days when he died in 1841 at age 68. He had been elected to the presidency as a resident of Ohio; beginning at age 27, though, he had served as the first governor of the Indiana Territory and lived in Vincennes.

During our show, we will explore these deaths as well as others with connections to the presidency of Benjamin Harrison, a Republican who was elected in 1888 after having served as a U.S. Senator from Indiana; the deaths include tragedies involving two of his Cabinet members. Also, just one month after Caroline Scott Harrison succumbed to tuberculosis in 1892, her father, John Scott, a retired college professor and Presbyterian minister, died in the White House, where he had been living with the First Family.

Nelson will be joined in studio by Jennifer Capps, the veteran curator at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site in Indianapolis, where a current exhibit, Death in the White House explores these losses in the mansion of the country's chief executive. The exhibit includes displays about Victorian-era mourning customs, so Jennifer will share insights about them during our show.