Oct 30, 2020
The mysterious disappearance in 1913 of a 9-year-old girl in New Castle triggered a national search that continued for years. The possible abduction and murder of Catherine Winters - who vanished while walking on one of the town's busiest streets and never was found - became a haunting tale that continues to be told to this day.
Another eerie story - also rooted in history - is set at the Indiana Statehouse and involves an eccentric judge who was elected in the mid 1940s and served through the 1950s. Indiana Supreme Court Justice James Emmert, who kept a rifle in his office, was known to shoot noisy pigeons from his third-floor window. Ever since his death in 1974, security guards and Statehouse staffers occasionally have reported seeing a ghostly figure - clad in a judicial robe and toting a rifle - wandering the hallways.
And in Cambridge City, a historic town on the Old National Road (now US 40) in far-eastern Indiana, a spooky tale involves the former home of Gen. Sol Meredith, a Civil War hero who was the leader of the legendary Iron Brigade in the Union Army. A series of tragic deaths occurred in the historic home, resulting in folklore about a ghost sighting.
Historian and author Al Hunter, a columnist for the Weekly View newspaper based in the Irvington neighborhood of Indianapolis, will be Nelson's guest to share details about these and other haunting tales that involve historic people and places. Although Al is well-known for his popular ghost tour strolls through Irvington every October, we will explore a range of spooky sites across Indiana during our show. Our destinations include several cities and towns like Cambridge City that are on the Old National Road/U.S. 40; Al has been a board member of the Indiana National Road Association.
Among our stops on US 40: Terre Haute, where generations of residents are familiar with a creepy story involving Stiffy Green, a bulldog that was the beloved pet of a local man who died in 1920. After Stiffy's owner was interred in a family mausoleum at Highland Lawn Cemetery, the bulldog persisted in running away from home to sit near the crypt, so the story goes.
During our show, Al will describe events that unfolded when Stiffy died and, apparently after being taken to a taxidermist, was placed in his owner's mausoleum. Eventually Stiffy was moved to the Vigo County Historical Society, where he is one of the most popular exhibits today.
Our show will begin with a discussion of the Catherine Winters disappearance, which prompted searches involving hundreds of Hoosiers and inspired at least two songs about the missing girl, as well as the distribution of handbills in movie houses across the country in attempts to find her. Theories about her fate pointed to possible culprits ranging from a group of gypsies seen traveling through New Castle to her father and stepmother.
During the same era that Catherine Winters vanished - the early 1900s - sisters in Cambridge City were creating Arts and Crafts-style pottery that has been exhibited around the world. To this day, the Overbeck House and Studio draws visitors to Cambridge City who want to learn about the six sisters, four of whom were the most directly involved in creating widely acclaimed pottery from 1911 until 1955.
Our guest Al Hunter says haunting folklore is associated with the Overbeck sisters' house, which was built in the 1830s. The sisters did all of their work - from designing to firing the ceramic pottery - in their home studio.
Al Hunter, who has been featured on the History Channel and the Discovery Channel, also has been a guest on several previous Hoosier History Live shows. They include shows that explored the notorious serial killer H.H. Holmes and his connections to Indianapolis and the Lincoln Funeral Train, which came through Indiana in 1865. In addition, Al has written a new book, The Petersen House: The Oldroyd Museum and The House Where Lincoln Died (America Through Time). Although the historic house is in Washington D.C., it has a connection to Indiana. A book launch with Al is scheduled for Halloween Day (Oct. 31) from 2 pm-4 pm at the James Whitcomb Riley Boyhood Home & Museum in Greenfield.