second annual Native American series

Second Annual Native American Series | September 3-5

Chautauqua-Wawasee and Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum are collaborating to offer the second annual Native American series, which consists of three programs that explore the history of Native Americans in northeastern Indiana.  Each of the three one-hour programs will be presented over a three-day period, September 3-5, at the Syracuse Community Center, offered free of charge.  Each program will feature presenters with expert knowledge, and provide an interactive environment for discussion.  Masks are required; social distancing will be provided.

Erik Vosteen will present the first program titled “Elm Bark Dugout Canoe Construction”.  Dugout canoes have been historically reported in many lakes in northeastern Indiana, and the bark of a large elm tree can be used to build a serviceable canoe in less than a day. Erik will show how historic watercraft were built from natural materials gathered right from the forests, and built on the shores of lakes and rivers for thousands of years.  Erik Vosteen has been building and teaching about watercraft of the prehistoric Great Lakes region for over a decade.  He has built numerous   elm   bark   and dugout canoes over the past 15 years.  This program is on September 3, 6:30- 7:30, at the Syracuse Community Center.  This program is also available using the ZOOM application link  See the Museum’s website for more details by clicking HERE.

Jim Bickel and Michelle Edington are teaming to present the second program titled “Prehistoric weapons, tools and adornments of Native Americans”.  Michelle and Jim will bring back to the Wawasee area remnants of the inhabitants of this area from centuries ago. With over 100 years of combined studies of prehistory, they will discuss and exhibit a collection of over two hundred Native American artifacts. The identification and function of these relics will be the topic of their presentation. A short presentation identifying raw flint that is indigenous to this area will be included. Many of the artifacts will be their personal finds from thousands of hours of fieldwork.  Jim developed an interest in hunting for arrowheads as a young boy. While on fishing trips with his father, he would frequently hunt for artifacts as well. He continued to surface hunt for more than 50 years, with his most memorable day occurring on March 1, 1985 when he and his daughter Michelle discovered a cache of 70 hornstone willowleaf blades, which can be seen in Who’s Who in Indian Relics, Volume 7.  This program is on September 4, 6:30- 7:30, at the Syracuse Community Center.  This program is also available using the ZOOM application link

Trevor Tipton will lead the third program titled “Legends, Lore and Legacies of Northeast Indiana Natives”.  Trevor will discuss and display his Indian artifact collection acquired from Noble County and weave the local history of the Native Americans into this presentation. From the pre-historic cultures, including the Mound Builders, to the historical tribes of the Miami and the Pottawatomie, Tipton will share the history, folk stories and legends of these native peoples. His personal collection accumulated over the past 40 years will be on display.  This program is on September 5, 10:30- 11:30a.m., at the Syracuse Community Center.  This program is also available using the ZOOM application link  Following this program Jeff Mesaros will demonstrate Flintknapping to show how Indian artifacts were made by hand.  This technology was used in historic times to manufacture gun flints and in prehistoric times to make spear and dart points, arrow heads, knives, scrapers, blades, gravers, perforators, and many other tools.  As you watch Jeff, think about this quote from the book Sapiens: “the average ancient forager could turn a flint stone into a spear point within minutes.”

 “A Look at Women’s Suffrage in Indiana” with Marsha Miller

 A look at women’s suffrage in Indiana with Marsha Miller

By Mary Hursh

   Over the past month, area residents have learned quite a bit about the woman’s suffrage movement which began in 1848 and culminated with the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote on August 26, 1920.

Speakers and events sponsored by Chautauqua-Wawasee and the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, Syracuse Public Library, Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce and Indiana Humanities have introduced readers of the Mail Journal to many of the women involved in the fight for the vote. On September 5, Marsha Miller will present a program titled “From Amanda to Zerelda: Hoosier Suffragists Who Raised a Ruckus.”

Miller’s presentation to be held at the Syracuse Community Center on Saturday, September 5 from 2-3:30 p.m., will detail the “ruckus” caused by women involved in the suffrage movement.  She describes it by saying “I have done a version of this program for several years. I will present a timeline which highlights the many ways women were stopped from speaking and expressing the need to have the vote. Nationally, women endured many hardships in the long struggle for the vote including forced feedings and standing as silent sentinels for hours on end trying to bring their cause to light.”

The “Amanda” in the title refers to Amanda Way (1828-1914), and the “Zerelda” in the title refers to Zerelda Gray Wallace (1817-1901). Way was deemed the mother of the women’s rights movement in Indiana and a founding member of the Indiana Woman’s Rights Association (1851). Wallace was the first lady of Indiana from 1837-1840. She formed the Equal Suffrage Society of Indianapolis and lobbied heavily to win the vote. She instigated several letter-writing campaigns, gathered petitions, and gave several speeches in support of suffrage, including in front of the U.S. Senate Committee (1870).

Miller’s presentation will feature historical costumes and suffragists songs. She says “People will not know the songs, but they will know the melodies. Suffragists created songs, poems, stories and plays. The lyrics to their songs were matched to tunes everyone would be familiar with, especially the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The songs helped to stir up positive and patriotic emotions which caused audiences to think favorably about women getting the vote.” Terre Haute personages Ida Husted Harper (1851-1931) and Eugene (1855-1926) and Kate Debs (1867-1936), will also be featured. Harper was the biographer of Susan B. Anthony and co-editor with her of the six-volume History of Woman Suffrage. Eugene and Kate Debs were supporters of full equal rights for women through their involvement with politics.

“I hope the audience on Saturday will take away some basic facts about suffrage as it was in Indiana. There is so much history hiding in local archives, on microfilm, in a historical society or a folder of clippings. I hope the people listening to my presentation will make it a point to look at primary sources in the library to learn about this state-wide movement,” said Miller. 

(*** To view lecture on Saturday at 2pm eastern time via Zoom, please click here***)

Women in the suffrage movement used many techniques and strategies to present an organized front. “ When I visited the Sewall-Belmont House ( now the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument)  in Washington, DC., I learned that women kept cards of information on U.S. legislators, so in their lobbying efforts, they knew what legislators were for or against suffrage and if the legislator was a Republican or a Democrat.” Telegraphs, letters, and eventually phone calls were used as networking tools to get the word out to women. Their planning was unbelievable.”

Marsha Miller earned her bachelor of arts in history from Central Michigan University and her masters of library science from the University of Michigan. She was the periodicals reference librarian at Arkansas State University for five years and has been at Indiana State University since 1985 as a research and instructional librarian. There she is tied specifically to the College of Health and Human Services where she works with social work, physical education, occupational and physical therapy and sometimes nursing. “I also work with our School of Music which gives me the most personal joy, as I am a clarinetist, and with our Multidisciplinary Studies Department, which houses our Gender Studies program, part of the reason and inspiration for my development of this presentation.”

“There are so many interesting things to learn about suffrage. I now have a stack of books to read to learn what women did after they got the vote. I enjoy reading about Ida Husted Harper. I have been purposely collecting children’s books on women’s suffrage. One interesting book I read on the subject is The Hope Chest, by Karen Schwabach, written about the final weeks of suffrage ratification in Tennessee. Two little girls are the main characters. I have been collecting children’s books on women’s suffrage from the 80s and 90s.”

In keeping with her interest in suffrage, Miller contributes articles to the monthly publication called Terre Haute Living Magazine. “This year, I will have one article in that publication from August through November.”

Miller has spent a lengthy period of time at Indiana State University. “I feel that I can make a difference here at Indiana State University. In my main role, I have conducted more than 4,800 library/research instruction sessions. I have been able to serve on a number of campus committees. Currently I am working with our University College Council, which works with first-year students within our Foundational Studies program.  

This article is the seventh in a series on the Women’s Suffrage Centennial sponsored by Chautauqua-Wawasee, Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, Syracuse Public Library, Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber and Indiana Humanities. All events are free and open to the public.

Chautauqua-Wawasee is a non-profit organization which provides life enriching programs for the northern Indiana region.

Mary Hursh is a freelance writer who lives on Syracuse Lake with her husband Stanley.


Melissa Gentry-Mapping Indiana Women’s Suffrage Movement

Mapping Indiana Women’s Suffrage Movement

By Mary Hursh


The women’s suffrage movement spanned decades. In 1911, the Woman’s Franchise League of Indiana was formed and became the propelling force for the right to vote. Women from all walks of life participated in the many marches, campaigns, and demonstrations that finally resulted in the passage of the l9th Amendment granting women the right to vote.

Chautauqua-Wawasee, in partnership with the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, the Syracuse Public Library, the Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber and Indiana Humanities, has a number of events and expert speakers planned for Syracuse to highlight and educate about right-to-vote movement.

On August 26, from 6:30-7:30 p.m., the Oakwood Resort will host the first speaker in the women’s suffrage centennial celebration.  It is free to attend.

Melissa Gentry, from Ball State University, will map the Indiana women’s suffrage movement and its leaders in her presentation titled “From Seneca Falls to Seymour and South Bend: Mapping Indiana’s Suffrage History.”

“I create Indiana history maps for the Ball State University Map Collection for use by K-12 teachers and research. So, it seemed natural to create a map about Indiana suffrage. For me, picturing where some significant event happened or where a popular speaker like Sojourner Truth visited or where a suffragist lived connects me to the story. A map is a good visual aid to show how the cause of suffrage was happening in small towns, on farms, working class families, African-American churches, and prominent club women in big cities.” For Gentry, seeing the diversity of cultures and geography is an important part of the story.

Gentry chose her topic because one of the important women of the suffrage movement in Indiana was from South Bend. Her name was Emma Barrett Molloy (1839-1907). She became the first female newspaper co- editor in northern Indiana in 1867 for the South Bend National Union. She also wrote articles for other national newspapers and some popular women’s suffrage journals. She traveled the country as a public speaker for the cause of suffrage after the Civil War. “This was revolutionary for that time since most women did not participate in the public sphere, especially politics,” said Gentry.

Gentry, who holds degrees in history and geography, is the supervisor, of the Ball State University Libraries’ GIS Research and Map Collection. She has worked at the university since June 2001.

“I provide instructional sessions and programs for English, education, social studies, history, architecture, urban planning, women’s studies, geography, and even art classes for various professors. Through my work with the Library of Congress’ Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, I attended the opening reception for the Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the vote exhibition opening reception in June 2019 in Washington, D.C., where Nancy Pelosi was the main speaker.”

Gentry credits her grandmother, who worked for Indiana Senator Birch Bayh, the author of Title IX and the Equal Rights Amendment, for her interest in women’s history.

This article is the fifth in a series on the Women’s Suffrage Centennial sponsored by Chautauqua-Wawasee, Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, Syracuse Public Library, Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber and Indiana Humanities. All events are free and open to the public.

Chautauqua-Wawasee is a non-profit organization which provides life enriching programs for the northern Indiana region.

Mary Hursh is a freelance writer who lives on Syracuse Lake with her husband Stanley.