News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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November 13, 2013

In the Walk: Fourth class adds eight to Terre Haute’s ‘Walk of Fame’

TERRE HAUTE — Eight more Terre Haute luminaries are being inducted into the city’s “Walk of Fame,” it was announced Tuesday during a meeting of the Terre Haute Rotary Club.

The eight additions were named in the fourth class of inductees.

They are Willa Beatrice Brown for science and technology; John Rogers Cox for arts and culture; Demas Deming for business and industry; Amory Kinney for education and social studies; Max Carey for sports; Grover Jones for entertainment; and Michael Sheldon Swope and former U.S. President Zachary Taylor, both for civic and social service.

A cast iron square, with the inductee’s name in the middle of a star, will be embedded in a city sidewalk for each of the eight.

This year a Facebook page — www.facebook.com/pages/terrehautewalkoffame — has been started, said Neil Garrison, a member of the Walk of Fame selection committee and a Terre Haute city councilman.

“Since [the Facebook page] starts with Terre Haute Walk of Fame, when people look at our community from the outside, this will be another positive story that they will see about our community,” Garrison said.

The Walk of Fame, Garrison said, “provides an opportunity to improve our image by promoting accomplished local individuals and their accomplishments that will be remembered for generations to come.”

There are now 30 inductees in the Walk of Fame. Plaques for the first class were placed along Wabash Avenue starting at Ninth Street. Last year, plaques were embedded in sidewalks along the former Glidden Furniture building. However, the idea is to install future plaques west toward the Wabash River, Garrison said.

Garrison said the exact location for the fourth class of inductees’ plaques has not yet been determined.

Vigo County Historian Mike McCormick, a member of the selection committee, spoke about each inductee. A candidate for the walk can be considered only after death, to allow a full review of their accomplishments, Garrison said.

n Brown, who was born in 1906 and died in 1992, went through Sarah Scott Junior High (now a middle school) and the former Wiley High School before obtaining a teaching certificate in 1927 from Indiana State Teachers College. McCormick said she obtained her degree in 1931, McCormick said.

She started as a high school teacher in Gary, but became involved with flying around 1932 or 1933, earning her private pilot’s license in 1938. “She was the first woman, the first African-American, to get a pilot’s license, she was the first to teach at a white school and the first to become an officer of the Civil Air Patrol and the first African-American to run for Congress. She ran three times,” but was not successful in those elections.

She and her husband, Cornelius R. Coffey, formed the Coffey School of Aeronautics in Chicago, training black pilots and aviation mechanics. Brown became an activist for racial equality to get black pilots into the U.S. military. Her flight school was selected by the U.S. Army to provide flight training at the military’s Tuskegee Institute. Two of the Tuskegee airman, Charles Hall and Clinton Smith, have ties to Terre Haute, McCormick said.

n Cox, who was born in 1909 and died in 1990, was the first director of the Swope Art Museum. He graduated from the former State Laboratory School in 1933. In 1938, Cox earned a degree from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Cox became director of the Swope in 1941, becoming the youngest museum director in the United States.

McCormick said Cox acquired a great collection of artists’ works including Grant Wood, Edward Hopper and Thomas Hart Benton. Cox was also a painter, winning “Carnegie [Institute] medals in art,” McCormick said. In 1948, Cox joined the faculty of the Chicago Art Institute, just as Life magazine featured his work. The American Artist in 1951 also published an interview with the Terre Haute artist.

n Deming, who was born in 1841 and died in 1922,  had the Hotel Deming built at the southeast corner of Sixth and Cherry streets. It opened in 1914. Deming also, employing the expertise of landscape architect George Kessler, designed Ohio Boulevard east of 19th Street. In 1921, he sold 155 acres east of Fruitridge Avenue to the city of Terre Haute for $1,000 an acre for public use. That is now Deming Park.

“He gave $100,000 from that sale to Rose-Poly (now Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) for a residence hall in his parents’ memory,” McCormick said.

n Kinney, who was born in 1791 in Vermont and died in 1859, was one of Indiana’s first abolitionists, McCormick said. He became a Terre Haute attorney and judge. In 1852 he became the first judge of the Vigo County Court of Common Pleas.

Earlier, McCormick said,  the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 prohibited slavery and involuntary servitude. That area included Indiana. In 1820, Kinney filed a lawsuit on behalf of several individuals, including slaves, who were being held against that ordinance.

Kinney was also an outspoken advocate of graded public schools. In 1846, he was elected to a second term in the Indiana House of Representatives where he lobbied for public schools. The first public schools were started in 1853.

n Carey, who was born in 1890 and died in 1976, first played major league baseball in 1910 for the Pittsburgh Pirates and was the leading hitter in the 1925 World Series. After retiring as a player, he was manager of the Brooklyn Dodges from 1932 to 1933, as well as other teams. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1961 and is currently the only Terre Haute native in that hall.

n Jones, who was born 1893 in Rosedale, grew up in West Terre Haute and died in 1940, was an American screenwriter and film director. He wrote scripts for more than 104 films beginning in 1920. In 1935 he earned an Academy Award nomination for “Bengal Lancers.” He was a staff writer and later producer at Paramount Studios.

n Swope, who was born in 1843 in LaPorte and died in 1929, came to Terre Haute after the Civil War. He became a jeweler, and in 1902 he built a large building on the northwest corner of Seventh and Ohio streets known as the Swope Block. That building remains today, housing the Swope Art Museum.

Swope left funds to create an art gallery for the museum which was to be open to the public. The museum opened in 1942.

n Taylor, born 1784 and died 1850, was the 12th president of the United States. During the War of 1812, Taylor defended Fort Harrison in Vigo County from an Indian attack from Shawnee chief Tecumseh. Taylor was commander of the fort from May 1 through Sept. 15, 1812.

His status as a national military hero won him election as president. Taylor, 65, died from a stomach aliment after serving only 16 months as president.

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