Within days of Indiana’s statehood in December of 1816, Thomas Lincoln moved his family across the Ohio River from Kentucky for a fresh start in the brand new state. And his 7-year-old son, Abe, grew up a Hoosier.
Throughout this bicentennial year, Hoosiers all over the state have celebrated and commemorated the state’s past, present and future. This month, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, our annual devotion to the “watchful providence” that has filled this year with the “blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies,” — as that little frontier boy would later write as President Lincoln in creating the annual recognition of Thanksgiving in 1863.
To give a nod to Lincoln’s lasting holiday and mark the state’s bicentennial, Electric Consumer asked readers to send us “thank you” notes telling us why they’re thankful to live in Indiana or love being a Hoosier. Almost 60 folks, young and old, sent us short stories and poems. Some had photos attached. We selected some of our favorites for the printed pages of our November 2016 issue. We present those and some additional notes here.
We thank all those who sent us their letters and emails. Those who sent us notes we printed on the following pages will receive $50. One letter was randomly selected from them all for a $100 prize. That reader was Shirley Pitney, of Etna Green, who wrote that although she’s lived all over the country (“compliments of the United States Navy”), “Nowhere on God’s green earth is there any place as sweet as home … and home is Indiana. I love being a Hoosier.”
Grateful to be a Hoosier
Attitude should be gratitude, and I am grateful that I am a Hoosier and live in this so called “fly over state.”
I could talk endlessly on the beauty of the variety of landscapes from the sand dunes in the North to the flat laying fields of corn in the Middle to the rolling hills and trees to the South, but what I am most thankful for are the people who call Indiana home … Hoosiers.
Who’s a Hoosier? These are the “salt of the earth people” who drop what they are doing when a neighbor needs help getting a wandering cow back home. These are the people who stand in line for hours to pay their respect when a friend down the road passes away. These are the communities that rally together when someone gets hurt or sick and the crops need to be harvested. These are the people who cheer at sporting events not only for their children, but for all the children. These people are Hoosiers.
I am grateful for not only the people of today, but for the people who came before and built this great state. Through their hard work and vision, we reap the rewards as we continue to plan and work hard for the next generations … the future Hoosiers.
Indiana is truly a beautiful state. Its natural abundance has provided Hoosiers with unlimited resources. This plus the people who call Indiana home cannot help but have a “gratitude for an attitude.”
— Jackie Angle, Rushville, Ind.
APPRECIATIVE TO SHARE INDIANA’S PAST AND PRESENT
Living in Indiana has never been a question of “Will I be happy there?”, but how can I choose the place in Indiana where I can take advantage of its fantastic opportunities.
I was born and raised in Fort Wayne. When I began Indiana University in 1948, I was thrilled to discover that southern Indiana was excitingly rugged and wild, almost like the West to a flat land girl. I realized that I could spend my life just discovering the state, and I did.
Marriage led me to Terre Haute since 1953, and I continue to be amazed at the treasures Indiana offers.
The best discovery yet has been its rich pioneer history. In 2010 I donated an 1840s log cabin to Vigo County’s Fowler Park Pioneer Village, which has almost 20 log buildings, south of Terre Haute, of that time period. I also serve as a pioneer there, to acquaint young and old visitors with how their ancestors lived. This has been an incredibly rich gift to me, to make visitors aware and appreciative of the past, as well as present Hoosier life. Thank you, Indiana.
— Joyce F. Lakey, Terre Haute, Ind.
Thankful for wisdom of ancestors to settle in Indiana
Years before Indiana became a state, my ancestors traveled through the Cumberland Gap looking for a place to put down roots. They could have chosen many places, but they decided on one that was close to sweet running water, had rich soil, abundant wildlife and thick hardwood forests.
These allowed the toiling pioneers to be successful in farming, raising a healthy family and setting a country for future generations.
Their new home allowed them to witness the miracle of four seasons and its benefits. Colder weather with killing frosts keep the insects and weeds under control. Ever see the variety and the size of insects in places that do not experience winter?
I am thankful to my family for their wisdom. The sunsets, the sunrises, the blue sky, the green fields, the variety of native plants, the birds that come and go, and how the seasons affect the maple trees in my yard — all these allow me to witness the amazing array of colors nature pours on Hoosiers.
It reminds me of a saying I often hear, “Ain’t God good to Indiana.” He sure is.
— Pat Thom, Fountaintown, Ind.
Family roots sown in fertile Indiana soil
Back in the 1870s, my great-great grandfather purchased the section of land here in Adams County that we still call home. On this farm I grew up with my parents and brothers, and learned to work and to love nature.
Here, my husband and I raised our two daughters as we worked through the seasons on our dairy farm. We are no longer actively farming the land ourselves, but we have been privileged to offer our grandchildren a place to visit and explore in the country. This is home.
I wrote the following poem to try to express my feelings for this state, this county, this parcel:
The maple tree stands tall with its crown of leafy green,
And its roots go down,
And they reach and they spread —
So the maple tree is fed
Through its heart and its soul
By the Indiana soil.
The life from the soil presses on — spreads its reach,
And the bugs and the birds
And those things that have no words
Draw sustenance and life
From the tree that was birthed
In the Indiana soil.
My own roots grow deep, and I don’t mind the toil
Of working the land,
Or the sweat on my brow from the work of my hands,
For my roots feed my soul,
Give me strength and make me whole,
From the Indiana soil.
— Karen Rowell, Berne, Ind.
Blessed to grow up in rural Indiana
Though I’ve traveled to other parts of our country, I’ve never yearned to live anywhere else but Indiana. I grew up on the same land my ancestors settled in 1814. I remember, as a child, standing on the hill where most of their cabins had been and feeling so proud of my heritage.
My earliest memories were following my dad, uncle and grandpa around as they worked on the farm. I had a thousand acre playground!
At the first sign of spring, I was out in the muddy plowed fields, running barefoot, trying to bust up as many clods of dirt as I could. There was nothing like that cool dirt on feet that had been in shoes all winter!
In the summer, it was fun to run through the tall corn stalks and get lost in the fields. In the fall, instead of jumping in the leaves, we were riding in the back of the dump truck, covered in cool soybeans that were off to market.
Finally, winter came and at the tender age of 11, I was given the responsibility to take hay out to the cows and chop the pond water.
As an adult, I often dream about the days on the farm and remember the rolling hills, the cool creek on a hot day and lying in the fragrant green grass and feeling a peace I’ve never quite had since. How blessed I was to continue my family roots in beautiful Indiana!
— Melissa Snooks Pate, Solsberry, Ind.
Proud to call Indiana ‘My Home State’
I’m proud and thankful to call Indiana “My Home State.”
We are home to the Colts, Pacers and Indianapolis 500. Many famous people come from our state such as David Letterman, Jane Pauley, Larry Bird, Karl Malden, Michael Jackson and Florence Henderson.
Now we might have a future vice president (Mike Pence) coming from Indiana. He would follow in the footsteps of vice presidents Schulyer Colfax with President Ulysses Grant; Thomas Hendricks with President Grover Cleveland; Charles Fairbanks with President Theodore Roosevelt; Thomas Riley Marshall with President Woodrow Wilson; and Dan Quayle with President George H.W. Bush.
Let’s be proud of our Indiana heritage during this bicentennial year.
— Karen A. Kallok, Roann, Ind.
A Hoosier harvest of thankfulness
I ’m thankful for the Indiana western rain that makes the seeds grow. The corn and beans that brings us a bountiful harvest. The vegetables in our gardens. The beautiful flowers, cared for and wild.
I’m thankful for the cool northern winds that bring welcome relief after a string of hot and muggy days. But also the sparkles on the new fallen snow, that drifts into blue waves and patterns, keeping us homebound for a day.
I’m thankful for the gorgeous sunrises that give us the wisdom to go through our days, able to be humble and kind. The coo of a pheasant, the haunting yell of a screech owl. The gobble of a turkey in the distance.
I’m thankful for the warm Hoosier sun that makes the corn and the grass grow tall. For the doe and her fawns. The hawks and the eagles. The baby calves that run and play and kick up their heels.
But mostly, I’m thankful to be here in this wonderful place, with these wonderful people for one more day.
May we all have had a safe harvest and be truly thankful for Thanksgiving.
— Vickie L. Bird, Kentland, Ind.
Indiana allows pursuit of hopes and dreams
Dear Indiana, I’m fond of you for many practical reasons. We relocated here eight years ago because we felt that we could survive and thrive here.
My husband found employment in Lafayette at the age of 58. We have health insurance benefits through his job. So your job market in many towns attracts hardworking people. (But a person has to put in the effort, be flexible, and work overtime if necessary. My husband attended job fairs and then took a class to learn new skills.)
Families can find affordable housing with reasonable property taxes here. We live in a modest house with a big yard right near a library. I yearned for the quiet life and desperately wanted to escape the noisy traffic, the long commutes, and the crime and corruption of the Chicagoland area. I enjoy everyday things like grocery shopping, walking my dog, and attending community events like art fairs and charity events.
Indiana, it has been my experience that you keep people busy and engaged. We live in a brainy college town. The schools and academic centers, such as Purdue University, educate our future scientists and engineers. We live next door to a rocket scientist (he and his wife are wonderful neighbors). My husband took a class in watercolors, and there’s a place in downtown Lafayette called Matchbox Studio where I go for writing workshops. Then there’s all the restaurants and businesses that cater to the students. Subaru, Caterpillar, and Alcoa employ people here. Companies want to do business in Indiana. Entrepreneurs want to open up bicycle shops or breweries or bakeries. Then there’s the agricultural industry and the local airport and the animal hospitals… The point is, there’s hope here and plenty of down-to-earth, friendly people pursuing their careers and their dreams.
Oh, and last but not least, Indiana, there are your trees, your skies, and your churches. My neighbors and I look up at the sky a lot and study the clouds. (That’s what you do when there’s not a lot of tall buildings blocking your view.) Just down the road is a nature center called Celery Bog. For outdoor fun we hike and camp at Prophetstown State Park or Turkey Run State Park. Turkey Run is awesome. We can canoe on Sugar Creek or the Tippecanoe River. Sometimes we just bicycle to the grocery store on the paved bike paths. Sometimes we take Citybus — you don’t have to drive everywhere. There’s a travel agency/motorcoach service in town that offers senior citizens short field trips and long vacations. I am supremely grateful that I can walk to a church and to a bible study in my neighborhood. Thank you Indiana.
— Sharon Duffy, West Lafayette, Ind.
Fertile Indiana soil sows lots of love
The morning sun shines through our forest of maples, oaks, tulip poplars, sycamores, and wild cherry trees. I observe the lack of movement in their branches and notify my husband it’s a bike riding day.
This is Madison County where our square log home sits atop a ridge overlooking the old Fall Creek River on a 10-acre wooded lot. Forty years ago, the logs had been found behind the modern exterior of a Gnaw Bone home when the owner was tearing it down. These logs grew in Indiana for 100 years and were hand-hewed before the Civil War. They had a prior life, but now they belonged to us, reshaped into our home, surrounding us with their strength and spirit.
I down my breakfast, find comfort in my daily Bible reading and change into riding shorts, sleeveless red top, and ancient sneakers. We ride our lane, past the dam, and into the valley with the big S-curve surrounded by cornfields. Are we in 2016 or 1816? I love this local ride, but my husband has lead me through the scenery all around the state. We return to the coolness of the majestic trees we live beneath, their branches stretching for clear skies. Will my legs hold out to ascend the final hill?
I’m thankful for Indiana soil that produced the walls of my home and the corn, soybeans, and wheat. But a lot of other things grow in Indiana: young people mature, churches increase, relationships flourish and businesses expand. However, in Indiana, we’re most thankful for what sprouts in our fertile hearts — love.
— Susan Pluhar, Markleville, Ind.
Why I’m Thankful …
Oh, yes, I’m a grateful Hoosier. I lived all over the country, compliments of the United States Navy, but always came HOME … and HOME is INDIANA.
I was born along a country road near Wakarusa. The snow was so deep that January my mom couldn’t get out and the doctor couldn’t get in. Dad and Grandma delivered me (with Mom’s help, of course). Dad always teased that I wasn’t worth much ‘cause he was always told “If you get something for nothing, it is worth nothing.” Dad got out the horses after I got here and went after the doctor to take him to see other country patients. The doctor, of course, didn’t charge for my birth so Dad, God rest his soul, said I must not be worth anything.
My dad was a country preacher, always taking care of others, right here in Indiana. Amazing to others how Hoosiers are always looklng after each other without expecting or accepting any reward. Hoosiers love one another and that goes without saying.
My parents and grandparents were born on Hoosier soll; therefore, my legacy goes way back. I’ve lived here almost all my life and plan to remain here, Lord willing.
I was born, as I said, along that little dirt road and my cemetery plot Is also right there. That means I was born, stlll llve, and hope to depart for heaven someday, leaving my mortal remains right where they started — in Northern Indiana.
Nowhere on God’s green earth is there any place as sweet as HOME … and HOME is INDIANA. I love being a HOOSIER.
— Shirley (Sarber) Pitney, Etna Green, Ind.
Passing the torch of Hoosier pride
Parts of my family have lived in Indiana for over 150 years, born and raised in this great state that has so much to offer.
I am not a sports fanatic, but Indiana is full of legendary sporting events. For us that have interest that lie elsewhere, Indiana shines! With 25 state parks, over 640 festivals and 1000’s of attractions state wide, one is never far from something to do and enjoy.
I love the country, the countryside and the small towns that fill the state of Indiana. We spend several weekends a year traveling our Hoosier highways, and we always make sure our cameras are close at hand.
Overall, I believe that Indiana is a friendly state with down home hospitality and one that is very proud of its history and heritage. I am very thankful that my family chose Indiana as its home those many years ago, and I am proud to pass on my heritage and love of this state to my children.
— Steve Jackson, Lafayette, Ind.
Two classrooms of Indiana students — Janeen Burkhart’s sixth grade class at North Decatur Elementary in Greensburg and Deborah Wade’s fourth grade class at North Daviess Elementary in Elnora — and individual students (along with their grandparents) around the state submitted entries to this feature. What better way to celebrate the state’s bicentennial than to look to the future and hear what our younger Hoosiers say about Indiana?
Part of the family
Indiana, not only are you our home, our heritage, you are truly part of the family.
During dinner one night, I asked our five grandkids, ages 9, 8, 7, 6, and 5, this question: Tell me what you like about living in Indiana, but starting with oldest, your answer has to start with these letters, I-N-D-I-A-N-A.
9 years: Indiana Beach;
8 years: Nice people;
7 years: Driving through state parks;
6 years: Indiana’s covered bridges;
5 years: Animals at the zoo;
49 years: Nashville arts and crafts;
49 years: Apple orchards.
Indiana, thank you for moments like this.
— Greg Porter, New Castle, Ind.
I am thankful to live in Indiana because of its wonderful 4-H program. I am a six-year member of Harrison County 4-H.
I show dairy cows, sheep, and poultry and take many projects to the 4-H building at the county fair. I also participate in many community service projects through 4-H — like collecting canned goods for the local food bank, ringing the Salvation Army bell, helping organize a local 5K walk for barn owls, cleaning up local creeks and rivers and picking up trash along the local road way.
I have also done a lot of traveling through Indiana with 4-H. I have been to Indianapolis, Purdue University, Fair Oaks Farm and many other counties surrounding Harrison for workshops and judging events.
I am very thankful I was born and am being raised in the great and beautiful Hoosier State! I’m glad that I can play a role in helping keep it that way.
— Hannah Uhl, Corydon, Ind.
Why I Love Indiana
I am proud of the Midwestern values that describe who I am because there are a lot of Christians where I live. I also like the hills and lakes. I live in a farming community where my papa grows corn and soybeans for many people and animals all over the world.
Yes, I love the countryside as we cycle through the seasons because it’s so pretty. In the spring I like to watch the farmers plant their crops. In the summer I like to watch the plants grow. In the fall I watch them harvest. When they harvest, I discover new things because I can now see what used to be covered by crops. In the winter I like to go to my grandma’s house to go sledding in the winter. I like swimming in the summer, and jumping in leaves in the fall.
I am a fan of the varied sporting activities in Indiana. My family and I watch the Indianapolis Colts. My mom and I like football a lot. I also like the Indiana Hoosiers. My papa always watches the Indy 500. I also love Indiana because it’s my home, and I hope it always will be.
— Kasey Freed, North Daviess Elementary, Elnora, Ind.
Indiana: ‘My forever home’
I love waking up in the country and seeing the combine harvesting the field by my house. There is no better feeling than smelling the fresh cut corn straight from the field.
I love that our state plays basketball and football on Friday nights. There is no better feeling than playing under the lights on Friday.
I have and will call Indiana my home forever.
— Carson Parmer, North Decatur Elementary, Greensburg, Ind.
We’ll be adding more stories that we received later.