VCHS Presentation — Forgotten Bones: The Abandoned Cemeteries of Evansville by Dennis M. Au

Dennis Au, City Preservation Officer, Retired
Dennis Au, City Preservation Officer, Retired

Vanderburgh County Bicentennial Loga

There are no fewer than seven abandoned cemeteries in the city of Evansville. In three cases, we all have driven over the internments countless times. The earliest of these date to the establishment of our community. The stories of two are intertwined with the founding of Evansville and Vanderburgh County. The newest of them was still an active burial ground during the Second World War. These forgotten plots are a mix of pioneer, religious, municipal, and institutional. The universal comment is – of course they moved the burials? All of these cemeteries have fascinating and unique stories. Each is uniquely documented in the historical record. There are still many mysteries at each location calling for more research. All of the burial grounds lack markers and are crying out for some permanent monument to rescue them from oblivion.

Dennis is a professional historian, folklorist, and preservationist.  Before his retirement in 2016 he had been Evansville’s Historic Preservation Officer for nineteen years.  His publications include pieces on the War of 1812, foodways, and historic architecture.   Most recently, Dennis is proud of his role in discovering the national significance of the Peters-Margedant House.  In his retirement Au continues to research and write and is pursuing his life-long interest in archaeology.

This presentation is January 23, 2018 at 6:30 PM in the Browning Gallery at Willard Library, 21 N First Ave, Evansville, IN 47710.
The event is free and open to the public. Advance reservations are appreciated. Call (812) 425-4309, ext. 117 to reserve a space.


VCHS Annual Meeting and Luncheon Featuring Dr. James MacLeod: “In Honor of Those Who Served;” American Memorials of the First World War

The Vanderburgh County Historical Society Annual Meeting and luncheon will be at 12:45 PM on Saturday, November 4, 2017 in the GAR room of the Sailors and Soldiers’ Memorial Coliseum at 300 Court St, Evansville, IN 47708

Parade passing Coliseum c1920

Our featured speaker is Dr. James MacLeod whose program is titled “In Honor of Those Who Served”; American Memorials of the First World War . The First World War was one of the most significant events of the last 200 years, killing 18 million people and wounding a further 23 million. In many ways it shaped the modern world. It is marked by tens of thousands of memorials around the world, and some of the most dramatic of these are in the Midwest of the United States. In this illustrated lecture, Dr MacLeod will discuss the history of war memorialization and examine some of the most remarkable of America’s war memorials.

Dr James MacLeod, Professor of History, University of Evansville
Dr James MacLeod was educated at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, receiving an MA in 1988 and a PhD in 1993. Since 1994 he has been a member of the History Department at UE, where he teaches courses in European History and the two World Wars. Dr MacLeod is the author of Evansville in World War Two, which was published in 2015, and The Cartoons of Evansville’s Karl Kae Knecht, published in February 2017. In 2016 he wrote and co-produced a 2-part documentary on Evansville in World War II for WNIN entitled Evansville at War. In 2000, he published a book on 19th-century British religion, The Second Disruption, and has also written over 20 other scholarly publications. He has won many awards for his teaching and scholarship, and was UE’s Outstanding Teacher in 2009. James is also an award-winning cartoonist and his editorial cartoons have appeared in the Evansville Courier and Press and the Henderson Gleaner, as well as many other outlets. He serves on the Boards of the Vanderburgh County Historical Society, the Southwestern Indiana Historical Society, and the Evansville Museum of Art, History and Science.

The program is free and open to the public; however, seating is limited so  please tell us you are coming at The Bauerhaus luncheon detailed below costs $30 person and precedes Dr. MacLeod’s presentation.

VCHS Schedule for the Annual Dinner
12:30 to 12:45 — general meeting of the VCHS membership to elect Board members and officers
12:45 to 1:00 — Tom Lonnberg, Curator of History at the Evansville Museum of Arts, History, and Science and Joe Engler, site creator and webmaster of, will do a joint presentation on the background of the Coliseum and James Bethel Gresham. Gresham was a native of Evansville and is considered the first US soldier killed in WWI.
1:00 to 1:45Luncheon catered by Bauerhaus. Menu: country fried chicken, burgundy tenderloin beef tips, garlic smashed potatoes, country style green beans, tossed salad with dressing, dinner roll, and dessert (assortment of cheesecake), plus iced tea, coffee (regular and decaf), and lemonade.
The cost for the luncheon is $30 per person, payable by PayPal below or by sending a check for the cost of the lunch to VCHS, C/O Terry Hughes, 706 Sunset Avenue, Evansville, IN 47713.
1:45  “Democracy’s Love Song” — — sung by Renee Rink (Hear her now for free; some day you will have to pay to hear her sing).
1:45 to 2:45 presentation by Dr. James MacLeod“In Honor of Those Who Served”; American Memorials of the First World War
2:45 onward: Possible tour of the Coliseum conducted by Mark Acker.

Payment for the Luncheon at the Annual Meeting:
You may pay via the PayPal link below. The link should take you to a menu specific to the annual luncheon.

If you go to the PayPal sign in, sign in to your PayPal account and send money to , $30 per person for lunch. Be sure to leave a comment about the VCHS Lunch and the number of persons.

If PayPal is too difficult, email and and tell Terry how many reservations you would like. You can pay at the door on Saturday, November 4th.

Oak Hill Cemetery and Arboretum Twilight Tour – Benefit for the Adopt an Ash Program

The Oak Hill Cemetery and Arboretum Twilight Tour will be held on Saturday, October 21st at 5:30pm. Tickets are $15.00 and can be ordered via Pay Pal at, via the link below, or you can pay in person the night of the event. Sign in tables will be located at the Veterans Plaza just inside the main gate of the cemetery. This tour is only the second of its kind in the 164 year existence of Oak Hill Cemetery and will feature LIVE RE-ENACTORS. You can learn more about how you can help in the fight against Emerald Ash Borer in Evansville by visiting

For questions, please email VCHS Board Member and Cemetery Superintendent Chris Cooke at

Contact Email

Facebook Event Page

Cooking up something good

Lucas Neuffer – a man with a vision

Preservationist.  Visionary.  Madman.  Whatever you want to call Lucas Neuffer is fine with him, but the realtor with a passion for old houses now has a new project.  He finally procured the long vacant home of Henry E Cook (of the Cook’s Brewery fame) on Fulton Avenue.  He intends to return it to a single-family home, though surprisingly it was just a 2-bedroom house with a massive servants “wing” that could be repurposed to serve a larger family.  The two bedrooms by the way were likely a his and hers bedrooms that had dressing rooms, bathrooms, and closets connecting to them.

Built in 1899, the Cook mansion was on of three on the block. His was in the middle of the block.  His father, F W Cook, had the first house, built around 1877 on the corner of Iowa.  His brother’s (Charles Cook) was built one year prior in 1898 at the corner of Delaware.   That house was built of brick and had a turret.  By the early 1900s, Fulton Avenue was a home for business magnates, and this was one of the premier blocks in Evansville.

Fulton Avenue from Delaware.  View from about the front doors of Civic Theater looking south.  The three mansions really towered over nearby smaller homes.  Fulton School can be seen in the distance.

An early photo of the house from the Evansville Illustrated book (circa 1901)

Time was not kind to Fulton Avenue.  As it became a thoroughfare, residential buildings gave way to commercial and industrial ventures.  Many of these mansions were either turned into apartments, converted into another use (like the Lahr mansion became the club house of the Germania Maennerchor), or were simply demolished to make way for new buildings.

In recent years, there was an ordeal with trying to sell the house. It went to auction but the restoration never gained much momentum, and the home just deteriorated for nearly a decade. Several attempts to persuade the owners fell short, and many preservationists thought it was a lost cause. I asked Lucas what finally persuaded the sellers to relinquish the house. “Persistence” he said. “I kept bugging them until they said yes.” And sometimes that’s what it takes because in the end they wanted the same thing–to save the house.

Follow Lucas at his Facebook page as he restores the mansion to its former grandeur. He has several photos posted there–better quality than my walkthrough tour–and keep an eye out for events/opportunities to help

Old St Mary’s Hospital

Officially it’s now called St Vincent, but locals will always refer to it as St Mary’s Hospital.  Today we look at the old hospital building before they relocated to their present spot.

Postcard of St Mary Hospital c1900

St Mary’s moved from its first location at the Old Marine Hospital to a new building in February 1894. The new building was built on First Avenue across from St Anthony’s Catholic Church.  Several people recall babies being born in the hospital and then being whisked across the street for a prompt baptism.

1920s addition, now used by a staffing company

An addition on the Columbia St side was built in 1922.  It was a four-story brick building.  If you happen to be walking by, check out the stone work over the door which dons a cross from the old Catholic hospital.

Nurses Home shortly after it was built

Circa 1947, a nurses’ home was built on the southeast corner of First and Delaware. The old Polsdorfer home was razed to make way for the U-shaped building. It still sands as part of the St Vincent’s Day Care campus, though the old entrance has been bricked up.

On March 10, 1956, St Mary’s achieved the remarkable feat of moving to the new building on outer Washington Ave all in one day. They had outgrown the old facility on First Ave. It’s wild to think the two big hospitals in town were so close in proximity. Deaconess Hospital was just a few blocks away centered at Mary and Iowa.

The vacant building was demolished in May 1959, although the addition is still there serving as medical offices. Hacienda restaurant now stands on the former site.

View of the hospital from First and Columbia c1930
Aerial c1940. St Anthony is in the foreground
St Mary demolition May 25, 1959

Celebrate Evansville’s Centennial – 70 Years Later


Evansville’s 100th Birthday float passes the Victory Theater showing Duel in the Sun

The Vanderburgh County Historical Society in partnership with Willard Library is sponsoring a presentation by Vanderburgh County Historian Stan Schmitt on Evansville’s Centennial Parade in May of 1947. Stan’s presentation begins at 6:30 PM on May 11, 2017 in the Browning Gallery of Willard Library. The event is free and open to the public. Advance reservations are appreciated. Call (812) 425-4309, ext. 117 to reserve a space.

Stan’s presentation revolves around never before seen color footage of the parade. The color footage is a part of the estate of Janet Noelting Robinson. Janet’s father, Elmer Noelting shot 16 MM film footage of various events in Evansville during the 1930s and 1940s. The footage was donated to the Vanderburgh County Historical Society (VCHS) by Janet’s estate. VCHS has converted several of the films into digital format. Evansville’s Centennial Parade footage is shot on Main Street Evansville. In addition to footage of floats commemorating special events in Evansville’s history, the film also includes numerous shots from various angles of downtown Evansville.

The Evansville Chamber of Commerce sponsored the Parade and paid for the floats depicting Evansville’s history. Business and organizations created their own floats. Represented are Servel, International Harvester, International Steel, and Evansville College among others. Marching bands from the area joined in the parade. Reitz, Central, Lincoln, and Mater Dei are a few of the bands that marched.

Miss Evansville Finalists, not in order: Patsy Small, Marquerite Weedman, Amolea Bosecker, Mary Jane Gray, Julia Mayton, Norman Jean Winterheimer and Phyllis Schriber.

We will provide time for audience participation and discussion. If you can help us identify people in the parade or have stories about the people involved or the parade itself, we welcome your input.

100 Years Old: Cadick Apartments

In some ways, a century ago was not that different than today. With downtown flourishing and residents looking for affordable housing, the Cadick Apartments were part of a building boom that generated several rental units.

Architect sketch of the Cadick Apartments , a new “Florentine” style building

The New Cadick was the brainchild of A. C. Hassensall with the help of famed local architect W. E. Russ.  Built in the Beaux Arts style, it was a 3-story brick structure with a tiled roof.  Stone on the first floor has “Cadick Apartments” carved in it, and the building also has some intricate brickwork.

Cadick Apartments under construction January 1917

The new apartments were built from 1916-1917, and contained 14 units.  Some of the more notable features included Murphy beds and mahogany wood trim in each apartment.  The first floor featured leasing offices and space for a doctors offices.  The Cadick also had a full basement that included a dining hall and laundry room.

1st St from Locust during the 1937 Flood. McCurdy at right and Cadick beyond the old Elks Home at left.
Apartments today 100 years young (photo from Vanderburgh County Assessor)

Dr James MacLeod’s New Book on Cartoonist Karl Kae Knecht to be Launched at UE

Dr. James MacLeod
The Cartoons of Evansville’s Karl Kae Knecht

University of Evansville professor of history James MacLeod will deliver an illustrated lecture and read from his newly released book, The Cartoons of Evansville’s Karl Kae Knecht, at a book launch on Thursday, March 2. Sponsored by the Vanderburgh County Historical Society, MacLeod’s lecture will start at 7:00 p.m. in Room 170 (Smythe Lecture Hall) in the Schroeder School of Business Building on the University campus. The book will be for sale at the event and the author will be signing copies. This event is free and open to the public.

Karl Kae Knecht, editorial cartoonist for the Evansville Courier from 1906 to 1960, was synonymous with the city of Evansville, moving and amusing his readers with his creations. He mocked the Axis powers and kept local morale high during World War II, and commented daily on issues from the Great Depression to the Space Race. But he was much more than an artist, working tirelessly as a civic booster and campaigner for worthy causes of all kinds.

He helped establish Evansville College and he was almost single handedly responsible for the establishment of Mesker Park Zoo. The book, which is illustrated with over 70 cartoons, tells the fascinating story of Knecht’s life, places him in the context of the history of editorial cartooning, and analyzes his cartooning genius.

Dr MacLeod was educated at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He taught history and British studies at Harlaxton College from 1994-1999. Since 1999 he has been a member of the history department at the University of Evansville. He teaches courses in European history and the two World Wars, and lectures frequently on these topics. He is the author of two other books: The Second Disruption, and Evansville in World War II as well as many other scholarly publications. In 2016 he wrote and co-produced a two-part documentary for WNIN, Evansville at War. MacLeod is an editorial cartoonist whose drawings appear in the Evansville Courier and Press and other newspapers.

For more information on the book reading, please call 812-488-2963

Karl Kae Knecht October 8, 1943


Karl Kae Knecht 1940

The Personal Side of Glenn Black: Indiana’s Archaeologist Revealed

Glenn Black

Thursday, February 9, 6:00 p.m.
Willard Library Browning Gallery
21 First Avenue◊Evansville, Indiana 47710

Using newly-acquired images and artifacts, Mike Linderman, Western Regional Manager for Indiana State Historic Sites, will discuss the work of  Glenn Black , a pioneering archaeologist who conducted several decades of scientific excavations at Angel Mounds before his death in 1964.

This event will be only the second time the items have been shown publicly, with many new ones added since the first program. Several of their personal items will be on display, many from their home at Angel Mounds.

This program is sponsored by Willard Library, the Vanderburgh County Historical Society, and Angel Mounds; it is free and open to the public, but reservations are appreciated; to register, visit or call (812) 425-4309, ext. 117.

The Personal Side of Glenn Black:  Indiana’s Archaeologist Revealed

In 2015 a large collection of Glenn and Ida Black’s personal items were offered to the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites from a Great-Niece living in Indianapolis.  Earlier attempts to find their personal belongings came up with a story of all of it being destroyed and thrown away.  What was found were over 1,700 images on photos and slides of their lives, the first time that any of them had ever been seen outside of the family.  The photos and slides document their time at Angel Mounds, time with their families before moving to the site and trips with Eli and Ruth Lilly across the country.