Up close: A conestoga wagon built in 1797, part of Conner Prairie’s collections

Staff Report
Last week, we shared the story of 89-year-old Sara Wood, who recently told her family that she wished that she could see in person an old wagon that her ancestors traveled in when they relocated from Pennsylvania to Indiana in 1847. The wagon is part of Conner Prairie’s collections. Continue reading

Descendant of early Hamilton County settler has sole Christmas wish granted at Conner Prairie

Sara Wood heard many tales about her family’s 1847 journey in an old covered wagon from Pennsylvania to Indiana and always wanted to feel the wagon’s presence herself. Today, that happened at Conner Prairie.

By Duane Brodt and Ephraim Rudolph
On Thanksgiving, 89-year-old Sara Wood told her family a tale about how her ancestors relocated from Pennsylvania to Indiana in 1847 by traveling in an old covered wagon pulled by oxen.

Passed down through generations since built in 1797, she said the relic was a special family heirloom that she’d always heard about but never seen. Wood told her family she didn’t know where it is today, though she’d heard rumors that it might be somewhere in Chicago.

She told her family that she had just one Christmas wish this year. Her wish was to see that covered wagon herself.

That happened today. At Conner Prairie. Continue reading

Play shares power of letters at Christmas between Civil War soldiers, loved ones

A new live play at Conner Prairie shares the power of letters at Christmas between Civil War soldiers and their loved ones. The play’s run began today and continues through this Saturday and Sunday, as well as four dates in December.

By Ephraim Rudolph
An original live play about the meaning and the magic of mail at Christmastime during the Civil War era, titled “Tales at the Holidays: Letters from the Civil War,” is now showing at Conner Prairie.

Bill Wilkison wrote and directs the play, which is inspired by the Thomas Nast illustration “Christmas Eve,” published in the Christmas 1862 issue of Harper’s Weekly.

Performances of the play began today, and will continue Saturday and Sunday at 12:30, 2 and 3:30 p.m. It will also run at those same times on Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23. The play is free with paid general admission to Conner Prairie, and it is showing inside the Lilly Theater on the second floor of the Welcome Center. Continue reading

Longtime interpreter recalls love of south’s railroads, people

Dwight Gallian has been an interpreter at Conner Prairie since 2000.

By Alicia Kelly
Just over the prairie and on the other side of the White River sits a home where one of Conner Prairie’s greatest storytellers and blacksmiths lives.

From catching bull frogs in the swamps of the Mississippi Delta as a child to working on railroads that date back to the Civil War, Dwight Gallian says he has always enjoyed working with his hands.

He took after his father and his grandfather by working as a third-generation foreman on the Illinois Central Railroad, starting in the early 1970s when he was 19. Continue reading

Program for preschool-age children teaches what harvest season’s all about

Early Child Programs Manager Mary Uminski teaches children the importance of harvest time during November’s Prairie Tykes “Happy Harvest” program.

By Ephraim Rudolph
Ghosts and ghouls came out to play in October. Gingerbread and candy canes swirl through December. During November, the month in-between, the autumn harvest is in full swing. It’s apple, corn and gourd season.

This month, children celebrated the harvest season during Conner Prairie’s “Happy Harvest” edition of Prairie Tykes, a program for preschool-age children ages 2-6. Mary Uminski is the museum’s early child programs manager who plans and teaches the program.

“We’re going to grind corn, string apples and churn some butter,” she said. “We have a game with a turkey and bowling with pins that look like corn. We’ll even do a little weaving activity with paper plates and thread.” There are also harvest-themed snacks, crafts, singing, dancing and storytelling, she said. Continue reading