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Famous people from Indiana, USA

James Dean
The Fairmount Historical Museum (www.jamesdeanartifacts.com) honors two creative men who were born and raised in the Indiana town. Fans of James Dean, the Hollywood actor, icon and legend, will enjoy looking at items that are related to and were owned by James Dean and his family, including awards, clothing and motorcycles. Prefer stars of more contemporary films? Garfield the Cat was created by Fairmount native Jim Davis. Both Davis and his famous orange feline are honored here.

James Dean on a movie poster
James Dean on a movie poster

Michael Jackson‘s connection to Indiana
His boyhood home is in Gary, Indiana — read more here: Michael Jackson Boyhood Home in Gary, Indiana

Abe Lincoln’s connection to Indiana
Read: Lincoln’s Boyhood in Indiana

Billy Sunday – He played and he prayed.
Some people never figure out their ideal career. Billy Sunday was fortunate enough to figure it out twice. Sunday, born in Iowa, was a successful professional baseball player who walked away from the game to preach. In 1911, he moved his home base to Winona Lake in Northern Indiana, an area once known as “The World’s Largest Bible Conference.”

Today, The Village at Winona is a charming community filled with artisan’s shops, historic sites, museums, recreation areas and restaurants.

The Billy Sunday Home Museum and Visitor Center (https://visitkosciuskocounty.org/locations/billy-sunday-home-museum/), where the famously energetic evangelist lived until his death in 1935, has been restored to its original 1911 appearance, and reflects Arts and Crafts décor of the time. His wife, “Ma” Sunday, who lived in the home until her death in 1955, completed many of the home’s paintings and needlework items.

Marie Webster – Patchwork preserved.
Walk into any fabric store or bookstore in America, and you’ll find row after row of books on quilting. But every quilt book author owes a debt to Marie Webster, the early 20th century woman who wrote the first authoritative book on the history of quilting: “Quilts: Their Story and How to Make Them.” Webster, at the time a nationally known quilt designer, was also revered for making her patterns readily available to the mass market.
Quilters Hall of Fame in Marion (926 S. Washington Street, Marion, Indiana).
Located in Webster’s former home, where she resided from 1902 to 1942, the Quilters Hall of Fame recognizes quilters and other individuals who have greatly contributed to quilting.

Cemetery of celebs – Take a quiet tour.
At more than 555 acres, Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis ( https://www.crownhill.org/cemetery/ ) is the final resting place for more than 185,000 people, including several Indiana governors, mayors and Civil War generals. Walking tours point out markers for many names you’ll recognize, including President Benjamin Harrison, Colonel Eli Lilly, beloved Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley, and not-so-beloved bank robber John Dillinger. Riley’s grave is of special note. Located at 860 feet above sea level, it’s the highest point in the cemetery, and offers a spectacular view of the city.
Before you see where Riley is buried, you might want to see where he lived. The first writer to sell over a million dollars in poetry hails from Greenfield.

Ernie Pyle – A different kind of war hero.
While the evening news can keep us informed of the day’s events, it can also feel like a competition as to who will get the story first. But during World War II, a man named Ernie Pyle from Indiana had a different goal: to report on the real story of life on the front. Soldiers respected him for his accurate reporting and for his willingness to put himself right in the action. Americans at home appreciated his true accounts of soldiers’ actions and emotions. Today, the Pulitzer Prize winner’s words are preserved and his life is remembered at the Ernie Pyle State Historic Site in Dana ( http://www.erniepyle.org/ ), where you’ll find the home in which he was born, two Quonset huts, thousands of pieces of memorabilia, the shovel he used to dig foxholes, a typewriter he used early in his career, vignettes depicting his columns, and a jacket he wore while covering the troops.

Ken Bowersox – Reaching for the stars.
Lawrence County may be famous for its deep limestone quarries, but it’s also famous for what it sent to the heavens above them. Not one but three astronauts hail from this area. Charles Walker has accumulated 20 days of experience in space and traveled 8.2 million miles. In 1983, NASA confirmed him as the first industrial payload specialist. Ken Bowersox served on the Hubble Space Telescope servicing and repair mission-an 11-day flight that included a record five space walks by four astronauts. Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom was one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, selected in 1959. He died tragically in a launch pad fire in what would have been the first manned flight test of the Apollo capsule. The Grissom Memorial at Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell ( https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2968.htm ) honors his life and work.

John Mellencamp
You may not be surprised to hear John Mellencamp’s work coming from a stereo, but you might be surprised to see it hanging on a wall. The Southern Indiana Center for the Arts in Seymour ( http://www.soinart.com/ ) hosts the only permanent exhibit of Mellencamp’s paintings. Mellencamp, the songwriter, singer, painter and Seymour native, purchased the 1851 brick home and leases it to the county for $1 a year. The Center serves as a place for county residents to exhibit and learn about the arts with classes, summer camps for kids, and studio time for members. The Center also displays works by such artists as Nancy Noel, Maureen O’Hara Pesta, and Richard Kingsley. The amphitheater at the Center hosts concerts and stage productions.

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