TAKE THE VIRTUAL TOUR
Take our “virtual” walking tour of historic downtown Mooresville, Indiana. Then check-out our audio tour guide on CD and walk the self-guided route yourself.
“Virtual” Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Mooresville, Indiana from Mooresville Public Library
Did you know the famous artist Robert Indiana (born Robert Earl Clark, 1928) attended school in Mooresville? In 1935 his first grade teacher, Ruth Coffman, recognized his artistic talents, which encouraged Robert to pursue art as a career. Can you find one of Robert’s sign creations hanging in the library? (Hint: You’ll see it near the MPL Indiana Room, which has several books about the artist.) Visit the Robert Indiana website for more fascinating details about his life and times.
Click photo to visit the Robert Indiana website
Perhaps the most famous person to live in Mooresville was the bank robber John Dillinger (1903-1934). The library has several books about Dillinger in our Indiana Room collection. Read this handout to see some famous photos of Dillinger’s July 1934 funeral at Harvey Funeral Home in Mooresville. Below we describe Dillinger’s holdup of grocery store owner Frank Morgan, which resulted in Dillinger’s first criminal conviction. This event occurred just one block from the Library!
CLICK IMAGE (ABOVE) TO ENLARGE
Click the FBI Dillinger Wanted Poster to visit the FBI Dillinger web page
Besides being an accomplished artist (especially in watercolor, which he taught at John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis), Mooresville native Paul Hadley (1880-1971) designed the Indiana State Flag (submitted, 1916; adopted, 1917). The library has many of Hadley’s original paintings on display in the grand hall. The MPL Indiana Room also has many items in its collection about him (click here for a bibliography, biographical information, photos, and more). Read more about this quiet, fascinating gentleman (and his paintings) in our “treasure trove” blog, our Cauli Le Chat blog, and our “flash from your past” flashcard, as well as in his biography, The Indiana State Flag: Its Designer (Biography of Paul Hadley with Anthology of his Paintings), by Becky Hardin (1976) (PART ONE and PART TWO). There are also digital versions of biographical articles published in Traces and Indiana magazines (see links under the header “TREASURE TROVE” below).
Paul Hadley (left) & Ralph Priest prepare a mock-up of Hadley’s Indiana State Flag design (ca. 1923)
Mooresville native Amos Wilson Rusie (1871-1942), “the Hoosier Thunderbolt,” pitched for the New York Giants and the Cincinnati Reds between 1890-early 1900’s. He held many major league pitching records and was considered the fastest pitcher in professional baseball. Take a look at our “flash from your past” flashcard, or visit the MPL Indiana Room, to learn more about this all-star pitcher.
Amos Rusie N.Y. Giants Baseball Card (1890’s)
Camby native Frank Inn (born Elias Franklin Freeman) (1916-2002) grew up on a farm near Mooresville. His parents operated Freeman’s Florist shop in Mooresville for many years. Inn was best known as an animal trainer for Hollywood movies (such as Benji, The Thin Man series, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s) and television programs (such as the 1960’s sitcoms The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction). Inn’s book about Benji is available to check-out from our Evergreen Indiana catalog. Visit the MPL Indiana Room, or read this brief biography, to learn more about the man and his talented animals.
Frank Inn & Benji (click photo to read our catalog description of Inn’s Benji book)
SAMMY L. DAVIS
Sammy L. Davis moved to Waverly, Indiana from California following his junior year to attend Mooresville High School. After enlisting in the U.S. Army, he distinguished himself in combat service in Vietnam and, on November 19, 1968, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson (see the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Monday, November 25, 1968, pp. 1611-12, 1614).
Sergeant Sammy L. Davis, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient (1968)
President Lyndon Baines Johnson (far right) awards the Congressional Medal of Honor to (L to R): Gary G. Wetzel, Dwight H. Johnson, Sammy L. Davis, James Allen Taylor, and Angelo J. Liteky (November 19, 1968)
GEORGE H. FIELDS
George H. Fields (1921-2014) was a life-long Mooresville resident who became Mooresville High School’s first Indiana boys’ basketball all-star and, later, he became a standout on Purdue University’s men’s basketball team. His parents were Herbert Andrew and Georgie (Conduitt) Fields. George passed on January 22, 2014. Click here to read George’s obituary. Click the images below to enlarge them.
SAMUEL MOORE, FOUNDER OF MOORESVILLE
Mooresville, Indiana was founded in 1824 by Samuel Moore, whose Quaker family moved from North Carolina in 1819 to Washington County, Indiana. The Moore family found slavery inconsistent with their religious beliefs and moved north to escape the practice. Samuel moved away from his family and settled in Brown Township, Morgan County, Indiana, in 1822.
Samuel Moore was not the first European-descended settler to homestead in Morgan County or Brown Township. Jacob Wetzel became the first white settler in Morgan County (1818), and William Ballard settled in Brown Township in 1820. Moore established the first trading post in Brown Township. His log cabin was situated near White Lick Creek, close to the present day location of Kroger and the Village Shopping Center. Moore made no distinctions based on color, race, or national creed; he traded with Native and European-descended Americans alike. Customers paid for his goods in silver, as well as barter items (primarily deer and raccoon skins, ginseng, bees wax, and buck horn).
As his business flourished, in 1823 Samuel Moore purchased 20 acres of land (at $2 per acre) atop a hill east of White Lick Creek and about a half-mile north of his trading post. He platted the town in 1824, which consisted of four five-acre blocks, with each block containing 16 lots (see the original plat below; click-on the image to enlarge it). The plat was recorded on Feb. 21, 1825. The town, however, dates its origin to 1824, and this is the historically accepted date.
Click Map to Enlarge
Asa Bales constructed the first cabin in Mooresville, and the first wood-frame business structure was built by Samuel Moore on the northeast corner of the intersection of Main and Indiana Streets. Moore conducted business there for 44 years. His goods travelled by wagon and boat across southern Indiana and even as far away as Boston and New Orleans.
In 1828, Samuel Moore married Eliza Worthington, who later founded the Methodist Episcopal (M.E.) Church in Mooresville. (Click here to see photos of the couple in their golden years.)
Eliza Worthington Moore & Samuel Moore (circa 1850)
REV. DR. FRANK CLAUDE HUSTON
The Reverend Dr. Frank Claude Huston (1871-1959) was pastor of Mooresville First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (1934-1937). He was an internationally renowned composer and singer who wrote and performed hymns, gospel music, ballads, popular songs, patriotic tunes, and dance songs. Dr. Huston founded his own music publishing companies in Indianapolis and New York. He composed a tribute song, “Mooresville” (1935), which proclaimed the townspeople’s virtues and praised its hometown values. Click his photos above (or click here) to learn more about this talented gentleman. The library has several copies of the history of Mooresville First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) available to check-out from our Evergreen Indiana online catalog.
RUTH ELLEN COMER
Ruth Ellen Comer (1909-1995) was the daughter of Charles Benton Comer and Mary Aldrich Comer. She graduated from Mooresville High School and Butler University School of Music and further studied music at the University of Southern California. She was a professional musician, playing piano, pipe organ, and accordion. She was best known as a member of the musical group, Maria Karson & Her Musicales (1940s), who appeared on national radio and played a variety of clubs and hotels across the country. Click the photos above (or click here) to learn more about this gifted lady.
A “TREASURE TROVE” OF MOORESVILLE HISTORY
The library’s Indiana Room has a variety of free digitized resources summarizing some of Mooresville and Morgan County’s local history. Click the links below to see each item.
- A Brief History of Mooresville and Vicinity, by Almira Harvey Hadley (1918)
- A Brief History of Mooresville, Indiana, 1824-1974, by Clara S. Richardson (1974)
- Bass Drugstore
- Bucker Monuments
- Downtown Mooresville Self-Guided Walking Tour
- Early Mooresville, Centennial Souvenir, 1824-1924
- Includes Early Mooresville (1924), a paper written and read by Margaret W. Fogleman, daughter of Samuel Moore, at the Diamond Jubilee of the town of Mooresville, Indiana; and Ye Early Pioneers: Reminiscences of the Settlement of Morgan County (1875), a letter that was written by John Matthews, one of the earliest pioneers in Brown Township, Morgan County, Indiana.
- Farmers State Bank
- Gravity Hill (video by WFYI-Channel 20)
- Gravity Hill (newspaper clippings & handouts)
- Hadley, Paul
- Paul Hadley Bibliography
- Paul Hadley Paintings on Display at MPL (Cauli Le Chat Blog)
- Paul Hadley (MPL “Treasure Trove” Blog)
- Hardin, Becky. The Indiana State Flag: Its Designer (Biography of Paul Hadley with Anthology of his Paintings) (1976).
- Perry, Rachel Berenson. “Paul Hadley and the Indiana Flag.” Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History 15:1 (Indiana Historical Society, Winter 2003): 20-29; “Paul Hadley, Indiana State Flag Designer.” Indiana Magazine (Indiana Dept. of Commerce, Nov. 1977): 24-25; MPL biographical handout.
- Historic Houses of Mooresville
- Huston, Rev. Dr. Frank C.
- Interurban Railway
- Lindley Block
- Methodist Episcopal Church
- Mooresville Around Downtown
- Mooresville Historical Fun Facts
- Mooresville History, by Julie Kyle-Lee
- Mooresville History, by Wanda Potts (1966)
- Mooresville Town Views
- Morgan County Interim Report (Indiana Historic Sites & Structures Inventory), published by the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana
- Newby Elementary School 3rd Grade Q & A
- Old Settlers Picnic, Parade, and Festival
- “Old Settlers” (Folk Song)
- Police Car, Mooresville’s First
- Sanitarium (Mooresville/Comer/Kendrick Hospital)
- Scruggs Dry Goods Store
- Thompson’s Stores
- Waverly Road Covered Bridge
- West Main Street, North Side of
- York & Overton
MPL “TREASURE TROVE” VIDEOS
CLICK HERE to watch the library’s “treasure trove” of local history videos. An example (below) showcases Imperceptible, a local historical book written, edited, and published by the Mooresville High School Class of 2012.
FLASH FROM YOUR PAST
Here’s a “flash from your past,” if you’re a long-time Mooresville resident. We present our local history flashcard series, featuring old photographs in and around Mooresville and northern Morgan County, Indiana. Just click the links below to see each flashcard.
- Flashcard #1: Farmers State Bank
- Flashcard #2: Mooresville’s First Police Car
- Flashcard #3: Day Grocery
- Flashcard #4: Covered Bridge on the Old Waverly Road
- Flashcard #5: Mooresville Sanatarium (i.e., Sanitarium)
- Flashcard #6: Sam Wade
- Flashcard #7: Dr. William L. Thompson, M.D.
- Flashcard #8: Banner Flour Mill
- Flashcard #9: Bolton Sorghum Factory
- Flashcard #10: Comer & Scearce Lumber Company
- Flashcard #11: Indiana Brass & Iron Bed Factory
- Flashcard #12: McCracken House (Restaurant & Hotel)
- Flashcard #13: Allison Grocery
- Flashcard #14: Northside of West Main Street (1960s)
- Flashcard #15: Pure Oil Gasoline Station
- Flashcard #16: Henry Conduitt House (later Comer Sanitarium & Kendrick Hospital)
- Flashcard #17: Burch Grocery
- Flashcard #18: Scruggs Dry Goods Store
- Flashcard #19: Methodist Episcopal (M.E.) Church
- Flashcard #20: Mooresville Public Library
- Flashcard #21: Samuel Moore & Eliza Moore
- Flashcard #22: Old Settlers Picnic #1: Origins
- Flashcard #23: Old Settlers Picnic #2 (Rocking Chair Competition)
- Flashcard #24: Old Settlers Picnic #3: Parade
- Flashcard #25: Indiana State Flag (& Paul Hadley)
- Flashcard #26: Amos Rusie, “the Hoosier Thunderbolt” (all-star professional baseball pitcher)
- Flashcard #27: Mooresville Town Banner (Flag)
- Flashcard #28: Mooresville Academy School
- Flashcard #29: Old Mooresville High School
- Flashcard #30: I.O.O.F. Building
- Flashcard #31: First Christian Church
- Waverly Flashcard #1: Waverly School #1
- Waverly Flashcard #2: Waverly School #2
LOCAL & REGIONAL ARTISTS’ WORKS ON DISPLAY AT MPL
The library has many local and regional Hoosier artists’ paintings and other art work on display. Click here for a list.
We also have “promo trailers” showcasing artwork on display throughout the library. Click the play buttons in the boxes below to start the videos.