Books Should Be Free
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

The Word Hoosier; John Finley Indiana Historical Society Publications, Volume IV, Number 2   By:

Book cover

First Page:







By MRS. SARAH A. WRIGLEY (His Daughter)



During the period of about three quarters of a century in which the State of Indiana and its people have been designated by the word "Hoosier," there has been a large amount of discussion of the origin and meaning of the term, but with a notable lack of any satisfactory result. Some of these discussions have been almost wholly conjectural in character, but others have been more methodical, and of the latter the latest and most exhaustive that of Mr. Meredith Nicholson[1] sums up the results in the statement "The origin of the term 'Hoosier' is not known with certainty." Indeed the statement might properly have been made much broader, for a consideration of the various theories offered leaves the unprejudiced investigator with the feeling that the real solution of the problem has not even been suggested. This lack of satisfactory conclusions, however, may be of some value, for it strongly suggests the probability that the various theorists have made some false assumption of fact, and have thus been thrown on a false scent, at the very beginning of their investigations.

As is natural in such a case, there has been much of assertion of what was merely conjectural, often accompanied by the pioneer's effort to make evidence of his theory by the statement that he was "in Indiana at the time and knows the facts." The acceptance of all such testimony would necessarily lead to the adoption of several conflicting conclusions. In addition to this cause of error, there have crept into the discussion several misstatements of fact that have been commonly adopted, and it is evident that in order to reach any reliable conclusion now, it will be necessary to examine the facts critically and ascertain what are tenable.

The traditional belief in Indiana is that the word was first put in print by John Finley, in his poem "The Hoosiers Nest," and this is noted by Berry Sulgrove, who was certainly as well acquainted with Indiana tradition as any man of his time.[2] This belief is at least probably well founded, for up to the present time no prior use of the word in print has been discovered. This poem attracted much attention at the time, and was unquestionably the chief cause of the widespread adoption of the word in its application to Indiana, for which reasons it becomes a natural starting point in the inquiry.

It is stated by Oliver H. Smith that this poem originally appeared as a New Year's "carriers' address" of the Indianapolis Journal in 1830,[3] and this statement has commonly been followed by other writers, but this is clearly erroneous, as any one may see by inspection of the files of the Journal, for it printed its address in the body of the paper in 1830, and it is a totally different production. After that year it discontinued this practice and issued its addresses on separate sheets, as is commonly done at present. No printed copy of the original publication is in existence, so far as known, but Mr. Finley's daughter Mrs. Sarah Wrigley, former librarian of the Morrison Library, at Richmond, Indiana has a manuscript copy, in the author's handwriting, which fixes the date of publication as Jan. 1, 1833. There is no reason to question this date, although Mr. Finley states in his little volume of poems printed in 1860, that this poem was written in 1830. The poem as it originally appeared was never reprinted in full, so far as is known, and in that form it is entirely unknown to the present generation, although it has been reproduced in several forms, and in two of them by direct authority of the author.[4] The author used his privilege of revising his work, and while he may have improved his poetry, he seriously marred its historical value... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books