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I'm the Local Gal in Richmond, Indiana, exploring my hometown and heart. I write about all thing local, sometimes global. It's a small world after all.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Richmond Indiana's "Local Ladies"

A Local Lady Picture: Madonna of the Trail 
In my first reflective post on living in Richmond, Indiana, I included a photo of the Madonna of the Trail. The Madonna is a larger than life sculpture located at the entrance to Glen Miller Park. She is one of twelve "madonnas" in the United States. According to wikipedia, the sculpture was designed by August Leimbach and founded by the Daughters of the American Revolution in order to honor and remember the strength and courage of the women who traveled along the National Trails Old Road to establish their homes in the unfamilar terrain of the western United States.

Arlene B. Nichols Moss, chairwoman of the DAR committee in the 1920's was inspired to commission the Madonna of the Trail after seeing a sculpture in Portland, Oregon of Sacagawea, a Shoshone guide who aided Lewis and Clark in their famed expedition.



That inspirational sculpture (which you should click here to see (because it's beautiful!)) was designed by American sculptor Alice Cooper. She still stands in Washington Park, Portland. 

Leimbach wrote about his inspiration in designing the Madonna sculptures:

"When I was a schoolboy in the old country, the American History of the pioneer days made a deep impression on me. I thought often of those who had left the old home and all that was dear to them and had come to this country to find a field for their ambition...

When I came to America, I often saw these people of the pioneer type, strong and brave and always ready to protect themselves against any danger. Asked to make a sketch model for a monument of a woman of pioneer days, I was inspired by my own impression of these people I had met, and the Madonna of the Trail is the result."  (Source:Wikipedia)


Perhaps because Richmond's Madonna is part of a National series of sculptures and because of her location visible to Main Street traffic, she is the most well known sculptural representation of a woman in our city. Although women are often under represented in monuments on a large scale, there are more such sculptures right here in Richmond, Indiana. 

A Local Lady Picture: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
 St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is considered the patron saint of all American catholic schools. Elizabeth is  memorialized in front of Seton Catholic School on the west side of town.  Elizabeth was also a pioneer of sorts. She established the first free catholic school and the first congregation of religious sisters in the United States. At least six existing congregations in the United States trace their root's to Elizabeth's  Sister's of Charity. St. Elizabeth was also the first native born American to be canonized.



A Local Lady: Mary Dyer
Another of Richmond's Local Ladies is located on Earlham College Campus. Nestled in the cool shade of trees at the entrance to Stout Meetinghouse is a monument designed by Sylvia Shaw Judson. Mary Dyer lived in the early 1600's, before Elizabeth Seton (1774-1821), and well before pioneer women made their journey west. Mary Dyer was one of the Boston Martyrs to die for her belief in religious freedom, in particular for her belief that God could communicate with any individual not only the appointed clergy. This faith ran against what was accepted by the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay Colony as religious truth and law. Mary could have lived her life and chosen to remain silent, or at least to remain banished from her home in Massachusetts...

"but her conscience led her to return to Massachusetts in April 1660 to "desire the repeal of that wicked law against God's people and offer up her life there." 
Despite the pleas of her husband and family, she refused to repent, and was again convicted and sentenced to death" 
(Source:Wikipedia)

Mary Dyer's hanging marked the end of Puritan theocracy. Her brave death and refusal to recant was not in vain. 

The Dyer Sculpture is also a part of a series. Two others exist one in front of the Massachusetts States House and the other at the Friends Center in Philly. It is appropriate that Mary Dyer and Anne Hutchinson, her spiritual mentor are remembered by the existence of an herbal garden in Portsmouth, Rhode Island created by their shared descendant Michael Steven Ford.

I am happy to call Richmond, Indiana home, and I'm happy to share my home with three very model "local ladies". 

<3 Your Local Gal



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