The Sunday Courier and Press, September 7, 1941
Article was typed as it was worded in the newspaper.
When Hard Cider and Log Cabin Elected A President--Evansville Played Part in Campaign
Bronze Tablet to Tell About It
Rockport, Ind., Sept. 6--(Special)--Evansville's part in the "wildest, wooziest" presidential campaign in American history--that's what George Honig is getting ready in his studio here to record in bronze.
That election brought General William Henry Harrison, candidate for the presidency, to Evansville to visit General Robert M. Evans who had been on his staff in the Battle of Tippecanoe.
He came for more than a visit, though. He came to swing Evansville's vote to the Whig Party and himself. And Evans, the man for whom Evansville was named, was all set to help lead the bandwagon.
Sculptor Honig has been doing a lot of reading up on that visit with a view to commemorating the site on which Evans' house stood.
"It was that 'log cabin hard cider battle of 1840," he explained. When General Harrison paraded down Evansville's Main Street arm in arm with General Evans."
"Evansville folks were at a tremendous pitch of election enthusiasm. They'd hung the main streets with flags and bunting in honor of General Harrison.
"As soon as they heard he's arrived at Evan's house, the citizens marched down to Riverside and Walnut where Evan's house stood and cheered and shouted and demanded speeches."
At this point in the story Honig slows up, like a moving picture suddenly stopped and held as a tableau without motion. "That," he says, "is my choice for the scene the bronze ought to portray."
But the election furor didn't stop there. Harrison made a resounding speech. What about isn't easy to guess as the men who write history point out that the Whigs had no issue, no logic; no program.
They were waging a campaign of "Noise, Numbers and Nonsense," since they knew it wouldn't be smart to come out and oppose the Democratic doctrine of non-interference with slavery, and they couldn't find any other strong, substantial plank to nail onto their platform.
"They just sang, shouted and paraded to victory," Honig points out. "And they were smart enough to make capital out of a smear campaign some congressman started about Harrison being born in a log cabin.
"Tacked on to this were sneers about the general's favorite drink being hard cider.
"That gave the Whigs and Harrison just what they wanted--perfect symbols for a back-to-the-people campaign
"Probably on that speech from the front porch of Evans' house, Harrison handed Evansville folks a lot of laughs and a few wholesome generalities.
"Then the bands of three volunteer companies veterans of 1811 and 1812 struck up and escorted the two generals arm in arm down Evansville's Main Street.
In Honig's mind the bronze is practically cast, so vividly does he see that front porch scene. And the Evansville Society of Fine Arts and History has a place in their collective mind's eye where it ought to be placed.
That's right on the grounds of the Shriner's Hadi Temple at Riverside and Walnut. For that is the exact spot where the man who gave Evansville its name built his house.
More ancient than all this history, though, is the hitch that stands in the way. Money. Who's going to pay for it?
The Society of Fine Arts and History hasn't got the money. The Shriners say they are willing to furnish the space for the bronze and to help pay for it, if other civic bodies will help, too.
Honig's immediate job is to find what other groups in Evansville are interested in marking those sites which tell the story of Evansville in the days when Hugh McGary Jr., plotted out the town of McGary's Ferry and General Robert Evans came along with the cash he needed to fulfill his dream of making the town the seat of Warrick County, and got the town named in his honor. Evans got it designated as the county seat, too, when Warrick was split into three and Vanderburgh and Spencer Counties were formed.
Meanwhile Rockport's sculptor is busy sketching, designing, modeling in plaster and making trips to the foundry where his designs for other plaques on order are cast into bronze.
Those bronzes tell a story, too. Take the one that was unveiled at the Rescue Mission camp--Camp Reveal--in May. In the corner of the tablet is pictured the old, hand-made wooden farm reaper which has stood for years in the woods at the camp.
That reaper has been used out there as a place to kneel and pray. An elemental "priedieu"--as the French aptly call the trick little individual kneeling benches they have--is what it is, even though it's complete with the wheels and shaft of the farm days.
Then there's the "Sunshine Ladder" which makes the center section of the large bronze tablet made by Honig and recently hung in the lobby of the Shriner's Hadi Temple, Evansville.
Walking up the "sunshine ladder" is a little boy on crutches assisted by a Shriner. At the top is a doorway across which is bannered "Health, happiness and well-being." The tablet honors the gifts made by local Shriners to their national crusade in aid of crippled children.
Still in the design stage, Honig has a bronze tablet which will be dedicated to the late William Wimberg by the dentists of Evansville, in honor of Wimberg's having founded the first free dental clinic of Evansville.
In Owensboro, Ky., is soon to be hung a bronze tablet Honig has just completed at the order of Charles R. Cox. It says: "Dedicated to the memory of my mother, Sophoronia Collins Cox and my father, Obed M. Cox and my wife Ella Tippin Cox and heirs."
There's the tablet recently mounted on Strouse and Brothers store which marks the spot where Evansville's first Presbyterian Meeting House was erected in 1831. As Honig has recorded in bronze, it was erected at a cost of all of $1300, at a time when Evansville's population numbered 300. It was called "The Little Church on the Hill."
Honig has long been known in the Tri-State for his bronzes. In Indiana you'll find them in Wunderlick, Shelbyville and Greencastle, as will as in Evansville at the Coliseum, at the Museum of Fine Arts and History, at the Hadi Temple, the Joe Cook Memorial and at other sites of unique interest.
His outstanding work in Kentucky is that of the tablets designed and executed by him to commemorate the trail blazed by those Kentucky pioneers who were known as the Transylvania Company. You'll find them at the Henderson Court House.
You can't speak of George Honig without mentioning the Lincoln Pioneer Village here at Rockport. But Honig doesn't call what he did in research, in rousing public support for this great project. In designing the village and supervising carpenters and craftsmen work.
"Lincolniana has always been my hobby," he says. "For 26 years I've been gathering facts and anecdotes about Lincoln's life in this part of Indiana. Now I've begunin my spare time to assemble it inow a book with water-color illustrations. I don't claim to be a writer--my field is art and sculpture--but the material is all here and it ought to be put down on paper."
You'd be amazed if you could see Honig "putting it on paper." He works at a typewriter with a tremendous fund of energy and the most unique system in the world.
His right forefinger does all the work, even to tapping the space bar. A slow method you might think, but that forefinger flashes over the keyboard with such lightning rapidity that the man behind it finds it necessary to anchor himself to something while writing.
He hangs on to some good solid object--such as a radiator pipe--with his left hand while his right one does the work.