James Whitcomb Riley, The Hoosier Poet

“When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck.” We know you’ve heard that saying before. Did you know that is a quote from James Whitcomb Riley, know as The Hoosier Poet? Riley was born in 1849 in Greenfield, Indiana.  His home is preserved and is open for tours.

Riley’s birthplace in Greenfield

Front door signage

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riley was noted for his down home use of dialect that epitomized rural Indiana. He first wrote under a pen name (farmer Benj. F. Johnson, of Boone) for newspapers in Anderson and Indianapolis. As a boy Riley worked as an assistant to traveling patent-medicine hucksters.

Historic Marker outside the home

Riley is famous for his remarkable volume of poems. He wrote and published over 1000 verses. His most popular are “Little Orphant Annie”, “The Raggedy Man,” “Our Hired Girl,” “A Barefoot Boy,” “The Bumblebee,” “Granny,” and “When the Frost Is on the Punkin.” Many of his poems were aimed at children as well as adults.

Have a seat with Mr. Riley, he might share a poem with you!

Riley’s birthplace and the next door museum provide an most enjoyable attraction in Greenfield. Located on the historic National Road (US 40) the home is east of Indianapolis.

 

Visit Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis

Infamous bank robber John Dillinger's family marker

Infamous bank robber John Dillinger’s family marker

Crown Hill Cemetery is on the near Northwest side of Indianapolis. It was first created as a cemetery during the Civil War, and eventually two different National Cemetery areas were established. The grounds are beautiful and host many visitors all year long.

The facility is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the burial site of a President (Benjamin Harrison) and a notorious bank robber (John Dillinger). Other notable burials include poet James Whitcomb Riley, Col. Eli Lilly, three U.S Vice Presidents, 14 U. S. Senators and 11 Indiana Governors. The cemetery grounds are noted for the beauty and solitude that offer visitors a place to run, walk, bike or even have a picnic.

View from James Whitcomb Riley's grave: Indy skyline

View from James Whitcomb Riley’s grave: Indy skyline

National Cemetery, Union Soldiers

National Cemetery, Union Soldiers

Oliver Morton, Indiana Governor during the Civil War

Oliver Morton, Indiana Governor during the Civil War

The Gothic Chapel

The Gothic Chapel