Historical Biographies Timeline

  • December 13, 1747
  • December 24, 1794
  • June 9, 1809
  • August 14, 1980
  • December 30, 1840
  • April 15, 1841
  • December 28, 1842
  • August 7, 1843
  • April 25, 1853
  • November 5, 1855
  • April 22, 1857
  • May 1, 1857
  • March 26, 1863
  • November 22, 1864
  • July 6, 1867
  • January 16, 1869
  • October 27, 1869
  • November 11, 1869
  • August 27, 1871
  • June 29, 1872
  • September 26, 1872
  • January 30, 1873
  • February 5, 1879
  • June 28, 1882
  • October 16, 1887
  • September 15, 1892
  • February 11, 1894
  • January 7, 1900
  • March 14, 1902
  • November 25, 1902
  • September 22, 1904
  • March 4, 1907
  • August 11, 1908
  • June 27, 1927
  • November 11, 1928
  • August 12, 1931
  • Francis Vigo (Dec 13, 1747 — Mar 22, 1836)

    Francis Vigo was an Italian settler who assisted George Rogers Clark in his conquest of the Old Northwest. Vigo County is named for him.
  • Chauncey Rose (Dec 24, 1794 – Aug 13, 1877)

    Chauncey Rose was a great philanthropist and local booster. His money and drive enabled the building of a free dispensery and what would become Rose-Hulman
  • Colonel Richard Thompson (June 9, 1809 – Feb 9, 1900)

    Richard Thompson was a prominent local politician who eventually served as Secretary of the Navy.
  • Clara Fairbanks (Aug 14, 1840 – Feb 9, 1911)

    Clara Fairbanks was a wealthy philanthropist with a special interest in women and their healthcare. Her husband, Crawford Fairbanks, created the Clara Fairbanks Old Ladies Home as a memorial.
  • James Farrington Gookins (Dec 30, 1840 – May 23, 1904)

    James Farrington Gookins was an artist who created in many different mediums. He is probably most famous for helping design the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Demas Deming Jr. (April 4, 1841 – Mar 7, 1922)

    Son of the famed Deming family, Demas Deming Jr. was a prominent philanthropist. He helped create Deming Park, named for his father, and provided money to create Ohio Boulevard.
  • William Wiley (Dec 28, 1842 – March 24, 1927)

    William Wiley is considered the father of Terre Haute schools. Eventually Wiley High School would be named for him.
  • Adolph Herz (Aug 7, 1843 – March 20, 1901)

    Adolph Herz was a local merchant who founded the Herz Department Store in downtown Terre Haute.
  • Crawford Fairbanks (April 25, 1853 – May 28, 1924)

    A member of the famed Fairbanks family, Crawford owned several different enterprises including the Tribune. He was also a great philanthropist who donated land for Fairbanks Park. He also founded the city's first public library named after his mother Emmeline Fairbanks
  • Eugene V. Debs

    Arguably Terre Haute's most famous native son, Eugene V. Debs was a leader for the common man. He first became famous for leading the railway workers during the infamous Pullman Strike. He then ran as the Socialist Party candidiate for President several times and recieved six percent of the vote in 1912.
  • Paul Dresser (April 22, 1857 – Jan 31, 1906)

    One of the most popular producers of pop music from the late 19th century, Paul Dresser would achieve lasting fame as the composer of Indiana's State Song: "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away."
  • Henry C. Steeg (May 1, 1857 – Nov 21, 1911)

    Henry C. Steeg was Terre Haute's mayor at the turn of the century and helped create Terre Haute's park system.
  • Amalia Kussner (March 26, 1863 – May 31, 1932)

    Amalia Kussner was a world famous artist who specialized in miniature portraits often painted on rejected piano keys or tiles.
  • Chapman J. Root (Nov 22,1864 – Nov 20, 1945)

    Chapman J. Root was a local businessman who's glass company created the iconic Coca-Cola bottle.
  • Joseph Keaton (July 6, 1867 – Jan 13, 1946)

    Keaton was Vaudeville preformer who's "man with a table" act was widely popular. His son, Buster Keaton, would go on to new heights as one of the silent film era's top stars.
  • Alice Fisher (Jan 16, 1869 – June 27, 1947)

    Alice Fisher was a popular and famous actress who performed all over the world including Broadway.
  • Janet Scudder (Oct 27, 1869 – June 9, 1940)

    A famous sculptor, Janet Scudder was especially known for her fountains and creating Indiana's Centennial medallion.
  • Caroline Peddle Ball (Nov 11, 1869 – Oct 1, 1938)

    Caroline Peddle Ball was a successful sculptor whose works were exhibited around the country.
  • Theodore Dreiser (Aug 27, 1871 – Dec 28, 1945)

    Theodore Dreiser was a great American writer. His novels include "Sister Carrie" and "An American Tragedy". A Nobel Prize winner, Dresier's novels focused on the hardships of modern life, especially for those at the bottom of society. His characters also often lacked a certain moral fiber.
  • Dr. Frank Wiedmann (June 29, 1872 – Dec 24, 1961)

    Dr. Frank Wiedman was a medical figure who pioneered the use of x-rays in the United States and preformed the first Caesarian section in the state.
  • Max Ehrmann (Sept 26, 1872 – Sept 9, 1945)

    Max Ehrmann was a beloved poet whose most famous works, including "a Prayer" and "Desiderata" are still read and enjoyed by multitudes of people today.
  • Rose Melville (Jan 30, 1873 – Oct 8, 1946)

    Rose Melville was a famous actress of stage and screen a hundred years ago. She played her most famous role, "Sis Hopkins", thousands of times
  • Bertha Pratt King (Feb 5, 1879 – Jan 16, 1962

    Bertha Pratt King was leading suffragette and teacher in the late 19th century. She also helped found the Forerunners Club.
  • Valeska Surratt (June 28, 1882 – July 2, 1962)

    Valeska Suratt was a silent film actress known for her "vamp" roles.
  • Charles T. Hyte (Oct 16, 1887 – May 8, 1941)

    Charles T. Hyte was the principal of the Booker T. Washington School and a leader of the local African-American Community. The Hyte Community Center is named for him and continues his work.
  • Vernon R. McMIllan (Sept 15, 1892 – Dec 1, 1968)

    Vernon R. McMillan served as Terre Haute's mayor during the 1950's and also helped to invent the football helmet safeguard.
  • Fannie Blumberg (Feb 11, 1894 – July 9, 1964)

    Fannie Blumberg was a famous artist known for her paintngs of nature and people. She was also a famous children's book author who's work included "Rowena, Teena, Tot" and "The Last Circus."
  • Ernestine Myers Morrissey (Jan 7, 1900 – June 29, 1991)

    Ernestine Morrissey was a dancer who performed in the Ziegfield Follies and toured around the country. Later she opened a dance studio in Terre Haute and taught generations of children how to dance.
  • Kenneth Martin (March 14, 1902 – Oct 1, 1999)

    For several decades, Kenneth Martin and photography were synonymous in Vigo County. At almost every event, Martin's camera was there to capture the action.
  • Katherine Hamilton (Nov 25, 1902 – May 3, 1961)

    Katherine Hamilton was an early advocate for mental health patients. The Hamilton center is named for her.
  • Ellen Church (September 22, 1904 – August 22, 1965)

    Ellen Church was the first female stewardess for any airline. She won seven bronze stars for saving the lives of wounded soldiers during World War 2. Finally she was the administrator of Union Hospital.
  • Gilbert Wilson (March 4, 1907 – Jan 16, 1991)

    Gilbert Wilson was a prominent artist who specialized in murals. His work often reflected his passion for social justice
  • Herman A Moench (Aug 11, 1908 – May 22, 1990)

    Herman Moench was noted for his devotion to Rose-Hulman. He served the college for almost sixty years.
  • Pete Chalos (June 27, 1927 – June 4, 2006)

    Pete Chalos was mayor of Terre Haute from 1980 to 1996 where he assisted the city in improving services, the economy, and its reputation.
  • Cynthia Shepard Perry (Nov 11, 1928)

    Cynthia Shepherd Perry was one of the first African-American women to serve as an ambassador from the United States. She served as ambassador to both Burundi and Sierra Leone.
  • Charles Abrell (Aug 12, 1931 – June 10, 1951)

    By Dr. Dipa Sarkar Cpl. Charles Abrell lived on this earth for only 19 years, but he left a memorable legacy for his remarkable valor, self-sacrifice, leadership and patriotism. He came from a very proud military family where his father served as a career man in the Navy and his older brother served five years […]


Dr. Dipa Sarkar, Historian Emerita

Dipa Sarkar, M.D., was born in a small village outside of Calcutta (Kolkata), India in 1931. She completed her undergraduate studies at Bethune College, Calcutta and finished her medical degree at the Calcutta Medical College. She began her career as a doctor as a gynecologist delivering more than 600 babies. After her marriage to Anil K. Sarkar, M.D., she changed her practice to pathology, specializing in cancer research.

Dr. Sarkar and her husband, Dr. Anil Sarkar, finished their residency in pathology in the United States, and moved to Terre Haute, Indiana in 1969. Dr. Dipa Sarkar worked as a pathologist in Union Hospital and in Clay County and Sullivan Hospitals. While working, she also taught medical and medical technology students at Indiana State University. She helped establish the Planned Parenthood clinic in Terre Haute. She retired from medical practice in 1990.

Working for the people and helping those in need became Dr. Dipa Sarkar’s passion after retirement. She was the First President of India Association of Terre Haute, and served as a volunteer and as a board member with Life Line, CODA (Council on Domestic Abuse), the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Swope Art Museum, the Vigo County Public Library, (where she taught English to foreign students) and with Catholic Charities (where she worked as a volunteer in the soup kitchen and taught the children about cleanliness and nutrition.)

Dr. Dipa Sarkar received a letter of appreciation for her work from President Bill Clinton in 1996. She was also awarded the first Aspire Higher Award given by Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in recognition of her dedication to volunteer work. Dr. Dipa Sarkar has one daughter, Rumu Sarkar, PhD, a lawyer in Washington D. C.

As a volunteer for the Vigo County Historical Museum, Dr. Dipa Sarkar wrote many biographical articles of important people of the Terre Haute area and other articles of general interest that were published in the local newspaper, the Terre Haute Tribune Star.

Arts Illiana

Sherri Wright contributed several articles to Spectrum (issues 34 and 35 respectively) detailing 200 years of “Historic Hautians” for Indiana’s Bicentennial. This grouping of biographies features prominent citizens of Terre Haute’s past as well as lesser known names who left a large footprint on Terre Haute’s, and the Wabash Valley’s, history. Spectrum is a quarterly publication published by Arts Illiana: the Arts Council of the Wabash Valley.

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