Monday, October 31, 2011

Our Last Ghost Tale of the Season

We at Explore! Southern Indiana are very sorry to see Halloween go as we were having a great time telling ghost stories about Southern Indiana destinations. And just as Halloween night is ending we discovered another ghost story about one of our favorite (okay, every place in Southern Indiana is a favorite) places -- Pioneer Village at Spring Mill State Park.

Of course, we should have figured that any place as old the village which dates back to the early 1800s would have a haunt or two. And so it does. Two haunted locations to be exact according to this article that ran in the Mitchell Tribune and can be found at:

"As you walk the streets of the pioneer village at Spring Mill State Park, you walk back into the past, into the time of your ancestors, and the time of the early pioneer. Many stories are also told of “others” who walk the streets, and they aren’t the type you want to meet in the dark, or for that matter, in the daylight. Another notorious resident of the Mitchell area was the outlaw Sam Bass. Bass was raised by members of the Sheeks family of nearby Mitchell, and the log cabin they lived in is the first cabin at the entrance of the village. Now used as, and often called, the loom house, this was the original Sheeks home.

Ghosts are associated with the Sheeks house in local lore. Like others in the park, the Sheeks house was moved into the village during the restoration. It originally stood outside the present park area, and it was there that the infamous outlaw was reared by his relatives.

According to legend, a year before Bass was shot down in Texas, he returned to the home to repay his relatives for caring for him as a child. He wanted to show them his gratitude by giving them money — money which he obtained from some of his bank-robbing sprees — but his relatives refused to have anything to do with the stolen loot.

Bass supposedly buried the money somewhere in Lawrence County and some local residents believe the site could be in Spring Mill. It is said, by some, that ghosts from Bass’ past search the park at night trying to find the buried treasure. There are many ghostly stories concerning the park; some have been embellished over the years, while others seem to have remained nearly the same from telling to telling. Many have claimed to have heard — or seen — the mysteries of the park.

The Granny White House and the mill are only two locations included in the ghostly tales; other haunting stories abound about the village as well.

Anyone with a ghost tale or two should let us know so we can use it next year.... or maybe even sooner if we can't resist.

Capitol Christmas Tree Coming To Town

2011 Capitol Christmas Tree to Visit Santa Claus, Indiana

The 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree will stop in Santa Claus, Indiana, during its cross-country journey from California to Washington, D.C. The town of Santa Claus will welcome the Capitol Christmas Tree on Monday, November 21, in the Kringle Place Shopping Center. Details about the arrival and events planned will be announced closer to that date.

The tree’s tour will begin on November 8 and travel through California for one week. The Capitol Christmas Tree will then journey across the country from November 15-28. Arriving in Santa Claus from Ft Leonard Wood, Missouri, the tree will next travel to Cherokee, North Carolina. The tree will reach its final destination, Washington, D.C., on Monday, November 28.

Since 1970, it has become an honor for one of the National Forests to be asked to provide the Capitol Tree. The appointed National Forest, in turn, engages help from diverse partners throughout its respective state. The opportunity to provide the Capitol Christmas Tree becomes a state-wide celebration and civic event.

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, the local site of the National Park Service, will help welcome the 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree to the area. Superintendent Kendell Thompson says, “We are excited to be a part of this national tradition. The Lincolns may not have had a Christmas tree when they lived in Indiana, but I think Abe would have appreciated this national symbol.”

America’s Christmas Hometown: Santa Claus, Indiana, will host a celebration of family fun on the first three weekends of December. Events include a traditional Christmas Dinner with Santa; “Santa Claus Land of Lights,” a 1.2-mile driving journey through Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort; Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire and much more.

For more information about the Santa Claus Christmas Celebration or a schedule of events, call (888) 444-9252 or visit

Also, find Santa Claus, Indiana, on the Visitor Bureau’s free app for iPhones and Androids by searching “Holiday World & More!” and on any mobile device at

Embrace Your Inner Thespian

Auditions for BETWEEN FRIENDS This Tuesday and Thursday 

The Lincoln Amphitheatre is seeking 6 men and 2 women to complete the roles for BETWEEN FRIENDS. Interested parties do not need to set up an appointment. Auditions will include readings from the script. 

When & Where:
Lincoln City, Indiana: Heritage Hills High School Auditorium, 3644 E. CR 1600 N., Tuesday, November 1 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. CDT.
Evansville, Indiana: Evansville Civic Theatre, 717 North Fulton Ave., Thursday, November 3 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. CDT.

Script selections are available on the Lincoln Amphitheatre’s website at

Patoka Lake Wine Cruise Schedule Posted for 2012



June 8, Friday 7pm-9pm
June 22, Friday 7pm-9pm
August 10, Friday7pm-9pm
August 24, Friday 7pm-9pm
September 8, Saturday 2pm-4pm
September 15, Saturday 2pm-4pm
September 22, Saturday 2pm-4pm
September 29, Saturday 2pm-4pm
October 6, Saturday 2pm-4pm
October 13, Saturday 2pm-4pm
October 20, Saturday 2pm-4pm
October 27, Saturday 2pm-4pm

Please contact Harvey Edwards or Stephen Bartels to sign up for your date(s) 
Harvey ext 107
Stephen ext 103

We have just completed our wine cruises for the 2011 season on Patoka Lake.  The response was so over whelming this year we will be adding more wine cruises in September and October. We are inviting all of the wineries to come back and join us for the 2012 wine cruises.  

Please contact us with the dates that might work for your winery.  Our goal is to get the dates out early so you would have the dates for your events calendar.  We are now adding the dates to our brochure, events calendar, and boat shows.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Last Hanging Tree

"That’s the last of the Archer trees,” Marie Hawkins tells me as we stand before the 1876 former Martin County Courthouse, now the home of the Martin County Historical Society and Museum in Shoals Indiana, where a tall spindly tree rises toward the sky.

No, it’s not a new variety of tree I quickly learn. Instead, it’s the one  surviving trees where the Archer Gang were hanged back in the 1880s.

The Archers were a bad lot indeed, rampaging through Orange, Martin and Dubois Counties in Southern Indiana. But they made their home in what is now the Lost River Township in Martin County next to the county line. A family gang, members including Thomas Sr., Sam, John, Martin and young Martin Jr., along with relatives like first cousin Sam Marley, nephew Kinder Smith and John Lynch who married into this enterprising criminal family. 

They were not only thieves but they were mean as well.

According to an article in the Olean Democrat (Olean, New York) Dec 31, 1885 posted on the Website, Sheriff John A. Padgett of Martin County arrived in Vincennes seeking John B. Archer, wanted for the murder of John Bunch, a farmer of that county, who disappeared four years ago.

“The crime was fastened upon Archer by the recent confession of his deserted wife,” the article continued, “who said that Archer murdered Bunch for his money, boiled the flesh of the body in a boiler and buried the bones. Padgett found Archer on a farm five miles south of here. Archer and two companions barricaded themselves in a house and threatened to shoot the officer. Padgett thereupon returned here for re-enforcements and has got a posse of fifteen men to go out with him and capture Archer dead or alive.”

The case garnered such attention that even the New York Times wrote about it in 1886.  By then, a mob had broken into the Martin County Jail and lynched three of the Martin gang.

Samuel Archer was sentenced to be hanged for his crimes and before dying, according to the Times, he confessed, blaming his family’s evil on his Uncle Martin Archer who, Sam said, seemed to enjoy killing people.

But there’s not only hangings to this story but a generational family feud. Charles Archer was acquitted of killing Miss Annabel Stanfield in Martin County. He claimed she stole his revolver and then shot herself the next day because he had ruined her and would not marry her. Physicians testified that it would have been impossible for her to have done this in the way Archer explained and a feud broke out between the Standfields and Archers that would result in more deaths over the years and in 1922 the Olean Evening Times reported that the families still didn’t get along.

And though we haven’t heard of a ghost haunting this old tree where Sam Archer met his end in 1886, it’s not hard to imagine his spirit might linger on a cold Halloween night.

The museum is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM, the museum is closed in the winter months. 

For more information: 812-247-1133 or

So Cold the River

Read the article about Michael Koryta's thrilling novel, "So Cold the River," about French Lick, Pluto Water and West Baden Springs Resort and then think about visiting in the few days before Halloween:

Spooky Times in Orange County


Spook’ N Splash Weekends (French Lick)

Phone: 1-877-936-FUNN (3866) www.bigsplashadventure.comWeekends in October: Bring your costumes, you might win a prize. Help find Silverbeard’s treasure too! Halloween activities, contests, and safe Trick-or-Treating are just the beginning.

Legend of the Lost Train (French Lick)

5:30 pm* & 7:30 pm
Phone: 1-800-74-TRAINwww.indianarailwaymuseum.orgStart your adventure at the Monon Train Station. Board the trail (if you dare) for a ghostly ride through the forest filled with goblins and into the haunted Burton Tunnel. *Friday Oct. 21 & 28, "kid-friendly" Ghost Train at 5:30 p.m. ** Advance Purchase is STRONGLY recommended. Trains SELLOUT early, so if you want to be certain to have a seat, please click on website above for information on ordering online.

"Psycho-Path" at Sleeping Bear Retreat (French Lick)

Dark till 11:00 pm
Phone: the most fun you’ll ever have being chased by monsters and demons. $10.00 per head. Time: Dark till 11:00 pm every Friday and Saturday in Oct. Where: 2773 S. Co. Rd. 1000 W., French Lick, IN 47432 Call: 812-936-2354 for information. All Sleeping Bear Retreat guests staying in a teepee for 2 or more nights in October will receive 4 free tickets to Psycho~Path! Enter at your own risk. Not responsible for accidents, lost limbs, beheadings, or abductions to the underworld.

Orange County HomeGrown Farmers Market (Orleans)

9:00 am- 12:00 pm
Phone: 812-653-1047www.orangecountyhomegrown.orgLocally grown produce, baked goods, locally handcrafted items, Buck-a-Book trailer, Jammer Tent, Master Gardener, fun family events. Sponsored by Orange County HomeGrown.