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Moment of Indiana History

George Ade

So far as I can testify, nothing much happened in Indiana previous to 1870. The world at that time was all prairie and cornfields, except for the white houses of the county seat and a dark line of timber against the horizon….”

Such were George Ade‘s recollections of his youth in Newton County, a rural beginning that would serve as a touchstone in the writer’s career. Ade was born in 1866 to pioneer parents who settled near Kentland only twenty years after the first white child was born there. Graduating from Purdue in 1887, Ade worked as a journalist in Lafayette before heading to Chicago , where he wrote a long-running column for the Chicago Morning News–later the Chicago Record.

Ade witnessed the era’s extraordinary demographic and ecological shift from an agrarian to an industrial-based economy. It is as a humorist that Ade is best remembered, volumes such as People You Know and Knocking the Neighbors were filled with portraits of the so-called “little man” trying to cope in a world of swiftly changing values. Ade’s irreverent humor translated well into the stage and screen, and more than 100 of his scripts were turned into motion pictures. Ade’s work also includes travelogues along with essays on environmental issues. The author made his own retreat in 1902. He bought a 417-acre farm near Brook, Indiana and built his Tudor style estate Hazelden, where he hosted many of the day’s political and cultural luminaries.

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