MUSEUM CORNER April 2019
Local Face Graces “Miss Indiana” Statue
By Becky Buher, Guest Columnist—Published in Times Mail newspaper April 3, 2019
People daily go by the west side of the Lawrence County courthouse where a beautiful statue named “Miss Indiana” is located. Who was the inspiration for the statue’s face, and who carved the statue?
The woman whose face can still be seen in the statue was Mayme Hubbard. She was born in 1899. Her parents were Samuel and Sallie Foster Hubbard. She went to school in Tunnelton, but in the 1920s, she lived with her mother in Bedford in a house on 17th Street and worked for Imperial Stone Company.
Decades later in 1982, a Times-Mail newspaper reporter, G. Walker Parkes, interviewed her about the statue. She recalled, “I was payroll clerk for Imperial. The company was in the vicinity of Fifth and J Streets.” In 1982, unused railroad tracks still existed that formerly went to the old mill.
In Parkes’ story, he said Mayme’s daily walk to work led her along J Street where she passed by the open shed of stonecarver, Harry Easton. One day Easton asked Mayme to stop as he was having difficulty shaping the neck of a statue. Easton was a master carver who owned the Easton Studio.
Mayme continued, “His work was there close to the office. It must have been right on J Street. He asked me to come in. He had me turn several times and turn in different directions. Then he had a chart or sketch on which he made marks. He stopped me three or four times as I walked to work, and he always had the chart where he put more marks. His sketchings were at his right side with the slab of stone on which he worked beside him on the left.”
Life goes on—In 1923, Mayme Hubbard married Walter Erwin Smith, whom she had met while working at the limestone company office. The couple later had two children, one son died in infancy. Their other son, Walter Eugene Smith (now deceased) used to say the bone structure on the statue and his mother’s features were remarkably similar, and he had no doubt, the statue’s face was that of his mother.
Mayme thought the “Miss Indiana” statue had her neck, but back in the 1920s when Harry Easton was making calculations, she did not know what his project was.
“Miss Indiana” became part of the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers monument. The Moses Dunn estate had provided $10,000 for a monument and the community raised matching funds. In the 1920s, the limestone industry was booming, and projects were being sold throughout the United States.
By May 1922, a contract was let to stone carver Charles Morton Dodd, to create the Moses Dunn Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers monument. Dodd and Easton both worked on this project.
When completed, a train brought the statue along J Street close to the courthouse. A derrick was built to take it from the train to the site. “Miss Indiana” was lifted to the top of the monument in November 1923, and dedicated in January 1924.
Ninety-five years later, “Miss Indiana” which immortalized Mayme’s face in stone, is standing proudly at 32 feet above the ground and weighing a mere 12 tons.
Mayme Hubbard Smith died Dec. 5, 1986. Her husband had preceded her in death. Her family had lived for decades at 1614 13th Street. She was a homemaker and a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, the Altar Society, St. Agnes Guild and was a “pink lady” at Dunn Memorial Hospital. No mention was recorded in her obituary of her contribution as the face of “Miss Indiana.”
This account is just one of the stories that can be found in the museum’s current Women in History exhibit. Another local woman represented in the exhibit spent six weeks near Washington, D. C., at a Civil War camp and saw President Abraham Lincoln review the troops. She and her sister-in-law attended the last White House reception given by the President and Mrs. Lincoln. Another, who came by wagon to Lawrence County in 1828, lived to be 100 years old. The rest of the women’s stories and some of their personal items can be seen in the gallery exhibit.
Source: G. Walker Parkes, Times-Mail newspaper, Sept. 12, 1982, museum records.