The Boneyard

Emory A. Richardson, “Big Rich”, whose home was Evansville since 1918, was a native of Pike County , Indiana, having been born near the little inland village of Union. See Map . He learned his three “R’s” in a rural school near Oakland City, Indiana, and later entered Oakland City College where he pursued courses in literature and public speaking. While there his poetical genius was first revealed . Upon his graduation in 1912 he was chosen class-poet. He immediately began his career as an author and a professional entertainer. To the finest being of his fiber he was a staunch and loyal Hoosier, and his poems contained words of charming simplicity and were full of color, the savor and music of Hoosierdom. The most prominent quality of his poetry was that ever present element of humor and splendid spirit of cheer, hope, and sunshine. The poem which helped most in establishing him as a poet was the little two verse optimistic poem entitled My Alligator Grin On behalf of Indiana Richardson freely and boldly proclaimed for her (most historians fail to fully give her due honor) that Abraham Lincoln was a Hoosier – he having spent fourteen years of his early life, from age 7 to 21, (the period in the making of a life) in Indiana. As as outgrowth of this claim, Richardson produced his outstanding poem entitled, “Lincoln, The Hoosier.” Of February 12th, 1929, the Indiana House of Representatives and the Senate of the 76th General Assembly, in a joint session , met for a Lincoln Day memorial exercise. Richarsdson was given a place on the program. Following the reading of his poem, “Lincoln, the Hoosier” , the join session passed a motion naming him the poet laureate. The vote was unanimous and, remarked the Evansville Courier, “An Evansville man has been chosen to fill the place once held by the most famous of Hoosier poets, James Whitcomb Riley.” Responding to the duties of the State poet laureate Richardson endeavored to “carry on” the vibrant flow of poetry characteristic of his native state. He enjoyed a national reputation as an entertainer, having done lyceum work from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the Gulf north into Canada as far as trains would take him. His favorite motto was, “Let’s trade grins – then be frien’s”.

Lincoln, The Hoosier
by Emory A. Richardson (Big Rich)

Among the hills and valleys
    That God has "chucked" with charm,
And blessed, caressed with nature
    And sweet winds soft and warm,
There's something in the soil
    That wraps around my heart,
In Southern Indiana
    Where Lincoln got his start.

The world has heard of Lincoln,
    His greatness and his worth,
His honesty and judgement,
    His seriousness and mirth.
The fourteen years of struggle
    In Hoosierdom impart
That Southern Indiana
    Is where he got his start.

Those years were in the making
    Of his strong mind and form,
Here's where he learned to battle
    Life's hardships, strife and storm.
'Twas here his family circle,
    Was sadly torn apart,
In Southern Indiana
    Where Lincoln got his start.

Here on a knoll wood covered
    His "angel mother's" grave;
A place of sacred reverence
    Of one so good and brave..
Soon a towering monument,
    A work of modern art,
Will stand in Indiana
    Where Lincoln got his start

The great emancipator
    With Hoosier heart and soul
By open fireplace study
    Acquired the greatest goal.
The sparks and leaping blazes
    Like "Old Glory" unfurled
By virtue of his greatness
    Threw beams around the world.

The atmosphere is fervent
    With mem'ries of his ways
And deeds which were implanted
    That won eternal praise.
One seems to feel his presence
    More piercing than a dart
In Southern Indiana
    Where Lincoln got his start


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