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Picture of AuthorLouis Leon Ludlow

Hoosier Connection: Louis Leon Ludlow was born and raised in Fayette County, Indiana, in 1873. He was a Congressman and a political writer for several Indianapolis newspapers. Ludlow wrote a memoir and a novel about growing up in Indiana, as well as several books and novels about politics.

Works Discussed: In the Heart of Hoosierland, From Cornfield to Press Gallery

Louis Ludlow was born in his parents’ log cabin in Fayette County, near Connersville, Indiana, in 1873, and he lived and worked on the family farm until he was nineteen. In a speech made to the Indianapolis Press Club much later in life, Ludlow declared that he had been raised in a part of Indiana "where the wilderness was still more a fact than a memory" (Down on the Farm, n.p.).

Ludlow landed his first job at the Indianapolis Sun. He worked for a succession of Indianapolis papers for nine years before becoming a Washington correspondent. During his years in the press gallery, Ludlow observed and was appalled by the actions of many congressmen. Disgusted by their behavior, he decided to run for Congress. To the surprise of Ludlow and many others, he won the election by a large margin. Ludlow was the first press correspondent to take a seat in Congress. For the next twenty years, Ludlow strived to be the kind of congressman he thought the country needed.

Ludlow never forgot his Indiana roots. He fashioned the characters in his novel, In the Heart of Hoosierland, after people and occurrences from his childhood and made the character of his political satire, Senator Solomon Spiffledink, a Hoosier. He also published a memoir, From Cornfield to Press Gallery, about his rise from backwoods Indiana native to Washington correspondent.

In the preface to In the Heart of Hoosierland, Ludlow compares the Indiana environment to Paradise:

The section of Indiana from which I sprang bore the most abundant visible evidence of the primordial grandeur and beauty which the imagination of men associates with Paradise. It was a panorama of primeval loveliness.... Hoosierland, if seen from the skies in Summer-time, would have presented the attractive appearance of a vast green blanket of leafy forests, checkered with shorn spots...[which] had been cleared by the woodman’s ax and made ready for the plow. The forests were measured by miles; the clearings by acres. Towering trees shot out and intertwined their branches, forming a leafy canopy far above the earth through which the sunlight flickered and made diamonds of a million glistening dewdrops. The ground was blanketed with wildflowers of many varieties and hues. The air was full of sweet sounds, for it seemed as if a thousand feathered prima donnas vied with each other in pouring music from their golden throats. The chirp of the squirrel and the call of the "Bob White" mingled with the incessant murmur of babbling waterfalls. What could be more like Paradise? (ix-x)

In the Heart of Hoosierland is the story of a boy and a girl who grow up in circumstances similar to those of Ludlow’s own childhood, set against the backdrop of a small country town and its inhabitants. The narrator mentions the beauty inherent to the Indiana landscape when describing the site of the young couple’s future home:

There was a small bare spot, surrounded by majestic trees, beech and poplar and oak that intertwined their branches far above the ground. Fifty feet away was a living spring where water as clear as crystal bubbled from the earth and flowed in a rippling stream down the hill-side. (245)

At the conclusion of the tale, the main character, now an old man, stands on the stoop of the old schoolhouse, contemplating the changes that can occur in one lifetime. Ludlow parallels these changes by describing how the countryside was altered throughout the course of the novel: "Once entirely surrounded by majestic forests, a person can now...strain his eyes looking in all directions without seeing a single, solitary tree" (328). In that short time, deforestation has made an undeniable impact.

Ludlow’s memoir, From Cornfield to Press Gallery, deals mainly with his career as a newspaperman and correspondent. He closes his memoir by reminiscing what his childhood home looked like:

The golden strands of memory lead me back to the old log cabin home. Around it my mind’s eye recreates the stately forests and, in the rear, the large peach orchard with its wondrous wealth of blooms. The pond where I baptized myself and the mud-hole where I was pulled out of my boots are there, as in yesteryear. The air is redolent of sweet-williams and honeysuckle. (430)

Despite the changes that Ludlow saw in Indiana landscapes during his own lifetime, the natural beauty of the state and his deep love of the countryside remain clear in the writings of this Hoosier-farmboy-turned-politician.



Ludlow, Louis L. Down on the Farm. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1932.

---. From Cornfield to Press Gallery: Adventures and Reminiscences of a Veteran Washington Correspondent. Washington: W.F. Roberts Co., 1924.

---. In the Heart of Hoosierland: A Story of the Pioneers, Based on Many Actual Experiences. Washington: Pioneer Book Co., 1925.

Shumaker, Arthur Wesley. A History of Indiana Literature. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1962.

Thompson, Donald. Indiana Authors and Their Books, 1917-1966. Crawfordsville, IN: Wabash College, 1974.


Louis Ludlow Biography