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Ernie PyleErnie Pyle

Hoosier Connection: Pyle is a Hoosier-born journalist who attended Indiana University and wrote about tourist-friendly Brown County in his travel column for the Scripps-Howard national newspaper chain. He reached worldwide fame and readership during World War II as a field reporter, writing about his first-hand experiences of US Armed Forces operations.

Works Discussed: Home Country, Images of Brown County

Ernest Taylor Pyle was born on August 3, 1900, in Vermillion County, Indiana. Pyle was an only child, leading a mostly solitary childhood on a working rustic farm without plumbing and electric lights just a few miles east of the Illinois border. He helped his tenant father with farm chores, contrary to his own liking, including small construction projects and feeding pigs and horses. In his writing, Pyle reflected disdainfully about waking at four a.m. on summer mornings and other aspects his childhood on the Indiana farm.

Like many Hoosier boys, Pyle idolized the drivers of the Indianapolis 500, wanting to make a career of racecar driving. However, at the beginning of his senior year of high school, the United States declared war on Germany, and upon graduation, Pyle left Indiana and enrolled in the Naval Reserve. After the Armistice, Pyle enrolled at Indiana University in 1919, but quit during his fourth year to pursue a greatly successful, lifelong career as a journalist.

In 1927, he began the first U.S. aviation column for the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain and later moved on to travel writing before the start of U.S. involvement in the second World War. During this period of travel writing, Pyle spent two weeks in Brown County, Indiana, profiling the area for his column. These are reprinted in Images of Brown County, and excerpted in Home Country. He writes about the artists and hill people who inhabit the county and the conflicts caused by the autumn influx of tourists. Here, Brown County is separated from the rest of Indiana, as well as the rest of the Midwest:

All northern and central Indiana is as flat as a board…But some thirty miles south of Indianapolis the land begins to undulate, and the hills are covered thick with forest and roads wind, and fields become patches on slopes. You come into hill country and it is hill country because here is where the glacier stopped and melted away its last force and left its giant rubble piled ahead of it. (“Artists and Hill People in Brown County, Indiana”)

Pyle explains that the hill people came from other hilly areas to the south and to the east of Indiana, and he paints for the reader a visual image of the subjects he is studying:

Because of a certain necessary resourcefulness which makes hill people proud and somehow self-sufficient, the natives of Brown County for a long time lived their own lives in the woods and the tobacco patches and the little settlements, asking nothing of any man, and eventually they came known to the rest of Indiana as ‘quaint.’ That is what first attracted the artists to Brown County forty years ago—the log cabins, the lounging squirrel hunter, the leaning sheds, the flowers and the autumn leaves, and the brooks and hillsides. That too, is what eventually attracted the sightseers. (“Artists and Hill People in Brown County, Indiana”)

In a sum total of ten columns that Pyle writes about Brown County for his travel column, he profiles many local artists by their names, works, and mediums of art. The county seat of Nashville is discussed and described as a beautifully rustic and undeveloped site that is pillaged by tourists, thus spoiling the “picturesque” qualities of the area for the locals and diluting the artists’ impressions in an area prominently known as an art colony.

Pyle was killed by a sniper in the South Pacific on April 18, 1945, working as a war correspondent. At the time of his death, Pyle’s World War II coverage reached a worldwide audience in about 700 different publications.



Miller, Lee G. The Story of Ernie Pyle. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1950.

Pyle, Ernie. Home Country. New York: William Sloane Associates, 1947.

---. Images of Brown County. Indianapolis, IN: The Museum Shop, 1980.


"Ernie Pyle." Archives, Spartacus Educational. 20 November 2002. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWreporters.htm.

Ernie Pyle at Indiana Historical Society

Ernie Pyle Memorial Bookstore

Ernie Pyle at columnists.com