Text Size

Our Historic Figures

Lee Wiley Sinclair

Sinclair built the largest woolen mill in southern Indiana in Salem. Sinclair also expanded his holdings to another textile mill in Chicago and a department store in Salem.Sinclair purchased the original West Baden Hotel in 1888 and was instrumental in getting the West Baden Springs Hotel built and establishing the Historic Dome as the "The Carlsbad of America".

Thomas Jackson Rodman
Rodman was born on a farm near Salem. He was an artillerist, inventor, ordnance specialist, and career United States Army officer. He served as a Union Army general during the American Civil War. Rodman is especially remembered for developing the Rodman gun, which in various sizes saw extensive use in coastal defenses, and was called the "strongest cast iron cannon ever made." General Rodman also discovered the use of shaped gunpowder grains, in which properly compressing and shaping the gunpowder into pre-designed grain shapes allowed the control of gas production by the burning gunpowder. This resulted in increased muzzle velocities with lower maximum pressures when compared to performance with conventional ball powder. The Rodman seven perforation grain was named after Rodman, and similar propellant grain shapes are still in use today in artillery, rockets, and automotive airbag inflators.

Isaac Blackford
After graduating from Princeton University, Blackford came on horseback to the Indiana Territory to practice law. In 1812 Blackford arrived in Salem, where he worked as Washington County’s first clerk and recorder before being elected Clerk of the Territorial Legislature in Corydon in 1813. 
Blackford was Indiana’s longest-serving Supreme Court justice and the author of the Blackford's Reports detailing the state’s first court decisions.

John Hay
John Hay was born in Salem an became an American statesman, diplomat, author, journalist, and private secretary and assistant to Abraham Lincoln. Hay's highest office was serving as United States Secretary of State under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.