Logan County History: Indian Lake Ballroom Exhibit


By: Mary E. Mortimer

The Indian Lake Exhibit in the Orr Mansion Ballroom features clothing from our textile collections and other artifacts from the Indian lake Region. The exhibit includes the wedding dress of Frances “Fannie” Trout of Lewistown who wore a blue taffeta 3-piece dress with velvet and lace trim when she married Noah Coover, a farmer from DeGraff, on December 14, 1905. She also wore a matching blue velvet hat trimmed with grosgrain bows. Also displayed are the black and white eyelet-trimmed petticoats she wore under her wedding dress, and an elaborately tucked and ruffled cotton night dress worn by Fannie.

The exhibit includes photos and information about the multiple beauty pageants that were held at Indian Lake in the 1920s and 1930s. Evelyn Wilgus, daughter of French and Lenola Wilgus, of Russells Point, was chosen “Miss Russells Point” and “Miss Ohio” in 1927. She competed in the national pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey the same year.
Emmadee Graham, daughter of Boyd and Lottie Graham of Lewistown was “Miss Indian Lake” and “Miss Ohio” in 1928. The Miss Ohio beauty contest was held at Cedar Point, Ohio. She went on to compete at the national pageant in Miami, Florida.

In July 1930, Indian Lake hosted the Ohio State Beauty Revue at the Sandy Beach Ballroom. Young ladies from all over the state of Ohio competed for the title of “Miss Ohio 1930”. The three-day event was packed with activities for the girls from morning to late in the evening. On the third evening, Elizabeth Gregg, of Bellefontaine, was crowned “Miss Ohio”. Miss Gregg who was also “Miss Bellefontaine” then represented Ohio in the International Beauty Pageant in Galveston, Texas. After she won the “Miss Ohio” contest she joined a troupe that traveled the country. The exhibit features several dresses worn by Elizabeth Gregg when she was “Miss Ohio1930”.

In August 1930, Luanna Churchill who had also been selected “Miss Bellefontaine” competed and won the title of “Miss Ohio” at a pageant in Russells Point conducted by a different management group than the July pageant that Miss Gregg won. In September, Miss Churchill competed and won the title of “Miss America” at a pageant held at Cedar Point. This Miss America pageant was not the national pageant. She then competed for the title of “Miss Universe” in Havana, Cuba in November.

Also highlighted are a wool bathing suit worn by Mary Craig and two cotton bathing suits from the mid-1920s. There is also a photo of Fred Carter from 1929 in the custom-made bathing suit he ordered from Wolfheim’s in Bellefontaine. In the early 1920s when Fred arrived at the beach area behind the Minnewawa Dance Pavilion at Indian Lake in his new bathing suit, the girl working at the bathing suit rental area refused to let him enter and called the police. When the policeman arrived, he looked at Fred in his tight-fitting bathing suit and said he was OK with it and to let him in.

The Indian Lake School exhibit features Washington Local letterman sweaters, including one worn by Max Smith, and the Huntsville Hunters flag and megaphone from the 1950s. Also on display is a photo showing Patsy Thompson Richardson, Sandra Dalrymple Duff, Phyllis Evans Davis, and Donna Jenkins when they cheered for the Lewistown High School basketball team during the 1949 – 1950 season. The girls all wore red and black corduroy cheerleading uniforms; Phyllis Evans Davis’s cheerleading uniform is on exhibit with the photo.

There are also school histories, class composites, and various school and Indian Lake area photos.

Also on exhibit is a commemorative throw sold by the Indian Lake Women Who Care group in the late 1990s featuring various Indian Lake landmarks.

The chandelier hanging in the center of the ballroom ceiling once hung at Beatley’s-On-The-Lake Resort. Also included in this exhibit are history and photo binders with Indian Lake area churches, Lakeview, Russells Point, Huntsville, Lewistown, Belle Center, Washington, Stokes, and McArthur Townships.

The Indian Lake exhibit was researched and designed by History Center Archivist/Assistant Curator Beth Marshall, Archives volunteers Judy Snyder and Don Corwin, and our volunteer intern, Chloe Simmons.

The Indian Lake Ballroom Exhibits will be open until November 2024.

Visit the Logan County History Center at 521 E. Columbus Ave., Bellefontaine, Ohio 43311, to learn more interesting aspects of Logan County History.

The History Center is open for tours Wednesday – Sunday from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.