Mrs. John N. Carey was attending a convention of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) in Washington, D. C. when she noticed something: many states’ delegates represented within the organization had banners displayed in the NSDAR auditorium. Indiana was not among them. Mrs. Carey determined that she would help remedy this issue, as she would in many other instances throughout her life. Marie Stewart Carey turned numerous ideas into reality for Indiana and Indianapolis. She was a founder of the Orchard School in 1922–it began on her property; In 1925, she founded The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis–housed inside her former home for a number of years; and she was active with and donated to numerous local organizations focused on improving the city. To learn more about Mrs. Carey and her final home, Haverway, see this Mailbag article.
The state of Indiana was still a teenager when Vermont adopted the very first state flag in 1834. And while an Indiana state seal had already been in use for decades, the state spent its first 100 years using only the national flag to represent the Hoosier state. While some dismissed the notion that Indiana should have any flag other than “Old Glory,” others agreed an Indiana flag was needed. Or at the very least, the state could use a banner. Turns out there was a 1901 Act making the U. S. flag the flag of Indiana, but whoops–that directly conflicted with a federal law prohibiting adoption of the U. S. flag to represent a state. And yet, on Indiana went though its first 100 years in this way.
Not long after Mrs. Carey’s D. C. “aha” moment, articles appeared in local newspapers, on behalf of the D.A.R. and other patriotic organizations, urging entries for a contest to create an appropriate design, with a $100 prize for the winning entry, which needed to be “direct, bold and simple, so that it may be made with ordinary flag materials and will not require either embroidery or painting.” The color palette of the image was limited to white, yellow, green, blue, purple and orange, with a maximum of four colors.
Fast forward to January 5, 1917– newspapers issued a final appeal for designs, with a week left for submissions. Though over 100 entries had been received, the committee was still searching for the perfect design. Despite explicit directions requiring simplicity, numerous artistic renderings submitted were far too detailed, and the committee again asked for more entries to the contest. “Flags are no longer made by Betsy Rosses,” newspapers warned. Flags were now made by machine, making simplicity of design even more imperative. Could any Hoosier step forward with a simple and fresh idea?
By the time the contest ended, over 200 designs competed to become Indiana’s state flag. The winning design, (and second place), was created by artist and Indianapolis native, Paul Hadley. By most accounts, Mooresville claims Hadley, because at the time of the contest, he lived there with his widowed mother. However, he was born August 5, 1880 in Indianapolis, the youngest of four boys and raised in the city. His family lived at 187 Virginia Avenue when he was born, and at 219 Fletcher Avenue between 1882-1887; then 63 Fletcher Avenue from 1888-1890–all addresses untranslated to the numbers we would know them by today. After a year at Indianapolis (later Shortridge) High School, Paul transferred to the newer Manual Training High school where he explored his love and talent for art under the guidance of Hoosier group artist, Otto Stark, one of the school’s instructors.
The Hadley family moved to 270 North Delaware Street in 1891 (which became 512 North Delaware Street after the 1898 street numbering changes) and remained there through 1901. When Paul’s father, Dr. Evan Hadley, became ill, the two-story brick Delaware street home was sold for $16,000, and the doctor moved near his birthplace in Mooresville. The Delaware Street house was located on the west side of Delaware between Michigan and North streets, where the Federal building now stands. Not long before his parents moved to Mooresville, Paul gained admission to the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Arts in Philadelphia, which he entered in September 1900. He returned back home to Indiana on holiday breaks through his few years of training.
While living in Mooresville, Hadley commuted to Indianapolis daily, by interurban, to work. With the exception of two years, he lived many years in Mooresville. He did take numerous trips to other parts of the United States and two trips to Europe, but principally between the early 1900’s and 1950’s, Hadley resided in Mooresville. City directories list him living at 5034 North Illinois Street in 1913 and 1914, with offices at 17 West Washington Street. By the time he submitted the winning entry for the Indiana state flag contest, he lived in Mooresville and had offices on the fifth floor of the Union Trust Building. He worked from 1922-1933 as an instructor at the John Herron Art Institute, leading classes in interior decor and water color. When the Institute hired a new director of the organization, Donald Mattison, Hadley and other established instructors, including William Forsyth, were fired.
Hadley gained a wide reputation as a muralist shortly after winning the “flag” competition and in 1920, he created two six foot tall murals, of lake and hill vistas, for the large entrance hall of Dr. and Mrs. Albert Cole, of the Crow’s Nest neighborhood–their address described in the city directory as “e s Sunset Ave 2 s of Hessong Rd.” Hadley was also known as the artist who completed an expansive mural at the Kennebunkport, Maine country home of Booth Tarkington. It turns out that Mrs. Carey, also among the selection committee for Hadley’s winning flag design, was a cousin of Tarkington’s. Could it be that Mrs. Carey made the introduction between these two Hoosiers? We may never know.
Paul Hadley died on January 31, 1971 in Richmond, Indiana, not far from Earlham College, where his father attended college before his medical studies. Paul was a life-long Quaker and extremely humble. He told an interviewer: “there’s nothing in my life interesting enough to write about. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I never did anything startling, nothing worthwhile putting into a story.” Yet, his artwork lives on today as the representation of the state of Indiana.
His thoughtful design is beloved by Hoosiers and is one of the most refined in the field of 50. The meaning behind the elements are simple and straightforward: the torch represents liberty and enlightenment; the 13 outer stars represent the original 13 colonies; the inner five stars represent the 14th through 18th states. The largest star above the torch represents, the 19th state, Indiana. The original design, as you may have noticed above, did not have the word “Indiana” on it; adding the state’s name was directed by the legislature when Indiana’s 1917 General Assembly adopted the blue and gold “banner” for the state of Indiana. In 1955, it became the official “flag.”
Paul Hadley’s original creation, glued rather than sewn together, was owned by the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis until 1995, when it was donated to the Indiana State Museum. You may have seen it at the Indiana State Museum in the recent “200 Objects” exhibition celebrating Indiana’s Bicentennial. Since it was Mrs. Mary Stewart Carey’s idea to see that Indiana had a state flag and her idea that Indianapolis should have a Children’s Museum, is this how the flag first went there? Without Mrs. Carey’s leadership, we might not have either. Luckily, we still have both.