Mooresville Public Library

Mooresville Public Library
MPL Courtyard

Saturday, March 19, 2016

In the Painter's Shoes (Paul Hadley Paintings), Part Two

We continue with our exploration of probable locations for watercolors painted by long-time Mooresville, Indiana resident Paul Hadley, designer of the Indiana State Flag.

As we previously blogged, an anonymous patron loaned several Paul Hadley paintings to the library, which are now on display.  Exactly where were these paintings made?  That takes a bit of exploring, both on the Internet and closer to home.

Margaret Colee's Pump House by Paul Hadley
(Click Images to Enlarge)

Hadley showed this painting at the 1939 Indiana State Fair, so it was probably painted around this time [Perry, Rachel Berenson. “Paul Hadley: Artist and Designer of the Indiana Flag.” Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History 15:1 (Indiana Historical Society, Winter 2003): 20-29].

Hadley's biographer, long-time Morgan County (Indiana) Historian Becky Hardin, detailed the history surrounding this painting:

  • "Although Paul Hadley never duplicated a painting, he often painted in the same location under different conditions of light and atmosphere. This picture of Margaret Colee's pump house depicts a gray cabin, pink peach tree, and a bright blue sky.  Like most of his paintings it does not show a figure of animal or human being, but the tub, rainwater barrel, and copper bucket are necessary equipment for 'woman's work.' Owen (Tudy) Prescott, grandson of Mrs. Colee, says she hung milk and butter down in the well to keep [them] cool, and he thinks one of her uncles may have stored his 'home brew' there to keep it cool.  (Mooresville was a local option town before prohibition.) Prescott saw this picture in Lieber's window and tried to buy it but it was the property of Dr. Norris who moved to [the] Mooresville community to retire.  He had gone to Spain and lived with a family there to learn how to make frames and framed this one.  When Dr. Norris died his niece, Mrs. McMillin, gave the painting to the Prescotts.  He [Hadley] did a[nother] painting of this pump house with a gray sky which was purchased by John Herron Art Museum in October 1939 for its permanent collection."  [Hardin, Becky (1976). The Indiana State Flag, Its Designer (Biography of Paul Hadley with Anthology of his Paintings), p. 37. Mooresville, Indiana : B. Hardin.]
Mooresville (Indiana) Cemetery
(Photo courtesy of Find-a-Grave)
(Note Death Year Discrepancy)

Margaret Elizabeth Colee (née Spoon) (1859-1951) is buried in section 7 of Mooresville Cemetery, but her grave marker lists her year of death as 1952. However, mortuary records from Harvey Funeral Home, which operated on South Indiana Street in Mooresville (and handled Colee's funeral arrangements), clearly state that Colee died of bronchial pneumonia on March 21, 1951, at the home of her son, O. W. Colee, in Terre Haute, Indiana, and that her services were held at Harvey Funeral Home on March 23, 1951.  This is confirmed by the newspaper obituary from the Mooresville Times, March 22, 1951 (front page).


Margaret Colee's Obituary
Mooresville Times, March 22, 1951, p. 1, col. 3

Front Page of the Mooresville Times, March 22, 1951
(Colee obituary is in column three near the bottom)

Enlarged Masthead of the Mooresville Times,
March 22, 1951


But let's return to the question of location:  Where did Margaret Colee live when Hadley painted her pump house?  According to the 1940 U.S. Census, Margaret Colee rented an unnumbered house on East High Street in Mooresville.  The 1940 Mooresville City Directory confirms this, indicating that she was a "housekeeper" by occupation.  She had lived there for many years.  Upon closer inspection, the 1940 Census stated that her house was situated between 204 and 222 East High Street.

Excerpt from the 1940 U.S. Census for
Mooresville, Morgan County, Indiana
Listing Margaret E. Colee living between
204 and 222 East High Street

The house no longer stands, but we can confirm its location by comparing existing structures' addresses.


 Westerly view from 222 (parking lot) to 218 East High Street
(red brick house), Mooresville, Indiana (March, 2016)

 Easterly view from what would have been
204 (tan building) to 218 East High Street
(red brick house), Mooresville, Indiana (March, 2016)
 From left to right:  (1) what would have been approximately
204 (tan building); (2) 218 (red brick house); and
(3) 222 East High Street (Edward Jones building),
Mooresville, Indiana (March, 2016)

Edward Jones Building
222 East High Street
Mooresville, Indiana
 (March, 2016)

Margaret Colee's house was probably to the right of the red brick house at 218 East High Street, approximately where the white garage now stands.  The pump house Hadley painted would have been located at the back of the lot.

Hadley was most helpful when he named this painting using the resident's name. Margaret Colee rented a house there for decades, and so it was fairly easy to locate in the historical record.

Next time, we'll search for another location from a Paul Hadley painting, which will take us about one block south of Margaret Colee's home to the house of Matthew Comer.

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