Tom Taggart, French Lick & IMS

These two articles in the attachments concern Tom Taggart, a major political figure in early 20th century America. Reminiscent of former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney, Taggart was injured in a hunting accident that injured one of his eyes. Taggart was national chairman of the Democratic Party and a major force in Hoosier and Indianapolis politics. He was mayor of Indianapolis in the 1890's and was head of the national Democratic party from 1904 to 1908.
I elected to include information about Taggart on First Super Speedway because I believe he was the man behind the much-repeated story that Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Carl Fisher once considered French Lick, Indiana as the site for construction of the giant speedway he envisioned. Taggart probably influenced Fisher because of his vast network of political connections. His motive almost certainly was to create a draw to a French Lick resort - the French Lick Springs Hotel - that Taggart owned with partner and Terre Haute Industrialist Crawford Fairbanks. I include these articles not because they are the best artifacts of Taggart's life or career but because they are interesting to me.
Attachment Taggart012210 was published in the January 22, 1910, Indianapolis Star. This article was the first public report that Taggart had been shot in the shoulder and face with a shotgun blast of bird pellets by his personal secretary, W.H. Norton. They were quail hunting in Mississippi woods the afternoon of January 21. Taggart was brought to a facility referred to as Nachez sanitarium for treatment. Initial reports were that the wounds were not life threatening but he could lose the use of his right eye. Physicians removed 42 birdshot from his face, shoulder, and chest.
Taggart telegraphed his wife with the following message:
"Shot with birdshot in shoulder and face today. I am absolutely all right. Am now on my way home. Came to Natchez for medical treatment and to take the train."
Taggart and Norton were on a hunting trip for quail with a third man, Joseph E. Bell of Indianapolis. Taggart and Norton were some 40 yards apart when the accident took place. Norton fired in Taggart's direction by mistake. The two uninjured men escorted Taggart a Dr. McNair in Fayette, Mississippi and later to the sanitarium. News of the incident reached Indianapolis through William Holt, manager of the Denison Hotel, a facility Taggart had an ownership stake in. Taggart and Bell had been in French Lick prior to departing on the hunting trip.
The second attachment contains a follow-up article published January 23, 1910, that suggests the injuries to Taggart's eye was more serious than first hoped. Dr. Frank A. Morrison, an eye specialist, had left Indianapolis to meet Taggart when he reached Louisville, Kentucky on his trek home to the Hoosier capital. Taggart's son Thomas Jr. and William Holt of the Denison Hotel worked to secure Dr. Morrison. The article states that the Associated Press was reporting that Taggart would lose his right eye.
Taggart provided a more optimistic assessment in a quote: "The shot that winged me got a bird. One good thing about all this though, my right eye will come out all right, so the doctor tells me, and that is an enormous relief. You can't imagine how important a right eye seems to a fellow when he is about to lose it."

Taggart012210.pdf946.31 KB
Taggart012310.pdf695.66 KB