History of Mitchell

City of Mitchell

Mitchell is a city in Lawrence County, Indiana, United States. The population was 4,567 as of the 2000 census.
 
It is the birthplace of astronaut Gus Grissom, Purdue University graduate, who flew on Liberty Bell 7, Gemini 3, and died in a launch pad fire at Kennedy Space Center in 1967.
 
Mitchell was built as a railroad town in the mid-19th century. At this location in Lawrence County, the Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville Railroad, better known by the shorter name of "the Monon", was built as a north-south line from New Albany to Chicago, passing through the area which became Mitchell in 1853. In 1857, the east-west Ohio and Mississippi Railway (later part of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad) was completed, as part of a link between Cincinnati and St. Louis.
 
At the intersection of the two rail lines, a new town was planned. As the O&M railroad was surveyed, the owners of the land arranged for one of the surveyors, Ormsby McKnight Mitchel (1810-1862), a West Point graduate and professor at the University of Cincinnati, to plat their new town in exchange for naming it for him. (The second "L" in Mitchell was added later[citation needed]). A native of Kentucky, Ormsby Mitchel grew up in Lebanon, Ohio, and was also an attorney and notable astronomer. He later became a Major General in the Union Army during the American Civil War (1861-1865), and is best known for ordering the raid that became famous as the Great Locomotive Chase. He was known as "Old Stars". General Mitchel died of yellow fever while serving in Beaufort, South Carolina. [1]
 
The town was incorporated in 1864, becoming a city in 1907. Mitchell hosted a number of manufacturers, including (in 1919) the wagon, truck and bus body enterprises of Ralph H. Carpenter which became known as the Carpenter Body Company. School bus body production continued until 1995.[citation needed]
 
In 1851, the Mitchell area was the birthplace of outlaw and train robber Sam Bass (1851-1878). He was orphaned at age 13, but was apparently engaged in lawful activities until 1877, when he became an icon of the "wildness" of the American Old West as he robbed banks, stagecoaches and railroad trains before being fatally wounded by Texas Rangers the following year. Despite Bass' short-lived criminal career, he is remembered as part of a robbery of gold on September 18, 1877 which remains the largest robbery in Union Pacific Railroad's history.
 
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Gus Grissom

Indiana Native Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom, (April 3, 1926 – January 27, 1967) was one of the original NASA Project Mercury astronauts and a United States Air Force pilot. He was the second American to fly in space and the first person to fly in space twice. Grissom was killed along with fellow astronauts Ed White and Roger Chaffee during a pre-launch test for the Apollo 1 mission at the Kennedy Space Center. He was a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and, posthumously, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
 
Virgil Ivan Grissom was born in Mitchell, Indiana on April 3, 1926, the second child of Dennis and Cecile King Grissom.[1] His father was a signalman for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and his mother a homemaker. His older sister died shortly before his birth, and he was followed by three younger siblings, Wilma, Norman and Lowell.[2] As a child he attended the local Church of Christ where he remained a lifelong member and joined the Boy Scouts' Troop 46. He was enrolled in public elementary schools and went on to attend Mitchell High School. Grissom met and befriended Betty Lavonne Moore at school through their extracurricular activities.[3] He worked delivering newspapers for the Indianapolis Star and in a local meat market for his first jobs.[4]
 
Grissom occasionally spent time at a local airport in Bedford, Indiana where he first became interested in flying. A local attorney who owned a small plane would take him on flights for a $1 fee and taught him the basics of flying an airplane.[5] World War II broke out while Grissom was still in highschool, and he was eager to enlist upon graduation. Grissom enlisted as an aviation cadet in the United States Army Air Corp and completed an entrance exam in November 1943. He graduated from high school in 1944 and was inducted into the army at Fort Benjamin Harrison on August 8, 1944.[6] He was sent to Sheppard Field in Wichita Falls, Texas for basic training after which he was assigned as a clerk at Brooks Field in San Antonio, Texas.