Lincoln Boyhood
Administrative History
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Administration and Staffing

Bob Burns was superintendent at Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial when he agreed to come to Lincoln City to assist with preparations for the dedication ceremony. That job done, he returned to Perry's Victory after the ceremony. Months later, he accepted the position of first superintendent at Lincoln Boyhood; he entered on duty there on August 27, 1963.

Among his first duties was hiring a staff for the fledgling national memorial. The Department of Conservation had agreed to pay a maintenance worker, Elmer Stein, until the end of the month. Burns liked Stein's work, and asked him to stay on as a National Park Service employee* when his state employment terminated. [1] Charlotte Baird entered on duty as a clerk—stenographer (GS—4) in October; she continued as the administrative technician for Lincoln Boyhood until her retirement in 1983. [2] Burns' hiring of John Santosuosso as park historian (GS—9) in November 1963 completed Lincoln Boyhood's original permanent staff. Seasonal rangers and laborers were added during the summer months. [3]

*The caretaker position at Lincoln Boyhood was not graded.

Burns' major goals during his superintendency were to acquaint Indianans with the National Park Service and the newly established Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, and to acquire the privately—owned land within the Memorial's authorized boundaries. Another significant accomplishment was the selection of a design and a location for the visitor center.

Identification as a unit of the National Park System was a significant problem for the new park. Area residents were accustomed to frequent changes in the Lincoln State Park superintendency; those positions were political, and changed each time control of the state government changed parties. Most failed to distinguish between the Department of Conservation and the National Park Service. When Burns first set foot in Dale, Indiana (about five miles from the park), in his National Park Service uniform, residents mistook him for a "revenuer." Burns set out immediately to educate the public concerning the Park Service and its presence in southern Indiana. [4]

Bob Burns' golden opportunity arrived a few months later. In February 1964, he was invited to appear on an Indianapolis talk show commemorating Lincoln's birthday. Burns contacted the Southwestern Indiana Historical Society in Evansville, which allowed him to borrow a wooden box Lincoln made during his years in Indiana and a casting of Lincoln's hands. Burns took these with him to the June Ford Show, and with them he initiated his message to a broad regional audience. After the show, Ms. Ford suggested that Superintendent Burns contact Bish Thompson, an editorialist for the Evansville Press. She knew Mr. Thompson supported the National Park Service, and believed he would be happy to help Burns advertise the Service's role in southern Indiana. [5] Thompson wrote a good article on the newly established Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, and followed up with positive editorials on the memorial and the Park Service for years to follow.

Equally important, Bish Thompson referred Superintendent Burns to Bob Edelman at WTVW, an Evansville television station. Thompson was aware of Edelman's involvement in a locally—broadcast half—hour public interest show, and believed Edelman would provide Burns with another opportunity to reach the area's television viewers. Burns contacted Edelman, who agreed to feature the superintendent and Lincoln Boyhood historian John Santosuosso on one show. It went so well, Burns and Santosuosso were invited to do shows on a weekly basis for two years. Edelman invited them to continue the programs for a third year, but Burns transferred and Santosuosso resigned before the third year was negotiated. [6] Newly appointed Superintendent Albert W. Banton, Jr., chose not to renew the programs.

The television programs were successful in introducing the National Park Service and Lincoln Boyhood to the region. Burns invited guests such as Lincoln State Park superintendent Charlie Weber and employees of Hoosier National Forest; these programs helped viewers learn the differences between the National Park Service, the state Department of Conservation, and the U. S. Forest Service. Burns usually conducted the first half of each show on the Service in general, Lincoln Boyhood, or other National Park Service areas; during the remaining fifteen minutes Santosuosso presented information on Abraham Lincoln, usually focusing on Lincoln's life in Indiana. [7]

Publicity was only one of Superintendent Burns' accomplishments. He also worked closely with lands officers from the regional office to acquire privately—owned lands within the park's boundaries Burns accompanied the lands officer when he contacted the property—owners, handled other legwork (delivered checks, had deeds recorded, saw that the needed stamps were bought and affixed to documents), and assisted elderly sellers with various needs. Burns recalled that the sellers generally supported the Park Service's presence at Lincoln Boyhood, and the relationships between the sellers and the Service were good. [8]

Another need, recognized immediately upon assuming management of the memorial, was additional space for administrative functions and visitor contacts. Although construction was accomplished during Al Banton's tenure as superintendent, selection of a site and design for the visitor center was Bob Burns' concern.

The Eastern Office of Design and Construction (EODC) resurrected the idea of a building near the gravesite (although there is no indication the EODC was aware of the Indiana Lincoln Union's and Department of Conservation's decade—long debate and ultimate rejection of the gravesite area when they were choosing a site for the Nancy Hanks Lincoln Memorial building during the 1920s and 1930s). Whether consciously or coincidentally, Burns opposed the construction of a visitor center near the gravesite for the same reasons the Indiana Lincoln Union had rejected it decades before; he argued that the building would be an intrusion on the humble gravesite the Service was charged to protect, and that clearing the area of vegetation would alter the natural setting and thus destroy the atmosphere of the area. According to Burns:

The Washington Office and the Regional Office in Philadelphia and the Eastern Office of Design and Construction and I went round and round about that location. I finally wrote a letter to the Regional Director and said that the only basis upon which I would accept that location was for him to call me directly and tell me to back down—that the EODC selection was the right one. Well, within 24 hours there was a letter in the mail to me saying that the Regional Office would not under any circumstances, accept that location. [9]

The interested parties discussed several other proposals and finally agreed to wrap the visitor center around the Nancy Hanks Lincoln Memorial building. [10] Hoping to "test the waters" locally on the idea, Burns contacted his landlady, a local reporter by the name of Grace Brown. The superintendent told Ms. Brown the Park Service needed space for administrative needs and interpretive exhibits, and was considering adding to the existing building. He asked her to mention the idea in one of her weekly columns, so he could see whether area residents supported the concept.

The conversation took place in February 1965, and the Dale News was looking for a Lincoln—related topic to coincide with the President's birthday celebration. The publisher decided to add a picture of the Memorial Building and an attention—grabbing headline: "LINCOLN BOYHOOD PLANS REVEALED." Burns was surprised by the headlines and attention, and sent a copy of the article to the regional and Washington offices with an explanation of what had taken place. He wanted both offices to be informed in case there were any inquiries on the article. In spite of his concern, the article did not generate any questions—at least not immediately.

Months later, shortly before Burns transferred to Nez Perce National Historical Park, Idaho, he received a frantic call from Washington asking about "'a picture in some paper about some building.'" [11] Senator Vance Hartke ran across the article while researching another issue in the Dale News. Hartke assumed from the article that plans for the visitor center had been released to the public without prior notification of the congressional delegation. Ordinarily, the delegation is notified first so they can announce such a plan, and receive credit for the project. The unidentified staff person, apparently confused, denied there were such plans. According to Superintendent Burns, Hartke, impatient and upset, sent his copy of the article to the Washington office asking "'If there isn't, what in the Hell is this?'" [12] Before long, the situation was unraveled and explained to Senator Hartke. Expecting to be reprimanded for the incident, Burns reminded Assistant Regional Director George Palmer that he had furnished the Region and Washington with copies of the article when it was published. No reprimand was issued. [13]

Shortly thereafter, in August 1965, Bob Burns accepted the superintendency of Nez Perce. He and his small staff had set the stage. It was up to the next superintendent to oversee the development of facilities and programs.

Albert W. Banton, Jr., left his position as supervisory park ranger at Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi, to become Lincoln Boyhood's second superintendent on October 10, 1965.* He left there seven years later, on October 29, 1972.

*An acting superintendent, Gettysburg historian Milton Thompson, served at Lincoln Boyhood in the interim between Burns' departure and Banton's arrival. Lincoln Boyhood historian John Santosuosso had only worked for the Service for two years, and had little administrative experience. In contrast, regional officials considered Thompson to be excellently suited for park management. Acting Regional Director [J. Carlisle Crouch], Northeast Region to Director [George B. Hartzog, Jr.], National Park Service, August 12, 1965. See also Regional Director [Ronald F. Lee], Northeast Region, to Regional Director [Edward A. Hummel], Western Region, August 6, 1965, and George A. Palmer to author, May 2, 1987.

On July 23, 1966, with the establishment of George Rogers Clark National Historical Park in Vincennes, Indiana, Banton became supervisor of an entity known as the Southern Indiana Group. During this period, he lived at Lincoln City but traveled each Thursday to Vincennes to oversee operations there. Beginning September 10, 1967, Robert L. (Bob) Lagermann was appointed management assistant for George Rogers Clark; Lagemann oversaw day—to—day events in Vincennes, while reporting to Superintendent Banton. Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Illinois, was authorized in August 1971; the following December, the cluster was renamed the Indiana— Illinois Group, with Banton as superintendent. [14]

During the 1960s and 1970s, clustering of administrative duties was fairly common for small cultural parks in geographic proximity. Banton recalled the arrangement as highly successful. It was convenient; one superintendent was able to represent the Indiana—Illinois Group at meetings with the regional office or with other agencies. It also enabled the superintendent to spend more time on major problems such as budgeting and development, and not get bogged down in the day—to—day problems such as scheduling staff. As stated above, Banton traveled to Vincennes one day each week. When Lincoln Home was added to his duties, he traveled to Springfield, Illinois, on overnight trips as needed. [15] Lincoln Boyhood's Charlotte Baird did the purchasing and most other paperwork for the three Indiana—Illinois Group areas, although George Rogers Clark had a typist, too. [16]

This arrangement ended abruptly in November 1972. Director George Hartzog ordered Banton to Springfield, and appointed him superintendent of Lincoln Home.* A new superintendent, John C. W. (Bill) Riddle, was selected for the Southern Indiana Group; Bob Lagemann continued as management assistant at George Rogers Clark. [17]

*Al Banton believed the transfer resulted from pressure placed on the Director by the Illinois congressional delegation. Assistant Northeast Regional Director George Palmer did not recall any undue pressure from Congress, nor did he consider the decision sudden. The lack of a full—time superintendent in Springfield resulted in the need for Palmer to travel there frequently. Palmer believes Regional Director Lemuel Garrison and Director George Hartzog had discussed the transfer of Superintendent Banton to Springfield for several months, and simply waited to inform Banton of the decision until the Lincoln Home National Historic Site dedication in October. See Albert W. Banton, Jr., Interview with Author, September 19, 1985; and George Palmer to author, May 22, 1987.

Banton's major accomplishments at Lincoln Boyhood were the completion of major construction projects (the visitor center, two houses, and a maintenance area), and development of the living historical farm. These are discussed in greater detail in the sections of this report covering development and interpretation.

The staff at Lincoln Boyhood grew slowly but steadily during Banton's tenure, primarily through the addition of seasonal interpreters and laborers. The staff was generally adequate, although the superintendent was sometimes frustrated by his inability to accomplish research or initiate programs because of staffing limitations. [18]

John C. W. "Bill" Riddle left the superintendency of Hopewell Village National Historic Site, Pennsylvania, to succeed Banton as superintendent of Lincoln Boyhood on November 12, 1972. Riddle retired from the position on October 21, 1978.

Bill Riddle completed the first phase of land acquisition at Lincoln Boyhood, but the bulk of his energies were spent at George Rogers Clark. In 1972, he oversaw an extensive rehabilitation of the Clark Memorial. [19] He subsequently turned his attentions to the development of a visitor center and preparation of management plans for George Rogers Clark. [20]

Staff additions at Lincoln Boyhood included Donald Breo's transfer from the U. S. Forest Service to become general facilities and equipment maintenance foreman in 1973, and Geneva Van Winkle's addition to the maintenance staff the same year. [21]

On January 6, 1974, Indiana became part of the Midwest Region, headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. Midwest Regional Office visitors to Lincoln Boyhood that year included Deputy Regional Director Merrill D. "Dave" Beal; Assistant Director for Cooperative Activities Bill Dean; operations evaluation team members Pat Miller and Tom Weeks; regional law enforcement team members Phil Turner and Denny Sarah; Ralph Dierks, Dave Clary, Vance Kaminski, and Dan Wilson of the office of Planning and Resource Preservation; Safety Officer Stan Broman; and Jim Schaack, Ben Miller, and Mike Conen of the office of interpretation. [22] The influx of regional visitors was quite a change from the traditional relationship between Lincoln Boyhood and the Philadelphia office; contacts with the Northeast Region were generally limited to telephone conversations and an occasional trip by the superintendent to Pennsylvania. [23]

Nineteen seventy—four was also the first year in which the superintendent reported National Historic Landmarks inspections among his duties. [24] Whether the assumption of this responsibility was related to the shift in regional lines or was coincidental is not clear.

Gasoline shortages forced the closing of area gasoline stations following the 1973 oil embargo, and Lincoln Boyhood's interpretive programs were closed on Sundays and Mondays from January 6, until April 1, 1974, in response to the lower visitation levels. Office staff continued to work their regular Monday through Friday schedules. [25]

Bill Riddle handled the demands of managing Lincoln Boyhood and George Rogers Clark well. He continued established programs at Lincoln Boyhood, enlarged the staff slightly to meet ever increasing maintenance and interpretive needs, and he was heavily involved in the development of facilities at George Rogers Clark It was a fitting culmination of thirty—two years of service, and Riddle appeared content when he announced his plans to retire in September 1978. [26]

Warren D. "Denny" Beach first served Lincoln Boyhood as its interpretive specialist from July 1972 until July 1973. He left to become management assistant at Edison National Historic Site, New Jersey, and subsequently became superintendent at El Morro National Monument in New Mexico. He returned to Lincoln City as superintendent on October 22, 1978, and remained until August 23, 1981, when he assumed the superintendency of Morristown National Historical Park, New Jersey.

When Beach became superintendend of Lincoln Boyhood, the maintenance and interpretive programs were well in place, and development was complete. He "finalized" the Master Plan, and completed the acquisition of land, bringing the park to its present boundaries. Beach also worked out an agreement with the United States Postal Service to locate the Lincoln City post office in the visitor center.

The need for a location for a post office to serve the area resulted from the Service's acquisition of the old Lincoln City post office location in the late 1970s. The Postal Service intended to eliminate the Lincoln City postmark, and arrange for another nearby office to assume service to the Lincoln City area. In 1979, Superintendent Beach arranged an agreement by which the Lincoln City post office continues to operate out of a small space in the visitor center. [27]

The staff had grown slowly with the small park. By 1980, Lincoln Boyhood had a superintendent (GS—ll) ; a supervisory park ranger (GS—9) ; four park technicians (one GS—6 and three GS—4's); three WG—6 demonstration farmers; a maintenance worker foreman (WS—5) ; and a janitor (WG—2) on the permanent staff. Nevertheless, Superintendent Beach was frustrated by his inability to hire more interpreters for the spring and fall. This would have allowed his interpretive staff to spend more time doing research, and Beach saw this as the best way to improve the park's interpretive programs. [28]

Norman D. Hellmers was promoted to the superintendency at Lincoln Boyhood in 1981, following his service as chief of interpretation (with frequent duties as acting superintendent) at Grand Portage National Monument, Minnesota. His primary emphasis has been on improving interpretation and resources management at Lincoln Boyhood by upgrading the quality of programs, working with the Lincoln Boyhood Drama Association for the development and advancement of a play portraying Lincoln's life in Indiana, accomplishing research, and restoring the historic structures and grounds to their historic appearance. These topics are discussed in detail in the appropriate chapters, below. [29]

During Hellmers' tenure at Lincoln Boyhood, the staff size has remained fairly constant: the park had 13.8 FTE* when he arrived in 1981, and has 14.2 FTE as of December 1986. The allocation of staff members by division has remained constant, with 3.0 FTE assigned to administration (including the superintendent), 6.2 in operations (interpretation and resources management), and the remaining 5.0 in maintenance.

*FTE, or "Full—Time Equivalency" is the authority to hire the equivalent of one person for one year.

There have, however, been some significant changes in grades and the nature of several positions. These changes included the promotion of several positions to higher grades (superintendent from GS—11 to GS—12; secretary from GS—4 to GS—5; administrative technician from GS—6 to GS—7; park ranger, interpretation, from GS—6 to GS—9; park ranger, protection from GS—5 to GS—7; maintenance worker from WG—6 to WG—8; and seasonal ranger—historian from GS—4 to GS—5). The promotions reflect Hellmers' conscious effort to increase the professionalism of the staff and to better define each position.

Another important change was the creation of two positions, a chief of operations and a resources management specialist, by dividing the duties formerly assigned to the chief of interpretation. Until 1985, the chief of interpretation was responsible for all matters relating to information, interpretation, visitor services, protection, and cultural and natural resources management. Those duties are now split so that the chief of operations is in charge of interpretation and information, visitor services, and law enforcement,* and the resources management specialist is responsible for activities related to cultural and natural resources management.

*None of the superintendents of Lincoln Boyhood reported law enforcement as a problem.

Like his predecessors, Superintendent Hellmers has been frustrated by staffing levels insufficient to his needs, particularly in the fields of maintenance and interpretation. While existing interpretive staff levels allow for staffing of. the desk in the visitor center and at the living historical farm, he is unable to provide traditional interpretive "basics" such as guided tours. Interpreters in permanent positions are required to spend considerable time in day—to—day visitor activities, and have little time to develop new programs and exhibits or accomplish research. Neither permanent nor seasonal interpreters have much time for special activities. Similarly, the involvement of the permanent maintenance staff in care of the public areas (which are maintained to a commendable level) has precluded their ability to provide adequate care to the non—public facilities, such as park residences and utilities, and to adequately document the work accomplished on the park's cultural and natural resources. [30]

Hellmers has shared the previous superintendents' frustration over insufficient funding, also. Lack of money has prevented several desired projects, including the relocation of the roads bisecting the park, the relocation of the parking area near the living historical farm, construction of comfort facilities near the farm, undergrounding of power lines, and relocation of the visitor center parking area. In Hellmers' view, even the relocation or removal of the railroads traversing the park "is ultimately a matter of insufficient funding." [31]

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Last Updated: 25-Jan-2003