In 1888, residents of Lafayette got a couple of good looks at what must have been the first parachute jumping exhibition in the city’s history.
The 19th century “sky diver” was a professional entertainer who billed himself as “Prof. E.D. Hogan.”
Whether he actually was a professor whose true name was E.D. Hogan is anybody’s guess today. But local newspapers telling of his jumps here on July 20 and 21 do indicate he was from Jackson, Mich., that he had been jumping professionally for 22 years, and was in town with a traveling carnival called Jeakel’s Hippodrome.
The entourage played two dates in the county fairgrounds, sponsored by the county fair association. The entertainment included bicycle racing, trotter racing, chariot racing and straight-out horse racing over mile and half-mile courses.
The two days of fun ended each evening at 4 p.m. with Prof. hogan ascending in a balloon, then jumping from a height billed in the advance advertisements as 6,000 feet.
Local citizens were charged a quarter apiece to see all the goings-on. Carriages or wagons and children under 12 years of age were admitted free.
The Morning Journal said of the July 20 exhibition:
“Quite a large crowd were drawn to the fair ground yesterday by the attractions offered by the fair association. The pony hippodrome and chariot races were exciting and closely contested.
“In the bicycle race Wal Wolever won the medal. In the trotting race Mack Gregory won.
“The balloon ascension and fall to the earth, assisted by the parachute, was the leading feature and was executed successfully by Prof. Hogan. It is the most daring feat ever witnessed here and will be repeated again this afternoon.”
Well, that afternoon of July 21 didn’t go quite so well for Prof. Hogan. The Journal explained the next morning:
“Last night (Prof. Hogan) was quite stiff and sore, relying on the virtues of araica to keep him going.
“When he made the leap Saturday he came down with unusual velocity. The parachute refused to work until after he had dropped a quarter of the way.
“This hitch sent him to terra firma with dangerous rapidity.
“A large butternut tree was directly in his course and he dropped into its branches, clutching a limb as he struck. He released the parachute and, as he did so, the tree released the limb he was clinging to. Both plunged to the ground 50 feet below.
“Prof. Hogan struck the ground on his right side and was completely dazed for a short time. His left wrist and right knee were both injured and are now badly swollen.
“He has been in the business 22 years and this is one of the worst accidents he has had. It was a narrow escape and one he does not think about with his usual tranquility.”
Parachuting dates back to France and the 1790s and it was a form of daring entertainment in America for most of the last half of the 19th Century.
It continues to be practiced today, with balloon ascension and sky-diving demonstrations awing thousands of spectators just as the days of old.
The student of Lafayette history finds no references to local parachuting until Prof. Hogan’s two jumps.
But in September of 1888 Lafayette papers told of more interesting parachute news: A Lafayette youth named John Manley, who had taken up parachute jumping, leaped safely from a height of 14,000 feet in a demonstration near Spencer, Ind.
About the series:
Each week, the Journal & Courier is reprinting some of the best of Bob Kriebel’s Old Lafayette columns. Today is a look back at the first parachute exhibition in city history. This is taken from a column published July 23, 1978.
Read or Share this story: https://on.jconline.com/2uq7LVX
Powered by WPeMatico