From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources
-- Gene Hopkins wasn’t the least bit surprised to see Maurice Thompson’s name show up on the inaugural list of inductees for the Indiana Conservation Hall of Fame.
“I’d think he would be among the top three,” Hopkins said.
The Indiana Conservation Hall of Fame recognizes individuals with Indiana ties for their contributions to the state’s natural or cultural heritage.
Inductees in the charter class weren’t ranked by the Hall of Fame selection committee, but it’s no surprise Hopkins would think so highly of Thompson. After all, he shares the same passion that Thompson did more than a century ago—archery.
“He is recognized universally and unquestionably as the father of archery in America, and bow hunting as an outgrowth, due to his writings in magazines and books,” Hopkins said. “That is without doubt what resulted in a renewed interest in the sport of archery.”
Thompson wrote numerous archery articles for national publications like Harper’s and Atlantic Monthly but is best known as the author of “The Witchery of Archery,” which was published in 1878.
“Still today, it remains one of the best and most influential books ever written on the subject,” Hopkins said. “It’s in reprint 150 years later and still available off bookstore shelves. The tried and true staying power of that book lives on.”
Hopkins, an archery historian from Columbus, will display a number of Thompson-related items during the Hall of Fame banquet on Friday (Sept. 25) at The Garrison at Fort Harrison State Park. One is the only known autographed first edition copy of “The Witchery of Archery.”
Also on display will be one of Thompson’s early long bows (circa 1880), a signed arrow, and a complete collection of the books written by Thompson. The 30 titles include another of Thompson’s well-known books, “Alice of Old Vincennes.”
Thompson was born Sept. 9, 1844, in Fairfield (Franklin County). He and his brother Will took up archery at a young age after the family moved to Georgia.
Both joined the Confederate Army during the Civil War, in which Maurice was wounded at the Battle of Cold Harbor. On doctor’s advice, he moved to Florida after the war to recuperate and once again picked up the bow and arrow as tools to harvest animals for food and survival.
Thompson eventually returned to Crawfordsville, where he and his brother formed the National Archery Association, which remains the U.S. governing body for Olympic target archery.
Thompson later became a civil engineer and lawyer, was elected to the state legislature and was appointed state geologist. He died in 1901.
Others being inducted to the Indiana Conservation Hall of Fame are Leila (Lee) Botts, Lynton Caldwell, Reynold (Rey) Carlson, Bill and Gayle Cook, Charles C. Deam, Tom and Jane Dustin, the Efroymson family, President Benjamin Harrison, Marion Jackson, Richard Lieber, Eli Lilly, Sally Reahard, Rev. Damian Schmel and Gene Stratton-Porter.
Brief profiles of the inductees are published in the September/October issue of Outdoor Indiana magazine, which is available in leading bookstores or through subscription at OutdoorIndiana.org.
Tickets for the Hall of Fame banquet are available by contacting Indiana Natural Resources Foundation executive director Bourke Patton at (317) 234-5447 or by e-mail bpatton@dnr.IN.gov