'Ain't God good to Indiana?'

Oct. 28—It was Hoosier native poet and journalist William Miller Herschell who penned the words in the poem "Ain't God Good to Indiana?"

Herschell was born in Spencer and worked as a journalist for the Huntingburg Independent, then the Princeton News and, finally, the Indianapolis News.

I had heard that Herschell lifted those words from a fishing partner in my hometown of Knightstown. In fact, none other than President Ronald Reagan retold the tale in an address before a joint session of the Indiana State Legislature in Indianapolis on Feb. 9, 1982.

In that address Reagan said, "In 1919 William Herschell, a columnist for the Indianapolis News, came upon another admirer of this state, an old man near Knightstown who was sitting on a log in the warm sunshine, fishing in the Big Blue River.

"And with a sweep of his arm, the old boy encompassed the whole countryside, and he says, 'Ain't God good to Indianny!' Well, God certainly has been good to Indiana ..."

No matter where he came up with the phrase, Hershell put those words down in a poem, and I leave it to Hoosiers across the state to debate the origin and the locale that inspired them.

Upon driving around Madison County this past week and looking at the beautiful autumn scenery, I would wagerthat it was this time of year that inspired Herschell or whomever first uttered the words.

It is impossible to look at the vibrant hues of color adorning the leaves with the crisp fall days, the autumn-dappled sunlight and dark blue skies and not think, "Ain't God good to Indiana?"