Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Ralston, B.M.K. mss., 1873-1943, are the letters and papers of Boyd Mercer Kerr Ralston, 1860-1944, realtor of Indianapolis, Indiana, and brother of Governor Samuel Moffett Ralston. Born in Ohio, he moved at an early age with his family to Owen County, Indiana. He received his education in the nearby counties of Clay and Hendricks, procured his teaching license at seventeen and taught school for a short while in Owen County. In 1883 he married Gertrude McClarren of Worthington and by 1888 had settled in Indianapolis where he entered the real estate business.

In 1892, an airship company, the Brightwood Aerial Navigation Company, was incorporated, of which Ralston was president and Thomas Marion McKee was vice-president. A newspaper clipping of that period survives in the collection, along with later news stories and a letter from McKee in the 1930's.

Affiliated with the Democratic Party, Ralston became engaged in securing a Democratic Club Home in 1908-1909 and in revitalizing the party organization--an activity which extended throughout his career.

During the period of the teens several other matters occupied much of Ralston's time: the organization of the State Savings and Trust Company and the State Rural Savings and Loan Association, and a strong but futile effort to be named to the new Federal Farm Loan Board by President Woodrow Wilson.

In 1921, Ralston became the Democratic candidate for mayor of Indianapolis, but lost to his Republican opponent, former mayor Samuel Lewis Shank. During the campaign, filled with much speech-making, Ralston was supported by letters from friends and former Hoosiers, one of which felt that he "look[ed] the part" (10-9-21, postcard). There was also a piece of campaign literature which Ralston termed a "forgery" (12-19-21 in Miscellaneous folder 13).

Ralston was a frequent speech maker throughout his life, beginning with debates in the 1880's and continuing before the McGuffeyites, homecomings, and other organizations and meetings in the 1920's and the 1930's.

He was joined in his real estate business by his son, Glenn Boyd Ralston, 1891-1942, an Indiana University graduate and member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. The son succeeded in his political life by becoming Marion County Clerk and Marion County Auditor during the 1930's.

B.M.K. Ralston preserved the memorabilia of his career in a number of scrapbooks - from which the letters and speeches have been removed and arranged in chronological order.

The materials in the collection include: Biographical materials including sketches by B.M.K. Ralston and his father, John Ralston; the Brightwood Aerial Navigation Company; Correspondence, 1879-1943; The McGuffeyite, 22 issues for 1925-1929 (incomplete); Miscellaneous Debates, Schoolwork, Speeches and Writings, 1874-1941; Photographs of the Ralston family and two Thomas Riley Marshall Vice- Presidential Notification Ceremony photographs; Printed materials (other than those in the Scrapbooks) include Des Metzgers Leichanzug (The Butcher's Funeral), an anti- vivisection print which belonged to the Ralston family in 1873, and mayoral campaign items of 1921; Real Estate Record (bound) and folder, 1907-1943; Scrapbooks, A - U, for the years 1888-1941, some of which are former wallpaper sample books.

Among the correspondents are John Alfred McDowell Adair, Herman F. Adam, Robert Judson Aley, Laura (Whistler) Atherton, Henry A. Barnhart, Allen G. Barone, Edward Barrett, John Barrett, Charles L. Barry, Andrew Jackson Behymer, Joseph E. Bell, George A. Bittler, John Randolph Bolling, Benjamin Bosse, Frank Landers Bridges, Arthur Voorhees Brown, Herbert Claude Brunt, William Jennings Bryan, Richard Twells Buchanan, Sumner Clancy, Henry Foster Clippinger, William Henry Coleman, George M. Cornelius, William Elijah Cox, William Crozier, Brandt Chase Downey, Samuel Orthillo Dungan, Boutwell Dunlap, John Leslie Duvall, Bowman Elder, Bert Essex, Roscoe Fertich, Toney E. Flack, Henry Prather Fletcher, Inman Henry Fowler, Otto Nicholas Frenzel, Arthur Harold Godard, Avery B. Good, Charles Ashford Greathouse, Tilden Frederick Greer, William Henry Hixon, Jacob Frederick Hoke, John Everett Hollett, Louis McHenry Howe, Thomas Nelson Hunt, Bonnie Gertrude (Ralston) Irvin, Charles Webster Jewett, Fred Bates Johnson, Aquila Q. Jones, Frank C. Jordan, Leroy J. Keach, Araminta (Cooper) Kern, John Worth Kern, Julia Ethel Landers, Benjamin Franklin Lawrence, Montgomery Smith Lewis, Louis Leon Ludlow, Peter T. Luther, Charles Jackson Lynn, Bert McBride, Warren Terry McCray, Samuel M. McGregor, Thomas Marion McKee, Edward Kirk McKinney, Richard A. McKinley, George Joseph Marott, Thomas Riley Marshall, Augustus Lynch Mason, Thomas S. Meeker, Fred Clark Millis, Martin Andrew Morrison, Ralph Wilbur Moss, Charles Frederick Neu, Burt New, Lewis M. O'Bannon, Thomas William O'Connor, William Edward Osborn, Harriet Clinton (DeMiller) Perkins, Boyd Mercer Kerr Ralston, Gertrude (McClarren) Ralston, Glenn Boyd Ralston, Jennie (Craven) Ralston, John Albert Ralston, Samuel Moffett Ralston, Edward Benjamin Raub, Charles Dow Renick, Thomas A. Riley, Joseph Aloysius Rink, Arthur Raymond Robinson, Frank Benjamin Ross, Frank C. Rutan, Albert Sahm, Margaret M. Scott, George W. Seibert, Edward J. Sexton, Joseph E. Sherrill, Frederick Augustus Sims, Lemuel Ertus Slack, Matthew F. Smith, Walter Edgar Smith, Charles C. Spencer, William Wallace Spencer, Frank Douglas Stalnaker, Reginald Hall Sullivan, Andrew M. Sweeney, Edwin Forrest Sweet, Thomas Taggart, Edward N. Thacker, Ella Thompson, Joseph Patrick Tumulty, Frederick Van Nuys, Frank J. Viehmann, William H. Vollmer, Clem Charles Voorhis, E. Everett Voyles, Lewis Clark Walkinshaw, Donald E. Warfel, Clarence E. Weir, Mildred Weld, George T. Whelden, Charles Richard Williams, Arthur E. Wilson, Eben Henry Wolcott, Carl Edward Wood, William Robert Wood, Evans Woollen, and Thomas Alfred Wynne.

For a fuller accounting and location of the materials see the Inventory.

Collection size: 1,154 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.