LOOKING BACK: Raggedy Ann’s connection to Brown County

Johnny Gruelle, (1880-1938), Raggedy Ann and Andy’s creator, was a freelance cartoonist and editorial illustrator for the Indianapolis Star, the Cleveland Press and The New York Herald. He was born in Illinois and moved to Indianapolis when he was 2. Gruelle’s father, Richard (1851-1914) was an artist who painted in Brown County. He exhibited with The Hoosier Group.

Gruelle named the doll Raggedy Ann after two poems by his friend James Whitcomb Riley, “The Raggedy Man” and “Orphan Annie.” The first book about his doll was published in 1918. Raggedy Ann was created in 1920. Gruelle wrote and illustrated many storybooks featuring Raggedy Ann and Andy.

Gruelle received a patent for the Raggedy Ann doll in 1915. After his death, other family members of the Gruelle family continued publishing books of stories about the dolls.

Gruelle’s hometown, Arcola, Illinois, was home of the annual Raggedy Ann & Andy Festival and the Raggedy Ann and Andy Museum. The museum was closed and the festival discontinued in 2009. Some of the museum’s contents were donated to The Strong National Museum of Play. Other parts of the collection are in Arcola at Rockome Gardens theme park.

On March 27, 2002, Raggedy Ann was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

Linda and Tom Bauer of Brown County have donated their Raggedy Ann and Andy collection to the Brown County Historical Society. This extensive, beautiful collection has been on display in the Brown County History Center.

You can’t imagine the variety of pieces — everything you can think of — in this collection. With summer break from school, this would be a perfect time to bring the family to see the collection.

It is refreshing to report that Raggedy Ann and Andy have endured these decades and are very much alive and well. My great-granddaughter, Alanna, received a Raggedy Ann doll for her first birthday just last weekend. When she opened the doll, there were no more gifts as far as she was concerned. Needless to say, at least one Raggedy Ann doll will be at home with Alanna as she grows up.

The History Center is at 90 E. Gould St. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Brown County Archives, on the second level, are open Tuesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m. We also have a Pioneer Village that is open on the same days as the History Center; however you may walk through them on any day.

— Pauline Hoover, Brown County Historical Society