The Battle for the Indiana Dunes:
Examples of Local Leadership
By Dick Meister
Dorothy Richardson Buell (1886-1977)
Dorothy Richardson (1886-1977) was born in Winnebago County, Wisconsin. Following graduation from Lawrence College and a career as a teacher and an organizer of a National Women’s Sorority, she married James Harold Buell (1881-1970), an electrical engineer and utilities executive, in 1918 in Chicago. The Buell family, augmented by the birth of their son, Robert, in 1922 spent much of the 1920s in Tulsa, Oklahoma before moving to Chicago by 1930 and a few years later to Flossmoor. There Dorothy established a reputation as an excellent speaker and book reviewer. She was a leader in the Little Theatre in Flossmoor and organized a number of Book Clubs. She also gave numerous dramatic readings to women’s groups in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.
Between 1917 and 1921 Dorothy’s older brother, Newton, and her older sisters, Olive and Elizabeth, accepted teaching positions in the Gary Public School System. They soon purchased lots and the sisters built a cottage at what became 39 Shore Drive in Ogden Dunes. Olive and Elizabeth were two of the 14 petitioners (land owners) to incorporate what became Ogden Dunes in 1925. The sisters and their parents, who retired to Gary later in the 1920s, also bought a home at 545 Taft Street. Their immediate neighbors on Taft Street in 1930 were Arthur and Dess Cash and their three sons. A. L. Cash, a Gary contractor, soon became one of the major builders in Ogden Dunes, especially noted for the Kratz Home at 50 Shore Drive and the scores of ‘Cash Boxes’ built after World War II.
No matter where Dorothy, Hal and Bob Buell lived, they spent time at the Richardson Cottage during family vacations. In 1940 as Bob went off to the University of Michigan and Hal neared retirement, the Buell family built a home at 17 Cedar Court. For the next 12 years Dorothy was active in the larger community, giving book reviews and dramatic readings. She was in many ways the epitome of the middle-class, Republican clubwoman, always well dressed and never seen without her hat and white gloves.
In 1952 at the age of 65 she turned her energy and leadership skills to the battle to save the dunes that she loved and had appreciated for more than a quarter of a century. She led the Council through its battles and ultimately to its success in creating Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on November 5, 1966. Finally in 1967 at the age of 83 she turned the leadership over to Sylvia Troy of Dune Acres. She and Hal then joined their son Robert in Santa Clara, California. Hal died shortly after their move, but Dorothy immediately became active with local book clubs. She died in 1977 at 91.
Edward Osann (1918-2005)
Edward William Osann (1918 – 2005) was born in New York, graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and married Ruth Hamlyn (1918-2011) in 1940. As a returning G.I. he and his family moved to Chicago where he received his law degree from DePaul University in 1948. He joined a large Chicago firm as a patent attorney.
The family moved to Ogden Dunes in 1953 and he immediately became involved in the Save the Dunes Council and in the formation of the Plan Commission. He played a key role in drafting and documenting, especially through photos, the Ogden Dunes Plan that was adopted by Town Board in 1957. He also coordinated and was a spokesperson for the numerous lawsuits involving the Town’s attempt to extend its zoning power into the unincorporated areas owned by Midwest Steel, Inland Steel, NIPSCO, and the New York Central Railroad.
The family moved to Dune Acres in 1959. He and Ruth played key roles in the Save the Dunes Council almost up until the time of their deaths in 2005 and 2011. Ruth became
the third president of the Council in 1977. Ed served as a long-time member of the Council’s Board and a lobbyist in supporting the expansion of the park.
Florence Broady (1905-1991)
Florence was the daughter of Circuit Court Judge John Broady of Quincy, Illinois. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin and then attended Gem City Business College in Quincy to become a stenographer. She moved to Chicago in 1932 to take a position with the Chicago World’s Fair. This allowed her to work and attend classes at the University of Chicago in law. She passed her bar exam in 1935 and worked for Chicago Title and Trust Company. In the late 1930s she built a cottage at 90 Shore Drive, which was recently replaced with a new home. Florence became very active in the Save the Dunes Council in the 1950s.
Alyce Meehan (1922-2012)
Alyce married William H. Meehan, a chemical engineer for Standard Oil, after World War II. In 1948 they lived in Hammond, where she taught at Maywood School. Shortly after that they moved to 3 Skyline Drive in Ogden Dunes. Their son, Timothy, was born in 1949. Both Wiliam and Alyce became active in the Ogden Dunes community, as Bill was elected to the Town Board and soon became president in 1957. Alyce served as secretary of the Woman’s Club in 1951 and later as president of the Book Club. In the mid-1950s she joined with Florence Broady to head the petition drive to oppose the building of a deep-water port near Burns Ditch. In 1959 the Meehan family built a new home on Summit and sold their home on Skyline to Dale Messick. Later Bill and Alyce moved to Colorado, where she died in 2012.
Paul H. Douglas (1892-1976) [Honorary resident of Ogden Dunes]
Paul H. Douglas, raised in Maine, served as Professor of Economics, at the University of Chicago. He was elected to the Chicago City Council from 1939 to 1942, when he enlisted, at the age of 50, in the U.S. Marine Corps, rising to the rank of Lt. Colonel and earning two Purple Heart awards. After his first marriage ended in divorce he married Emily Taft, daughter of sculptor Lorado Taft. Emily had served in Congress from 1945 to 1947. Paul Douglas was elected as a progressive Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 1948, where he served three terms. He was defeated for reelection in 1966 by Republican Charles H. Percy.
Chronology of Activities of the Battle to Save the Dunes
1916: Visit of Stephen T. Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, to the Indiana Dunes
1919: Inland Steel purchases 800 plus acres east of Gary, Indiana
1923: Ogden Dunes Incorporated purchases 500 plus acres from the Francis Ogden Estate for a highly restricted residential community. The Town is incorporated in 1925.
1929: National Steel purchases 500 plus acres directly east of Ogden Dunes, both sides of Burns Ditch and announces plan for a large steel mill and a new city called Port William. Depression and W.W. II postpones these plans.
1950: National Steel’s subsidiary, Midwest Steel, announces plans for a finishing mill.
1950: Push to create a public harbor at Burns Ditch.
1952: Save the Dunes Council is formed, following a meeting at the home of Dorothy Buell on June 20.
1953: Council buys 56 acres in Cowles Tamarack Bog.
1954: Gov. George Craig supports a $2 million allocation to develop a state operated port at Burns Ditch.
1954: Ogden Dunes establishes a Plan Commission to develop a master plan for Ogden Dunes and the contiguous, unincorporated areas.
1957: Alyce Meehan and Florence Broady, representing the Ogden Dunes community present a petition signed by 452 residents to Col. John B. W. Corey, Jr., of the Army Corps of Engineers to prohibit the authorization of a port at Burns Ditch..
1958: Senator Paul Douglas introduced the first dunes bill in the Senate and Congressman John P. Saylor of Pennsylvania in the House of Representatives.
1959: Senator Ernest Gruening of Alaska and Senator Frank Moss of Utah of the Department of Interior Committee visit the dunes and hold a hearing in Chesterton on June 15.
1959: Incorporation of the Town of Portage, thus surrounding Ogden Dunes on three sides.
1961: Visit of Secretary of Interior, Stewart Udall, along with other public officials to the Indiana Dunes.
1961-1963: Battle over a deep-water port near Burns Ditch.
1963: The Kennedy Administration proposes a port-park compromise with the dunes between Burns Ditch and Dune Acres becoming part of the Port/Steel Complex and 11,000 acres elsewhere in the dunes to become part of the national park system.
1966: On November 5, President Lyndon B. Johnson signs legislation that creates potentially an 8,500 acre Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Quoting President Johnson, “ … our land will be attractive tomorrow only if we organize for action and rebuild and reclaim the beauty that we inherited.”
1966-67: Ogden Dunes fights to exclude its beach from the National Lakeshore.
1970s: Park expansion and the 1977 dedication of West Beach and 1979 opening of the Visitor Center.
Late 1970s: Park Expansion takes the north half of the 6th Subdivision as 7 home owners are forced to give up their homes.
1980s: Significant erosion of the lake shore in Ogden Dunes due to the creation of breakwaters for the Port of Indiana.