Diana of the Dunes
July, 2010 marks the debut of no doubt the definitive book on Diana by Janet
Zemke Edwards. You can order the book from The History Press and/or follow the
The History Press: Search
The book is remarkable. 160 pages with pictures and footnotes. The author did a
great job drawing from the newspapers of the time and interviews. A daunting
task to sort out "legend" from truth distorted by false newspaper reporting.
Very few people who grew up in Miller failed to be captivated
by the story of Diana of the Dunes, a local legend. Nancy Fay-Lesley,
who grew up in Miller, remembers dreaming of the free spirited Diana:
"I was fascinated with the Diana of the Dunes stories (still am). Dad told
us there was a lady who lived in the dunes and people hardly ever saw her. There
was talk of an older man with whom she became romantically involved,and that she'd
shoot at people who dared to invade her space. My reaction as an introverted nature-lover
was to daydream about being her...sometimes I still do! "
Diana's story appears in history books,
Hoosier Folklore Legends1,
and the Spring 1997 issue of Traces Magazine, the magazine of the Indiana
Historical Society. "Child of the Northwest Wind: Alice Gray and "Diana
of the Dunes", by David Hoppe is perhaps the most complete telling
of the story ever written. For a while it was on the Historical Society's website,
but has been removed. A request to place it here was never answered. I've provided
it as an Adobe PDF file.
As a footnote to David's story, a short period of Alice Gray's life before coming
to Miller was unearthed by Merri Sue Carter at the U.S. Naval Observatory.
While doing research on early women employees of the USNO, Merri Sue discovered
that Alice Gray, one of the "best and brightest" of the early employees,
was also a legend in Northwest Indiana. I'm sure you'll enjoy The Contributions of Women to the United States Naval Observatory:
The Early Years: Miss Alice Mabel Gray by Merri
Baker, Ronald L., Hoosier Folk Legends, (IU Press, Bloomington,