Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fire in the Fields

"The month of July broke all records for heat and dryness," said the Hobart News of Aug. 5, 1921. So it's no wonder that sparks or cinders thrown off by steam engines were setting fires in fields beside the railroad tracks.

2014-10-19. Fire in Fields
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Hobart News 4 Aug. 1921.

William Rossow's farm, of course, lay on the west side of Wisconsin Street at the crossing of the (former) Pennsy Railroad. Charles Chester's land was divided by the Grand Trunk Railroad, and if the fire was threatening the Shults oats, it was probably on the Chester land on the south side of the tracks.

And we already knew where Fred Carbein was moving from; now we know where he was moving to — more or less, since I couldn't tell you exactly where in Joryville the "Hite cottage" was.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Why Don't Youse Come Down Some Time?

From the steamer trunk.

2014-10-18. 1913-02-26-a
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Images courtesy of E. Harms.

Here's Agnes Gottlieb wishing a happy 16th birthday to her friend, Minnie Rossow, just a few days late — the postmark is Feb. 26; Minnie's birthday was the 22nd.

2014-10-18. 1913-02-26-b

Friday, October 17, 2014

Return-to-Hobart Report

Paul and Bliss Emery are back in Hobart, living with her parents, Calvin and Huldah Shearer. John and Mary McDaniel have left her stepson's house and are living with her son, John Chester, while they think about moving back to Hobart.

2014-10-17. Emery et al.
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Hobart Gazette 5 Aug. 1921.

I found that story about the Kulage brickyard interesting not only because it had shut down for a while, perhaps due to the general hard times the nation was going through, but also because of the "subway" under "Chicago street," by which I suppose they mean the Chicago road, now known as Old Ridge Road.

And, speaking of the Chicago road, it's about to get improved, "from the brick yards west to Gary city limits," according to the article at the top of the right-hand column.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Brickyard Buddies

A member of the Ols family has allowed the Hobart Historical Society to copy a number of photographs and documents. We shall begin looking at some of those here.

By the Ols family I mean John and Charlotte Ols and their descendants. We have already met two of their sons: Christ (and I shall have an update on that story), and Charles. It is their eldest son, Henry, we are to deal with now.

Henry was born around 1860, when the family was still in Germany (Prussia). They arrived in this country in the early to mid-1870s,* and by 1880 were farming in Hobart Township. In 1884 Henry married Bertha Wischman of Hobart. They had five children, three of whom survived infancy: Herman (born 1887), Elizabeth (1889) and Martin (1894).

Let's start with this photo that has come down to us from Henry:

2014-10-16. img913
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Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society and Fred Ols.

Handwritten notes on the back: "Henry buddies from brickyard (probably Natco)." We don't have a date for this photo. It is printed on postcard with a divided back, but no printer's name or other helpful information.

I am not sure whether Henry is in the photo at all. I don't recognize him, but then again the faces of a few of these men are so blurred their own mothers wouldn't recognize them. Nor do I know whether Henry ever worked in any brickyard. To the census-takers, he gave different occupations: farm laborer (1880), day laborer (1900), carpenter (1910 through 1930).**

So we don't know who these brickies are, but it's a nice brickyard picture.

*Henry gave different dates to different census-takers.
**The 1920 census is illegible on that point, but it looks as if it might possibly have "carpenter" as his occupation.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Highwaymen of Ainsworth

The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the fields of corn, and Alfred Shults came driving — driving — driving — toward Ainsworth in his Ford.

Since his parents, William and Vena Shults, had bought one farm in 1913 and rented another in 1919, I do not know exactly which farm he was heading for when he was set upon by modern-day highwaymen.

2014-10-15. Alfred Shults robbed
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Hobart News 4 Aug. 1921.

This was not an isolated stretch of road, as we know: there were three houses near where present-day Grand Boulevard crosses the Deep River, so if the hold-up men had actually fired their revolvers, the neighborhood would have been roused … which would have been little consolation to Alfred, had they shot him down like a dog on the highway.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Raymond Thompson's Mother

From the steamer trunk.

2014-10-14. 5a
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Images courtesy of E. Harms.

Handwritten notes on the back of this postcard identify this young lady obliquely:

2014-10-14. 5b

As it happens, "Raymond Thompson's mother" was Ainsworth's own Elsie Sievert, daughter of Henry and Ida, who became Mrs. Burt Thompson in 1919.

Elsie was born circa 1900. This photo is probably her eighth-grade graduation portrait, dating to about 1914. Minnie Rossow Harms and Elsie were roughly contemporaries, but they would have attended different schools and so perhaps did not know each other until Elsie's son Raymond became friends with the young Harmses — I'm totally speculating here! — which might account for the indirect way Elsie is identified in the notes. Just my wild guess.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Suddenly Violently Insane

In my last post I mentioned the suicide in 1907 of Ida's brother, John Lewin. I don't know why I didn't write about it when I first encountered the story several years ago, except that at the time the names didn't mean anything to me, and also in those days I did not post in such excruciating detail as I do now. But here, at last, is the story, from the Hobart Gazette of December 27, 1907:

2014-10-13. John Lewin suicide
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By "a few miles southeast of town," I suspect the writer means Union Township, Porter County. While the microfilm is hard to read, the story gives a name that looks like "Sim Shearer" as the former owner of the farm where all this happened. I can't identify that precise farm, but if you look at Union Township in 1895, you will notice toward the northwest corner a Sam Shearer farm, and a bit south of that the Michael Baessler farm — owned by Michael Sr., I'm guessing, and possibly rented by Michael Jr. as early as the 1900 Census.

… Anyone else out there who (like me) has had their mind warped by reading too many true-crime books? — don't you find yourself wondering about certain aspects of this story? But I will shut up now, since one newspaper article is a very weak foundation on which to build one of my wild theories, and defame an innocent woman.