Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Hard Times by the Yard

It's October 1840, and everybody wants hard times.

2018-4-24. DayB1840 070, 071
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.



Fortunatus Daggett, Jacob Wolf, Jr., and Milton Wolf all bought three yards of hard times. I assume it's some kind of textile.

Lest we think that "hard times" is useful only three yards at a time, in comes Myiel Pierce to buy ten yards of it …

2018-4-24. DayB1840 072, 073

… but on the next page, there's three yards again, going to Philander Sprague.

And just below Philander, a Daggett (Fortunatus?) buys some dog mittens. I'd like to pretend those were mittens for his doggies' paws, but a couple of entries on other pages make it clear that this store sold mittens made from dog hides.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Fast Time

Our friend Fred Rossow lost nearly all his cows in April 1923, as the tuberculosis testing of local herds finished up.

2018-4-20. Fast Time
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, April 20, 1923.


No one else lost as many in this round of testing, and most of the herds tested clean. "John Harnes" is a misprint for "John Harms."

There is so much material on this page! In the far-left column, Bess Hayward is selling off livestock and farming implements from her parents' estate.

In the next column, just below the cow-testing story, confusion arises from the inconsistent adoption of "fast time" — Daylight Saving Time. (And below that, yet another dance at the Niksches' Deep River Hall.)

In the right-hand column, we find an entertainment planned at the W.G. Haan School.

2018-4-20. brookdale farm synopsis
From Plays of the 19th and 20th Centuries, Volume 27 (1884)

And at the bottom of the column, some Severance-Yager socializing. From the 1920 Census, it would appear that George (Sr.) and Agnes Severance, who always rented the farms they operated, had moved from their previous home, a Ross Township farm west of Hobart,[1] to land in southeastern Hobart Township: their neighbors are Malones, Ensigns and Fasels.

♦    ♦    ♦

I was able to confirm the Harnes/Harms misprint above through the News version of the cow-testing story. That paper also carried a story about Ruby Fisher's marriage to a Hobart chiropractor named Alfred[2] C. Wickham, whom I never heard of before …

2018-4-20. Fisher wedding
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, April 19, 1923



… or after, either — I can't find them in the 1930 Census.

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[1] "Celebrate Silver Wedding," Hobart Gazette, July 20, 1917.
[2] Indiana Marriage Collection.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Distinguishing Colour

We have seen how the merchants keeping our historical ledgers recorded transactions when they did not know the customer's name: by noting some distinguishing characteristic, such as occupation, gender, age, or physical anomaly. In this case the distinguishing characteristic was skin color.

2018-4-17. DayB1840 048, 049
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.



I believe that John Wolf, at whose direction the "coloured man" collected these purchases, was the son of Jacob Wolf, based on this statement in Porter and Lake Counties (Goodspeed-Blanchard): "In the spring of 1834, Jacob Wolf and family located in the solitudes of Portage with his family. His sons John, Jacob and E. Wolf were grown at the time."[1] I cannot find a separate household for John in the 1840 Census; he may have been living with his father, but since the census did not record anyone's name beyond the head of the household, it's hard to tell. Jacob Sr.'s household consisted of 13 people — five female and eight male, one of whom was a "free colored" man.[2]

♦    ♦    ♦

The census form used what is now the standard American spelling — colored — while the ledger-keeper used what we now think of as the British/Canadian spelling: coloured. That got me wondering whether the spelling could tell us anything about the ledger-keeper's native country. A little internet research convinced me that it probably couldn't tell us anything for certain: both styles were widely used on both sides of the Atlantic for the first two or three centuries of English-speaking settlement in the New World. (When I say "both styles," I don't mean to imply that people recognized two separate standards of spelling and used them interchangeably — the situation was more chaotic than that.) Noah Webster is generally credited with influencing the standard of "American" spelling, which he consciously chose because he preferred its simplicity. His first dictionary was published in 1806 and an expanded one in 1828. But I find it hard to believe that no one born in the U.S. after 1806 was ever taught to spell in what we now think of as the British way.

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[1] Jacob's son, Josephus, known to us now for his brick mansion, was still a minor in 1840.
[2] I have not been able to trace this man beyond the 1840 census, so I don't know his name, much less his story.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Calvin Scholler's Third Marriage

Calvin Scholler's experience with marriage had been heartbreaking so far — one young wife lost to influenza and another to cancer — but in April 1923 he decided to brave it once more.

2018-4-14. Scholler-Young
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, April 12, 1923.



The Gazette added, "The bride is formerly from Glascow [sic], Scotland, and a life-long friend of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce."[1]


Other mildly interesting items on that page include (in the left column) the Gem Theatre's ad for The Toll of the Sea, which made me learn a little more than I used to know about motion pictures in color.

In the next column, the top article concerns the future site of the Roosevelt Gym. The bottom article describes the newly formed Hobart Gun Club planning to meet "on the Jerry McAuliff[e] farm east of the city in the field formerly used as a motorcycle race track," which sounds as if the racetrack had fallen into disuse.

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[1] "Scholler-Young Nuptial," Hobart Gazette, April 13, 1923.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Missionary to Puerto Rico

While looking for something else, I came across this little item in the Hobart Gazette's "Local Drifts" of July 29, 1904: "Miss Clara Hazelgreen, of Lake Station, has decided to devote her future to missionary work and about September will leave for Porto Rico" (as Puerto Rico was often called in the early 20th century). The September 16, 1904 Gazette mentioned that Clara had departed earlier in that week.

This information reminded me of a photo in my Hazelgreen/Papka collection, on the back of which someone wrote: "Clara Hazelgreen in Porto Rico."

2018-4-10. hazel005
(Click on image to enlarge)


And I had assumed she was on vacation there! — I'm so frivolous.

The time she spent in Puerto Rico would have been short of six years, since (as we already know) by 1910 she was in Seattle.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Chicken Thieves Again

As long as there are chickens, there will be chicken thieves. And there were plenty of chickens around Ainsworth in 1923.

2018-4-7. Thieves
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, April 5, 1923.



Albert Witt lived just north of Ainsworth.

John Wojahn, a former Ainsworth-area farmer, was probably living in the village of Ainsworth, to judge by his neighbors in the 1920 Census and 1930 Census. He was retired — or so I thought, but that was quite a "hennery" for a village backyard.


Over in the next column, Ruby Fisher has been exhibiting her musicianship.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Capt. John and His 28 Muskrat Skins

My indexing work has reached the daybook that begins in 1840. On May 25 of that year, a mysterious figure who went by the moniker "Capt. John" appeared in the general store in Liverpool (or wherever it was) and deposited 28 muskrat skins as payment for 3 yards of lining (cloth, I assume) and credit toward future purchases.

2018-4-4. DayB1840 004, 005
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.



Early in June, Capt. John shows up to make more purchases on his muskrat-skin credit, and this entry suggests he actually has a last name, though I can't read it.

2018-4-4. DayB1840 012, 013

I indexed that name as "Clooky?" — but it's written so small, after that sprawling "Capt. John," that I'm not entirely sure it's a name. Anyway, searching on that name doesn't get me anybody local in the 1840 Census.

About ten days later, Capt. John comes in and buys some lead.

Finally, on June 22 and 23, he makes his last muskrat-skin purchases:

2018-4-4. DayB1840 026, 027

"… being balance due him on musk rat skins," says the June 23 entry. We shall have to wait and see if he gets more muskrat skins.

Letting my imagination go to work on these few hints about Capt. John … I get the impression of one of those eccentric characters who lived by themselves in the wilderness. Oh, that cloth he bought? — he's going to have one of the local farmers' wives sew that up for him in exchange for the fish he'll catch with those hooks he bought. His title of Captain suggests a military background — maybe a veteran of the War of 1812, or the Revolution?