Thursday, September 18, 2014

Skeleton Ford Polo

The Hobart Speedway's 1921 season — its second — was busy. Though built for motorcycles, the track was now hosting auto races as well (not to mention baseball games).

On Sunday, May 29, some 2,500 people turned out to watch five races (three motorcycle, two auto). A June 12 event featured not only races but a dangerous stunt — "picking a rider from a racing auto by an airplane," which involved said rider grabbing a rope ladder that dangled from the airplane, climbing up it and being wafted off to Gary, fortunately without injury. Another novelty that day was a polo game with "skeleton Fords" taking the place of horses, where injuries to the players and the loss of some wheels just added to the excitement. The whole event was handled by a professional promoter, who took 85% of the gate receipts; the Hobart Motorcycle Club retained 15%, plus all the concession stand earnings. Heavy advance advertising brought some 5,000 to 10,000 people to block traffic on Cleveland Avenue, swarm over the McAuliffe farm, devour all the pop and sandwiches the concession stand could supply, and choke on the clouds of dust from the dirt track.

The Motorcycle Club netted around $1,000, and swore to do something about that dust at the next big event.

2014-9-18. Speedway ad
(Click on image to enlarge)

♦ Advertisement. Gary Evening Post 1 July 1921.
♦ "Big Attendance at Hobart Speedway Races Sunday." Hobart News 16 June 1921.
♦ "Races Draw Big Crowd At Speedway, Sunday." Hobart News 2 June 1921.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Country Wedding Portrait

After the less-than-dignified photo in that previous post, I thought I had better show you the formal wedding portrait of Robert and Bertha (Berndt*) Rossow, lest you think he went through the ceremony in his gingham workshirt, and she in her calico apron.

2014-9-16. img036
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society and Tom Rainford.

It's interesting that the photographer was A.O. Merrill of Hobart. Just recently, he had sold his photograph business to August Haase — the sale being reported in the Hobart Gazette of November 28, 1902, and the wedding took place November 29; so this was probably among the last photographs he ever took in his Hobart studio.

*Or Burchman, according to the marriage records I'm finding on, and I do not know which is correct.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hobart Then and Now: The Mill Business

Circa 1947, and 2014:
Mill site ca 1947
Mill Site 2014
(Click on images to enlarge)
Top image courtesy of E.H.

We've already seen a then-and-now of the old mill's picturesque side. This one's for the business side.

I wish I knew the actual source of the top photo, so I could credit it properly; but that photo comes down to us as a page cut out from some unknown publication and placed in a photo album, the owner of which was kind enough to let me scan it.

Said owner once worked in the mill, and on the night of February 15, 1953, stood in the driveway leading into the mill complex (where the red "X" is) and watched it burn. He told me that driveway was approximately where those blue panels are in the windows of the bank building.

It's his identification of the various buildings and their functions that I've previously linked to the Downtown Hobart blog.

Here is my extremely crude attempt to update the 1922 Sanborn map to show the location of the Lake County Co-Op feed store in the circa-1947 picture, as well as the driveway that wound through the complex.

Mill site 1922

Here is the site today, viewed from the west. The "X" marks roughly where the mill itself was. (Very roughly.) Water actually flowed under part of the mill, I'm told.

Mill site 2014 from back

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Country Wedding Festivities

2014-9-13. img033
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society and Tom Rainford.

This photograph was taken on Robert Rossow's wedding day. What we know about that day comes from the "Local Drifts" column of the Hobart Gazette of Dec. 5, 1902:
Last Saturday, Nov. 29th, Miss Bertha Berndt was united in marriage to Robert Rossow, Rev. E. Schuelke officiating. The ceremony was performed at four o'clock at the home of Theodore Rossow, brother of the groom. In the evening the groom gave a free dance at the K. of P. hall which was largely attended by the numerous friends of the happy couple.
By four o'clock on November 29th, the sun would have been far down in the sky, so the pictured festivities must have preceded the wedding ceremony. I image the women were inside the house, making ready, and the men went outdoors to goof around. Only one person in this photo is identified: William Rossow (another brother of Robert), who stands at left against the wall, wearing a white shirt and a big mustache.

As for the location of Theodore Rossow's farm, I can't confirm it, since I can't find Theodore in the 1900 census. He did eventually own a farm in Union Township, Porter County, but that ownership is not reflected in the 1906 plat map. Here it is on the 1921 plat map:

2014-9-13. Rossow 1921
(Click on image to enlarge)

The 1910 Census suggests that Theodore and his wife, Annie, already owned at least a part of that land (based on the enumerator's margin note placing them near the "North Township Line Road," and the other residents recorded on the same page). Oddly enough, the Hobart News, in May 1921, described their residence as "southwest" of Hobart, but that have been a misprint for "southeast" ("Local and Personal," 5 May 1921).

Robert and Bertha Rossow are even more elusive. The 1930 Census records them farming rented land in northern Ross Township, west of Ainsworth. In April 1921 the Hobart News placed them somewhere southeast of Hobart ("Local and Personal," 7 Apr. 1921). I cannot find them in any other census, or on any plat map.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Monarchs of Ainsworth

Last spring, on a whim, I bought a package of Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower) seeds. I thought they'd be pretty, and they are …

(Click on images to enlarge)

… but it turns out they are also a magnet for Monarch butterflies.

Monarch 0

Monarch 1

Monarch 2

Monarch 3

Monarch 4

Monarch 5

The hummingbirds like them too, but the hummingbirds don't want their picture taken.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Two Bloody Days

Twice in two days — the last days of June 1921 — Dr. Jacob Ader and Dr. Dwight Mackey were called on to deal with the carnage of railroad accidents.

2014-9-10. Accident at Ainsworth crossing
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 1 July 1921.

The following week's Gazette reported that Louis Hershall had died the afternoon of the same day. His remains were shipped back to New York.

Another story on the page above concerned the farmer-owned milk-marketing company, which was "in a bad way financially"; but the story gave no clue as to the reason — whether poor management, or the effects of the depression the country had been going through since early 1920, or some other cause.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Saloon Reprieve

The Post-Tribune is reporting that nobody wants to pay the $8,000 it would take to knock down the Sauter building. Sounds as if it will be standing until next summer, anyway.