Friday, November 27, 2020

The Reaper

Who is this young man reaping the harvest of 1911?

2020-11-27. Kraft, Frank Jr., postcard a
(Click on images to enlarge)

I don't know; but I think it may have been a member of the Kraft family of Hobart (well, technically, of rural Porter County northeast of Hobart, but let's not get picky), because it was sent by Fred Kraft, Jr.

2020-11-27. Kraft, Frank Jr., postcard b

Fred Jr. was about 36 when he sent this postcard. From what I can see of the young man in the photo, he looks younger than mid-30s. There was a 19-year-old brother, Ralph, who seems a more likely candidate, if this reaper is indeed a Kraft.

Fred Jr.'s parents were Fred Sr. (of course) and Elizabeth "Eliza" Ream — which answers one of my earliest questions in this blog, about the connection between the Kraft and Ream families. They had nine children, all of whom lived to adulthood.

The family was living in Indiana by the time of Fred Jr.'s birth in 1875, and to judge by the 1880 census, they were already in the area of Portage Township where they would settle permanently; but the earliest plat map where I can find the Fred Kraft farm dates to 1895.

2020-11-27. Kraft Portage-1895
Image from

The 1876 plat map shows 40 acres of that land owned by D. Kraft — likely Fred Sr.'s brother, Dan.

On the 1895 map, there's a square marking a house in approximately the same spot where that lovely old brick farmhouse stands today. The Porter County records give 1900 as the build date for the house (but you know my opinion about "1900").

Fred Jr. lived and worked on that farm through the 1940 Census. He never married. He died in 1951 and was buried in Hobart Cemetery.

As for this Michael Pister who received the card in Chicago — if there was any family connection between him and the Krafts, I don't know about it. And the Henry whom Frank Kraft, Jr. wanted to hear from was Michael's brother. The 1910 Census records them as 30-something bachelors living with their parents in Chicago, working in their father's tin shop.

Within three months of the date of this postcard, the Reaper came for Henry.

2020-11-27. Chicago Inter Ocean, Sept. 22, 1911
Chicago Inter Ocean, Sept. 22, 1911.

(That last sentence is probably inaccurate, as Henry's obituary in the Chicago Tribune of September 24, 1911, mentions no wife or children.)

Friday, November 20, 2020

A Bruebach Family Portrait

I received this photo from a Bruebach descendant, who tells me that it shows a family group on the Bruebach farm circa 1912.

2020-11-20. Bruebach family on Bruebach farm ca. spring 1912
(Click on images to enlarge)
Photos courtesy of Marilyn Duran.

The extended and in-law Bruebach family at this time included an Abel as well as Manteuffels,[1] and probably other family names that I don't know about.

If this is the Bruebach farm, that must be the farmhouse in the background, and a very nice farmhouse it is. I can't match it up to anything still standing today; more's the pity.[2]

Only four people in this photo are identified, and here Marilyn has pulled them out to form their own little family group:

2020-11-20. Frank and Johanna (Bruebach) Abel, Jr. family ca. spring 1912

Clockwise from the top: Frank Abel, Jr. (b. 1880); his wife, Johanna (Bruebach, b. 1882); their son, Lester (b. 1911); and their daughter, Audis (b. 1907).

What strikes me is how unhappy both Frank and Audis look. Maybe they just didn't like having their picture taken; but then again, they might not have felt entirely comfortable among the Bruebachs. Unfortunately, Frank and Johanna's marriage was troubled. Later in the 1910s, their private drama would become public as the social columns of the local newspapers reported separations, reconciliations, and Johanna's filing of a divorce suit. Frank's death certificate (January 1919) describes him as divorced.

By then Johanna had taken the children and moved to Chicago. Marking the anniversaries of Frank's death through 1922, the local newspapers carried notices like this one:

2020-11-20. 1920-01-22 News, In Memoriam
Hobart News, January 22, 1920.

[1] Elise Manteuffel married George Bruebach, Sr., in 1887 in Chicago (Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index), thus beginning what would become the Bruebach family of Hobart.
[2] Assuming some remodeling, it looks a bit like 10 N. Hobart Road, which was built in 1899 per the county records and is not on the former Bruebach property.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Where the Bruebach Farm Was: A Theory

Since I started researching the Bruebach family, I have been wondering where they lived. Newspaper items reference a farm, but I could not find any property labeled "Bruebach" on any plat map.

The reason for this, I have come to believe, is that the farm was too small to allow a mapmaker to write out the full name, and that the Bruebach farm is marked by the initials "G.B." on the 1908 Plat Map:

2020-11-13. Bruebach 1908
(Click on images to enlarge)

It's a parcel of probably less than 20 acres straddling Rand Street on the west side of present-day State Road 51.

Aside from the initials matching George Bruebach's name, what evidence do I have for my theory?

First of all, in the 1920 Census, the enumerator's notes place the Bruebach household on the "East Gary Road between East Gary and Hobart, Ind.," which describes S.R. 51.

2020-11-13. Bruebach 1920 census

That phrase could also describe Lake Park Avenue, I suppose, so let's look at the 1910 Census.

2020-11-13. Bruebach 1910 census

Of all the names recorded near the Bruebachs, only Larson also appears on Lake Park Avenue. I think the Jacob and Anna Haller below the Bruebachs show up on the 1908 map misspelled as J. & A. Keller, while Kostbade in the census comes out Kostbach on the map.

Also note that George Bruebach, Sr. was an electrician by trade, not a farmer, so he wouldn't need a lot of land.

In further support of the S.R.-51 theory, I offer early-20th-century newspaper descriptions of the location of the Bruebach home. The "Local Drifts" column in the Hobart Gazette includes a couple of items: in the July 7, 1914, issue: "Mrs. Frank Able [née Johanna Bruebach; married Frank Abel, Jr. in 1906] and two children spent Sunday with her parents northeast of town"; and in the September 29, 1922 issue: "Mr. and Mrs. Paul Bruebach, who live in the Lounsbury house, on Cleveland avenue, will move about next Monday to the home of his mother and sister, northeast of the city." I emphasize "northeast" because that direction more accurately describes S.R. 51 than Lake Park Avenue; the latter would just be "north."

In their obituaries of George Bruebach, Sr. (who died June 15, 1920), the Gazette states: "Fifteen years ago last April he purchased a small farm northeast of Hobart,"[1] while the News describes the farm as being "about two miles from town."[2] Measured on Google maps, the distance from the center of town to the Rand-S.R. 51 intersection (traveling by road) is about 1.77 miles.

So there you have my theory, and the evidence on which I base it.

[1] "Death of George J. Bruebach," Hobart Gazette, June 25, 1920.
[2] "George Bruebach, Sr. Expires Suddenly Tuesday Evening," Hobart News, June 17, 1920.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Brave Critters of Ainsworth

Some brave critter (skunk? raccoon?) came by in the night and dug up a yellowjacket nest in my yard.

2020-11-06. Nest hole
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I knew the yellowjackets had built a nest in the ground by that old elm stump last summer, but I didn't know how big it was.

2020-11-06. Contents of nest

And to think I mowed around there all summer without getting stung. It seems the yellowjackets of Ainsworth are pretty mild-mannered.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Jim's Bad Day on the Dunes Highway

James Chester's first time ever driving on the newly opened Dunes Highway did not go well.

2020-11-01. Jim Chester, News, 11-29-1923
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"Local and Personal," Hobart News, Nov. 29, 1923.

An item in the same column tells us that an infant daughter of Leo and Augusta (Buchfuehrer) Fifield was seriously ill. Clara Mae Field had been born August 14, 1923 (delivered by Dr. Clara Faulkner). Fortunately, Clara survived her illness and shows up alive and well in the 1930 Census and beyond.

2020-11-01. Fifield, Clara, 1941 senior photo
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image from

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Ainsworth School-Year Souvenir, 1897-98 (Conclusion)

(continued from Part 7)

2020-10-24. Switzer, Ainsworth school souvenir 1897-98 b
(Click on image to enlarge)

My last entry in this series is a disappointment, because I simply can't identify any Bessie (or Elizabeth) Switzer with any clear connection to Ainsworth.

Checking my notes, however, I do find a local connection to the surname Switzer in this "General News Item" from the Hobart Gazette of September 20, 1907:
A family reunion in which fifty-two people participated was held last Sunday at the home of Chas. Maybaum, Sr., south of Ainsworth, in honor of his sister, Mrs. Rudolph Switzer, and her daughter Carrie who are here from Ness City, Kas., visiting relatives for a few months. Those present from Hobart were Mrs. Geo. Stocker who is a sister of Mrs. Switzer and Jacob Kramer, Jr., and family. The day was very pleasantly passed.
And in the Indiana Marriage Collection we find Rudolph Sweitzer marrying Augusta Maibaum in Lake County, Indiana, on March 4, 1871. Rudolph first shows up in Hobart in the 1860 Census (age 11) with his parents, Daniel and Anna, both of whom died within a few years and are buried in Hobart Cemetery. Rudolph also makes some appearances in the Union Sunday School record books and the Hobart Township Trustee's ledger between 1869 and 1875, though I can't find him in the 1870 Census.

However, Rudolph and Augusta Switzer were in living in Kansas from the 1880 Census onward, and as far as I can tell they never had a child named Bessie.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Valpo Dummie at the Pennsy Station, 1977

Here's another addition to my collection of Depressing Photos of the Pennsy Station, this one from a slide imprinted with the date April 8, 1977.

2020-10-16. Pennsy Station 4-8-1977 Valpo Dummie photo by Bob Schmidt
(Click on image to enlarge)

According to handwritten notes on the slide, standing on the track is the "Valpo Dummie," a commuter train that ran between Valparaiso and Chicago.

I have no idea what the correct spelling of dummie/dummy is. If a colloquialism like that could be said to have a correct spelling.