Saturday, January 31, 2015

South of Deepriver

Here's the social news from Deepriver and vicinity, from the Hobart News of Nov. 24, 1921.

South of Deepriver column
(Click on image to enlarge)

I believe Maybelle Guernsey, now employed at the Ainsworth department store, was the daughter of Chester and Nancy (Hardesty) Guernsey, about 20 years of age.

Howard H. Smith apparently is sprucing up his place, with carpenter work, and a new well to be drilled by "C. Hulbert," known to us as Chester Hurlburt, second son of Milan and Mary Ann (Guernsey) Hurlburt. The 1920 Census lists Chester as 39 years old, still single, and living with his widowed father out in the countryside (possibly on the family farm, although neither gives his occupation as farming).

♦    ♦    ♦

I found the article above the "South of Deepriver" column interesting. The top part of it got cut off, but it's titled, "Chicago Motor Club Complains That Their Signs Are Being Torn Down," and you can get the gist of it — that vandals have been attacking warning signals as well as road direction signs placed along various local roads for the safety and convenience of motorists. This surprised me, in my persistent innocence. I had already learned that in the past drivers could be remarkably irresponsible, destructive, and selfish, but somehow I wasn't expecting this kind of random auto-related maliciousness (except perhaps in times of war or on Halloween).

Friday, January 30, 2015

Elizabeth Rossow Murphy

2015-1-30. img202
(Click on image to enlarge)
Date and location unknown.
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society and Tom Rainford.

She was the daughter of Henry and Augusta (Stolp) Rossow, thus a half-sister of William Rossow and a sister of Ida Rossow.

We find her in 1880, at the age of three, with Henry and Augusta on their farm in Hobart Township. As a child, Liz somehow survived the epidemic of diphtheria that took the lives of her older brother, Freddie, and younger sister, Annie — so we are told by Minnie Rossow Harms in As It Was Told to Me; she tells us, too, that it was Lizzy who discovered her father's body in the field where he was killed in an accident in 1895.

In 1903, Lizzie's mother married again, to William H. Carey. Liz and her sisters did not get along with their stepfather (again, according to Minnie Rossow Harms), so they moved into their own lodgings. Thus we find Lizzie in 1910, as the oldest sibling, the head of a household in Hobart composed of sisters and brothers. By 1920 Liz had moved to Chicago, and was living with her sister Clara, her brother Herman, and her cousin Ella (Minnie Rossow's sister, I suppose). They were all employed, and supplemented their income by taking in lodgers.

In August of 1920 Liz, at about 42 years of age, married John "Jack" Murphy. By 1930, I believe she and her husband were living in Hobart again.

Minnie Harms says this of her Aunt Liz:
She lived to see a great many hardships, also good times, and was always a great favorite with my father and his brothers, his two right brothers. She did not marry until middle life and she never experienced the joy or the hardships of having a family herself. She was 64 when she died of an asmethedic [sic] heart, Feb. 4, 1940.
Liz is buried in Hobart Cemetery.

1880 Census.
1910 Census.
1920 Census.
1930 Census.
Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index.
♦ Harms, Minnie Rossow. As It Was Told to Me. 1952 – 1978. MS. Hobart Historical Society, Hobart, Indiana.
Indiana Marriage Collection.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Just Another Airplane Falling Out of the Sky

It wasn't as close to Ainsworth as usual when a U.S. mail plane fell out of the sky on November 18, 1921.

2015-1-19. Airplane falls onto farm
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News 24 Nov. 1921.

The Gazette said that the plane came down in "Wm. Mohl's field," and members of the Louis Boldt family were first on the scene. I can't find the Mohl, or Moehl, land; I can't find a farm owned by Louis Boldt; but here, for what it's worth, is the William Boldt farm on the 1908 Plat Map.

2015-1-29. Boldt 1908
(Click on image to enlarge)

♦    ♦    ♦

Speaking of William Boldt (who was Louis' brother, I believe) — he was up to his own activities at this time: he had just sold his house in Hobart, and was holding an auction to sell off some of its contents.

2015-1-19. Wesley: John Sr. & John Jr.
(Click on image to enlarge)
"Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 25 Nov. 1921.

I haven't talked about the Wesley family since the autumn of 1920, when John's sister, Anna, had married William Gernenz — except for a "South of Deepriver" column in June 1921 mentioning that John Wesley was pressing hay for H.H. Smith, and I don't know whether that's John Sr. or Jr. John Sr. was farming in the vicinity, of course, but John Jr., although a townie, earned his living by threshing and pressing hay for others with his own machinery.

Here is the Wesley land as shown in the 1926 Plat Book (it was identical in 1891 and 1908, and substantially the same in 1939):

2015-1-19. Wesley 1926
(Click on image to enlarge)

Anyway, it's John Jr. who is now going to farm in Ross Township, and maybe he will provide us with better gossip than his father did (not that I have any reason to hope).

John Jr., born May 25, 1889, was the middle son of three from John Sr.'s first marriage. By the age of 21 he had moved out of his father's house and hired on to work on the farm of William and Jennie Fisher. I'd be tempted to draw an interesting conclusion from that fact (for example, that he couldn't get along with his young stepmother, or, what is worse, got along with her too well), except that it was not uncommon for young men from farming families to hire on with neighbors.

Late in June 1917, John Jr. married Frances Mattmiller in Chicago. I'd be tempted to suppose that his having filled out his draft card a few weeks earlier had given him marriage fever, but really I have no evidence of that and I ought to stop thinking such things. And furthermore, he stayed married to Frances through 1940 at least, so no doubt it was a true love match. Anyway, in 1920 there they were in Hobart with one little son, being utterly respectable citizens.

By 1940 they had three children. Let us hope at least that one of the children will commit a youthful indiscretion.

Additional Sources:
1900 Census.
1910 Census.
1920 Census.
1940 Census.
Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index.
WWI Draft Cards.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Minnie Harms and John Berndt

To complement yesterday's post, let's look at the wedding photos of Minnie Harms and John Berndt.

Minnie Harms, John Berndt
(Click on images to enlarge)
Photographs courtesy of Eldon Harms.

The Hobart Gazette of April 23, 1909, gave some details about that gorgeous dress of hers.

2015-1-28. Berndt-Harms

They were photographed by August Haase. A second photo included the flower girls, Dorothy Leiger and Minnie Bassauer (notes on the back of the original suggest that Minnie may be on the left and Dorothy on the right, but it's not clear).

Minnie Harms, John Berndt & flower girls.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Aunt Minnie Berndt

Minnie Harms Berndt had been married for less than two years and did not yet have any children of her own when she wrote this variation on an old classic in her nephew Lester's autograph album.

2015-1-27. lhauto007
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Eldon Harms.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Menu of Death

This page from the Hobart Gazette of November 25, 1921, offered up varied styles of death, from the horrifyingly sudden to the tragically premature.

2015-1-26. 3 deaths
(Click on image to enlarge)

I'm guessing that Bertha Stoltz's mother was Gust Busse's sister (Bertha's maiden name being Heiman, not Busse). Bertha had married Robert Stoltz in 1908, and early in their married life they rented a house on Center Street in Hobart, convenient to Robert's work in a brickyard. By 1920 they had moved into Morgan Township, Porter County, and were farming rented land.

The Gazette's version says the shooting was accidental, but a couple of articles I have tracked down from other sources, including a Wanatah newspaper, say it was intentional, though impulsive.

♦    ♦    ♦

Minnie Chase Smith had been born November 9, 1865, on her parents' farm, which I believe I have found on the 1874 Plat Map:

2015-1-26. Chase 1874
(Click on image to enlarge)

I wish I had figured out earlier that Sela Smith had this local connection; I could have talked about him more — not that he's done anything particularly interesting, but I think his name has popped up in the newspapers more than his wife's … which isn't saying much. They seem to have led a pretty quiet life. (Minnie's brother, Gust, is the one who would be killed in a car crash in 1927.)

♦    ♦    ♦

We saw this coming for poor Harold Guernsey, who had been seriously ill for many months. Incidentally, I have never heard of Putout, Indiana, where Otis Guernsey is described as living, nor can I find any information on such a place. (And "Mrs. Carrie Sondong" in the last sentence is a misprint for "Santonge.")

Additional Sources:
1880 Census.
1910 Census.
1920 Census.
♦ "Funeral of Mrs. Sela Smith Held at Her Home Saturday Afternoon." Hobart News 24 Nov. 1921.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
♦ "Mrs. Robert Stoltz Killed by Shot Gun in Hands of Orphan Boy." Wanatah Mirror 24 Nov. 1921 (
♦ "Obituary." Hobart News 17 Nov. 1921.
♦ "Youth Slays Woman." Indianapolis Star 23 Nov. 1921 (

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Language of Postage Stamps

After a comment on this post mentioned the language of postage stamps, the DeWell family archivist sent me this image …

2015-1-25. KlaasAgnes notebook
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the DeWell Family Archives.

… with this explanation:
I remembered seeing this in a tiny notebook my grandmother, Agnes Klaas-Hasse, kept about 1908.

She was born in Klaasville, Lake County, Indiana in 1891. About 1905 her family moved to Mississippi, searching for cheaper farmland. Agnes and several of her sisters later returned to Lake County, married and raised families there.
So here we've got a young woman who grew up on an Indiana farm; who, transplanted to Mississippi, did nothing more exotic, as far as I can tell, than get a job as a cook in the home of a moderately well-to-do family (1910 Census); and yet she knew about the language of postage stamps — it could not have been too arcane.

Poking around the internet a bit, I find some articles on the topic, including an international selection of rules and a 2005 article on the the lingering use of this language.

I have been schooled. All the same, on all the postcards I've looked at over the past few years, I haven't seen a stamp anywhere but the upper right-hand corner.