Friday, February 14, 2020

Unidentified Newlyweds, But I Have a Theory

For Valentine's Day, here's a lovely photo of two unidentified newlyweds.

2020-02-14. st041
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Image courtesy of Eldon Harms.

It comes from Minnie Rossow Harms' steamer trunk, which narrows the circle of possibilities.

I think the young man looks like Henry Harms, Jr. That would make the young lady the former Miss Grace Cook.

Here's an identified photo of Henry Jr. and another young woman (named Lena Clark):

2020-02-14. sb132
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Eldon Harms.

Cute, huh? "To Reno," because Reno, Nevada was known as a place where you could get divorced relatively quickly? — not very romantic. But you could get remarried the same day, apparently.

However, the point of the photo is: the Reno-bound Henry Jr. looks to me like the unidentified young husband above.

Although the newlyweds are not identified, their photographer is. He was T.E. Wood, of 6250 Wentworth, Chicago, Illinois. We know that Henry Jr. and Grace were married January 8, 1916; was Mr. Wood working as a photographer then? The 1910 Census shows Thomas E. Wood, at age 70, carrying on his profession while living at 6250 Wentworth. A 1911 Chicago directory, while advertising his photography business, also gives us his middle name: Evert.

2020-02-14. Wood, Thomas Evert
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From The Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago 1911 (Chicago: The Chicago Directory Company, 1911),

Mr. Wood died May 22, 1918. His brief death notice in the Chicago Tribune of May 23 doesn't say whether he was photographing to the end.

Chicago directories between 1911 and 1918 are remarkably scarce online, so I can't prove T.E. Wood was still working as a photographer in 1916. However, he seems to have been devoted to his art, and it's not unreasonable for a man of some 76 years of age to photograph a nice, orderly event like a wedding. I hereby pronounce my theory plausible.

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Ewigleben Family

Back when I was posting about the Ewiglebens, I completely forgot I had this photograph.

2020-02-10. st035
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Image courtesy of Eldon Harms.

Fred Ewigleben, Sr., is standing at center, and his wife, Tillie (née Blanchard) is seated in front of him. The photo is undated, but based on the fact that it was taken by the Hallberg Studio, as well as the fashions and apparent ages of the subjects, I'm guessing it dates to about 1920. Per the 1920 Census, Fred and Tillie had four children: Raymond (19), Fred Jr. (17), Emil (15), and Florence (13). Emil and Florence are seated on either side of their mother; the older boys are standing on either side of their father, but I don't know which is which.

I'm having trouble sketching out Tillie's family background. Per her death certificate from 1946 (she died on November 21, her birthday), she was born in Chicago in 1875; her father's name is given as Charles Blanchard, but the informant apparently did not know her mother's maiden name — not even her first name. There was a Charles Blanchard in Hobart who was near Tillie's age and also born in Chicago, but his death certificate gives his father's name as John, mother's name unknown. Where the information in both cases was so lacking about the decedent's ancestry, I'm not inclined to rely too much on the death certificates. I think it's highly likely that Charles Blanchard, Sr. (he also had a son named Charles) was Tillie's brother.

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2/15/2020 update — I came across this item in the "Local Drifts" column of the Hobart Gazette of January 24, 1919:
Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Blanchard and Mr. and Mrs. Fred Ewigleben were in Chicago the forepart of the week to attend the funeral on Monday of Mrs. Anna Carleton, a sister of Mr. Blanchard and Mrs. Ewigleben. Mrs. Carleton is survived by husband, a daughter and three sons, one of whom is in France.
That establishes Tillie and Charles Sr. as siblings. The Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index gives Anna Carleton's parents' names as John Blanchard and W. Russell. The three Carleton sons were Harold, Adolph, and William, and the daughter, who was about 12 when Anna died, was named Eva (1910 Census) or Eveline (1920 Census).

Monday, February 3, 2020

Charles Goldman Hits the Big Time

It's the autumn of 1923 and our former storekeeper, Charles Goldman, has well and truly shaken the dust of Ainsworth from his feet as he now moves to Gary to become a real estate mogul.

2020-02-03. Goldman, News, 11-1-1923
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Hobart News, Nov. 1, 1923.

Their nieces were still living with them, and doing well, it seems:

2020-02-03. Goldman, Gazette, 11-9-1923
"Local Drifts," Hobart Gazette, Nov. 9, 1923.

701 Connecticut is a vacant lot now.

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The page from the November 1 News, above, includes a "Births" column that shows the population of Ainsworth increasing.

2020-02-03. Goldman-births, News, 11-1-1923

The boy born to Otto and Louise (Buhr) Foreman would be named Leroy. His father had also been born in Ainsworth. A descendant tells me that Louise Buhr was from Illinois (the 1910 Census shows her living with her family in the village of Beecher, Will County); if I remember the story right, she was visiting in Indiana in 1922 and met Helmuth and Otto Foreman, who happened to be looking for someone to keep house for them after the death of Mary Mau Foreman. So Louise came to Ainsworth as the Foremans' housekeeper, then she and Otto fell in love and were married on June 10, 1923 (per this descendant; I can't find the record on In October, along came Leroy. You do the math.

The other Ainsworth baby in this "Births" column was little Leroy's cousin — John Fasel had married Anna Foreman, Otto's sister, in 1916 (Indiana Marriage Collection). Their Halloween baby would be named Marie. We've already seen a photo of her as a schoolgirl.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Cantankerous Hank and Truculent Chuck

While searching for something else, I came across information about another bad day for Henry and Charles Chester, among unnamed others. This one happened sometime around late August of 1898.

2020-01-28. Chester, CPRegister, 9-2-1898
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Crown Point Register, Sept. 2, 1898.

I will try to fill in the details: Homer L. Iddings, as "Superintendent" of something (I don't know what; he was also Ross Township trustee at that time), had ordered that a drainage ditch be built along the Chicago & Grand Trunk Railroad,[1] which crossed Henry Chester's land. Henry Chester had some objection to that. When the men building the ditch came onto his land to do their work, he and his sons, including Charles,[2] attacked them.

Or his sons did, anyway; it seems Henry himself was found not guilty:

2020-01-28. Chester, CPRegister, 9-16-1898
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Crown Point Register, Sept. 16, 1898.

In the next column over, the Merrillville correspondent is sorry to see the end of this exciting case … and further down, we see that the ditch-diggers are continuing about their business.

The last I heard of this case was this item in the "Hobart News" column of the October 21, 1898 Crown Point Register: "H. Merril has commenced suit against Hank Chester for permanently disabling him on the occasion of the late ditch melee. Merril asks $3,000 damage." Whether he got any part of $3,000, I don't know. This is the first evidence I have that anyone ever called Henry Chester "Hank." I have no evidence that anyone ever called Charles Chester "Chuck."

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I tried but failed to positively identify the two ditch-diggers.

The H.G. Merrill might possibly have been H.C. Merrill — Henry Cass Merrill, one of the Merrill brothers, born (1852) and raised in Ross Township; but by 1880, it appears he had left the area and was never again counted in a Ross Township census. The 1900 Census shows him living in Chicago and working as a bank clerk.

As for the other man, who is variously referred to as "Hartner," "Hartnip," and "Hartman," he might have been Edgar Hartnup of Hobart, who was described in the 1900 Census as a 46-year-old day laborer. If not, I'm out of ideas.

[1] "H.G. Merrill has the C. & G.T.R. ditch completed and will now commence on the Hayward-Goodrich ditch." "Merrillville," Crown Point Register, Oct. 21, 1898.
[2] An item in the "Additional Locals" column of the Hobart Gazette of October 14, 1898, mentions that Charles Chester of Ross Township had recently been through a criminal trial.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Mary Munch's Sentence

The Gazette of November 2, 1923, carried a sympathetic follow-up to the previous month's moonshine story.

2020-01-22. Munch, Gazette, 11-2-1923
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The son mentioned in the story had died in December 1922.

In the next week's Gazette we find Mary trying to sell off some of her property quickly.

2020-01-22. Munch, Gazette, 11-9-1923
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Hobart Gazette, Nov. 9, 1923.

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The November 1 Hobart News had also carried a short article on Mary's fate. In the column next to it was another story I found interesting, about the use of "ready prints" by small-town newspaper publishers.

2020-01-22. Munch, News, 11-1-1923
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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A Mystery House

Since my previous post talked about the Saager family, I thought I'd post this unidentified photo from the Lester Harms collection that somehow relates to them.

2020-01-15. lh008 a
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Images courtesy of Eldon Harms.

As farmhouses go, it's modestly pretty, and typical enough to be anybody's. The only evidence linking it to the Saagers is what's written on the back of the photo:

2020-01-15. lh008 b

We know who August Saager was. And we know that the August Saager farm eventually became the William Prochno farm, of which we have a photo. From what I can see of the house in that photo, though, it does not look like the house in our mystery photo.

And I don't know who on earth H. Jaeger was. Of course, I immediately thought of the Ainsworth-area Yager/Jaeger family, but there was no H. among them. The house in the photo looks a bit like the old Yager house still standing on 73rd Avenue — assuming some remodeling — but, again, that temple-and-wing style was so often used in houses in this area. And the mystery house appears to sit very close to the road, unlike the Yager house.

There is a long blank in the history of the Saager/Prochno land (1874-1908), during which someone named H. Jaeger might have lived there — but as I noted before, the mystery house does not resemble the Prochno house. I can't identify any H. Jaeger in the census records in Lake County around the turn of the 20th century.

It seems that the H. Jaeger house was somehow important to August Saager. From general appearances, the photo seems to date to the late 19th or early 20th century — a time when photography was not the simple process it is now and may have required the services of a professional. And then the photo was mounted on a decorative cardboard frame like a family portrait, someone wrote both names on the back, and the photo was preserved all these years.

It's a mystery to me.

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1/18/2020 update: I believe that Rachel has identified H. Jaeger (see the Comments to this post), and the house where he lived in 1918 (per his draft card), 2239 W. 15th Ave. in Gary, is still standing, and only slightly remodeled.

The only mystery remaining is why that house was so important to August Saager.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A Brief and Murky History of the Lester Harms Farm

Until recently, all I knew about the 80 acres comprising the west half of the northwest quarter of Section 25, Township 35 North, Range 8 West of the Second Principal Meridian was that they were once owned by Lester Harms.

Then I received an inquiry about the farm's history and decided to look into it a little more. I didn't actually learn a lot, but I'll be darned if I spend that much time researching and not get a blog post out of it.

The earliest record I can find of that land is in Early Land Sales, Lake County. Unfortunately, the book shows those 80 acres being purchased in September 1850 by both Hiram Bonesteel and Caleb Pierce.

Hiram Bonesteel was born in 1809 in New York. His wife, Phoebe, was from Vermont. The 1850 Census shows the Bonesteels in Illinois, but they were in Ross Township for the 1860 Census:

2020-01-08. Bonesteel 1860 census
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Image from

(You will notice that there was a Hiram Bonesteel, Jr., further up the page, who would have been too young to buy land in 1850).

Here are Hiram Sr. and Phoebe in the 1870 Census:

2020-01-08. Bonesteel 1870 census
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Image from

Phoebe died in 1872, Hiram in 1874, and both are buried in Crown Point.

As for Caleb Pierce, he and his wife, Almira, both came from New York, where he was born in 1808. They show up in Ross Township in the 1850 Census and 1860 Census, then disappear. (Merrillville historian Alice Flora Smedstad tells me that her Great-Great-Great-Uncle Caleb moved to Wisconsin and died there.)

Since census records don't give exact information about where people lived, I can't be sure of which of these people actually lived on those 80 acres. It would have been nice to know, since the farmhouse on that land was built in 1860, according to the county records, and I could have made an informed guess as to who built it.

Next, we turn to the plat maps. The earliest one I have, circa 1874, shows the entire 80 acres owned by someone named C.C. Ely:

2020-01-08. L.Harms farm 1874
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From the 1874 Plat Map.

I believe he shows up as Coles C. Ely in the Ross Township census of 1880:

2020-01-08. Ely 1880 census
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Image from

Coles' wife, Clarissa, was a Bonesteel by birth; surely she was related somehow to Hiram Sr. and Phoebe — possibly a daughter? Coles and Clarissa came from New York State and seem to have moved around a bit between Indiana and Illinois, to judge by where their children were born. Coles died in 1901, Clarissa in 1913, and both are buried in Graceland Cemetery, Valparaiso.

The 1874 map shows a farm west of the Elys' owned by H. Bonesteel. That might be Hiram Sr. himself, as his H-initialed sons, Hiram Jr. and Henry, seem to have left the area after 1860 (ending up in Washington County, Kansas).

The 1891 plat book compiled by the Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society doesn't include Section 25 of Ross Township, so I don't know who owned it then.

The 1908 plat map shows the 80 acres being owned by Albert C. "Sanger," but I am pretty sure that is a misspelling of Saager (which also shows up in various places spelled "Saeger" and "Sayger").

2020-01-08. L.Harms farm 1908

In that neighborhood also, August Saager owned the land on Colorado Street that would eventually be the Prochno farm, where Lester Harms' wife, Matilda "Sue," grew up. Matilda's mother was Louise Saager, August's daughter, who married William Prochno. I believe Albert was August's son and Louise's brother.[1] Here is Albert in the 1910 Census with his wife, Ida (née Luebcke), and their two sons:

2020-01-08. Saager 1910 census
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Image from

The 1900 Census also showed Albert and Ida in that general vicinity, to judge by the names recorded on the same page, but they were renting their farm.

Albert Saager continued to own those 80 acres in the 1926 plat map and the 1939 plat map, and the family was recorded there in every census from 1910 to 1940 (although Ida died in 1924).

Finally, in the 1950 Plat Book, Lester Harms shows up owning the 80 acres. Lester, born in 1904, was recorded living on his parents' Cleveland Avenue farm in the 1920 Census through the 1940 Census. So he likely bought the Harms Road land sometime between 1940 and 1950.

Per the 1972 Plat Book, Lester and Matilda apparently sold off about 10 acres of their land north of Harms Road.

2020-01-08. L.Harms farm 1972

That is the most recent plat map I have.

Lester and Matilda lived on the farm to the end of their lives. Matilda died of cancer in 1980. Lester married Margaret Holt in 1981. On April 5, 1982 Lester shot himself in a shed on his farm (that shed is no longer standing). He is buried in Graceland Cemetery, Valparaiso.

The family that owns the property now bought it at auction in 1985 from Lester's widow.

[1] It's a bit confusing because there were two Albert Saagers in Lake County, both born in the 1870s, both with a wife named Ida, and both of whom died in the 1940s.