Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Klan Labor-Day Theatrics

About two and a half acres of wooded land described variously as "the Mundell grove west of the city" or "the Mundell picnic grounds" or "the Mundell free camp grounds" lay somewhere on the 120-acre Mundell farm, which straddled Old Ridge Road in the vicinity of Strack & Van Til. In 1922 Joseph Mundell had opened up those two and a half acres for free use by the general public, whether area residents or passing tourists.[1]

On Labor Day 1923, two different organizations held gatherings there.

One of those organizations was the Ku Klux Klan. As many as 12,000 people attended the Klan picnic, which lasted from mid-morning until midnight. Out-of-towners came in automobiles or streetcars. The festivities included refreshments, speeches, songs, initiation ceremonies "amid flaming crosses," and a nighttime parade through downtown Hobart headed by an automobile decorated with a cross and American flags, and consisting of about 140 Klansmen and a band. As the parade was forming, a plane took to the air with a huge cross strapped to its underside, illuminated by red light bulbs. The plane spent about 45 minutes in the air over northwest Indiana. At a time when flying machines were still uncommon, that surely caught the attention of people on the ground.

Less theatrically and less controversially, the Modern Woodmen of America (a fraternal benefit society) held their picnic further south and east in the Mundell grove.

The Lutherans used the Yellowstone Trail campgrounds east of town.

2019-09-17. Labor Day, News, 9-6-1923
(Click on images to enlarge)
Hobart News, Sept. 6, 1923.


2019-09-17. Labor Day, Gazette, 9-7-1923
Hobart Gazette, Sept. 7, 1923.

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[1] Joseph Mundell, his bees, and his campground will be discussed in more detail in the near future.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Haying with Horses

These photos were taken in the summer of 1937 on the old Harms homestead. In the first one, we are near the barn on the south side of the road.

2019-09-12. 5e
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of Eldon Harms.


Here are my notes based on what Eldon Harms told me about the photo:
The team is pulling a hay wagon. Note the ladder on the wagon: as the hay piled up on the wagon, you climbed the ladder to drive the team so that you weren't buried in the hay. The building in the background is the corn crib, which held the dried ears of corn on the cob that would eventually be taken to the mill in town (Hobart) and ground up for cattle feed.
The horses are Nel and Topsy. Eldon is at left. The two girls are probably his sisters. His father, Herman, is holding the reins.

In this photo, we are out in the hay field:

2019-09-12. 4d

My notes based on what Eldon told me about it:
At left you can see the hay loader, which picked up the hay from the field and deposited it on top of the wagon.

When you cut the hay, you raked it into long windrows lying on the field. Then you hitched your double team to the hay wagon and drove them over each windrow — one horse on each side of the windrow — and the hay loader, attached to the rear of the wagon, ran along picking up the hay and dropping it onto the wagon.

In this picture Bud Ensign (at right) is driving the team, and Herman Harms, Sr., is raking the hay to distribute the load evenly over the wagon. The wheels of the wagon are just barely visible under the hay hanging down, and at the lower right of the photo you can see the horses' legs.

Bud Ensign's father had died, so Bud wanted to earn extra money to help his family; that is why he hired on with the Harmses. He was only 14 at this time.

The hay wagon could be converted into a box wagon, by removing the back section and attaching a box. That was more convenient for driving when you weren't carrying a load of hay.
We've already discussed how you got the hay from the wagon to the loft of the barn.

♦    ♦    ♦

I'm not sure if I ever asked Eldon who exactly "Bud" Ensign was; if he told me, I've forgotten.

Looking into the census records for a local Ensign boy who would have been about 14 in 1937, I find Richard Elden Ensign. We've seen Richard before, but I had his nickname down as "Dick." Perhaps a 14-year-old Bud might, within a few years, be able to make people call him a slightly more formal name.

Richard's father, John Ensign, had died in October 1935 (Indiana Death Certificates), leaving a widow, Goldie, with some half-a-dozen children, the youngest of which was about three years old.[1] And this was in the midst of the Great Depression.

Incidentally, John's mother had been Elizabeth aka Nora (Shearer) Ensign.


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[1] The 1930 Census and 1940 Census are not consistent regarding some of the children's ages.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Wild Indigo Duskywing

2019-09-09. Duskywing - Wild Indigo
(Click on image to enlarge)

Found this Wild Indigo Duskywing skipper on the privet hedge that separates my pollinator habitat from the road.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Drunks Upon the Streets

2019-09-07. Drunks, Gazette, 8-31-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, Aug. 31, 1923.


We do not know what the commentator meant by "formerly" — before Prohibition? two months ago?


In more constructive news, the Fifield ice-cream parlor has been doing very well, it seems.

2019-09-07. Fifield, Gazette, 8-31-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, Aug. 31, 1923.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Common Gray

What a talented designer can do with shades of gray, black, and white!

2019-09-03. Common Gray
(Click on image to enlarge)

At first I thought it was a Pale-Winged Gray, but someone on the IN Nature Facebook page who knows more than I do about moths thought otherwise.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Thomas and Harriet Tierney

One of the few historical photos we have of Merrillville's "Old Mill" building dates from the 1930s, when it housed Tierney's restaurant. The proprietor was Harriet Tierney, a widow. It is the news of her husband Thomas' death on August 26, 1923, that has prompted me to start researching them.

2019-08-30. Tierney, News, 8-30-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, Aug. 30, 1923.


Thomas Tierney and Harriet Piske (or Pieske) had been married in May 1913 in Berrien County, Michigan[1] — a sort of elopement, I gather, since both were living in Gary at the time. Thomas was 44, Harriet 34; this was his first marriage and her second. Harriet had previously been married to a Fred Woods, but I can't find a record of that marriage. I got Fred's name from the death certificate of their only son, Ernest.

It's interesting that the 1910 Census shows Thomas and Harriet living together, calling themselves husband and wife. Ernest was not living with them. Harriet's father, Carl Piske, was. Thomas gave his occupation as proprietor of a saloon.

Looking at the 1900 Census, I can't find either Thomas or Harriet; but I do find Ernest Wood (spelled without the s at the end) living with his grandfather, Carl Piske, in Calumet Township. Carl may have been on his second marriage by then: his wife's name is given as Minnie, whereas, in the 1880 Census, he's married to a Fridericke. In 1880 the Piske family lived in North Township.[2] Their children were Albert, Gusty, Emma, and the two-year-old Hattie (Harriet).

I can't find Thomas Tierney, or his family, at all before 1910.

Anyway, the first news I have of the Tierneys in Merrillville is an item in the "Ross Township" column of the Hobart News of May 15, 1913: "Mrs. T. Tierney has opened an ice cream parlor and automobile rest at Merrillville." This may or may not have been in the "Old Mill" building.

The 1920 Census records Thomas and Harriet in Merrillville. Thomas described himself as the landlord of a hotel. Harriet allegedly had no occupation. The enumerator recorded them right next to the Walter family, three of whom were operating a garage, which suggests (but doesn't prove) that the Tierneys' hotel was in the "Old Mill" building.

And then, as we've seen, Thomas died.

In the 1930 Census, Harriet, 52, described herself as the proprietor of a restaurant. Also in the household was a 51-year-old single man, Robert Gerber, who worked as the manager of a restaurant — Harriet's, I'm inclined to think. And her son, Ernest Woods, was recorded as living with her, although he had married Agnes Szikora in 1920 (Indiana Marriage Collection) and was also recorded living with Agnes and their two children in Gary. In both cases, Ernest's occupation was clerk in a grocery store.

Ten years later, Harriet's household consisted only of her and Robert. Under "Relationship to head of household," both were "Partners," and for occupation, both were restaurant proprietors. Ernest and Agnes Woods were living together in Gary with their two children, operating a grocery store.

In 1942 Ernest died; Harriet in 1944. Both of them, as well as Thomas Tierney, are buried in Calumet Park Cemetery.[3] As for Fred Woods and Robert Gerber, I have no clue what became of them.

I find Harriet an interesting lady, and I hope to get more details about her life.

♦    ♦    ♦

I marked the item below Thomas' death notice on the image above because it mentions "Postmaster and Mrs. J.J. Wood," and these days I'm supposed to be paying attention to the Wood family. So let me set down the basic facts of the Postmaster and his Mrs. for my own benefit.

John J. Wood was born October 26, 1856 (Indiana Death Certificates) to Augustus and Jessie Wood. At that time the family lived in the village of Deep River, but sometime after the 1880 census they moved to Hobart. In 1882 John married Mary Rifenburg (Indiana Marriage Collection), daughter of William H. Rifenburg by his first wife, Rebecca Stearns (Lake County Encyclopedia). So Maude Rifenburg Arment was actually Mary's youngest half-sister.

John and Mary Wood continued living in Hobart. They had three children: Edith, Ralph, and Dorothy. John operated a store — sometimes grocery (1900 Census), sometimes general merchandise (1910 Census); in 1914, he was elected Hobart Township Trustee;[4] in 1921 and again in 1926, he was appointed postmaster.[5] He died in 1929. If I ever get to 1929 in my microfilm reading, perhaps I'll be able to produce his obituary.


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[1] Ancestry.com. Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.
[2] It may have been only the township boundaries that changed, rather than the Piskes' actual location.
[3] The Hobart News item about Thomas' death says he was buried in the Turkey Creek Catholic Cemetery, i.e., SS. Peter & Paul; his death certificate gives the place of burial as Turkey Creek, Ind.; but NWIGS' Ross Township Cemeteries book does not record him there. Findagrave.com records him in Calumet Park, which was not opened until 1928 according to its website. It's quite possible that they are all correct, and his body was moved from the one to the other sometime after 1928.
[4] "Official Election Returns," Hobart News, Nov. 6, 1914.
[5] Ancestry.com. U.S., Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, 1832-1971 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-1971. NARA Microfilm Publication, M841, 145 rolls. Records of the Post Office Department, Record Group Number 28. Washington, D.C.: National Archives.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Cousin Emily Identified

With the help of clues in the Wood-Vincent photo album, I have been able to identify the Cousin Emily who, in 1870, wrote the letter to Mary Wood that I posted some years ago.

On one page of the album, I came across two captions: "Cousin Mary Ann Low" and "Cousin Emily Lowe." Both of those given names (Emily and Mary Ann) appeared in the letter. With the surname Low(e), it was easy enough to track down their household in Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts.

Emily's letter describes the death of her sister, Hattie, on May 11, 1870. The 1870 Census, taken in June, shows the diminished household:

2019-08-27. Lowe, Sally 1870 census
(Click on image to enlarge)

A page from the paperwork dealing with Harriet's estate gives a fuller picture of the surviving family:

2019-08-27. Low, Harriet, probate
(Click on image to enlarge)
Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.


Two years later, Emily's mother Sally Low died. The record of her death states that her parents were Moses and Salley (i.e., Sarah) Wood,[1] meaning that she was a sibling of John Wood. That accounts for the cousin relationship between Emily Low and our Mary Wood Vincent.

♦    ♦    ♦

The photo album includes the caption, "Emily Lowe," but the photo it was written for had disappeared by the time the album reached me.

2019-08-27. Lowe, Emily 011b caption - photo missing
(Click on images to enlarge)

Mary Ann's photo remained.

2019-08-27. Low, Mary Ann 011a-1 (Cousin)

The photo is undated, and I can't see enough to her dress to help me estimate a date; judging by her apparent age, I'd place this photo at circa 1885 or later.

Here's a puzzler:

2019-08-27. Low, Chas. and Mary 012d caption

There is obviously no Charles in that photo!

I'm guessing that this lady is Mary Low, the wife of cousin Daniel Low (cousin Emily's brother, mentioned in the probate paper above). She and Daniel did have a son named Charles. The family lived in LaPorte County. Unfortunately, the photo is a tin plate with no photographer's name on it. (According to information posted with Daniel's entry on findagrave.com, he was an interesting guy.) Mary's dress has the dropped shoulders and full skirt of the Civil-War era. Mary was about 55 years old when the Civil War broke out.

Two more missing photos:

2019-08-27. Low, Daniel, mother and father of 002a, b caption

I suppose this would be Joseph and Sally (Wood) Low; I'm just wondering why Alice Vincent Nesbit would describe them this way instead of calling them "Great-Aunt Sally" and "Great-Uncle Joseph."


This concludes our little side trip to visit the Low family.


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[1] New England Historic Genealogical Society; Boston, Massachusetts; Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911, via Ancestry.com.