Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another Chester Family Tragedy

CHESTERTON. March 14.—Funeral services for Mrs. Ella Mae Chester, 38, of Tremont, who died Friday at midnight in Clinic hospital, were held Monday afternoon. ... Surviving is her husband. John Chester, and five step-children, the youngest daughter, 13, being at home.

The Chesters have been proprietors for the past four years of the Chester Camp east of Tremont on U. S. 12. They formerly operated a camp on the old Lincoln highway, about four miles west of Valparaiso. [Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso, Ind.), Mar. 14, 1939.]

* * *

John Chester, age 54, operator of Chester's camp, tourist station on U. S. 12, one-half mile east of Tremont, attempted suicide this morning by shooting himself in the head with an automatic pistol.

The shooting occurred at 9:10 o'clock, and resulted from despondency resulting from the death of his second wife, Goldie, two months ago. Friends said he had threatened to kill himself on several occasions.

A daughter, Betty Lou, age 13, only one of five children who lives at home, had just left for school and a tourist in one of the cabins discovered Chester after the shooting.

Chester was rushed to Clinic hospital. Michigan City, by State Policemen Walter LaHayne and Arthur Keller, who were called. Hospital attaches report his condition as critical with small chances for recovery. The bullet entered the head behind the right ear.

Chester is well known by many Valparaiso people, having operated a camp on Lincoln Highway, eight miles west of Valparaiso, for a number of years before locating on the Dunes four years ago. [Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso, Ind.), Apr. 12, 1939.]
* * *

MICHIGAN CITY, April 14. — (Special) — John Chester, 50, Chesterton tourist camp operator found shot through the head Wednesday, remained unconscious at Clinic hospital here today. Little hope is held for his recovery. Chester was found in his home. A .22 calibre bullet had passed through his head above the temples. He has operated a tourist camp near Tremont for several years. He formerly operated Chester's Camp at Ainsworth. [Hammond Times (Hammond, Ind.), Apr. 14, 1939.]

* * *

Memorial services were held this afternoon at 2 o'clock in Pflughoeft's chapel in Hobart for John J. Chester, age 52, who died Sunday in Clinic hospital, Michigan City, from a bullet wound in the head, self-inflicted, last Wednesday at his home at Tremont, on Dunes highway. Chester was said by relatives to have been depressed since the death of his wife, Goldie.

Surviving are four daughters, Mrs. Mamie Feightner, and Mrs. Daisy Bullock, both of Gary; Miss Marie Chester, of Hobart, and Miss Betty Louis Chester, of Tremont; a son, William, of Hobart; three brothers, Charles and James of Hobart, and Jerome, of LaMoille, Ill., and three sisters, Mrs. Ella Olson, of Fort Wayne; Mrs. Lovisa Nelson and Mrs. Carrie Raschka, both of Hobart. Burial was in Crown Hill cemetery. [Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso, Ind.), Apr. 18, 1939.]

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The First Mrs. Chester


Mrs. Emma Chester, age 47, died Thursday at her home on Lincoln Highway, near Ainsworth, following an extended illness. She is survived by her husband, John; a son William; four daughters, Mrs. Mamie Fleighner, of Gary; Mrs. Daisy Bullock, of Ainsworth, and Mary and Betty Lou Chester; a sister, Mrs. Louis Weiler, and three brothers, Emil, Albert and Otto Klemm.

Memorial services will be held in Pflughoeft's funeral home in Hobart Monday afternoon at 2 o'clock, following brief rites at the residence at 1 o'clock. Rev. G. H. Hentschel, of Hobart, will officiates. Burial will be in Crown Hill cemetery.

Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso, Ind.), Apr. 12, 1935.

John and Emma are buried together in the Crown Hill Cemetery.
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The second Mrs. Chester lies in Chesterton Cemetery.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Flower-of-an-hour

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So called because the blossom doesn't last very long. Evidently this one's hour hasn't quite arrived and it isn't fully open.

Here's a bonus shot of some mushrooms.
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Shot that on Saturday when I was taking a little break from digging out a stump, which took an hour and a half even though it wasn't very big. I'm still making up for 18 years of neglect of my property. It's a lot of work.

Yesterday I went to a family reunion in Whiting, Indiana, where my mother grew up. Driving down those short, narrow streets, looking at the houses crammed side-by-side with barely room for one person to walk between them, I got claustrophobia. I'd rather dig out any number of stumps than live in a place like that. My relatives who live there seem perfectly happy, but I'd go insane.

Ruins of Ainsworth: The Siding

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You can still find the remains of a siding on the south side of the Grand Trunk Railroad, east of the Ainsworth crossing. Where the siding originally departed from the main tracks, I do not know, but you start picking up its traces about 40 feet west of the Ainsworth tower; it passes between the tower and the main tracks and extends eastward toward Grand Boulevard, then is swallowed up by thick underbrush and trees, and further obscured by the effects of heavy equipment used to make a gravel road to the tower for use by maintenance crews.

When and why it was built, I do not know. Looking at the 1939 aerial photos, I do see something approximately where the remains of the siding are now; and there is a road or path worn from the buildings south of the tracks to that something.
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On the other hand, these aerial photos are not great on ground-level detail, and the possible siding looks shorter than the remains would suggest. So I'm not 100% sure.

On the third hand, when I run across a newspaper article from 1890 saying that the Indiana Natural Gas Pipeline "has large amounts of pipes received at Ainsworth, Ind." [Logansport Pharos (Logansport, Ind.), Sept. 2, 1890], I wonder how the unloading of "large amounts of pipes" would be done. Did it involve uncoupling cars full of pipes and leaving them on the siding?

*sigh* I suppose I have to go research how large railroad shipments were unloaded in small towns in the 1890s. Or I could just wait for the information to fall into my lap.

When and why the siding was abandoned, I do not know, either. At some point the railroad removed the switching mechanism that made it possible to divert equipment onto the siding; there is absolutely no trace of it now.

* * *

ETA (9/30/09): I found what appears to be a manufacturer's date stamp on one of the siding rails:
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A manufacture date of 1937 suggests that we are indeed looking at the siding on the 1939 aerial photo. It doesn't mean the siding itself was built in 1937, of course, because I found rails on the main tracks nearby dated 2004 and 1996, and we all know the railroad dates back to 1880.

That was the only date I could find. The other rails were either so buried in vegetation that I couldn't get down to ground level to look at their sides (I may try again in late winter) or were so heavily rusted that their markings were illegible.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hobart Then and Now: The Old Mill

1939 and 2009

Old Mill 1939
Old Mill 2009
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The top image is taken from a postcard postmarked August 4, 1939. The bottom image I shot this morning, through the fog.

Built in 1847, George Earle's gristmill was at the center of Hobart's early development. It was destroyed by fire in 1953, but remains a symbol of the town and a familiar image to Hobart residents.

Here is a Hobart Flouring Mills receipt issued to Henry Ream on September 5, 1898, when the mill was being operated by the partnership of Smith and Roper.

Smith Roper
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♦ ♦ ♦

The fog was so heavy this morning that the spider webs on the Deep River bridge were festooned with droplets.

Spiderweb on Main Street Bridge

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Naughty Assistant Postmaster

WASHINGTON, May 4.—George Lothrop, assistant postmaster at Ainsworth, Indiana, was arrested this afternoon for rifling registered letters. He made full confession and restitution.
Source: Sioux County Herald (Orange City, Iowa), May 7, 1885.

Station Location

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I have confirmed my earlier speculation: the building north of the tracks and east of Grand Boulevard was indeed Ainsworth Station, and it was "reportedly named for a railroad executive."

♦ Burns, Bob, "Community of lore: Although never incorporated, Ainsworth has a colorful history," Post-Tribune (IN), Apr. 14, 2002.
♦ ———, "Find Ainsworth and Nob Hill, and you can't miss Hobart," Post-Tribune (IN), Apr. 9, 2006.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Smokin' Joe Strikes for the 16,870th Time

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A freight train was stopped on the tracks, blocking the Ainsworth crossing, and everybody else's inconvenience was my photo op. This photo was taken a few years ago, but a post today on Eddie's Rail Fan Page reminded me of it.

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Thistle

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"Oh, what a pretty flower ... OUCH!!!"

Chester's Camp

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The historic Lincoln Highway crossed northern Indiana, and a two-lane remnant still curves away from the present-day Route 30 to wind through Merrillville, Ainsworth and Deep River before rejoining Route 30 east of Deep River.

Members of the Chester family opened a tourist stop along the Lincoln Highway, west of Deep River and about half a mile south of Ainsworth, according to the Valparaiso Vidette-Messenger. By 1929 Chester's Camp was well established, offering camping grounds, a barbecue stand and a filling station.

Source: Jan Shupert-Arick. The Lincoln Highway Across Indiana. Arcadia Publishing, 2009.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Ambiguity of "Ainsworth Road," Part 2

George Norman, at Hobart, the Indian Ridge professional, is still concentrating his efforts on the permanent greens for the nine-hole outlay there. Indian Ridge is south of Hobart, on the Ainsworth Hobart road, next to the Dorman farm.
From The Lake County Times, Monday, June 14, 1926 (Hammond, IN) (emphasis added).

The Indian Ridge Country Club is still there, but the "Ainsworth Hobart road," which was also "Ainsworth Road," is now Grand Boulevard, State Road 51 and Lake Park Avenue.

I've never seen a town like Hobart for giving multiple names to the same street. It must be something in the water.

The Curious Incident of the Train Whistle in the Night

You'd think that, in this age of standardization, some corporate mandate would have set a uniform pattern for train whistles, and yet I hear them vary.

Most often I hear long-long-short-long, but I've also heard, for example, in just the last couple of weeks: long-short-long; a lone long from some lazy guy; short-short-short; and even short-short-short-short, which sounded positively playful. Westbound trains usually begin whistling east of my house, give a loud blast as they draw even with my house, and then continue blasting as they move on westward, so I hear the additional variation of the Doppler effect.

But once I heard a variation that made me think bad news.

This was a few years ago (and with my defective memory, a "few years" could be anywhere from two to ten), on an evening when I was so tired that I fell into bed early and starting drifting off to sleep. I had been living here long enough that trains passing on summer nights no longer jerked me awake in a panic; and the first blast of this train's whistle just half-registered in my sleepy brain. A standard long, a pause — then an insistent lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-ng that didn't let up as the train passed by my house, down the remaining hundreds yards and through the Ainsworth crossing. And then the whistle gave way to the screech and wail of a fast train coming to a hard stop.

"Something ain't right," I thought, but I hadn't heard the kind of loud crash you might expect from an accident, so I stayed in bed and tried to go back to sleep.

Then I heard the sirens.

I got out of bed and looked out the front door. There was the freight train, blocking the Ainsworth crossing; there were police cars, blue lights flashing; there were police officers milling around, and an ambulance pulling up, but I still couldn't see what, if anything, the train had hit.

I kept watching, out of natural if morbid curiosity. After a while the ambulance departed leisurely. Then a tow truck came, backed onto the right-of-way west of the Ainsworth crossing, and pulled out what remained of a black car.

Whoever left it on the tracks apparently got out before the train hit. That was lucky. I know of two people killed in train-car accidents along the Ainsworth part of the Grand Trunk.

To this day you can still find parts of that black car where the train left them.

Maya investigates the crash scene:
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It was a GM:

* * *

On the topic of lucky accidents, this just in from The Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso, Ind.), Tuesday, March 10, 1931:
Seven Grand Trunk trainmen escaped injury Monday afternoon when the caboose in which they were riding overturned between Sedley and Ainsworth. Two work cars toppled over. It took the wrecking crew until 7 o'clock this morning to "right things." The train was backing from Ainsworth to the Deep River bridge, unloading ties, when it struck a giant snow drift and overturned, pulling the other cars with it. No one was injured.
There had been a big March snowstorm, I gather. Something like the one in March of 1998, when I spent a week without power, which out here also means without running water, but that's another story.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Acquaintances at Rest

Yesterday morning was gloomy and wet, perfect for wandering around Hobart Cemetery, where I encountered some acquaintances from previous posts.

William and Carrie Raschka, the "merchant of Ainsworth" and his Chesterian wife, whose relatives once owned my property.
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I tried to brush the moss off Carrie's name, but I just made it worse.

Members of the Ream family:

Arnold Ream, the young man killed by lightning.

Arvin Ream, his uncle.

John Ream, his grandfather (I believe) and the diligent taxpayer of Porter County.
The gravestone is so worn that you can scarcely read his name. I think I can make out the birth year, 1821, but the rest is illegible. To the left and right of this monument are smaller stones, "Wife" and "Husband," so presumably John's wife is buried there as well, but if her name was ever on the stone, time and weather have erased it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Ambiguity of "Ainsworth Road"

1959 Sappers Ad

Above is part of a page from the Hobart Herald of July 9, 1959, which I bought yesterday at a Hobart antique store. At the bottom of the page is an advertisement for Sapper's Farm Market, which still operates today on State Road 51 just south of "the bend" where the east-west 10th Street bends into the north-south Grand Boulevard — both of them part of the sinuous State Road 51.

In the 1959 ad, the store's location is given as "Rt. 51 & 11th St. (Ainsworth Rd.)."

When I saw that, I said to myself, "Huh???" Isn't there about a mile separating the roughly parallel lines of 11th Street and Ainsworth Road?

So this morning I trotted over to Sapper's to ask for help, and I got it. Apparently State Road 51 south of "the bend" used to be called Ainsworth Road.

As if I weren't already confused enough! So eventually Ainsworth Road intersects with Ainsworth Road? Somebody, please shoot me now.

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Flowering Spurge

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Spurge, from the Latin expurgare, to cleanse thoroughly. Supposedly has emetic properties but I'm not going to experiment.

Grand Trunk Railroad Timetable 1951

1951 Grand Trunk Timetable
1951 timetable courtesy Richard Leonard's Steam Locomotive Archive.

I wish someone who actually knows something about trains could explain to me why they bother showing Ainsworth on the timetable if nothing stops there!

Are there trains that stop at Ainsworth that don't rate a mention on the timetable?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Grand Trunk Railroad Timetable 1887

June 4, 1887 Timetable
From the David Rumsey Collection, via LUNACommons.org.

Trains westward to Chicago stopped in Ainsworth at 6:27 a.m. and 10:50 a.m. daily except Sunday, while the daily expresses passed through around 6:15 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. but did not stop.

Trains eastward toward Michigan stopped in Ainsworth 10:50 a.m. and 7:37 p.m. daily except Sunday; expresses passed through daily around 5:10 p.m. and 10:10 p.m.

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Ironweed

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"Iron," supposedly, because the stems are so strong.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Purple Loosestrife

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How does a plant get a cool name like that?

From William R. Long, M. Div., Ph. D., J. D.:
The original name ... was Lysimachia, a Greek word that means "dissolves strife."... [T]he "loosestrife" name in English is a literal translation of "lysimachus," but we seem to have lost all understanding, if we ever really had it, regarding the origin of the name.

Grand Trunk Railroad Employees Timetable 1932

1932 Grand Trunk Western Employees Timetable

I don't know whether in 1880 the Grand Trunk Railroad was double track or single track, but by 1932, as this employees timetable tells us, it was double track except between Sedley and Valparaiso, which would not include Ainsworth.

Westbound passenger trains traveling from Port Huron, Michigan, to Chicago, Illinois, stopped in Ainsworth daily at 5:38 a.m., 7:14 a.m., and 7:07 p.m. Westbound way freight trains stopped (I think, but I don't know exactly how to read this thing) daily, except Sunday, at 10:30 a.m.

Eastbound passenger trains traveling from Chicago to Port Huron stopped in Ainsworth daily at 10:10 a.m., 7:50 p.m. and 12:07 a.m. (12:07 a.m.?? What honest Indiana farmer would be awake at that hour? — lots of them, I suppose, if the whistle was loud enough.) Way freights stopped daily, except Sunday, at 9:10 a.m.

The train order office in Ainsworth was open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily except Sunday.

There was no railroad surgeon here. If you got hurt on the train in Ainsworth, you had to go to Valpo. Actually I don't know what a "surgeon" was for purposes of this schedule.

And that's all this schedule has to tell us about Ainsworth.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jules Verne Takes Notice of Ainsworth

On page 151 of the Free Ebooks Edition of Jules Verne's Le Testament d'un Excentrique (1899), we encounter this sentence:
En quittant Chicago, après avoir contourné le golfe inférieur du lac Michigan, le train entra dans l'Indiana, limitrophe d l'Illinois, à la station d'Ainsworth et il remonta jusqu'à Michigan City.
My amateur translation:
On leaving Chicago, after having skirted round the lower gulf of Lake Michigan, the train entered into Indiana, bordering Illinois, at the Ainsworth station and it went back up to Michigan City.
The book in this edition is 520 pages long. It makes no further mention of Ainsworth. The story seems to be set in 1897.

Interview with the Time Travelers

Tax Receipt dated January 1, 1856

Porter County Vidette , September 17, 1903
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Ainsworth, Indiana: Thank you both for being here today. Tax Receipt, since you've come the longest distance, I'll start with you. Now, pardon me for gushing a little bit — I can't believe you've come all the way from 1856. That just astonishes me.
Tax Receipt: Yep.
AI: And the fact that you were part of a box lot I bought at auction for $2.50, and I was the only bidder! That a visitor who has come so far, and passed through such perils, would end up like that, I'm just shaking my head at it.
TR: Yep.
AI: You've come here with quite an entourage, although the other documents haven't traveled quite so far. That tax receipt from 1912, for instance, you probably think he's a lightweight.
TR: Yep.
AI: You're a tax receipt of few words, I can see, so let's get right to the point.
TR: John Ream paid the Treasurer's Office $2.94 in taxes, in full, for the year 1855.
AI: Did that include real estate taxes?
TR: State, county, school, road, township, library, sinking fund and special tax, one poll, and $120 personal property.
AI: OK. Well, let's assume it did include real estate. Was it on the same, or part of the same, land as all the other tax receipts?
TR: State, county, school, road —
AI: Excuse me, we got that. By the way, I'm curious about something else — was this the same John Ream who married Perescellie Bowers, who died in 1899? — because if it was, his wife had the coolest name in Porter County.
TR: John Ream.
AI: Um, okay. I was just wondering, was John Ream the "Ream" in Onstatt v. Ream? You have to admire a man who goes all the way to the Indiana Supreme Court over a pig!
TR: John Ream.
AI: Yes, I know, but what I'm asking — oh, well, let's move on. Porter County Vidette, you've come from 1903. It looks like it's been a rough journey. No offense, but I've got a Harper's Weekly from 1870 that's in better shape.
Porter County Vidette: One dollar per year.
AI: Yes. But were you stored near a furnace, or in an attic or something, that caused you to deteriorate so badly?
PCV: Alvin Jones was the guest of his "cousin" at Valpo over Sunday. Miss Bertha Trowe, of East Chicago, is visiting at home.
AI: Yes, you do love your social gossip, don't you? That really struck me about you. Nowadays we have Facebook and Twitter for that sort of thing.
PCV: Former Valparaiso Man Still Being Reviled at Marion.
AI: That too. But let's be honest here: I think the main reason, perhaps the only reason, you're here with us today is that article on your front page, about the tragedy in the Ream family.
PCV: Boy Killed by Lightning. During the terrific thunder and lightning storm yesterday morning Arnold Ream, a well known young man, was killed almost instantly.
AI: And you still think of it as "yesterday," don't you? That's part of what makes you so remarkable. Now, you say that his grandfather —
PCV: — His grandfather, who was near, was unhurt.
AI: But you don't give the grandfather's name; was it the same John Ream whose tax receipt I was just talking to?
PCV: Ream was taken to the home of his father, Henry Ream ...
AI: Henry was John's son, and Arnold his grandson?
PCV: ... where he breathed a few minutes but never regained consciousness.
AI: Well, apparently that's all you have to say, but it's enough, isn't it? I mean, any other newspaper would have been used to line the bird cage, or for even less savory purposes. So Henry Ream kept you. What I'm wondering is, why did he hand you off to the Kraft brothers in 1916 along with all the tax receipts pertaining to the land he transferred to them?
PCV: The funeral service will be held Wednesday afternoon.
AI: All right, you can't tell me why. I guess I'll never know. Thanks for your time, both of you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: New York Asters

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It must be autumn: the asters are in bloom.

An Ainsworth School Principal

The County Superintendent's report for 1913-14 gives the name of the principal of Ainsworth School as C.W. Seitz. Source: William F. Howat, M.D., ed., A Standard History of Lake County, Indiana and the Calumet Region (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1915), found via Google books.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ainsworth Tower

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At 253 feet in height, this tower beside the Grand Trunk Railroad is by far the tallest thing in Ainsworth. I don't know what kind of signal it transmits — radio? cell phone? railroad communications?

It was built in 1974.

In trying to find out what kind of tower this is, I came across Tracks and Towers, an interesting series of photographs of ... well, I'll let you guess.

Commerce: Shearer

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The Shearer home heating business took out this little advertisement in Hobart High School's "Memories" yearbook of 1962.

According to the 1939 plat book, Shearer (first initial not given) owned a nice chunk of land just southeast of the Ainsworth Triangle.

At last Sunday's auction, I bought some old advertising pencils, one of which is emblazoned with the following legend:



Going by the phone number, I'd say the pencil is considerably older than 1962.

That's all I could find out about Shearer from the resources at hand.

Yes, one of these days I am going to start doing proper research, going to the library, to the Hobart Historical Society, to the recorder of deeds' office. But right now I'm busy. Yesterday I spent 3 miserable hours picking tomatoes, zucchini and eggplants. Today I'm boiling down about 20 quarts of tomato-veggie sauce, which I'm going to can. All I can do is walk away from my boiling stock pots for a few minutes to write a little. And I still haven't mowed the back yard!

I looked on the internet for advice about how to go about researching the history of one's own house. Most sources suggest, among other things, checking the local registry of historic buildings. As if! It is to laugh! My poor little house? — historically insignificant, chronologically childish, structurally unremarkable.

But poor little houses have their histories, too.

* * *

This time of year, there is such a daily concert of locusts and grasshoppers that whenever I step outside I think of John Keats:

The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper's—he takes the lead
In summer luxury,—he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket's song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper's among some grassy hills.

* * *

ETA (9/26/09): Calvin Shearer, Sr. Howard Shearer and Calvin Shearer, Jr., were the "Shearer & Son" behind the business. The junior Shearer was born in 1914. The senior Shearer started a fuel-oil business (date unknown) that relied on a team of mules drawing a 350-gallon tank for deliveries. The Shearers purchased a business in Ainsworth and began selling cattle feed, hay and other materials as well as fuel oil. The business was sold to the Dalton Oil Co. of Gary in 1973 when the younger Shearer retired. Source: Bob Burns, "Shearer, 91, has lifetime of memories about Hobart," Post-Tribune (IN), Oct. 23, 2005. [8/24/10: I have struck out what I think I got wrong the first time. Now that I understand the Shearer family a little better, I have amended my 9/26/09 amendment. This makes me wonder if I should have just edited the text invisibly, which would be less confusing, or if I should leave the errors there as a memorial to the error-laden process of learning.]

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rails at Twilight

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I wonder how many times since 1880 someone in Ainsworth has looked at those tracks and wanted to follow them to someplace better.

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Red Clover

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I don't know about you, but I don't call that "red." I call that "pink" or maybe "lilac purple."

Hobart Then and Now: Public Library

1915, 1947 and 2009:

Hobart Public Library 1915
1947 Library
Library 2009
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The first two dates are the postmarks on the postcards where I got the images.

Not much has changed, except the loss of the four-leaf clover on the front gable, the addition of the lean-to entrance on the west side ... oh, and it's not the public library anymore. The Hobart Historical Society Museum lives there now.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Wood Sorrel

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Since I retired, I have time to attend to all the chores around here that I neglected for 18 years. I've been too busy to keep the thorn trees from spreading their evil roots all through my property, or to stop the randomly seeded elms from growing tall and blocking the sun from the fruit trees, or to kill the prolific and hardy poison ivy, which really should be named the Official Plant of Ainsworth.

I took this picture while I was taking a little break from attending to all three of those chores. Thorn trees to dig up, elms to cut down, poison ivy to kill, all in one area of about 90 square feet.

I want summer to be over soon. I'm tired! I have to mow the lawn and pick the tomatoes, and I went to an auction today and wasted 3 mortal hours and $25 and came away with nothing that serves my particular purposes, although it was interesting to look through. And when I got home I was too tired to mow the lawn or pick the tomatoes.

At the auction, there were tables upon tables spread with glassware, tchotchkes, sports memorabilia and historical artifacts; there were boxes and boxes of linens, books and kitchenwares; there was furniture in the front yard, the back yard and the house. And I thought to myself, as I walked through the tiny house: All that was in here?

I may end up the same way, at the rate I'm collecting Ainsworth and Hobart stuff. Note to self: don't go to any more auctions. Also: give stuff away.

Plat Book 1925?-1941?

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From the Indiana Plat Book Collection in the Digital Collections of IUPUI University Library, here we have an excerpt from Vol. 3 of Plat Book of Indiana Counties (Lombard, Illinois: Sidwell Studio, 1925?-1941?). Concerning the uncertain date, the website explains:
...[T]he publisher neglected to date the publication. Approximate dates have been surmised by Indiana State Library staff members, considering other dated maps and atlases from the time period.
I'm posting this for what it's worth, which isn't much — it's not very illuminating because of the dating problem. At any rate, I can see that my property is in the hands of a Chester, although not the same Chester as in 1939.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hobart Then and Now: Guyer Building

The Guyer Building, in 1962 and 2009:

1962 Guyer building
Guyer building 2009
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I have already mentioned the Guyer Building and what little I could find of its history on the internet. The 1962 photo is from the Hobart High School "Memories" yearbook, when the Guyer Building housed an appliance store.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Geometric Birds of Ainsworth

It's time to get all artsy!

Canada geese in V-formation over power lines:
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Hummingbird on TV antenna:

Starlings on railroad tower:

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Sundrops

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This sundrop plant is growing beside my house, and it's about 6 feet tall now. As I was taking the picture, a hummingbird was buzzing around my head. I've seen the hummingbirds drink from the sundrops now and then.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Grand Trunk Railroad Timetable: 1963

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It's so small I could scan in it four passes, so I included the whole thing. Ainsworth doesn't rate a mention in the timetable itself, although it shows up in the map on the last page.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Commerce: William Raschka

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In the 1927 edition of the Aurora, as Hobart High School's yearbook was then called, William Raschka placed the advertisement in the upper left corner of the page above, to publicize his grain and feed business.

Check out that phone number: 1621-R-1.

In 1904, the Rev. T.H. Ball described Mr. Raschka as "a merchant of Ainsworth, Indiana" who married Carrie M. Chester, daughter of Henry and Harriet Chester. The Raschkas had at least one child, Wilma.

A William Raschka, age 90, died February 12, 1959 in Hobart, Indiana, but I can't determine if it's the same person.


  • Ball, the Rev. T.H., Encyclopedia of Genealogy and Biography of Lake County, Indiana, with a Compendium of History 1834—1904: A Record of the Achievements of Its People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation (Chicago, New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1904), as transcribed at USGenWeb Archives.

  • Casey, Robert, Interactive Family Histories, http://www.rcasey.net/steven/stemclan.htm.

  • Porter County Public Library System, Vidette-Messenger Obituaries, 1950-1959, http://www.pcpls.lib.in.us/Gen%20ObituaryIndex/ObitIdxR_50s.html.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Grand Trunk Railroad Timetable: 1883

From the September 1883 issue of the Chicago and Grand Trunk Railway Gazette. Here are the timetables for trains traveling westward, from Fort Gratiot, Michigan, to Chicago, Illinois (PDF):

1883 Trains Westward Grand Trunk

And here are the eastward-traveling trains, from Chicago, Illinois, to Fort Gratiot, Michigan (PDF):

1883 Trains Eastward Grand Trunk

I'm sure my thousands of devoted readers will eagerly scroll down looking for the Ainsworth stop.
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I have ordered a new monitor for my computer. Everything on this one looks out of focus. I can't tell whether the pictures I post here look OK to people with good monitors. Not that anyone, with a good or bad monitor, is actually looking at this.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: White Boneset

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I wondered why it's called "boneset," and a little Googling turned up a few theories. The innvista website states:
Many discussions have been held as to how boneset received its name, and all have some validity. One suggests that the common name for dengue fever, breakbone fever, was Eupatorium. Another suggests that flus and colds were historically called "breakbone fever" in the early colonies. The third speculation insists that the traditional use of boneset by indigenous peoples to heal broken bones is the reason for its name.
Jack Sanders, in The Secrets of Wildflowers: A Delightful Feast of Little-Known Facts, Folklore, and History (Guilford: The Lyons Press, 2003), gives as one theory that dengue fever caused pain so severe that patients thought their bones broken, and "[p]erhaps as a consequence, the plant that relieved the pain was called boneset."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hobart Then and Now: Third Street

The fact that I persist in calling this area "Ainsworth" does not mean I have anything against Hobart or feel any resentment over the annexation. I like Hobart. It's a pretty town with many nice people, interesting old buildings and charming lakeside parks.

And you can find material about its history a lot more easily than Ainsworth's, so forgive me if I stray sometimes into Hobart.

Here we have Third Street, 1920 and 2009:

Third Street 1920

Third Street 2009
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I date the first picture to 1920 because it's on a card postmarked 1920, but the picture was probably taken earlier. We're looking west on Third Street, toward the intersection of Third and Center, and beyond that Third and Main.

In the 1920 photo, the building in the right foreground has a sign at the top reading:


It has now lost the "1910" part of that sign. The five-and-ten-cent store is gone and an insurance agency lives there now. According to Tim Arends, the builder was L.M. Friedrich, the five-and-dime's owner was named Thompson, and this building once housed the town's post office.

I can't tell from the postcard what was in the building in the left foreground. Nowadays it's a used furniture store.

The building on the northwest corner of the Third and Center intersection still stands. Here's a close-up of it now:

Guyer building 2009
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The legend at the top reads:


The corner bay window has lost its magnificent pointed top. The building is now occupied by a tanning salon. Mr. Arends tell us that Hobart's peripatetic post office once lived here too.

Third Street has been paved and traffic is now so heavy that, even early on a Saturday morning, you have to look for a break to hurry out into the street where the 1920 photographer stood, and quickly take your picture. And the hitching posts are gone, of course.

See also Northwest Indiana Views from the Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society.