Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Wheelbarrow Party at Rest

I went to Crown Hill Cemetery this morning and happened to find three of the participants in that 1904 wheelbarrow incident.

Claus Ziegler, the Ainsworth saloon owner who bet on the township trustee race:

(Click on images to enlarge)

Charles Seydel, who lost the bet and had to push Claus around in a wheelbarrow:


Hans Thune, who (I think) ran the "Farmer's Home" saloon/restaurant where the crowd finished up its fun that day:


Here's the Ziegler family marker:


A Rocky Road

I believe that it was in 1899 that State Road 51 and 73rd Avenue were graveled for the first time — before that, they had been dirt roads.

The following announcement appeared in the Hobart Gazette of July 7, 1899:
WANTED: — Forty teams to work on gravel road in Ross township, beginning at Ainsworth; work to begin at once and I desire to give resident property owners this team work if they show the disposition to do the same. Price, $3.00 per day. Gahm & Byrne, contractors for said work.
The graveling work on State Road 51 would extend from the northern border of Ross Township, just south of Hobart, down through Ainsworth and then west through Merrillville, eventually reaching Crown Point.

At those days there was a jog where State Road 51 crosses Deep River near the "Dorman place" (where the Indian Ridge Country Club is now). The bridge and the road north of it ran along the west line of Section 8, while south of the bridge the road ran along the east line of Section 7 — not much of a difference, but enough to annoy a number of Ross Township residents, who appealed to the County Commissioners to move the bridge and straighten the road. The Commissioners ultimately decided against doing that much work for the moment, choosing only to raise the existing bridge by two feet.

By mid-August, the Gazette reported concerns among the citizenry that the roads were not being graveled according to plan and that the contractors were using substandard materials, and unless things improved, an "indignation meeting" would be held. By early September, only a mile of road had been graveled.

If the "indignation meeting" ever took place, it wasn't reported. The graveling work went on slowly. In mid-November, the Gazette editorialized:
We had occasion to pass over the Ross township gravel roads the other day and as far as the work is completed we believe the tax payers of that township have little or no cause to complain. They must not expect a slag and gravel road to be as good as one built entirely of gravel.
Early in January, a 142-acre farm south of Ainsworth sold for $50 an acre. The Gazette gave credit to the road improvements — before the graveling, the owners of that farm had been trying to sell it for some time and had gotten no better offer than $40 per acre.

In early November 1900 the work was finally completed. Now a person could drive the whole distance from Hobart to Crown Point on a gravel road.

A week later, a steam roller was brought in to smooth down the road better, but because of its weight and the softness of the road bed, it could be used only on the middle of the road. Horse rollers had to do the work on the sides of the road.

An early-twentieth-century road crew with steamroller.
Image credit:

In 1904 when Charles Maybaum, an Ainsworth-area farmer, was running for Ross Township Assessor, the Gazette mentioned the role he had played in the road improvements:
At present, Mr. Maybaum is road supervisor in his district and has filled the position with both credit to himself and the township for the past four years. To him is due great credit for the for the gravel road system that the township now possesses. After the project had failed at two previous elections Mr. Maybaum circulated a third petition and worked diligently in securing signers, which petition met with success at the polls.
The graveling must have seemed a great improvement, especially in wet weather. But we've already seen that the gravel roads eventually deteriorated and proved inadequate as traffic increased and became motorized, and the Ross Township citizens of the late 1920s looked on gravel roads as the previous generation had looked on dirt roads.

♦ "Additional Locals." Hobart Gazette 7 July 1899; 8 Sept. 1899.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 5 Jan. 1900; 9 Nov. 1900; 16 Nov. 1900; 24 June 1904.
♦ "Local Drifts." 21 July 1899; 28 July 1899; 18 Aug. 1899; 17 Nov. 1899; 30 Nov. 1900.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How to Die in Lake County in 1908

In the first six months of 1908, an even 100 people died in Lake County:

Killed by trains26
Other accidental deaths18
Due to natural causes25
Due to natural causes11
Grand total100

As I've said before, trains killed an astonishing number of people. Primarily men, it seems, although I've read a few reports over the years of women dying that way (which I didn't make notes of because they weren't Ainsworth women).

Not one female suicide, though.

Too bad they didn't expand on the suicides to show whether hanging was still the preferred method.

Source: "Heavy Death Report." Hobart Gazette 10 July 1908.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Just Don't Go To Mike O'Hearn's House

Mike O'Hearn, the Hobart veterinarian, may have been a nice guy if you met him on the street, but apparently going to his house was asking for trouble. We first met him in 1901 when he was found guilty of breaking the arm of Charles Chester, who had made the mistake of going to Mike's house to retrieve his stepson.

Fast-forward to August 14, 1908. On that day, into the yard of Mike O'Hearn came a neighbor, Mira Cheney, bearing some young chickens. She "enquired if they belonged to Mike, and some words passed between the two neighbors."

Now, how do "words" follow from such a benign inquiry? Did it go like this:

Mira: Good morning, Mike! Are these your chickens? I found them for you.
Mike: Why, yes, thank you for returning them.

Or more like this:

Mira: Are these your [lovely] chickens?
Mike: Maybe; what of it?
Mira: Well, they've pecked my [blessed] tomatoes to pieces, and if they come on my place again I'll wring their [sweet little] necks, and yours too!
Mike: Why, you [charming] old [lady]…

Mike ended the argument by ordering Mira off the premises. In leaving, Mira somehow fell to the ground and sprained her wrist. She went to the prosecutor and filed an affidavit claiming that Mike had pushed or hit her, causing her to fall. Charges of assault and battery were brought against him.

The case was heard on September 1. Judge John Mathews recused himself and appointed attorney F.T. Fetterer as a special judge. Mira repeated her accusation; Mike denied ever touching her, and he had two witnesses who backed him up. With the weight of evidence on his side, Mike was found not guilty.

Perhaps he really was innocent this time. But I think the moral of the story is, just don't go to Mike O'Hearn's house.

Source: "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 4 Sept. 1908.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Who Says Ainsworth Can't Play Ball?"

Lena Baseball 1907
A small-town baseball team, 1907.
Image credit:

Ainsworth had its own baseball team as early as August 1901, when they hosted a team from Hebron — and lost. They must have worked on their game, because a month later Ainsworth played a team from East Chicago at the Hobart diamond and wiped the floor with them, winning 26 to 5. The Gazette remarked that "the boys from East Chicago have much to learn about ball playing before they attempt another game with the Ainsworth nine."

Unfortunately, the paper doesn't name any of Ainsworth's players. And if the team as a whole had a name at this point, the paper doesn't mention it.

The next we hear of the anonymous Ainsworths, it's August 1903 and they've just beaten the team from Deepriver. The Gazette announced an upcoming Ainsworth v. Hobart game with the warning: "The Ainsworth boys are a strong team and a hot contest is predicted."

Early in June 1904, the "Ainsworth boys" promised not only a game but a dance:
The Ainsworths will cross bats with the Griffiths at 2 p.m. next Sunday, upon the former's grounds at Ainsworth. On Wednesday evening following, June 8th, the Ainsworth ball boys will give a dance in the Sauter hall at Ainsworth. Music will be furnished by Messrs. Dotzer and Bullock.
As for Hobart, it seems to have had two ball teams around this time — the Maroons and the Juniors, but the Maroons are much more often mentioned. They had been organized in 1897, with the following players: Oscar "Windy" Myers (pitcher), "Peck" Thompson (catcher), John Stoker, Eddie "Cob" Newman, Bert Myers, Robert Scholler, Joe "Dode" Nash, Bill Portmess, Lew Barnes, Frank Mathews, Sam Cook, Fred Maybaum, Mr. Slocum, and Albert Borman.

In August 1904, the Maroons hosted a game against a team they had never played before, the Valparaiso Clowns. Expecting a good contest against an equal opponent — organized, uniformed, skilled — the Maroons were disappointed from the start when the Clowns showed up without uniforms. They decided to go on with the game and give the Valpo team a chance to prove itself. But the Clowns turned out to be aptly named. At the middle of the 7th inning, with the score standing at Maroons 21, Clowns 0, Hobart ended the game in disgust.

By 1907 the Ainsworth team also had a name: the Clippers. In July of that year they played an interesting game against the Hobart Firemen — at the ninth inning the game was tied, and it took three more innings for the Clippers to break the tie and win, 9 to 7. The Gazette ended its admiring report by exclaiming: "Who says Ainsworth can't play ball?"

♦ "A One-Sided Ball Game." Hobart Gazette 5 Aug. 1904.
♦ "Base Ball Notes." Hobart Gazette 26 July 1907.
♦ "Crisman and Small's Crossing." Hobart Gazette 21 Aug. 1903.
♦ Fleck, Clare. "Hobart and Maroon Baseball Team" (undated manuscript), Hobart Historical Museum, Hobart, Indiana.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 8 Aug. 1901; 4 Sept. 1903; 3 June 1904.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 13 Sept. 1901.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Little Light Reading

Ku Klux Klan
Members of the Ku Klux Klan parading down Third Street in Hobart in the early 1920s. Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

I've just begun reading Citizen Klansmen: The Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, 1921-1928 by Leonard J. Moore. I have to admit I've always avoided reading about the Klan because it's such a depressing topic, so I ought to remedy my ignorance, and this book's Introduction promises a more nuanced view than I've been accustomed to hold:

While the Klans of the Reconstruction and civil rights eras were driven primarily by the single issue of white supremacy in the South, the Klan of the 1920s espoused ... a more complex creed of racism, nativism, Americanism; the defense of traditional moral and family values; and support for Prohibition. … To some degree, the Klan of the twenties may have appeared even more threatening precisely because its list of enemies was so long, including, in addition to blacks, Catholics, Jews, immigrants, political radicals, feminists, intellectuals, gamblers, bootleggers, thrill-seeking teenagers, motion picture producers, and many others. … This book … asserts that the traditional interpretation contains basic flaws and ultimately does not divorce strongly enough the Klan movement of the twenties from the infamous traditions of the southern vigilante Klans.

Sounds interesting, but the text looks pretty intense. A lot of statistics, and statistics aren't my strong suit.

♦    ♦    ♦

Saturday morning at the Hobart Historical Museum, I was able to find — along with that photo of the Klan parade above — portraits of two of the Hobart doctors who ran that 1907 Notice of fees, so I've added them to that post.

A Trainload of Model Ts

3-27-2010 1919 Unloading Model Ts
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the collection of R.F.

Circa 1919, these Model Ts were unloaded from a Grand Trunk train at Ainsworth (you can see the depot in the background at right). They were probably destined for the Wood Ford dealership at Deep River.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tree Graffiti of Deep River County Park

(Click on image to enlarge)

1991 and '04. I didn't notice the graffiti until I went to look more closely at the tree, because it's an impressive tree, even in the middle of the woods.

Health Care Costs, 1907

3-26-2010 Doctor fees
(Click on images to enlarge)

Several Hobart doctors ran this notice in the Hobart Gazette of November 1, 1907.

So that's about what they charged to finish what the corn huskers started. And apparently you had to pay an extra $2.00 if the doctor came out to Ainsworth to do it.

Dr Richard C Mackey
Dr. Richard C. Mackey, date unknown. Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Dr Clara Faulkner
Dr. Clara Faulkner, date unknown. Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shotgun Stories

Another thing that surprises me about these old newspapers is how readily people used their shotguns and with what impunity, as in these 1907 incidents.

1. Glad to Be a Bad Shot

Thomas and Ella Casbon and their children lived on a farm just west of the village of Deep River. During the day on Friday, June 14, they noticed a stranger loitering around their place. They thought he looked like a tramp, or worse, and they told him to get on about his business elsewhere. They had to tell him several times because he kept coming back.

When night fell, Thomas and Ella grew worried that the stranger had been scoping out their place and intended to return under cover of darkness to do goodness knows what — steal something, at the very least. So they decided to sit up and keep watch.

Hours went by and nothing happened. Friday night passed into the early hours of Saturday. Thomas and Ella grew sleepy. Finally they dozed off.
♦    ♦    ♦
On Friday evening, nineteen-year-old Floyd Guernsey left his home — a farm just east of Merrillville where he lived with his mother Cora and stepfather Bruno Kleine — and went to a dance, possibly at Deep River, where Dietz hall was a popular venue for dancers.

The dancing went on for hours. It was well past midnight when the merrymakers broke up. Floyd, who had gone stag, climbed into his buggy and set out along present-day 73rd Avenue, heading west.

Tired out from the night's fun, and perhaps with a few drinks in him, Floyd soon fell asleep at the reins, but his trusty horse knew the road and ambled along toward home.
♦    ♦    ♦
At the Casbon farm, sometime in the wee hours of Saturday morning, Thomas was wrenched awake by a screech that sounded to his sleep-fogged ears like the barn door hinges. He leapt up, grabbed his shotgun and ran outside. Through the darkness he could just make out the shape of a horse and buggy heading down the road away from his place.

"Stop!" he yelled. But his shout in the calm night startled the horse, who plunged forward.

Thomas raised his shotgun and blazed away.

Inside the buggy, Floyd Guernsey was roused from his little nap by shouts, gunfire and the frightened plunge of his horse. Thinking robbers were attacking him, he whipped up the horse to its fastest gallop and fled down the road.

The buggy quickly outdistanced Thomas. He was disappointed that the thief had gotten away, but at least his family was no longer in danger.

The next day Thomas told the story of his dangerous encounter to some people in Deep River. They, being better informed, told him that he had been firing away at the harmless young Floyd.

Thomas was reportedly "very thankful that his aim was not more true."

2. The Cow's Avenger

On Sunday, May 12, a couple of Chicago automobile parties went out for a spin in the Indiana countryside. When they decided to head home, they got onto a road through Hobart and traveled west. On the western outskirts of town, they passed by the farms of John Witt and Jacob Kramer.

Jacob and his family were out on the porch of his house, talking to a couple of the Witt boys. They all watched, shaking their heads in disapproval, as the Chicago cars sped by.

John Witt's daughters were just then driving a herd of cows home along that same road. The cars zipped through the herd without even slowing down. It was sheer luck that they didn't hit the girls or their cows.

When the cars came to a bend in the road further west, their drivers must have figured out that they were on the wrong road. They pulled a U-turn and headed back the way they had come — and just as fast.

This time luck was not with them. The first car passed through the herd of cows safely, but the second struck a cow so hard it knocked her into a ditch.

The car didn't stop. As it passed Jacob's house, he heard the driver make "a slight remark about the accident." Jacob's sense of justice was roused.

He ran into the house, grabbed his shotgun and quickly loaded two cartridges. Then he and one of the Witt boys set out running. By cutting north across the fields, they figured they could intercept the car, which had to follow the curve of the road. It had been a long time since Jacob had run so far and so fast, and the first auto passed before he reached the road, but he was just in time to intercept the second — the guilty party.

Standing in the middle of the road, waving his hat in one hand and his shotgun in the other, Jacob gasped out: "Stop or I'll shoot!" The car raced toward him. He again called out the order to stop, and leveled his shotgun straight at the car.

The car came to a screeching stop.

John Witt, who'd been told about his cow being struck, had set out after Jacob, along with one of his sons. They now came running up on the stopped car. The driver was in no position to claim innocence. Not only were there witnesses, but his own car testified against him, bearing some of the cow's hair and skin on its side.

John marched the driver back to the scene of the accident. They examined the poor cow, who was beyond saving. Under threat of arrest, the driver finally agreed to pay John $30 in damages.

The Hobart Gazette approved:
The actions of Mr. Kramer in stopping the machine and of Mr. Witt in compelling the owner of the machine to settle for the damage done are commendable and may serve as a warning to other reckless city auto drivers.

♦ "Auto Held Up." Hobart Gazette 17 May 1907.
♦ "Thought He Shot at Thief." Hobart Gazette 21 June 1907.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ainsworth Then and Now: Fast Train Approaching

Circa 1910 and 2010

Fast Train Approaching
No Train Approaching
(Click on images to enlarge)
1910 image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society

Fast train approaching versus no train approaching. What, did you think I was going to play chicken with a freight train out there? They did that sort of thing in 1910. In 2010, we don't, and we also don't get killed by trains as often as they did.

The 1910 photographer was standing east of where Ainsworth Road crossed the tracks — that's the crossing you see in the foreground of the photo. The train looks to be just about to cross State Road 51. Note the milk cans at the left edge of the picture, and the siding behind them. I had to guess where to stand to replicate that photo, since I'm still not sure exactly where the Ainsworth Road crossing was.

My guess that the top image dates to around 1910 is based on the fact that it's from one of several postcards in the Hobart Historical Society's Ainsworth picture file that contain correspondence between Howard Shearer and Elsie Wojahn, and while this particular card is not postmarked, the others are postmarked 1910 (and one 1911). So I'm placing it in the same timeframe. The correspondence on the postcards is not effusive, but I wasn't surprised to learn that Howard and Elsie were later married (on February 12, 1913 per the Indiana Marriage Collection).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Street Names Now and Then

I'm trying to keep track of what the various roads around here used to be called. And by "used to" I mean between 1900 and 1930, roughly, although State Road 51 was known as Ainsworth Road as recently as the 1950s.

Current NamePrevious Name
State Road 51,
Grand Boulevard
Ainsworth road,
Ainsworth-Hobart road
Ainsworth Road
(east of S.R. 51)
Chester road
Ainsworth Road
(west of S.R. 51)
Ainsworth-Merrillville road
73rd Avenue, Lincoln Highway,
County Road 330
Joliet road, Road #30
Spencer StreetGruel road
?Ainsworth-Deepriver road

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Yes, I'm a Blacksmith": Ed Sauter in Ainsworth

(Click on image to enlarge)
The Ainsworth blacksmith shop and dance hall built by Edward Sauter. Date of photo unknown, but probably between 1904 and 1910. (Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.)

Before Ed Sauter built his saloon and blacksmith shop in Ainsworth in 1899, he had run a saloon in Hobart "in the O'Boyle building on Third Street," wherever that might be. In October 1899, closing his Hobart saloon, the 38-year-old Ed moved his whole family — his wife, Augusta; their teenage daughters, Clara and Lizzie; and their young sons, George and Edward — to Ainsworth.

While Frank Miller of Deep River ran the Ainsworth saloon for him, Ed set up as a blacksmith here. He'd done blacksmithing before, and perhaps a little during, his Hobart days, but he'd been keeping a saloon for so long that he seemed to think people would be skeptical of this change of occupation, as he ran this announcement in the November 10, 1899 Hobart Gazette:
Yes, I'm a blacksmith and horseshoer. I did blacksmithing before some people were born. I understand shoeing horses right and I can prove it. You bet I don't take a back seat for any one when it comes to horseshoeing. I can prove what I say in my shop at Ainsworth. Ed. Sauter.
Two years later, his business was coming along well enough that he felt able to expand. He added a frame addition to the west side of the blacksmith shop, with storage space on the ground floor, and on the upper floor a dance hall.

The May 10, 1901 Hobart Gazette carried this announcement:
Ed. Sauter will initiate his hall at Ainsworth next week Thursday evening, May 16th, by having a grand ball. He will employ good music and will insure all his friends who attend of having a good time. The dancing hall is 24 by 50 feet and the room contains a fine hardwood floor, the pride of any dancer. He invites all his old Hobart friends to attend and join in the festivities at the grand opening.
The Hobart Cornet Band provided the music.

By November Ed had gotten the hall plastered and was painting it to be ready for the New Year's dance. Other dances followed, only some of which were announced: a mask ball in February 1902, an April dance, a September dance with music by the Balatka orchestra of Chicago, a "Married Peoples'" dance in December 1902, a "sheet and pillow case masquerade ball" in March 1903, followed the next month by an Easter dance, and so on.

Some of the Ainsworth news items in the Gazette were, I suspect, reported and shaded by their subjects, such as this March 1902 item: "Ed. Sauter has recently purchased a lot adjoining his property from John Miller. Ed. is a hustler and is branching out in his various industries in that burg. He has also put down a town pump, for public use." Or this, from August 1903:
One has only to go to Ainsworth to realize what a busy little burg the place is. Two stores, postoffice and Ed. Sauter's various industries constitute the business features there but one will be surprised if they visit the place to see what a lively business center it is. Mr. Sauter besides satisfying the wants of the inner man supplies him with all kinds of farm implements and vehicles, shoes his horses and attends to all manner of general blacksmithing and recently has employed Paul Schillo of this place to attend to the woodwork department. His is a busy place and Ed. with his three helpers is kept at work early and late.
The "wants of the inner man," of course, were satisfied in the saloon. The saloon building was a two-story terra cotta structure, 20 feet wide and 34 feet deep. The upper floor and the back part of the lower floor were taken up with living quarters. The saloon itself occupied only the front room of the first floor, 20' x 15', with a nine-foot bar and (in 1905, at least, when this description was written) two tables and six chairs for customers' use.

As we know, early in 1904 Ed sold his saloon to Claus Ziegler, building, business and all, for $2,100.

In April 1904, Lizzie Sauter married Warren Boyd and the young couple moved to his farm in Merrillville. Later that year Clara Sauter took a job clerking at the Spot Cash Store in Hobart.

Ed continued operating the blacksmith shop and dance hall. If we can believe the newspaper reports, business was good; in May of 1904 he had "installed a new gasoline engine" in his shop and was "doing a rushing business"; in the last week of December he shod eight teams. January 1905 was a busy month in his dance hall: one Saturday evening 119 ducks and 27 geese were raffled off to the music of a Chicago orchestra, and a couple weeks later came a big entertainment and social event with "real calcium and Bengal lights." April brought an announcement of a series of dancing parties organized by two local residents.

And that's why it came as a shock when I read a one-line announcement in the Gazette's "General News Items" of November 24, 1905: "Wm. Raschka the Ainsworth merchant has been appointed receiver for the Ed Sauter estate at Ainsworth."

Was Ed bankrupt? Dead? What on earth happened?

As it turned out, he wasn't dead. Apparently some disaster befell his "rushing business." Perhaps it wasn't so rushing after all, or he mishandled his money, or perhaps the young men who fell from his staircase in May 1904 sued him into oblivion — but no such suits were ever mentioned by the Gazette, nor any other explanation ever given. All I know is that Ed somehow got over his head in debt to the First State Bank, and the bank foreclosed on his property.

On February 17, 1906, a sheriff's sale was held at the east door of the Court House in Crown Point, offering seven years' "rents and profits" from Ed's property — or, if that would not bring a sufficient price to pay Ed's debts, then the property itself. The Gazette noted that some time earlier Ed had refused an offer of $2,800 for his property, and "[t]he bank's claim and costs in the foreclosure proceedings amount to about half of that price."

At that sale, the First State Bank itself bought the property, and then turned around and advertised to sell it. When they couldn't sell it, they rented it — to Claus Ziegler, who now intended to live in Ainsworth.

In April 1906, the Gazette reported, "Mrs. Ed Sauter has moved upstairs in the Rohwedder house on our Main street," which sounds as if husband and wife were now living apart. (No word of where the children were staying.) In June came the announcement, "Edward Sauter . . . is working now in South Chicago and is looking fine." The irrepressible Ed was apparently back on his feet, or wanted to give that impression.

When Clara Sauter married John Rowe, Jr., in February 1907, her parents were described as "Mr. and Mrs. Edward Sauter," without further comment. (The announcement added that the young newlyweds "have the best wishes of a large circle of friends, in which the Gazette heartily joins.")

The 1910 Census shows an Edward Sauter living in Chicago, married but apparently living apart from his wife in a boardinghouse, and working as a blacksmith in a factory. In the 1920 Census, he is listed as single. I don't know what ultimately became of Ed and Augusta.

Well, that's rather depressing, isn't it? I may find out more as I go along with reading. I don't know if I ought to write open-ended stories like this, but if I waited until I read enough microfilm to get the full story, it would be a long time between blog entries.

1900 Census.
1910 Census.
1920 Census.
♦ "Additional Locals." Hobart Gazette 10 Nov. 1899.
♦ "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 30 Dec. 1904; 6 Jan. 1905; 13 Jan. 1905.
♦ "Application for License." Hobart Gazette 22 Sept. 1905.
♦ "Buy Sauter Property." Hobart Gazette 23 Feb. 1906.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 29 Mar. 1901; 21 Mar. 1902; 5 Sept. 1902; 3 Oct. 1902; 19 Dec. 1902; 6 Mar. 1903; 10 Apr. 1903; 15 May 1903; 14 Aug. 1903; 6 Nov. 1903; 4 Dec. 1903; 29 Jan. 1904; 6 May 1904; 28 Oct. 1904; 25 Nov. 1904; 7 Apr. 1905; 24 Nov. 1905; 22 June 1906; 1 Mar. 1907.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 14 July 1899; 18 Aug. 1899; 13 Oct. 1899; 27 Oct. 1899; 29 March 1901; 10 May 1901; 29 Nov. 1901; 7 Feb. 1902; 5 Feb. 1904; 26 Feb. 1904; 11 Mar. 1904; 16 Mar. 1906; 20 Apr. 1906.
♦ "Married in Hobart." Hobart Gazette 22 Apr. 1904.
♦ "Sheriff's Sale." Hobart Gazette 2 Feb. 1906.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Grand Trunk Fugitive

Cyrus E. Smith came to Lake County in 1863. For many decades he farmed 160 acres just southwest of village of Ainsworth. Thus far in my reading he has appeared in the newspapers mainly in connection with respectable social events. In other words, he hasn't breached the peace, had domestic troubles, been the victim of a crime, died in an accident, gone bankrupt, or any of the other activities that sometimes get a person mentioned in the papers when they probably would rather not have been.

So when this stable, peaceable, respectable man says someone did something wrong, I'm inclined to believe him.

And that is indeed what he said in mid-October of 1906 about Bert E. Groos (or Gross), a conductor on the Grand Trunk Railroad. To Justice of the Peace John Mathews in Hobart, Cyrus complained that Conductor Groos had "been in the habit for some time of blocking the crossing at Ainsworth for any length of time to suit his convenience but to the great inconvenience of the citizens of that section." Judge Mathews issued a warrant for Groos' arrest.

On Saturday, October 20, Cyrus was at the Grand Trunk depot along with a Constable Brown, waiting for Conductor Groos' train to come in. When it did, Constable Brown took Groos from the train and placed him under arrest, and then went to subpoena witnesses, leaving the prisoner in Cyrus' custody.

Groos pointed out that his train was at that moment blocking the crossing and he had better move it. Cyrus, expecting him to direct the train onto the siding, consented. Groos jumped up onto the train and signaled the engineer. The train began to move forward … and move, and move, and move, until it was far down the track, gaining speed and carrying away the triumphant Groos.

I expect Cyrus felt a bit foolish, but he was not discouraged. He reasoned that Conductor Groos would have to pass through Ainsworth again in the near future, and next time they'd be wise to his tricks.

Predictably, Groos did not show up for his scheduled hearing before Judge Mathews on the following Monday. But the next anyone heard of him, he'd gotten a transfer to the Grand Trunk subdivision headquartered in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he could stay in safety, thumbing his nose at Ainsworth justice.

Weeks went by. The harvests were gathered in, the frosts came, the leaves fell from the trees. Thanksgiving passed. Christmas approached. And then Conductor Groos had a change of heart.

From the safety of Michigan, he contacted Judge Mathews through the railroad's attorneys and said he was willing to plead guilty and take the consequences. Judge Mathews agreed. He assessed fines and costs amounting to $15, which were duly paid, and the docket was cleared. Groos could come back to Ainsworth without fear if ever he wanted to.

And swords were beaten into ploughshares, and wolves lay down with lambs; and the Ainsworth crossing was not unreasonably blocked, and Cyrus dwelt in peace on his farm.

1891 Plat Book.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 2 Nov. 1906.
Lake County Encyclopedia.
♦ "Prisoner Got Away." Hobart Gazette 26 Oct. 1906.
♦ "Smith Laughs Last." Hobart Gazette 14 Dec. 1906.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Henry Chester's REALLY Bad Day

In July of 1905 Thomas H. McClain came to Ainsworth to spend his vacation at the farm home of his daughter Constance and her husband, Charles Chester. Thomas lived in Chicago; he probably expected this country vacation to be a pleasant break from the noisy, dangerous city.

It would prove otherwise thanks to his daughter's father-in-law, Henry Chester.

On the evening of Monday, July 24, Thomas and Henry, and perhaps Charles as well, were all outdoors, and someone was driving a team of horses. (The report of the incident is sketchy.)

Apparently Henry disapproved of the way that person was driving the horses. He voiced his disapproval. An argument ensued and escalated. Henry became completely enraged and ended the argument by grabbing a pitchfork and attacking Thomas with it. He didn't just whack at him — he stabbed him, several times, hard enough to cause injuries.

The next we hear of Thomas, he was in Crown Point getting medical attention for his injuries and complaining to the law-enforcement authorities of Henry's attack on him. Thomas considered it assault with intent to kill.

Henry was summoned to answer the complaint before Justice Barton in Crown Point at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 27, but he did not appear. He sent word that he was sick, and the hearing was postponed.

Two months later, the appeal of Jacob Portmess on his trespass conviction — stemming from the March 1905 incident between him and Henry — came up for hearing. Again Henry called in sick. That hearing, too, was postponed.

I've now read the Hobart Gazette through January 1907 and have found no follow-up report on either of these incidents. On the other hand, Henry hasn't attacked anyone else since July 1905.

About a week after that pitchfork incident, Henry's son-in-law Charles Nelson came down from Chicago to spend a few hours at Henry's house. Folks, to give you an idea of wild imagination I have to live with — from this tidbit of information I have dreamed up a whole story about this visit being some sort of intervention or peace mission.

Henry Chester died in April 1910. Perhaps he got through the last few years of his life without having another bad day. We'll see.

♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 11 Aug. 1905; 13 Oct. 1905.
♦ "Stabbed With Pitchfork." Hobart Gazette 28 July 1905.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Garbage Dumps of Ainsworth: The Apogee

Long ago I promised to show you the best the Ainsworth has to offer in the way of garbage dumps, and now that the vegetation has died back, the snows melted and the floods receded, I can keep my promise.

Reader, do you want cheap 1960s furniture left to rot in the weather? rusted-out household appliances? yard tools with essential parts missing? broken bottles that wouldn't have any value even if they were intact? — then Ainsworth is your place: specifically, the west bank of the Deep River just north of Ainsworth Road.

Come in, and take a chair, won't you?

Rusy chair with no seat
(Click on images to enlarge)

Would you like a Pepsi?

Pepsi cans minus pull tabs

…or something stronger, perhaps?


No? All right. Here's the difficult part. We have to climb down this bank to the Deep River bottomlands. It's a bit steep.

Here we are. Not too tired, are you? Ha ha.


If you don't like that one, there's plenty more.

Oh, look at this! Why'd they throw away this perfectly good washing machine? All it needs is a little WD-40!


Not sure what that thing is. Might be a washing machine dating back to before WD-40 was invented.


Not sure what this was, either, but it sure holds a lot of junk now.


I wonder if the guy who lost this boot was married to the Size 8 lady?


This lawn mower has mowed its last lawn . . .


. . . and this wheelbarrow has barrowed its last . . . um, something.


Oh, this takes me back. In my day, you see, we didn't have all this fancy "recycling" stuff. We walked around on broken bottles all the time, and we never complained!


You young kids today, you just don't know.

Well, I may be a dinosaur, but I still have a spring in my step.


But now it's time to say goodbye to all our trashy friends.


Don't worry, they'll still be here a hundred years from now.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Who Is She?

(Click on image to enlarge)

This photo was in the Ainsworth picture file at the Hobart Historical Museum, so I'm trusting that somewhere along the line someone knew that it related to Ainsworth. But there is no information about the picture, no notes scribbled on the back, no date or name. I don't know who this lady is, where the house was located and whether it's still standing.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Of Bees and Crocuses

(Click on image to enlarge)

There are dozens of bees all over my crocuses, because nothing else is blooming.

What did bees do at this time of year before people came along and started planting crocuses?

"They Died in Their Sin"

The Hobart Gazette described Ainsworth resident William Potter as a "well-known character." What exactly earned him that description, I do not know, but since his family had been farming in Ross Township at least since 1870, there are a good ten years of newspapers I haven't read yet that may enlighten me. So far I've come across a couple random facts about him: in 1899 he went to Iowa to work; by 1901 he was back in Ainsworth, appearing in court because of a tangle with a railroad worker (but that report doesn't say who allegedly did what).

In 1903 he was about 45 years old, unmarried and living with his widowed mother in Ainsworth, when he became involved with Amanda Guernsey, ex-wife of Otis.

Otis was just one of many Guernseys farming in southeastern Ross Township. He had been born around 1865 to Chester and Elizabeth Guernsey. In August 1894 he married Amanda Rex. She was his third wife. (What had happened to the first two, I wish someone could tell me.) Together they had five children.

At some point things went sour between Otis and Amanda. In March of 1903 she obtained a divorce. According to one report, she had charged him with cruelty — and yet, having secured her divorce, she returned to his house, employed by him as a live-in domestic servant. That sounds like an awkward situation, but I suppose it worked for them.

While still living with her ex-husband, Amanda found new love with William Potter.

On Friday, October 9, William and Amanda took Otis' horse and buggy and disappeared. They did not resurface until the evening of Monday, October 12, when they arrived at Adam Hetzler's saloon, at the north end of Cedar Lake. They took a room on the second story of the saloon and retired for the night.

About 4 a.m., Mr. Hetzler awoke to find his room filled with smoke. His shouts of "Fire!" were loud enough to wake another tenant of the saloon, who helped him get Mrs. Hetzler and their two little daughters out of the burning building. By the time the Hetzlers realized their two new guests had not gotten out, the wooden structure was engulfed in flames. It would have been suicidal to go back in to search for anyone.

William and Amanda died together in the fire. It isn't clear why they couldn't get out. One report speculated that "[t]he heavy smoke must have stupefied them."

"They Died in Their Sin," fulminated a Logansport newspaper, adding: "The woman, it is said, had deserted her husband and five children." The Hobart Gazette treated the couple more gently, calling their death "tragic," and as to the question of sin, said only, "Whether Mr. Potter and Mrs. Guernsey had recently been married, reports differ, and is doubted by many."

In short order Otis, too, found new love. He took Mrs. Minnie Jones as his fourth wife on October 15, three days after Amanda's death — or, as a Fort Wayne newspaper put it, "[b]efore the charred remains of the mother of his five children were interred." The Hobart Gazette, again, was kinder, although unable to resist a little indiscretion:
Their courtship was very short, in fact it was a case of love at first sight as only two days before Mrs. Jones had gone to the Guernsey residence to care for his household as his former domestic had recently before met with a fatal accident in the burning of the Cedar Lake hotel. The groom is 41 years old and has taken to himself the fourth wife while the bride is 39 years old and had been married once previously.
Together they raised his five children. Their marriage was apparently happy; they were still married when Otis died in 1927. His will provided that Minnie would receive the interests and proceeds of his estate until her death or remarriage. Upon either of those events, the estate would be divided among the children of Otis and Amanda.

1870 Census.
1880 Census.
1900 Census.
1910 Census.
♦ "Additional Locals." Hobart Gazette 12 May 1899.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 21 June 1901; 6 March 1903.
♦ "Hobart." Times (Hammond, Ind.) 12 March 1927.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
♦ "Meet Tragic Death In Burning Hotel." Hobart Gazette 16 Oct. 1903.
♦ "Otis Guernsey Leaves a Will at His Death." Hobart News 7 April 1927.
♦ "They Died in Their Sin." Logansport Pharos 15 Oct. 1903 (Newspaper Archive).
♦ "Two Hearts Made Happy." Hobart Gazette 23 Oct. 1903.
♦ "Was in Haste to Wed." Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel 21 Oct. 1903 (Newspaper Archive).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ainsworth School: Interior

(Click on images to enlarge)
Images in this post courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

The caption says this is circa 1900.

What are those birds on the blackboard holding the "Roll of Honor" banner? — sandhill cranes?

"The Hunter and the Woodman" is one of Aesop's fables.

Here's another exterior shot of the schoolhouse. No date is given and the photo is not clear enough for me to tell whether the schoolhouse has one room or two at this point.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Sandhill Cranes

(Click on image to enlarge)
Photo by Steven R. Emmons of Pacific Southwest Region U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (via Wikimedia Commons).

This time of year, if you're outside in the Ainsworth/Hobart area, you may see or at least hear migrating sandhill cranes in flight. I usually see them in the late morning or early afternoon. Sometimes they fly in V-formation, like geese, although they don't seem as well organized as geese. Sometimes a bunch of cranes get together and fly up to some ridiculous altitude. There they just mill around in a circle that's inwardly turbulent but outwardly cohesive as the whole flock drifts slowly in one direction; and all the while they call to each other, with that eerie, mournful, gurgling cry, which carries so well you can hear them even when they are only little dots up in the stratosphere.

I only mention them because I found this item in the Hobart Gazette of March 30, 1906:
Albert Halsted had the good luck on Tuesday of killing one of three fine, large sand-hill cranes seen upon the prairie southwest of town. The bird measured seven feet from tip to tip of wings and stood five feet high. They are pronounced excellent eating.
Hmmm ... he shot a sandhill crane, and now he's dead. Coincidence?

(I haven't been able to determine whether Albert Halsted was any relation to Willard Halsted, who once owned a general store in Ainsworth.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sheep, and Nothing About Jesse Frame

(Click on image to enlarge)

This lamb isn't really a baby anymore, but he/she/it still sticks with mom. I couldn't get any closer than this. They tolerated my presence for about 30 seconds, then the whole flock took off running to the far end of the pasture.

I did my taxes yesterday and I'm still too tired to write a half-way intelligent post.

I've reached 1906 in the newspapers, and Jesse Frame is still living in Chicago, still working for the railroad (in fact he got a raise in pay) and still coming back to Hobart now and then to visit his mother and friends, but I'm not going to mention any of that lest you think I'm obsessed with this guy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tuberculosis Again

(Click on image to enlarge)
An 1898 advertisement for a quack tuberculosis remedy, from the Hobart Gazette.

I've been paying particular attention to tuberculosis since I came across stories from 1908 about the new governmental anti-tuberculosis regulations that had dairy farmers around Ainsworth in an uproar. Since I live in a time and a place where I'm very unlikely to get tuberculosis, it's hard for me to get a feeling for how real and threatening it was to my neighbors a century ago.

In 2005, tuberculosis caused just 0.2 deaths per 100,000 people in the United States. In 1900, it caused 194.4 deaths per 100,000 — only slightly fewer than influenza and pneumonia combined — while major cardiovascular disease caused 345.2 deaths per 100,000, and cancer 64.0. In 1904, nearly five thousand people in Indiana died of tuberculosis.

On the personal level, we've already seen how it devastated the Nolte family. In 1901 the Gazette reported on a Hobart family profoundly affected by it: Mr. and Mrs. J.P. Johnson, both infected with TB, had become so ill and weak that their 13-year-old daughter had to take on full responsibility for the care of her four little sisters, the youngest being only a few weeks old.

Other local deaths from tuberculosis:
  • Charles Niles, 30, died at his home in Deep River on May 30, 1900. Funeral services had to be held in the house because his wife was too weak to go to the church.
  • In September 1900 a 32-year-old railroad employee, David Hartland — working in spite of his tuberculosis — collapsed on the job near Deep River and died the same day.
  • In Lake Station, Miss Jennie Ringberg died in 1902 at the age of 21.
  • Also in 1902, Randolph Guernsey, who had gone to Colorado to try for a cure, died there at the age of 29, leaving a wife and two sons.
  • In 1905, Mrs. Amanda Bullock died at age 23.
From these reports I get the impression that tuberculosis liked to take people in the prime of their lives.

By the early twentieth century, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis had been identified, and with the new X-ray technology doctors could better diagnose the disease and track its progress in a patient; but there was no medical cure. TB sufferers were advised to get plenty of rest, fresh air and good nutrition, and to the extent such treatment strengthened the body's own immune system it could help in fighting off the infection. There were many sanatoria that offered this treatment (with the added benefit to the general population of isolating infected people), but patients had to be able to bear the financial burden involved — not only the fees charged by the sanatorium, but also the loss of work during the patient's stay there, which often stretched into months or even years. It was not until 1944, when the antibiotic streptomycin became available for use in humans, that doctors could actively cure tuberculosis.

♦ "A Sorrowful Sight." Hobart Gazette 24 May 1901.
♦ "Advice to Consumptives" (advertisement). Hobart Gazette 9 December 1898.
♦ Dunne, Mike. "Former TB sanatorium in Placer County awash in poignant history." Sacramento Bee 7 Jan. 2010. (accessed 13 March 2010).
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette. 27 Jan. 1905.
♦ "Late Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 28 Feb. 1902.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 28 Sept. 1900.
♦ "Mortuary Record." Hobart Gazette 1 June 1900; 21 March 1902; 3 March 1905.
♦ Pearson Education, Inc. "Death Rates by Cause of Death, 1900–2005." Infoplease 2007 (abstracting U.S. Public Health Service, Vital Statistics of the United States, annual, Vol. I and Vol II). (accessed 12 March 2010).
♦ University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Brief History of Tuberculosis. July 23, 1996. (access 13 March 2010).

Friday, March 12, 2010


Just some random stuff in Deep River County Park, left over from the days before it was a county park.

She wore a size 8. Probably still does, if she's still living.

3-12-2010 Size 8 boot
(Click on images to enlarge)

This enameled pot must have been rather pretty, back in the day.

3-12-2010 Enameled bucket

I want to be here 20 years from now to see who wins — the tree or the gate.

3-12-2010 Gate with Tree

No idea what kind of vehicle this grill came from … but it was red.

3-12-2010 Red Grill

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Will Your Turkeys Deny You?

From the "General News Items" of the Hobart Gazette of September 15, 1905:
Taken Up. — A flock of 16 turkeys came to my premises about Sept. 1, 1905, which the owner can have by proving property and paying all charges. Henry Nolte.
How are you supposed to prove you own the turkeys? Will they recognize you? What if they claim they've never seen you before? Do you maybe have their photo IDs?

Lest you think Henry Nolte's request for payment of charges was grasping, that was a standard feature of such "found animals" ads. People who went to the expense of feeding other people's livestock and placing an ad in the newspaper did like to get reimbursed.

A Great Fall

(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

I think there was a barbershop on the second floor of the brick part of Ed Sauter's blacksmith shop, reached by means of that external wooden staircase you see in the picture. The reason I think so is because the stairs leading to "the barbershop upstairs in the Sauter building" once collapsed, and if I had to choose which part of these structures looked most likely to collapse, I'd definitely say that outdoor staircase.

The accident happened in May 1904, after Ed had sold his saloon to Claus Ziegler.

On the evening of Saturday, May 21, several young men were standing on the staircase outside the barbershop when the structure gave way beneath them and they all fell to the ground below. Some of them were badly injured, including 18-year-old Eugene Chandler, whose collar bone was broken. Apparently none of the injuries were fatal, however.

♦    ♦    ♦

The barber, or one of the barbers, of Ainsworth was named Lee Hunter. A few months after this incident he moved to California, and wrote back in December 1904 to say that he was not impressed with that part of the country. And that's the kind of random, useless information you can get from reading old newspapers.

Oh, and Eugene Chandler was the nephew of N.P. Banks, a Hobart farmer apparently so well known that the Gazette simply gave his name with no further identifying information.

1900 Census.
♦ "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 16 Dec. 1904.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 27 May 1904.

[3/16/10 update: D'oh! Maybe N.P. Banks was well known because he was an officer and director of the First State Bank and a school trustee as well as a farmer.]

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Unit 4585 (and Friends)

(Click on image to enlarge)

When you wake up in the night and there are five idling Diesel engines stopped on the track beside your house, it's as if there were five living giants crouched out there in the dark. The air vibrates with their heartbeats. They murmur to themselves, or to each other. Their voices rise and fall. They sigh. They sneeze.

You simply have get your camera and go outside to take a picture of them. It doesn't work out very well (see above), but you still have to try.

After a long time they get the go-ahead. The giants shake themselves into motion, their murmuring rises to bluster, and with much rumbling and bleating they lumber off into the dark.

1973 Aerial Photos

Click on images to enlarge if you dare. These are big files.

These photos were taken from such a high altitude that it's difficult to see any ground-level detail. This first one is eastern Lake and western Porter Counties. The intersection of Ainsworth Road and Grand Trunk Railroad is at the left edge of the photo, a little more than one-third of the way from the top. You can clearly see the race track where Deep River County Park remote-controlled airplane field is now. They've made its shape more regular and symmetrical since 1965.

All three photos in this post are courtesy of the Indiana State Archives, Indiana Commission on Public Records.

In this image, the Deep River race track/airplane field is toward the right border. At left is the intersection of I-65 and U.S. 30, and we can see what looks to be Southlake Mall in its early stages, perhaps under construction.


Here's another shot that includes Southlake Mall. Ainsworth is under the "18089" at top right.


In these two last images, there is what appears to be a railroad, or the remains of a railroad, running diagonally across the landscape, crossing Route 30 just east of Southlake Mall, then continuing northwest under I-65. I was glad to see this because it might be the railroad that's had me mystified as I've been reading the early-1900s Hobart Gazette. A new railroad was just being proposed in 1901; construction began in 1902, with the railroad entering Lake County from the east where Ross Township and Winfield Township meet, then continuing northwest to a depot in Merrillville, and by 1904 it had reached Griffith. I didn't remember ever seeing such a railroad. The Gazette called it the Cincinnati, Richmond & Muncie Railroad, but also once referred to it as the Chicago, Cincinnati & Louisville Railroad. At last reading, in 1904, the railroad was still seeking terminal facilities in Chicago, and had already killed one person in Merrillville.

♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 18 April 1902, 23 May 1902, 27 June 1902, 18 July 1902, 5 Sept. 1902, 21 Nov. 1902, 29 May 1903, 4 Dec. 1903, 18 Dec. 1903, 13 May 1904, 24 June 1904.
♦ "Railroad Elections." Hobart Gazette 11 Oct. 1901.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Henry Chester's OTHER Bad Day

Remember that incident of 1887 that somehow involved Henry and Charles Chester — and trespass, a dangerous weapon, assault and battery? I've come across another incident that might shed some oblique light on that mysterious mêlée.

It happened in March of 1905. Henry Chester was then about 70 years old. A year earlier, the Reverend Timothy H. Ball had profiled him, in the Encyclopedia of Genealogy and Biography of Lake County, Indiana, as "one of the well known old settlers and prominent agriculturalists of Lake county." Henry was married to his third wife, had fathered nine children, and owned about a thousand acres of farmland.

So Henry had considerable dignity to fling aside when Jacob E. Portmess came to his door on one day in mid-March.

Jacob was a Hobart resident, about Henry's age, and a house-painter by trade. Charles Chester had contracted with him to do some painting. Now the job was finished, but Jacob hadn't been paid yet — in spite of six previous visits to the Chester home to ask for his money.

On this seventh visit, Henry met him at the door with an attitude. The visit ended abruptly when Henry grabbed a broom and hit Jacob with it.

Indignant, Jacob complained to the authorities. Henry was arrested and brought before Justice of the Peace John Mathews, who allowed him until March 25 to prepare his case. But on the day of trial, Henry did not contest the charge. He pleaded guilty and paid $17.50 in fines and costs.

Before his trial, however, he had filed a complaint against Jacob for trespass. This case was tried on April 1 at Crown Point, with two Hobart attorneys appearing — Asa Bullock for the plaintiff and J.H. Conroy for the defendant. Jacob contested the charge, but he was found guilty and ordered to pay fines and costs amounting to about $35. His attorney immediately filed an appeal bond.

The Gazette remarked:
The two cases have caused no little comment among our citizens who think Mr. Portmess has not been guilty of any intentional wrong doing and that the trouble and the expense he has been put to are unreasonable and unwarrantable. We understand Mr. Portmess was paid last Saturday the balance due him.
It would seem that in spite of his standing in the community, Henry Chester could be a cantankerous fellow, not above swatting someone with a broom and then bringing retaliatory legal claims if the swattee complained. In light of these facts, and giving rein to my well known tendency to speculate, I'm beginning to formulate a theory about who did what in 1887. But I don't know what the 1887 "dangerous weapon" was; would anyone say that about a broom?

1910 Census.
♦ Ball, T.H. Encyclopedia of Genealogy and Biography of Lake County, Indiana. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1904.
♦ "Fined For Trespass." Hobart Gazette 7 April 1905.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 24 March 1905.
♦ "Mr. Chester Pleads Guilty." Hobart Gazette 31 March 1905.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Brave Flowers

I hate this tail-end-of-winter season, all dirty snow and mud. Early-blooming flowers like crocuses and snowdrops make it more bearable.



But I bet those delicate-looking little things will get snowed on at least once before spring gets here for real.

The "Farmer's Home" (Follow-up Info)

Just a little update on the saloonkeeper/wheelbarrow story.

I still don't know precisely what the Farmer's Home was, but apparently they served food there. From the Hobart Gazette "General News Items" of 12/9/1904: "Hot roast beef at the 'Farmer's Home' next Saturday evening. Hans Thune."

On that same date, under "Application for License," Hans Thune gives one of several notices that he is applying for a license to serve liquor at an unnamed establishment on the northeast corner of Third and Center Streets — I don't know if it's the same place.

In the 12/23/1904 "General News Items," Hans Thune announced that the Farmer's Home would serve roast deer on Saturday evening.

What Did John Do?

… or, at least, what was John alleged to have done? Once again the Hobart Gazette is annoyingly discreet. From the "General News Items" of January 27, 1905:
The case of Annie Berndt of this place against John Chester, of Ainsworth, begun last Monday at Hammond before Judge Jordan was adjudicated before coming to trial.
The 1910 Census shows an Annie Berndt living in Hobart, a farmer's wife, who would have been about 60 in 1905, while John would have been 19 or 20.

I searched three other Lake County newspapers without finding a mention of this matter. And I've looked over every issue of the Gazette since 1899 without seeing any previous mention of this matter. Another mystery that will probably never be solved, I guess.

♦    ♦    ♦

Yes, as I've mentioned, I'm spending a lot of time and energy these days reading Hobart newspapers on microfilm, one after another, in chronological order, starting (for some reason I no longer recall) with 1899. It's a huge but necessary task. I probably should have done it before I started this blog, but I wasn't being particularly logical when I started this blog. Those papers are a gold mine of information; however, the time I have to spend doing this — first, at the library, reading the papers, taking notes and printing out whatever I need a full copy of; then, at home, typing up all my notes into searchable form as well as cataloguing and filing all my hard-copy stories so they don't become hopelessly disorganized — takes away from my blogging time, which is why my posts have gotten so short and disjointed.

I've been doing this for about a month, I think, and I've gotten from January 1899 to May 1905.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hobart Then and Now: Methodist Church

Circa 1914 and 2010:

M.E. Church, Parsonage PM 1914
United Methodist Church 2010
(Click on images to enlarge)

We are looking at the northwest corner of the intersection of Fourth and East Streets. The first image is the Methodist Episcopal Church, which (according to anonymous notes scribbled on other pictures of it I found at the Hobart Historical Museum) was built in 1871, and in 1914 1916 replaced by the structure you see in the second image — or at least part of it; the newer church looks as if it's had parts added on over the years. The postcard this image is taken from was postmarked 1914. [10/8/2010 amendment — the cornerstone of the new M.E. Church was laid August 19, 1916 ("M.E. Church Will Lay Cornerstone Saturday," Hobart News 17 Aug. 1916).]

At the extreme right of the 2010 image, you can see part of the west side of the old library, now the Museum.

At right in the background of the old image is the water tower of the Hobart Light Plant (per one of the Museum curators).

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Saloonkeeper in a Wheelbarrow

Early in 1904, Ed Sauter sold his Ainsworth saloon business for $2,100 to a man named Claus Ziegler. (I'm not sure where Claus was living then, since I can't identify him in the 1900 Census, but by the 1910 Census he was living in Hobart and giving his occupation as saloonkeeper.) Ed still owned and operated his blacksmith shop and dance hall in Ainsworth.

In November of that year, Claus found himself at political odds with a friend of his, Charles Seydel. Each was backing a different candidate for Hobart Township trustee. The two of them made a wager: the one whose candidate lost would have to carry the other in a wheelbarrow from Lake* to Hobart — a distance of about four miles.

When Claus' candidate won, he took pity on the 57-year-old Charles and modified the terms of the wager. Charles would be required only to wheel Claus around the streets of Lake; then they and their entourage would ride to Hobart, where Charles would again have to wheel Claus around the streets.

On the afternoon of Saturday, November 12, 1904, Charles made good on his bet. He performed the wheelbarrow parade through Lake first. Then he and Claus and their friends climbed into a horse-drawn bus and several rigs, and — along with the wheelbarrow — rode to Hobart.

I will let the Hobart Gazette tell the story from here.
The delegation was met by the Hobart band at the brick yards at 4 o'clock. … Mr. Ziegler who weighs about 225 pounds seated himself in a well-decorated wheelbarrow and Mr. Seydel with strap from the handles thrown over his shoulder began pushing his human freight mid cheers of many onlookers and strains of charming music. At the Pedersen & Niksch blacksmith shop a few minutes' stop was allowed for breathing, and then the march was resumed, some on foot and some in rigs. At the corner of Main and Third streets where the column turned towards the east several hundred people gathered, eagerly craning their necks to get a look at the most peaceful and serene expression upon Mr. Ziegler's face as he lay contentedly upon the wheelbarrow and upon the loser who was manfully performing his part with apparent ease but determination that nothing should interfere with the full carrying out of the wager as far as in his power. It was a thrilling but happy ending when the "Farmer's Home" was reached, the wager paid and "pleasant smiles" amid laughter and good cheer imbibed. Thus endeth the last chapter to be written in the noted township trustee race of 1904.
No, I don't know where or what the "Farmer's Home" was.

*I'm assuming that "Lake" refers to the town now known as Lake Station.

♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 5 Feb. 1904.
♦ "Unique Election Bet Paid." Hobart Gazette 18 Nov. 1904.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Double Track on the Grand Trunk

I find this little item in the "Ainsworth Pick-Ups" column of the February 16, 1900 Hobart Gazette: "The construction of the double track on the Grand Trunk Ry. is soon to be started." That sounds as if the Grand Trunk Railroad through Ainsworth had been single track up to that point.

1940 Bus Schedule

The Hobart Gazette of January 11, 1940, carried this advertisement of the bus service between Ainsworth and Gary or Merrillville:

3-5-2010 1940 Bus Schedule
(Click on image to enlarge)

I wonder why there was such great demand for transportation between Ainsworth and Merrillville at 1:25 a.m.?

I have no more information at the moment. I don't know if this schedule represents just a revision to an existing service, or an entirely new service. I don't know when the buses stopped running forever.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

More Chester Misfortune

Continuing on the topic of amputation, I came across an incident too horrifying to be treated as a statistic.

It happened on Charles Chester's farm when he was living in Section 19 of Hobart Township, northwest of Hobart. On the morning of Saturday, February 15, he and his eight-year-old son were sawing wood with a horse-power attachment. (Going by the 1900 Census, the eight-year-old would have been his stepson Arthur.)

I'm no expert on historical farm machinery, but I found a photo of a "horse power" attached to a sawmill, and here's a video of the mechanism in action. This may have been the sort of arrangement they were working with.

At first the boy was walking around the horse power, driving the horses. After a while, Charles somehow fixed up a seat for the boy atop the horse-power platform. The child was on that platform when disaster struck. The Hobart Gazette explained: "[I]n some manner the lad lost his balance and in falling reached out his left arm. His fingers caught between the cogs of the large and small wheel and [literally] ground his arm to the shoulder before the machine was stopped."

The family quickly sent for help. Dr. Joseph Watson of Hobart treated the boy, but couldn't save his arm — it had to be amputated at the shoulder.

A little more than two weeks later, the boy returned to school. No physical therapy? No counseling? The modern mind boggles.

The Gazette concluded by saying that the boy's "recovery is somewhat remarkable and Mr. Chester speaks in great praise of Dr. Watson …."

♦ "Boy Loses An Arm." Hobart Gazette 21 Feb. 1902.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 7 March 1902.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

If I Were Younger and Stupider, I Might Try It

(Click on images to enlarge)

You see this a lot in Deep River County Park — a tree growing too close to the river gets its footing undermined by erosion, and falls over. This fallen tree is so big it spans the whole width of the river. If you look at the snow on the tree trunk, you can just make out a few of the footprints; it's hard to get them to show up on camera, but that snow is well trampled. Someone has been using this tree as a bridge. I hope it's a someone with four legs.

Speaking of erosion along the river…