Monday, May 31, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Bittersweet Nightshade

(Click on image to enlarge)

Every summer for years I've seen this little flowering vine growing by a red cedar stump in my field, and I never knew what it was called until I got the Wildflower Guide. According to Lawrence Newcomb, the red berries it will eventually produce are "somewhat poisonous."

♦    ♦    ♦

I finally got the whole garden planted, including 71 tomato plants. I'm tired! And now the mosquitoes are all grown up and ready to bite, so the fun's over. Sometimes I think I'd like to go live in a little house in Hobart where I wouldn't have to work so hard (as aging Ainsworthians in the past often did). But then I remember what living in a dense neighborhood was like, and I come to my senses. It's easier to deal with work and mosquitoes than neighbors and claustrophobia.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Her Price Is Far Above Rubies

(Continued from part 3)

Actually, Fred had a plan for coming up with much more than $2,000, and I suspect that's why he apparently contested the divorce: he wanted to paint himself as an injured but still-loving husband because he had filed an alienation-of-affection lawsuit against Jerome Chester, seeking $10,000 in damages.

Now, $10,000 seems a high price to put on the affection of a woman who bestowed it so freely, but Fred probably figured Jerome could afford it, and when would another such money-making opportunity present itself?

The complaint Fred filed with the court stated that the affair between Jerome and Anna had begun as early as 1909. If Fred was informed at that time about Anna's behavior, it's astonishing he did nothing for so long. More likely, I think, is that investigation by law enforcement and his attorney brought out more details than Fred had previously known.

It was through this complaint that we learn of Jerome's courtship of his neighbor's wife — about the visits to the Yager house when Fred was away, about the walks in the woods, the buggy rides, the dances and shows. But the complaint got even more explicit, stating that "on or about the 1st of May, 1909, and on divers other times at the house of the plaintiff and on the 20th of May, 1911, at the Franklin Hotel, Valparaiso, and elsewhere, [Jerome Chester] wrongfully and carnally knew the said Anna Yager."

Fred's suit against Jerome and Anna's suit against Fred were both scheduled for hearing during the autumn term of court at Crown Point.

The first to come up was Anna's divorce case, in December 1911. The court devoted two days to hearing arguments and evidence, but — alas for the gossip-loving blogger! — the Gazette reported only the final decision: Anna's petition was denied. She left the courtroom as she had entered it, the legal wife of Fred Yager. Whether he still wanted her, I don't know, but at least he was off the hook for the $2,000 alimony she'd requested.

And even more sadly for the gossip-loving blogger, Fred's suit against Jerome never came up for hearing. The two men settled out of court, with Jerome reportedly paying Fred $2,000 — a nice sum for a working man, about $44,000 in today's dollars. So Fred definitely came out the winner in the whole mess, ending up with the furniture, the paycheck, the $2,000 … and the wife.

That seems to be the end of the reports, so far, but it's not the end of the story. The 1920 census shows Fred divorced and living alone on his little farm, and Jerome living in Chicago, married to a woman not named Anna. I hope the newspapers will tell me how they reached their respective conditions — and perhaps even what became of Anna, although I have little hope of that.

1920 Census.
CPI Inflation Calculator.
♦ "Divorce Is Refused." Hobart Gazette 1 Dec. 1911.
♦ "Get Big Damages." Hobart Gazette 16 Feb. 1912.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

He Told Me He Had a Nice Big One … Farm, That Is

(Continued from part 2.)

Anna Yager was not the type to slink off and hide herself in shame. She came back fighting. Soon after her arrest she filed a petition for divorce from Fred, blaming her behavior on her husband's bad character.

From the start, she claimed, she had been the innocent victim of Fred's lies. Throughout their courtship, she had remained in Illinois, artlessly accepting his claims about the big farm he owned in Indiana and the very comfortable income it earned him, never thinking to investigate for herself. She married him, arrived at Ainsworth, and was shocked to discover that Fred's holdings amounted to no more than 15 acres, that his house was a one-room log cabin, and that he lived by hiring himself out as a day laborer, earning less than the equivalent of today's minimum wage. Even when he landed the job at the Hobart power plant, he was making less than he had promised her.

(It's possible that Fred had exaggerated his situation; it's possible that he'd outright lied; but it's also possible that he'd simply told Anna about the various farms in his family — for example, his older brother George, who lived within walking distance of Fred's place, owned a nice spread that grew from 40 acres in 1891 to 120 acres by the 1920s — and Anna got confused about who owned what.)

Anna said that in spite of having been deceived and disappointed, she "tried to make the best of it," but Fred himself was impossible: "he was so quarrelsome that she was finally compelled to leave him."

There's no word in the newspaper report of what, if anything, her divorce petition said about her relations with Jerome Chester.

Anyway, she wanted a divorce and $2,000 in alimony. How she expected a man living on the edge of poverty to come up with $2,000, she did not explain.

[To be continued]

♦ "$2,000 Asked for Alimony." Hobart News 15 June 1911.
1891 Plat Book.
1926 Plat Book.

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Arrested For Adultery"

(Continued from part 1)

For several weeks the Gazette and the News maintained a prudent silence regarding the identity of the man who'd stolen Fred Yager's wife. Meanwhile, Hobart's Marshal Fred Rose was working on the case. Near the end of May, he cracked it, and at last the newspapers felt free to trumpet the wife-stealer's name on their front pages. That name was — did you guess it? I did! — Jerome Chester.

Apparently Jerome had decided to delay his Wild West adventure for some horseplay closer to home. Now his poor old mother, as well as his more respectable siblings, had yet another scandal to live down. (In reporting this story, the News saw fit to dredge up Jerome's bastardy case from 1908.)

Back in March, a few days after Anna Yager disappeared on a westbound passenger train, Jerome went missing too. Fred told Marshal Rose he believed they were together in Chicago.

If so, they were well hidden in that teeming city. After some fruitless attempts to trace them, the Marshal decided the best way to catch them was to be patient. Sooner or later, he figured, Jerome would show up in Hobart — I suppose because all his worldly goods were here, and the money he'd need to fund his Chicago love shack was in a Hobart bank.

The Marshal proved correct.

On May 20, 1911, Jerome showed up in Hobart, alone. Rose discreetly kept an eye on him. When Jerome finished his business transactions, he boarded a Chicago-bound Penna train, and so did Rose.

On arrival in Chicago, the Marshal trailed Jerome through the streets, on foot and on streetcar, until his quarry disappeared into a rooming house at 532 LaSalle Street.

After ascertaining that several rooms there were rented by Anna Yager and her father, and enlisting the help of two Chicago police detectives and the owner of the building, Marshal Rose made entry to those rooms. At first he saw no one, but one of the rooms was closed off by a curtain, and the Marshal yanked it aside to reveal a bedroom and the two astonished lovers. Jerome was sitting on the bed, taking off his shoes; Anna was standing nearby.

Arrested, and informed that they could either return to Hobart to face prosecution or go directly to (Chicago) jail, they chose Hobart. They all returned by train that night, and before Justice of the Peace John Mathews, Jerome and Anna were booked for trial the following Friday. Jerome posted bond for the both of them, totaling $2,000.

The two lovers then hopped the late train for Valparaiso, and signed themselves into a Valpo hotel as "J.N. White and wife." Hobart authorities expected them to return eventually to Chicago.

[To be continued]

♦ "Arrested For Adultery." Hobart Gazette 26 May 1911.
♦ "Jerome Chester in Trouble." Hobart News 25 May 1911.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Wife Ran Off With My Furniture, and I Sure Do Miss It

(Click on image to enlarge)
Fred Yager's farm is outlined in red on this map from the 1926 Plat Book.

Fred Yager lived on a little parcel of land on the southeast corner of the T-intersection of (present-day) Ainsworth Road and Randolph Street. That land had been in the Yager family as early as 1891, either coming down from his father, who died in 1887, or initially bought by his older brother (both were named Jacob).

It wasn't much — just 15 acres tucked in between the more impressive spreads of Henry Chester and Henry Nolte. You weren't likely to get rich on 15 acres, and even as a landowner Fred apparently hired himself out for day labor.

Around 1907 he landed a steady job as an engineer at the Hobart light and water plant. Every two weeks he took home $35, and by his own account handed every last cent of it over to his wife, Anna.

They had been married in 1905. Somehow their courtship had first begun by correspondence; eventually he traveled to her home in Aurora, Illinois, where they became engaged. It was her third marriage: of the two before, one ended in divorce, the other in death. But Fred didn't care about any of that. He seemed determined to make the third time the charm for Anna. He handed his paycheck over to her; he took her widowed father into his home; he indulged her mania for collecting (she had over 4,000 postcards from around the world). In the summer of 1910 he took her on a pleasure trip through northwest Indiana, into Chicago, and on a cruise across Lake Michigan.

He would soon prove to be a more indulgent husband than anyone could reasonably expect.

Somehow it came to Fred's attention that Anna had developed a habit of entertaining a visitor while he was at work. A certain bachelor in the neighborhood was coming to their house, sometimes taking Anna out driving in a buggy or walking in the woods, or even to dances and shows.

I don't know how all this came to Fred's attention. I expect he was clued in by observant neighbors. His closest neighbors, the Noltes, were a quiet, respectable family, and with an unmarried daughter in the household, Henry Nolte père would not have been indifferent to flagrant impropriety going on next door.

Whatever the source of his information, by the early spring of 1911, Fred could no longer doubt that his wife had a lover — and yet he went to work every day, knowing what Anna would get up to in his absence; and yet he came home and dutifully handed her his paycheck every two weeks.

On Thursday, March 30, 1911, Fred went to work as usual. Late in the afternoon he got a phone call advising him that strange things were going on in Ainsworth. Anna had spent the day packing up the Yager household, and then hired someone to haul it all to the Grand Trunk depot, leaving everything there under her father's name with instructions to ship it to Aurora, Illinois. As for Anna herself, she and her father had already left on a westbound passenger train. Fred hurried home to see for himself. He found the house bare except for a stove, bed and table, and a few dishes.

Now this was beyond endurance!

He returned to Hobart and hired attorney Roscoe R. Peddicord to start proceedings to recover his furniture. The next morning, a deputy sheriff seized the household goods (which were still at the Ainsworth depot awaiting shipment) and hauled them back to the Yager house. At a hearing the following Monday, Fred won possession by default judgment, since Anna did not show up.

Fred seemed less heartbroken than relieved to be through with indulging her. If only she'd waited two more days to leave him, he said, she would have had another $35 to travel on; but now his paycheck was his own, and in his opinion he had "much to gain and little to lose through the affair."

But his subsequent behavior showed that he did not accept the loss of his wife as calmly as his philosophical remarks would suggest. Adultery was then a crime, and Fred wanted his wife and her lover hunted down and brought to justice. He and his attorney asked Marshal Fred Rose of Hobart to get on the case.

In reporting this story, the Gazette noted that Fred "hesitate[d] not in naming" his wife's lover, but the newspaper wisely withheld the man's name. There was no proof — yet.

[To be continued]

♦ "$2,000 Asked For Alimony." Hobart News 15 June 1911.
1891 Plat Map.
1900 Census.
1910 Census.
♦ "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 7 Oct. 1910.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 22 July 1910.
♦ "Loses His Wife." Hobart Gazette 7 Apr. 1911.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Computer Break

My computer is old and tired (much like me) and it needs to go to Three Dog Net and get rejuvenated. I need a break too. It's amazing how much work goes on behind the scenes of this blog, and yet I produce only one substantive post a day, and sometimes it's not very substantive.

Anyway, I hope this won't take too long, and when I get back I have a nice juicy neighborhood scandal to gossip about.

Gernenz Round-Up

A few things I missed from the last Gernenz summary, and some new items. (And the Gazette has now added "Gernanz" to its repertoire of variant spellings.)

● In August 1910, the Charles Gernenz family had a visit from Henry Lemke, Jr., of Chicago. Who he was to them, I don't know. Later that month, Mr. and Mrs. John Gernenz came out from Chicago to visit his brother Fred and family here — and also the John Springman family. If there was some family relation between the Gernenzes and the Springmans, I haven't come across it yet.

● "The neighbors of Mr. and Mrs. John Gernantz gave them a happy surprise Sunday [September 4, 1910], and so did Mr. and Mrs. John Ahrens of Hobart." We will hear about the Ahrens family again; either they were good friends or there was some family connection.

After September 1910, we entered a long dry spell for Gernenz news. In mid-summer 1911, things started happening again.

● On June 30, 1911, a hired hand working for Charles Gernenz fell backwards off a load of hay and struck his head on something sharp, which cut open his scalp. They took him to Dr. Friedrichs' office in Hobart. Fourteen stitches were required to close up the wound, but the hired man (whose name is not reported) was expected to recover fully.

● By September, Charles Gernenz was making improvements to his place — "building a cement porch, cement sidewalk and a cement water tank 6 by 26 feet, doing the work himself."

● Someone had a birthday party at the Charles Gernenz home on Sunday, September 17, 1911. John Ahrens and family came down from Hobart to attend.

● A couple of frightening accidents during October 1911. On the 7th, Charles' wife Amelia drove a horse and buggy to Ainsworth. Something caused the horse to take fright and run; it collided with several other rigs, then ran into a wire fence before it was finally got under control. That same month, Charles' 10-year-old son Johnnie was thrown from a colt he was riding. The colt kicked him in the head, causing a bad cut. They took Johnnie to Hobart for treatment. No bones were broken.

And that's it for now on the Gernenz front.

1910 Census.
♦ "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 5 Aug. 1910; 19 Aug. 1910; 9 Sept. 1910.
♦ "Local Drifts. Hobart Gazette 7 July 1911.
♦ "Ross Township Notes. Hobart Gazette 8 Sept. 1911; 22 Sept. 1911; 13 Oct. 1911.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Spiderwort

(Click on image to enlarge)

These delicate orchid-like beauties were growing among the gravel on the Grand Trunk Railroad grade.

If you pick a spiderwort, it gets its revenge by oozing slimy sap all over the place.

Why are they called spiderworts? It's all a mistake, according to Jack Sanders: "Spiderworts don't look like spiders, nor do they attract them. They were named in error for another plant that was supposed to cure the bite of a poisonous spider."

Just Two More, I Promise

I just wanted to mention two more people with slender Ainsworth connections who died in 1910:

1. Horace Marble. Remember him? He died June 15, 1910, after a long and fruitful life. His Ainsworth connection is that his first wife, Mary, is buried in Chester Cemetery. Her grave marker is in pieces on the ground.

(Click on images to enlarge)

2. Howard Eugene Halsted. He was the only son of Willard and Barbara Halsted, who ran a store in Ainsworth from around 1888 to 1904. Howard spent his early childhood here, but the family moved to Hobart when he was 14 and he did the rest of his growing up there. He was a second-year law student at Indiana University in Bloomington when illness forced him to withdraw. The family went to Texas in December 1909 hoping that the mild southern winter would prevent his illness from worsening. It was no use. Howard died in Austin on March 3, 1910, at only 21 years of age. His parents brought him home to Hobart for burial in Crown Hill Cemetery.


I have not exhausted the inventory of 1910 Ainsworth-connected deaths, but I can't take it anymore.

♦ "Horace Marble Dead." Hobart Gazette 17 June 1910.
♦ "Young Man Passes Away." Hobart Gazette 11 Mar. 1910.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I'm Afraid This Won't End Well

From the Hobart Gazette of October 6, 1911:
Chas. Chester, who lives on the Sykes farm, has been missing quite a number [of] chickens of late, and last Tuesday evening when he came home saw a man coming out of the yard and called to him but the man ran. Mr. Chester is not disposed to harm anyone, but it would be well for callers to stop at the residence instead of the chicken house, as there is something besides chickens in the chicken house now. A trap is a bad thing to get into.
Let's hope he doesn't kill anybody.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Ragwort

(Click on images to enlarge)


Ragwort is poisonous to livestock, although they have to eat a lot of it to kill themselves. Poisonous to us, too, but I don't find it tempting.

A Corn-Husker Victim in Later Life

Lately at the Hobart Historical Museum I've been paging through a large collection of arrest reports from the Hobart police department that begin in 1938 and run through the mid-1940s. Thus far it's mostly been petty crime — trespassing on railroad property, speeding, double-parking, U-turns on Main Street, petty larceny, runaway boys. Now and then an assault and battery. A couple suspicion-of-involuntary-manslaughters in the wake of a fatal car accident, but so far those cases were cleared by the coroner. The most common crime seems to be public intoxication, and that's also where we see the most repeat offenders. One name that keep coming up is William Witt. He's in his fifties, gives his occupation as laborer, sometimes teamster, and his most distinguishing characteristic is that his right arm has been amputated.

He sounds to me like the same William Witt who lost his arm to a corn husker in 1901, at the age of nineteen.

That's sad. Not to say that alcoholics always have a reason for being alcoholics, but if I'd had my right arm violently injured and cut off, I might take to drink too. Especially considering the degree to which a person who suffered such an injury, in those days, was simply left to deal with it on his own. Prosthetics, particularly for arms and hands, were crude. Physical therapy, psychological counseling — did they even exist?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lee Family Matters

Concerning Charles A. Lee's employment: Item from the "Personal Mention" column of the Hobart News of December 21, 1911.

Concerning the death of Frederick Lee:
  • Article from the Hobart News of January 18, 1912.
  • Article from the Hobart Gazette of January 19, 1912.
  • Card of Thanks from the Hobart Gazette of January 19, 1912.
Concerning the plumbing shop in the Hobart House: Article from the Hobart Gazette of November 2, 1939.

Killed by a Corn Shredder

Among the 1910 Ainsworth deaths, the most horrifying has to be that of Herbert Riddle.

He was a farm laborer, 24 years old. In June 1910 he hired on with Jerome Chester, who had also employed him the previous year and considered him a good worker. By the first full week of December, the corn harvest was nearing its end. Herbert was making plans with a friend to head out West on Friday of that week.

But he still had a few days of work. So on Monday afternoon he was busily feeding corn stalks into a shredding machine, and that's when it happened. His left arm got caught and pulled into the machinery, which cut it to pieces as far as the elbow, and shredded the flesh and muscle almost to the shoulder.

Someone called Drs. R.C. and Dwight Mackey (father and son) in Hobart with a message along the lines of: "For God's sake, get here as fast as you can." They found their patient in critical condition, unconscious and convulsing. They sent for Dr. Bulhand to assist, and then waited, perhaps hoping that Herbert's condition would stabilize. After about an hour, they proceeded to amputate the arm just below the shoulder.

Herbert died the next day, without ever regaining consciousness.

Thus the Chester family found themselves in charge of the remains of a man about whom they did not know much. They believed him to be unmarried, with a widowed mother living in West Portal, New Jersey. They set about trying to track down his mother, to break the news and find out what she wanted done with her son's body. It was not until late Wednesday night that they got a call back. It turned out that Herbert had a wife as well as both parents still living, and a West Portal undertaker would be here by Friday to convey the body home.

And so the coffin remained in the Chester house. The cold weather was a help, I suppose, but it must have been a very uncomfortable few days for every member of that crowded household. By Saturday, the undertaker had arrived and shipped the coffin eastward on the Grand Trunk Railroad. Herbert was buried at home in New Jersey the following Tuesday.

A coroner's inquest rendered a verdict of "accident — shock received from getting arm taken off in corn shredder." The Gazette commented, "The accident is very lamentable and one the eye-witnesses will never forget." Which is a reminder that in all of these farm-machinery accidents, the injured person was not the only victim.

♦ "Man Fatally Injured." Hobart Gazette 9 Dec. 1910.
♦ "Remains Shipped East." Hobart Gazette 16 Dec. 1910.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Grand Trunk Maintenance Equipment

A little parade past the Ainsworth tower this morning

(Click on images to enlarge)


They didn't stop. I don't know what those things do. The defective ties around here haven't been replaced yet.

Hobart Then and Now: Main Street, Looking South from Front

Circa 1920s(?) and 2014*

Main Street looking south from near Front.
Main St. looking S from Front 2014
(Click on images to enlarge)
Top image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Sorry, there's no date on the older image, and I can only roughly guess, based on the cars, that it's sometime in the 1920s. We're on Main Street near Front, looking south toward downtown. First on the left (in the older image) is the second St. Bridget Catholic Church (now gone); in the next block south is the Pedersen building (also gone).

Along the right edge of the photo, and reaching nearly to its top, you can see the steeple of the second Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church on the west side of Main at Second (gone, gone, gone).

*No, I did not invent a time machine. This is a 2014 do-over of a 2010 post that I got wrong. My thanks to Eva for pointing out my mistake.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Sad Year for the Sauter Girls

(Click on image to enlarge)
The wedding portrait of Warren Boyd and Lizzie Sauter, 1904. (Image courtesy of the Merrillville-Ross Township Historical Society.)

Clara and Lizzie Sauter, the daughters of Ed and Augusta, can't be said to have much of an Ainsworth connection: they spent about five of their teenage years here, that's it. But as far as I'm concerned, once an Ainsworthian, always an Ainsworthian. And I had such hopes for Clara and Lizzie. Whatever the financial troubles of their family were, whatever the less-than-ideal state of their parents' marriage may have been, the two Sauter girls seemed destined for greater happiness.

They both married well. In April 1904, Lizzie married Warren Boyd, of the Merrillville Boyds, and the young couple went to live on his farm. In February 1907, Clara married John Rowe, Jr., a popular young man from a respectable Hobart family, who worked as a foreman at a steel company. They set up housekeeping in Hobart. All was going well.

And then came 1910.

In December 1909, Warren Boyd had fallen ill with pneumonia. For over a month he could not even leave the house. He recuperated slowly and by February 1910 was able to get around again. Then he suffered a relapse, but this time it was tuberculosis, the fast kind. He died on May 12, only 26 years old.

Ed Sauter, now living separately from his wife, came down from Chicago for the funeral.

Lizzie was left a widow with two little sons, Harold, age 4, and Elmer, just two and a half. I don't know what her financial condition was. Warren's estate, including Holstein dairy cattle, Poland China pigs, a horse, buggies, wagons and tools, as well as household furniture, was all sold at auction by his administrator, N.P. Banks. It should have raised a decent amount of money for Lizzie, if there were no debts to be paid. But when she came back to Hobart to live — to be near her own mother, I suppose — she took a job clerking at Scheidt and Keilman's store.

You'd think that one young mother widowed would be grief enough for one family in one year, wouldn't you? But Death didn't. It came back for a visit in the summer.

After a brief illness, John Rowe died on August 3. He was 36 years old. He had been a member of several fraternal organizations, including the Masons, and a remarkable number of people attended the funeral, held in his Lillian Street home.

Now Clara was a widow, too. Their son, Robert John, was about one year old. He would probably have no memory of his father.

As I said, 1910 was a bad year, even for people with only a slender Ainsworth connection.

Warren Boyd's grave marker, in the Merrillville Cemetery:

(Click on images to enlarge)

John Rowe's grave marker, in the Hobart Cemetery:


1900 Census.
1910 Census.
♦ "Administrator's Sale." Hobart Gazette 17 June 1910.
♦ Clemens, Jan. A Pictorial History of Merrillville. Hobart: Review Printers, Inc., 1991.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 1 Mar. 1907.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 4 Feb. 1910; 9 Dec. 1910.
♦ "Married in Hobart." Hobart Gazette 22 Apr. 1904.
♦ "Obituary." Hobart Gazette 12 Aug. 1910.
♦ "Warren Boyd Passes Away." Hobart Gazette 20 May 1910.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When Cow Boys Get the Blues

From the Hobart News of August 17, 1911:
Sullivan Bros. Wild West Show has given up the ghost for this season. "Broncho John" lays part of the blame for their ill success, to the bad start they got here, when they mixed with a bunch of town lads. He says the performers have been in poor spirits ever since.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Wild West on Main Street

The Wild West Show in Hobart on May 20, 1911, did not go off well. First of all, it rained heavily that day, so attendance was down. The ground was so soft and muddy that the horses couldn't perform well. One newspaper complained that "the only redeeming feature was the excellent music furnished by the Hobart band in the parade and at the tent during the performance."

Some Valpo "canvass men" — laborers with the show — had been swaggering around town during the afternoon pretending to be Western outlaws, displaying guns and acting tough. The mood in town was tense by the time the show started. After the disappointing performance, the showmen were parading up Main Street when the spark finally ignited. A showman made a remark that a Hobart man resented; someone threw a punch; and the next thing anyone knew Main Street became a battlefield as the showmen and the locals brawled it out. Outnumbered and outfought, the circus men broke and ran for their tent.

Broncho John Sullivan was not pleased. In an open letter printed in the Gazette, he assured the townspeople of Hobart that he had fired seven of the laborers involved in the incident. He also felt the need to mention that "all of the women with me are with their lawfully wedded husbands."

The News said, "Had Marshal Rose been in town it is a safe bet that the [fight] would never [have] occurred." It was an unlucky coincidence that Marshal Rose was in Chicago that day, hot on the trail of a pair of sinners whose story we'll get to soon.

♦    ♦    ♦

Starting with the spring of 1911, the library has two Hobart newspapers on microfilm — the Hobart News as well as the Hobart Gazette. Which means I'm having to read twice the amount of microfilm, which means that my research will henceforward be moving at a snail's pace.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Celestial Tic Tac Toe

Contrails over Ainsworth!
(Click on image to enlarge)

They're playing games up there.

1918 Grand Trunk Railroad Timetable

It's been a while since I had a new timetable! (And when I say new, of course I mean old.)

1918 Grand Trunk Timetable

So apparently the railroads were taken over by the federal government during World War I? That's something I didn't remember from high school, and I haven't really studied World War I since high school.

On the last page there is a statement from W.G. McAdoo, Director General of Railroads, chiding railroad employees for blaming the government when the trains run late, and otherwise being rude to the public, and suggesting that such behavior isn't helping us beat the Kaiser, you know!

We have to go to page 6 to see that eastbound trains stop in Ainsworth at 10:42 a.m. (daily except Sunday) and 5:30 p.m. (daily), while westbound trains stop at 8:00 a.m. (daily) and 5:02 p.m. (daily except Sunday).

In connection with some of those little stops that weren't really stations between, I think they may have been called milk stands. I'm basing that conclusion on news items such as this, from the Hobart Gazette's "Ainsworth Pick-Ups" column of December 23, 1904:
It looked very foolish and daring to see a young fellow gallop down the railroad track from Adams milk stand to Ainsworth over culverts, cattle-guards and ties, just to do a little trading, especially while the roads are so smooth and nice.
And this, from the "Local Drifts" of August 5, 1910:
F.B. Price who lives on the Albert Halsted farm near the Adams milk stand threshed his wheat this week and was well pleased with the returns. His forty acres of wheat averaged 28½ bushels per acre and his oats and barley amounted to 2,000 bushels.
Looking at both the 1891 Plat Book and the 1926 Plat Book, we find that Albert Halsted's 77 acres in Ross Township lay between Ainsworth and Lottaville and were bisected by the Grand Trunk Railroad, so the Adams milk stand would correspond with the "Adams" shown between Ainsworth and Lottaville on this 1918 timetable. (Who this Adams guy was, though, I have no clue.)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sadie Price: One-Third of the Mystery Solved

In Chester Cemetery, you will find an impressive stone marking the grave of Sadie Price.

(Click on images to enlarge)


I had been wondering who she was. There are no other Prices in that cemetery, and I hadn't encountered that name associated with Ross Township in my reading — until I got to 1911, that is. Then I found out who she was, in a superficial sense: Henry Chester's first cousin. She died in Chicago on January 21, 1911, at the age of 57, survived by a husband and stepson, a brother (in Nebraska), and a sister (in Iowa).

Someone shipped her body on a Grand Trunk train from Chicago to Ainsworth; then a Hobart undertaker, Alwin Wild, brought the remains to Mary Chester's house, where the funeral took place on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 24. And thence to the Chester Cemetery.

That's all very well, but it still leaves a few questions.

First, why did anyone think it proper to bury her in Ainsworth, rather than in Chicago where she had died and where her husband and stepson still lived? What was her tie to Ainsworth, beyond being Henry Chester's cousin — which isn't much of a tie considering he had died some ten months before? Someone evidently cared about her very much, to put that stone on her grave. It is as big as Henry Chester's own marker, and more ornate. Who was that someone — her husband in Chicago, who didn't want her buried near him?

And secondly, what does that "and mother" on her grave marker mean? For heaven's sake, is her mother buried there too with no other marker than that footnote? Or did Sadie's virtues include motherhood? If so, was she the mother of someone in Ainsworth? Then why didn't the Gazette see fit to mention that in its report of her funeral?

Maybe as I keep reading the microfilm — especially when I manage to tear myself away from the forward march of time in order to go back to the pre-1899 newspapers that I haven't gotten to yet (who says time is linear?) (well, I do, for one, but I don't know what I'm talking about) (and I wish I could remember why I started reading in 1899 in the first place) — … um, what was I saying? Oh, yes, maybe as I keep reading I'll solve the mystery of Sadie.

♦    ♦    ♦

1/1/2019 update: I've solved another third of the mystery, i.e., why Sadie Price was buried in Ainsworth rather than Chicago. It's explained by this untitled item from the Hobart News of January 26, 1911:
The remains of Mrs. Sadie Price, of Chicago, a cousin of the late Henry Chester, were brought from Chicago Tuesday and the funeral service was conducted by Rev. Series from Mrs. Chester's residence. Deceased was born in Ohio, but many years ago lived in this vicinity. She wished to be laid at rest here beside her mother who was buried here.
That means that, yes, her mother is buried in Chester Cemetery with no marker but that footnote.

There still remains the mystery of exactly who Sadie was. Even with the maiden name, Parkhurst, that Suzi uncovered (see comment below this post), I can't identify Sadie in any local census, or explain how she was related to Henry Chester. As for her mother, I can't confirm that her surname was Parkhurst, and I have no clue as to her first name; and I think whoever gave orders for the inscription of Sadie's grave marker was just as much in the dark, or they would have at least included something like "Mrs. Parkhurst" after "and Mother."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Spotted Moths of Ainsworth

(Click on image to enlarge)

Hey, moth. The 1980s called, they want their legwarmers back.

Spotted this moth while I was working outside today. I don't know what kind it is. I am definitely not going to start trying to identify moths!

Morgan Joins His Horse

(Click on image to enlarge)
The parcels outlined in red were owned by Morgan Blachly in 1891 (per the 1891 Plat Book, but this image is taken from the 1926 Plat Book).

Morgan Blachly's faithful horse bought him eleven more years of life. On July 31, 1910, Morgan followed his horse — but he died more peacefully, of heart trouble. He was 59 years and 11 months old.

He was one of nine children born to Boyd and Catharine Blachly, who had settled in Union Township, Porter County, at least as early as 1850.

In 1871, at about 21 years of age, Morgan married Amelia Brown. After twelve years of marriage, they moved to Ross Township in Lake County. They bought land on the south side of 73rd Avenue (then known as Joliet road), about a mile and a half west of Ainsworth; by 1891 they would own almost 180 acres there. They farmed that land for the rest of Morgan's days. As he aged and his health grew worse, he and Amelia contemplated retiring to Hobart, but he died before they could carry out their plans.

Morgan and Amelia had three sons — Walter, Justin (who went by "J.B.") and Earle — and one daughter, May.

About a month after Morgan's death, Amelia hired the Halsted Bros. firm in Hobart to build her a cottage on Lincoln Street, where she would move with May. She survived Morgan by 21 years. They are buried side by side in the Merrillville cemetery.

(Click on images to enlarge)


1850 Census.
♦ "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 26 Aug. 1910.
Indiana Marriage Records.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 9 Sept. 1910.
♦ "Ross Township Citizen Dies." Hobart Gazette 5 Aug. 1910.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Go West, Young Man!

The Hobart Gazette of January 6, 1911, carried this announcement:
Jerome R. Chester who has been running the farm of his father, the late Henry Chester, located a half mile east of Ainsworth, for the past five years, has sold out his interests in the farm and will leave shortly for the West.
I wonder if any part of his motivation was to get away from the less-than-ideal reputation he had built up for himself in the this community by, among other things, being legally adjudged and popularly considered the father of Mary Kovanek's illegitimate child. (I think the Kovanek family remained around here some time after the court case, and I'm not entirely sure Joe Kovanek took Mary and the kids with him when he left for Illinois in August 1910.)

Or maybe Jerome just wanted adventure, new horizons, big sky and all that. Anyway, I look forward to hearing about his Wild West adventures; I hope they get reported.

(Click on image to enlarge)
This advertisement ran in the Hobart Gazette of May 11, 1911.

Speaking of Broncho John, the previous year's show had been attended by various Ainsworth people, and two Ainsworth boys (unnamed) were so impressed by it that they wanted to hire on. They slept in the show tent that night, but the next morning when Broncho John declined to pay them, they gave up on him and walked back to Ainsworth.

♦ "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 5 Aug. 1910; 26 Aug. 1910.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 6 Jan. 1911.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: False Solomon's Seal

(Click on image to enlarge)

Once again, I'm not sure of this ID. I know it's not true Solomon's Seal, because its flowers appear only at the top, not all along the stem. It's just going around trying to impersonate Solomon's Seal. And actually it had me fooled at first. It's the Ellis Glenn of wildflowers.

The American Dream and the Indiana Summer

I'm trying to pin down the identity of a "young blacksmith" named Pete who is mentioned twice in the Gazette's "Ainsworth Pick-Ups" column of 1910. The census taken in May 1910 shows a Pete Nelson, 26 years old, living with the Lindborg family, and although he described himself as a laborer doing odd jobs, he may well have taken on the role of assistant blacksmith if Gust Lindborg had a lot of work that summer.

The census gave his country of birth as Norway, while the Gazette attributed him to both Denmark and Sweden — the paper couldn't keep its story straight — but I'm inclined to think they were both the same Pete and the Gazette simply got confused among the Scandinavian countries. Anyway, I can't find a more likely candidate.

You can scan down the page of the census report where Pete appears and see that most of his neighbors were either immigrants themselves, or the children of immigrants, primarily from Germany. They or their parents had come in search of the American dream, and so had Pete. But it seems Pete was especially sensitive to the Indiana summer.

I grew up here in northwest Indiana in a house with no air conditioning, and I don't know how I stood it — and we had electricity to run window fans to draw in the cooler air at night. How earlier generations stood it, with their heavier clothing and their lack of electricity and running water, is simply beyond my understanding. Heat waves sometimes go on for days; even the nights are muggy, and it's hard to sleep in a house that retains the sun's heat for hours. If the mosquitoes aren't too bad, you may be able to sleep outside — but here in Ainsworth we have enough mosquitoes to populate several galaxies.

At the beginning of September 1910, when summer was still in full blast, the Gazette reported, "Pete the young blacksmith says this country is too hot for him and he is thinking of returning to Denmark." By mid-October he had fled back to the milder summers of his homeland, wherever that might have been. And so for Pete the American dream was cut short by the nightmare of the Indiana summer.

Gust and Anna Lindborg evidently were made of sterner stuff. Perhaps on hot days when the sun baked their house and shop, and on humid nights when the mosquitoes swarmed, they thought back regretfully to the gentle Swedish summers of their youth, but they stayed here and took whatever the Indiana summer dished out.

1910 Census.
♦ "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 2 Sept. 1910; 21 Oct. 1910.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Sweet Cicely?

(Click on images to enlarge)

Lately I've been encountering lots of wildflowers that I can't positively identify in my book. I think this is sweet cicely, but don't quote me on that.

…Or maybe this is sweet cicely.


Or maybe they both are. The leaves look similar, but the flower heads don't.


*sigh* It's pretty irritating when these flowers won't cooperate with my identification guide. I don't have time to be an amateur historian and a wildflower pseudo-expert-wanna-be if I have to spend lots of time paging through my book and Googling to try to identify these flowers. And I'd rather be an amateur historian. If it weren't for the fact that my dog loves walks in the woods, I wouldn't go on these flower-hunting expeditions at all.

Congratulations, Jesse!

If you've been wondering what Jesse Frame has been up to lately — and I know you have — I'm happy to tell you that he's still working for the Penna railroad in Chicago, but more importantly, he finally tied the knot. And he's only 35 years old. His wife is the former Ollie Qualls, 25, of Cambridge, Illinois. After the wedding they paid a round of visits, including to his mother, Mahala Frame, on Cleveland Avenue in Hobart. And then back to Chicago, where they will keep house at 2259 Park Avenue.

Hobart Then and Now: Main and Second, Southeast Corner

Circa 1907-8 and 2010

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

The older image comes from a postcard in the Hobart Historical Museum files. On the back some anonymous person noted the location and the names of the people in the picture: sitting in the car are George Pederson [or Pedersen?] and Gertrude Scharbach, and on the sidewalk are Lizzie and Mary. Lizzie and Mary who, the anonymous writer didn't mention. George's wife's name was Lizzie, but I don't have a clue about Mary.

It's hard for me to believe that this is actually Main and Second. There was such a lovely building there, and they knocked it down?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Wild Sweet William, Maybe?

(Click on images to enlarge)


Found this out in my field. It might be wild sweet william. It might be willowherb. It might be something else. I don't know and I don't care. I'm tired and my knee hurts.

The Story of the Store (So Far)

(Click on image to enlarge)
William and Carrie Raschka's store on the southwest corner of Ainsworth Road and State Road 51, circa 1905-10. Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

In September 1901, when the Hobart Gazette reported that Willard O. Halsted had traded his Ainsworth store to Grant Hardesty for 160 acres of farmland, it said that Willard had "been conducting a general store at Ainsworth for twelve or fifteen years." Twelve years was probably the more accurate figure, as another source tells us that the Halsteds came to Ainsworth "soon after" the birth of their son in September 1888. Thus the original part of this store — if Willard built it as his first store — may date to 1888 or 1889.

Either the deal with Grant Hardesty was rescinded or the Gazette was mistaken about its ever happening, because in January 1902 Willard sold his store, "realty and all," to William Raschka. I've already given some background on William and Carrie Raschka and family.

The store's inventory was described as "general merchandise" at the time of the sale, and I believe that same description applied while William and Carrie operated the store. In the photo above, the window-lettering advertises "groceries" and "dry goods." Now and then William would advertise some special item in the Gazette, e.g., binder twine (7 or 9 cents a pound), seed potatoes (75 cents a bushel) and eating potatoes (55 cents a bushel), "bailed" Timothy hay ($12 a ton), dry 4-foot wood (price not specified), and even decoy ducks ($1 a pair). He also sold coal and feed for livestock.

The store did a lively business and William required the help. Early on, a teenage girl from the neighborhood, Jennie Pierce, clerked for him. Carrie also worked in the store, as did William's brother Frank.

The store was the base of operations for William's shipping enterprises. He contracted with various farmers in the area (including John Chester) to sell their hay, and he shipped out carloads of baled hay from the Ainsworth depot. In late 1904, he reported shipping out dozens of crates of poultry.

Also in 1904, William was appointed postmaster, to replace Hugh Dotzer. The store became Ainsworth's post office, and William served for the next 11 years.

Business was good enough to justify expansion. By October 1905, the Raschkas had built a two-story, 20-by-50-foot addition to the store. (I think the right-hand side of the building in the photo may be that addition, and that line down the front of the building marks off the old from the new.)

William and Carrie bought a car, and they added another building to their lot, for storage and for a "garage room." That was in 1910, and there we end the story of the store — for now; there are many more years to come in its life.

♦ "Ainsworth News." Hobart Gazette 24 Jan. 1902; 17 Apr. 1903.
♦ "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 11 Nov. 1904; 24 Nov. 1904; 16 Dec. 1904; 23 Dec. 1904; 30 Dec. 1904; 16 Jan. 1905; 24 June 1910; 29 July 1910; 26 Aug. 1910; 2 Sept. 1910.
♦ Ballantyne, Dorothy, and Robert Adams. Along the Route: A History of Hobart, Indiana, Post Offices and Postmasters. Hobart: The Hobart Historical Society, Inc., 1992.
♦ "Binder Twine For Sale." Hobart Gazette 29 June 1906.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 27 Sept. 1901; 17 Jan. 1902; 10 June 1904; 22 Sept. 1905; 1 Feb. 1907; 25 Oct. 1907; 3 Jan. 1908; 14 Feb. 1908.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 17 Jan. 1902; 24 Jan. 1902; 30 Oct. 1908; 7 July 1909.
♦ "Young Man Passes Away." Hobart Gazette 11 Mar. 1910.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Shooting Stars

(Click on images to enlarge)


Cute, huh? In all of Deep River County Park I have found only this little group of Shooting Stars, along the path east of the remote-controlled airplane field.

The City Loses Its Owner

It took John E. Mander's death for me to find out that he never actually lived in Ainsworth, although he did business here and may have once "owned nearly the entire city of Ainsworth." As I've previously noted, as late as 1908 the "Mander elevator" was still standing in Ainsworth — exact location unknown.

Anyway, his obituary in the February 18, 1910 issue of the Hobart Gazette gives a sketch of his life, and if you don't want to read the microfilm, you can find it summarized nicely in Along the Route: A History of Hobart, Indiana, Post Offices and Postmasters. Born in Sweden in 1838, educated for the ministry at Stockholm; came to the U.S. at 20 years of age; worked at an unnamed large store in Chicago, then came to Hobart, to teach and to mercantilize, to master the post and to marry — but not to preach, in spite of his education, nor to practice law, in spite of his admission to the bar. In 1888 he traded his Ainsworth and Hobart holdings for a flour mill and farm in Porter County, which he operated for ten years before returning to Hobart and resuming his merchant trade. His wife and four of their children were living on the Porter County farm when he died.

I've heard of people staying at the Hobart House to get medical attention, and John Mander was one of them. He had been staying there for six days being treated for a variety of ailments when at last pneumonia took him off.

I don't believe he had any particular fondness for Ainsworth, however much of it he may have owned, and his store was almost pointedly in competition with William Raschka's store here — e.g., in the summer of 1906 when William advertised his binder twine at 9 cents a pound, John responded with an ad offering binder twine "a half cent a pound less at Mander's than can be bought elsewhere." (Take that, Ainsworth.) He sold all manner of things, including woolen blankets, Christmas toys, and oleomargarine, which he considered "superior to butter." (Take that, you Ainsworth dairy farmers.)

The obituary fails to mention that he and his wife, Mary Ellen Shearer, separated in 1898. In 1908 she sued him for divorce, citing "cruel and inhuman treatment" and seeking "custody of the minor children and $1,000 alimony." Through his attorney, John denied her allegations and claimed that she and their grown sons "treated him cruelly and brutally." I seem to recall reading that they reached some sort of truce and the divorce did not go through, although apparently I was in one of those moods where I lost patience with noting down every detail about people who once used to sort of have an Ainsworth connection, so I can't give you a source. But it doesn't appear that she was with him during those last six days at the Hobart House.

After his death, his daughter Etta purchased the store and its inventory from his estate, and ran the store herself. She had been working with him there for the past seven years, so she knew a thing or two about store-running. A few weeks later she and Albert Orcott were married by the Rev. T.H. Ball himself. I hope their marriage was happier than her parents'.

And that's all I have for John Eric Mander, who once used to sort of have an Ainsworth connection. May he rest in peace.

♦ Ballantyne, Dorothy, and Robert Adams. Along the Route: A History of Hobart, Indiana, Post Offices and Postmasters. Hobart: The Hobart Historical Society, Inc., 1992.
♦ "Binder Twine For Sale." Hobart Gazette 29 June 1906.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 20 July 1906.
♦ "Hobart Couple Marry." Hobart Gazette 22 July 1910.
♦ "Hobart's Oldest Merchant Dead." Hobart Gazette 18 Feb. 1910.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 18 Dec. 1903; 9 Dec. 1904; 1 July 1910.
♦ "Wants One Thousand Alimony." Hobart Gazette 24 July 1908.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Shining Bedstraw

(Click on image to enlarge)

Now, that is one boring wildflower, isn't it? Found it in Deep River County Park.

Hm, I've got nothing to say, so here's an artsy picture of rain falling, but not on me.


Hobart Then and Now: Main Street, 200 Block, East Side

Circa 1935 and 2010

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

With this one I had trouble getting a similar shot. Either my camera's lens takes a narrower view than the 1935 photographer's, or Main Street has actually gotten narrower since 1935.

It does look very wide in that old photo, doesn't it? But streets usually expand rather than contract through history.

Anyway, I like that vine-covered fence.

Friday, May 7, 2010

That Was No Lady, That Was My Fiancé

I'd like to take a vacation from all this death and misery (which isn't over yet, by the way — 1910 was a bad year for anyone with an Ainsworth connection), and just for a little while I'd like to get out of Ainsworth. So if the neighbors will hitch up their horse and buggy and drive us to the depot, let's catch the train and travel to southern-central Illinois.

This story takes place in the triangle formed by Litchfield, Butler and Hillsboro, Illinois, three small towns about 50 miles south of Springfield. During the closing years of the 19th century, this area was graced by a new resident — a young man named Ellis Glenn. No one knew where he came from, no one knew his family, but in spite of his lack of pedigree, he soon won a place in the best small-town society with his charming personality, youthful good looks, and dapper appearance. All the village belles were smitten.

Ellis got a job as a sewing-machine salesman, which required him to travel around the area. During a business trip to Butler in the spring of 1899, he took lodgings in the home of a wealthy local farmer, James Duke. James had two daughters at home. Ellis began courting the younger one, Ella, and she fell for him, hard.

In April, a couple of farmers living near Hillsboro claimed that Ellis had forged their names to a $4,000 note that he used to buy some Litchfield property. Ellis was charged with the crime, but James Duke put up the bond so that his daughter's sweetheart could come back to the Duke household.

The wedding was set for October 18. On October 16, Ellis vanished.

A couple days later, Ella's sister received a letter from St. Louis, signed by a stranger, one T.H. Perry. The letter carried the sad news that Perry's good friend, Ellis Glenn, had drowned there.

Law enforcement officials weren't buying it, and sure enough, just a few days later they caught up with Ellis in Paducah, Kentucky. They brought him back to Litchfield to stand trial for the forgery. He was convicted and sentenced to a prison term.

On arrival at the penitentiary, he underwent the usual admittance procedures. His hair was shorn; his photograph was taken; then he was ordered to discard his stylish clothes, take a bath and put on the prison uniform. He did so — or, at least, began to do so, for as soon as he took off his clothes to step into the bathtub, it became obvious that "he" was a woman.

There must have been embarrassment all around. As one newspaper report put it, "She was promptly hustled into her clothes."

And oh, what a story she had to tell. No, she was not Ellis Glenn, of course: she was his identical twin sister. She had met him in Paducah, heard the sad tale of the forgery charge he was running from, and decided to take his place, donning men's clothing and letting herself be caught by detectives, so that she could return to Litchfield and be convicted of the crime, thus saving her brother from the horrors of prison. She refused to tell anyone her real name or where her brother was.

Nobody believed her, of course.

Ella Duke had been completely unaware that her fiancé was a fiancée. She and her father visited Ellis in prison, where "the three held a long interview. They wept long and loud and the lovers embraced each other with great fervor." Heartbroken and confused, Ella refused to believe that Ellis was anyone other than her own sweetheart, certainly not a twin sister — certainly not a woman. One newspaper said that Ella still loved Ellis and would "stand by her to the end."

No one was quite sure what to do with Ellis, and a motion to quash her indictment was being argued when someone showed up who knew exactly what he wanted done with her: William Richardson of Parkersburg, West Virginia, came, saw, and identified Ellis as the same "E.R. Glenn" who had defrauded him of $1,000 back in West Virginia several years ago — already masquerading as a man even then. He wanted Ellis taken back east to stand trial for that crime.

Illinois seemed glad to get rid of her. She was taken back to West Virginia, where after standing trial and being acquitted, she was free to go about masquerading as whatever she pleased. I don't know what became of her after that.

I don't know what became of Ella Duke, either. I hope she recovered from her broken heart. She had plenty of opportunities to console herself: since her picture had appeared in the papers in connection with the case, Ella had been besieged by men all across the country wanting to correspond with her. And a local suitor, whom she had discarded when Ellis caught her fancy, renewed his attentions.

♦ "A Woman-Man." Alton Evening Telegraph (Alton, Ill.) 27 Nov. 1899.
♦ "An Ardent Lover Proves to be a Female — Her Story." Hobart Gazette 1 Dec. 1899.
♦ "Changes Sex." Daily Review (Decatur, Ill.) 27 Nov. 1899.
♦ "Ellis Glenn Acquitted." Free Press 17 Mar. 1900.
♦ "Identified." Daily Review (Decatur, Ill.) 9 Dec. 1899.

Well, that was fun, but vacation is over.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Buttercups

(Click on images to enlarge)


Also known as crowfoots. The yellow kind are all over; the white ones I found only in the same little ravine as the Northern White Violets.

I hate buttercups because they always make me think of that song. You know the one.

In Which the Blogger Speculates…

(Click on image to enlarge)

… that this was Henry Chester's house, or the approximate location of his house, if he didn't build this particular one. Henry certainly owned this land, but what really got me to thinking was the conjunction of two descriptions I have come across in the Gazette: (1) Henry's home described as "east of Ainsworth," and (2) Mary Nolte's home described as "east of Henry Chester's."

As I've mentioned before, based on plat books, census reports and aerial photographs, my best guess at the location of the Nolte home is the north side of Ainsworth Road, between the Deep River and (present-day) Big Maple Lake.

People's locations were often described more generally in relation to Ainsworth — "east of Ainsworth," "southwest of Ainsworth" — but for the Nolte home to be described as "east of Henry Chester's," I'm thinking the two houses had to be pretty close.

Speculation is fun, but I'm nowhere near certainty. I'll keep plodding along with my research, and maybe more information will turn up.

♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 11 Mar. 1910.
♦ "Obituary." Hobart Gazette 21 Feb. 1908.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Mayapples

(Click on images to enlarge)

You could easily walk through a colony of Mayapples in the woods and not realize that they do blossom, because the flowers hang down below the big, umbrella-like leaves. I had to lie on the ground to get that picture above.

Here's a close-up of the blossom.


Mayapples bear fruit, although I've never seen it. It ripens in August or September. This year I will brave the mosquitoes to go into the woods at the end of summer and try to find some of the fruit, which I am told is an egg-shaped yellow berry. The immature fruit is poisonous, as is every other part of the plant. Jack Sanders says the Menominee and Iroquois people used it as an insecticide to kill potato bugs and corn worms. Also to commit suicide.

Among its folk names are devil's apple, wild lemon and Puck's foot.

"She Now Has Much to Look After"

Mary E. (Baird) Chester, from the Lake County Encyclopedia

The Hobart Gazette of June 24, 1910, in noting that Henry Chester's widow had gone to Hobart on business the previous week, added, "She now has much to look after."

Indeed she did. Although earlier that month her stepson Charles had been appointed administrator of Henry's estate, so at least Mary did not have that burden, she still had to manage a large and busy household — twelve people besides Mary, according to the 1910 census, recorded in May. Jerome Chester, still unmarried, was nominally the head of the house. There were two female live-in domestics, one of them with a teenaged son. Six hired men also slept and ate under the Chester roof. And last but not least, Edward Scroggins, the widower of Mary's daughter Daisy, had come to live with the Chesters, along with his little daughters, two-year-old Helen and the infant Edna.

I don't know much about Mary beyond the few lines that the Rev. T.H. Ball devoted to her in Henry's profile:
Mrs. Chester was born in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, November 8, 1854, being the eldest of the ten children, four sons and six daughters, born to Samuel and Jane (Oakes) Baird. When she was a girl of twelve years her parents moved west to Bureau county, Illinois, where she completed the education begun in her native state.
She had married Henry in Lake County, Indiana, on August 15, 1878, about four months after the death of his second wife.

While Henry's financial success meant that Mary did not have to worry about money, she still had troubles, thanks to the men in her life. There were Henry's arrests on charges of assault and battery; her son Jerome's arrests, first on a charge of bastardy, which led to a very public trial and a guilty verdict, and then on assault and battery; and even her son John had been through legal troubles and one arrest.

Only Daisy, it seems, had given her mother no trouble, but Daisy was cut down in the bloom of youth.

In that crowded 1910 household, I expect Mary found some consolation in caring for her grandchildren. They were all she had left of her only daughter.

She would soon find further consolation — my deed search shows that when she transferred my land to the Chester descendants in 1913, she did so as the wife of John McDaniel.

1910 Census.
♦ "Ainsworth Pick-Ups."Hobart Gazette 24 June 1910.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
Lake County Encyclopedia.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette. 10 June 1910.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Prairie Trillium

(Click on image to enlarge)

Trillium is also known as wake-robin, probably because many species bloom around the time robins return in the spring.

According to Jack Sanders (The Secrets of Wildflowers), the name "trillium" describes "the 'threeness' of the plant, which has three leaves, flowers with three petals, three sepals, three-celled ovaries, and berries with three ribs."

In spite of this particular kind being called Prairie Trillium, I haven't found it anywhere but deep in the woods.


Within the space of a month in the spring of 1910, Death had taken from among the Chesters a young wife and mother and a patriarch, but it had not quite finished its springtime harvest.

Nine-year-old Constance, named for her mother and nicknamed "Kittie," was the youngest daughter of Charles and Constance Chester, who lived on a farm southwest of Hobart. Kittie had always been a delicate child, suffering from some uncertain heart and stomach troubles. A couple weeks after her grandfather's death, she fell ill. On the evening of Monday, April 25, she died.

Her brief obituary said, "She possessed a loveable disposition and was endeared to her teachers and playmates and her being taken away is greatly deplored by all."

After a funeral in her home, Kittie was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery.

(Click on images to enlarge)

She lay beside her baby brother, Raymond.


The spring of 1910 must have seemed cold and bleak to the whole Chester family.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Northern White Violets

(Click on image to enlarge)

I found these in a ravine in Deep River County Park, beside a rivulet draining into the river bottoms.

No More Bad Days for Henry Chester

(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Rev. T.H. Ball's Encyclopedia of Genealogy and Biography of Lake County, Indiana.

The improvement in Henry's health did not last. Less than a month after the death of his youngest daughter, he followed her. It was 1:15 a.m. on Saturday, April 9, 1910, and he was 75 years, 5 months and 24 days old.

The Gazette gave him the treatment it reserved for the most prominent members of the local community. His obituary included his photograph (above) and much of the text of his profile from the Rev. T.H. Ball's Encyclopedia of Genealogy and Biography of Lake County, Indiana.

I can do no better for Henry than to reproduce that profile here:
Henry Chester, of section 17, Ross township, is one of the well known old settlers and prominent agriculturists of Lake county, having spent over a half century in his one township. He spent his youthful days among the rather crude and primitive conditions of that time, and has ever since been identified with the progress and advancement that have raised Lake county from an unprofitable wilderness to one of the banner sections of the state. He recalls many of the interesting experiences of that early day. His opportunities for literary accomplishment were meager, and as he had to work during the daylight hours he did his reading by the light of a rag dipped in a saucer of grease or by the flickering firelight of the old-fashioned hearth and chimney. And when he clad himself in his best and went forth to attend one of the balls of the countryside, he and his best girl rode in a wagon drawn by an ox team. From this primitive conveyance to the modern automobile graphically represents the progress of Lake county and the world in general since Mr. Chester was a carefree boy on his father's Lake county farm.

Mr. Chester was born in Columbia county, Pennsylvania, October 15, 1834. His grandfather, John Chester, was a native of England, whence he came at an early day to Pennsylvania, and for seven years fought in the ranks of the patriots in the Revolutionary war, becoming an officer in the Continental army. He saw and talked with General Washington and was a prominent man. His son Charles, father of Henry, was born in Pennsylvania, and came out to Lake county, Indiana, as a pioneer in 1847, living here until his death in 1874. He married Mary E. Price, a native of Pennsylvania and of German descent, and they were the parents of two daughters and one son that reached maturity.

Mr. Henry Chester was about twelve years old when he came to Lake county with his parents, and his subsequent rearing and early training was in Ross township, where, indeed, he has spent the rest of his life. When the [Civil War] came he enlisted on September 10, 1861, in Company G, Ninth Illinois Cavalry, and served until his honorable discharge, October 31, 1865, after giving four years and three months of his youth and strength to the defense of the Union cause. From choice he remained a private through all this time. He was in many battles in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and the various campaigns of the middle west. He returned home to engage in the farming pursuits which have ever since employed him so profitably. He operates over a thousand acres of as fine land as lies in Lake county, and his agricultural enterprises mark him as one of the most progressive and successful farmers of his vicinity. He has also taken part in local affairs, and is well known throughout the county as a representative and public-spirited citizen.

Mr. Chester was first married, in 1859, to Miss Harriet Perry, who was born in Porter county, Indiana, a daughter of Ezekiel Perry. They had one child, Mary, wife of Henry Merchant. Mr. Chester's second wife was Harriet L. Hanks, of New York state, and at her death she left five children: Ella, wife of Charles Olson; Lovisa, wife of Charles Nelson; Carrie, wife of William Raschka, a merchant of Ainsworth, Indiana; and Charles E. and James H. Mr. Chester married for his present wife Mary E. Baird, and they have three children: Jerome, John and Daisy. The children have received good and practical educations, and Miss Daisy has taken instruction in music….

Mr. Chester is a member of Earl Lodge No. 333, [Independent Order of Odd Fellows], at Hobart, and his wife belongs to the Rebekahs at the same place. Mr. and Mrs. Chester are both church members, their respective denominations being the Methodist Episcopal and the Baptist.

From this brief review of the main facts of his career, is indicated the prominent position that Mr. Chester holds in his community and in Lake county. His individual enterprise and success and his strength of character are marked in still bolder outlines when it is remembered how he has been the architect of his own fortunes, and is a truly self-made man. At the beginning of his active career he worked for wages, receiving only thirteen dollars a month. Yet with this seemingly scant hold on prosperity's coign of vantage he continued to climb higher to success, and during his useful career has accumulated a large estate and made his life a factor for good throughout Lake county.
His funeral took place in the Chester home on the afternoon of April 12, and then Henry was laid to rest in the Chester cemetery. (At that time, it was known as the Ainsworth cemetery, or the "cemetery south of Ainsworth.") By autumn his widow had marked his grave with a large granite monument, which cost $500 in 1910.



He lies beside his second wife.


And so Ainsworth became a little less colorful. I am going to miss Henry.

(To be continued)

♦ "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 7 Oct. 1910.
♦ "Henry Chester Passes Away." Hobart Gazette 15 Apr. 1910.
Lake County Encyclopedia.