Friday, December 31, 2010

Thieves On the Farm Again

It was a dark and stormy night — April 1, 1917.

On his farm east of Ainsworth, Herman Harms stood in his front yard, peering through the inky shadows toward his barn across the road. He'd just heard something out there, something that didn't sound right. He, like all his farming neighbors, had been in a suspicious mood ever since the previous month, when a major chicken heist at the William Bach farm had resulted in the loss of 200 fowls.

Herman decided to investigate. As he crossed the road, he could just make out some movement in the barnyard. A few steps nearer, and the movement resolved itself into dim shapes — four men and several pigs.

Thieves again!

He turned and dashed back into the house, grabbed his shotgun, and set out into the night after the thieves and the pigs. He tried to track them, but in the intense darkness and with the head start they'd gotten, it was no use. Men and pigs vanished into the countryside without a trace.

Herman gave up the chase and returned to his barnyard to assess the damage. He counted four of his fine yearling pigs missing. A check of the henhouse revealed that the men had torn away some boards on one side to make an opening, but he had scared them away them before they could carry off any chickens.

The News ended its report on the crime with this comment:
It is said during the past few weeks light auto trucks have been seen driving south without lights, as late as 10 o'clock or later at night. It may be necessary for farmers to man their barnyards with rapid-fire gatling guns as a means of protection.

♦ "Chicken Thieves Again Became Active Last Sunday Night." Hobart News 5 Apr. 1917.
♦ "Thieves Steal About 200 Chickens from Wm. Bach Place." Hobart News 8 Mar. 1917.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cows and More Cows

In the autumn of 1916 Charles Chester sold an 80-acre parcel just north of Ainsworth to John Berndt.* (I don't know whether that's the parcel shown in the 1926 Plat Book as belonging to John Berndt, or the one just below it, which ended up in Carrie Raschka's hands). That sale brought Charles $10,000.

He intended to use the money to expand his dairy operations on the old Chester homestead, a 240-acre spread that I believe centered on the house still standing at 7302 Ainsworth.

His current herd comprised about 40 milch cows. Charles intended to add another 20 once he had expanded his facilities for stabling them. Around this time he took two of his sons — George, age 21, and Sela, 17 — into partnership in his farm business, "to give the boys a chance, and at the same time lift some of the work and responsibility from his own shoulders." The News noted that Charles' lengthy travels had taught him much about dairying techniques throughout the country. He used the most modern practices on his farm, including a milking machine.

In May came the big cow purchase. Rollie D. Sizelove sold his whole herd of 31 head to Charles in a fit of disgust — the C. & O. railroad passed through the farm Rollie rented; the railroad refused to maintain the fence along the right-of-way, so his cows were in constant danger of wandering onto the tracks, and the railroad never paid more than half the value of any animal killed. Rollie figured he'd rather get out of the cow business altogether than watch his cows get picked off one by one. With that purchase, the Chester herd nearly doubled in size.

♦    ♦    ♦

Since we've mentioned the Berndt family, here's some gossip: in January 1917 John Berndt, Sr., at the age of 69, sued his 71-year-old wife Hannah for divorce. After 40 years of marriage! What is this world coming to?

*I'm not entirely sure at this point whether the John Berndt in question was John Sr. or John Jr. — a couple of reports say Sr.; one says Jr.

1900 Census.
1920 Census.
♦ "Chas. Chester and Sons Increasing Their Dairy Business." Hobart News 22 Mar. 1917.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 25 May 1917.
♦ "In the Divorce Courts." Hobart Gazette 19 Jan. 1917.
♦ "Personal and Local Mention." Hobart News 12 Oct. 1916.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nom Nom Nom (Random Pointless Photo)

(Click on image to enlarge)

Speaking of being easily amused — I know this isn't the first such picture I've taken, but I never get tired of the way trees eat things. Here we have two trees eating a metal fence post in Deep River County Park.

Musical Houses

In this blog, it's but a day from the epoch-making to the trivial.

Since they left Ainsworth in 1915, William and Carrie Raschka had been renting a house on Sixth Street belonging to William Boldt (husband of Mary Sullivan — you couldn't swing a cat in Hobart without hitting a former Ainsworthite). In March 1917 they bought a home of their own: William Hollister's "eight-room modern brick residence on Lake Street." They would move in the following month.

Meanwhile, our old friend Howard Shearer, who had left Ainsworth in 1915 for the Green flat on Center Street, decided to buy his own home, too, and he chose William Boldt's house, soon to be vacated by the Raschkas.

Too bad I don't know exactly where either of these houses was.

…OK, this whole episode is even more trivial than I thought when I started writing, but these coincidences amuse me. (I'm easily amused.)

Source: Untitled social column. Hobart News 15 Mar. 1917; 12 Apr. 1917.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Partial Victory for Pearl

I'm sure Pearl Ols was happy to read the newspaper reports, late in the winter of 1917, that Indiana women had won a limited right to vote — limited, but less so than in any other state at the time.

A suffrage bill had been introduced at every Indiana legislative session starting in 1907, and at every session had failed. According to a contemporary source, "[m]ost of the [legislators] appeared to regard woman suffrage as a joke with which they were merely to have sport and fun in the 61 days of their sessions." By 1915 attitudes had changed sufficiently that the issue was at least treated as a serious matter, but even that year the suffrage bill did not make it out of committee before the end of the legislative session.

Women's-rights activists took a lesson from that failure and in 1917 got identical bills introduced simultaneously into the house and the senate, to speed the process along.

By going the legislative route, women would have to accept a limited vote, since the right to vote for constitutional offices would require an amendment to the state constitution, a far more complex and time-consuming process, and far less likely to succeed. This pragmatic position was supported by the largest women's-rights group in the state, the Legislative Council of Indiana Women. The Council figured that they could reach their ultimate goal more surely by the indirect route, moving in steps from limited to unlimited voting.

And finally, some congruence of improved tactics and changed attitudes brought about success. The woman suffrage bill (known as the Masten-McKinley bill for the two senators who introduced it) passed the senate and then the house in late February, then went to Governor James Goodrich's desk for signature.

He intended to sign it, but other matters kept diverting his attention, until the morning of February 28, 1917, when his wife, Cora, came into his office and (according to a contemporary source) asked:
"When are you going to sign the woman suffrage bill?"

Governor Goodrich, who has been the busiest man in seventeen states ever since the session of the legislature opened, smiled and remarked that he would sign the bill just as soon as he could get at it.

"This is a good time to sign it, right now," Mrs. Goodrich said.

And the governor thought so, too, for he took his pen in hand and attached his "James P. Goodrich" to give Indiana women their first opportunity to vote at elections.

The governor said afterward that he signed the bill in the presence of the best witness in the world.
Thus Indiana women who met the same requirements as male voters finally won the right to vote for non-constitutional offices — which meant they could not vote for governor, secretary of state, judges of the supreme or circuit courts, county sheriffs, auditors, treasurers and commissioners, etc. There remained, however, a good number of offices for which they could vote, including presidential electors, attorney general, judges of the appellate, superior, criminal, probate and juvenile courts, county council, township trustee, all elective city and town officials, "and for all other elective officers not provided for in the state constitution."

♦ Searles, Ellis. "Indiana Women's Victory Sweeping." Hobart News 1 Mar. 1917.
♦ "Signs Suffrage Bill with His Wife as a Witness." Washington Herald (Washington, IN) 1 Mar. 1917. (accessed 7 Nov. 2010).

Monday, December 27, 2010

Squire Mathews Passes

Until recently I didn't know that a justice of the peace did not need to be a lawyer. Which makes sense, of course, since even today in some jurisdictions you don't need to be a lawyer to be elected as a judge, and non-lawyers can be appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States. It just didn't enter my head when I was giving you that erudite lecture on J.P.s and their functions.

Poor John Mathews had to die for me to become conscious of that little fact.

Yes, John Mathews had served 28 years (with one interruption) as a justice of the peace without even having been a lawyer, and yet, as one obituary observed, "his advice was often sought on matters of importance by the legal fraternity." And he was involved in so many of the matters arising from bad behavior in Ainsworth that I simply couldn't let him pass without comment.

He had been born in Ohio in 1833. His parents eventually moved to Porter County, Indiana, and there in 1858 he married Louise Hardesty. She died the following year. In 1860 he married Mary Crisman; they had one son, William. His wife and son survived him.

When the Civil War broke out in April 1861, John enlisted in the Indiana infantry. He was wounded on July 8, 1861, at Bealington, Virginia. After several months' recuperation at home, he re-enlisted and served out the rest of the war, luckily without further injury although he did see a good deal of fighting.

After the war he and Mary came to Hobart. John worked in the harness trade for several years, then tried his hand at various other enterprises, including a grocery and a bakery; in the early 1880s he took a job as a clerk at the Hobart Pennsy depot. Then in 1886 he was elected justice of the peace, and office occupied his time and energy for nearly the next three decades. In later years he developed a special expertise in getting and increasing pensions for old soldiers and their widows.

He was a member of the Hobart lodges of the Masons and the Odd Fellows.

He died peacefully on February 28, 1917. He is buried in Hobart Cemetery.

(Click on image to enlarge)

♦ "Taps Sounded for Another Veteran of the Civil War." Hobart News 1 Mar. 1917.
♦ "Death of Squire Mathews." Hobart Gazette 2 Mar. 1917.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gernenz Report: More Land and More Trouble

12-26-2010 Gernenzland1917
(Click on image to enlarge)
On this image from the 1926 Plat Book, the whole Gernenz farm is outlined in red; the parcels owned by Fred Gernenz at least since 1891 are outlined in green; and Charles' 80-acre purchase from Emil Klemm in 1917 is outlined in purple.

It's been a long time since we've heard from the Gernenz family.

Charles Gernenz's purchase during the summer of 1916 of an 80-acre parcel south of Ainsworth went unreported until February 1917. The land was known as the "old Watts farm," and the 1891 Plat Book shows 80 acres belonging to Joseph Watts sandwiched between two parcels belonging to Fred Gernenz, Charles' father. Sometime after 1891 the land passed into the hands of Otto Klemm, who sold it to Charles. Otto remained on the land for several more months, then announced that he was moving to a farm near Crown Point, and Charles would have possession of this parcel in March. He intended to farm it, along with his other 300 acres, with the help of his four sons, William, Martin, John and Carl, who then ranged in age from 21 to 12.

♦    ♦    ♦

There were two houses on the Gernenz farm, separate but not far apart. One was occupied by the Charles Gernenz family; the other by his elderly parents, Fred and Anna, and their oldest grandson, William.

Bright and early on a Monday morning, February 19, Charles went over to the other house to wake William up. No one answered when he knocked, or called out, so he opened the door to go in — and found himself breathing coal gas. The air inside the house was thick with it. Charles hurried in to check on his parents and son, and to his horror found all three of them unconscious.

He probably carried them out of the house — perhaps his other sons helped him — and laid them down in the warmth and safety of the other house. Several hours passed before Fred and William returned to their senses, and the 80-year-old Anna remained unconscious until evening.

Later they tried to piece together what had happened. William remembered smelling coal gas when he returned to the house around midnight on Sunday. He had checked the stove and found a door open on it, which he closed. Then he went to bed. As to how the stove door had fallen open again, they could only guess that Fred, hearing William come in, had gotten out of bed and bumped against the stove in his grogginess, then retired again without realizing anything was wrong.

All three recovered fully.

1920 Census.
♦ "Family of Three Nearly Asphyxiated." Hobart Gazette 23 Feb. 1917.
♦ "General News." Hobart Gazette 2 Feb. 1917.
♦ "Personal and Local Mention." Hobart News 22 Feb. 1917.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Fence of Trees (Random Pointless Photo)

(Click on images to enlarge)

If you wander off the northwest side of the remote-controlled airplane field in Deep River County Park, you will encounter this perfect row of trees. They're all the same kind. (I don't know what kind. Gosh, maybe I should get a tree identification guide, hm?)

It's obvious they grew up along a fence line. You can still find among them, and imbedded in some of them, the remains of the barbed wire that made up that fence.


And at either end of the line of trees you can even find some of the old fence posts.

I think that fence marked the line between Fred Yager's property and Henry Nolte's. I'm not either of those guys put up the fence — it's probably not that old — I'm just saying that when you're looking at these trees and those old posts, you're probably looking at the property line.

Almost a Century

February 10, 1917 saw the passing of Bridget O'Hearn, mother of our favorite veterinarian, Mike O'Hearn. She was 99 years old. Had she been able to last another two months, she would have reached the century mark.

She was born in County Clare, Ireland on April 2, 1817; came to the United States in 1840; in 1850 married Roger O'Hearn in Chicago; and in 1864 came with him to Hobart.

She outlived her husband and four of her six children, being survived only by her sons Mike and Dennis. She also left five grandchildren and two brothers.

She rests now in St. Peter and Paul Cemetery (known at the time of her burial as the Turkey Creek cemetery). She has not quite reached the century mark of her death.

(Click on image to enlarge)
Bridget O'Hearn's grave marker. All the O'Hearn grave markers, except for Rosa's, are badly weathered and nearly illegible.

Source: "Mrs. Bridget O'Hearn Passes Away at Age of Nearly 100 Years." Hobart News 15 Feb. 1917.

Merry Christmas (Random Pointless Photo)

(Click on image to enlarge, if you really want to)

This is what happens when you photograph Christmas lights without a tripod. I would have asked Santa for a tripod, but I'd only use it to photograph Christmas lights, so that would be a waste of Santa's resources, wouldn't it?

Merry Christmas to all, anyway.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Greetings from 1917

(Click on image to enlarge.)
From the Hobart Gazette of December 28, 1917.

I'm jumping ahead in my narrative to bring you this letter from a past Christmas.

They counted themselves among "the boys of Hobart," but Harold and Clarence Goodrich came from a farm southwest of Ainsworth.

Germany Becomes More Dangerous

(Click on image to enlarge. Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.)
Emma Gruel in nurse's uniform, circa 1918.

During the last week of December 1916, John and Louise Gruel received a cablegram from Berlin: Christmas greetings from their daughter, Emma. They must have been delighted at this assurance that she was alive and well, since they'd had to take it on faith for most of her time in Germany, communications between Ainsworth and the German Empire being so unreliable. But the cablegram left them puzzled about Emma's immediate future: the six months' term she'd signed up for was now over — had she re-enlisted for another six months? Or was she on her way home? When John tried to send her a cablegram in return, he was told that the lines were all tied up with messages between Germany and Russia.

The Gruels remained in suspense until February 6, when they finally received a letter from Emma dated January 10. It was the first in months, and the only reason it reached them at all was likely because it had been mailed in New York by a doctor from Emma's unit returning to the U.S. In the letter, Emma assured her parents that she was well — and not starving, as she feared they might expect from the news reports of conditions in Germany. As to when she would come home, that was still uncertain. All the doctors and nurses of her unit, except the one who'd mailed her letter, had decided to remain in Germany as long as conditions allowed.

Three days later, the Hobart News carried the report that President Woodrow Wilson had broken off diplomatic relations with Germany owing to the latter's stated intention to resume unrestricted submarine warfare. Wilson ordered the U.S. ambassador to leave Germany, and the German ambassador to the U.S. was given his passport in the expectation that he would withdraw.

The following week, the Gruels were notified by the Chicago headquarters of Emma's relief organization that the German government had ordered her unit to leave the country with the American ambassador. Close on the heels of that report came another: Emma was on her way home. Another month, and John and Louise would have their daughter back.

I expect they went about their daily routine saying silent prayers for Emma's safety, as now German submarines were added to the other hazards she faced on her voyage.

After a few days of hope and fear, a second report from the relief organization took it all back — Emma was not on her way home. The German government had relented and given her unit permission to remain in the country, or to leave, as they chose; Emma and her colleagues had chosen to remain for another six-month term.

So, for the immediate future, Emma was out of reach of the submarines and other dangers of the ocean; but with relations between Germany and the U.S. deteriorating, John and Louise still had reason to fear for their daughter.

♦ Hobart High School Aurora Yearbook, 1918.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 19 Jan. 1917; 23 Feb. 1917.
♦ "Miss Gruel Ordered to Leave Germany When Gerard Party Left." Hobart News 15 Feb. 1917.
♦ "Personal and Local Mention." Hobart News 4 Jan. 1917.
♦ "Receives Good News." Hobart Gazette 9 Feb. 1917.
♦ "Wilson Breaks With Germany." Hobart News 8 Feb. 1917.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Pet Possum (Random Pointless Photo)

(Click on images to enlarge)

Actually, he's not my pet possum. He just came by to eat the birdseed that the birds knocked down from the feeder.

He's definitely not my pet. Trying to get a good picture, I got too close to him, and that's when he said, "I'm outta here!"


Another Good Time at Chesters'

A "jolly crowd" of Jennie Chester's classmates and friends gathered at the Charles Chester house on February 6 to celebrate Jennie's birthday. They dined by the light of the birthday candles, then perhaps played games, or sang to the accompaniment of the Chesters' old Kimball piano. The Gazette finished its report with the remark that "those who were present had one more 'good time at Chester's' to recall," as if good times at the Chester house were a familiar local phenomenon.

That just struck me because these days the house looks a bit tired and forlorn and very, very quiet. It's hard to image it 90-some years ago, as the center of a prosperous farm, surrounded by outbuildings — chickens in the yard, maybe; dogs on the doorstep; cows in the fields; and a large and lively family and their many friends making the rooms echo with "good times."

♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 23 May 1902.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 9 Feb. 1917.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Frosty Dawn (Random Pointless Photo)


Another one, from the same frosty morning, that didn't stink too badly. Here the light of the rising sun is just hitting that frosted forest. The pasture is empty because the horses haven't been let out of the stable yet.

Extended Forecast: Dry

The campaign leading up to the November 1916 election was surprisingly quiet about prohibition. The Republican candidate for governor, James P. Goodrich, refused to take a position on the topic, although he was "a devout Presbyterian with strong ties to the church-based dry cause" and was known to favor temperance; his Democratic opponent, John Adair, likewise avoided the issue. The Prohibition party fielded its own candidate, and the Progressive party candidate was former governor James F. Hanly, who had signed county-option prohibition into law in 1908; but these latter two were trounced in the election, and Goodrich won a narrow victory over Adair. Even after winning, Goodrich did not take a definite stand on prohibition.

As 1916 neared its close, however, (in the words of a contemporary historian) "a great agitation began to be manifest throughout the state." In December the state's dry forces formed a coalition called the Indiana Dry Federation, which soon came to include the powerful Indiana Anti-Saloon League. With centralized leadership and hard-won political savvy, the Indiana Dry Federation was able to rally intense grass-roots efforts. Petitions and delegates rained down on the state capitol as the 1917 General Assembly convened.

Thanks to dry lobbying, the assembly's first month saw the introduction of the Wright prohibition bill, named for its drafter, Congressmen Frank Wright. A newspaper article described its terms as "drastic" and "written with the intention of making traffic in liquor illegal."

As the proposed bill was under consideration by the legislature, the dry forces stepped up their lobbying efforts. They presented legislators with petitions signed by some 400,000 prohibition advocates. They held rallies in the statehouse daily — sometimes several times a day. This was in addition to demonstrations in other towns and cities, and the "propaganda" in newspapers and other publications across the state. William Jennings Bryan, on a visit to Indianapolis, personally lobbied the governor and the legislature for prohibition.

The Wright bill passed the House with a wide margin of victory — 70 to 28. As the bill went to the Senate, the drys kept up the pressure, with more petitions, more lobbying delegations and more demonstrations.

The day the Senate voted on the bill saw "one of the most stirring scenes ever witnessed at the state capitol," according to a contemporary news article. In spite of bitterly cold temperatures, "[t]housands of prohibition workers crowded the corridors of the capitol building and lined up in the street, awaiting the vote which was to be cast, and would reap the harvest of their efforts…."

On February 2, the Wright bill passed the Senate by a 38-to-11 vote. And a week later Governor Goodrich finally made clear his stance on prohibition when, at a public ceremony and under the unblinking gaze of a motion-picture camera, he signed the bill into law.

Indiana Governor James P. Goodrich
(Image credit: Indiana Historical Society.)

The essence of the bill was this:
After the second day of April, 1918, it shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, sell, barter, exchange, give away, furnish or otherwise dispose of any liquors except as in this act provided.
The few exceptions included the manufacture of wine, cider and other non-spirituous liquids for private, domestic use (you could even serve such drinks to guests in your home, so long as your home really was private, "not used as a public resort of any kind"); sacramental wine; pure grain alcohol used for medical, scientific or industrial purposes; and liquor prescribed by a physician for medical reasons, which could be sold by druggists in small quantities. People already in possession of properly bonded alcohol before the law's effective date could still ship it to states where it was not prohibited.

Violators of the law faced, for their first offense, a fine of $100 to $500 and a jail sentence of 30 days to six months; and for second and later offenses, the minimum fine was raised to $200 and the minimum jail sentence 60 days.

♦    ♦    ♦

… So, it had finally happened. Back in Ainsworth, in their rooms over the saloon, William and Adelphine Wollenberg must have asked each other, "Now what?" The saloon had supported their family for nearly 10 years. One more year, then Will would have to find a new line of work, and the terra cotta building where the local men had gathered since 1899 to drink and to smoke, to talk and to fight, would have to find a new use.

Meanwhile, the News noted how fitting it was that the well on Charles Borger's Third Street lot, which had supplied the neighborhood with good drinking water for a dozen years — suddenly, mysteriously, dried up. Mr. Borger had to dig a new well.

♦ Canup, Charles. "Temperance Movements and Legislation in Indiana." Indiana Magazine of History XVI:1 (March 1920).
♦ "Indiana Dry Bill Is Signed." Hobart Gazette 16 Feb. 1917.
♦ "Indiana To Be Dry April 2, 1918." Hobart Gazette 9 Feb. 1917.
♦ Lantzer, Jason S. "Prohibition Is Here To Stay": The Reverence Edward S. Shumaker and the Dry Crusade in America. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2009.
♦ "Personal and Local Mention." Hobart News 1 Mar. 1917.
♦ "Senate Passes 'Dry' Measure." Hobart News 8 Feb. 1917.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Frost on a Stick (Random Pointless Photo)


It was one of those strange mornings when everything, down to the tiniest twig and blade of grass, is coated in crystals of ice. I took a lot of pictures, and this is the one that stunk the least.

Up in Smoke

I said I couldn't image a barn on Water Street; you know what else I can't image there? — a cigar factory. And yet we know one existed from the newspapers reports of its destruction by fire in February 1917.

The factory belonged Calvin L. Fleming, though perhaps "factory" is too grand a word: it was a wooden workshop standing on the same lot as Calvin's house. Early on the morning of February 6, Calvin walked across the yard from house to factory, where he lit a fire in the stove to warm the building for his day's work. Around 7 a.m. he went back to the house to eat breakfast. A few minutes later, a glance out the window of his house gave him a shock: the cigar factory was in flames.

Calvin quickly placed a call to the fire department. As he waited for them to arrive, he might have considered braving the flames to try to rescue some of his equipment and materials, until he remembered the shotguns and shells stored in the factory, which could be touched off by the fire at any moment.

By the time the firemen arrived, the building was completely engulfed. The firemen could do no more than keep the fire from spreading.

The factory was destroyed, along with all of Calvin's equipment and materials, which included a large number of finished cigars. Estimates of those casualties ranged from 10,000 to 13,000. This was tragedy on a massive scale.

And Calvin had no insurance. He'd let his policy lapse on the first of the year. (According to one source, he did so because he'd already entered an agreement to sell the whole property to someone else so he could move his family and work "nearer town"). So the monetary loss, estimated to be as much as $1,800, was all his own.

He may have lacked foresight, but we can admire his resilience: before the sun had set on the ashes of his enterprise, he had already placed an order for lumber to build a new factory, and contracted with carpenters to start work the next morning. By the time the weekly Hobart newspapers reported on the disaster, Calvin's new factory was almost ready for occupancy. And by mid-month, Calvin was again manufacturing cigars.

♦    ♦    ♦

Calvin soon diversified his business enterprise in a way that surprised me. In March the old Hobart amusement park (standing, I believe, on land that is now Jerry Pavese Park) was auctioned off by the county for back taxes, and the highest bidder was "Calvin L. Fleming, the local cigar manufacturer." The principal structure on the property was a dilapidated roller coaster. It was beyond fixing up. Calvin intended to salvage its lumber for construction purposes.

The following month, Calvin announced to the public that he was now sales agent for all the remaining lots in the subdivision lying along both sides of Third Street from the streetcar barns (the west bank of the Deep River) at least as far, I believe, as present-day Wisconsin Street.

I've heard that some of the houses along that part of Third Street were built with lumber from the old roller coaster. I suppose we can thank Calvin Fleming for that.

♦ "C.L. Fleming Loses Cigar Factory and Contents by Fire." Hobart News 8 Feb. 1917.
♦ "Fleming Cigar Factory Burns." Hobart Gazette 9 Feb. 1917.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 30 Mar. 1917.
♦ "Making Cigars Again." Hobart Gazette 16 Feb. 1917.
♦ "Notice to the Public." Hobart Gazette 20 Apr. 1917.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Surf's Up! (Random Pointless Photo)

(Click on image to enlarge)

This snowdrift is doing a pretty good impersonation of a breaking wave. Maya thinks so, too. Get out of the way, Maya!

Fire on the Roof

The garage business that John Chester bought in 1915 was in the Smith building (wherever that was), as we learn from a report in February 1917 of a fire on his roof.

The fire was discovered about 5:20 in the afternoon of January 27. Fortunately, it was so small that by the time the fire department arrived on the scene John had already gotten up on the roof and put out the fire himself. Its origin was puzzling, since the stove in his building was unlit. The theory was that the wind had carried a spark from some nearby chimney onto his roof.

If John's family was still living in rooms behind the garage, this must have been especially frightening for Emma, as she was then heavily pregnant. Less than a week later she gave birth to a son, Edward.

♦ "Births." Hobart Gazette 9 Feb. 1917.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 2 Feb. 1917.
♦ "Personal and Local Mention." Hobart News 1 Feb. 1917; 8 Feb. 1917.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Death of a Civil War Veteran

I briefly mentioned the Thompson family, who lost their youngest child, Hugh, in 1909 following an accident at the Ainsworth crossing.

At the moment they are part of Ainsworth pre-history, because they left the Ainsworth area in 1897, two years before my newspaper-reading began. But they spent over 30 years farming south of Ainsworth; Alexander served as Ross Township assessor for 18 years, and then two years as Lake County assessor; and by the time he retired from farming and moved to Hobart, he owned nearly 200 acres of prime farmland, bordered on the east by what is now State Road 51 and bisected by (present-day) Route 30.

Alexander was born on a farm in Streetsboro, Ohio, on July 10, 1838, to Scottish immigrants, he being the first of their children to be born in this country. He left the farm to spend a year studying at Hiram College (and both his obituaries point out that future U.S. president James A. Garfield was then on the faculty). After that one year, he returned to the farm, where he stayed until the Civil War broke out in 1861 and Alexander volunteered to fight for the Union cause. He served a year in the Ohio infantry. Then it was back to the farm again. On November 28, 1862, he married Mary J. Watson. They came to Ross Township in 1865, settling on the land south of Ainsworth — but in 1865 Ainsworth did not exist, or else was no more than a cluster of a few houses, soon to be joined by a one-room schoolhouse and known as Hickory Top.

And there he stayed until 1897, when at the age of 59 he retired from farming (although he retained ownership of his land, at least for several more years) and moved his family to Hobart. He and his son Fred went into the grocery business as A.C. Thompson & Son. In 1913 they sold their store to George Sauter and Armen Meckeldy.

On August 26, 1914, Mary Thompson died at the age of 81.

In November of 1915, Alexander replaced the late Cyrus Smith as Vice President of the First State Bank in Hobart.

Around that time his health began to weaken. In the late autumn of 1916 he went to stay in the home his son Fred, where he remained until his death on January 30, 1917.

(Click on images to enlarge)
Mary and Alexander's grave markers in Crown Hill Cemetery. (No, I don't know why his middle initial is "E." here and "C." almost everywhere else.)


The Thompson family monument.

1891 Plat Book.
♦ "Alex. C. Thompson, Civil War Veteran, Answers Last Call." Hobart News 1 Feb. 1917.
♦ "Death of A.C. Thompson." Hobart Gazette 2 Feb. 1917.
♦ "Death of Mrs. A.C. Thompson." Hobart Gazette 28 Aug. 1914.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 29 Nov. 1912.
♦ "Mrs. A.C. Thompson Called to Her Reward." Hobart News 27 Aug. 1914.
♦ "New Grocery Firm." Hobart Gazette 1 Aug. 1913.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling (Random Pointless Photo)

(Click on image to enlarge)

Rolling with the rolls. These round hay bales are on their way to … someplace where there are probably a lot of horses or cows.

Which Was More Unusual?

12-18-2010 Robin 1917
From "Local Drifts," Hobart Gazette, Feb. 2, 1917.

I don't know which was more unusual: that Henry Nolte saw a robin on January 31, or that he made enough noise about it to be heard by the Gazette.

But I suppose after that mid-month cold snap, any possible sign of an early spring was something to crow about.

(These days robins in winter are not all that unusual. And a few times I've seen them myself in Henry's yard on a winter day.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Playing Penguin

A cold snap froze up Lake County in mid-January 1917. On the 14th, temperatures dropped to 10 or 15 below zero, and on that Sunday afternoon, with nothing better to do, young daredevils found the frozen Deep River and Lake George irresistible. Ben Bodamer and H.D. Green took their motorcycles out onto the ice and performed every stunt they could think of.

Everett Newman (Paul Newman's son) took his small, light Ford and loaded it up with three of his friends: another young Hobartite named Fred Bowlby, and from Ainsworth, Will Wollenberg, Jr. and Will's younger brother Eddie. The four of them rode the car out onto the frozen river. They went racing and spinning around Lake George for awhile, and then drove upstream as far as the E.J.& E. bridge and back, about a mile's trip. It was great fun, but in that unheated car, with the bitter wind blowing freely over the ice, the boys couldn't last too long. Everett decided to land his craft. From the lake, he drove under the Third Street bridge and toward the riverbank near the streetcar barns (where today there is a tiny riverfront park).

Just as he braked near the shore, the ice gave way beneath them. The car and the four boys plunged into six feet of icy water. The car apparently capsized, as the Gazette described the scene: "In scrambling to get out, the boys would catch hold of a wheel, and it would turn and give them another plunge, so by the time the boys reached safety they had been thoroughly wet through several times."

They had to leave the car to fend for itself — they were soaked and in danger of frostbite or hypothermia in that bitterly cold air. Everett went home; the other three boys went to Fred's house; they all got dried off and warmed up, and fortunately none suffered any ill effects. Someone eventually hauled the car out of the river using a rope and pulley. The Gazette described the car as "uninjured" but I find that hard to believe. It was taken to the Newman garage to be thawed out.

♦ "Auto Fell Through Ice." Hobart Gazette 19 Jan. 1917.
♦ "Four Boys Get Cold Bath in Deep River Sunday Afternoon." Hobart News 18 Jan. 1917.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 19 Jan. 1917.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Left Behind (Random Pointless Photo)

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Along the perimeter of this shorn field, there's a row of soybeans the harvester missed. Maybe the deer will eat them over the winter.

Pay Up, You Deadbeats!

Yes, I'm following William Witt's life story. Some of these Ainsworth connections are ridiculously remote, and then sometimes I drop all pretense that a topic has anything to do with Ainsworth and just write about it because, well, this is my blog and I can write about whatever I want.

William apparently wanted to raise money in the autumn of 1916. We've already seen him sell his team and equipment. And as winter came on he started pressuring his debtors to pay up. A late December issue of the Gazette carried his polite but firm request: "Those who have borrowed money in various amounts from [me] are requested to pay same within 30 days or action will be started to collect same."

When we hear from him next, in early January, he sounds as if he's losing patience with the deadbeats: "Unless those having borrowed money from me settle very promptly, I will be compelled to take legal action to collect the same. Nothing but a settlement will suffice."

Around the end of the year he and his father had paid a brief visit to some Chicago relatives. William had earlier gone to Chicago for treatment of pain in his amputated arm. I wonder if the treatment was continuing, and that's what he needed money for.

♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 5 Jan. 1916.
♦ "Notice to Those Concerned." Hobart Gazette 22 Dec. 1916; 5 Jan. 1916.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crane Thingy (Railroad Kookery)

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There's that same crane thingy, this time with no track sections. He must be on his way to get some. He's passing by a shorn soybean field next to Deep River County Park.

This would have been a nice shot if those trees hadn't gotten in the way.

Benjamin Bodamer

Everyone and everything with even the most remote connection to my own little three-acre parcel is a person or thing of earth-shattering importance. So I have to mention Benjamin Bodamer. The new year, 1917, was only three days old when Benjamin passed away, and since I suspect he was a younger brother of the George Bodamer who first separated my parcel from the old Chester homestead in 1921, I can't let the poor man rest in peace.

Here you go:

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(No, I don't know what became of Ida.)

If I'm doing the math correctly, he was born February 28, 1865, on a farm east of Ainsworth, somewhere near the Lake-Porter County line — probably in Porter County, since the old Bodamer homestead doesn't show up on the plat maps I've got. On April 27, 1898 he married Bertha Mueller (or Miller, as the family sometimes Americanized it). The two of them also owned some Ross Township land that apparently was sold at a sheriff's sale in 1906. They must have run into money troubles. But that was 11 years ago, and it's all water under the bridge now.

He was survived by his wife and three sons, Harry, Ralph and Carlton, the oldest of whom was only 17. The boys were probably students of the Ainsworth school, as the school contributed flowers to the funeral.

If I've got these family connections straight, he was an uncle of Alvah and Vernon Bodamer. (And keeping these family connections straight is not easy, believe you me.)

Got all that? OK. Now we can leave Benjamin to his rest.

♦ "Benjamin Bodamer Passes Away at His Home Last Evening." Hobart News 4 Jan. 1917.
♦ "Card of Thanks." Hobart News 11 Jan. 1917.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 5 Jan. 1917.
♦ "Obituary." Hobart Gazette 12 Jan. 1917.
♦ "Sheriff's Sale." Hobart Gazette 22 June 1906.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How Ainsworth Treated Its Teachers

In their final issues of December 1916, both the Gazette and the News carried "Ross Township" columns, dealing mostly with Ainsworth social news.

From both papers, we learn that one of the Ainsworth schoolteachers, Delmer Fisher, had spent the last ten weeks sick in bed at the home of John Miller in Ainsworth. I believe Delmer was just a boarder there, as I've found no evidence of a family relationship, and he wouldn't have been the first local schoolteacher to board chez Miller. The fact that Martha Miller nursed him for so long (and it probably was Martha who bore the greater part of the nursing duties) is evidence of … something, and I want it to be something nice — not that the Millers wanted to wring all the rent money they could get out of him, but rather that they were compassionate and their home comfortable, and that Delmer maintained a touching hope that he would soon get well and return to his teaching duties.

But he didn't. After ten weeks, with Delmer still too sick to teach or to travel by himself, someone hired a limousine from Merrillville to carry him to Hebron, where his sister and brother-in-law offered him a bed.

His World War I draft card, completed in early June 1917, states in the section on physical disability that he had been "bed fast for seven months," and in another section, a barely legible note seems to say he'd been disabled for ten years with kidney trouble. And then, by his signature, someone has scrawled "Deceased."

♦    ♦    ♦

The News follows its Ross Township column with this hopeful note:

12-14-2010 Ross Township column 1916

So would I, "Ed." So would I!

And thus ends 1916.

♦ "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 2 Sept. 1910; 9 Sept. 1910.
♦ "Ross Township Items." Hobart News 28 Dec. 1916.
♦ "Ross Township News." Hobart Gazette 29 Dec. 1916.
WWI Draft Cards.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sears: Your Source for Chicks

12-13-2010 Sears chicks 1940
(Click on image to enlarge)

In search of a certain article or photo that may or may not exist, I'm slowly and painfully making my way through the 1940 Gary Post-Tribune on microfilm — and it is slow and painful, because the Post-Tribune was (and still is) a daily paper with many pages.

Anyway, I came across this 1940 ad for the Sears store in Gary (which definitely doesn't exist anymore) and was amazed to find them offering baby chicks, and a brooder to raise them in.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Maximillian Sunflowers Gone to Seed

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Don't they look cute in their little pointy hats!

McDaniel House?

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I am beginning to think that this beautiful old house on the southwest corner of the Ohio-Devonshire Street intersection was the "large and commodious home" of Mary Chester McDaniel and her second husband, John.

I base this conjecture on an item from the Gazette of October 13, 1916:
Mr. and Mrs. J.A. McDaniel are improving their home residence, corner Ohio and Devonshire streets, by building a bedroom at the southeast corner and a 9-foot porch on the east and north sides, which will be both convenient and beautifying.
And, hmmm, what do you know? — even today there's a large and commodious home on the corner of Ohio and Devonshire with a porch on the east and north sides.

… I know, this doesn't allow for the possibility of later remodeling, which is why I put a question mark in the title.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

He Didn't Know It Was Already Loaded

(Click on image to enlarge.)
An unidentified rabbit-hunter displaying his catch on a snowy day in 1914. Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Two days after the deadly collision at the Grand Trunk crossing, another tragedy, equally shocking, occurred near Ainsworth.

On the morning of December 14, Charles Sapper's horse-drawn sleigh headed south out of Hobart, carrying a party of five: with Charles was his brother-in-law Christ Springman, Sr.; two of Christ's sons-in-law, Richard Bermett and Earl Shearer; and his youngest son, 18-year-old Christ Jr., known as Christie. They were equipped with ferrets and shotguns for a day of rabbit-hunting.

They spent hours in the open countryside south of Ainsworth. Between the ferrets and the shotguns, they bagged ten rabbits. By mid-afternoon, they decided they'd had enough for the day and started home. It was near four o'clock when they reached the Ed Mankey farm, which lay just south of Ainsworth (straddling present-day 73rd Avenue on the west side of State Road 51). There Christ Sr. noticed in the snow some rabbit tracks that led to a brush pile. He called to Charles to stop the sleigh — one last rabbit! — and he took up his ferrets and hopped out. Christie jumped out too, saying: "I'll get ready and if father misses him, I'll catch him on the run." He reached into the sleigh and grabbed a shotgun and a couple of shells to load it. He didn't know it was already loaded.

Somehow, as Christie handled the shotgun, it went off. Four feet ahead of him, Christ Sr. caught the full load of 400 shot in the back. He collapsed on the snowy ground.

His companions carried him into Ed Mankey's house and laid him in a bed. As had happened two days earlier, they called Dr. C.C. Brink of Hobart to the scene, and once again the doctor found a patient beyond his help. The shotgun blast had struck Christ Sr. just above the hip, severing the spinal cord and leaving a gaping wound in his back. There was nothing to do now but try to relieve his pain, send for his wife and the rest of his children … and then wait.

"He was conscious to the end," the Gazette said, "and talked freely to his wife and children and other relatives…. Realizing that it was purely an accident, he expressed a desire that no blame be placed upon his son. The young man is grieved beyond expression."

About 6:40 p.m., Christ Sr.'s suffering ended. Christie's had just begun.

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Christ Springman, Sr.'s grave marker in Hobart Cemetery.

♦ "Meets Shocking Death." Hobart Gazette 22 Dec. 1916.
♦ "Second Tragedy Within a Week in This Vicinity." Hobart News 21 Dec. 1916.

Friday, December 10, 2010

How Could This Have Happened?

The modern view toward the east as you approach the Ainsworth crossing from the north, just after 3 o'clock on a December afternoon. Trees that now line the tracks were not there in 1916. The small depot stood approximately even with that yellow left-curve warning sign, but closer to the tracks.
(Click on image to enlarge)

Ninety-four years later, a note of perplexity still echoes in the newspaper accounts of the accident — how could this have happened? Eastward of the Grand Trunk crossing at Ainsworth, the track ran straight and level for almost a mile, through open, treeless fields. With no obstruction to the view other than a small depot set well back from the road, anyone approaching the tracks from the north on the Hobart-Ainsworth road (State Road 51) could see a westbound train well before it reached the crossing. Especially on a clear afternoon.

And yet on the afternoon of December 12, 1916, a southbound Ford automobile drove onto the tracks just as a speeding westbound train entered the crossing. The resulting collision killed two young men. And no one had been near enough, had seen enough to understand why it had happened. "The exact cause leading to the accident will never be known," the Gazette said, "and conditions that might have caused it are problematical. Results are sufficiently horrifying."

The two young men killed were Philip Waldeck, 20, and Herbert Peterson, 17. It was Herbert's Ford, and he had been at the wheel. He was the eldest son of Frank and Mabel Peterson, who lived and farmed south of Ainsworth — one of their five children, and a grandson of William Smith. Philip, as we know, was the only child of William and Augusta Waldeck of Deep River.

Herbert and Philip had driven up to Hobart to do some shopping that day. They started home around 3:00, going south on State Road 51. The Grand Trunk express train due through Ainsworth at 2:15 was running about an hour late, and, according to some witnesses, speeding to make up for lost time.

Someone who saw the accident from a distance said that Herbert's Ford was moving south on State Road 51 at a leisurely enough pace, but seemed to speed up as it approached the Grand Trunk tracks. At the same time, the train was flying toward the crossing. When they met, the train caught the car squarely in the middle and carried it about a hundred feet before it fell away to the side. The train took a mile to stop. Dr. C.C. Brink of Hobart was sent for, but there was nothing he could do. Both young men had been killed instantly.

There was nothing anyone else could do, either, but look at each other and helplessly ask: How could this have happened? The theory that the boys had tried to beat the train was supported by the witness who thought Herbert had sped up near the crossing. On the other hand, they would not have been expecting a train — there was none scheduled at that time. A moment's lapse of attention, maybe, or of judgment … just a moment's lapse, but it cost the Peterson family dearly, and it cost the Waldecks their all.

The double funeral was held in the Hobart High School auditorium the afternoon of Friday, December 15. Crowds of mourners filed in, family and friends, young and old, faculty and students. Herbert had attended Hobart High until the middle of his junior year; Philip had graduated the previous spring, and had been planning to attend an alumni party that evening. The girls' quartet from his graduating class sang at the funeral service. The pallbearers were all classmates; among Herbert's was Will Wollenberg, Jr., and among Philip's, Ed Wollenberg and another Ainsworth-area boy, Will Buchfuehrer.

Philip and Herbert were laid to rest in adjacent rows in Crown Hill Cemetery.

(Click on images to enlarge)


Three months before his death, Herbert Peterson had bought a life insurance policy through John A. McDaniel, local agent for Farmers' National of Indiana. The policy carried a double-indemnity clause in case of accident.

♦ "Card of Thanks." Hobart Gazette 22 Dec. 1916.
♦ "Funeral of Herbert Peterson and Philip Waldeck Largely Attended." Hobart News 21 Dec. 1916.
♦ "Herbert Peterson and Philip Waldeck Instantly Killed." Hobart News 14 Dec. 1916.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 15 Dec. 1916.
♦ "Train Kills Two Young Men." Hobart Gazette 15 Dec. 1916.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hobart High School Class of 1912: Bliss Shearer

Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Bliss did indeed become a teacher — by December 1913, she was teaching in a Ross Township school. We know this because early that month she and Delbert* Fisher (another Ross Township teacher) were on their way to their school, riding a motorcycle in a heavy fog, when they collided with a car driven by Fred Bowman of Merrillville. None of them was seriously hurt, but the motorcycle was smashed up so badly as to be undriveable. William Wollenberg gave the two bruised but undaunted teachers a ride to their school.

Bliss' teaching probably ended in the summer of 1915 with her marriage to Paul Emery.

♦    ♦    ♦

That same morning fog of December 5, 1913, caused a collision on the Grand Trunk tracks. The four men of the Ainsworth section gang were on a handcar on the south tracks, waiting for a westbound freight train to pass. Between the blinding fog and the roar of the passing train, they did not realize that an eastbound freight was bearing down on them. When the engine suddenly loomed up out of the fog, the men could only make a desperate leap to the side. All four escaped with their lives.

*This may be a misprint for "Delmer."

♦ "Fog Accidents." Hobart Gazette 12 Dec. 1913.
♦ Hobart High School Aurora yearbook, 1912.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Don't Know (Random Pointless Photo)


I don't know what it is, I don't know why it's in the river bottom, I don't know who put it there, I don't know how they got it down there, since it looks pretty heavy … but nonetheless I felt compelled to photograph it.

Found in the Deep River bottom north of Big Maple Lake.

Maybe something to store barrels on their sides? Some kind of feed trough for livestock?

The Athletic Will Jr.

Will Wollenberg, Jr.'s talents were not confined to drama and music — he was also an athlete. During the 1915-16 school year, he was on the Hobart High basketball and track teams.

12-8-2010 Basketball team 1916
(Click on image to enlarge. Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.)
The Hobart High School basketball team. Will Wollenberg, Jr., is at center, with the ball at his feet. (In front of him is Philip Waldeck.)

12-8-2010 Track team 1916
(Click on image to enlarge. Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.)
The Hobart High School track team. Once again, Will is at center. Is that a discus in his hand?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Time Gets Away From You (Random Pointless Photo)

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This honeysuckle bush hasn't gotten around to dropping its leaves yet when suddenly it finds itself covered in snow. And it probably hasn't even started its Christmas shopping.

Hobart High School Class of 1911: Emma Gruel

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All images in this post courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

I have to go back in time and post a few things I would have posted long ago if only I'd been better organized.

Here is Emma Gruel, whom we know best as a nurse in Germany. Even as a high school senior, she already planned for a nursing career. From the caption above, and the "Class Notes" below, it seems that her outstanding characteristic was her cool, calm disposition.

"Class Notes" sketch each 1911 senior.

Source: Hobart High School Aurora yearbook, 1911.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Buckthorn Lacework (Random Pointless Photo)

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I hate buckthorn trees but I love the crazy lacework of their many-twigged branches in the snow.

Aerial View of Hobart Circa 1917 (From the West)

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Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Back in September when I posted a circa-1917 view of Hobart taken from the water tower, I said we'd be hearing more of the icehouse visible in the background of that photo.

I said that because I have this image which looks as if it had been taken from the roof of the icehouse. Here we're on the west bank of the Deep River and Lake George, with Third Street crossing the river at right (and you can see the streetcar tracks running alongside the road).

I have "1919" in my notes for this, but I have to question whether that's correct because the Strattan building still seems to have its curtain loft, which was dismantled in (I believe) the summer of 1917.

Some distance to the right of the Strattan building and just before the trees completely take over, you can see a steeple which I think belongs to the M.E. Church. It looks more like the modern structure than the original one. If I'm right about that, this photo must have been taken after the autumn of 1916, when the modern church was built.

On the left of the photo you can see the white corner bay window of the building that I couldn't believe existed on the corner of Main and Second. Now I believe.

The biggest building to the left of Third Street is, of course, the Hobart House.

♦ "Curtain Loft of Strattan Building Being Torn Down." Hobart News 28 June 1917.
♦ "M.E. Church Will Lay Cornerstone Saturday." Hobart News 17 Aug. 1916.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Leaf Under Ice (Random Pointless Photo)

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Oh, well. I guess you sort of had to be there.

Oscar the Grouch At It Again

The Hobart town board, in a meeting the second week of December 1916, considered the bills that had been presented to it by various parties for payment. Most of them were routine and unremarkable, but two stood out, and they were both from our friend Oscar W. Carlson. According to the Gazette, "One for $15 was for rent of parts of lots 12 and 13 (lying in part of Linda street) for street purposes, and the other was for $14.70 for brick that the town ordered moved from the street a year or so ago."

Evidently Oscar was looking for another fight over Linda Street.

Oscar's bills "were objected to," said the Gazette — I'll bet they were — and the board declined to pay them.

♦    ♦    ♦

I have found a 1944 map at the Hobart Historical Society Museum that shows lot 12 on Linda Street lying north of Cleveland Street and south of Home. (It doesn't show lot 13 at all.) Whether 1944 information applies to 1916 is another question.

Sources: "Town Board Doings." Hobart Gazette 15 Dec. 1916.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thieves at Work in Ainsworth

12-4-2010 Otto Gruel Reward

Otto Gruel was mad. When thieves raided his chicken coops the night of Saturday, November 18, 1916, it was their second visit. Between the two raids on his farm east of Ainsworth, he had lost a hundred valuable chickens, valuable enough to prompt this offer of a $50 reward.

Within a couple of days, he had plenty of company in being mad. Late Monday evening, on the Price farm west of Ainsworth, Carrie Price noticed a flashlight moving around the two chicken coops behind the house. She called to the dog, and then to her husband, Fremont, but by the time he came to investigate, the thieves had disappeared along with a couple dozen fine young chickens.

The next morning, on the Mike Foreman farm just west of Ainsworth, the family discovered that nocturnal visitors had made off with two sheep from the barn and a quarter of beef from the granary.

"Farmers are up in arms," said the Gazette. I expect there were many loaded shotguns and watchful nights around Ainsworth for some time afterward.

♦ "$50 Reward." Hobart Gazette 24 Nov. 1916.
♦ "Thieves Raid Farm Premises." Hobart Gazette 24 Nov. 1916.

Here's the page where Otto's notice appeared, for those of you who like reading (almost) full pages.

12-4-2010 Chicken thieves page 1916
(Click on image to enlarge)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wild Mushrooms of Ainsworth: Weathered Chicken Mushrooms

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My mushroom guide says that chicken mushrooms can weather to white. I think that's what we've got here. If not, then I don't have a clue.

Found on a very large fallen tree in Deep River County Park.

The Wedding of Daisy Raschka

William and Carrie Raschka's eldest daughter, Daisy, was the first of their children to leave home for good. In 1916 she married John Fleck of Hobart. The wedding took place in the Raschkas' home on the evening of Tuesday, November 14.

John's sister played the wedding march from Lohengrin; his brother was best man. Lesta Raschka came home from Fort Wayne to serve as Daisy's bridesmaid. In a parlor decorated in pink and white for the occasion, the young couple said their vows and exchanged rings beneath a large model of a wedding bell.

An intimate dinner followed, with only immediate relatives (even so, 22 covers were laid). Afterward the newlyweds left for a short honeymoon in Chicago. They would return in a few days to take up residence in the Abel bungalow in Joryville, he to resume his work as an electrician in a Gary steel mill, she to run the household, and of an evening, I suppose, to play on the piano that her parents had given them as a wedding present.

Lesta returned to Fort Wayne to continue her medical treatment. She would not be back again until the Christmas holidays.

♦ "Fleck-Raschka." Hobart News 16 Nov. 1916.
♦ "Personal and Local Mention." Hobart News 16 Nov. 1916; 28 Dec. 1916.
♦ "Quietly Married." Hobart Gazette 17 Nov. 1916.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

From Palace to Jail

Lewis Barnes
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Lewis E. Barnes circa 1912. Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Calvin C. Shearer's business partner (and former Hobart Township Trustee), Lewis E. Barnes, ran for Lake County Sheriff in the autumn of 1916.

I found it rather amusing that out of Hobart's 741 votes that election day, the Prohibition Party got only three. The Socialist Party got 12.

… And Lewis Barnes got elected sheriff.

His new role would mean a couple of big changes. For one, he thought it best (or perhaps he was required) to move to Crown Point, the county seat. That meant selling his house at the corner of Main and Seventh Streets in Hobart — a "palatial home," rhapsodized the News, adding that his new residence would be an apartment in the jail building. Attorney Roscoe R. Peddicord became the palace's new owner.

And Lewis also thought it best to resign from the Barnes & Shearer partnership, the better to devote himself to his new duties, I suppose. He and Calvin ran a notice in several issues of the Gazette: "Notice is hereby given that the firm of Barnes & Shearer will be dissolved by mutual consent on Jan. 1, 1917, and that Mr. Shearer will become successor to that firm…."

Lewis' friends threw a big reception for him on the evening of December 19, 1916, in a newly built garage on Main Street. In spite of a bad snowstorm, several hundred people turned out to say goodbye to Lewis and wish him well in his new job and his new home.

♦ "Attorney Peddicord Buys Palatial Home of L.E. Barnes." Hobart News 7 Dec. 1916.
♦ "Give L.E. Barnes Big Reception." Hobart Gazette 22 Dec. 1916.
♦ "Greeting and Farewell to Sheriff Barnes." Hobart News 21 Dec. 1916.
♦ Hobart High School Aurora Yearbook, 1912.
♦ "Notice to the Public." Hobart Gazette 22 Dec. 1916.
♦ "Official Elections Returns." Hobart Gazette 10 Nov. 1916.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One House Electrified

[continued from here]

As we've seen, Hobart decided against extending its electrical service to Ainsworth in February 1916. So for the time Ainsworthites continued using kerosene lamps, washboards and hand-operated washing machines, stove-heated flatirons, and all the other old-fashioned inconveniences.

Gust Lindborg decided to take matters into his own hands with respect to his own property. In November, the News reported that Gust had "installed a Western Electric lighting system for his home, blacksmith shop and hall, which includes forty-five lights in all."

Forty-five lights! They must have shone like a beacon in that kerosene-lit countryside.

I'm not sure exactly what his lighting system consisted of. I have found a Western Electric Company catalog from 1916 advertising small systems called plants for home lighting, available in two sizes:
Plant No. 9 is large enough to light the average farm residence having 25 to 30 connected lights. Plant No. 10 will light a residence having 40 to 50 connected lights. An electric iron, a toaster stove, electric fan or similar small electrical devices can be operated from either plant.
The components of these systems were a generator, switchboard and storage battery, varying in size and capacity. I can't tell from the catalog how the generator would be powered. (The catalog can be found here but you have to download the DjVu plug-in to view it.)

This electrical system likely did not make much difference to Anna Lindborg's workload — she just had better lighting, of an evening, as she went about doing her work the old-fashioned way. I have the feeling that had Gust urged to buy her, say, an electric iron, she would have refused to lay out any of their carefully saved money on such a luxury when she could manage quite well with her old flatiron.

[To be continued]

♦ "Personal and Local Mention." Hobart News 23 Nov. 1916.
♦ Western Electric Company. 1916 Year Book. New York: Western Electric Company, Incorporated, 1916. Published electronically by Princeton Imaging, 2004.