Thursday, June 30, 2011

Asa Bullock, Jr.

Asa Bullock, Jr. 1905
(Click on image to enlarge)
Asa Bullock, Jr. in 1905, at about 13 years of age. This is the only photo I've been able to find of him.
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Here is a Bullock we haven't spoken about much yet, if at all. He was the son of Asa and Cynthia Bullock of Hobart, and hence the nephew and cousin of our Ainsworth Bullocks. In April 1918 Asa Jr. came home to Hobart for a visit:

6-30-2011 Asa Bullock 4-25-1918
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart News of April 25, 1918.

He wasn't kidding about the safety of the troopships — or, at any rate, of the one he returned on, the Leviathan. She was the largest of the American troopships, but in spite of her enormous size, she moved swiftly, and at 22 knots per hour easily outpaced the enemy. According to historian Alfred Crosby, "No U-boat could hope to send a torpedo into the Leviathan unless it was lucky enough to be right in her path." The ship had a rather interesting history.
The most amazing thing about her was that she was German, christened the Vaterland at her launching at Hamburg in 1914. She was not home when war unexpectedly broke out later that year and had to take refuge in an American port for fear of the British Navy. In 1917 the United States entered the war, seized the Vaterland, renamed her, and sent her back to Europe with cargoes of doughboys.
Originally built to hold 6,800 passengers, as a troopship she was sometimes crammed with as many as 11,000 soldiers, in addition to a crew of a couple thousand.

That overcrowding probably intensified the spread of Spanish influenza during one of her later crossings from the U.S. to France. She left New York on September 29, 1918, with between 9,000 and 10,000 army personnel aboard, plus the crew. By the time she landed in Brest, France, 3 sailors and about 76 soldiers had died of influenza or its complications. The exact number of victims is unclear, as in the chaos and exhaustion that came with raging epidemics, record-keeping always suffered. For a harrowing account of this deadly crossing, I suggest Alfred Crosby's America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918, which I have been quoting. (I used the new edition, first published in 2003 by Cambridge University Press.)

♦    ♦    ♦

But to return to Asa Jr., here are a few older articles, more or less relevant, that I happen to have on hand.

The death of his father in 1905 (with a biographical sketch of Asa Sr.):

6-30-2011 Asa Bullock Sr 9-29-1905a
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From the Hobart Gazette of Sept. 29, 1905.

6-30-2011 Asa Bullock Sr 9-29-1905b

The suicide of his wife:

6-30-2011 Susie Bullock suicide
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From the Hobart News of Sept. 12, 1912. They had been married on August 24, 1912 according the to Indiana Marriage Collection.

The wireless telegraphy station that he and his brother set up on the Bullock farm:

6-30-2011 Wireless 1913
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart News of Nov. 6, 1913 (in case you couldn't tell).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Wartime Con Game

A social column in the Hobart News of April 25, 1918, included a little item warning of a scam run on soldiers' parents and loved ones:
Parents of soldiers in camps are warned by the War Department of a swindle which has been successfully operated in various camps. A telegram is sent informing that the soldier has a furlough, and requesting funds by wire to come home, waiving identification. The rest is a matter of detail. Parents and friends should be warned of this game and of the similar one where the telegraphic request is to mail money to the soldier care general delivery.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hobart's First Volunteer Fire Department

Fire Department group shot
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Front row, left to right: Fred Rose, Sr.; Alwin Wild
Second row: Frank MacPherson, Fred Werner, Dick Davis, Mike Fleck, Herman Clausen, William Pyatt, George Maybaum, Fred Maybaum, Alfred Johnson
Third row: Gust Busse, A.D. Buchanan, Herman Tabbert, William Jahnke, Ed Batterman, Fred Englebreth, A.J. Swanson, Frank Scharbach

Found an original of the 1895 group shot. Some anonymous hand has written "1891" on this.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Wild Grasses of Ainsworth: Timothy

(Click on images to enlarge)

This grass is often cultivated as fodder for livestock. According to Wikipedia:
Timothy-grass was unintentionally introduced to North America by early settlers, and was first described in 1711 by John Hurd from plants growing in New Hampshire. Hurd named the grass "hurd grass" but a farmer named Timothy Hanson began to promote cultivation of it as a hay about 1720, and the grass has been known by its present name since then. Timothy has now become naturalized throughout most of the US and Canada.
This inflorescence looks to me as if it's gone to seed:

Timothy inflorescence

Back to the Circus

Ellsworth "Kippy" Humes* left Louisville and its Gaiety in March 1918 to come to Hobart for a visit with the folks. He had already signed up for the upcoming season of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. He would be traveling with the advance advertising cars due to leave West Baden, Indiana around mid-April.

It appears his number came up in the draft; on the 22nd he presented himself for examination, but due to poor health ("rheumatism and heart trouble" as well as a slight build) he was exempted from service.

That left him with a couple of weeks' vacation to spend in Hobart. Being skilled at hand-lettering with a brush, he spent some time decorating the windows of several of Hobart's businesses — we don't know which ones.

On April 18, he left for Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was to join the Hagenbeck-Wallace's advertising car No. 2.

*Whose brother, Kenneth, lost a couple fingers on the Walter Blachly farm near AINSWORTH — so there!

Sources: "Local and Personal." Hobart News 14 Mar. 1918; 28 Mar. 1918; 18 Apr. 1918.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wild Mushrooms of Ainsworth: Parasol

Parasol with book
(Click on images to enlarge)

Lepiota procera. This monster is in my own backyard. My mushroom book is about 7.5" tall; this Parasol's cap is a good 8" in diameter.

Concerning edibility, my book says, "Choice, with caution." I think the "caution" part comes in because it can be confused with poisonous species. In fact, I first mistakenly identified it as Green-spored Lepiota, which is poisonous.

You can move the ring around its stalk. In case you didn't know, such rings are remnants of a "veil" that covered either the immature mushroom or the immature gills, and then ruptured as the mushroom expanded. Hence, in looking to identify this thing, I went to the "Veiled Mushrooms with Free Gills" section. (Trust me, if you lie down on the ground and look at the underside of this thing, the gills don't seem to attach to the stalk.)


♦    ♦    ♦

Thanks to the efforts of a volunteer at the Merrillville-Ross Township Historical Society, I've been able to include Ross Township as it appeared in the 1908 Plat Map in the "Land Ownership" page (over there in the sidebar). I hope eventually to be able to get an image of Hobart Township as well.

In other housekeeping news, I finally finished backing up all my images — I never suspected I had some 1,400 images associated with this blog! Anyway, now Photobucket can kick the bucket, so long as Flickr stays up. If I'd been thinking, I'd have put them all on a flash drive … but I wasn't thinking. That's typical, I'm afraid.

Fire Department Banquet, 1914

FD Banquet 1914
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

First row left, front to back: Fred Scharbach, Dan Kraft, Louis Wischman, Emil Scharbach, Fred Maybaum
Second row: Ed Keilman, George Maybaum, Mike Fleck, Sherman Henderson, Frank Beltzhoover, Frank Johnson
Third row: Barney Scharbach, Emil Hasse, Lewis Barnes, Fred Kaska, William Newman, Charlie Kietzman.
Fourth row: George Tabbert, Martin Swanson, Calvin Scholler, Eugene Butler, Jake Ittel.
Fifth row: A.J. Smith, William Scharbach, Alwin Wild, William Jahnke, Fred Rose, Sr., Robert Scholler.

Found an original of the banquet photo that was reproduced in the 50th anniversary program that Swooz sent in. I thought I'd scan the original so that you can see the details a little more clearly.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: White Avens

White Avens
(Click on images to enlarge)

Geum canadense. Quite a few of these grow along the EJ&E trail east of S.R. 51, which is where I first identified this — but the mosquitoes were devouring me and Maya both and I didn't feel like taking the time to photograph such an unimpressive flower. Then I got home and found this one blooming in my front yard.

The only remotely interesting things I can find about this genus comes from Jack Sanders. He explains the common names for it — bennet, way bennet and herb-bennet:
This is a corruption of either Herba benedicta ("blessed herb") or "St. Benedict's herb." The latter was a term applied to several plants used as antidotes. According to legend, the name comes from St. Benedict, who founded the Benedictine order of monks. A fellow monk once gave a cup of poisoned wine to St. Benedict, but as the saint blessed the wine, the poison — likened to a devil — flew out of it with such power that the cup disintegrated, thus disclosing the murder plot.
And he cites a medieval health manual which stated that if you keep a root of this plant in your house, Satan can do nothing there, and if you carry it about your person, "no venomous beast can harm [you], wherefore it is blessed before all other herbs."

White Avens blossom

Used Coffins for Sale! (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

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

Image from the glass-plate negative collection at the museum. This young fellow and the location are both unidentified — to my great grief, because I would really like to know what is going on here. Why is he sitting on coffins? More importantly, why do those coffins appear the worse for wear? The furthest one in back, for example, seems to have lost its lid to corrosion.

I hope these weren't dug up out of the ground. Maybe they were just left out in the weather too long. That could be, right? Nobody died for a long, long time — for years — and the coffins just sat out there, unused and weathering. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wild Grasses of Ainsworth: Deer-Tongue Grass

Deer-Tongue Grass
(Click on images to enlarge)

A hairy leaf sheath and an inflorescence consisting of crooked branches topped by flowers that look like tiny beads and never open up to look like anything you'd actually call a flower (here you can find a photo of a "blossom").

Scientific name: Panicum clandestinum. Found in my field.

According to the Ohio State University, this grass got its common name because its leaves are said to resemble a deer's tongue. I've never seen a deer's tongue, so I can't say.

Deer-Tongue Grass inflorescence

"Flyer Seriously Injured"

Such was the alarming news that reached the farmhouse of George and Anna Severance on the evening of March 6, 1918, sent from the training camp in Charlotte, North Carolina, where their son, the newly married Sergeant George Severance, Jr., was a flight instructor. (The newspapers haven't named the camp where George Jr. was stationed, but I'm guessing it was Camp Greene.)

Somehow, George's plane had crashed, and now he was in the army hospital in "very serious" condition.

The Hobart newspapers followed up this story with two months of silence.

Finally, early in May, the Gazette off-handedly mentioned that Alberta Severance (Mrs. George Jr.) had come to Hobart, to live with her parents-in-law west of town. As for George Jr., he had just landed safely somewhere overseas, as he told his wife in a letter dated April 30, and he was "pleased with the singular sights and strange conditions" he found there.

♦ "Flyer Seriously Injured." Hobart Gazette 8 Mar. 1918.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 10 May 1918; 7 June 1918.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

American Persimmon Blossom
(Random Pointless Photo)

American Persimmon blossom
(Click on image to enlarge)

This is a blossom on one of my American Persimmon trees. I have four such trees. I planted them 10 or 15 years ago because I had fond childhood memories of eating wild persimmons on autumn trips to visit relatives down in southern Missouri. In all those years since I planted them, they have neither bloomed nor borne fruit. A few days ago I went to look at them to figure out whether I'd need my chainsaw to take the useless things down … and found one of them in full bloom.

Now that I think about it, it may have bloomed before and I simply didn't notice it because the blossoms are so dull in color, and they hang down from the bottom of the branch under drooping leaves, like Solomon's seal blossoms. And the ants love them, too.

None of the other persimmon trees have a single blossom on them. And I'm not sure if this variety is self-fertile, so even the blooming one may not bear fruit. But they will be spared another year, anyway.

Tires for Sale! (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

Motorcycle Rider with Tires
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

An image from the boxes of glass-plate negatives at the museum. This unidentified fellow appears very happy to be sitting atop his motorcycle, which is strung all over with motorcycle tires, probably for the purpose of selling them (unless he's just completely insane). I showed this photo to an antique-car enthusiast, who pointed out that the motorcycle has a carbide headlamp, and I understand those were commonly used only for the first 10 or 15 years of the 20th century.

Our rider ruined the picture by raising his right hand just as the camera's shutter opened, perhaps to adjust his leather helmet. So his right arm is lost to posterity, but I expect it was clad in the same awesome leather glove as his left.

Behind him are what looks like a toolshed and workbench, in the side yard of the house. And the thickest tree in the right side of the picture seems to have a sign nailed to it, or just in front of it, facing the street beyond. Perhaps he or someone else was doing business in some way at this house.

The location is unidentified, and I don't recognize it. Though the far distance is out of focus, I think I see a few buildings on high ground, one of them with a tall chimney or steeple, but then again that may be my mind imposing order on randomness.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Least Hop Clover

Least Hop Clover
(Click on image to enlarge)

The blossoms are so little and the plant so low-growing that I've overlooked it all this time, though it's abundant. This photo is from the Big Maple Lake area, but Least Hop Clover grows all along Ainsworth Road and in my own lawn.

Carl Boldt in 1918

Carl Boldt, 1918.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Carl was the son of William and Margaret Mary Boldt, and the brother of John, whose letter from France we've previously seen. I don't know exactly where Carl was stationed during the war.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Wild Leek

Wild Leek blossoms
(Click on image to enlarge)

Now it begins to make sense to me. I remember earlier in the spring noticing smooth green leaves on the forest floor, and wondering what sort of blossom would eventually adorn them. Later I go back to the woods and look in vain for those smooth green leaves, but find these green onion-looking stalks; when their tops finally blossom, I identify them as Wild Leeks. Then a little Googling turns up images of those leaves I saw earlier. The leaves die away before the blossoming starts.

Way to fake me out, Wild Leek.

Also known as Wild Garlic, Wild Onion and Ramp, among other things; found in Deep River County Park.

Snipe Hunting

This isn't the first reference I've found to "snipe hunting," but I didn't copy the earlier one(s). I didn't realize at first that it was such an enduring tradition.

6-21-2011 Snipe Hunting 1918
(Click on image to enlarge)

If it isn't entirely clear from the article, the game of "snipe hunting" was played by local men on some innocent out-of-towner who'd never heard of it. Locals tell Out-of-Towner that snipe are plentiful in the woods around here, but they can be hunted only at night. If Out-of-Towner is willing to go snipe-hunting, Locals take him out in the woods, give him a lantern and a sack, tell him to hold the sack open, they will go up the snipe paths and drive the snipe back toward him. All he has to do is stand there and the snipe will run right into the open sack. Locals then depart through the woods, circle around, go back to town to have a drink and congratulate themselves on their cleverness. Out-of-Towner is left in the woods holding the bag. Eventually he realizes he's been had, and finds his way back to town, mad or amused, as the case may be.

Repeat as often as possible.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Common Flax

Common Flax plant
(Click on images to enlarge)

All the forests and fields I've roamed over, all the roadsides and tracksides, and this one lonely plant is the only specimen of Common Flax I've ever found. And it won't even bloom properly.

Also known as linseed, this plant is the source of linseed oil. The seeds and their sprouts are edible. The stalks have been used to produce linen since prehistoric times. Per Wikipedia: "Flax fiber is extracted from the bast or skin of the stem of the flax plant. Flax fiber is soft, lustrous and flexible; bundles of fiber have the appearance of blonde hair, hence the description 'flaxen.'" As in The Girl with the Flaxen Hair.

Pretty blue blossoms (even if I can't catch them fully open).

Common Flax blossom

In silhouette:

Common Flax silhouette

*sigh* Get out of the way, Maya!


Gloria and BW Strattan
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

This is Benjamin W. Strattan and his trotting horse, Gloria. Notes on the back of the photo say that it was taken between 1913 and 1920. Per the 1910 Census, that would make Benjamin between 78 and 85 years old, as he was born about 1835. I don't know when Gloria was born.

They are standing on Main Street in front of the Strattan building, which he owned. Looks as if Benjamin was proud of both the building and the horse.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wild Grasses of Ainsworth: Quack Grass

Quack Grass
(Click on image to enlarge)

Speaking of wheat, Lauren Brown says that "perhaps Wheat as we know it developed from a natural hybrid with a species" of this family of grasses.

Fairly low-growing, with a flat inflorescence that hugs the stem. Also known as Witch Grass and Couch Grass; this specimen found growing along Ainsworth Road.

Wheatlesser Still

In the spring of 1918 the wheat shortage was growing so acute that even the Spartan regimen advanced by the U.S. Food Administration was no longer sufficient. Indiana's federal food administrator, Dr. H.E. Barnard, sent a telegram to all county food administrators in the state asking them to promote a new wheatless way of life:
I am today asking the people of Indiana to go on a strictly wheatless diet. I ask them to refrain from the use of wheat flour and other wheat products until the next harvest. I ask them, because I know we have lived on corn, and can do so again. I know that our wheat situation is even more portentious [sic] than Hindenburg's army in Picardy. I know, as Hoover points out, that this is the most critical hour in our national history since Gettysburg. Indiana patriots do not need a command. They have risen to every patriotic request.
In compliance with Dr. Barnard's request to give this new policy the greatest possible publicity, Lake County's C.A. Westberg passed along the contents of the telegram to newspapers. Both Hobart papers reprinted it.

♦    ♦    ♦

The scarcity and high price of cattle feed and the narrow margin of profit on the sale of milk were causing local dairy farmers to cull their herds; they simply could not afford to feed dairy cows that did not produce a good volume of milk. Poor producers were sold for meat. A few farmers gave up on the dairy business and sold their entire herds.

The effect was an overall reduction in the amount of milk produced. But the population of Chicago was as thirsty for milk as ever. The changing relation of supply and demand led one Valparaiso milk producers' association official to say that "any farmer who admits a Chicago inspector to his barns now is a 'sucker.'" According to this unnamed official, dealers in Chicago would take any kind of milk they could get, and no one was in any position to enforce strict sanitary standards. Fastidiousness was a luxury of peacetime.

6-19-2011 Cows Will Win the War
(Click on image to enlarge)
"Cows will win the war," according to this "One-Minute Food Talk" from the Hobart Gazette of August 9, 1918.

♦ "'Cut Out' Use of Wheat Flour Is Dr. Barnard's Appeal." Hobart News 4 Apr. 1918.
♦ "Dairymen Weeding Out Poorer Milkers From Their Herds." Hobart News 14 Mar. 1918.
♦ "Use No Wheat." Hobart Gazette 5 Apr. 1918.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hobart Then and Now: Fourth Street, Town Hall

Circa 1965 and 2011.

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

The top image is undated. I'm just guessing circa 1965 based on the cars, and as I've said before, I don't know anything about cars.

I think the old town hall sat closer to Fourth Street and slightly further west than the current one. Anybody who actually experienced the old town is invited to comment!

Someone told me that building in the background might have been a jail.

♦    ♦    ♦

[update] Some additional information, thanks to Bonnie, from a 1979 article compiled by the Hobart Historical Society and entitled, "Downtown Hobart": "Sherman Henderson, who became Hobart City's first mayor, built a home and ice cream factory here. Hobart bought the building for a city hall, jail and fire-fighters' office in 1925."

Bonnie adds: "I remember it but not very well. The far west end of the building was the license bureau and the jail was in the back of the building behind the police department. My husband remembers a car dealership or garage just to the east of the building. I think your current picture is accurate as far as placement of the building is concerned. I don't know what was in the smaller section on the east."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wild Grasses of Ainsworth: Meadow Fescue

Meadow Fescue
(Click on image to enlarge)

I think this is Meadow Fescue, although it looks so much like Red Fescue that I don't know how anyone ever figured out they weren't the same thing.

I like the weird grasses like Squirrel Tail and Foxtail, but when it comes to these kinds of grasses, my heart just isn't in it. They all look the same — it's so frustrating! It makes me want to get out my heavy-duty mower and make the whole problem disappear.

Thought and Speech in Wartime

6-17-2011 Morals Committee 1918
(Click on image to enlarge)

Once again John Dorman came forward in support the civilian war effort, this time to head up the "morals" auxiliary of the Lake County Council of Defense. The goals of the morals committee sound laudable, do they not? — "to cultivate patriotic sentiment throughout the county by means of the pulpit, the press, the schools and by patriotic meetings, to prevent and correct juvenile delinquency and promote child welfare, to cultivate public sentiment in favor of law enforcement and in favor of the prosecution of violators of the law" — so why do they send chills up my spine? I suppose it's because (once again, as we did last October) we're hearing what could be a rehearsal of a Klan sales pitch. And also because I have a sneaking suspicion that by "patriotic sentiment" they meant unquestioning acceptance of the aims and acts of the U.S. government, and of the status quo in general … but that's just a gut feeling, not based on evidence.

The next week, this item came out of Valparaiso:
Outspoken disloyalty in either the Schelling Music hall or the Memorial theater in Valparaiso will not be tolerated hereafter, is the edict of manager E.J. Salisbury, who says anyone hearing remarks of this nature is requested to report the offender, who will be taken to the stage and forced to apologize to the audience, else he will be thrown out bodily into the hands of the policemen.
Of course, a private individual has the right to enforce whatever standards of behavior he wants in a private establishment. That doesn't stop this from being creepy. What constituted "outspoken disloyalty," I wonder? — once again, I have only my suspicions, and I suspect it included any suggestion that the U.S. should have stayed out of the European war.

I want to guard against the tendency to judge these people too harshly, since it's very easy for me to sit here safely in 2011, with the luxury of viewing the war as history. I know how soon the war would end and which side was going to win; they didn't. They were barely a year into a war had now gone on nearly four years, at a horrific cost. Their loved ones were in it, or training for it. Their houses were cold and their meals were skimpy. Their money was in Liberty Bonds. They didn't know the rumors were just rumors. And the reality, if they knew it, was scary enough. By the spring of 1918, Russia's internal collapse had ended the fighting on the Eastern Front, freeing up German troops to reinforce the Western Front. Germany was now effectively ruled by a military dictatorship with a single-minded devotion to the war. It still had capable fighters and terrible weapons of destruction on its side.

So these people at home were worried — scared, even; and they had reason. And people who are scared do things that people who are secure should be careful about judging them for.

♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 4 Apr. 1918.
♦ Meyer, G.J. A World Undone: The Story of the Great War 1914 to 1918. New York: Bantam Dell, 2007.
♦ "Organization Formed to Work With County Council of Defense." Hobart News 28 Mar. 1918.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wild Grasses of Ainsworth: Squirrel Tail Grass

Squirrel Tail Grass
(Click on image to enlarge)

We all know this stuff.

It looks more like a horse's tail to me, and that is what I shall tell the wild grass experts when they come around asking me if I think this grass has been properly named.

Found growing beside Ainsworth Road.

Hobart Then and Now: Streetcar Barn

Circa 1918 and 2011.

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

Streetcar barn on Third Street, on the west side of the Deep River. Sorry about the poor quality of the old photo, but that's all I could get.

You can just make out a streetcar inside the left bay. (I don't know what that is in the right bay.) So I guess this is where the streetcars were stored when they weren't running.

I'm told that during the 1930s, robbers would sometimes lie in wait at the barn and rob the conductor when he brought the car in after the last run of the night. They were called the "car barn bandits."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Lance-leaved Coreopsis

Lance-leaved coreopsis blossom
(Click on images to enlarge)

Why, hello there, sunshine!

The distinguishing characteristic of this flower is the lobes at the end of each petal.

The name Coreopsis comes from Greek and means "bedbug appearance" — because supposedly the seeds of these flowers look like bedbugs.

Here are the lance-shaped leaves:

Lance-leaved Coreopsis leaves

♦    ♦    ♦

Went for a walk in a woods today. Found numerous tiny, scarlet mushrooms on the forest floor. Spent several minutes paging through my mushroom book while billions of mosquitoes attacked me. Could not identify the mushrooms. Gave up in disgust.

It will be a while before I repeat that experience.

The Mighty Rabbit-Hunter

Another two from the collection of glass-plate negatives. This is identified as Eric Carlson. I can believe it — he's got his daddy's nose.

img943 Eric Carlson No. 33
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

I wonder if the Carlson family had rabbit stew for supper that day.

Here he is on another day, about to set out on another hunt.

img944 Eric Carlson No. 46

The images are undated, of course, but Eric looks to be maybe in his late teens or early twenties. He was born in 1888 per the 1900 Census.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Carrion Flower

Carrion flower blossoms
(Click on images to enlarge)

"Carrion flower" is a name applied to several different flowers that smell like decaying flesh. This is Smilax herbacea and it has been growing right here in my field for years. The flowers are green; those cream-colored things are just the stamens.

I did smell the blossoms — I can't say that decaying flesh was what immediately came to mind, but they didn't smell particularly nice. Supposedly the foul scent lures flies and scavenging beetles, which are good for pollinating.

Here's the vine itself, bearing tendrils and arching over the other wildflowers and grasses in its usual way.

Carrion flower vine

Goodbye, S.J.!

I'm afraid our man of mystery will have to remain a mystery, for in the spring of 1918 S.J. Craig made plans to take his agricultural expertise to greener pastures.

In March, he sold the farm along the Lincoln Highway that he had bought from May Blachly just the previous September. Emil Wojahn of Chicago was the buyer. (I don't know what, if any, relation this Emil was to all the other Wojahns around Ainsworth.)

In April came the announcement that S.J. was leaving altogether — and in triumph, for he had landed a job as agricultural agent for Whiteside County, Illinois, at a salary of $4,000 per year, $1,000 higher than Lake County had paid him. The Crown Point Star alleged that Whiteside County farmers had been "pulling the wires to secure the services of Mr. Craig" because the quality of his work in Lake County had earned him a reputation that reached even to the far side of Illinois. The "great majority" of Lake County farmers, according to the Star, were "sorry to hear of his departure."

S.J. would leave Indiana at the beginning of May (perhaps thumbing his nose in the direction of Purdue University on his way out).

I suppose the news came as a relief to Virgil Mood. His status had been uncertain for the past couple of months, since apparently he had been anointed county agent by Purdue but moved about in the guise of "Emergency Demonstration Agent" while S.J. continued to play the role of county agent by popular demand. The Lake County Times was less than effusive in welcoming its new agricultural overlord:
The agricultural interest in the county deeply deplore the recent unpleasantness which Mr. Craig's removal has caused and they hope under the efficient dictatorship of Virgil Mood Lake county farming industries will go over the top as usual.

♦ "County Agent Craig Leaves May 1st." Crown Point News (reprinted in Hobart Gazette 26 Apr. 1918).
♦ "Crown Point News." The Lake County Times 4 Apr. 1918.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 28 Mar. 1918.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Field Mustard

Field Mustard blossoms
(Click on images to enlarge)

At first I thought this was Yellow Cress. They are both in the mustard family.

Bright yellow, four-petaled blossoms on a leafless stem — you have to go down toward the lower part of the stem to find the broad, irregularly-toothed leaves.

Field Mustard leaves

Hobart Then and Now: Linda and 8th Streets, SW Corner

1909 and 2011

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

There's the Jory house again.

Nice sidewalk there, for 1909.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Lesser Stitchwort

(Click on images to enlarge)

Small white flowers on long, spindly stems. Each flower has five petals, but each petal is so deeply cleft that at first I thought there were 10 of them.

The leaves are narrow, lance-shaped, entire; set opposite each other on the stem.


Found next to my lawn.

Oscar W. Carlson and the Carlson House

One of my favorite things to do at either of the museums I frequent is to snoop around randomly, especially among stuff that looks as if it doesn't get snooped around in very often. A few weeks ago I snooped my way to a couple of small boxes of old glass-plate negatives that had been overlooked during the museum's photo-scanning project. So my next three visits were devoted to figuring out how to use the transparent media adapter on the museum's scanner, and then (carefully) scanning all the glass plates. Perhaps the thrill of seeing those dim, ghostly old negatives turn into vibrant positives has made me overestimate their merit, but I'm very fond of these particular images and I intend to post them all in the weeks to come.

The majority of them were not identified, and perhaps if I post them someone will recognize them. One I recognized from a developed photo on display in the museum: the Old Maids' Basket Ball team — but in the negative, you can see the team members' (stockinged) legs! The display identifies that photo as being from 1907, and I judge all the negatives to be from roughly that time, give or take maybe ten years.

A few were identified, with varying precision, by notes on the envelopes holding the negatives. The image below was identified as "O.W. Carlson." Now, who could that be but our very own Oscar the Grouch — Oscar W. Carlson?

O W Carlson    No. 34
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

That insignia on his cap is illegible — the photographer got it out of focus. In 1900 he gave his occupation as farmer; in 1910, watchman in a steel mill; in 1920, carpenter; in 1930, justice of the peace in the city court (!). Perhaps here we've caught him in his watchman era, or perhaps we've glimpsed some other job (railroad or streetcar conductor?) he held between censuses.

And the image below is identified as the Carlson house. I've never been clear on whether Oscar ever actually lived on Linda Street or only claimed to own part of it. The 1910 Census shows him living on Michigan Avenue.

Carlson Residence    No. 40
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

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I've just spent the better part of two days backing up the text of my blog all the way back to the beginning. I can't believe I was so careless when I started this thing! Anyway, now if Blogger suffers some kind of catastrophe, I could conceivably reconstruct this blog for the sake of posterity. Next on the to-do list is to back up all my images, so that Photobucket can have all the catastrophes it wants.