Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wild Mushrooms of Ainsworth: Fawn Mushroom

Found this out by the tomato garden. Its cap was about 2" in diameter. Nothing particularly interesting about it.

Fawn Mushroom top
Fawn Mushroom side
Fawn Mushroom underside
(Click on images to enlarge)

Don't Fence Me In (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

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

Unidentified friends or relatives, gathered under a shade tree on a summer's day. The focal point of their pose is that little book held by the women at center.

What's interesting is the transparent image haloed around her head. It may be the actual background of this scene; if you look at the far right, amidst all the overexposed glare you can make out the lines of a plank fence, which seems to continue in the superimposed image. A fence, then a road beyond it, and over the shoulder of the man standing at left, a utility pole with at least four crossbars.

But how did it all get superimposed like that? — just a double exposure? Maybe the camera's being in the shade caused the intense glare of the sun beyond to interact with the camera's curved lens somehow, to pick up and transpose part of the background. I don't know.

The center lady's miniature hat is quite unusual. It may be a joke.

♦    ♦    ♦

[Update — 5/4/2012]

Thanks to CK Melin, we have IDs on two of these people: Andrew Melin is seated at left, and standing in back (on both sides, since — as I eventually figured out — this is a double exposure) William Olson.

Also, by now I've seen Tekla Anderson enough that I believe I recognize her in this image, seated at right.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

When An Amateur Historian Has a Bad Day (Part 3)

I went to the library this morning to continue reading the newspapers on microfilm, only to find that the microfilm room is shut down for renovation. They expect to have it open again by October, but if this renovation project goes the way most of them do, it will probably be December or January.

Fortunately, I have a backlog of material to keep posting for another month or so, but if they don't reopen the microfilm room by October, I'll have to go on hiatus. Bummer! Yesterday I complained about being too busy, but I'd rather be too busy than forced to be idle.

On the brighter side, this will give me some time to add more images to Downtown Hobart 1979.

Fordson Tractors

Tractors, like everything else, were probably scarce and expensive during the war, but a Grand Trunk Railroad freight train that stopped in Ainsworth on August 7, 1918, left a car loaded with Fordson tractors sitting on the Ainsworth siding.

The tractors had been ordered by William H. Wood of Deep River. When last we saw William, the year was 1901 and he was catching a stupid criminal. Since then, apparently William had taken commercial advantage of the internal-combustion-engine craze; by 1920 he would describe himself as the manager of his own garage.

The Gazette warned its readers: "Seven [tractors] are all that was allotted to this section" — by whom, it didn't say — "so the farmers expecting to buy one of these tractors at the present price of $770, or who would like to see them demonstrated, should be at Ainsworth this week Saturday. The price will be higher later on."

1920 Census.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 9 Aug. 1918.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Wild Mushrooms of Ainsworth: Rooting Polypore(?)

Rooting Polypore, top
Rooting Polypore, underside
(Click on images to enlarge)

This business of working on two blogs at once (yes, I'm still adding images to Downtown Hobart, and last Saturday at the museum I got a bunch more) at the busy, tomato-picking, zucchini-freezing time of year has really put a damper on my wild-stuff activity. But if I happen to stumble upon a polypore while I'm mowing my lawn, I can stop and identify it. Or at least try.

I think this is a Rooting Polypore (because it must be something and it doesn't look like anything else).

It doesn't grow sideways like that. I had to pick so I could see the stem and underside. And then lay it down on the grass in order to photograph it.

My mushroom guide is silent on the subject of whether it's edible.

Picket Fence (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

unidentified     No. 22
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

This is the last unidentified, unpeopled house from the glass-plate negative collection. (There will be other unidentified houses, but they will have unidentified people to go with them.)

Judging by the well maintained dirt road and the sidewalk out front, this house is in town … but not a very thickly built part of town. I can't tell whether that slanting roof just visible at the far left of the photo belongs to a neighbor's house or an outbuilding of this property.

Notice, on the left side of the house, a well padded and elaborate seat — almost in the form of a sleigh — shaded by a parasol. Just the thing for lounging around outdoors on a summer day.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Land of Lincoln and Liquor

The Indiana supreme court had confirmed the state's dry status, but Hoosiers in northwest Indiana were showing an unexpected ingratitude: not content with their earthly paradise of sobriety and clean living, they persisted in trying to quench their devilish thirst, and many of them fled across the Illinois state line to do it.

Among the pioneer lawbreakers was Ainsworth's own William Wollenberg. He was arrested in Hammond on July 3, carrying a jug of whiskey and a case of beer that he had bought in Illinois. (The report doesn't specify whether it was William Sr. or Jr.) He may have been fined $80, the usual penalty in Hammond for lawbreaking "saloonists."

Authorities near the state line were on alert, and people coming in from Illinois were "being carefully watched"; sometimes eastbound auto parties were followed and surveilled; Gary police inspected the luggage of travelers alighting from eastbound trains. As official vigilance increased, so did criminal ingenuity. "Many are the deceptions used for the conveyance of booze from Illinois into Indiana since the dry law went into effect," said the Hobart News, citing hearses, hay wagons, automobiles, suitcases, egg crates and milk cans among the disguises that liquor traveled in.

Less daring drinkers simply went to some convenient saloon over the state line, drank and then came back empty-handed. That practice was both legal and popular. The News related a story of an unnamed Hobart resident who, on his way home from visiting Chicago one Saturday evening, stopped in for a drink at a saloon in Lansing, Illinois, a border town. As he looked around at the other drinkers — there were 22 in all — he thought some looked familiar, so he conducted a poll to find out where they all had come from. As it turned out, every last one of them was from Hobart — according to the story, anyway. The News concluded: "Lansing, Ill., is on a straight line west from [Hobart] over the Ridge road, and with a good auto it is only a few minutes' run, and Saturday night was quite warm, anyway."

In August a Gary city judge ruled that a person could legally possess one gallon or less of whiskey, provided it was for personal consumption, not to be sold or given away. That merciful interpretation gave some small relief to thirsty people in Gary, at least, though how they were to get their gallon was another question.

♦    ♦    ♦

If you really wanted to lose your soul, however, you didn't have to go to Illinois — just travel a little further south in Lake County, to the resort town of Cedar Lake. There, "the laws of Indiana and of common decency are being flagrantly violated," according to a resolution passed by the Lake County Council of Defense on July 1. The resolution alleged "that intoxicating liquor is being sold and that lewd women are allowed to frequent houses in that locality …." The Council authorized Sheriff Lewis Barnes to take steps to clean up the town. Accordingly, on the morning of Sunday, July 7, the sheriff and his deputies swooped down upon Cedar Lake, raiding the resorts and making a number of arrests. The County Council of Defense insisted that Cedar Lake resorts would be closed "for all time to come."

♦ "Booze Comes Across State Line Camouflaged in Many Ways." Hobart News 25 July 1918.
♦ "Conditions at Cedar Lake Again Reported to Be Deplorable." Hobart News 11 July 1918.
♦ "Dangerous Business." Hobart Gazette 12 July 1918.
♦ "Judge Dunn Rules on Liquor Law." Hobart Gazette 9 Aug. 1918.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 8 Aug. 1918.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Little Porch, Big Rocker (Unidentified Glass-Plate Images)

Little Porch, Big Rocker 1
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Little Porch, Big Rocker 2

Our glass-plate photographer took two shots of this little sugarplum of a house, with a very comfortable-looking rocker on the front porch. No clue as to where it was or who owned it. The photographer identified the images only as "No. 7" and "No. 8."

The house isn't grand, but it's immaculately kept.

Friday, August 26, 2011

First Lieutenant Mackey

Already a captain in the Indiana State Militia's Medical Corps, in the summer of 1918 Dr. Dwight Mackey decided to offer his medical service to the federal army. In June he went to Fort Benjamin Harrison, near Indianapolis, to take the Medical Reserve Corps examination; in July he learned that he had passed the exam. On August 2 he received a telegram from the army, offering him a commission as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Reserve Corps. Dr. Dwight wired back his acceptance.

This made him, according to the Gazette, "the first enlisted citizen from Hobart township to receive a commission from the U.S. army" — his cousin-in-law, Asa Bullock, holding that distinction with respect to the Navy.

Dr. Dwight was ordered to report to Camp Greene, at Charlotte, North Carolina. It isn't clear whether his wife, Ruth, intended to go with him or move in with her (or his) parents; in any event, they now scrambled to dispose of their house and possessions. By mid-August the Mackey bungalow had been sold to Charles McGinnis.* Dwight was offering "For Sale — 1917 Ford Roadster, good mechanical condition, summer and winter tops. Demountable rims, spare rim and tire," while Ruth advertised their furniture, including a piano, mahogany davenport, oak rocker, bedstead and dresser, and a Moore kitchen range, "[a]ll in the best condition."

Dwight expected to leave Hobart on August 22.

*Whose wife was the former Helen Rose, the Marshal's daughter.

♦ "Dr. Dwight Mackey First Hobart Boy to Receive Army Commission." Hobart News 15 Aug. 1918.
♦ "Dr. Mackey Receives Commission." Hobart Gazette 9 Aug. 1918.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 15 Aug. 1918; 22 Aug. 1918.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 5 July 1918; 16 Aug. 1918.
♦ "Private Sale." Hobart Gazette 16 Aug. 1918.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Room With a View (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

House with Belvedere (unidentified)
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

This beautiful but unidentified house comes from the collection of glass-plate negatives.

Three seasons out of the year, I wish I had a belvedere like that on my house. (I also wish I had a second story on my house.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Military News

The draft law passed early in the war had applied to men 18 through 40. In August 1918, a bill was introduced in Congress to raise the upper limit to 45 (inclusive).

♦    ♦    ♦

In view of his poor health, George Sauter's doctors had probably advised him to avoid drafts, but this summer he got caught in the big one: the local draft board notified him to report for examination on July 28. While awaiting that fateful date, George "received his first experience of how it feels to be under fire." It happened around 1 a.m. on July 8. George was returning to Valparaiso after a visit to Hobart, driving his car along the lonely road near Wheeler. A loud bang made him think one of his tires had blown; he was slowing the car to a stop when a second report — clearly a gunshot this time — sent his foot to the accelerator. He escaped without injury. No one ever found out who was doing the shooting or whether he or she was actually aiming at George.

And whatever his health problems may have been, evidently the draft board was willing to overlook them. By mid-August George had resigned his position at the Specht-Finney store in Valpo and was once again attempting to take a vacation before his departure for training camp.

♦    ♦    ♦

Earlier we read John Boldt's letter home from France, dated February 24. He was still there in August, and the Gazette commented: "John Boldt who went to France with the first American soldiers to land overseas is a 'first gunner' in the American artillery and we would infer that he is in a prominent part of the sector where the fighting is good."

♦    ♦    ♦

Around the same time, the Gazette reported that all three of August and Dora Maybaum's sons were in the army. Their middle son, 24-year-old Harold, had just arrived overseas from Camp Custer in Michigan. Their oldest son, Louis (27), had set out for Camp Custer on August 6 — one day after their baby, 19-year-old Clarence, had left for a training camp in Missouri. (Clarence was a volunteer; I don't know about the others.)

Those three boys were all the children August and Dora had. I expect the older Maybaums were both proud and scared.

By the end of the week, however, they had a little less reason to be either: Clarence was back home. Though he had passed the initial draft board physical examination, a more rigorous one at training camp had rejected him due to his "ear trouble."

♦ "Draft Extension Bill Introduced in Congress Monday." Hobart News 8 Aug. 1918.
♦ "George Sauter Under Fire Before He Goes to War." Hobart News 11 July 1918.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 15 Aug. 1918.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 2 Aug. 1918; 9 Aug. 1918; 16 Aug. 1918.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Our Pride and Joy (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

Men with Yearling Calf
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Some unknown guys with a yearling (approximately) calf. That's a fine shock of corn behind them, too. Looks like a couple more shocks in the field, and two houses in the distance.

I don't know what the "HMC" on that one guy's sweater stood for.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Change of Justices

John Killigrew was elected justice of the peace in 1913 or 1914. He was only about 21 years old, but thenceforward the newspapers made him sound much older as they referred to him by the distinguished title of "Judge Killigrew." With the retirement of John Mathews, Judge Killigrew became Hobart's only J.P. His prominence in the community increased when the war began and the federal government organized an army of public-relations volunteers known as the "Four Minute Men": John was one of them.

But he evidently had other fish to fry, even early on in his term. What sort of fish they were, I don't know, but they called him away from Hobart so often that legal matters he should have been deciding were instead farmed out to J.P.s in other towns. The problem became so acute that Hobart had to have a second J.P. appointed in August 1917 — attorney John W. Thiel.

In the summer of 1918, Hobart found itself without a justice of the peace — since Indiana J.P.s served four-year terms,* Judge Killigrew's term probably had finished and he chose not to run for re-election. As for Judge Thiel, his absence from the office went unexplained. Perhaps he had found it not to his liking.

After several months, the Lake County board of commissioners remedied Hobart's deficiency by appointing Paul R. Emery as its new J.P.

♦    ♦    ♦

A week later, the Gazette mentioned that "John Killigrew who underwent an operation at the Mercy hospital in Gary a couple of weeks ago is doing nicely and will be able to return home shortly." It neglected to mention whether that was John Sr. or John Jr.

[Update: A reader points out that John Killigrew, Sr., died in 1910, so it must have been John Jr. who underwent the operation.]

*At any rate, such was Indiana law in 1886, and I've not been able to find evidence that it had changed since then.

♦ "Attorney Thiel Has Been Appointed Justice of the Peace." Hobart News 30 Aug. 1917.
♦ "Hobart Again Has a Justice of the Peace." Hobart News 8 Aug. 1918.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 16 Aug. 1918.
♦ Murfree, William L. The Justice of the Peace. St. Louis: The F.H. Thomas Law Book Company, 1886. (

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Young Peoples' Meeting (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

Young Peoples Meeting  No. 39
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

This is identified only as "Young Peoples Meeting," but a few of the faces look familiar.

The young woman at the left end of the front row looks like Lena Triebess in the Old Maids' Basket Ball Team photo. The woman second from the right in the front row looks like Tekla Anderson from that same photo. The fellow next to her looks a bit like Pastor Moberg, but only a bit. If that is Pastor Moberg, then perhaps this is a church-related group.

I don't recognize anyone else.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

When An Amateur Historian Has a Bad Day (Part 2)

At the museum this morning I was looking for more images for Downtown Hobart 1979 and came across this one:

Kenneth Humes et al
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

According to the caption, that smiling guy at center is Kenneth "Kip" Humes. So that must be the Kip who once had a gas station at 55 Center Street, right?

But wait — I thought his brother's nickname was "Kippy"!? From the Hobart Gazette of April 18, 1918:
Ellsworth Humes will leave today for Cincinnati, Ohio, where he will join advertising car No. 2 of the Hagenback-Wallace shows. This show will tour the New England states this summer. During his spare time, while taking a vacation the past couple of weeks, he has lettered several of the windows of the business houses about town. "Kippy" is pretty handy with the brush.
Maybe the editor of the Gazette was confused, too. It makes more sense to get "Kip" out of "Kenneth" than out of "Ellsworth."

Company K and the Manhunt

Hobart's militia company had previously made itself useful in digging out from a blizzard and in representing Hobart well at a battalion drill. Now Company K was called on to do less cheerful work.

It began late in the morning on July 29, 1918, on the west side of the town of East Gary (now Lake Station). A woman hurrying along the street collapsed in a dead faint, and passers-by who came to her aid were alarmed by her condition, for she was heavily pregnant, and when brought back to her senses, she told a frightening story. Her name was Virginia Davenport,* she lived nearby with her husband and two children, and she had just been brutally attacked in her own home.

The good Samaritans sent for the police, for Dr. Clara Faulkner (who specialized in obstetrics and gynecology) and for Virginia's husband, William, who worked at a foundry only a few blocks away.

Virginia said that she had gone out to her backyard garden to gather vegetables, then come back into her kitchen around 11:15, lit the stove and set about preparing lunch. When she heard quiet footsteps behind her, she merely thought one of the children — her 13-year-old daughter or eight-year-old son — had come in through the front door. Suddenly a man grabbed her from behind and dragged her out of the kitchen, choking her so she could not scream. She believed he meant to rape her. As soon as she got a chance to speak, she begged him not to hurt her, offering him all the money in the house if he would just go. It worked: he took $45 and ran away. Virginia hurried out toward the foundry to tell her husband, but on the way she collapsed from shock.

The matter was all the more incendiary as Virginia said her attacker was a black man. As the News commented: "This is said to be the fourth attack of white women by negroes in and around Gary during the past month. One woman was murdered."

Word spread quickly. The whole workforce of the foundry heard the news, and numerous civilians, many of them armed, turned out to supplement the local police force. Sheriff Lewis Barnes brought county law enforcement to help with the manhunt. But the suspect had gotten at least half an hour's head start.

Around 4:00 p.m., someone called in with a report that a black man had been seen hiding in an outbuilding on a farm near Liverpool, but a quick search turned up nothing. On the assumption that the man might now be hiding in the marshy areas around there, Sheriff Barnes called over to Hobart, asking for Company K's help. Some 70 militiamen responded.

They set up patrols of all the roads in the Liverpool area. They searched in the tall grass of the marsh and in the woods. They kept at it all through the night, on through the next morning and into the afternoon. As the hours wore on, some local residents came out with coffee and sandwiches to keep the men going.

Although a few more reports came in that a possible suspect had been sighted, ultimately the search was fruitless. The tall grass of the marshy area made it, in the words of the Gazette, like looking for a needle in a haystack; then there were the woods, and the city of Gary, with its ever larger and more anonymous crowds. Or perhaps the suspect had hopped a freight train and was long gone. Some 200 men had searched, for over 24 hours. Late the next afternoon, the search was called off. Finding the culprit would have to be a matter of detective work, or luck.

Newspapers lavished praise on the men of Company K for their service. "It gave them a little idea of the life of a scout and the hardships of militia service," said the Gazette. The town board of East Gary passed a resolution thanking them.

The board and citizens of East Gary quickly got up a petition asking the Lake County commissioners to purchase trained bloodhounds. The petition invoked "the recent crimes committed within Lake county during the last five weeks, namely, the four rape cases and the last robbery and attempted rape case of East Gary, and … the large influx of negroes and undesirable people who are coming to the northern portions of the county on account of the call for labor in this section."

♦    ♦    ♦

I can't help but wonder whether the militia would have been called out had the suspect been white. As mentioned above, this incident followed a month-long wave of violent crime, so perhaps it's not a good example for speculation — it may have been a case of "enough is enough" even had all the suspects been white. On the other hand, look at the language I've just quoted from the East Gary petition for bloodhounds.

Though serious research on racism is beyond the scope of this blog, I've mentioned before and now I just want to mention again how clearly these old newspapers addressed an audience that was white and racist — but, I think, casually and nonchalantly racist. In other words, I get the impression that racism wasn't a rallying point or a conscious obsession, but an unthinking element of an outlook on life — at least at this time period, when the percentage of non-white population was very small.

Racism always has the potential to inspire violence, but so far in my own reading I haven't seen that potential realized. I have yet to see a report of any violence in this little piece of Lake County that was clearly racially motivated. There was an incident around 1910 where some Hobart boys harassed a group of black street musicians, but a few years earlier some white musicians had suffered the same abuse.** In 1901 William Potter of Ainsworth, who was white, somehow tangled with a railroad employee named Richard Ross, who was black; each ended up suing the other and both cases were dismissed; but I can't conclude from the news report that this was not just another fight, like the fights we've seen between men of the same skin color. (But no, it could not have been exactly the same, could it?)

However, details in the report of that incident are revealing: Ross's case against Potter was described as the "State of Indiana vs. Wm. Potter," while Potter's case was the "State of Indiana vs Richard Ross, colored." Such gratuitous emphasis upon the skin color of any non-white person was typical. White was assumed to be the standard, not needing mention; any variation from the standard was highlighted, usually appearing in the story's headline if it had one.

Serious reporting always used the then polite terms ("colored" or "negro") to describe African-Americans. (Note the reference, in the third column of the August 11, 1911 newspaper page posted earlier, to the "colored picnic.") So far it's only humor that has tasted of venom; for example, in the some of the early years of the century the factory-produced pages of the News often ran cartoons that grotesquely caricatured the appearance and dialect of black people. If anyone protested, I missed the report on it. (On the other hand, by 1918 those cartoons had disappeared.)

I'm just noting some examples and general impressions I've received from my reading thus far, but again, I can't say if or how any of this applies to what happened in July 1918.

*The newspapers accounts never give the woman's first name, but I believe I have found the correct Davenports in the 1920 Census.
**Sorry I didn't make a note of the particulars when I encountered these two stories. Someday these newspapers will be digitized and searchable, and I wouldn't have to sacrifice several days' work to find cites for two incidents that don't prove anything anyway.

♦ "East Gary Citizens Petition County to Buy Blood Hounds." Hobart News 8 Aug. 1918.
♦ "Hobart Militia Called Out in Effort to Get Negro Assaulter." Hobart News 1 Aug. 1918.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 8 Aug. 1918.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 2 Aug. 1918.
♦ "Negro Attacks White Woman." Hobart Gazette 2 Aug. 1918.
♦ "Thank Co. K by Resolution." Hobart Gazette 9 Aug. 1918.

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's Electrifying! (Unidentified Glass-Plate Images)

Electricity-generating equipment
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Electricity-generating equipment

Here we have some unidentified men working around electricity-generating equipment, possibly two different plants. The location is unidentified, but given the scale of both operations, they are very unlikely to be in Hobart (or so I'm told by a retired Hobart NIPSCO worker).

The fellow in the bow-tie looks very proud of Generator 5; and why not? it's pretty impressive.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

On Sale at the Ainsworth General Store

8-18-2011 Goldman ad 7-19-1918
(Click on images to enlarge)
From the Hobart Gazette of July 19, 1918, and July 26, 1918, respectively.

8-18-2011 Goldman ad 7-26-1918

I'm going to crank up the Model T and drive over to Goldman's on Saturday, I need a new union suit.

8-18-2011 Munsing Wear Union Suits
(Click on image to enlarge)
This advertisement for MunsingWear union suits appeared in the Ladies' Home Journal of October 1918.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Guess What (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

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

I've spent too much time looking at this photo. Sometimes I think he's trying to communicate something by the placement of his hands. Sometimes I think it's just an accidentally awkward pose.

Is he trying to show us his ring? … Is it a wedding ring? — if it's so important, then where is his wife? He is unusually dressed, wearing a dark shirt with a suit and tie. But even men in mourning did not put on all black, as women sometimes did; a bereaved man customarily confined his show of mourning to a black armband, worn over a sober suit, with a white shirt and dark tie.

And I'm not sure he's trying so much to show as to hide … his right hand, or perhaps his lack thereof. Considering the ravages wrought on men's bodies by farm and factory machinery* in those days, I wonder if his right hand is just hidden in the shadow of his left, or it is gone, or mangled?

And is that oblique gaze intended to convey some emotion? … On the other hand, it wasn't a terribly unusual pose. Or maybe, just as the camera's shutter opened, our subject glanced toward his wife, who was standing off to the side and saying, "Better move your hands, honey, they look strange that way."

*I say "men's bodies" because I have yet to read of a local accident where a woman was mangled by a farm or factory machine. It seems that the real danger to women (and also children) lay in the kitchen, and I have come across several cases involving exploding stoves or scalding water that resulted in extreme suffering, and even death, to women or children.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Downtown Hobart 1979

We interrupt this blog to announce a new blog: Downtown Hobart 1979.

It all started when Bonnie told me about an article the Hobart Historical Society had written in 1979 — basically a summary, based on old-timers' recollections, of the history of nearly all the buildings in downtown Hobart. I hadn't yet come across that article in all my poking around at the museum, so I went looking again, and found it tucked away in the file cabinets at the back of the museum. I soon as I read it, I decided it did not deserve such obscurity.

I've spent the past month getting it ready for the internet. The original had no street addresses or images; we've supplied those to the extent we could. (I say we because Bonnie has helped with both.)

There is plenty of room for improvement in it, but this past month has taught me that I can't research two historical blogs at the same time, and I'd rather concentrate on this one. I won't be adding any new entries to Downtown Hobart 1979 or doing the research in the old directories and newspapers that might fill out the details of each location. I will, however, be adding more images as I come across them at the museum.

I'm hoping that, if people find the blog interesting enough to respond and contribute to it, perhaps someday down the line someone will be able to issue a revised, improved, expanded version of it. It might even be me, but for the moment I'm just totally burned out.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Black Cat Update

I have been able to update my post about the Black Cat Restaurant with information supplied by one of the grandchildren of its owners. We have gone from knowing nothing about the Black Cat to having its whole life story. Isn't the internet wonderful?

I have added the information to the original post.

A Secretive Plumber

George Rhodes
(Click on image to enlarge)
George Rhodes, date unknown.
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Late in July 1918 Helen Mackey revealed to an unsuspecting Hobart that in April she had married George Rhodes, the plumber. The secret ceremony had been held just over the state line in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Why there, I don't know; possibly to help keep the secret, or maybe George's work had taken him there — for he had apparently left the partnership with Charles Lee and was now employed by the government in some plumbing capacity.*

So in April Helen had come home to Hobart a married woman, but no one knew it except Ruth Mackey, her mother. They kept the secret for over two months.

The only reason I can think of for all this secrecy was that Helen worked in the office of American Bridge Works in Gary; her employer may have held that Neanderthal policy of firing any female employee who married, and Helen perhaps wanted to go on earning money as long as she could.

But now George's government plumbing work took him to Erie, Pennsylvania, and Helen decided to join him there. Since she was quitting her job, she was safe from firing, and there was no longer any need for her to pretend not to be married. That's my theory, anyway.

The Gazette said that "although [Helen] stole a march on her friends they will wish her a full measure of happiness just the same."

*I've already given away the ending: we know Lee & Rhodes eventually got back together.

♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 2 Aug. 1918.
♦ "Rhodes-Mackey." Hobart News 25 July 1918.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I, the Traeger Baby, Do Solemnly Swear …
(Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

Traeger Baby No. 38
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Another from the glass-plate negative collection, this little girl — I assume it's a girl because she's got a doll — is identified only as the "Traeger Baby." She and her doll are both raising their hands as if taking an oath; I wonder if that's coincidental?

With no date on the photo and so many Traegers around in the early part of the 20th century, I can't say for sure what her name was.

If that's snow on the ground behind her, she's a pretty tough baby.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Burning Barns

About 5:00 a.m. on July 25, 1918, an auto party on its way to Kankakee was passing the Ed Cole farm three miles south of Ainsworth. One of the motorists noticed that the Cole barn was on fire. The driver stopped the car and they all spilled out, some running to the house to pound on the doors and rouse the family, others rushing into the barn to save whatever they could.

They managed to get the only livestock — a pony and a pig — out of the barn before it became completely engulfed in flame. Nothing more could be saved. Ten tons of hay went up in smoke, along with tools, binder twine and other miscellaneous articles.

The Coles suspected that the fire had been started by a tramp, who reportedly had been "tracked some distance from the barn," but he or she was never found.

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On August 5, Lena Mankey and her ten-year-old son Johnny were turning the cows out of the barn after the evening milking when they noticed that a separate barn holding some 60 tons of hay was on fire.

The hay barn was only 30 feet from the cow barn, which itself was attached to a horse barn, a machinery shed and a windmill. The growing fire threatened them all, and perhaps even the house should the wind shift. Lena and her husband William tried to fight the fire, with the help of dozens of neighbors who now came streaming in from the countryside, alerted either by the rising smoke or quick phone calls. But the hay barn fire outpaced all their efforts and spread to the cow barn. By the time the Hobart fire department came on the scene, both barns were blazing. There was little anyone could do but try to protect the house.

When it was all over, William and Lena had lost both barns, all their hay, their farm machinery and tools, harnesses, etc. But the wind had stayed favorable, and so their house was safe, as well as all their livestock. William estimated the loss at about $5,000; eventually his insurance paid out $2,017 on the claim. It was a severe blow, but the Mankeys intended to rebuild.

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In its report, the Gazette referred to the Mankey farm as the "old John Springman farm," and the 1890 Plat Book shows 40 acres of it owned by "John Sprinkman." I suppose that's why the part of Randolph Street north of Route 30 was called the Springman road into the 1930s or perhaps even later.

♦ "Barn and Hay Burns." Hobart Gazette 9 Aug. 1918.
♦ "Barn on Ed Cole Farm South of Ainsworth Burns Sunday Morning." Hobart News 25 July 1917.
♦ "Ed Cole's Barn Burns." Hobart Gazette 26 July 1918.
♦ "Large Barn on Wm. Mankey Farm Destroyed by Fire Monday." Hobart News 8 Aug. 1918.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 16 Aug. 1918.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Y.M.T. (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

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

Another unidentified basket ball team, and I don't know what "Y.M.T." stands for.

If you ask me, those two girls at the far right look like Helen Mackey Rhodes and Margaret Bullock Killigrew (compare them with their photo here). However, I could be mistaken, as I'm not very good at recognizing faces.

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

And again, I think we have Helen and Margaret at either end of the front row.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Keep Saloons

Throughout the month of May, Henry Klausen had continued to sell soft drinks out of the former Newman & Klausen saloon, while he waited to hear from the Indiana supreme court on the state-wide prohibition case. But when June came with no word from the court, Henry gave up and closed his business. That left five former saloons still operating as soft-drink parlors (the Hobart House and the businesses of Fred and Buck Franzen, Lawrence Traeger, John Hillman, and George Watkins).

Now that four Hobart saloons had closed, the Gazette noted that for the first time in many years, some of the town's business rooms were standing vacant.

Those who still held out hope went on waiting for a favorable decision by the supreme court, but at present prohibition was the law. Out of Gary came a report that police raiding Jake Friedman's saloon — which supposedly sold near-beer and ginger ale — had discovered 200 gallons of "honest-to-goodness whisky," all of which they poured down the city's sewers.

Finally, on June 28, the Indiana supreme court spoke.
No provision of [Indiana's] Constitution … forbids the passage of laws to protect the health, morals, or welfare of the people in connection with the traffic in intoxicating liquor, even though such laws destroy previously recognized property without paying for it. That the liquor traffic is within the police power of the state no one denies. When this is admitted, there must follow the power to take such steps as are reasonably suitable to carry out this purpose.
The Indiana Anti-Saloon League's spokesman had correctly predicted that the court would point to the tested validity of the local-option law and conclude that what had been constitutional at the county level did not become unconstitutional at the state level. As for the venerable precedent cited by the brewers, the court contended that the reasoning behind the 1855 Beebe decision was too opaque to provide guidance, and furthermore, the principle of stare decisis could not "be invoked to shut off police power" or to "chain us to error."

In his lone dissenting opinion, Judge John Spencer focused on the question of prohibiting the manufacture of intoxicating liquor. He argued that the Beebe decision had unambiguously held such prohibition invalid, and that both the limits on police power and the rights of property owners (specifically, the brewers who had bought and greatly improved property in reliance on 50-year business charters granted them by the state) forbade such prohibition. Surely, he contended, brewers could at least manufacture liquor for export to states where it was still legal. But he was outvoted by his four fellow justices.

The majority opinion noted, "This court has nothing to do with the wisdom or unwisdom of the legislative act. A law may be repugnant to general principles of justice, liberty, and rights not expressed in the Constitution, and yet the courts have no power to strike it down."

And so, in Hobart, the five remaining former saloons could go on dispensing soft drinks if their owners chose, but all hope was gone that they might resume their regular business in the foreseeable future. Prohibition was now settled law, and the Gazette said, "The law is being enforced."

♦ "Additional Local News." Hobart Gazette 21 June 1918.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 6 June 1918; 27 June 1918.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 12 July 1918.
♦ "Prohibition Law Constitutional." Hobart Gazette 5 July 1918.
♦ "Prohibition Law Upheld by Indiana Supreme Court." Hobart News 4 July 1918.
♦ "Schmitt v. F.W. Cook Brewing Co." The Northeastern Reporter, Vol. 120. St. Paul: West Publishing Co., 1919. (accessed 8 Apr. 2011).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Squirrel Update (Random Pointless Photos)

Patrick and Dave and Willow and Alexis are all grown up now and have moved out of the house and gotten jobs and their own apartments. But they still come back to visit Mom all the time.

Hey, Alexis, want a peanut?
Alexis 1
(Click on images to enlarge)

Here's Willow settling down for a nap on a tree branch. I think he works the night shift.
Willow on tree branch

Dave took a peanut from Grandniece's hand, but he's too fast for my camera.
Dave and grandniece

Alexis got her peanut.
Alexis 2

Patrick didn't show up that morning. Maybe he'd been out partying all night.

H.T.H.S. Basket Ball Team (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

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

Although the writing on the ball suggests that this image shows the Hobart Township High School girls' basketball team, I call it unidentified because the members, as well as their rather stuffy-looking coach, are unidentified.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Glimpse of Stocking

I mentioned that among the glass-plate negatives found at the Hobart museum was the original of the Old Maids' Basket Ball team 1907 portrait and that the negative was a little more racy, so here you go:

Old Maids Basket Ball team 1907
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Top row, left to right: Miss Gish (Latin), Anna Michelson Morton, Ann Fleck Ingraham, Ruth Bullock Mackey, Olga Neef Bullock
Bottom row: unknown, Lena Triebess, Bess Hayward, Tekla Anderson, Mary Portmess.

Can you image running around a basketball court in all those clothes?

I wonder if Olga Neef Bullock wore that turtleneck sweater when she was actually playing basketball … if she suffered from the cold, I suppose she wouldn't have minded the tropical heat when she and Oliver went to live in Panama Canal Zone.

Another glass-plate negative shows the same team in another pose, probably on the same day. That curve on the floor looks like a basketball court marking, so perhaps they played their games in this genteelly wallpapered venue.

Old Maids Basket Ball team 1907
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Shift Sleep

In the view of one newspaper in Chicago (a city which had long housed its poor and blue-collar classes indifferently, to say the least), the housing situation in northwest Indiana in the spring of 1918 was "deplorable." The war effort required heavy production by the steel and other mills in the region, which meant that the mills needed workers, and what the mills offered looked like steady, reliable, well paying jobs. So thousands of job-seekers poured into the region, straining its capacity to house them. According to the Chicago News, "They are sleeping 'em in eight-hour shifts down Gary way — three men in a bed, eight hours each," and these eight-hour bed rentals were a "common practice," which may have been deplorable but was the only way to cope with the sudden swelling of the population.

Source: "Housing Conditions Said to Be Deplorable in Calumet Region." Hobart News 27 June 1918.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

W.G. Haan School Circa 1963

8-6-2011 2d
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images from a private collection.

Here we have a later view of the W.G. Haan School in Ainsworth. The development date on the original is May 1963.

And here's the Merrillville High School, same date:

8-6-2011 2e

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ainsworth Unsheared

(Click on image to enlarge)
This image from the 1926 Plat Map shows (approximately) the 80-acre tract that Calvin Shearer sold in 1918.

With the sale of his 80-acre farm to William Foreman in June 1918, Calvin C. Shearer and his family ceased to be Ainsworthites in any way.

It was only temporary, as we know. The lure of Ainsworth would eventually pull the Shearer family back in.

Source: "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 21 June 1918.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"Bill Smacked Him One"

Another from the stack of police reports at the museum.

police rpt 3-14-1947
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

I don't know who Bill O'Leska was or in what capacity he smacked him one.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Competitive Drill

Dr. Dwight Mackey came home from the Medical Corps ceremonies of Decoration Day with an idea for a similar exhibition of the area home guard. He presented his plan to Hobart's Company K, and they took it up enthusiastically. Dr. Mackey formed a planning committee along with Calvin Shearer, Burt Guyer and William Killigrew, and within a couple of weeks they had organized the matter: on June 21, 1918, Hobart would host a competitive drill involving its own Company K, Gary's Company I, and Valparaiso's Company L. These companies were three of the four forming the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Regiment of the Indiana militia — the fourth company being at Attica, Indiana, an inconvenient distance to travel — so by dividing themselves into four companies, the participants could make their exhibition a battalion drill.

Under fair skies on the morning of Sunday, June 21, a crowd gathered at the Kulage field west of town* — some 2,000 people showed up (with "more than 200 automobiles on the grounds at one time"!). Local Boy Scouts were present, and may have helped other local volunteers in maintaining order and keeping the show running smoothly. A refreshment stand offered food and drink, with its profits going to defray the expenses of the militiamen.

The spectators listened to music played by Gary company's Bugle and Drum Corps. And although the reports don't say it, I expect they had to listen to more than one speech as well.

Drilling began with Major George R. Hill of Michigan City commanding the battalion (from horseback part of the time). The crowd watched for two hours as he drilled the battalion as a whole, comprising over 200 men. "Battalion formation and maneuvering was new to most of those present, and was greatly enjoyed by the populace," said the Gazette.

Then came a break for lunch, with the militiamen eating for free — donations from local citizens and refreshment-stand money paid for their food.

After lunch, more drilling. First came an individual manual-of-arms drill, with the prize being a wrist watch.
Six men from each of the four companies were selected by the officers of the companies, and they gave an exhibition drill, and when any one made a mistake he was barred out. The drill lasted for three-quarters of an hour, and five men were still standing, two from Gary, one from Valpo and two from Hobart, being Robert Roper and Elmer Ballantyne, Ralph Snyder being excused for whispering. It was decided to let the five men "draw straws", which they did, and L.C. Hollander of Valpo drew the wrist watch.
Next the four companies competed against each other. To the jubilation of Hobart's citizens and newspaper editors, Company K won first place and was awarded a pennant to prove it.

After a second battalion drill, the entertainment ended with a grand parade, headed by Gary's Drum and Bugle Corps. Floating over Company K was the beautiful flag that had been presented to it on Decoration Day — the only company flag in the whole parade.

And then dinner, with militiamen again dining on the generosity of local donors.

It had been a triumphant day for Hobart, as host of the event and winner of the company drill, and the local newspapers reported glowingly. "Hobart easily outclassed her opponents," said the News, while the Gazette rhapsodized:
[Company K] has shown itself to be the best drilled in the battalion. If in the battalion, why not in the regiment, or even in the state? The members of Col K, from the head officers down, show "the pep". "Pep and ginger" is what counts in military movements, and if the company continues to improve as it has in the past, greater honors will be won in the future. Boys, the state is yours.
Now part of me wonders a little at such a love-fest for the home guard, when other men were in the trenches, living in misery and danger if they were lucky enough not to be killed … and the army was taking volunteers. But then I consider that really the love-fest was less for Company K than for those far away who couldn't hear the crowds cheering or hold the prize pennant or read the lavish praise. Company K was just standing in for the men in the trenches, to receive the love and admiration meant for them. This day's battalion drill stood in for the whole American effort in France.

… Or, less idealistically, people felt obligated to make a display of military enthusiasm at every opportunity.

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A month later, the Gazette ran this little item: "A well-known Valpo boy cut off the trigger finger of his right hand to make him ineligible for military service. The coward! He had better cut off his head."

*I don't think "the Kulage field" necessarily meant the brickyard. The 1890 Plat Book shows members of the Kulage family holding acreage in Sections 30 and 31 of Hobart Township, west and southwest of the brickyard, which may have been more suitable than an industrial site for such a public gathering.

♦ "Additional Local News." Hobart Gazette 19 July 1918.
♦ "Battalion Drill Sunday." Hobart Gazette 21 June 1918.
♦ "Co. K. Takes First Honors in Competitive Drill Sunday." Hobart News 27 June 1918.
♦ "Hobart Enjoys Big Military Day." Hobart Gazette 28 June 1918.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hobart Then and Now: 10th and Lincoln

1942 and 2011

(Click on images to enlarge)
1942 images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

It was an afternoon in 1942 and someone was busy with a camera at Howard and Cal Shearer's Sinclair gas station, on the southwest corner of 10th and Lincoln. The resulting photos have come down to us, and blessings be upon the hand that noted the date, location and subjects' names on the backs of those photos.

Above we have (left to right): Dick Mackin, Tom Farlow and Cal Shearer.

Below, left to right: Dick Mackin, Tom Farlow, Cal Shearer and Lowell Enslen.


This fellow pumping gas at 14.5 cents per gallon is Melvin Schultz.


I am told that they also sold groceries here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Second Anniversary and a Random Pointless Photo

Today is this blog's second birthday. I've given it two years and seen what happened, and I'm having too much fun to quit now.

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I don't know what exactly they are doing to the dam, but they need an awfully big crane to do it.

Big Crane at Dam
(Click on image to enlarge)

No One Is Immune

In my innocence I actually believed that soldiers had some immunity from gossip. I have been enlightened by this open letter published in the Hobart Gazette of June 14, 1918. The writer, who (if I understand correctly) is a soldier who had been wounded in action, pleads with the gossips of Hobart to stop putting "pro-German sentiments" and other unpatriotic words into his mouth.

8-1-2011 P. Michelson 6-14-1918
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How a Canadian ended up in Hobart, of all places, I have no clue. [insert joke about the "Canada" part of Hobart]