Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Joy in Mudville (Random Pointless Photo)

(Click on image to enlarge)

Last summer I planned to spend the long, cold, snowy winter holed up in my cozy little house, doing all sorts of wonderful things to my blog.

Instead we get day after day of spring-like weather, and I simply must spend every afternoon outside, digging tree stumps out of the ground. Out of the mud, I mean. Mud everywhere. Mud, mud, mud, mud, mud. Mud on my boots. Mud on my clothes. Mud on my face. Mud on my dog. Mud tracked all over the floor of my house. Mud on the furniture. Mud on the walls.

But every time one of those stumps finally gives up and lets itself be heaved out of the mud, it is a moment of joy and exultation.

That red thing in the foreground, by the way, is a Honeysuckle Popper and I love it.

Lined Up Alphabetically by Height
(Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

Cheerful Women, Dark Room
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

No identification on this dim photo, but it's not so dim that I can't see that the young woman second from the left is the ubiquitous Tekla Anderson. At least, I think so.

The woman at the right end looks familiar, but I can't place her.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Let's Stop This Nonpartisanship

In its issue of January 24, 1919, the Hobart Gazette proclaimed that it would henceforward consider itself on the side of the Democratic party.
Gazette goes Democratic
(Click on image to enlarge)

I don't know if "Independent" in this case meant sympathy with an independent party (was there an independent party consistently present during those years?), or sympathy with no particular party. I can't say I've perceived any political bias in the Gazette at all over the years.

What "Democratic" meant remains to be seen.

(Note that the "Stray Thoughts" under that article include a continuation of the Gazette's fight with the News over how Hobart ought to supply its citizens with electricity.)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Eyes (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

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

No ID on this young woman with piercing eyes. As you can see, it's a photo of a photo, and the original mounting board was embossed with the name of August Haase.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

How the Harmses Partied, Part 2

We have seen how the Harms family could party on the important occasion of a wedding. Now we get a reminder of what they could do even on a lesser occasion like a birthday celebration for Anna Harms.

Harms surprise birthday party
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the "Local and Personal" column of the Hobart News, Jan. 23, 1919.

What gets me is the luncheon at midnight. I have not yet reached my 59th birthday and I cannot stay awake until midnight, let alone eat "an appetizing luncheon" at that hour.

If this was anything like other Harms family gatherings, they did not just sit around talking until it was time to eat. They were a musical family, and Henry Harms, Jr. in particular was a talented violinist. Perhaps he was not in attendance — why the paper mentions his wife but not Henry Jr. himself is puzzling — but if he was, surely he brought his violin; and anyway, someone could always play the piano. And as for the others, they likely rolled up the rug and danced.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Photographer's Holiday, Part 2
(Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

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

No notes to tell us where our photographer shot this paddle-wheel steamboat, but I don't think it was in Hobart.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Farm Bureau Drive

Nobody seems to have any good reason why farmers should not be organized. When men engaged in such work as chimney sweeps, bootblacks, window washers and flat janitors find reasons for organizing unions, and paying a large membership fee thereto, it would seem that the farmer, who is the backbone of the nation, oftentimes working with thousands of dollars' worth of capital, should join hands with his neighbor in an organization which has for its purpose nothing else than the furthering of this interests.
With these words, printed in both of Hobart's newspapers (and, no doubt, in newspapers all over Lake County), Virgil Place urged local farmers to join in the "Farm Bureau movement," the rising effort to create a farmers' union, which would culminate in the formation of the American Farm Bureau Federation later that year.

Virgil's immediate concern was to stir up interest among Lake County farmers. The "membership drive" was set for January 27 through February 1, 1919, with a structure reminiscent of the Liberty Loan and Red Cross drives of the war. Virgil was county chairman; each township in the county had its own leader (Alex Boyd in Ross Township, John Larson, Jr. in Hobart Township) commanding teams who would go out and talk to farmers, explaining the farm bureau concept and urging the farmers to join. The effectiveness of the county farm bureau depended upon membership.

♦    ♦    ♦

In another case of farmers looking after their own interests, the regional milk producers' association revived its pre-war plans for its own marketing company, which had been put on hold during the war. This cooperative marketing company was intended to replace the middlemen who now skimmed off some of the farmers' profits as the milk moved to the retailers who sold it to consumers.

On January 14 the milk producers' association called a meeting in Gary. With many dairy farmers from Lake and Porter Counties in attendance, the association's representatives explained how the marketing company was intended to work and asked that the farmers enter contracts with the company for all their milk by February 1, when the company was expected to begin operating.

From there, things moved quickly. Within ten days the Milk Producers' Co-operating Marketing Co.,* headquartered in Chicago, rented space for its local office in Room 242 in the Gary Building at 515 Broadway in Gary. By the end of the month it was in business.

But the 16,500 dairy farmers in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana who belonged to the milk producers' association faced a drop in milk prices early in February. After an all-day conference with milk distributors, the association was able to avert a strike only by agreeing to a price of $3.50 per hundred pounds, instead of the $3.70 the milk producers had wanted. The association explained their compromise by pointing out that distributors already had a surplus of milk, and feed prices had gone down from their wartime highs.

*Its name varies slightly from one report to another.

♦ "Farmers' County Organization." Hobart Gazette 24 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Lake County Farm Bureau Membership Drive Next Week." Hobart News 23 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Marketing Co. Operating." Hobart Gazette 31 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Membership Drive Next Week." Hobart Gazette 24 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Milk Producers' Co-Operating and Marketing Company." Hobart News 30 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Milk Producers' Marketing Company Preparing for Business." Hobart News 16 Jan. 1919.
♦ "News From the County Agent." Hobart News 23 Jan. 1919.
♦ "To Start Operation Feb. 1st." Hobart Gazette 24 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Wholesale Price of Milk For February Takes a Drop." Hobart News 6 Feb. 1919.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Photographer's Holiday, Part 1
(Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

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

No identifying information on this one, but I think our glass-plate photographer has gone on vacation and taken his camera with him: this doesn't look like one of our local rivers or streams, does it? We don't have rocks like that around here. Perhaps some more mountainous region.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Letter from Ed Sauter, Jr.

A letter from Ed Sauter, Jr. to his mother took its time about getting from France to Hobart — or, at any rate, about getting into the Hobart newspapers in mid-January 1919.

Ed Sauter Jr. letter 1-16-1919
(Click on image to enlarge)

♦    ♦    ♦

Ruth Bullock Mackey, still waiting for Dr. Dwight to come home, took up residence in the "Norton flat," which was somewhere on Main Street — south Main, probably, if this was the same Norton building where Daisy Lambert Bullock started up a boardinghouse in 1915.

♦ "Letters from Army Camps." Hobart Gazette 17 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 16 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Soldiers' Letters." Hobart News 16 Jan. 1919.

Monday, January 23, 2012

"My Dear Darling Wife"

Here's the thing, folks. I check Ebay daily for several Ainsworth-related things, including another copy of the Chester's Camp postcard (or any other Chester's Camp postcard). As a result I daily have to scroll through pages of irrelevant things that happen to have the word "Chester" in their description. It's tiresome. Before I started this adventure, I never knew there were so many places called Chester in the world. I knew of Dick Tracy, of course, but it never registered in my mind that his creator was Chester Gould. I never thought anyone would buy or sell Chester Cheetah memorabilia. And it never occurred to me that a pornographic cartoonist (by the name of Chester) might do such a booming business on Ebay.

— what? Yes, go right ahead. I'll wait.

. . . . . . . . . 

… See? I told you, didn't I?

Anyway. The point is: I think that after the sacrifice of so many hours in the service of Ainsworth, I can be forgiven if I post something that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Ainsworth, but that I came across in one of my Ebay searches and simply couldn't pass over, because it's too cute. Plus I got it cheap.

T. Christ Letter 1872

Dr. Theodore S. Christ was about 42 years old when he wrote that letter. If unsourced information in a family tree I've found on Ancestry.com is correct, he and Sarah Thompson had just been married the previous December.

Some of his expressions and odd emphasis on the first page ("growing more interesting," "improve in weight, if not in flesh," "continue to improve") make me suspect that perhaps Sarah was pregnant at the time. If so, the child did not live.

We find Theodore and Sarah together in the 1880 Census, by which time Sarah was 40 years old and had borne two daughters and a son, the oldest of them born in 1876. The census describes Theodore as a farmer, but in the 1872 letter we have people addressing him as "doctor." In the 1900 Census, Theodore is described as a physician. He is also a widower (the unsourced family tree gives 1887 as the year of Sarah's death), with the two daughters still at home, unmarried, while the son (Theodore Jr.) is not to be found with them — let us hope he was away at college. The family tree gives 1910 as the year of Theo Sr.'s death.

Well, I hope you've enjoyed this poke into someone's private correspondence. Tomorrow it's back to business.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Done Dealing (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

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

Here are those hand-shaking buddies (or relatives, maybe?) in a more relaxed pose … though the guy on the left does seem to be scowling a bit at the photographer. That could be the effect of bright daylight, I suppose, but I don't see any shadows in the picture, so it was probably a cloudy day.

No identifying information for this one, either.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Influenza and Liberty Measles

"The health commissioner reports the influenza epidemic as rapidly subsiding, with only a few new cases being reported," said the Hobart News of January 23, 1919. The previous few months had taught the town that the disease could come in waves. But the winter had been mild thus far, and when people thought of the previous winter — with its blizzard, brutal cold, shortages and, above all, ongoing war — I expect it was difficult for them not to feel optimistic.

Dr. Clara Faulkner, as Hobart's health officer, appeared before the town board to sum up 1918 for them, disease-wise. It had been a rough year: 605 cases of contagious disease reported, compared to only 40 during 1917. About 97% of those cases were influenza. The others were a mix of whooping cough, measles, chicken pox, scarlet fever, diphtheria, and "liberty measles."

That's right, liberty measles. No German measles in this town!

There were 52 deaths in 1918 (an increase of 9 over 1917) and 83 births (an increase of 3). I do not know what the population of Hobart was in 1917 or 1918. In 1920, its population was 3,450 (according to a vaguely sourced table on Wikipedia).

♦    ♦    ♦

Later that month, the News mentioned that, according to the Red Cross, over 200 Red Cross nurses had died of influenza contracted while treating flu-stricken soldiers, both in the U.S. and abroad.

♦ "Health Officer's Report." Hobart Gazette 17 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 16 Jan. 1919; 23 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Of General Interest." Hobart News 30 Jan. 1919.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Just Us Girls, Part 3 (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

Just Us Girls 3
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

This is the last of our goofy girls.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Blind Pig Brought to Light

Roper-ATS building
(Click on image to enlarge)
The Roper building, later known at the American Trust & Savings Bank building, was (and still is) on the northeast corner of Main and Third in downtown Hobart.
(Image courtesy of Bonnie.)

Among the occupants of the ATS building in early January 1919 was a man known to history only as "Casey" Wilkerna. Casey had suffered some kind of injury and was taking a few days' rest in one of the rooms. He was apparently a well loved man, for he had many visitors to coming to condole with him — many, many visitors, and as time passed they went from condoling to carousing. Two days of noise and hilarity provoked the neighbors to complain to Marshal Fred Rose, Sr., and on January 8 the Marshal himself came to condole with Casey.

It turned out that the source of all the hilarity was liquor smuggled in from Illinois. Casey was hosting a "'blind pig' joint," as the Gazette termed it.

The Gazette's report did not state exactly what penalty Casey and his friends suffered, but commented: "There seems to be plenty of booze in Hobart for those who want it, and violations of the liquor law are on the increase."

A few days later, down in Indianapolis, the Indiana legislature considered the proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would make prohibition nationwide. On Monday, January 13, the senate voted overwhelmingly to approve it. The vote was 41-6, with one of the six being Lake County's Senator James Nejdl. The next day the house likewise ratified the amendment, voting 87-11 in favor (with Lake County's representatives equally divided for and against). On Wednesday, six more states ratified the amendment, bringing the total to 31 of the 36 states required.

A couple of weeks later, over in Gary, a government agent happened to be in a store when he noticed another customer ("a foreigner") making an odd purchase: $80 worth of raisins. He trailed the man to a location on Rhode Island Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. When officers later raided the location, they discovered a large still in which brandy was brewing, made from raisins and other fruits. The Gazette stated: "This is the first still located in Indiana since the state went 'dry.' The punishment will be a federal prison term for about 20 years."

♦ "Government Locates Still." Hobart Gazette 31 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Indiana Legislature Ratifies Prohibition Amendment." Hobart News 16 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Indiana Votes Dry." Hobart Gazette 17 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Rout 'Blind Pig.'" Hobart Gazette 10 Jan. 1919.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Just Us Girls, Part 2

Just Us Girls 2
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

The same four jolly young women, probably the same day, too. Still no identifying information.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Little Engine That Couldn't

Water tower undated
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart's electrical power and water plant circa 1912. (Image courtesy of Bonnie.)

Hobart had been producing its own electricity for at least two decades, and its citizens had grown used to its convenience in their homes and businesses, and in their illuminated streets. Newspaper reports suggest that by 1918 the municipal plant on New Street had two engines producing electricity, but during that hard winter one of them "fell to pieces" and was not replaced. Thus for many months Hobart's power depended on a single ten-year-old engine running 24 hours a day. Around midnight on January 6, 1919, that little engine just couldn't take anymore — something wrong with its piston rings, apparently, as they disintegrated during a hasty attempt at repair. No replacement rings were on hand, nor were they easy to get. Plant superintendent Robert Wheaton set about tracking down a source. By early morning he had learned that in Milwaukee were two of the rings his engine needed, the only two rings available in the whole city. He jumped on the first train out of Hobart for a mad dash to Milwaukee.

Fortunately, the town's water supply was provided by a separate steam pump that continued to operate. But there would be no electricity until Superintendent Wheaton got back with those rings and fitted them to the engine.

Hobart awoke that Tuesday morning to a taste of the inconvenience of the good old days. The greatest problem was not in heating homes and businesses (coal stoves and furnaces were abundant) nor even in lighting them (there were probably numerous kerosene lamps still on hand), but in the sudden absence of the machines that people had come to rely on, in homes, stores, factories, lumberyards — everywhere. "Those who use motors for power in various ways were strictly up against it for the time being," the Gazette said. "All machinery was at a standstill. People can get along for a day or so without lights much better than without power. Electricity to operate motors is needed every hour of the day."

An evening train brought Superintendent Wheaton back from Milwaukee, bearing the precious rings. He hurried to the power plant, and there he labored through the night. About 2:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, the old engine fired up again, and brought back the 20th century.

It had been only 24 hours, a minor inconvenience, but it showed a serious problem in relying on a single, aging engine to power the town. Possibly spurred by this episode, before the end of the week Hobart had settled with the town of West Branch, Iowa, for the purchase of that town's power plant engine — no longer needed, now that West Branch was buying electricity rather than manufacturing its own. While August Kegebein* went to West Branch to get the new engine, the newspapers settled down to fighting over the lesson to be drawn from those powerless 24 hours.

In the opinion of the Gazette, Hobart ought to quit trying to manufacture its own power and instead buy it from a large supplier. The large manufacturers were better equipped to supply power reliably. As to the question of cost, the town could buy electricity wholesale to get a good price, then resell it to local homes and businesses (and streetcar lines) at a price that would more than recoup the wholesale cost, while still being cheaper than home-manufactured power. The scheme was quite feasible, the editor pointed out, as there were "two large power lines at our very door."

The next week's News implied that behind such talk were large electricity manufacturers who were just itching to "break into our midst and take over" Hobart's power-plant business. After running at a loss for much of its early history, the town's plant had begun to break even and even turn a profit in recent years, and now that it was recovering from the "lightless nights" and other difficulties of 1918, it naturally became a target for the greed of private power companies.

Were the large suppliers more reliable? Not a bit of it! — to back up this point, the News now had August Kegebein's report from West Branch, Iowa. During the week he had spent there making arrangements to bring back the new engine, he said, the purchased power supply had failed twice — on two separate occasions the town had spent a whole night in darkness. Hobart could probably expect the same thing if it was foolish enough to follow West Branch's example. Moreover, the Calumet Region often had electrical storms, and they were known to cause trouble for long transmission lines.

And Hobart was not the only town in the area to have trouble lately; Valparaiso had gone half a day without power, and Waukegan, Illinois, more than two days. After all those years of largely uninterrupted service in Hobart, a 24-hour power failure no reason to get hysterical.

I believe the viewpoint put forth by the News held sway for many years to come, but we will see.

*His first name is not given in any of the newspaper reports. I am guessing at it based on the 1920 census, which shows August Kegebein as an "operator" employed in a "Light & W. Plant."

1920 Census.
♦ "Hobart in Darkness." Hobart Gazette 10 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Hobart's Municipal Light and Water Plant." Hobart News 16 Jan. 1919.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Just Us Girls, Part 1 (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

Just Us Girls 1
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

No identifying information at all on this one. However, that's Tekla Anderson on the right, isn't it? And I don't know who the woman next to her is, but we've seen her eating grapes. And the woman on the left end, we've seen her at Melin's.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Return to the Farm!

No matter what they may have seen in Paree, Lake County veterans were asked to return to the farm. County Agent Virgil Place was doing the asking, on behalf of Indiana's committee on food production and conservation. This was an attempt to solve two problems at once — to keep up the food supply for what remained of the army as well as the European relief effort, and to provide jobs for returning veterans, since the end of the war would probably mean a slackening of industrial work.

Return to Farm
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart Gazette of January 3, 1919.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I'm Cold (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

I'm Cold
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Completely unidentified. The photo was poorly focused in the first place, and then the glass plate appears to have suffered some rough handling. I think this young fellow looks a bit like Eric Carlson. I wish I could see what he's holding in his hand — a book? a pouch of something?

Friday, January 13, 2012


Back when George Severance, Jr. surprised his family by marrying an unnamed young woman, I said I was going to think of Mrs. George Jr. as "Alberta" until proven wrong, based on a possible sighting of the young Severances in the 1920 census. Now a letter from George Jr., still overseas in December 1918, confirms her name.

Coblenz, Germany, Dec. 6.

Dear Father:

I hope you receive this. Am enclosing it with Alberta's and mother's.

After six weeks in a French hospital, I am back with the 61st, and glad to be there, as I was with it through all battles, and want to be with it when it marches through Berlin.

Germany is some place, but not like the old U.S.A. I am quartered in a house with a German family and they seem to be all right, and are glad that the war is over, and are very good to us. At present the grandmother is mending my coat. Here is where my little German came in all right, as I can make them understand me. I am in the 5th division, 3rd army of occupation, and will remain in Germany until the peace is signed. I am in the same army with my cousin, Ed Steinmye.

I am glad, Dad, that I was able to take a man's place in this great war, and through God's mercy have passed through the horrors of trench life and the bloody battlefields, and in good time He will bring me home again; and when we boys come marching home again it will pay for all we have suffered over here to see all the dear folks at home again. I tell you, Dad, the old 61st made a name on the western front that will go down in history. Gen. Pershing said, while reviewing our troops: "Boys, I depend on the old regulars that went through Mexico with me," and I am sure we did not disappoint him, as our company was nearly wiped out before we got reinforcements, but we held our positions, although we are all anxious to be home again.

Give my best wishes for a Happy New Year to all my old friends in the States.

Ever your loving son,

Co. F. 61st Inf., A.E.F., France
via New York.

The letters to Alberta and to his mother were not published.

Source: "Letters from Army Camps." Hobart Gazette 3 Jan. 1919.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Nelson Misses (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

"Nelson Misses/No. 52"
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

"Nelson Misses/No. 81"

The ladies are identified only as the "Nelson Misses," and the glass plates as No. 52 and No. 81, respectively.

There were loads of Nelsons in Hobart. If we believe the "Misses" to mean that both women were unmarried, and if we guess that this photo, like the dated ones, was taken probably between 1905 and 1910, then these might be Christine Nelson and Ella Nelson, the sister and daughter of Charles Nelson. In the 1900 Census, Christine was 55 and Ella 18, both unmarried. Adding five or ten years to their age for this photo, the woman at left looks too young to be Christine, and the lady at right too old to be Ella.

So let's give up and call them unidentified.

In conclusion, all I can say is: there's that fence again!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When an Amateur Historian Thinks About Redecorating

Hmmmmm…. I wonder how "the look of time-worn European stone" would go in my little Depression-era frame house?

Deep River Christian Church Officers

Deep River Church officers
(Click on image to enlarge)

From the Hobart News of January 9, 1919. A few familiar names among those church officers.

… I don't know, it seemed important when I was at the library reading the microfilm.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Emil Pearson, Take 1 (Glass-Plate Image)

Emil Pearson, No. 85
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Another small negative from the cigar box. The notes on the envelope read: "Person Emil/No. 85." So apparently the previous photo was Take 2, and by then Emil had lost his cap as well as his patience with the tiresome process of having his picture taken.

This time the photographer managed to get something in focus, if only Emil's shoes. Note how heavily frayed his pants cuffs are — that suit has seen a lot of wear, although it still looks quite respectable.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Death of John Gruel, Jr.

It wasn't influenza that killed the second eldest son of John and Louise Gruel. It was a cold, according to the News, that developed into pneumonia. But John Jr. had been in poor health for several years, obliged to spend his winters in California, and the pneumonia finished him quickly. He died at the Gruel home east of Ainsworth on January 2, 1919, a few weeks short of his 35th birthday.

Aside from his parents, John Jr. was survived by five brothers and five sisters. Most of the siblings were at home or nearby, but two were in army camps — Edward at Camp Custer and Anna at Camp Lee — and Emma was in France.

Whether Edward and Anna were able to come home for their brother's funeral is not recorded. Neither newspaper had much to say about the funeral, for the ceremony, held in the Gruel home and presided over by the Rev. E.R. Schuelke, was "strictly private."

John Jr. was laid to rest in the family mausoleum.

♦ "John Gruel Jr. Passes Away at the Gruel Homestead." Hobart News 2 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 9 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 10 Jan. 1919.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Thresa Ericson, Take 2 (Glass-Plate Image)

Ericson Thresa  No. 84
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

This is "Ericson Thresa/No. 84." Just like "No. 83/Name: Ericson Thressa," only this time they let the poor girl wear a shawl, out there in the cold … and the photographer used a smaller plate.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

When an Amateur Historian Has a Good Day (Part 2)

… sometimes it actually does involve history. This morning at the museum I started a new scanning project — a little photo album, owner unknown, which seemed to date to roughly the era of World War I, going by the only two photos that were dated.

Some of the photos showed recognizable locations around Hobart; a few had handwritten captions underneath identifying the people in them by first name only, but the vast majority lacked any information about names, dates or locations … or so I thought when I started. I hadn't got very far in when, working on a photo that was coming loose from the page, I noticed a little scrap of paper stuck behind the photo. I pulled it out: it was a handwritten note giving the surname of one of the people in the photo, the month, the year and the location.

I checked the photo next to it. Same thing — a little handwritten description hidden behind the photo. Checked another few photos, found more hidden descriptions.

I don't dare to hope that they will all be identified. I can't work on it anymore until I get a nice pair of tweezers, because I'll already encountered one case where the photo was still stuck to the page well enough that I couldn't coax the little slip of paper out from behind it with just my fingers or a paper clip.

This is the kind of thing you always hope will happen and it never does, but this time it did.

In Gary, in France, in Limbo

The restless George Sauter, freshly discharged from the army, soon got back to business. The dawn of 1919 found him working at the Tittle Brothers market in Gary, managing their grocery department.

His younger brother, Edward, was still in France. Their mother finally received a card from him around Christmas — to her relief, since two months had passed in silence.

Dr. Dwight Mackey, also in France, wrote home to say that he had little hope of returning before the spring.

Fred Rose, Jr. was still awaiting his release from the army. He spent the last few days of December home on leave, but after New Year's Day he had to return to Camp Custer in Michigan. Another local soldier-boy, on leave from a camp in Alabama, said he did not expect to be discharged until late spring.

A Red Cross spokesman proclaimed the joyous news that discharged soldiers were allowed to keep all wearing apparel given them by the Red Cross, including those scandalous sweaters.

♦ Local and Personal." Hobart News 2 Jan. 1919.
♦ Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 27 Dec. 1918; 3 Jan. 1919.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Under a Parasol (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

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

I have posted the images from all the large glass plates (about 5.5" x 7") in the Mary Kitchen beef hash box. Now we shall see the images from the smaller plates (about 4" x 5") in the cigar box. I have posted one already, so this is the second.

The photographer recorded no identifying information whatsoever for this one. I recognize Tekla Anderson on the right, there. I think the woman on the left was with her in the photo "at Melins" and the double exposure. I don't know who she is, though.

No clue about the woman in the middle.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Brave New Year

Flu epidemic or no flu epidemic, young Harry Coons was going to have his usual birthday bash on New Year's Day — so said Harry Sr. and his wife, Mary, in late December as they issued invitations to many of their son's friends.

Others in Hobart sounded equally determined that the new year would be a new start. The Gazette's last issue of 1918 predicted that Dr. Clara Faulkner would allow the general quarantine to be lifted on January 1. Dr. Richard Mackey, Hobart's school board president, and George A. Fowble, school superintendent, announced that local schools would open on Monday, January 6.

This was in spite of the flu's being still "strong in evidence" in and around Hobart. The Gazette seemed to be wavering between optimism and accuracy as it reported that "generally speaking there is a lessening [of the flu] although there are several severe cases. There are now very few cases right in town but in some rural neighborhoods nearly every family is afflicted."

Nor had the flu stopped killing: it, or its complications, took Martha Wischmann Dewell, a 33-year-old wife and mother, the day after Christmas; on December 27th, Lillie Ruth Witt, just 14 days old; the next day, Cornelius Goodenow, a Civil War veteran one day short of his 81st birthday; and on New Year's Eve, 11-year-old Cornelius Carstensen.

Nonetheless, the brave plans went forward. Dr. Faulkner did indeed lift the general quarantine on New Year's Day — the same day that Harry Coons, Jr. celebrated his 10th birthday with 28 young friends in attendance. On the morning of January 6, Hobart's children went to school for the first time in over a month.

Two days later, near Ainsworth, Albert Hagerty lost his 25-year-old wife, Cora, to influenza.

♦ "Ban Is Lifted." Hobart Gazette 3 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Ban May Be Lifted." Hobart Gazette 27 Dec. 1918.
♦ "Cornelius Carstensen." Hobart News 2 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Cornelius Goodenow, Veteran of the Civil War, Passes Away." Hobart News 26 Dec. 1918.
♦ "Deaths for the Week." Hobart Gazette 3 Jan. 1919; 10 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Harry Coons Jr. Celebrates His Tenth Birthday Anniversary." Hobart News 2 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Hobart Schools to Start Again January Sixth." Hobart News 26 Dec. 1918.
♦ "Influenza Ban Raised in Hobart Jan. 1, by Health Commissioner." Hobart News 2 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 27 Dec. 1918.
♦ "Mrs. Albert Hagerty Dies of Influenza Near Ainsworth." Hobart News 9 Jan. 1919
♦ "Mrs. Wm. Dewell." Hobart News 2 Jan. 1919.
♦ "Schools to Open." Hobart Gazette 27 Dec. 1918.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

April Girls (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

No. 31
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Handwritten notes on the envelope: "No. 31/Name: High S girls/Remarks: Apr 18 1906 Snap Shot Roebuck Plate."

High School girls? High Street girls? I don't know. Nor do I know where they got those funny hats. Or why. They look as if they're enjoying themselves, though.

The building behind them bears some resemblance to Hobart's first library … but there are also significant differences.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Much-Needed Bundle of Joy

Into the home of the Price family, who were grieving the loss of their son and brother, James, came solace in the form of a baby girl.

The mother was Hazel Price Kilmer, Fremont and Carrie's eldest daughter. Hazel had married John Kilmer, probably sometime in the latter half of 1917 or early 1918. She was 20 years old, he 25. Apparently they were living in Montana — that was where he entered the army in the summer of 1918. Hazel went at first to stay with her in-laws in Iowa, and later came home to her own family. On December 30 she gave birth to this little girl who would be known as Juanita.

John was not there to celebrate the happy event, being still in France, but he would survive to see his daughter, and to father more children.

1920 Census.
1930 Census.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 3 Jan. 1919.
WWI Draft Cards.

Monday, January 2, 2012

At Melins' (Unidentified Glass-Plate Image)

At Melins'
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

The notes on the envelope: "No. 70/Name: At Melins."

"Melins" may be the Andrew and Emma Melin family. The 1910 Census shows them living on Cleveland Avenue (or maybe Michigan, it's not perfectly clear). The 1900 Census shows them in Hobart, but the enumerator did not make note of the streets. Both were Swedish immigrants and by 1910 had three sons.

I believe the man in the chair is Andrew Melin, because of this photo at the Hobart Historical Society museum:

Andrew Melin family

I think the lady in the polka-dot blouse (in the glass-plate image) is Tekla Anderson. The other two I can't identify.

We've seen these four people together before. (And would you believe I'm only just now noticing that there really are only four people in that earlier picture? The photographer did some double-exposure trick to get Mr. Cigar in there twice, which may account for the superimposed landscape.) And since they are all wearing the same clothes in both photos, both were probably taken the same day.

♦    ♦    ♦

[Update — 5/4/2012]

From CK Melin, this information about the glass-plate image:
Andrew Melin is seated at right. The young man standing on the left is William Olson, a "nephew" of either Andrew or Emma Melin. Also, see William Olson again in the family group photo of "the Melin family" that you have; standing at right.

In my Melin genealogy research, I can't make the family connection making him a nephew of Andrew. William Olson, in the Federal Census pages, is a Tinner which I suppose means he's in the plumbing & pipe fitting trade; but I'm not sure. Maybe a Tinner makes sinks and buckets. William Olson DID marry, so perhaps the lovely young lady is his wife. William died pretty young; I think of TB or perhaps asbestosis from all those pipes.
Now I see the resemblance between William Olson in the family portrait, and the umbrella-holding fellow in the glass-plate image. Sometimes I have to have things pointed out to me. (I don't know what a Tinner does, either.)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Ironweed Gone to Seed

Ironweed gone to seed
(Click on image to enlarge)

Just another pic of shriveled flowers in the December sunlight. Here's ironweed in summer.

I suppose it's because there is so little sunlight in December that I get fascinated by it.

"The Cider Man"

Walter K. Dietz had come to the village of Deep River from Illinois sometime between 1870 and 1880, when the census found him, at the age of 27, living in the household of George and Mary Wood and working at the village cheese factory. Twenty years later he was still there, by then living alone, describing himself as an engineer. He owned a building large enough to accommodate dances, known as "Dietz hall" and mentioned occasionally in the social columns; e.g., in February 1903, Walter announced his "annual Washington birthday dance," a masquerade ball to take place in Dietz hall on the 20th. In August of that year he announced another dance — these are the ones I took note of; there may have been others that I don't remember.

In October 1905 Walter fell seriously ill with "paralysis of the abdomen and lower limbs," according to the Gazette, which added (with the bluntness common at the time), "His recovery is quite doubtful." He was moved from his home to St. Margaret's Hospital in Hammond, and after several weeks' treatment there, he had improved enough to go stay with one of his brothers at Chadwick, Illinois.

October of 1906 saw another dance at Dietz hall, but whether Walter was there or not, I don't know. The next mention I find of him in my notes is in 1911, when he had just come back to Deep River after spending a year working in Waterloo, Iowa, and was "hustling to get his cider mill in operation for the season." The following year he reported pressing about a thousand gallons of cider in the course of a few weeks.

The next six years passed without a mention of him — in my own notes, anyway — until late in December 1918 came this announcement:
Walter K. Dietz, an old resident of Deepriver, and familiarly known as the cider man, is in very poor health, and has been for some time. He sold his house and lot to T.J. Cullman, the Deepriver miller, and last week accompanied his brother as far as Maywood, Ill. where he will stay a while with a niece and later go to his brother's, in Iowa.
And so "the cider man" left his long-time home, probably never to return, for he died in October 1919.

1870 Census.
1880 Census.
1900 Census.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 6 Feb. 1903; 7 Aug. 1903; 6 Oct. 1905; 13 Oct. 1905; 8 Dec. 1905; 19 Oct. 1906.
Indiana WPA Death Records Index.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 18 Aug. 1911; 1 Nov. 1912; 27 Dec. 1918.