Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wash Day

Photos taken inside the Hobart Historical Society museum.

The tools of non-motorized laundry: scrub board, boiler wash tub with hand-held wooden "agitator," and portable wringer attached.

Laundry equipment
(Click on images to enlarge)

Wringer detail

Now go in your laundry room and give your electric-powered automatic washing machine a hug.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

J.M. Swayze

From the Busse autograph collection.

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

Your old friend, who??? I can't find any information on any J.M. Swayze who seems likely to have been a friend of a Hobart schoolgirl.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

W.G. Haan School and Personnel, 1938

Another Ainsworth historian sent me these wonderful pictures from 1938, along with their appearance in a newspaper (I don't know which one).

(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of R.F.




Monday, February 25, 2013

The Old River Channel

This distressing story, from the Hobart Gazette of May 21, 1920, mentions a feature of Hobart I'd never heard of before: "the old river channel, west of Community hall" (i.e., the former Hobart House). I have no clue what that was.

Ross Graham, horses, river channel
(Click on image to enlarge)

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Photos taken inside the Hobart Historical Society museum.

These radiators in the bay window are not an exhibit, but they could be.

Radiator west
(Click on images to enlarge)

Radiator east

I love the scrolls on top. Below the relief valve is a relief flower, though it's been painted over so many times that its outlines are obscured.

Radiator detail

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Paula Moll

From the Busse autograph collection.

Paula Moll
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

When Martha Moll's little sister, Paula, got around to signing Lena's album, she didn't offer any sentimental stuff about green leaves upon the pine, but rather some practical advice about what to do when you are old and in harm(?). And she took a rather casual approach to how she got the words onto paper. Not your typical 13-year-old schoolgirl.

This undated portrait of Paula may have been made to commemorate her confirmation, so perhaps it was taken a year or two after she wrote about boots.

Paula Moll portrait

Per the Indiana Marriage Collection, Paula married Herbert Shearer in October 1917. The 1920 Census finds the young couple living in Hobart, he working at a brickyard, she staying home to care for their toddler daughter. All I know about Herbert is that he was not one of the Ainsworth Shearers.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Mover Moves On

When last we saw William Croan, it was a summer morning in 1915 and he was moving a whole house to Linda Street.

Now we meet him again on a spring morning in 1920, and it will be the last time we meet him.

Once again he had joined forces with Oscar Carlson. About 8:45 a.m. on May 13, William and Oscar were already hard at work on the Claude Bullock farm, north of Ainsworth on the banks of the Deep River.

The men were dismantling a barn, I gather, so that it could be moved. They were about to remove a large portion of the roof by sliding it down an incline. William was standing on the ground to one side of the incline when a large, heavy beam — six by six inches — suddenly slid sideways and caught William on the side of the head. He fell to the ground senseless.

When the witnesses (Claude and Mary Ann Bullock as well as Oscar) could not revive him, they sent for Dr. Dwight Mackey. The doctor arrived only to find himself useless. He judged that William had died instantly, or nearly so. Nothing was left to do but notify the family, and take the dead man to Alwin Wild's funeral parlor.

Neither Hobart newspaper, in reporting on the tragedy, was able to give William's exact age, nor did they later print any more extensive obituary; according to his grave marker, he was born in 1864. He had survived a wife, and was survived by another; one daughter from his first marriage (now Mrs. Oscar Meyers of Chicago), and three more daughters still at home, as well as two step-daughters (one of whom was Edna Schiel of Toledo, Ohio).*

The funeral was held the afternoon of Sunday, May 16, under the direction of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and William was laid to rest in Hobart Cemetery, never to move again.

Calvin C. Shearer was appointed administrator of his estate, and a month later offered William's house-moving business, as well as some personal property, for sale to the public.

William Croan
(Click on images to enlarge)
William Croan's grave marker in Hobart Cemetery.

Phoebe Croan
The grave marker of Phoebe, a wife who preceded him in death.

Croan children
These stones are now illegible, but earlier readers (per the Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society's compilation of Hobart Township Cemeteries) were able to decipher inscriptions (on the central obelisk, I assume) for a baby boy, Walter D. Croan, who died May 18, 18?? [last two digits illegible] at the age of 8 months and 6 days, and a little girl, Lilly M. Croan, who died October 25, 1888, aged 6 years, 11 months and 11 days, as well as the initials "W.D.C." and "L.M.C." — probably on the two little stones flanking the obelisk.

*This information comes from combining the accounts of the two Hobart newspapers. Other sources raise some questions. The 1900 Census shows William, as of June 1900, married to May for four years, although the grave marker of the wife who died in September 1900 bears the name Phoebe; May claims to be the mother of one child only, living or dead; William claims an 11-year-old daughter, Mamie, and a 9-year-old stepdaughter, Edna Hanes. The Indiana Marriage Collection shows him marrying, in Lake County, Phoebe (last name illegible) in 1896, and Ellen Johnson in 1902, but also shows a William Croan marrying (in Marion County) an Amanda Adams, in 1888, which could account for the 11-year-old daughter — except that the Marion County William and Amanda seem to be still alive and married in 1900. Little Lilly's grave being in this group suggests she was William's daughter or step-daughter, but she was born in 1881 or '82. I leave it up to genealogists to figure this all out.

♦ "Funeral of William Croan Held Last Sunday Afternoon." Hobart News 20 May 1920.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 24 June 1920.
♦ "Notice of Administration." Hobart News 20 May 1920.
♦ "William Croan Killed Instantly This Morning." Hobart News 13 May 1920.
♦ "Wm. Croan Killed." Hobart Gazette 14 May 1920.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Directories Page Added

Finally got around to adding a new page to the Downtown Hobart blog for Directories.

And that's all I got done yesterday. My day was just looking at kittens, cleaning house, looking at kittens some more, watching kitten #5 be born in the early afternoon (about 12 hours after the first four — surprise!), adding Directories page, showing off kittens to visitors, looking at kittens after visitors left. How could anyone expect me to blog when there are newborn kittens to look at?

Five now

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Maisy Is a Mom

Last night Maisy finally had her kittens! Four little ones — two black with white markings, two all-black.

Maisy the Mom
(Click on image to enlarge)

Ornaments of the Old High School

Photo taken inside the Hobart Historical Society museum.

The label on the exhibit says it all.

Old High School Ornaments
(Click on image to enlarge)

I can't think of anything artsy to do to this one.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Martha Sonntag

From the Busse autograph collection.

Here we go again with the green leaves upon the pine.

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

Martha was living in Hobart Township when she signed Lena's album, but she had once lived "near Ainsworth," in the words of the Gazette, and the 1900 census also shows the family somewhere roughly south of the Ainsworth-Deep River area (if I can judge correctly by their neighbors), farming rented land. The family then consisted of William and Alvina Sonntag and their seven children, who ranged in age from late teens* down to the five-year-old Martha — the baby of the family, and the only one not born in Germany.

In February 1903, the Sonntags moved to Hobart Township, to rent the "Christian Heck farm," which lay approximately where Tenth Street meets S. Decatur Street (aka Clay, aka Arizona). By 1908 they had moved to "the Oliver Hayward farm southwest of town," and in 1910 (judging by their neighbors in the census), they were still living there, or near there, although in the spring of 1908 they had bought the "Geo. Stoeckert thirty-four acres southeast of town." (I don't know. Look at the 1908 Plat Map and drawn your own conclusions.) By 1920, it appears that William and Alvina had retired from farming and moved to a home on Lake Street; of all their children, only Martha remained with them, single and employed as a saleslady at some unspecified department store. And beyond that, I lose track of her.

Well, I don't have a picture of Martha, so how about a story about her father's horse accident at Ainsworth?

Wm. Sonntag accident
(Click on image to enlarge)

*The census is almost illegible on that point. I'm not sure it's possible for Selma to be "4," as has it, because someone named Selma Sonntag married in 1906. (See "Local Drifts," Hobart Gazette 26 Oct. 1906.)

1891 Plat Book.
1900 Census.
1908 Plat Map.
1910 Census.
1920 Census.
1926 Plat Book.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 7 Aug. 1903; 3 Apr. 1908.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 13 Feb. 1903.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Twenty Years to the Day

Twenty years to the day after her husband died, Anna Harper went to join him. She had been a resident of Ross Township for at least half a century, yet her passing prompted only this brief mention in one of the Hobart papers.

Anna Harper death notice
(Click on image to enlarge)

Anna had been born a Goodrich, so the two brothers were Levi and Charles; she married Middleton Harper in 1872. The home "near Merrillville" where she died was, I believe, the farm of her daughter Eva and son-in-law Walter, on the south side of 73rd Avenue west of Ainsworth — part of the old Morgan Blachly land. The land that had once been known as the "Mid Harper farm" was now the Sizelove farm.

Harper, Mid and Annie
(Click on image to enlarge)

I had to go back and look at the 1900 microfilm to find out what kind of a write-up Middleton Harper got upon his death. It was more than Anna had:
Middleton Harper, a farmer near the Adam's school house in Ross township, died Sunday evening, May 6th, 1900, aged 49 years 4 months and 25 days. The deceased was born in Montgomery Co, Ind., but for the last thirty years had been a resident of Lake county. During recent years he had become very fleshy, so much so that he weighed over three hundred pounds, and as a result he became afflicted with fatty degeneration of the heart. The funeral service conducted by Rev. J.L. Greenway took place at the church in Merrillville on Tuesday, a large number of friends being present. The deceased was a good neighbor and was respected by all who knew him. He leaves a mother, wife and three daughters, also two brothers and one sister.

There is no Death! What seems so is transition;
This life of mortal breath
Is but a suburb of the life elysian,
Whose portal we call Death.

And though at times impetuous with emotion
And anguish long suppressed,
The swelling heart heaves moaning like the ocean,
That cannot be at rest,—

We will be patient, and assuage the feeling
We may not wholly stay;
By silence sanctifying, not concealing,
The grief that must have way.
The poetry is an excerpt from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Resignation." I shall have to wait until I retire from blogging and have some free time so I can go and check the Crown Point newspapers of 1920, before I make any remarks about Anna's family not being able to find any poetry for her.

1870 Census.
1920 Census.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
Indiana WPA Death Records Index.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 6 May 1920.
♦ "Obituary." Hobart Gazette 11 May 1900.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Dear Friend . . ."

From the Busse autograph collection.

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

A mystery! Someone — we shall never know who — started to sign Lena's album and failed to get past the salutation.

I personally don't put too much faith in the "08" of the date. Haven't we all, at some point during the first few weeks of some new year, written the old year by mistake?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

1930 Telephone Directory

Thanks to Bonnie, who lent me her very own original, I can now bring you a scan of a 1930 telephone directory for Hobart, Valparaiso and other nearby towns.

Click here to view PDF directory.

I'm delighted to have this — it's the oldest Hobart directory I've seen so far. And now I know the phone number for Chester's Camp!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Hobart's Own Motorcycle Racetrack

The Hobart Motorcycle Club had been organized in the summer of 1919. For its first racing season, its members had to content themselves with racing in other towns, such as Crown Point and Valparaiso ; but they had plans for Hobart.

By the spring of 1920 those plans were coming to fruition. In early May, the club announced that it had secured a lease of several years* on 30 acres owned by Jerry McAuliffe. The News described the leased parcel as "just east of town out Cleveland avenue on the Hobart-Valpo road," so I think we're talking about some part of this land:

McAuliffe land 1926
(Click on image to enlarge)
This shows land owned by Jerry McAuliffe, and his father, T. McAuliffe, in 1926.

The members of the motorcycle club set about preparing a three-quarter-mile race track. The Powers-Thompson Construction Co., which was then at work paving some of Hobart's streets, allowed the club to use its "router machine," and Lloyd Arnold donated his steam tractor engine. The club planned to hold its first race on May 30.

*Six years according to the News, while the Gazette says three.

1910 Census.
1920 Census.
1926 Plat Book.
♦ "First Motorcycle Races To Be Held Here May 30th." Hobart News 6 May 1920.
♦ "Motorcycle Race Track Started." Hobart Gazette 7 May 1920.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Margaret Rieck

From the Busse autograph collection.

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

So many of these autographs are dated January 13, 1909, that I wonder if Lena brought her new album to school that day and circulated it among her friends.

Margaret was born in 1896 to Fred and Sofie Rieck, both German immigrants. I believe that Sofie, widowed in 1916, would later marry John Kegebein, who had once farmed his land half a mile north of Ainsworth. But as for Margaret, I have not been able to trace her beyond the 1910 Census, nor do I have a photo of her.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Oil and Lumber and
What to Do on Saturday Night

A couple more entries in the "Hobart in Epitome" series that I found mildly interesting — the first updating us on some old acquaintances, Lewis E. Barnes, Calvin C. Shearer, and William J. Killigrew.

Oil and Lumber, "Hobart in Epitome"
(Click on image to enlarge)

♦    ♦    ♦

As for what to do on a lovely Saturday night in April … if you aren't afraid of catching the measles that are going around …

Saturday night and measles
(Click on image to enlarge)

Wings of the Morning had a fantastic story line and a handsome leading man.

Lone Wolf's Daughter
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

♦    ♦    ♦

In other old-acquaintance news, on April 19, 1920, Miss May Blachly bought the Louise Jacobs house and lot on Lake Street. Perhaps May was tired of living with her mother, or intended to rent out the house. Although house numbers were coming into vogue, this time no address was given. The Hobart Gazette described the house as being located "between the Fetterer and the Hancock property," which doesn't tell me much. My 1947 telephone directory shows a Walter Blachly living at 674 S. Lake Street; perhaps we shall find out if that had ever been May's house.

♦ Advertisements. Hobart News 15 Apr. 1920.
♦ "Local and Personal. Hobart News 15 Apr. 1920; 22 Apr. 1920.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 23 Apr. 1920.
♦ McDonald, J. Frank. "Hobart Lumber Company." Hobart News 22 Apr. 1920.
♦ McDonald, J. Frank. "National Oil and Supply Company." Hobart News 22 Apr. 1920.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

American Adding Machine

Photos taken inside the Hobart Historical Society museum.

Here are two of the very few of my macro-lens photos that turned out in focus.

American Adding Machine
(Click on images to enlarge)

Well, more or less in focus. This is where I got artsy with a close-up of the keys.

American Adding Machine keys

Now, what can I do to make it unbearably artsy — how about layering?

artsy adding machine

… I'm an artistic genius.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Martha Moll

From the Busse autograph collection.

Martha Moll
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

While I fail to see any connection between the color of pine needles and the choice of friends, evidently this little poem was popular in this place and time for autograph albums — we shall see it again.

Martha was 14 years old and the middle child of Gustav and Huldah Moll. The 1910 Census shows the family of eight — counting Huldah's elderly mother — living on Kelly Street (possibly neighbors of our friends Charles and Anna Lee). Gustav worked as a section foreman for one of the railroads.

At this point I don't know what became of Martha. The 1920 Census shows her still single, still living with her parents, and I think I've found a 1925 phone directory that shows her working as a bookkeeper in Gary, still living in Hobart … and beyond that I can't trace her.

Here she is in a formal portrait that is undated, but I would guess it was taken within a few years of her signing Lena's album.

Martha Moll portrait

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Update! More Photos of Caroline

Another update to the Caroline Sapper autograph post — three beautiful photos of the young Caroline.

Many thanks to Marilyn for contributing these.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

1947 Telephone Directory

So I finally got through scanning that 1947 phone directory I bought on Ebay and uploaded it, for your reading enjoyment. It includes Valparaiso, Chesterton, East Gary, Hobart, Kouts, Ogden Dunes and Wheeler.

Click here to view PDF directory.

I shall have to add a permanent "Directories" page to the Downtown Hobart 1979 blog one of these days. And then I shall have to get my hands on more directories to scan so the title won't be a lie.

Friday, February 8, 2013

State-of-the-Roads Report

Random road-related items, from mid-April to mid-May 1920 …

South Main Street is getting paved, but not fast enough for this fruit truck; a team of horses finally saves the day.

Truck stuck on Main St.
(Click on images to enlarge)

In this ad, Goodrich makes bad roads a selling point for its tires.

Newman's ad for Goodrich tires

The Gazette of April 23, 1920, was just full of road tidbits.

Road items

The last News of April added: "The work of grading Indiana and Lillian streets is about completed ready for the pavers."

By early May 1920, the Lake County commissioners were considering a proposed cement road running from Gary to Miller, then north to Lake Michigan and east to the Porter County line, thus cutting across northern Hobart Township. (According to, e.g., the 1926 Plat Book, Hobart Township extended north to Lake Michigan at the time.) The proposed road would consist of two 20-foot-wide cement lanes divided by a 20-foot median. From the heights of Indiana Ridge, John Dorman wrote an open letter supporting the proposal, as it would help make Hobart "a high class suburb to Gary."

John Dorman open letter re: roads

Of course, everyone favors good roads, but not everyone favors paying for them; and when the county commissioners met on May 10 for a vote, they had before them a remonstrance signed by "several hundred" Hobart Township citizens who protested that the road's $250,000 cost was more than the township could afford. And in the end the commissioners voted down the road proposal.

♦ Advertisement. Hobart News 22 Apr. 1920.
♦ "John F. Dorman Favors Good Roads." 7 May 1920.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 15 Apr. 1920; 29 Apr. 1920.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 23 Apr. 1920.
♦ "Road Petition Denied." Hobart Gazette 14 May 1920.
♦ "Who Will Pay?" Hobart Gazette 23 Apr. 1920.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Updated with Photos … and a Story

Caroline Sapper's autograph page has been updated with photos and a story contributed by the DeWell Family archivist.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cider Press

Photos taken inside the Hobart Historical Society museum.

Cider press label
(Click on images to enlarge)

Cider press hopper

Cider press silhouette

Cider press

Looks like an awful lot of work, to get a little apple juice. Why didn't they just go to the supermarket? [Facetious remark.]

Continuing in my quest to master the art of bad photography, I've discovered another technique that I've neglected: the vignette. So here goes:

Cider press vignette

Doesn't it just bring tears to your eyes?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Caroline Sapper

From the Busse autograph collection.

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

We already know that six years after she signed Lena's album, Caroline became Mrs. Owen Nelson.

♦    ♦    ♦

[2/6/2013 update] From the DeWell Family Archives come the following two photos of Caroline Sapper Nelson. The first is undated.

Nelson, Caroline (Sapper)
(Click on images to enlarge)

This next one was taken in 1980, on the occasion of Caroline and Owen's 65th wedding anniversary. From left to right: Caroline, Owen, Howard Ewen, Ruth Schavey Ewen, and Annabelle Schavey Larson.

Nelson, Leslie Owen & Caroline Sapper Nelson

Ruth and Annabelle were Caroline's nieces (the daughters of her sister Louise Sapper Schavey DeWell by Louise's first husband, whom she lost to the Spanish influenza). Howard Ewen was Ruth's husband.

The archivist tells us this story:
The Sappers lived in Chicago when the kids were young. Their dad owned a grocery near the Pullman area. My mom remembers hearing that Aunt Caroline, and her brother Uncle John (of the farm market in Hobart) were little scrappers. They said they had to fight their way home every day from school through a line of other kids (probably the German Sappers vs. the Italians or Irish). Caroline and John probably barely topped five feet as adults, but I have no doubt they were tough!

Many thanks for these contributions!

♦    ♦    ♦

[2/9/2013 update] Thanks to Marilyn (granddaughter of Caroline Sapper), we now have some images of Caroline in her youth.

This first one is not dated, but I'm guessing circa 1900, since she looks roughly five years old here, and she was born in 1895.

Caroline Sapper ca 1900
(Click on images to enlarge)

We have tried to decipher these handwritten notes on the back of the original:

verso C Sapper ca 1900

Here's my interpretation thus far:

decipher attempt

It seems to be a description of the details of Caroline's portrait that would be lost in the black-and-white version. I wonder if perhaps her mother gave instructions to the photographer to produce another version, retouched with some color?

Moving along, here is Caroline's confirmation class at Trinity Lutheran Church, undated, but we're guessing circa 1910. Caroline is in the middle row, third from the right.

Confirmation class, Trinity, ca 1910.

No one else is identified — a pity, since it's a great photo. Perhaps someday there will be time for research on that.

Last but not least, we have Caroline's wedding photo, taken February 14, 1915:

Owen and Caroline (Sapper) Nelson, Feb. 14, 1915

She was a beautiful bride, but she seems to be staring down the photographer … while Owen is gazing dreamily off-camera. (I have also added this photo to the previous post about their wedding.)