Sunday, June 30, 2013

"Just Say You Care"

Among the treasures in the steamer trunk are postcards exchanged between Minnie Rossow and Herman Harms before their marriage.

We are lucky enough to have Minnie's own account of their courtship, from a booklet I found in the Harms genealogy file at the Hobart Historical Society museum. Entitled "The Harms Family of Hobart 1829-1992," the booklet seems to have been composed by Rheinhart Harms (Minnie and Herman's firstborn), whose own remarks supplement an essay written by Minnie (or perhaps told to Rheinhart by Minnie) over the years between 1952 and 1983. Here is what Minnie had to say about Herman and herself:

Boy Meets Girl — Minnie and Herman

I was born on a farm at 43rd. and Georgia (south Gary) and in 1906 moved with my family to a farm west of Wisconsin street in Hobart (across from the present Cressmoor golf course). My father, William Rossow donated land for the Gary-Hobart street car tracks. The old farm home still stands near the tracks.* I attended the Hobart Consolidated school but quit in 9th grade to attend Gary Business college for 12 months. Although I had met Herman in 1911, we didn't go steady until 1913. We might take a buggy ride after church on Sunday or go to a movie in the Stratton building or in the Fiester building where the newest hits were flashed on the screen. One I remember so well, "Could you grow fond of a nice young blonde if you loved a sweet brunette?".** The street car line was built from Hobart to Gary. Herman drove John Berndt's*** team for scraping and pulling stumps out of the way. One Saturday evening in the dead of winter, Herman asked my folks if we could get married. They agreed for he was handsome, polite and very considerate of them and me and also my sisters. He had attended the funeral of my stillborn brother in 1912 and just seemed to fit in our family.

Our wedding at 2:30 pm June 2, 1915 was one of the largest ever held in Hobart with nearly 400 guests in attendance. The church service by pastor Schuelke included music by the choral society of which the bride and groom were members. A special car on the interurban carried many of the relatives and guests to the church services and back to the Rossow home. The celebration lasted throughout the night with plenty of food and drink for all. A dancing platform had been erected adjoining the house. Music was provided by an Italian orchestra of four pieces. The Commercial club band, in which the groom played clarinet, came out at 10 pm to participate in the festivities. I was 18 and Herman was 21.

We began farming the day after our marriage.
*The house is no longer standing; I am told that it was near the current location of Foremost Liquors, 428 N. Wisconsin St.
**Music by Theodore F. Snyder, lyrics by Monroe E. Rosenfeld (1909). Sheet music here.
***John Berndt had married Herman's sister, Minnie, in April 1909.

♦    ♦    ♦

The earliest dated postcard (some have no date, or none legible) was sent January 7, 1912.

(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of E.H.


"Helen" may have been Helen Conrad, a friend of Minnie's whom I know nothing about.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

No Washing and Sundays Off

Amelia Goldman wanted help around the house, and Lee & Rhodes were heating up the second floor of the Morton building.

Goldman/Lee & Rhodes
(Click on image to enlarge)

The wages of that "good girl" in the Goldman household were equivalent to about $116 per week in 2013 dollars. If room and board were included, that wasn't too miserable. The average weekly wage for women in manufacturing jobs in 1920 was $15.14 (around $200 in 2013 money). (Men in unskilled manufacturing jobs at that time made about $22 per week; unionized tradesmen in Chicago earned $55 weekly.)

The Goldman household in 1920 was small — just Charles and Amelia, and the 16-year-old daughter who was mysteriously absent from the 1910 census. But they had a store to look after.

♦    ♦    ♦

The frivolous pleasure-seekers in the front-page cartoon here seem headed for the Gem Theater, where on Sunday evening they could catch Billie Burke, who is best known to us as Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz.

Gem Theater ad
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart News of Sept. 16, 1920.

Billie Burke ca 1920
Billie Burke circa 1920. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

1910 Census.
1920 Census.
♦ "All kinds of Wants." Hobart Gazette 17 Sept. 1920.
CPI Inflation Calculator.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 17 Sept. 1920.
♦ Smiley, Gene. "The U.S. Economy in the 1920s." EH.Net Encyclopedia. Edited by Robert Whaples. (2010).
♦ VanGiezen, Robert, and Albert E. Schwenk. "Compensation from before World War I through the Great Depression." Originally printed in Compensation and Working Conditions, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fall 2001. Posted January 30, 2003, to

Friday, June 28, 2013


From Mildred Lindborg's photo album.

25a Bud
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of N.B.

Mildred's caption identified this man as "Bud." No further information and no date.

I know of one "Bud" in the neighborhood — Herman Harms, Jr.; but he was born in 1919, so if this photo dates to the 1920s like the other photos in the album, it can't be the same Bud. Furthermore, if you enlarge this photo, you will notice that this Bud appears to have lost the index finger on his left hand, which rules out Herman Jr. As we know, losing parts of one's body was not uncommon in those days, so that doesn't narrow down the field too much.

The vine-covered structure behind this mysterious Bud was a shed built by Gust Lindborg to hold twine that he sold to local farmers. When he stopped selling twine, he let his kids take over the shed for their playhouse.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Clammy Ground Cherry

The first time I identified a Ground Cherry, I wasn't sure whether it was the Smooth or Clammy variety. This year I have both varieties growing within a few feet of each other, making it embarrassingly obvious that my earlier specimen was Smooth.

So here's Clammy Ground Cherry.

Clammy Ground Cherry
(Click on images to enlarge)

Its leaves are coarsely toothed and slightly downy.

Clammy Leaf

Downy stems! Downy calyxes! (Or calyces. Whatever.)

Clammy blossom

Here's the Smooth Ground Cherry growing next door.

Smooth Ground Cherry

Thinks it's so smooth, with those barely toothed leaves.

Smooth leaves

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mr. and Mrs. Muttonchops

The steamer trunk contained a cache of unidentified photographs. Two of them I have already recklessly identified as Louise Nolte. As for the others, I don't have a clue. I'm inclined to believe they are relatives or friends of the Harmses or Rossows, since it was likely Minnie Rossow Harms who collected them, but of course it's possible that they are total strangers — Minnie wouldn't be the only person ever to buy some random old photos at an antique store on a whim! I'm going to post them because (a) I find them interesting and (b) somebody out there might recognize them.

The first is a wedding photo.

1 Muttonchops
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of E.H.

Judging by the style of the bride's dress, I'm guessing this dates to around 1880, give or take a few years. The photographer's name is on the back.

1 Muttonchops verso

From this transcription of Goodspeed and Blanchard's Counties of Porter and Lake — Historical and Biographical (1882), we learn this:
John W. McLellan, photographer, is a native of La Porte County, Ind., his birth occurring August 2, 1848. He is the youngest son of a family of seven children, six yet living, born to Joseph and Fidelia (Reed) McLellan, who were natives of Vermont and Michigan, and of Scotch and Pennsylvania Dutch descent respectively. Joseph McLellan was a farmer, and came to La Porte County, Ind., in 1833, settling in Cool Spring Township, but afterward moving to Scipio Township, where he died in July 1881, preceded by his wife, both members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. John W. was reared in La Porte County, Ind., where he acquired a good common school education, afterward attending for two and one-half years the High School of Westville, Ind., and then attending and graduating from the State Normal School at Oswego, N.Y. He learned the photographic art in La Porte, Ind., of John Bryant, and for a short time afterward was engaged in the business at Rockford, Ill. In December 1873, he came to Valparaiso and purchased the studio of W.H. Hayward. He is a member of the National Photographic Association of the United States, and has an established and enviable reputation as a photographer. He was married August 20, 1873, to Miss Huldah A. Forbes, daughter of J.R. Forbes, appropriate mention of whom is made in the biographical department of Washington Township. To this union have been born two children — Mattie P. and Frank C., deceased. Mrs. McLellan was born July 13, 1849 in Canada. Mr. and Mrs. McLellan are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Mr. McLellan is a Republican, and a member of the I.O.O.F.
So we know his photography work in Valpo goes back as early as 1873. A Valparaiso directory from 1885 still lists him as a photographer, with his studio in the Union Block (wherever that might be). Beyond that, I know nothing. But the timeframe of 1873 to 1885 is consistent with my guess at the picture's date.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

First Motor School Bus

Speaking of schools, I recently came across these two photos, identified by handwritten notes on the back as the first motor school bus in Ross Township, 1920.

School bus 1920
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Merrillville/Ross Township Historical Society.

School bus 1920

Monday, June 24, 2013

W.G. Haan School Opens

If "last Tuesday" means the Tuesday before the newspaper went to press, then the first day of classes in the new W.G. Haan School was September 7, 1920.

(Also, a crime story involving our old friend William Raschka.)

School, News, 9-9-1920
(Click on image to enlarge)

In other school news, Lillian Keilman began teaching at the Vincent school, which I believe was located at the intersection of (present-day) Clay St. and 83rd Ave.

♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 9 Sept. 1920.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 10 Sept. 1920.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Boy Scout Troop Charter

Since we've struck a Boy Scout tangent, let's look at another treasure from the steamer trunk — a charter for Ainsworth's own Boy Scout troop:

Boy Scout Troop Charter 1947
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of E.H.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Gust and Anna

From Mildred Lindborg's photo album.

24 Gust and Anna in garden
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of N.B.

Gust and Anna Lindborg, in photos NOT taken on Labor Day 1923.

Actually, neither photo has a caption or a date.

The photo on the left was probably taken in the flower garden behind the Lindborg house in Ainsworth.

I don't know where the photo on the right was taken. Gust looks more jovial than usual.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Vern, There's A Man at the Door, Wants to Gas Up His Flying Machine

It wasn't quite true that people no longer bothered looking up at airplanes — witnesses reconstructed the route of this plane as it ran out of gas, came down in an oat-field, and eventually took off again. But probably the path of the plane's flight, or the sound of its engine, alerted people that it was in trouble, and who can resist looking, under those circumstances?

Airplane and Lincoln Hwy work
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart Gazette of Sept. 3, 1920.

Airplane route
(Click on image to enlarge)
My reconstruction of the incident. Think the NTSB will hire me?

The Bodamer who supplied the gas is not specified, and while the 1920 Census shows two Bodamer households nearby (on what's now South Hobart Road), Vernon Bodamer seems a more likely candidate than his widowed Aunt Bertha.

(Below the plane story, a little news about work on the Lincoln Highway.)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Shy Little One

From Mildred Lindborg's photo album.

23 Labor Day 1923 front porch
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of N.B.

According to Mildred's caption, this is yet another photo dating to Labor Day 1923. The shy-looking child on the front porch of the Lindborg home is unidentified.

Beyond the porch you can see the dance hall/blacksmith shop building. The dark shape behind the child's right shoulder is the staircase going up to the second level of the blacksmith shop.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Guernsey Family Reunion Photograph

While babysitting the Merrillville/Ross Township Historical Society museum last Sunday, I came across a photograph that may be relevant to my previous post mentioning the Guernsey family reunion in August 1920. I added the photo at the end of that post — go look at it if you're a Guernsey descendant, or if you care about the Guernseys, or if you like looking at old pictures, or if, like me, you have nothing better to do with your life.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Local Photographers List

Today's post is just to point out to you that I have added a new page over there in the sidebar on the right — a list of local photographers and their years of operation. It's in a very rough stage at this point. In some cases I simply had to estimate based on when someone showed up in the census describing himself as a photographer, or when death ruled out the possibility of his continuing a career that may have actually ended earlier. It's not much, but better than nothing, I suppose.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Clarence Harney

From the steamer trunk.

Clarence Harney
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of E.H.

This photo is printed on the front of an unused postcard. On the back someone has written "Clarence Harney." Clarence was the son of Fred and Mamie (Harms) Harney, born 1907. With no date on the postcard, I have to estimate his age here — maybe ten years old? That would put us at around 1917.

I believe that's a Boy Scout uniform he's wearing … though if this dates to the patriotic fervor of World War I, perhaps military-style clothing was the fad for boys. His outfit looks quite new and fresh.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Half a Miracle

Louis Nolte got out of the house — he got off the farm — he left the state! What a miracle!

But no mention of brother Henry.

Nolte et al. to Wisc. State Fair
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart Gazette of September 3, 1920.

Per the 1920 Census, Casper Binder was a 16-year-old farm hand working for John and Edith Sievert east of Ainsworth; William may have been his father or brother, if I've found the right family (living in Chicago) in the 1910 Census.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

More Labor Day

From Mildred Lindborg's photo album.

22 Labor Day 1923 side yard
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of N.B.

We definitely have a candidate for the title of Most Photographed Labor Day of Ainsworth, EVER.

I suppose one of the women was behind the camera taking the first picture, as all the grown men are accounted for: left to right, Franklin, Gust and Emil Lindborg. (Here you can really see the family resemblance between brothers Gust and Emil.) They are standing on the west side of the Lindborg house in Ainsworth. I do not know what that little one-story attachment on the back of the house is. Notice the watering can on the ground in front of it — Anna had to keep her flowers watered, not to mention the vegetable garden out back.

The second photo, yet another shot of the family, again on the west side of the house, more toward the front this time. Back row, left to right: Gust, Anna, Mildred, Franklin; front row, left to right: Gladys, Raymond and Norma. And this time Raymond is holding the dog's head to make it face the camera.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Freight Train Graffiti (Random Pointless Photos)

State Road 51 was blocked for several hours yesterday by a freight train stopped on the Canadian National Railway tracks. It was a big inconvenience for people trying to go south to, or north from, Route 30. I didn't want to go anywhere, however, just take pictures.

Graffiti 1
(Click on images to enlarge)

Graffiti 2

Graffiti 3

Graffiti 4

Graffiti 5

Graffiti 6

… I must admit that until yesterday I never knew there was such a place as Nampa, Idaho.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Auntie Mayme

From the steamer trunk.

Mayme and Fred Harney
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Eldon Harms.

Christened Maria at her birth in 1882, the eldest daughter of Henry and Anna Harms was known throughout her life as Mayme or Mamie. In 1903 she married Fred Harney. I think the young couple lived in Ainsworth, while Fred worked in the blacksmith shop of Ed Sauter. Around 1905 they moved to Hobart, and then to Miller. The 1910 census, taken in May, showed them back in Ross Township, farming rented land — probably her parents' farm east of Ainsworth. Just a month later they moved again to Hobart. That's where the 1920 census found them; Fred was working as a blacksmith, and they lived in a rented house. But in July 1920 they moved to their own house.

Fred & Mayme Harney
(Click on image to enlarge)

Their new home lay on the south side of her parents' town lot. Its address was 708 Lincoln Street, as you will find in the 1930 directory. And that, I believe, was their last move … until the eternal one.

1910 Census.
1920 Census.
♦ "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 24 Nov. 1904.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 20 Nov. 1903; 29 Sept. 1905; 10 June 1910; 30 July 1920.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Threshing Party

…and a load of fertilizer, and a lot of minor socializing.

South of Deepriver column
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart News of Sept. 2, 1920.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Labor Day 1923, Part 3

From Mildred Lindborg's photo album.

21 Labor Day 1923 backyard
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of N.B.

Yet another Labor Day family portrait, probably taken with Uncle Emil Lindborg's camera. Here we are still on the west side of the Lindborg house in Ainsworth, but we've moved slightly to the north, toward the Grand Trunk tracks.

Back row, left to right: Gust, Franklin, Anna, Mildred; front row: Norma, Raymond and Gladys.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Rude Tree (Random Pointless Photo)

Insolent tree
(Click on image to enlarge)

Why is my tree giving me the finger?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Farmhouse, Constructed

From the steamer trunk.

It's no longer a construction project; it's a home — curtains on all the windows, a swing on the porch. The decorative plants have leafed out, but they haven't had time yet to grow beyond planting size, and the dirt around the porch still looks pretty fresh and raw, so I suspect this photo of the Harms farmhouse dates to 1938 or maybe 1939.

1c - Harms house constructed
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of E.H.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Goodbye Horses, Hello Tractor

The Price farm gets mechanized, August 1920.

F.B. Price news
(Click on images to enlarge)
From the Hobart News of August 26, 1920.

♦    ♦    ♦

The "South of Deepriver" column from the same paper includes an interesting item about a schoolteacher off to teach in the wilds of South Dakota (or maybe the biggest city there, for all I know). While there were loads of Pecks in the area, I hadn't encountered the name "Myrl" before. I do wonder if it mightn't be Margaret Peck, a 21-year-old woman who had been working as a clerk in the Deep River store of William and Sadie Baker … and perhaps dying of boredom … but that's just my wild speculation.

"South of Deepriver" social column

Friday, June 7, 2013

Immature Pine Cones (Random Pointless Photos)

Immature pinecones
(Click on images to enlarge)

You guys are so immature! Why can't you be more like your brother?

Semi-mature pinecone

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Dr. Friedrich's Family

Dr. Friedrich's family
(Click on images to enlarge)

Nice-looking family, but I would never have recognized them had not some benefactor of humanity scrawled on the back, "Dr Fredricks Family" — and that, along with the "J.J. Naumann, Hobart, Ind." embossed on the front, allows us to make the identification. And once you know it, you do see the resemblance, don't you?

After looking over the 1910 and 1920 censuses and estimating the children's ages here, I think this photo dates to about 1915. Left to right (with approximate year of birth): Maria (1909), Dr. Louis M. Friedrich (1874), Martin (1905), Emma (1907), Dorothea (1912), Minnie (née Batterman) (1879), and Edna (1911).

There's a "Merry Christmas" sticker on the back; possibly the doctor and his wife distributed this card as holiday greetings, though this one did not go through the mail — uncovered, at any rate.

Dr. Friedrich's family verso

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sparrows Are Jerks (Random Pointless Photo)

Welcome to Super Slacker Summer Posting Time, brought to you by bloggers who are sick of the word "Ainsworth."

… So. The lovely barn swallows came back and in a few days built themselves a nice new nest.

As soon as the nest was completed but before any eggs were laid, a pair of sparrows started hanging out on the window frame, mugging all tough, occasionally jumping into the nest. It took only a couple days of psychological intimidation (I never saw them actually fight) for the barn swallows to abandon their nest to the sparrows.

Then the sparrows started re-decorating the nest to suit their taste. But the thing is, their taste is awful, and deep down they probably know it, as they have now been re-decorating longer than it took the swallows to build the nest in the first place, and show no signs of stopping. The result is the ugliest nest on the face of the planet:

Sparrows Are Jerks
(Click on image to enlarge)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Raymond at Two

From Mildred Lindborg's photo album.

20 Ray 2 yrs
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of N.B.

Mildred noted that her little brother Raymond, photographed here in the fenced front yard of the Lindborg house in Ainsworth, was two years old. Ray had been born June 12, 1918.

Behind him you can see the Lindborg business: the frame part of the building may have been an auto-repair shop by then; the brick part beyond that was still a blacksmith shop.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Coming Home, Leaving Home

While Fremont and Carrie Price had hopes that their fallen soldier would soon be laid to rest in his native land, Melvin Guernsey had hopes of getting away from his native land — specifically, from the cold winters of Lake County, Indiana.

Price-Guernsey, News, 8-26-1920
(Click on image to enlarge)

Melvin Guernsey had been born in 1891 and raised on the farm of his parents, David and Stella Guernsey, in southern Ross Township near the county line. On August 17, 1910, he married Verna* Strong. By the time they were planning their Florida stay, they had two young sons, and would leave behind the grave of an infant daughter who died in 1911.

Guernsey sale

But they hadn't left yet, so they probably attended the Guernsey family reunion:

Guernsey reunion
(Click on image to enlarge)

The "home of C.S. Guernsey" would be (I believe) the farm of Chester and Nancy Guernsey, on the southern border of Ross Township, close to the county line.

♦    ♦    ♦

[6/19/2013 update] Below is a photograph that, according to handwritten notes on the original, shows a "Guernsey reunion taken about 1920." No one in the photo is identified.

Guernsey family reunion
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Merrillville/Ross Township Historical Society.

*The 1930 census-taker calls her "Thelma," but all other references I can find agree on "Verna." I cannot find Melvin and Verna Guernsey in the 1920 Census.

1910 Census.
1930 Census.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
Lake County, Indiana, Birth Records Index, 1882-1920.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 26 Aug. 1920.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 19 Aug. 1910; 30 June 1911; 27 Aug. 1920.
♦ "Public Sale." Hobart News 26 Aug. 1920.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Duke of Ainsworth

From Mildred Lindborg's photo album.

19a The Duke
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of N.B.

Here is Franklin Lindborg — alias "The Duke," according to his sister, Mildred — standing in downtown Ainsworth. At left in the background is the former Sauter's Place; I do not know who owned or occupied that building in the early or mid-1920s, when this photo was probably taken.

Behind Franklin's boater and left hand, you can see William Raschka's grain warehouse.

A second photo on the same page in the album shows Franklin again (at right), with a friend — identity unknown, for the caption just calls him "Bud."

19b Bud and Sonny