Saturday, May 31, 2014

Merrillville From the Air, 1939

Here we have two aerial photos of Merrillville from 1939.

2014-5-31 BFJ-03-086
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Indiana Geological Survey, I.U. Bloomington.

2014-5-31 BFJ-03-087

I got these thinking they would clarify the location of the railroad depot, but I was wrong. There are two rectangles in that vicinity and we're not sure which is the depot.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Cement for the Lincoln Highway

"Truck loads of cement are being hauled via Hobart to Ainsworth for the Lincoln Highway," said the Gazette, early in April 1921. "This would indicate that cement work will soon start." This was welcome news to motorists (especially those driving oil trucks).

Just a few days later, Ainsworth became the center of cement activity.

5-30-2014 Cement
(Click on image to enlarge)

I believe "the Will Smith corner" refers to a long-time resident who died in 1919; he had once owned 50 acres on the south side of the Lincoln Highway where it meets Ainsworth Road* — he hadn't actually lived there since 1907, and yet the custom of naming this intersection after him persisted.

5-30-2014 W. Smith land 1908
(Click on image to enlarge)
The William Smith farm as it appears on the 1908 Plat Map.

For about a month, bad weather interfered with the Lincoln Highway work.

5-30-2014 Weather delay
(Click on image to enlarge)

Also, a "South of Deepriver" column, which tells us that Esther Guernsey was back after teaching a school year in South Dakota. And a revival at the Deep River church.

*Called Greene Street from that intersection as it moves northeast to a gentle curve where it imperceptibly becomes Ainsworth Road; but as far as I'm concerned it's all Ainsworth Road.

♦ "Additional Local News." Hobart Gazette 8 Apr. 1921.
♦ "Pouring Cement." Hobart Gazette 15 Apr. 1921.
♦ "Rainy Weather Retards Work on the Lincoln Highway." Hobart News 5 May 1921.
♦ "South of Deepriver." Hobart News 5 May 1921.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Strattan Building: A Natural Resource

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources' Gene Gladson Historic Theater Photo Collection comes an undated view of the Strattan Opera House (among other Lake County theaters).

Strattan Opera House, undated
(Click on image to enlarge)

I only wish the picture were larger.

I have added it to the Downtown Hobart blog.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Bairn and a Barn

In April 1921, Owen and Caroline (Sapper) Nelson welcomed their first daughter, after two sons. The 1920 census shows the family farming rented land in southern Hobart Township, which may still be the "Hoffman farm."

And the Gruels put a lot of thought into planning a new barn, which I believe will be their glorious cow barn.

5-28-2014 Gruel barn planned
(Click on image to enlarge)

1920 Census.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 28 Apr. 1921.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Everybody Is Doing It

From the steamer trunk.

Minnie Rossow sent this daring postcard to her friend, Herman Harms.

5-27-2014 1912-09-26-a
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of E.H.

And again, no matter how much fun she has with her friends or relatives, she's thinking of Herman.

5-27-2014 1912-09-26-b

I wonder if "Lillie M." might be Lillie Mueller. The Muellers did have boarders in their house, according to the 1910 census (where their name appears as "Miller"). But then who was the married sister? — Hattie? She was still single when the census was taken in April 1910, but I do find a couple records of a Hattie Miller, approximately our Hattie's age, being married in Cook County between the census and 1912: one in July 1910 (to Robert Kirchner) and one in September 1911 (to Frank Charles Kleinhans).

… So I've got a nice little theory here, but it's far from proven.

1910 Census.
Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index.

Monday, May 26, 2014

How the Class of 1921 Partied

Hobart High School's Class of 1921 had its class dinner on the Paine farm, west of Ainsworth. From the report, I gather that Ethel Paine did much of the hard work of preparing the food and d├ęcor — surprising, given her health problems, but then again not so surprising, given that Alice was her only daughter.

5-26-2014 Class Dinner
(Click on images to enlarge)

I am mystified as to why the cars were left at the Frank residence.

The above article is from the News; the following day's Gazette ran the same article next to an ad for the class play, A Modern Ananias.

5-26-2014 Class Play 1921

♦ "Class Dinner Given by the Senior Class Hobart High School." Hobart News 28 Apr. 1921.
♦ "Class Dinner." Hobart Gazette 29 Apr. 1921.
♦ "Senior Class Play" (advertisement). Hobart Gazette 29 Apr. 1921.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Class of 1921: Alice Paine

Alice Paine was another farm girl, living west of Ainsworth. Her parents, Albion and Ethel, had bought the old Bullock homestead in 1913.

5-25-2014 Alice Paine 1921
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

The family came here from Iowa, where Alice and two of her brothers had been born. Her youngest brother was born on their new farm in 1915.

I've been following the Paines since they got here, so I don't have a lot to add — just a few random things I find in looking over my notes:
  • Just a few days after moving into their new home in April 1913, Ethel Paine "suffered a slight concussion of the brain by accidentally striking her head against a nail in the wall." She recovered.
  • Later that month, they ran the following ad in the News: "Wanted — To do dressmaking by the day. Inquire of A.D. Paine. Phone 1607-R 1." I must admit I'm not sure whether they were seeking to hire in a dressmaker, or someone in the house wanted to hire out as one.
  • In the summer of 1914, Albion set about "making alterations to the [former] Bullock farm, including plumbing and hot water heating system, and hydro-pneumatic water system" that was unusual at the time, though the report did not say why.
  • On a cold day in January 1916, bad things happened to Albion:
    Saturday morning, while A.D. Paine was on his way to the milk stand, his horse became frightened and ran away, throwing him out on the hard gravel road, rendering him unconscious for the time being. Dr. Brink was called and found Mr. Paine suffering from a slight concussion of the brain, a severe laceration of the scalp, one thumb fractured and one dislocated, besides being hurt internally about the left chest, and also suffered from a wound in the hip. While Mr. Paine is in a serious condition, he is resting easy.
    Within about a week he was able to leave his bed and get around a bit.
  • That summer, Albion lost his older brother Henry, who had moved to Gary in its early days, "started in the hardware business, and continued until 1912, when he sold out." Suffering from ill health, Henry had gone to Florida, accompanied by "Dr. Mayo, the famed specialist" — but in vain, it seems.
  • Farmers meeting in the Hobart Public Library in March 1917 heard that the Paine farm was to be the site of an agricultural test in the coming season — different varieties of oats, including some not usually grown in the area, would be planted on the same farm under the same conditions to test their performance.
  • Health problems continued to plague Albion and Ethel over the years: for her, an attack of appendicitis in 1916, followed two years later by a "serious operation" at Wesley Hospital in Chicago, performed by Dr. Davis of Chicago and Dr. Brink of Hobart; she did not return home until November, and even then she was not fully recovered, but hopeful. As for Albion, Christmas 1920 brought him such an attack of rheumatism that he was confined to bed for nearly a month; in March 1921, still suffering, he traveled to Chicago to consult a bone specialist, who advised that Albion must have a special brace for his back, and must remain in bed until he got it.
On a happier note, in May of 1917 Alice Paine (along with Grace Nelson) completed the eighth grade in the little two-room wooden schoolhouse at Ainsworth. From there, I suppose, they both went to Hobart High School.

What little we see of Alice's personality in the 1921 yearbook suggests an old head on young shoulders — a good thing for a future teacher.

5-25-2014 Alice Paine Character Page 1921

5-25-2014 Alice Paine Class Will 1921

1920 Census.
1930 Census.
♦ "Additional Local." Hobart News 20 Jan. 1916.
♦ "Funeral of Henry A. Paine Held Sunday." Hobart News 20 July 1916.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 30 May 1918; 18 Nov. 1920; 10 Mar. 1921.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 30 Apr. 1915; 28 Jan. 1916; 28 Jan. 1921.
♦ "Meets With Accident." Hobart Gazette 21 Jan. 1916.
♦ "Personal and Local Mention." Hobart News 9 Apr. 1913; 23 Apr. 1913; 18 May 1916; 14 July 1914.
♦ "Ross Township Commencement." Hobart Gazette 18 May 1917.
♦ "Under the Knife." Hobart Gazette 7 June 1918.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Class of 1921: Dorothea Crisman

Meet Dorothea Crisman, who never had a bad hair day.

5-24-2014 Dorothea Crisman 1921
(Click on images to enlarge)
Yearbook images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Her parents, John and Ella Crisman, owned a farm in Ross Township, as nearly in the village of Deep River as a farm could be, where they raised dairy cows and occupied that house so recently wiped off the face of the earth.

Her father was actually John Jr., and John Sr. was one of 13 children — which leaves me deeply confused about all the Crisman relations and unsure whether I ought to be taking notes when I encounter the name in microfilm, nor can I tell you if this Crisman family had any connection to the village of Crisman. The earliest I can find these Crismans in the area (Porter County) is 1880.

Anyway, John Jr. married Ellen Guernsey, daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth (Hurlburt) Guernsey, in 1902. Dorothea, their firstborn, arrived in 1903. I find a few references to them in my notes: in 1904 "John and wife" were living at Hurlburt's Corners, wherever that may be;* in 1905 they were living on "the Guernsey farm south of Ainsworth," which might still be Hurlburt's Corners for all I know. It wasn't until after 1910 that they bought the farm in Ross Township; by 1911 John (Jr.) was a citizen of Deepriver, according to the Hobart News.

Here's a little story about a farmhand who hired on with them in 1915 and turned out to be a fugitive:

5-24-2014 Crisman 1915 story
(Click on image to enlarge)

By 1920 the Crismans had six children.

I haven't looked into Dorothea's future. When she looked into her own, she saw herself teaching "D.S." — Domestic Science, maybe?

5-24-2014 Dorothea Crisman Character Page 1921

In the Class Will, I have no idea what she is saying.

5-24-2014 Dorothea Crisman Class Will 1921

Was the Ford roadster driven by her classmate, Harry Hawke? — he just couldn't keep his hands off that magnificent hair.

5-24-2014 Harry and her hair part 1

5-24-2014 Harry and her hair part 2

(Incidentally, the "Martin" pictured with Dorothea and Dorothy, in the first picture, was Martin Friedrich.)

*I have sinced learned from a Hurlburt descendant that "Hurlburt's Corners" was the intersection of Randolph Street and E. 93rd Avenue.

1880 Census.
1910 Census.
1920 Census.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 2 June 1905.
♦ Hobart High School Memories yearbook, 1921.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
♦ "Marshall Rose Locates Boy." Hobart Gazette 19 Nov. 1915.
♦ "Personal Mention." Hobart News 20 Apr. 1911.
♦ "Small's Crossing." Hobart Gazette 2 Sept. 1904.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Class of 1921: Grace Nelson

Hobart High School's class of 1921 included three of our acquaintances. Let's start with Grace Nelson.

5-23-2014 Grace Nelson 1921 Memories
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

She was the daughter of Charles and Lovisa Nelson, their second-to-youngest child. Grace lived with her widowed mother and her younger brother, Wayne, in the village of Ainsworth, where I believe they had moved soon after Lovisa retired from farming in late autumn 1915.

Another, undated portrait from the museum's files includes handwritten notes that tell of an important event in Grace's life to come in 1929 …

5-23-2014 Grace Nelson

…but we shall see how she spends her time until then.

The 1921 yearbook includes some clues about her personality and social life:

5-23-2014 Grace Nelson Character Page 1921

5-23-2014 Grace Nelson Class Will 1921

And these photos, from a collage of informal snapshots of the Class of 1921:

5-23-2014 Grace Nelson and Tin Lizzie 1921

I want to believe that the caption is not a joke — that Grace had a Tin Lizzie, or at least drove someone else's so often it might as well have been hers.

1920 Census.
♦ Hobart High School Memories yearbook, 1921.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

O, Du Lieber Augustin

From the steamer trunk.

It was a silly card that Minnie Rossow selected for Herman Harms …

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

… but it has inspired me to look into the history of that song, which I've spent most of my life associating with ice-cream trucks.

Though Minnie's been having lots of fun in Gary, she still misses her Ainsworth friend.

5-22-2014 1912-09-05-b

And above her initials she writes "XXX" — had they already got to the kissing?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

New Ties (Railroad Kookery)

I can't believe it's been nearly three years since that parade of equipment came through on the Canadian National tracks, removing old scrap railroad ties from the right-of-way. Seems like only yesterday.

Yesterday, the same parade came through, only this time it wasn't taking away ties, it was tossing piles of new ones along the right-of-way.

I took a few photos as the crew worked. Click on the image below to see the whole set.


New railroad ties smell pretty awful — I'm guessing it's the creosote used to preserve them? — and the whole neighborhood smelled that way after these guys got through. At night came a storm with heavy rain, which helped a little.

Anyway, I expect we'll soon be seeing more work on the tracks, as old ties are taken out and these new ties put in. This sheds a new light on some work that took place early this spring, when bulldozers and other equipment showed up and removed a giant pile of scrap ties that had been sitting at the bend of Ainsworth Road since I moved here in 1990. At the time I thought they were being nice, cleaning up after themselves. Now I expect they were just making room for a new giant pile of scrap ties.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Merrillville Then and Now: C.C. & L.R.R. Depot

Circa 1909, and 2014.

5-20-2014 CCLRR depot by Haase
5-20-2014 CCLRR depot site 2014
(Click on images to enlarge)

Not exactly illuminating, is it? The former railroad is now a bike path, and all traces of the depot are gone.

Someone tried to explain its location to me as we looked out the front window of the Merrillville/Ross Township Historical Society Museum on 73rd, just west of Broadway. "It was behind that second evergreen," she said.

5-20-2014 Second evergreen

Let's hope those evergreens never get cut down.

The postcard is postmarked Dec. 1909, meaning that the depot had but a short time to bear the name of the Chicago, Cincinnati & Louisville Railroad. By July 1910 it would be the Chesapeake & Ohio RR depot.

Here's the verso:

5-20-2014 CCLRR Depot verso

I believe the sender was 19-year-old Hattie Nasshahn McCarty, writing to her brother, Emil (about 22 years old). The Nasshahn family lived in Merrillville — from when, I'm not sure, as I can't find records of them earlier than 1900, but an infant sister, Lydia, who died in 1885, is buried in Merrillville Cemetery, as is their father, Emil Sr. (d. 1891), their mother, Elizabeth (d. 1911), and another sister who died in childhood.

The family earned a mentioned in A Pictorial History of Merrillville, which states that the widowed Elizabeth and her children ran a grocery out of their own home, "located on West 73rd Avenue across from the old Iddings house and adjacent to the Perry Goodrich home."

In 1908 Hattie married Frank McCarty, a railroad telegraph operator — I do wonder if he is one of the men pictured on the postcard! Sometime between 1910 and 1920, the McCarty family moved to Noble County, Indiana, where Frank and Hattie lived out the rest of their lives. As for Emil, he lived, married, fathered, and died in Oregon.

1900 Census.
1910 Census.
1920 Census.
♦ Clemens, Jan, and Merrillville/Ross Twp. Historical Society. A Pictorial History of Merrillville. 1976, updated 1991.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
♦ Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society. Ross Township Cemeteries. 1995.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Cute But Ruthless

Let's play "this ain't it, but it might have looked like this" again.

This slide caught my attention because handwritten notes on the original identify the place as "Mom Chester's farm." And I have been told by a native Ainsworthite that Ruth Chester (George's wife) used to drive the tractor herself to plow the fields on their farm, while George was working his day job.

not Ruth, but maybe Ruth-like?
(Click on image to enlarge)

Wouldn't it be a stroke of luck if I just happened to stumble across a picture of Ruth Chester this way? However, I don't think that happened. Aside from sheer improbability, the notes on the original say "fall 1958." In 1958 Ruth Chester was about 61 years old; the woman in this picture looks younger.

But we can pretend, can't we?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Faithful and Valuable Employee

5-18-2014 Deering Melin 1909
Deering Melin as a high-school senior in 1909.
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

In April 1921, Deering Melin left his job with the Hobart Bank. Both local papers used such words as "faithful," "valuable" and "valued" to describe him as a bank employee; I wonder if perhaps there was gossip about him and the previous year's embarrassment that they wished to contradict.

Deering was not going far: only a stone's throw, to the Kulage Brick Works, where he would take up an office position.

Kulage circa 1920
(Click on image to enlarge)
The Kulage Brick Works circa 1920.
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

He stayed on with the bank a few days after handing in his resignation in order to train his successor, Joseph E. Mellon.

♦ "D.D. Melin Resigns — Jos. E. Mellon to Take Position at Hobart Bank." Hobart News 28 Apr. 1921.
♦ "Deering Melin Quits Bank." Hobart Gazette 29 Apr. 1921.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 5 May 1921.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Still More Scenic Beauty

This is the Deep River near Hobart circa 1936, but it could be anywhere, anytime. Hey, I'm just trying to use up all the scenic-beauty postcards I've got lying around.

5-17-2014 Deep River ca 1936
(Click on images to enlarge)

5-17-2014 Deep River ca 1936 verso

I can't make any sense out of that message.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Death at the Rossow Crossing

Late in the evening of April 22, 1921, William Rossow and his family witnessed a horrifying accident on the Pennsy Railroad where it crosses present-day Wisconsin Street.

5-16-2014 Parker accident
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart Gazette 29 Apr. 1921.

The Parker family had only recently lost its oldest member. And Benjamin Harrison Parker had been the youngest.

♦    ♦    ♦

From an item in the social column on the Gazette page above, we learn a little more about the mysterious Miss Kipp — that she had a sister, Mrs. Hatten. I do find a George and Ida Hatten living in Hobart in 1920, but can't determine what Ida's maiden name was. That the Gazette gives first names to Dr. Faulkner and Miss Kipp, but calls the sister simply "Mrs. Hatten," suggests that the editor did not know the first name of either Mr. or Mrs. Hatten.

1920 Census.
♦ "Benj. H. Parker Killed by Train." Hobart Gazette 29 Apr. 1921.
♦ "Benjamin Parker Killed at Rossow Crossing, Hit by Pennsy Fast Train." Hobart News 28 Apr. 1921.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 29 Apr. 1921.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Portrait from Chicago

From the steamer trunk.

5-14-2014 7 front
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of E.H.

There is nothing on the original to identify this young man. This portrait was in the steamer trunk, so he probably had some connection to Minnie Rossow Harms, but your guess is as good as mine.

We can date the photo roughly, as the Chicago Historical Society places William Ahlborn's Berlin Studio at 333 W. Madison from 1886 to 1894.

5-14-2014 7 verso

Source: Chicago Historical Society. Chicago Photographers 1847 through 1900 as Listed in Chicago City Directories (1958).

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Old Carlson Place Again

William Blumenthal of Chicago, having tired of being an absentee farmer, sold the old Carlson place. The buyer was Teofil Heronim Grabowski, a 32-year-old Gary lawyer who also served as president of the American State Bank at 17th and Broadway in Gary. Teofil had immigrated from Poland in 1905. He eventually married Wanda Cieszynski (about nine years his junior), and in 1920 they lived in Gary with Wanda's 18-year-old brother, Valerian, a student.

Teofil was evidently a person of great energy: soon after buying the old Carlson place, he set about remodeling the farmhouse, building chicken coops, and making other unspecified improvements. The Gazette explained: "We understand [Mr. Grabowski] expects to engage extensively in the chicken raising business. That is he expects to raise 'broilers' for an eastern market." The Grabowskis intended to live on the Hobart farm, while Teofil commuted to his Gary law office and bank presidency. And indeed they did so at least through 1923; we shall have to wait to see what happens after that.

1920 Census.
Gary (Indiana) City Directory 1923 (R.L. Polk & Co.), from U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
♦ "Improving the Old Carlson Place." Hobart Gazette 22 Apr. 1921.
WWI Draft Cards.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

You Have Caught Me

From the steamer trunk.

5-1-2014 1912-07-02-a
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of E.H.

Here's Minnie Rossow, writing from Chicago, it appears, and missing her friend down in Ainsworth.

5-1-2014 1912-07-02-b

The postmark is July 2(?), 1912. Just left of the Chicago postmark, she has written: "You wasn't froze when you got home, was you?" — an unexpected question in July, but if it wasn't an inside joke, perhaps they'd had some unseasonably cool weather.

The note in the upper left-hand corner, as best I can decipher, reads: "Mach's gut und schreibe bald," i.e., "take care and write soon."