Monday, August 31, 2015

Carl Sonntag

From the "Local and Personal" column of the Hobart News of April 20, 1922:
Carl Sonntag, who resides on the Huffman farm southeast of Hobart, has recently purchased the Emma Shearer farm. It is his intention, we are informed to remain on the Huffman farm until the expiration of his rental lease of the place next spring, when he will take possession of his new residence.
I'm not aware of L.R. Huffman owning any land in Lake County, so Carl must have moved onto the Porter County Huffman farm — after 1920, when the census records him living on rented land in Ross Township.

At that time Carl was 34 years old, a German immigrant, married to Anna (maiden name unknown), with an infant son, Arthur. I've seen the Sonntag name around, but never with "Carl" in front of it, and yet he was related to many of the Sonntags, including Martha, who was his niece — or so I gather from his 1961 obituary:
Carl W. Sonntag, 75, of 2585 Willowdale road, a Portage resident for 33* years, died Wednesday in Gary Mercy hospital.

Born Oct. 24, 1885, he retired from the Gary sheet and Tin mill eight years ago.

Surviving are his widow, Anna; a daughter, Mrs. Marie Kuzak of Portage; a son, Arthur of East Gary; five sisters, Mrs. Bertha Moele [or Moehl], Mrs. Emma Baessler, Mrs. Minnie Maier, Mrs. Lena Judge and Mrs. Martha Luke, all of Hobart; two brothers, William of Hobart and Ernest of Fairchild, Wis.; a grandchild and a step-grandchild.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday in Redeemer Lutheran church, East Gary. The Rev. Leonard Fiene will officiate, and burial will be in Calvary cemetery.
(From "Deaths," Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso) 5 Jan. 1961,

Well, he's got until the spring of 1923 to stay on the Huffman farm and make Ainsworth-area news.

*I may have misread this number; it is not clear in the on-line copy of the newspaper.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Bathing Beauties of Ainsworth

Probably on their way to or from the Deep River swimming hole, Walter Dye and Herman Harms stopped for a picture with Eva Thompson.

Walter Dye, Eva Thompson, Herman Harms
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Eldon Harms.

The notes on the bottom of the photo identify the man on the left only as "Walter," but the photo's present owner believes it's Walter Dye, and it would certainly be natural for Eva's brother-in-law to be hanging around with her and her neighbors.

Walter, born in 1900, was one of five children of George and Anna Dye, who farmed in Winfield Township. After marrying Eva's sister, Alta, around 1925, Walter got out of farming; by 1940 he and Alta got out of Indiana, moving to California.

Looking at this photo, I think Walter Dye also appeared in the swimming-hole photo, second from the left. These photos may have been taken the same day.

1900 Census.
1910 Census.
1920 Census.
1930 Census.
1940 Census.
WWI Draft Cards.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Easter Cantata

This public-sale notice has me stumped: I can't find a Doepping farm 3.5 miles southwest of Hobart, and I never heard of Nathan Bosen before.

2015-8-27. Public sale on Doepping farm
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News 13 Apr. 1922.

The 1920 Census shows a Nathan Bosen in Union Twp., Porter County — a Russian immigrant working as a dry cleaner. If he moved into Lake County and changed careers, I didn't hear about it.

Less mysterious is the appearance of two members of the music-loving Harms family as soloists in the cantata performed at Trinity Lutheran Church on Easter Sunday 1922.

2015-8-27. Easter Cantata
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 21 Apr. 1922.

I think Henry Harms was Henry Sr. (Henry Jr. was musical, too, but he lived in Chicago and likely had his own church to sing at on Easter Sunday.) Herman, of course, just drove up from the farm east of Ainsworth.

… and then, in the "Local Drifts" column, who should appear but "N. Bosen," presumably Nathan Bosen, who is now renting Elmer Arment's 20 acres and brand-new house on S.R. 51.

I am not sure whether Miss Elizabeth Bruebach was the lovely Liza whose photographs we've seen … but Liza, or Eliza, had been born in April 1890 per the 1900 Census (and her mother, née Elise Manteuffel, had married George Bruebach in 1887 per the Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index).

In the lower right-hand corner of the page above, we find an announcement that a League of Women Voters meeting will be held in Lindborg hall — the dance hall over the blacksmith shop.

Elsewhere in the same issue of the Gazette, we find "Lee & Rhodes announc[ing] that their drinking fountain is now in working order" — that would be the public fountain in front of their shop, I'm guessing, which likely had been shut down for the winter. I have lost track (if I ever knew) where Lee & Rhodes' shop was by 1922.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Salamander?! I Hardly Knew 'er!

… But seriously, folks. I moved my recycling bin and found this guy.

2015-8-26. Salamander 1
(Click on images to enlarge)

2015-8-26. Salamander 2

Yes, it's alive, and no, it didn't try to run away. I believe it's a tiger salamander, but I'm no expert.

I don't know who carried all those seeds from the birdfeeder under the recycling bin. Salamanders don't do that kind of thing, do they?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Rare Treat

Since the Ainsworth-area community had been holdings meetings and entertainments in the W.G. Haan school from the time it opened, I would guess that the entertainment of April 7, 1922 took place there as well, although the article gives no location.

2015-8-25. Entertainment in Ainsworth
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 14 Apr. 1922

Perhaps someone can tell me if "Lola" was Eleanor (Schuelke) Pflughoeft, Herman's wife; if so, she was then about 27 years old. I can't identify "Mrs. Forsberg." Thelma Fetterer was the daughter of Franklin (Sr.) and Harriet, about 24 years old. "Little Margaret Strong" was very little indeed — only about four years old, if I've identified her correctly (which isn't at all certain, since I can find her only in 1930, living with her grandparents in Winfield Township). Ellen Boyd was only a year older, the daughter of George and Addie (Guernsey) Boyd, who farmed near Merrillville.

I'm afraid "the Sunny South Girls," whoever they were, blackened their faces and spoke or sang in exaggerated dialect. Such treats as that were not as rare as we might like to think.

As for the meeting about the paving of what's now S.R. 51, I don't know where it took place. I can only imagine how "interesting and enthusiastic" it must have been, since just the previous month S.R. 51 had been described as "nearly impassable" around 61st Ave.

Additional Sources:
1920 Census.
1930 Census.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Man That Never Came Back

Minnie Rossow sent this postcard to Herman Harms in September 1914.

2015-8-23. 1914-09-28-a
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of Eldon Harms.

2015-8-23. 1914-09-28-b

"It is almost like us, eh?" she wrote — "Ha Ha." Minnie was only "pleasingly plump," as we used to say, but what I want to know is, how often did she sit on Herman's lap?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ninth and Lincoln, Fifth and Lake

The "Local Drifts" in the Hobart Gazette of April 7, 1922, reported on a child's birthday party in the Briney house, on the northwest corner of Ninth and Lincoln, which is for sale these days.

2015-8-21. Blachly announcement
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 7 Apr. 1922

Earl Blachly, who recently sold his farm, is opening an auto repair shop at Fifth and Lake, which sounds like the old German Methodist Church building. The 1922 Sanborn map confirms that the building was being used then for auto repair.

2015-8-21. 5th and Lake 1922
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Sanborn Company and Indiana University.

According to Hobart's Historic Buildings by Elin Christianson, the building had ceased to be a church in 1914 and was bought first by the town of Hobart, and then (in 1916) by L.E. Barnes, who leased it out to a laundry business. "The old church was used for commercial purposes for many years" — now we know another of those purposes.

Also, over in the "All kinds of Wants" column, someone is selling Rhode Island Red eggs, and that someone has Lovisa Nelson's phone number.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Aunt Tillie

This is the last autograph in little Lester Harms' album.

2015-8-19. lhauto013
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of Eldon Harms.

Aunt Tillie was Lester's father's half-sister, born Mathilda Harms, having become, in 1904, Tillie Niksch.

Here she is quoting an anonymous poem. She quotes the poem closely, her spelling is perfect, her handwriting is controlled.

I have been told by a couple of people who knew her that Aunt Tillie was a formidable woman who held strong opinions and did not shrink from expressing them.

After that, we come to the back cover of the autograph album, with a pig sticker.

2015-8-19. lhauto014

Monday, August 17, 2015

South of Deep River

First of all, I think that the reference to "Mrs. Carl Harper" as the secretary of the League of Women Voters' Ainsworth chapter was the newspaper's mistake for Pearl Harper, aka Mrs. Robert Harper. In the April 6, 1922 issue of the Hobart News, we find her placing a "Notice to Women Voters of Ainsworth" to announce a meeting at Lena Hunter's house, and signing herself as Secretary. Mystery solved.

Now, on to the social news from the countryside south of Deep River:

2015-8-17. South of Deepriver
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News 6 Apr. 1922.

I suppose M.J. Guernsey was Melvin Guernsey, son of D.L. (David) and Stella Guernsey.

I'm having a little trouble identifying this newcomer, John Arnson. I suspect that the un-Americanized version of his name was Anders Johan Aronson, and the land he bought was in Union Township, Porter County, near Huffman's mill.

2015-8-17. Aronson 1928
(Click on image to enlarge)
Union Township plat map, 1928, from, courtesy of Steven R. Shook.

If I've identified him correctly, he was born in Sweden circa 1868, came to the U.S. circa 1886, and married Cora Burge on August 17, 1910. I suppose she was related to the Burges, a large family that went back to the 1830s locally, but I can't identify her precisely. As far as I can tell, John and Cora had no children. She died in 1939, he in 1944.

Additional Sources:
1920 Census.
♦ "Hold Rites for Mrs. Aronson." Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso), 26 May 1939.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
♦ "Johan Aronson, Age 74, Dies Sunday Night." Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso), 21 Aug. 1944.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Rose Mallow

I found this hibiscus-looking thing out in my field.

2015-8-15. Rose Mallow blossom
(Click on images to enlarge)

In fact, its botanical name is Hibiscus palustris. It is a native wildflower.

Each flower blooms only for a day, I believe. This one has several buds awaiting their turn.

2015-8-15. Rose Mallow blossom and buds

This plant is about three feet high.

2015-8-15. Rose Mallow

♦    ♦    ♦

In other wildflowers news, the swamp milkweed that last year hosted a Monarch caterpillar this year has four. Here's two of them.

2015-8-15. Swamp milkweed with caterpillars

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Emily Rossow

I still haven't figured out who Emily Rossow was, but I have a photograph of her at probably about 13 years of age, taken by A. Haase of Hobart.

Emily Rossow Beirkman. Photographed by A. Haase, Hobart, Ind.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Eldon Harms.

On the back, someone has written: "Emily Rossow Beirkman." No, I haven't figured that out, either.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ainsworth Invaded by Little Cuties!

On loan from the Humane Society of Hobart, six of the cutest kittens in the universe …

(Click on images to enlarge)

… and their mom, a lovely buff-colored striped thing.

Mama cat

I will be fostering them through the end of the month. Good news for me, not good news for the blog.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Bijou Update

This business of re-reading the pre-1907 microfilm in hopes of finding out something about Daisy Chester's marriage to E.D. Scroggins has been a total failure so far regarding that subject, but I have come across another item I missed the first time through — or didn't know enough to pay attention to, since I couldn't have known then that I would someday buy a postcard of the Bijou and want to know where it was.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Reuben George Bridle

I have a feeling that I might have more in my notes about Reuben Bridle if I had paid more attention while reading the microfilm. Now it's too late; poor Reuben is dead.

2015-8-8. Reuben Bridle obituary
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News 6 Apr. 1922.

The article above says that Reuben bought a farm; if that is true, I have yet to find it. The 1900 Census shows him farming rented land east of Ainsworth. We have already seen his daughters, Blanche and Edith, attending school in 1900-01 with other east-of-Ainsworth children. (Blanche became Mrs. Earl T. Ramsey in October 1911; Edith married Joseph Glynn a year later; and their brother James had married Fredona Koch of Hobart in March 1904. I don't know about the other children.)

This article has him living on a farm south of Hobart for 17 years; the Gazette says 15 years. Perhaps if I went back and read the newspapers more carefully, I would find him arriving. I've already found him departing, in the autumn of 1907, when he held a public sale on the farm "one and one-quarter miles north of Deepriver on the county line road" to dispose of livestock, farming implements and various household goods.

The next autumn, this ad appeared in the Gazette: "FOR RENT. — A 200-acre dairy farm on Porter county line about a mile north of Deepriver. Enquire of R. Bridle, Hobart, or Mrs. James Lennerts, Valparaiso, Ind." I cannot find any farm ascribed to James Lennerts on the plat maps, but I do find one belonging to James Leonard or his estate, and it's in the proper location to have been the Bridles' home.

2015-8-8. Leonard 1906
(Click on image to enlarge)
1906 Union Township plat map, from, courtesy of Steven R. Shook. I have drawn in an additional 40-acre parcel in Ross Township, shown on the 1908 Plat Map.

The Gazette obituary has Reuben running an ice business for two years after moving to Hobart, which I believe is true — in January 1909 we hear that "R. Bridle has succeeded in filling his ice house, which holds about three thousand tons. The ice is about eleven inches thick and the quality is pronounced the best in many years." After quitting the ice business, according to the Gazette, Reuben bought a farm and resumed farming for a while before retiring completely, which may be true but I have no other source backing that up.

Because of the Casper connection (brought to my attention by that 1900-01 school souvenir and the 1900 Census, which showed grandchildren named Vivian and Clarence Casper in the Bridle household), I was intrigued by the obituary's mention of Mr. and Mrs. Claus Casper of Chicago, who attended the funeral. They showed up in the 1910 Census in Chicago with a 17-year-old daughter, Vivian; no mention of a Clarence, though.* Mrs. Claus — her name was Rose — said she had only one child and that child was still living. I suppose this could have been Clarence, who was one year younger than Vivian. If I'm reading the enumerator's notes correctly, this marriage was the second for both Claus and Rose. So, I can theorize that Claus' first wife was one of the two deceased Bridle children, who gave birth to Vivian and then died; Claus quickly remarried and produced Clarence. The only problem is the fact that in the 1900 Census, when Clarence and Vivian (seven years old) showed up in the Bridle household, Rose reported having no children. So any child of hers living in 1910 would have been ten or fewer years old — really too young to have left home, unless that child was staying with another grandparent somewhere. Either that, or a mistake on a census is what's needed to make my theory work.

I don't know if the Mr. and Mrs. George Haggerty who attended the funeral were any relation to Reuben, but in 1910 a George "Hegerty" showed up as a servant in the Bridle household.

*[9/1/2015 update] I have since learned that Clarence was not living by the 1910 census. From the "Mortuary Record" of the Hobart Gazette of February 19, 1904:
Clarence Casper, grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Bridle, died last week Thursday, Feb. 11, of diphtheria, aged about 9 years. A private funeral was held on Friday following. The boy and a sister whose father lives in Chicago have lived with their grandparents since the death of their mother.
According to the NWIGS listing, Clarence is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, with dates on his grave marker of 1894 to 1903.

Additional Sources:
1900 Census.
1910 Census.
♦ "Death of Reuben Bridle." Hobart Gazette 7 Apr. 1922.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 29 Nov. 1907.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 1 Apr. 1904; 18 Sept. 1908; 22 Jan. 1909.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Purslane

Purslane is a low-growing, fleshy plant. This one is in my garden:

2015-8-7. Purslane 1
(Click on images to enlarge)

Most of the time it is not blooming. With some diligence or luck, you can catch it in bloom, but the experience is hardly worth the effort. The blossoms are tiny.

2015-8-7. Purslane blossom 1

2015-8-7. Purslane blossom 2

This blog persuaded me to taste the purslane, and it does have a nice tangy flavor. Every source I've read agrees that it is very nutritious.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Sykes House

This is the house on the Sykes farm, where the Charles Chester family (among others) once lived.

2015-8-5. Sykes house
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Merrillville/Ross Township Historical Society.

The house is still standing today, but this picture was taken sometime in the 1970s or early 1980s, I think. It's one of a number of photos, now at the Merrillville museum, that someone took of local old houses, and I just have the loosey-goosey impression that they date to the 1970s/early 1980s. Whoever took the photos made only very rough notes on the back, sometimes only a name, and if any reference was made to location, it was vague. Whenever I look at those photos, I feel grateful that someone took the trouble to take them, and frustrated that the notes on the back aren't more informative.

On the back of this photo, someone wrote: "Sykes house — also where Shult lived." I did not understand who "Shult" was until Suzi Emig clued me in, telling me that in the late 1960s or early 1970s a family named Schultz had lived and farmed there, and Mr. Schultz had been murdered there, apparently by robbers. I have not been able to find any newspaper articles about the incident.

According to A Pictorial History of Merrillville, the house was built circa 1875 by Charles Sykes. That book, written in 1976, described the Sykes house as nearly hidden by surrounding trees, which is certainly isn't now, and apparently wasn't in the above photo … although the trees were leafless when the photo was taken.

Monday, August 3, 2015

He Let a Sleeping Dog Lie …

I like how the newspaper takes pains to point out that it was a "foreigner" who allowed a dog to nap atop the fruit he was selling.

2015-8-3. Fruit as doggy bed
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News 30 March 1922.

The "Mr. DeKalb" who bought 15 acres was Charles DeKalb of Gary, not Chesterton (1920 Census; "Local Drifts," Hobart Gazette 7 Apr. 1922). Charles was in his early 30s and worked as a foreman in a tin mill. He had a wife, Esther, and an eight-year-old daughter, Mildred. The 1926 Plat Book does not give names for the small parcels along S.R. 51, but here is the DeKalb 15 in the 1939 Plat Book:

2015-8-3. DeKalb 1939
(Click on image to enlarge)

As for Guy Crisman, his accident shows that while the village of Deep River may have been tiny, it wasn't sleepy, sitting there on the Lincoln Highway. The newspaper describes Guy as the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. John Crisman; per the census records, I thought their eldest son was named John, but I suppose "Guy" could have been a nickname.

Not on the print-out above but elsewhere in the same issue, we learn that Alice Paine was home from the Blaker college, aka Teachers College — on spring break, it appears, and intending to go back to college on April 2.

Additional Source: "Health Department Wins Approval." Hobart Gazette 31 March 1922.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

From Logansport to Nowhere, via Hobart

Among the interesting documents in the McAuliffe-Hahn collection are a couple relating to Timothy McAuliffe's selling of a right-of-way to the Logansport, Hammond & Chicago Traction Company, an interurban railway company so obscure that today it doesn't even have a Wikpedia page.

'Twas the 16th of June, 1903 …

2015-8-1. Conveyance, side 2
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society and Jocelyn Hahn Johnson.

2015-8-1. Conveyance, side 1

The description refers to the "line of the L.H.C.T.Co. as now surveyed and staked out," which may have been apparent enough in 1903, but certainly isn't now. However, from looking at the McAuliffe land on the 1908 Plat Map, with the Sykes* land on the west and the Hancock land on the east as mentioned in the description, I suppose it was just a strip of land running across the southern part of the McAuliffe farm (possibly alongside the Pennsy and Nickel Plate tracks):

2015-8-1. Sec 33 1908
(Click on image to enlarge)

Another document pertaining to this agreement between the parties deals with drainage and the removal of timber from the land.

2015-8-1. Conveyance No. 1 001

♦    ♦    ♦

The Logansport, Hammond & Chicago Traction Co. was just over a month old when these documents were signed, having filed its articles of association with the Indiana Secretary of State on May 4, 1903 (Annual Report of the Officers of State of the State of Indiana … for the Fiscal Year Ending October 31, 1904).

The Indianapolis Journal of May 7, 1903 reported on the first meeting of the L.H.&C.T.Co.:

2015-8-1. Traction report
(Click on image to enlarge)

In 1909, a historian of Indiana's interurban railways classified the Logansport-to-Hammond line among some 16 lines "projected, but not as yet built. … Work has been done on some of these lines, and it is probable that some of them will be completed in the near future, but most of them have been totally abandoned." (Fred B. Hiatt, "Development of Interurbans in Indiana," Indiana Magazine of History, Vol. 5, Issue 3 (1909)).

And here we too shall abandon the Logansport, Hammond & Chicago interurban, leaving it to genuine railroad enthusiasts to tell the whole story, if possible.

♦    ♦    ♦

[12/4/2015 update] OK, just a little more of the story — this article from the Hobart Gazette of June 12, 1903, describes the planned route of the L.H.&C. line as it was understood by "some" in Hobart:

2015-12-4. LH&C RR plans
(Click on image to enlarge)

The next week's "Local Drifts" column included this item: "It is said the right-of-way man for the electric road has been buying right of way east of town, paying about $50 an acre and securing a 100-foot right of way. The surveyors for the road have run a line west of town to the Calumet marsh and for the past few days have been running a number of lines through town." The McAuliffe land was east of town.

*Another Sykes farm!