Friday, January 29, 2016

Mrs. O'Boyle's Terra Cotta Barber Shop

This item appeared in the "Local Drifts" of the Hobart Gazette of April 26, 1901:
Mrs. O'Boyle has had constructed a small one-story terra cotta building on her property on Main street opposite the Hobart House, which will be occupied by Mel Ostrander as barber shop. Mr. Ostrander was compelled to leave the Passow building, owing to the firm of Passow & Killigrew needing the basement room in their business.
In the same issue, Mel Ostranger ran this notice: "I desire to notify my customers that I expect to be located in my new quarters, opposite my present barber shop, about next Tuesday."

If we look at the 1902 Sanborn map, we see a "hollow tile" building roughly across from the Hobart House.

2016-1-29. 1902 Sanborn
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Sanborn Company, Indiana University, Historical Information Gatherers, Inc., and the IndianaView consortium.

It would have been nice if the mapmaker had written "barber shop," but unfortunately the building was vacant when the map was drawn up. All the buildings north of it have since been demolished or moved. I wonder if that terra cotta or hollow tile building could still be standing, as the north wing of the Main Street Station? The county property records give a date of 1874 for the Main Street Station building — only the "paving" dates to 1901 …

2016-1-29. 235 Main
(Click on image to enlarge)

… but the north wing wasn't there in 1895.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Nobody bothered to organize anything for Independence Day 1922. Hobart was dead on July 4 … except that if you stood at one of the main intersections, you could see a pretty steady flow of people getting out of town.

♦    ♦    ♦

June 29 had seen a very nice little party southeast of town:
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Rossow was the scene of a joyous party last Thursday evening, occasioned by about twenty young friends of their daughter, Miss Bettie, surprising the young lady in honor of her fifteenth birthday. The company brought a delicious lunch which was served during the course of the evening's amusements of games, music and dancing. Miss Bettie was presented with many dainty gifts in remembrance of her birthday.
♦    ♦    ♦

Things were looking up for Hobart, however:
Hobart may have a park one of these days. It is said the triangle at the intersection of Main, Lincoln and Seventh streets will be turned back to the city by the contractor, and the paving cost will thus fall to the city and the city in turn will make of it a small triangle park.
The triangle in question is where the doughboy statue now stands. I gather that in 1922 Hobart had zero parks.

♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart Gazette 6 July 1922.
♦ "The Fourth of July Passed Off Very Quietly Here in Hobart." 7 July 1922.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Dad Harms

John Harms
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Eldon Harms.

To Lester Harms, from whose collection this photograph comes, he was "Dad" — John Harms, 1877-1946.

Since the photo was taken at Showman's Gallery, we can date it between 1893 and 1898.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Beautiful Country Home

At the turn of the 20th century, somewhere on "the gravel road" south of Hobart — which I believe to be Grand Blvd./S.R. 51 — stood a "beautiful country home":

2016-1-22. H.W. Amlar home
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 18 Jan. 1901.

While I have not figured out exactly where this country home stood, in February 1901, it was purchased by George Hayward, so I suspect it was on the Hayward farm … which would mean that the beautiful country home is no more.

As for Mr. H.W. Amlar, whose first name is later given as Harry, he's an interesting character, if I've identified him correctly. He was born in 1839 (maybe in Ireland, maybe Michigan; sources differ) and lived for some years in Chicago. At least as early as 1867, he was a "circusman." He traveled with the circus — so he told the 1880 census enumerator; that may explain why it's so difficult to find him in any other census! He and his wife, Mary, had only one child, a daughter named Frances, and through her a grandson named Lester. Poor Harry did not long survive the sale of his beautiful country home; he died September 1, 1901.

♦    ♦    ♦

Since we're back in 1901 for the moment, notice some news of the Lathrop family on the page above: Charles Lathrop is holding a public sale on the Lathrop homestead. As you may remember from my Lathrop summary, in 1901 the Lathrop homestead was sold to Gib Bullock.

Additional Sources:
1880 Census.
♦ Chicago, Illinois, City Directory, 1867. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
♦ Chicago, Illinois, City Directory, 1897. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index.
♦ Cook County, Illinois. Record of wills, Book 37-38, 1901-1902; Book 39, 1902. Illinois, Wills and Probate Records, 1772-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 18 Jan. 1901.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 8 Feb. 1901.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

One Miss For Herman

2016-1-21. 1914-11-10-a
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of Eldon Harms.

The way those young women are showing off their ankles!

I think that by November of 1914, Minnie Rossow knew she was the only Miss for Herman Harms.

2016-1-21. 1914-11-10-b

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Giertz, Gertz, Gerts, Whatever

What shall I say of the Giertz — Gertz — Gerts — however you spell it — family?

I haven't said much about them so far. When I found out that Mrs. Charles Ols had been born Louise Giertz, I didn't go trumpeting it about; I just quietly cited her father's obituary as one source of my knowledge of that branch of the Ols family.

I haven't said much because I didn't know much, because I wasn't paying much attention, because I wasn't really interested.

Then last summer I was going through the "Lake County Record of Recognizance Bonds" at the Merrillville/Ross Township Historical Society museum, and found this:

2016-1-19. Giertz Recognizance Bond
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Merrillville/Ross Township Historical Society.

At first I was more intrigued by Christian Kegebein. Was he related to the north-of-Ainsworth Kegebeins? I haven't been able to figure that out yet. I think I've found Christian Kegebein in the 1870 Census: a 60-year-old German immigrant farming in Ross Township with his wife, Mary (also 60), and Caroline, their 13-year-old daughter (or some kind of relative; she has the same surname). After that he vanishes.

But when I came across this little tidbit in the "General News Items" of the Hobart Gazette of Oct. 24, 1902: "It is reported that Frank Gertz quietly left Ainsworth early last week and that many creditors are wondering where he is" — that's when I started getting interested in the Giertzes. A guy slipping out of town to avoid creditors … his mother once accused of assault and battery … they sound like fun.

I'd paid enough attention to preserve the obituaries of the elder Giertzes. So I know that the Giertz family consisted of John, Hannah, and an uncertain number of children, including Louise and Frank.

Hannah died first, in December 1901:

2016-1-19. Hannah Giertz obituary
(Click on image to enlarge)
"Mortuary Record," Hobart Gazette 13 Dec. 1901.

No doubt her survivors found comfort in seeing all these nice things printed about Hannah, but this obituary doesn't help us as much as a prosaic listing of the children's names would.

John's obituary, from March 1910, only deepens the mystery.

2016-1-19. John Giertz obituary
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 11 March 1910.

If we're to believe this, John had two more children in total than he had with Hannah. Where did they come from — his first marriage?

Turning to the census records, I think I've found John and Hannah in 1870, farming in Mason County, Illinois. They have five children: Mary (born ca. 1856), Fred (ca. 1858), Albert (ca. 1865), Americus (ca. 1868), and baby Joseph (1870). If the marriage date given in Hannah's obituary (1855) is correct, these children are all by Hannah.

Sometime after August 1870, they move into Indiana and resume farming in Ross Township. I can't find them in any plat map; I can only judge by their apparent neighbors in the 1880 census in placing them in the eastern part of the township. At that time, John and Hannah had five children: Albert (born ca. 1866), Lucinda (ca. 1869), John Jr. (ca. 1871), Minnie (ca. 1878), and Frank (1880). Also in the household is John's 76-year-old father-in-law, Christopher Carbiene.

Now I'm wondering whether the Christian Kegebein of the recognizance bond and the 1870 census could be the same person as the Christopher Carbiene of the 1880 census. Who better to post bond for Hannah than her own father? — But could enumerator confusion account for the difference in names and ages?

In 1900 John and Hannah are living in their own little household, next door to their son, Frank (who had married Minnie Miller* in December 1898 and now had a baby daughter). Again judging by their neighbors, I think they were living more or less in the village of Ainsworth. (I wonder if they were living in those two little houses just north of the tracks on the west side of S.R. 51 — both had been built by then, if the county property records are correct. And in January 1902 we find "Agent Griffith," presumably Elmer Griffith, the Grand Trunk station telegraph operator, moving "into Mr. Giertz's house," so it likely was convenient to the depot.)

John Giertz died two months before the 1910 census, so we don't find him in the household of Charles and Louisa Ols. Louisa's ages in the various censuses place her birthdate around 1878, so perhaps she was the Minnie of the 1880 census.

I'm still confused.

*I have no idea whether she was related to Ainsworth's John Miller.

1870 Census.
1880 Census.
1900 Census.
1910 Census.
1920 Census.
♦ "Ainsworth News." Hobart Gazette 24 Jan. 1902.
Indiana Marriage Collection.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Mystery of One-Eye Nelson

In the archives of the Hobart Historical Society museum, in a box labeled (among other things) "Shearer and Emery, Coal Dealers," I found an interesting ledger detailing coal purchases in the early part of the 20th century. Whoever kept the ledger* often spelled purchasers' names phonetically, and when he didn't know or couldn't recall the buyer's first name, he sometimes just wrote an identifying characteristic, such as "lady" or "old" or, in this case, "one eye":

2016-1-18. One Eye Nelson
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Who was this unfortunate coal buyer? We have checked all the Nelson obituaries we could find — but an obituary would not necessarily mention an old injury. I have looked at all the local Nelson WWI Draft Cards without finding this physical disqualification — but Mr. Nelson may have been over draft age or out of the area, if indeed he lived to see World War I (I'm guessing he was male; a lady with one eye is still a lady). The time period covered by the coal ledger is beyond living memory. So at present I can't restore Mr. Nelson to the dignity of a Christian name.

But I'll keep an … watch for any further information.

*With no name stamped or written on the ledger to identify the seller, I'm not sure who exactly he was. While the ledger no doubt was donated by a Shearer or an Emery, as far as I know Calvin Shearer and Paul Emery first became business partners in 1917. My guess is that the seller in these 1905-08 transactions was a predecessor of the Shearer & Emery firm, such as Calvin Shearer doing business solo, or the partnership of Shearer & Barnes.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Harriet Towl Ragen

An early resident of Ross Township, Harriet Ragen died in June 1922, just short of her 79th birthday.

2016-1-17. Harriet Towl Ragen obit
(Click on images to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 30 June 1922.

Here is the Ragen farm as it appeared on the 1874 Plat Map.

2016-1-17. Ragen 1874

This map suggests a house in the approximate location of 4012 E. 73rd Ave., where there now stands a house and large barn along with other outbuildings, most of which date to 1921 if the county property records are correct.

After moving to Hobart in 1896, the Ragens rented out their farm. Charles and Lovisa (Chester) Nelson rented it in the spring of 1903; by August of that year, the Ragens had rented it to a Wilhelm Neuman (or Newman), reportedly for a five-year term. By December 1908 George Ragen was advertising for a new tenant. In September 1914, the widowed Harriet, now living in Gary, offered it for sale or rent. She sold it in January 1915 to May Blachly (who sold it to S.J. Craig, who sold it to Emil Wojahn … who probably built that house and barn, etc.).

I believe "Mrs. Cora Maybaum of Gary" was married to Louis Maybaum, the streetcar motorman whose photo we've seen.

Harriet Ragen's husband, George, was not only a veteran of the Civil War but also a brother of Amanda Ragen Bullock, as we learn from his obituary:

2016-1-17. George Ragen obit
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 1 Mar. 1912.

That would explain why Joseph (aka Josiah) Halladay came down from Chicago in June 1922 to attend Harriet Ragen's funeral — he was the husband of Amanda Ragen Bullock's daughter, Ruth. (I don't know why Ruth did not accompany him.)

From George's obituary, also, we also learn that the "Mrs. Mary Stevens of Gary" who survived Harriet was the wife of Hobart's one-time baker and restaurateur, Willard Stevens (so I suppose she is the Mate Stevens identified in one of the photos in that first link).

In closing, I will add this random item I came across in the 1901 microfilm: "A carload of laborers, men and women of the African type, have pitched camp upon George Ragon's farm near the Grand Trunk railroad and will be engaged in work on the double track grading. They are said to be a jolly crowd."

♦    ♦    ♦

The second story marked on the 1922 image above tells us that the elder Severances, George and Anna, had celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. I believe Bunge is a misprint for Burge — the married name of their daughter, Mary.

Additional Sources:
1920 Census.
♦ "For Sale or Rent." Hobart Gazette 25 Sept. 1914.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 19 Apr. 1901; 24 Apr. 1903; 28 Aug. 1903; 11 Mar. 1904; 11 Dec. 1908.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 6 July 1922.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Walnut Gardens

I have been told by a couple of long-time local residents that the Walnut Gardens (the entertainment venue once managed by Cecil Tonagel) was located on the northeast corner of the intersection of U.S. 30 and 600 W.

According to the county property records, no building in that vicinity is old enough to be part of the original Walnut Gardens, which existed by 1927, and perhaps earlier.

2016-1-15. Walnut Gardens July 1927
Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso) 19 July 1927.

But then again, as I've said before, the property records don't always tell the story the way you'd expect. Furthermore, I know very little about the Walnut Gardens' history, and nobody actually said any of the present buildings were part of the original Walnut Gardens.

Here's something I find interesting, from the 1921 plat map of Union Township:

2016-1-15. Union Twp 1921
From, courtesy of Steven R. Shook.

You see two cemeteries circled in red. The southern one is Mosier Cemetery. I don't know the name of the northern one, there at the intersection; but it also appears in the 1928 and 1906 maps. Nowadays, that area is a parking lot. What happened to the people buried there (if indeed there were any)? I suppose they could have been moved to Mosier Cemetery. I hope they weren't just paved over.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Tonagel's Tourist Cabins

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that at last we have some photos of the tourist cabins that stood out back of the Tonagel family's store.

The bad news is that we probably do not (as I had believed) have a photograph of one of the cabins in the Cozy Camp, with Dacre Nelson lounging in front of it. Turns out that Dacre Nelson was a guest at the Tonagel place, and more likely that's where he was photographed.

So the search for images from the Cozy Camp/Chester's Camp must continue. In the meantime, however, let's get to those cabins out back of Tonagel's.

These first two pictures were taken from the southeast, with the photographer standing in almost the same place for both — but not on the same day. The first photo, undated, shows the cabins looking brand new. In the second, taken on July 5, 1937, the cabins seem to have a little wear on them.

2016-1-13. img854
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

2016-1-13. img855

I am told that these cabins were not built from scratch, but came pre-manufactured and only required assembly. They appear to be six- or eight-sided; each of those six or eight sides was a separate piece (with a matching separate piece of roof). The owner fastened the pieces together, and voilĂ  ‐ a cabin!

Also taken on July 5, 1937, the next photograph shows The Pantry at left, and from the center toward the right, you can just make out those three cabins, behind the main building and the summer foliage.

2016-1-13. img856

The photographer was standing on (or near) the Lincoln Highway, just east of The Pantry.

If we judge by their chimneys, the cabins had a stove inside. They did not, however, have indoor plumbing. Guests in search of a toilet or a shower had to go to the main building (specifically, its east side, toward the back).

The camera was busy on July 5, 1937. Here's another shot from the same day:

2016-1-13. img861

Per notes on the back, the people are Cecil Tonagel, Esther Fridh, and Janice Fridh. (Esther was the sister of Cecil's wife, Ruby, and the mother of Janice.*)

The last photo from that day was taken from the west. It focuses on a swing in the area between the cabins and the back of The Pantry.

2016-1-13. img853

I suppose the swing could be used by the Tonagel family (who lived behind their store) or the guests in the cabins. The building in the background at right, I am told, is still standing, though remodeled; I would never have recognized it.

*Relationship of Esther to Janice based on 1940 Census. Relationship of Esther to Cecil based on obituary of Ruby (Rosenquist) Tonegal's father, Charles ("Former Chesterton Area Farmer Dies in S.B. Hospital," Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso) 20 Oct. 1953).

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

NIPSCO Truck on a Snowy Day, 1963

Here is NIPSCO's 1957 International Crew Truck #4083-2, ready to go to work on gas lines.

(Click on images to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Eldon Harms.

The truck for electrical work would be different.

It is pulling a compressor (#1031-2).


These photos were taken at the NIPSCO facility on the west side of S.R. 130, just south of Cleveland Avenue (±200 S. Hobart Road, where the school buses are kept now). In the background is the garage for service trucks.



The photos were developed in April of 1963, but I suspect they were taken before April. Then again, the weather does strange things sometimes.

Monday, January 11, 2016

In a One-Horse Open Sled

Oh, what fun! Here's Eva Thompson making the best of the snow and cold.

2016-1-11. EvaT031
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Eldon Harms.

The unidentified child's sled is tied to the back of Eva's sled.

We have no date and no location for this photo.

In the background, toward the left, you can see a one-horse buggy; at right, part of a windmill, and a pump house that looks as if it might have a stock watering tank beside it.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Another Hobart Triangle

In June 1922, "John E. Kibler, a Gary steel roller," had to quit the mills on account of his health. From the Earle family he purchased a piece of property described as triangular and lying between Seventh Street and the EJ&E right-of-way, facing east onto Lincoln St. So I assume he bought this piece of property west of the doughboy statue:

It sounds as if the property was empty at that time, as Mr. Kibler said he intended to put up a frame building to serve as a delicatessen, gas station, and "ladies rest room." By early August 1922 the Gazette was reporting that Mr. Kibler's new building was "about completed." (The frame building now standing there was built in 1930, according to county property records.)

♦ "Quits the Mills." Hobart Gazette 30 June 1922.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 11 Aug. 1922.

Friday, January 8, 2016

A Funeral and a Wedding

At 6:30 on the morning of June 21, 1922, Marie Halfman and Martin J. Powers were quietly married by Father Fred Koenig of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church at Turkey Creek. "The ceremony was quite private," reported the Gazette, "owing to the recent death of the bride's father, invitations for a big wedding having been cancelled."

In fact, William Halfman had been buried only the day before.

2016-1-8. Wm. Halfman obituary
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 23 June 1922.

"[T]he farm where he was born 48 years ago" would probably be the Henry Halfman farm on the northeast corner of 61st Ave. and Broadway.

The widow's name was Clara, as was the eldest daughter's ("Mrs. A.J. Prott"). The rest of the children were still at home, and Marie, even as Mrs. Martin J. Powers, intended to remain at home for some time.

This young (about 22 years old) Martin J. Powers came from Gary. His father, who worked in a steel mill, and his mother were both the children of Irish immigrants. Reading a little into the census information, I think his two older brothers, William and John, worked in (or perhaps even owned) a plumbing shop, and Martin worked with them as a "plumber helper."

♦    ♦    ♦

Two columns over on the page above, we find the Chicago-area dairy farmers gamely hoping to reorganize their troubled cooperative marketing organization.

Additional Sources:
1900 Census.
1910 Census.
1920 Census.
♦ "Powers-Halfman Nuptial." Hobart Gazette 23 June 1922.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Ainsworth Then and Now:
The Pantry/Sharp School Services

A descendant of Cecil and Ruby Tonagel has generously shared a collection of photos with the Hobart Historical Society and the Merrillville/Ross Township Historical Society. So at last I have seen more than a corner of the Tonagels' store!

Here's a then-and-now:

1935 and 2015

Tonagels' store

2016-1-6. Sharp 2015-11
(Click on images to enlarge)
Top image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

That is among the earliest photos we have of The Pantry, as the Tonagels named their new business.

The Pantry

And I'm pretty confident that 1935 marked the beginning of this business run by the Tonagel family, since the on-line research for my first post about the Tonagels turned up a Mobilgas ad suggesting that as late as July 1935 Cecil was still occupied as the manager of the Walnut Gardens, well east of Ainsworth on the Lincoln Highway … although I suppose he could have run two businesses at once.

In its early days, The Pantry was not so much a grocery store as a lunch counter and tourist stop, taking advantage of the traffic on the Lincoln Highway, which then passed right in front of it. Out back of the main building stood cabins that tourists would rent (and we shall see photos of those, too).

After the new Route 30 was put through, diverting the tourist traffic south, the Tonagels gradually changed the focus of their business to serving the locals.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

South of Deepriver

Random events in the countryside south of Deep River … and west of Deep River, Alice Paine is on summer vacation from Teachers College.

2016-1-5. South of Deepriver
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News 22 June 1922.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

EJ&E Train Orders

I have acquired a handful of Elgin, Joliet & Eastern RR orders from 1963 and 1965.

2016-1-3. EJE 001
(Click on images to enlarge)

2016-1-3. EJE 005

2016-1-3. EJE 006

2016-1-3. EJE 007

These two were stapled together:

2016-1-3. EJE 002 a

2016-1-3. EJE 002 b

As were these:

2016-1-3. EJE 003 a

2016-1-3. EJE 003 b

And these:

2016-1-3. EJE 004 a

2016-1-3. EJE 004 b

Not knowing the first thing about train orders, I asked local historian-photographer-railfan Daniel Kleine to give me a crash course — so here is Dan's "Train Orders for Dummies," with illustrations.
From 1850's to 1980's many railroads operated by timetables and train orders. Most people are familiar with paper passenger train timetables but there are more complete and complicated timetables listing passenger and freight trains, and other operating details and rules. These are carried by RR employees only; every scheduled train has an identifying number. A central dispatcher would orchestrate train movements for the day and issue train orders (aka track warrant or clearance) Train orders were used to communicate exceptions to the timetable, or special conditions. Trains were often eliminated (withdrawn), added (extra), or priorities or speed limits were changed. For example the Lincoln Funeral Train would have been an "extra" and train orders would have been issued to cover its movement, giving it priority (right of way). Train orders facilitated smooth train movements, safety, and superseded the timetable. They are written in a sort of railroad shorthand, which makes sense to RR people, but may be hard for others to understand. Each RR was an independent entity so each had its own procedures. These were the days before radio communication. Trains operated in different directions, at varying speeds, on a single track so they would have to "meet" at passing sidings/spurs. For example, a train would have to wait for an opposing train to pass at a siding, based on the timetable, operating rules, and/or train orders to prevent a head-on collision.

Towers and stations were usually connected via telegraph or telephone (the railroads had their own private system). Most people think that the wires that ran beside RR tracks were for electricity; actually they were for communication and in some cases low-voltage electricity for signals powered by large banks of batteries. Paper train orders were passed to the engineer and/or conductor at towers and stations, either by the train stopping, or via hoops/tossing while the train was moving slowly. The attached photo of the Merrillville station shows a train order semaphore; it is set to tell an eastbound train to stop.

2016-1-3. depot
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Daniel Kleine.

Most stations, towers and telegraph poles are gone now. Some small railroads with limited capital still use the train order system; a variation was used by the South Shore up until 2011 when they installed new signals and central control. Some large model railroads use a train order system to play realistically. The Pennsylvania railroad and the EJ&E had an interchange track in Hobart; i.e. they could swap cars. A photo of the tower in the 80's is attached.

2016-1-3. 01_Slides_012
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Daniel Kleine.
♦    ♦    ♦

Dan directed me to the website of the Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society and some instructive photos in its archives:
  • This one shows a station employee with a folded train order in a long-handled device that will allow a member of the train crew to snatch the order as the train passes (Dan points out that in the background "the train order semaphore is set to 'slow' for the approaching train").
  • Here an engineer is plucking an order from the station operator.
  • This photo shows a similar device set into a train order crane.
  • Here we see a brakeman reaching out to grab an order.
You can find even more photos by searching on "train order" in the archives.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

L.K. Showman

The double mystery of L.K. Showman — (a) what his given name was, and (b) when he ceased to photograph in Hobart — has been partially solved by this obituary, apparently reprinted from a newspaper in the town where he died.

2016-1-2. L.K. Showman obit
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 12 Dec. 1902.

So the "L.K." stood for Lorenzo Kyle. With that to go on, I can find him in Michigan in the 1860 Census, and in Tennessee in the 1900 Census. The intervening years he spent hiding from census-takers.

Still we are left with some conflicting information, since the Tennessee paper has him arriving in that state in 1897, but the Gazette Souvenir Edition, printed in May 1898 (and full of his photographs), speaks of him as a resident and businessman of Hobart. Which is more likely — that someone in Tennessee failed to recall, several years after the fact, exactly when Lorenzo arrived there; or that the Gazette, having received Lorenzo's payment for his inclusion in the Souvenir Edition (if that's how those things were arranged), went ahead and printed his biographical sketch as if he were present, when he was already just a memory? Either is plausible. I suppose for the moment we can't give a more precise end date for L.K. Showman's career as a Hobart photographer than "1897 or 1898." I have revised my notes on local photographers accordingly.