Saturday, April 30, 2016

In the Rocker, by the Window

his is how Eldon Harms remembered his grandfather, Henry Harms, Sr. — sitting in the rocker by the window in his big house in Hobart.

2016-4-30. lh005
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of Eldon Harms.

In the photo below, probably taken the same day, Henry is holding his granddaughter, Lois (daughter of John and Sophia (Schavey) Harms).

2016-4-30. lh004

While the photo is undated, Lois was born circa October 27, 1915 (Social Security Applications), and here she looks to be only a few months old, so we can probably date the photo to the winter/spring of 1915/16.

The photographer was a Helen R. Webster of Chicago.

I forgot to mention in the previous post that the house had a small barn on the alley, where Henry and Anna kept a horse and buggy. They kept chickens in an enclosure in the backyard.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"Adopt America as New Home"

In the summer of 1922, two pre-teen girls left their widowed mother and their siblings in Lithuania, and "traveling only with friends," crossed an ocean and a third of a continent, to end up in Ainsworth with Uncle Charles and Aunt Amelia.

2016-4-28. Goldmans adopt immigrant nieces
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 4 Aug. 1922.

When we first met the Goldmans, I mentioned that the 1920 Census showed them with a 16-year-old daughter who hadn't been listed in the 1910 Census. Her name was Ada. While she was indeed described as their daughter, the birthplaces of her parents did not match those of Charles and Amelia, so she must have been adopted. As far as I can determine, the Goldmans had no children of their own, but willingly opened their home to other people's children.

♦    ♦    ♦

Over in the "Local Drifts" column on the right, we find an item about a family reunion at "H.W. Kent's home, near Deepriver." This was Hugo William Kent, and his home was just over the Porter County line, on the Lincoln Highway. Until now I've ignored the Kent family, but I just started looking into H.W.'s background and found enough to make me think he deserves his own post.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hobart Harmony House

Here is the southwest corner of the intersection of 7th and Lincoln, in 1970:

Henry and Anna Harms house in Hobart.
(Click on images to enlarge)
First two images in this post courtesy of Eldon Harms.

Henry and Anna Harms house in Hobart.

As we can tell from the signs, this was the Hobart Harmony House Conservatory of Music. Here is a listing for that business in a 1962 Hobart directory:

Hobart Harmony House ad

The house had been built long before, however, on a farmer's town lot, and for many years was the home of Henry (Sr.) and Johanna Harms.

How long before, I do not know, but I did find this intriguing item in the "Local Drifts" of the Hobart Gazette of Nov. 15, 1901: "Paul Newman is building a brick foundation for Henry Harmes' new house that will be built next spring just west of Main street and south of the 'J' railroad." If the Harmses had previously built a house on that lot, you would expect that item to describe the new house as being next to the present house. Early in March 1902, the Gazette mentioned that the house was nearing completion, and the Harmses planning to move into it soon.

The 1901-02 house is no longer standing. The house that now occupies that corner was built in 1970, according to the county records, so perhaps the two photos above show the old Harms house in its last days.

The second house from the corner was built in 1925, per the county records. That one, I believe, the Harmses built so that they could live in one and rent out the other … but I haven't got that far in my newspaper reading yet.

The records give 1918 as the building date of the third house from the corner; that's the one that Fred and Mayme (Harms) Harney moved into in July 1920.

♦    ♦    ♦

As for the Hobart Harmony House, I don't know much about it, except that if you went there seeking to learn to play the bagpipes, you were out of luck.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The End of an Era

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

Eldon Harms
April 1, 1924 — April 18, 2016

The photo above was taken on April 1, 1954 — Eldon's 30th birthday. It shows him standing in front of his 1950 Mercury, his favorite car. "Dummy me," he once said, "I traded it in for a 1954 model because I just had to have the new thing. I wish I'd kept that 1950 Mercury. That was the best car." And he'd had plenty of other cars in his lifetime, to judge by.

We encountered this photo in the last album we looked through together, Eldon and I, just last month. Over the course of the few years I've known him, we'd been through nearly all the photos he had, but this album was up on a high shelf in a closet, and we hadn't found it before. The album began with photos from the early days of his marriage, before he and Norma owned a house or had children. I found those photos so touching — just a young couple on their own together, free to do as they pleased; one who loved to drive, one a happy traveling companion … and hundreds of miles of open road. They drove all over the country on vacations. Aside from the usual attractions, they visited the shore of Lake Michigan on a winter's day and photographed each other standing on the shelf ice. "You aren't supposed to do that," Eldon said, mock-shamefaced, as we looked at those pictures. "It's too dangerous." But there was Norma, snappily dressed in a skirt suit and high heels, risking her life with a beaming smile. The album (arranged in chronological order, like all his albums) goes on to show the old John and Sophie Harms place as it looked when Eldon and Norma bought it "on a promise and a prayer," as he said. There are photos of what looked to be a very fun housewarming party. And then photos of their baby daughters.

I wish I had met Norma, but I never had that opportunity. She died in 2005, before I started my historical research, and it was this blog that led me to contact Eldon in 2010. A former co-worker of his at NIPSCO happened across the blog, saw Eldon's name as my guess at the identity of the "Harms boy" who'd seen Henry Nolte's murderer, went to ask him about it and (to his surprise, since Eldon had never mentioned the murder in all the years they'd worked together) got an earful. That same co-worker tracked me down and told me I should talk to Eldon. "Maybe I will," I said. Thank goodness I did. He became a wonderful source of historical information and material.

Eldon had an interesting range of experiences in the Ainsworth/Hobart area. He grew up on a farm where the plowing and harvesting was done with teams of horses; where his parents produced molasses from their own sorghum and apple butter from their own orchard; where the light came from kerosene lamps and the water from a windmill. His family never had electricity until he was about fourteen. Eldon had broken in a team of young horses in the field where Big Maple Lake is now; he had plowed with a tractor where Veteran's Memorial Park is now. As a high-school student, he earned money for textbooks and a suit of clothes by tending the 2,000 hens at the poultry farm run on the old Chester place. He was lawn-mower and driver to John Dorman. He worked with his father in Hobart's historic old mill, and years later was able to tell me the location and function of the various buildings in the mill complex. He also worked at the Wheeler mill. Eventually he settled on a career with NIPSCO.

He had a knack for describing people as they appeared to him. Mr. Roper, one of the partners who ran Hobart's old mill, was kind but peremptory: hearing of a school holiday, he showed up at the Harms farm and asked Eldon: "What are you doing while the schools are closed?" and when Eldon replied, "Nothing," said, "You're coming to work for me." John Dorman was a "grand old man," involved in everything that the high society of Hobart did, exacting and careful of his own dignity. Gust Lindborg, presented with the challenge of a broken piece of machinery, would become lost in studying it, while Eldon quietly saw himself out of the shop, knowing that Gust needed and wanted no help and would get the job done. Jack Hendrix, a professional musician, responded sharply to Eldon's question about when he would "start" a particular engagement: "I open on such-and-such a date." ("He educated me," Eldon said with a laugh.)

Through him I got to meet so many of the Ainsworth people I've talked about in the blog, and the farm animals and machinery, and the cars. When we (his home health aide and I) were looking at old pictures with him, we sometimes had to laugh at the way, at each turn of the page to a new picture, Eldon's eyes would go straight to any car in it, and he would announce, "That's a Studebaker," or "That's a Ford V-8," or "That's a 1958 Desoto," before he'd say a word about any people in the photo.

Eldon did have a home health aide in the last few months of his life. He was not allowed to drive, and practically housebound. For someone who had always been active, hard-working, and self-reliant, that must have been difficult. Eldon liked to quote his mother's saying: "Growing old is not for sissies." He found out the truth of that. And I don't mean just the physical infirmities of old age. There was one statement I heard over and over as Eldon talked to me about the people of Ainsworth and Hobart: "He's dead," "She's dead." Sometimes he would just throw up his hands and say, "Everybody's dead!" I once said to him, "That's the problem with life: you either have to die, or stand around and watch everybody else die. And I don't know which is worse." "I don't either," he said. He and Norma used to clip the obituaries of their relatives and friends until the task became overwhelming. And finally, Eldon told me, there came a day when he had to miss a friend's funeral to attend Norma's.

It sounds awfully depressing, doesn't it? And yet, during the many hours I spent with him over the years, he was nearly always cheerful — laughing, joking, making fun of himself — interested in the world, interested in other people. Though I began spending time with him just to learn about Ainsworth, eventually I spent time with him just because he was good company.

And so, as a friend, he will be greatly missed. As living history, he is irreplaceable. The title of this post is another favorite phrase that his mother and father used to describe an event that meant things would never be the same again: "It's the end of an era." That phrase had come to mind, Eldon said, the night he watched the old mill in Hobart burn. And now it comes to my mind. Eldon has gone, and taken Ainsworth with him.

I wish him rest, and if there are happy reunions beyond this life, he is having plenty of them.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

South of Deepriver

Random bits from the countryside south of Deepriver, late July-early August 1922.

2016-4-20. South of Deep River
(Click on images to enlarge)
Hobart News 3 Aug. 1922

I don't know exactly what a separator canvas is, but the wording of that item suggests that the farmers of southeastern Ross Township had chipped in to buy themselves a communal farm machine — a sensible thing to do — and it was getting a workout in that summer's wheat threshing.

… Here's a little article about a threshing machine that has a separator and a canvas, somehow or another.

2016-4-20. Separator
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Chilton Tractor Journal, Vol VIII, No. 4 (April 1, 1922). Retrieved from

♦    ♦    ♦

Elsewhere in the August 3, 1922 issue of the News, we find out that the strikebreaker has still not recovered …

2016-4-20. Ida Heck Carlson et al.

… and among the familiar names in the second column, we also find Miss Jeanette Peterson, daughter of Lena and George. The Hugo Zobjeck at Camp Knox in Kentucky was Hugo Jr., now about 17 years old.

In the third column are a couple of obituaries. The first concerns the untimely death of Ida (Heck) Carlson, who probably grew up on the old Heck place. The second brings me to consider the Wilson family of Union Township, Porter County, whom I have considered very little up to now. Mrs. Jane Harwood would have been Aunt Jane to "Miss Leola Wilson of Blachly's corners," and also, I believe, to Ralph Wilson, who in his youth took music lessons from Ainsworth's own Hugh Dotzer ("Ainsworth Pick-Ups," Hobart Gazette 6 Jan. 1905). In my notes and in the blog, I find several references to Wilsons, and some day when I retire and have time on my hands, perhaps I shall investigate which of them belonged to the Wilson family of Union Township.

Here is the farm of Jane's parents, Amos and Hannah Wilson, as it appeared on the 1876 plat map:

2016-4-20. Wilson 1876
From, courtesy of Steven R. Shook.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Hobart Then and Now: Nickel Plate Bridge

Ca. 1906, and 2016:

2016-4-18. Bridge 001
2016-4-18. Nickel Plate bridge 2016
(Click on images to enlarge)

Thank goodness the sender wrote those identifying notes — I would never have recognized the first photo as Hobart. Even with the notes, I have to take her word for it. The best I can say is that I don't see anything in the 1906 photo that would rule out Hobart. (And you can see a smokestack about where you would expect the brickyards to be.) The bridge looks like a railroad bridge, as opposed to the Third Street bridge, so I'm guessing Nickel Plate, and that assumption fits with the view of the buildings that make up downtown; also, there's a water tower on the opposite side of the river, which would be needed by steam engines.

You cannot stand where the circa-1906 photographer stood and get anything remotely resembling that photo. The riverbank is steeper now and heavily overgrown, and the Norfolk Southern bridge has become a massive earth-and-cement structure that constricts the river and blocks your view of the town. I had to stand up higher, nearer to the tracks.

Here's the verso, with the 1906 postmark.

2016-4-18. Bridge 002

I have no idea who any of these people were.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Death of Harold Boyd

After the heartbreak of her early widowhood, Lizzie Sauter Boyd Epps' life had gone more happily, as she raised her two sons and eventually found love again. But the summer of 1922 brought her fresh and indelible grief.

2016-4-16. Harold Boyd
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News 3 Aug. 1922.

Additional Source: "Harold Boyd Drowns in Michigan." Hobart Gazette 4 Aug. 1922.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

"We Have Come to Stay"

Two smiling young women, a bicycle, and a snowy landscape.

2016-4-14. hazel001_a
(Click on images to enlarge)

Handwritten notes on the back identify them:

2016-4-14. hazel001 b

The photo has no date, but based on their leg-of-mutton sleeves and apparent ages (Clara was born circa 1877, Lena circa 1879), I would put it close to the turn of the 20th century.

I'm not sure which is Lena and which is Clara. Comparing them both to the person identified as Lena Triebess in the Old Maids' Basketball Team, I think Lena is on the left. Also, here's a photo of Lena in 1916:

2016-4-14. Lena Triebess Peterson, 1916
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Lena and Clara worked together as schoolteachers at the Miller school during the school year beginning September 3, 1900. Lena continued teaching there for at least two more school years; Clara did not. The school's principal was a G.F. Peterson — this may have been the George F. Peterson who in June 1907 became Lena's husband.

Their marriage is the first time I can find either Lena or George in the official records. I naturally wondered whether Lena was related to Ainsworth's own Julius Triebess. In January 1900, "Julius and Tillie Triebess made a short visit with their sister Lena" in Miller — I just haven't been able to find anything to show me if that was our Julius. (In 1910, we find a 29-year-old Tillie Triebess living in Miller, teaching school, but that doesn't prove anything. There was also a Triebess family in Hobart — one of whom married Fred Thompson — but based on the matriarch's obituary, I don't think she could have had any closer relation than aunt to Lena or Julius, if related at all.)

Here's the Gazette's story of Lena and George's wedding:
One of the prettiest weddings occurring in Hobart took place at the home of Mr. and Mrs. W.B. Owen last Monday evening, June 24, 1907, when Miss Lena A. Triebess of this place and George F. Peterson, of Miller, were united in marriage. The ceremony was performed at 8:30 o'clock in the presence of about forty relatives and friends by the Rev. Bruce Brown, Ph.D., pastor of the Christian church at Valparaiso. The Methodist Episcopal service was used.

The bridge was attired in white and presented a most handsome appearance. She carried a shower bouquet of pink sweet peas. Mr. and Mrs. Owen's little daughter Jessie was flower girl and gracefully performed her part. The Owen home was extensively decorated, suitable for the occasion.

After congratulations, a fine wedding dinner was served, following which the bride and groom departed to their new home, which, for the present, will be a cottage on the beach at Lake Michigan north of Miller. Their future residence will be either at Miller or at Gary, where at present the groom is engaged in his chosen profession, that of electrical engineer.

The groom was raised at Miller, educated at our public schools and two years ago he graduated from the department of electrical engineering at the Purdue University. The past year and a half he was engaged in teaching manual training in the public schools at St. Paul, Minn., while the bride has claimed Hobart as her home, having lived for a number of years at the Owen residence. After attending our public schools, she began teaching eight years ago, having taught five years in Miller and the past three years in the Hobart schools, having been very successful in her school work. Both young people are very popular among their friends and acquaintances and are highly respected in our community. We join their numerous friends in extending well-wishes and happiness.

Those present from out of town were: From Miller — Mrs. Hannah Peterson, the groom's mother, and his sister Clara, Mrs. Aug. Olson and two daughters and Prof. Frank Fitzpatrick; from Lake [Station] — Mrs. V.P. Babcock [née Esther Hazelgreen] and Misses Clara and Eleanor Hazelgreen; from Chicago — the bride's brother Julius and family and sisters Amanda and Annie; from Valpo — the bride's sister Tillie, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Kitchen, Mr. and Mrs. Rodney Kitchen and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Foster; from Cincinnati — Chas. Langeman, a classmate of the groom while in colleage, and from Kentucky, Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Boone.
That still doesn't tell us if this Julius Triebess was the Ainsworth Julius.

♦    ♦    ♦

As for Clara Hazelgreen, by 1910 she had left northwest Indiana and, along with several of her siblings, was living in Seattle, Washington, describing herself as a missionary teacher. It appears she lived out her life in Seattle, and now rests there. (Her entry includes photo of three people identified as Lena, George, and Clara.)

This undated portrait of Clara Hazelgreen was taken in Seattle:

2016-4-14. hazel004

1910 Census.
1920 Census.
1930 Census.
1940 Census.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
♦ "A Pleasant June Wedding." Hobart Gazette 28 June 1907.
♦ "Deaths." "Mrs. Minnie Triebess." Hobart Gazette 14 Feb. 1935.
♦ "Miller Murmurings." Hobart Gazette 12 Jan. 1900.
♦ "School Begins Sept. 3rd." Hobart Gazette 24 Aug. 1900.
♦ "School Teachers For Next Year." Hobart Gazette 26 July 1901.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Reminiscing in 1922

In the summer of 1922, the Hobart News turned ten years old. Its editor wrote up some memories of Hobart as he had found it ten years earlier, and how it had changed. Indeed, the whole world had changed in those ten years.

2016-4-12. 10 yrs of Hobart
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News 3 Aug. 1922.

… And the Odd Fellows/Daughters of Rebekah recognized Mary Kipp's distinguished service, but we are not informed of exactly what the service was.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Wild Leek Leaves

Here is an impressive colony of wild leeks growing in Deep River County Park:

2016-4-10. Wild Leek leaves 1
(Click on image to enlarge)

These are the leaves that wither away before the blossoms appear.

A close-up, so you can see their red stems:

2016-4-10. Wild Leek leaves 2

Saturday, April 9, 2016


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

Here's a Goodyear blimp moored in the open field at the north side of the Hobart Sky Ranch Airport (so I'm told).

The Hobart Gazette of July 16, 1970, tells us why it was hanging around here:
The giant Goodyear Blimp, AMERICA, has been a welcome local visitor this week. It is staying at the Hobart Sky Ranch on North Lake Park Avenue during the celebration of the opening of the new Port at Burns Harbor. The first ocean going vessel will dock at Indiana's international port today. (Thursday) The AMERICA has been flying guests around the area and lighting up at night in four colors with signs reading "Port of Indiana, New Gateway to the Midwest."

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Hands Off His Apples!

County Line Road, that orphan road, was getting some theoretical attention from both Lake and Porter County road commissions in July 1922. They were even contemplating building a bridge over the Grand Trunk Railroad, which would not be too difficult since even today the railroad sits in a dip between two rises in the road. Think of it! We might have had a nice rickety wooden bridge like the old Sedley Bridge! — but, alas, no bridge was ever built there.

If you went a little further south to the Lincoln Highway, you could make $4.00 a day doing concrete work.

2016-4-7. Owen Nelson
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 28 July 1922.

In other news, somebody has been stealing Owen Nelson's apples. He identified his current residence as the "Parks place." Here is the Parks place as it appears on the 1908 Plat Map.

2016-4-7. Parks place 1908
(Click on image to enlarge)

I believe that corresponds roughly with the open field lying on the south side of 6th Street's eastern dead end:

Last I heard, Owen and Caroline Nelson had moved onto the "Hoffman farm," which I hadn't clearly identified; but if it was the Hoffman land I marked in Section 32 on the excerpt from the 1926 Plat Book in the linked post, then it would have included the old Parks place.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Grace Rossow

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

Grace was the youngest of Theodore and Annie Rossow's children, born circa 1911 (1920 Census), on their Union Township farm, perhaps.

I am told that she had a spinal deformity — a rounded back — and the family story that has come down to us is that Annie and Theodore were out driving in their car one day, with Annie holding the infant Grace, when they saw another car heading straight toward them. In a panic, Annie threw the baby out of the car window, clear of the smash-up … but when the baby hit the ground, she suffered injuries that caused her rounded spine.

I don't know if the story is correct about the cause of Grace's back problems, but it's bad enough that Annie felt (or was deemed) responsible.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Rossow's Coffee Shop

Here's another matchbook cover.

2016-4-3. Rossow coffee 001
2016-4-3. Rossow coffee 002
(Click on images to enlarge)

I do not know when Rossow's Coffee Shop opened, nor how long it operated — not long, perhaps, since it eluded the memories collected in 1979.

The shop was owned by Annie Rossow, and staffed by two of her daughters, Lillian and Grace, as evidenced by this entry in the 1940-41 City Directory:

2016-4-3. 1940-41 directory

So they were living in Hobart, but I cannot find them anywhere in the 1940 census. By that time Anna was a widow; her husband, Theodore, had died in 1936.

The coffee shop was located in a narrow building that stood where the north part of Kellen's flower shop is now. Eldon Harms tells me the building was so narrow that you could just about stretch your arms out to the side and touch its two interior walls at the same time. (The 1922 Sanborn map isn't clear on that dimension.)

In cold weather, Eldon used to stop in there after working a shift at NIPSCO, to warm up with some of their hot vegetable soup. The Rossows also made their own pies fresh every day. One row of small tables stood along an interior wall, with room to walk along the other interior wall. At the back was a small counter, perpendicular to the interior walls, with a few stools in front of it. You could eat there, or at one of the tables.

That narrow building can be seen in a few of the photos linked in the 342 Main Street entry of the Downtown Hobart 1979 blog:

2016-4-3. 1 342 Main
(Click on images to enlarge)
The image above and the two below are courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

2016-4-3. 2 342 Main

2016-4-3. 3 342 Main

The middle photo, taken during the Hobart Centennial celebration, is interesting because it shows an "EAT" sign hanging out over the narrow building. And then there is this photo, which I have scanned from the April/May 2011 edition of the Generations magazine, where it is credited to "the Niksch family":

2016-4-3. Rossow coffee 003

Per Eldon Harms, those two ladies are (left to right) Grace and Lillian Rossow. Lillian appears to be dressed for a centennial celebration, doesn't she? On the other hand, I can't find a listing for Rossow's Coffee Shop (or for any Rossow) in the 1947 telephone directory. Maybe the town had some sort of old-timey-days festival at another time.

The former Rossow's Coffee Shop, along with its neighbor to the south, was demolished to make way for the flower shop — built in 1969, per the Lake County records.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Lost Sight

This poor kid — he lost the sight in one eye, and no one knew (or cared to tell) more about him than his surname.

2016-4-1. Ray Brink accident
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News 27 July 1922.

The Gazette described him as an "orphan boy." I think he might possibly be the orphaned Raymond Brink whom the 1920 Census shows living in the household of Marcene and Helen Haxton, in Union Township, Porter County. If so, he was about 20 years old at the time of this accident. He had a twin brother, Roy, who has already caused me some confusion.

(At the bottom of that column is an item about the newly established Little Red Hen restaurant, with most of its business from out-of-town tourists, which makes me wonder if it was located along the Yellowstone Trail. Its proprietor was Hobart's first librarian, by this time married to the man with whom she had climbed the water tower.)

♦    ♦    ♦

Elsewhere in the same issue of the News, we find Carrie Raschka spending a week at Koontz Lake with her daughters and (I believe) her mother-in-law …

2016-4-1. Rashka vacation
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News 27 July 1922.

… while Charlie DeWell and the former Anne Fleck (now Mrs. Alfred G. Ingram) were dealing with health problems.

Last and least, drainage was being installed on the east side of the Ainsworth road, now known as Grand Boulevard/State Road 51 — this would be near the township line, where the road had been in a bad condition the previous spring.

Additional Sources:
♦ "General News." Hobart Gazette 28 July 1922.
♦ "Raymond Brink Dies at Age 71." Hobart Gazette 4 Oct. 1973.