Sunday, December 31, 2017

Farmhouse in Snow, 1949

This is the Harms farmhouse on East 73rd Avenue in the winter of 1949, according to handwritten notes on these two photos.

2017-12-31. sb072
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of Eldon Harms.

2017-12-31. sb073

The second photo shows the back of the house, and a sled for enjoying the snow (and a bicycle for getting stuck in snowdrifts).

As I've mentioned before, the house has been demolished, but the row of evergreen trees on its west side (first photo), planted by Eldon himself, is still standing.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Updated Index to Ledgers, with Bonus George Earle Autographs

I finished indexing the ledger that begins in 1835, so I have posted an updated index to the Index page.

And here's a page from that ledger with George Earle's autograph (four times).

2017-12-28. AccB1835 100, 101
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

The reason I think that is his autograph (as opposed to the ledger-writer's signing his name for him) is that these receipts are among several others on the latter pages of the ledger, each of which has a name signed in distinctive handwriting, e.g.:

2017-12-28. AccB1835 110, 111

The first receipt on this page is made out to "Nath Davis," which could be an abbreviation of "Nathaniel Davis." That might explain the confusion between Timothy H. Ball and the other sources on Liverpool history as to whether the Mr. Davis who was there at the town's beginning had been christened John or Nathaniel — there were two Mr. Davises attending the birth of Liverpool. Both of them show up in this ledger.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Frederick Wallace Gordon

I have not finished with the Gordon family yet — I still have some obituaries to post. This one tells of the untimely death of E.R.'s brother.

2017-12-26. Gordon, Frederick, obit
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 5 May 1899.

The article has details about the funeral but does not tell us where Frederick was buried, nor can I find any information on that.

His wife, Amanda, was the daughter of Frederick and Wilhelmine (Passow) Triebess, and now I have another project: figuring out if this Triebess family was related to Julius, Tillie, and Lena.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

A note on this picture tells us it was taken on Christmas Day 1953.

2017-12-24. mauve 001
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Eldon Harms.

One of those ladies is Grandma Chase — mother of Norma Chase Harms. The other is identified only as Helen. No doubt they are fixing Christmas dinner for the family.

Friday, December 22, 2017

South of Deepriver, March 22, 1923

2017-12-22. South of Deepriver 3-22-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News 23 March 1923.

Among all the other social news, we find Maybelle Guernsey marrying Lloyd Moreland of Sedley, who thus far has figured in this blog only as a visitor in other "South of Deepriver" columns. But looking into his background a little, I find that his family goes back to the 1870s in Union Township, Porter County. His grandparents were Joshua and Margaret Anna. I believe that Joshua, born in Ohio in 1834 (Indiana Death Certificates), shows up in Union Township in the 1870 Census with his name spelled Moorland. The following year he went back to Ohio to marry his sweetheart, Margaret Anna McConkey.[1]

The young couple probably returned to Indiana soon after their marriage. The 1876 plat map for Union Township shows a J. Moreland owning a nice big parcel of land not far southeast of where Sedley would be after the Grand Trunk Railroad came through.

Around 1874, Joshua and Margaret had a son named Harrison (1880 Census). In 1896, Harrison married Jessie Wilson (Indiana Marriage Collection). Their son Lloyd was born in 1898 (Indiana Death Certificates).

Per the Union Township plat map of 1921, Harrison Moreland owned nearly 200 acres around Sedley.

2017-12-22. Moreland 1921
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image from

The 1930 Census shows Lloyd and Maybelle farming rented land in roughly the same vicinity (to judge by their neighbors); it may have been his father's land. By then they had three children.

To the left of the "South of Deepriver" column is an open letter from William O. Sievert. He may or may not be somehow related to the Ainsworth-area Sieverts — I don't know. I believe he was a Hobart resident; the 1920 Census shows a 25-year-old steel-mill employee by that name in Hobart with his widowed mother, Anna. The Charles Carlson (who was allegedly to blame for the accident) was a son of Swan Peter and Hedwig Carlson, and per the 1920 Census lived in Ross Township, farming on part of the old Carlson place on S.R. 51, roughly across S.R. 51 from the present-day Indian Ridge Golf Course.


[1] Ohio, County Marriages, 1774-1993 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2016. Original data: Marriage Records. Ohio Marriages. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, UT.

Monday, December 18, 2017

One Pair of Boots for George Earle

Here's another image from the account book that begins in 1835.

2017-12-18. AccB1835 026, 027
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

I don't know why the transaction had to be so complicated, but I hope Mr. Earle got his boots and was happy with them. Perhaps he needed them to muck around with a team of oxen for half a day.

On the top of the right-hand page, the book-keeper wrote "Liverpool Sep 27 1837." The previous page covered September 25-27, 1836. The next page (not reproduced here) begins September 29, 1836. I think that 1837 is a mistake … but I'm trying very hard not to make assumptions. So I indexed it as 09/27/1837?. I'm really wondering what was going through the writer's head that caused him to specify Liverpool when he hadn't on the other pages and it was just another day of business in 1836.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Elsie and Glen and Their Sons

Thanks to another Chester descendant, we now have a Nelson family photograph.

2017-12-15. Elsie and Glen Nelson with Melvin, Robert, and Delmer
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Kelly.

Elsie (Henning) and Glen Nelson are in back. Their sons are, left to right, Melvin, Robert and Delmer. (The owner of this photograph is descended from Delmer.)

We don't have a date or a location for the photo. Robert was born in September 1922 and here I'd say he looks approximately nine years old, so we can estimate its date at roughly 1931. The style of Elsie's dress looks consistent with that estimate.

I can see some resemblance between Glen and his brother Owen.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Nickel-Plate Nostalgia

On March 19, 1923, Thomas Maloney turned 71 — who, you ask? Good question. I never heard of him before, but he takes us back to old times, to the coming of the Nickel Plate through Hobart in 1881 (so the article says and I don't have time to research that). While constructing the railroad, Thomas boarded at the Morton building, eating the home cooking of one of those spirited Shearer sisters: Nora (aka Elizabeth) Shearer Ensign.

2017-12-11. Ensign, Maloney
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News 22 March 1923.

Since first looking into Nora's history, I have learned that she was divorced from Fred Kappelman in 1903.1 The marriage had been a mistake from the start, apparently, since it happened in 1899 and by the 1900 Census they were living apart. I still haven't been able to find out when her first husband, William Ensign, died.

Elsewhere on the page above, we learn that Hobart was hit with a late-winter blizzard in March 1923. A natural curiosity about the low temperature, and the kids' leaving their toys on the porch, cost Mrs. Charles Koeppen a broken knee. She was the former Tena Rohwedder — daughter of Hans and Margaret (Thune),2 sister of Edward. The Charles Koeppen farm lay just at the eastern outskirts of Wheeler:

2017-12-11. Koeppen 1921
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image from

Finally, 'way out in New York, Ellsworth Humes hears of all those liquor-related arrests in Lake County.

[1] "Court Doings," Hobart Gazette 6 March 1903.
[2] Indiana Death Certificates.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Magnus and the Mysterious Manuscript

I'm glad I corrected my mistake about John Blackhall, since I recently bought a photograph printed by him. Now we can date this photo to within about 20 years, rather than 40 — so, sometime between about 1873 and 1893.

2017-12-6. Magnus 1
(Click on images to enlarge)

2017-12-6. Magnus 2

On that ornately printed back, we find two manuscript lines:
fäd 1/2 1825
At first I thought it was a name and a birthdate, but via online translation, we learn that the Swedish word for born is född. Fäd translates to something like fading.

And yet … there is no reason why a Swedish-speaking person could not make a spelling error as easily as an English-speaking person. And what else could the writer possibly have meant?

If we assume that this is a birthdate, then the writer apparently has identified the subject of the photo as a man named Magnus, born on 1 February 1825. Do the census records turn up anyone of that description in the Hobart area?

Why, yes, they do. The 1860 Census shows a 35-year-old blacksmith named Magnus Anderson living in Hobart Township with his wife, Mary, and three children. No one else of that age, with either the first or last name of Magnus, shows up in the area.

I can't find Magnus Anderson in the 1870 Census, but I think I've found him in the 1880 Census — in North Township, age 55, wife named Mary (but her age is off by about three years). While none of the children from 1860 are still in the household, you wouldn't necessarily expect them to be. Magnus is no longer a blacksmith; now he is a "farmer and moss gatherer."

With no 1890 census records available, the next news I have of Magnus is his death, which occurred in Miller. This is what the Hobart Gazette of Dec. 25, 1896, reported:

2017-12-6. Magnus Anderson obit

Slightly more informative is this article from the Chesterton Tribune of Dec. 26, 1896 (downloaded from

2017-12-6. Magnus Anderson obit

The penultimate sentence gives us a birthdate: January 1, 1825 (if not December 31, 1824). A New Year's Day (or Eve) birthday is certainly memorable … so why didn't the person writing on the back of the photograph get it right?

As much as I'd like to think the photo really is Magnus Anderson, that identification requires two assumptions: (1) that the manuscriptor didn't know how to spell "born"; and that (2) either (a) the manuscriptor couldn't remember that Magnus was born on New Year's Day, for goodness' sake; (b) the Chesterton Tribune got his birthday wrong; or (c) Magnus had gone around telling people he was born on New Year's Day because it was more interesting than being born on February 1, and the manuscriptor alone knew the truth.

Those are pretty big assumptions! I think I still have to classify this photo as unidentified.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Fisher-Hahn Wedding

Having been showered with gifts by her friends, Bertha Fisher became Mrs. Hubert Hahn on March 17, 1923.

2017-12-4. Hahn-Fisher wedding
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News 22 March 1923.

I have no idea where the Owens flats were.

Two columns to the right, we are reminded that William Raschka is still part of Ainsworth commerce.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Ainsworth Basketball Team, 1941-42

Ainsworth Basketball Team, 1941-42
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

This photo comes to us with the following IDs:

Back row, L to R: Young Johnson, Pat Sullivan, unknown, unknown, Donald Tonagel, Ron (last name unknown), Jack Dick, Don Carpenter.

Front row, L to R: Dick Julian, unknown, unknown, Jerry Kuntz, Wayne Johnson, Jack Woodland, Principal George Garland. Little boy in front may be Frankie Foreman.

To the extent I've been able to find these boys in the 1940 Census, they are all around 11-13 years of age, and, I suppose, students at the W.G. Haan School in Ainsworth. Here are my notes on each:

Young Johnson — don't know if "Young" is a first name or an adjective. If it's a first name, I can't find him; but see Wayne Johnson below.

Pat Sullivan — have no evidence that he's related to the Ross Twp. Sullivans; can't really find who is he is related to.

Donald Tonagel — As we learned a long time ago, he was the elder of the two children of Cecil and Ruby Tonagel.

Ron (last name unknown) — can't find any Ron in Ross Twp. who would be the right age.

Jack Dick — his family farmed in southeastern Ross Township. His parents were Sherman and Anna.

Don Carpenter — maybe son of Lawrence and LaRiatha, born 1930 in Ross Township; by 1940 lived in Gary.

Dick Julian — possibly the son of Ralph and Rachael Julian of Hobart Township. Ralph is a described as a "laborer" in a "W.P.A. project."

Jerry Kuntz — Paul Gerald "Jerry" Kuntz, son of William and Iva, who in 1940 were living in Ross Township, somewhere (to judge by their neighbors) along the old Lincoln Highway near S.R. 51. Jerry Kuntz went on to serve in the Korean War and to work with Eldon Harms at NIPSCO.

Wayne Johnson — may be the son of Clarence and Bernice Johnson of Hobart. The 1940 Census confusingly describes him as their daughter; however, the 1930 Census shows him as their one-year-old son. If "Young" Johnson (above) is a description, then that boy might be Wayne's younger brother, Richard.

Jack Woodland — can't find in Ross Township 1940 census. Eldon Harms told me that Jack was a resident of the Cozy Camp (successor to Chester's Camp, situated on the north side of the Old Lincoln Highway just east of DeKalb Street), his family having come down from Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Principal Garland is George Bronson Garland.

The little boy in front holding the basketball is probably Frankie Foreman, youngest son of Otto and Louise Foreman. Between Frankie and his next oldest brother, there were about 10 years. Frankie was a surprise baby, who came at a time when his parents had stopped expecting any more children.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Breakfast at Liverpool

It's April of 1836, and "Dr. Merchant" has left LaPorte, apparently, as he notes at the top of a fresh page (on the right-hand side) in his account book: "Town of Liverpool."

2017-11-28. AccB1835 006, 007
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

A little history, from Howat's A Standard History of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet Region (1915):
Either in the later part of 1835, or the fore part of 1836, two Philadelphia men, John C. Davis and Henry Frederickson, and a Western promoter, John B. Chapman, blocked out the town. … The new town on Deep River obtained such notice that during the first sale of lots, which covered three days in 1836, the proprietors realized $16,000. Among the purchasers was John Wood, the builder of Wood's Mill on Deep River. He and a friend bought nine Liverpool lots for $2,000; and many years afterward, when Liverpool had been almost as completely erased from the county map as Indiana City, he would bring forth the deed to his "city property" as a unique relic. The paper was written by John B. Niles, then an attorney, and acknowledged before Judge Samuel C. Sample, of Porter County.
Goodspeed (1882) mentions the same three people — Davis, Frederickson, Chapman — and reprints a survey of the town dated January 30, 1836, by a Newton K. Smith. Ball (1904) gives Mr. Davis' first name as Nathaniel, not John — don't know what to make of that.

The first entry on the account-book page above is "To expenses down to Survey Town — [$]15." That suggests to me that the writer might have been one of the people involved in getting the town surveyed, i.e., John/Nathaniel Davis, Henry Frederickson, or John Chapman.

A few items further down, we find this entry from May 25, 1836: "John's Breakfast 18 ½ [cents]." We've already identified several Johns who could be at the nascent town of Liverpool in the spring of 1836 … but who among them needed his breakfast paid for by someone else? And who among them would have been referred to by his first name, at a time when first names were reserved for use by family members or close friends?

We know, of course, that George Earle had a son named John, who would have been about 3 years old in 1836. We also know that George Earle arrived in Liverpool in 1836 (per Ball) … but would he bring his toddler son to such a place?

If we go back a few pages in the account book, to LaPorte in 1835, we find transactions with "H. Fredrickson," "J.B. Chapman" and "J.C. Davis." Which suggests that the writer wasn't any of these three, but knew them.

… But I've gone off on a tangent and delayed my indexing work, so I'll shut up now. Mystery unsolved.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Here Comes the Triebess Family … Again

Julius Triebess had moved his family from Chicago to Ainsworth in 1917 — and I'm still not sure if that was a return for them, or their first attempt to live on the farm Julius owned.

Whatever it was, that experience ended when they moved back to Chicago in 1919.

Now it's 1923, and the family (what's left of it) is returning to Ainsworth …

2017-11-26. Triebess family returns to Ainsworth
(Click on images to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 16 March 1923.

… not to farm, apparently, since they have rented the land to Sophie Triebess's brother, but only to live.

Down in the right-hand column, we learn that the Triebess farm had previously been rented to John H. Meyer … which might explain why there was an Andy Meyer graduating from (I believe) the Ainsworth school in 1922.

And below that item comes a little news about the Ainsworth Department Store under its new proprietor, Henry Paulus. Verna Guernsey, the lucky winner of a bag of flour, may still be occupying the Howard H. Smith farm.

By the way, I'm guessing that the "Raschke" in the article in the left-hand column entitled "Ready to Bore for Oil" is our own William Raschka, formerly of Ainsworth.

Elsewhere in the same issue of the Gazette, an ad for the Ainsworth Department Store.

2017-11-26. Ad for Ainsworth Dept.Store

Friday, November 24, 2017

Name and Occupation?

Another lament about the difficulty of indexing these old record books. This time I'm dealing with an account book recording commercial transactions involving goods and (medical) services between 1835 and 1837 (unfortunately for Hobart historians, its records begin in LaPorte, to judge by the note in the top margin).

That first entry is not confusing. Obviously, Dr. Merchant (as we shall call the writer) didn't know the customer's name at all — only that she was a washerwoman, poor soul. So I index it as "Washerwoman."

Further down on that same page comes an entry that I confidently index as "Plaisterer, Jonas."

2017-11-24. AccB1835 002, 003
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Then I get over to the next page, see that first entry — "Collins Carpenter" — and start doubting myself.

I go back and take another look at Mr. Plaisterer, and realize I've mis-read his name — it should be "Jones." And that's his surname. Plaisterer (plasterer) is what he does for a living. So I re-index him: "Jones (Plaisterer)." Dr. Merchant knew his surname and occupation, but not his first name … and actually left a small space before "Jones," in case his first name should ever become know.

Likewise, there's a space before "Collins" on the next page. So I index that first entry as "Collins (Carpenter)."

Then I get to "H. Wheeler." "Wheeler" is both an occupation and a surname. But there's no space before the "H" here. So I index it as "Wheeler, H.," and just hope I'm right.

All this over some people in LaPorte that nobody cares about.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

South of Deepriver, March 15, 1923

Among all the usual visiting going on in southern Ross Township, I am introduced to a connection between the Hurlburt-Smith family and the Ripley family that I didn’t know about.

2017-11-22. South of Deepriver
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News 15 Mar. 1923.

Aside from a couple of passing mentions of the surname Ripley — back when I was figuring out who those south-of-Deepriver Smiths were, and in a 1920 "South of Deepriver" column — I have thoroughly ignored the Ripleys. That name shows up a couple more times in my notes, but never to tell of the Ripleys doing anything more interesting than being related to Milan Hurlburt and Rachel (Hurlburt) Smith. I am inclined to continue ignoring them.

However, I should do my duty as an amateur historian and at least get some of the basics. Per the Indiana Marriage Collection, Horace Ripley married Frances Hurlburt in Lake County, Indiana, on June 24, 1873. They were married by Horace Marble, J.P.

How on earth they ever met, I do not know, since Horace Ripley, aka "Hod," was born in Canada, raised in Wisconsin, and then moved to Missouri, according to his obituary on

Frances Hurlburt Ripley was born March 25, 1852, according to her death certificate. Her parents were Jacob and Susan* (Perry Sheffield) Hurlburt.

What little information I have suggests that the Ripley presence in this area was never long-term, consisting only in visits to the Hurlburts and Smiths.

Now I've done my duty and can go back to ignoring the Ripleys.

♦    ♦    ♦

The shower for Bertha Fisher, also mentioned in the next column to the right, reminds us of the existence of Hubert Hahn.

*Frances' death certificate gives her mother's name as "Jane," but I believe that is a mistake.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Main Street Looking South from Front, 1901-1907

I have posted similar views of Main Street, but I don't think I've ever posted this exact, precise view.

2017-11-19. Main St. s from Front 1901-07 a
(Click on images to enlarge)

It's on a postcard with an undivided back, meaning that we can date the postcard between 1901 and 1907.

2017-11-19. Main St. s from Front 1901-07 b

2017-11-19. Main St. s from Front 1901-07 c

I can't see any curtain loft on the Strattan Building, which also suggests that the photo was taken before 1907 — although I'm not sure the curtain loft would be visible from this angle.

2017-11-19. Main St. s from Front 1901-07 a - labeled

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ernest Doepping and His Grandmother

I said earlier that I was going to stop trying to figure out the Doeppings, but I lied. How can I help myself? — I've just found more Doeppings "near Ainsworth."

2017-11-16. Mrs. Doepping and grandson near Ainsworth
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 15 Mar. 1923.

I think the "aged lady" of that first item is Mary, the widow of Frederick. Her grandson, Ernest, showed up in the 1920 Census in the household of his parents, Rheinholdt and Sophia (née Busselburg), in southeastern Ross Township. Ernest was the last of their children still at home, and with him was his wife — he had married Lilly Werblo in 1917 (Indiana Marriage Collection). Perhaps the young people wanted to get their own place, and the next best thing was to move in with his grandmother, Mary, who was getting too old to live alone. Since I suspect Mary of living in one of those little houses on S.R. 51 just north of the Grand Trunk tracks, the household might have been very "near Ainsworth."

The Charles Sievert who was also ill (and also near Ainsworth) may have been the man we find in the 1910 Census living in eastern Ross Township (in the neighborhood of the present-day River Pointe Country Club). He was 61 at that time. However, I can't find him in the 1920 Census.

I wonder where that "hooded Klansman in full regalia" came from, with that money for the Lake Station church? Maybe he was one of those mysterious out-of-towners responsible for the recent parade in Hobart.

Monday, November 13, 2017

John M. Gordon

As I mentioned earlier, John Gordon's biographical sketch appeared in Porter and Lake Counties (Goodspeed/Blanchard):
JOHN M. GORDON, junior member of the firm of P. P. Gordon & Brother, was born August 19, 1838, in Richmond, Penn. When John M. was eighteen years old, his father died. Mr. Gordon bought up the homestead soon after the death of his father, and in 1871 sold out and came to Hobart and went into partnership with his brother, P. P. Gordon; his mother lived with him until her death, in the spring of 1882, aged eighty years, fifty-six years a M. E. Church member. The brothers keep a full line of drugs, paints, oils, varnishes, brushes, etc., and groceries, provisions, flour, cigars and tobaccos, etc. Their trade has increased, and has always ranked among the first in the city. Mr. Gordon has an improved farm west of Hobart, about one mile; he is a member of the F. & A. M. fraternity, has always been a Democrat, but is liberal in local matters; he was married, January 20, 1869, to Anna L. Trumper, a native of Canada. They had three children — Frederick W., Mary J. and Edwin W. Mrs. Gordon was a teacher for four years, and was educated in Canada.
His wife, "Anna L.," more commonly went by her middle name, Lushia or Lucy. The 1880 Census shows John, a druggist, and wife Lucy, a teacher, living with their three children, Frederick, Mary, and Edwin, as well as John's 78-year-old mother, Lucy.

Once again we turn to an obituary for the rest of the story.

2017-11-13. John Gordon obit
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 3 July 1914.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Bull Calves and an Exploding Radiator

Allow me to get back to my adopted quiet family, the Noltes — two of its surviving members have some pure-bred bull calves to sell in March of 1923:

2017-11-8. Nolte Bros. selling bull calves
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 9 Mar. 1923.

Above that ad, we find Charles Chester selling oak fence posts, which I expect he made from oak trees felled in his own woods, nowadays the domain of horse-riders, dog-walkers and track-meeters.

Elsewhere, we learn about Christian Heck's arrival in this country in 1860, and James Chester's hard lesson about patching a radiator with cement.

In the last column, the report about Wayne Nelson's appendicitis describes his mother as living "north of Ainsworth," which is news to me. Either that is a mistake, or she moved out of the village when I wasn't looking.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Updated Photographer Timeline

I got the beginning date wrong for John Blackhall's Hobart career, so I have posted a corrected photographer timeline over there in Notes on Local Photographers.

The source of my original beginning date (1852) was a article from the Hobart Herald of August 26, 1954. Its author admitted to not knowing when John Blackhall came to Hobart, but made a guess based on dates involved in the transfer of the land where the former Blackhall house sits.

However, I recently got my hands on John Blackhall's 1905 obituary, which describes him arriving in Hobart in 1873. The 1894 obituary of his wife, Agnes (Thompson) Blackhall, agrees ("Entered into Rest," Hobart Gazette 28 Dec. 1894).

Neither of those two sources states when John retired from his photography business. John's obituary says only that "for a number of years [he] was engaged in the photographic business." The 1954 Herald article says he "retired in the early nineties." That is not inconsistent with either of the obituaries, so I am sticking with "circa 1893" as the ending date of John Blackhall's photographic career.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Hobart Then and Now: Dr. Pliny P. Gordon's House

1898, and 2017:
2017-11-2 Gordon, Dr. P.P 1898
2017-11-2 Police station parking lot
(Click on images to enlarge)
Top image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Since the location of this Gordon house is not general knowledge (I certainly didn't know it until very recently), I should set out my reasons for concluding that it stood on the east side of Center Street, slightly south of the Fourth Street intersection.

To establish that the house was on Center Street, here's a little item from the "Local Drifts" column of the Hobart Gazette of July 4, 1902: "Mr. and Mrs. Howard Gordon came out from Chicago last Saturday to live in Hobart and have begun housekeeping in his father's house on Center street." We can refer to the 1880 Census or P.P. Gordon's 1904 obituary (below) to confirm the relationship between Howard and Pliny.

Fortunately for posterity, the Hobart Gazette's 1898 Souvenir Edition reproduced a photograph of the house and identified it, and also fortunately, as we can see in the photo above, it was a fairly distinctive house — brick, two full stories, with a bay window in front (and on your left as you stand in the street facing the house), a small front porch next to it, and a small bay window towards the rear on the right side. So let's look at the Sanborn map of 1895 to see if we find a house like that.

2017-11-2 1895 Sanborn map detail

Almost a match: it's colored red, so it's brick; most of it is two full stories; the bay window in front would be on your left as you faced the house. But what about the side bay window and the small front porch? Let's go to the 1902 Sanborn map:

2017-11-2 1902 Sanborn map detail

Now we have the front porch and the side bay window. We know they were sometime after 1895, so they could have been there for the 1898 photograph.

Speaking of which, if we look carefully at the background of that 1898 photo, we can see that at some distance behind the house is a large structure, over two stories, with a gable topped by a chimney on the side facing the house. I think that's the Hobart Township School on Fourth Street; compare this 1894 photo and this circa-1900 photo.

That's my case for the location of the P.P. Gordon house.

♦    ♦    ♦

Porter and Lake Counties (Goodspeed/Blanchard) included a biographical sketch of P.P. Gordon:
PLINY P. GORDON, M. D., senior member of the firm of P. P. Gordon & Bro., druggists and grocers, was born December 21, 1835, in Pennsylvania, and is one of eight children born to Edwin and Lucy (Power) Gordon, the former of New York, and the latter of Vermont. Grandfather Gordon was in the war of 1812. Two uncles were noted physicians of Detroit and Harrisburgh. When Pliny P. was four years old, his parents came to Michigan; here he lived at home until about 1860, attending school at the Ontario (Ind.) Seminary; he then began the study of medicine under Dr. Warren Byrns, of Bronson, Mich., and studied also at Ann Arbor and Buffalo, and graduated at Buffalo in the spring of 1865; he then came to Hobart and located; the first year he had a $1,200 practice, and has since run as high as $3,500; three years later, he began the drug business in partnership with his brother, and has been in that ever since; the firm has also been engaged in buying land, and at present the brothers have two farms; they have a fifth interest in the Deep River Ice Company. The Doctor is the oldest practitioner in Hobart, and has a leading practice in this part of the county. He is a Knight Templar, member of the F. & A. M. fraternity, and has been a member of the I. O. O. F. lodge; he was County Coroner for two years; he has always been a Democrat, and is a public-spirited citizen. He was married, in December, 1869, to Hettie Rifenburg, a native of New York. They have one child, Howard B. Mrs. Gordon was a teacher for a number of years.
Hettie Rifenburg was the sister of William H. Rifenburg. Much of this sketch was repeated in the doctor's obituary, printed in the Hobart Gazette of March 18, 1904:

2017-11-2 obit of P.P. Gordon

I believe that Mary McAfee was the widow of Samuel (1880 Census) and her maiden name was Russell (Indiana Marriage Collection). Dr. Gordon only flitted through the last year-and-a-half of her life.

The 1979 article that was the basis of my Downtown Hobart 1979 blog included a story involving the Gordon brothers, set in the 100 block of Main Street:
Lot #1 of Hobart's plat was the site of Lew Hammond's tavern, a stage coach stop. In 1886 it was run by Mrs. David Young as Young's Hotel. John Gordon came from Pennsylvania that year to visit his brother, Dr. Pliny Gordon. He walked from the Pennsylvania Railroad station down Front Street and inquired at the hotel where he could locate his brother. He was told he was upstairs at a dance. John Gordon bought a ticket for $2.50 and was handed a slip of paper. This, he was told, was a deed to a lot in the new cemetery on Front Street and the dance was being given to raise money to build a fence around the cemetery to keep the pigs and cows from grazing there. Mr. Gordon relates the hotel later burned down.
I do not know the identity of the Mr. Gordon relating this story. It appears he misremembered the year, since John Gordon was already well settled in Hobart by 1882, when Goodspeed and Blanchard printed the biographical sketch above.

From a family tree on comes this 1903 picture of Pliny Gordon and his first grandchild, Virginia (born in November 1902):

2017-11-2 Dr. Pliny P. Gordon  1903 and granddaughter Virginia
Image credit: "KatharineMRedmond,"

If the photo is correctly dated to 1903, that's likely a christening gown Virginia is wearing as she sleeps in Grandpa's arms, before or after the ceremony. The overexposure of the photo makes it very difficult to judge the baby's age. If the photo dates to January 1904, then her christening gown has become her burial gown.

Little Virginia died January 17, 1904, just a couple of months before her grandfather. They are both buried in Hobart Cemetery.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Claude Bullock Quits Farming

We haven't heard from Claude Bullock since 1921, when he and Mary Ann had a daughter. Now it's March 1923 and Claude is quitting farming — not retiring, I don't think, since he is only about 42 years old; I don't know what he intends to do for money, outside of the rent he'll be getting from Alfred and Vera Shults.

2017-10-30. Claude Bullock quits farming
(Click on image to enlarge)

The last time I spoke about the Lathrop farm, I hadn't yet purchased a copy of Early Land Sales, Lake County. Checking that resource, we find Samuel Lathrop owning some of that land as early as January 1845, and all of it by April 1852. So it was the Lathrop farm for half a century; small wonder if the name stuck. According to the Lake County records, the house on that farm (perhaps the main one out front, that is slowly falling into ruin) was built in 1850.

Above the Bullock item, we see that John Harms has begun his work as Township Assessor.

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In the right-hand column we see a large ad for the new Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery, which must have been a peaceful as well as beautiful place for several decades, until I-65 came through. Now graveside ceremonies are accompanied by the continuous roar of traffic.

Friday, October 27, 2017

An Eight-Pound Gordon

On January 12, 1909,1 an eight-pound boy was born to Zora and E.R. Gordon — delivered neither by his father nor his great-uncle Pliny, but by an out-of-town physician named A.G. Schklieker.2 I find that a bit odd.

The child was named John Jackson, probably in honor of both his grandfathers. Little John would spend much of his first year in the house where his father grew up.

In March, "Dr. E.R. Gordon … moved his office from the First State Bank block to the Fiester block, upstairs in front,"3 which explains why his name appears on the second-story front windows in this photo:

236-238 Main
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

In May, as we've learned, construction began on the new Gordon house. All in all, it had been a very eventful year-and-a-half for E.R. and Zora.

[1] "Local Drifts," Hobart Gazette 15 Jan. 1909.
[2] Indiana Birth Certificates.
[3] "Local Drifts," Hobart Gazette 19 Mar. 1909.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Updated Index

Having finished indexing two of the Union Sunday School record books, I have replaced previous draft index with a new draft on the Index to Hobart Historical Society Ledgers page.

I have seven more Union Sunday School books to do, but for the moment I have to move on to something else, or I'm afraid I'll start writing silly things in my index. There's a limit to how much Sunday School a person can take without a break.

Monday, October 23, 2017

South of Deepriver, March 1923

Much innocent sociability in the countryside.

2017-10-23. South of Deepriver
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News 8 Mar. 1923.

"The Raschka barn near Leroy" might have belonged to Frank and George, William's brothers.

Arthur Bowman's radio sounds more like a ham set than something to receive commercial broadcasts — but then again, for all I know about radios, it might have done both.

Friday, October 20, 2017

E.R. and Zora

2017-10-20. Dr. E.R. Gordon, 1908
(Click on image to enlarge)
Dr. E.R. Gordon, circa 1908.
Image credit: "KatharineMRedmond,"

This item in the "Local Drifts" of the Hobart Gazette of Feb. 28, 1908, tells of Dr. E.R. Gordon making a surprise visit to Hobart with his new bride, Zora (Knopsnyder).

2017-10-20. E.R. and Zora just married
(Click on image to enlarge)

He is described as "head house physician in one of the Health Homes at the [Bernarr] Macfadden Sanatorium, Battle Creek, Mich." Earlier, we saw in his obituary that he had been a patient at an unnamed sanitarium in Battle Creek, where he met his future wife. The Bernarr Macfadden Sanitarium definitely existed, but I haven't been able to confirm E.R.'s association with it in any source except the Gazette.

2017-10-20. Zora Knopsnyder 1903
(Click on image to enlarge)
Zora Knopsnyder, as a student at Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, Virginia, circa 1903. Image credit:

Zora Knopsnyder was born in 1882, which means we have no census record of her until the 1900 Census, where we find her in Ridgway, Pennsylvania, boarding in the home of Edward and Mattie Sowers — who may or may not be related to her; I don't know. In a family tree on, her parents are listed as Jackson Wynkoop and Margaret (Catz) Knopsnyder; the 1908 paperwork for E.R. and Zora's marriage names her parents only by their initials: J.W. and M.J. In 1900, if I've found the right people, J.W. and M.J. were living in West Virginia. I wonder why Zora chose not to live with them? She was then 18 years old and the enumerator recorded no occupation for her.

E.R. and Zora were married February 19, 1908, in Elk County, Pennsylvania.[1].

After their visit to Hobart, the young couple returned to Battle Creek for several months. In May, Zora came down alone for a visit to her in-laws, staying with them in the house on Second and Center Streets.[2]

In July 1908, E.R. came home to Hobart for good.

2017-10-20. Dr. E.R. Gordon returns to Hobart
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette 24 July 1908.

(There's another make of car I never heard of before. Looking at the 1908 models on this page, they look so exposed. I'd hate to go out on a call on a cold, rainy night with only that flimsy convertible roof to shield me.)

With E.R. came a 15-year-old boy, formerly a bell boy at the sanatorium, who would work as office boy (in E.R.'s office, I expect).[3] The Gazette gives his name as Ormer Thaker, the 1910 Census as Omar Thenker. I can't find him elsewhere.

E.R. rented an office in the First State Bank building and went about his business as doctor and coroner.

2017-10-20. Advertisement - Dr. E.R. Gordon
(Click on image to enlarge)Hobart Gazette 2 Oct. 1908.


[1] Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1968 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2016. Original data: Marriage Records. Pennsylvania Marriages. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, UT.
[2] "Local Drifts," Hobart Gazette 22 May 1908.
[3] "Local Drifts," Hobart Gazette 31 July 1908; 1910 Census.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"The Marriage of Her Brother"

I have previously gotten pretty well convinced that Julius Triebess married Sophie Mankey in Chicago on June 11, 1901. Thus, this little item from the "Miller Murmurings" column of the Hobart Gazette of June 14, 1901, pretty well convinces me that Julius and Lena Triebess were brother and sister: "Miss Lena Triebess went to South Chicago to attend the marriage of her brother."

Although that item does not specify June 11, it would be a great coincidence if two Triebess men with local ties were married in Chicago during the same week … and no mention of such a coincidence appeared in the local paper. Ergo, I am pretty well convinced.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Gordon House

As some of you already know, the Gordon house has new owners, who have begun the difficult process of restoring this lovely old place. Because they have enough work to do, I volunteered to look into the microfilm and other records in search of some background on the house to share with them … and with the readers of this blog.

Let's get straight to the good part: the spring of 1909, when construction first began.

Construction of Gordon house begins
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette May 7, 1909.

The electric-line franchise is discussed in more detail in the left-hand column of this page. As we know, the streetcar line ended up taking a different route — passing a block south of Dr. Gordon's house, rather than right past it.

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He went by "E.R." and I'm beginning to wonder if it's because he himself didn't know whether his first name was Edwin or Edward. It shows up both ways. With the help of Paula Isolampi of the Hobart Historical Society, I've come up with a theory: he was christened Edwin after his paternal grandfather, but he didn't like that name, and as soon as he was old enough to impose his will on others, he started making them call him Edward, or just Ed. Professionally and publicly, he used his initials — a common practice at the time.

E.R. Gordon was born December 7, 1878 (Indiana Death Certificates). His parents were John and Lushia (aka Lucy) Gordon, whose brick house used to stand on the southwest corner of Center and Second Streets (and where four-year-old E.R. was photographed on the porch). His father was a druggist, and his uncle, Pliny P. Gordon, a doctor, so medicine ran in his blood, I suppose you could say.

To find out the details of his life, we must look to his death — which came early; the poor soul had scarcely three years to enjoy living with his family in his beautiful house. Here are his obituaries from the two Hobart papers of 1912.

E.R. Gordon obit
(Click on images to enlarge)
Hobart News 26 Dec. 1912.

E.R. Gordon obit
Hobart Gazette 27 Dec. 1912.

It's interesting that E.R. went to Battle Creek originally as a patient. He did more there than rest and recuperate, according to accounts at the time of his marriage (1908), which described him practicing his profession in a sanatorium. But we'll get to that later.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Something You Didn't Know About Jay Sharpe

Since he proved so elusive in the census and other records, we had nothing to prove that Jay Sharpe ever existed except that one glass-plate negative, taken in April 1906.

Now we have a little more, which I have added to the post with his glass-plate image.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

August 15, 1976, 4:15 a.m.

Here is another view of Hobart's water tower … watching over an alien landscape, in another world and another time.

2017-10-10. Lake George 15 Aug 1976 0415
(Click on image to enlarge)
Photograph by Thomas Wells. Used with permission.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Mrs. Jacob Hurlburt's Mother

Mary Louise Gustafson's obituary gave me the maiden name of Jacob Hurlburt's wife, Augusta.

2017-10-6. Gustafson obit
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette Mar. 9, 1923.

The obit describes Augusta as well as Mary as a resident of Union Township, Porter County; if that was true, I suspect it was only temporary. As we know, by 1923 Augusta and Jacob Hurlburt had plenty of their own land in Ross Township, and the 1920 Census shows them living there. However, if we look at a 1921 plat map of Union Township, we find land belonging to Claus Gustafson and a residence of Linder Gustafson:

2017-10-6. Gustafson 1921
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image from

And indeed, the 1920 Census reports Mary Gustafson living there with her 32-year-old son, Linder, who was unmarried.

However, if Mary's health was seriously declining, I doubt that the family would leave her nursing to a bachelor son — quite possibly Augusta Hurlburt stayed there to tend to her mother in her final illness. That may account for the confusion about where Augusta lived.