Thursday, September 14, 2017

Work ID and Chauffeur Badge, 1936

A collection of photos and other items relating to the Fleck and Halfman families of Ross Township has come to the Merrillville/Ross Twp. Historical Society through the Fleck family. The collection includes this photo ID (undated) used on the job by Nicholas Fleck, Jr. (1887-1955):

2017-9-14. N. Fleck Jr. work ID
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Merrillville/Ross Twp. Historical Society.

And here is the badge he wore as a truck driver in 1936:

2017-9-14. N. Fleck Jr. work badge

A family legend holds that Nicholas, as an employee of the Lake County Highway Department, worked on building Broadway up to the steel mills; the family is now researching to try to determine whether that's true, or just a good story. Neither the ID nor the badge indicates who his employer was when he used them.

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Although I have mentioned the Flecks of Hobart several times already in the blog, I find I have neglected the Flecks of Ross Township. They are related, all being descended from Peter and Anna Fleck. Our truck driver's father, Nicholas Fleck Sr., was the brother of the Michael Fleck who ran a coal business in Hobart (and whose ledgers I expect to be indexing sometime in the future).

Nicholas Sr., born circa 1854, married Frances Wilde in 1876 (Indiana Marriage Collection). The two of them, with a young daughter, were farming in Hobart Township (near his father and brother) when the 1880 Census was taken. By the 1900 Census, their family had grown to nine children, including Nicholas Jr.; they were farming in Calumet Township.

The family first shows up in Ross Township in the 1910 Census, farming their own land, with five of their children still at home. Judging by their neighbors, the Flecks were on the land that showed up as theirs in the 1926 Plat Book:

2017-9-14. Fleck 1926
(Click on image to enlarge)

The 1908 Plat Map shows different ownership, so unless that map lagged behind purchases and sales, the Flecks bought their Ross Township farm between 1908 and 1910. On the south, the Grand Trunk Railroad cut across their land; on the north it was Turkey Creek. Today, the old Fleck farm is occupied by some businesses and part of Hidden Lake Park.

Although in 1910 Nicholas Jr. was described as single, when he shows up in the 1920 Census with a wife (née Anna Halfman), their children include an eleven-year-old son. I have not been able to find a marriage record for Nicholas Jr. and Anna, so I don't know how to explain that.[1] Nicholas and Anna were farming rented land near his father's farm — or maybe part of it?

Nicholas Jr. seems to have been among those who quit farming in the 1920s. In the 1930 Census he described himself as a truck driver for a hardware store. He and Anna, with their nine children, were living on rented property in Ross Township described as being in the "north corner of [the] township, east of Broadway," which could still be the old Fleck farm. The year after that census, another daughter joined the family. In the 1940 Census, Nicholas Jr. said he was a clerk at a hardware store. His death certificate (1955) gives his occupation as "truck driver," his employer as "Highway Dept." — but does not specify which highway department, and he died in LaPorte County.

[1] I have since learned that Anna Halfman's first husband was Nicholas' brother, Mathias, who died in 1912.

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