Saturday, December 8, 2018

His Vintage Ford

Louis Wojahn won a prize in June of 1923 for his vintage Ford — dating to 1910!

2018-12-8. Wojahn, Gazette, 6-29-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, June 29, 1923.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Sweet Sixteen?

This is Clara Rossow at 16 years of age, according to the hand-written caption. Does she look sweet? — I think she looks determined.

2018-12-3. Clara Rossow at 16
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society and Tom Rainford.

Assuming the caption is correct, this photo probably dates to circa 1906. I say probably because sources vary as to her birthdate, but the majority place it in 1890 or 1891.

She was one of the children of Augusta (Stolp) Rossow. The earliest census in which I can find her, the 1910 Census, gives her birthplace as Indiana. In subsequent censuses she claims to have been born at sea, on the Atlantic Ocean. It's a good story, but I don't think it's true.

That 1910 census shows her living with her siblings on Lake Street in Hobart. (As Minnie Rossow Harms tells us in As It Was Told to Me, the Rossow kids found that they got along better with their stepfather, William Carey, if they didn't live in his house, so they got their own.) Clara was working as a telephone operator. Sometime between 1910 and 1920 she married Thomas Davies, according to the family — I can't find an official record of the marriage on-line, but the 1920 Census records the two of them as married. It seems there were no children. When Clara died in 1976, the background information on her death certificate came from a niece who did not know Clara's parents' names.

By the way, we have seen that painted backdrop a couple of times already.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Fats-v.-Leans Baseball

This game in June of 1923 was not the first fats-against-leans game that I've seen. And on holidays such as Independence Day, you might also find foot-races going on — one for the "fats" and one for the "leans." Anyway, in this case the News has left us with a record of the body type of a number of Hobart's male citizens, in case we had no photograph and were wondering!

2018-11-27. Fats v Leans, News, 6-28-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, June 28, 1923.

Sorry I failed to get the beginning of the story.

As we see from the little item below the summary of the game, Hobart had another team called the Cardinals.

♦    ♦    ♦

Back when I was talking about the Frank family, I wondered about the Mulfinger connection. This item in the right-hand column helps a little. Not much.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Hobart Then and Now: Lillian Street from Ohio

Circa 1910, and 2018

2018-11-23. Lillian St. ca 1910
(Click on images to enlarge)
2018-11-23. Lillian St 2018

We are standing at the intersection of Lillian and Ohio Streets, looking northwest toward S.R. 51.

The photo is by August Haase, so we know it was taken between 1902 and 1913. Accord to the county records, the house now standing at the corner in the foreground was built in 1909 (all the structures beyond it in that block were built in the late 19th century). Is the 2018 house the 1909 house after a century of remodeling? It looks possible.

Here's the verso of the postcard:

2018-11-23. Lillian Street 002

The stamp box style, according to, dates between 1908 and 1924.

All things considered, I'm going to estimate this photo at circa 1910, give or take a couple of years.

The writer tells us that the dot over the second house from the corner shows us where "Eva" lived. But who was Eva? The 1910 Census shows two Evas on Lillian Street.

One was Eva (Kitchen) Bowen, wife of William Boyd Owen, Jr., brickyard superintendent. I have been told that the "Owen house" is on Lillian north of S.R. 51 … but were all the Owens confined to that area?

The other was Eva (Darling) Miller, who was born circa 1887 in Ohio (hence, maybe, the Ohio connection with the postcard's addressee?). By the 1900 Census her family had moved to Kosciusko County, Indiana, where in 1906 she married Jesse Miller. By 1910 the young couple were living in Hobart, but the 1920 Census records them back in Kosciusko County.

It could be either, as far as I know, but I have a feeling it was Eva Miller.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Finally, a Golf Course

Late in June 1923, the golf course on the Dorman farm was nearing completion.

2018-11-19. Golf course, News, 6-28-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, June 28, 1923.

It was opened to the public on July 4, 1923 ("Local Drifts," Hobart Gazette, July 12, 1923).

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Klan Everywhere

The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s, unlike its earlier and later forms, was a national phenomenon and most powerful in the Midwest, "especially Indiana, where, by all accounts, the Klan gained its greatest influence and highest level of membership for any state."[1] In late June 1923 we find the Klan continuing its heavy local campaign of public relations and recruitment. The rally that had been blocked in Gary took place in Hobart on June 26.

2018-11-15. 6-26 mtg, News, 6-28-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, June 28, 1923.

2018-11-15. 6-26 mtg, Gazette, 6-29-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, June 29, 1923.

The previous Friday (June 22), a Klan meeting drew a large crowd to the little village of Deep River.

2018-11-15. Deepriver, Gazette, 6-29-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, June 29, 1923.

The News reported that the passing of the hat brought in about $80.[2]

[1] Leonard J. Moore, Citizen Klansmen: The Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, 1921-1928 (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), 2.
[2] "Largest Crowd in History Attend Klan Meeting at Deepriver," Hobart News, June 28, 1923.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Grief and Glory

One hundred years ago today, the joyous news of the Armistice reached our shores. The Great War was over. Celebrations broke out all over the country.

In Lake Station, one family's joy was tempered by a recent loss: Christina Blank Hazelgreen had died on October 31, 1918, and was laid to rest on November 3.

Christina's daughter, Elna (now about 24 years old), received from a friend in Chicago this letter dated November 12 that expressed a range of emotions from private grief to public joy to horror at the flu epidemic that was still going on.

2018-11-11. 1918-11-12 001
(Click on images to enlarge)

2018-11-11. 1918-11-12 002

2018-11-11. 1918-11-12 003

2018-11-11. 1918-11-12 004

2018-11-11. 1918-11-12 005

The letter reads:
Dear Elna:

Received your letter Sat. telling the sad sad news of your bereavement, in the death of your dear mother.

You have our sincerest sympathy and our hearts truly ache for you, and with you, for we feel that we, too, are bereft of a sincere friend, one whose true womanly influence was always felt in the desire she gave one, to do better and be better. How glad you are now of the years of devoted services rendered.

If we had only known of your sorrow, we would have been with you and yours in those last sad rites.

In trying to lighten the burden of others, we find our own load grows less heavy, and you will find it so in this "7 in 1" drive.[1] Wish you the greatest success.

Will come to see you at the first opportunity. You know we left E[ast] Gary sooner than we expected, and I intended, as much as could be, returning on the following day, to say "Good Bye" to all old friends, and neighbors, but on reaching the city that night, found Jay had made plans to go to Detroit instead. On our return, was a victim of the "flu" and for four weeks, was in the house every minute. Am feeling fine now and glad to be alive. So far, we have made no plans for the Winter, but will probably remain with Hazel. And I want you, Clara and Malcolm to be sure and come to see us. Take a Hammond car to Grand Crossing, then transfer to a 75th street car, last get off at Jeffery, walk to Chappel and we live the sixth door from the corner in a little brick bungalow.

Isn't it glorious the war is over? This was some mad town the 11th. I understand there wasn't much of a celebration in Gary. Well, dear will be glad to see you or hear from you at any time, it seems odd not to have one of our "weekly midnight conflabs" [sic].

Was sorry that Esther Olson had been so ill. Oh that epidemic was something terrible – in many cases it was impossible to bury the dead on account of no caskets being available.

Hazel is waiting for me to make button holes, so will close.

With love and best wishes.

Yours Sincerely,

Belle Lewis.
Belle Lewis appears in the 1910 Census as a resident of East Gary (Lake Station). She and her husband, Jay, had come there sometime after the 1900 Census (which recorded them living in Michigan). Hazel was their only daughter, born circa 1890.

Clara and Malcolm were Elna's siblings.

Esther Olson was some relation to Elna — either the wife or daughter of Elna's cousin on her mother's side, Floyd Olson (also an East Gary resident).

[1] I don't know exactly what she is referring to, but it may have involved the Fourth Liberty Loan Drive.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Meadow Fritillary

Here is a Meadow Fritillary on my garden shed.

2018-11-8. Meadow fritillary
(Click on image to enlarge)

Before it flew there, it was drinking nectar from a Maximillian Sunflower.

I was poking around for an explanation of its name — fritillary — and found this:
The common name comes from a Latin word, fritillus, which means chessboard or dice box. Fritillary is also the name of a flower with an interesting checkered pattern; it is obvious that both the flower and the butterfly get their common name because of such pattern.
Their larval host is the violet. I do have lots of violets growing by the shed; I shall have to look for caterpillars on them next spring.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Conflict of Interest

I just can't get over the fact that ambulance service used to be provided by funeral homes rather than fire departments or other dedicated emergency responders.

2018-11-3. South of Deepriver, News, 6-21-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, June 21, 1923

Also, the rural social news from south of Deep River. Ellen Smith, whom Emily Strong helped with housecleaning, was the widow of Cyrus and by now nearly 80 years old. Per the 1920 Census, she lived alone; if she still lived in that big farmhouse, I expect she could use help in cleaning it.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Thou Shalt Not Spit Tobacco Juice on the Floor

I'm back to indexing Sunday-school record books, which are usually pretty dull. But then you come across something like this:

2018-10-29. Tobacco USUN1873B 006, 007
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Evidently, the spitting of tobacco juice in Hobart's Union Sunday School was such a nuisance that the school's officers had to form a committee to collect all the offenders' names. Sort of brings you down from the realms of glory, doesn't it?

This meeting took place April 13, 1873, at which time Mathew W. Jory was superintendent. Of all the committee members, I can identify only P. Roper: I'm pretty sure he is Phillip Roper, who also shows up frequently in these records as a Sunday-school teacher. In 1873 he was about 27 years old. I have previously posted his obituary, and a photo of his sons, one of whom (Phillip Jr.) married Bliss "Dollie" Newman.

Phillip's father, James Sr., is described in the 1870 Census as a butcher, but there was also a James Jr. in the family; and James Jr., I believe, later took up his father's occupation and built the building at Main and Third.

Mrs. Meister was also a regular teacher of Sunday-school classes, and I believe her husband's initials were J.S., but that's as far as I can get with her.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Yellow Bear Caterpillar

Here's a Yellow Bear on a pokeweed leaf in my back yard.

2018-10-19. Yellow bear
(Click on image to enlarge)

It will grow up to be a Virginia Tiger moth.

And on this warm(?) fuzzy note, I am going to take an Internet break for a week or so.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Death at the Rossow Crossing … Again

Two years after witnessing a deadly train-vs.-automobile wreck at the Pennsy crossing near his home on present-day Wisconsin Street, William Rossow was among the first on the scene of another, equally horrifying, at the same crossing.

2018-10-16. Rossow crossing, Gaz, 6-22-1923
(Click on images to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, June 22, 1923

This story establishes that it was indeed Herman Harms who bought the cottage being moved from New Street, although here its destination is given as the "H. & S. subdivision." So Herman, along with his father Henry, his father-in-law William Rossow, and his brother-in-law Ed Niksch (Miksch is a misprint) were at work on the house a short distance southeast of the Wisconsin Street crossing.

♦    ♦    ♦

An item in the next column to the right mentions the filming of a 1915 celebration in Hobart. That film still exists, I am told, somewhere in the archives of the Hobart Historical Society. It hasn't been digitized, and trying to run the original through a projector would be foolhardy. Someday, perhaps, when both the film and the money to digitize it are found, we'll be able to view motion pictures of Hobart in 1915.

In the right-hand column, we find T.H. Grabowski building an addition to his home — an addition that, fortunately, is identifiable on this current sketch from the Lake County Assessor's website.

2018-10-16. Grabowski house sketch 2018

This confirms what I conjectured: that the old Carlson house is at 6430 Grand Boulevard. Per the county records, it was built in 1879.

Finally, a new bridge was going up over the Deep River where Ainsworth Road crosses it, known as the Nolte bridge since the road passes through the Nolte property there. When I first moved out here in 1990, there was a metal truss bridge similar to the one at 73rd Avenue — I wonder if that could have been the 1923 bridge? It was replaced within about a year of my moving here, and I never thought to take a photo of it.

I am curious to know what sort of bridge was there before 1923.

Additional Source: "Two More Victims of Grade Crossing Saturday When Mrs. John Clark and Daughter Margery Meet Death," Hobart News, June 21, 1923.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Dingy Cutworm Moth

I scared up this moth while mowing the lawn, and when it landed again I photographed it with my cell phone.

2018-10-14. Dingy Cutworm moth
(Click on image to enlarge)

I thought its markings were wonderful! Then I found out that it's called a Dingy Cutworm moth, and somehow its markings stopped being so wonderful. They ought to give it a better name.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wheat from the Twenty-Mile Prairie

In December of 1848, H.N. Wheeler brought almost two bushels of wheat to the store at Liverpool, or Hobart, or wherever it was. For the wheat he got store credit, I gather, although the ledger-keeper did not record the dollar amount of the credit, or what it paid for.

2018-10-10. 20-mile prairie DayB1840 218, 219
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

What puzzles me is: why mention that the wheat was from the Twenty-Mile Prairie? Was wheat from the Twenty-Mile Prairie especially good? — especially bad?

The Twenty-Mile Prairie is an area of Portage and Union Townships, Porter County. Porter and Lake Counties (Goodspeed-Blanchard) explains its name:
This was so named because, as an old settler facetiously said, it was "twenty miles from anywhere" — meaning of course, that it was twenty miles (or some multiple of twenty) from the nearest trading post, being twenty miles from Michigan City and Laporte, and forty miles from Chicago.

H.N. Wheeler may have been the Horace Wheeler who appears in Center Township, Porter County, in the 1850 Census and subsequent censuses, and who is now buried in Kimball Cemetery — but I don't know that Horace's middle initial was N.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Asiatic Dayflower

I'm a bit late in identifying this little wildflower, which I've seen in many places. This individual was growing in the shade of my privet hedge.

2018-10-7. Asiatic dayflower 1
(Click on images to enlarge)

2018-10-7. Asiatic dayflower 2

Not very good pictures, and I had to lie on the wet ground to get them. If you want better pictures, try here.

These small and timid-looking plants are considered an invasive species.

They are edible. This creamed dayflower dish looks interesting, but I don't have the patience to pick half a pound of these things.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

But Not in Gary!

A large crowd gathered in Hobart on the night of June 12, 1923, to hear a KKK representative give a rousing speech on "Americanism."

2018-10-4. Americanism, Gaz, 6-15-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, June 15, 1923.

The Hobart News reported that as many as 4,000 people may have attended. "It was estimated that there were 500 automobiles at the field and the streets leading to the grounds. Machines were there with Illinois licenses, as well as Ohio licenses."[1] The News described the location as "the open field north of the Fifield addition" — the Fifield addition lying south of Home Street between Linda and Illinois; that location is compatible with the Gazette's "open field east of Michigan avenue."

♦    ♦    ♦

The following week the Hobart papers reported that the KKK had been rebuffed by Gary officials, having sought permission to hold meetings on private or public land and been refused by both Mayor R.O. Johnson and Park Board President W.R. Gleason.[2] That is not so very surprising. We should remember that the 1920s Klan, in addition to being white supremacist, was strongly anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic, and the people it targeted could be found in significant numbers in Gary, working and voting. A historian of the 1920s Klan in Indiana notes that "the Gary Post-Tribune, which operated under the control of U.S. Steel … usually sought to avoid antagonizing Gary's many foreign-born and black workers."[3]

We should also remember that the 1920s Klan vociferously supported Prohibition and sexual morality, and I have the impression that the flouting of both of those principles was big business in Gary at that time. In a brief historical sketch of R.O. Johnson on the I.U. Northwest Calumet Archives website, we learn that he was first elected Mayor before Prohibition, but failed to be re-elected after his "indifference to the prevalence of prostitution and gambling in Gary" lost him the support of U.S. Steel officials. The sketch goes on to cover his career in the 1920s:
Johnson's second term of office (1922-1925) was rocked by prohibition scandals, and subsequently Johnson was among those indicted and arrested by Federal authorities for conspiracy to violate the national prohibition laws. In March, 1923, Johnson was convicted in the Federal District Court in Indianapolis. Mayor Johnson received the heaviest sentence, a fine of $2,000 plus 18 months in the Atlanta penitentiary. He left for Atlanta in April, 1925, to serve his term; however, he was released from prison in November, 1925, having served one third of his original sentence. Johnson received a presidential pardon from Calvin Coolidge in March, 1929, which restored to him the privileges of a U.S. citizen. Shortly thereafter, a Superior Court Judge in East Chicago ruled that Johnson was legally eligible to hold public office.

R.O. Johnson won the Republican nomination for Mayor of Gary, and was elected by a substantial majority in November, 1929.

The disappointed Kleagle of Gary announced plans to hold a meeting in Hobart instead.[4]

[1] "Estimated There Were 2,500 to 4,000 at Klan Meeting Here Tuesday Night," Hobart News, June 14, 1923.
[2] "Mayor Johnson of Gary Refuses to Allow First Klan Meeting," Hobart News, June 21, 1923; "Klan Meeting at Gary Prevented," Hobart Gazette, June 22, 1923.
[3] Leonard J. Moore, Citizen Klansmen: The Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, 1921-1928 (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), 31.
[4] "Klan Meeting at Gary Prevented," Hobart Gazette, June 22, 1923.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Reaper Dart Moth

Found this thing on a bell pepper in my garden during the summer. It took me a long time to identify it. I finally decided it's a Reaper Dart.

2018-10-3. Reaper Dart moth
(Click on image to enlarge)

My tomato harvest was pretty poor this year, but I got a lot of bell peppers.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

How to Get Lumber from Hobart to Chicago in 1849

Early in the autumn of 1849, the more famous Wicker brother ordered some lumber to be sent to Chicago from George Earle's sawmill in Hobart. What's interesting is how they got it from here to there.

2018-9-30. Lumber DBHM1846 40, 41
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

They rafted it. I've heard of rafting cut trees down a river, but I knew nothing about rafting lumber on a lake. And now I learn that in the mid-19th century it was the most common means of moving lumber around the Great Lakes. You can find a discussion of lumber-rafting on Lake Superior here. And here is a photograph of a bag-boom raft of lumber heading out onto a lake:

2018-9-30. Lumber raft on lake

This photograph comes from Michigan State University via Lost Arts Press.

The writer of our ledger lists the men who accompanied the lumber over the lake: Chancey Wheeler, Jesse Jeffcoat, and Huggins Curtis. I cannot read the name of the man who measured the lumber.

Chancey (whose name also appears spelled as Chauncy or Chauncey) was born in New York circa 1817. The earliest I can find him in this area is 1846, when he married Jerusha (or Gerusha) Curtis (Indiana Marriage Collection). The 1850 Census shows the young couple with one daughter, living in the household of (I'm guessing) Gerusha's parents in Portage Township. Sometime that same year, Chancey bought the first of several parcels he would own over the years in Hobart Township (Early Land Sales, Lake County). The 1860 Census shows the family in Hobart Township, where Chancey worked as a butcher. I can trace him only as far as the 1880 Census (still in Hobart Township). The date of his death and the site of his burial are unknown. What, if any, relation he had to the more famous Wheelers in northwest Indiana — I leave that for people with time on their hands to discover.

I can't find any information on Jesse Jeffcoat or Huggins Curtis.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Viceroy Butterfly

Its coloring is confusingly similar to the Monarch's, but the Viceroy — or at least, this particular Viceroy — has nothing of the Monarch's gregarious personality. This guy wouldn't let me get anywhere near him …

2018-9-28 Viceroy butterfly
(Click on image to enlarge)

… but Monarchs will strike a pose on a flower and say, "Well, aren't you going to take my picture?" as you walk past them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Come Down My Way and Bring a Preacher

On the last day of May 1923, our friend Martha Granzow became Mrs. Elmer Ballantyne.

2018-9-26. Granzow-Ballantyne, Gaz, 6-8-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, June 8, 1923.

I had no reason to mark the item about the burning dairy truck except that the name Canino, which I'd never heard before, sounds Italian — a bit unusual for a national origin in this area at that time. What is equally unusual is that Louis came from Louisiana, where his father is recorded in the 1910 Census running an oyster shop in New Orleans. Both his parents were Italian immigrants. By the 1920 Census the family (a widowed mother plus Louis and his six siblings) had moved to Hobart, renting a house on Ohio Street. How do you get from New Orleans to Hobart — or rather, why?

The item below that relates the continuing commercial adventures of Charles Goldman, former merchant of Ainsworth.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Some Kind of Tiger Moth

I found this snow-white moth in my back yard and photographed it, hoping to identify it later. I didn't know enough to make it turn over so I could see its abdomen, which might have helped.

2018-9-24. Some kind of Tiger Moth 1
(Click on images to enlarge)

2018-9-24. Some kind of Tiger Moth 2

The orange-yellow forelegs make me think it might be an Agreeable Tiger moth. I have no idea how that species got its name, but this guy was quite pleasant about letting me take his picture. Larval hosts include dandelions and plantain, both of which are plentiful around here.

Or maybe it's a Virginian Tiger moth. If I could see whether its abdomen had a yellow patch, I would know.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

No Pine Boxes

Their graves may be unmarked, but they rest in walnut and oak.

2018-9-22. DBHM1846 032, 033
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

2018-9-22. DBHM1846 066, 067

2018-9-22. DBHM1846 078, 079

Of all these names I can identify only Edward Ensign, who appears in the 1850 Census in Hobart Township. To judge by his neighbors, he lived northeast of the village of Hobart near the county line. He was by trade a cooper; that is, a barrel-maker. He and his wife, Emmarilla (married in Ohio in 1844[1]), had three children: Clarissa (4 years old), Sarah (2), and Linus (3 months). I can't find the family in the 1860 Census, so I can't guess which of those little ones the walnut coffin of 1851 was meant for.

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

Friday, September 21, 2018

Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Here's a rather tattered Black Swallowtail on a Tithonia blossom.

2018-9-21. Black Swallowtail 1
(Click on images to enlarge)

2018-9-21. Black Swallowtail 2

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Updated Index to Ledgers

Since I finished indexing the merchant's daybook (1840 et seq.) and the daybook of Hobart Mills (1846 et seq.), I have posted an updated index over there on the Index page.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

South of Deepriver, June 7, 1923

Social news from the countryside.

2018-9-18. SoDR, News, 6-7-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, June 7, 1923

We previously encountered the story about little Vernon Fauser.

Over in the "Local and Personal" column, we find Ethel Paine traveling Indianapolis for the graduation of her daughter, Alice … who remained there to get even more educated.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Painted Lady Butterfly

It's not just Monarchs and hummingbirds that like Tithonia. Here is a Painted Lady drinking nectar:

2018-9-15. Painted Lady 1
(Click on image to enlarge)

2018-9-15. Painted Lady 2

This one wasn't opening her wings, so you can't see the vivid coloring on their upper side.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Skeleton in the Yard

Let's step back to May 1902, when the J spur was being laid from the main EJ&E line through Hobart to the brickyards. That construction work led to an interesting discovery:

2018-9-12. Bones, Gazette, 5-9-1902
(Click on image to enlarge)

"Mr. Colburn" was, I believe, the 64-year-old Zerah Colburn, who had come to the Hobart area circa 1843 with his parents (Early Land Sales, Lake County) and lived out the rest of his life here. For Cruther I think we should read Carothers — and we have already mentioned that family in connection with the bridge on the tumbling dam. The young man who died in 1854 must have been John Carothers, Jr.; at that time he would have been about 17 years old.

I have found no follow-up story in later issues of the newspaper, so it is possible that young John's bones still lie in that box along the route of the vanished J spur.

We know the route:

J Spur on map with labels
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

The spur actually extended as far as the western Kulage brickyard (see 1902 Sanborn map), which I find interesting because that part of the brickyards was on land once owned by the Carothers family. The image below shows that area as it appears on the 1874 Plat Map, with the east half of the southeast quarter of Section 30 owned by "Crothers." In 1846 John Carothers, Sr. had bought the parcel outlined in green, and in 1851 the parcel outlined in red (Early Land Sales, Lake County). He must have sold the green parcel before 1874.

2018-9-12. Carothers 1874
(Click on image to enlarge)

However, I doubt that young John's bones lie in that land. Zerah Colburn said John was "buried upon his … father's lot" — which sounds like a (relatively) small lot in town. In further support of this theory, the "Heitmann place" was likely in town, if we assume it was one of the two Heidtmann households shown in the 1900 Census. That census records one household composed of Fred and Liddie Heidtmann and their children, and a separate household where Fred's mother, Sophia, lived with her own elderly mother and an unmarried son. Both homes were within "Hobart Town," but I don't know the exact location of either. The one that included Sophia was probably on Michigan Avenue: it was described that way when Sophia died in 1909[1], and its being recorded in the 1900 Census next to the Melin home (northeast corner of Michigan and Cleveland) suggests they were neighbors. However, even if that Heidtmann place was on the west side of Michigan Avenue — with a railroad track and a creek between it and the J spur's route, to call the excavation "below the Heitmann place" seems a bit of a stretch.

♦    ♦    ♦

It's odd that Zerah Colburn would say that in 1854 Hobart had no cemetery. I suppose he meant no cemetery within the village. Zerah's own parents are buried in the Old Settlers Cemetery, and both died before John Carothers, Jr.: his father, Allen, in 1843, and his mother, Maria, in 1851. Still, in 1854, small family burial grounds on private property were not so very unusual, although I would expect such grounds to be more rural — a burial in a town lot would be out of the ordinary.

[1] "Old Citizen Dies," Hobart Gazette, May 14, 1909.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Chickweed Geometer Moth

You have to clean out your foster kittens' litterbox at all hours because of their medical problem, and you have to throw the resulting little bagful into the garbage bin outside because you can't have that stuff in the house, and you have to turn on the porch light to go find the garbage bin in the dark … and the porch light attracts a lovely yellow-and-pink moth you've never seen before. That's called serendipity. And this is called a Chickweed Geometer moth.

2018-9-9. Chickweed Geometer Moth
(Click on image to enlarge)

Among its larval hosts are chickweed, clover, knotweed, and smartweed.

This individual is a male — we know that because his antennae are bipectinate. The female's antennae are filiform.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Fanny's Finery

In my post about the Lake County courthouse, I said I was going to talk about John Premer. But first I want to talk about Fanny Premer.

She makes her first appearance on the first page of the Liverpool merchant's daybook: on May 15, 1840, she came to the store and bought nothing but finery, including a Dunstable bonnet (that would be imported from England, I believe).

2018-9-6. DayB1840 001
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This image and the following image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

She comes back over the next couple of weeks and buys gloves, stay laces (for lacing up her corset), and muslin.

2018-9-6. DayB1840 002, 003

And so it goes, throughout the summer and into the autumn of 1840. She buys more dress fabric, and ribbon; several pairs of stockings; an artificial flower and a cape; a child's bonnet; ornamental combs; a pair of shoes. She buys one book (title unknown), and one pocket-knife. In September, along with a comb and thread, she buys ten cents' worth of raisins. But never does she buy mundane items like molasses, coffee, sugar, tobacco, whiskey — those purchases are made by John Premer. In December, Fanny buys another pair of shoes. Her last appearance is in January 1841, when she buys eight yards of calico.

Apparently Fanny was well dressed; that's one of the two things I know about her. The other thing is: on January 13, 1842, she married a man named Abraham Balts (Indiana Marriage Collection). I can't find her (or him, for that matter) in any other record, anywhere. Was she related to John Premer? — seems likely, but I can't prove it. I can't put them in the same household in any census. Sometimes they came to the Liverpool store on the same day; sometimes not.

Now, as for John Premer, he is all over the ledgers (so far, I've indexed him 66 times as "John Premer," more than a dozen times, probably, as "J. Premer," and once as "Mr. Premer"), and he is only a little less elusive than Fanny in the official records.

John was born circa 1794 in Virginia. The earliest I can find him in Lake County is in the 1840 census:

2018-9-6 1840 Premer, John
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Image from

… At least, I think that's our John; with so little information given about him, it's hard to be sure. But we know from the ledgers he was in this area by 1840, and among his neighbors on the census page are the names of early local settlers, including Sigler, Zuvers, Hayward, and Merrill.

The 1850 Census is a little more informative.

2018-9-6. 1850 Premer, John
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Image from

John gives his occupation as "miller" so perhaps he worked in one of George Earle's mills. One assumes that Olive is his wife and the younger folks are all his children … but there are two boys named John, with different middle initials. That's odd.

Per the Indiana Marriage Collection, John married Olive Sperling in 1847. The children in the 1850 census can't be children of that marriage; they must be from previous marriages. Perhaps that can explain the two young Johns — one of them is Olive's, and he was young enough when his mother remarried to take his new stepfather's surname.

From the same source we find another marriage involving a John Premer, in Lawrence County, Indiana in 1820, to Susan Burns (but per the 1850 census, they would have had to move to Ohio for the birth of Valentine and the next two children). The Ohio marriage records[1] show John Premer marrying Mary Ann Vandermark in 1817 in Wayne County, which sounds more likely: it would account for the birthplace of the first three children, as well as the first daughter's being named for her mother. At the same place in 1836, John Premer married Elizabeth Caston. If the family then moved to Indiana, Elizabeth could be the mother of some of the children in the 1850 census.

I can't find any land belonging to John Premer (the eldest) in Early Land Sales, Lake County, or on any plat map I have. His son(?), Valentine, did buy a few parcels: in 1850, he bought 80 acres northwest of Hobart from Jesse Albee (and later sold them to George Earle); in 1854, 80 acres just northwest of Hobart (also sold to George Earle the next year); and in 1854, 40 acres on the west side of S.R. 51 where it meets 61st Avenue. By the time of the 1874 Plat Map, there is no land under the Premer name.

In the 1860 Census, I can find only two Premers still in this area. The John born circa 1833 is a "farm laborer" on the farm of George and Margaret Guernsey in Ross Township; the younger John (born ca. 1841) is likewise employed by Jerry and Susan Vanness in Hobart Township.[2] I cannot locate any other members of this family locally — or anywhere else, for that matter.

Two Premer boys, Jacob and one of the Johns, joined the military during the Civil War and lost their lives before it ended. The veterans' headstones to mark their graves (or at least memorialize them, if they were buried in some distant place where they died) were intended, as of 1888, to be located in Hobart …

2018-9-6. Premer Civil War veterans
(Click on image to enlarge) Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans, 1861-1904 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Card Records of Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans, ca. 1879-ca. 1903; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1845, 22 rolls); Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, Record Group 92; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

… but both of them ended up in the Blake Cemetery in Porter County — Jacob and John.

[1] Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2016. Original data: Marriage Records. Ohio Marriages. Various Ohio County Courthouses.
[2] There is a John Premer born in Ohio circa 1838 working for a "hotel proprietor" named David Young (this would be the father of George Young) in Hobart Township. If he wasn't a relative who'd come out here from Ohio, he might have been the youngest John, accidentally counted twice in the census and understandably assigned an age a few years off from the correct one by whoever was talking to the enumerator.