Monday, July 30, 2018

Who Built the Bridge on the Tumbling Dam?

These guys did.

2018-7-30. DayB1840 220, 221
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Construction was going on, apparently, in January 1849 — cold working conditions! I assume this is the tumbling dam at George Earle's grist mill in Hobart.

"Cady" might be Cady Preston, a 33-year-old Hobart resident who came from New York via Michigan, per the 1850 Census. He must have been good friends with the ledger-keeper to be on a first-name basis. (Another possibility is Samuel Cady, but thus far I've found him in the ledgers only up to 1840, and only in the 1840 Census.)

George Cregg (or Craig) has been showing up in the ledgers but I can't identify him in a census.

Mr. Bush's initials may have been O.E., per another entry in the ledger, but otherwise he is a mystery to me.

We've already met Jesse Albee.

"F. Eastling" was probably Ferdinand Eastling, one of five children in the family headed by Luther and Maria Eastling. (Judging by the ages of the older children, I'd say Maria was Luther's second wife.) They farmed the southeast quarter of Section 33, on the west side of County Line Road where it meets State Road 130 (Early Land Sales, Lake County), so when the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne & Chicago Railroad came through circa 1858, it cut through their land.

"S. Sigler" may have been either Samuel Sr. or Samuel Jr.

Per the 1850 Census, the Carothers family had a John Sr. and a John Jr. In January 1849, John Jr. was only 12 years old, so I'm inclined to think this entry is for John Sr. He was born in New York circa 1805, died in Hobart in 1864, and is buried in the Old Settlers Cemetery. (Also listed there are a George Carothers — probably John's son — and a Charles, whom I can't identify; they were both Civil War veterans.) John Carothers owned much of the southwest quarter of Section 30, so Old Ridge Road, as it moves from N. Lake Park Avenue to Wisconsin Street, crossed his land (Early Land Sales, Lake County).

Friday, July 27, 2018

Massive Klan Rally in Valparaiso

Saturday, May 19, 1923 saw a massive Ku Klux Klan rally in Valparaiso, involving not only Valpo citizens but also Klan members, new initiates, and observers from neighboring towns and as far away as Chicago and Indianapolis. Different sources reported estimates of their numbers that ranged from 10,000 to 60,000.[1]

2018-7-27. Klan, News, 5-24-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, May 24, 1923.

Not all of the observers were happy about the event, but any opposition was mentioned only in passing by the Valparaiso Vidette report of May 21, as reproduced in the Hobart Gazette:[2]
Both opponents and friends of the order took cognizance of the courteous conduct of the citizens of the town, visiting members of the organization and other visitors to the city. With all the crowds and congestion, boisterousness, heckling and rowdiness were at a minimum.

[1] The Klan's mouthpiece publication gave an estimate of 50,000 ("Valparaiso Scene of Huge Klan Gathering," The Fiery Cross (Indianapolis), May 25, 1923, digitized at
[2] "Valpo Hostess to Many Thousand Klansmen," Hobart Gazette, May 25, 1923.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Hairstreak Butterfly

Here is some kind of Hairstreak on lesser daisy fleabane blossoms in my field.

2018-7-20. Hairstreak
(Click on image to enlarge)

I think it's a Banded Hairstreak. As in the case of the Duskywing, it's appearing at the right time but the wrong county; however, my butterfly book shows it in both Porter and Newton Counties, so what's to stop it from flying over the Lake County line? Its larval hosts are walnuts and oaks; plenty of oaks around here, anyway.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Deep River's First Merchant, and His More Famous Brother

I'm glad I came across this page in one of our early ledgers, showing the ledger-keeper during the summer of 1848 somehow getting involved in plans for a new Porter County courthouse and seminary …

2018-7-17. DayB1840 202, 203
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

… because this information motivated me to go looking into Porter County history to find out if a new courthouse or a seminary had been built in 1848-9. The answer is no, but while poking around there I stumbled across the name of Joel Wicker, which I had seen on other pages of the ledger, so I started looking into him. That got interesting.

The earliest mention of Joel Hoxie Wicker I've found thus far in the ledgers is May 28, 1847:

2018-7-17. DayB1836 092, 093
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

It is significant that the ledger-keeper first wrote the initial C, then corrected it to J, but we'll get to that.

Various Porter County histories make glancing references to Joel Wicker — for example, he was "the first one to expose goods for sale in Deep River, in a building that was owned and just completed by John Wood, Sen."[1]

We also learn that Joel Wicker married into Porter County's pioneering Bailly family (of the Bailly homestead). His wife was a daughter of Joseph and Marie Bailly, named Josephine Hortense; she married Joel on July 23, 1849 per the Indiana Marriage Collection. The 1850 Census shows Joel and Hortense living in Chicago, in a household of other Wickers, only one of whom (a one-month-old infant) could possibly be a child of the marriage. I have no idea how the others were related. Unfortunately, Hortense did not live to be counted in the next census.

According to one former resident of Baillytown, Joel Wicker was more influential in developing that settlement than Joseph Bailly himself — buying some of Bailly's property after his death, operating a sawmill and a store at Baillytown, and recruiting Swedish immigrants from Chicago to come into Porter County, where they worked his sawmill and bought land from him to settle and raise their families.[2]

Now, remember that C on the ledger page above? That brings us to Joel's more famous brother, Charles Gustave. The earliest dated reference to him I've found so far in the ledgers is July 10, 1845.

2018-7-17. DayB1840 142, 143
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

We've all heard of the Wicker Park area in Chicago, have we not? Some sources[3] say it is named after both Charles and Joel Wicker — but only Charles gets a nine-foot-tall bronze statue! After Charles' death in 1890, someone went to the trouble of writing a fairly detailed and highly flattering biographical sketch;[4] if Joel ever received such treatment after his death in 1888, I haven't found evidence of it.

Per an entry on, Joel Wicker rests in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, in an unmarked grave. As for his wife, who died in 1855, there seems to be some confusion as to whether she is buried in Chicago or in the Bailly Cemetery in Porter County,[5] but in any case her grave is likewise unmarked.

[1] A.G. Hardesty, Illustrated Historical Atlas of Porter County, Indiana, Valparaiso, Indiana: A. G. Hardesty (1876), transcribed here; see also Hubert M. Skinner, "Complete History of Porter County, Indiana," Valparaiso Messenger (Valparaiso, Ind.), Jan. 15, 1878, transcribed here.
[2] William T. Ahrendt, quoted in David McMahon, "Rediscovering a Swedish Ethnic Past: The National Park Service and Baillytown, Indiana," Swedish-American Historical Quarterly (Jan. 1997), pp. 26-52, reproduced here.
[3] See, e.g., "How the Neighborhoods Got Their Names" and "Ask Chicagoist: Who Put the 'Wicker' in Wicker Park?"
[4] Wyllys S. Abbot, "Hon. Chas. G. Wicker," Magazine of Western History (Oct. 1890), reproduced digitally here.
[5] See "Bailly Cemetery, Westchester Township."

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Tent to Tent in Three Generations

Maybe Grandpa George Earle did not actually sleep in a tent when he first came to the Liverpool area in the mid-1840s, but I'm sure he "roughed it" to some degree out of necessity. Here's Grandson George Earle, visiting the same area and roughing it for fun in 1923.

2018-7-14. Earle in a tent
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, May 18, 1923.

Does anyone know where Pine Street was (or is)? I can't find it on the present-day map.

Over in the right-hand column, we see that the campgrounds on the Yellowstone Trail (Cleveland Avenue) were open for another tourist seasons.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Class of 1923: Owen Crisman

Among the class of 1923 at Hobart High School was this inhabitant of the village of Deep River.

2018-7-11. Crisman, Owen - 1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image from the Hobart High School Aurora yearbook of 1923 (Ainsworthiana collection).

The "old man" whose "flivver" he drove was John Crisman. Since Owen appears as "John O." in the 1920 Census, I gather that Owen was his middle name. He was the third John Crisman in a direct line — it's natural enough to want to distinguish oneself.

Owen's sister, Dorothea, had graduated in 1921.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Duskywing Skipper (Butterfly)

Found this thing hanging around my garden. It's some kind of Duskywing.

2018-7-8. Duskywing
(Click on image to enlarge)

To me it looks most like a Wild Indigo Duskywing. The time (late June) was right, but according to my butterfly identification guide,[1] Wild Indigo Duskywings aren't found in Lake County. They are, however, found in Newton and Jasper Counties, just south of us. Furthermore, their larval hosts are yellow wild indigo and crown vetch; I've got tons of crown vetch and some yellow wild indigo around my property. So maybe they've gotten adventurous lately, moved northward and found the area hospitable.

[1] Jeffrey E. Belth, Butterflies of Indiana: A Field Guide, Indiana University Press (2013).

Thursday, July 5, 2018

John Dorman's Golf Course

This sounds like the beginning of what is now the Indian Ridge golf course.

2018-7-5. Golf
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, May 18, 1923.

The previous day's News had said the golf course was already laid out (as an afterthought to the news about his tuberculosis-free cattle). One of these two reports had to be mistaken.

2018-7-5. Golf
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, May 17, 1923.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Queen of the Prairie

Several Queens of the Prairie (Queen of the Prairies?) are producing lovely pink blossoms in my pollinator habitat.

2018-7-2. QofP 1
(Click on images to enlarge)

The Japanese beetles certainly like them.

2018-7-2. QofP 2

Some of the plants are five and a half feet tall.

2018-7-2. QofP 3

I have to admit I cheated with these insofar as I'm calling them wildflowers. They didn't just pop up in my yard — I bought them from Prairie Moon Nursery and planted them myself.