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
(Click on images to enlarge)
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
(Click on image to enlarge)
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
(Click on image to enlarge)
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.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Zabulon Skipper

Another inhabitant of my pollinator habitat.

2018-9-4. Zabulon skipper (male) 1
(Click on image to enlarge)

2018-9-4. Zabulon skipper (male) 2

I am not sure I have identified this thing correctly — my butterfly book has a lot of skippers looking vaguely like this. But I think it's a male Zabulon skipper. (The female looks different, just to make things more confusing. To humans, I mean. It might actually help the male Zabulon skipper.)

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Glass-Plate Negative ID, Continued

In what seems to be companion portrait to the four-generations photo I updated a few days ago, some men of the family sat for a photo in front of the same wall and probably on the same day — and now we have an idea of who they are.