Wednesday, February 27, 2019

In-Law Troubles: Extreme Edition

Accusing one's in-laws of meddling in one's marriage is not all that rare. But on July 6, 1923, in-law troubles reached an unusual level, involving attempted murder.

2019-02-27. Mize, Gazette, 7-13-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, July 13, 1923

The last time we met Clifford O. Mize, he was brawling on Main Street. Evidently that was not out of character for him.

The 1920 Census places the Schreffler household on Indiana Street, and that seems to go along with the references in the article to the Bruhn factory and the Nickel Plate and "J" tracks. So these events probably happened in the general area of 400 South Indiana.

♦    ♦    ♦

I had noticed Harriet "Hattie" Schreffler in February of 1919, when she opened a millinery shop on Main Street.

2019-02-27. Schreffler, Gazette, 2-7-1919
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, February 7, 1919

In June of that year, she married Clifford Mize. It was his second marriage, and a child of the first was reported living with them in the 1920 Census. Harriet and Clifford had two sons together.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Put Your Foot in the Air Like You Just Don't Care

We know nothing about this photo, but I like it anyway.

2019-02-21. EvaT025
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Eldon Harms.

It is from the collection of Eva Thompson. None of these people are identified, and I don't recognize them (except that the guy with his foot in the air looks a bit like the guy getting his hair cut here, or am I imagining things?). The location is unknown.

The car at center in the background is a Ford that dates circa 1915-1922, according to Eldon Harms (he had one like it in his garage), which helps us slightly in dating the photo.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Hit-and-Run on the Lincoln Highway

Two accounts of a serious accident that happened on July 8, 1923, along the Lincoln Highway just west of Randolph Street.

2019-02-16. Niksch, News, 7-12-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, July 12, 1923.

2019-02-16. Niksch, Gazette, 7-13-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, July 13, 1923.

Donald was the son of Edward and Tillie Niksch, who had turned the former Deep River schoolhouse, on the northwest corner of Randolph and E. 73rd Avenue, into a dance hall.

I find that casual hospitality interesting: strangers from Gary traveling along the Lincoln Highway just happened to stop at the Niksch place for water, and for the lady to amuse herself playing the piano in the dance hall, though no dance was going on. Then she got thirsty again and gave the little boy a dime(!) to fetch her another glass of water. That's when everything went bad.

But little Donald recovered from his injuries and went on to live a full life.

♦    ♦    ♦

Below that story in the Gazette we find another accident, caused by drunk driving, involving Charles and Etta (Sohn) Kisela, who were a few weeks short of their first wedding anniversary.

The story in the News about camping along the Deep River mentions Camp 133, which we know about, but also some other camps that I've never heard of. The early summer's hot weather probably helped drive people out of their stuffy homes and into tents by the river.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Sweethearts on the Moon

Here's something cute for Valentine's Day.

2019-02-14. Saxton-Sader 1910
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of Alice Flora Smedstad.

These sweethearts had their photo taken at the White City amusement park on July 4, 1910.

2019-02-14. Saxton-Sader verso

Irma Saxton was then about 19 years old. She was descended from two of the oldest families in the Merrillville area. Her parents, Alva and Jennie (Pierce) Saxton farmed just north of the village itself.

A brief glance over the records doesn't tell me anything about Willis Sader; only that they were married on June 7, 1913, and soon had two children, Mabel and Clifford. Unfortunately, Willis died young … but let's not talk about that now; let's just concentrate on the moon and other romantic things.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Thomas A. Edison Battery Oil Bottle

I found this little broken bottle below the Grand Trunk (now Canadian National) railroad tracks some months ago, after heavy rains.

2019-02-10. Edison battery oil 1
(Click on images to enlarge)

The text reads:
Battery Oil
Made in U.S.A.
Thomas A. Edison
Bloomfield, N.J.

The Bloomfield, N.J. locations means that this bottle dates to 1915 or later.

On the other side of the bottle, a facsimile of Thomas Edison's signature:

2019-02-10. Edison battery oil 2

This site has a picture of a full and unbroken bottle, and a little more information about the use of battery oil. I haven't been able to find much information on when battery oil went out of use, but it could be as late as the 1970s, from what I understand.

You can find a photo of a battery box here (it is the smaller box; the taller one is a relay cabinet).

Monday, February 4, 2019

That Awful Traeger Crossing

This isn't the first time I've heard about the Traeger crossing …

2019-02-04. Traeger, News, 7-12-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, July 12, 1923.

… but it's the first time I've taken the trouble to figure out exactly where it was. Turns out it's almost as bad now as it was in 1923:

It probably got its name from H.W. Traeger, who owned the parcel of land in Union Township, Porter County, where the Pennsy and Nickel Plate Railroads crossed what is now County Road 600 N (10th Street in Hobart), according to the 1921 Union Township plat map:

2019-02-04. Traeger - Union-1921
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image from

He had bought that land sometime between 1895 and 1906, again per the plat maps.

I expect that in 1923, the Traeger crossing had no gates or signals. There was no State Road 130 for easy travel between Hobart and Wheeler or Valparaiso; dealing with that crossing was more of a necessity than it is now. And, of course, there were no interstates to get you from Custer, Michigan, to Lombard, Illinois, without having to drive on these country roads with their dangerous crossings.

But who (I ask myself) was this H.W. Traeger? The 1910 Census shows a Henry Traeger living in Union Township on the "North Township Line Road," which corresponds with 600 N. But then the account of this 1923 accident in the Hobart Gazette refers to the "William Traeger crossing."[1] Henry's middle name was William; perhaps he went by that — or perhaps the Gazette got it wrong. Henry also had a sibling named William Henry. Henry William and William Henry each married a woman named Anna.

Henry William and his Anna are buried in Hobart Cemetery.

All I know is, you have to be careful at the Traeger crossing.

♦    ♦    ♦

The little story in the lower left-hand corner tells of that dairy showplace, the the Gruel farm, becoming even more impressive with the addition of 20 Wisconsin Guernseys.

[1] "One Killed, Three Hurt," Hobart Gazette, July 13, 1923.