Friday, March 29, 2019

Napoleon McPherson

In 1886 Timothy McAuliffe mortgaged the 80 acres he had bought in 1867 to secure a loan of $700. By July 1892 he had paid off the debt and the mortgage was cancelled (as notarized by John Mathews):

2019-03-29. 1892 Mortgage
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society and Jocelyn Hahn Johnson.

Verso of Parts 1/2. Source: Jocelyn Hahn Johnson.

This transaction introduces us to the fancifully named Napoleon McPherson. To learn more about him, let us turn to the eulogy delivered by his friend, William H. Rifenburg, and printed in the Hobart Gazette of July 12, 1895:
The following sketch of Mr. McPherson was read by W.H. Rifenburg at the funeral last Monday [July 8, 1895] at the Unitarian Church.
Napoleon McPherson was born Jan. 11th, 1826, at London, Franklin Co., Pa., and died at Hobart, July 6th, 1895, making him 69 years 5 months and 26 days old at the time of his death. His boyhood was spent upon his father's farm attending the district school in the winter and working upon the farm in the summer. At the age of 18 he was apprenticed to a Mr. Hastings for 3 years to learn the carpenter's trade and after serving his time he joined a company of emigrants which was made up of his master and neighbors, numbering 42 persons. This company came all the way from Pa. to Galena, Ill., in covered wagons as did so many of the early western pioneers. At Galena he engaged in the lead mining business. He lived in Galena a few years after which he traveled and worked in nearly every state of the Union, generally spending the winters in the south and the summers in the north. In 1854 he settled in Chicago where he commenced work for the I.C.R.R. in their Chicago shops having charge of the wood working department. In Chicago he met his wife, Miss Lucinda Johnson, and from this union came 7 children, two only now living.

At the first call for soldiers to defend the flag and maintain the union he listed in Co. A, 12 Ill. infantry. He was in the army about 3 months when he was attacked by inflammatory rheumatism, sent home and discharged from the army. He has been a constant sufferer from that time until his death. After trying every known remedy and spending nearly all of his property in the vain pursuit or relief from his terrible suffering, he came to Hobart to live, thinking he had found a quiet place to end his earthly existence. This was in 1874, about 21 years ago, since which time he lived among us as a neighbor and friend. I became acquainted with him when he first came, I can't remember exactly how nor when, but probably in a business way when he came to live in town. I was intimately acquainted with him, I always enjoyed his company very much.

He was in many ways a remarkable man in spite of his long and intense suffering. His mind was always clear and active. He had no difficulty in reading and digesting the most difficult scientific books. I got him interested in the study of evolution and from the time he commenced to read Darwin's works he was never tired of studying and explaining them. He always seemed so pleased to think that he had found a reasonable and a rational theory for the origin of Life from the potentiality of matter, co-ordinate with all life — God.

As to his religious side, I think I was closer to him than any other person. On all the superstitions that enter so largely in the religious beliefs of so many, he was positively free. He believed in the universality of law and order, in the universe without a break, in matters that are unknowable. As to what becomes of us after death he could probably be called an agnostic. He put much more stress on an upright life than upon the acceptance of any dogma. In his dealings he was honest to the last cent and in his opinions he was outspoken and had nothing to conceal. If the world had more such men, we would have fewer hypocrites. If all dealt like him jails and prisons could be done away with.

I want to take this opportunity to say that to the everlasting credit of the family they have made every possible sacrifice and have lovingly administered to his every wish and want, during his 30 years of suffering. What a satisfaction it must be for them to look back upon a duty so well and faithfully done. In this short biography I have endeavored to tell the truth and in doing so hope I have not given offense.

Only in the 1880 Census do we find Napoleon's family together in Hobart: he and his wife, Lucinda, with their two surviving children, Frank (20 years old), and Harriet (11). Napoleon gives his occupation as carpenter, but in the column where the enumerator is asked to specify any disease that may have the named person "sick or temporarily disabled, so as to be unable to attend to ordinary business or duties," we find a scribble that looks like "Rheumatism."

In 1897, Napoleon's widow, Lucinda, married Sylvester Hampton (Indiana Marriage Collection). Naturally, this marriage produced no children, and when Lucinda died in 1915 (Indiana Death Certificates), she was buried beside her first husband, under his surname … or so we learn from the Northwest Indiana Genealogy Society's book of gravestone readings, and we have to rely on that, since the gravestones themselves are too worn to be legible now.

This, I suppose, is Napoleon's military grave marker …

2019-03-29. McPherson, Napoleon - military
(Click on images to enlarge)

… ordered for him in 1897:

2019-03-29. McPherson, Napoleon - order for stone 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.

On this four-sided stone, you can read the name MacPherson, and here and there a word or date.

2019-03-29. McPherson stone 1 of 4

2019-03-29. McPherson stone 2 of 4

2019-03-29. McPherson stone 3 of 4

2019-03-29. McPherson stone 4 of 4

Between the two stones, the Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society says the readers found the following inscriptions:

2019-03-29. McPherson names per NWIGS
From Hobart Township Cemeteries, Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society (June 1994).

That would account for the five of their seven children who did not survive (per W.H. Rifenburg's eulogy), but Napoleon and Lucinda were living in Chicago when the children died,[1] so these are probably memorial inscriptions for children whose remains lie elsewhere.[2]

Nearby are the graves of Napoleon and Lucinda's son, Frank …

2019-03-29. MacPherson, Frank

… his wife, Caroline …

2019-03-29. MacPherson, Caroline (Day)

… and their daughter, Edith, who had been the second Mrs. Calvin Scholler:

2019-03-29. Scholler, Edith

[1] According to listings in Chicago directories dated 1862, 1865, and 1874; I cannot find them in the 1860 Census or 1870 Census.
[2] The dates, "b. 11-20-1862 d. 4-26-1864," that seem to be associated with Napoleon's name make no sense. Those are not his dates of birth and death, nor the dates of his military service. If this is another child (named after his father), that would bring the total number of children to eight, not seven as W.H. Rifenburg said.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Compton Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Yesterday I came across this thing as it walked along very slowly on my garage floor. Compton Tortoiseshells hibernate, and apparently this one hibernated in my garage. Picked it up and put it in the sunshine so it could warm up. It spread its wings to soak up the sun.

Compton Tortoiseshell 1
(Click on images to enlarge)

Compton Tortoiseshell 2

Compton Tortoiseshell 3

Its underwings are much duller:


When I went back to check on it later, it had flown away … or been eaten by a bird.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Hobart Then and Now: Center Street North from Third

Circa 1909, and 2019

2019-03-20. Center St from 3rd 1909-07-30 a
(Click on images to enlarge)

2019-03-20. Center St from 3rd 2019

This is a depressing update to my previous then-and-now post of the Guyer building.

The top photo comes from a postcard postmarked 1909.

2019-03-20. Center St from 3rd 1909-07-30 b

The photo doesn't tell us much about what businesses occupied either of the two commercial buildings on the corners, except that Dr. Fred Werner had his dental office there.

The building on the right might have already been the Amazon restaurant. Somehow, I have the impression that this is where, a few years earlier, Hans Thune had operated the Farmer's Home, but I may be mistaken.

Further down Center Street on the same side is the Rifenburg/Mackey house.

And looking straight up Center Street, you can see in the background the smokestack of the National Fireproofing Co. brickyard.

As those of us in Hobart know, the Guyer building was badly damaged by fire on the night of January 15, 2019. Then the second floor had to be knocked down because it was unstable. I am not sure whether the building's ultimate fate has been decided yet.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Diphtheria on the Berndt Farm

In mid-July 1923 diphtheria broke out in the home of John and Minnie (Harms) Berndt. It took only a few days to kill their youngest child.

2019-03-11. Berndt, News, 7-19-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, July 19, 1923.

Diphtheria can be transmitted through the air or by touching a contaminated object, so the Rev. Schuelke and those few relatives who came to the farm for the funeral were risking their own health.

Additional Source:
"Diphtheria Causes Sudden Death," Hobart Gazette, July 20, 1923.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A New Home for the Union Sunday School

Somehow I thought Hobart's Union Sunday School was meeting in a church from the start. I just learned I was wrong: in its early years, it met in the Hobart schoolhouse — the old wooden structure, I suppose, on Center Street.

By January 1876 the Sunday School had outgrown the schoolhouse. This page from the record book tells us that the "leading members" of the M.E. Church had been asked to allow the Union Sunday School to meet in their building, and they had refused. (This was the original M.E. Church, built in 1871.)

So the Sunday School appointed a committee to approach the Unitarian Church leadership for permission to meet in their brand-new house of worship, which had just been finished that very month.[1]

2019-03-05. USUN1873B 170, 171
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Of the committee members, Mr. Hansen is a mystery to me. Elsewhere in the record book we find a reference to H.C. Hansen being appointed to another committee, but I cannot find anyone with those initials in the censuses of 1870 or 1880. I do find a John Hanson in the 1880 Census (with daughters whose names appear in the Sunday School records: Lena, Mary, and Sarah).

Jessie Spray was the older sister of Jane Spray. Her name appears again and again in the records as a teacher of the Sunday School classes. According to her grave marker, she did not have long to live.

Mary Lambke,[2] I believe, belonged to a Valparaiso family. She and her siblings appear in the Union Sunday School records, here and there, as both students and teachers. The 1870 Census of Valparaiso shows the family consisting of Christian and his wife, Caroline (both of whom, along with their eldest son, were German immigrants), Christian Jr., Caroline Jr., Mary, Henry, Eddie, Charles, Minnie, and William. But the family seems to have stayed in Valparaiso; I can find no record of them ever moving to Hobart, so why did the children attend Sunday School here? I'm mystified. Anyway, Mary Lambke married Michael Burkhardt in 1886 (Indiana Marriage Collection), died in Chicago in 1941, and is buried in Valparaiso.

♦    ♦    ♦

At the meeting on February 13, the committee reported that the Unitarian Church leadership had responded favorably to their request, so starting February 20, 1876, the Union Sunday School would have a new home.

2019-03-05. USUN1873B 174, 175
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

[1] Elin B. Christiansen, Hobart's Historic Buildings (Hobart Historical Society, 2002).
[2] This surnames appears in various spellings — Lambke, Lembke, Lampke. I am going to index it as Lembke.