Friday, August 30, 2019

Thomas and Harriet Tierney

One of the few historical photos we have of Merrillville's "Old Mill" building dates from the 1930s, when it housed Tierney's restaurant. The proprietor was Harriet Tierney, a widow. It is the news of her husband Thomas' death on August 26, 1923, that has prompted me to start researching them.

2019-08-30. Tierney, News, 8-30-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, Aug. 30, 1923.

Thomas Tierney and Harriet Piske (or Pieske) had been married in May 1913 in Berrien County, Michigan[1] — a sort of elopement, I gather, since both were living in Gary at the time. Thomas was 44, Harriet 34; this was his first marriage and her second. Harriet had previously been married to a Fred Woods, but I can't find a record of that marriage. I got Fred's name from the death certificate of their only son, Ernest.

It's interesting that the 1910 Census shows Thomas and Harriet living together, calling themselves husband and wife. Ernest was not living with them. Harriet's father, Carl Piske, was. Thomas gave his occupation as proprietor of a saloon.

Looking at the 1900 Census, I can't find either Thomas or Harriet; but I do find Ernest Wood (spelled without the s at the end) living with his grandfather, Carl Piske, in Calumet Township. Carl may have been on his second marriage by then: his wife's name is given as Minnie, whereas, in the 1880 Census, he's married to a Fridericke. In 1880 the Piske family lived in North Township.[2] Their children were Albert, Gusty, Emma, and the two-year-old Hattie (Harriet).

I can't find Thomas Tierney, or his family, at all before 1910.

Anyway, the first news I have of the Tierneys in Merrillville is an item in the "Ross Township" column of the Hobart News of May 15, 1913: "Mrs. T. Tierney has opened an ice cream parlor and automobile rest at Merrillville." This may or may not have been in the "Old Mill" building.

The 1920 Census records Thomas and Harriet in Merrillville. Thomas described himself as the landlord of a hotel. Harriet allegedly had no occupation. The enumerator recorded them right next to the Walter family, three of whom were operating a garage, which suggests (but doesn't prove) that the Tierneys' hotel was in the "Old Mill" building.

And then, as we've seen, Thomas died.

In the 1930 Census, Harriet, 52, described herself as the proprietor of a restaurant. Also in the household was a 51-year-old single man, Robert Gerber, who worked as the manager of a restaurant — Harriet's, I'm inclined to think. And her son, Ernest Woods, was recorded as living with her, although he had married Agnes Szikora in 1920 (Indiana Marriage Collection) and was also recorded living with Agnes and their two children in Gary. In both cases, Ernest's occupation was clerk in a grocery store.

Ten years later, Harriet's household consisted only of her and Robert. Under "Relationship to head of household," both were "Partners," and for occupation, both were restaurant proprietors. Ernest and Agnes Woods were living together in Gary with their two children, operating a grocery store.

In 1942 Ernest died; Harriet in 1944. Both of them, as well as Thomas Tierney, are buried in Calumet Park Cemetery.[3] As for Fred Woods and Robert Gerber, I have no clue what became of them.

I find Harriet an interesting lady, and I hope to get more details about her life.

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I marked the item below Thomas' death notice on the image above because it mentions "Postmaster and Mrs. J.J. Wood," and these days I'm supposed to be paying attention to the Wood family. So let me set down the basic facts of the Postmaster and his Mrs. for my own benefit.

John J. Wood was born October 26, 1856 (Indiana Death Certificates) to Augustus and Jessie Wood. At that time the family lived in the village of Deep River, but sometime after the 1880 census they moved to Hobart. In 1882 John married Mary Rifenburg (Indiana Marriage Collection), daughter of William H. Rifenburg by his first wife, Rebecca Stearns (Lake County Encyclopedia). So Maude Rifenburg Arment was actually Mary's youngest half-sister.

John and Mary Wood continued living in Hobart. They had three children: Edith, Ralph, and Dorothy. John operated a store — sometimes grocery (1900 Census), sometimes general merchandise (1910 Census); in 1914, he was elected Hobart Township Trustee;[4] in 1921 and again in 1926, he was appointed postmaster.[5] He died in 1929. If I ever get to 1929 in my microfilm reading, perhaps I'll be able to produce his obituary.

[1] Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.
[2] It may have been only the township boundaries that changed, rather than the Piskes' actual location.
[3] The Hobart News item about Thomas' death says he was buried in the Turkey Creek Catholic Cemetery, i.e., SS. Peter & Paul; his death certificate gives the place of burial as Turkey Creek, Ind.; but NWIGS' Ross Township Cemeteries book does not record him there. records him in Calumet Park, which was not opened until 1928 according to its website. It's quite possible that they are all correct, and his body was moved from the one to the other sometime after 1928.
[4] "Official Election Returns," Hobart News, Nov. 6, 1914.
[5] U.S., Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, 1832-1971 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-1971. NARA Microfilm Publication, M841, 145 rolls. Records of the Post Office Department, Record Group Number 28. Washington, D.C.: National Archives.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Cousin Emily Identified

With the help of clues in the Wood-Vincent photo album, I have been able to identify the Cousin Emily who, in 1870, wrote the letter to Mary Wood that I posted some years ago.

On one page of the album, I came across two captions: "Cousin Mary Ann Low" and "Cousin Emily Lowe." Both of those given names (Emily and Mary Ann) appeared in the letter. With the surname Low(e), it was easy enough to track down their household in Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts.

Emily's letter describes the death of her sister, Hattie, on May 11, 1870. The 1870 Census, taken in June, shows the diminished household:

2019-08-27. Lowe, Sally 1870 census
(Click on image to enlarge)

A page from the paperwork dealing with Harriet's estate gives a fuller picture of the surviving family:

2019-08-27. Low, Harriet, probate
(Click on image to enlarge) Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.

Two years later, Emily's mother Sally Low died. The record of her death states that her parents were Moses and Salley (i.e., Sarah) Wood,[1] meaning that she was a sibling of John Wood. That accounts for the cousin relationship between Emily Low and our Mary Wood Vincent.

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The photo album includes the caption, "Emily Lowe," but the photo it was written for had disappeared by the time the album reached me.

2019-08-27. Lowe, Emily 011b caption - photo missing
(Click on images to enlarge)

Mary Ann's photo remained.

2019-08-27. Low, Mary Ann 011a-1 (Cousin)

The photo is undated, and I can't see enough to her dress to help me estimate a date; judging by her apparent age, I'd place this photo at circa 1885 or later.

Here's a puzzler:

2019-08-27. Low, Chas. and Mary 012d caption

There is obviously no Charles in that photo!

I'm guessing that this lady is Mary Low, the wife of cousin Daniel Low (cousin Emily's brother, mentioned in the probate paper above). She and Daniel did have a son named Charles. The family lived in LaPorte County. Unfortunately, the photo is a tin plate with no photographer's name on it. (According to information posted with Daniel's entry on, he was an interesting guy.) Mary's dress has the dropped shoulders and full skirt of the Civil-War era. Mary was about 55 years old when the Civil War broke out.

Two more missing photos:

2019-08-27. Low, Daniel, mother and father of 002a, b caption

I suppose this would be Joseph and Sally (Wood) Low; I'm just wondering why Alice Vincent Nesbit would describe them this way instead of calling them "Great-Aunt Sally" and "Great-Uncle Joseph."

This concludes our little side trip to visit the Low family.

[1] New England Historic Genealogical Society; Boston, Massachusetts; Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911, via

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Warning Signs at the Death Crossing

After the recent fatal accident at the Lincoln Highway intersection south of Ainsworth, a private organization put up warning signs, and other steps were taken to improve visibility.

2019-08-24. Warning Signs, Gazette, 8-31-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, Aug. 31, 1923.

Two columns over, a couple other stories caught my eye.

I've mentioned Charles Boyd before but never took the time to figure out exactly where his farm was. Here is his land as it appeared in the 1926 Plat Book:

2019-08-24. Boyd, C.E. 1926
(Click on image to enlarge)

I don't know exactly where the house and burning barn were.

Below that, we find H.W. Traeger — probably the same man who gave that awful Traeger crossing its name — warning people to stay off not only his land, but "the land known as the Garden City, controlled by" him. Does that mean the former site of the Garden City brickyard, on the east side of the intersection of County Line Road and S.R. 130? It seems likely, with that land being so close to H.W. Traeger's own land. I find it interesting that the Garden City name stuck, although the brickyard had stopped operating long ago.

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Here's the social news from south of Deep River for the last week of August 1923:

2019-08-24. SoDR, News, 8-30-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, Aug. 30, 1923.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Spicebush Swallowtail

Here is a Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly enjoying some Ironweed nectar.

2019-08-21. Spicebush Swallowtail underwing
(Click on images to enlarge)

2019-08-21. Spicebush Swallowtail upper wing 2

2019-08-21. Spicebush Swallowtail upper wing

It has two known larval hosts: Spicebush and Sassafras. I have tried numerous times to plant both but they always died. So I feel fortunate to have found a Spicebush Swallowtail in my field, since I'm not able to help their population.

As usual, other people have taken better photos.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

George Earle and the Orphans

On this page of the 1848 daybook, we find some clues to the identity of its keeper.

2019-08-17. DayB1848 029
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

On October 22, 1849, the writer made an agreement with Mr. Spencer whereby the writer, along with John and Philip, will board at the Spencer place (and wash their quilts) for $2.50 per week, including the use of the household soap and some of the household potatoes, while John will chop wood for the stove. But as for candles, "G.E." agrees to supply his own — now, who could that be but George Earle?

And indeed, when I went looking in the 1850 Census for households that contained both a John and a Philip, I found the George Earle household:

2019-08-17. Hodson, Earle 1850 census
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image from

George himself is listed as the head of the household. Mary is his wife (and Charles Devonshire, listed last, is probably Mary's father). John G(eorge) E(dward) is George and Mary's son. Mary Ann may be one of George's twelve siblings.[1]

But who were these Hodson boys, John and Philip, and why were they living in the Earle household?

Looking in my index, I find I've encountered the name Hodson before, most significantly in an earlier daybook. In the autumn of 1845, we find the writer dealing with the estate of W. Hodson:

2019-08-17. DayB1840 150
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

This is apparently a crop of oats that W. Hodson did not live to harvest — 7 bushels to "G.E."; 24 bushels to E. Saunders; the money to the Hodson estate.

In October 1848, we find the writer making another payment to E. Saunders to cover boarding two of the Hodson boys, William and Philip:

2019-08-17. DayB1840 208
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

I am convinced that Mr. Saunders' first name was Edward, and that he bought part of the farm that had belonged to the estate of William Hodson, Sr.

William Hodson was in LaPorte County for the 1840 Census, apparently, but by 1843 Early Land Sales shows him buying two parcels in Ross Township. One parcel of 40 acres, the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 8, R. 7 W., lies north of Big Maple Lake and is now owned by the Lake County Parks Department. The other parcel was the full southeast quarter (160 acres) of Section 12, R. 8 W. — which eventually passed into Bullock and Markham hands, and was the site of the Bullock homestead. But earlier, in 1845 (according to Early Land Sales) the west 80 acres of that latter parcel was purchased by Edward Sanders.[2]

To try to fill in the rest of the story, we have to turn to information supplied by anonymous people online — specifically, information on and a family tree compiled on According to these anonymous online sources, William Hodson, Sr. was born in England in 1800, and there, in 1830, married Ann Lister; they then set sail to America. A daughter was born at sea;[3] some three children were born in Pennsylvania, including one of these sons we've found mentioned in the daybooks — John, born in 1835. The last two boys were born in Lake County, Indiana: William, Jr. in 1841 and Philip in 1844.

In 1845, both parents died — Ann in February and William, Sr. in March. Both are buried in the Merrillville Cemetery.

Then Edward Saunders, also an Englishman by birth, bought some of the Hodson land, and I suppose it was logical enough for him to agree to board some of the orphaned children. What I'm wondering is — why did George Earle take on the responsibility of arranging and paying for their board, whether with Mr. Saunders or Mr. Spencer? Was there some family connection? Was it his duty as executor of the estate? Or was he just acting from the kindness of his heart?

There were also three surviving daughters, ranging in age from 15 to 8, who (so far) have not been mentioned in the daybooks. If I had more time, I'd trying to trace them.[4]

[1] Most of what I know about the Earles comes from Dorothy Dunning Ballantyne's pamphlet, George Earle and Family of Hobart, Indiana (Hobart Historial Society, 1972). Copies can be purchased at the Hobart Historical Society museum.
[2] Early Land Sales designated that land and hundreds of nearby acres as "Canal Land." I don't know the story behind that, and I haven't got time to research it.
[3] William and Ann married in May 1830, their first child was born in June 1830 and survived. Also, according to the family tree on, that child (among others) is buried in Ainsworth, Iowa.
[4] According to Lake County Encyclopedia (p. 145), during the Civil War a Miss Elizabeth Hodson went from Lake County to nurse the sick and wounded at a military hospital in Memphis, Tennessee; I think this is the daughter born at sea in 1830. That is all I know of the daughters' histories.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Eight-Spotted Forester

2019-08-14. 8-spotted forester
(Click on image to enlarge)

Found this small but showy moth in my pollinator habitat area. It refused to pose for a photo. If you want a better shot you'll have to look elsewhere.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Having a Gas, in Ainsworth and Elsewhere

This page from the August 23, 1923 issue of the Hobart News is dominated by Carlson news. First off, Charles Carlson, gassing up his automobile in Ainsworth, luckily avoided a conflagration.

2019-08-11. Carlson, News, 8-23-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
"Local and Personal," Hobart News, Aug. 23, 1923.

The automatic shut-off mechanism for gas pumps hadn't been invented yet.

I suppose this gas-pumping Charles Carlson and the corn-selling Charles Carlson in the item above are the same person. The other "Carlson brother" would be Richard, whom we've heard of before. The 1920 Census shows Charles, age 42, living in the vicinity of what is now the Indian Ridge golf course (to judge by his neighbors) with his 79-year-old mother, Hedvig (widow of Swan Peter). But the old Carlson house and the land surrounding it was now owned by Teofil and Wanda Grabowski.

Which leads me to wonder about the location of the "Carlson grove … on the banks of Deep river" where the family reunion (mentioned in the middle column) was to take place. The Carlsons' land (shown here on the 1939 plat map) no longer bordered on the river. Perhaps the Grabowskis let the Carlsons use a grove on their land for the reunion.

Looking at those planning to attend the reunion, I recognize only a couple of names. Russell Koehler was the Carlson brothers' nephew, son of their sister Augusta. Tekla Ceander used to be Tekla Anderson … but I don't know how she was related to the Carlsons.

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Now, who might have been selling gasoline in Ainsworth? Here is Henry Paulus, owner of the Ainsworth department store, listed among the sellers of Red Crown gasoline:

2019-08-11. Red Crown, News, 8-30-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, Aug. 30, 1923.

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To end this post, we have news of that elegant young couple, George and Pearl (Severance) Yager, who eight years earlier had fled Ainsworth and never looked back.

2019-08-11. Yager, Gazette, 8-24-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, Aug. 24, 1923.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Dark-Spotted Palthis

2019-08-09. Dark-spotted Palthis
(Click on image to enlarge)

Found this moth on my garage a few days ago. Those things sticking out from his face are "labial palps." He falls into the category of "litter moths" according to Peterson. Beyond his labial palps, I can't find out anything remarkable about him.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Matriarch of the Woods

2019-08-06. Wood, Hannah Pattee 002d-1
(Click on images to enlarge)

This is the first photograph in the album that I mentioned in my previous post. She was born Hannah E. Pattee on October 13, 1802, in New Hampshire. At the age of 22, she married John Wood of Massachusetts.[1] Her children were: Nathan (b. 1825), Augustus (1828), Abbie (1830), John Warren (b. 1832-d. 1836), George (1835), John W. (1838), Mary (1840), and Oliver (1842). All but the last three were born in Massachusetts. John Wood came to Lake County, Indiana, in 1835, and the following year brought his family to join him.[2]

Hannah died on September 27, 1873, and was buried in the Woodvale Cemetery.
A fine granite monument, about fifteen feet in height, marks the burial place, on which is inscribed, "A true, faithful, loving wife; a kind and affectionate mother; ever toiling for the good of all; and this is her memorial." Mrs. Wood was another of those superior New England women … with native endowments and a Puritanic training, which fit their possessors so well for frontier life and for laying the right foundations for an enduring civilization. The comfort and hospitality of her home were not excelled by any in those early years. She was one of our unselfish women, and well does her memorial say, "toiling for the good of all."[3]
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On the back of the original photo of Hannah is the name of a Valparaiso photographer:

2019-08-06. Wood, Hannah Pattee 002d-2

Steve Shook's blog, Porter County's Past: An Amateur Historian's Perspective, lists Lewis H. Mandeville among the known Porter County photographers and states that he arrived in Valparaiso in 1855. Hannah's elegant dress is of a style dating to the Civil War era, and that era is consistent with her apparent age; let's say the original photo dates to roughly 1865.

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The album does not include a portrait of John Wood. Fortunately, Porter and Lake Counties (Goodspeed-Blanchard) does:

2019-08-06. Wood, John Sr. from Counties of Porter and Lake, Indiana (Goodspeed 1882)

From the same source and printed in 1882, a biographical sketch:
JOHN WOOD was born in Massachusetts October 28, 1800, and is a son of Moses and Sarah (Baker) Wood; the former was born May 25, 1748, and the latter July 14, 1756. John Wood's father died when he was quite young, and his mother placed him with a friend of the family, where he remained five years, after which he learned the trade of a tanner, in which vocation he began business for himself. On November 16, 1824, he married Hannah E. Pattee, to which union there were born eight children …. In 1835, Mr. Wood came to this township, settled on a quarter section of land, built a log house and went for his family. On his return, an Indian had claimed his land, and he was compelled to pay $1,000 for it. He built the first sawmill in the county, and in 1840 a grist-mill near by, at the same time farming and raising stock. He remained in the milling business until 1860, when he sold to his sons, Nathan and George; the saw-mill has gone to pieces, but the grist-mill was rebuilt, and is being run by Nathan Wood. Moses Wood was a soldier of the Revolution, and fought at Bunker Hill. John Wood, who is a Freemason, was present at the corner-stone laying of Bunker Hill Monument. He has been instrumental in establishing several Masonic Lodges — one at Valparaiso, one at Crown Point, and was the first to aid one at Wheeler. He is a Master Mason in good standing, and a greatly respected citizen. His wife died September 27, 1873, aged seventy years eleven months and fourteen days. His grand-daughter, Miss Abbie Shedd, is his housekeeper.
John died in 1883 and is buried beside Hannah in Woodvale Cemetery.

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Finally, I just want to say that, based on very little evidence and only superficial research, I've jumped to the conclusion that the album belonged to Alice Vincent Nesbit, the daughter of Mary Wood and Dr. Alonzo W. Vincent. Perhaps someday I will be able to update this post, either to say that after intensive research I'm convinced I'm right, or to say that it's a bad idea to jump to conclusions based on very little evidence.

[1] Hannah's birth and marriage dates, and the list of her children, come from Lake County 1884, pp. 436-7.
[2] History of Lake County and the Calumet Region, p. 182.
[3] Lake County Encyclopedia, p. 133.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Wood Family Reunion, 1923

I haven't paid a lot of attention to Deep River's famous pioneer family of John and Hannah (Pattee) Wood, since I figured the Deep River museum people had them covered; but a few months ago I acquired an album containing photographs of some of the Woods and their relations, so I am going to look into the family more closely as I get into the album. And I might as well start with the annual Wood family reunion in August 1923.

2019-08-02. Wood, News, 8-23-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, Aug. 23, 1923.

The eldest relative, the 87-year-old Jane, had been born Mary Jane Dizard on March 15, 1836, and on October 2, 1857 had married George Wood (the third son of John and Hannah Wood, who came to Woodvale/Deep River ca. 1836 and built the mill that is now part of Deep River County Park). Mary and George's children were Eugene, William H., Anna E., and Sarah J.,[1] who was known as "Nettie" per the 1910 Census.

The two-month-old Bettie Mae Gunderson was the great-granddaughter of Dr. Oliver Wood, the youngest son of John and Hannah.

Mary Wood Vincent was their daughter. She had married Dr. Alonzo Vincent in 1869.

Olive Wood was known to many older folks around here, as she taught for years in Ross Township schools. She was the daughter of William and Martha Wood, and thus Mary Jane (Dizard) Wood's granddaughter.

If the William Wood residence eventually became the Olive Wood residence, then it is still standing just west of the entrance to Deep River County Park and is now known as the Mroz house; but whether that boulder was ever placed, and if so, is still there, I do not know.

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I just realized that yesterday, August 1, was the tenth anniversary of this blog. How time flies! I feel very fortunate to have this work to occupy me; without it, I might have to get a life.

[1] T.H. Ball (ed.), Lake County, Indiana, 1884: An Account of the Semi-Centennial Celebration of Lake County, September 3 and 4, with Historical Papers and Other Interesting Records Prepared for This Volume (Crown Point: Lake County Star Office, 1884) ("Lake County 1884").