Tuesday, August 9, 2022

A Naughty Notter

As we saw in our last post, Gustave and Wilhelmine Wegner bought the northern 39.5 acres of the Harms 73rd Avenue farm on April 16, 1878. On October 5 of that year, they sold their land to William and Catharine[1] (known as Kate) Notter …

2022-08-09. 1878-10-05 Wegner to Notter - Harms 73rd Ave farm history
(Click on images to enlarge)
Title abstract images courtesy of the Eldon Harms family.

… who assumed the remainder of the mortgage on the land. By 1880 they had paid it off:

2022-08-09. 1880-12-30 Kenneke-Wegner release of mortgage - Harms 73rd Ave farm history

In 1886 the Notters bought the southern 40 acres of the future Harms farm from Christian and Johanna Beilfuss.

2022-08-09. 1886-05-05 Beilfuss to Notter - Harms 73rd Ave farm history

The day of that sale, the Notters borrowed money from the State of Indiana, mortgaging their northern 40 again.

2022-08-09. 1886-05-05 Notter to Indiana - mortgage  - Harms 73rd Ave farm history

In 1890 and 1894, the Notters again borrowed money from the state, securing the debt with mortgages on both the northern and southern halves of their farm. I have no idea what was going on here.

2022-08-09. 1890-05-05 Notter to Indiana - mortgage  - Harms 73rd Ave farm history

2022-08-09. 1894-11-10 Notter to Indiana - mortgage - Harms 73rd Ave farm history

They did pay off their debt to the Beilfusses in 1893.

2022-08-09. 1893-10-23 Beilfuss to Notter  - release - Harms 73rd Ave farm history

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William Notter was a native of Canada, born circa 1837. He came to the U.S. probably in the early 1860s, since he married an Illinois-born woman, Catharine Golden, before 1864.[2] In the 1870 Census, the Notter[3] family was recorded in Chicago, with three sons: William (born circa 1864), Thomas (1867), and Edward (1869).

As we've seen, in 1878 they bought their first 40 acres and presumably relocated to Ross Township, where the 1880 Census records them. Their eldest son, William, was not accounted for in that census; possibly he had died; it's also possible he left home at 15 or 16 years of age. The Notter children accounted for in 1880 were Thomas and Edward, and a daughter, Fannie, born circa 1875.

In 1891, William and Catharine leased their 79.5 acres in 1891 to Christ Springman:

2022-08-09. 1891-10-15 Notter to Springman - lease - Harms 73rd Ave farm history

Since two families had once occupied those 80 acres, perhaps there was a spare house for the Notters to live in while Christ Springman ran the dairy farm. But at some point William bought another 13 acres on the northeast corner of the intersection of Randolph and 73rd, per the 1908 Plat Map.

Sometime before 1900, Catharine died — when and where, I don't know. I can't find any record of the death, or a grave, either here in Ross Township, or in Illinois. The last mention we have of her is the 1894 reference in the title abstract.[4] The 1900 Census shows William, a widower, living alone in Ross Township, farming his own land (probably the 13 acres). The children had grown up and left home.

The "General News Items" of the Hobart Gazette of February 8, 1901, carried an item noting that William Notter "who lives about one-half mile west of Deep River" had sold all his goods and was planning to move to Chicago. But it wasn't until the September 20, 1901 issue that this notice appeared:
"For Sale — My chicken and truck farm one mile west of Deep River, Indiana, comprising 13 acres, a new brick and terra cotta house, frame barn, corn crib and terra cotta chicken house; good water. Will sell for cash or on terms to suit purchaser. Wm. Notter, 396 W. Polk street, Chicago, Ill."
Per the pre-1916 Illinois on-line death records, William died in 1904, but I can't find his grave.

♦    ♦    ♦

The title of this post promised you a naughty Notter. To find him, we must go back to 1896, to the August 21 issue of the Hobart Gazette:
Thomas Notter in Trouble

A special from Crown Point to the Chicago Times-Herald, dated Aug. 19, reads as follows: Thomas Notter was arrested this morning at Deep River, this county, for a clear case of bigamy on complaint of wife No. 1, a resident of Chicago. The bigamist and his wife were taken before Judge Van Winkle this morning. Notter was bound over to the circuit court in the sum of $1,000, and wife No. 2 was held in bonds of $200. In 1892 wife No. 1 was married to Notter at South Omaha, Neb., by Father Thomas. They then moved to Chicago and lived in that city for over three years. During this time three children were born to them. Unknown to Mrs. Notter No. 1, Notter was secretly married to Miss Hock of Laporte, Ind., in December, 1895, by Father Welch of Chicago, and took up quarters in Chicago, and there they remained about two months. They then moved out to Deep River, off a railroad, and located on a farm, where they have remained up to today. Mrs. Notter No. 1 began a search soon after her husband disappeared in Chicago and finally located the couple at Deep River.
This Thomas was the son born to William and Kate circa 1867.

A family tree on Ancestry.com includes the paperwork for a marriage in Omaha, Nebraska in 1889:

2022-08-09. 1889-18-12 Notter, Thomas - Nebraska marriage record
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image from Nebraska, U.S., Select County Marriage Records, 1855-1908 via Ancestry.com.

Was this yet another marriage, or did the article quoted above get the date of the first marriage wrong? (It's unfortunate that the article doesn't give the first wife's name.) The Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index does indeed show Thomas marrying 21-year-old Frances Hock in December 1895.

I don't know any more about the bigamy case — for example, whether Thomas served time in prison, or paid a fine.

Thomas and his first wife may have kissed and made up after all this mess. In the 1900 Census Thomas is recorded with a wife named Mary. However, as noted by the enumerator, he claimed to have married her only a year prior. I can find no record of that marriage. In the 1910 Census, Thomas was living alone, saying he was a widower. In June of 1913, there's a record of a Thomas Notter marrying an Anna Daley in Cook County; in December 1921, a Thomas Notter married an Anna Powers, same place. One of these (or maybe both) might be our Thomas, whose wife, at the time of his death in 1925 per the Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths Index, was named Anna. But her maiden name is not included in that record.

To top off the story, I will just add that in 1898 Thomas' brother, Edward, married a young lady named Anna Louise Hock, whom I believe to be the sister of Thomas' partner in crime. The 1880 Census shows a Hock family in LaPorte, Indiana, which includes two young girls named Frances and Anna. The girls' ages in that census correspond to their ages in subsequent records: the 1895 marriage record in the case of Frances, and later censuses in the case of Anna.

Edward and Anna were married in Chicago. I can't find them in the 1900 Census, but the 1910 Census shows them living in Ross Township, by which time they had a son, George, and a daughter, Vernet(te). They owned a farm in the vicinity of Deep River (possibly Edward bought his father's 13 acres) and made occasional appearances in the local newspaper social columns. In 1913 Edward sold his farm and relocated to Charlestown, Clark County, Indiana, allegedly "to assist his brother in farming," according to the Gazette[5]what brother, I'd like to know! Was this the long-lost William, or did Thomas slip out of the city between the 1910 and 1920 censuses, to farm a bit? Or maybe there was another brother I've missed? I can't identify any Notters in that location except for Edward and family, who appear in the 1920 Census (by which time there was another son, Brent). It's possible, of course, that the Gazette got the "brother" part wrong. But if the brother was Thomas, well, all I can say is … awkward.

[1] Spellings of her name vary. I chose one at random.
[2] I can't find a record of this marriage. I'm going by the age of their eldest child per the census.
[3] The enumerator spelled their surname Knotter.
[4] Someday I have to read the 1890s Hobart and other local newspapers on microfilm. I have only skimmed through them without taking notes, back when when very few names meant much to me.
[5] "Additional Locals News," Hobart Gazette, 14 Mar. 1913.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Finally Getting Back to the Harms 73rd Ave. Farm

Back in 2021 I started exploring the history of the Harms 73rd Avenue farm. I was making good progress when some shiny object passed before my eyes and I got totally distracted and lost my momentum. I have to go back and try to figure out how to pick up where I left off. This happens to me all the time.

Anyway …

Regarding the northern 40 acres, we left off with the elusive Ehrfurths buying the parcel in 1875.

Over the next few years, other elusive people bought and sold the land.

Even before the Ehrfurths' mortgage was released in February 1878, they turned around the sold their farm to one Henrich Kenneke.

2022-07-31. 1877-09-05 Ehrfurth to Kenneke - Harms 73rd Ave. farm abstract
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Eldon Harms family.

I can't positively identify Henrich (whom one might also expect to encounter as Heinrich or even Henry). Tax assessment records from the 1860s show Henry Kenneke operating a hotel, selling liquor, and giving public exhibitions in Terre Haute.[1] In 1875, Heinrich Kenneke married a Johanne Bethke in Cook County, Illinois;[2] I think that may be our guy, although I would expect the 1877 sale record above to mention the wife. A wife by that name does get mentioned a year later, when she and Henrich sell the land.

2022-07-31. 1878-04-16 Kenneke to Wegner - Harms 73rd Ave. farm abstract

And that is all I've been able to find out about either of the Kennekes.

The buyers in that sale were Gustave and Wilhelmine Wegner. I may have found them in the 1880 Census, living in Chicago with their two small children. By then they themselves had sold the farm as well. About six months' ownership of 40 acres is all the contact I can find between them and Ross Township.

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Looking at the southern 40 acres, we pick up in 1882, when Frederick Suhr, a widower of just a few months, sold his farm to Christian Beilfuss.

2022-07-31. 1882-09-14 Suhr to Beilfuss - Harms 73rd Ave. farm history

2022-07-31. Beilfuss - abstract of title for Harms 73rd Ave. farm

Christian was a German immigrant, about 55 years old at the time. He and his wife, Johanna,[3] had both arrived in this country in 1872, the same year they married in Cook County, Illinois.[4] I can't actually place their family in Ross Township, but then I can't find them at all in the 1880 Census. The only other record I can find of them is the 1900 Census, where they are living in Chicago with their son, 19-year-old Louis. The record of their children is a bit mysterious. Per the 1900 census, Johanna had only one child, ever. And yet I've found a death certificate for a Martha Burge, born in 1879, who died in 1963 in Crown Point, and whose parents' names are recorded as Christian Beilfuss and Johanna Orgel. She had married Orrin Burge in Cook County in 1896, and subsequent censuses record them and their growing family in Lake County — farming in Winfield Township through 1930, then moving to Crown Point by 1940. Orrin was the son of Milo Burge and Lucy Sturtevant; thus the Beilfusses would have had a connection to two old local families.

Perhaps the 1900 enumerator made a mistake in noting that Johanna was the mother of only one child. Perhaps Johanna misunderstood the question.

Christian and Johanna Beilfuss sold their Ross Township farm four years after they bought it. As I said, I can't establish that they ever lived on that farm, or anywhere in Lake County, Indiana.

Christian died in Chicago in 1905, Johanna in 1925.[5]

[1] Ancestry.com, U.S., IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918. This hotelkeeper might never have left Terre Haute, where he is buried.
[2] Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index.
[3] Her maiden name is transcribed various ways, but most commonly "Oergel" or "Orgel."
[4] Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index.
[5] Someone on findagrave.com has credited them with yet two more children, one of whom (William) might be Christian's son from a previous marriage, and the other of whom (Johanna) I cannot account for.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

I found this big plump fellow in my weedy Tithonia patch.

2022-07-27 White-Lined Sphinx caterpillar 01
(Click on images to enlarge)

2022-07-27 White-Lined Sphinx caterpillar 02

2022-07-27 White-Lined Sphinx caterpillar 03

It will grow up to be a White-Lined Sphinx moth.

Friday, July 22, 2022

A Horse Named Bob

I haven't posted in a while because I have no time to do research. So once again I must resort to posting a photo that requires no research.

2022-07-22. lh026
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Eldon Harms.

According to notes on the back of the original, this is Lester Harms with Bob on Cleveland Avenue. By Cleveland Avenue, I suppose the writer of the notes meant John and Sophie Harms farm.

No date on the photo, and nothing in it to help us guess. It must be after 1919, when the Harmses bought that land. Lester (born 1904) appears to be some indeterminate adult age between 30 and 55.

Bob is a fine-looking horse, and he must have been well tempered, too, if he let someone do up his mane in that elaborate fashion.

Is that Cleveland Avenue in the background?

Friday, July 8, 2022

They Survived a World War …

I bought this postcard because I thought it was cute. I had no idea what a tragic story I would encounter when I started researching the sender.

The year was 1943, and, for the U.S., it was the middle of World War II. Carl Pequignot, a 21-year-old Hobart man, was in the Army, stationed somewhere out West, I gather. He had this gag photo taken and made into postcards to send to the home folks.

2022-07-08. 1943-03-17 Pequignot a
(Click on images to enlarge)

He sent this one to a friend, 18-year-old Mary Olive Boudrot, who lived at 753 Garfield Street and preferred to go by her middle name.

2022-07-08. 1943-03-17 Pequignot b

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Two years later, the war ended. Carl and the rest of the soldiers and sailors from Hobart — those who had survived the war — were able to come back home. Their family and friends breathed a sigh of relief. At last, these young people were safe.

And then this happened.

2022-07-08. 1946-05-02 Hobart Gazette, Five Hobart Auto Crash Victims
(Click on images to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, 2 May 1946.

2022-07-08. 1946-05-02 Hobart Gazette, Buddies in Life

The appalling deadliness of the crash was a reminder, to us, of how little the designers and the users of car thought about safety in those days. Structural features that are so familiar to us, like the crumple zone, the safety cage, and the padded dash, didn't exist. Seat belts had been invented, but were not common, and even if Carl's car had any, I'm sure that young men out riding in the wee hours of the night would not have thought of wearing them.

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Olive Boudrot was a native of Canada. Her parents, Thomas and Margaret, brought her to the U.S. when she was just a baby. Here she is in 1942 as a senior at Hobart High, known to her classmates as "Frenchy":

2022-07-08. Boudrot, Olive 1942
(Click on image to enlarge)
HHS Senior Edition, Hobart High School, 1942.

In August 1946, Olive married Richard Shaw.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Ross Township School Report Card, 1875 (cont'd)

Having covered Alfred Winslow and the Brown's Point school last time, I shall now look at the other Ross Township schools described by the county superintendent of schools in 1875.

2022-06-21. REPORT ON SCHOOLS Crown-Point-Register-Feb-11-1875-p-2

(Click on image to enlarge)
Crown Point Register, 11 Feb. 1875.

The superintendent was not impressed by District No. 13. The school building was sparsely equipped, and the pupils and their parents seemed unenthusiastic. Based on the fact that the teacher here was Mary Underwood, I'm guessing that this was the one-room Underwood school. Mary was probably the 19-year-old daughter of Daniel and Sybil Underwood. (Three years after this report, she would marry Jackson Castle.)

District No. 1 was being taught by Asa Bullock. He was about 20 years old, the son of Moses and Amanda Bullock, and in 1875 probably still living where he was recorded in the 1870 Census, on the Bullock farm along 73rd Avenue. If he taught at the nearest school to his home, that would be the one-room Adams school on the northeast corner of Colorado and 69th. In spite of poor equipment, the superintendent says, "The teacher is quite thorough and is doing good work." As we learned from his obituary, Asa had formal training at a normal school and taught for some eleven years, before going into the practice of law. At his death, some of his former pupils still remembered him as "a good teacher."

Next we have District No. 2, which was especially bad. The (few) students' textbooks were "wholly unfit" while their seats were "a complete wreck, all broken and cut up." The teacher was Cyrus Smith, and since his farm, as we know, lay just west of the intersection of (present-day) Green and 73rd, I'm guessing he taught at the Ainsworth school, which in 1875 still had only one room. Cyrus' 1915 obituary said, "In his earlier days in Ross township, he taught school for eight years during the winter months." (During the other months, of course, he farmed.) The superintendent says nothing about how well the students were doing. Unless I'm reading too much into that silence, that suggests they weren't doing particularly well. Perhaps Cyrus — while evidently competent, since he kept getting re-hired — was not the sort of extraordinarily gifted enough teacher who could inspire the undersupplied students in their dilapidated school.

Moving on, we find that the "Merrillville Graded School" was large enough to need two teachers. Again, no maps or charts, but otherwise the report was favorable: "Order good; pupils pretty well advanced; good interest, and good attendance. Teacher quite thorough and doing good work." The teacher in this case, I believe, was Orsemus H. Spencer, whom we've met before only in passing (as the brother-in-law of Harriet Hanks Chester, and the brother of Charles Spencer). Mrs. Spencer, whose department the superintendent did not have time to examine, was the former Emma Gearhart, whom Orsemus married in 1871 (Indiana Marriage Collection). She was his third wife.

His first wife was Esther A. Tree, a native of Canada, who shows up in the 1850 Census in Porter County. Her father's name is illegible, but elsewhere[1] is given as Bradford; her mother's name is Lucinda; and Esther has a sister, Marilla, who eventually married Charles Spencer — so two sisters married two brothers. As for the Spencer family, originally from Ohio where Orsemus had been born in 1836, by 1850 they had settled in Hobart. As early as 1855 Orsemus began appearing in the Hobart Township Trustee's ledger as a teacher.

In 1856 Orsemus and Esther eloped (I'm guessing) to marry in Berrien County, Michigan. The 1860 Census shows the young couple, with their two small boys, farming in Porter County. In August 1862, Orsemus joined the 73rd Regiment, Indiana Infantry. Apparently he was taken as a prisoner of war, then paroled, and discharged from the Army in July 1863 for health reasons, suffering from "heart disease and rheumatism from exposure while in prison."[2]

Probably in April 1866, Esther died.[3] On May 20, 1867, Orsemus married Lucy Hanks. He and Lucy, with the sons from his first marriage, were recorded in Hobart in the 1870 Census, he giving his occupation as schoolteacher. Lucy died sometime in 1870 or 1871, though I can't determine exactly when.[4]

On August 18, 1871, Orsemus married Emma Gearhart. As late as June 1879 I find both of them in the Hobart Township Trustee's records, receiving pay as teachers. Perhaps it was that summer that they left for Kansas, where the 1880 Census found them, and where they lived out the rest of their lives. Orsemus died there in 1896. When Emma died in 1907, her body was brought back to Indiana for burial.

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This 1875 report does not cover all the schools in Ross Township. I would have liked to hear about the Green, Deep River, Hurlburt, and Vincent schools, all of which show up on the 1874 Plat Map in eastern Ross Township, as well as several others in the more westerly part of the township.

[1] In the 1900 death certificate of Esther's sister, Marilla Tree Spencer.
[2] Ancestry.com. Kansas, U.S., Enrollment of Civil War Veterans, 1889 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data: Enrollment of Ex-Soldiers and Sailors, their Widows and Orphans, 1889. Unit ID #190462, 69 volumes. Records of the Adjutant General’s Office. Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas.
[3] Per a family tree on Ancestry.com that does not cite a source for this information.
[4] I find information in the Crown Point Register, in the "From Hobart" columns of June 9, 1870, and June 23, 1870, about the illness and death of Mrs. O.A. Spencer, but if that is a misprint for O.H., then how could Lucy be recorded in the census on July 19, 1870? The same family tree mentioned in footnote 3 above gives June 3, 1870, as the date of Lucy's death but does not cite a source, and again, what about the census?

Friday, July 1, 2022


Here's a Question Mark in a Pear Tree.

2022-07-01. Question Mark 1
(Click on images to enlarge)

2022-07-01. Question Mark 2

Supposedly the butterfly's name comes from a shape of its wings, but honestly, I don't see any punctuation in those wings.

Here's a bonus bug — a Margined Leatherwing Beetle, identified for me by one of the nice people in the IN Nature group on Facebook.

2022-07-01. Margined Leatherwing Beetle