Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Pennsy Bridge and the Spell of Nostalgia

This postcard joins a view of the Pennsy Railroad bridge with a little nostalgic poem …

2021-02-28. Pennsy Bridge with poem 1a-1
(Click on images to enlarge)

… but it seems the typesetter wasn't much of a speller. Eyes dimmed with nostalgic tears, maybe? Or should I say nostalgic "ears"?

Here's a high-resolution scan of the tiny (about 1.5" x 2") photo.

2021-02-28. Pennsy Bridge with poem 1a-2

I think it's a reproduction of another photo postcard.

The postmark on the verso is nearly illegible, but the year looks to me to be 1912.

2021-02-28. Pennsy Bridge with poem 1b

It was sent from Wheeler to Hobart by someone who saw no need to sign a name, counting on the recipient to recognize the handwriting.

The recipient, Pete Schaller, was a local whom I've never paid any attention to before. Here is his obituary from the Vidette-Messenger of October 12, 1954:

2021-02-28. Valparaiso-Vidette-Messenger-Oct-12-1954-p-6

His family shows up in Union Township, Porter County, in the 1880 Census; by the 1900 Census Pete and his widowed father, August, were the only ones still in the household. They were farming rented land. August died in 1905.

By 1910, Pete was living in the home of Paul and Elizabeth Fredrick, probably in the big white house on the east side of S.R. 51 midway between Ainsworth and Hobart (it's still standing). He is described as Paul's cousin. So far the only explanation I can find of this relationship is — if I've found the right people — Elizabeth Fredrick's maiden name was Gross, like Pete's mother's (Paul and Elizabeth having been married in Chicago in 1899 per the Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index).

Peter remained a part of the Fredrick household through the 1920 Census, at least; I cannot find him in the 1930 Census. By the 1940 Census he had become a lodger in a rooming house in Valparaiso.

Pete's obituary reveals another connection to a local family, the Frames. Anna M. Schaller married Irvin G. Frame in April 1905, in Porter County (Indiana Marriage Collection). But I don't know exactly how Irvin (who seems to show up sometimes as Irving or Erwin) fits into the Frame family that I have previously mentioned in the blog. Irvin and Anna show up occasionally in "South of Deepriver" columns and the announcement of the birth of their son Thomas describes them as living "east of Deepriver."[1] But strangely, I haven't been able to find them in any census.

[1] "General News," Hobart Gazette, Aug. 20, 1915. I have found, on the 1921 plat map of Union Township, a farm southeast of Deepriver under the name of Anna E. Frame. It's across the road from Henry Schaller's farm.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

President and Mrs. Grabowski

This photo, dating to 1928, shows Teofil and Wanda Grabowski inside the American State Bank in Gary, Indiana, at which time Teofil was the bank's president.

2021-02-21. photo 1
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Aneta and Zenon Grabowscy.

To judge by the way the lobby is filled with flowers, this photo must have been taken on some special occasion — maybe a national holiday, or a significant event for the bank.

The bank's shell is still standing at 1710 Broadway in Gary, Indiana, and I believe that would have been the address in 1928, as that building was erected in 1924 per the county records. I have been looking through "urban explorer" videos on Youtube showing the interior of the bank building as it is now. Here is a shot of the lobby from 2017:

2021-02-21. American State Bank lobby 2017
(Click on image to enlarge)
From; another video can be found at

These videos spend some time looking at the massive round door of the vault, which may be the same vault door that you can see in the 1928 photo, in the center background behind the metal bars (still photo here).

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A Big Pile of Snow

I bought this photo because I think it shows the aftermath of the Great Blizzard of January 1918:

2021-02-16. img036
(Click on images to enlarge)

Notes on the back identify the location as Chicago, somewhere along the Grand Trunk Railroad …

2021-02-16. img037

… but it looks like my driveway today.

(John Le Grand shows up in the 1920 Census as a railroad foreman living in Chicago. Philmore, or Fillmore, was his son.)

Friday, February 12, 2021

The Grabowski Home

2021-02-12. photo 3
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Aneta and Zenon Grabowscy.

This photo shows the home of Teofil and Wanda Grabowski at 6430 Grand Boulevard in May of 1928. The handwritten caption translates (via Google) to something like "Spring — estate of T.H. Grabowski." The photo shows the park-like grounds in bloom, and right in the middle, there's Wanda (I'm guessing) with baby Edwin.

The photographer (was it Teofil himself?) stood southwest of the house, pointing the camera northeast. Behind mother and baby we see the driveway that goes down to Grand Boulvard/S.R. 51, flanked by three brick pillars, two of which are still standing. Further north are a couple more brick pillars, which haven't survived. In the background, above that bench in front of Wanda, I believe we are looking at John Dorman's stone pillars.

The Grabowski home was as close to Ainsworth as to Hobart, but the caption associates the property with Hobart — by then incorporated as a city — rather than with the tiny unorganized Ainsworth.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

That Big Rock Out Front of Wood's Mill

Beside the main entrance to Deep River County Park stands this boulder fitted with a bronze plaque.

2021-01-30. Wood Memorial Boulder
(Click on image to enlarge)

While looking for something else, I came across the newspaper stories about its dedication on August 16, 1924, at a Wood family reunion combined with a meeting of the Lake County Old Settlers' and Historical Association.

This story from the Hobart Gazette of August 22, 1924, is the most complete:

2021-01-30. Many Old Settlers at Reunion, Gazette, 8-22-1924
(Click on image to enlarge)

I like this cameo of Hannah Pattee Wood, who otherwise gets so little mention:
She is described by one of her daughters-in-law as being "the sweetest woman, always doing good turns for people, a real peacemaker, and to her is due credit for no saloons being allowed in the village while her family was growing up. She was a good wife and mother, truly loved by all."
If I understand correctly, these words, along with the bulk of the article, were part of the "historical sketch of John Wood" delivered by Andrew J. Smith of the Gazette

2021-01-30. Smith, A.J.
This photo dates to circa 1898. You will have to add a quarter-century's age to imagine what he looked like delivering his speech at Wood's Mill in August 1924.
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

… who was the president of the Old Settlers' and Historical Association.

The boulder itself, as the article states, was brought to Wood's Mill from the Douglas Maxwell farm. I do wish someone had photographed the process of getting a two-ton boulder into a truck or horse-drawn wagon.

Here is another article, from the Hobart News of August 14, 1924:

2021-01-30. Wood Monument to Be Unveiled, News, 8-14-1924
(Click on image to enlarge)

And finally, one from the Hobart News of August 21, 1924:

2021-01-30. Wood Monument Unveiled, News, 8-21-1924
(Click on image to enlarge)

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Grabowski Family

2021-01-23. photo 5
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Aneta and Zenon Grabowscy.

This photograph shows Teofil Grabowski standing at the back, and his wife, Wanda, perching on the arm of the easy chair. In the front row are their two children: Aurelia Frances Wanda (born September 1, 1922), and Edwin Teofil (born January 16, 1928). The woman holding Edwin is Teofil's mother, Marianna, about whom I know nothing.

Judging by Edwin's apparent age, I'm estimating that this photo was taken in the summer or fall of 1928.

Since my previous post, I've done a little more online research and found an account of Teofil and Wanda's 1919 wedding (which got Teofil's first initial wrong):

2021-01-23. New-Britain-Herald-Jul-31-1919-p-10 Grabowski-Cieszynski wedding
(Click on image to enlarge)
New Britain Herald (Conn.), July 31, 1919.

Writing in 1930 (after Teofil and Wanda had been killed in an accident), the same paper said:[1]
Admitted to the Connecticut bar more than 11 years ago Attorney Grabowski practiced in New Britain for several months before going to Chicago. He was also president and organizer of the Indiana State bank, now known as the First Indiana State bank of Gary.
But another article in the same issue said:[2]
Mr. Grabowski was born in Pennsylvania [this is incorrect] and was a resident of this city for several months after being graduated from a law school [in 1914]. Although he was admitted to the Connecticut bar he never practiced here.
I think the New Britain Herald was a little confused about Teofil's history.

I still don't have a clue what took Teofil from Indiana to Connecticut, or vice versa.

Wanda's parents were Antoni (or Anthony) and Francziska (or Frances) Cieszynski. Wanda was their eldest child, I believe, and had some eight siblings. The family ran a home furnishings and appliance store on Main Street in New Britain, which the New Britain Herald described in 1927:[3]
A. Cieszynski & Sons is a well known firm here having sold furniture to New Britain people for more than twenty five years. Anton Cieszynski the founder of the business is widely known in business circles. The store is managed by Mr. Cieszynski's son, Val Cieszynski who has filled the position as manager of the establishment since 1917. Joseph Cieszynski is also associated with the firm.
One of Wanda's sisters, Helen, became a dentist (1920 Census).

♦    ♦    ♦

Aurelia and Edwin Grabowski, orphaned by the deadly train accident in November 1930, left their lovely home north of Ainsworth forever. They went immediately to New Britain, Connecticut — traveling on the same train that carried their parents' bodies there for burial. (From Teofil's death certificate, it looks as if their Uncle Valerian Cieszynski came out to Indiana, to handle the arrangements and bring the children home with him.) Aurelia and Edwin would spend the rest of their childhood in New Britain, being raised by their maternal grandparents among numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.

I have no idea what became of Aurelia. As for Edwin, however, I stumbled across what appears to be his death notice in the News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) of December 22, 1968:

2021-01-23. Obituary_for_EDWIN_T_GRABOWSK, News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), Dec. 22, 1968
(Click on image to enlarge)

How like his father, in several ways.

He is buried in Bellevue, Washington.

[1] "Double Obsequies for Crash Victims," New Britain Herald (Conn.), Dec. 2, 1930.
[2] "Mrs. T.H. Grabowski Killed in Indiana," New Britain Herald (Conn.), Dec. 2, 1930.
[3] "Cieszynski's Reopening," New Britain Herald (Conn.), Dec. 2, 1927.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Huffman's Mill: Ruins and Remembrance

I previously posted photos taken in 1981 of the ruins of Huffman's Mill. Now I have a few more recent photos to post.

These first two were taken around 1995.

2021-01-16. Huffman's Mill 1995 1
(Click on images to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Shawn Kenworthy.

2021-01-16. Huffman's Mill 1995 2

The third was taken in 1999 …

2021-01-16. Huffman's Mill 1999

… around the time of the funeral of Zelda Huffman Reynolds.

Zelda and her twin sister, Thelma, were children of Levi Randall and Nellie (Edwards) Huffman — that is, the younger Levi, who commonly went by Randall; his father, Levi, had bought the mill; and both men operated it at various times. Randall and Nellie's children grew up with Huffman's Mill as their playground. Here is how Thelma (born 1910) described it to her daughter, years later:
As I reminisce about my childhood I believe the most fascinating part was this old red brick mill where Dad [Levi Randall Huffman, 1880-1955] worked. There were many rooms to explore and numerous things to see; like the wooden chutes for grain and flour that criss-crossed throughout the inside. The dark dank basement on the first floor enticed us in. It was full of shadowy corners, where we'd play hide and seek and scare each other. Once in a while we'd see a rat scurry about. In one corner was a corn bin where the field mice would sometimes build a nest for their young.

The mud wasps liked the mill too for they built their nests up in the high wood ceiling. We learned to stay far away from the nests because of the wasps' wicked painful sting.

Upstairs were huge bins of grain. In the hot weather I used to stand in the cool wheat with my bare feet and legs and dip my fingers into the wheat and let it run gently through my fingers.

On lazy summer mornings I enjoyed watching the farmers from far and near bring their corn and oats to the mill. They'd come in large horse drawn wagons. After unloading the heavy sacks the men would stand around and talk while Dad ground their grain into feed for cattle and horses. They paid 10 cents for a 50 lb. bag to be milled. The mill was also a flour mill; Dad made pancake flour. The old mill where Dad worked for so many years still stands. Although abandoned it is in remarkably good condition. When I last saw it in 1974 many windows had been broken by vandals and the inside was covered by spidery cobwebs and dust. It is a landmark in Indiana.
As we know, the landmark mill is gone now.