Sunday, January 29, 2023

Unidentified Young Man by Blackhall

A recent acquisition: this photo of a young man.

2023-01-29. unidentified man by Blackhall - a
(Click on images to enlarge)

The photographer was John Blackhall …

2023-01-29. unidentified man by Blackhall - b

… which means we can date the photo roughly between 1873 and 1893, which is not particularly helpful. Nor can I get any more specific based on what he's wearing.

He is unidentified. I would say that there's something Killigrewish about him — if I hadn't made a New Year's resolution to stop coming up with these theories. It won't last any longer than most New Year's resolutions, I'm sure, but I'd like to keep it through the end of January.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Little Crismans, by Iverson of Hobart

Porter County historian Steve Shook was kind enough to send me another example of a photograph taken by Henry Iverson

2023-01-21. Crisman, Burten Allen and Lucy Mae ca. 1886-7
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Steve Shook.

… and to supply me with some details about it:
The subjects of the photograph are siblings Burten Allen "Ollie" Crisman and Lucy Mae "Mazie" Crisman. These youngsters were the children of Isaac and Jane (White) Crisman and the grandchildren of Benjamin G. Crisman who founded the small village of Crisman in Portage Township.
He estimates that the photo was taken in late 1886 or very early 1887. Lucy Mae was born in April 1884.

Steve has previously published this photo on his Porter County history blog, to which I refer readers who want to see what a serious local history blog looks like, for a change.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Puppies on the Brain

I am fostering three puppies for the Humane Society of Hobart …

2023-01-11. Kanga, Roo and Piglet sleeping

2023-01-11. Kanga, Roo and Piglet playing

2023-01-11. Kanga, Roo and Piglet outside

… and they are running me so ragged I can't even begin to collect my thoughts, but who needs thoughts when you've got puppies?

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Letters to Fonso

It's 1897, and B.E. Smith has left Hobart to work as a teamster in Chicago. His older brother, Frank, remains in Hobart, dealing in groceries and writing business-like letters to B.E.

2023-01-05. Smith, Frank J. to B.E. Smith 1897 1
(Click on images to enlarge)

2023-01-05. Smith, Frank J. to B.E. Smith 1897 2

The first is dated January 2th, 1897.

Fonso I shiped you 27 bush & 30 lbs at 22 per bush. You can get it Thursday & be shure & send the bags rite back & you speak a bout sum Potatoes if they are good you can send a Baral & I would like a barel of good onions & a baral box of good celery if good & cheap but don't want no frosen stock but if you can't send them as well as not let them go but if you can send them send them rite a way & if you want more corn send sacks & I will try & get sum more
Yours Resp[ectfully] F. Smith
If you could send Bbl of parsnips
The second is undated, but seems to involve the same 27 bushels, along with some advice about how B.E. should feed his horses:
Fonso I Paid the freight 144 [illegible scrawl]
If you ar feading oates be carfal in changing fead a little corn with the oate & salt well un till they get youst to the corn
Now if you can get me sum Potatos & sum good onions & sum good celer[y] jest as well as not & [illegible] or Rhodab Rhudabages they are jest the same to me
27 B 30# at 22 X  604
freight                    144

That make the corn stand you a bout 27 per Bushul then let me no what it is worth then [or "there"?] is there ena [any?] saven [or "sance"?] in it
Cr BE S. 3.50
I will try to interpret these: Frank has sent Fonso 27 bushels plus 30 pounds of corn at 22 cents per bushel. He has shipped the corn in sacks and wants his sacks back right away. At least some of the corn is for Fonso's horses (he's a teamster, remember?); Frank is concerned that if Fonso has been feeding his horses oats, the sudden switch to corn will upset their stomachs, so he advises mixing the corn gradually into the oats.

Apparently Fonso, up in Chicago, is able to scout out good produce in the various wholesale markets, so Frank wants him to send a barrel of potatoes, a barrel of onions, and a box of celery, so long as it's not frozen (which was a possibility in January[1]). Oh, and a barrel of parsnips. Also, some [illegible] or some rutabagas; Frank doesn't care, [illegible] and rutabagas are just the same as far as he's concerned. (Part of the [illegible] looks like "bananas" to me, but in what universe are rutabagas and bananas just the same to anyone?)

All these barrels of potatoes, etc., would be resold in Hobart, I'm guessing.

The "and Son" part of this business was probably Frank's son, Henry Sylvester (born ca. 1879 and named for his grandfather).

♦    ♦    ♦

Frank's obituary, printed in the Hobart Gazette of January 21, 1927, gives some of the family history going back to Hobart's earliest days.

2023-01-05. Death of Hobart's Oldest Pioneer, Gazette, 01-21-1927
(Click on image to enlarge)

This part about Frank's father is interesting:
Henry S. and Fannie (Wheeler) Smith, natives of Pennsylvania, … emigrated to Ohio and later to Michigan in pioneer days. Mr. Smith visited City West as early as 1838, where he became a great friend of the Indians and learned their language, ways, customs and desires. The Smiths and the Wheelers came to Hobart together and were active in its early growth. This pioneer Smith built the first sawmill for the late George Earle and also the first gristmill which gave service to the community in those early days. When the Mexican War broke out, Mr. Smith became an Indian interpreter for the government and was with Gen. Freemont [sic] in the west. He later entered the gold rush to California but soon returned to Hobart where he died Aug. 5, 1856.
Henry Sylvester Smith is buried in the Old Settlers Cemetery.

It's also interesting that Frank's older brother, Charlie, was probably the first fatality of the Hobart sawmill. That accident would have occurred in 1846 if Frank was then two years old. I do not know where young Charlie is buried.

Nor do I know where Frank's three wives are buried. We know from the obituary that Clara Loague Smith died in 1913 and her death certificate states that she was buried in Hobart, but I can't find a record of her grave. Harriet Ferrin Smith died of tuberculosis on February 6, 1887, [2] but again I can't find a grave. In the case of the first wife, Rosana Eastwood Smith, I don't even know when she died.

As a Civil War veteran, Frank lies beneath a military marker that has nothing to say about his birth or death, only his service.

I've identified only five of the seven children that the obituary attributes to Frank. One was Almantha Smith Bullock, born ca. 1882. The others are Henry Sylvester (b. ca. 1879, as mentioned above), Eugene (ca. 1884), Charles (ca. 1897), and Loleta Smith Havrilla (ca. 1901).

[1] To be perfectly honest, I don't know how they would prevent freezing during winter shipping in 1897. I'm profoundly ignorant of how wholesale produce was handled in Chicago in 1897.
[2] "Hobart Items," Crown Point Register, 10 Feb. 1887.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Bale's Island

At the Hobart Historical Society museum, I asked to be shown, on the Google satellite view of Hobart, where Bale's Island was. Here is my attempt to reproduce what I was shown:

2022-12-26. satellite view - Bale's Island area
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image from Google Maps.

We're looking at an area south of Sixth Street, just east of Gilbert Court.

It wasn't an island, but a swimming hole used by kids such as Elinor Ferren, born in 1911, who grew up in Hobart and told stories to her daughter about swimming there on the girls' days (as opposed to the boys' days).

According to a 1970 Gazette article, Bale's Island was "completely surrounded by water" when B.B. and Emily Bale settled in that area and built their first home, a log cabin, circa 1866.[1] I seem to recall reading elsewhere (if I could only remember where!) that the "island" became an island only on occasions when Duck Creek was running high.

The 1970 article was accompanied by this letter of reminiscences, written by Dorothy Mellon Gant, born in 1912.

2022-12-26. Letter, Gazette, 05-21-1970
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

The Mellon family lived at 1001 Georgianna Street (1930 and 1940 censuses). Here is Dorothy Mellon as a senior in high school, from the 1930 Aurora.

2022-12-26. Dorothy Mellon senior portrait
Image from

[1] "Here's Bale's Island," Hobart Gazette, 21 May 1970.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

"Where Is the Christmas Spirit in Hobart?"

From 77 years ago today, some Christmas unhappiness:

2022-12-20. Where Is the Christmas Spirit, Gazette, 12-20-1945
(Click on images to enlarge)
All images from the Hobart Gazette, 20 Dec. 1945.

OK, back to the usual good cheer.

2022-12-20. Letters to Santa Claus, Gazette, 12-20-1945

2022-12-20. Christmas Greetings from local businesses, Gazette, 12-20-1945

Monday, December 12, 2022

A Stealth Dentist

I bought this postcard because I didn't have this exact view of the 300 block of Main Street.

2022-12-12. Main Street 1911-02-01 a
(Click on image to enlarge)

It is the east side of Main Street, looking south from Third Street. The postcard is postmarked February 1, 1911.

We've seen all of these things before. What interests me in particular is the second story of 301-305 Main, where we see several awnings and a sign jutting out, all with the word "Dentist." At street level, under the big sign for the law partnership of Bozarth & Bozarth,[1] there is a small plaque with the nearly illegible name of a dentist.

The 1910 Census shows two dentists in town — Fred Werner and Charles Kenward — and of those two names, I think Kenward looks more likely.

But I never heard of Charles Kenward before. How is it possible that I've read so many issues of Hobart newspapers from this era and never heard of one of the two town dentists?

His obituary, from the Hobart Gazette of June 10, 1943, says that he moved to Hobart in 1905 and practiced his profession here until 1918.

2022-12-12. 1943-06-10 Gazette, Dr. Kenward, Former Hobart Dentist, Dies Thursday
(Click on image to enlarge)

2022-12-12. Dr. Charles Franklin Kenward
Image from

♦    ♦    ♦

I already covered most of the other businesses in this photo in another post about a similar postcard, dated the same year, but looking at this side of the 300 block from the other direction.

Notice that the awning of Scheddell's Drug Store reads "The Mackey Drug Store."

Turning the postcard over, we find it signed "Evea" — I think that's Evea Miller, whom we've met before.

2022-12-12. Main Street 1911-02-01 b

The Floyd with a cold was her toddler-age son. I wonder whom she was planning on leaving him at home with? As for poor Nora, she is a mystery to me.

[1] I'm not sure who the lawyers were; possibly Nelson and William Bozarth, father and son, who were Valparaiso residents in 1910 but might have had an office in Hobart.