Friday, December 1, 2023

European Mantis Preparing an Invasion

Late last September, I found this mantis laying an egg case on my garden shed.

2023-12-01. European Mantis 01
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2023-12-01. European Mantis 02

I got all excited — it obviously wasn't a Chinese mantis; had I finally found a native mantis? I took pictures and posted them to the IN Nature group on Facebook for ID help. That's how I learned that there is another non-native species in the U.S.: the European (or German) mantis.

Their distinguishing feature is the "bull's-eye" on the inside of their upper foreleg.

2023-12-01. European Mantis bulls-eye

The next day I went out to the shed and found another (or maybe the same?) European mantis laying an egg case next to first one.

2023-12-01. European Mantis redux

Like the native mantis, both non-native species eat pests, but due to their size (especially the Chinese mantis), they also eat things that are not pests, including native mantises. Some sources say that these non-native species have become naturalized; other continue to call them invasive.

Anyway, I will keep hoping to find a native mantis someday. Not sure they get this far north.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Humane Society and its Shelter

These articles, from August 1954 through September 1955, tell the story of the Humane Society of Hobart's formation, and the building of its shelter on Rte. 130.

2023-11-29. 1954-08-19. Gazette, Humane Society Organized Here
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"Humane Society Organized Here," Hobart Gazette, 19 Aug. 1954.

2023-11-29. 1955-07-07 Gazette, Humane Society's New Shelter Near Completion
Hobart Gazette, 7 July 1955.

2023-11-29. 1955-09-22 Gazette, Humane Society's New Building To Open Monday
Hobart Gazette, 22 Sept. 1955.

I suppose these kind people have all gone to their reward by now. Their president, Morris Cox, died in 1978 and is buried in Evergreen Memorial Park.

The Humane Society is still operating out of the 1955 building. The size of the property is now less than three quarters of an acre; if it's true that Bertha Jacoby originally donated several acres of land, some of it may have been sold off to raise money for construction or operating expenses.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Grapeleaf Skeletonizer Caterpillar

While working in my tomato garden last September, I came across this very small caterpillar.

2023-11-25. Grapeleaf skeletonizer 01
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2023-11-25. Grapeleaf skeletonizer 02

That's my thumb, for scale.

It took me a while to ID this tiny thing. I believe it will grow up to be a Grapeleaf Skeletonizer moth.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

But Maybe Find Another Name for Your Nightclub?

He tempted Fate, and Fate could not resist.

2023-11-22. 1947-02-20, Gazette, Coconut Grove Night Club Destroyed By Fire
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Hobart Gazette, 20, Feb. 1947.

In all seriousness, though, this nightclub may have been in operation under that name even before the disastrous Cocoanut Grove fire of 1942. Its owner, Michael "Mack" Petruzelli, was described in the 1940 Census as the proprietor of a tavern, but of course the census does not name the tavern. (His wife Annabelle, some 25 years his junior, is described as a "check-room girl" in a tavern; she also had two small children to look after.) The 1950 Census likewise describes him as the owner of a tavern.

According to my 1947 phone book, this Coconut Grove was located at 1233 North Central Avenue in Lake Station. The structure now standing there was built, per the county records, in 1947.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Thimbleweed Gone To Seed

2023-11-18. Thimbleweed 01
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2023-11-18. Thimbleweed 02

2023-11-18. Thimbleweed 03

Thimbleweed going — going — gone to seed.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Bertha Jacoby and the Hobart Animal Shelter

While skimming through the 1950s microfilm for non-Ainsworth reasons,[1] I have been coming across the history of the Humane Society of Hobart, including its organization and the construction of the shelter on Route 130. That is a subject near to my heart — in my 30+ years here in Ainsworth, I have adopted three dogs and a cat from the Humane Society of Hobart; and in the dozen years I have been volunteering as a foster, I suppose I've fostered hundreds of kittens, as well as a few adult cats and some puppies.

A 1959 newspaper article[2] about an "open house" event at the shelter included an off-hand mention that the shelter had been built on several acres of land donated by Bertha Jacoby in 1954. I had never heard that name before, so I thought I'd look into it.

And in the 1950 Plat Book, we do find the Jacoby name on a 28-acre parcel that includes the location of the shelter:

2023-11-14. Jacoby land, 1950 Plat Book

The initial, you'll notice, is J. So I looked for a Bertha Jacoby in conjunction with someone whose name begins with J, and found …

2023-11-14. Jacoby, 1940 Census
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Image from

… Joseph and Bertha Jacoby, living in Gary and running their own real estate firm.

They were both immigrants: Bertha from Austria,[3] Joseph from Hungary. I can't find information on when each came to this country, but Bertha was naturalized in 1938.

2023-11-14. Jakoby, Bertha - naturalization
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Image from

In 1942, we find them listed as the owners of those 28 acres on S.R. 130:

2023-11-14. County Tax List, Hammond-Times, March 23 1942, p. 62
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"County Tax List," Hammond Times, 23 Mar. 1942.

In 1947, Joseph died. His obituary portrays an interesting man:

2023-11-14. Jakoby, Joseph - Obituaries, Hammon Times, 13 Nov. 1947
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"Obituaries," Hammond Times, 13 Nov. 1947.

From his death certificate, it appears that Jacoby/Jakoby was an Americanized version of Jakubik.

The 1950 Census shows the 53-year-old Bertha living in Gary, running her own real estate and insurance agency.

After that I don't find much information about her — aside from a brief mention of her sponsoring a Hungarian refugee in 1955[4] — until her death on March 19, 1972. She was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Gary, according to her death certificate, but although lists her husband, I can't find a listing for her. I hope she is not lying in an unmarked grave.

So far as I can tell, she had no children.

But what motivated her to donate land to the Humane Society of Hobart? A tax deduction, maybe, for this practical businesswoman? But I'd like to believe that somewhere amidst all her business acumen, there was a soft spot for animals.

[1] In a few months I hope to be able to return to my Ainsworth focus in this blog. I just have too much going on right now.
[2] "Humane Society of Hobart Open House This Sunday," Gazette, 24 Sept. 1959.
[3] Her death certificate gives France as her birthplace (with the informant being her brother-in-law), but the 1940 and 1950 censuses both state Austria.
[4] "Two Refugees Head For Calumet Area," Hammond Times, 20 Nov. 1955.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Keep Calm and Carrion

I found this guy on the sidewalk in back of my house.

2023-11-10. Carrion Beetle 01
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2023-11-10. Carrion Beetle 02

He is an American Carrion Beetle — part of Mother Nature's clean-up crew.