Friday, April 30, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Wild Strawberries

(Click on image to enlarge)

Technically, these might be Wood Strawberries. I can't really tell the difference. But they grow all over my property.

The fruit is delicious — even better than domesticated strawberries — but very tiny and very hard to find, as the plant grows low to the ground and the fruit hangs down, so I don't try to harvest a lot of them.


Since certain people like hearing about their ancestors, I thought I'd just post the few random items I've found about members of the Gernenz family that I haven't already posted.

From the Hobart Gazette of April 10, 1903:

An Old Citizen Passes Away.

After years of feebleness Mrs. Caroline Gernenz died on Monday, April 6th, 1903, at the home of her son Fred south of Ainsworth at the age of nearly ninety years. She was born Aug. 10th, 1813, in Germany where her husband died about 42 years ago, and came to America with Mrs. John Springman, her daughter, and husband in the spring of 1874. After a residence of several months in Chicago she came to Hobart, Ind., with her son Fred and family, and after a residence here of 7 years they moved upon the farm south of Ainsworth.

For the past eleven years she has been very feeble, most of the time being confined to her bed. She was the mother of six children, two having died in infancy in the old country. The children living are Fred, Ernst and John Gernenz, and Mrs. Sophia springman, besides a large number of grandchildren and great-grand children.

The funeral services were conducted yesterday [April 9, 1903] at 1 p.m. at the German Lutheran church in Hobart by the pastor, Rev. Schuelke, and the interment occurred at the Hobart cemetery.

The following items are all from Hobart Gazette's "Ainsworth Pick-Ups" columns:

From February 17, 1905: "Mr. Mayer's team broke loose Friday night, during the entertainment [a box social at the Ainsworth school] and were found next morning unhurt two miles south in Gernenz's yard, eating from a straw stack." (There you have it — Gernenz straw: worth traveling two miles for.)

Starting with this item from June 24, 1910, the paper seems to have adopted an alternate spelling of the last name: "Chas. Gernantz who sports a fine white team and surrey, with his family visited Hobart friends, Sunday."

From September 30, 1910: "Chas. Gernantz recently had eighteen geese killed at night by dogs." Roaming dogs were a problem in those days. Occasionally they killed sheep; this is the first time I've heard of geese being killed. In Hobart they usually just bit people.

And lastly, from October 28, 1910: "Last Saturday Chas. and F. Gernantz, John Benson, August Maybaum, Wm. Smith and Frank and Antone Peterson met the county commissioners at the Peterson road. They are reported dissatisfied with the work of the Inspector." I don't know exactly what Inspector this refers to, but it may have been Calvin C. Shearer, Sr., a "Gravel Road Inspector" mentioned in the previous week's column.

That's all I've got for now.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Common Blue-Eyed Grass

(Click on image to enlarge)

A native perennial and a member of the Iris family. I found this one in the right-of-way by the Grand Trunk tracks.

Tenth and Lincoln


I suppose we've just seen history made, with the replacement of the stop sign at Tenth and Lincoln by a traffic light. As the sign has been telling us for a couple of months now, it went active March 18, 2010.


It was a bit difficult to get used to at first. Not long ago I saw a driver up ahead of me stop at the red light, look both ways, and then proceed to make a left turn through the red light. Not that I'm blaming him or her; for a few weeks after the light was installed, I had to make a conscious effort not to do the same thing myself.

No tripod
(Click on image to enlarge)
No, I don't have a tripod. It's more fun this way.

I don't know when the stop sign was first installed at that intersection. A newspaper account of a bad accident that happened there on October 15, 1927, did not say anything about which car ran the stop sign, leading me to believe that there was no stop sign.

It was about 7:30 in the morning on that Saturday. Robert Wood, Fred Grazow and Gust Chase, in a Ford touring car, were heading eastbound to the Gruel farm to do some concrete work. At Tenth and Lincoln their car slammed broadside into a Flint touring car driven by Bernell Humes.

Neighbors around the intersection reported hearing a terrific crash. They came to investigate and found the mangled cars, and Gust Chase badly injured and unconscious. They called for ambulances.

In those days, the undertakers operated the ambulances, which sounds to me like a conflict of interest. In this case the ambulances from the Wild and Pflughoeft funeral homes responded.

Gust was taken to Mercy Hospital. He died there at about 10:45 a.m. without regaining consciousness.

Gust had grown up on the family farm southeast of Ainsworth, and later moved to Hobart. He was born April 14, 1871, one of eight children born to Edward P. and Mary Ann (Tuthill) Chase. On August 28, 1899 he married Emma Breitsprecher of Hobart. They had four children: Edith, Edna, Raymond and George.

1910 Census.
♦ "Gust Chase Killed In Auto Accident Early Saturday Morning." Hobart News 20 Oct. 1927.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Garlic Mustard

(Click on images to enlarge)

Also known as poor man's mustard, among other things. Garlic mustard is not native to North America and because it has no natural enemies here, it proliferates freely and threatens native wildflowers.

According to Jack Sanders in The Secrets of Wildflowers, "Garlic mustard has been boiled and served like spinach and, in Wales, fried with herring or bacon…. It was widely used in salads especially in England and Germany — where it was known as Sasskraut, or 'sauce herb.'" I tasted one of the leaves; it had a strong garlic flavor, with a slight mustardy tang.


Hobart Then and Now: Bath House/Public Library

1967 and 2010.

(Click on images to enlarge)
Top image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Per the notes accompanying the original picture in the Hobart Historical Museum file:
This bath house, at front and Main Street, was built by the W.P.A. and provided facilities for bathers at the Hobart Beach. Shown here in 1967, the beach was long closed and the building served as offices for the Hobart Chamber of Commerce. The bathhouse was demolished the following year for the construction of the Hobart Public Library.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Wood Betony

(Click on image to enlarge)

Also known as lousewort. And it's related to the Figwort family, but we can't choose our relatives, can we?

Conducting Herself As a Courtesan

In my newspaper reading, I have come across multiple instances of various crimes: theft (and lots of it); assault and battery, fraud and forgery, child abuse, selling liquor without a license, vandalism, adultery, leaving the scene of an accident, and all the way up to murder. But with respect to the world's oldest profession, I have found only one case in the ten years I've read so far, and for that one we have to go up to Lake Station.

It seems that a guy named Gust Nelson operated some sort of business establishment there, probably a saloon. He brought out from Chicago a woman calling herself Anna Johnson, to work in his place, I gather. He soon had cause to regret it.

As the Gazette put it, Anna spent several weeks "disgracing the sacred confines of Lake Station … by her disgraceful and immoral conduct." She was so bad that Gust himself came to Hobart around midnight on July 1, 1906, to complain of Anna's "conducting herself as a courtesan." Justice of the Peace John Mathews prepared the arrest warrant and Deputy Marshal Fred Rose went to Lake Station to serve it.

Rose brought Anna back to Hobart to appear before Judge Mathews. She was "about thirty years old and show[ed] her dissipation. She was supplied with stimulents [sic] and smoked cigarettes in a professional manner." Although there were several witnesses ready to testify, including Gust, no trial was necessary — Anna pled guilty. But then she refused to pay the $17.75 assessed against her in fines and costs, so they took her to the jail in Crown Point.

And that's it for that particular crime. As far as I know, the sacred confines of Ainsworth were never thus disgraced. Not yet, anyway.

Source: "A Good Riddance." Hobart Gazette 6 July 1906.

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Cameras of Ainsworth

These pictures have nothing to do with anything, but I was practicing using my new camera today and I just can't help myself. And hey — they were all taken in Ainsworth.

Cream-colored tulips…

(Click on images to enlarge)

Apple blossoms in the afternoon sun…


Apple blossoms on the ground…


Honeysuckle just beginning to bloom…


Orange tulips…


A robin's nest with eggs. The robin wasn't on the nest when I approached, but she came up behind me while I was taking the picture, and boy, was she mad. I'm sure she called me every name in the book, in her language.


Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Invasion of the Skunk Cabbage

Remember how little and innocent those skunk cabbages looked at the beginning of April?

(Click on images to enlarge)

Now they're starting to look like an invading army.


(Maya managed to escape from them unhurt.)

Drunken Brawler, Yes; Murderer, No

(Click on images to enlarge)
Advertisement from the Hobart Gazette of December 14, 1906.

As saloon stories go, this is a sad one. I'm assuming it is a saloon story, because it involved Ainsworth and it involved liquor.

George Young, whom we've already met, spent Saturday, October 6, 1906, in Hobart on business matters. Toward evening he set out for home. Since his farm lay south of Ainsworth, he had to pass through the village, and like others before him, he wasn't able to get through without stopping.

Duffy DeFrance happened to be in Ainsworth that evening, too. George and Duffy were well acquainted, since they both were active members of the Odd Fellows and the Foresters.

They had always been on good terms before, but somehow this evening things went sour. Witnesses said that "both men were under the influence of liquor." A fight broke out between them, earnest and brutal, and by the time it was over the 54-year-old George had been "quite severely pounded" by Duffy, some 25 years his junior.

George was taken home, where his only daughter, Carrie, had been keeping house for him since his divorce, and Dr. Richard Mackey was called in.

Dr. Mackey found George in alarmingly serious condition. He attended him throughout Sunday, and by Monday morning he believed his patient was beyond saving. And, indeed, George died at 3:00 Monday afternoon.

At about that time Duffy was in Hammond, consulting with attorney Joseph Conroy. When he came back to Hobart that evening, he was met by Marshal Young of Crown Point, who was armed with a warrant for his arrest on charges of assault, attempt to kill and murder. The Marshal, accompanied by several other men, took Duffy to Crown Point to appear before Judge Harry Nicholson. A preliminary trial was scheduled for later that week, and Duffy was released on $20,000 bond.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mackey, assisted by Dr. Cyrus Bulhand of Hobart, performed a postmortem on George. They concluded that his death resulted from "inflammation of the bowels, the small intestines and one lobe of the liver being badly congested." On Tuesday evening, the County Coroner went to George's home with four other doctors, who performed a second postmortem and agreed upon acute peritonitis as the cause of death.

The preliminary trial took place on October 10, and the State made a poor showing. First of all, the eyewitnesses had toned down their statements — it isn't reported exactly what was said, but apparently the two "telephone men" who had seen the fight placed less blame on Duffy in court than they had during the investigation. Secondly, while the doctors all essentially agreed on peritonitis as the cause of death, none of them could give a definite cause for the peritonitis. They could not testify under oath that "death was due to any kicks or pounding administered by Mr. DeFrance."

Nonetheless, Judge Nicholson considered the evidence sufficient to set the case for trial by the Circuit Court. Duffy was again released on $20,000 bond.

The final trial was held on November 30, 1906. The State made an even worse showing this time. The two eyewitnesses had left Indiana and did not testify. Other witnesses were called, but they could not make a case. After brief deliberations, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

♦    ♦    ♦

George W. Young
George W. Young (from the Lake County Encyclopedia).

A little bit about George: he was born in Porter County on February 25, 1852, to David L. and Lovina (Guernsey) Young. His parents farmed in Lake County; his father also carried mail and kept a hotel in Hobart.

When he was about 24, George moved to Chicago. He stayed there for the next 11 years, working in the ice business. After selling his business, he returned to Hobart in 1887 and briefly kept a saloon, then moved to the farm south of Ainsworth where he spent the remainder of his life.

In 1876 he had married Susan S. Cunningham. They had six children: Carrie, George, Delbert, Harry, Louie, and Joseph (who had died before his father). Susan died in October 1890. Two years later George married Ophelia, his brother's widow. They had one son, Isaac.

He is buried in the Guernsey cemetery. I don't know where that is.

♦ "Duffy DeFrance Acquitted." Hobart Gazette 7 Dec. 1906.
♦ "Geo. W. Young Died From Accident." Hobart Gazette 12 Oct. 1906.
♦ "Obituary." Hobart Gazette 12 Oct. 1906.
WWI Draft Cards.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Ties That Don't Bind

(Click on image to enlarge)

Now I know what the driver of that truck on the tracks was doing — marking the bad ties with orange paint.

This is the first picture from my new camera. I hope I'm around with my camera when they come with the machinery to replace the bad ties.

More Problems for George Young

Poor George. Not a month after he got scammed out of a horse, we see this announcement:
George Young who lives in Ross township south of Ainsworth has made a satisfactory adjustment of the difficulties between himself and his wife by paying her a goodly sum in cash. To meet this payment he has decided to sell one of his farms at a sacrifice.
The wife in question was his second, Ophelia — his brother's widow, whom he had married in 1892.

A month after that, George was dehorning a steer one evening when the animal's horn got hooked in his mouth, splitting his lip and knocking out some teeth.

And then Ophelia divorced him anyway.

George had only a few years to live at this point, but we'll get to that later.

♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 12 Sept. 1902; 17 Oct. 1902.
♦ "Obituary." Hobart Gazette 12 Oct. 1906.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Herb Robert

(Click on image to enlarge)

Actually I'm not 100% sure that's Herb Robert, but it's the closest match I could find in Newcomb's Wildflower Guide.

Herb Robert is a species of wild geranium. This one was growing on a damp and slippery slope in Deep River County Park. I found out how slippery a few minutes after I took this photo.

No one knows for sure how it got that name. As usual, it has others. My favorite is "old maid's nightcap."

Yet Another Horse Thief Story

This time the victim was John F. Dorman, whose land lay between Hobart and Ainsworth where the Indian Ridge Golf Course is now. John was then about 50 years old, well known and respected in the area. What makes this event interesting is that the Gazette printed John's own detailed account of the crime and the investigation. He and two of his sons, all civilians, worked side-by-side with law enforcement personnel and also conducted some independent inquiries. But perhaps we should let John speak for himself:
Saturday morning [March 5, 1910] about 1 o'clock a man opened a window with an ax, stood on a box and got into my storm shed and then into my house. He stole a razor, a pocket knife, shoes and overshoes. Then took the lantern, went out into the granary and put on my boy's shoes, got a bridle and a saddle from the granary, and then took a white horse out and fled.

Next morning I notified Sheriff Grant and Inspector Dorman, my brother in Chicago. Grant came over with Fred Furman in his auto and started out. We made a round of about one hundred miles that day, took in every town within his reach, visited the gypsy camp at Thornton, saw some three hundred horses at that place and offered a reward of 50 dollars for the capture of the thief. Inspector Dorman sent word to all out stations to be on guard for a white horse with saddle.

Sunday Grant and Furman met my brother at the yards and a force was put on in the city.* Every sale barn was searched. My brother sent a man with me and we took in all the lodging houses that night till 11 o'clock, and Monday we went to work again and took in the auction sales. Monday night Sheriff Wood from Porter county got word that a man had been seen near Hebron, Ind., riding a horse Saturday morning, going east.

Sunday Clarence and Carlisle [John's sons] went to South Bend, Laporte and Niles, Mich., and found that some horses had been stolen the same night that my horse had been stolen, so Monday afternoon Sheriff Wood went east. Monday night Wood phoned Grant that a horse had been found between Boone Grove and Hulburt station — a white horse. Grant and Furman got me the same night and we went to Valpo, got Sheriff Wood and arrived at the place at midnight. We found the horse in a farmer's barn and the saddle and bridle and blanket about a mile from there in another man's barn. The horse had been left on a lonely road and the man had fled, but I am satisfied that Grant will get him.
If Grant got him, the paper didn't report it.

*He may have meant Chicago — it was often referred to simply as "the city" in the newspapers of this era.

Source: "Horse Thief at Work." Hobart Gazette 11 Mar. 1910 [paragraph breaks added].

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: White Trout Lily

(Click on image to enlarge)

These flowers are difficult to photograph because their blossoms hang determinedly downward, as if ashamed. I had to put the camera on the ground to get this shot.

Why "trout" lily? In The Secrets of Wildflowers, Jack Sanders offers a few possible reasons: because the mid-April blooming time just about coincides with the opening of trout season; or because the mottled leaves evoke the appearance of some kinds of trout; or perhaps because these flowers often grow near streams where trout live.

But if you don't like that name, there are others: adder's tongue, dogtooth violet, starstriker and scrofula root. Also yellow bastard-lily, but that would apply only to the yellow ones, I suppose.

♦    ♦    ♦

My new not-quite-as-cheap camera just got delivered. It looks extremely complicated and I guess I will be spending this rainy weekend reading the operating manual. I had been planning to smash my current camera to bits with a sledgehammer, but this new one is so big that I may keep the old one around for occasions when I don't mind shooting photos on a horrible cheap camera with a scratched lens that never focuses where I tell it to, but at least it fits in my pocket.

Wait — Who Did What, Now? (A Horse Thief Story)

At least I think it's a horse thief story. I've read through the Gazette's accounts of this incident several times, and I'm still not sure exactly what happened.

Whatever it was, it happened in August 1902. The parties involved were two Ross Township farmers whose land lay south of Ainsworth — George Young and Chester Guernsey, Jr., who was known as Chet — and George Beemer, described as "a farm laborer and somewhat of a horse doctor."

Toward mid-August, Beemer bought a horse from Chet, who allowed him to take the animal after making only a small down payment on the full price. On August 15, Beemer happened to cross paths with George Young, who knew nothing about the horse sale, but liked Beemer's new horse so much that he was willing to trade his own for it and give Beemer $10 on top, which Beemer was happy to accept.

Beemer then went to Hobart, and the last anyone saw of him, he was heading west out of town.

Somehow word got back to Chet that Beemer, who still owed him money on the original horse deal, had skipped town. Chet went to George's place looking for his horse (and how he knew it was there is never explained). He apparently claimed the horse was stolen. George let him take the horse after depositing $15.

Then George came to Hobart looking for Beemer and his own horse. Together with Hobart's Marshal Busse, he spent all of August 16 looking around North and Calumet Townships for Beemer and the horse, without success. The Gazette ended its first report with this cryptic comment: "We understand that Mr. Young later learned that the Guernsey horse was not really stolen and now expects to secure his horse from Mr. Guernsey."

The next week's issue of the Gazette reported that Beemer had embellished his original crime by next stealing a buggy and harness from an unnamed victim. Marshal Busse, with the help of the Porter County sheriff, had finally run Beemer to ground and brought him back to Hobart for trial. The trial focused on the buggy (which was still missing) and the harness; no mention of any horses. Beemer's defense was that (a) he didn't steal anything and (b) he was drunk and not accountable for his actions. But before the trial could be completed, he or someone else paid for the buggy and harness, and Beemer was set free to return to his wife and children in Whiting. End of story, according to the Gazette.

Now, wait a minute. Aren't we still missing a horse? Did George get his horse back? Did Chet get his $15 back? Why wasn't Beemer charged with any of that? And where was the editor of the Gazette vacationing when these garbled accounts went to print?

♦ "Excitement Over a Horse." Hobart Gazette 22 Aug. 1902.
♦ "Stealing Case Compromised." Hobart Gazette 29 Aug. 1902.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Violets

(Click on image to enlarge)

As if anyone needed to be told. These were growing out in the middle of the woods in Deep River County Park. I'm not sure exactly which type they are — either Northern Blue or Common Blue, I think.

You Know Who You Are

A selection of anonymous Ainsworth news items from the Hobart Gazette, 1905-1910:

Notice of Warning

I hereby warn those who have several times in the past visited my home and premises while myself and family were away from making such visits in the future under penalty of prosecution. The party who was in my house on Sunday, Aug. 9, is known and is hereby warned from doing so again.

Louis Wojahn.

♦    ♦    ♦
A little shooting affair is reported to have taken place Sunday morning at Ainsworth but no one was hurt.
♦    ♦    ♦
Ainsworth ranks first in the line of pugilists as it went to show Saturday evening. Anyone can get particulars by asking Ed. Mankey.
♦    ♦    ♦
The party who took my round-bottom scoop scraper from my lot had better return same or I will make it high price for him.

Chas. Maybaum, Jr.

Yep. And don't do it again.

♦ "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 27 Jan. 1905; 10 June 1910.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 20 Dec. 1907.
♦ "Notice of Warning." Hobart Gazette 28 Aug. 1908.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Jack-in-the-Pulpit

(Click on image to enlarge)

I found these in the woods north of the gravel road that runs beside Big Maple Lake. (By the way, I haven't been distinguishing between Deep River County Park and Big Maple Lake Park and I don't intend to start. It's all Deep River County Park to me.)

Jack-in-the-Pulpit starts life as a male, and when it's grown strong enough, it becomes female. Or so the wildflower experts tell me.

The Wit of Ainsworth

The Hobart Gazette sometimes ran a column of Ainsworth news, usually called "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." It appeared fitfully, unreliably; running every week for a year or more, then disappearing for several years, then reappearing for a few months, and so on. As I've mentioned before, I don't know how those tidbits of news reached the editor. But in late 1904 through early 1905, the "Ainsworth Pick-Ups" took on a tone of jocularity, distinctive from the Hobart and Deepriver social news columns. It seems that there was someone here who thought he was pretty funny and sent in news items to prove it, someone whom I've dubbed the Wit of Ainsworth.

How funny was he? See for yourself:
A bad one on Chicago. On the Grand Trunk milk train last Friday were two men who were angry at each other when one got up and declared that the other one ought to have died in Chicago as he considered it a worse place than h—.
OK, maybe that one really did happen. But what about these? —
A man was arrested here Tuesday evening [December 27] at Raschka's corner, while the wind blew at a rate of 82 miles an hour and the thermometer below zero, for whistling the tune "In the Good Old Summer Time."

Morgan Blachly has got hold of a powder which will facilitate digestion of a square meal in 15 minutes. We sympathize with his wife.

Dan Maybaum is anxiously awaiting the opening of the circus season to show what his donkey can do and won't do.

[From January 27] Just out — the latest song — "Snow, Snow, Beautiful Snow."
I wonder who the culprit was. I notice that the jocularity ceased around the time that Hugh Dotzer left Ainsworth. But I've formed this picture in my mind of Hugh as a man of some culture and taste; it jars me to think him capable of making such jokes. Ed Sauter seems a more likely candidate; but then, why did he stop being funny? — he was still in Ainsworth, and not yet in financial trouble.

We'll probably never know. The Wit of Ainsworth has taken his secret to the grave.

Now I'm the Wit of Ainsworth. Poor Ainsworth!

Sources: "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 7 Oct. 1904; 30 Dec. 1904; 13 Jan. 1905; 27 Jan. 1905.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring Plowing

(Click on image to enlarge)

This tractor is plowing land that used to belong to Henry Chester.

Hobart Then and Now: Lovers Lane

Circa 1907(?) and 2010

Lovers Lane
Across from Dairy Queen
(Click on images to enlarge)
Top image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

The first image comes from the files of the Hobart Historical Society. It's on a postcard with no postmark, but since it has a divided back, it should be 1907 or later. On the other hand, you can't see anything in the photo resembling the Strattan house scenery superstructure, which was added in 1907. So perhaps the photo itself was taken earlier, and some time elapsed before it was put on a postcard.

The actual location is something of a mystery. On the back of the postcard are anonymous notes saying that this photo was taken from a spot across from the (present-day) Dairy Queen, and the writer even drew a little "you-are-here" map to clarify the location, showing Main Street, the railroad tracks and downtown Hobart. And looking at the photo, yes, we can see the crossing sign at the Norfolk Southern-Main Street crossing, and far in the distance, between two telephone poles, we can see the spire of Trinity Lutheran Church, at the corner of Main and Second. But it can't be — where is the Unitarian Church? We ought to be able to see it. It may be behind the trees, but we should at least see its steeple rising above the treetops at the middle or right of the picture.

I suppose it's possible that some conspiracy of the trees and the film exposure makes the church impossible to distinguish among the branches and the sky. I don't know.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Truck on the Tracks

(Click on image to enlarge)

This truck was rolling along the Grand Trunk tracks through Ainsworth this morning. The reason it has no driver is because the driver got out to look at something on the track. The ties, probably. A few of them are in pretty bad shape.

The reason there's a smudge toward the right-hand side of the picture is because somehow I managed to scratch the lens of my cheap camera.

Death of a Son-in-Law

It's springtime, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming — let's continue talking about tragic, untimely deaths, shall we?

In this case it was a son-in-law of Henry Chester: Charles Nelson, husband of Henry's daughter Lovisa, the same fellow whom I imagined as a peace-maker after Henry's really bad day; and if indeed he was, that was one of the last good deeds he did on this earth outside his own family, for he then had scarcely eight months to live.

Charles had come over from Sweden Denmark* in 1883. Where he spent his first years in the U.S., I don't know, but by the late 1880s he had the good fortune to land a job working as a farmhand for Henry Chester — good fortune, I say, because in Henry's home he met Lovisa, fell in love with her, wooed and won her. They were married in Chicago on June 9, 1891.

I'm not clear on the sequence of their moving around after their marriage. Charles farmed around Indiana, somewhere in Jasper County, and also in North Judson, Starke County, where the 1900 census found the Nelson family. In 1903 they moved back to Ainsworth because Charles Chester wanted help farming the family acres. In addition to working the Chester land, Charles rented another farm west of Ainsworth. It was here that their fifth and last child, a boy, was born in 1904.

Early in January 1905, the barn on Nelsons' place burned to the ground. The fire was discovered too late to save anything but one cow — twelve others were killed, along with four horses; the fire destroyed all the hay and grain, wagons and harnesses, and everything else in the barn. Though they carried insurance, it must have been a sickening loss, and it may have influenced the decision that soon followed: the Nelsons quit farming and moved to Chicago, where Charles became a teamster. Within a year, that decision would cost him his life.

The angel of death came for him riding a Chicago streetcar. It was mid-afternoon on March 15, 1906, and Charles was driving his team home from a day's work in Whiting, Indiana. Just over the Illinois state line, a streetcar smashed into his wagon. He was thrown to the ground, hard, and suffered internal injuries so severe that within twenty minutes he was dead.

Lovisa must have been devastated. Not only had she lost the love of her life, she was left with five young children to raise — the eldest fourteen years old, the youngest only two.

She brought her husband's body home to Indiana. His 73-year-old father came all the way from South Dakota to attend the funeral. They buried Charles in Crown Hill Cemetery, under a beautiful granite marker.

I don't know exactly how Lovisa got by in the next few years. She collected $1,025 in life insurance (about $22,533 in today's dollars), which would have helped tide her over. I expect her father contributed some support, too; he was pretty well off, and whatever his problems with unrelated people, I have yet to find any evidence that Henry Chester was ever unkind to his own children. Also, Charles had seven brothers and three sisters who might have looked out for his widow, and the 1910 census shows Lovisa living next door to a John Nelson, possibly her brother-in-law. And soon Charles and Lovisa's two oldest boys took on more responsibility; by 1910, at 18 and 16 years old, they both had jobs driving milk wagons.

Lovisa and the children often came down to Ainsworth for visits with her relatives. By 1920, she had come back to Ainsworth to stay, bringing the last two of her children who were still at home. Then her youngest daughter married and moved to Hobart, and Lovisa went with her.

She never remarried, though she lived 60 more years — a whole lifetime — after she lost Charles. When she died in 1965, she was laid to rest beside him.

(Click on image to enlarge)

*See the Comments to this post regarding this correction.

1900 Census.
1910 Census.
1920 Census.
1930 Census.
♦ "Barn and Contents Destroyed." Hobart Gazette 6 Jan. 1905.
CPI Inflation Calculator.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 3 Apr. 1903; 24 Apr. 1903; 19 Feb. 1904; 17 Mar. 1905; 6 Apr. 1906; 3 Jan. 1908; 10 July 1908.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 17 Sept. 1909.
♦ "Mortuary Record." Hobart Gazette 23 Mar. 1906.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pear Blossoms of Ainsworth

(Click on image to enlarge)

Just to give us all a break from those everlasting grow-on-the-forest-floor wildflowers.

The Horse That Died for Morgan

Yesterday I mentioned that a horse had been killed at the Ainsworth crossing in 1899. The horse belonged to Morgan Blachly, a Ross township farmer who was about 49 years old at the time of this incident. He made it to 50 because of his horse.

On the morning of Wednesday, September 13, 1899, Morgan Blachly drove his horse and buggy to the store in Ainsworth, and when he finished his business there, he got back in the rig and drove north on State Road 51.

Perhaps he was so busy being impressed by the newly graveled road that he wasn't paying attention to anything else. As his rig started over the Grand Trunk crossing, Morgan suddenly realized that an express freight train was bearing down on him, seconds away. In a panic, he yanked on the reins as hard as he could. The horse instantly responded, not only stopping but backing up, pushing the buggy off the track and placing itself in the train's path.

The horse was struck and killed. Morgan was thrown out of the buggy onto the ground. Although he was bruised and battered painfully enough that he had to be carried home, nothing was broken and he recovered quickly.

The report makes no mention of the horse's name.

1900 Census.
♦ "Narrowly Escaped Death." Hobart Gazette 15 Sept. 1899.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Round-leaved Violets

(Click on image to enlarge)

Those leaves don't look round to me, but once again I'm not the wildflower expert. This specimen I found near the base of a steep slope toward the river bottoms. You don't see a whole lot of these. You do see a whole lot of those attention-seeking, spotlight-hogging spring beauties in the background, of course.

The Danger of a Dark Crossing

In spite of the astonishing number of railroad fatalities in northwest Indiana in the first decade of the twentieth century, I had not read of any occurring at the Ainsworth Grand Trunk crossing until now — "now" being December 1909.

The casualty was Hugh Thompson, a 32-year-old Hobart man. His parents' farm, where he had been born (on New Year's Day 1878) and raised, lay south of Ainsworth, abutting the intersection of present-day Route 30 and State Road 51. He was the youngest son of Alexander and Mary Thompson. Mary was 44 years old when she gave birth to him.

Sometime after 1880 the family moved from the farm up to Hobart, and Hugh graduated from Hobart's high school in 1895. After graduation, he still lived with his parents; he never married. Industrious but unable to settle on a single occupation, Hugh worked at various jobs in and around Hobart. Early in December 1909 he picked up a minor job — hauling a load of hay from Merrillville to Hobart for John Green, a cattle buyer.

On December 6, 1909, Hugh set out with John and two other men, Oscar Meyer and Frank Popp, driving a team and a wagon equipped with a hayrack. At Merrillville they loaded up the wagon with two tons of hay. John set out for home with another neighbor, leaving Hugh, Oscar and Frank to man the wagon. The afternoon was wearing on when they started back for Hobart. By the time they reached Ainsworth it was well after 7:00 p.m. The sun was long gone and the little village had no streetlights. As the team approached the Grand Trunk crossing, it drifted slightly off the side of the road, but in the darkness no one realized it until the team and wagon hit the unshielded rails to the side of the crossing and got stuck.

A freight train was coming from the west — a "fast" train, not scheduled to stop. The engineer had the throttle open, intending to fly past the Ainsworth depot.

The train was on the south tracks; so was most of the wagon, while the team was on the north tracks, and one of the horses seemed to have its hoof caught among the rails and ties. The men must have whipped up the horses, but they could quickly see it was no use. Frank jumped down from the wagon and hastily tried to unfasten the team. There wasn't time to get them free. At the last moment, Frank and Oscar scrambled clear of the tracks, but Hugh stayed on the driver's seat, holding fast to the reins.

The train plowed into the back part of the wagon with an explosion of hay. The team and the front part of the wagon were cut loose. The terrified horses, in the tatters of their harness, galloped off toward Hobart.

Frank and Oscar ran back to check on Hugh. They found him on the ground, alive but unconscious. His head was badly cut and bruised, apparently from striking the ground or the front part of the wagon. They carried him to the Ainsworth depot and phoned to Hobart for a doctor.

Dr. Richard Mackey arrived as quickly as he could, driving his own auto. He gave the still-unconscious Hugh first aid, then the three of them loaded him into the car, and Dr. Mackey drove him to the Thompsons' home.

Overnight, Hugh gradually came to consciousness. By morning, he could converse more or less rationally. Though he was paralyzed from the neck down and running a high fever, his parents began to hope that he might survive. But as the morning wore on, his condition deteriorated; the fever rose; he lapsed back into unconsciousness. About 2:00 in the afternoon, he died.

The Gazette noted:
The crossing at Ainsworth is a bad one and several accidents there have been recorded. An effort will be made to have the railroad company place a lamp there, which is certainly needed and should be done for the protection of the traveling public.
If there had been any recent accidents there fatal to humans, they did not make the paper. A horse fatality was reported in 1899. Other than that, I don't know what the Gazette was referring to.

Hugh Thompson is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, next to his mother.

(Click on images to enlarge)


1880 Census.
1891 Plat Book.
1900 Census.
1910 Census.
♦ "At Rest." Hobart Gazette 10 Dec. 1909.
♦ "Dies From Accident." Hobart Gazette 10 Dec. 1909.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Rue Anemone

(Click on image to enlarge)

Look at that. I managed to take a picture with no spring beauties in it!

Can you guess where these grow? … Right, the same place as everything else lately. Forest floor, Deep River County Park.

Hobart Then and Now: Two Views of Lake Street

Circa 1912 and 2010.

South on Lake Street
Lake 5
(Click on images to enlarge)
Top image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

The photographer was standing on the west side of Lake Street, just south of Fifth and looking south toward Sixth. The postcard bearing the top photo was postmarked 1912.

Here we've moved a little south, to the intersection of Lake and Sixth. There is no postmark on this card, but it looks roughly coeval with the first one, or perhaps a little earlier.

Lake Street
Lake 6
Top image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

That contraption the horses are pulling might be a street-sprinkling apparatus. In my reading of early twentieth-century newspapers, I've come across occasional references to sprinkling the streets of Hobart to keep the dust down. This was, of course, before the streets were paved. Someone would enter into a contract with the town to provide sprinkling for a set term; now and then the contract would expire without a replacement in line, and then the Gazette would have to complain of the dust raised by vehicles driving on the unsprinkled streets.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Dutchman's Breeches

(Click on images to enlarge)

Lacy leaves and billowing bloomers. These are shade-loving flowers that grow in the woods of Deep River County Park. In the background, more of those tedious spring beauties.

Here's a view from above:

4-15-2010 Dutchman's breeches from above

Spring beauties obtruding themselves into the frame, as usual.

The Last Blacksmith of Ainsworth

(Click on images to enlarge)
Nels Gustaf Lindborg as a young man, circa 1902. (From a private collection.)

After Ed Sauter lost everything and left Ainsworth in 1905, the town seems to have been without a blacksmith for a couple of years. Dancers still danced in the hall; drinkers still drank in the saloon; but the forge was cold and the hammer and anvil silent.

In March 1908, the Hobart Gazette carried this modest announcement:
G. Lindborg, the Ainsworth blacksmith, is prepared to do all kinds of general blacksmithing, horseshoeing and repairing of wagons, buggies and machinery.
"G. Lindborg" was Nels Gustaf Lindborg (or Gustaf Nels — he never could decide on the order of his Christian names), a 25-year-old Swedish immigrant. He was the new blacksmith of Ainsworth; he would be the life-long blacksmith of Ainsworth and the last blacksmith of Ainsworth.

There is nothing in the Gazette to indicate whether Gust had bought Ed Sauter's property from the First State Bank, or was merely renting it, as Claus Ziegler had done after the sheriff's sale. In the years to come, however, the Lindborg family would certainly own both the blacksmith shop and the dance hall, up until the day when the century-old buildings had to be demolished.

With Gust came his wife, Anna (née Palm), also 25 years old.

Anna Palm Lindborg, circa 1910. (From a private collection.)

Although Gust and Anna had both grown up near each other in the Tomalilla region of Sweden, they never met until after they came to the United States (she in 1901, he in 1902). It was probably in Hegewisch, Illinois, where both lived for a while, that they finally met and fell in love.

They were married on March 3, 1906.

Wedding photo of Gust and Anna Palm Lindborg, 1906. (From a private collection.)

By the time they came to Ainsworth, they already had a daughter, Mildred, born December 6, 1906. Their first son, Franklin, was born in Ainsworth on New Year's Eve 1908.

I don't know exactly where they lived when they first moved here. Perhaps they moved directly into the little house that would serve as Gust and Anna's home throughout their lives. It had been built as a schoolhouse somewhere south of Route 30 and later was moved to Ainsworth, to the west side of the dance hall. I believe it replaced that barn-like structure with the peaked roof in the photo below (which we've seen before):

(Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.)

Their house is still standing at 6310 Ainsworth Road. It was smaller when the Lindborgs first lived there; not until the early 1930s was the front porch enclosed, and a kitchen/dining room added to the back — along with an indoor bathroom. Originally, the kitchen and dining room had been in the basement, and the bathroom had been an outhouse in the back yard.

The new blacksmith's arrival caused no disruption in Ainsworth's entertainment. Dancers still danced in the hall.

Drinkers still drank in the saloon, too, but that's another story. Henceforward the saloon would be estranged from its sister buildings; the Lindborgs never owned it.

(To be continued)

♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 6 Mar. 1908.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 8 Jan. 1909.
♦ Personal interviews with a Lindborg descendant, Feb. – April 2010.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Cut-leaved Toothwort

(Click on image to enlarge)

Grows on the forest floor in Deep River County Park, not very abundant. One thing I like about wildflowers is the interesting names some of them have. I think my life would have turned out very differently if my name had been "Cut-leaved Toothwort."

Our Musical Postmaster

4-14-2010 Dotzer piano ad
(Click on image to enlarge)
Advertisement from the Hobart Gazette of May 13, 1904.

Hugh Dotzer came to the United States from Germany in 1881 or 1882 at about 20 years of age. In 1888 he married Eva Peck in Porter County, Indiana. By 1900 they were living in Union Township, Porter County, and had three children: Matilda, 11; John, 6; and Valeska, 2. Hugh called himself a farmer, but out among the cows and the corn he worked with the soul of a musician.

Sometime between 1900 and 1904 he began selling Adam Schaaf pianos. I do not know precisely when he moved to Ainsworth, or if there were intervening residences between Union Township and Ainsworth — the family's later history showed a tendency to move around.

On January 28, 1904, Hugh was appointed postmaster of Ainsworth, succeeding Frank Coyle, who had resigned.

The appointment apparently caused some disruption to Hugh: a month later, he announced: "Having taken charge of the Post Office at Ainsworth, I will be selling stock of Adam Schaaf pianos and organs at cost, warranted ten years. This offer good for a few days only."

He may have sold them at cost for only a few days, but he continued selling them at a profit for the remainder of his stay in Ainsworth. He ran ads like the one pictured above regularly throughout 1904 and early 1905.

In May 1904, when the people of Ainsworth organized a Sunday school, Hugh served as organist. That same month he began advertising to give piano and organ lessons every Friday to students in Ainsworth and Hobart.

Hugh's tenure as postmaster was brief. By late May he asked to be released from his duties "for the good of the service" because, as far as I can tell, the quarters he occupied did not offer suitable space for a post office. He recommended William Raschka to replace him, and William was appointed postmaster on May 24, 1904.

Hugh's living space must have been small, or else overrun with pianos and organs. The Grand Trunk's Ainsworth agent, P.H. Swain, and his wife lived for a time with the Dotzers. In September, Swain announced that because the "Dotzer house [was] too small" he and his pregnant wife were going to move to the "Chester house." If he meant they were going to live with Henry Chester, the crowding chez Dotzer must have been terrible indeed to make a man willing to run such a risk.

When the Ainsworth baseball team gave a dance at Ed Sauter's hall in June, Hugh was among the musicians.

At the late-summer Lake County fair, Hugh had the largest musical display — four Adam Schaaf pianos, an organ and over a thousand pieces of sheet music — beating even the Lion Store and the Kimball Co. He had to cancel his usual Friday lessons that week so he could supervise his fair display. In September, he reported that he had sold pianos to Frank Abel, a Hobart builder; Sedley's James Hardesty; and Frank Graves, who lived near Valpo.

That same month, he also announced that he had purchased ten acres in Crown Point and intended to move there in March 1905.

His musical business went on as he made improvements to his Crown Point property. In October he furnished the new Deep River church with an organ; in November he made a trip to Hammond to sell pianos; in December, Christ Heck bought a piano and Miss Martha Heck became one of Hugh's pupils.

On New Year's Day 1905, the Dotzer family hosted a large dinner, the guests including the Morgan Blachly family, Mr. and Mrs. J. Watts and the Frank Graves family. In the evening Mr. and Mrs. Fred Harney and the whole Michael Foreman family visited the Dotzers.

Hugh assured his students that he would continue to teach them after his move to Crown Point. He planned a class recital to take place on February 18.

In January 1905, a "Notice of Commendation" appeared in the Hobart Gazette, placed by some of Hugh's students or their parents:
We, the undersigned patrons of Mr. H. Dotzer, hereby express our esteem and regard for him as a teacher. We are sorry to see him move away from our midst, yet are glad to know that he will continue as our teacher, and heartily recommend him to all.

Elsie Piske, May Abel, Mrs. D. Owens, Ella Jonas, W. Wilson, Dr. Morton, C. Heck, S. Lightner, C. Schnabel, M. Blachly, W. Raschka, M. Wagoner, John Gruel, Miss T. Triebess, John Springman, H. Carey, Clara Sauter, Etta Mander, H. Stevens.
Early in the afternoon on Saturday, February 18, two sleighloads of pianists and spectators drove from Ainsworth to the spacious home of Mr. and Mrs. Seward Lightner in Hobart, where the recital began at 2:00 p.m. It was well attended, with about 20 student performers from Hobart and Ainsworth, and an audience of their family and friends; fortunately Alwin Wild, a Hobart undertaker, had furnished additional chairs.

March came and Hugh went to Crown Point, suspending lessons for three weeks while he got settled.

Whether he resumed them, and for how long, I do not know. In May of 1907 the Gazette mentioned, rather off-handedly, that Hugh had moved to Danville, Illinois. November of 1907 found him in Fort Wayne, Indiana, offering piano and organ lessons as well as the tuning and repairing of instruments.

After that we lose sight of him. It seems he stayed in Fort Wayne; he died there in March 1918. The 1920 census reports the widowed Eva Dotzer working as a live-in servant in a Fort Wayne home.

1900 Census.
1910 Census.
1920 Census.
♦ "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 9 Sept. 1904; 23 Sept. 1904; 30 Sept. 1904; 7 Oct. 1904; 21 Oct. 1904; 4 Nov. 1904; 25 Nov. 1904; 23 Dec. 1904; 6 Jan. 1905; 13 Jan. 1905; 27 Jan. 1905; 17 Feb. 1905; 24 Feb. 1905.
♦ Ballantyne, Dorothy and Robert Adams. Along the Route: A History of Hobart, Indiana, Post Offices and Postmasters. Hobart: The Hobart Historical Society, Inc., 1992.
♦ Dotzer, Hugh. Advertisement. Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette 24 Nov. 1907.
♦ Dotzer, Hugh. Advertisement. Hobart Gazette 13 May 1904.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 26 Feb. 1904; 27 May 1904; 3 June 1904; 10 June 1904; 26 Aug. 1904; 9 Sept. 1904; 9 Dec. 1904; 10 May 1907.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
Indiana WPA Death Records Index.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 5 Feb. 1904; 10 Mar. 1905.
♦ "Notice of Commendation." Hobart Gazette 6 Jan. 1905.
♦ "Sunday School Organized at Ainsworth." Hobart Gazette 20 May 1904.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hobart Then and Now: The Banks Schoolhouse

Circa 1897 and 2010.

(Click on images to enlarge)
Top image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

This little brick schoolhouse still stands along State Road 51 south of Tenth Street. The notes on the display board at the Hobart Historical Museum give the date of the top photo as circa 1897, and add that the Banks schoolhouse was the "last one-room schoolhouse built." Built where, it doesn't say — in Hobart? in Lake County?

What's amazing to me in the 1897 photo is how empty the land around it is. No next-door neighbors, no strip mall, no hospital. No trees, even.

The schoolhouse is now a private residence, enlarged but still charming.

♦    ♦    ♦

I'm doing a lot of then-and-now posts lately. Why? Because they're easy and it's springtime and I'm working like a horse outside every day and I'm tired. And there are so many interesting old photos at the Hobart Historical Museum!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mike O'Hearn Away From Home

A number of people came to Hobart on July 3, 1909, for the pre-Independence Day celebration. Among them was a young Chicago fellow about 16 or 17 years old. When the day's fun had finished and this young man wanted to catch the train back to Chicago, he discovered that he was eleven cents short of the price of his ticket.

Of all the people milling about the station, the one he happened to ask for the money was the ferocious Mike O'Hearn. What did Mike do? — break the young man's arm? Knock him down?

No. He gave him the money.

Sometime later Mike received a thank-you note from the young man, along with eleven cents in stamps.

I think that was the end of the story. It got cut off on my print-out because I wasn't printing the page for that story, but that's another story. But it does seem to back up my earlier speculation that Mike could be a perfectly decent guy away from home.

Source: "Favor Appreciated." Hobart Gazette 6 Aug. 1909.

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Purple Cress

(Click on image to enlarge)

Purple? You call that purple?? I don't call that purple. I call that white with the faintest tinge of lilac. But I'm not the wildflower expert, am I? So if the color-blind wildflower expert says those are purple cress, I have to go along with it.

These grow on the forest floor in Deep River County Park along with the spring beauties, though not quite so abundantly.