Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Sneezeweed

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Kind of cute, but why does everything have to be yellow at this time of year?

The University of Texas Native Plant Database offers an explanation for the name: "The common name is based on the former use of its dried leaves in making snuff, inhaled to cause sneezing that would supposedly rid the body of evil spirits." I'm not sure I believe that 100%. The part about the evil spirits, I mean. Isn't the tradition of saying "Bless you!" when someone sneezes based on the notion that evil spirits can enter you while you're sneezing? But I suppose it's not remarkable that superstitions should be inconsistent.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Case of the Missing Mausoleum

It was a rather touching story.

As we know, Bertha Gruel's promising life was cut short when she died in 1914 at the age of 28. Her casket was placed in the Smith mausoleum in Crown Hill Cemetery while her parents planned and directed the construction of their own family mausoleum in the same cemetery. It was to be a truly impressive structure, the outer walls of Tennessee marble, the interior and the six cribs of fine Italian marble, all based on the plans of a Chicago mausoleum specialist and costing $3,000. When it was finally completed early in June 1915, its builder said there was not a finer one in all of Lake County.

On June 11 the Gruels gathered at Crown Hill, accompanied by numerous relatives and friends (for the family was well known and respected, and Bertha, a young woman of a quiet and gentle disposition, had endeared herself to all who knew her). In the presence of all these witnesses, Bertha's six brothers carried her casket from the Smith mausoleum to place it within the fine marble walls of the Gruel mausoleum, the marble walls that would shelter her parents' remains as well when their time came, the marble walls that would stand for centuries.

As I said, a rather touching story, and as soon as I read it I ran to Crown Hill Cemetery to get a photo of this magnificent mausoleum.

Just one problem: it isn't there.

I walked all over the cemetery looking for it. It really isn't there. How does a marble mausoleum disappear? OK, maybe the Gazette got confused about which cemetery it was in. In that case, they must have gotten the name "Smith" wrong as well, because the Smith mausoleum is there, in all its melancholy loveliness:

(Click on image to enlarge)

I checked the Hobart Cemetery. No Gruel mausoleum there, either.

Well, then — what? Did the Gruels later decide to move their mausoleum to another location? People moved houses all the time; why not a mausoleum? … I hope I eventually get the story on this, as I keep reading the microfilm.

♦ "Death of Bertha Gruel." Hobart Gazette 13 Nov. 1914.
♦ "Gruel Mausoleum Finished." Hobart Gazette 18 June 1915.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Monkey Flower

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This is the only Monkey Flower I've found in all of Deep River County Park. And no, the flower doesn't look anything like a monkey, but supposedly other species of this genus do have flowers resembling a monkey's face, and the name comes from them.

The Wikipedia article states that this flower tends to concentrate salts from the soil in its leaves, so it was sometimes used as a salt substitute in times past, although it's very bitter if not properly cooked.

Monday, September 27, 2010

How the Harmses Partied

Henry Harms first shows up in the U.S. in the 1870 census, a young man of 18 living with his parents and older brother in Porter County, Indiana, where they had all settled after leaving their native Prussia in 1865. In the ten years between 1870 and 1880, Henry married, fathered a son, lost his first wife (Sophia) and married a second (Johanna, or Anna). The 1880 census finds him and Anna in Ross Township, Lake County. For the next three decades they would farm a nice spread of land on the east side of the Deep River, straddling Ainsworth Road — farm, and beget children: they had eight, two of whom died in infancy.

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This image is from the 1926 Plat Book. Outlined in red is the Harms land as shown in the 1891 Plat Book. (Owing to the deficiencies of the 1926 map, I cannot be 100% certain that the dimensions of the Harms land were the same as in 1890.)

In the spring of 1902, Henry and Anna built themselves a nice house in the Joryville section of Hobart. It's not clear that they made it their permanent, full-time home until they retired there in 1915; they seem to have alternated between that house and their farm house. When they weren't living on their farm, they rented it, usually to a son or son-in-law.

Infant deaths aside (and I don't think I have yet encountered any family that did not suffer at least one such loss), they seem to have been fortunate people, or good at hiding their misfortunes. The impression one gets in reading the newspapers is that the Harmses were a happy, sociable, fun-loving bunch, extremely fond of throwing birthday parties, surprise or otherwise, for family members.

The Harms boys were apparently fond of driving, automotive or equine. We've heard John Harms in 1911 declaring his passionate love for automobiles. A year later, his two younger brothers, Henry Jr. and Herman, were driving a horse-drawn rig in Hobart when they were involved in a collision that the Gazette's report implied was their fault. "The Harms horse was being driven from town at a lively pace and boys were laughing and having a jolly time" when they crashed into a rig driven by William McAfee and carrying eleven people, including a baby. William had seen the Harms rig approaching fast and pulled over to the right, but could not avoid being struck. Fortunately no one was killed or permanently maimed. Henry suffered a broken shoulder blade, which probably taught him not to drive "without any regard to other's welfare in the road" (in the words of the Gazette).

As the Harms children reached adulthood and married, they had pretty ceremonies in the German Lutheran Church, followed by festive wedding dinners. In 1904, for example, when Mathilda Harms married Edward Niksch, she must have been a lovely sight — wearing a gown of cream-colored silk crêpe de chine and carrying a bouquet of white roses. Nearly a hundred guests attended the wedding dinner.

But on June 2, 1915, when Herman — the baby of the family — married the lively and fun-loving Minnie Rossow, the two large families came together for an epic blow-out that the Gazette called "without doubt the biggest wedding and celebration ever held in this vicinity." Nearly four hundred guests crammed into the church for the afternoon ceremony. Professor Albert Wolkenhauer, at the church organ, played the wedding march; at the end of the ceremony, the choral society to which both Herman and Minnie belonged sang; then the organ played the newlyweds out.

After the wedding party made a stop at August Haase's studio for a portrait, they and some 300 of their guests headed to the Rossows' place west of town, many of them riding the special streetcar had been chartered just for the purpose of ferrying guests between the church and the reception.

Out at the Rossow home, several large tents had been pitched in the yard to shelter the tables "that fairly groaned with the weight of the good things to eat." The open-air wedding dinner occupied the next couple of hours of that pleasant spring afternoon.

A dancing platform had been put up adjoining the house, and as the sun climbed down the sky, those who were not too stuffed to move began dancing, to the music provided by a four-piece Italian orchestra. The dancing went on for hours. Twilight came, then darkness, and starlight and candlelight. Around 10:00 p.m., the Hobart Commercial Club band arrived to give the orchestra a break. Still the celebration continued. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, perhaps as the eastern sky was beginning to lighten, the happy crowd had at last had enough dancing and feasting, and the party broke up.

After the wedding, Henry and Anna Harms announced that their Joryville house was now their permanent home, and Herman and Minnie would henceforward live on and operate the family farm.

♦    ♦    ♦

I was hoping to find somewhere in the description of that epic wedding some mention of the name Nolte. The young Harmses and the young Noltes were half-cousins, I guess you could say, Mary Harms Nolte having been Henry Harms' half-sister. They were also longtime neighbors, with only the Deep River separating the two family farms. Several cousins of the bride and groom were among the wedding party, but none was a Nolte. *sigh* I'd like to think the Nolte boys got out of the house for a night and partied like any young people whose family hadn't been decimated by tuberculosis.

1870 Census.
1880 Census.
1890 Plat Book.
1900 Census.
1926 Plat Book.
♦ "Additional Local News." Hobart Gazette 5 June 1914.
♦ "Death of Mrs. Nolte." Hobart Gazette 17 July 1908.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 7 Mar. 1902; 10 Feb. 1905; 22 Dec. 1905; 23 Mar. 1906; 25 Jan. 1907; 5 June 1908.
♦ "Harms-Rossow Wedding." Hobart Gazette 4 June 1915.
♦ "Harms-Rossow." Hobart News 3 June 1915.
♦ "Henry Harms Surprised on His Sixty-First Birthday." Hobart News 25 Dec. 1913.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 24 Apr. 1903; 22 May 1903; 20 Nov. 1903; 10 June 1910; 22 Dec. 1911.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Freight Train Graffiti: Old Man Fishbird

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I don't usually deal with spray-painted graffiti, but for something this well done I can make an exception.

Black Cat Restaurant and Cabins

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Here's the most recent useless thing I bought on eBay.

I don't know anything about this Black Cat restaurant and motel. The postcard is undated, but judging by the cars, well, hmm, maybe it's mid-1950s?

Here's the back of the postcard:


How recently has anyone bragged about having hot and cold running water?

♦    ♦    ♦

[8/15/2011 update] One of the grandchildren of the Black Cat's proprietors has kindly written in to give me the story of the Black Cat. Reed writes:
I lived near or at the restaurant on several occasions. The first time was in 1951-52 then again in 1956-57. I can still remember the fire at the oil refinery at Whiting. We could see the black smoke for days from the restaurant.

The Black Cat was built and owned by my Step grandfather and grandmother Paul and Elva Allen. When they arrived in Hobart in the early 40's Paul worked in the Steel mills in Gary as well as buying a small diner made from a streetcar that sat on the corner of Missouri and US route 6. My grandmother worked in the diner as well as working in the munitions plant out toward Laporte, I'm not sure but I think it was Kingsbury. Paul bought ground next to the diner and started building the Black Cat. For several years they lived in a apartment connected to the restaurant which also served as an office for the cabins. In the early 50's they built a home up the street from the restaurant.

The original plan for the restaurant was a truck stop. They had great food which was almost a prerequisite for truckers to stop. Cabins on 2 sides of the restaurant. Across the parking lot to the east was a service station (Cities Service), repair and towing service for trucks. In the 40's and 50's very few trucks had sleepers on board so the cabins were a natural addition to the truck stop. With the proximity to Gary and Chicago as well as being on a major east west highway the business stayed very busy. They were open 24/7 365 days a year from day 1 to the end. With having good food it more or less also became a good family restaurant.

From what I remember the Black Cat was in operation from the late 1940's till the mid 1960's. It's location was the reason it closed. I don't remember the mailing address but it was located on US route 6. I guess it is probably old route 6 now. It was on the south side of the road. About 100 feet to the east of Missouri Street. With that location in mind, it is probably right under present I-65 at old US route 6. My grandparents' home was I believe in the 3700 block of Missouri. The Federal Highway Department if my memory serves me correctly came in and told my grandparents that they were putting in a cloverleaf for a road and they were taking the restaurant and they would pay a set amount and they had to sell. So that was the end of the Black Cat.
There you have it, folks. So next time you're driving along old Route 6 (aka 37th Avenue, aka Ridge Road) and you pass under I-65, look to the south and think about the Black Cat.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Road Trip!

I previously mentioned the road trip that Charles and Constance Chester made in August 1913, in company with Sam and Clara Faulkner, Bessie Banks (daughter of N.P. Banks for whom the schoolhouse was named) and Mary Kipp. They spent three weeks traveling to the East Coast and back, all crammed into one car, a Winton Six.

1910WintonSix 1910 Winton Six. I don't know the exact model year of Charles' car.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

To me that sounds as if it would get old fast, but apparently they liked it — except perhaps Bessie Banks, for she was not included when, in the spring of 1915, the little band of travelers announced their plans for another, even more epic, road trip. This time they would head west.

During much of 1915, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition was being held in San Francisco. The Chesters et al. were determined to see it, and they were going the hard way, on the road in Charles' auto (perhaps still the Winton Six he had driven in 1913). They expected the round trip to take them two months.

They left Hobart on May 22, 1915. (Two days later, a Ford car passed through Hobart bearing a sign: "Coast to Coast"; the Gazette wondered if it would overtake the Chester party.)

From then on, all news of their progress came from postcards that Dr. Clara sent to her daughter, Daisy (wife of Hubert Bullock).

Early on, they ran into trouble. Charles would later report that there had been no gravel or stone roads between Chicago and California, and in some areas the dirt roads had suffered from heavy rains: "They drove for miles in places through mud and at times where the water was so deep as to interfere with the running of the engine." On May 30, Dr. Clara wrote from Mexico, Missouri, to say that they had gotten completely bogged down. They had to ship their auto (by train, I'm guessing) some seven miles to drier land before they could resume driving.

Toward mid-June, Daisy Bullock received a more encouraging communiqué: the party had gotten out of the flooded region and reached Colorado Springs, Colorado, with no further mishaps, not even a flat tire. At Colorado Springs they visited with some former Hobartites and took a side trip up Mt. Cheyenne before heading out for Santa Fe, New Mexico.

No further news came until early July, when Dr. Clara reported that the party had reached Van Nye, California, where they were visiting some friends who had formerly lived in Tolleston. Although they had had no further trouble with floods, the roads were still treacherous — Charles later said that in desert regions, holes in the road often filled up with dust that concealed their depth. Sometimes the little party found themselves for days out of sight of any railroad, in sparsely populated areas, on lightly traveled roads, and entirely dependent on their car. But it did not fail them.

A postcard dated July 10 announced triumphantly that they had reached San Francisco, gotten exposed to the Exposition, and were now headed homeward, going into the mountains through Donner's Pass. At some point they had a minor collision when a car coasting down the mountain struck theirs, but no one was hurt, and neither car damaged.

They intended to get back home by the shortest route, heading through Utah, traveling "amongst the Mormons." In Salt Lake City on July 19, they stopped to replace their tires. Charles had put a new set on the car before starting the journey, but the many miles and rough roads had worn them out.

By July 30 they had reached Omaha, Nebraska.

As they got into Iowa, rainy weather again slowed their progress. At Des Moines, Dr. Clara took ill, but she was determined to stick with the party to the end. The others must have felt some anxiety as the car crept with frustrating slowness along the slippery, muddy roads. Friends in Hobart were now beginning to watch for the little party's return, but the weather did not improve as they crossed Illinois and their progress continued slow. At Harvey, Charles noticed the transmission was acting up a bit; not wanting to stop, he coaxed the car along.

Finally, on Saturday, August 7, they limped back into Hobart, tired but satisfied.

The trip out had been 4,200 miles, the trip back 2,800, lasting altogether eleven weeks. In spite of treacherous roads, bad weather and illness, they had all enjoyed their journey, and felt they had learned much about conditions in other regions.

One thing they learned was that gas in Hobart was comparatively expensive, going for 45 cents a gallon, whereas they had been paying 10 to 15 cents on the return journey. On the other hand, Charles — a farmer himself — reported that "the farmers here are very fortunate compared with those of other states."

♦    ♦    ♦

I don't know the nature of Dr. Faulkner's illness at Des Moines, but it may have been pretty serious if it was related to the condition for which she underwent an operation in September. The Gazette noted that she "been ailing for several weeks as a result of a tumerous [sic] growth" when she entered Gary General Hospital on September 14. Dr. Dwight Mackey of Hobart, together with a Chicago doctor, performed surgery on her the next day. The operation was successful, but she was in for a long convalescence.

By the way, this Mary Kipp who endured both road trips is a bit of a mystery to me. The census reports don't show any Kipps living in Hobart earlier than 1920. The first mention I've seen of Mary was in connection with the east coast road trip. The 1920 Census shows Mary living in Dr. Faulkner's household, working as attendant nurse, accompanying the doctor on her calls. Whether there was some family relation, or whether it was a working relationship that developed into a friendship (or vice versa), I can only speculate.

♦ "Additional Local News." Hobart Gazette 28 May 1915; 18 June 1915.
♦ "By Auto to California." Hobart Gazette 26 Mar. 1915.
♦ "Chester Party Back Home." Hobart Gazette 13 Aug. 1915.
♦ "Dr. Faulkner Submits to Operation." Hobart Gazette 17 Sept. 1915.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 4 June 1915; 16 July 1915; 23 July 1915; 30 July 1915; 6 Aug. 1915.
♦ "Personal and Local Mention." Hobart News 3 June 1915; 17 June 1915; 8 July 1915; 15 July 1915; 22 July 1915; 7 Oct. 1915.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Turtlehead

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Found in the Deep River bottom next to the Spotted Touch-me-not.

The name comes from the resemblance of the blossom to the head of a turtle. Other common names, based on other resemblances, include snakehead, codhead and fishmouth.

A member of the figwort family, it is related to toadflax, and you can see the family similarity in the shape of the blossoms.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Aerial View of Hobart Circa 1917

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Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Thank goodness for the Hobart Historical Society and all those interesting historical pictures they have. Anytime I want to slack off, all I have to do is put up one of those nice old pictures I scanned at the museum and voilà — my post for the day. (Assuming I don't do a then-and-now. Which I'm definitely not going to do in this case!)

I'm guessing that some brave photographer climbed to the top of the tower of the Hobart water and light plant, or whatever it was called, to take this photo of downtown Hobart, looking toward the west over Lake George. That's Third Street running from the foreground up to the lake.

That large blocky structure just off Third Street on the other side of Lake George (slightly left of center in the background) is an icehouse. We will be hearing more of that the next time I want to slack off.

The other large structure further left in the background is the roller coaster in the former amusement park. I say former because I think it was abandoned by then.

Someone who seems confident of their knowledge has written "1917" on the picture; otherwise I might think it had been taken by Hobart's librarian in 1915:

9-23-2010 Dorothy Thomas
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart News of August 19, 1915.

I suppose this is the tower she climbed:

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

This image is from a postcard postmarked December 20, 1910. Howard Shearer sent it to Elsie Wojahn, and so I have another entry for my collection of their correspondence.

[update] And here's the "brave girl" herself:


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Spotted Touch-Me-Not

Also known as Jewelweed. Another wildflower of that likes damp places.

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You can find these here and there along most of the paths in the southern half of Deep River County Park, but the biggest patch I have found, covering about 60 square feet, is in the Deep River bottom where I photographed the skunk cabbages last spring.


As I came up on the patch, I scared up four or five hummingbirds from among the blossoms. One flew up to a dead tree branch nearby and sat chattering angrily at me all the while I was photographing. Jack Sanders says that nature designed these flowers to be pollinated by the hummingbird's long bill.

He also explains why they are called Touch-me-not: because of the "energetic little pods" that contain their seeds.
The seeds are wrapped in an ingenious case that, when mature and disturbed, suddenly "pops" as the covering lets go like an uncoiling spring. The action sends the seeds flying as far as four or five feet.
It's probably those flying seeds that keep this patch spreading.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ainsworth Then and Now: The Bullock Farmhouse

Late 19th/early 20th century and 2010.

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Top image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

No date was given for the top image, on display in the Hobart Historical Society Museum. I'm only estimating that it's around the turn of the century based on the absence of automobiles in the photo. The house stands west of Ainsworth, on 70th Avenue just west of DeKalb. These days if you tried to take a picture of it from the same spot as the original photographer, you'd find yourself running into a wild hedge along the south side of the road.

I don't know who any of those people were, but evidently they liked dogs. Surely some or all of them were members of the extended Bullock family — and it was very extended indeed throughout the Ainsworth-Hobart area — but which ones, I couldn't tell you.

This was the homestead of Gilbert and Estella Bullock. It had its beginning just before their marriage in 1876, when, according to an 1882 biographical sketch, Gilbert bought "forty acres of improved land, with good frame house and outbuildings" in Ross Township. (Based on that description, and also because the 1890 Plat Book shows Gilbert owning the land on which this house stands, I'm jumping to the conclusion that this house and the 1876 house are one and the same, aside from a little remodeling.)

Gilbert was the son of Moses and Amanda Bullock, who farmed in Ross Township west of Ainsworth. Moses and Amanda also had one daughter, Ruth, who married a man named Halladay, and two other sons, both of whom eventually moved to Hobart: Simeon, who was an ice dealer, among other things, and Asa, a lawyer. The Bullock family had the habit of recycling names — e.g., among Asa's sons were a Gilbert and another Asa — which makes grief for the historian, especially as they were active, talented people, often in the news.

But back to our Gilbert! On Christmas Day, 1876, he married Estella Markham. By the turn of the century they had four children, Hubert, Claude, Ruth and Etta, all born on the farm pictured above.

Through additional purchases over the years, the Bullock farm expanded from its original 40 acres to cover some 200 acres. Gilbert and Estella seemed to have owned (for a while, at least) another good parcel of land north of Ainsworth, on the west side of State Road 51 near the Deep River, but apparently their ownership fell into the blank between the 1891 Plat Book and the 1926 Plat Book.

In the spring of 1901, Hubert Bullock married Miss Daisy Lambert, daughter of Dr. Clara Faulkner of Hobart (by a previous marriage, perhaps?); the young couple moved in with his parents. In the autumn of that year, Claude married Almantha Smith.

Early in 1902, Gilbert and Estella, with their two daughters, retired to Hobart, leaving the old homestead in the hands of one of their sons — I'm not sure which, since reports varied; but both sons continued farming for the moment. Both of the Bullock daughters later married Hobart men — in 1910, Ruth married Dr. Dwight Mackey, and in 1912 Etta became Mrs. William J. Killigrew.

Hubert and Daisy had two sons, Elmer (born 1903) and Cecil (born 1910). This family portrait shows Hubert and Elmer along with (at left) Estella Bullock, Hubert's mother, and (at right) Emily Markham, Estella's mother.

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

Hubert not only farmed, but made extra money using his up-to-date machinery to grind feed, saw wood and press hay for his neighbors. During the summer of 1909 he even found time to play with the Crown Point baseball team.

As I mentioned in another post, early in 1911 he began further supplementing his income by selling Abbott-Detroit automobiles. He caught the automotive fever in a big way. By the autumn of 1911 he abandoned farming — and Ainsworth — to move to Valparaiso, where he ran an automotive sales-and-service business in partnership with a Valpo man. That enterprise lasted about a year and a half, then Hubert moved to Hobart where he opened his own garage.

Claude got out of farming earlier than Hubert. He had continued to work the family acres during the course of his first marriage; it was tragically brief, for Almantha had tuberculosis. She died, childless, on February 25, 1905, just four days after her 23rd birthday. (She is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery.) Before the year was out, Claude had announced his intention to give up farming, sold all his farming equipment, and moved to Hobart. We get no clue of the kind of work he did there until the 1910 census, wherein he describes himself as a laborer working in the house-moving business. In Hobart he met Mary Ann Chandler, who became his second wife on November 4, 1909.

In March 1912 Claude returned to farming; he and Mary moved to his parents' other farm, somewhere north of Ainsworth.

About a year later, that became his parents' only farm. Early in April 1913 Gilbert and Estella sold the old homestead, all 200 acres of it, to a newcomer from Iowa named Albion D. Paine.

And that is where we must leave the Bullocks for now.

1891 Plat Book.
1900 Census.
1910 Census.
1926 Plat Book.
♦ "Additional Local News." Hobart Gazette 23 Apr. 1915.
♦ "Ainsworth Pick-Ups." Hobart Gazette 1 July 1910.
♦ "Bullock-Lambert Nuptial." Hobart Gazette 5 Apr. 1901.
♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 21 Mar. 1902; 15 Dec. 1905; 25 Jan. 1907.
♦ "Gilbert Bullock Sells 200-Acre Farm for $20,000." Hobart News 3 Apr. 1913.
♦ Goodspeed, Weston A., and Charles Blanchard (eds.). Counties of Porter and Lake, Indiana. Historical and Biographical. Chicago: F.A. Battey & Co., 1882.
♦ "Hubert Bullock Opens Garage and Auto Repair Shop." Hobart News 9 Apr. 1913.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 17 Jan. 1902; 26 June 1903; 7 May 1909; 1 Apr. 1910; 1 Mar. 1912.
♦ "Mortuary Record." Hobart Gazette 3 Mar. 1905.
♦ "Obituary." Hobart Gazette 10 July 1903.
♦ "Sold Out." Hobart Gazette 14 Mar. 1913.
♦ "The Car You Want." Hobart Gazette 27 Jan. 1911.
♦ "Young People Marry." Hobart Gazette 15 Nov. 1901.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Great Lobelia

Up in the high-and-dry part of the woods around Big Maple Lake, there's nothing blooming but jumpseed. But in damper areas, especially down in the creek beds and river bottoms, I've found some wildflowers I've never seen before (probably because I don't usually go to the park at this time of year).

Exhibit 1: Great Lobelia


Larger and more impressive than the Spiked Lobelia I found earlier this summer.


Its scientific name is Lobelia siphilitica, in honor of its use in times past to treat syphilis.

And according to Jack Sanders:
Among the Meskwaki Indians, the root of the great blue lobelia was used to prevent divorce. Seeing discord between a couple, a tribe member would mash the root, secretly add it to the food of both husband and wife, and love would return.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Jumpseed

(Click on images to enlarge)

This is it. This is my last attempt to photograph Jumpseed. I have spent way too much time over the last few weeks trying to get a good shot of this unimpressive, insignificant wildflower. A bunch of leaves around the base of the plant, then a long, thin stem shooting up about two feet, covered with tiny, and I mean tiny, white blossoms:


Nothing whatsoever interesting about it. It's not even poisonous. Also known as Virginia knotweed (no idea why).

Ceremony, Finery, Fraternity

1909 Foresters parade
(Click on image to enlarge)

I bought this postcard on eBay. When I received it in the mail, my first thought was, "Oops, I did it again, I bought something useless on eBay." A little reflection made me realize that it isn't useless, because it introduces a topic I should give some attention to, namely: fraternal organizations.

Pictured above is Court Hobart No. 3 of the Independent Order of Foresters of America, on parade (in a location I can't identify*) on May 30, 1909, probably in honor of Decoration Day. What strikes me most about this image is the number of men marching. I'm looking down the two lines for another flag or something to mark the end of this group, and I'm not seeing it. They seem to take the whole matter quite seriously, these marching men, bearing the flag of their organization, dressed in their best suits adorned with regalia. (And notice the boy at the right edge of the photo, who appears to be standing at attention with his hand over his heart.)

And the I.O.F. of A. was just one of several fraternal organizations in Hobart.
Lodge Notices
The Hobart News routinely printed notices like this one, from February 11, 1915, of regularly scheduled meetings among Hobart's various fraternal organizations. (The I.O.O.F. was the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Rebekahs its female auxiliary; M.w. of A. — Modern Woodmen of America; F. and A.M. — Free and Accepted Masons.) That notice does not mention a few others I know of — the Ladies of the Maccabees (L.O.T.M.); Order of the Eastern Star (O.E.S.); and Fraternal Order of Rangers.

Selected at random, this front page shows a fairly typical level of fraternal-society-related news items:

1911 local drifts
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In September the Masons' special meeting was for work in the Entered Apprentice degree. That month's news was a little less typical in that some fifteen Hobart Odd Fellows went to Indianapolis to attend the Grand Sovereign Lodge encampment.

We've already seen the exterior of the Masons' handsome temple, built in 1925 and still in use; here is an interior view, probably shortly after it was built:

Masonic temple interior
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

The Odd Fellows had their own meeting-place, known as Odd Fellows Hall, but I don't know where it was, nor have I seen a picture of it.

I know offhand of a several Ainsworth people with lodge memberships — Ed Sauter was a Mason, Charles Chester an Odd Fellow, and Charles Nelson must have been a Forester, since Lovisa collected insurance money from that organization after his death.

The death of any member was usually followed by the publishing of a memorial resolution. For example, after Cornelius Carstensen's death in November 1911 he was memorialized by both of the organizations to which he belonged:

1911 Carstensen resolutions
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Since no one among my own family or friends has ever belonged to a fraternal organization (unless you consider a volunteer fire department to be one), I have very little knowledge of any details of fraternal life: how a typical meeting proceeded, what the initiation ritual involved, what "work" was required to earn a degree, and so forth. I have a vague general impression of secrecy, mysticism and idealism — well illustrated, I think, by this 1964 letter to the Hobart Odd Fellows, containing coded passwords and "explanation" that expressed lofty sentiments and were painstakingly deciphered by the recipient:

Odd Fellows letter
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

In this age of the internet, when you expect to be able to educate yourself on any esoteric topic by careful use of search terms, gritty details concerning early-20th-century fraternities are surprisingly hard to come by. Thus far the best source I've found is an on-line "fraternal history" of Marin County, California.

And as for hard statistics on exactly how many Hobartites were members of such organizations, I haven't got them and don't expect I ever will unless they providentially fall into my lap, since that is really beyond the scope of my research. All I can do is state my general impressions. And it does seem to me that these organizations — with their ritual and regalia, their regular meetings and occasional parades, and their lofty idealism (though it may perhaps have been more honored in word than deed) — were an important presence in the lives of the people we've been getting to know here, affecting their thoughts and their behavior in a way that we modern non-joining, non-meeting types may find hard to understand.

*[8/1/2011 update] Further research leads me to believe that this postcard shows the intersection of Main and Front Streets. The house in the background at left may be the Jarvis Roper house on the southeast corner of that intersection; the white frame building just visible behind the trees is probably the first St. Bridget's Church.

♦ "General News Items." Hobart Gazette 6 Apr. 1906.
Indiana WPA Death Records Index.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 18 Aug. 1911; 8 Sept. 1911; 22 Sept. 1911; 29 Sept. 1911; 1 Dec. 1911.
♦ "Lodge Notices." Hobart News 11 Feb. 1915.
♦ "Personal and Local Mention." Hobart News 26 Dec. 1912.
♦ "Resolutions of Condolence." Hobart Gazette 15 Dec. 1911.
♦ "Resolutions." Hobart Gazette 15 Dec. 1911.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hobart: Main and Third circa 1907

(Click on image to enlarge)

Just got this postcard on eBay. Cute, huh? I'm not doing a then-and-now because we've seen this intersection often enough already and I'm not in the mood to dodge traffic.

Here is the back of the postcard. It's postmarked January 8, 1907, in Crisman, Indiana. Crisman is like Ainsworth in that it doesn't exist anymore; it's just part of the town of Portage now.

I'm giving this postcard to the Hobart Historical Society, as I've done with all the Hobart-related images I've gotten on eBay. So anyone who wants to see the originals need only go to the museum.

And my historic Grand Trunk timetables (1883-1984) now have a new home at the Merrillville-Ross Township Historical Society Museum, and can be seen there in all their original glory.

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Love for What's-Her-Name

Late in July of 1915, Lizzie Sauter Boyd remarried.

9-17-2010 Epps-Boyd 1915
(Click on image to enlarge)

I'm glad she found love again after her tragic first marriage. Still, I couldn't help but be amused by that announcement: it doesn't give the slightest hint that either the bride or her mother ever had any connection to the name Sauter. Was Ed such a bad guy that he had to be erased? … Maybe they just didn't want to remind people about the divorce. As if anybody in that small town needed reminding.

Ed had gone to live somewhere in southern Illinois, or so he said when he came back to Hobart for a brief visit early in June 1915. Apparently he did not attend his daughter's wedding: the day it took place, July 24, Ed was in Chicago watching rescue operations on the capsized Eastland. (The Gazette mentioned a story Ed related about an infant taken alive from the hull of the ship eight hours after it capsized; the child had been suspended above the water inside by a nail on which its clothing caught.*)

*The Gazette report gives the date only as "Sunday," but the Eastland disaster occurred on Saturday, July 24.

♦ "Epps-Boyd." Hobart News 29 July 1915.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 11 June 1915; 30 July 1915.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Merrillville Then and Now: Lincoln Highway near Broadway

Circa 1930 (roughly) and 2010 …

First we have the intersection of Lincoln Highway and Broadway, or so the caption on the photo says, but I never would have guessed; it's so different. I'm told that Broadway really did not extend south of the Lincoln Highway at that time.

Lincoln Hwy at Broadway. Undated.
Lincoln Hwy at Broadway, 2010
(Click on images to enlarge)
The circa-1930s images are courtesy of the Merrillville-Ross Township Historical Society.

Then we have this photo, taken a short distance west of the first. The photographer stood just west of Madison Street, facing east. At least, that's the best I've been able to figure out.

Lincoln Hwy looking east just before Madison. Undated.
Lincoln Hwy west of Madison 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Jack-in-the-Pulpit Berries

If I'd been paying attention when I first looked up Jack-in-the-Pulpit in my wildflower guide, I might have remembered that they produce berries at the end of the season, and not have been so mystified when I came across several bunches of berries in the Deep River bottoms yesterday afternoon …

(Click on image to enlarge)

… and saved myself a lot of Googling.

The berries are eye-catching but poisonous.

I wanted to go photograph some new wildflowers I found near where the skunk cabbage was, but when I got to the west entrance to the Big Maple Lake area, I found it blocked by a big truck pulling an even bigger trailer full of porta-potties. [Insert joke here.] Maybe another day.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back in Business, Plumbing-Wise

Charles Lee has been awfully quiet since he came back from Toledo in December 1914. Not until June 1915 do we hear a peep out of him.

Chas Lee bond 1915
(Click on images to enlarge)
From the Hobart News of June 10, 1915.

6-11-1915 plumbing license
From the Hobart Gazette of June 11, 1915.

So he's back in business, I gather, but I have not seen him advertising.

Not all the news that summer was good:

1915 accident
From the Hobart News of July 29, 1915.

9-3-1915 Donald Lee
From the Hobart Gazette of September 3, 1915.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Two Nelson Weddings

Beginning in late winter of 1915, Lovisa Nelson must have been a busy woman. In the course of not quite two months, she married off her two eldest sons.

On Valentine's Day, Owen Nelson married Caroline Sapper, the daughter of Charles and Minnie Sapper of Hobart.

Owen and Caroline (Sapper) Nelson, Feb. 14, 1915
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Marilyn (Caroline's granddaughter).

Owen was just 21, Caroline 20. (A relative of theirs remembers Owen as tall and quiet, while Caroline was a petite woman who talked a mile a minute.) At least Lovisa did not have to host the reception afterwards; that was held at the home of the bride's parents. "Their many friends will wish them a prosperous and happy life," said the Gazette. "They will reside on a farm near Ainsworth." But by 1920, according to the census, they were farming in Hobart.

On Sunday, April 4, Glen Nelson married Elsie Henning, daughter of the widowed Henrietta Henning, who farmed near Ainsworth. I believe that Glen and Elsie would eventually take over Lovisa's farm, on the west side of State Road 51 north of Ainsworth; the 1920 census finds them running a dairy farm in that vicinity.

Lovisa had come through exactly nine years of widowhood: it had been March 15, 1906 when Charles Nelson was killed in an streetcar accident and Lovisa had suddenly found herself the sole support of five young children, the oldest of whom was only 14. But she had brought her family through those difficult years. Now two sons were launched on their adult lives and would soon be presenting her with grandchildren. Her oldest daughter, Myrtle, would enter her senior year of high school in the fall. The two youngest, Grace and Wayne, were still schoolchildren, presumably happy and healthy. When Lovisa considered her family's situation in 1915 compared to nine years earlier, she must have felt much satisfaction — tinged with sadness that Charles wasn't there to share in these happy events.

1920 Census.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 19 Feb. 1915.
♦ "Nelson-Henning." Hobart Gazette 9 Apr. 1915.
♦ "Nelson-Sapper." Hobart News 18 Feb. 1915.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Monster Tractor

In April 1915, John Gruel bought a new tractor, and what a tractor — an Emerson-Brantingham Big Four "20," costing $2,350 and probably looking something like this. It was the first Big Four "20" in Lake County.

In its front-page story on this impressive purchase, the Gazette commented: "Mr. Gruel … is one of the most progressive and prosperous farmers in this section of the county."

I consider the Gruels Ainsworthites — they lived as close to Ainsworth as to any other town (on the land that is now the River Pointe Country Club) — and they were the sort of people any town would be proud to claim as its own: progressive and prosperous, yes; peaceable, sociable and well connected. We've already seen John Gruel, in 1909, play an active role in getting legislation passed that benefited Indiana dairy farmers. He also was Vice-President of the American Trust and Savings Bank in Hobart. And from what I've learned thus far of the Gruel daughters, they seem to have been women of uncommon drive. Instead of staying in their comfortable home until they chose to marry, Anna, Bertha and Emma pursued careers as nurses in Chicago hospitals, a line of work that, while interesting, must have been — dare I say it? — grueling. (Sadly, Bertha died in 1914 after undergoing surgery for goiter.) The youngest daughter, Elsie, would later become a teacher and eventually set up a scholarship fund for students at the Purdue University School of Agriculture.

So why don't I talk about them more? I hardly know, except that I can't talk about everybody and these folks don't seem to need my commentary.

♦ "Additional Local News." Hobart Gazette 12 June 1914.
♦ "Bank Statement." Hobart News 12 June 1913.
♦ Buys New Gang Plow." Hobart Gazette 30 Apr. 1915.
♦ "Death of Bertha Gruel." Hobart Gazette 13 Nov. 1914.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 22 Oct. 1909; 6 Jan. 1911; 12 July 1912.
♦ Personal and Local Mention." Hobart News 29 Apr. 1915.
♦ "Retired Teacher Honors Her Roots." Post-Tribune 23 Nov. 1990.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Tick Trefoil

(Click on images to enlarge)

It's nice to come across a late-summer wildflower I haven't featured yet that isn't ugly as sin.

I assume the "Trefoil" comes from their triple leaflets, but where the "Tick" comes from, I don't know. There are numerous species of Tick Trefoil, and I'm not sure which species this is, because it doesn't look exactly like any of Newcomb's drawings. All I know is for sure is, those blossoms are pretty.


Friday, September 10, 2010

The Green Flat

Yet another Ainsworth family cut and ran in 1915. Howard and Elsie Shearer and their cute little baby, Calvin, left the farm and moved to Hobart, into the "Green flat on Center street."

Think maybe this was the "Green flat on Center street"?

(Click on image to enlarge)

Because it's on Center Street? And says "John H. Green 1906" on the front? Maybe?

Howard had gotten a job with the Hobart Oil Company, driving an oil wagon (which probably looked something like this).

Calvin senior was doing well with the Barnes & Shearer business. Throughout the spring they were at work grading and laying gravel on the New Chicago road. In September they successfully bid for another road job at $5,900. While all this was going on, they also had an office in Hobart, on Main Street near the Nickel Plate tracks, where they sold building materials and coal:


In July Calvin's younger daughter, Bliss, married Paul Raymond Emery and went to live in Laporte, Indiana, where her husband was employed.

Altogether the Shearers didn't do badly for themselves by leaving Ainsworth.

♦ "Additional Local News." Hobart Gazette 2 Apr. 1915; 23 Apr. 1915.
♦ Advertisement. Hobart News 20 May 1915.
♦ "Hobart Girl Marries." Hobart Gazette 9 July 1915.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 26 Feb.
♦ "Personal and Local Mention." Hobart News 20 May 1915; 16 Sept. 1915.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Another Chester Defection

Like his half-sister Carrie Raschka, in 1915 John Chester moved his family from Ainsworth to Hobart. At least I think that's what happened. As late as October 1913 he was still being described as "John Chester of Ainsworth," though he no longer owned any land there, but I can't say that I know exactly where he was living after that. The newspaper report of the birth of his daughter Daisy on March 30, 1914, did not specify where that happy event occurred.

The suspense ended with a report in February 1915 that John, Emma and their four children had moved to Hobart, into the "John Hancock house on Lincoln avenue" in the Joryville neighborhood, and I still can't say I know exactly where they were living because I have no idea which house was John Hancock's.

Nor do I know exactly what John (Chester, that is) was doing with his time. Perhaps he was living off the money he'd made selling his land to his brothers. He wasn't exactly idle:
While John Chester was vulcanizing an auto tire at his home last Sunday afternoon [June 13] about 1:30, Ed Humes, standing several feet away, lighted a match and an instant later there was a flash, and Mr. Chester's right hand was severely burned from the explosion of a small quantity of gasoline they were using.
It's July before we hear of John doing anything to earn a living. Then, in the same issues of the Hobart News that mentioned his having a float in Hobart's impressive Fourth of July parade, John began advertising his new line of work:


John seems to have been an auto enthusiast, so I suppose that work would suit him.

Later that month he added another element to his business — he bought the Trueman pool and billiard room business on Main Street. Only about a week before, Lloyd Arnold and Fred Londenburg had bought it from Mr. Trueman; then they turned around and sold it to John.

The Gazette said that John would operate the pool room "in connection with his auto livery." That sounds like a pleasant way to run a couple of businesses — hang around shooting pool until someone calls up wanting to rent a car. The only downside to the pool-hall business would be the need to deal with fights and drunks ... on the other hand, has John ever seemed like a shrinking violet? — he may have found it amusing to break up a fight or throw out a drunk now and then, as long as his pool tables didn't get broken.

In reporting on the purchase, the Gazette noted that John was then "in Detroit several days getting some auto repairs." Those must have been some impressive repairs, to require travel to Detroit.

♦ "Additional Local." Hobart News 30 Sept. 1915.
♦ Advertisement. Hobart News 8 July 1915.
♦ "Hobart Has a Record Celebration Saturday." Hobart News 8 July 1915.
♦ "Personal and Local Mention." Hobart News 9 Oct. 1913; 2 Apr. 1914; 18 Feb. 1915; 17 June 1915.
♦ "Pool Room Changes Hands." Hobart Gazette 16 July 1915.
♦ "Pool Room Changes Hands Again." Hobart Gazette 30 July 1915.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The End of an Age (The Story of the Store)

[continued from here]

This announcement in the Hobart Gazette of March 26, 1915, signaled that the Age of Raschka in Ainsworth had come to an end.


"Goldman" was Charles Goldman of Hobart. "Mintz" was Max Mintz of Chicago, the brother of Charles' wife Amelia.

Charles was then about 38 years old, Amelia 32. They had married in 1904. The 1910 census shows just the two of them, but the 1920 census attributes to them a 16-year-old daughter — go figure. I don't know how or where they spent the first few years of their marriage, but eventually they began operating a confectionery-and-cigar store in Hobart. That enterprise went on for several years and did so well that around 1914 they expanded their operations to manufacture their own ice cream.

In February 1915, the Goldmans sold their Hobart store. The buyers were Ed Fiester (son of John by his first wife, Amanda) and Fred Rose, Jr. (son of the Marshal and his wife, Anna).

At that time the Goldmans had no particular plans for the future — or so they said. "Mr. Goldman now feels he is in a position to tackle a larger and heavier business," the Hobart News stated, "although he has not as yet decided just what he will do." But they may have already been in negotiations with the Raschkas, for it was only two weeks later that they announced their purchase of the whole Raschka enterprise: the inventory of merchandise, buildings that housed it and the half-acre of land on which it all stood.

The News commented, "The Raschka store is considered one of the best general stores and one of the best trading points in this territory, and Mr. and Mrs. Raschka during the fourteen years they have been in business at Ainsworth have done well and feel they have earned a much-needed rest."

They intended to move to Hobart to take that rest. The next few weeks were filled with house-moving in Ainsworth and Hobart. The Raschkas left their home over the store and moved into a rented house in Hobart formerly occupied by Arthur Brabbs. The Goldmans then left their rooms over the Gem Theatre in Hobart and moved to the store building in Ainsworth; Mr. and Mrs. H.T. Coons, who ran the Gem, took over their vacated rooms. Max Mintz had declared his intention to "move to Ainsworth and take an active part in the business," but whether he moved in with the Goldmans over the store, or took other quarters, I do not know.

Thus began the Age of Goldman in Ainsworth.

♦    ♦    ♦

I imagine that if you went to do business in downtown Ainsworth about this time, you were in for an aurally interesting experience. Charles Goldman had been about 14 when he emigrated from Russia, so you may have heard a Russian or Yiddish accent as you did business with him. If you went straight across the road for a drink, you might have caught a slight German accent from William Wollenberg, who left his homeland at 13. Stop in at the blacksmith shop or dance hall, and you could hear the Swedish accents of Gust and Anna Lindborg. If neighbors came in, you might have heard more Swedish and German accents, as well as Polish and even French. (And if the hired force on the old Chester homestead retained the polyglot nature it displayed in the 1910 census, you may have heard accents reminiscent of Denmark, England, Italy and — West Virginia.)

1910 Census.
♦ "Announcement." Hobart Gazette 26 Mar. 1915.
♦ "Chas. Goldman Buys Out Raschka at Ainsworth." Hobart Gazette 4 Mar. 1915.
♦ "Fiester & Rose Buy Goldman's Confectionery." Hobart News 18 Feb. 1915.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 26 Mar. 1915.
♦ "Personal and Local Mention." Hobart News 11 Mar. 1915; 25 Mar. 1915.
♦ "Raschka Sells Out to Goldman." Hobart Gazette 5 Mar. 1915.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Come and Steal From Us

Somebody at the Hobart News displayed either a remarkable tactlessness or a mischievous sense of humor in juxtaposing this story and this advertisement:

9-7-2010 Rohwedder 2-11-1915
(Click on image to enlarge)

This and all the other horse-thief stories I've posted have me wondering about the precise details of how people their recovered stolen horses. There was no state registration of horses, no VIN numbers on horses, obviously, so — what? surely all horses were not routinely branded with each owner's individual mark?

The report states that "Mr. Rohwedder got busy." I suppose that means he got on the telephone and started calling every likely place in the region where a horse might be kept overnight, or sold. That would keep him quite busy, I imagine. So he describes his horse to the proprietor of each establishment, and if the proprietor says he's got a horse on the premises matching that description, Ed goes out there and examines it. If he says, "Yes, that's my horse," the proprietor just has to take his word for it. If the proprietor won't take his word, I suppose Ed gets his most respectable neighbors to come and swear to it. Or maybe Ed calls the horse's name and the horse comes running; who could argue with that?

Well, however he managed it, Ed got back his horse and rig. The very next week, the News reported that Ed and Marshal Fred Rose had caught this Chatman guy in Hammond and taken him before Judge Reiter, "who gave him an indeterminate sentence of one to 14 years in the penitentiary." Swift justice!

Sources: "Personal and Local Mention." Hobart News 11 Feb. 1915; 18 Feb. 1915.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Pilewort

See that green thing in front of all the other green things? That's pilewort.

(Click on images to enlarge)

Here are the blossoms, in all their splendor:


From that, they go to dandelion-like white puffs.

This pilewort is not to be confused with the Flower Formerly Known as Pilewort, which traditionally was used to treat hemorrhoids. Although if this stuff isn't good for hemorrhoids, why do they call it pilewort?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

How to Get Around Hobart in 1915

From the Hobart Gazette of February 12, 1915
(Click on images to enlarge)

I suppose it wouldn't be good for business if you didn't drive the kind of car you sold. John Hillman didn't make that mistake. In June 1915 he sold the Hupmobile he'd been driving to Otto Gruel and purchased a newly released 1916 model. ("Local Drifts," Hobart Gazette 18 June 1915.)

From the Hobart Gazette of April 16, 1915

From the Hobart News of March 18, 1915

When you get back home to the farm, you'll want some of these:

From the Hobart Gazette of April 30, 1915

And if you want to build a road, here's some stuff that will come in handy:

From the Hobart Gazette of May 14, 1915

Then there's this cartoon from the Hobart News of July 30, 1914, which reminds us that whether cars improve or diminish the quality of life depends on whether you happen to be in one at the moment.