Sunday, April 28, 2019

New Exhibits at the Merrillville Museum

Or: Why I Am So Tired

The entrance hallway of the Merrillville-Ross Township Historical Society Museum has three brand-new exhibits.

In this exhibit, I'm re-creating the historical district of Merrillville, where the museum sits, with images and histories of many of the homes and businesses that were important in the first century of the little town's existence. Alice Flora Smedstad helped me a great deal with this one, with images from her own collection and information handed down through her family (she is descended from both the Pierces and the Saxtons, very early settlers of the Merrillville area).

2019-04-28. Historical district 1
(Click on images to enlarge)

2019-04-28. Historical district 2

This exhibit focuses on the history of the museum building, with a little bit about the earlier school that may have stood on the museum site.

2019-04-28. From schoolhouse to museum

This exhibit discusses the military motor convoy of 1919, which traveled westward across the continent on the Lincoln Highway, passing through Merrillville on July 19. Dan Kleine did at least half the work on this one.

2019-04-28. Transcontinental motor convoy

Finally, I wrote up a history of the Boyd-Skinner house, with more attention than is usually paid to the builder, and my very own theory about how he came to learn of the existence of Merrillville.

2019-04-28. Boyd-Skinner house

That project has dominated my life for the past three months.

Doing the research was very interesting and I may be paying more attention to Merrillville in the future.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Little Myra Busselberg

The second daughter of George and Alma Busselberg died in July 1923.[1]

2019-04-23. Busselberg, News, 7-26-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, July 26, 1923.

Apparently George and Alma had moved to the village of Ainsworth sometime after the 1920 Census, when they were living on the farm of her brother, Henry Sitzenstock, in southern Ross Township.

Alma was already pregnant with their third daughter, Marian, who shares a grave marker in Crown Hill Cemetery with the sister she never met. Since the marker has Myra's age wrong, it was probably placed there when Marian died, and inscribed from (faulty) memory.

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The story at the bottom of the left-hand column on the page above is the first I've heard of the Soverino family. The 1920 Census shows them in Union Township, Porter County. It's a fairly large family headed by two Italian immigrants, John and Kathryn (Giovanni and Caterina in the old country, I expect). John describes himself as a railroad worker, and owns his own home, but I can't find them on the 1921 Union Township plat map — although I can find some of their neighbors (e.g., Shinabarger, Hodsden, Maxwell, Riley, Keene) who owned land along the Lincoln Highway.

By the time of the 1930 Census, if I've found the right people, the family had moved to Chicago.

[1] The article below gives the date of her death as July 22, but in her death certificate and in an item in the "Local Drifts," Hobart Gazette, July 27, 1923, it is given as July 23.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Happy Easter!

Here are some mayapples sprouting up from the ground in the woods behind Big Maple Lake.

2019-04-21. Mayapples
(Click on image to enlarge)

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Dam at Wood's Mill

Last winter someone asked me where the dam had been for Wood's mill at Deep River, and I didn't know. But I asked some other local historians, which led one of them to go find out — and come back with pictures.

Investigation and images by Dan Kleine.

This image from Google's satellite view is marked with the location of the dam on the south side of 73rd, just west of County Line Road.

2019-04-15. Dam 11
(Click on images to enlarge)

These photos show the remains of the dam.

2019-04-15. Dam 1

2019-04-15. Dam 2

2019-04-15. Dam 3

2019-04-15. Dam 4

2019-04-15. Dam 5

2019-04-15. Dam 6

2019-04-15. Dam 7

2019-04-15. Dam 8

2019-04-15. Dam 9

2019-04-15. Dam 10

These photos focus on the sluice that controlled the flow of water through the underwater turbine that powered the mill.

2019-04-15. Sluice 1

2019-04-15. Sluice 2

2019-04-15. Sluice 3

2019-04-15. Sluice 4

There were two dams: the original one (wooden), and a new one built circa 1920 (concrete). We don't know if the new one replaced the old in exactly the same location. Dan intends to look for any remains of the old wooden dam when time permits.

From another local historian, we have these two photographs of the concrete dam dating to the 1920s.

2019-04-15. 1920-new-dam
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of R.F.

2019-04-15. 1920s dam at flood stage

The second one appears to have been taken from the Lincoln Highway (73rd Avenue) bridge over the Deep River.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Charles Chester and the Unsatisfactory Tractor

In the year between July 1922 and July 1923, Charles Chester's tractor had gone from the EJ&E right-of-way to the Indiana supreme court.

2019-04-10. Tractor, News, 7-26-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart News, July 26, 1923.

In the column to the right of that story, Charles' sister, Carrie (Chester) Raschka, is selling a canary warbler; let's hope nobody takes her to court over that.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Dr. Joseph L. Gordon of Wheeler

Back when I was researching the Gordon house, someone asked me whether the Dr. Joseph Gordon who practiced in Wheeler was related to the Gordons of Hobart. I didn't know the answer then, and I don't know it now, but this article from July 1923 tells us a little about Dr. Joseph Gordon's background.

2019-04-05. Dr. Jos. Gordon, Gazette, 7-20-1923
(Click on image to enlarge)
Hobart Gazette, July 20, 1923.

His parents, Samuel and Frieda, farmed near Wheeler. Here is their land in 1906:

2019-04-05. Gordon, Union Twp, 1906
(Click on image to enlarge)

So Wheeler was home to Dr. Gordon; no wonder he set up his practice there.

According to a 1927 biographical sketch, he would be practicing in Gary within a few years.

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An item above the article about Dr. Gordon gives us a little update to the C.O. Mize story. In the next column to the left, we learn that the speed limit on the Lincoln Highway was 25 m.p.h., and that it was frequently broken.