Saturday, March 11, 2017

Montgomery Children's Home

     A small but  important part of the history of Montgomery County used to sit on the
west end of town, in what was called Britton’s Glen.” Now it would be on the 1600 block of West Wabash, near Schenck Road. The Montgomery County Children’s Home  was built there in 1894, to replace a building that had burned two years earlier. 
The new building housed homeless, neglected, and orphaned children through the late 1950’s. Throughout its history as a place for these children, the people of our community served the home and the children in many ways. Several doctors were involved in the running of the home, especially Dr. Faye Schenck. He and his wife, who were childless, were close neighbors to the home, and were frequent visitors.  At that time, Mrs. Faye Nutt was supervisor, counselor, and friend for thirteen years to the children that passed through this place. Dr. Schenck later noted that within a few weeks of  “Mom” Nutt’s care, good food, and a clean bed, the newly placed children in the home would fill out, gain strength, and their smiles would return. Mrs. Jon Bir, Mrs. Nutt’s daughter, ran the home after the Nutts' retirement.   Mrs. Hiner ran the home in the 1880’s. Mrs. Roy Dorsey was in charge for two years from 1914, until  Mr. and Mrs. Adam Vancleave of Alamo took over care of the home in 1916. The home was closed in the late 1950’s, and sold to be a nursing home. The building was finally razed in 1972.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Robert Kennedy Krout--A Man Who Helped Make Our Community

      From very humble beginnings, to becoming a successful businessman and school board president, Robert Kennedy Krout made quite a mark on our city.  Born in Covington, Kentucky, to Jacob and Hannah Kennedy Krout in 1826, he made his way to Montgomery County in 1838 with his widowed father to settle on a farm east of Alamo, in Ripley Township.  This was near the “Bunker Schoolhouse.”  When he was 17, he began his career at Wabash College, walking the nine miles to and fro each day for classes. He finally lived in town, on the corner of West(Grant) and College Streets.  After graduation, he became head of the English department at Northwestern University in Indianapolis—this later became part of Butler University when it was still in Irvington.  Making a career change, he studied the law, but this was not something he wanted to continue. He then returned to Crawfordsville to buy and live in his home from his college days.

    He ran a drug store at 23 E. Main Street, for thirty-five years.  From this spot, he was able to stand in front of his drugstore and  watch as the current courthouse was being built.  He also served as president of the local school board, and was instrumental in getting the Central High School built in 1878.

from the 1878 graduation program of Crawfordsville Central High School

      Mr. Krout was a staunch Republican, and was in attendance at Buffalo, New York, when the Republican party was established.
 Mr. Krout married Caroline VanCleave Brown in 1849,  and had several children. Two of his daughters, Mary Hannah Krout and Caroline (wrote as Caroline Brown) became well-known writers. Robert died in April,1910, and was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, after a service in his home.

Monday, February 13, 2017

New World War I Display at CDPL

     The new wall display upstairs in Local History is all about Montgomery County’s involvement in World War I. 

     Several letters from local soldiers are displayed, giving us a close-up view of what it was like in the trenches. Soldiers’ pictures from the Crawfordsville High School yearbook of 1918 display names that many of us may know from local families that are still in our community.  In the glass case are articles of clothing, awards, and pictures of local soldiers in uniform.  The display on the north wall shows community involvement in the war effort.  Many local residents were involved in YMCA, Red Cross, and other volunteer efforts during the World War I.  There is also a book display of available World War I books on a table by the desk.  

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Glimpse at Our Past--1869

     If you ever want to know more about our town, take some time to dig back into the old newspapers that we have available.  We have twenty-four local papers on microfilm in the Local History Department.  Here are a few: “Crawfordsville Daily Journal;” “Crawfordsville Weekly Journal;” “Daily Evening Argus;” “ Locomotive;” “Saturday Mercury;” “Montgomery Journal;” “Darlington Herald;”“Saturday Evening Journal;”“Wingate News;” and the “Waynetown Banner.” “Nineteenth Century Newspapers” is available online through our website while you are at the library.

     An opportunity came up this week to have a look at the December  2,1869,   Crawfordsville Journal. It seems some things never change.
    “Numerous complaints have reached us concerning the condition of the sidewalks on both sides of Pike Street, between Washington and Walnut Streets.”

     Here is a place I would have liked to have visited!
     “The ‘Pike Street Accommodation’ is the place to get good Cheese, Crackers, Pickles, Pepper Sauce, Spices of all kinds, Mustard, Halibut, Codfish, Mackerel, Whitefish, Cove Oysters, Etc.”

    Apparently there had been a spate of hog stealing going on. A Mr. R. H. Jones stole eighteen hogs from Mr. Davis, and sold them to someone.  He left town to buy an overcoat and other things, and was caught.  He was arrested, and was made to sit in  jail until accommodations could be made to send him to the Northern Prison the next spring. 

    At the same time, “a hog was stolen from the pen of William Hutchinson, …on Saturday night. Mr. Hutchinson ought to be thankful that the number was not eighteen.”

Monday, January 16, 2017

Building Your Dream Home in 1913

   Continuing on with the “housebuilding in Crawfordsville” theme,” direct your attention to House Design No. 2362.  Does that look familiar?  If you drive on the west end of town, say, on Main Street, you may find several houses that appear to have been built from this plan. In 1913, you could go “house shopping” at Joseph Binford & Sons, 215-217 South Washington Street, and find the house of your dreams.  (This location is now taken by the Crawfordsville District Public Library.)  Find your house, order the truckload of parts, and have it all delivered to your building site.  This is very similar to the “Sears” houses that were popular at the time.

  As we frequently have patrons who are curious about who had lived in their house before, I researched in our Crawfordsville City Directories to find the previous residents of one of these Binford houses in Crawfordsville. You may also use plat maps from several years back to find who owned your land  in certain years.
1914   Reverent B.E. Antrobus    Minister at  First Baptist Church
1924   William A. Shaw  (no vocation given)
1949   Fletcher B. Kerr    Auditor, State Treasury Dept.
1958   Willard Harrison    Allied Van Lines Driver
1971   Clarence Davidson  Officer-in-Charge, U.S. Army Recruiter
(I spoke with the current owner, and had permission to share this information.)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Building Up Crawfordsville for Our Returning Veterans 1945

Soldiers returning from the end of World War II wanted to get jobs, start families, and get on with their lives. In order to supply housing for these men, the Fisher-Daseke Agency, located in the Strand Theater Building on Green Street, offered National Homes to their new home-buying customers. National Homes were built in sections in the factory in Lafayette, Indiana, and then sent on a truck to the building site. There the construction crew would assemble the new home with pre-made walls and floors. A new home could be moved into within two weeks of building, which made getting families into new homes much easier and faster. A new National Home, complete with heating, plumbing, electric wiring, outside walls painted, walks, and landscaping could be yours for around $5000. Fairview Addition, located on the old fairgrounds, was built around  where Hose School would later be built in 1954.  

Nine new homes were set to be built as soon as the war with Japan ended. If you look around Crawfordsville, you will probably see other neighborhoods, such as Athens Addition, that were built after the war to house returning soldiers.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Now Here's a Wild Bull Story for You!

On July 11, 1945, you didn’t have to go far to find a wild  west adventure in our town!  About 4 a.m. at Ben-Hur Packing Company, 802 Covington Street, fourteen bulls escaped from their enclosures and roamed the streets of Crawfordsville!  Boy, howdy, that must have been some round up!  By noon almost all the bulls had been captured, except for three who continued to wander up and down streets and alleyways of the northwest quadrant of the city. Imagine turning down Cherry Street from West Market and staring into the face of a crazed loose bull!  Just before noon that day, Officer Paul Branagin and some packing plant workers found one bull  in the backyard of a house on Cherry Street. He had his gun, but allowed one of the workers to kill the loose bull. One bull managed to get as far as Vance Street between Main and Market Streets!
Officer Branagin
Harley Cunningham, a local pilot, used his flying skills to help locate strays in the vicinity of the packing plant.  It was feared that the livestock had strayed east over the creek, or as far as Oak Hill Cemetery.
The excitement was over just after noon as most of the bulls were corralled blocks away from the plant and later transported back there to meet their fate.

Jennings B. Miller and Sam Harris were the managers of the plant, which later became known as the Sam Harris Packing Company.