Saturday, October 15, 2016

Laying Track--Disputed Interurban Line Put In Despite Court Rulings

    Before the days of heading off in our automobiles, Crawfordsville residents had the option of riding in town or to other cities on the interurban. In July, 1903, the Northwestern Traction line track was laid down the middle of Main Street, starting by the courthouse between Washington and Green Streets.  In order to get around a court case with the Consolidated Traction Company over who had the rights to put a line through Crawfordsville, one hundred workers were brought in from Danville and Lebanon line in the dark of night to get started by the earliest morning light. The first track was hammered down by a Mr. E. A. Wilhite, one of the oldest living first settlers in the county.  This was the fourth time the Northwestern Traction Company had attempted to lay tracks.
This shows the track after its installation.  The Crawford Hotel is the tall building on the right, on East Main St. 

   The laying of the track at this time was a point of contention with the city fathers and with the Consolidated Traction Company. Consolidated Traction had already begun laying lines west out of Indianapolis towards Montgomery County.  The first time the Northwestern Company tried to lay track at the end of May, some city officials contested it, and even went so far and to take fire hoses and water to the workers to stop them from tearing up the city streets.  The city filed suit, and the Northwestern counter-filed against the city.  The suit went back and forth between judges and courts, federal and local. If the company was to be found in contempt of court for trying to continue to lay track after being told not to, then the new tracks would have to be torn out of the street, and the company would have to pay fines and the company leaders would be jailed.  

  The track was laid without incident, finally, and transportation options were opened for travelers from Montgomery County to easily find their way to Indianapolis and other points east. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Vice-Presidential Candidate Visits Our County--Welcome to Charles W. Fairbanks!

Imagine a presidential election without the intrusion of 24 hour news, the internet, or Facebook. Candidates traveled the country by train, and newspapers were the primary source of information on electoral races. 

Charles Hughes on the campaign trail

One hundred years ago, during the presidential election of 1916, the Republican party of Montgomery County hosted vice-presidential candidate, the Honorable Charles W Fairbanks. Fairbanks, a Hoosier from Indianapolis, had previously won elections for a senate seat from Indiana, and for vice-president under Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. He had lost his bid to run as president during the 1916 campaign, but was instrumental in setting up the Republican platform for this election. Charles E. Hughes, at the time, led the Republican ticket against the Democratic nominees Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Marshall, another Hoosier.  
During Fairbanks’ visit, in October of 1916, he planned single visits to Linden,Darlington, Waveland, and two trips through Crawfordsville. He was to stop for15 minutes in each town and speak from the back of the train. On the Saturdaystop in Darlington, a large reception would be held by prominent local Republicans. This trip through the county would be the last for any Republican candidates for this election.

Secret polls throughout the state were conducted by the New York Herald, the
Cincinnati Enquirer, and other metropolitan newspapers. All sections of the. country showed favoritism towards the Republican slate.  Hughes was seen to be accumulating voters previously leaning towards a Wilson vote.
Election results were close across the country.  In fact, Hughes and Fairbanks had a pretty good idea that they had won when their heads hit their pillows on election night.  However, when California’s votes were counted,  Wilson had defeated former Supreme Court Justice Charles Hughes 49.1% to 46.1%, or 277 electoral votes to 254.
Towns and cities in Alaska, Minnesota, and Oregon are named Fairbanks in his honor, along with a school in Indianapolis.  

Monday, September 26, 2016

You May Now Redeem Your S & H Green Stamps at George Graham's Store!


  In November of 1916, The George W. Graham Co., at 117-123 N. Washington St., (Cornett’s Furniture Store in 2016) announced that his store had made arrangements with The Sperry and Hutchinson Green Stamps Company to offer cash stamps with every ten 
cent purchase.

  A parlor area upstairs would soon be restocked with all manner of goods for which customers could redeem Green Stamps. I’m sure that many a homemaker in the Crawfordsville area was delighted to know that she could keep saving her Green Stamps and redeem them to get items or, “premiums,” needed for her kitchen, or a nice lamp for the parlor. Many a toaster made its way into local kitchens due to shoppers’ diligence in saving stamps.

Sperry and Hutchinson began selling their Green Stamps to businesses across the country in 1896.  Retailers would give them to shoppers for every ten cent purchase.  This marketing ploy helped to get more shoppers into the stores and to get them to spend more money once they were in the stores and shoppers were happy to receive goods with their stamps, so everyone was happy!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Crawfordsville in 1908--What a Wonderful City!

What a modern and accommodating city Crawfordsville must have been in 1908!

Why, we had eight livery, feed, and sale stables in town, along with a wagon and buggy supplier at 121-123 S. Washington (J.M. Thompson Insurance building).  Four farriers worked here to serve your horses.  The Crawfordsville Ice and Cold Storage on the corner of Franklin and Hocum (?) Streets could deliver ice to your home.  For your smoking needs, five shops sold cigars (most in the LaRose on Main building).  If you needed a trip out of town, you could buy your train tickets at the Big Four Station—corner of Washington and Franklin Street-- or at the Indiana Northern Traction Station  located where Tri-County Bank building is at 224 E. Main Street. If it was Friday night, you could find fun at any of the seven billiard halls in town. 
For other personal needs, there were 29 grocery stores located in Crawfordsville, along with two casket companies on West Main Street.  One was located on the same property  as the former Lew Wallace Inn.
Crawfordsville was quite famous at the time for having two brick factories--The Crawfordsville Shale Brick Co., located one mile north on the Monon line;  and the Poston Paving Brick Company at E. College and Vandalia Streets.                                       
workers at the Poston Brick Factory        
Crawfordsville in 1908 must have been quite a bustling small city.  Wouldn't you love to go back in time and visit some of these old places?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Vision in White--The Making of the Ben-Hur Building

    It took eight years to get the ball rolling on this magnificent building, but once the decision was made to build it, it only took one year. The Ben-Hur building, dedicated in May of 1912, was originally the home of the Supreme Tribe of Ben-Hur, a social organization that included women. The Tribe sponsored baseball and basketball teams, drill teams, bowling, and other social events.  Insurance was offered to members, and eventually over 130,000 members belonged.

  This building would come to occupy the corner of Main and Water Streets, which had been the site for the original office building for the Tribe.The new building was completed in one year, with no injuries reported, which was an accomplishment for such a large undertaking.
    The original cost was $150,000, which translates to $3,750,000 in 2016. The intention was to make it as fire-proof as possible, so all walls were constructed of concrete reinforced with twisted steel bars--220,757 linear feet of it! That beautiful white terra cotta tile sheathing that we all love? That is composed of 8650 pieces of white tile, and took 2450 barrels of cement to attach.  
    All wooden finishes inside the building were mahogany, including the front and vestibule doors. There were also two elevators installed.
     The contractors made sure to use materials available or made locally when possible, making this truly a home-town building.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Montgomery County Fair—1906 style!

                                                                                   It’s just past county fair week for 2016 in Montgomery County!  Animals, competitions, 4-H!  But it didn’t always look like it does today.  In 1906,  horse racing was the big event, and horses and riders came from all over to compete for $300, $600, and $1000 prizes.  $1000 translates to over $25,000 in 2016, so to say that our county was becoming known as a pony center was not an understatement!  There was competition with livestock and flowers.

                                                                                                                            Newspaper readers were urged to not miss the octopus in the wild animal exhibit!  And everyone would want to stop to see the pair of three-legged chickens from Fort Wayne.  Every night a daredevil would ascend in his hot air balloon and fly aloft over the crowds.  And talk about crowds!  Buggies and carriages would line the streets, and over 1000 picnic baskets were checked in on just one day of the fair! The interurban ran in and out, and on one occasion, crammed 156 people on a car meant for 60. That must have been some fair! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Montgomery County Citizens Counted in Far Away Places

Company K, 44th USV Infantry, c. 1900

Believe it or not!  This photo was taken on Cebu Island, Philippines, in 1900, during the Spanish-American War.  When this picture was given to the library,  only one soldier from Montgomery County  was identified--Charles C. McClure, a musician,  sixth from the right sitting on the ground.   How were 7 more residents of our county identified in this unit?   CENSUS RECORDS!  The United States took a census in the Philippines of our soldiers during the war there.  Who knew?  

(Compiled from the 1900 U.S. Census Enumerated at Balamban, Cebu Island, Philippines, 1 June 1900):
Oliver R. Fry, Sgt., 1001 W. Wabash Ave., Crawfordsville
John C. Maxwell, Sgt., Crawfordsville
James C. Holmes, Cpl., 707 E. College St., Crawfordsville
Charles C. McClure, Musician, Mace
George R. Hamilton, Pvt., Darlington
Herbert Morgan, Pvt., 708 E. Market St., Crawfordsville
Claud Reese, Pvt., 310 Beach St., Crawfordsville