Monday, November 20, 2017

Letters Home from Our Local Soldiers in 150th Field Artillery

     The previous blog post pertained to the local Indiana National Guard Field Artillery unit that became the 150th Field Artillery when they were all shipped to France in October, 1917.  After a thorough search through all the Crawfordsville Daily Journals from 1917-1918, almost one hundred letters from our soldiers were found, or news was shared by families. In researching each of the soldiers in the picture in the previous post, I found some shocking information. Frank Manning, of Darlington, was reported to his parents as being killed in action during the spring of 1918. This must have been terrible for that family. However, I found a letter written on November 11, 1918, describing the last day of the war, written by Frank Manning of Darlington. I was puzzled. With further research, I found that a different Frank Manning from New York had died that day, and not the Frank from Darlington.
   An excerpt from Manning’s  note, written on Nov. 11, 1918, and printed in the Crawfordsville Daily Journal on December 20, 1918, read:

“I am on the front, yet a front that 48 hours ago was the hottest and bloodiest front of the war and has been since August, 1914. In this ruined French village… there are perhaps 200 souls. They have been under German yoke for four years and they look more like hunted animals than human beings. … to have peace, blessed peace in so short a time, is more than their tortured souls can stand.”
     Claude Grissom wrote home to his mother on September 10, and the letter appeared on October 28, 1918.

"Well, Mother, Old Fritzy just sent over his best regards just now, about a 210 shell, I think.  I met an old buddy of mine from Crawfordsville. His name is Jack Harris. I saw L. Merrell about a month ago. Have not seen Clarence Zook for four or five months."

     Albert Wright served alongside his brother, Cecil. Albert wrote to his sister on September 21, 191, and it was printed on November 4, 1918.

"One big boche prisoner was coming down the road with about 100 others smoking a pipe that looked like a young steam engine; he was all smiles. Well, in less time that it takes to tell it, I rode up to him and grabbed it out of his mouth."
"Another column of prisoners came at dawn: I cited a big Prussian officer. With very few words, I told him I wanted his cap, which he gave up very gratefully. I a few minutes I discovered his cap was full of--not bombs--but genuine Turkish cigars!"


One Hundred Years Ago--Our County Men in World War I

The 150th Field Artillery
Rainbow Division

Top Row--Albert W. Goltra, Ralph I Crowder, Carl H. Todd, Wm. P Barry, Claude Grisson
Bottom Row--Frank Manning, Albert W. Wright, Cecil C. Wright

          This photo appeared in the Crawfordsville Daily Journal, November 20, 1917. It was taken on Long Island, right before these local men shipped out to France with 28,000 other soldiers on October 18,1917. Previously, this unit had been part of the Indiana National Guard, and was stationed along the Mexican border in Texas. The unit was called back to join the Rainbow Division in France. There the 150th Field Artillery soldiers engaged in several key battles of World War I:

Luneville           Baccarat           Esperance-Souain,      Champagne-Marne,   Aisne-Marne,     St. Mihiel         Esperance & Pannes,          and Meusee-Argonne.

The 150th Field Artillery fired a French cannon, the 155mm Howitzer. The following photo shows that this piece was horse-drawn. 

More information on this unit available at:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Clements Family Business Lived On

Children of Andrew Clements
FR---Ralph, Florence, and Ray P.
BR--Ruth, Clara, and John(subject of this post)
from CDPL image database
     The Clements family insurance company passed along to son John in 1917 after his father’s death. By this time, John had already studied at Wabash College and served in World War I in France. On his return, he worked for a short time at the Shimer-Light Dodge dealership next to the Carnegie Library, before joining his father’s business. In 1921, he married Mary Tucker of Greencastle, daughter of Dr. William and Bertha Tucker. They had one daughter, Miriam.
from 1958 Crawfordsville City Directory
      In order to build up more business, John and Bud Green joined together and bought the Citizen Bank Building on E. Main St. in 1950.  In 1955, Stuart Roscher operated an automobile business and also came into partnership with John, joining the Clement-Smith Corporation, which later became Clement-Roscher Corp. 
     By 1967, at the age of 71, John was ready to retire and sold his portion of the business to Roscher.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Clements Family Worked Hard to Build Their Insurance Company

     The Clements Insurance firm was started by Andrew Clements, in 1887. He began his business in his home in Mt. Tabor, which is the corner of 150S and 200E.  He would travel all around the county, and outside it in a little two-wheeled cart pulled by a pony. He would sometimes stay in a boarding house in Darlington for a week, drumming up business in the area. Later he would get a bicycle, take the train to Darlington, and ride hither and yon, selling even more policies. He worked hard during the week, would come home, and his wife would spend the next week hand-writing all the policies, since typewriters were not yet available.  He mostly sold fire and lightning insurance until his death in 1917.  He eventually had an office on Washington Street, south of the alley behind Resoner’s Jewelers (Allen’s Country Kitchen).
John Clements is on the left, and Andrew, his father is standing in the center. 
     John Clements, Andy’s son, took over the business and subsequently went through several consolidations, and mergers with local banks. John recalled how difficult it was to be in the insurance business in the 1930’s, during the depression. The business by this time was involved in farm loans.  He and his partner decided that if the landowner could keep the taxes and insurance paid, the farm would not be foreclosed on.  Many premiums were paid with eggs and chickens, which was the only bartering tool to be had by many downtrodden farmers of the time. John’s wife, taught piano lessons at the time, which helped keep their family afloat.  (to be continued)

Photo and information from "Montgomery Magazine," April 1987.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Indian Artifact Finds in Coal Creek Township--1903

     In our Local History collection, we have many books that cover the history of small towns in Montgomery County.  One interesting book is “According to the Record—Selected Articles from the New Richmond Record 1903-1904. In the October 22,1903 issue of that paper, there is an article about Indian artifacts found in Coal Creek Township, near New Richmond.
Early in the twentieth century, two men, J. Lee Allen and Winton Utterback discovered such relics as axes, arrowheads, ceremonial stones, a celt, and other items.

The ax that was found was of such immense size, that they considered that it must have been used for hewing out trees, and other heavy work. It was too big for use in battle. Pictured on the left is a celt, used to scrape animal skins. On the right is an early woodland arrowhead, similar to what may have been found here.

     State Geologist Blatchley took possession of these artifacts for further study. He proclaimed them to be some of the finest of their kind to have ever been found.

     The area where these artifacts were found was on the farm owned by Mr. Junius Allen, presumably in section 28, almost straight south of New Richmond.  In the center of this property was a small pond that may have been used by those who built the mound containing the artifacts. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Crawfordville Record--Our First Newspaper--It's Available Now!

     From a great book on our Local History shelves, “Early Days in a College Town,” I found the story of The Crawfordsville Record, our first newspaper in town. Frank Mills, the author of “Early Days,” tells us that he found some copies of the first issue, printed just six months after his birth, in 1831, when Crawfordsville had only 500 inhabitants. He comments that the Record contained less than six inches of advertising, as opposed to later papers that contained mostly ads, and very little news.
     The Record is available online through CDPL website, on the Services tab, then click on Local History, then Early Montgomery County Newspapers.  Scroll down the list to find several other county papers. All of these old papers are also available on microfilm in our Local History Department.
    A cursory glance through the February 8, 1834 issue of the Record shows us that the more things change, the more they stay the same!  Martin Van Buren was the vice-president, and Daniel Webster was the senator who spoke with Van Buren. 
     This paragraph was from an article on the Bank of the United States. This event took place in U. S. Senate, where there was much to-ing and fro-ing from many senators about how the system was or was not working. This paragraph could easily be dropped down into any article about the Senate from the last over 200 years of our nation’s history!

     While the online newspapers are not quite searchable yet, you may still be able to find jewels of family history hidden in there if you have a date for an event, such as this marriage. The marriage is between Mr. James M. Vangordan, of Butler County, Ohio, and Miss Lilee Jane M'Maken, of this county.
     The property advertised for sale (one of the few ads in this paper)should be quite familiar to county residents. It would be the Yountsville property that eventually becomes the Yountsville Woolen Mill, in 1849 when Jacob Yount changed his carding mill into a woolen mill. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Montgomery County War News—This Week in 1917

     In the October 4, 1917, Crawfordsville Daily Journal, there is a front-page article about twenty-two men from our county who were about to be sent overseas to fight in the Great War. They were members of the Indiana and Illinois artillery units that had been training at Camp Mills, Garden City, Long Island, New York. These soldiers were part of the “Rainbow Division,” the first National Guard unit to be sent for active service overseas.

     From this list, the only one that did not survive the war was Melvin Cook of Darlington.  He died from tuberculosis, a not uncommon occurrence during wartime. 

Gold star honor roll. A record of Indiana men and women who died in the service of the United States and the allied nations in the world war. 1914.  from the Indiana Historical Commission, 1921.

   From a collection of World War I letters written home and then published in the local paper is one from Albert “Abe” Goltra, who is listed above.  Here is an excerpt:

Somewhere in France, May 18, 1918.  “My Dear Ones;--It has been so very long since I have been able to drop you all a line.  I received a nice letter from you, Pop and Elba about a week ago. I am now separated from my regiment but hope to rejoin it soon. I am now living with a first lieutenant up in the front line infantry. The place I am now in has been shelled to pieces. I have a fairly nice cot, made of boards and chicken wire. I also have my horse with me and expect to go back to regimental headquarters tomorrow to visit over Sunday. Just think, I am the only one in the whole regiment to get to go to the front line.”

     Upstairs in the Reference/Local History Department is a display about local involvement in the war.  A book of collected letters from local soldiers is available for your perusal.