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. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Caring for the Orphaned Children of France--1917

    During the First World War, many appeals for relief for war-torn Europe were made to the people of Montgomery County. The YMCA, the Red Cross, Liberty loans, and the American Society for Relief of French War Orphans all made special pleas to our populace. Many churches, Sunday Schools, ladies' groups, and others responded to the orphan appeal, and as a result, within two weeks in May of 1917, fifty French orphans were "adopted" by people in our county.
orphaned children in France, 1917
   One cent a week from each of seventy people in an organization was enough to save the life of a fatherless child in France. The mothers of these children were able to collect every cent of these donations through their post offices and use the money to clothe, feed, and school their children. All handling costs were supported by private funds. Groups in our community that supported this appeal and helped relieve the suffering of these poor children were the high school homemaking class, the While Away Club, the Monday Bridge Club, and the Dorothy Q. branch of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Miss Ristine, a young woman of our city, and a favorite of the youngsters in town, held a reading hour at the college, and charged ten cents per child. These funds were also contributed to the orphan fund, and gave our town's children a way to help with the relief effort. Many local families also "adopted" French orphans, such as the Detchons, Durhams, Campbells, McNutts, Goodbars, Postons, Dr. Swope, and the Dr. and Mrs. J. N. Taylor family. Many families received letters from their supported child, and shared them with the newspaper.
young women of Crawfordsville High School

 The Amici class of the First Methodist Church supported Simone Lepape, while Miss Cowan's advanced homemaking class used their funds for Marie Lenoir, of Paris.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

December 7, 1941--The Year That Has Lived in Infamy

   We have struggled during this election year of 2016 with the effects of too much news.  Imagine December 7, 1941, when all our information came either from the newspaper or the radio. The Journal-Review reported on December 8 that hundreds of people stood outside their building on Green Street waiting for and reading Associated Press bulletins as they were received on the news wire.  

   Here is part of an original bulletin from that day.
“WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 - (AP) - Japanese airplanes today attacked American defense bases at Hawaii and Manila, and President Roosevelt ordered the Army and Navy to carry out undisclosed orders prepared for the defense of the United States."

   And that was all they knew.  Several county residents were already in the Armed Forces, and families were worried about their role in this new engagement with the Japanese.  John C. McIntyre was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Virginia, based in Hawaii. B. F. Suverkup, had been stationed  aboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma, which had been damaged in the attack,  as an aerial photographer,  but he had been recently moved to another ship, and was on his way home for Christmas.

1940 Stewart Warner Radio
  The Crawfordsville basketball team was in Columbus for a game, and heard the news while eating.  They kept up with the news on the way to another game by listening to a portable radio.

  People attending movie performances at the Strand Theater, just down the street from the Journal-Review, were updated by means of the public address system. When war was declared, the show stopped, and all stood to sing the Star Spangled Banner.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Christmas Shopping the Way Our Families Did It, in 1936!

   It’s that time of year!  Christmas carols, church services, baking, wrapping, secrets, and best of all, shopping!  In 1936, Crawfordsville had many businesses that were eager to help you spend your holiday dollar. A scroll through the microfilm of the Crawfordsville Journal Review showed advertisements bursting with holiday sales and pictures of gifts that you just could not resist! Even during a depression! Every child in town must have loved a stroll through the Montgomery Ward’s at 127 E. Main St. Any little girl would have loved the $4.95 Shirley Temple doll, but many made do with the $1 dolly that had eyes that moved and made sounds.      

  Not to forget the boys that entered their doors, they also sold $1 train sets!

If you were in the market for some leather gloves for dad, you were good to go at McCullough’s in the Ben Hur building. While there, you could even find some “Ginger Rogers” lingerie for $1.29.

 Mom might need something a little more stylish in the coat department, so any husband who was half-listening at breakfast would know to run down to Goodman’s at 131 E. Main, next to Montgomery Ward’s, and find his lovely wife a very fashionable fur-trimmed coat for $23.88. 


As most families had very tight budgets in 1936, dads who had saved up a couple of bucks could go to the Firestone building at 125 W. Market Street and get little Johnny the present of his dreams, a new wagon!  

While the man of the house was at it, he could wander down the street to Horner's at 222 E. Market Street, and gaze at a new car for $765.

For any young man who was trying to make an impression on the love of his life, or her father, Resoner’s Jewelry, across from the courthouse, was the place to be. A beautiful ring to cement your relationship could be had for $13-30!
Shopping during the 1930’s held special challenges for our families.  Wallets were thin, pockets were empty, and families were large. I’m sure that our grandmothers had many tricks up their sleeves for scrimping and saving that allowed their families to enjoy a “Merry Christmas,” even on a tight budget. 


Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Mad Search for a Crawfordsville Hatter!

  The Crawfordsville Library recently received a request from a woman in Georgia to find information about a hat she had found in her mother’s attic with an inside label that said, “Crawfordsville hatter.”  Crawfordsville city directories were searched, and several shops were named as selling hats, such as George Graham’s, but none were named as the Crawfordsville hatter. Perhaps Virginia Cade or L.G. Coppage, two local milliners, could be our unnamed hatter. Little information on either person was available to us, and we thought we had hit a dead end.  Another email appeared from our inquirer with a page from the Crawfordsville Weekly Journal that she had found on our online database for old newspapers, the “Hoosier State Chronicles.” This April 30, 1892 issue, on page four, shows a wonderful advertisement for Con Cunningham, “The One-Price Clothier, Hatter, Furnisher—Crawfordsville, Indiana.” Could this be our hatter? 
   Fast and furious research began for information available from our databases. Marriage and obituary records on Cornelius Cunningham were discovered.  We looked in the local city directories and found that in 1878, he lived at at the Nutt’s Hotel, on the corner of Market and Green Streets, while he sold in the county.  He later located his hat and clothing business at 101 and 103 S. Washington Street, at the intersection of Main Street. Soon, another email arrived with this picture of the inside of the hat.  We were now sure that we had the right hatter!

   Information we found about Mr. Cunningham told us that he had emigrated from Ireland around 1860 and moved to Crawfordsville around 1870. He began his business ventures by selling dry goods of all sorts throughout the county.  After much success, he decided to have a permanent store in downtown Crawfordsville, and while there, became one of the most widely known and successful businessmen in the county. He married Mary McManus in 1882 and they raised three children together, according to census records.  He later sold real estate, and owned business property here in town and in Indianapolis on Indiana Avenue. We found his burial at Holy Cross and Saint Joseph Cemetery  on  From just one inquiry about a hat, with the resources available in our library, we were able to find out many things about Cornelius Cunningham, a hatter from Crawfordsville!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Three Brothers Enlist in the Service

Most of us have had family members enlist in service of our country’s defense.  But how many families have had three sons enlist at the same time?  The W. W. Washburn family of Crawfordsville did.  In July of 1917, it was reported in the Crawfordsville Journal that George, Gould, and J. Beard had already left for training at Fort Harrison, in Lawrence Township, Marion County, Indiana.  George and J. Beard were both in the machine gun company of the National Guard but had previously been students at Wabash College.
 George, a second lieutenant, would go on to marry Ruth Clark, daughter of Raleigh Clark, in 1918, and then leave immediately to return to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where he was posted with the Indiana Guard.  After the war, he returned to town to work at the Citizens National Bank, the post office, and then Crawfordsville Electric Light and Power.  He passed away in 1964 and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, here in the city.
  Gould was a graduate of Wabash College and Purdue University. He served with distinction as an officer in the war, and was located at Camp Taylor. He later moved to Oakland, California to work as a member of staff at the federal reserve bank in San Francisco. He died suddenly in 1926, leaving behind his wife and two daughters.
   J. Beard attended Wabash, and continued on to a career in San Francisco, where he married Betty Gregg of New York. He is buried in Martin County,  Florida.
For more pictures of the Washburn brothers, look in the image collection on our library database page.