Saturday, February 21, 2015

August 7, 1914 -- same scene, different angle

In August 2014 we posted this blog:

On August 7, 1914 at 12:15 p.m. the east-end fire wagon was attempting to get to a grass fire by the Monon Tracks when the Northwestern Traction Car struck the back side of the wagon, hurling it 15 feet. Fire Chief John Hurley (headquartered at the central station) had jumped on the wagon as it was going past his home. Chief Hurley was thrown 20 yards from the collision, suffering a broken shoulder and a badly bruised body. Unfortunately, Clarence Williams (47-year old fireman) was standing on the back steps of the wagon and did not survive; six children (ages 1-19) and a widow were left behind. The other two firemen involved were driver Frank Esra and fireman Otis Stephens. Esra was upset because he had not heard the gong of the traction car's approach.

And we included the first image below.

But we just recently received a donation from a descendant of Frank Esra (the fire wagon driver in the incident) that shows the same site...yet at a slightly different moment (second image). It is quite unusual that we have two photographs taken so close in time, so this is a unique opportunity to examine a moment on August 7, 1914 from two vantage points!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ladoga East School in winter -- 1910

You can't see this school building any more!

This is the Ladoga East School building (the town's elementary school), pictured in winter.

This photograph was taken around 1910.

To show you some "color," here is the school in an early 20th century post card, printed around the same time as the photo.

Do you have any items you would like to have preserved in the CDPL Local History archives? Contact us at 765-362-2242 ext 117 or e-mail at

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Levi B. Willson -- discovered at Willson School!

Although the list of talented educators in Montgomery County is certainly long, one of the most noted was Miss Anna Willson. According to school records,Miss Willson began to teach in 1887, and became principal of the Central School in 1896. Her photograph still hangs today at Willson School as well as CHS. Just last week, the staff of Willson School found several framed photographs in remote storage. One photograph was an antique photograph of an unidentified man. The frames were not easily removed, so the items were brought to the library for examination in hopes of learning the man’s identity. Upon carefully removing the frames, our staff discovered the name of the man in the photograph: Levi B. Willson, father of Crawfordsville educator Anna Willson. A note written on the back of the photograph says that Mr. Willson was the donor of the land the Willson school stands upon. The library’s collection has many items once belonging to Miss Anna, including her scrapbook, writings, and various other items, including a photograph of her mother, Sarah G. (Webster) Willson, also a teacher at Crawfordsville’s Central School. But no photograph was known of Levi B. Willson, Crawfordsville attorney, who died in 1881 at the age of 35, until the repairs at Willson school brought it to light.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Recently uncovered scene from Willson School

We recently received a donation of several photographs found in Willson School, in the basement, behind the furnace. But the photos were from the era of the original Willson School building! We are investigating the scenes now -- but wanted to share this image with you. Here you can see the playground, which faced Jefferson Street (the school itself faced Wabash Ave.), but the year is unknown. Does anyone have an idea of the date? Contact us at 765-362-2242 ext 117 (

Monday, January 26, 2015

Do you know anyone? Willson School, January 1935

Classroom of students at Willson School. According to chalk board, the photograph was taken on 29 January 1935. On the other chalk board, first names are listed as follows: Bob O, Margaret, John, Julia, Mary, Alice, Beverly, Billy, Bob B, Dick, Bob R, Patty, and Allen. No last names are given.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Exhibition is presented by students ... 136 years ago

This item can be found on the CDPL Image database
This is a pamphlet from a Crawfordsville School event.  McClelland Hall sponsored the 1871 event, but Charles M. Eltzroth allowed the 1872 class to utilize his hall because the weather turned unfavorable. Electa Pettijohn is the teacher mentioned in the 1872 newspaper article. May 30, 1872 (Crawfordsville Weekly Journal) "The Second Intermediate School, Miss Frank Pettijohn teacher, closed with a very creditable exhibition last Thursday afternoon.  The picnic which was arranged for Friday had to be abandoned on account of the unfavorable state of the weather, but the girls, determined not to be entirely disappointed, arranged for a supper and dance in the evening, Mr. Eltzroth kindly furnishing his hall for the purpose of free charge. Here the duties and pleasures of a seven months school were forgotten in the good things of the table and the excitement of the dance."

Monday, January 19, 2015

Remley gun received

The story of this antique gun is VERY entertaining!  Sarah McCain Remley utilized this relic to kill the chicken thief at her Country Club home.  Sarah, old John Remley's wife, heard a commotion in the chicken coop one night.  She grabbed the gun, ran outside and fired toward the coop.  The next morning she found a dead Indian in the chicken coop (1840 time frame).  As for the gun itself, the only identifying mark not rusted away is the word "Scott" on the left side plate.  Thus, it is a W.C. Scott Ltd of Birmingham, England (one of the cheaper models).  Relative, David Remley wrote this information for the library and donated the weapon.  Mr. Remley also mentioned the number of repairs on the stock, indicating the hard use of this piece.  The elaborate repair made with two brass plates set into the walnut, then screwed into place was undoubtedly done by a local gunsmith.