Wednesday, January 3, 2018

How To Use Our Local History Resources

     Have you wondered how you might go about starting research on your family in Montgomery County? Let me show you some easy ways to get your family tree started. First of all, start with yourself, writing down all you know about you. Write down your birth date, parents’ names, schools, marriage, military service, divorce, children, anything that may have a legal document. Remember where you lived throughout your life. Then go back to your parents. Do the same for them. See if you can get at least a copy of birth and marriage certificates, baby pictures, school diplomas, old addresses, and if they lived in 1940, the latest released U.S. Census records. Ask your parents about their parents—you might be surprised by what you find out!
     At CDPL, we have all sorts of local history records for Montgomery and many surrounding counties. On microfilm, we have the local county newspapers back to 1831, and now you may search them online with “Hoosier Chronicles,” available on our library website at
     Also, through our local history online database are available newspapers indexed for birth announcements, adoptions, marriages, engagements, obituaries, reunions, birthdays, anniversaries, and other significant life events that may have made it into our local newspapers. Cemetery records are searchable, along with having printed records in our local history department.

     A very popular section in our local history department is the old school yearbooks. They are searchable by school and name, and the volumes we have in the library are listed. We are always looking for spare old copies that anyone would like to donate. 
This is the 1985 Swing Choir for North Montgomery High School. The people in this picture are as follows: First Row (bottom row, crouching, left to right): S. Irvin, M. Bymaster, and K. Evans; Second Row (left to right): T. French, B. Skinner, and ---; Third Row (left to right): J. Stoneceipher, B. Wathen, R. White, ---, J. Kirkpatrick, K. Karle, and D. Thompson; Fourth Row (left to right): E. Runyan, A. Clinton, J. Rooze, S. Schenck, B. Crosier, A. Horney, B. Vance, A. Horn, and T. Budd. The names for this photo came from a similar photo of the same swing choir in the 1985 Charger Flashback (the yearbook for North Montgomery High School) on pages 26-27. The photo was taken on the North Montgomery High School stage.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"Fresh Air School" to fight tuberculosis

     Due to the high number of tuberculosis cases in the area in December, 1917,
Mills School
Crawfordsville’s Mills School, at 801 West Main St., was the location of an educational experiment by the principal, Elizabeth Winter, and a new teacher, Miss Adda Fraley. An Indiana University graduate, Miss Fraley came across the “fresh air” method of education while attending special training in Chicago. “Fresh air” schools hold to the tenets of “fresh air, cleanliness, proper food, and sobriety” in order to fight tuberculosis. There were 34 students involved in this experiment, in which they wore warm coats made of horse blankets while the room temperature was kept at between 54 and 64 degrees.

It was thought that the students would be more alert, and learn more in the same amount of time, and that their bodies would be healthier from breathing fresh air, and not the stale air of a closed room. 

from Crawfordsville Daily Journal, December 13, 1917

Monday, December 4, 2017

Hoosier Chronicles--Reading Our Local Past

     Hoosier Chronicles, available on our Local History page on the CDPL website, is a wonderful resource for early Montgomery history.  Papers available are: four Crawfordsville papers from 1834- 1902; one New Richmond paper from 1900-1915; and three Waynetown papers covering various years from 1880-1930. Not only do you find marriages and obituaries, but various other events or legal matters in a family's life. Here are several examples from the Crawfordsville Recorder, 1835. 
Real Estate Probate

Directors of the Indianapolis and Lafayette Rail Road Co.
All Montgomery County Residents

Candidates for Local Election, 1835

and, of course, a SWINDLER!!!

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.