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.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dr. Martha H. Griffith--One of the First Women Doctors in Indiana!

     From the December 20, 1924, Crawfordsville Daily Journal comes the story of the life of Dr. Martha H. Griffith, the oldest female physician in the county at the time of her death.
Dr. Martha Hutchings Griffith,
CDPL image database
Martha was born in Hanover, Indiana, in 1842, to John and Elizabeth Hutchings. Her father farmed, and also represented Jefferson County in the state legislature in 1856-7. He also took part in the organization of the Republican Party in Indiana. The family moved to Jennings County in the early 1860’s so that Martha could study at the Jennings Academy with a small class of young men. Having completed those studies and with the young men going off to war, Martha began to study medicine in secret with a local doctor in a time when women were not really encouraged or allowed to study medicine. When the time came for her to attend proper medical school, her neighbors and school friends were astonished and scoffed at her ambition. She entered the Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia in 1866, and eventually graduated as one of the first women in Indiana to hold a medical college degree recognized by her profession.
Griffith house, Darlington,
CDPL image database
     She began practicing medicine in Madison, Indiana, in 1870. In 1871, she met and married Dr. Thomas J. Griffith and moved to Darlington, where she carried on a large obstetrical practice. After completing more coursework and certification, she and her family moved to Crawfordsville.  She became deeply involved in community work. She was one of the organizers for the Carnegie Library. She started up the Community House, located where the Post Office is now. Here people could come for help and a meal. Martha was a member of several local clubs, and held state office in the State Federation of Clubs She and her husband had two children—Dr. J. B. Griffith, and Helen, who died in childhood. Dr. Griffith was a fine example of how a woman could be a mother and a wife, and successfully work in a profession.  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

This Day in 1917, September 6.

     One hundred years ago today, September 6, 1917, there were several reports in the Crawfordsville Daily Journal about local soldiers and where they were being sent.  Lieutenant William Cunningham of Crawfordsville, after officer training at Ft. Harrison, in Indianapolis, and then some time spent at Camp Taylor, in Louisville, was headed down to Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Harry Cook and George Pennington were on their way to Camp Taylor. The 150th Field Artillery unit from Ft. Harrison, containing many Montgomery County men, was finally on its way to Mineola, Long Island. They had been delayed because of a shortage of clothing and equipment for them to take to Europe.
     Not letting any grass grow under their feet, the Red Cross ladies of New Market were scheduled to present a comic play on Saturday evening,  with the money going to support Red Cross activities. 
from www.books.google.com   National Geographic #XXXIII Index Jan-June1918
     Earlier in 1917, several barns in the county had large numbers painted on their roofs. Pilots flying from Rantoul, Illinois, to Dayton, Ohio, used them for guidance.  Local barns used belonged to:
George Stafford (near Hose School)  #11
O. Rush #12
Unnamed #13
John Small (near Waynetown) #14
Tom Bailey #15
E.E. Coates #16
Charles Thayer #17
V. E. Livengood #18



Saturday, August 26, 2017

Early County Home Torn Down, in 1933.

     Just south of New Ross at the township line between Clark and Walnut townships lies the Jessee Family Cemetery. James Browning 
James B. Jessee
photo from www.findagrave.com, James B. Jessee page
"Squire" Jessee was the original owner of this property. He was born in Russell County, Virginia, in October of 1803. He married Nancy Chandler (Candler) in 1827, and two years later this young family traveled cross country in a covered wagon to settle here. When he arrived, he had $8 in his pocket, and a few pieces of furniture in his wagon. He worked hard, and within a few years, became a community leader. He and Nancy raised seven children. Son Thomas died in battle on June 19, 1862, and was originally buried in the National Cemetery in Corinth, Mississippi. He served as a member of Co. B, IN 10th Vol. Infantry. There is a stone for him in the Jessee family cemetery, on the old family property. His parents are also buried there. 
    The Jessees were remembered for their hospitality before the war, and Mr. Jessee buried the first decedent in the community. He was remembered for driving his hogs to Cincinnati, which was not an easy task at the time.  
     The original house, pictured above, was finally torn down in 1933. There is a family cemetery on the land there, and several family members are interred on that spot. Nina D. Evans, a granddaughter, recalled Mr. Jessee for a news article in 1933. 

(Crawfordsville Journal Review, May 5, 1933

Suburbs of Crawfordsville, Really?

     When you think of the growth of Crawfordsville from the beginning, you think about it growing from the center out. However, an examination of plat maps of Union Township will show you that several small settlements grew toward, or were absorbed by the town of Crawfordsville. Longview, for instance, was platted in 1873 and incorporated in 1881. It consisted of 27 lots between Wabash Avenue, Market Street, Dry Branch, and the old Warren Davis property on the east. Family names involved in its development were George Paul, Warren Davis, Joseph Alexander, E. Noland, and Robert and Charley Davis. Longview appears as a separate town in the 1878 plat map. 
     Englewood, from the far eastern side of Crawfordsville existed between Wabash Avenue, the eastern and northern corporation lines, and “Lovers’ Lane.”
     Highland was located between Grant Avenue on the west and Mill Street on the east.  Danville Avenue runs through the middle of Highland, which was also home to a brick factory. Annexation into Crawfordsville depended on if the Highland residents would get fire protection, along with water and light service.
     Fiskville shows up in the 1898 plat, along with the previously mentioned small burgs. Fiskville, unlike the other towns, never incorporated.
It operated on the Cleveland cooperative system, whereby home occupants paid on a rent-to-own system. After a certain amount of time of rent payment, they owned their homes. Driving down Whitlock Avenue, you can imagine the generations of children who spent their summer days playing in the “Hollow.” A niece of Ambrose Whitlock, Janie Jones, remembered learning about nature by observing birds, and various forest mammals, such as opossums, raccoons, mink, and chipmunks. There was even a bicycle trail. Some patrons of CDPL have talked before about the natural spring there on the hillside, called Whitlock Springs. It had a fountain, and I’m sure scads of children cooled off there on a sunny day.   
(Information from "Montgomery County Legend and Lore," compiled and edited by Pat Cline, 1988. Available at CDPL) 


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Early Recollections of Crawfordsville

    I recently came across a delightful little historical book located in our reference department about the settlement of Montgomery and several other counties in the area written by Sandford C. Cox --”Recollections of the Early Settlement of the Wabash Valley.” As a young man, soon after he moved to Montgomery County, Cox was hit by a falling tree, and lost a leg. Because of his lost leg, he was unable to do most physical labor so he worked ambitiously to educate himself and become a respected worker. He quietly learned the law and later practiced in Lafayette. He was a conductor on the Underground Railroad. In 1859, Cox began publishing “extracts” of local history in the Lafayette Daily Courier.  
   One of the first recollections concerns land sales in Crawfordsville, on December 24, 1824. At the time, Crawfordsville was the epicenter for business and government for about one hundred miles around. He reports that the town was full of strangers, but that he had also entertained old “White Water” neighbors. He had three old buddies show up for the sale, and in his twelve foot by sixteen-foot cabin slept his family of seven, plus the three friends. This was not an uncommon occurrence in pioneer times. They just spread beds on the floor and made room for everyone.
image of the Speed cabin, from CDPL database

    His description of Crawfordsville at the time is this--”It is the only town between Terre-Haute and Fort Wayne….Major Ristine keeps a tavern in a two story log house, and Jonathan Powers has a little grocery. There are two stores--Smith’s, near the land office, and Isaac C. Elston’s, near the tavern. Thos. M. Curry and Magnus Holmes are the only physicians, and Providence M. Curry the only lawyer in town. John Wilson is clerk of the court, and David Vance is sheriff. William Nicholson carries on a tannery and shoemaker shop. Scott and Mack have cabinet shops, and George Key blows and strikes at the blacksmithing business”