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.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Longtime Family Business

Life and death are but phases of the same thing, the reverse and obverse of the same coin. Death is as necessary for man’s growth as life itself. -- Mahatma Gandhi

1917 ad in Crawfordsville paper

Death is a great truth of life, and the people of Montgomery County have been served in time of death for over a hundred years by the Hunt family of Crawfordsville. Walter Lawrence Hunt, born in 1874, the founder of the original funeral home, completed his early education in Walnut Township. He married Georgianna Bowman, of Boone County in 1896.  He started a funeral home in Advance in 1897. After attending embalming school in Indianapolis, he moved his business to 122 N. Washington Street in Crawfordsville in 1916 and ran it with Michael J. Murphy. The Hunt and Murphy Funeral Home was a storefront in a building next to the Oddfellows Meeting Hall. This property is now part of the Montgomery County Courthouse parking lot.The Hunt undertaking business changed as time passed. In 1924, Walter purchased the property at 107 N. Grant Street and moved the business there. The business became Hunt and Ratcliff in the 1920’s. In 1937, he became business partner with another Montgomery County man, Noble Reeves.  Walter and Georgianna had five children. Their son, Robert, entered the business with his father.  Tom, his son, known to many in Montgomery County ran the business with his father.  Today, Hunt and Son Funeral Home is run by Tom’s sons, Rob and David. This long-lived locally-owned business has helped many families through their times of grief by providing quality service and personal care to their customers.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Laying Track--Disputed Interurban Line Put In Despite Court Rulings

    Before the days of heading off in our automobiles, Crawfordsville residents had the option of riding in town or to other cities on the interurban. In July, 1903, the Northwestern Traction line track was laid down the middle of Main Street, starting by the courthouse between Washington and Green Streets.  In order to get around a court case with the Consolidated Traction Company over who had the rights to put a line through Crawfordsville, one hundred workers were brought in from Danville and Lebanon line in the dark of night to get started by the earliest morning light. The first track was hammered down by a Mr. E. A. Wilhite, one of the oldest living first settlers in the county.  This was the fourth time the Northwestern Traction Company had attempted to lay tracks.
This shows the track after its installation.  The Crawford Hotel is the tall building on the right, on East Main St. 

   The laying of the track at this time was a point of contention with the city fathers and with the Consolidated Traction Company. Consolidated Traction had already begun laying lines west out of Indianapolis towards Montgomery County.  The first time the Northwestern Company tried to lay track at the end of May, some city officials contested it, and even went so far and to take fire hoses and water to the workers to stop them from tearing up the city streets.  The city filed suit, and the Northwestern counter-filed against the city.  The suit went back and forth between judges and courts, federal and local. If the company was to be found in contempt of court for trying to continue to lay track after being told not to, then the new tracks would have to be torn out of the street, and the company would have to pay fines and the company leaders would be jailed.  

  The track was laid without incident, finally, and transportation options were opened for travelers from Montgomery County to easily find their way to Indianapolis and other points east. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Vice-Presidential Candidate Visits Our County--Welcome to Charles W. Fairbanks!

Imagine a presidential election without the intrusion of 24 hour news, the internet, or Facebook. Candidates traveled the country by train, and newspapers were the primary source of information on electoral races. 

Charles Hughes on the campaign trail

One hundred years ago, during the presidential election of 1916, the Republican party of Montgomery County hosted vice-presidential candidate, the Honorable Charles W Fairbanks. Fairbanks, a Hoosier from Indianapolis, had previously won elections for a senate seat from Indiana, and for vice-president under Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. He had lost his bid to run as president during the 1916 campaign, but was instrumental in setting up the Republican platform for this election. Charles E. Hughes, at the time, led the Republican ticket against the Democratic nominees Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Marshall, another Hoosier.  
During Fairbanks’ visit, in October of 1916, he planned single visits to Linden,Darlington, Waveland, and two trips through Crawfordsville. He was to stop for15 minutes in each town and speak from the back of the train. On the Saturdaystop in Darlington, a large reception would be held by prominent local Republicans. This trip through the county would be the last for any Republican candidates for this election.

Secret polls throughout the state were conducted by the New York Herald, the
Cincinnati Enquirer, and other metropolitan newspapers. All sections of the. country showed favoritism towards the Republican slate.  Hughes was seen to be accumulating voters previously leaning towards a Wilson vote.
Election results were close across the country.  In fact, Hughes and Fairbanks had a pretty good idea that they had won when their heads hit their pillows on election night.  However, when California’s votes were counted,  Wilson had defeated former Supreme Court Justice Charles Hughes 49.1% to 46.1%, or 277 electoral votes to 254.
Towns and cities in Alaska, Minnesota, and Oregon are named Fairbanks in his honor, along with a school in Indianapolis.  

Monday, September 26, 2016

You May Now Redeem Your S & H Green Stamps at George Graham's Store!


  In November of 1916, The George W. Graham Co., at 117-123 N. Washington St., (Cornett’s Furniture Store in 2016) announced that his store had made arrangements with The Sperry and Hutchinson Green Stamps Company to offer cash stamps with every ten 
cent purchase.

  A parlor area upstairs would soon be restocked with all manner of goods for which customers could redeem Green Stamps. I’m sure that many a homemaker in the Crawfordsville area was delighted to know that she could keep saving her Green Stamps and redeem them to get items or, “premiums,” needed for her kitchen, or a nice lamp for the parlor. Many a toaster made its way into local kitchens due to shoppers’ diligence in saving stamps.

Sperry and Hutchinson began selling their Green Stamps to businesses across the country in 1896.  Retailers would give them to shoppers for every ten cent purchase.  This marketing ploy helped to get more shoppers into the stores and to get them to spend more money once they were in the stores and shoppers were happy to receive goods with their stamps, so everyone was happy!