Monday, November 23, 2015

Wabash Avenue Home Demolished

The house standing at 201 W. Wabash Avenue was torn down today, and the corner lot now stands empty. But earlier this year, Randy Cummings, a descendant of former local resident Forest Cummings, provided the CDPL collection with a photograph of this home, where his grandfather once lived, as it appeared in the 1940s.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Montgomery County Civil War Soldiers Returned Home 150 Years Ago

The American Civil War ended 150 years ago, in the year 1865.  Montgomery County sent almost 3,000 men to war, defending the Union and freedom in this long and bloody struggle.  In 1865 many of these men would return home to the family farm, go to school, or work in town in Crawfordsville.  However, around 500 of these men died from either wounds in battle or disease, and would never see their Indiana home again.  Montgomery County was also home to a number of elite men involved in the conflict including Generals Lew Wallace, Edward Canby, Mahlon Manson, William Morgan, and John Hawkins.  Crawfordsville native, Henry Lane, also played an influential role in allowing Lincoln Republican candidacy in the presidential election of 1861. 
The summer of 1865 was filled with a mixture of emotions in Montgomery County.  There was jubilance for the war ending, sadness for the lost, and confusion for the future.  But above all was an excitement and praise for the return of local soldiers.  The Crawfordsville Weekly Journal promoted a, “GRAND NATIONAL PICNIC, to be held at the courthouse on the fourth of July to give a warm and welcome greeting to the scarred and war-worn veterans.”  Another poem was claimed, “Prolific seeds drop in the mellowed ground, The sword-blade rusts, and blades of corn uprear.”  This was true all over Montgomery county as farm boys returned to work in the fields.
Economically, Indiana drastically changed as a whole since 1865.  Prior to this year, New Albany was the most populated and largest city in the state due to its trade with the South.  However, after Confederate surrender economic activity and industry transferred from Indianapolis and north through the state.  Crawfordsville acted as a crucial crossroads for this time of economic boom and new roads and railroad tracks were laid through the town.  The Crawfordsville Weekly Journal relayed in June of 1865 that, “Considerable business was transferred and the final steps agreed upon to make the construction of the road from Indianapolis to Danville, Illinois a fixed fact.”  The end of the war and Northern victory in 1865 brought considerable transportation, commercial, and overall economic development to Crawfordsville in 1865.
Most of Montgomery County’s native leaders were active in their duties elsewhere in 1865.  Henry S. Lane was still in Washington DC representing the state in senate.  General Lew Wallace was also in the area of the capital taking part in trials for the Lincoln conspirators as well as the Confederate commandant of Andersonville prison.  In the spring of 1865, General Edward Canby oversaw and conducted the Union campaign against Confederate forces at Mobile, Alabama and accepted the surrender of rebel forces west of the Mississippi River.
Without a doubt, 1865 was a major turning point in American and Montgomery County history.  Local families were celebrating the return of their war veterans, and others were mourning the loss of theirs.  It was a year filled with social, political, and economic changes for our local community. Though one thing is for sure, that we would not be where we are today without the impact of the events that transcended time 150 years ago.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteran's Day 2015

World War I, also known as "The Great War", officially ended with the Treaty of Versailles which was signed on June 28, 1919. However, fighting actually ceased on November 11, 1918. President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day.

Because WWI was so devastating, the recurring anniversary of November 11 was established by the Senate and the President of the United States to be a day marked by thanksgiving, prayers, and activities designed to perpetuate peace, good will, and mutual respect between nations.

Help us celebrate Veteran's Day by listening to the stories told by our Veterans. These interviews were originally recorded by the Montgomery County Historical Society.

We also have the Veteran's database available on our website to help you with your

Additionally, we have copies of some WWI letters that can be viewed by clicking on this link:  

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ben Hur Building

On this day, 105 years ago, the Crawfordsville Daily Journal announced which architectural firm would be contracted to construct the new Ben Hur Building. The decision was made by the executive committee of the Tribe of Ben Hur. Seven firms from Chicago, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis submitted tentative plans and drawings for the new building. They chose Herbert L. Bass & Co. of Indianapolis. This particular photograph was taken at the corner of Main St. and Water St. on April 6, 1911 during the laying of the marble cornerstone for the new Ben Hur Building. This photograph was discovered behind some framed artwork in Tennessee by Delores Fleming. The photograph originally belonged to Doris Carney. Her husband's grandfather, Wright B. Carney, was in this photograph. He is holding the white Tennessee sign on the right side of the photograph. Also, of notable interest are the horse-and-buggy carriages in the photograph.

In 1940 the Ben Hur Building was renovated. The original white tile was taken down and the black marble tiles were added.

The black marble tiles currently remain on the vacated building. Recently, plans have been submitted for renovating the building a second time. The tentative reconstruction will include a restaurant, hotel, and apartments.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

First Crawfordsville Fair

 Pat Cline Photo - Taken at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds
One of the fun things about genealogy research is that it uncovers other fun facts along the way. For example, while searching for obituaries, a CDPL staff member ran across a mention of the first Crawfordsville fair. The brief column was found in the Crawfordsville Daily Journal, Sept 3, 1914, titled "First Crawfordsville Fair 61 Years Ago." Apparently, the first fair was held in 1853 in an area called Dunn's Grove, which was located in the western part of the city (near Vance Street). The fair was then moved to Englewood in 1862. After a number of years at that location, it moved to its present home on Parke Avenue.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Eleanor Lambert 1903-2003

Eleanor Lambert was born August 10, 1903 in Crawfordsville, IN. After graduating from Crawfordsville High School, Lambert attended the John Herron School of Art in Indianapolis. After eloping to Illinois with Wills Connor, she enrolled in the Chicago Art Institute with the intention of becoming a sculptor. However, the restless couple left for New York City where their marriage ended in divorce. She then married Seymour Berkson and they had one child together, renowned poet, Bill Berkson.
Lambert adjusting a model in New York City, 1964

Eleanor actually began her career as an advertising agent and opened her own agency in Manhattan representing mostly artists and galleries. In the 1930's she was the Press Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art and helped found the Museum of Modern Art.

In 1943 Eleanor was Press Director of the New York Dress Institute. She was responsible for founding the International Best Dressed List and The Coty Fashion Critics' Award. However, she is most notably known for founding New York Fashion Week. Presently, it is one of four major fashion weeks in the world, with the other three being in Paris, Milan, and London.

Eleanor Lambert was crucial in promoting American fashion world-wide: she is credited with putting it on the map. In 1959 she was asked by the US Department of State to present fashion for the first time in countries all over Europe, in Japan and in Australia. In 1962, she created the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Currently, fashion is a $1.2 trillion global industry with $250 billion spent annually in the United States alone.

Eleanor Lambert was 100 years old when she died on October 7, 2003 in New York City. Fashion historian, John Tiffany, wrote a book about her life, career, and contributions to the fashion world. The book is titled, "Eleanor Lambert: Still Here."

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Joseph Stephen Crane, 1916-1985

Joseph Stephen Crane was born in Crawfordsville, IN on February 7, 1916. The Crane family owned the Stephenson Crane Cigar Store located on South Washington Street. Crane graduated from Crawfordsville High School where he was active in drama and debate. He then attended Wabash College, graduating in 1937 with a degree in Business. In 1942, Crane married the famous Hollywood actress, Lana Turner. They were actually married and divorced twice. They had one child together, a daughter, named Cheryl Crane. When Cheryl was 14 years old, she fatally stabbed her mother's boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato (Johnny Stomp). He was a bodyguard for mobster Mickey Cohen. Stompanato was known to have been abusive to Lana and the murder was ruled a justifiable homicide.

Stephen Crane actually enjoyed his own brief Hollywood career starring in three Columbia Pictures productions. The Oscar-nominated film "Tonight and Every Night" featured Crane alongside screen goddess, Rita Hayworth. However, Crane was more notably known as a restaurateur. He developed, owned, and managed The Luau, Kon-Tiki, and Ports o' Call restaurants. The Luau was very famous in Hollywood and was frequented by many film stars. The Kon-Tiki restaurant was popular in Sheraton Hotels throughout the United States and Canada from 1958-1978.

Crane died on February 6, 1985, just one day shy of his 69th birthday. He is buried in Crawfordsville next to his parents at Oak Hill Cemetery. Lana Turner died in 1995 of throat cancer. Cheryl Crane has written her own book, "Detour: A Hollywood Story," and is a realtor living in California.