Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sgt. Tilney's WWII Heroism

Tilney mysteriously disappears from the store’s employment registry in 1941 due to his enlistment into the US Army on August 1 of that year.  The fact that Tilney enlisted into the military months before the Pearl Harbor attack is an interesting and noble aspect of his story’s timing.  As Tilney was serving his nation as a paratrooper, he kept a strong friendship with the Garners and consistently corresponded with the family.  The Garners received many letters from Tilney during the war, many in the form of V-Mail, or miniature letters for easier military organization and logistics.  One such letter to the high school age Robert Garner was emblazoned with personal artwork of the North African landscape Tilney was fighting in.
Tilney was deployed to North Africa in 1942 where he participated in the United States first combat parachute jump of World War II.  After initial military combat success in North Africa, Tilney was promoted to sergeant of his platoon.  However, Sgt. Tilney was tragically shot and killed in Nice, France after he intentionally drew enemy sniper fire in order to locate German and Italian strongholds on August 25, 1944.  Sgt. Tilney’s heroism would ultimately not be in vein, and due to his efforts these enemy positions were quickly eliminated by his platoon.  Nice was completely liberated from Axis occupation shortly after Tilney’s death.  Sgt. Tilney’s courage in combat and military service was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action, the French Croix de Guerre, the Expert Infantry Badge with Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Service Bar, the Good Conduct Medal, Paratrooper Wings, and the before Pearl Harbor ribbon bar.

Monday, January 11, 2016

192 Year Old Letter

This letter was written to Martha McClure by Eliza Ann Ristine. ~ January 6, 1824 ~ Not only was Montgomery County newly established, from the description in the letter it is understood that Ms. Ristine was new to the area. Interestingly, 1824 was also the year John Remley arrived in Montgomery County.

The letter reads: Dear School Mate, I take this opportunity of corresponding with you by letter as that is the only medium by which we can converse together for a long time. I should feel very well satisfied here but some of my companions here from that country but feel somewhat lonesome notwithstanding now live in town there is a great forest of timber all around us but the situation of the place is pleasant to be no more improved than what it is at this time. I should be very glad to hear from you and I want you to write to me by Father as he will be in that country for sometime. We have no school here of any description and not much prospect of one for some time there has been about seven families settled in this place since we got here we had a very pleasant journey all the way out and nothing happened to us that was very difficult we camped out every night after we left I want you to remember me to all my companions that thinks proper to inquire after me I remain your loving companion. (Transcribed as written.)

The letter was discovered in a safe at the Madison Presbyterian Church in 2015, and was given to the Montgomery County Historical Society. 

The envelope reads: Miss Martha McClure, Madison Indiana. The name May or Mary Elizabeth Bird is also written on it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Armantrout Bros. Orchestra

CDPL recently acquired numerous artifacts from the estate of the late Robert Garner who was a life-long Crawfordsville citizen. In fact, his father, Sherman Garner owned Garner's Grocery that was located on Chestnut Street. The store closed sometime in the mid 1950's.

Included in the donated items was this business card advertising the Armantrout Bros. Orchestra. This dance orchestra was from Ladoga, Indiana. Three of these gentlemen were brothers.

The musician playing the banjo (sitting in the foreground of the photograph) was not a brother. However, the back of the business card has his name listed as Henry Armontrout. The spelling is actually different than the spelling of the three brothers. Originally, this appears to be a typo, but it may very well have been purposefully done to designate him as a cousin or nephew.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wabash Football

Wabash College football dates back to 1884, when Wabash gathered a team and beat Butler University in Indiana’s first ever intercollegiate football game. Football at Wabash is a storied program, as Wabash and Depauw have played each other in the annual Monon Bell Classic game 122 times. The Little Giants lead the all-time series 60-53-9.
Wabash has only had one losing season since 1976. The only year Wabash made it to the Division III National Championship game was in 1977, but Wabash has never won a national championship.  Recently, the Wabash football program has been making strides toward that first national championship crown. Wabash has reached the playoffs seven times since 2002. This past Saturday Wabash ended their season, losing to St. Thomas University in the quarterfinals of the DIII playoffs. Wabash ended their season with a school best tying 12-1 record.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Christmas shopping in 1915

A century ago, in December 1915, Crawfordsville’s commercial district was advertising and preparing for the busy holiday shopping season just like today.  Similar to today’s holiday season, a great deal of advertising for holiday shoppers appeared throughout the Crawfordsville newspapers directly after the Thanksgiving of 1915.  The December 7, 1915 issue of the Crawfordsville Review ran an independent ad claiming, “SHOP EARLY IN THE SEASON." If your Christmas giving is to measure up to the true spirit of the season it should not be neglected until the last possible moment.   In the November 30, 1915 issue, the popular Louis Bischof Big Store ran an advertising relaying the message, “We urgently request of Patrons to make their Xmas purchases as early as possible.”  Commercial venues have always advocated for “early” shopping, but there was no mention of holiday shopping in the 1915 papers earlier than November 30 and after Thanksgiving.  This was the case because the tradition of “Black Friday” shopping did not begin until the late 1930s when President Franklin Roosevelt made the national proclamation of making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.

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.