Monday, June 26, 2017

The Huntington Family--Builders of Beauty

Try to take a fast drive through Ladoga, and I guarantee that you will slow down to gaze at some of the beautiful late 19th century homes that grace its streets. Maybe you’ll wonder about who must have built all that beauty.  A local man, Hiram Huntington, and several partners, including his son, George, were responsible for bringing about the peaks, the porches, the gingerbread, and the fish scale siding on many of these homes. Hiram Huntington was the best builder in the county beginning in 1866 and continuing on for fifty years!  He started out as a trainman in 1859 in New Albany, Indiana, on the Monon Railroad, then during the Civil War he worked as a pattern maker in Nashville, Tennessee, making armament for the Union forces. After the war, he moved his family to Ladoga, and began making his mark on Montgomery County.
from CDPL image database 
   Probably the most visible and well-known building he and his son, George, completed was the Ladoga East Graded School (1897). What a grand looking school with its ornate brickwork, half-round windows, and lofty turrets mounted on each corner!  This school was used for seventy-five years!
J. C. Knox home, Ladoga, 1895
    One home that he built, the Ashby home, south of Ladoga, is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The J. C. Knox home, in Ladoga,  is a quintessential example of Victorian architecture. Hiram, despite his poor eyesight, was responsible for making much of the elaborate woodwork found inside and outside many of the houses he built.
    A funny note about the family--Hiram and Sarah Gregg married on February 14, 1858. Their two sons were also born on Valentine’s Day--George in 1867, and Harry in 1869!
George (2nd row, with moustache) in his Ladoga High School picture (ca. 1885)
      So, the next time you take a slow drive through Ladoga, think about this influential and talented family, the Huntingtons.  
(Information from "Family Histories, Montgomery County, 1823-1988." Compiled by the Genealogy Sect. of the Montgomery County Historical Society, 1989)


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Toliver Larsh--A Ferry Boatman's Son and County Pioneer

       An 1832 unstamped letter from Toliver Larsh to his brother in Preble County, Ohio, has been acquired by CDPL and is available to view on our “images” database.
     Our curiosity was raised about this early county resident, so we started on a search.  We found his obituary in the Crawfordsville Weekly Journal of November 17, 1870, which can be viewed on microfilm on the second floor of CDPL.  In it, we found that Mr.Larsh and his family lived quite interesting lives!
     Toliver’s family story starts with his grandmother, Mrs. Kincade, and her sister, Mrs. Byrd. Both of them, with their families, were captured by Indians in the middle 1700's near the Scioto River, which is now in Ohio. All but the two sisters lost their lives in captivity, and Paul Larsh, an Indian trader, was able to help them escape to Illinois, and he and Mrs. Kincade married.  From their marriage came Charles Larsh, Toliver’s father. 
    Early in Toliver’s life, his father moved first to Adams County, Kentucky, and then Mason County, Kentucky, where he ran ferry services across the Ohio River.  Toliver became his right-hand man and was known for his skills with an oar and his work ethic. 
    The War of 1812 erupted, and all the men in the family, except for Toliver, served in the Army.
     In 1823, Toliver emigrated to Montgomery County to what is now Ripley Township.  There were no roads, mills, towns, or really, any form of civilization in that area.  Most things needed to come by canoe from Terre Haute up the Sugar River, as it was called then.  He spent the winter of 1823-24 with the Stonebraker family in a three-sided enclosure, keeping a fire going to fend off the wild animals that were prowling at night.
 After building a cabin, he spent many a day toiling with land clearing so he could farm.
     In 1840, he married Jane Gilkey. Together they had four sons and three daughters.  from the archives of Josephine Stubbins Miller, great-granddaughter of Toliver Larsh
l. to r.  Mary Jane, Robert, Jane, Henry Clay, Toliver, John, Martha, Sarah Ann, and Paul
photo circa 1857
     Mr. Larsh was well-known for his kindness to all, and showed great hospitality to those who visited him and those who worked for him. He never became wealthy, because he paid his workers a fair wage. He mentored many a young man, most of whom held him in high regard throughout their lives. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

CHS Alumni Present a Gala "Vodvil" Show--1922

          Many of us remember the old Strand Theater on Green Street.  I remember seeing many movies there, at both the upstairs and the downstairs screens.  I do not know when the theater was divided, but I do know that many years ago, when there was just one stage, that the Strand Theater was a great place to view all sorts of traveling and local shows.  In today’s entry, I will highlight one particular show put on by alumni of Crawfordsville High School.   
     In December of 1922, several alumni of Crawfordsville High School decided to help fund the purchase of theater equipment for the school by having a “vodville” show.  It promised to be one of the “most interesting of its kind ever offered in this city.”  Since the show was announced, several theater groups from around the county pledged their attendance. Two young ladies from Indiana University offered a song and dance routine with costumes. Several members of the Wabash community would also be involved.
     The Detchon’s Orchestra would be playing “Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye,” while Tony Bostwick would be performing “Sunshine of Your Smile” on his violin. 
      A  group of ladies in a chorus sang “Carolina in the Morning” and “My Honey’s Lovin’ Arms.”  The chorus was comprised of Katherine Dorsey, Lois Southard, Kathleen Straughn, Betty Moon, June Pett, Katherine Whittington, Margaret Coombs, Mildred Roach, Betty Wallace, Mary J. Herron, Dorothy Long and Dot Clark.
       During intermission, the patrons were invited to dance in the foyer and also received a memento of the evening from the alumni.                                                                                                                         

Saturday, May 20, 2017

First County Casualty at Pearl Harbor Back From the Dead!

     We recently had an out-of-state guest come to the Local History department of CDPL with a very interesting story about her uncle, Leroy White, 26 years old, at the time, who had been stationed at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

     The family story related that he was aboard on the USS California, at Pearl Harbor and had been smoking up on deck when the ship was torpedoed on December 7, 1941.  He supposedly jumped off the flaming ship into the harbor and swam through the burning waters to the shore and was not found for several days.
      As told in another post in this blog, citizens here learned of the bombing by radio and by reports given out to the crowds at the Crawfordsville Journal Review on Green Street. The December 12 article in the Journal reported that “ the Arizona and five other warships were lost,” but no mention was made of the USS California

     Imagine the horror felt by Mr. and Mrs. David White of near New Market when the headline on December 16 read: 


     Those were terrible days at the White household  until a letter, mailed on December 19, arrived at their home.  

      Christmas must have been a very merry occasion with the White family that year! 
Leroy survived the war and married Alice Lidester in October, 1953.  He died in August, 1994 and is buried in Boone County. 

     What happened to the USS California?  In early 1942 it was refloated and dry docked.  Later, in June, it was sent to Puget Sound for refitting and major repairs.  This fine ship later returned to the seas to play a significant role in the battles around the Philippines and Japan.   A Japanese kamikaze pilot slammed into it on January 6, 1945, so immediate repairs were made to it, and its men continued  on to battle near Okinawa, Japan.  The “USS California” was finally scrapped in 1959.   

Monday, May 8, 2017

The First Airmail Letter Arrives From Washington, D.C.!--1918

    Just a few short years after the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, airmail became the wave of the future in communications.  A certain B. E. Hinkle in Washington, D.C., needed to renew his subscription to the Crawfordsville Daily Journal.  He enclosed a letter with his payment.

        "I was so fortunate as to see the first plane, in flight, that carried mail from our capital to New York City, and also the incoming plane from the metropolis to Washington."
                                                     (May 17, 1918. Crawfordsville Daily Journal.)

  The letter bore a new twenty-four cent stamp had only just been printed for the first time on May 14, and this letter appeared in our local paper on May 17.


 This stamp was to become famous when it was accidently printed upside-down. The “Inverted Jenny,” after the Curtiss Jenny airplane it depicted, is now worth about 1.6 million dollars.  Don’t you wish you had one?


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Adding to Our Database and Local Family Histories

    (continuing from the last post)  I recently donated scans of Hostetter family photos to CDPL to be uploaded onto the “image” database on our Local History/Reference page, because I know that I am related to several families in the county, as Anna Marie’s sister, Mary, married Perry Nichols, and had eight children. Many of their families are scattered throughout the county.  If you have any historical pictures of your family that you can identify, we would love to scan them into our database. 
     On the right are my grandmother Anna Marie Hostetter Hatfield's grandparents--Simon D. Hostetter and Catherine Goodbar.  They lived near Ladoga in the 1800's.
     We also have a Family Bible Project database that we would like patrons to add to. Just bring in a Bible that has a family history written in it, we can scan it, or you may donate the book to our archive. We add your information to our searchable database for others to use. Here is an example from a family Bible I found somewhere years ago, that records many people in my fifth-great-grandmother's family. 

      Mathew Thompson, at the bottom, rode in a canoe with his parents Samuel and Catherine from Cincinnati to a spot on the Mad River, in 1796, to be the first white boy to live in Dayton, Ohio. He later moved to Hagerstown, Indiana, to live with a sister, who was the great-grandmother of the Wright brothers! He lived in Ladoga for a while, and then he and his wife, Margaret Gillespie, moved to Remington in the 1860's to live with their son, George, the first postmaster there, and that is where they are all interred. Most of that information I did not find online, but from library research. 

"Who Do I Think I Am," Montgomery County Style!

Margaret Thompson and Corbin Hostetter, my great-grandparents, parents
of  Mary (Nichols), George, Eugene, and Anna Marie (Hatfield).
     I’ll come out from behind my “blogger” anonymity and reveal that I am Dianne Hatfield Combs, not born in Montgomery County, but I have lived here since 1986. I knew my American grandmother,  Anna-Marie (nee) Hostetter Hatfield had grown up near New Market. But what else did I know about her family?  My family history curiosity started with some old pictures in Grandma’s trunk, and now I have folders full of information. For several years I have dug through many county and city resources at CDPL to discover that in seven generations, my father is the only person in my direct line to not have lived in this county.  Just how far back do I go in this county?  Well, I have Goodbars settling in Scott Township in 1830’s, Halls in Brown Township during the same time, Wassons in Brown’s Valley, and the Hostetters showed up a bit later. I have many family members buried at Harshbarger’s Cemetery, and at Ladoga.  My husband and I have traveled to many libraries in and out of Indiana searching for more pieces to our family puzzles.

     At CDPL, we have many family history books that are the result of family historians organizing their own research and publishing it in book form. I have not started one yet, but on the off chance that there may be some of my family in a book here, I researched and found the “Zug,  Zuck, Zouck, Zook” family history that just happens to contain information on my American grandfather’s Hatfield/Zook side of the family, from Johnson and Brown counties.