Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas, 1948

In 1948, Harry S. Truman was president, gasoline was 26 cents a gallon, and only one in ten Americans has seen a television set up to this point! Christmas may not have been as commercialized as it is now, but Crawfordsville still tried to decorate for the holidays.  This scene is looking west on East Main Street during December 1948. Several businesses are shown, including: Crawfordsville Paint Store, Western Union, Val-U Dress Shop, Bank Cigar Store, Crawford Cafe (a Cafe sign is hanging near the Crawford Hotel), and the Crawford Hotel (which is now occupied by the Canine Plaza). The Christmas lights are strung all along the street, and cars are parked along the sidewalks.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Your donations benefit all!

We received a recent walk-in donation of this photograph of law enforcement officials and other dignataries.

Seven police officers in uniform (front row) and four men in formal civilian clothes (back row) pose in front of the General Lew Wallace statue on the grounds of the Wallace study, c. 1931-1934. The identification card included by the donor reads: "left-right:  Paul Branagan, Charles Johnson, Otto Biederstot, Merle Remley, 'IND State Police,' Charles Curtin, Fred Grimes." We have also been able to identify Mayor Thomas Cooksey, who  stands in the back row, third from the left.

We really appreciate such donations because we strive to protect your county's heritage and will work hard to preserve it for future generations -- as we make it available for all to enjoy. Contact us if you have anything you think would make a nice donation (or temporary loan for us to scan) to the Reference/Local History Department of CDPL!

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Buddy" Fire Dog

We often receive donations of historical photgraphs, but most tend to be of people or places. A recent donation, however, provided a portrait of a dog proudly posed on a stool. On back of the photograph was written:

"Buddy" Fire dog -- Always got on the truck in Crawfordsville. Taken in the late 1800's.

That is all the information we had...until an alert staff member saw an article while looking through the microfilm of old newspapers from 1904. On August 27, 1904, the Sunday Star included a small article on "Buddy" and on his unfortunate demise:

The little black dog, called "Buddy" and owned by Harry Swan, and which was always on hand when the fire bell rang, is dead. It made no difference where the dog was, he would go when the bell rang. If he was shut up in the house, he would race around, barking and awaking the people, so he could go to the fire. On Thursday evening, when the bell sounded the dog was up near the school house, and started towards the engine house. He met the team at Pike street, and in trying to turn around got under one of the horses and received a kick which caused his death. He would jump upon every dog which happened to be on the street as he was going to a fire, and he was almost the same as an attachment to the fire wagon. The fire boys are very sad over the death, and gave him a burial worthy of his place in life.

Buddy may have been forgotten for more than a century -- but he will now live on in our Local History archives.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

7 of 8 Twins Pose Before Camera

"7 of 8 Twins Pose Before Camera" was the caption for a photo that appeared in the Journal Review on March 4, 1948. We had this photograph on our Image Database for years -- with no information other than the year -- until we accidentally found it in the newspaper while looking for something completley unrelated. The photo had a story, too, that allowed us to add much more to our database description! (So if you ever see one of our images and know more about it than what we provide, don't hesitate to tell us! That's how we improve our collection for you.)

Here is the Journal Review story that accompanied the photo: "Seven of the eight twins born at Culver hospital during the six-day period in the closing days of February 'blinked' innocently as they were photographed in the nursery at Culver hospital, with three hospital nurses holding three pairs of twins and the surviving twin of the fourth set lying in an incubator. Oldest baby in the group is Michael David Haworth, still in the incubator. He was born Saturday night, Feb 21, to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Haworth of Kingman. His twin sister died shortly after birth. The three sets of twins in the arms of the three nurses at the hospital, reading from left to right are: Becky Ann Sanders and Patsy Jean Sanders, twin sisters, born Tuesday morning, Feb. 24, to Mr. and Mrs. Leon Sanders, Ladoga, and being held by Nurse Ruth Steinkamp; Jane Jean Wharff and Wayne Martin Wharff, daughter and son of Mr. and Mrs. Otis Wharff, Covington street, Crawfordsville, born Friday morning Feb 27, and being held by Nurse Marjorie Martin, and on the extreme right -- Michael Lee Walker and Madonna Dee Walker, boy and girl babies born Wednesday evening, Feb. 25, to Mr. and Mrs. Noble Walker, of Jamestown. Nurse Osia Woodruff is holding the Walker twins."

Now we have names to go with the nurses and the babies!

Friday, October 14, 2011

What Was There?

As you travel around Montgomery County, have you ever wondered what certain areas looked like long before you came along? Now is your chance to find out! A web site called WhatWasThere has made it easy for people around the world to contribute to a project where images of the past can be superimposed over images from today (using Google Street View). WhatWasThere's objective is to create "a new human experience of time and space – a virtual time machine of sorts that allows users to navigate familiar streets as they appeared in the past."

Go to WhatWasThere and search by your city (e.g., Crawfordsville, IN) or zip code (e.g., 47933) to see some of the images that the Reference/Local History staff have already added. We have just a handful at this time but plan to keep adding! Where do we get our "old" pictures? Well, we use our ever-growing Image Database to find past views that we know we can place with current views.You are welcome to help us, too, if you wish to get a free account with WhatWasThere.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Armstrong Collection

 A collection of original photographs and family papers once belonging to Raymond and Margaret L. (Hollingsworth) Armstrong have been donated to CDPL's local history collection. Margaret was the daughter of Emmitt Hollingsworth and Mabel (Carmack) Hollingsworth of Vermillion County. The majority of the photographs relate to the Hollingsworth and Carmack families, but also include Asberry, Bowen, Brown, Weatherman, and Elder family members. This photograph shows a construction crew in Montezuma, Parke County. Please contact the library's Reference and Local History Department to view these items at (765)-362-2242, ext. 117.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Binford Family Collection

Several months ago, the Crawfordsville District Public Library's local history collection received about a dozen letters written to Evangeline Binford, daughter of Joseph Binford, a prominent local coal merchant. These letters were written about the time of Evangeline’s marriage to Hugh T. Gary in 1895. As a result of library research, descendants of Evangeline Binford were located, now living in the western part of the United States. Evangeline’s grand-daughter, Myrna Gary, not only was willing to provide the library’s local history collection with original family photographs, ledgers, her grandmother’s wedding gown, and other priceless family heirlooms, but also drove 1800 miles in a Winnebago to hand-deliver them to us! We thank Myrna for her part in helping Montgomery County preserve such a valuable part of its heritage. To view the image of the items Myrna donated, click this link: and type "Myrna Gary" in the keyword field.

Do you have photographs, diaries, letters or other pieces to the puzzle that is Montgomery County history? If so, please contact the CDPL Reference & Local History department at 765-362-2242 ext. 117.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Esther Detchon in Europe, 1914

Esther Detchon

Esther Detchon (1893-1980) was a popular Crawfordsville socialite.  She came from a prominent and wealthy family which made its fortune as doctors and businessmen.  Esther attended an exclusive private finishing school in Philadelphia after graduating from Crawfordsville High School in 1911.  In 1914, Esther went on a school-sponsored trip to Europe, where she stayed in first-class accommodations in Germany, Switzerland, Holland, France, Italy, England, and Scotland.  When World War I was officially declared in July of 1914, Esther and her classmates were stranded in Italy, where they applied for emergency passports at the American Embassy in Rome. Although officials assured them that American tourists were safe in Europe (as long as they curbed their curiosity and stayed out of dangerous situations), family and friends in Crawfordsville waited anxiously for word of Esther.  Weeks later, Esther arrived back in the United States, having paid $250 for passage on the Principe di Undine, an Italian liner chartered by a group of wealthy Americans.  Esther and her classmates, happy to be home, were also “disappointed because they had had no really exciting adventures.” (Crawfordsville Daily Journal, August 28, 1914) 
Esther (third from left) and her classmates

 Check out the library’s display of Esther’s travel photos, school scrapbooks, and more!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, Beatrice Schenk de Regniers!

Caldecott award-winning author Beatrice Schenk de Regniers was born Beatrice Freedman August 16, 1914, in Lafayette, Indiana. As a young girl she moved to Crawfordsville, the town she claimed as her hometown. She graduated from Crawfordsville High School in 1931, left Crawfordsville to study in Chicago, and eventually moved to New York. She wrote over 49 books, primarily for children, over the course of her celebrated career (she died in 2000). Recently, the Crawfordsville District Public Library received a donation of a number of original photographs, yearbooks, and papers relating to the Freedman family, including several photographs of Mrs. de Regniers. The Library is thankful for the generous gift that allows our community to preserve the memory of our talented local author and her family. Happy 97th Birthday, Beatrice Schenk de Regniers!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Courthouse Cornerstone: 1875

The first Montgomery County courthouse was a log structure 26 by 20 feet wide, erected in 1823 on the same site where the current courthouse stands (on the corner of Main and Washington streets). This cabin was replaced by a brick structure by 1833 and lasted some 40 years before it was no longer sufficient for the county needs. Construction began on the third courthouse in 1874 -- the structure that still stands today -- and on May 6, 1875, the community participated in a large cornerstone ceremony, complete with parade and speech by General Lew Wallace. Into the cornerstone were placed photos, business cards, club membership lists, newspapers, pamphlets, advertisements, and so on -- anything that the late 19th-century dignitaries considered to be of interest for future citizens of Montgomery County. This cornerstone was carefully opened in 1986 and its contents revealed after more than 100 years of obscurity. You can look at most of these documents online now on our CDPL Image Database!

How to view these documents?

Go to the Image database and . . .

In the ID# field, put  20110708-*


in the keyword search field type:  courthouse cornerstone

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Carry Nation in Crawfordsville

In 1901, Carry Nation attended Crawfordsville's Independence Day celebration. Arriving on the evening of July 3rd, the notorious Kansas Smasher gave a speech on her work with the temperance movement and toured our city before departing on July 5th.

Although no saloons were reported vandalized, Nation, with her hatchet in hand, walked the streets of Crawfordsville and shouted at citizens who had cigarettes or tobacco. She sold replica tin hatchets, newsletters, and photographs and according to local newspapers, made quite a profit.

Recently we discovered a wonderful souvenir from Carrie Nation's visit to Crawfordsville in our archives. This original photograph was taken at the local photography studio Nicholson's Sons. The photograph is now available online in our Image Database.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

W.C. Murphy & Company store

Our Local History collection was recently enriched by the arrival of several interesting photographs! On the left, you can see a group of employees standing ready for customers at the W.C. Murphy & Company men's clothing store, located at 101 E. Main St. The photograph is dated 1912. Stacks of men's suits, hats, shirt collars, and other merchandise fill the store. The man with the measuring tape is likely Mr. Murphy, who was trained as a tailor. This building later served as a bank, a jewelry store, and coffee shops (you may recognize the narrow interior if you have ever been in this building, most recently known as the Patch of Blue Denim or its predecessor, Campbell's).

The exterior of the original location for W. C. Murphy & Co. men's clothing store, shown  in 1922, is even more recognizable to anyone familiar with downtown Crawfordsville. (The store was relocated to 122 S. Washington after the Crawfordsville Trust Company purchased the building in 1922.) The second floor window has a sign for Williams and Murphy Law Office stenciled on the surface, and the front of the store has a sign for the removal sale. Note the streetcar wires that crisscross the intersection.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Peacock photos now online

Thanks to a generous loan from Tom Peacock, the library now has over 100 digitized images of William "Fred" Peacock and his wife Margaret "Margie" Peacock in our collection.  We began our research on 1930s chorus girl and Hollywood film dancer Margie Murphy Peacock back in January. After marrying Darlington native Fred Peacock in the 1940s, Margie moved to Crawfordsville and resided here until her death in 1989. Fred Peacock served in the army during World War II and was a well-known dentist who practiced in Crawfordsville until his death in 1981. The collection includes head shots, modeling photos, and cast photos of Margie Peacock when she performed as Margie Murphy in the 1930s.  Also included are snapshots of Fred Peacock overseas during World War II.

You can access the Peacock collection by going to our image database and entering the following in the subject field:
Murphy, Margaret "Margie"
Peacock, Margaret "Margie"
Peacock, William Frederick "Fred"

You can also enter their names in the keyword field to browse the collection.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Display: Maurine Dallas Watkins

A display honoring the life and work of Maurine Dallas Watkins, author of Chicago, is now up on the second floor of the library.  Before her career as a playwright and screenwriter, Watkins was a Crawfordsville resident and a 1914 graduate of Crawfordsville High School. Featured in the display are photographs, programs, news articles, yearbooks, and much more.

CDPL has a photo of Watkins with the Sunshine Society at the 1914 County Fair.  You can see it here!

We also have Douglas Perry's latest book on Watkins and the writing of Chicago.

If you would like more information about Maurine Watkins in Crawfordsville, please contact the Reference/Local History Department  at 765.362.2242 ext 117 or

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Richmond School, 1914

Donations to our collection are always welcome, and it is not uncommon for us to receive items that add great value to our collection -- your county's heritage. We recently received a large panoramic photograph of a large group of school children, teachers, and drivers standing in front of the New Richmond School building in 1914. Some school hacks (Coal Creek Township Schools) are parked in the background. The school was on East Washington Street, next to the New Richmond Christian Church. Although both these buildings are gone today, we intend to save the image for future generations.

Scanning this panoramic photograph for our image database proved to be a challenge because the image was over 2.5 feet long and some 10 inches tall. We had to scan it in five sections and then "stitch" together the sections to make one image. Using Windows 7 with its Live Photo Gallery made this once difficult chore very easy because Photo Gallery has a feature that can recognize overlapping images in order to make one image out of it. All five sections blended well with one another except for the first section on the left -- Photo Gallery could not recognize that section as part of the panoramic photo because we simply could not seem to scan it at the same size as the other four sections (so we finally ended up attaching that section manually, as is obvious). But at least for now we are able to share with the community a photo that few have seen before.

Are you curious to see a few more images we have, taken of the same building around the same time? You can find several on our image database, including:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Janet Lambert photos

Daughter of author Janet Lambert donates family photographs to library collection

Jeanne Ann Vanderhoef, daughter of Kent and Janet (Maude Snyder) Lambert, has allowed the library to copy Lambert family photographs that have been added to the library's image database, available online. Mrs. Vanderhoef's mother, Janet Lambert, the author of 54 books for teen girls, began her writing career in 1941 with Star Spangled Summer and wrote her last book, Here's Marny, in 1969. Janet Lambert was born Maude Snyder in Crawfordsville, on December 17, 1893. Mrs. Vanderhoef's father, Kent Lambert, was a World War I veteran who retired as post commander of Fort Jay on Governor's Island, New York after 34 years of duty. The photograph shown here is the wedding photograph of Kent and Janet Lambert, taken on New Year's Day, 1918. Other distinguished Lambert family members include Mrs. Vanderhoef's uncle, Ward "Piggie" Lambert, coach of the Purdue University men's basketball team for 29 seasons, and her aunt, Eleanor Lambert, promoter of American fashion design and developer of the International Best Dressed List. Thank you to Mrs. Vanderhoef for her generous contribution, which supports the library's research on Crawfordsville's famous former residents.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Local History databases

Did you realize that you can do a lot of local history and genealogy research before coming to the library? You may want to become familiar with the numerous databases we offer to help you with your work -- and these are often the first sources for us to try when you request help.

For example, did you know that we have a listing of cemetery tombstone readings from the early days of the county up to recent times? Try our Cemeteries of Montgomery County database.

Need to find an obituary, marriage announcment, birth announcement, or any other vital statistics information from local newspapers? We have the Vital Statistics database that is an index of newspapers from the early 1830s to the present day.

These are just two of the more than one dozen databases we have for you that you can access anytime from our Local History page. To find out more, watch a short video on our database offerings:

Watch a 4-minute video on our Local History databases!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fine Dining at the Hotel Ramsey

One of Crawfordsville's finest hotels, the Hotel Ramsey, was located on the northwest corner of Green Street and Market Street.

In 1903, Easter fell on Sunday, April 12. If you were staying at the Hotel Ramsey at that time, you made an excellent choice -- especially if you decided to have Easter dinner at this establishment. You had many tasty options! How about starting off with clam chowder before the arrival of your roast prime beef or spring lamb with mint sauce? As a vegetable, you could choose new beets in butter or asparagus tips, among other tasty delights. Apple or chocolate pie with ice cream would make a nice dessert to this meal.

You can see the entire 1903 Easter menu on our Image database by going directly to its 8MB .pdf image: 

The Image database ( is more than simply a collection of photographs -- its is also where you can find many different types of documents covering your Montgomery County heritage.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Crawford Hotel

This rare close-up of the front door of the Crawford Hotel, a landmark of the Crawfordsville downtown area from 1900 to 1974, was recently added to the library's image database. The original photograph, found among the library's Clark D. Jones papers, notes the identity of only one member of the group: Clark Jones. Mr. Jones is located on the right end of the front row. The group is not identified, but may be city leaders, or perhaps a business or professional organization. Recognize anyone? Know what group this is? Please contact our reference and local history department at 362-2242, ext. 117.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

South Washington Street, 1936

This photograph of a delivery truck parked outside the Jerry S. Matracia wholesale fruit store at 125 S. Washington Street, Crawfordsville was recently added to the library's image database. Mr. Matracia and his wife, Josephine Guiliano Matracia, were Italian immigrants who owned the store for many years. The truck, a Studebaker Model 2M201, was the focal point for the photographer, but the background provides us with a rare look at the Joel Block circa 1936. The 2007 Silver Dollar Fire destroyed the building that housed the Matracia family business, but the Robb Grocery building is still standing today.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

1914-1915 Mace High School basketball team

Every so often a nice picture comes our way quite unexpectedly! A few days ago, Paula Clahan arrived at the Reference/Local History Department and offered to let us scan one of her photos to share with the community (the photo is already on our Local History image database for the entire world to see). Inspired by the Carnegie Museum's opening display on basketball, Mrs. Clahan remembered that she had a photo of the 1914-1915 Mace High School basketball team. This photo was taken outside the school building on a cinder court. The young players have been identified as (from right to left): Wallace Fletcher, Vercil Crouch, Edward Clahan (Paula's future father-in-law), Harry Gutherie, and Cecil Clark.

Thanks to generous donations and loans from patrons such as Mrs. Clahan, we continue to build our collection of your heritage -- and will pass it on to future generations.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Tantalizing Glimpse...

Sometimes we get very close to something we would really like to see. In an old scrapbook from the Tuttle Parent-Teacher Association 1945-1953, a photo was originally pasted inside the front cover and then later partially torn out before the scrapbook came to us. On closer examination, this photo is evidently a clear view of the original Tuttle building (which opened in 1906 at a cost of $20,000). This building was used until 1960 when it was demolished and replaced by the current Joseph F. Tuttle Middle School on the same spot. The photo was taken from the west side of the building, from South Elm Street. It is too bad that this photo is now incomplete because we have so few good photos of the "old" Tuttle building even though it was a local landmark over half a century!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Green Street in 1909

The library recently received this scan of a photograph of the 100 block of South Green Street, which was taken during the Grand Army of the Republic encampment held in Crawfordsville in May of 1909. On the far left stands the Elston Bank building. The Clipper Saloon, with the C covered by a banner, was owned by Albert Muhleisen. A cigar store Indian is visible in the storefront to the left of the saloon. Several temporary vendors' stands are also visible, hoping to capitalize on the visitors. If you look closely, you can see a "Hamberger" stand in the street in front of the bank (this bank building is occupied today by the restaurant "Grandma's Kitchen").

The library would like to thank Jane Lyle for sharing this historic image.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

From Chorus Girl to Crawfordsville Citizen

 Before she was a Crawfordsville resident, Margaret Peacock performed on the stage and screen as Margie Murphy.  Peacock was a dancer in film classics The Gold Diggers of 1935, The Gold Diggers of 1938, 42nd Street, and Hi Nellie. On the stage, she danced in "George White's Scandals" musical review.

In 1942, Murphy married William F. Peacock, dentist and son of the well-known Peacock family of Darlington. Margie lived in Crawfordsville from 1945 until her death in 1989. She was a member of St. Bernard's Catholic Church, Crawfordsville Country Club, and the Ladies Elks.

Did you know Margaret Peacock? If so, CDPL would love to hear from you.  We are interested in gaining more information about Mrs. Peacock's career as a dancer and about her life in Crawfordsville.

If you'd like to share stories or items pertaining to Margaret Peacock (a.k.a. Margie Murphy), please contact the CDPL Reference/Local History department at 765-362-2242 ext 117 or

Friday, January 7, 2011

Images of America: Crawfordsville now available

The Crawfordsville District Public Library is pleased to announce the release of Images of America: Crawfordsville, a book of photographs, postcards, and other illustrations that tell the story of Crawfordsville's history since 1865. The book, a well-researched, detail-packed collection of archival photographs and captions, was written by Bill Helling, Head of Reference/Local History at CDPL. Helling has directed the digitization of the library's archives and creation of the many local history databases for many years. From the laying of the cornerstone for the Montgomery County courthouse in 1875 to mid-1950s views of city streets, from old Central School to the closing of Horace Mann School, from Bischof's Big Store to R.R. Donnelley, the book presents significant photographs in the life of our city in central Indiana. The book will be available locally as well as from major booksellers.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Kenyon Nicholson

The library has recently acquired a photograph of Broadway playwright Kenyon Nicholson to add to the local history collection. Nicholson was born in Crawfordsville, May 21, 1894, the son of prominent Crawfordsville photographer Thomas Brown Nicholson and his wife, Anne Kenyon Nicholson.  In 1916, Kenyon Nicholson wrote the script for the Montgomery County Indiana Centennial pageant with fellow Wabash College student, Harold Watson. Following graduation from Wabash, Nicholson served in France as a second lieutenant during World War I. After the war, he was a press agent for the Murat Theater in Indianapolis, and later served as assistant to Hatcher Hughes, a prominent playwright and instructor at Columbia University. He wrote eighteen plays during his career, including Honor Bright, which was written with famed Crawfordsville novelist and poet, Meredith Nicholson. His play, The Barker, was his most successful and was made into a movie three times. He died in New Jersey on December 19, 1986.