Monday, April 30, 2012

Staff Research Online Now!

The Detchon family in front of the family home.
The staff research page on the Detchon family is now online! Learn about the life of one of Montgomery County's first doctors, Elliott Detchon. Elliott was a successful businessman as well as a doctor, and also concocted and sold proprietary medicine. Elliott's son Irwin Agnew was also a doctor but actually spent more time on his business and political pursuits than on medicine. Lee Detchon was a local painter whose work you may have seen around town, and you can read more about Esther Detchon's World War I adventure in Europe here! Then check out our image database to see the collection of Detchon family photos that have been donated to the library.

Inside the Detchon home, 1905.
Do you have photos or other items you would like to donate or loan to the library? Email us at or call 362-2242, ext. 117!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mrs. Lew Wallace

Civil War general Lew Wallace is famous as an author in Indiana. But did you know his wife was also an accomplished writer? Susan Elston was born in Crawfordsville in 1830 to Major Isaac C. and Maria Elston and married Lew in 1852. In addition to writing her own books, she was a mentor to other authors, such as Mary Hannah Krout and Elizabeth Boynton Harbert. Her biography in Seven Authors of Crawfordsville, Indiana says, "Perhaps her place in the literary field was that of consultant, and it may be that Lew Wallace's success as an author was due in large measure to her criticism and his respect for it." Mrs. Wallace died in Crawfordsville in 1907.

Her famous poem, "The Patter of Little Feet," first appeared in the Cincinnati Daily Gazette in 1858:
"Up with the sun at morning,
Away to the garden he hies,
To see if the sleepy blossoms
Have begun to open their eyes.
Running a race with the wind,
His step as light and fleet,
Under my window I hear
The patter of little fleet.

Anon to the brook he wanders,
In swift and noiseless flight;
Splashing the sparkling waters,
Like a fairy water sprite.
No sand under fabled river
Has gleams like his golden hair;
No pearly seashell is fairer
Than his slender ankles bare;
Nor the rosiest stem of coral
That blushes in Ocean's bed,
Is sweet as the flush that follows
Our darling's airy tread." ...

The rest of this poem can be found in Poets and Poetry of Indiana.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Bard of Alamo

James Buchanan Elmore
Celebrate National Poetry Month with Montgomery County poet James B. Elmore. Elmore, who was nicknamed the 'Bard of Alamo,' was born on a 900-acre farm in Ripley township on January 25, 1857. He graduated from Alamo Academy and taught school for twenty years. He published six volumes of poetry in his lifetime. His obituary from March 12, 1942, claims that the "pastoral scenes with which he was familiar inspired most of the writings of the benign bard from Ripley township."
Here's an excerpt from his poem, "Crawfordsville, Alias Athene":

The city of Crawford is a beautiful town,
Where knowledge and learning doth abound,
In the great theatrical arena;
It is a place that has much fame,
And transient people are gently tame
When in the city of Athene.

"The Monon Wreck" describes a train accident; Elmore describes the aftermath of the wreck in these verses:

Tears are flowing thick and fast
From every one of the mangled mass;
And, laying there, we hear their prayers,
Asking the Lord to relieve their cares ...

But there they lay on the crimson snow--
Their hearts have ceased to ebb and flow;
Quite as cold as a frozen chunk,
With a lady's heart upon a stump. ...

And yonder in the wreck I see
A man that's pinioned down by the knee,
And hear him calmly for to say:
"Cut, oh, cut my leg away!"

These poems and more can be found in Love Among the Mistletoe, Poems by James B. Elmore.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Farming in Montgomery County, 1900

A recent donation has added to our growing collection of Montgomery County agricultural images. This photograph shows a threshing machine owned by Fisher Galey of Browns Valley.

Written on the back of the photograph:
Grandad Galey's Farm south of Browns Valley. circa 1900. Pictured include: Uncle "Is" Wilkenson, Uncle Frank Armstrong, Fisher Galey (grandfather of Isobel Arvin), Frank Wilkinson, Mitt Brown, "Dud" Galey, machine engineer from factory, Homer Galey, Art Johnson. Rear: Grandad Galey, ?, John Penn. Far back: Edgar Pitts. Fisher Galey on engine. Dud and Homer Galey are the children in front.

If you have any photographs of Montgomery County that you would like to donate or loan (for digitizing purposes), feel free to give Reference/Local History a call at 765-362-2242 ext 117. Or use our online form at

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Julia Ann Riley 1834 Letter

The original 1834 letter that we received in March is now fully transcribed and available to view online. For images, the full transcription, and information about the letter, view our research page.

Monday, April 2, 2012

1940 is Finally Here!

Find this search on Ancestry at the library
Wondering where Grandma and Grandpa were in 1940? The 1940 Federal Census was released today after 72 years, and if your relatives lived in Indiana, you're in luck! This is one of the few states that has complete images online at Indexing is in process, so for the time being you can't search Grandpa's name. For now, you have to browse by state, county, and populated place (for Montgomery County this means townships and the city of Crawfordsville), then click on an enumeration district. For example, I searched Indiana, Montgomery County, then Crawfordsville. Enumeration district 54-21 is "WARD 2 BOUNDED BY (N) WABASH AV, WEST, PIKE; (E) GRANT, WABASH AV, GRANT; (S) BIG FOUR RAILROAD [CLEVELAND, CINCINNATI, CHICAGO & ST. LOUIS RAILWAY]; (W) CITY LIMITS; ALSO WABASH COLLEGE." In this district I found Theodore Gronert (Wabash professor and author of Sugar Creek Saga) living on the Wabash campus, and Harry and Sophia Freedman (featured in Hidden History of Montgomery County, Indiana) at 10 Mills Place.

So what's new on the 1940 census? Questions about income were added, as well as details about employment. For a country recovering from an economic disaster, information about who was employed and how was particularly relevant. An added line ("Residence, April 1, 1935") may help trace relatives who were on the move looking for work during the Depression. Supplementary questions were asked of a 5 percent sample of the population; this included questions that in 1930 were asked of everyone, such as parents' place of birth, mother tongue, and veteran status. For married women, the supplementary section asked new questions about whether she has been married more than once, her age at first marriage, and number of children born. Finally, the 1940 census was the first to designate a specific night for counting transients (April 8-9).
Find more information about the 1940 census at the National Archives website, or come to the library and take a test drive on Ancestry!