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.

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.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Who was the first person to be buried in the Ladoga Cemetery?

Elizabeth Myers wife of John Myers died September 8, 1833. Elizabeth was the first person to be buried in Ladoga Cemetery. Ladoga, Montgomery County, Ind. (old section). This photograph was taken in 1999 by John H. Britts.

View the cemeteries of Clark Township

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Montgomery County (Indiana) Naturalization Records

We have a new database online, a database that we are excited to offer you! The library has some naturalization records from the 19th and early 20th centuries that will offer much help for genealogists researching their ancestors. So give the new database a look:

Montgomery County (Indiana) Naturalizations  (

This index of naturalization records links to several types of digitized documents: transcriptions, photocopies of original documents, and original documents (when available) in .pdf or .jpg formats. Some names link to more than one document.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Do you recognize this street?

Postcard, circa 1913, showing the north side of Main Street, looking toward the Montgomery County Courthouse. The tallest building, in mid-photograph, is the Crawford Hotel. Tracks from the interurban or streetcar are visible in the road. Several buggies with horses are standing in the street. The postcard is addressed to Miss Marie Woerner, 2433 Central, Indianapolis, Indiana, and was mailed in August of 1913.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

July 21, 1914

"July 21, 1914, Papa (Charles) with the haywagon."

Charles Busenbark stands atop a large hay load in a wagon pulled by one horse. 

This image is from a family scrapbook loaned by Walter Terry; the pages were scanned by the library (August 2011). The scrapbook contains more than 600 photographs; 141 images were added to this database (series: 20110815). Most photographs are from Montgomery County, near Whitesville. A photocopy of the scrapbook is available in CDPL Local History if you want to thumb through it!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Crawfordsville c. 1920

You may recognize East Main Street, even though it is from the Crawfordsville of almost 100 years ago! We have recently come across an interesting booklet in our archives and have placed it in our image database. You can view several scenes from this booklet named "Crawfordsviille, Ind,. and Wabash College" (.pdf).

This 14-page booklet of scenes (photo-gravures) from Crawfordsville and Wabash College show styles in clothing and automobiles that suggest c. 1920 as a date. Scenes include: east Main Street, Crawfordsville High School, Ben Hur office building, Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), Masonic Temple, Mills Place, Wabash College campus (Center Hall), Wabash College campus (from Center Hall looking north to South Hall), Yandes Library, Gymnasium, Peck Scientific Hall, Lew Wallace Library and monument, Henry Lane Place, and the Country Club.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

1820 surveyor's ledger

An 1820s surveyor’s ledger was recently digitized and added to the library’s image database. The creator of the surveying workbook was David A. Shannon, who was at that time living in Kentucky. He came to Montgomery County in 1836 with his wife Nancy (Alexander) Shannon, and settled in Parkersburg.  He is known for surveying the town of Shannondale, which was named for him.  Shannon was also a Montgomery County member of the 1851 delegation to amend Indiana’s Constitution. You may view the entire surveyor’s workbook by searching the library’s image database at or going directly to the page here: Shannon Ledger

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

July 4, 1989

Our Local History archives contain many photos and documents, some of which date to the early years of the county. But don't think that our "history" is always long, long ago. We collect current and recent items because, some day, they will be "historical"!

This photograph was taken at the Summer Youth theater's presentation of "A Pocketful of Dreams" on July 4, 1989 (the Fourth of July) in Milligan Park. Maybe you were there...and in this photo? If so, you are archived at the Crawfordsville District Public Library for future generations.

If you are interested in contributing to our efforts at preserving the heritage of Montgomery County, contact the Reference & Local History Department (, 765-362-2242 ext 117).

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Lane Place...100 years ago

We have an extensive postcard collection of our area, many of which date from the turn of the 19th century. It is also interesting to read some of the used postcards to catch a quick glimpse of life long ago.

Here is a postcard of the The Henry S. Lane Place, Crawfordsville, Ind.  It was sent to Hilda Scheel, Earlville, Iowa, with this message: "We are staying just across the way from this house. They have a beautiful flower garden. Bertha." It was postmarked June 26, 1915 from Crawfordsville -- just about 100 years ago to this day! The next time you go past the Lane Place, take a look and imagine it in1915.

You can browse these postcards in our image database and see for yourself how things have changed...and how some things have remained the same.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

1920 Montgomery County Livestock Sale

This glimpse of Montgomery County agricultural history was recently donated by the family of local businessman, Walter Remley. Although obscured by tree branches, the top sign likely reads, “Spring Brook Swine Farm, Moon & Berryman.”  The sign announces an upcoming sale of hogs to be held southwest of Yountsville on September 17, 1920.  Walter Remley graduated from the University of Illinois Agriculture College in 1919, and had a long and successful local career, serving four terms on the Crawfordsville City Council. He was an active member of the local Byron Cox Post of the American Legion for nearly 50 years, and in his honor, the drive north of the Legion Post was named Walter Remley Drive.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Whitlock Avenue in June...1899!

Often we receive groups of family photos, and we can re-construct family life in Montgomery County from years past. Such is the case with the family of Thomas Clark, a tailor who worked in Crawfordsville at the end of the 19th century. In the Clark family photos appears a wood-slat house with a wooden picket fence on the side yard. The home appears to be in construction, with several kegs sitting near the fence and boards stacked nearby. The photograph is dated June 1899, the month that Thomas Clark and Mary (Shoemaker) Clark married. This home may possibly be 512 Whitlock Avenue, Crawfordsville. Does it still exist?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Veteran Interviews

The Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County has a special military section in its "Athens" Gallery that you should examine on your next visit. The museum is a wonderful resource now open year-round, Wednesday through Saturday, 10am-5pm. Admission is always free. Check out their website at:

The museum is also offering more content than just what you see in its display areas, however. For example, thanks to an LSTA grant, we have digitized numerous interviews of local veterans and made them available on the web. We have 16 audio interviews of WWII vets you can reach directly. We also have 90 video interviews of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam vets that were recorded in the mid-1990s. This is the first time that all this material has been accessible to the general public, so be sure to take advantage of it in honor of our vets!

Go to  -- just click to listen or watch (you don't need any special software)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The once majestic Ben Hur building

We recently received a donation of a photograph that shows the Ben Hur building not long after it was completed in 1911. Note that the lower level is not yet girdled by black marble, which was added in a 1940s renovation.

This undated photograph must be from spring 1913 at the earliest. How do we know? For one thing, the flag on the side of the building has 48 stars -- and Arizona entered the Union as the 48th state in February 1912. But the movie posters show by the Princess Theater (just to the right of the Ben Hur building) provide the final clues.One poster advertises "The Winning of White Dove," a short that was released on 30 November 1912. Another poster shows "Struggle of Hearts," a short released on 3 December 1912. This is not a winter scene, so we can assume the photo was taken sometime in 1913 during warmer weather. If we have time, we may eventually look through our old newspapers to see what even caused the decoration of the Ben Hur building, and when these two shorts were advertised in town.

Donated in the name of Thomas D. Stewart.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

This day in May, 1887. The same train?

 A train engine on its tracks. Five men pose in front (two stand on the cow catcher). A date is written on the reverse of the photograph: May 12, '97

Unfortunately, we have no other identifying information!A date is at least a starting point for figuring out an unidentified scene.

We also have another similar photograph, but with nothing written on it... and it appears to be the same scene, perhaps taken the same day. What do you think? What could be the occasion?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Spring Cleaning 1928

Spring cleaning is an annual task that has been with us for generations. Have you ever taken any pictures of your spring cleaning? We are fortunate to have a glimpse into the Terry family life in 1928, as seen in this photo.On the photo was written:

"1928. Spring cleaning. Clayton with the help from Lowell, Leslie & Mary Florence."

This image is from a family scrapbook loaned by Walter Terry; the pages were scanned by the library (August 2011). The scrapbook contains more than 600 photographs; 141 images were added to this database (series: 20110815). Most photographs are from Montgomery County, near Whitesville. A photocopy of the scrapbook is available in CDPL Local History, if you want to see it!

The children are outside of Home Place, on a rug. Clayton Terry (standing) holds a broom. Lowell Terry and Leslie Terry (kneeling) beat the rug with wire tools.Mary Florence Terry sits on the rug, seemingly amused by her brothers. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Who was John Remley?

Are you interested in knowing about one of the county's first settlers -- who walked here from Ohio in 1825 to settle? If so, come to the 2nd floor of the Crawfordsville District Public Library to check out our new display. Find out all about John Remley and his numerous descendants. Take a look at the Remley family Bible, along with the walking stick Remley used on the way here...and much more. We protect your heritage and want to share it with you!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Do you remember this school?

Do you remember this school?
We have been gathering some older pictures of local schools for a display, and have chosen some nice scenes to share. Until recent years, Crawfordsville has been able to support many schools, and if you have been a resident of this town, you certainly remember the old ones...and the "new" ones. In the 1960s, many of the schools were rebuilt after the original building was demolished (such as Willson and Mills). Some schools had no predecessor, however, such as the one shown here. Do you remember it? It has been recently re-modeled -- but you may be able to recognize it even if you didn't attend this version! This school is Hose (Laura G. Hose Elementary school, still at 800 Fairview Avenue).

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Getting ready for Arbor Day...1957!

Here is an image published in the Journal Review on April 17, 1957.

Do you recognize the location? If not, read on!

Committee members for the Flower Lovers' Club look on as Robert McClarren (librarian) turns over the last spadeful of earth around a Norway maple tree presented to the Crawfordsville Public Library by the club, in celebration of Arbor Day, April 19.

Reading left to right: Mrs. Julian Carter, Mrs. F.V. Howell, Mr. McClarren, librarian, Mrs. Leslie Widener, chairman of the committee, and Mrs. D. C. Graham, president of the club.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Where was this taken? Guess!

Can you figure out where this was taken (on April 6, 1911)?


This photograph was taken at the corner of Main St. and Water St. at the laying of the marble cornerstone for the Ben-Hur Building. The ceremony was attended by a large group of delegates of the fraternal organization, gathered from across the country. The original Supreme Tribe of Ben-Hur building can be seen on the opposite corner near the middle of the photograph. This photograph of the event was discovered placed behind a framed artwork in Tennessee by Delores Fleming. This photograph was originally the property of Doris Carney, whose husband's grandfather, Wright B. Carney, can be seen holding the Tennessee sign in the right third of the photograph.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

An ex-president in Crawfordsville?

Ex-president William Howard Taft (1909-1913) on April 5, 1918, with John C. Snyder, president of the chamber of commerce and, later, president of the Ben Hur Life Association, in front of Snyder's home at 201 Wallace Avenue.

Why did an ex-president come to Crawfordsville? If you want to know, you can find the answer in Hidden History of Montgomery County by Jodie Steelman Wilson, Emily Griffin, and Rebecca McDole (the author of the chapter "Campaigning in Crawfordsville," which has the answer to the question). This book is available for loan or for purchase at the library!

Image loaned to CDPL by John Kummings and Mary Kummings for digitization.

By the way, this house still exists and sits proudly on the corner of Pike and Wallace.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Montgomery County Library, 1827

This ledger, stored in the CDPL archives, gives us an inside view of the Montgomery County Library – in 1827! The fee for an annual membership at that time was was 75 cents, and members included Benjamin Ristine and Isaac C. Elston,  founder of Elston Bank, who bought the site of Lafayette, Indiana, for $240 in 1825 with his business partners. The detail page shows I. C. Elston was charged a fifty-cent fine in 1827 for “an injury to book.”   Another line of the ledger (not shown) for 1828 shows a subscriber by the name of John Beard, for whom the local school was named. Sanford Cox’s diary listed the local residents circa 1825, and several of these listed library subscribers had arrived in the county before 1825: the Cox, McCullough, and Catterlin families.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Celebrating Irish immigrants to Montgomery County

The Irish-American Clark family of Crawfordsville is well recorded after a large collection of family photographs was donated to the library a few years ago. This circa-1880 photograph shows Irish immigrants to Crawfordsville, John Clark (third from left), Richard Clark (next to right), and Thomas Clark (last on right). The sons of John Clark stand to the left of the photograph: Thomas Clark (far left), and Jess Clark.  John Clark married Mary Slattery, another Irish immigrant, in 1857 in Crawfordsville. Thanks to all those generous people who donate photographs and documents to preserve the history of Montgomery County!

Monday, March 9, 2015

John Remley came to Crawfordsville with this walking stick

The Crawfordsville District Public Library has received the largest collection of original artifacts relating to Montgomery County Pioneers in its history with the donation of the Remley collection, completed in early March.  The family of John and Sarah (McCain) Remley were early settlers, arriving to live permanently in Montgomery county in 1825. Among the donated items include a circa 1835 muzzle-loader, several family Bibles (ca. 1834) recording the births of Remley family children, a very early leather wallet dating to the 1830s containing Montgomery County tax receipts,  daguerreotypes of John and Sarah (McCain) Remley;  and various other ledgers and documents. The highlight of the collection was just received:  the Sassafras walking stick John Remley used in his journey to Montgomery county to buy land in 1824 inscribed "J. R. 1824." When Mr. Remley was in his old age, he had the stick “capped” with German silver fittings. It originally had a leather thong looped through the hole near the top of the stick.

 In the detail below, you can see the date "1824" carved into the stick.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

This week in March 1914 and 1916

 What was happening this week in March 1914 in Crawfordsville?

Annual Triangular Debate, March 6, 1914. Crawfordsville beat Frankfort with the team of Byrl Enoch (Rebuttal), Harvey Breaks, Walter Remley and Norvin Baker (Alternate). Crawfordsville beat Lebanon with the team of Lewis (Louis) Spilman (Rebuttal), Ray Harris, Carter Henry, Raymond Merrell (Alternate).

Two years later, we can find some of the same boys!

The four members of the Crawfordsville High School winning debate team that defeated Frankfort, Indiana, in March 1916. From left to right, they are Louis Spilman, Ray Harris, Paul Manson, and Simon Walden, who was the alternate.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

August 7, 1914 -- same scene, different angle

In August 2014 we posted this blog:

On August 7, 1914 at 12:15 p.m. the east-end fire wagon was attempting to get to a grass fire by the Monon Tracks when the Northwestern Traction Car struck the back side of the wagon, hurling it 15 feet. Fire Chief John Hurley (headquartered at the central station) had jumped on the wagon as it was going past his home. Chief Hurley was thrown 20 yards from the collision, suffering a broken shoulder and a badly bruised body. Unfortunately, Clarence Williams (47-year old fireman) was standing on the back steps of the wagon and did not survive; six children (ages 1-19) and a widow were left behind. The other two firemen involved were driver Frank Esra and fireman Otis Stephens. Esra was upset because he had not heard the gong of the traction car's approach.

And we included the first image below.

But we just recently received a donation from a descendant of Frank Esra (the fire wagon driver in the incident) that shows the same site...yet at a slightly different moment (second image). It is quite unusual that we have two photographs taken so close in time, so this is a unique opportunity to examine a moment on August 7, 1914 from two vantage points!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ladoga East School in winter -- 1910

You can't see this school building any more!

This is the Ladoga East School building (the town's elementary school), pictured in winter.

This photograph was taken around 1910.

To show you some "color," here is the school in an early 20th century post card, printed around the same time as the photo.

Do you have any items you would like to have preserved in the CDPL Local History archives? Contact us at 765-362-2242 ext 117 or e-mail at

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Levi B. Willson -- discovered at Willson School!

Although the list of talented educators in Montgomery County is certainly long, one of the most noted was Miss Anna Willson. According to school records,Miss Willson began to teach in 1887, and became principal of the Central School in 1896. Her photograph still hangs today at Willson School as well as CHS. Just last week, the staff of Willson School found several framed photographs in remote storage. One photograph was an antique photograph of an unidentified man. The frames were not easily removed, so the items were brought to the library for examination in hopes of learning the man’s identity. Upon carefully removing the frames, our staff discovered the name of the man in the photograph: Levi B. Willson, father of Crawfordsville educator Anna Willson. A note written on the back of the photograph says that Mr. Willson was the donor of the land the Willson school stands upon. The library’s collection has many items once belonging to Miss Anna, including her scrapbook, writings, and various other items, including a photograph of her mother, Sarah G. (Webster) Willson, also a teacher at Crawfordsville’s Central School. But no photograph was known of Levi B. Willson, Crawfordsville attorney, who died in 1881 at the age of 35, until the repairs at Willson school brought it to light.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Recently uncovered scene from Willson School

We recently received a donation of several photographs found in Willson School, in the basement, behind the furnace. But the photos were from the era of the original Willson School building! We are investigating the scenes now -- but wanted to share this image with you. Here you can see the playground, which faced Jefferson Street (the school itself faced Wabash Ave.), but the year is unknown. Does anyone have an idea of the date? Contact us at 765-362-2242 ext 117 (