Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Now Here's a Wild Bull Story for You!

On July 11, 1945, you didn’t have to go far to find a wild  west adventure in our town!  About 4 a.m. at Ben-Hur Packing Company, 802 Covington Street, fourteen bulls escaped from their enclosures and roamed the streets of Crawfordsville!  Boy, howdy, that must have been some round up!  By noon almost all the bulls had been captured, except for three who continued to wander up and down streets and alleyways of the northwest quadrant of the city. Imagine turning down Cherry Street from West Market and staring into the face of a crazed loose bull!  Just before noon that day, Officer Paul Branagin and some packing plant workers found one bull  in the backyard of a house on Cherry Street. He had his gun, but allowed one of the workers to kill the loose bull. One bull managed to get as far as Vance Street between Main and Market Streets!
Officer Branagin
Harley Cunningham, a local pilot, used his flying skills to help locate strays in the vicinity of the packing plant.  It was feared that the livestock had strayed east over the creek, or as far as Oak Hill Cemetery.
The excitement was over just after noon as most of the bulls were corralled blocks away from the plant and later transported back there to meet their fate.

Jennings B. Miller and Sam Harris were the managers of the plant, which later became known as the Sam Harris Packing Company. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Caring for the Orphaned Children of France--1917

    During the First World War, many appeals for relief for war-torn Europe were made to the people of Montgomery County. The YMCA, the Red Cross, Liberty loans, and the American Society for Relief of French War Orphans all made special pleas to our populace. Many churches, Sunday Schools, ladies' groups, and others responded to the orphan appeal, and as a result, within two weeks in May of 1917, fifty French orphans were "adopted" by people in our county.
orphaned children in France, 1917
   One cent a week from each of seventy people in an organization was enough to save the life of a fatherless child in France. The mothers of these children were able to collect every cent of these donations through their post offices and use the money to clothe, feed, and school their children. All handling costs were supported by private funds. Groups in our community that supported this appeal and helped relieve the suffering of these poor children were the high school homemaking class, the While Away Club, the Monday Bridge Club, and the Dorothy Q. branch of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Miss Ristine, a young woman of our city, and a favorite of the youngsters in town, held a reading hour at the college, and charged ten cents per child. These funds were also contributed to the orphan fund, and gave our town's children a way to help with the relief effort. Many local families also "adopted" French orphans, such as the Detchons, Durhams, Campbells, McNutts, Goodbars, Postons, Dr. Swope, and the Dr. and Mrs. J. N. Taylor family. Many families received letters from their supported child, and shared them with the newspaper.
young women of Crawfordsville High School

 The Amici class of the First Methodist Church supported Simone Lepape, while Miss Cowan's advanced homemaking class used their funds for Marie Lenoir, of Paris.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

December 7, 1941--The Year That Has Lived in Infamy

   We have struggled during this election year of 2016 with the effects of too much news.  Imagine December 7, 1941, when all our information came either from the newspaper or the radio. The Journal-Review reported on December 8 that hundreds of people stood outside their building on Green Street waiting for and reading Associated Press bulletins as they were received on the news wire.  

   Here is part of an original bulletin from that day.
“WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 - (AP) - Japanese airplanes today attacked American defense bases at Hawaii and Manila, and President Roosevelt ordered the Army and Navy to carry out undisclosed orders prepared for the defense of the United States."

   And that was all they knew.  Several county residents were already in the Armed Forces, and families were worried about their role in this new engagement with the Japanese.  John C. McIntyre was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Virginia, based in Hawaii. B. F. Suverkup, had been stationed  aboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma, which had been damaged in the attack,  as an aerial photographer,  but he had been recently moved to another ship, and was on his way home for Christmas.

1940 Stewart Warner Radio
  The Crawfordsville basketball team was in Columbus for a game, and heard the news while eating.  They kept up with the news on the way to another game by listening to a portable radio.

  People attending movie performances at the Strand Theater, just down the street from the Journal-Review, were updated by means of the public address system. When war was declared, the show stopped, and all stood to sing the Star Spangled Banner.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Christmas Shopping the Way Our Families Did It, in 1936!

   It’s that time of year!  Christmas carols, church services, baking, wrapping, secrets, and best of all, shopping!  In 1936, Crawfordsville had many businesses that were eager to help you spend your holiday dollar. A scroll through the microfilm of the Crawfordsville Journal Review showed advertisements bursting with holiday sales and pictures of gifts that you just could not resist! Even during a depression! Every child in town must have loved a stroll through the Montgomery Ward’s at 127 E. Main St. Any little girl would have loved the $4.95 Shirley Temple doll, but many made do with the $1 dolly that had eyes that moved and made sounds.      

  Not to forget the boys that entered their doors, they also sold $1 train sets!

If you were in the market for some leather gloves for dad, you were good to go at McCullough’s in the Ben Hur building. While there, you could even find some “Ginger Rogers” lingerie for $1.29.

 Mom might need something a little more stylish in the coat department, so any husband who was half-listening at breakfast would know to run down to Goodman’s at 131 E. Main, next to Montgomery Ward’s, and find his lovely wife a very fashionable fur-trimmed coat for $23.88. 


As most families had very tight budgets in 1936, dads who had saved up a couple of bucks could go to the Firestone building at 125 W. Market Street and get little Johnny the present of his dreams, a new wagon!  

While the man of the house was at it, he could wander down the street to Horner's at 222 E. Market Street, and gaze at a new car for $765.

For any young man who was trying to make an impression on the love of his life, or her father, Resoner’s Jewelry, across from the courthouse, was the place to be. A beautiful ring to cement your relationship could be had for $13-30!
Shopping during the 1930’s held special challenges for our families.  Wallets were thin, pockets were empty, and families were large. I’m sure that our grandmothers had many tricks up their sleeves for scrimping and saving that allowed their families to enjoy a “Merry Christmas,” even on a tight budget. 


Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Mad Search for a Crawfordsville Hatter!

  The Crawfordsville Library recently received a request from a woman in Georgia to find information about a hat she had found in her mother’s attic with an inside label that said, “Crawfordsville hatter.”  Crawfordsville city directories were searched, and several shops were named as selling hats, such as George Graham’s, but none were named as the Crawfordsville hatter. Perhaps Virginia Cade or L.G. Coppage, two local milliners, could be our unnamed hatter. Little information on either person was available to us, and we thought we had hit a dead end.  Another email appeared from our inquirer with a page from the Crawfordsville Weekly Journal that she had found on our online database for old newspapers, the “Hoosier State Chronicles.” This April 30, 1892 issue, on page four, shows a wonderful advertisement for Con Cunningham, “The One-Price Clothier, Hatter, Furnisher—Crawfordsville, Indiana.” Could this be our hatter? 
   Fast and furious research began for information available from our databases. Marriage and obituary records on Cornelius Cunningham were discovered.  We looked in the local city directories and found that in 1878, he lived at at the Nutt’s Hotel, on the corner of Market and Green Streets, while he sold in the county.  He later located his hat and clothing business at 101 and 103 S. Washington Street, at the intersection of Main Street. Soon, another email arrived with this picture of the inside of the hat.  We were now sure that we had the right hatter!

   Information we found about Mr. Cunningham told us that he had emigrated from Ireland around 1860 and moved to Crawfordsville around 1870. He began his business ventures by selling dry goods of all sorts throughout the county.  After much success, he decided to have a permanent store in downtown Crawfordsville, and while there, became one of the most widely known and successful businessmen in the county. He married Mary McManus in 1882 and they raised three children together, according to census records.  He later sold real estate, and owned business property here in town and in Indianapolis on Indiana Avenue. We found his burial at Holy Cross and Saint Joseph Cemetery  on  From just one inquiry about a hat, with the resources available in our library, we were able to find out many things about Cornelius Cunningham, a hatter from Crawfordsville!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Three Brothers Enlist in the Service

Most of us have had family members enlist in service of our country’s defense.  But how many families have had three sons enlist at the same time?  The W. W. Washburn family of Crawfordsville did.  In July of 1917, it was reported in the Crawfordsville Journal that George, Gould, and J. Beard had already left for training at Fort Harrison, in Lawrence Township, Marion County, Indiana.  George and J. Beard were both in the machine gun company of the National Guard but had previously been students at Wabash College.
 George, a second lieutenant, would go on to marry Ruth Clark, daughter of Raleigh Clark, in 1918, and then leave immediately to return to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where he was posted with the Indiana Guard.  After the war, he returned to town to work at the Citizens National Bank, the post office, and then Crawfordsville Electric Light and Power.  He passed away in 1964 and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, here in the city.
  Gould was a graduate of Wabash College and Purdue University. He served with distinction as an officer in the war, and was located at Camp Taylor. He later moved to Oakland, California to work as a member of staff at the federal reserve bank in San Francisco. He died suddenly in 1926, leaving behind his wife and two daughters.
   J. Beard attended Wabash, and continued on to a career in San Francisco, where he married Betty Gregg of New York. He is buried in Martin County,  Florida.
For more pictures of the Washburn brothers, look in the image collection on our library database page.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Longtime Family Business

Life and death are but phases of the same thing, the reverse and obverse of the same coin. Death is as necessary for man’s growth as life itself. -- Mahatma Gandhi

1917 ad in Crawfordsville paper

Death is a great truth of life, and the people of Montgomery County have been served in time of death for over a hundred years by the Hunt family of Crawfordsville. Walter Lawrence Hunt, born in 1874, the founder of the original funeral home, completed his early education in Walnut Township. He married Georgianna Bowman, of Boone County in 1896.  He started a funeral home in Advance in 1897. After attending embalming school in Indianapolis, he moved his business to 122 N. Washington Street in Crawfordsville in 1916 and ran it with Michael J. Murphy. The Hunt and Murphy Funeral Home was a storefront in a building next to the Oddfellows Meeting Hall. This property is now part of the Montgomery County Courthouse parking lot.The Hunt undertaking business changed as time passed. In 1924, Walter purchased the property at 107 N. Grant Street and moved the business there. The business became Hunt and Ratcliff in the 1920’s. In 1937, he became business partner with another Montgomery County man, Noble Reeves.  Walter and Georgianna had five children. Their son, Robert, entered the business with his father.  Tom, his son, known to many in Montgomery County ran the business with his father.  Today, Hunt and Son Funeral Home is run by Tom’s sons, Rob and David. This long-lived locally-owned business has helped many families through their times of grief by providing quality service and personal care to their customers.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Laying Track--Disputed Interurban Line Put In Despite Court Rulings

    Before the days of heading off in our automobiles, Crawfordsville residents had the option of riding in town or to other cities on the interurban. In July, 1903, the Northwestern Traction line track was laid down the middle of Main Street, starting by the courthouse between Washington and Green Streets.  In order to get around a court case with the Consolidated Traction Company over who had the rights to put a line through Crawfordsville, one hundred workers were brought in from Danville and Lebanon line in the dark of night to get started by the earliest morning light. The first track was hammered down by a Mr. E. A. Wilhite, one of the oldest living first settlers in the county.  This was the fourth time the Northwestern Traction Company had attempted to lay tracks.
This shows the track after its installation.  The Crawford Hotel is the tall building on the right, on East Main St. 

   The laying of the track at this time was a point of contention with the city fathers and with the Consolidated Traction Company. Consolidated Traction had already begun laying lines west out of Indianapolis towards Montgomery County.  The first time the Northwestern Company tried to lay track at the end of May, some city officials contested it, and even went so far and to take fire hoses and water to the workers to stop them from tearing up the city streets.  The city filed suit, and the Northwestern counter-filed against the city.  The suit went back and forth between judges and courts, federal and local. If the company was to be found in contempt of court for trying to continue to lay track after being told not to, then the new tracks would have to be torn out of the street, and the company would have to pay fines and the company leaders would be jailed.  

  The track was laid without incident, finally, and transportation options were opened for travelers from Montgomery County to easily find their way to Indianapolis and other points east. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Vice-Presidential Candidate Visits Our County--Welcome to Charles W. Fairbanks!

Imagine a presidential election without the intrusion of 24 hour news, the internet, or Facebook. Candidates traveled the country by train, and newspapers were the primary source of information on electoral races. 

Charles Hughes on the campaign trail

One hundred years ago, during the presidential election of 1916, the Republican party of Montgomery County hosted vice-presidential candidate, the Honorable Charles W Fairbanks. Fairbanks, a Hoosier from Indianapolis, had previously won elections for a senate seat from Indiana, and for vice-president under Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. He had lost his bid to run as president during the 1916 campaign, but was instrumental in setting up the Republican platform for this election. Charles E. Hughes, at the time, led the Republican ticket against the Democratic nominees Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Marshall, another Hoosier.  
During Fairbanks’ visit, in October of 1916, he planned single visits to Linden,Darlington, Waveland, and two trips through Crawfordsville. He was to stop for15 minutes in each town and speak from the back of the train. On the Saturdaystop in Darlington, a large reception would be held by prominent local Republicans. This trip through the county would be the last for any Republican candidates for this election.

Secret polls throughout the state were conducted by the New York Herald, the
Cincinnati Enquirer, and other metropolitan newspapers. All sections of the. country showed favoritism towards the Republican slate.  Hughes was seen to be accumulating voters previously leaning towards a Wilson vote.
Election results were close across the country.  In fact, Hughes and Fairbanks had a pretty good idea that they had won when their heads hit their pillows on election night.  However, when California’s votes were counted,  Wilson had defeated former Supreme Court Justice Charles Hughes 49.1% to 46.1%, or 277 electoral votes to 254.
Towns and cities in Alaska, Minnesota, and Oregon are named Fairbanks in his honor, along with a school in Indianapolis.  

Monday, September 26, 2016

You May Now Redeem Your S & H Green Stamps at George Graham's Store!


  In November of 1916, The George W. Graham Co., at 117-123 N. Washington St., (Cornett’s Furniture Store in 2016) announced that his store had made arrangements with The Sperry and Hutchinson Green Stamps Company to offer cash stamps with every ten 
cent purchase.

  A parlor area upstairs would soon be restocked with all manner of goods for which customers could redeem Green Stamps. I’m sure that many a homemaker in the Crawfordsville area was delighted to know that she could keep saving her Green Stamps and redeem them to get items or, “premiums,” needed for her kitchen, or a nice lamp for the parlor. Many a toaster made its way into local kitchens due to shoppers’ diligence in saving stamps.

Sperry and Hutchinson began selling their Green Stamps to businesses across the country in 1896.  Retailers would give them to shoppers for every ten cent purchase.  This marketing ploy helped to get more shoppers into the stores and to get them to spend more money once they were in the stores and shoppers were happy to receive goods with their stamps, so everyone was happy!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Crawfordsville in 1908--What a Wonderful City!

What a modern and accommodating city Crawfordsville must have been in 1908!

Why, we had eight livery, feed, and sale stables in town, along with a wagon and buggy supplier at 121-123 S. Washington (J.M. Thompson Insurance building).  Four farriers worked here to serve your horses.  The Crawfordsville Ice and Cold Storage on the corner of Franklin and Hocum (?) Streets could deliver ice to your home.  For your smoking needs, five shops sold cigars (most in the LaRose on Main building).  If you needed a trip out of town, you could buy your train tickets at the Big Four Station—corner of Washington and Franklin Street-- or at the Indiana Northern Traction Station  located where Tri-County Bank building is at 224 E. Main Street. If it was Friday night, you could find fun at any of the seven billiard halls in town. 
For other personal needs, there were 29 grocery stores located in Crawfordsville, along with two casket companies on West Main Street.  One was located on the same property  as the former Lew Wallace Inn.
Crawfordsville was quite famous at the time for having two brick factories--The Crawfordsville Shale Brick Co., located one mile north on the Monon line;  and the Poston Paving Brick Company at E. College and Vandalia Streets.                                       
workers at the Poston Brick Factory        
Crawfordsville in 1908 must have been quite a bustling small city.  Wouldn't you love to go back in time and visit some of these old places?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Vision in White--The Making of the Ben-Hur Building

    It took eight years to get the ball rolling on this magnificent building, but once the decision was made to build it, it only took one year. The Ben-Hur building, dedicated in May of 1912, was originally the home of the Supreme Tribe of Ben-Hur, a social organization that included women. The Tribe sponsored baseball and basketball teams, drill teams, bowling, and other social events.  Insurance was offered to members, and eventually over 130,000 members belonged.

  This building would come to occupy the corner of Main and Water Streets, which had been the site for the original office building for the Tribe.The new building was completed in one year, with no injuries reported, which was an accomplishment for such a large undertaking.
    The original cost was $150,000, which translates to $3,750,000 in 2016. The intention was to make it as fire-proof as possible, so all walls were constructed of concrete reinforced with twisted steel bars--220,757 linear feet of it! That beautiful white terra cotta tile sheathing that we all love? That is composed of 8650 pieces of white tile, and took 2450 barrels of cement to attach.  
    All wooden finishes inside the building were mahogany, including the front and vestibule doors. There were also two elevators installed.
     The contractors made sure to use materials available or made locally when possible, making this truly a home-town building.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Montgomery County Fair—1906 style!

                                                                                   It’s just past county fair week for 2016 in Montgomery County!  Animals, competitions, 4-H!  But it didn’t always look like it does today.  In 1906,  horse racing was the big event, and horses and riders came from all over to compete for $300, $600, and $1000 prizes.  $1000 translates to over $25,000 in 2016, so to say that our county was becoming known as a pony center was not an understatement!  There was competition with livestock and flowers.

                                                                                                                            Newspaper readers were urged to not miss the octopus in the wild animal exhibit!  And everyone would want to stop to see the pair of three-legged chickens from Fort Wayne.  Every night a daredevil would ascend in his hot air balloon and fly aloft over the crowds.  And talk about crowds!  Buggies and carriages would line the streets, and over 1000 picnic baskets were checked in on just one day of the fair! The interurban ran in and out, and on one occasion, crammed 156 people on a car meant for 60. That must have been some fair! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Montgomery County Citizens Counted in Far Away Places

Company K, 44th USV Infantry, c. 1900

Believe it or not!  This photo was taken on Cebu Island, Philippines, in 1900, during the Spanish-American War.  When this picture was given to the library,  only one soldier from Montgomery County  was identified--Charles C. McClure, a musician,  sixth from the right sitting on the ground.   How were 7 more residents of our county identified in this unit?   CENSUS RECORDS!  The United States took a census in the Philippines of our soldiers during the war there.  Who knew?  

(Compiled from the 1900 U.S. Census Enumerated at Balamban, Cebu Island, Philippines, 1 June 1900):
Oliver R. Fry, Sgt., 1001 W. Wabash Ave., Crawfordsville
John C. Maxwell, Sgt., Crawfordsville
James C. Holmes, Cpl., 707 E. College St., Crawfordsville
Charles C. McClure, Musician, Mace
George R. Hamilton, Pvt., Darlington
Herbert Morgan, Pvt., 708 E. Market St., Crawfordsville
Claud Reese, Pvt., 310 Beach St., Crawfordsville

Monday, August 22, 2016


Ben-Hur has hit the theaters again! The bestselling, academy award winning film adaptations of Ben-Hur were inspired by a novel written by General Lew Wallace in 1880. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ was known as “the most influential Christian book of the nineteenth century.” Lew was from Indiana and Crawfordsville was his home.

Mr. Wallace started his career as a lawyer, wrote books in his spare time, and then became a General and served in the Civil War. Lew and his wife Susan had one son, Henry Lane Wallace.

Lew Wallace’s great-great granddaughter Carol Wallace is also a writer and will be presenting her new book, an updated version of Ben-Hur, at the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum on September 8th, 2016. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Good Old Summertime!

“In the good old the good old summertime…” Ahhh, out in the fresh air, a canoe to paddle around, and a pretty girl by his side. A perfect summer day in Indiana. An especially prized place for just hanging around and being with friends in Montgomery County has always been Shades State Park. Originally called “The Shades of Death” because of early murders in the area, and its deep ravines and forests, Shades State Park has been a “stomping ground” for nature lovers since early settlement in the area. As early as 1867, it was suggested by some Wabash students that this beautiful wooded area near Sugar Creek become a resort. In 1909, three local men got together and bought the park land, and eventually Mr. Joseph Frisz singly owned the property.  His family ran a hotel there and Mr. Frisz became well known as a naturalist.  Even during the 1930’s depression, he would not sell any trees to help out financially--”You are asking me to cut off my right arm!”  At his death in 1939,  the Kiwanis, along with the community’s help, purchased the property and gave it to the state.  

Friday, May 27, 2016

Dr. Edward Cowan

Dr. Cowan, front row, second from right, holding a cane
For Memorial Day, we are celebrating the life of Dr. Edward H. Cowan, who was the oldest surviving veteran of the Civil War from Montgomery County, at his death in 1942.  He was born in Frankfort on Dec. 21, 1846 to John and Harriet Janney Cowan.

John Cowan was reported to be the first male child born in the Indianapolis settlement in 1821, and attended Wabash College, graduating in 1842.  Edward also attended Wabash College, and in 1864, was one of a group of young scholars who left the school to join the Union forces. Edward was a member of the 135th Indiana Infantry, Co. H. Incidentally, this was also the unit my great, great grandfather, James W. Thompson of Ladoga, served with, so they must have been friends.  These young men spent time on the "Cracker Line," which opened up the area through Tennessee for the later famous, "March to the Sea," led by Sherman.

A young Dr. Edward Cowan
Edward Cowan mustered out in 1865 and returned to Wabash College, finishing in 1867.  He later studied medicine and became  a physician serving the people of Crawfordsville in 1878.  He was the first city health officer, and served on the city school board.   He married Lucy Ayors in 1877.   Her great-aunt was married to Major Ambrose Whitlock, who ran the land office in Crawfordsville for many years.

Dr. Cowan was well-known for his work with the Grand Army of the Republic, a national reunion group for Civil War soldiers, for over 50 years. In our "images" database, there are several more photos of Dr. Cowan attending different GAR events. He was admired and loved by all who knew him for his wit and humor, his breadth of knowledge, his friendliness to all, and his personal philosophy that kept him so young.  Dr. Cowan lived to be 95 years old.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Byrd - Houlehan Story

Ruby Byrd on her way to Indiana University in 1906
     In honor of the end of another school year, let’s go back in time for a moment and take a glimpse of Ruby Ethyl Byrd, a former Willson School teacher and resident of Crawfordsville, and her husband Arthur Earl Houlehan, also a former local resident as well as a chemist and inventor.  

Their story starts so very sweet, but sadly ends too soon. Ruby and Arthur both graduated together in the class of 1904 from Crawfordsville High School. Miss Byrd went on to Indiana University, and then became a teacher at Willson School in Crawfordsville. She taught there from 1909 until 1912, the year she married Dr. Arthur Houlehan. 
"Willson School class of mine" (Ruby Byrd)
Arthur attended and graduated from Wabash College and went on to Cornell University in New York to get his PhD in Chemistry. After securing his job as a chemist with a corporation called DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware, Houlehan came back to Montgomery County to marry Ruby and whisk her away. 

Their intimate family ceremony took place on August 28, 1912 at the bride's parent's house. 
The couple, then, immediately traveled to and took residence in Wilmington, Delaware.  
In 1917 Arthur and Ruby had a baby girl, Louise Elizabeth Houlehan. This particular collection includes many photos, most of them of Miss Louise. We are able to know that she was their pride and joy if only because we can almost watch her grow through the pages of pictures of their beautiful little girl. 

In 1924 Mr. Houlehan came down with pneumonia and, unfortunately, did not survive. Shortly thereafter, Ruby packed up with her daughter and moved back to Montgomery County to be around family. She became very active socially in the community, as well as volunteering for the Red Cross and several benefit drives. Mrs. Houlehan passed away at age 83 in Warren, Indiana, in 1968. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Glimpse Inside the Walter Terry Scrapbook

Looking through a family scrapbook, in this case the Walter Terry family scrapbook, and seeing the very differences and similarities between the years can be so enriching. Activities that are captured and forever immortalized within these family photographs are most interesting, because it requires us to picture this time period and imagine life in a new way. Around this time 102 years ago, we see that playgrounds in the backyards of Montgomery County looked a little different than today. 

 Four girls, Jessie Foster, Edith Douglas, Cora Terry, and Ruth Remley, play ‘teeter-totter’ in the yard.

Vora Terry handwashes his buggy in August 1914, 

and two men and a little girl wash a large pile of potatoes in 1915.

Young Clayton Terry helps Aunt Gin (Virginia Terry) with the churning in 1917.

Everyday simple chores and playtime routines for these Montgomery County families living here around 100 years ago are peculiar to our modern life, but still somewhat relatable. We continue to do tasks wash our vehicles, scrub our vegetables, and play outside. These photos are from a family scrapbook loaned by Walter Terry; the pages were scanned by the library in 2011. The scrapbook contains more than 600 photographs, most of which are from Montgomery County, near Whitesville.  A photocopy of the scrapbook is available in the CDPL Local History Department.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Bard of Alamo, James B. Elmore

With Spring soon approaching, it would be appropriate to mention a local writer and poet who passed on some 74 years ago as of March 12. His name was James Buchanan Elmore. Much of the following information comes from an article Connie Riggs wrote for the bicentennial series from the Journal-Review of October 9, 1975.

In the preface of his writing of “Auburn Roses” (1907), Elmore described himself as “a poet-novelist and farmer, a common man who toiled in the fields in the summer and went to the fields in the winter.” At 23 he captured the heart of Mary Ann Murray of Nevada City, Missouri, and they married in 1880.

Mr Elmore’s first privately published book was “Love Among the Mistletoe” in 1889. He said of his works that he “didn’t get a publisher because the best he would get was 10 per cent, and you bet I’m not giving the children of my phenomenal fancy to the world just for the fun of it.”

Here are a couple of stanzas from one of his most famous poems, “Pearl Bryan’s Fate.”

Pretty Pearl Bryan had an elegant home,
With flowers and green pastures wither she roamed;
Her face like a rosebud, and teeth snowy white;
A gem of pure beauty- a star of the night.

There came to this cottage, in care of Will wood,
A wooer, Scott Jackson, an imp of the lewd,
And betrayed this kind maiden, her heart he did break,
Who laid down her life for a villain’s sake.

Elmore always claimed that his writing came to him quickly. “Poetry writing comes natural to me, and all I have to do is sit down and grind it out.” While the critics often panned his works, today James Buchanan Elmore’s books are being sought by many collectors. What do you think? Read Twenty-five Years in Jackville at the Indiana University Indiana Authors and Their Books project:

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.