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.