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.