Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"Fresh Air School" to fight tuberculosis

     Due to the high number of tuberculosis cases in the area in December, 1917,
Mills School
Crawfordsville’s Mills School, at 801 West Main St., was the location of an educational experiment by the principal, Elizabeth Winter, and a new teacher, Miss Adda Fraley. An Indiana University graduate, Miss Fraley came across the “fresh air” method of education while attending special training in Chicago. “Fresh air” schools hold to the tenets of “fresh air, cleanliness, proper food, and sobriety” in order to fight tuberculosis. There were 34 students involved in this experiment, in which they wore warm coats made of horse blankets while the room temperature was kept at between 54 and 64 degrees.

It was thought that the students would be more alert, and learn more in the same amount of time, and that their bodies would be healthier from breathing fresh air, and not the stale air of a closed room. 

from Crawfordsville Daily Journal, December 13, 1917

Monday, December 4, 2017

Hoosier Chronicles--Reading Our Local Past

     Hoosier Chronicles, available on our Local History page on the CDPL website, is a wonderful resource for early Montgomery history.  Papers available are: four Crawfordsville papers from 1834- 1902; one New Richmond paper from 1900-1915; and three Waynetown papers covering various years from 1880-1930. Not only do you find marriages and obituaries, but various other events or legal matters in a family's life. Here are several examples from the Crawfordsville Recorder, 1835. 
Real Estate Probate

Directors of the Indianapolis and Lafayette Rail Road Co.
All Montgomery County Residents

Candidates for Local Election, 1835

and, of course, a SWINDLER!!!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Letters Home from Our Local Soldiers in 150th Field Artillery

     The previous blog post pertained to the local Indiana National Guard Field Artillery unit that became the 150th Field Artillery when they were all shipped to France in October, 1917.  After a thorough search through all the Crawfordsville Daily Journals from 1917-1918, almost one hundred letters from our soldiers were found, or news was shared by families. In researching each of the soldiers in the picture in the previous post, I found some shocking information. Frank Manning, of Darlington, was reported to his parents as being killed in action during the spring of 1918. This must have been terrible for that family. However, I found a letter written on November 11, 1918, describing the last day of the war, written by Frank Manning of Darlington. I was puzzled. With further research, I found that a different Frank Manning from New York had died that day, and not the Frank from Darlington.
    An excerpt from Manning’s  note, written on Nov. 11, 1918, and printed in the Crawfordsville Daily Journal on December 20, 1918, read:

“I am on the front, yet a front that 48 hours ago was the hottest and bloodiest front of the war and has been since August, 1914. In this ruined French village… there are perhaps 200 souls. They have been under German yoke for four years and they look more like hunted animals than human beings. … to have peace, blessed peace in so short a time, is more than their tortured souls can stand.”
     Claude Grissom wrote home to his mother on September 10, and the letter appeared on October 28, 1918.

"Well, Mother, Old Fritzy just sent over his best regards just now, about a 210 shell, I think.  I met an old buddy of mine from Crawfordsville. His name is Jack Harris. I saw L. Merrell about a month ago. Have not seen Clarence Zook for four or five months."

     Albert Wright served alongside his brother, Cecil. Albert wrote to his sister on September 21, 191, and it was printed on November 4, 1918.

"One big boche prisoner was coming down the road with about 100 others smoking a pipe that looked like a young steam engine; he was all smiles. Well, in less time that it takes to tell it, I rode up to him and grabbed it out of his mouth."
"Another column of prisoners came at dawn: I cited a big Prussian officer. With very few words, I told him I wanted his cap, which he gave up very gratefully. I a few minutes I discovered his cap was full of--not bombs--but genuine Turkish cigars!"


One Hundred Years Ago--Our County Men in World War I

The 150th Field Artillery
Rainbow Division

Top Row--Albert W. Goltra, Ralph I Crowder, Carl H. Todd, Wm. P Barry, Claude Grisson
Bottom Row--Frank Manning, Albert W. Wright, Cecil C. Wright

          This photo appeared in the Crawfordsville Daily Journal, November 20, 1917. It was taken on Long Island, right before these local men shipped out to France with 28,000 other soldiers on October 18,1917. Previously, this unit had been part of the Indiana National Guard, and was stationed along the Mexican border in Texas. The unit was called back to join the Rainbow Division in France. There the 150th Field Artillery soldiers engaged in several key battles of World War I:

Luneville           Baccarat           Esperance-Souain,      Champagne-Marne,   Aisne-Marne,     St. Mihiel         Esperance & Pannes,          and Meusee-Argonne.

The 150th Field Artillery fired a French cannon, the 155mm Howitzer. The following photo shows that this piece was horse-drawn. 

More information on this unit available at:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Clements Family Business Lived On

Children of Andrew Clements
FR---Ralph, Florence, and Ray P.
BR--Ruth, Clara, and John(subject of this post)
from CDPL image database
     The Clements family insurance company passed along to son John in 1917 after his father’s death. By this time, John had already studied at Wabash College and served in World War I in France. On his return, he worked for a short time at the Shimer-Light Dodge dealership next to the Carnegie Library, before joining his father’s business. In 1921, he married Mary Tucker of Greencastle, daughter of Dr. William and Bertha Tucker. They had one daughter, Miriam.
from 1958 Crawfordsville City Directory
      In order to build up more business, John and Bud Green joined together and bought the Citizen Bank Building on E. Main St. in 1950.  In 1955, Stuart Roscher operated an automobile business and also came into partnership with John, joining the Clement-Smith Corporation, which later became Clement-Roscher Corp. 
     By 1967, at the age of 71, John was ready to retire and sold his portion of the business to Roscher.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Clements Family Worked Hard to Build Their Insurance Company

     The Clements Insurance firm was started by Andrew Clements, in 1887. He began his business in his home in Mt. Tabor, which is the corner of 150S and 200E.  He would travel all around the county, and outside it in a little two-wheeled cart pulled by a pony. He would sometimes stay in a boarding house in Darlington for a week, drumming up business in the area. Later he would get a bicycle, take the train to Darlington, and ride hither and yon, selling even more policies. He worked hard during the week, would come home, and his wife would spend the next week hand-writing all the policies, since typewriters were not yet available.  He mostly sold fire and lightning insurance until his death in 1917.  He eventually had an office on Washington Street, south of the alley behind Resoner’s Jewelers (Allen’s Country Kitchen).
John Clements is on the left, and Andrew, his father is standing in the center. 
     John Clements, Andy’s son, took over the business and subsequently went through several consolidations, and mergers with local banks. John recalled how difficult it was to be in the insurance business in the 1930’s, during the depression. The business by this time was involved in farm loans.  He and his partner decided that if the landowner could keep the taxes and insurance paid, the farm would not be foreclosed on.  Many premiums were paid with eggs and chickens, which was the only bartering tool to be had by many downtrodden farmers of the time. John’s wife, taught piano lessons at the time, which helped keep their family afloat.  (to be continued)

Photo and information from "Montgomery Magazine," April 1987.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Indian Artifact Finds in Coal Creek Township--1903

     In our Local History collection, we have many books that cover the history of small towns in Montgomery County.  One interesting book is “According to the Record—Selected Articles from the New Richmond Record 1903-1904. In the October 22,1903 issue of that paper, there is an article about Indian artifacts found in Coal Creek Township, near New Richmond.
Early in the twentieth century, two men, J. Lee Allen and Winton Utterback discovered such relics as axes, arrowheads, ceremonial stones, a celt, and other items.

The ax that was found was of such immense size, that they considered that it must have been used for hewing out trees, and other heavy work. It was too big for use in battle. Pictured on the left is a celt, used to scrape animal skins. On the right is an early woodland arrowhead, similar to what may have been found here.

     State Geologist Blatchley took possession of these artifacts for further study. He proclaimed them to be some of the finest of their kind to have ever been found.

     The area where these artifacts were found was on the farm owned by Mr. Junius Allen, presumably in section 28, almost straight south of New Richmond.  In the center of this property was a small pond that may have been used by those who built the mound containing the artifacts. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Crawfordville Record--Our First Newspaper--It's Available Now!

     From a great book on our Local History shelves, “Early Days in a College Town,” I found the story of The Crawfordsville Record, our first newspaper in town. Frank Mills, the author of “Early Days,” tells us that he found some copies of the first issue, printed just six months after his birth, in 1831, when Crawfordsville had only 500 inhabitants. He comments that the Record contained less than six inches of advertising, as opposed to later papers that contained mostly ads, and very little news.
     The Record is available online through CDPL website, on the Services tab, then click on Local History, then Early Montgomery County Newspapers.  Scroll down the list to find several other county papers. All of these old papers are also available on microfilm in our Local History Department.
    A cursory glance through the February 8, 1834 issue of the Record shows us that the more things change, the more they stay the same!  Martin Van Buren was the vice-president, and Daniel Webster was the senator who spoke with Van Buren. 
     This paragraph was from an article on the Bank of the United States. This event took place in U. S. Senate, where there was much to-ing and fro-ing from many senators about how the system was or was not working. This paragraph could easily be dropped down into any article about the Senate from the last over 200 years of our nation’s history!

     While the online newspapers are not quite searchable yet, you may still be able to find jewels of family history hidden in there if you have a date for an event, such as this marriage. The marriage is between Mr. James M. Vangordan, of Butler County, Ohio, and Miss Lilee Jane M'Maken, of this county.
     The property advertised for sale (one of the few ads in this paper)should be quite familiar to county residents. It would be the Yountsville property that eventually becomes the Yountsville Woolen Mill, in 1849 when Jacob Yount changed his carding mill into a woolen mill. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Montgomery County War News—This Week in 1917

     In the October 4, 1917, Crawfordsville Daily Journal, there is a front-page article about twenty-two men from our county who were about to be sent overseas to fight in the Great War. They were members of the Indiana and Illinois artillery units that had been training at Camp Mills, Garden City, Long Island, New York. These soldiers were part of the “Rainbow Division,” the first National Guard unit to be sent for active service overseas.

     From this list, the only one that did not survive the war was Melvin Cook of Darlington.  He died from tuberculosis, a not uncommon occurrence during wartime. 

Gold star honor roll. A record of Indiana men and women who died in the service of the United States and the allied nations in the world war. 1914.  from the Indiana Historical Commission, 1921.

   From a collection of World War I letters written home and then published in the local paper is one from Albert “Abe” Goltra, who is listed above.  Here is an excerpt:

Somewhere in France, May 18, 1918.  “My Dear Ones;--It has been so very long since I have been able to drop you all a line.  I received a nice letter from you, Pop and Elba about a week ago. I am now separated from my regiment but hope to rejoin it soon. I am now living with a first lieutenant up in the front line infantry. The place I am now in has been shelled to pieces. I have a fairly nice cot, made of boards and chicken wire. I also have my horse with me and expect to go back to regimental headquarters tomorrow to visit over Sunday. Just think, I am the only one in the whole regiment to get to go to the front line.”

     Upstairs in the Reference/Local History Department is a display about local involvement in the war.  A book of collected letters from local soldiers is available for your perusal.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dr. Martha H. Griffith--One of the First Women Doctors in Indiana!

     From the December 20, 1924, Crawfordsville Daily Journal comes the story of the life of Dr. Martha H. Griffith, the oldest female physician in the county at the time of her death.
Dr. Martha Hutchings Griffith,
CDPL image database
Martha was born in Hanover, Indiana, in 1842, to John and Elizabeth Hutchings. Her father farmed, and also represented Jefferson County in the state legislature in 1856-7. He also took part in the organization of the Republican Party in Indiana. The family moved to Jennings County in the early 1860’s so that Martha could study at the Jennings Academy with a small class of young men. Having completed those studies and with the young men going off to war, Martha began to study medicine in secret with a local doctor in a time when women were not really encouraged or allowed to study medicine. When the time came for her to attend proper medical school, her neighbors and school friends were astonished and scoffed at her ambition. She entered the Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia in 1866, and eventually graduated as one of the first women in Indiana to hold a medical college degree recognized by her profession.
Griffith house, Darlington,
CDPL image database
     She began practicing medicine in Madison, Indiana, in 1870. In 1871, she met and married Dr. Thomas J. Griffith and moved to Darlington, where she carried on a large obstetrical practice. After completing more coursework and certification, she and her family moved to Crawfordsville.  She became deeply involved in community work. She was one of the organizers for the Carnegie Library. She started up the Community House, located where the Post Office is now. Here people could come for help and a meal. Martha was a member of several local clubs, and held state office in the State Federation of Clubs She and her husband had two children—Dr. J. B. Griffith, and Helen, who died in childhood. Dr. Griffith was a fine example of how a woman could be a mother and a wife, and successfully work in a profession.  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

This Day in 1917, September 6.

     One hundred years ago today, September 6, 1917, there were several reports in the Crawfordsville Daily Journal about local soldiers and where they were being sent.  Lieutenant William Cunningham of Crawfordsville, after officer training at Ft. Harrison, in Indianapolis, and then some time spent at Camp Taylor, in Louisville, was headed down to Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Harry Cook and George Pennington were on their way to Camp Taylor. The 150th Field Artillery unit from Ft. Harrison, containing many Montgomery County men, was finally on its way to Mineola, Long Island. They had been delayed because of a shortage of clothing and equipment for them to take to Europe.
     Not letting any grass grow under their feet, the Red Cross ladies of New Market were scheduled to present a comic play on Saturday evening,  with the money going to support Red Cross activities. 
from   National Geographic #XXXIII Index Jan-June1918
     Earlier in 1917, several barns in the county had large numbers painted on their roofs. Pilots flying from Rantoul, Illinois, to Dayton, Ohio, used them for guidance.  Local barns used belonged to:
George Stafford (near Hose School)  #11
O. Rush #12
Unnamed #13
John Small (near Waynetown) #14
Tom Bailey #15
E.E. Coates #16
Charles Thayer #17
V. E. Livengood #18



Saturday, August 26, 2017

Early County Home Torn Down, in 1933.

     Just south of New Ross at the township line between Clark and Walnut townships lies the Jessee Family Cemetery. James Browning 
James B. Jessee
photo from, James B. Jessee page
"Squire" Jessee was the original owner of this property. He was born in Russell County, Virginia, in October of 1803. He married Nancy Chandler (Candler) in 1827, and two years later this young family traveled cross country in a covered wagon to settle here. When he arrived, he had $8 in his pocket, and a few pieces of furniture in his wagon. He worked hard, and within a few years, became a community leader. He and Nancy raised seven children. Son Thomas died in battle on June 19, 1862, and was originally buried in the National Cemetery in Corinth, Mississippi. He served as a member of Co. B, IN 10th Vol. Infantry. There is a stone for him in the Jessee family cemetery, on the old family property. His parents are also buried there. 
    The Jessees were remembered for their hospitality before the war, and Mr. Jessee buried the first decedent in the community. He was remembered for driving his hogs to Cincinnati, which was not an easy task at the time.  
     The original house, pictured above, was finally torn down in 1933. There is a family cemetery on the land there, and several family members are interred on that spot. Nina D. Evans, a granddaughter, recalled Mr. Jessee for a news article in 1933. 

(Crawfordsville Journal Review, May 5, 1933

Suburbs of Crawfordsville, Really?

     When you think of the growth of Crawfordsville from the beginning, you think about it growing from the center out. However, an examination of plat maps of Union Township will show you that several small settlements grew toward, or were absorbed by the town of Crawfordsville. Longview, for instance, was platted in 1873 and incorporated in 1881. It consisted of 27 lots between Wabash Avenue, Market Street, Dry Branch, and the old Warren Davis property on the east. Family names involved in its development were George Paul, Warren Davis, Joseph Alexander, E. Noland, and Robert and Charley Davis. Longview appears as a separate town in the 1878 plat map. 
     Englewood, from the far eastern side of Crawfordsville existed between Wabash Avenue, the eastern and northern corporation lines, and “Lovers’ Lane.”
     Highland was located between Grant Avenue on the west and Mill Street on the east.  Danville Avenue runs through the middle of Highland, which was also home to a brick factory. Annexation into Crawfordsville depended on if the Highland residents would get fire protection, along with water and light service.
     Fiskville shows up in the 1898 plat, along with the previously mentioned small burgs. Fiskville, unlike the other towns, never incorporated.
It operated on the Cleveland cooperative system, whereby home occupants paid on a rent-to-own system. After a certain amount of time of rent payment, they owned their homes. Driving down Whitlock Avenue, you can imagine the generations of children who spent their summer days playing in the “Hollow.” A niece of Ambrose Whitlock, Janie Jones, remembered learning about nature by observing birds, and various forest mammals, such as opossums, raccoons, mink, and chipmunks. There was even a bicycle trail. Some patrons of CDPL have talked before about the natural spring there on the hillside, called Whitlock Springs. It had a fountain, and I’m sure scads of children cooled off there on a sunny day.   
(Information from "Montgomery County Legend and Lore," compiled and edited by Pat Cline, 1988. Available at CDPL) 


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Early Recollections of Crawfordsville

    I recently came across a delightful little historical book located in our reference department about the settlement of Montgomery and several other counties in the area written by Sandford C. Cox --”Recollections of the Early Settlement of the Wabash Valley.” As a young man, soon after he moved to Montgomery County, Cox was hit by a falling tree, and lost a leg. Because of his lost leg, he was unable to do most physical labor so he worked ambitiously to educate himself and become a respected worker. He quietly learned the law and later practiced in Lafayette. He was a conductor on the Underground Railroad. In 1859, Cox began publishing “extracts” of local history in the Lafayette Daily Courier.  
   One of the first recollections concerns land sales in Crawfordsville, on December 24, 1824. At the time, Crawfordsville was the epicenter for business and government for about one hundred miles around. He reports that the town was full of strangers, but that he had also entertained old “White Water” neighbors. He had three old buddies show up for the sale, and in his twelve foot by sixteen-foot cabin slept his family of seven, plus the three friends. This was not an uncommon occurrence in pioneer times. They just spread beds on the floor and made room for everyone.
image of the Speed cabin, from CDPL database

    His description of Crawfordsville at the time is this--”It is the only town between Terre-Haute and Fort Wayne….Major Ristine keeps a tavern in a two story log house, and Jonathan Powers has a little grocery. There are two stores--Smith’s, near the land office, and Isaac C. Elston’s, near the tavern. Thos. M. Curry and Magnus Holmes are the only physicians, and Providence M. Curry the only lawyer in town. John Wilson is clerk of the court, and David Vance is sheriff. William Nicholson carries on a tannery and shoemaker shop. Scott and Mack have cabinet shops, and George Key blows and strikes at the blacksmithing business”       

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Facebook,,,,1901 Style!!!

     As 21st century people, we love to think that we are connected to everyone and know all the gossip. But one glimpse at the Crawfordsville Daily Journal of April 1901, and we are transported back to a time when everyone actually did know everything about everyone. Here are some excerpts from the Journal from April, 1901. 
GRAVELLY RUN (Franklin Township)--Miss L. Johnson is taking treatment for her eyes. Otis Hall is gradually regaining his health, but won't be taking up his teaching duties at the college.
Gravelly Run Church--photo from our database

CHERRY GROVE(Madison Township) Thomas Carrol and his hand, Jas. Lyons, put in oats last week.  Mike Carroll sold a fine bunch of hogs and delivered them at the pens in Crawfordsville this week. G. Murdock is going to trade his fancy driving horse for a trotter. 
LONGSTREET (NW of Shannondale) Mrs. Shaver returned from Indianapolis. Mrs. J. Crawford and Mrs. C. Hill are both successfully running incubators ( I assume for chicks!)
FIDDLER's POINT(area near Young's Chapel) Mrs. King is working for Mrs. Sallie Paxton. George King spent Sunday at Frank Smith's house in Cherry Grove. Several ladies met at Young's Chapel and gave the church a good cleaning!
CALIFORNIA(between Elmdale and Pleasant Hill School)Hal Utterback is working for Wm. Walker. Miss Pearl Cowan is staying with relatives at Wesley this week. A small house with all contents at George Marshtetter's farm near Round Hill was destoyed by fire last Sunday morning. 
Several of these community names I was not able to find on a county map.  However, there is a list of over 400, yes, 400 county communities located at the bottom of the Local History page, with a link to the Montgomery County GenWeb page, kept by Karen Zach. Thanks, Karen!

The Indiana (INGenWeb Project), Copyright ©1996-2017 (and beyond), Montgomery County GenWeb site    

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Charles E. Townsley, Civil War Drummer Boy and Local Postman

       Charles E. Townsley, was born in 1845 in Montgomery County, Ohio, to Jerry and Harriet Townsley, and came to this Montgomery County at an early age. When he was sixteen, he enlisted in the Seventy-Second Regiment Infantry as a drummer boy.
from Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana--1861-1865, vol. 6,

     While stationed at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in 1863, he contracted typhoid, and had to return to Indiana. Zack Mahorney traveled to Tennessee and fetched him home. As soon as he recovered, he went to Port Jefferson, Ohio, and reenlisted on July 14, 1863. He traveled to Nashville, joined a Union regiment, and continued to serve as a drummer boy until the end of the war. He was discharged in Nashville on August 23, 1865.
     On May 9, 1869, he married Miss Fannie Mack of this county in Kankakee, Illinois. She was the daughter of James T. Mack, early Crawfordsville settler, and subject of an earlier blog post. Mr. Townsley went on to build the Junction Hotel, which was located at the railroad junction on the east end of Franklin Street, in Crawfordsville. He was also the proprietor of the Robbins House. He worked for the local post office for the last six years of his life. He was well known throughout the county as he was the special delivery letter carrier. He was purported to have a jovial, kind disposition, and made friends with all he met. 
     He died January 14, 1908.  Four children survived Charles: Hattie Tyler, Mrs. John Teasdale, Mrs. Maud Cook, and Frederick Townsley.  His service was held at his friend, Newton Wasson, on the corner of Grant and Market Streets.
     (check the post on 3/23/2017 for information about James T. Mack, father-in-law)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

CDPL Acquires Back Issues of County Papers from Ladoga Library and the Boone Family!

     The Ladoga Library and the CDPL board have recently come to an agreement on the permanent loan of three county newspaper back issues from Ladoga Library to CDPL. Crawfordsville Library would like to thank the Ladoga Library for their very generous loan of valuable local history!
            The Ladoga Leader is available on microfilm from 1890 to 1950.
The Jamestown Press is available from 1898 to 1974.

     Also, the New Richmond Record back issues have been given to CDPL by the family of Phyllis Waye Boone for public use, and in hopes of getting them microfilmed. These papers are not available for viewing at this time.

However, some issues of this paper are available on “Hoosier Chronicles.”  On the CDPL home page, click on SERVICES, then scroll down to Reference and  Local History.  Open the page, and halfway down is a link to Early Montgomery County Newspapers. This will take you to a page that lists our local papers that are readable on their site. 
     The following newspapers are also available online.  At, go to Databases tab, then scroll down to Vital Statistics. Click on this link, their links appear at the bottom of the Vital Statistics page.    

May 1890 - Feb 1900
Jan 1907, Jan 1908 - Dec 1910
July 1900 - Jan 1903
Jan 1911 - Feb 1920, Jan 1923 - Jan 1928
Feb 1872 - Feb 1889, Jan 1892 - Feb 1898
Feb 1898 - Jan 1899, Jan 1901 - Feb 1903

Monday, July 10, 2017

Young Man Meets His End in the Trenches--This Week in World War I

     Upstairs in the Local History/Reference Department is a large display on World War I. Part of the work in putting together this project was finding all the obituaries printed in the Crawfordsville Daily Journal of Montgomery County soldiers who died during this war. The young man who lost his life one hundred years ago on June 30 was Alexander Colman.  His death was reported in the July 13 edition of the "Crawfordsville Daily Journal."
    Alexander Colman was an English-born Canadian lad when he came to live here in 1912-13 with the James Thomas family to attend high school.  He was well-liked and had many friends in our area. The Thomases learned of his death from a letter they had received from his broken-hearted mother, Annie Coman Griffie, in Toronto, Canada. She reported that her son had died at the sixth clearing station in France on June 30,  two days after he had been wounded. She received a letter written by her son two days after learning of his death. It was a cheerful letter, full of his thanks for a parcel received from home full of gifts.
   Colman had been in the trenches for over a year and a half. He had served as a Lewis machine gunner for the last six months, and had earned the rank of corporal. He had recently celebrated his twentieth birthday.

   This entry for Colman in the Gold Star Honor Roll Book, that lists the dead from Indiana in World War I, states that he died in the battle of Lens, but I found that that battle happened in August, so we are not sure exactly what battle he was in. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Hunting the Wild Panther!

    This week’s local history post digs way, way back into the newspaper database we have available online at  We now have access to “Hoosier Chronicles,” an online database for scanned newspapers from around the country, and several from our county.  As I was proofreading the January 2, 1836, issue of “The Crawfordsville Record,” I found an article about wildlife in northern Montgomery County.
     It seems that in Coal Creek Township, back in the 1830’s, a six-foot panther made several appearances.  Now, this being a time without television, or computers, young men needed something to occupy their time. A few intrepid young men, including the sons of Rev. Benjamin Brooks, decided to go out night hunting for this panther. Upon sighting the big cat, the boys sent in their hunting dogs to do their jobs.
One of the smaller boys involved asked for the ax to kill the panther, but the biggest boy, having half his wits about him, decided it was time to hightail it home to Pa, and get some help.  Once home, they could hear the panther screaming in the distance. They also found one of their dogs later, ripped to shreds by this beast. It was decided by the neighborhood dwellers that finding the cat and dispatching him from his earthly life would happen on the next snowy day when he would be easy to track.  

       Rev. Benjamin Brooks (1779-1855), the father of some of these brave young lads, was an original purchaser of land in Township 20-N and Range 5-W, section 36, land now occupied by Pleasant Hill Elementary School.  He is buried nearby, next to his son, William (1821-1834). He and his wife (her name is lost) together had a family of eight children: Rev. Stephen, Nancy B. Kirkpatrick, John, Sarah B. Springate, William, James, Benjamin, and Samuel. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Huntington Family--Builders of Beauty

Try to take a fast drive through Ladoga, and I guarantee that you will slow down to gaze at some of the beautiful late 19th century homes that grace its streets. Maybe you’ll wonder about who must have built all that beauty.  A local man, Hiram Huntington, and several partners, including his son, George, were responsible for bringing about the peaks, the porches, the gingerbread, and the fish scale siding on many of these homes. Hiram Huntington was the best builder in the county beginning in 1866 and continuing on for fifty years!  He started out as a trainman in 1859 in New Albany, Indiana, on the Monon Railroad, then during the Civil War he worked as a pattern maker in Nashville, Tennessee, making armament for the Union forces. After the war, he moved his family to Ladoga, and began making his mark on Montgomery County.
from CDPL image database 
   Probably the most visible and well-known building he and his son, George, completed was the Ladoga East Graded School (1897). What a grand looking school with its ornate brickwork, half-round windows, and lofty turrets mounted on each corner!  This school was used for seventy-five years!
J. C. Knox home, Ladoga, 1895
    One home that he built, the Ashby home, south of Ladoga, is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The J. C. Knox home, in Ladoga,  is a quintessential example of Victorian architecture. Hiram, despite his poor eyesight, was responsible for making much of the elaborate woodwork found inside and outside many of the houses he built.
    A funny note about the family--Hiram and Sarah Gregg married on February 14, 1858. Their two sons were also born on Valentine’s Day--George in 1867, and Harry in 1869!
George (2nd row, with moustache) in his Ladoga High School picture (ca. 1885)
      So, the next time you take a slow drive through Ladoga, think about this influential and talented family, the Huntingtons.  
(Information from "Family Histories, Montgomery County, 1823-1988." Compiled by the Genealogy Sect. of the Montgomery County Historical Society, 1989)


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Toliver Larsh--A Ferry Boatman's Son and County Pioneer

       An 1832 unstamped letter from Toliver Larsh to his brother in Preble County, Ohio, has been acquired by CDPL and is available to view on our “images” database.
     Our curiosity was raised about this early county resident, so we started on a search.  We found his obituary in the Crawfordsville Weekly Journal of November 17, 1870, which can be viewed on microfilm on the second floor of CDPL.  In it, we found that Mr.Larsh and his family lived quite interesting lives!
     Toliver’s family story starts with his grandmother, Mrs. Kincade, and her sister, Mrs. Byrd. Both of them, with their families, were captured by Indians in the middle 1700's near the Scioto River, which is now in Ohio. All but the two sisters lost their lives in captivity, and Paul Larsh, an Indian trader, was able to help them escape to Illinois, and he and Mrs. Kincade married.  From their marriage came Charles Larsh, Toliver’s father. 
    Early in Toliver’s life, his father moved first to Adams County, Kentucky, and then Mason County, Kentucky, where he ran ferry services across the Ohio River.  Toliver became his right-hand man and was known for his skills with an oar and his work ethic. 
    The War of 1812 erupted, and all the men in the family, except for Toliver, served in the Army.
     In 1823, Toliver emigrated to Montgomery County to what is now Ripley Township.  There were no roads, mills, towns, or really, any form of civilization in that area.  Most things needed to come by canoe from Terre Haute up the Sugar River, as it was called then.  He spent the winter of 1823-24 with the Stonebraker family in a three-sided enclosure, keeping a fire going to fend off the wild animals that were prowling at night.
 After building a cabin, he spent many a day toiling with land clearing so he could farm.
     In 1840, he married Jane Gilkey. Together they had four sons and three daughters.  from the archives of Josephine Stubbins Miller, great-granddaughter of Toliver Larsh
l. to r.  Mary Jane, Robert, Jane, Henry Clay, Toliver, John, Martha, Sarah Ann, and Paul
photo circa 1857
     Mr. Larsh was well-known for his kindness to all, and showed great hospitality to those who visited him and those who worked for him. He never became wealthy, because he paid his workers a fair wage. He mentored many a young man, most of whom held him in high regard throughout their lives. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

CHS Alumni Present a Gala "Vodvil" Show--1922

          Many of us remember the old Strand Theater on Green Street.  I remember seeing many movies there, at both the upstairs and the downstairs screens.  I do not know when the theater was divided, but I do know that many years ago, when there was just one stage, that the Strand Theater was a great place to view all sorts of traveling and local shows.  In today’s entry, I will highlight one particular show put on by alumni of Crawfordsville High School.   
     In December of 1922, several alumni of Crawfordsville High School decided to help fund the purchase of theater equipment for the school by having a “vodville” show.  It promised to be one of the “most interesting of its kind ever offered in this city.”  Since the show was announced, several theater groups from around the county pledged their attendance. Two young ladies from Indiana University offered a song and dance routine with costumes. Several members of the Wabash community would also be involved.
     The Detchon’s Orchestra would be playing “Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye,” while Tony Bostwick would be performing “Sunshine of Your Smile” on his violin. 
      A  group of ladies in a chorus sang “Carolina in the Morning” and “My Honey’s Lovin’ Arms.”  The chorus was comprised of Katherine Dorsey, Lois Southard, Kathleen Straughn, Betty Moon, June Pett, Katherine Whittington, Margaret Coombs, Mildred Roach, Betty Wallace, Mary J. Herron, Dorothy Long and Dot Clark.
       During intermission, the patrons were invited to dance in the foyer and also received a memento of the evening from the alumni.