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. 
http://history.cdpl.lib.in.us/images2013/20130917-1001a.jpg
     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.
www.ancestry.com  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.                                                                                                                         
    

Saturday, May 20, 2017

First County Casualty at Pearl Harbor Back From the Dead!



     We recently had an out-of-state guest come to the Local History department of CDPL with a very interesting story about her uncle, Leroy White, 26 years old, at the time, who had been stationed at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

     The family story related that he was aboard on the USS California, at Pearl Harbor and had been smoking up on deck when the ship was torpedoed on December 7, 1941.  He supposedly jumped off the flaming ship into the harbor and swam through the burning waters to the shore and was not found for several days.
      As told in another post in this blog, citizens here learned of the bombing by radio and by reports given out to the crowds at the Crawfordsville Journal Review on Green Street. The December 12 article in the Journal reported that “ the Arizona and five other warships were lost,” but no mention was made of the USS California

     Imagine the horror felt by Mr. and Mrs. David White of near New Market when the headline on December 16 read: 

    "LEROY WHITE SLAIN AT PEARL  HARBOR.”

     Those were terrible days at the White household  until a letter, mailed on December 19, arrived at their home.  
  



      Christmas must have been a very merry occasion with the White family that year! 
Leroy survived the war and married Alice Lidester in October, 1953.  He died in August, 1994 and is buried in Boone County. 

     What happened to the USS California?  In early 1942 it was refloated and dry docked.  Later, in June, it was sent to Puget Sound for refitting and major repairs.  This fine ship later returned to the seas to play a significant role in the battles around the Philippines and Japan.   A Japanese kamikaze pilot slammed into it on January 6, 1945, so immediate repairs were made to it, and its men continued  on to battle near Okinawa, Japan.  The “USS California” was finally scrapped in 1959.   




































Monday, May 8, 2017

The First Airmail Letter Arrives From Washington, D.C.!--1918


    Just a few short years after the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, airmail became the wave of the future in communications.  A certain B. E. Hinkle in Washington, D.C., needed to renew his subscription to the Crawfordsville Daily Journal.  He enclosed a letter with his payment.

        "I was so fortunate as to see the first plane, in flight, that carried mail from our capital to New York City, and also the incoming plane from the metropolis to Washington."
                                                     (May 17, 1918. Crawfordsville Daily Journal.)
  
  

  The letter bore a new twenty-four cent stamp had only just been printed for the first time on May 14, and this letter appeared in our local paper on May 17.



    


 This stamp was to become famous when it was accidently printed upside-down. The “Inverted Jenny,” after the Curtiss Jenny airplane it depicted, is now worth about 1.6 million dollars.  Don’t you wish you had one?

     

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Adding to Our Database and Local Family Histories

    (continuing from the last post)  I recently donated scans of Hostetter family photos to CDPL to be uploaded onto the “image” database on our Local History/Reference page, because I know that I am related to several families in the county, as Anna Marie’s sister, Mary, married Perry Nichols, and had eight children. Many of their families are scattered throughout the county.  If you have any historical pictures of your family that you can identify, we would love to scan them into our database. 
     On the right are my grandmother Anna Marie Hostetter Hatfield's grandparents--Simon D. Hostetter and Catherine Goodbar.  They lived near Ladoga in the 1800's.
     We also have a Family Bible Project database that we would like patrons to add to. Just bring in a Bible that has a family history written in it, we can scan it, or you may donate the book to our archive. We add your information to our searchable database for others to use. Here is an example from a family Bible I found somewhere years ago, that records many people in my fifth-great-grandmother's family. 


      Mathew Thompson, at the bottom, rode in a canoe with his parents Samuel and Catherine from Cincinnati to a spot on the Mad River, in 1796, to be the first white boy to live in Dayton, Ohio. He later moved to Hagerstown, Indiana, to live with a sister, who was the great-grandmother of the Wright brothers! He lived in Ladoga for a while, and then he and his wife, Margaret Gillespie, moved to Remington in the 1860's to live with their son, George, the first postmaster there, and that is where they are all interred. Most of that information I did not find online, but from library research. 

"Who Do I Think I Am," Montgomery County Style!


Margaret Thompson and Corbin Hostetter, my great-grandparents, parents
of  Mary (Nichols), George, Eugene, and Anna Marie (Hatfield).
     I’ll come out from behind my “blogger” anonymity and reveal that I am Dianne Hatfield Combs, not born in Montgomery County, but I have lived here since 1986. I knew my American grandmother,  Anna-Marie (nee) Hostetter Hatfield had grown up near New Market. But what else did I know about her family?  My family history curiosity started with some old pictures in Grandma’s trunk, and now I have folders full of information. For several years I have dug through many county and city resources at CDPL to discover that in seven generations, my father is the only person in my direct line to not have lived in this county.  Just how far back do I go in this county?  Well, I have Goodbars settling in Scott Township in 1830’s, Halls in Brown Township during the same time, Wassons in Brown’s Valley, and the Hostetters showed up a bit later. I have many family members buried at Harshbarger’s Cemetery, and at Ladoga.  My husband and I have traveled to many libraries in and out of Indiana searching for more pieces to our family puzzles.

     At CDPL, we have many family history books that are the result of family historians organizing their own research and publishing it in book form. I have not started one yet, but on the off chance that there may be some of my family in a book here, I researched and found the “Zug,  Zuck, Zouck, Zook” family history that just happens to contain information on my American grandfather’s Hatfield/Zook side of the family, from Johnson and Brown counties. 

     

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thou Art Greatly Beloved!

     What wonderful words to be said of anyone, and especially our subject today, Benjamin Taylor Ristine!  He was born in Gallatin County, Kentucky, in 1807 and lived for a while in Madison, Indiana.  Ben's father, Henry, was a ranger in the War of 1812, and having traveled through the Wabash Valley,  picked Montgomery County as a place to raise his young family. They moved by wagon from Madison, Indiana, in 1823, taking ten days to make the journey. They purchased land in section 31, next to Ambrose Whitlock, on property which is now Farmington Hills subdivision. They built a "log hotel" in the downtown area, kept that until 1829, moved away, moved back and bought another public house east of the courthouse. Young Ben worked in the hotel business, while "reading" for the law.  He abandoned law, and ran a dry-goods business for seven years.  He resumed the law, and was admitted to the bar in 1840. He was in partnership with several lawyers: William T. Noel, Hosea D. Humphreys, and Alexander Thompson.  He later partnered with two of his own sons--Theodore and Hosea.
from Beasley's Crawfordsville Directory for 1878-79
   Ben married Hosea Humphrey's sister, Florinda, in 1837, and produced six sons, and one daughter-- they became two attorneys, two doctors, a farmer, and a soldier, and a well-placed daughter.  Albert, the soldier, died immediately after the Civil War, of illness. 
   In his full front page obituary of the Crawfordsville Weekly Journal on January 1, 1897, high praises rang across the page for this early settler and well-regarded attorney. He was held with great esteem by all those who knew him across the state of Indiana, and in our own vicinity. The Ristine name would go on to be intertwined throughout the history of Montgomery County, and a search on our library database will provide much proof of this. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

James T. Mack--An VERY Early Citizen of Crawfordsville

I recently discovered the name of a very early Crawfordsville pioneer, James T. Mack, while perusing “History of Montgomery County, Indiana” by Hiram W. Beckwith. This publication is a wonderful resource for early Montgomery County history, whether you have a relative in there or not.  Printed in 1881, there are scores of biographies of early settlers listed by township. For today’s entry, I’ve searched in Union Township and found this industrious merchant from our town’s early days.  
Photo from CDPL Image Collection
 
     Mr. James T. Mack and his wife, Catharine Wilhite Mack, had families that settled in Oldham County, Kentucky and then moved to Montgomery County. The Wilhites bought land here as early as 1824 in Union Township. Imagine that Crawfordsville at the time consisted of two cabins!  James helped the other early settlers in clearing the land for the town to grow. Later he became a tavern owner when he bought the “hotel,” or double log house situated next to the original log courthouse. He moved on from there to a home on Vernon Street, which is now Pike Street. He decided to farm, and moved south of town. James would haul his grain by himself the fifty-six miles to Terre Haute. He was also known for his skill in cabinet making. James T. Mack died in 1841, leaving his wife, and  a daughter, Mary Jane, both of whom supported themselves through needlework. There were two sons, Samuel, a newborn, and James T. Mack, age 11. James was not afforded an education, but instead, worked hard and became a very successful restaurant owner in Crawfordsville, at no. 44 East Main Street, near the courthouse. He married Elizabeth E. Wasson in 1849 and had four children: Susan, Sarah, Jennie, and James T. Jr.                                                 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Montgomery Children's Home





     A small but  important part of the history of Montgomery County used to sit on the
west end of town, in what was called Britton’s Glen.” Now it would be on the 1600 block of West Wabash, near Schenck Road. The Montgomery County Children’s Home  was built there in 1894, to replace a building that had burned two years earlier. 
The new building housed homeless, neglected, and orphaned children through the late 1950’s. Throughout its history as a place for these children, the people of our community served the home and the children in many ways. Several doctors were involved in the running of the home, especially Dr. Faye Schenck. He and his wife, who were childless, were close neighbors to the home, and were frequent visitors.  At that time, Mrs. Faye Nutt was supervisor, counselor, and friend for thirteen years to the children that passed through this place. Dr. Schenck later noted that within a few weeks of  “Mom” Nutt’s care, good food, and a clean bed, the newly placed children in the home would fill out, gain strength, and their smiles would return. Mrs. Jon Bir, Mrs. Nutt’s daughter, ran the home after the Nutts' retirement.   Mrs. Hiner ran the home in the 1880’s. Mrs. Roy Dorsey was in charge for two years from 1914, until  Mr. and Mrs. Adam Vancleave of Alamo took over care of the home in 1916. The home was closed in the late 1950’s, and sold to be a nursing home. The building was finally razed in 1972.



Monday, February 27, 2017

Robert Kennedy Krout--A Man Who Helped Make Our Community

      From very humble beginnings, to becoming a successful businessman and school board president, Robert Kennedy Krout made quite a mark on our city.  Born in Covington, Kentucky, to Jacob and Hannah Kennedy Krout in 1826, he made his way to Montgomery County in 1838 with his widowed father to settle on a farm east of Alamo, in Ripley Township.  This was near the “Bunker Schoolhouse.”  When he was 17, he began his career at Wabash College, walking the nine miles to and fro each day for classes. He finally lived in town, on the corner of West(Grant) and College Streets.  After graduation, he became head of the English department at Northwestern University in Indianapolis—this later became part of Butler University when it was still in Irvington.  Making a career change, he studied the law, but this was not something he wanted to continue. He then returned to Crawfordsville to buy and live in his home from his college days.


    He ran a drug store at 23 E. Main Street, for thirty-five years.  From this spot, he was able to stand in front of his drugstore and  watch as the current courthouse was being built.  He also served as president of the local school board, and was instrumental in getting the Central High School built in 1878.


from the 1878 graduation program of Crawfordsville Central High School

      Mr. Krout was a staunch Republican, and was in attendance at Buffalo, New York, when the Republican party was established.
 Mr. Krout married Caroline VanCleave Brown in 1849,  and had several children. Two of his daughters, Mary Hannah Krout and Caroline (wrote as Caroline Brown) became well-known writers. Robert died in April,1910, and was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, after a service in his home.


Monday, February 13, 2017

New World War I Display at CDPL

     The new wall display upstairs in Local History is all about Montgomery County’s involvement in World War I. 

     Several letters from local soldiers are displayed, giving us a close-up view of what it was like in the trenches. Soldiers’ pictures from the Crawfordsville High School yearbook of 1918 display names that many of us may know from local families that are still in our community.  In the glass case are articles of clothing, awards, and pictures of local soldiers in uniform.  The display on the north wall shows community involvement in the war effort.  Many local residents were involved in YMCA, Red Cross, and other volunteer efforts during the World War I.  There is also a book display of available World War I books on a table by the desk.  

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Glimpse at Our Past--1869

     If you ever want to know more about our town, take some time to dig back into the old newspapers that we have available.  We have twenty-four local papers on microfilm in the Local History Department.  Here are a few: “Crawfordsville Daily Journal;” “Crawfordsville Weekly Journal;” “Daily Evening Argus;” “ Locomotive;” “Saturday Mercury;” “Montgomery Journal;” “Darlington Herald;”“Saturday Evening Journal;”“Wingate News;” and the “Waynetown Banner.” “Nineteenth Century Newspapers” is available online through our website while you are at the library.


     An opportunity came up this week to have a look at the December  2,1869,   Crawfordsville Journal. It seems some things never change.
    “Numerous complaints have reached us concerning the condition of the sidewalks on both sides of Pike Street, between Washington and Walnut Streets.”

     Here is a place I would have liked to have visited!
     “The ‘Pike Street Accommodation’ is the place to get good Cheese, Crackers, Pickles, Pepper Sauce, Spices of all kinds, Mustard, Halibut, Codfish, Mackerel, Whitefish, Cove Oysters, Etc.”

    Apparently there had been a spate of hog stealing going on. A Mr. R. H. Jones stole eighteen hogs from Mr. Davis, and sold them to someone.  He left town to buy an overcoat and other things, and was caught.  He was arrested, and was made to sit in  jail until accommodations could be made to send him to the Northern Prison the next spring. 

    At the same time, “a hog was stolen from the pen of William Hutchinson, …on Saturday night. Mr. Hutchinson ought to be thankful that the number was not eighteen.”

Monday, January 16, 2017

Building Your Dream Home in 1913

   Continuing on with the “housebuilding in Crawfordsville” theme,” direct your attention to House Design No. 2362.  Does that look familiar?  If you drive on the west end of town, say, on Main Street, you may find several houses that appear to have been built from this plan. In 1913, you could go “house shopping” at Joseph Binford & Sons, 215-217 South Washington Street, and find the house of your dreams.  (This location is now taken by the Crawfordsville District Public Library.)  Find your house, order the truckload of parts, and have it all delivered to your building site.  This is very similar to the “Sears” houses that were popular at the time.


  As we frequently have patrons who are curious about who had lived in their house before, I researched in our Crawfordsville City Directories to find the previous residents of one of these Binford houses in Crawfordsville. You may also use plat maps from several years back to find who owned your land  in certain years.
1914   Reverent B.E. Antrobus    Minister at  First Baptist Church
1924   William A. Shaw  (no vocation given)
1949   Fletcher B. Kerr    Auditor, State Treasury Dept.
1958   Willard Harrison    Allied Van Lines Driver
1971   Clarence Davidson  Officer-in-Charge, U.S. Army Recruiter
(I spoke with the current owner, and had permission to share this information.)


Monday, January 2, 2017

Building Up Crawfordsville for Our Returning Veterans 1945



www.angieslist.com

Soldiers returning from the end of World War II wanted to get jobs, start families, and get on with their lives. In order to supply housing for these men, the Fisher-Daseke Agency, located in the Strand Theater Building on Green Street, offered National Homes to their new home-buying customers. National Homes were built in sections in the factory in Lafayette, Indiana, and then sent on a truck to the building site. There the construction crew would assemble the new home with pre-made walls and floors. A new home could be moved into within two weeks of building, which made getting families into new homes much easier and faster. A new National Home, complete with heating, plumbing, electric wiring, outside walls painted, walks, and landscaping could be yours for around $5000. Fairview Addition, located on the old fairgrounds, was built around  where Hose School would later be built in 1954.  

Nine new homes were set to be built as soon as the war with Japan ended. If you look around Crawfordsville, you will probably see other neighborhoods, such as Athens Addition, that were built after the war to house returning soldiers.