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.

(check out post on 8/2/2017 for info on son-in-law, Charles Townsley)                                                

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.