Leroy Mayfield Home on National Register of Historic Places

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Richland Township, Monroe County, Indiana, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Lisa Schock did a nice article about the home published in the Bloomington Herald-Times on July 9, 1994.  It was accompanied by a lovely photo taken by Phil Whitlow that showed shuttered windows and a nicely kept lawn.

Leroy Mayfield, a native of Kentucky, was among the first settlers in Monroe County.[1]  He reportedly was born in 1791 to Isaac and Mary (Banks) Mayfield, the oldest of eleven children.  

 While living in Garrard County, Kentucky, he married Sally Steen and came with her and two babies to Indiana about 1815.[2]  They settled first in Lawrence County.

Three years later, in 1818, together with a member of Sally’s family, he and several others purchased 160 acres from the government. [3]  That property was located in Section 34, T9N, R2W, Richland Township, Monroe County.

Upon his arrival in Monroe County, Leroy and Sally united with the Vernal Baptist Church which was organized in 1817 and dissolved in 1908.  Initially, the church did not have a regular pastor.  In 1824 Leroy was ordained and became the pastor of the church which he served without pay until the time of his death.[4] 

Another of his duties was related to the position he held on the Board of Trustees for Indiana College, later Indiana University.  He was appointed as one of 15 board members in 1828, seven of whom were from Monroe County, and served until 1841 or 1842.  His primary responsibility, however, was farming, and he became one of the wealthiest men in the county.

Leroy’s first wife, Sally, with whom he fathered nine children, died in June 1829 at the age of 42.[5], [6]  His second wife, Martha Basket, was younger than him by about 15 years.  They married on January 21, 1830, in Monroe County and she gave Leroy six more children.[3]

Perhaps anticipating more children, or providing more space for the children he already had, about 1830 Leroy built a nice home for his family on what is now known 110 N. Oard Road.  He was living in that home with Martha and seven others in 1850 when the property was valued at $5000 or more than $155,000 according to 2019 values.[7]  The children ranged in age from 7 to 28.  Leroy, age about 60, died the following year and was buried near his home in the Mayfield/Vernal Cemetery. [8], [9]   

By 2020, the Mayfield home on Oard Road had begun to languish while several commercial buildings adjacent to the property appear in better repair.  The road, less than a mile in length, is heavily traveled as gravel trucks go back and forth to Ralph Rogers at the end of the road. 

Fast forward to 1967.  By that year five families had lived in the home.  It was in relatively good condition to be so old but, nevertheless, needed TLC .[10]   Wayne and Rose Horn purchased the home that year with the intent of razing it and building a new home.  However, the longer they lived in the home, the more they loved it.  So over the course of the next seven years they did a complete restoration.

After many happy years in the home, Wayne Horn died in 2009 at the age of 81; Rose survived her husband and died in 2018.  A few years before her death, the home was sold to David Devitt.  Unfortunately, by that time the home no longer looked like the showpiece it was in 1994.[11]

1 Lisa Schock, “Oard Road House Accepted as National History Place,” Bloomington Herald Telephone, July 9, 1994, p. 1.

2 Lora Radiches shared this information on an Ancestry message board for Orange County, Indiana.  She noted her source was a book she purchased on ebay with no cover or author noted.  It is available online at https://www.ancestry.com/boards/localities.northam.usa.states.indiana.counties.orange/997 

3 William Taylor Stoff, Indiana Baptist History, privately published, 1908, p. 192.

4 John F. Cady, The Origin and Development of the Baptist Church in Indiana (Berne IN:  Berne Witness Co.) 1942, p. 175.

5 Marcella Deckard, et. al., County Cemeteries of Monroe (Bloomington IN:  Monroe County Historical Society) 1998, p. 268.

6 See “Ancestors of Phil Norfleet:  Mayfield Family Report,” available online at https://www.genealogy.com/ftm/n/o/r/Phil-Norfleet/BOOK-0001/0008-0019.html

7 Rachel Rice, compiler, Monroe County (IN) Marriage Record Index:  August 1818-November 1881 (Bloomington IN:  Monroe County Historical Society) 1995, p. 81.

8 1850 Population Census

9 Leroy Mayfield obituary, Vernal Baptist Church Registry 1817-1855, Local Family History Microfilm Collection Roll #14, Monroe County Public Library, Bloomington, Indiana.

10 Monroe County Historical Society, County Cemeteries of Monroe (Bloomington IN:  Monroe County Historical Society) 1998.

11 Schock, ibid.

Phillips among the Last of Monroe County’s Two-room Schools

Blog post by Randi Richardson

The Phillips Schoolhouse at the southeast intersection of Indiana 446 and Lampkins Ridge Road (Section 12, Perry Township) was among the last of the two-room schoolhouses in Monroe County.  In 1967 outdoor toilets were still in use—one for the girls and another for the boys.  Clarence Stewart, the School Superintendent, described the building as “dilapidated” and “antiquated.”

Although several alumni yet living shared their memories of Phillips School in Echoes from One-room Schools compiled by retired Monroe County teachers and published in 2006, none were old enough to recall the school’s earliest history.  That information comes from Daniel Kilpatrick, born on Christmas Day 1833, who attended Phillips, originally known as the Curry School, as a young boy. 

This building was identified as the Phillips School in a caption under a photo from the Indianapolis News on March 4, 1967, and again in the Bloomington Tribune, March 8, 1967.  At least four people who attended the school corroborated the identity of the school in April 2020 when the picture was posted on a Facebook page titled “If You’re Truly from Bloomington and You Know It…”

Kilpatrick moved to Iowa with his family while still a youth.  In 1916, when Monroe County was celebrating its centennial birthday, he wrote a letter back to the place of his early childhood describing his memories of the school.  Those memories were published in the Bloomington Evening World on August 24, 1916.

Kilpatrick recalled that just about the time he was ready to enroll in school, in the early 1840s, Sam Curry left his home, a double log house with a brick chimney at each end, and moved into a new house.  The old house was then made ready for a school house.  It was, as he remembered it, “perhaps 40 feet long by 16 or 18 feet wide.  Then two logs were sawed out at each side, some four feet from the floor, and a sash of 8×10-inch lights [also known as windows] put in their place.  For seats there were poplar or walnut logs, split in two, and 2-inch pins, or legs, inserted in the bark side, the split side smoothed with the broad ax to sit on…A broad, smooth-planed board nailed to oak pins driven into holes bored into a log high enough to stand up to and write formed our school furniture.

“…[The school] soon became a hive of industry.  Classes in arithmetic and grammar were begun and later geography.  But the prominent work that absorbed most of our energy was spelling…The event of the week was the Friday afternoon spelling match.  The whole afternoon was devoted to this and ‘sayin’ of speeches…The master took a deep interest in these contests and gave small prizes to encourage and reward successful contestants.”

At some unknown point, undoubtedly after Kilpatrick moved away, the double-log house was replaced with a brick building.  It was in this building that Enoch Bryan and his brother, Willie, first attended. school.  They were born in 1855 and 1860, respectively, sons of Presbyterian minister John Bryan.  They later attended Bloomington High School and, as adults, graduated from Indiana University.  Enoch became president of Vincennes University 1883-1893 and later president of Washington State University from 1893-1915.  Willie, aka William J. Bryan, took the surname of his wife, Charlotte Lowe, for his middle name when they married in 1889.  Afterward he was known as William Lowe Bryan and was president of IU from 1902 to 1937.

The Bryan brothers, Enoch and Willie, attended Phillips School when it was a one-room brick building.  IU Registrar Cravens bought in this picture and showed it off in 1910 when Enoch Bryan came from Washington state to visit his Bloomington siblings.  The event was reported in the Indiana Daily Student on January 25, 1910, p. 1.

In late May 1917, the Bloomington Evening World told of a cyclone that recently visited Monroe County.  During the course of the storm, many houses were leveled as it swept from Clear Creek toward Brown County.  Although the Phillips School survived, “tons of bricks were blown off,” and it was considered “doubtful” if the old building could be made suitable for school purposes again.”

A decision was made in favor of rebuilding which was made known on July 16, 1917, when Bloomington architect, John L. Nichols, let the bid for the completion of a “new” frame building for the school.   A few months later the building was complete, although the September 17 opening had to be by delayed two weeks in order to finish construction. 

The date of the Phillips School closure, or when it was razed, is not known.  Perhaps it wasn’t noteworthy enough at the time to record.  One might, however, assume it was closed at the end of the school year in 1967 or 1968 when the various, small county schools consolidated creating the Monroe County Community School Corporation.  It is unfortunate that our community as a whole hasn’t taken more interest in preserving the history of these early buildings, if not the buildings themselves.

Bloomington Mail Carrier Once Guarded the White House

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), a progressive democrat, was the 28th president of the United States serving two terms from 1913 to 1921.  During the course of his administration, the perimeter of the White House was guarded by sixty-six men each night working in three shifts of twenty-two each.  One of those men was Zenos E. Uland of Bloomington.

Zenos was born on August 5, 1900, in Greene County, Indiana, to James and Elizabeth (Robertson) Uland.  After the death of his father in 1902, his mother married William J. Helms in Monroe County and that’s where the blended family settled. 

Zenos Uland as shown in a photo at Ancestry.com.

In November 1916, when Zenos was just barely 16 years old and had completed only one year at Bloomington High School, he was visiting his sister, Mrs. William Moffett, in Ft. Scott, Kansas.  It was there that he enlisted in the coast artillery with the hope becoming a fireman.   Much of the world was already at war, although the U. S. had not yet joined its allies. 

Soon after Zenos enlisted, he was assigned to guard the White House.  Friends and family in Bloomington heard the news when he came home to visit his brother, Clarence, in November 1917.   Those that might have missed it the first time, learned it from the Bloomington Evening World on March 11, 1918, where  it was reported that Zenos was, in fact, one of ten Hoosiers assigned the task.

After spending four years in the military, including a stint at Ft. Monroe in Virginia, Zenos was discharged and returned to Bloomington.  He worked briefly for the Model Shoe Company where Clarence was also employed. 

In March, 1922, Zenos, age 21, married a Bloomington girl, Emma Robertson, which was the termination of a romance begun in Washington, D. C. when Zenos was a White House guard and Emma a government employee.  At the time of the marriage, Emma, age 24 and a former Bloomington High School student, worked as a stenographer for the Hall-Cosler Company and previously was employed six years at the Nurre Mirror Plate Co.  After a brief honeymoon, the couple went to live in an apartment at 314 W. Second St.

Sometime between the time of his marriage and 1930, Zenos went to work as a mail carrier at the post office, a job he held for nearly 30 years.  With the security of a government position and the birth of his only child, a daughter, Nancy, in 1927, Zenos was both motivated and comfortable in purchasing a vacant piece of property at 516 W. Third Street in 1930 to build a home of his own.  This was near where Emma grew up on West Third between Fairview and Maple.  After filling in the front of the lot where a previous home had been destroyed by fire, construction was completed and the young family took occupancy of their new home 1936.

While living at the home where she had spent the majority of her married life, Emma died of a heart attack in April 1951.  In November 1951, Zenos married Olive Fretwell, Emma’s sister and a widow who lived at 720 W. Third.  That marriage lasted until October 1968 when Zenos died.  After his death, Olive moved to Indianapolis where she died in 1973. 

Zenos and both wives are buried at Valhalla where they share a single tombstone.  Some years after their death, Michael Wenzler, M. D., a grandson of Zenos and Emma, assisted Bloomington Restorations, Inc. in having a marked placed on the home at 516 W. Third.

When Mary (Kleindorfer) Skirvin Died

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Elizabeth Pauline “Betty” (Skirvin) Richardson, my mother-in-law, was born April 12, 1922, in Monroe County, Indiana, to Ross Monroe and Mary Elizabeth (Kleindorfer) Skirvin.  She was the fourth child of six.  Bob, the oldest, was born in 1916; John, the youngest, was in May 1926.

Six months after John’s birth, on November 20, 1926, Mary died unexpectedly at the home of her father, Martin Kleindorfer, six miles east of town where she was being cared for by her mother.  She had not been well for nearly a month. Her official cause of death, according to her death record, was chronic interstitial nephritis with underlying myocardial degeneration.  In layman’s terms, kidney disease with underlying heart disease.

Mary Kleindorfer Skirvin with unknown child.

Ross, an unskilled laborer who rented his home at 429 S. Dunn, was left with the care of Betty and her siblings ranging in age from ten years to six months.  Raising a family as a single parent while working full time would be a challenge for anyone, and Ross quickly delegated the task to his parents, Abe and Mollie (Holmes) Skirvin who lived southeast of Bloomington in Salt Creek Township.   Abe was in his 60s at the time and Mollie was just a year shy of 60 herself. Together they had raised seven children, all of whom had already left home.

On January 4, 1929, the Bloomington Evening World reported that “Mrs. Abe Skirvin and her six grandchildren were all down with flu last week.” This suggests that Ross still did not have custody of his kids, but not for long. On September 21, 1929, he married a divorcee with two young children, Leona (Goodman) Henderson, in Lawrence County and took four of his own children and the two stepchildren, Robert and Gerald, to live together in a blended household.  John, age 4, and Katy Skirvin, remained with Abe and Mollie.

A month after Ross married, the stock market crashed beginning the greatest and longest economic recession in modern world history. This prompted Ross to leave Bloomington, move his brood to Salt Creek Township in Monroe County not too far from Abe and Mollie, and that is where he took up farming.  Mollie, the census enumerator, recorded both her own family and that of Ross in Salt Creek Township in 1930.

Ross’s six children were all minors and unmarried when Ross died on November 19, 1934. It seems likely that John and Katy then returned to Abe and Mollie’s household, but that has not been proven.  Mollie died in 1938 following an operation for a ruptured appendix. Among those who carried Mollie’s casket to her final resting place was her son-in-law, Kingrey Hawkins, Jackie Skirvin’s husband of less than a year, and Gerald and Robert Henderson, Ross’s stepchildren.

Did the five unmarried children of Ross Skirvin remain with their grandfather, Abe?  We’ll never know because no one that knows is around to ask. Abe died in 1945, and by that time the only unmarried child of Ross was Katy who married in 1946. Leona, Ross’s widow, married a third and final time to Freeland Ray. She died in Lawrence County in 1972. Although the Skirvin children were never close with their stepsiblings, they remained in touch periodically until they were separated by death.


Blog post by Randi Richardson

In the spring of 2019 a Bloomington resident who wished to remain anonymous donated five, small photos showing a large number of Ku Klux Klan members attending a burial ceremony.  The photos had no identifying information and the donor didn’t even know how s/he came to have the photos in his/her possession.

Three of the photos were generic; two offered some clues.  One of the photos included several females with backs to the camera in 1920s- era dresses and hats designed for warm weather.  There was a church in the background with a single visible tombstone.  A second tombstone, surrounded by Klansmen, was the focal point of a second photo.  A name was not visible on either stone.

The stone visible in the top photo is for the Devore family and the inscription is mostly illegible.  Crouch is the name of the photo in the bottom picture.  The church has been remodeled since the picture was taken.

Using the clues as noted above, diligent newspaper research uncovered several Klan funerals.  The one that seemed most likely was for Joseph Stine of Richland Township, Monroe County, who died on September 11, 1923, and was buried in the Chambersville Cemetery, just across the Monroe County line in Owen County on Hwy. 46.  The information was corroborated with a review of the death record and an on-site visit to the cemetery where a tombstone for Stine with the correct death date.  This was not enough, however, to verify that the donated photos were of Stine’s funeral.  

To do that the two photos with identifying information were enlarged to show detail.  Fortunately, the details revealed unique features of the stones and with a thorough investigation in the older part of the Chambersville Cemetery the stones were located, surprisingly in close proximity to each other and to the Stine stone.

Solving the mystery of the photos was neither quick nor easily, but with diligence the truth came to light.

The church as it appears today.  The Stine stone is the one on the bottom left with a floral arrangement; the Devore stone is the tall one shown as the right edge of the church; the Crouch stone is the reddish one on a gray base located adjacent to the Devore stone on the left.


Spencer-Owen Leader, September 19, 1923, p. 7.

Joseph Stine Death Record available online at Ancestry

Photo display at the Chambersville Church aka Mt. Olivet Christian Church

If Death Records in Indiana Were Mandated in 1882, Why Can’t I Find Them

Blog post by Randi Richardson

According to the Seymour (IN) Weekly Democrat of September 22, 1881, as of 1882 undertakers and physicians were required by law to make weekly reports to the city clerk of deaths or burials within city limits or places under the control of the city.  The report was to include the name of said person, sex, age, place of death, where buried, the disease of which said person died if known, and the attending physician if known.  Failure to act according to the law would result in a fine of no less than one dollar and no greater than $25 for each conviction.

The key word here is “city.”  Small towns not yet large enough to be identified as a city were not required to comply, and many didn’t.  In Monroe County, for example, one might find a death record in Bloomington 1882-1920 but few, if any, records of deaths from smaller communities or the rural areas of the county.

Although a state-wide registration of deaths was required by 1900, according to my research, the reporting of all deaths throughout Indiana did not appear to occur with 100 percent compliance until about 1920 when greater effort was made to enforce the law.


Within the past few years Ancestry (a paid subscription website) and the Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library at Indianapolis have made available copies of statewide death certificates from 1899 (sketchy) through 2011.

The earliest death certificate for Monroe County to appear on Ancestry is dated October 2, 1899, and records the death of S. S. Shelburn (as noted above) who died in Bean Blossom Township.  Look for earlier Monroe County death records, not necessarily death certificates, at the county level.  The Monroe County WPA death record index covering the period from 1882-1920 is a useful guide to what is available.

When Flooding Wreaked Havoc on Monroe County–1913

Blog post by Randi Richardson

The flood of March 1913 is without parallel in the history of Indiana.  It occurred between March 23 and March 26 in the central and eastern part of the United State following several days of record-breaking rain onto already heavily saturated ground.

On Tuesday, March 25, the Bloomington Daily Telephone provided a lengthy description of the event as it evolved in Monroe County, some of which is noted below.  And for the next four days, through Friday, March 28, the bulk of the news was about local flooding and conditions throughout the state. Although no pictures of the flooding in Monroe County are available at the Monroe County History Center or the Indiana University archives, postcards from other places throughout Indiana illustrate the extensive damage brought about by the flood.

floodRead all about it!  A number of homes along Spanker’s branch in South Park were flooded and several families were moved out last night in wagons and buggies.  The families who were taken from their houses were Obe Chestnut, Alex Mercer, Thomas Durnal, Orville and Merle Clay and William Knizley.  At the Knizely home, which is on the branch just north of First Street, the wood shed was washed away and the water was reaching the floor of the dwelling when the family was moved.  At the Chestnut home, First and Walnut streets, the family was reached with a buggy by Albert Bender.  At the Durnal home near the yards, the water was standing about two feet deep in the house when the family was rescued by Fred Stotts who reached them with a wagon.

flood2Jordan River, which flows through the north side of the university campus, flooded Jordan field, and on the tennis courts the water was standing two or three feet deep. The damage to Jordan Field is considerable.  A section of fence lodged across the creek and turned the current of water out into the ballfield, and the swift current cut a deep furrow into it.

The water reached the level of East Seventh Street in the University Courts addition and for a time last night Spankers branch was a raging torrent.  Considerable damage was done on East Fourth Street.  At the home of Mrs. Dill, the water rose to the level of the basement windows and put out the fire.  All of the walks were washed from around the home of George Sheeks and water rose to a level with floors of the Stemm and Hight homes.


Just south of town there was damage done by the wind.  At the Roe Winslow dairy farm a milk wagon was blown over and broken, a chicken house was raised and fencing was torn down.  A number of farmers in that section lost their fencing and many trees were uprooted.  The rains have washed much of the fields away and at the culvert crossings the pikes have been washed away.

At the spoke factory two houses are on the banks of Spanker’s branch.  These houses are occupied by the Bartlett and Shellhouse families, and for several hours last night they watched as high waters whirled past their windows.

Wagon bridge over White River between Stinesville and Gosport

Considerable damage was done at the creamery and the Yelch Laundry, South Washington Street.  At the creamery the water was three feet deep and spoiled 40 gallons of ice cream and 150 pounds of butter.  At the Yelch Laundry, the damage was about $100.  In the office, water was ten inches deep and in the boiler over three feet deep.  A 250-gallon tank of gasoline was carried half a square.  The branch crossing West Sixth Street poured into the Rice Grocery and reached a height of several inches.  A bridge across Jordan River at Smith Avenue was carried away.

At Harrodsburg a Monon freight engine is standing in seven feet of water and the water is lapping about the fire box and boilers.  The fires was put out, the engine could not be moved and it was abandoned until the water recedes.  Most of the Monon trouble north of Bloomington is at Bryfogle where almost half a mile of track is submerged.  Railroad travel is almost abandoned in and out of Indianapolis by both steam and electric lines.  In many places about the city the yards and tracks are under water.

flood5Reports from all sections of the county state that such floods were never before known in this section.  Roads are washed out and bridges gone.  In Bean Blossom and Salt Creek the land is covered with water to the hillsides.  Not a single rural mail carrier made a complete trip today—the first time since the service was established.

In the days and months following the flood, a governmental report noted that “by the time the storms passed and the waters receded, damage from the floods nationwide totaled over $200 million, about $5,238,539,434.15 in today’s valuation, and totaled $25 million in Indiana, about $65,4817,429.27 in today’s valuation.  Nearly 200,000 people in the state were displaced from their homes and 180 bridges destroyed.”



Blog post by Randi Richardson

bourkeJohanna Bourke heard it without really listening.  The whistle of a train on the Monon* tracks near her home in Benton Township.   Her husband, Mathias, worked on the railroad and frequently traveled on that particular train.  Each time she heard the whistle it was a comfort to her as though Mathias was waving “hello.”

Seconds later Johanna heard a second whistle.  Instantly she stopped what she was doing.  Her face filled with dread.  Two whistles mean that two trains were coming from different directions on a single track.  Unless they could be stopped, they would collide head-on within minutes.

Johanna looked around her.  Although she was tiny, barely five feet tall, she was strong in both mind and body.  Quickly she took a log from the fireplace.  One end was on fire, a thick plume of smoke rising from the embers.  With no thought to her own safety, she lifted the log to her shoulder and ran with it to the tracks where she placed it between the rails.

Just in time, alert engineers noticed the smoke and brought their trains to a halt.  In this way Johanna saved the life of her husband, countless others and valuable Monon equipment .  For her effort, she was rewarded by the Monon with a black silk dress.

Mathias and Johanna, natives of Ireland, left their home in New York and arrived by train in Bedford sometime between 1850 and 1853 when their son, Michael, was born.  They walked the 20 miles north to Bloomington where they met Mathias’ brother, Bill, who worked for the Monon.  Bill helped Mathias find work on the Monon.

Mathias and Johanna were so satisfied with their new home near Old Unionville that they lived out their lives in Monroe County.  Johanna died on February 25, 1893, and Mathias on May 23, 1904.  Both are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.

Interesting stories about Mathias, Johanna and other Bourke family members, ancestors of Adolphus Americus  “A. A. “ Bourke, were shared by A. A. with his descendant, Blanche Olevia (Bourke) Parker Cascadden over a two-year  period ending with A. A’s death in 1970.  In 2005 Cascadden transcribed the stories and compiled them into a book that was privately published in 2007 and titled A. A. Bourke:  A Collection of Memories from the 19th Century and 20th Century.  A copy of that family history is available in the research library at the Monroe County History Center.

Several descendants of the Bourke family still reside in Monroe County today.  Thanks to Marilyn Bourke of Bloomington for sharing the story of her great grandparents, Mathias and Johanna Bourke, with me.

*based on reader comments it is likely that this railroad was actually the Illinois Central line and not the Monon

Senior Cords: Unfolding the Lives of Young Hoosiers

Blog post by Wayne Hastings

Just a few weeks ago, I was responsible for accessioning a small group of donations
given to us by Shirley Bowman. Bowman, a 1961 Elletsville graduate, offered the Center a
wonderful assortment of high school memorabilia which included two pairs of beautifully hand designed ‘senior cords’ owned by both Shirley and her husband, Carl.

Janet 2For those not familiar, senior cords were off-white, occasionally yellow, corduroys worn
and designed by high school or college seniors. Each pair of cords were ornately decorated with cartoon characters, inside jokes, song references, names of boyfriends or girlfriends, club names, and just about anything so as to capture the student’s personality. Although they reached their peak popularity during the 1950s and 60s, the unique fashion trend stretches all the way back to 1904 according to Purdue University. The trend was born when a few Purdue upperclassmen decided to don some flamboyant yellow corduroys they saw displayed in a shop window. Senior cords spread throughout Indiana and remained mostly an exclusive Hoosier tradition among students.

Extra 1The recent donations immediately influenced me to dig out some of the other wonderful
cords in our collection. Examining each of the cords will be an excellent way to learn about these young Hoosiers’ lives – who did they date, what music did they listen to, what extracurricular activities did they participate in, and what kind of jokes did they tell?

Shirley 1Starting off, I would like to share the two pairs of cords donated by Bowman. In 1961,
Shirley wore a beautifully decorated skirt with all the definitive senior cord characteristics – we know she was high school sweethearts with Carl Bowman, the #50 basketball player who played for Stinesville, she was especially proud of graduating, she was a choir student, and she was keen on rock n’ roll with a reference to both Elvis Presley’s “Loving You” and Bobby Rydell’s big hit “We Got Love”. She was also a wonderful artist, if she indeed painted these cords. Around Carl’s basketball jersey she used a thin layer of gold flake giving it great detail. Taping on a Elvis print
was inventive since this is the only pair in the collection that does it.

Carl’s pants unfolds a very different individual. Mr. Bowman enjoyed reading Alley Oop
comics, perhaps for their graphic nature because of the addition of the blood, and possibly was interested in early American history. His illustration of a scruffy union soldier getting shot with an arrow could have been instead inspired by a love of western films – John Ford’s 1951 “Rio Grande” comes to mind. Moonshine jugs of mountain dew, crude drawing of pin up girls, and basketballs are also scattered on the pants. The placement of pictures on the seat of the pants are often used as visual jokes, in this case Carl painted a basketball with the names of the team on it. Next to the basketball are cheerleader megaphones with the names of the Stinesville cheerleaders. From donated trophies, we know that Carl was Stineville’s most valuable basketball player from 1959 to 1961. Just as with yearbooks, both cords don a large amount of friends’ names. We get a sense that these friendships were cherished.
Carl 1

Dennis 1Dennis Hamilton, a 1956 Bloomington High School graduate, donated a very special pair
of senior cords to the Center – his cords had won the BHS Senior Cords competition. The competition began in 1952 and marked when the trend had reached its peak popularity. Teachers were no longer discouraging them, in fact Mrs. Margaret Raab, the BHS art teacher, was one of the judges. Hamilton’s cords are decorated with unique designs such as a zoot suit man, a prophetic hen, Mickey Mouse and gang, and as well as an explosion humorously placed on the seat of the pants. He also incorporates two other common jokes – the inclusion of a “HOWDY DOODY RAG” (or booger rag) hanging out of the back left pocket and cash falling out of the right pocket with “BANK” written on the flap.

Dennis 2


Judy Radar, another BHS graduate, designed her cords in 1958 and included a plethora of
late 50s songs that charted the Billboard Top 100 – including “In the Middle of an Island”, “Love Letters in the Sand”, “The Green Door”, “Day O (Banana Boat Song)”, “Hound Dog”, and “All Shook Up”. Radar also paints inside jokes of a man hiding behind a building labeled as the “PARKWAY” and of a roller skater named Ronda who seemed to have a bad fall, indicated by the bandaged knee. Her interest in fast cars, motorcycles, cowboys, and bowling makes her like her fellow BHS graduates, as well with the large number of friends’ names.
Judy 1

When Co. H Volunteered to Fight for Cuba’s Freedom

Blog post by Randi Richardson

In 1898, Cuba was under the rule of the Spanish empire but had struggled a number of years for independence.  When the U. S. learned that Spain was abusing and killing Cubans, they sent warships to Cuba’s aid.  One of those warships, the USS Maine, mysteriously exploded on the evening of February 17 killing about 260 people on board.  It was speculated that Spain was responsible for the destruction.  In retaliation, President William McKinley declared war on Spain about two months later.  The war effort was led by Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders.

A call for troops was received on Monday, April 25, by Indiana’s governor from the U. S. Secretary of War.  Monroe County was well prepared when the call for volunteers came as a local company of fully equipped and well drilled militia had been organized since May 20, 1891 and was assigned as Company H, 1st Regiment, Indiana National Guard.

Capt. W. M. Louden received the marching orders for Company H at 9 AM on Tuesday, April 26.  The orders, according to the Bloomington Telephone dated April 29, were as follows:  “You will report with your company, armed and equipped for the field, bringing all military stores to the Monon railway station in time for train leaving at 11 AM, Friday, April 29…Officers will bring their commissions with them…”

Co. H pictured on South College between Kirkwood and 4th streets as they prepared to depart for the train that would carry them to war.  Photo was hanging on the wall of the old Monroe County courthouse in 2020.

By 9 AM the business part of town was decorated with the national colors and not a few Cuban flags were displayed.  By 10 AM more than 3,000 citizens were on the streets to see the company make its march to the station.  School children had been dismissed from their classes so great was their desire to see the demonstration.  The Mechanic’s Band marched to the Armory where the company was waiting.  Headed by the band the company then marched around the square where Capt. Louden gave a short drill. 

Two special coaches were on the side track ready for the company.  As the crowd waited for the train, the band played several patriotic airs, the vast number sang “Marching through Georgia,” but the train pulled out amidst a silence that told too plainly that all realized the seriousness of the situation. As noted in the Telephone, Company H was made up of the following men whose names were spelled variously in other places:  W. M. Louden, captain; William Hutchins, 1st lieutenant; W. E. Adkins, 2nd lieutenant; Thomas Griffey, 1st sergeant; Charles Godsey, 2nd sergeant; Newton Jeffries, 3rd sergeant; Sam Webb, 4th sergeant; corporals, Rhorer and Peterson.  The privates are:  Bruce Beatley, Edgar Binford, Mat Adams, Grant Cates, Mel Creech, Albert Denton, Walter Edmondson, Albert Funk, Bert Godsey, Will Hodges, Robert Lane, Reverdy (sic) Miller, Walter Norris, Watt Pool (difficult to read), Otto Rogers, Everett Sparks, Charles Strong, Winfred Sutphin, Cy Vaughan, Charles Alltop, Josh Badgely, Robert Berry, Joseph Brown, William Colegrove, James Cullen, Will Dickson, Luther Finley, William Gray, Clarence Hazel, Fred Hoover, Parley Miller, Clarence Pedigo, Joseph Neill, William Reynolds, Bert Sparks, Harry St. Clair, Wesley Stultz, Charles Umbarger, Ezra VanDyke. Charley Walker, Mason Webb, John White, John Miseneer (sic), Ellis East, George Anderson, George Shoemaker, Grant Sparks, Alfred Goodbody, Roy Mason, Lad Lanam, Nat U. Hill, Jr., Dr. Charles Weir, Fred Williams, William Crider, Fred Ferguson, Frank Ridge, Walter Lowder, Fleetwood Langley, Clint Hovious, Edward Pauley, Harry Feltus, W. G. Sparks, Oscar Moore, Raymond Eller, James Vint, Will Gillaspy, Charles Doffet (elswhere identified Douthitt) as , C. W. Miller, John McCabe, F. H. Masten (elsewhere identified as Frank H. Masters), William Dunn, Charles Wilson, William Shaw, Charles Hinson, Allen Pearson and Lewis Ward.

The building in the above 1898 photo on the left is still standing and utilized as offices.  Here shown in 2020 looking north.

When these brave men were mustered into the service on May 12, 1898, they became part of Co. H of the 159th Regiment, Volunteer Infantry.  According to a story from Historic Treasures by Forest M. “Pop” Hall, they were never taken into actual battle against the enemy which in no way diminished their honor for their willingness to sacrifice their lives.

The war ended on August 12, 1898.  Over 5,000 American soldiers died; 379 of the deaths were battle casualties.  The rest died from diseases such as yellow fever, typhoid and malaria.