The Life and Times of Hattie (Dunihoo) Herold Parks

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Harriett “Hattie” M. Dunihoo was one of the very few children from Monroe County to ever be placed at the state-supported Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home in Knightstown, Indiana, about 40 miles west of Indianapolis.  The home was established in 1866 for the children of veterans and active members of the military.

Hattie was born December 4, 1892, to William Perry and Margaret (Stout) Dunihoo.  Her mother, Margaret, lost her father before the age of twelve and married in April 1888 at the age of 19 to a man certainly old enough to be her father if not her grandfather.   Although the marriage may have been a reflection of true love, it seems more likely to have been one of convenience as Margaret gave birth to a son, Hercules, four months after her wedding.

In 1900, Hattie was one of six children living in the Dunihoo household.  Joseph, the youngest, was barely a year old.  William, the father, was by then 70.  He supported his family by farming and did well enough to own his home free of a mortgage in rural Bloomington.  At least that’s what was reported by the enumerator in the census record but was not supported by deed research.

Apparently the household wasn’t one characterized by wedded bliss.  William, at least according to Margaret, called her vile names and accused her of being intimate with other men.  Finally, she said, he left home one day and didn’t come back leaving her and the children with no food, no clothes and no means of support.  On July 27, 1902, she filed for divorce.  About six months later, just a few days before Christmas and before the divorce action was finalized, William dropped dead. 

Days later, Benton J. Hough, a near neighbor of the Dunihoos who also owned a farm, was appointed guardian of the Dunihoo children that now numbered seven including twin boys, Benton and Fritz, who were born in December 1901.  He immediately made application to the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Home to have the children placed there.  They were eligible, he said, because their father was a veteran of the Civil War and their mother was a person who had no property, no learning, no income, bad health, no desire to care for her children and a total inability to do anything for them. 

After Hattie and her siblings were made wards of the state, and Margaret was unburdened by the responsibilities of motherhood, she decided to marry again.  Her second husband, Walter Parks, was the son of William and Nancy Parks, also near neighbors of the Dunihoo family in rural Bloomington.  The wedding took place in Champaign, Illinois, on February 10, 1902, less than two months since the death of her husband and the loss of her children.  The bride was 33 years of age, the groom was 21.  Two years later, in 1906, Margaret died of tuberculosis. 

Margaret’s obituary was published in the Ellettsville (IN) Farm on June 8 where it was noted that she died at her home “near Dolan” and little else.  There was no mention of Hattie or her siblings at the Children’s Home or Margaret’s year-old son fathered by Walter.  

By the time her mother died, Hattie was thirteen years old and had been at the Children’s home since she was nine.  Little is known about Hattie’s stay at the institution beyond a few dates.   On May 1, 1908, at the age of fifteen, she was indentured to Abel Doan/Doane of Westfield, Hamilton County, Indiana.  Doan/Doane, a farmer, was the father of seven children ranging in age from thirteen to twenty nine.  According to a contractual agreement, Doan/Doane was responsible for educating Hattie through completion of the eighth grade and teaching her Christian values.  Upon her eighteenth birthday in 1910 she would be released from the agreement and provided with $50.

About a year later, on August 28, 1909, the Bloomington Evening World announced that 16-year-old Hattie was licensed to marry Clarence C. Herold, a printer living in Knightstown where the Children’s Home was located.  Clarence would have just turned twenty.  Just how or when Hattie left Doan/Doane’s home is a mystery. 

Hattie and Clarence set up housekeeping at Bloomington in a rental home on N. Maple.  Clarence worked as a fireman at an electric light plant. In addition to Hattie, his younger sister, Fern, and Hattie’s older brother, Hercules, were also members of the household in 1910. 

 Sometime between 1910 and 1911, the young couple moved to Indianapolis.  That’s where Levada/Laveda was born to them in the fall of 1911.  She would later be joined by two siblings, Otto C., about 1914, and Ilene C., about 1919.  In 1920 the family of five lived in a rental at 1325 St. Paul St., Indianapolis and Clarence worked as a trucker.  Soon afterward, the marriage collapsed.

Both Clarence and Hattie married again in 1922.  Clarence married a woman named Anna.  His new household consisted of himself, his wife, her three children from a prior marriage, and Clarence’s two youngest children, Otto and Ilene.  It appears that Clarence provided a home for Otto and Ilene  throughout their childhood.

Hattie married Henry Ulysses Parks, legally her stepbrother as well as the older brother of her late mother’s husband, in Morgan County, Indiana.  At the time of the marriage Hattie would have been about 30 and Henry about 45.  They probably had known each other as children as both the Parks and the Dunihoos lived on neighboring farm in Bloomington.   

A few days after Hattie’s second marriage, she gave birth to a son, Henry Eugene Parks, on May 20, 1922.  Henry U. and Hattie would have three more children:  Raymond b. c. 1924; William, b. c. 1926; and Mary, b. c. 1929.  The couple continued to live in Indianapolis for the remainder of their lives.

Hattie died on February 21, 1959, at the age of 66, and was buried in Washington Park East Cemetery, Indianapolis.  She was survived by her husband, Henry, who died the following year on December 12, 1960. 

Many similarities exist between the lives of Hattie and her mother Margaret.  Both lost their father at a young age, married very young, had multiple husbands, were pregnant before marriage and relinquished their children.  Was this due to DNA, learned behavior, or circumstances beyond their control?  Additional deep research may hold the answer to that question.

Sources:

  • Otto C. Herold obituary, Indianapolis (IN) Star, August 26, 2004, p. 19.
  • Harriett Marie (Dunihoo) Herold Parks Death Record, Marion County (IN) Department of Health, digital image available online at Ancestry.com.
  • Henry Eugene Parks Birth Record, Marion County (IN) Department of Health, digital image available online at Ancestry.com.  According to this document, the father of Henry Eugene Parks was Henry U. Parks, a native of Monroe County, Indiana.
  • Henry U. Parks Death Record, Marion County (IN) Department of Health, digital image available online at Ancestry.com.
  • Margaret H. Dunihoo vs. William P. Dunihoo, Divorce.  Bloomington (IN) Courier, August 1, 1902, p. 8.
  • Dunihoo Admission Application Packet, Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home, Indiana State Archives Commission on Public Records, Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Ruth Dorrel, editor.  An Index to Records of the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s home in the Indiana State Archives.  (Indianapolis IN:  Indiana Historical Society, 1999).

The sources noted above represent a small sample of those used to research this blog.  If all the sources used were noted they would take up space greater than that of the blog itself.  Often multiple sources were required to determine a single elusive or confusing fact.  If this is a family you are researching, feel free to contact me through the Monroe County History Center for additional information.

A Nursing Spotlight: Edna Hardacre

Blog post by Hilary Fleck

Photo from the MCHC Photo Collection, circa 1918

If the past twelve months have shown us anything, it is that the dedication of nurses to care for their patients is never ending. One such dedicated nurse was Enda (Ferguson) Hardacre, an enlisted Red Cross nurse serving with the U.S. Navy during World War 1.

Edna was born in Jackson County, Indiana in 1888 and moved to Bloomington around 1908. She graduated from the Training School for Nurses at the Methodist Episcopal Hospital in Indianapolis in 1914 and worked in the hospital for a couple of years. When the U.S. entered the war, Edna enlisted in the Red Cross on October 8, 1918. She was assigned to the Naval Hospital in Cape May, New Jersey.

Photo from the MCHC Photo Collection, circa 1915

Edna kept a diary of her service at Cape May, which we now have in the History Center’s permanent collection. Her arrival to the base was a bit unorthodox, as she explains.

“Adelaid Hall and I trained together at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. When the United States entered the war in 1917, we wanted to do our part. We had to join the Red Cross first and then we designated the Navy as our choice of service because the Navy we were told was better equipped. So we joined the Navy.

We had an experience in getting to our naval base. The medical center in Indianapolis by 1917 was accustomed to motorized conveyance. We didn’t think of anything else. When we arrived at the naval base it was dark. The station man said that yes there was a conveyance to take us out to our naval base hospital. He said to go out the rear door. We did and we walked right in a van – looked like an old streetcar that had the seats on the side. We sat down and after a while it started – slowly and in a little bit I could hear a funny noise. It didn’t sound much like a motorized conveyance. It was a “clop”, “clop”, “clop” down the street. Come to find out it was a horse-drawn carriage of some kind.

Edna’s service at Cape May lasted nearly a year. Over the course of her service, she earned the nickname “Sarge”, a high compliment in the Navy. In August of 1919, she details her final days at Cape May.

Edna’s Red Cross cape, circa 1917. From the MCHC Collection.

Aug 13, I am at last officially detached from the U.S. Navy. Received full instructions to proceed to my home.

Aug 14…Farewell to the boys. Left Cape May at 4:15. 9 of the boys came as far as Phily with us. So we at 8:11, we all went in separate directions. Thus ended my naval career.

From the MCHC Photo Collection, circa 1970

After returning to Bloomington in 1918 she became a school nurse until her retirement in 1950. She was an active member in the American Legion, Salvation Army, the Rebekah Lodge, and Public Health Nursing Association. Her lifetime of service to the health of the community was honored in 1983 when Enda received a Sagamore of the Wabash award from Governor Orr and an Indiana General Assembly resolution recognizing her years of service.

Edna (Ferguson) Hardacre passed away on August 10, 1986 and buried in Rose Hill Cemetery with graveside military rites conducted by the American Legion and VFW. Nurses who serve through selfless sacrifice every single day deserve our grateful appreciation. National Nurse Appreciation Week is May 6 to 12, 2021, so let’s all tell the nurses in our lives “thank you!”

The exhibit “From the Collection: Medical History” is now open in the Rechter Gallery until May 28, 2021.

Snuffing Out a Killer

Blog post by Randi Richardson

The summer of 1952 wasn’t just another summer.  Swimming pools and movie theaters closed.  Children were kept inside their homes by frightened parents.

No doubt about it, people were scared.  They had every right to be.  It was an epidemic year for polio.  According to one study, the only thing they feared more than polio in 1952 was nuclear annihilation.  By the year’s end, more than 3,000 were dead and 58,000 new cases had been reported in the United States.  Many of the survivors were left crippled for life.

An early, unidentified photo of two young boys afflicted with polio.  The boy in the wagon has braces on both legs.

Polio first emerged in the United States in 1894, but the first large epidemic didn’t appear until 1916 when 27,000 cases were recorded and 6,000 died.  Children, especially infants, were among the worst affected.  Adults, however, were not exempt.  Future president Franklin D. Roosevelt was stricken in 1921 at the age of 39.  At its peak in the 1940s and 1950s, polio killed over half a million people worldwide every year.  No one knew then the cause of the disease, and there was, and is, no known cure.

Sometime later it was determined that polio enters the body through the mouth and is acquired through drinking water or ingesting food contaminated by feces. Knowing the cause, however, did not eradicate the disease, and cases of polio in 1952 resulted in 3,145 deaths.

In 1953, Dr. Jonas Salk developed a vaccine believed to prevent polio.  During the next two and a half years he worked incessantly to perfect it.  His research was funded by the March of Dimes.  Finally it was introduced for use in the general population in 1955.

On April 14, 1955, the Bloomington Daily Telephone reported on page one that a mass inoculation of first- and second-grade students at their schools would begin on Monday assuming that the vaccine arrived on schedule.  It was also noted that no student would receive the vaccine without written parental permission. 

Four days later, on April 18, an update in the Daily Herald Telephone indicated that Bloomington was one of the first counties in Indiana to get the free polio vaccine.  It was part of a multi-million-dollar project across the U. S.  Mrs. Walter Homann, a Bloomington school nurse, picked up the vaccine from the State Board of Health on Sunday and the first shot was administered to Barbara Rumple at the Waterworks School on Monday morning.  At the end of the day, according to the Telephone, 446 students had been inoculated.

By the end of the week, according to the Daily Herald Telephone on April 23, a total of 1, 588 first- and second-graders throughout Monroe county had been inoculated.  The second round of shots within the schools was scheduled to take place in May before students were sent home for the summer, and parents were advised that they were responsible for obtaining a third or “booster” shot for their children from a doctor due seven months after the second shot was administered. 

Students at Phillips, Hillside, Broadview and the Waterworks schools received their second round of the vaccine on May 19, 1955, which exhausted the supply leaving 1,000 children without their second shot.  It was not certain if or when more vaccine would be available.

Just how long in-school inoculations were made available is not known with certainty, but newspaper reports indicate at least through 1956.  That’s the same year that several football players at IU were sent to the hospital with polio at which point all IU students were encouraged to start the Salk series.  The following year, 1957, the Anti-Polio Committee urged everyone through age 40 to protect themselves and their families against polio.

Unidentified photo of a child receiving an injection.

Between 1955 and 1962, more than 400 million doses of the polio vaccine were distributed reducing the cases of polio by 90%.  By the end of the century, the polio scare was but a dim memory.   Although there is no federal law today that mandates a polio vaccination, every state in the U. S. now requires that children entering childcare or public school be vaccinated.  The Center for Disease Control recommends that children receive four doses of polio vaccine:  at 2 months, 4 months, between the ages 6 and 8 months and between the ages of 4 and 6 years old.

Polio, this once lethal killer having been essentially snuffed out, leads to optimism that the same can be accomplished with the coronavirus.  Medical research holds out the promise that the coronavirus can be eliminated with effective treatment and vaccine.

Sources: 

  • Bloomington (IN) Daily Herald Telephone, May 19, 1955, p. 1.
  • Bloomington (IN) Daily Herald Telephone, April 23, 1956, p.1.
  • Sheboygan (WI) Press, September 25, 1956, p. 23.
  • Bloomington (IN) Daily Herald Telephone, April 1, 1957, p. 1.

Beryl Hovious and Public Enemy No. 1

Blog post by Randi Richardson

In 1924 John Dillinger, a petty criminal and resident of Mooresville, Indiana, was found guilty of a bungled robbery attempt and an assault on a local grocer.  Unable to afford a lawyer, the court threw the book at him.  He was sentenced from 10 to 21 years in prison.  Although John’s accomplice, an ex-convict, served only two years in prison for the same crime, John spent nearly a decade behind bars.  When he was released from prison in May 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, he was a very bitter man. 

Prison mug shot of John Dillinger

With jobs opportunities practically nonexistent, John turned immediately to a life of crime.  In June he was arrested for robbing a bank in Ohio.  And from September 1933 until July 1934, it is alleged he and his gang killed ten men, injured seven others, robbed various banks and staged at least three jail breaks for which he was identified as Public Enemy No. 1.

His criminal career ended at 10:30 PM on Sunday, July 22, 1934, at he left the Biograph Theatre in Chicago after watching Clark Gable in “Manhattan Melodrama.” He was in the company of two women when he was shot by three FBI agents.  Minutes later he was declared dead.

Many years have passed since the death of John Dillinger, but his notoriety has not been forgotten.  Few, however, are aware that he was once just an ordinary boy who married an ordinary girl, and that girl was a native of Monroe County, Indiana.

John was born in Indianapolis on June 22, 1903, to John Wilson and Mollie (Lancaster) Dillinger.  He had an older sister named Audrey. In 1907, when John was a few weeks shy of his fourth birthday, his mother died and Audrey became his caretaker until his father remarried in 1912.  Not too surprisingly, he had a troubled childhood, frequently in trouble with the law for one small thing or another.  Believing that a rural environment might be the solution to John’s problems, John’s father moved the family to Mooresville, Morgan County, Indiana, in 1921. 

John’s behavior, however, did not change.  He was as wild and rebellious as ever.  In 1922 he was arrested for car theft which led him to enlist in the Navy rather than face charges.  His military career was brief and ended months later with a dishonorable discharge and a return to Mooresville.

On a return visit home, John attended a party thrown by some friends of Beryl Hovious, the 17-year-old daughter of Stephen Hovious and his second wife, Cora (Vandeventer) Wray.  Beryl was born in Stinesville, Monroe County, Indiana on August 6, 1906.  She had a younger sister, Mary, that was born there as well in 1911.  Sometime between then and 1920 Stephen moved his family to Morgan County where his father, William S. Hovious (1821-1892), had resided for many years.

Sometime between 1911 and 1920, the family of Beryl Hovious settled near Martinsville in Baker Twp., Morgan County.

According to information that Beryl shared with her great nephew, Tony Stewart, a few years before her death, John was immediately attracted to her and she to him.  She found his politeness and good manners especially appealing.  She described him as a perfect gentleman who made her feel special.

It wasn’t long before they tied the knot at the Morgan County’s clerk’s office on April 12, 1924.  Because Beryl was yet a minor, only 17, and needed parental permission to marry, she gave her age as 18.   John was nearly 21.  Following the brief ceremony, they walked to the home of John’s father where they lived for a short time in a cramped room.  Eventually, however, they moved to the home of Beryl’s parents while John looked for a job.  After John found work in a furniture shop in Mooresville, they rented a small home.

Whatever marital bliss they shared was short lived.  On September 6, 1924, John went with Ed Singleton, an ex-convict, to play pool.  Ed brought with him a jug of corn liquor and the two became quite intoxicated while they celebrated a night on the town.  Well into his cups, it didn’t take John much convincing when Ed proposed robbing the owner of a local grocery. 

The heist didn’t go exactly as planned.  Anything but.  It was a misadventure that changed John’s life.  Although he was not new to crime, he had never been convicted.  This time he ended up initially at the Indiana Reformatory in Pendleton and later in the State Prison. 

For the first few years the couple exchanged letters, and Beryl made several visits to see John during his incarceration, but travel wasn’t as quick or easy in the 1920s as it is today.  A lack of funds also made the journey difficult. 

The distance between them took a toll on the relationship.  Beryl did not do well with the extended separation, and on June 20, 1929, two days before John’s birthday, she was granted a divorce.  John was devastated.  Within the next few weeks, according to many unsubstantiated sources, Beryl married Harold McGowen.  Efforts to confirm that marriage, however, have been unsuccessful. 

Regardless of the legality of the marriage, 23-year-old Beryl was noted as the wife of 34-year-old Harold C. McGowin (sic) in 1930.  They lived in a rented home on Wayne Avenue in Martinsville.  Harold was the owner of a garage.  That relationship was also short lived, but efforts to determine how and when it ended were no more successful than that of locating a marriage record.


Beryl and Charles obtained a marriage license in Monroe County but married in Vigo County in 1932

One thing is, however certain. Beryl was single by July 8, 1932, when she went from her home in Martinsville to Bloomington with 36-year-old Charles Byrum to secure a marriage license.  Charles, also a resident of Martinsville, had recently divorced in April.  Beryl noted that she had only been married once and that marriage ended in 1929.  Two days after obtaining a license, the couple married in a traditional ceremony at the home of Beryl’s sister, Bertha Hickman, in Terre Haute.  The wedding announcement reported that the couple would set up housekeeping in Martinsville where Charles managed the Linco oil station.  (In 1930, Charles was an auto salesman in a garage.  Perhaps this was the same garage that Harold McGowen owned!)

A decade later, in 1940, Beryl was still with Charles in Morgan County.  They had purchased a house in Hall where Charles worked as a salesman for Farm Bureau. 

Eventually they were joined by a daughter, Marilyn.  She was born on August 21, 1941, according to her son, Steven Harless, who posted the information on Ancestry’s website.  No documentation of her birth has, however, been found in any vital record which suggests she may have been adopted.  In fact, Beryl’s great nephew, Tony Stewart, noted that Marilyn was adopted, and it seems likely that the information came from Beryl who he interviewed at her home in 1989.

Tony, a Monroe County native raised in California, questioned Beryl about her relationship with John Dillinger in one, if not the only, interview she ever granted on the subject.  Details from the interview are too lengthy to include here but can be found in either his book referenced below or one of several articles found online or clipped from newspapers in the Hovious family history file at the Monroe County History Center.

Beryl and Charles remained together until Charles died in 1968 at the age of 72.  His obituary was published in the Martinsville Reporter-Times on September 19.  Only two immediate family member were mentioned as survivors—his wife, Beryl (Hovious) Byrum and a daughter, “Mrs. Marilyn Kitchen of Five Points.”   Burial was in the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery of Hall, Indiana, where Charles had lived since 1937.

Beryl gifted Tony with her 1924 photo at the time of the interview.  She signed her name across the front which reflects both her age and health at the time. 

Death claimed Beryl on November 30, 1993, in a Morgan County nursing home.  She was 87 at the time.  She was survived by one daughter, Marilyn Kitchen of Mooresville, and a sister, Bess Dow, of Martinsville.  Burial was at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Hall at the side of her husband and within sight of many members of her Hovious family. 

Sources:

  • Mollie Ellen Dillinger Death Record, Marion County, IN, July 1, 1907.  Digital image available at Ancestry.com.
  • Beryl Hovious married Charles Byrum, wedding announcement, Martinsville Times-Reporter, July 15, 1932, p. 2.
  • Beryl Byrum, obituary, Martinsville (IN) Reporter-Times, December 1, 1993, p. 3.
  • Stephen Hovious married Cora Wray, April 11, 1904, Marriage Record, Monroe County, Indiana.
  • William Steele Hovious, Union Christian Cemetery, Morgan Co., IN, FindaGrave.com.
  • Stewart, Tony.  Dillinger, the Hidden Truth (Lulu Enterprises, Inc., 2010).  Includes information from Tony Stewart’s interview with his great aunt, Beryl (Hovious) Dillinger McGowen Byrum.  See book description online at DILLINGER, THE HIDDEN TRUTH – RELOADED (lulu.com)
  • Beryl E. Hovious and John H. Dillinger, Indiana marriage record index, Ancestry.com.
  • Harold C. and Beryl McGowin, Martinsville, Morgan County, Indiana, 1930 Federal Census record at Ancestry.com
  • Steve Sturgeon, “Stinesville Native Only Wife of John Dillinger,” Ellettsville Journal, July 8, 2009, p. 1.  A copy of this article is available in the Hovious family file at the Monroe County History Center, Bloomington, IN.
  • Mary Hovis (sic) Birth Record, October 20, 1911, Monroe County, Indiana.

Art in the Dome

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Art in and around Bloomington is available in abundance; some of the oldest art, freely and readily accessed by the public, is that in the courthouse dome.  It is the work of Gustav Adolph Brand (1862-1944).

County commissioners and a committee of Bloomington citizens composed of Henry Gentry, J. D. Showers, Fred Matthews and Father Bogemann considered four companies from four states before awarding the contract for “art glass and decoration of the Monroe County courthouse” to Gustav A. Brand and Company of Chicago in November 1907.  The contracted amount was $6,000 which in today’s economy would be about $170,000. 

Soon after the contract was let, the three companies not selected hired Bloomington Attorney Robert G. Miller to contest the bid because it was not the lowest bid, was not accompanied by an affidavit of noncollusion and did not comply with the plans and specifications outlined.  Although documentation of the suit has yet to be discovered, clearly it was resolved in Brand’s favor.

Rare close up photo of the stone Industry mural by Gustav Brand located in the Monroe County courthouse.  Courtesy of the author’s collection.

Of particular interest in connection with Brand’s decorations were four large, oil-on-canvas murals, each measuring about eight feet high by sixteen feet long, to grace to rotunda.  Each mural had a different theme, each representing a special facet of Bloomington and Monroe County: the Stone Industry, Justice, Education and Agriculture. 

As the years passed the luster of the new courthouse dimmed.  And after several decades the community outgrew the courthouse.  By then the murals were in terrible condition–cracked, faded, badly water damaged and partially covered with wall paint by careless contractors working on scaffolding three stories high.  Perhaps they were more worried about a misstep that could plunge them to their death than careful detailing around the murals. 

There was talk of razing the courthouse, and in an effort to save it renovations were made.  Sometime in the 1980s, the murals were removed because there was no money in the budget to repair them.  While the country considered ways to pay for the needed restoration, the murals were stored in the gymnasium of the Brown School in Washington Township which had closed in 1984.  In the winter of that year, Bill Cook purchased the school to use as headquarters of the Star of Indiana.

Once the murals were discovered, Gayle Cook, Bill’s wife, took it upon herself both physically and financially, to lead the efforts to restore the murals.  Not a small undertaking.  At a cost of $70,000, the four murals were sent to the Conrad Schmitt Studio in Milwaukee in early 1993.  Funding was provided by a number of sources including Bill and Gayle Cook’s contributions to the Save the Courthouse Fund, the county’s Courthouse Renovation Fund and the county’s cumulative capital fund.

Once the restoration was complete, the four murals were re-installed inside the dome replete with a ceremony on November 12, 1993.  If you have not already seen the murals, it would be worth your time to do so. 

Sources:

  • Contract for Courthouse Decoration Awarded, Bedford (IN) Weekly Mail, November 15, 1907, p. 1.
  • Att. Robert G. Miller Brings Suit to Contest Letting of Contract to Gustav Brand, Bedford (IN) Weekly Mail, November 15, 1907, p. 3.
  • Hammel, Bob, The Bill Cook Story:  Ready, Fire, Aim! (Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press) 2008, pp. 227-228.
  • David Thompson, “Courthouse Murals Returning to View,” Bloomington Herald-Times, November 3, 1993, p. A1.  NOTE:  This article includes two nice photos of work being done on the murals.
  • Cook, William A. and Jim Mason, Star of Indiana:  Recollections.  Available online at www.oocities.org/marchingresearch/coosym95.txt,
  • Monroe County Retired Teachers, Echoes from One-Room Schools, Monroe County, Indiana (Monroe County, IN:  AuthorHouse), 2006, p. 406.

Jackie Dean Blair: Korean War POW Survivor

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Men from Monroe County have fought in every war.  And in every war Monroe County men have lost their lives.  Fifteen died during the Korean Conflict from 1950-1953.*  One was captured and held as a prisoner of war.    This is his story.

Jackie D. Blair was born in Terre Haute on May 30, 1928, to Harlan Blair and Opal Reagan.  Both parents were barely 19 at the time of the birth.  While the exact nature of their commitment is not known positively, Opal brought Jackie to Bloomington when he was only four months old, and Harlan was not in the picture.

At first Opal and Jackie lived with Opal’s father, Henry Reagan, on West First Street.  When the enumerator counted them there in 1930, both Opal and Jackie were going by the name Reagan and not Blair.  Two years later when Opal married a Bloomington truck driver, Ralph Goff, she reported to the clerk that she was single.  Jackie, however, was for the most of his life known as Blair.

Jackie Blair’s photo from the 1945 Bloomington High School Year Book.

Jackie’s freshman picture was included in the 1945 Bloomington High School year book, “class of ’49,” but he was not noted as a member of subsequent classes.   And in September of the following year when he was 18 years of age and required to register for the draft of WWII, he was already working as a laborer at the Showers Bros. factory.  So it seems likely that he dropped out of school after his freshman year.

Jackie was drafted in October 1950.  He was assigned as a private in Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 24th Division.  America was by that time, engaged in the Korean War fighting on behalf of South Korea against the forces of communism in North Korea and China.

Upon completion of his training, Jackie was sent to Korea. He arrived on April 1 and on April 23 he was reported missing in action.  For eight days he and several others wandered lost behind enemy lines with guns pointed at them from three directions.  Under the constant threat of death, they finally surrendered themselves to the Chinese on May 1.  From that day until August 17, 1953, 27 months and 17 days later, Jackie was held as a prisoner of war.

Chong Song, also known as Chang Song and Changsong, was Jackie’s new “home,” a prisoner of war camp located near China and the Yalu River on the northern boundary of North Korea.  Although the climate in Korea is very similar to that of the United States’ east coast, it is more acute.  During the winter, artic winds from Siberia turn North Korea into a frozen wasteland with temperatures frequently near or below zero and lows reported at -300 F or colder.  [See p. 8.] 

In 2003, Bud Lynch interviewed Jackie as part of the Library of Congress initiative called the Veterans Oral History Project.  Perhaps the memories of his experience were too difficult to recall, because Jackie shared but little about his time in Chong Song.  The stories of other prisoner of war survivors from Chong Song, however, provide rich detail about gruesome living conditions in the camp. 

Bob Warrior, one such ex-POW noted that “There were ten, fifteen of us in a [mud] hut, all lying on the floor which was mud, and you had to light a fire underneath to warm the mud, the floor.”  Prisoners lived on weevil-infested pig food and each day were forced to journey four or five miles to the mountains to collect logs used to heat the floors, the only source of heat in the huts during the winter months, as fuel to cook the food and various construction projects.  With each mile, the logs seemed to grow heavier.  Franklin “Jack” Chapman, another Korean War POW survivor held at Chong Son, provided a lengthy description of his experience in Chong Song in a memoir titled “Cherokee Warrior” published online at the Korean War Educator in 2014. [See chapters 18 and 19.]

Aerial view of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D. C.  Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

According to a Senate report titled “Korean War Atrocities” published in 1954, Americans in Korean POW camps were denied adequate nourishment, water, clothing, shelter and medical care which resulted in widespread disease.  On numerous occasions prisoners were savagely beaten, humiliated and punished.  During the 3-year course of the conflict American prisoners died by the thousands.  More than 54,000 names of those who perished in the Korean war are engraved on the National Korean War Memorial in Washington, D. C., and of that number 2,730 U. S. POWs, 38 percent of all U. S. POWs, are said to have died in the fiendishly squalid prison camps.

On July 27, 1953, the Korean Armistice Agreement brought an end to the hostilities, but technically not the war, with negotiations for two massive prisoner exchanges characterized by controversy and risk.  On August 17, 1953, Jackie’s mother received a government telegram at her home, 1121 S. Rogers St., Bloomington, announcing that Jackie would soon be returned to the United States.  Three days later, she heard from Jackie who advised her he had arrived safely in UN territory and noted that he was “Feeling fine.  Nothing wrong with me your cooking won’t cure.”


Unsourced, undated picture of Jackie Blair reunited with his family following his release as a Korean POW.  Located with a transcription of his oral interivew and other documents at the Monroe County History Center, Bloomington.

Jackie was, in fact, discharged in Arizona on October 13, 1953, after a 30-day convalescent leave in Bloomington.  After remaining in Arizona for several years, Jackie returned to Bloomington for good in 1961 and took a job as a maintenance man at Indiana University.  He remained a bachelor living in his mother’s home on S. Rogers until 1975 when he took Sarah Pearl (Trisler) Cirgin as his wife.  Eventually the couple moved to 722 W. Dixie where they lived until their death, Sarah in 1998 and Jackie in 2009 at the age of 81.

*Known fatalities of the Korean war from Monroe County were:  Donald W. Burks, Army, died July 27, 1950; Robert C. Chandler, Arm, died February 12, 1950; Phillip A. Clayton, Army, died December 2, 1950; Conrad Lee Cornman, Marines, died December 7, 1950;  Donald Wayne Eads, Marines, died March 26, 1953; Jerry J. Eads, Army, died July 18, 1950; Kenneth C. Fisher, Army, died June 2, 1951; James W. Gillaspy, Army, died July 2, 1952; Elmer Harris, Jr., Army, died November 28, 1950; Raymond J. McDoniel (sic), Army, died November 28, 1950; Roger Lynn Miller, died September 5, 1950; Charles Richardson, Army, died October 4, 1951; Harold E. Stewart, Army, died August 18, 1951; William L. Stewart, Army, died August 10, 1950;  and Joseph W. Terman, Army, died August 22, 1950.

Sources:

  • Monroe County IN Death Certificate, Jackie D. Blair, died August 25, 2009.
  • Monroe County IN Death Certificate, Sarah Pearl (Trisler) Cirgin Blair, died May 10, 1998.
  • Monroe County IN Death Certificate, Myrtle Opal Goff, died May 4, 1973.
  • Abstracted record of marriage of Jackie D. Blair to Sarah Pearl (Trisler) Cirgin in 1975, Monroe County (IN) marriage record index 1971-1975.
  • Jackie D. Blair obituary, available online at https://www.allencares.com/obituaries/jackie-DeanBlair-26598/#!/Obituary.
  • Jackie D. Blair oral interview transcript and other documents, Veterans Oral History Project, Research Library, Monroe County History Center, Bloomington, IN.

Rediscovering Hendricksville Pottery: New Exhibit in Education Room

Blog post by Wayne Hastings

Introduction to the Stuff Lying Around Your House

Have you ever taken the time to really study the stuff lying around your house? Attentively looking at the things my family just ended up with has become a recent hobby of mine. A question as simple as “where did this come from?” usually will lead you down a rabbit hole of information.

Although an object has called your bookshelf home for the past several decades, it was once from somewhere else. No matter where an object ends up, it will always carry their place of creation with them. Japanese porcelain will forever carry that small red signature on the bottom of their ware and they will always be, presumably, made from Japanese clay. An object does not need to be from across the ocean to be engaging though. For instance, my family’s umbrella stand has a surprising connection to Hoosier history. It is a 10 gallon stoneware jug created by the Uhl Pottery Company.

Out of Huntingburg, The Uhl Pottery Company was one of many Hoosier companies that produced stoneware from the 19th century to the early 20th century. You probably have noticed their popularity and others because they are littered throughout antique stores. These hardy stone jugs do deserve attention though. They all tell important stories about where they came from.

The Hendricks Family and Henrickville Pottery

Pottery from the Monroe County History Center collection.

In our own backyard there was a pottery shop functioning just outside of Bloomington in a small farming community called Hendricksville. Unlike the Uhl Pottery Company, the Hendricks family represented Indiana’s earliest group of potters, having settled in Indiana in the 1820s, decades before the Uhl family. Using the Ohio River, Frederick and Elizabeth Hendricks permanently settled in Indiana after moving from Kentucky, a history intricately tied to Hoosier culture. From then on the pottery tradition was passed down to their son David and his wife Jeriah Taylor, and then finally to their son Charles Abram Hendricks.

From the 1820s to the turn of the century, the family crafted their own pottery which in turn was sold to neighboring farm communities. Compared to large pottery companies, the Hendricks family served a much smaller audience, only covering a 20 mile radius. And yet these trips would have taken up to three to four days by wagon.

These pieces of stoneware, currently on display in the Center’s Education Room, reveal practical pieces of history such as how families survived without refrigerators and ice boxes. Each pot and jar has a specific function such as for mixing ingredients, pouring water, and of course for storing food. Even well after the popularity of glass jars, which forced many pottery companies out of business, stone crocks were still being used for pickling.

It is my opinion however that we should appreciate these objects beyond being early kitchen appliances. While large pottery companies began mass producing stoneware in the 1890s, Hendricksville pottery remained a hand-made tradition until they closed shop in the early 1900s. When viewing these pots and crocks, consider how there are all uniquely tied to Hendricksville, Indiana. The Hendricks family used Richland Creek to power their potter’s wheel and their clay came directly from their own backyard. And most importantly their own hands crafted the pots. A tradition that spanned generations.

Henry Wahl: Preserver of Hoosier Art and Culture

Henry Wahl, an active member of the Monroe County Historical Society until his passing in 2008, considered these objects more than simple kitchen appliances. To Wahl, these objects were relics of Hoosier culture and powerful symbols of his own ancestry. Wahl’s great uncle, Charles Abram Hendricks, was one of the last living members of the Hendricks family to craft stoneware.

It is inspiring to know that Henry Wahl did not always hold an interest in Hendricksville Pottery. Just as we walk past objects in our house everyday, the stoneware was of little significance for Wahl until he started seriously collecting and researching them in his late 60s. After a lifelong obsession of collecting crafts from all over the world, his Hendricksville Pottery were his most prized possessions.

It can be extremely rewarding to take notice of the things you normally would not pay attention to. Without Henry Wahl, many of these pieces of Hendricksville history would be lost. By a line of strange coincidental events, I was able to personally discover more about my family ancestry. It so happens that Henry Wahl is my first cousin twice removed because his father, Ethan Wahl, was the brother to my great grandfather, Charles Wall. I accredit the Uhl stone jug that has been in my family for generations for initiating my interest in vintage stoneware and for inspiring me to do research on Hendricksville Pottery. While I can’t promise you will make discoveries concerning your family lineage, I assure good things happen when you start appreciating the things around you.


GREAT APPLE PIE BRINGS SUCCESS TO BLOOMINGTON BUSINESSMAN

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Mention the name Boxman around Bloomington today and most people will conjure up an image and, perhaps, a memory of Player’s Pub on South Walnut, a dilapidated property the owner would like to raze against the wishes of the Bloomington Historical Preservation Commission.

Boxman’s first KFC franchise was situated in the front yard of his home, much to the chagrin of his wife.  Postcard from the personal collection of the author.

Many people from Monroe County have either long ago forgotten Henry Boxman and the restaurant that he brought to national prominence in the 1950s or else never knew of him or his business.  In fact, Henry was an astute businessman whose influence as a restaurateur extended well beyond Bloomington and Indiana in spite of his humble beginnings.

Henry was born in June 1903 near Columbus, Indiana, to John Henry and Anna M. Boxman.  He had nine older brothers and sisters.  His oldest sibling, Martha, had already married by the time of his birth.  John Henry supported his large family by farming.

When Henry was barely a year old, his mother was stricken with spinal meningitis and died two weeks later in October, 1904.  If that wasn’t enough bad luck, in September 1919, it was discovered that John Henry had facial cancer and he was buried beside Anna in March of the following year.  At the young age of 17, Henry was an orphan.

Given the tragedy that had befallen him, it isn’t hard to image that Henry’s education ended after completion of the eighth grade.  One might even wonder how he made it that far.  But Henry, a tall, lanky young man with a ready smile, was also smart and a very hard worker.  By 1925 he was living in Richmond and enjoying success as a tobacco salesman.  In April of that year he felt confident enough to marry a hometown girl, Hattie Belle Zigler.

With a helpmate at his side, in 1928 Henry opened a little restaurant at 422 S. Walnut called the Dew Drop Inn.  It was patronized by students from the nearby high school who met there over well-filled, inexpensive plates of hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans and barbecue sandwiches.  But Henry aspired for more.  He recognized apple pie as America’s most popular dessert, and it was his dream to make the country’s best apple pie.

A decade later, the little restaurant had doubled in size, it had a new name, Boxman’s, and a nice, new menu as well.  The address was 422-424 S. Walnut, and the Boxman family, that now included a son, lived above the restaurant.  Little did Henry know that the Great Depression was just around the corner.

A partial view of Boxman’s menu showing many prices well below a dollar.  Although the menu is undated, the 4-digit phone number suggests it is from the 1940s.  An artifact from the author’s personal collection.

Unlike many businesses that failed during the depression, Henry was able to hang on by working long hours for little pay. By 1939, it wasn’t at all surprising for him to put in an 80-hour work week for an average monthly, net income of less than $200.  Meantime in 1940 he was still living with his family above the restaurant.  But all of his effort was beginning to pay off as he became well known for his food, especially his pie. 

One day, just out of the blue, a man named Duncan Hines stopped in at Boxman’s for a bite to eat.  This is the same Duncan Hines whose name is now associated with a well-known cake mix, but back then he was a just a traveling salesman from Chicago who spent a lot of time on the road. 

In 1935, Duncan and his wife compiled a book listing the exceptional restaurants he had visited.  The book was so popular that he was given an opportunity to write a newspaper column published three times weekly in major newspapers across the U. S.  Beginning in 1949, and every few years thereafter, Duncan wrote about the great food at Boxman’s and often shared a recipe or two from the restaurant.. 

Finally Henry, with the aid of multiple outstanding reviews from Duncan who had become a well-recognized food critic and not a little nudge from his friend Col. Harland Sanders’ of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame who lent his name to Boxman’s endeavors, realized his dream—one of the country’s best apple pies.  Or at least among the best known apple pies.

Boxman’s first KFC franchise was situated in the front yard of his home, much to the chagrin of his wife.  Postcard from the personal collection of the author.

Duncan Hines died in 1957.  Perhaps it was that event that prompted Henry to sell his restaurant the same year.  Whatever the reason, that’s what he did.  A few years later, in 1963, he opened Bloomington’s first KFC restaurant.  Much to the chagrin of his wife, it was located directly in the front yard of his private home at 432 S. Walnut.  He opened a second KFC franchise at the College Mall in 1968. 

Henry died in Bloomington in August 1991 after a long, productive life.  Among many other things, he was a past president of the Indiana State Restaurant Association; board member of the National Restaurant Association, and member of the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce.  He was survived by Hattie, his wife, and two children, Charles H. Boxman of Indianapolis and Jane Ann (Boxman) Kalb of North Port, Florida.

During the coming months it will interesting to see what happens to the buildings where Henry had his restaurant, the one so many people across America knew so well for their desserts.  Perhaps in some homes yet today pies made from Henry’s recipes come to the table hot from the oven to the joy of happy families.

Sources:

The Racial Integration of Bloomington in the 1940s

Blog post by Randi Richardson

The Gables, across from the university at 114 Indiana Avenue, was the first of many Bloomington business establishments to be racially integrated in the 1940s.  This photo, from the IU Photo Archives, is believed to be taken about 1918.  Notice the dirt street.

Several months ago watched an Oscar-winning movie, Green Book, from the comfort of my home with ear phones and captions so I didn’t miss a word.  The move is based on the true story of two men, an Italian-American named Anthony Vallelonga aka Tony Lip, and an African American, Don Shirley, a gifted pianist. 

Shirley, who lived in the Bronx at the time, was contracted to do a 2-month tour through the Deep South to play in various venues catering to the upper echelon of society.  Given the status of racial relations in the Deep South at the time of the tour in the early 1960s, Shirley needed a driver who could “handle himself” and Tony Lip, also a resident of the Bronx, uncouth and racist, could do that in spades. 

At the start of the journey that would change both their lives, Tony is handed The Negro Motorists’ Green Book detailing establishments across the country that would welcome blacks.  The hotels noted in the Green Book were home to Shirley during the course of his travels south while Tony Lip stayed in more desirable accommodations on Shirley’s dime.  A lack of desirable housing, be it temporary or permanent, for people of color was just one small aspect of racial prejudice particularly prevalent in the Deep South for many years. 

Having been born female and white in the late 1940s, grown up on the outskirts of Indianapolis and raised within a small church denomination in a rather isolated environment, my life was not touched by racial prejudice.  I didn’t see it, didn’t experience it and didn’t even hear much about it.  Even today I  find racial prejudice nearly incomprehensible to grasp until it is right in my face like that depicted in Green Book.

As I watched the movie I wondered if Bloomington, appeared in the Negro Motorists’ Green Book.  My heart belongs to Bloomington.  In 1967 when I arrived, I did not see any restrictions that limited what people of color might do or go.   Of course, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t prejudice; the differences between the town and gown segments of Bloomington society, for example, was palpable and rather unsettling.

With a little help from Amazon, I ordered a reproduction copy of the Travelers’ Green Book, International Edition 1963-64, advertised for a “vacation without aggravation.”  In fact, there was no listing for Bloomington hotels, motels, tourist homes or restaurants.  That could be a good thing in so far as there was no need because the businesses were available to everyone irrespective of color, or a bad thing because access was limited but nothing was available for people of color.

From reviewing the book titled Taliaferro by Dawn Knight, I learned that George Taliaferro, a person of color, came to Bloomington to play football and attend Indiana University in the 1940s.  He experienced racism on the football field and in Bloomington.  He was forced to live some distance from the University because at the time there was only very limited housing available to available to people of color.  Likewise, local restaurants, especially those close to campus, did not serve blacks in their dining rooms.

A wall-sized photo of the 1945 championship football team, which included Taliaferro, hung in the Gables Restaurant, a popular student hangout across from the university at 114 S. Indiana Avenue.  Taliaferro could only see a glimpse of it from the outside window by pressing his head tight against the glass.  Rather than dining at the Gables, Taliaferro was forced to walk several miles home each day to take his meals and then trek several miles back to the University for classes and/or athletic activities. 

Finally becoming frustrated with his situation, he approached Herman B Wells whose term as president of the University was marked partially by his interest in integrating the campus.   Wells listened thoughtfully before dialing the number for Pete Poolitsan, one of the Gables’ owners.  With a veiled threat to ban students from the Gables if African-Americans were not permitted to eat there, Poolitsan agreed to let Taliaferro and a friend of his choosing eat at the restaurant for one week.  If there were no complaints, the next week Taliaferro could bring two more friends.   And so on.

When no complaints were received, more and more African American dined at the Gables.  Soon other restaurants in the community opened their doors to blacks.  And other business establishments, like theatres, also lifted their restrictions on when blacks might attend events and where they might be seated. 

Slowly the integration that Wells and people of color in the community had hoped for became a reality. 

Undoubtedly prejudice in Bloomington did not disappear altogether, but references to negro-friendly establishments in Bloomington in a Green Book for travelers were thankfully not needed after the 1940s.  

Saving the Bell

blog post by Randi Richardson

Bill Griffy, the watchman at the engine house on the northeast corner of the square, sat outside as he often did on hot summer nights catching what little breeze he could.  It was Wednesday, June 14, 1899, a few minutes after 1 AM.  Other than an attack by a hungry mosquito now and again, nothing much was happening.  Then suddenly there was an explosion.

Quickly Bill rushed to the corner and looked south on Walnut Street.  He saw flames darting out the window of the Kerr Meat Market, reaching across the alley toward the Presbyterian Church.  Moments later the bell in the fire tower was rung to alert sleeping citizens that their help was needed.  Fire laddies wiped the sleep from their eyes as they rushed to the scene.

Flames from the Kerr Meat Market, on the right-hand side of the alley above pictured, ignited a fire in the Walnut Street Presbyterian Church, on the opposite side of the alley, totally destroying the building with the exception of the church bell.  A corner of the engine house, partially obscured by a tree, is visible on the lower left hand side of the above photo.

By the time of their arrival, the market was a mass of fire.  Flames leaped high in the air and appeared to defy the firemen who turned three heavy streams of water on the building.  Then the breeze that had been so welcomed just a short time earlier picked up fanning the flames across the alley and igniting a cornice of the church.  Luckily that fire was quickly extinguished enabling all efforts to once again focus on saving the meat market.

In a fatal moment, when no one was looking, a light burst forth in the church tower 50 feet above.  Before the crowd could give the alarm that the church was burning, flames shot up the interior of the cupola in a flash over caused by intense heat.  A glance was all that was needed by the firemen to know they had a stubborn fight on hands owing to the location of the fire—it being difficult to reach.

Samuel Gilmore, the fire chief, quickly sent one line of hose into the gallery directly under the tower.  With fire falling all around them, the fire laddies bravely stood their ground before being forced to retreat as the tower, weakened by the flames, threated to topple over them.  At 2:20 AM, just one hour after the fire was discovered, the big steeple fell with a crash in the alley carrying with it the bell that for the past 35 years had summoned the congregation to worship.  Knowing that the church was doomed, Gilmore directed his men to try and save the hotel located next to the church. 

At 3:30 AM the flames were finally under control.  The hotel had been saved, but there was little else.  Nothing much remained of the church except the church bell.  Inside of the church everything was destroyed either by water, smoke or fire.  All the furnishings were in ruin including a recently purchased $300 piano, the organ and all the music books.

Hours after the destructive fire, church trustees put their heads together in consideration of a new church building.  A number of prominent church members favored selling the site on Walnut Street and seeking a location elsewhere in the city.  And it wasn’t long before a decision was made to begin construction of a new Presbyterian Church several blocks away at 221 E. Sixth St.

Several years later, Dr. S. K. Rhorer, a prominent member of the Bloomington community, went to Hobart, Oklahoma, to visit his sons, Ralph and Harry.  While there, he was approached by members of the local Presbyterian Church who expressed their desire for a bell.  Rhorer mentioned that the bell from the Walnut Street Presbyterian Church might be available and stated that he would present the matter to the church board for consideration.  In July 1903, the board decided in the affirmative, and the congregation unanimously agreed to present the bell to their co-laborers in Oklahoma.  Soon afterward, the only item saved from the destructive blaze that claimed the Walnut Street Church rang out with new life in a new home in the West. 

Sources:

  • Bloomington (IN) Progress, June 20, 1899, p. 1.
  • Bloomington (IN) Courier, July 3, 1903, p. 1.