Arthur Day, Leading Bloomington Funeral Director, Died Saving the Life of His Wife

Blog post by Randi Richardson.

One minute Arthur Day and his wife, Mary, were at the northwest corner of Bloomington’s town square walking toward their home at 302 N. Walnut Street; seconds later Arthur lay mortally wounded in the street.  They had just finished a meal together at the Graham Hotel.  It was to be their last.

As they walked east across Walnut Street on Thursday evening, April 17, 1947, Arthur jerked Mary’s arm pulling her backward.  In this way, unbeknownst to her, he had placed himself between her and an oncoming car.  Mary didn’t see the 1937 Ford sedan driven by 22-year-old Howard Watson of Harrodsburg until Arthur was violently hurled against her knocking them both to the ground.

When Mary realized that Arthur was badly injured, she sat down in the middle of the street and raised his bleeding head to her lap.  As a former hospital superintendent, she immediately recognized his condition as grave.  He was still breathing and his eyes were open, but he was unconscious.

Watson, stopped immediately, leaped from his car, ran to the nearest phone and called for an ambulance and the police who arrived at the scene of the accident almost simultaneously with the arrival of a Day Funeral Home ambulance.   Two hours later, at 9:45 PM, Arthur breathed his last at the Bloomington Hospital without regaining consciousness.

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Arthur Day

After a thorough investigation, Dr. R. E. Lyon, the Monroe County coroner, determined that the accident was unavoidable, a finding shared by the police.  It was believed that the tragedy occurred when the stop-and-go light changed when the Days were in the middle of the street.  Watson did not see the couple readily because the car immediately in front of him turned leaving him unaware that anyone was crossing the street.

At the time of his death Arthur Day, age 66, had been a well-known and respected resident of Bloomington for the past 45 years.  He moved from Brown County to Bloomington in 1902 and was in the grocery business until 1913 when he joined a firm that operated both a furniture store and a funeral home business on the north side of the square.  Arthur bought out his partners and became the sole operator in 1924.

He was one of the best-known residents of Monroe County.  Nearly everyone knew the big, quiet man as a friend.  His pleasant disposition brought him much success in his profession.

In addition to his wife, Arthur was survived by two daughters, Mrs. Gayle Campbell and Mrs. Lucille Pearcy of Bloomington; one brother, Odus Day of Bloomington; and two sisters, Mrs. Nannie Lanum of Bloomington and Mrs. Elma McDaniel in Kansas; three grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

Source:  Picture and text abstracted from an obituary for Arthur Day published by the Bloomington World, April 18, 1947, pp. 1-2.

IU Union Club Hotel Opened in 1947

Blog post by Randi Richardson

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Postcard of the new Union Club from the collection of the author.

In the 1940s, hotel accommodations in Bloomington were woefully inadequate.  For that reason, hotel accommodations at the Indiana Memorial Union on the IU campus were expanded by opening the Union Club Hotel as an annex to the existing facility in the Spring of 1947.

The new Union Club, which included a dining room that could accommodate 105 patrons, was located directly north of the Union building.  It was once used by the officers club at Bunker Hill.  After being sawed into twelve sections and disassembled, it was moved to the IU campus by truck.

It could accommodate 125 guests in 89 beautifully appointed, single and double bedrooms with a suite of three rooms on the first floor.  The dining room was scheduled to offers meals three times a day and open seven days a week to the public.

In January 1950, Eleanor Roosevelt spent the night in the Union Building and had lunch the next day at the Union Club.

Source:  Bloomington (Monroe County, Indiana) Evening World, April 11, 1947, p. 7.

Barbara (Ellett) Dail Remembers Stinesville

Barbara Rose Ellett was born March 12, 1937, in the old Hoadley Mansion in Stinesville, Monroe County, Indiana.  Her parents were Charles Homer and Blanche Elizabeth (Baker) Ellett.  Her maternal grandparents were Sherman and Sarah Lucy Evaline (Stewart) Baker; her paternal grandparents were W. A. Gorman and Mary Gettysburg “Getty” (Payton) Ellett.

Barbara grew up and spent her childhood in Stinesville surrounded by many cousins on both sides of her family.  At an early age she began writing and was first published when she was only 11 years of age.  By the 1970’s her stories were widely published in literary magazines in both in the U. S. and overseas.

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Eventually Barbara married James Raymond Daniels with whom she had three children:  Debra Rae, Patrick James and David Eugene.  Her second husband was Roy D. Dail, Sr., who had three sons by a prior marriage:  Roy D., Jr., Douglas Jerome and David Nelson.  The family settled in Arkansas.

It was while living in Arkansas in 1998 that Barbara wrote and privately published her autobiography, a slim volume of only 72 pages.  Although small in size, it is rich in pictures and detail about Stinesville people, places and events.

Several years ago I purchased the book for fifty cents.  Because of its small size, it became lost among the larger books in my library.  Recently I discovered it while rearranging my library shelves and took the time to read through it.  It was so interesting that I knew others, particularly those who grew up around Stinesville, would also find it of interest.  But when I checked to determine where it might be available and in what libraries, I found to book to be practically nonexistent.

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So, folks, I’ve decided to donate this little jewel of a book to the library at the Monroe County History Center.  It’s there on the shelves for everyone to enjoy.  But remember it is small and easily lost.  If you can’t find it, check with the library director for assistance.

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Hays Market One of a Kind

Many people who have lived for a while in Bloomington remember Hays Market at 6th and Morton streets.  It wasn’t always a market, however, and the stone carving over the door provides a clue to its origins.

The first owner of the building was Lawrence Currie and his son, John.  Lawrence Currie, whose name was sometimes spelled Curry, typically worked as a farmer.  He followed this career path from his teen years in the 1870s when the family lived in Owen County well into adulthood when the household moved from Greene County to Bloomington.  In 1900, the Currie family lived at the intersection of Morton and 6th streets in Bloomington.  Lawrence made monuments and his son, John, age 23, was a stone cutter.  They joined forces and opened a storefront, Currie & Son, in 1903 at the northwest corner of Morton & 6th.  Someone, probably John, carved the company name in stone above the door.

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Sometime between 1910 and 1920, the business collapsed.  Lawrence continued to live at Morton and 6th streets, but went back to farming.  John moved to Indianapolis and worked as a stock clerk in an auto factory.  Afterward the store changed hands a number of times.  For a while it was home to the Charles Cavaness Garage, one of the first garages in Bloomington.  Unfortunately, due to the limited number of cars in the area at the time, the demand for garage work was small and, ultimately, Charles was forced to sell out.

In the meantime, James D. Hays, a resident of Clear Creek Township in Monroe County, owned and operated a market near Smithville.  His grandson, Jerry Hays, recalled that his grandfather was a savvy businessman who didn’t wait for business to come to him.  “He made sandwiches in the morning and took them to the quarries where workers bought them for their lunch.”

Later, sometime between 1945 and 1948, James moved his market from the Smithville area into the empty Currie & Son building.  It quickly became known for its dairy products, fresh produce and mostly meat.  “On Friday nights,” according to Jerry, “when people received their paycheck they used to wait in long lines to buy meat.”

In the evenings and on the weekends Jerry, who was then quite young, and his father, also named James, would drive around the country side to visit farms and dairies to purchase products for the store.  “When we got back to the store we’d use this handheld device to check the eggs to see if there were embryos inside,” recalled Jerry.  “If so, they were discarded.”

Sundays was the only day the store was closed.  On that day James would visit his store to check on the equipment and determine that it was functioning properly.  Often he was accompanied by Jerry who was told to help himself to whatever he wanted.  “Quite literally” Jerry noted, “I was that kid in a candy store.  But I liked meat, especially liked pickled bologna.”

Digging back into his memory, Jerry recalled that his grandfather’s office was located in the southeast corner on the second floor of the building above the door as pictured below.  “At that time the only lighting upstairs were bare bulbs hung from a cord.  The hallways were dimly lit with wide, worn floorboards.  It was scary to a kid.  When I had to go up there, I would run.  On my seventh birthday, my father told me that my present was in grandfather’s office.  I ran down there and discovered a bright, new bicycle.”

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In 1973, at the age of 70, James passed away.  His son, Paul Hays, then assumed management of the store.  He was assisted by his sister, Mary (Hays) Douthitt.  The other two siblings, including Jerry’s father, James, had no interest in the business.  After Paul died in 1996, the business closed.

For a while the building sat empty.  Then it was purchased by a number of different owners and occupied by a number of different businesses.  Finally it was purchased by David Hays, the son of Jerry Hays and the great grandson of James D. Hays.  His motivation was based partly on sentimental reasons and also because it seemed like a good investment.  Space inside has since been remodeled to accommodate offices of various sizes and leased to a variety of businesses.  Today the future seems quite bright for a building established more than a century ago at 6th and Morton.

To read more stories like this one, follow the Monroe County History Center library blog at http://www.mchclibrary.wordpress.com.  Blog subscribers will be notified of a new blog posting once weekly.  Each blog post will pertain to the Monroe County history of a person, place or event.

Post by Randi Richardson

Life Abbreviated: Earl C. Carpenter & Wife—Part 2 of 2

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In 2018, this building stood were the Carpenter’s once lived at 346 S. Washington Street.

After the death of E. C. in 1923, there wasn’t much to keep 45-year-old Alice at her home on S. Washington Street in Bloomington.  Her mother, Sarah (McCollough) Worley had died in 1888 and her father, James, in 1917.  She had no siblings, no children and few strong attachments in Bloomington.  So when Alice’s brother-in-law, George Carpenter, with his wife, Flora, decided to move to Florida about 1926 or 1927, Alice decided to tag along.

A few years later, in 1930, George with his wife, two children and widowed father, 79-year-old Guy Carpenter, were living in Orange County, Florida.  Alice, who had completed two years of college, lived alone in Tampa and was not employed.  She wasn’t wealthy, but she had enough money to live comfortably.  A decade later, age 62, she lived in St. Petersburg.

It was while living there that she met Alfred Leonard Cline in early 1944.  He was a decade younger than her, silver-haired, rather shy and portly, seemingly quite religious and had a good deal of money.  He liked to quote the gospel and told Alice he used to sing in a Denver choir.  What he did not tell Alice is that he had spent time in a Denver prison on fraud charges in connection with the attempted murder of 75-year-old Mrs. Laura Cummings.

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Alfred Leonard Cline c. 1945.

Alfred had taken a trip with Laura in 1930.  For reasons not known but easily imagined, Laura made out her will leaving Alfred $60,000 (nearly $857,000 in today’s currency).    Laura survived Alfred’s attempt to poison her and eventually was persuaded by her family to return to Massachusetts and change her will.

Alice was undoubtedly flattered by Alfred’s attention.  And his lucrative job offer.  In February, he offered her a position paying $250 monthly (about $3,500 in today’s currency).  It didn’t take long for her to accept.  Soon afterward she passed along the information to George and Flora.  Then she was gone.

George and Flora never heard from Alice again.  However, on October 21, they received a call from Alfred.  He said Alice had become sick several days earlier at the hotel where she had staying in Dallas.

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Mrs. Alice Carpenter is believed to have died in a Macon, Georgia, hotel as “Alma Carter.”  See Des Moines (IA) Register, June 30, 1946, p. 10.

A doctor was brought in to see her on three different occasions.   The first time, according to the doctor, she reportedly was rather dismissive and spoke about the Christian Science faith.  The second time, when he asked her if she was in pain, she only grunted.  Lastly the doctor called on Alice a third time only to discover that she had passed away either late on October 17 or early on the 18th, 1944.

Alfred had had the body cremated and was making arrangements to have the remains buried in Texas.  When George and Flora learned of the death, they insisted it was only fitting and proper that Alice’s ashes be returned to Bloomington for burial at the Rose Hill Cemetery by the side her husband.  Alfred acquiesced with some reluctance.

During the next few months, George and Flora were dismayed to learn that Alice’s personal property in stocks and money had disappeared.  Moreover, Albert had had himself made the administrator of her estate in the absence of a will.  This was brought to the attention of the police who began to investigate.  What they found suggested something much more sinister than fraud.  They suspected Albert was guilty of murder.

Because he was not new to crime or the penal system, the police looked at him quite closely.  Their investigation uncovered a number of marriages, nearly all of which had ended with the sudden death of his wife and an increase to his personal wealth.

Alfred’s last wife, Delora Krebs Cline, who he married in May 1944, was formerly married to a Chicago manufacturer who died leaving her a very wealthy widow.  She was missing when the investigation was begun, but Alfred had been cashing her annuity checks for some time without fail.  On a hunch the police showed Delora’s picture to the doctor in Texas who had supposedly cared for Alice in October 1944 just days before her death.  Surprisingly, the doctor recognized the woman in the photo as Delora, not Alice.

The next step of the investigation was rather surprising given that forensic science in 1944 was different and much more limited then than it is today.   Police requested that Alice’s remains be exhumed and examined.  They were sent to the IU Med School where technicians discovered eighteen “artificial” teeth among the remains. George Carpenter reported that Alice had only two “artificial” teeth which excluded her as the person whose remains were buried in Rose Hill under Alice’s name.  Investigators soon came to believe the remains in Bloomington were those of Delora Krebs Cline who wore both upper and lower dentures.  The district attorney noted that it was his belief that Alice died in 1944 in Macon, Georgia, and was cremated under the name of Alma Carter (sic).

Although the police had many reasons to believe that Alfred was guilty of serial murder, they didn’t have enough evidence to convict him on a murder charge.  According to American Murder:  Criminals, Crime and the Media written by Mike May and published in 2008, Alfred’s MO was effectively simple.  He’d marry and honeymoon at a distant hotel where his new wife was not known.  “He’d lace a drink with sedatives powerful enough to knock out the bride but not kill her.  A doctor would be summoned and told she was suffering ‘another heart attack.’  Soon thereafter [Alfred] would kill her with a stronger dose.  The doctor would list heart failure as the cause of death.  The grief-stricken widower would have the woman’s body cremated and then move on to his next target.”

Instead of murder, Alfred was arrested in December 1945 and tried on nine charges of fraud growing out of the estate of Delora Krebs Cline.  He was surprised at the amount of evidence presented against him.  Members of the jury took only two hours to find him guilty of all charges.

The judge sentenced Alfred to 14 years in prison on each count, the sentences to run consecutively for a total of 126 years.  In 1946, he was sent to Folsom, a state prison in California established in 1880 and long known for its harsh conditions.  Until air holes were drilled into cell doors in the 1940s, inmates spent most of their time in dark, stone cells measuring 4 by 8 feet with eye slots.  During the course of his incarceration, Alfred studied religion.

Two years after his incarceration, Alfred died suddenly of a heart attack on August 5, 1948.  He died without revealing any of the details of his crimes.  It is believed that he killed at least eight women and an evangelist, Rev. Ernest Jones.   Alice Carpenter’s date and place death remain a mystery.  Although she has a tombstone in Rose Hill, her final resting place is not known.

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Blog post by Randi Richardson