Blog post by Randi Richardson

City directories are wonderful sources of information related to who lived where and when.  Both the Monroe County History Center and the Monroe County Public Library have large collections of Bloomington City Directories.  A few of the early ones are among the “hidden gems” at the Indiana Memory Digital Collections website.

If you or someone you love graduated from Bloomington High School 1908-1958, you might be happy to know that most of the yearbooks between those dates are available from the Indiana Memory Digital Collections from the Indiana State Library.  The Collections are relevant to a number of people, places and events throughout the state and feature two collections for Monroe County:  Monroe County at War and at Home; and Monroe County Community Collections.

The two Monroe County collections include, in addition to the yearbooks noted above, a number of Bloomington City Directories (1909-10; 1916-17; 1920, 21 and 22; 1922-23; 1925-26; 1927-28; 1931-32; 1934-35 and 1957); Monroe County Commissioners’ Book 1 and 2; a large number of early Bloomington photographs and more.

Although a search query box is provided, it has not worked well for me.  Instead, scroll through the items on the left titled “Add or remove other collections to your search.”


Blog post by Randi Richardson

The United States Public Health Service distributed nearly six million copies of a popular leaflet on “Spanish” influenza and thousands of posters warning against the dangers of spray infection.

From January 1918 through December 1920, five hundred million people around the world were infected with the flu which resulted in the deaths of somewhere between three to five percent of the world’s population.  Many of those who died were soldiers.

During the month of October, 1918, the number of soldiers who died each day at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis was frequently in the double digits.  By the end of October there were 3,266 flu-related deaths throughout the state.

The enrollment at Indiana University in the fall of 1918 was the largest to date—1,935 students.  On October 10, 1918, there was already an outbreak of the flu on campus and the State Board of Health made a decision to close the university for ten days.  All students not in the Student Army Training Corps were advised to go home.   The peak of the epidemic at IU hit on October 16, with 174 cases of the flu.  Consequently, the administration extended the closure of the university until November 4.

By October 18, plans were being made to open up the new high school building as an emergency hospital if it was found to be necessary, and members of the community were urged to exercise every possible precaution.  It was recommended that every cold, no matter how slight, should be treated as influenza.  Everyone sick with the flu should stay at home and strictly avoid crowds.  Two or three times a day the nose and throat should be washed with a solution of salt water.

On October 21, 1918, the Bloomington Evening World reported that the flu situation at IU and the city was improving so much so that there were several empty beds at the emergency hospital in Assembly Hall on campus.  However, the front page of the paper noted nine deaths within the county, four from the flu.

“Tommy B. Hays, a freshman and student at IU and son of Thomas Hays of Sanders, died at the emergency hospital on the campus Sunday of double pneumonia following Spanish influenza.  He was 20 years old.  He was graduated from the Smithville High School in 1916 and taught in the Harrodsburg School last year.  He is survived by the parents, two brothers, Bruce and Glenn Hays, and sister, Mrs. Daniel Greene.  Funeral was held at two o’clock this afternoon in charge of the Rev. J. C. Todd.  Interment took place at Clear Creek.

“Mrs. Florence Charles, 30 years old and wife of Joseph Charles, died at 10:30 last night of Spanish influenza at her home on South Rogers Street.  Her husband is a fireman on the Monon.  Mrs. Charles had a severe attack of the disease and was believed to be recovering when her heart became weak and failed her.  Besides the husband there are four children:  Lucile, Frank, Thomas and Anna; also two brothers, Wilbur and John Wolfington.  The family moved here eight years ago from West Baden.  The body will be taken on the 10:15 Monon train tomorrow to Abbydell, Orange County, for interment.

“Mrs. Lillian Grey, 14 years old and wife of Ernest Grey, North Morton Street, died of Spanish influenza at 6:45 Saturday evening.  Her husband, who formerly worked at the Greek Candy Store, is also bad sick with the disease.  The couple was married last Christmas and lived with the groom’s parents.  The mother, who came from Indianapolis today, stated that her daughter is now only 14 years old.  The body was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery this afternoon.

“Troy, 18-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. James Sparks, South Madison Street, died of Spanish influenza at ten o’clock this morning.  He was sick only ten days.  The young man was formerly a messenger boy for the Western Union and worked there until he became ill.  He is survived by his parents, four brothers and one sister.  No arrangements have been made for the funeral.”

Since the beginning of the flu epidemic, according to the Bloomington Evening World on October 26, the emergency hospital on the university campus had received 251 patients.  Of that number 154 were said to have been discharged and another 97 were still ill or convalescing.

On November 8, 1918, the Indiana Daily Student reported that the S. A. T. C. men were still under quarantine.  They were not permitted to visit the business section of Bloomington or other cities on passes.  Among the girls at the university, six were recently taken to Hospital No. 1, known as the university detention hospital situated in a five-acre field at the southern edge of the city.

Slowly but surely Monroe County recovered from the epidemic.  Certainly there were many more lives lost to the flu and flu-related illness such as pneumonia, but the exact number of deaths from Monroe County, if that number was in fact reported, was not found during the course of research for this article.  The flu epidemic is considered the deadliest disease outbreak in human history.



Jonathan Marion Hinkle Claimed by an Icy Death

Winfred Hinkle established Hinkle’s Hamburgers at Tenth and Grant in 1930.  After his death in 1947, his two brothers, Max and Leon, took over the management and, eventually, the ownership of the business.  The three brothers were sons of Charles Hinkle and grandsons of Jonathan Marion “Marion” Hinkle.  Meat seemed to course through the blood of all three generations.

Marion was one of 13 children born to Jonathan Hinkle who, by 1856, owned a substantial portion of Section 22 in Bloomington Township.  While quite young he began buying and selling livestock.  After living on his father’s farm for a while, he moved into the city where he opened a prosperous meat market on the square.

From the Frank M. Hohenberger Photograph Collection, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

On a wintry day in February 1899, at the age of 48, he met a tragic death as he set out from the store and headed home on foot.  His lengthy obituary was published on page one of the Bloomington Telephone, February 14, 1899.  It read as follows:

“Marion Hinkle, twice sheriff of Monroe County and once its auditor, is dead.  Alone and in the dead of the night, during the blizzard of Wednesday, he fell while on his way home northeast of the city and perished of cold.  He was last seen in the city at his meat market on the east side of the square about 5 o’clock when he closed his place of business and started on the fatal journey.

“Robert Alexander, who had been chopping wood east of town met Mr. Hinkle at the Fee farm about a mile distant from the city just as he was entering the gate, his intention being to take a ‘short cut’ across several farms to his home, the old Hinkle homestead some three miles from Bloomington.  When he reached the Headley farm it would have been necessary for him to cross a hedge fence, and pedestrians who usually followed a foot path through the fields were in the habit of passing through a small gap in the hedge fence.  It had evidently grown quite dark when Mr. Hinkle reached the fence as he lost his bearings and passed the opening or gap in the fence.  He must have wandered aimlessly up and down the row of hedge until he fell, exhausted, and perished a victim of the extreme cold.

“Mr. Hinkle roomed over his meat market and only occasionally went home at night. Unfortunately, he chose the coldest night of the year to make the trip which he always did afoot.

“His friends became alarmed at his continued absence yesterday and instituted a search.  The door of the meat market which had been closed since Wednesday was forced open and a search of the interior of the building made but with no result.  His body was found about 4:30 yesterday evening by his son, Charley, where it had fallen, and Coroner Dr. C. E. Harris notified.  That official left for the scene shortly after 6 o’clock and held an inquest at the Headley school house where the remains had been taken.

“The uneasiness for Mr. Hinkle was abated by the supposition that he was at home while at his home it was supposed he was in town.  The search did not begin until yesterday morning when a number of friends not only made inquiry but looked about the city.  The last seen of him in town was Wednesday evening and when this fact became established, the friends were fearful as to his safety.  The son Charley had become alarmed and started towards town to join in the search when the sad discovery was made.

“After viewing the remains of Mr. Hinkle, coroner Harris turned them over to C. C. Turner who removed them to his undertaking rooms and prepared them for burial.

“The face and hands were somewhat discolored, the latter being considerably swollen. His hands were scratched, showing he had made an effort to get through the hedge.  Many friends of the deceased called at the undertaking establishment today and viewed the remains which were taken later to the home of Mrs. Headley, northeast of the city.  There will be no funeral service at the house, the remains being taken direct to the Bethel Cemetery in the morning at 10 o’clock for interment.

“Jonathan M. Hinkle, or Marion as he was familiarly called, was one of the best known men in Monroe County.  For a number of years he was a leading stock dealer and was extensively engaged in the butcher and pork packing business.  He was a leading Democrat, politically, and to demonstrate his popularity he was elected sheriff of Monroe County in 1884 and re-elected in 1888 receiving the largest majority ever given a candidate.  He carried Bloomington Township, known as the Republican stronghold of the county, a political feat no other Democrat was ever known to do up to that period.  In 1892 he was elected auditor of the county and served four years.  At the expiration of his term of office he retired from politics and engaged in the meat business which he has alternately conducted since.

“Of Marion Hinkle it can be truthfully said that no man in the county had a better friend than he.  Once your friend, always your friend was his motto.  His friendship was wrongfully abused and his generosity, coupled with politics, was the cause of his financial ruin.  He did much to build up the city in years past.  The brick business block on Kirkwood Avenue, adjoining the Troutman & DeMoss building, was erected by him.  He met with reverses and his property passed into other hands.  Much was lost to him by his willingness to loan his name as surety for others.

“Marion Hinkle was 48 years of age, a native of this county, and was born and reared on the old Hinkle homestead 3 miles northeast of town.  He was one of a family of 13 children and was the second son of Jonathan Hinkle, deceased, who was one of the early pioneer settlers of the county.  His early life was spent on the farm, and he received a common school education.  When quite young he began trading and stock buying, and was unusually successful as he gained experience.  For many years he bought and shipped stock, and it was a common saying among the many farmers with whom he did business that “Marion Hinkle always pays the highest price for stock.”  His integrity and honesty was a household word and this, with his unusual generosity made him one of the most popular men in the community.

“In 1877 he was married to Mary O. Headley and for a time resided on his father’s farm.  Shortly afterward he moved to the city and continued his trading and also engaged in the meat market business.  Success crowned every effort and he invested in real estate, and at one time was the owner of a number of good farms and considerable business property in Bloomington.

“He was the father of 12 children, nine of whom are living: Mrs. Raymond Rogers, Grace, Samuel, Charles, Harvey, George, Thomas, Omer and Fern Hinkle.”


Hinkle’s Hamburgers—Preserving a Tradition One Flip at a Time

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Hinkle’s Hamburgers at 206 S. Adams Street has new owners and a new look.  The business was purchased in March 2019 by Richie and Janna Shields.  In early May, after a temporary closure to complete some updates, Hinkle’s was again open for business.

HinkleHinkle’s has a long history in Bloomington.  The first store was opened by Winfred Hinkle at 403 E. 10th Street in 1930.  A restaurant featuring some type of meat seemed to be a natural fit for Winfred whose father and grandfather were heavily involved in the business of raising cattle, butchering and/or selling meat.

His father was Charles Hinkle who was reared to the life of a farmer, entered the meat business at an early age, and opened a meat market at 219 N. Walnut Street in 1931.  At the time of his death on February 12, 1947, he was 66 years of age and worked as a salesman for the Bloomington Packing Company.

Winfred was born to Charles Hinkle and his wife, Jesse.  Many of his family members, at one time or another, worked at that first Hinkle’s Hamburgers including his brothers, George Maxwell “Max” Hinkle and Herbert Leon Hinkle who went by his middle name.

Richie Shields, new owner, at the register.

Less than two months after the death of his father, Winfred died in April 1947 at the age of 41.  At the time of his death, Leon was already working as a cook at the restaurant and he then took over as manager along with Winfred’s wife, Mildred.  Brother Max was a clerk.

Hinkle’s Hamburgers continued at Tenth and Grant streets with Leon Hinkle in charge until sometime in the 1960s when the business was relocated to South Adams and the Ashram Bakery took over the property on 10th Street.   The restaurant offered only a few types of sandwiches—hamburgers, cheeseburgers, tenderloins, fish and grilled cheese—accompanied by a limited number of sides.  The sizzling hamburgers, the most popular sandwich, were made to order by using an ice cream scoop to produce balls from fresh, never frozen, ground beef sprinkled with fresh onions.

A new red-and-white checkered, tile floor and new chairs are among some of the improvements made.

Leon officially flipped his last burger in June 1989, at the age of 67, although he occasionally returned to the grill to flip unofficially.  The restaurant has continued under different ownership but basically the same principals at the same location on S. Adams since that time.

NOTE:  Watch for more another interesting story about the Hinkle family in next week’s blog



The history of the Bloomington High School, as noted below, was transcribed from the Bloomington (IN) Evening World, November 25, 1904, p. 1.  The school was built in 1873 and in 1953 was razed to make room for a municipal parking lot.

Central School, the building with a tower in the center of the photo, was located on the west side of College Avenue about halfway between Third Street and Smith Avenue.  Photo courtesy of the IU Photo Collection.

In the fall of 1873, a preparatory school for Indiana University was established in Bloomington.  It began very auspiciously with an enrollment of between 80 and 100 and was from the start a strong and flourishing school.  A two-year course was offered embracing arithmetic, algebra, Latin, English and some physics and psychology.  Much stress was laid upon the art of public speaking, debates and  declamations, and a great deal of interest was taken by the students in such things, all of which were greatly to their advantage.  The faculty at this time was composed of W. R. Houghton, principal, and two assistants.  From 1880 to 1885 Prof. James K. Beck was principal.  The first class graduated in June 1874 numbering 10 or 12.

In 1885 Bloomington High School was organized as a separate institution while the preparatory department went on as before until 1890 when it was abandoned.

The high school was carried on in rooms on the third floor of Central building with Prof. Carr as principal.  Later he was succeeded by Miss Grace Woodburn, daughter of Cashier Woodburn of this city.  In 1890 the three-year course was introduced, several new departments were added and the corps of teachers increased.  In 1894 Prof. Beck was elected principal and in 1896 the present four-year system was adopted.

Since then the school has grown rapidly having now an enrollment of 250, an unusual number for a town of this size, until it is now ranked among the best high schools of the state.  May it long live to be appreciated!


A Brief History of Bloomington’s First Methodist Church

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Joseph Tarkington, an early settler in Monroe County, wrote that the first known Methodist meetings in what is now Monroe County were held in 1816.  According to a church history published in 1999 in conjunction with the laying of the cornerstone of the Wesley Wing, the first formal church organization in Bloomington took place in 1818 when meetings were held in the log cabin of Nelson Moore at what is now College Avenue and Seventh Street.meth church

The first Methodist church house was built at Fourth and Madison streets in 1822.  Rev. James Armstrong had intended to build it of logs thinking that it was the best that could be done.  The building was already well under way when Bro. Joshua O. Howe deemed that Methodism deserved a more respectable edifice.  He had the logs removed and a frame church was built in its place, Bro. Howe bearing nearly the entire expense.  That church was heated with a fireplace for several years until a member went to Louisville and saw a stove for the first time.  He purchased one for the church at his own expense and had it installed.

Twenty-one years after the construction of the first church, a second church was constructed in 1843 at southeast corner of Sixth and Morton.  Once again Bro. Howe provided generous financial support.  John Wright, a brick mason and the father of Gov. J. A. Wright, provided some of the labor to complete the two-story, brick structure.  The first floor of the new church was used for a church school and the second floor as a sanctuary.  Members entered the sanctuary from an exterior flight of stairs with separate doors for men and women who were seated separately during church services.

In 1879, church trustees declared the building unsafe for public use.  Lots were subsequently purchased for a new church at the corner of College Avenue and Third Street.   The cornerstone was laid in August 1879.  The much needed building with a seating capacity of more than 600 in the sanctuary was dedicated in August of 1880.  It was an imposing structure with gothic windows and doors.  A steeple tower extended 60 feet above the roof.

As membership continued to grow, so did the need for an even larger structure.  In 1904 plans were underway for a new Methodist church at the corner of Third and College where the Bloomington Convention Center is now located.  This church served the congregation until 1910.  Later it was sold to the Bloomington Armory Association and the sanctuary was converted into a basketball gymnasium.  Some of the stained glass windows were, however, preserved and used in the present church.  The bell went to the Clear Creek Christian Church.

The congregation broke ground for yet a larger church in the spring of 1909 at the corner of Fourth and Washington.  It was dedicated the following year.  At the time it was built, it was considered one of the finest and best-appointed churches in the city, the largest and most thoroughly-equipped Methodist Church.  It contained many modern amenities including electronic devices and a state-of-the-art pipe organ.  The cost of the facility was $101,000.  Most of the money was raised through the subscription of members.  W. N. Showers, B. F. Adams and W. H. Adams subscribed $5,000 each.  Stone for the church was furnished by the Monroe County Oolitic Stone Company.

In 1937, a few days after Easter, this building was gutted by fire.  When the flames died down, only the exterior limestone walls of the church remained.  Even the dome which rose to a height of 116 feet and was supported by a massive steel frame weighing 250 tons could not be saved.  But the spirit of the congregation could not be dampened.

Plans were made immediately to rebuild the church in the same location.  Construction began in October 1937 and the building dedicated in October 1938.  The tower above the church was increased in height to accommodate a bell, and the lighted cross that adorned the church destroyed by fire was once against placed atop the tower.

From that day to this, the Methodist Church at Fourth and Washington has served the community.  Of course, through the years it has been remodeled several times to accommodate an ever-growing membership.  The Wesley Wing, a church addition containing classrooms and office space was dedicated in 1999.


  • Bloomington (IN) Republican, February 18, 1885, p. 2.
  • Bloomington (IN) World, December 7, 1893, p. 10.
  • Bloomington (IN) World, July 4, 1896.
  • Bloomington (IN) Herald Times, May 13, 2009, pp. 6-7.
  • A History of the Buildings Housing the Congregation and Ministries of the First United Methodist Church in Bloomington, Indiana, prepared for the occasion of the Laying of the Cornerstone for the Wesley Wing, November 7, 1999.
  • Smithville News, December 11, 1908.

Destructive Fire in 1838 Renewed Interest in the Formation of a Fire Company

On Monday morning, February 26, [1838], about half past four in the morning, the citizens of Bloomington were roused from their sleep by the ringing of bells and cries of fire.  It was soon ascertained that the fire was in the frame buildings owned by G. R. Johnson and occupied by Mr. Jonathan Legg as a store, Drs. Foster and Ballard as an office and S. T. Hardesty as a tailor shop.  By the time anyone noticed the fire, it had made considerable progress.  The flames spread so rapidly that it was nearly impossible to save anything.  The valuable medical library of Drs. Foster and Ballard was destroyed by fire together with all the account books and notes of the county library, they being in the possession of Dr. Ballard as the treasurer.

A postcard from the early 1900s shows a horse-drawn fire engine on the way to a fire.  Unfortunately, in 1838, a vehicle like this did not exist.

From these buildings the flames spread and destroyed the two-story, log house of Mrs. Batterton located nearby.   The house, nearly 20 years old, was separated by a narrow alley from the large, two-story brick hotel occupied by Mr. John Hyndman.  For a time it seemed likely that the hotel would be destroyed, but through the great exertions of Bloomington citizens, it was prevented from taking fire.

From the nearest estimate that can be made, the following losses were sustained:  Johnson–$5,500; Legg, $2,200; Foster & Ballard, $9,000; Mrs. Batterton, $1,000; Hardesty, $100; and Hunter and Williams, $100.

Previous to this fire, there had been only one other fire of such magnitude during the past 15 years.  At that time, because Bloomington had no fire company, engine, buckets or fire hooks, little could be done except to watch as flames consumed buildings and property.  Soon after the fire there was interest in the formation of a fire company.  With time, however, interest waned and in 1838 Bloomington was in the same predicament.

With the recent destructive fire, interest in a fire company was renewed.  A decision was made to levy a tax on all improved real estate within the limits of the corporation for the purpose of funding a fire company.  Additionally, citizens with considerable capital invested in goods or anything that could be destroyed by fire were encouraged to purchase insurance such as that available from J. B. Barnes of Bloomington, an authorized agent for the Indiana Mutual Fire Insurance Company.

Information for this blog was taken from the March 2, 1838, issue of the Bloomington Post (page 3) available online at https://newspapers.library.in.gov/cgi-bin/indiana?a=d&d=BP18380302&e=11-11-1918-12-11-1918–en-20-BDT-1–txt-txIN-war——