No Laughing Matter: When Did It Happen

Blog post by Randi Richardson

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The abbreviated article from the Telephone

Last week our readers were asked to guess when June Fulford assaulted the teacher of her first-grade son who had been whipped for laughing out loud.  If you guessed 1937, you were right.  The story was based on an article published on page one of the Bloomington (IN) Daily Telephone on April 22, 1937.

Although it was June Fulford featured in the Telephone’s story, there was no June Fulford in the 1930 or 1940 census records for Monroe County.  There was, however, a Sarah Jane Fulford in Washington Township among the 1940 census records, the mother of a son old enough to be the first-grader in question.  Sarah Jane was the wife of William Fulford, and in 1940, the Fulford family was noted on Harris Road in a household with five Fulford children and a nephew, 19-year-old Robert Lydy.  The children ranged in age from 5 to 20.  Austin, age 9, was likely the first-grader who received the whipping.

According to information in the census record, first grade was the highest grade Austin completed.  His three older siblings—Lillian, Harley and Mildred—had sixth-grade educations and his parents only a second-grade education.  Five-year-old Ralph, the youngest child in the family, had not yet attended school.

The Fulfords owned their own home valued at $1,000 and William was a laborer who worked on the roads.  In the year just past, he had worked only 29 weeks out of 52, and had earned only $429 for his efforts.  He died on February 28, 1948, of a fractured skull suffered in a car accident.  Sarah Jane, a widow, died at the age of 78 on January 7, 1967, at the Indiana State Hospital for Chest Diseases in Rockville, Indiana.   Her body was returned to Monroe County for burial in the Hindostan Cemetery.

No Laughing Matter

Blog post by Randi Richardson

On a warm, spring day the son of June Fulford came home from school covered with bruises, or so June said, from being whipped by his teacher.  A few days later June confronted the teacher, Betty Jane Robinson, at the school house in Washington Township, Monroe County.  She called her from the classroom into a hallway.  When June asked why her boy, a first-grader, had been whipped, Betty Jane confessed that it was because he had laughed out loud when tickled by another student.

spankJune determined to give Betty Jane taste of the same treatment her boy had received.  Although somewhat smaller than the teacher, she began raining blows upon Betty Jane’s face.  When the principal attempted to intervene, June gave him a few swift kicks on his shins.

Assault and battery charges were filed against June, and she was called into the mayor’s court.  When her case was heard, she claimed that the teacher had picked on her boy because he came from a poor family.  The mayor fined June $1.00 and court costs which amounted to another $10.  She was also given a suspended sentence at the state penal farm and placed on probation.

In what year did this happen?  Although I’ve given you enough clues to find the answer, resist the effort to research the question.  Then take a guess and comment below.  The answer will appear next week for those with an inquiring mind.

 

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Cemetery Committee Publishes Book

Blog post by Randi Richardson

blog cemeteryJust in time for Christmas 2018, the Monroe County History Center Cemetery Committee published a new hardbound book, A Summary of the Cemeteries in Monroe County, Indiana. It’s a big one, 356 pages in length, the result a joint effort. Although typically it does not include a list of burials in a given cemetery, the book includes 298 cemeteries found in Monroe County including some not previously noted.

The cemeteries are noted in alphabetical order by township which makes a given cemetery a little tricky to find if one doesn’t know the township. however, the Table of Contents lists the townships and the cemeteries by name, so one most peruse the various townships to find a given cemetery.

Each township is illustrated with a separate map showing the location and section of each cemetery which is marked with circle, star, cube, or cross. Because there is no key to the symbols, it is not immediately obvious as to what the symbols mean.

Most of the cemeteries include a description of the location. Some include maps; others the physical coordinates. Many include a history, if one could be found, and the names of prominent people buried within the cemetery bounds. Nearly every page includes colored photographs.

On the last few pages of the book are three appendices; “A Selected List of Cemetery Preservation References,” “Cemetery Safety Guidelines,” and “Identifying Types of Materials Used in Tombstones in Monroe County.”

One might expect a comprehensive book like this one to be quite expensive. Not so. Copies can be purchased for $18 from the Monroe County History Center gift shop while quantities last. It is my understanding that the cost of printing was offset by a grant. Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to add a piece of Monroe County history to your library at such an affordable price!

 

First Methodist Church Destroyed by Fire

Blog post by Randi Richardson

The First Methodist Church, dedicated in 1909, was destroyed by a $250,000 fire discovered on the morning of Wednesday, April 7, 1937.  Also destroyed by the fire was a $30,000 organ and great sheets of valuable, imported art glass.  Located at 4th and Washington streets, the First Methodist Church was the largest church in the community.  As a crowd watched the building burn, many commented on the fact that the cross was still intact above it.  The cross, lighted each night, had been one of Bloomington’s landmarks since it was erected after the death of the late Benjamin. F. Adams in 1910.  He donated the cross and his will provided a fund for its lighting and maintenance.

methodist

Rev. W. E. Moore of the First Christian Church, a block north of the fire, discovered the blaze from a window of his study and turned in the alarm.  By the time firemen, under the direction of Chief B. M. Hazel, arrived on the scene, the interior of the dome was already in flames.   Heavy smoke handicapped the ability of the firemen to train their hoses on the center of the blaze.  Approximately 3,000 feet of hose was laid down.  Efforts were continued inside the church for more than two hours before firefighters were driven to the street by the heat, smoke and falling debris.

A crowd of probably 3,000 gathered near the church as news of the fire spread quickly all over the county.  Police were compelled to rope off the area to keep the crowd out of the way of firemen and to prevent injury.

The 2-story, frame home of Len Field, head of the Field Glove factory, located on Washington Street across an alley and north of the church, was endangered by showers of hot embers.  Firemen who kept streams of water playing on the house from time to time were able to save it.

It is recalled that two men were killed when the church was under construction.  One of them, a steel worker, fell to his death from the high dome when he was loosening a rope which had caught on the derrick which was hoisting steel beams to the top of the tower.  The rope struck him as he loosened it, knocking him from his position.  The other fatality occurred when one of the workmen was tearing down scaffolding on the inside of the building–the board on which he was sitting fell and he met death in the plunge to the floor.  Much of the stone used in the construction of the church was donated by devout quarry owners of Monroe County.

The destruction of the Methodist Church by fire brought to Bloomington in 1937 the largest loss by fire since the destruction of the Telephone office and the Gentry building in March 1924 when the fire burned out of control for more than 12 hours.  The loss of that fire ran to over half a million dollars.

For a brief synopsis and somewhat different version of the disastrous fire check out the information on the Monroe County Time Line compiled by the Monroe County Public Library.  Scroll down to 1937, Apr 7—First Methodist Church fire.

 

Source:  Bloomington Daily Telephone, April 7, 1937, p. 1+.

WORLD WAR ENDS; BLOOMINGTON CELEBRATES!

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Roughly a century ago, with the signing of an armistice by Germany, the World War ended.  The date was November 11, 1918, and that war wasn’t yet known as World War I.

At 2 AM the following morning, news of the event reached Bloomington with the blowing of locomotive whistles at McDoel yards quickly followed by the ringing of the fire alarm and the big whistles of the Showers factory.  It was music to the ears of the sleeping city that fighting was at an end.

In an unbelievably short time, people began collecting about the square, hurrying from every direction.

Only minutes earlier soundly asleep in warm beds, they now celebrated victory in the chilly air of darkness.

Within an hour a great bonfire was burning near city hall.  Soon the city band was on the streets headed by Charles Stineburg.  Then Co. F appeared.  Joined by hundreds, all marched about the streets under moonlit skies, cheering with joy, shaking hands with one another.

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Armistice Day Celebration in Bloomington, November 11, 1918.  View from the southeast corner of Kirkwood and College looking northwest.  Courtesy IU Archives.

As the hundreds of employees at the Showers factory came to work, they were notified by the general manager, Edward Showers, that it would be a holiday.  At 8 AM the factory whistle sounded again and the employees formed a procession and marched uptown where Showers, from the southwest corner of the lawn, made a brief talk.  He told briefly of the great victory and congratulated the workers on their loyalty and assistance in the war work.

The Monon Shop Men, with a large banner and a flag at their head, united with the procession of workers from Showers.  Students, too, having been dismissed for the day from their classes, took part in the big parade as did members of the university’s Student Army Training Corps who were prominent in the procession.  Autos joined the hundreds of citizens on foot cheering and singing.

It was a day like no other.  One people—no politics, no church, no creed—all true-blooded American citizens happy in the victory for peace.

Throughout the day large crowds gathered around the bulletin window of the Telephone office making inquiries and reading with joy the glad tidings.  Happy fathers and mothers, sisters and sweethearts rejoiced as they thought of loved ones “over there,” in army camps and everywhere at home and abroad who would soon be marching home to the patriotic airs of peace beneath the flag they either had or were ready to defend.  No one knew just how soon the boys would be back home, but the time of “shot and shell” was over, and most assuredly they would be returning home in the near future.

As the day of celebration ended, The Daily Herald Telephone published a record of the events for posterity.  No doubt there was hope, even then, that this would be the last celebration of its kind to acknowledge America’s involvement in a World War, a war that claimed the lives of thirty-four soldiers from Monroe County.  Sadly, however that was not to be.

 

College Closed Due to Outbreak of Cholera

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Cholera is a bacterial disease typically spread by drinking water contaminated with human feces.  It causes severe diarrhea and dehydration and can be fatal in a matter of hours.  Left untreated, the mortality rate is about 50 -60%.  In industrialized countries with modern sewage and water treatment, cholera has been virtually eliminated.  The last major outbreak in the United States occurred in 1911.

Before that time, especially during the nineteenth century, cholera grew to epidemic proportions because people had no understanding of how the disease could be prevented through sanitation.  Drinking water was often drawn from rivers, stagnant water sources like canals and shallow wells, some near seeping cesspools.

Cholera first appeared in the United States in 1832.  During that year cholera claimed the lives of thousands of U. S. citizens and those abroad.  More than 5,000 people died in New Orleans alone; 55,000 in Paris and the United Kingdom.  An outbreak in a community would cause extreme panic prompting people to flee elsewhere.

There was a prevalence of cholera in Bloomington during August 1833.  After the death of a student enrolled at Indiana College, all classes were canceled and students sent home until the faculty deemed it safe for them to return.

cholera

Another epidemic of cholera struck Bloomington during the 1850s.  Citizens died by the score leaving doctors bewildered and in a state of helplessness.  Many victims of the dreaded disease were frantically buried without benefit of customary last rites.  All saloons in the town were ordered closed until the malady had passed.  Very little congregating was done, fear occupying the minds of the populace.

The Bloomington Town Council, in a desperate move to combat the inroads of cholera, purchased 200 bushels of lime which were to be spread about town.  It was reasoned that the scattering of lime would act as a purifying agent and at least prevent further spread of the epidemic.

In the summer strange ideas came forth on how best to protect one from the ravages of cholera.  Perhaps the most surprising one, and one accepted by many as highly potent, was the belief that cholera originated from fresh fruit.  The eating of fruit in season was, therefore, strictly taboo in the homes of many citizens.  A few families went so far as to destroy their fruit, but they were in a minority.

 

Sources:

Orchard Block Destroyed by Fire

Blog post by Randi Richardson

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The Orchard House was once located facing what was then called Railroad Street and is now known as Gentry Place.  In a picture from 2018, it would have been on the right-hand side of the street behind Cherry Canary (entry through the pink doors) and across from the Hyatt Hotel on the left.  It extended west to College Street.

On Tuesday morning of last week, at about two o’clock, an alarm of fire was sounded and people hurried from their beds to find the Orchard Block, which extended from College Avenue to Railroad Street and was bounded by 5th Street and an alley running east and west, to be on fire.

The fire began in a woodshed belonging to the Orchard House just west of Dobson’s Shop.  It is stated that a stove had been temporarily placed in the woodshed to keep warm some “gentlemen” that were being detained there till morning, and that the fire was in some manner communicated from that.

It spread with startling rapidity.  In fact, it burned so quickly that there was no time to move the clothing of Mr. Benchart’s family.  The property around Benckart’s  home and business were covered with frame sheds and wooden houses, and those frames, being very old and dry, burned like paper.  Mr. B. purchased the property from the Wilson sisters several years earlier for $5,000, and he was just finishing its payment.  He had no insurance on the building.

The wind was blowing from the southwest, fanning the flames and driving them up to the Orchard Block and onto the buildings occupied by Benckart and the hotel.  The fire was too large for a small department like Bloomington’s to fight successfully, so the firemen turned their attention to saving the buildings adjacent on the north.  The whole mass of buildings, frame and brick, seemed to be on fire in less time than it takes to tell it.

Frank Dobson’s shop with tools and material was a total loss and with but $1,000 insurance.

H.S. Bates, city treasurer and shoe shop, had no insurance All the papers of his office were in a safe, and with a small amount of money, he came out all right.

On the Orchard House there was not one dollar of insurance.

The firemen were exhausted by their long and arduous fight but were cheered up by a noble band of ladies who brewed coffee for them.  The men who handled the nozzle had no picnic on occasions like this and took risks while other stood about with their hands in their pockets and refused to carry light articles to places of safety no matter how much women may pleaded with them to do so.

People seemed to be paralyzed and did not act with the judgment that the occasion demanded, and so clothing, furniture, carpets, bedding, etc., were permitted to burn, and only a few dollars’ worth were saved.  In a few moments almost everything that had been accumulated at the Orchard House through years of business and labor was swept away.  It was a most complete and disheartening wreck.  Mr. Orchard Sr., is 86 years of age, and he saved nothing—neither clothing nor bedding.

This is really the most disastrous fire that has ever occurred in the town for the reason that the destruction is almost total and the insurance comparatively nothing.

Source:  Abstracted from the Republic (IN) Progress, November 14, 1888, p. 2.