Guest Post: Geology Collection

At this year’s Gala, the Collection Manager, Hilary Fleck, was asked to have objects or projects from the Collection that attendees could sponsor to help us further care for the artifacts in our collection. Dr. John Thiel answered this call and fully sponsored two graduate interns to identify, clean, and catalog the geological and fossil specimens in our collection. The following blog post was written by the interns, Kimberly Cook and Emily Thorpe, as a report about their project with our collection.

Who we are

Emily Thorpe and Kimberly Cook are graduate students at Indiana University. Emily studies paleontology and science education and outreach and Kimberly studies biodiversity science. Emily and Kimberly work in IU’s Paleontology Collections housed on campus in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. When the Monroe County History Center (MCHC) discovered a group of previously unknown geologic specimens within their collections, Emily and Kimberly were hired to sort, clean, identify, and catalog the specimens.

What we did

Emily dry cleaning-1
Emily dry cleaning

Sort Specimens

The process began with sorting to reduce redundancy and optimize storage space. Specimens that did not fall within the scope of the collections were set aside for secondary review. Specimens that were more valuable to the collections were retained for cleaning and accessioning. There was a wide selection of geodes, marine fossils, and even the tooth of an unidentified canine!

Clean specimens

After the specimens were sorted, they needed to be prepared for accessioning and storage. First, dust, lint, and dirt were removed from the surfaces with brushes and pliers. Using toothbrushes, the specimens were gently cleaned to remove excess grime in nooks and crannies. This preparation ensures that the catalog numbers can be written cleanly on the specimens and that they are ready for exhibition or outreach events.

Kimberly cleaning
Kimberly cleaning

Assign catalog numbers

Each specimen received a unique numerical identifier. Specimens that were found in the collections together and were either parts of the same rock sample that had broken off, or multiple specimens collected from the same collecting event, received one single number. One record contained over 200 crinoid stem fragments! Using archival-quality paint and pens, each number was painstakingly written on its corresponding specimen so that it will always be linked to its metadata record, even if it were moved from its box, bag, or drawer.

database entry
Database entry

Identify specimens

Once catalog numbers were assigned each specimen was described using accurate geologic nomenclature. Fossils were identified down to the Linnaean taxonomic class level when possible (for example, some coral specimens could be identified as Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Cnidaria, and Class Anthozoa). Without more information about where the specimens were collected, often the age and time period the fossils were from was undeterminable. Many of the specimens are commonly found in Indiana and though collection location data was unavailable, these specimens are indicative of the Indiana region.

Add specimens to database

All of the inherent information that could be determined from the specimens was added to the MCHC’s collections database with their associated catalog numbers. This geologic collection is now organized and primed for the museum’s future use.

writing numbers
Writing numbers

How it benefits the History Center and visitors/students

This project has diversified the scope of the MCHC’s collections and created a unique opportunity to educate visitors about Indiana’s geologic history. Even without knowing where these specimens were collected, conversations with visitors about our state’s geological heritage are still possible through comparisons with similar fossils they might find in their backyards. These conversations can address a variety of topics, from plate tectonics to climate change, and expand the visitor’s imagination even further into the past. MCHC’s collections scope has expanded from hundreds to millions of years, which will allow the Center to tell parts of Indiana’s geologic history that were previously underrepresented within the collections.

One of the drawers neatly organized after the project

The History Center would like to thank Dr. Thiel again for his generous donation. We hope this is the first of many similar projects the History Center can provide in the years to come. 

Baptisms at the Reformed Presbyterian Church: 1838-1859

Blog post by Randi Richardson

The Lilly Library at Indiana University, Bloomington, has a number of items relevant to the history of Monroe County.  Among those items is Session Book 2 for the Reformed Presbyterian Congregation at Bloomington.  This book covers the period from 1838 to 1860 and includes a list of baptisms from January 1, 1838.  A digital image of the book is available online at

Bloomington’s Reformed Presbyterian Church, c. 1900,  at Walnut and S. Third.  Courtesy photo IU Archives.

Like other church records, the session book is valuable because it shows church business, church membership, when people joined the church and how; resolution of disputes and actions taken against church members who did not follow church policy.  Some deaths were noted, for example, Dorrance B. Woodburn reportedly departed his life on October 23, 1856, at the age of 70 years, two months and seven days.

As of September 26, 1858, according to information from Session Book 2, the whole number in the congregation was 100.  Baptisms at the church, which were written as a single list in Session Book 2, are noted below and shown in in order of appearance:

  • June 10, 1838—Margaret Small, infant
  • July 8, 1838—Sarah M(illegible) Tate
  • October 1, 1838—Margaret Keeny, infant
  • June 16, 1839—James Hervey Keeny, infant
  • August 25, 1839—Jane Small, infant
  • May 11, 1840—Elizabeth Louise Matilda Wylie, infant
  • May 11, 1840—Joseph Small, infant
  • May 11, 1840—William John Dinsmore, infant
  • May 11, 1840, Thomas Craig Woodburn, infant
  • September 27, 1840—William Wallace Tate, infant
  • May 31, 1841—Elizabeth Jane McQuiston, infant
  • May 31, 1841—Andrew McKinley
  • November 14, 1841—Jane Small, infant
  • February 6, 1842—Sarah Ann Keeny, infant
  • May 2, 1842—Richard Dennis Wylie
  • May 2, 1842—Andrew Dinsmore
  • October 16, 1842—Alexander Cathcart Small
  • February 25, 1844—Amelia Elizabeth Galletly
  • June 23, 1844—Jane Dinsmore
  • September 30, 1844—Martha Jane Blair
  • September 30, 1844—Margaret Wylie
  • September 30, 1844—James Thomas Campbell McKinley
  • May 3, 1846—Euphemia Blair
  • May 3, 1846—Martha Jane Keeny
  • July 19, 1846—Susan Emma Wylie
  • August 30, 1846—Margaret Jane Blair
  • November 8, 1846—Matilda Ann Galletly
  • April 4, 1847—Theophilus Wylie Densmore
  • May 23, 1847—Laura Adelaide Woodburn
  • February 27, 1848—Joseph Stewart Alexander
  • February 27, 1848—Rebecca Wylie Alexander
  • February 27, 1848—Rachel Almira Alexander
  • June 18, 1848—Nancy Jane Small
  • June 18, 1848—Theophilus Morrow Glenn
  • June 18, 1848—Edward Graham Glenn
  • August 20, 1848—Mary Margaret McQuiston
  • August 20, 1848—James Francis Blair
  • May 6, 1849—Walter Emmet Woodburn
  • May 13, 1849—Helen Rosana Stormont
  • August 21, 1849—Samuel Brown Wylie
  • May 12, 1850—Matilda Hannah Dinsmore
  • May 12, 1850—James Niel Blair (Emma Blair’s name is written in a different color ink to the side of James)
  • March 16, 1851—Sarah Adeline Glenn
  • June 15, 1851—William Hill Blair
  • December (no date given), 1851—Elizabeth Amelia Stormont
  • October 11, 1852—Theophilus Andrew Wylie; (No date given, written below Theophilus Wylie)—John Robert Blair
  • April 16, 1855—William Riddel Small
  • April 16, 1855—Ida Lizzie Woodburn
  • April 16, 1855—Franklin Stormont (No date given, written below Franklin Stormont)—Hannah Elizabeth Blair
  • June 15, 1856—William Theodore Blair
  • November 30, 1856—Zenas Leander Stormont
  • June 28, 1857—James Albert Woodburn
  • August 7, 1859—Louisa Margaret Stormont

For more information about Monroe County churches, check out the church files at the Monroe County History Center.

The Family History of Harold Franklin Hayes Revealed through a Naturalization Record

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Original copies of many naturalization records from Indiana are archived at the Indiana Archives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Harold Franklin Hayes was born in Marion County, Indiana, on February 6, 1925, to John Michael and Daisy “Fern” (Baugh) Hayes.  He had an older sister named Rosemary at the time of his birth and would eventually have a younger sister, Hannah. Harold’s paternal grandfather, John Joseph Hayes, was a native of Ireland who, according to various census records, was naturalized about 1893.

Harold, in all probability, knew his grandfather as both families lived in the same community and John didn’t die until Harold was about 17.  On the other hand, Harold came from a broken home.   Sometime between 1930 and 1932, when Harold would have been between 5 and 7, his father disappeared and his mother, Fern, moved in with Earl Webb. The newly joined couple settled in Monroe County where Fern gave birth to three more children with Earl:  Katherine/Kathleen, Robert Earl and Donald Keith.  So it’s quite possible that Fern severed the ties with her first husband’s family when the children he fathered were quite young.

Melissa, a native and resident of Monroe County, is one of Harold’s grandchildren.  After developing a curiosity about her ancestors, she began researching the Hayes family.  When she discovered that her great great grandfather was from Ireland, she added a visit to the country of his birth to her bucket list.  However, she was stymied because Ireland is about the size of Indiana.  If she could only narrow down the location, her visit would be infinitely more meaningful.

Given that a review of census records and vital records did not reveal the birthplace of John Joseph Hayes, Melissa searched for his naturalization record.  The Indiana Archives at Indianapolis has many of the original naturalization records from around the state.  They have been indexed, abstracted and made available online through the Archives.  A naturalization record for John Joseph was located among Marion County Records.

What Melissa discovered is that John Joseph was not naturalized in 1893 as was indicated in census records.  He came to American in 1893 but didn’t declare his intention to become a U. S. citizen until 1917.  The declaration, which was good for seven years, could be used to apply for the Petition of Naturalization and ultimately, upon approval, a Certificate of Naturalization would be issued with the original given to the new citizen and a copy going to the court to prove it was issued.

In 1923, a year before John Joseph’s declaration was due to expire, he filed his Petition for Naturalization in the Marion County, Indiana, Superior Court.  The document provides a lot of information, some not noted in the Declaration document, including the names and dates of birth of his six children.  This additional information made it possible to verify that the John Joseph Hayes who completed the document was one and the same John Joseph Hayes the ancestor of Melissa.

Others, like Melissa, who have an ancestor that immigrated to America and became naturalized or began the naturalization process but did not necessarily complete it, would be wise to seek out any documents related to the process.  Those documents may well include valuable information not available elsewhere.  Look for the documents in places where the immigrant resided.

Seventh Day Adventist Church History: A Bit of a Conundrum

Blog post by Randi Richardson

The Bloomington Seventh Day Adventist Church once stood where this church now stands at 915 W. Howe.  Look closely at the foundation, the cinder blocks at the front of the church look much newer than the rough stones at the rear.  Could these rough stones be the bones of the old church?

The Genealogy Library at the Monroe County History Center has a wonderful collection of files for the various churches in Monroe County.  Although the collection is quite comprehensive, there are several files that contain only a limited amount of information.  One of those files is for the Seventh Day Adventist Church at 301 Matlock Road where services have been held since 1957 or 1958.

Efforts made several years ago to obtain a history of the SDA church, and a list of its early members from the church office, were not successful.  Recently two rather lengthy articles related to the church’s history were discovered among items published in the Bloomington Herald Telephone and archived in the vertical files of the Monroe County Public Library.  The earliest item was dated 1968 and the later one in 1981.    Unfortunately, the two articles are not always in agreement with each other.

According to the 1968 article, there was a small group of SDA believers that settled in Smithville in 1871; according to the 1981 article, the beginning of Seventh Day Adventists in Monroe County was the organization of a church in Unionville in 1885.  Both articles reference the Young family and mention Chase Young specifically.  Chase was reportedly the last child born to Louis/Lewis Young (not mentioned by name in the 1981 article), a charter member of the church, who raised all of this children (either 10 or 20 depending on which article is most credible) in the religion.

In 1968 it was reported that a lady in Ohio received a copy of the SDA church magazine, Review and Herald.  She enjoyed it and sent it on to her unnamed brother, Louis Young, in Indiana.  He, in turn, read the magazine and in 1885 accepted Saturday as the Lord’s Day.  He was the first one in Monroe County to do so.  His son, Chase Young, was still a member of the church when he died in Bloomington in 1965.  (Efforts to corroborate that death with a death or burial record in Monroe County have not been successful.)

Both articles reported that Jacob Butcher on Moore’s Creek was an early convert to the religion.  According to the 1968 article, Jacob was riding along on his horse one day when a piece of paper began flapping against the horse’s leg.  He got off to remove the paper and discovered it was a page from the Review and Herald with an item about keeping the seventh day holy.  After a trip to Battle Creek, Michigan, the church headquarters at the time, to learn more about the SDA doctrine, Jacob and his family became Seventh Day Adventists along with the family of Joseph Wampler, also of Moore’s Creek.  These families from the Smithville area often traveled to Unionville to meet with the church established there.

The Bloomington Seventh Day Adventist Church was organized on November 18, 1916.  Soon afterward Louis M. Walsman was elected church elder and Walter V. Love the church deacon.  The first church building, according to the 1968 article, was a small house at 915 N. (sic) Howe purchased at an unspecified time by the membership and remodeled to suit their purpose.  According to the 1981 article, in 1926 the congregation purchased a lot at 915 W. Howe and constructed a new building first used on August 13, 1927.  The 1929-30 Bloomington City Directory indicates that the Seventh Day Adventist Church and school were, in fact, located on W. Howe and not N. Howe.

Max Taylor, a native of Monroe County born to Forest Edward and Bernice Doris (Kern) Taylor in 1928, grew up on West Second Street in Bloomington near the SDA Church and school on Howe.  Because his mother was a member of the church, he and his siblings attended the school from grades one through nine.  He recalled his memories of the school, located in the basement of the church, in his autobiography titled Many Lives, One Life Span.

In 1956, plans for the construction of the present church building on Matlock Road were initiated.  The church became a reality in February 1957 when the congregation held their first services in the new building, according to the 1968 article, or February 22, 1958, according to the 1981 article.  Since that time a church and church school have been operated continually at that location.

The conflicting history of the Adventist Church illustrates a problem that often confronts genealogists.  When sources don’t agree, what should one believe?  In this situation variations of the story are presented above as well they should be.  The reader is then free to choose one variation or the other or, more ideally do more research to determine the facts that are beyond the scope of this blog.


“Seventh Day Adventist Message Came to Indiana in 1849,” Bloomington (IN) Herald Telephone, September 24, 1968, Vertical Files, Monroe County Public Library.

“Seventh-Day Adventists Mark 65th Anniversary,” Bloomington (IN) Herald Telephone, Saturday, August 15, 1981, Vertical Files, Monroe County Public Library.

Max T. Taylor, M. D. Many Lives, One Life Span (Xlibris Corporation, an online publisher, 2011), pp. 13-27.

Bloomington Hitchrack Survives a Century of Controversy

Blog post by Randi Richardson

hitch rack
The hitching rack is shown in the foreground of the old courthouse; fencing is noted in the background but in front of the steps.

There’s no doubt about it.  The hitchrack surrounding the court house square was controversial.

Oh, not at first, when Bloomington was yet a village, the streets were dirt and the merchants few.  Folks came to town on a horse or in a buggy, occasionally a team of oxen, tied up to the hitchrack and were pleased with the convenience.  Never mind that the streets were fouled with animal droppings.

But then the population grew, as did the number of merchants and those people who came to town to visit the merchants.  The amount animal droppings increased accordingly creating a great accumulation of filth and a terrible infestation of flies around the square and the old rack.  This prompted the Women’s Federation Club of Bloomington to take action on behalf of the community.  They put together a petition signed by over 100 leading citizens in which it was stated that the hitchrack was not only a nuisance but a serious threat to good health.  The petition was presented to the State Board of Health and an order came to the county in September 1897 that the rack had to be removed.

It was the farmers who were most agitated by the order, and the commissioners were in sympathy with them.  The merchants needed the business.  So did the town.  An order ultimately was issued by the commissioners that the rack was not to be removed until the matter could be heard in court.  And when the matter was eventually heard, the commissioners were the favored party.  The racks did not come down, but some improvements were made.  It was paved with bricks and a man employed to help keep the area around the hitchrack clean.  And for a while the controversy died down.

In September 1907, in the months previous to the completion of a new court house, the hitchrack was again a matter of controversy and addressed with renewed vigor.  The commissioners wisely, or perhaps not, indicated the controversy would be decided by a vote in the upcoming general election.

For a relatively brief time the hitchrack was removed.  When the old court house was razed in 1907 to make room for the new one, a large part of the hitchrack was taken down to enable the contractor to do the work.  The rack consisted of more than 1000 feet of chain passed through iron posts anchored to blocks of stone set deeply in the ground.   Again the local Council of Women took action.  They encouraged the City Council to make other provisions for the farmers so as to prevent the rack from being restored.

hitch rack 2
The new courthouse with a new hitchrack.

When the voters went into the polling booths in November 1908, they were handed a ballot for the hitchrack.  A big majority voted to retain the hitchrack around the new courthouse.  Mostly it was the farmers, not too surprisingly, in favor of the rack while the city people seemed to ignore the matter.

The County Council opposed the rack and hoped they could prevent the commissioners from restoring it.  In defiance, the Monroe County commissioners went to Martinsville to consider the purchase of a new rack.  When word of that got out on the streets, the anti-hitchrack people started making arrangements to get an injunction against the rack as soon as a single man with a spade and post was sighted going in the direction of the courthouse.

Indignant that the hitchrack had not yet been replaced, farmers threatened to vote the county “wet” at the upcoming local option election in 1909.   Additionally, they promised to take their business to Bedford or Martinsville if there was no rack.  In response to that threat, the County Council said if the rack went back up they would enforce an old ordinance forbidding wagons to stand in the public square for more than an hour.

In the months to come, those on either side of the controversy ended up in court—City Council vs. County Commissioners.  Judge Wilson rendered a decision for the latter and, in an act of retaliation against the City Council for having brought the suit, the commissioners ordered the city to vacate their leased offices in the court house.

Indeed, the rack went back up.  Of course by then, automobiles had been introduced.  Not many, but just a few.  In 1917 it was arranged that livestock would be judged on the ever present hitchrack as part of the county’s agricultural fair.   By then the streets on all sides of the square were paved with brick, and buggies and horses shared the streets with Chevys and Fords.  Slowly but surely the need for the hitch rack diminished until, eventually, it was not needed at all.  And yet it remained as a reminder of the past.

In late 1936 a decision was made to provide bus stops on the square with restricted parking zones.

Once the zones were established, patrons of the buses would be required to stoop under the unused hitch rack to reach the walk around the courthouse square.   So everyone finally agreed that the hitchrack must go.  And it did.


  • “Old Hitchrack Stood 27 Years as Monument to the Temperance Cause,” Bloomington (IN) Daily Herald Telephone, January 13, 1937, p. 1.
  • Bedford (IN) Daily Mail, March 3, 1909, p. 1.
  • Bedford (IN) Daily Mail, May 7, 1909, p. 1.
  • Bedford (IN) Daily Mail, June 9, 1909, p. 1.
  • Bloomington (IN) Evening World, January 20, 1917, p. 1.
  • Bloomington (IN) Daily Telephone, December 7, 1936, p. 8.



Blog post by Randi Richardson

airportfireOn the afternoon of September 27, 1951, the Airport Roller Skating Rink and a small residential home utilized by the rink for storage were completely destroyed by fire fanned by a brisk wind.  The rink, which measured about 110×60 feet, was located two miles west of Bloomington.  It was owned by Ernest Baldwin who previously owned and operated the airport and later converted it into a skating rink.

Baldwin had been working at the roller rink an hour or two before the fire broke out but gone to the Veterans Airport building.  From there he sighted smoke billowing from the rink structure.  He immediately returned to the rink and was able to save some skates but little else due to the intense heat.  Four dogs were in the building when the fire started; three perished in the blaze.

Although it was determined that the fire started in the furnace room, the exact cause of the fire was not known.   Estimates to replace the building are put at $20,000, significantly more than the $5,000 of existing insurance coverage.

Later that same day the Bloomington Daily Herald Telephone reported the story on page one.  The article was accompanied by two pictures. A clipping of the article is available in the vertical files at the Indiana Room, Monroe County Public Library and on microfilm.




Blog post by Randi Richardson

Members of CCC Camp 7 in Castella, California, engaged in an extracurricular activity.

By the time the Civilian Conservation Corps program ended in 1942, some three million men, including more than 63,000 Hoosiers had worked in more than 2,000 camps throughout the 48 states and the U. S. possessions of Alaska, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.   There were 56 CCC companies in the State of Indiana.   Workers constructed the camps they lived in.   Each camp had approximately 200 male workers in racially segregated accommodations.  Eight of those 256 camps were for African Americans.

Indiana’s first CCC camp was established in the Morgan-Monroe State Forest in northwest Monroe County about 1933.   It was identified as Co. 542 and consisted of young men of color.  Despite the fact that racial discrimination in the CCC was initially prohibited, by 1935 people of color lived and worked in segregated camps managed by white leaders.  Because space in CCC programs for people of color was limited to ten present of those recruited, those accepted considered themselves especially fortunate.   Of the 3,000,000 men enrolled in CCC camps, only about a quarter of a million were African-American.

Members were paid $1/day and sent $25 per month home to support their families.  They worked in forests around Bloomington, likely in both the Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood, reducing fire hazards (most likely clearing brush) on 775 acres, clearing 100 miles of roadsides, fighting forest fires, improving forest stands, building truck trails, erecting dwellings and other structures and clearing a 10-acre campground.

Men in the CCC worked from eight to five, Monday through Friday and were granted six days of leave between enrollment periods.  They enrolled for a period of six months and could then choose whether or not to reenlist for another six months eventually serving up to two years.   On the weekends, buses took members to Bloomington or Columbus since the nearby village of Nashville did not welcome blacks.

It wasn’t all work for members of the CCC, however.  Young men also learned valuable trade skills and attended classes on a variety of topics including mechanical drawing, typing, foreign languages and art.   It is estimated that some 57,000 illiterate men learned to read and write in CCC camps.

On June 19, 1935, the Indianapolis (IN) Recorder published news of a baccalaureate service held for members of Company 542 who received certificates for meriting satisfactory grades in academic courses.  The event was said to be well attended by visitors.  That same article noted that a dance “in the form of a class prom” was held in the camp recreation hall, the company baseball team played its first game with a French Lick independent team, and the “minstrel show and jug band” of Company 542 entertained in Martinsville where they were “heartily received.”  On September 28, 1935, the Recorder indicated that Bennie Mason, a middleweight fighter of Co. 542, fought six rounds with “Tiger” Williams of Bloomington, Indiana.

Some 25 or 30 members of Company 542 visited the Silver Slipper Night Club in Terre Haute late on Friday, July 26, 1935.  Felton Lyles, Bob Jones, Paul Webb and James Bolton, the only four known members of Company 542, were among the party goers.  They arrived on a “great big cattle truck,” “hot, dry and thirsty” to join a big crowd gathered at the nightclub to see female impersonators.”

It seems likely that Company 542 either disbanded or relocated sometime in late summer or early fall 1935.  The Ellettsville (IN) Farm on September 19, 1935, reported that unofficial news had been received indicating that the “negro CCC camp north of Dolan” may be moved by October 1, although camp members were heavily engaged in soil erosion work and many farmers had applied for soil erosion aid from the government to be done by CCC members.   Online efforts to locate the Company 542 after 1935 have not been successful.

As noted earlier, information about particular CCC companies, including the one in Monroe County, is quite sketchy.  Little is available at the Monroe County History Center or the Monroe County Public Library.  Much of the information about Company 542 is from The Life and Times of Felrath Hines:  From Dark to Light written by Rachel Berenson Perry, former curator of the Indiana State Museum.   Hines, a native of Indianapolis and a professional artist, was the first African American man to become a professional conservator for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D. C.  Berenson’s book details the life of the artist and his work.  Soon after his graduation, Hines was enrolled in Company 542.

For more information about the CCC specific to Indiana, view the library holdings of the Wells Library at IU—Bloomington, the Indiana State Library and the Indiana Historical Society.


  • Rachel Berenson Perry, The Life and Art of Felrath Hines: From Dark to Light (Bloomington IN:  IU Press, 2019) pp. 41-45.
  • James H. Madison and Lee Ann Sandweiss, Hoosiers and the American Story (Indianapolis IN: Indiana Historical Society Press, 2014), p. 242 caption.
  • Indianapolis (IN) Recorder, July 27, 1935, p. 13.