Evolution of College Avenue c. 1929

Blog post by Randi Richardson

An early view of the west side of Bloomington’s square from the author’s postcard collection.

On December 21, 1929, the front page of the World Telephone was devoted to a view of College Avenue both in the day and in the past.  Several photographs of current (1929) business owners and the new Eagle building were included.  Let’s take a walk on the Avenue and see how it looked in 1929.  Should you want to continue your walk, or know more about these businesses than the brief descriptions included below, check out the newspaper on microfilm at the Monroe County Public Library.

College Avenue was considerably different in 1929 than it was thirty-five years earlier.  It was called College Avenue because Indiana University was located at the southern end of the Street.  In the late 1900s it was the best residential section of the city.

Dr. W. L. Bryan, president of Indiana University, had his first home on College Avenue after he became president.  Among other prominent families who have lived or are currently resided on the street include:  Joseph G. McPheeters, for many years postmaster of Bloomington; James A. Karsell, flour mill owner and grocer; Walter Collins; Walter Woodburn, for many years cashier of the First National Bank; Henry T. Simmons, former owner of the Corner Clothing Store where the Kresge Company now has its 5 and 10 Cents store; Dr. James A. Woodburn, professor emeritus of Indiana University; Tobe Batterton; Capt. W. J. Allen; Walter Cornwell; Mrs. Lou Helton; Dr. J. W. Crain; John H. Louden; John C. Dolan; Tolbert H. Sudbury; Moses Kahn; George W. Bollenbacher; James K. Beck; Rev. William Telfer; Dr. L. T. Lowder; Dr. David Maxwell; Joshua A. Howe, B. F. Adams; W. H. Adams; Dr. Dodd; C. N. S. Neeld; Mr. Sheeks and many others.

Initially, College Avenue was almost a quagmire after a hard rain.  It was the first street in Bloomington to be paved.  For many years, it was not opened north father than Eleventh Street.  That changed when the Kenwood Land Company was formed and began the sale of lots up to Sixteenth Street.  About 1927, it was extended to Seventeenth Street and about 1929 was extended through the Showers and Miller lands to Cascade Park.

Bloomington’s biggest hotel is located on College Avenue.  H. B. Gentry built the Gentry Hotel at College and Sixth streets.  At the time it was constructed, it was considered one of the best hotels between Louisville and Chicago.  Since that time it has been rebuilt and in 1929 the new Graham Hotel is one of the finest 8-story hotels in the U. S.

Mr. Gentry also bought several other buildings on College Avenue including what was formerly known as the Bowles Drug Store corner, later occupied by the Citizens’ Loan and Trust Company, and a building where Kresge’s Five and Dime Store is located on the west side of the square.

Several years before the invention of the auto, Craig Worley owned Bloomington’s largest livery stable at College Avenue and Seventh Street.  He sold the property to W. T. Hicks who, in turn, disposed of it to the U. S. Government for a fine, new post office.

At one time the Evening World office was printed on the second floor of a building on College Avenue owned by Gus C. Davis opposite the post office.  It was moved to its present location in 1907 by Oscar H. Cravens who had a building erected as the permanent home of the paper.

The property where Bloomington’s beautiful Masonic Temple is located at College and Seventh streets was once home to Charles Ousler.  He lived in a 12-room, brick building that was one of the first houses ever to be erected in the city.  Ousler used his home as a rooming house.

Three doctors had offices on College in years gone by—Drs. Maxwell, Dodds and Lowder.

As many as fifty years ago a large number of students attended Central School on College.  That building is still standing and is the oldest school in the city.  Anna McDermott taught at the school longer than any other teacher in Bloomington schools.  Central and the colored school building were the only public school structures in the city then.

Sullivan’s Store is among the new buildings on College.  William E. “Sully” Sullivan, formerly associated with the Johnson Creamery, is the current owner of the business long known for its “men’s furnishings.”  He bought the store from Joe Kadison in 1925 and remodeled it extensively.

The Hesler Brothers established Bloomington’s first Super Service Station on College about 1919.  It is one of the largest and finest in Southern Indiana providing motorists with 24-hour service daily.

The Reliable Watch Shop at 108 S. College went into the pawn shop business last year giving Bloomington its first pawn shop.  J. E. Young, a native of Bloomington, is the manager.

The Eagle Clothing Store on College recently opened a new store on College west of the square after 26 years in business.  Attention was called to the “unusual” windows which were of the latest design.

Clyde “Curly” Hare gave one of the most distinctive additions to Bloomington’s architectural beauty when he built the Hare Motor Sales building on South College in 1928.  He is an IU graduate and was connected with the Showers Bros. for five years before entering the automobile business.  Ralph Nelson is the sales manager.

Another of the new buildings on College is the Hook Drug Company.  They opened in September 1928, burned out in January 1929 and reopened just recently.

All these businesses and more will prompt former IU students and residents to be pleasantly surprised with the many positives changes to College Avenue upon their next visit to Bloomington.


Orchard Block Destroyed by Fire

Blog post by Randi Richardson

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.


The 1958 MONON UFO Incident

I was helping a 4th grader do some research on the MONON railroad last week and found this article, written by Frank Edwards, referencing a 1958 incident on the Monon.org website.

A MONON railroad train crew reported seeing a UFO in north central Indiana. It was about 3.20 A.M. on Friday October 3, 1958… freight train no. 91 was enroute southbound from MONON, to Indianapolis.

In the cab of the diesel locomotive were three men – Harry Eckman, the engineer, Cecil Bridge, the fireman, and Morris Ott, the head brakeman. Ed Robinson, the conductor, and Paul Sosbey, the flagman, were in the caboose. Cecil Bridge, the fireman, a former air force man with 450 hours of heavy bomber time, begins the story as follows…

“…we had just pulled past a little spot called Wasco. There’s no town there – just a kind of crossroads. It was there we first noticed four lights in the sky ahead of us. They were moving lights. At first they looked like stars but we realized they weren’t stars because they were moving – we could see that.” “They were moving in a sort of open V formation. By that I mean that there was no light at the forward point of the flight, just the two ‘wings’ with two Lights in each ‘wing’ – angled off at about 45 degrees from each other. I must have spotted them first. After I had watched them for about 15 seconds, I called them to the attention of the other men in the cab with me. They watched the lights, too…”

“About that time the lights veered west. They crossed the tracks ahead of the train – about a half a mile ahead of us, we estimated. They were moving pretty slowly, too, at no more than about 50 miles an hour, four big, white, soft lights.”

“Just the three of us in the engine saw the lights at this time. We were pulling 56 cars – that’s a little more than half a mile of cars – and because of the angle at which these things were approaching and because they were so low right then, the boys in the caboose probably couldn’t see them.” “After the lights crossed the tracks in front of us, they stopped and came back. This time they were headed east. They shot off toward the east and were gone a few minutes – out of sight – but when they came back and we all saw them again, I turned on the microphone. We have radio between the engine and caboose. I told the boys in the caboose what we were watching.”

“…I talked to Robinson, (the conductor), and told him what we had seen. During the time we watched these things, from Wasco to Kirklin, we did a lot of talking on that radio. The dispatcher in Lafayette could hear us, of course, but he never cut in. The boys in the caboose got the best look at the things. Especially when they came right down over the whole train.”

Conductor Robinson continues the story.

“I was sitting in the cupola, looking forward over the train, when Bridge called me on the radio. I had already noticed the four gobs of light but I couldn’t make out what they were. They were half a mile ahead of the caboose – the whole length of the train. A little bit after he called me the things went away and we didn’t see them for a few minutes… then all of a sudden they came back.” “This time they came down over the train, a little way in back of the engine. They were coming toward the caboose. That is, they were going north and the train was headed directly south.”

“I’d say they were only a couple of hundred feet above the train as they came toward the caboose. And they weren’t moving very fast – maybe 30 or 40 miles an hour. It was hard to tell – a fellow just doesn’t notice details like that under the circumstances.”

“The freight train is pretty noisy, of course, but I didn’t hear any other noise, like the roar an airplane would have made. I think they were silent, or nearly silent, at least.”

“They flew over us one after the other – big, round white things that looked about the colour of fluorescent lights, kind of fuzzy around the edges. They didn’t glare and they didn’t light up things as they went over. They just came back toward us, over the top of the cars, one after the other. Then they went on down the tracks maybe another half a mile and seemed to stop.”

“Sosbey and I went out on the back platform where we could see them better, but they were getting pretty far behind us. We could see their lights but I don’t remember whether they were bunched up or not. They were just there, we know that. We could see them behind us, right over the tracks. “Then they swung off away from the tracks and went fast – very fast – to the east. When they picked up speed their light got a lot brighter. They got real bright and white – like stars, but a lot bigger and moving very fast.”

Cecil Bridge, observing the same objects from the engine, describes what he and the engineer and head brakeman saw.

“When these things shot back over to the east of us, they lit up much brighter than they were before. They turned in line, going north or northeast and we noticed that they lit up in sequence – the front one first, then number two, three and four. They changed course and came back past the train. They were going in the opposite direction to us when they made this pass. I guess they were at least a mile or two east of us when they did it.” “They lit up twice (as described above). First number one would light up, then number two and so on. They did that twice as they went past us traveling in the opposite direction. We noticed, too, that their colour changed. When they first lit up they were bright white but when they slowed down the colour changed to a kind of yellow, then to orange when they went real slow – a kind of dirty orange.”

The conductor, Ed Robinson, agreed with this description. He added:

“We didn’t see them from the back end of the train for several minutes after they went away to the east and turned. But the boys in the engine were still seeing them. I got back on the radio with Bridge. He was watching them right then. They must have circled the train and gone north of us, real low, because the next time we saw them they came rushing up the tracks right in back of us. They were coming a lot faster this time – a lot faster than they had come back over the train the first time.

“They were just above the tree-tops along the right of way, and they had changed their way of flying — their formation. This time they were sort of flying on edge. Two of them were on edge – the two in the middle. The two on the outside were tilted at an angle both in the same direction. The four of them flew like that up the tracks behind the train – a tilted one on the east, two of them straight up and down, then the one on the west tilted just like the one on the east.

“When they first came back over the train we could see that they were round things – circular shaped on the bottom. Then when they flew up the tracks in back of us we could see – Sosbey and I – that they were about 40 feet in diameter and maybe 10 feet thick. The two flying straight up and down were approximately over the edges of the right of way and about 200 yards in back of the caboose. If they had been flying flat down instead of edgewise. They would have just about have touched edges so they must have seen somewhere around 40 feet across the bottom.” Fireman Cecil Bridge continues:

“We had flashlights in the engine and in the caboose. Up on the head end of the train – in the engine where I was –we blinked our flashlights at the things and we waved the lights. We thought we might get them to come in closer. They did come down over the train a few minutes later, as Robinson related, but of course, I can’t say they did it because we flashed the lights at them. At any rate they didn’t flash any lights back at us.” Robinson continues:

“In the caboose we had a five cell sealed beam flashlight that throws a pretty good beam a long ways. When the things came down and flew right up the tracks behind the caboose, I grabbed that sealed beam flashlight and shined it on them. As soon as the light hit them they jumped sideways out of the beam. When they got back over the tracks I did it it again and they scattered. They acted like they didn’t care for that light at all.

“From the time Bridge first called us on the radio until the last time we saw them near Kirklin (38 miles northwest of Indianapolis) it was about an hour and 10 minutes altogether. They hung around the back end of the train but after we shined the light on them they didn’t come in close any more. While we were switching at Frankfort they stayed away back up the tracks, just hovered there, until we moved on. Then they followed us again. When they finally went away at Kirklin, they just zipped off to the northeast and kept on going and we didn’t see them anymore.”

Blog post by Megan MacDonald

Electricity in Monroe County Then and Now

The 1880’s saw the advent of human-generated electricity in Monroe County. In November, 1881, the Republican Progress announced that an electric light would be placed on the court house steeple, the power being furnished by a steam engine at Seward’s foundry. But “The electric light is not quite a success. It is unsteady – flares up, sinks down, and makes an uneven light. Time will develop needed improvements, however.”

It was not until five years later that improvements were realized. By May, 1886, the Jenney Electric Light Company of Indianapolis organized a stock company for bringing lights to streets and businesses, and in June the City Council awarded them a three-year contract. The city agreed to pay for nine lights at a cost of $600/year. They would be operated until midnight (except when there was “good moonlight”). Three lights were placed on the court house tower, three on the school house, and one each at the corners of 7th and Washington Streets, Kirkwood and Lincoln, and one near the United Presbyterian Church. Demand for other lights led to the light company to contract for a “dynamo” for 40 lights, which was located in Ryor’s factory.

1886 Atlas Corliss Steam Engine

The lights were first turned on during the evening before the 4th of July, 1886 celebration, with people coming in from all around the county to witness the event. More lights were installed during that fall. In the summer of 1887, a separate building, near the railroad depot, was constructed to house the dynamo and “Atlas engine” (a steam engine manufactured in Indianapolis). By January of 1889, the company was running 42 lights, of which 16 were used by the city. Each light cost $60/year. In 1890, plans were announced to furnish 720 lights, with two larger dynamos required.

Turn the page to today, September 17, 2018. At 2 p.m., 120 solar panels atop the History Center’s roof were connected to the electrical grid, joining over 600 other homes, businesses, government, and public buildings in Monroe County sporting these new means of producing electrical power.

The estimate by the panel installers, MPI Solar of Bloomington, shows that these panels will generate 58,000 kilowatt hours annually, saving about $5,400 on our electrical bill during the first year. Estimated total savings over 30 years will be about $180,000. Annually, this will offset about 22.5% of our electricity cost. Two anonymous donors contributed $110,000 to fund the project.

History Center Solar Panels,
looking west toward the Courthouse

Blog post by Lee Ehman, a long time advocate of solar power.

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

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.

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.

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.

NOTE:  Paid subscriptions may be required to view some of the links associated with the information from this blog.

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Life Abbreviated: Earl C. Carpenter & Wife—Part 1 of 2

Earl Collins Carpenter was born July 29, 1878, in Illinois to Guy C. and Viola (Irish) Carpenter.  Earl, typically referred to as E. C. or “Doc,” had two younger brothers, Guy, Jr., and George.  His maternal great great great grandfather, Benjamin Irish, was a veteran of the Revolutionary War who died in 1795 when he was lost at sea.

In the spring of 1900, E. C. was among the 13 graduates from the Indiana Veterinary College at their fifth annual commencement.  Immediately afterward, he came to Bloomington, boarded at the Bundy Hotel where the CVS store is now located at Washington and Kirkwood, and began his career as a veterinary surgeon.

Earl C. Carpenter, photo courtesy of his nephew, George Carpenter, of Bloomington, Indiana.

Although E. C. loved all animals, he was particularly passionate about horses.  He spent time at James Worley’s livery barn.  James had only one child, a lovely daughter, Alice.  Perhaps it was Alice and not the horses that prompted E. C. to visit the livery barn.

By 1902, E. C. was already making a name for himself among horse owners throughout the state and elsewhere.  In 1902 he went to Lafayette to train “fancy horses” for the Indianapolis horse show.  The following year, William H. McDoel, the president of the Monon Railroad sent his two “fine driving horses” from Chicago to Bloomington so that E. C. might train them to take “fancy steps” and “thoroughly educate them in his school which is said to be the best of its kind in the country.”  Thomas Taggart, owner of the French Lick Springs Hotel, also took advantage of E. C.’s expertise in 1903 to have him train one of his “fine stepping horses.”

In fact, E. C. was spending so much time training horses that the newspaper announced in the summer of 1903 that he would no longer be able to devote all of his time to veterinary work.  It seems likely that there were other things on E. C.’s mind as well.  On December 22, 1903, he married James Worley’s daughter, Alice.  The newlyweds soon purchased a home at 346 S. Washington Street in Bloomington.

E. C. also turned his attention to performing in various venues with his horses.  He performed for a time in various locations with the Gentry Bros. Shows riding King Araby, his “beautiful, milk white Arabian.”  After leaving the Gentry Bros. he joined Miller’s Wild West show, but sold Araby, “the fancy steeping horse,” in 1913 to the Gentry Bros. for $1,000 (in today’s dollars, the equivalent of more than $25,000).  Araby was said to be among the best trained horses with any of the big shows and could perform innumerable tricks “with the precision of a clock.”

When the U. S. joined it allies to fight in World War I in the spring of 1917, life changed for many Americans.   E. C. began spending more time at home in his veterinary practice and training horses and less time on the road performing.   He registered for the draft in September 1918.  At that time he was 41 years of age, still married to Alice and still living on South Washington Street in Bloomington.  Three months later, the war ended without E. C. ever serving in the military so much as a day.

E. C. Carpenter astride his “fancy stepping horse,” King Araby. Photo courtesy of his nephew, George Carpenter, of Bloomington, Indiana.

During the course of war, 116,708 American military personnel died.  Although many died in combat or combat related wounds, many also died of the flu.  From January 1918 through December 1920, the deadly influenza was prevalent throughout the world killing 50,000,000 to 100,000,000 people making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.   After that, the number of flu victims diminished, but the flu far from disappeared.  In the early spring of 1923, E. C. came down with the flu which was, at the time, also called la grippe, grippe or grip.

We might assume that E. C. was not initially over concerned.  He was, after all, a man of medicine.  But when the symptoms lingered, he scheduled a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  Upon his return home on May 1, he was hopeful that he could regain his health with bed rest.  To that end, he announced through the Bloomington Evening World that he was retiring “due to health issues.”  His patients were asked to settle their accounts with him by sending payment to 346 S. Washington.

Several weeks later his condition worsened.  On May 28, after a debilitating stroke of paralysis, his parents were called from New York to his bedside.  He died before their arrival at 10 AM on the morning of May 29.  The official cause of his death was uremic poisoning.  He was 45 years old.  Burial was in Rose Hill Cemetery.

E. C. was survived by his wife, Alice, his parents, and a brother, George, of Bloomington.  He had no children.

Watch for Part 2 of this story next week and learn the mystery behind Alice’s strange disappearance following her employment with a notorious bluebeard.

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Certificates of Selection for the Civilian Conservation Corps

The Civilian Conservation Corps was a public work relief program that operated from 1933-1942 during the presidency of Frank D. Roosevelt.  Initially, the program provided manual labor jobs related to unemployed, unmarried men between the ages of 18-25.  Later it was modified to include older men up to the age of 45 and they were no longer required to be single.

Most of these records are reportedly kept at the National Archives in St. Louis.  For some unexplained reason, however, the Certificate of Selection for 83 of those young men from Monroe County and nearby communities is available at the Indiana University Lilly Library in Bloomington, Indiana. [1]  The documents pertaining to each man are contained within a single folder and the folders as a whole contain the 480 items (pages) that make up the collection.

Documents within the file typically include at minimum the Certificate of Selection and an intake interview.  Both of these documents are rich with information.  Consider, for example, the 2-page intake interview for Ward E. Stevens completed by Mary Eloise Humphrey, identified as “visitor” on December 7, 1939.[2]  Excerpts are noted below.

” ‘Visitor called at the home of Lola Stevens, Ward Stevens’ mother.  The visitor was directed to the house by Mr. Tidd, Ward Stevens’ grandfather, Jacob Tidd.  From the very first, Mr. Tidd took complete charge of the interview.  Mr. Tidd said, “I’m the one who manages things around here, and I’m the one to say if there is any change made in [Lola’s] pension.”  This attitude of Mr. Tidd’s seemed rather odd, but it had been brought about because of the fact that his daughter was feeble-minded and he had since the death of her husband realized her inability to manage for herself and therefore had tried to manage for her as best he could.’

‘Mr. Tidd said that he was the one who had made the living there and when asked what the living was he said it consisted of the $30.00 a month ADC which he got for Mrs. Stevens, for her two youngest children, and the $3.20 a week which he got from the relief for himself [and other members of his household].  Mr. Tidd pointed with pride to the fact that he had worked 18 years for the City of Bloomington.  Among various other things, he had been on the fire department.’

‘Ward seemed to be tolerated in the household and recognized as quite a problem.  He would go away and stay for days.  Mr. Tidd hoped that Ward would not get to go to camp because he was afraid that Mrs. Stevens’ assistance would be taken from her if Ward got to camp.’

‘The visitor does not recommend that Ward Edward Stevens be selected for CCC enrollment.  The fact that he was only in the fourth grade at the age of 16 years and his general inability to comprehend makes the visitor feel that he would not be able to adjust very well into a CCC program.’ “

Section 1 of the Certificate of Selection includes information pertaining to the applicant’s person, members of his household and place of residence.  Section 2 reveals information about his education; Section 3 is about employment; and Section 4 notes the applicant’s reason(s) for desiring placement with the CCC.


To access CCC enrollee records other than those at the Lilly Library, contact the National Archives at St. Louis and submit either a written request or NA Form 14136.


[1] When the folders were reviewed in March 2018, the last three items in the inventory were missing.  Their names, however, were included in the index.

[2] According to a digital image of the death record at Ancestry, Ward E. Stevens, the son of Albert and Lola (Tidd) Stevens died in Noblesville, Hamilton Co., Indiana, on June 19, 1947.  His death was occurred when a boxcar backed up and accidentally pinned him to a shed.

Blog post by Randi Richardson