Artifacts from the “Lost” Community of Wayport

Post by Randi Richardson

Wayport is a village founded in Sections 28 and 33 in Washington Township, Monroe County, Indiana.  It was laid out in 1851 and comprised of 16 lots.  For a while it included a store, post office and a blacksmith shop.  It reportedly “hit its peak” from 1877 to 1879.

Danielle Thomas lives in a cabin, the second of two she has called home on property that used to be part of Wayport.  While living in her first cabin, she suspected that at some point it would be lost to the I-69 project, but didn’t suspect that it would be in her lifetime.  She was wrong.

In 2005, a firm out of Pennsylvania arrived to do an archeological study and soil testing on her property.  “It started with a couple of five-gallon bucket holes in her back yard” dug during the course of a week.  Then the holes grew bigger.  When Danielle asked what was going on, she was told the company was looking for the “lost town of Wayport.”

Initially, Danielle received no feedback about what had been found.  But seven years later, in 2012, she received a book of “everything” found.  It turned out that Wayport was in her backyard.  Since that time, Danielle has taken up residence in a second cabin she built near her first one.  In fact, she was able to buy back some of the first property purchased from her for the I-69 project.


History of Lawrence and Monroe Counties, Indiana (Indianapolis, IN:  B. F. Bowen & Co., Inc., 1914) p. 434.

Pete DiPrimio, “Cabin Paradise,” Bloom Magazine, April 2018, pp. 6-11.  NOTE:  The item above was abstracted by Randi Richardson from the original that was accompanied by nine photographs.

No Laughing Matter: When Did It Happen

Blog post by Randi Richardson

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.


ClipArt Source : <a title=”Spanking Clipart” href=””>Spanking Clipart</a>.

Friendship Separate Baptist Church

My name is Mason Davis and I go to Tri-North Middle school. In my free time I like to bike around our neighborhood and discover new places. There are a lot of cool things hidden in the woods, but one seemed to stick out to me more than the rest. I was looking at Google Maps and out in the middle of nowhere there was a church. I was curious, so I went out to go find it and all that’s left are some old headstones and a foundation.

The steps and foundation of the entryway is all that was left after the church (as shown below) was razed.

I went to the Indiana Room at the Monroe County Public and found that Rev. Benjamin Whittington started a church in the log school house located by Friendship Graveyard in 1857. In 1867, a one room log church was built nine miles east of Bloomington on Friendship Road.

There wasn’t a picture and I really wanted to see what it looked like so I went to the Monroe County Historical Society. There I found that what’s left of the foundation is only the stoop and the church was much bigger. The church was actually torn down and saved, then later built in the Indiana University Outdoor Museum.

friendship2I enjoyed hunting down and discovering the church and researching it. I later found out that my great grandpa actually remembered when the church was still established on Friendship Rd. I hope to continue to find new things around my neighborhood. There’s actually an old iron bridge over Stephens Creek that I want to learn about next.


Big Dave Van Buskirk Went to War

Blog post by Steve Rolfe

big daveOne of the “secrets” of Monroe County Civil War history is that the largest man to serve in the Union army during the entire war was Monroe County’s  own David Van Buskirk, or, as he is familiarly known, Big Dave. He was said to be 6’ 10 ½“ in his stocking feet and to weigh about 375 pounds. Van Buskirk was a captain in the 27th Indiana Infantry which was a unit that was formed in the early days of the war in an interesting way.  Every community was competing for young men to join their unit, so many recruiting “gimmicks” were used to try to get the upper hand on your neighboring regiment. In the case of the 27th, recruiting speeches were given off the backs of trains in the counties along the Monon Railroad line between Indianapolis and Louisville.  Recruiters of Co. F, nicknamed “The Monroe Grenadiers,” encouraged all “really tall” men to join up so that the soldiers’ size and height alone might intimidate the rebels to drop their guns and surrender.  It was said that over half the men were taller than six feet at a time when the average height of a man was probably five feet eight or nine inches.  This earned them the regimental nickname, “Giants in the Cornfield”.

The 27th fought in engagements in the Eastern Theater of the war including First Winchester, The Cornfield at Antietam, Spangler’s Spring at Gettysburg and at Resaca in the Atlanta Campaign.  Van Buskirk was captured at First Winchester and sent to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. In the short time he was there, he actually gained weight by bartering for extra rations so people in Richmond could come and look at “The Giant.”  He returned to the Union army in a prisoner exchange and fought at both Antietam and Gettysburg.   At Gettysburg, the 27th had their recruiting gimmick come back to haunt them when they were ordered to charge across an open field.  The Confederate solders on the other side could not believe the huge targets they had while lying safe behind trees and boulders. The charge was quickly beaten back with over half the 390 or so men who began it becoming casualties. Four color bearers were killed and four wounded in the attack.  Van Buskirk was not wounded in the assault.

After his service was completed, Captain Van Buskirk returned to his home in northwest Monroe County. He spent the rest of his years in serving the local school board and the county.  He died at 61 and is buried alongside all three of his wives in a small private family cemetery just across the White River from Gosport.  The Monroe County History Center has his ceremonial Civil War officer’s sword and a few other of his belongings in their collection thanks to his great granddaughter and former MCHC board member Patsy Powell.   David Van Buskirk was a towering figure both in his stature and in his commitment to his community and his country.

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!


The Changing Face of a Funeral Home

Blog post by Randi Richardson

funeral home

For twelve years Charles Gilbert Shaw had his photo studio at 100 ½ W. Sixth Street and lived with his wife, Coralie, a few blocks away at 211 E. Sixth.  In the spring of 1937, Walter Allen purchased Shaw’s home and moved the Allen Funeral Home, established in 1917, from 212 S. Walnut into Shaw’s vacated residence.  A full-page ad in the 1938-39 Bloomington City Directory shows the funeral home, as shown above, in its new location.

For more than 25 years, the Allen Funeral Home remained on the northeast corner of Sixth and Washington across the street from the public library that now houses the Monroe County History Center.  Sometime between 1964 and 1966, the business moved into a brand new building on East Third Street not far from the then new and very popular College Mall.  The vacated property at 211 E. Sixth was converted for use as the courthouse annex.

Later yet, the original structure was expanded, modified, gated and painted white.  It became known as the Allen Court apartment complex.  If you look carefully at the photo below, you can see the bones of the old building under the rather elegant-looking façade at the entrance of the complex.  The appearance of the existing structure is very different from that of any other apartment complex in Bloomington.

We are lucky to have had this historic property so well preserved!