Dr. John Herschel Lemon Reminisces about Early Life in Bloomington

Blog post by Randi Richardson

The item noted below is based on a column in an unidentified Bloomington newspaper called “Looking Back.” It was found in a scrapbook compiled by a man named Fred Lockwood.  The scrapbook is held by the Monroe County History Center, Bloomington, Indiana.  It also includes information and a photograph from Dr. Lemon’s obituary in the Indianapolis (IN) Star, July 11, 1935, p. 5.

John Herschel Lemon, the son of John A. M. and Cynthia Lemon, grew up near lemonHarrodsburg.  In 1856, when he was about twelve years of age, the family moved to Bloomington where he and his brothers attended the university.  Although the Civil War interrupted John’s academic career, he eventually became a physician and settled in New Albany, Floyd County, Indiana.  In 1929, he wrote John Cravens, secretary of Indiana University, a letter in which he reminisced about his early days in Bloomington.

…We moved…to the northwest corner of the campus in 1856.  South across the street lived Sheriff Pleasant Lorenzo Dow Mitchell, the son-in-law of old Col. Ketchum.  Dr. Eckley Hunter married a daughter, and I think Bruce Shield another.  The Mitchell family was large.

Along west side of town…lived Jim Howe.  His son went into regular military.  I think the next was even then a much worse, two-story brick where Joseph A. Wright* had lived perhaps in his janitor student days.  Emmanuel Marquis, who had served in the U. S. Consulate in some German town, wrapped up a brick that Joe Wright had hodded to the top wall of the Bloomington courthouse.  The brick was presented with some ceremony at Berlin where Wright was minister.  Prof. Marquis said the intention was to show his home folks how a man of the humble laboring class could in America go up to a high place…

North of the old Gov. Wright brick was the large white frame house of Mr. Batterton, the tinner.  He had five daughters.  Jake Wolfe married one and Madison Evans married another daughter.  The Battertons belonged to the Christian Church, and Evans was preparing to become a preacher in that denomination.  He often came to our house to see my older brothers, Alexander Downey and Alfred Homer Lemon.  The death of Evans in 1865 or 1866 was a sad time in our neighborhood.

Next north of the Batterton house lived Mr. McFetteridge (consider McPhetridge and McFetridge as spelling variants) for many years clerk of the court.  After a short distance over low ground was the depot on east side of the railroad.  I think my father owned a lot or two about where the Orchard House is, or was.

We owned a five-acre wood and pasture lot one-half mile or so west of town, south of the Acuff place.  Dr. James F. Dodds’ equal size lot was joining on the south.  Our lot had old, wide-spreading beech trees.  It was a grass slope divided by a small, rippling stream.  Students came often here to declaim or rehearse, especially in commencement time…

I belonged to a militia company.  Several local students belonged, drilling in the clean shade of Dunn’s woods on Saturday, once staying up the night when there was alarm of being attacked by Greene County Butternuts or Copperheads.  The drum beatings, the enlistings and speakings were in the courthouse and public square.  In the college campus, it was quiet as a country Sabbath when a professor was told a student had joined the army, his manner was serious and sad.  Professor Wylie’s son was dead.  Sammy Dodds, the two friends, was dead in distant, bleak Missouri.

Many other young flowers of hope and all faithfulness were dead.  What could these venerable scholar-saints do but enter into a chamber and plead that the time be shortened.

There was always a great crowd at the depot when the afternoon train came with the Cincinnati Gazette.  Oscar McCullough had a news stand opposite the courthouse.  Usually someone read the news aloud.  The others—Wylie, Ballantine, Kirkwood—gathered close to listen, their faces grave as if they heard a voice from land and sea that time was to be no more.  I heard little or no conversation among them.  Kirkwood was slightly deaf.  He had a cane, a worn silk hat and long, black cloak.  After listening to the news they filed away.  They were not good mixers or conversationalists but always polite and kindly mannered and pleased with friendly greeting.  Neither of these three, very great and truly good men, seemed able to contribute to ordinary conversation.

I do not remember Professor Woodburn at the news stand loafing place.  I think he was always busy in the afternoon hammering away with the sometimes large Prep classes.  Truly, the old faculty of the university were a fine, old set of mahogany…

A few months ago I wrote a sketch of Company A, 54th Regiment of Indiana, three month’s men—Captain Daniel Shader [sic] and Lt. William J. Allen.  The company was a fine, made-up group of Bloomington and Monroe County men—some from college.  The names of all are in the reports of [the] Adj. Gen’s office at Indianapolis.  My name appears there as John H. Seamon instead of John H. Lemon.

I have never seen any reference to the service of Co. A, 54th Indiana.  We must nearly all be dead by now.  I was seventeen and one-half years of age in the summer of May 1862…The operations of Co. A, 54th Indiana were for a while as guards over five or six thousand rebel prisoners at Camp Morton and afterwards served in west Kentucky before the slaves were emancipated and shows the attitude of Kentuckians on state rights and against invasion.

Asbury Cravens and his brother were good friends, and their father, General Cravens, and wife, came to see us in Bloomington and to see Richard D. Owen who had a room and board[ed] at my mother’s house when, after my father’s death in 1863, she moved and built a house next to Dr. James F. Dodds, north of his large brick…

Very Respectfully,

John Herschel Lemon, President

Floyd County, Indiana Historical Society

I will mention that in class of 1854, my brother’s name is William Harrison Lemon.  The “Herschel” is in my name.  Also Alexander Dowling should be “Downey” after my mother’s brother-in-law, a preacher about 1824.  South a few miles of Bloomington is [the] Ezra Pering or old Tom Carter neighborhood.

Six years after Dr. Lemon’s letter to John Cravens was published in a Bloomington newspaper, he died in New Albany on July 11, 1935.  His obit was published the same day in the Indianapolis Star (see p. 5).  At the time of his death he was 90 years of age and was believed to hold the record for the longest continued practice of medicine in Indiana.  He also was the father of the Floyd County Medical Society.

*Joseph Albert Wright (1810–1867) was Indiana’s tenth governor.  He served in that capacity from 1849 to 1857 and later became a U. S. Senator.  His father was a brick manufacturer in Pennsylvania who settled with his family in Bloomington about 1819 or 1820.  After the death of his father, 14-year-old Joseph worked his way through Indiana Seminary, later Indiana University, as a janitor, bellringer and occasional bricklayer.

Hays Market One of a Kind

Many people who have lived for a while in Bloomington remember Hays Market at 6th and Morton streets.  It wasn’t always a market, however, and the stone carving over the door provides a clue to its origins.

The first owner of the building was Lawrence Currie and his son, John.  Lawrence Currie, whose name was sometimes spelled Curry, typically worked as a farmer.  He followed this career path from his teen years in the 1870s when the family lived in Owen County well into adulthood when the household moved from Greene County to Bloomington.  In 1900, the Currie family lived at the intersection of Morton and 6th streets in Bloomington.  Lawrence made monuments and his son, John, age 23, was a stone cutter.  They joined forces and opened a storefront, Currie & Son, in 1903 at the northwest corner of Morton & 6th.  Someone, probably John, carved the company name in stone above the door.

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Sometime between 1910 and 1920, the business collapsed.  Lawrence continued to live at Morton and 6th streets, but went back to farming.  John moved to Indianapolis and worked as a stock clerk in an auto factory.  Afterward the store changed hands a number of times.  For a while it was home to the Charles Cavaness Garage, one of the first garages in Bloomington.  Unfortunately, due to the limited number of cars in the area at the time, the demand for garage work was small and, ultimately, Charles was forced to sell out.

In the meantime, James D. Hays, a resident of Clear Creek Township in Monroe County, owned and operated a market near Smithville.  His grandson, Jerry Hays, recalled that his grandfather was a savvy businessman who didn’t wait for business to come to him.  “He made sandwiches in the morning and took them to the quarries where workers bought them for their lunch.”

Later, sometime between 1945 and 1948, James moved his market from the Smithville area into the empty Currie & Son building.  It quickly became known for its dairy products, fresh produce and mostly meat.  “On Friday nights,” according to Jerry, “when people received their paycheck they used to wait in long lines to buy meat.”

In the evenings and on the weekends Jerry, who was then quite young, and his father, also named James, would drive around the country side to visit farms and dairies to purchase products for the store.  “When we got back to the store we’d use this handheld device to check the eggs to see if there were embryos inside,” recalled Jerry.  “If so, they were discarded.”

Sundays was the only day the store was closed.  On that day James would visit his store to check on the equipment and determine that it was functioning properly.  Often he was accompanied by Jerry who was told to help himself to whatever he wanted.  “Quite literally” Jerry noted, “I was that kid in a candy store.  But I liked meat, especially liked pickled bologna.”

Digging back into his memory, Jerry recalled that his grandfather’s office was located in the southeast corner on the second floor of the building above the door as pictured below.  “At that time the only lighting upstairs were bare bulbs hung from a cord.  The hallways were dimly lit with wide, worn floorboards.  It was scary to a kid.  When I had to go up there, I would run.  On my seventh birthday, my father told me that my present was in grandfather’s office.  I ran down there and discovered a bright, new bicycle.”

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In 1973, at the age of 70, James passed away.  His son, Paul Hays, then assumed management of the store.  He was assisted by his sister, Mary (Hays) Douthitt.  The other two siblings, including Jerry’s father, James, had no interest in the business.  After Paul died in 1996, the business closed.

For a while the building sat empty.  Then it was purchased by a number of different owners and occupied by a number of different businesses.  Finally it was purchased by David Hays, the son of Jerry Hays and the great grandson of James D. Hays.  His motivation was based partly on sentimental reasons and also because it seemed like a good investment.  Space inside has since been remodeled to accommodate offices of various sizes and leased to a variety of businesses.  Today the future seems quite bright for a building established more than a century ago at 6th and Morton.

To read more stories like this one, follow the Monroe County History Center library blog at http://www.mchclibrary.wordpress.com.  Blog subscribers will be notified of a new blog posting once weekly.  Each blog post will pertain to the Monroe County history of a person, place or event.

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.

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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

 

 

 

Scoby’s Divorce and Battle for Child Custody

divorceAlthough there were significantly fewer divorces in the early nineteenth century than there are today, they nevertheless did exist.  One of the earliest divorces on record in Monroe County is that of James and Ruth Scoby.

On August 24, 1824, the Monroe County sheriff was commanded to bring several witnesses to court to testify on behalf of James Scoby and his petition against Ruth.  The witnesses included Samuel R. Cavin, George Hardesty, George Johnston and James Edwards.

According to an index of divorces available at the genealogy library in the Monroe County History Center, James was granted the divorce on March 7, 1825.  The couple had one child together, an infant daughter named Eunice.  Ruth was apparently given custody.

Following the divorce, James married again on October 3, 1826.  His second wife was Rhoda Polly. Sometime thereafter, he brought Eunice to his home and refused to give her back to Ruth.

Understandably, Ruth was upset.  She protested that she had rightful custody of Eunice and asked the court to intervene on her behalf.  On August 8, 1827, the judge ordered the sheriff to bring James and Eunice to court so that James might explain, if he could, why he refused to return Eunice.

There is little more information than this in the circuit court file for James Scoby vs. Ruth Scoby.  (See Circuit Court Records Box 5 at the Genealogy Library, Monroe County History Center, Bloomington, Indiana.)

Post by Randi Richardson.

Earliest Telephone Book in the County

telephoneWe don’t know with any certainty when telephones were first introduced in Monroe County or the date of the first telephone book.  However, the date of the earliest known telephone book in the county is 1902.  It has been preserved on microfilm at the Monroe County Public Library in Bloomington and is part of the Local History Microfilm Collection.  (See Roll 37, Item7.)

The book is just 28 pages in length including a description of how to use a hand crank telephone.  It was divided into communities and the type of listing, such as farm, residence or business, was noted along with a name and a 3-digit telephone number.  If the name was indicative of the type of listing, however, there was no separate entry for the type of listing.

Names and all other information associated with the listing excepting the phone number have been indexed and put online at the Indiana Genealogical Society website as part of the many databases available for Monroe County.*

Telephone Company officers were identified as:  J. D. Showers, president; W. S. Bradfute, secretary; W. W. Wicks, treasurer; and F. S. Shoemaker, superintendent.

*Must be a member of the IGS to view that particular index

 

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Gentry Bros. Organize Another Big Show

gentry
Gentry Bros. Circus poster–Library of Congress.

The front page of the Bloomington (IN) Evening World on October 22, 1917, announced that Bloomington, the home of circuses and circus men, was to have another big show enterprise organized by J. W. Gentry, East Kirkwood Avenue, who helped make the Gentry Bros. Show famous from coast to coast.  Gentry reportedly was at work on the formation of a company that would take out a big, overland circus next spring to be transported from town to town over the entire United States by motor trucks.

 

Gentry noted that the new circus will have elephants, camels, lions, monkeys, dogs and ponies and all kinds of circus acts, the best that money can buy.  As soon as the regular season opens, the show will play its opening performance here and then start out on a schedule that will take it to every state in the union.

The new project of transporting a big circus from city to city on motor trucks is no experiment as it was tried successfully last season by two or three men who stand high in the circus world, one of them being the son of Al Ringling of the famous Ringling show.  There are many things in favor of a motor transported circus, the chief item being the fact that one can be hauled and operated for about $500 less per day than those carried by the railroads.  With the wonderful improvement in road building, which is generally all over the country, a caravan of motor trucks can move the biggest kind of load over a hill, and the show has the advantage of being able to stop at all towns, playing them as they lay on the map.

The show will be first class in every particular and will start out with the Gentry stamp on it which means the very highest and best.  I will travel with the show as its head and general manager which will give the enterprise a wonder prestige wherever it goes.  A herd of elephants will be carried which insures that the equipment will be safely transported as the “bulls” could be used to boost the heavy trucks over any hill in case anything should go wrong with the motor.

The Gentry boys always put their whole soul into every project they undertake and with my 25 years of practical experience in the show business, the present undertaking will be like play.

NOTE:  In spite of this announcement, according to the February 2004 issue of the Journal of Gentry Genealogy the Gentrys lost control of the show in 1915 and 1916.  The new owners were Ben Austin and J. C. Newman.  In 1922 James Patterson purchased the circus and operated it as the Gentry-Patterson Circus until Henry and Floyd King took over in 1925.  On Thursday, October 23, 1929, the day before Black Friday on Wall Street, the Gentry Bros, in Paris, Tennessee, played it’s last and final show.  It then went into receivership and was eventually sold in lots.  James William “J. W.” Gentry died on December 3, 1936 at the age of 68 and was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Affidavits for Soldier’s Exemptions

In 1927 the federal government determined that “any honorably discharged soldier, sailor, marine or nurse who had served at least 90 days or more in the military or naval forces of the United States and who was totally disabled as evidenced by a pension certificate or the award of compensation, and the widow of any such soldier, sailor or marine, may have the amount of $1,000 deducted from his or her taxable property providing the amount of taxable property as shown by the tax duplicate shall not exceed the amount of $5,000 and the amount remaining after such deduction shall have been made shall constitute the basis for assessment and taxation.  PROVIDED, FURTHER, that the age of 62 shall constitute the basis of total disability for any pensioner.  Acts 1927, p. 519.)”

In 1938 and 1939, Monroe County collected the information from those claiming an exemption under the 1927 Act and compiled them into books, one for each year.   The unpaginated books are compiled in alphabetical order by surname and available at the genealogy library at the Monroe County History Center in Bloomington, Indiana.

An index to the two volumes was recently completed and made available to the many county databases available online through the Indiana Genealogy Society website.  Although many of the Monroe County databases at the IGS website are free to anyone, the combined index to the two volumes of affidavits is restricted to members only.  The index includes:  name, address and age of recipient; war in which the veteran served; and year of volume.

affidavit

Post by Randi Richardson