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

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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.

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Post by Randi Richardson

Tarzan: One in Twelve a Native of Bloomington

All totaled, twelve men played Tarzan on the silver screen.  Three were from Indiana.  One was a native of Bloomington.

Elmo Lincoln, a native of Rochester originally named Otto Elmo Linkenhelt, portrayed the ape man during the silent film era as did   James Hubert “Babe” Pierce  from Freedom, Owen County, Indiana.  Denny Miller was from Bloomington.

Denny Miller, according to the name on his birth certificate, was born Dennis Linn Miller.  Later he was known as Denny Scott Miller and Scott Miller. His parents were Bernard “Ben” W. and Martha (Linn) Miller.  They lived at 314 E. University at the time of Denny’s birth, and “Ben” was employed as a high school teacher.

Ben had a twin brother named Len.  Both boys were local basketball stars in Waldron, Indiana, and later played at Indiana University with Branch McCracken.  Ben later became a physical education instructor at IU.  It’s, therefore, not too surprising that Denny began playing basketball early and played it well.  His younger brother, Kent, followed in his footsteps.  By the time of Kent’s birth, the Miller family was living at 449 S. Henderson.

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Denny lived several years at this Bloomington home, 449 S. Henderson, before moving to LA.

When Denny was in the fourth grade, his father took another job and the family left Bloomington.  After living for a time in Maryland and New York, the Millers settled in Los Angeles where Ben was a member of the faculty at UCLA for many years and Denny and Kent had full-ride scholarships to play basketball.

To help pay for his schooling, Denny had a job moving furniture during his senior year.  A Hollywood talent agent took notice of   the good looking, 6’4” guy with a physically fit, athletic body and signed him to the MGM studio.  Denny’s first starring role was Tarzan in a 1959 remake of the 1932 classic Tarzan, the Ape Man.  It launched his career.

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Although Denny did not star in other Tarzan films, he went on have a role in more than 200 television and movie productions many of which were Westerns.   He was best known as a regular on 107 episodes of Wagon Train from 1961-1964.  He also appeared in more than 80 commercials.  For fourteen years he played the Gorton fisherman.

In later years he continued to live in LA where he wrote several books.  His first, Didn’t You Used to be What’s His Name, was a well-illustrated autobiography published in 2004.  It was selected for inclusion in Oprah’s Book Club.  The second book, Toxic Waist?…Get to Know Sweat! was published in 2006 and delivered an important message about the obesity epidemic in America.

Having earned his degree in physical education, Denny was an advocate of healthy living for most of his life.  Up until the time that his body was ravaged by ALS, he was able to wear the same loin cloth that he had worn as Tarzan in 1959.  ALS, commonly known as Lou Gerhig’s disease, affects those nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movement like chewing, walking and talking.  Most people affected with ALS die from respiratory failure.

Denny died at the age of 80 on September 9, 2014.  He was survived by his second wife, Nancy, and a son and daughter.  His obituary, containing details of his long career, can be found many places online.

Sources: Fred D. Cavinder, More Amazing Tales from Indiana (Bloomington IN:  Indiana University Press, 2003), 208 pages.

Blog post by Randi Richardson