Stranded by Floodwaters in Ellettsville

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Ellettsville is no stranger to flooding.  When one of the heaviest rains ever experienced in the area fell in late November 1883, it nearly cost a few of the people in Ellettsville their life.  An account of the event, as noted below, was published in the Bloomington (IN) Progress on November 28, 1883. 

flooding

On Wednesday rain fell almost incessantly, and Jack’s Defeat was on considerable of a “bender” all day.  At five o’clock the rain came down in torrents and by six thirty the creek succeeded in getting higher than since the great flood of ’65.

The water rushed through Vine Street nearly reaching the Reeves corner.  All the houses on the lower end of this street were flooded, and there was considerable excitement over getting out the occupants of these houses.  W. M. Gillaspy, Jim Harris, Sandy Prow, Luke Gillaspy, Artie Miller, Charles Stimson, Rev. W. H. Jackson, Ed Mobley, Silas Jackson and others constituted a “life-saving crew” and waded waist deep to the house of John Hall at the foot of the street and carried out the women who were in the house.

Then the houses occupied by Bart Ellett, Marion Taylor, the old Edwards homestead, Henry Williams, T. E. Phillips, Jack May and Jerome Jackson were visited and carpets taken up and the women and children carried to safe quarters.  The water was over two feet deep in the Edwards house.  It was feared that John Hall’s horses and hogs, and James Whitsell’s cow would be drowned, but they were not.

This morning that end of town presents a dismal appearance there being much drift in the streets and several yards wholly without fencing.  Considerable lumber was washed away from the saw mill, most of which found lodgment on the flooded street.  Farther down in town considerable damage was done.

The water was 15 inches deep in the livery stable.  The platform was washed away and the stone fence north of the stable was leveled to the ground.  One wagon was carried off and other damage done.  The water lacked only an inch of running into the storeroom of F. E. Worley.  The water reached a depth of two inches in the west room of the Richland Mills, doing some damage to the wheat, etc.  Much fencing all along the stream was washed out, and the corn in the Sharp bottom, and bottoms father north, is very much damaged, and much of it was carried away.

The oldest inhabitant says he never saw it rain harder than it did from 5 to 6 PM.  Those taken from their houses found lodging among our citizens, W. H. Jackson caring for several of them.

William B. Hoadley and the House He Built on Park Street

William B. Hoadley, a native of Monroe County, was born March 29, 1899 to John W. and Dovie (Figg) Hoadley, Jr.   His grandfather, John Hoadley, Sr. a native of England, immigrated to the United States in the 1840s and soon afterward became quite prominent in Ellettsville’s stone industry. 

Although William appeared to have some interest in a legal profession and graduated from the IU Law School, he eventually followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and began a career in the stone business.  A few years later, on May 31, 1923, he married Lucille Hughes, the daughter of Louis and Maude (Orr) Hughes. 

Soon after the marriage the couple began dreaming of a home.  William wanted to design the home himself and felt qualified to do so because he had been exposed to hundreds of house plans in the estimating work he had done at the stone mill.  He wanted a home that reflected the fine features of limestone and his personal success in the industry.   

In 1926 that home was completed on a grand scale at 513 N. Park Street in Bloomington.  Although there were a number of substantial homes belonging to prominent people living in the area, the Hoadley home was by far largest, nearly 10,000 square feet, and of the greatest value.  It had plenty of room for a large family, but William and Lucille had only one son, William Hughes Hoadley, who was born February 3, 1924.  Given the cost of the home and the effort that went into its construction, it is surprising that the family lived there no longer than they did.   

In October 1944, while serving as a soldier in Germany during World War II, young William was killed in action.  Afterward William B. and Lucille moved into the Graham Hotel in downtown Bloomington.  Perhaps the big house held too many memories of the only child that was no longer among them. 

They continued to reside at the Graham for many years.  They were living there in 1951 when Lucille fell victim to cancer and died at the age of 47.  A few years later, in the 1960s, William moved to Los Angeles, California.  He died there on May 30, 1968, and was survived by his second wife, Glee.   

 The house on Park Street eventually became home to Zeta Beta Tau and later to Alpha Sigma Phi.  Today it is part of the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University.

Blog post and photo provided by Randi Richardson