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.


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.”


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

Delbert L. Mayle: What of the “Others”

My handsome son, Nathan Richardson, circa 1993.


In December 1971, my husband and I adopted a child.  Not just any child, a biracial child.  It was specifically what we wanted.  He was 8-months old, beautiful and the color of caramel.  At that time, I was taking classes at IU, and soon after the adoption I had to register for additional classes.  Unlike today, this procedure took place in the old fieldhouse, involved standing in long lines and seemed to take forever.  Eventually I came to a table where I was asked to check a box to indicate my ethnicity.  While it was easy to select the appropriate box for myself, there was no such box to reflect the ethnicity of my child.  Thinking ahead to the needs of my son and those whose ethnicity could not easily be pigeonholed, I refused to check the box because there was no category for “Other.”  Consequently, I was pulled out of line and had to jump through hoops before I was permitted to re-enter the process.

Delbert L. Mayle, who lived with his family in Monroe County for a number of years, was among those individuals who would have benefited from a category for “Other.”  Although he appeared a bit darker than those whites who didn’t spend their summer days working in the field, he easily passed for white.  Most enumerators completing household information for census records typically identified him as white.   In fact, the only times Delbert was identified by an enumerator as a person of color was in 1880 and 1900 when he resided in his father’s household at Taylor County, West Virginia.

Delbert was born on April 2, 1880, to George S. and Julia Ann Male (variously noted as Mail, Mahle and Mayle) and lived in a mixed-race community on Chestnut Ridge near Phillippi, Barbour County, West Virginia.  The people living there were often called “guineas” or Chestnut Ridge People.  Reportedly they varied in color from white to black, often had blue eyes and straight hair and were generally considered industrious.

Delbert L. Mayle, Valparaiso University Yearbook, 1915.

From 1900 until sometime in 1901, Delbert attended Ravenswood Normal School in West Virginia.  A short time later, on March 11, 1903, he married Nancy Prichard.  Perhaps in search of better educational and/or career opportunities than West Virginia could offer, he took his young bride and migrated to Porter County in northern Indiana.

While there he attended the Northern Indiana Normal School, later known as Valparaiso University, from 1908 to 1910 and again in 1915.  In Indiana, where he was relatively unknown, his light complexion prompted those around him to assume his ethnicity was white, and he was identified as white for the remainder of his life.

With his education complete, Delbert made his way south to Monroe County about 1926.  The following year he was living with his family in a rental at 402 E. 4th Street in Bloomington and teaching at the Smithville School.  A few years later, in the early 1930s, the family moved near Gosport because Delbert was teaching at the Stinesville School.  He was, also, principal there for a time.

Delbert L. Mayle, Stinesville Yearbook, 1934.

John Howard Martin and Leo Chrismore were students at Stinesville during Delbert’s tenure.  In 1998, John recorded some of his early childhood memories which included a few thoughts pertaining to his school experience.  John recalled having a crush on Mona Mayle, a fellow student and Delbert’s daughter.  He dated her for several years until he graduated in 1934.  Additionally, both John and Leo believed Delbert to be an exceptional teacher and administrator.  He was characterized as “highly competent and effective…bright, fair, tough and very dedicated.”  Lastly, Delbert made no bones about his ethnicity.  Several times before high school assemblies John and Leo remembered that he struck “his hands together on the podium” and proclaimed that he was “half black and proud of it.”

In his writings, John confessed that he was rather naïve about the attitude of Stinesville people toward people of color.  Leo, however, refreshed his memory.  He noted that black prejudice in Stinesville was quite strong during the 30s.  Black porters on the Monon railroad through Stinesville were warned not to set foot on the ground when the train stopped.  There was also a strong movement to reject Delbert as principal which failed only because he was such a superior person.  Blog by Randi Richardson.


Stephanie Rose Bird, Light, Bright, and Damned Near White:  Biracial and Triracial Culture in America (Westport CT: Praeger, 2009).

Thomas McElwain, Our Kind of People, Identity, Community and Religion on Chestnut Ridge (Stockholm:  Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1981).

Chestnut Ridge People, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chestnut_Ridge_people.

William Harlen Gilbert, Jr., “Mixed Bloods of the Upper Monongahela Valley, West Virginia,” Journal of the Washington Academy of the Sciences, 36, No. 1 (January 16, 1946), pp. 1-13.

Alexandra Finley, Founding Chestnut Ridge:  The Origins of Central West Virginia’s Multiracial Community, a senior honors thesis, Ohio State University, March 2010.

Select writings from the recollections of John H. Martin compiled in 1998 and held by his son, Tim Martin who shared them with Randi Richardson in January 2018.  Tim can be reached via e-mail at tjmartin@timfo.com.