Sunday’s Obituary – Death, Destruction, and poor George Norris

During a visit to the Indiana State Library two weeks ago I came upon an amazing amount of information over both Andrew’s family as well as my friend Amy.  The first story I came upon was about Amy’s great great great grandfather, who it turns out died in a horrible grisly accident.  The local newspaper in Washington, Indiana (Daviess County) held back no specifics about the gory details…so obviously I have to post it:

Jan 21, 1887

Death and Destruction

Wrought By the Explosion of a Portable Engine Boiler

“Jack” Norris Torn to Pieces by a Flying Fragment of Iron.

Four Other Men Seriously Injured – Complete Details of the Terrible Accident

Hurled though space!

A sickening mass of living, quivering flesh, mangled beyond recognition, and scarcely a resemblance to humanity.

Such was the sad end of poor Jack Norris.  One of the best known saw mill men and engineers in the county and a man that everybody in northeastern Daviess County knew and respected.

The accident that deprived him of life after fifty-two years residence in Daviess County, happened at twenty minutes after 9 o clock Thursday morning in Barr Township, ten miles northeast of this city.

Norris operated a portable saw mill, and had been running his mill on the farm of Clay Doane, just north of Henry Sefrit’s place, and near the Harrisonville road, since last spring.

The mill worked a force of four or five men when in operation, including Mr. Norris who was the engineer.  His sawyer was his son, John Norris, Jr. The boiler and engine of the mill were purchased about three years ago, and had been used almost constantly from that time.  The engine was about a 16-horse power.

Thursday morning the men went to work as usual, the force consisting of “Jack” Norris, his sons, John and Elbert, Lewis McAtee, and Thomas Murphy.

They were a little later starting than usual Thursday morning.

Clay Doane, owner of the farm where the mill stood, was hauling wood that morning, and he and his team stood on the bank of a little creek or “branch” that runs near the mill.  Shortly after nine o’clock Mr. Doane was startled by a terrific explosion, and for an instant the air about the mill was filled with the debris of the wrecked saw mill – boards, logs, splinters, pieces of iron, parts of the boiler, and coals of fire from the furnace.

The most horrible flying object, however, was the dismembered and mangled body of a man, which was shot through the air and surrounding tree-tops for a distance of more than 100 yards.

The body was that of Jack Norris.

He had evidently been standing at the side of the boiler when it let go, and a section, weighing a thousand pounds, had carried him in its flight through space, tearing his head from his body and reducing his form to shapeless and bleeding mass in the twinkling of an eye.

Hi body was split open, and from it, yet quivering with life, some of his internal organs were torn from their places and strewed along the terrible track of the heavy piece of boiler plate, which swept through the air with irresistible force, cutting limbs from trees 30 or 40 feet from the ground, and splattering their inanimate trunks with the brains and blood of the luckless engineer.

Having exhausted its force, the mass of iron fell in the road 100 yards from where it started, and a few feet further on lay the lifeless remains of Norris, who was mangled beyond recognition. 

Bits of his flesh, hair, and beard were found sticking to the pieces of boiler.  Death, of course, was instantaneous, and he was killed as suddenly as if he had been prostrated by a bolt of lightning.

The other men who were working in the mill were all more or less injured.  John Norris Jr., the sawyer, had an arm broken, but was not rendered unconscious.

Elbert Norris, aged 18, Willis McAtee, aged 35, and Thomas Murphy were all prostrated by the force of the explosion, the breath knocked out of them, and each more or less seriously hurt.  Elbert Norris’ hurts were of the most serious character and may yet prove fatal.  He has a dangerous scalp wound, and was bruised about the body.

Clay Doane was the only man about the mill who was not injured.  He stood within 100 yards of the mill when the explosion occurred, and says the shock did not affect him, nor even frighten his team.  All the occupants of the houses in the neighborhood, however, felt the shock.

Mr. Doane was, of course, the first on the scene of the shocking accident, and he cared for the wounded as best he could till aid came.  The body of the dead man was put in as presentable shape as possible under the circumstances, and conveyed to the deceased’s home, near St. Mary’s.  The wounded men were also taken home, and their injuries attended to.

Based on plat maps and the description given in the article I believe I was able to work out where the accident took place.  Just north of the Amish school (north of Cannelsburg) on County Road 775 East, south of County Road 400 North.

Assumed location of accident where George "Jack" Norris died, north of Cannelsburg, Indiana

Friday I’m in Love

As I was walking around the IU Auditorium with two of my besties (who both worked with me there in college) I began to feel sorry for anyone who didn’t go to Indiana University.  I fell in love with the campus all over again, just as I do every time I visit.  I don’t know that IU is the best school in the world, but it’s got to be one of the most beautiful, and I think that counts for something.

Yesterday was a day of loving all over southern Indiana…but let’s start at the beginning.

A few weeks ago, a couple friends of mine, who have both been mentioned in previous posts, decided that we needed to take a trip down to Bloomington.  We all worked there together during college at the IU Auditorium box office and we wanted to visit with our old boss and co-worker.  I could seriously go on and on about how working there was one of the best things I ever did in my life.  Most of us that worked there probably can.  I made amazing friends there that I can’t imagine not having in my life now.

Sorry, I’m gushing.  I told you.  I loved it there.

So we planned on Friday.  Of course, anywhere I go I have to figure out if there is some cemetery or site I can visit to further my genealogical study.  Well, it turns out that one of my friends, C-Dogg B-Dizzle, has her roots in Southern Indiana!  I have made some mention of her Bloomington connections in previous posts, but C-Dogg had never done any research with me herself.  This would be perfect!

Stop One – Yogi’s Grill and Bar, Bloomington, IN

Good old Andrew let me borrow his car (which is way nicer than mine) to take the trip south.  We got to Yogi’s just in time.  I kind of wish now that I had taken a picture of the alcoholic beverage menu board.  It was amazing.  I forgot how cheap it is to drink in Bloomington.  We met up with Marge and Stacy and had a great old time talking about who is doing what now and what is new in the Auditorium, Theatre, and ticketing worlds.  I had my “usual”.  It was awesome.

Stop Two – White Oak Cemetery, Bloomington, IN

I have already been to White Oak Cemetery, and was lucky to have already searched the whole thing over to find C-Dogg’s family here.  Her Brosman family had been in the area for generations and happened to be buried in a neighborhood I love, just blocks from the last apartment where I lived in B-ton.

She got out her own camera and started snapping away at Brosmans that just sort of littered the west side of the cemetery.

C-Dogg, getting shots of all her Brosman kin.

We noticed something strange about the headstones at the cemetery.  While many of the stones are professionally made, and have amazingly stood the test of time, there were quite a few that were definitely hand-carved.  Here were some of my favorites:

Florence Hunter born July 20, 1888 and died January 15, 1911. Cutlery (I believe they are all butter knives) is holding her headstone "in place". What is this all about?

Woodrow Minks, born Jan 10, 1915 and died Oct 25, 1926. Notice the backard 'S' in "son". Weird, right? We saw a few with the letters carved in backwards.

And we moved on.

Stop Three – Erin’s Dream House, West of Bloomington, IN

We hopped in the car and headed toward our next stop, which is sort of my dream house.  I have visions of retiring early and running a bed and breakfast in the country, but close enough to a big city or town that I don’t feel like I am necessarily separated from the wider world.  A few months ago I noticed a house in southern Indiana (we won’t even get into my house hunting obsession) that fits that description perfectly, and I want it, now.  It’s an 1890 Queen Anne that is begging for someone to love it up.  The interior is filled with original woodwork, staircase, doors, hardware on doors, hardware on windows, and then some.  It is for sale for only $65K.  I tried to convince C-Dogg to do it, since I could live vicariously through her…but she didn’t take the bait.  I think she was scared off by the fact that the home is currently uninhabitable and would probably take $50-$75k to get there. Maybe Jumwaltie would do it.  She seemed excited about it as well.

"Buy me, Erin! If you can't save me, I'll die!" This is what this house says to me.

Somebody tell me how to make this happen for myself.  Thanks!

Stop Four: Burch Cemetery, between Stanford and Cincinnati IN, on SR 225 N

I honestly cannot believe we found this place.  We had google map directions and everything and still drove right past it.  We initially decided that it must be in the woods, and in someone else’s property, and we might have to just give up on this one.  I’m glad we didn’t.

I’m glad I turned around.  As we drove slowly back we noticed this narrow gravel drive that looked like someone’s driveway.  “I guess I’ll try this one!”, I said, as we chugged up a very steep hill, gravel splashing out from the tires behind us.  And then there is was….out of nowhere.  It had a gate around it and everything.  Somebody must be tending the property cause it was not overgrown.  We were elated to find it.

We found a whole cemetery full of some of C-Dogg’s distant relatives in here.  Unfortunately the one we were really hoping to find, a man who had actually fought as a Revolutionary War soldier, was absent from the party.  C-dogg snapped some more pictures and we hopped back in the car.  We prepared for the steep descent and were on our way to the next stop.

Stop Five – Union Bethel Cemetery, Richland Township, Greene County, IN

After a few little wrong turns we finally found this quaint little cemetery.  We found C-Dogg’s ggg grandfather who moved with the whole family to Indiana from Pennsylvania.  It was one of the easiest to find headstones in the whole cemetery, in fact.

One thing we found strange about this cemetery was that there were ornamental plantings in front of a lot of headstones, which were actually difficult to move enough to see the inscriptions.  I’m not sure I understand the point of planting in front of a headstone.

We didn’t stick around in this one for very long because we mentioned to Stacy, our old co-worker, that we would love to come back to the Auditorium before we left town again.  We were running a little late.

Stop Six – The beautiful IU Auditorium, Bloomington, IN

If you haven’t seen a show here then you’re missing out.  The murals in the front halls, painted by Thomas Hart Benton are reason enough just to make a visit.  We were thrilled to hear that they turned the jankety old University Theatre (which had been closed for years after opening a new Theatre building) into IU Cinema.

Sadly, we didn’t make it back onto campus on time and missed seeing the inside of the new cinema, but I’m so excited that it exists.  On thing that was shocking and amazing was that they reopened along the north side of the Auditorium.  The entire time we went to school there this space was filled with fencing and construction trucks.  In fact, we were just reminiscing about the day a woman got stuck at the stop of one of the construction fences and was afraid to climb down.  Now it is cleared out and beautiful. There is even a new statue of Hoagy Carmichael (who is from the area) out there with some benches and beautiful gardens.

We all sighed, collectively, and were grateful for our alma mater.

Thanks, IU and Bloomington.  You’re kind of the best.

Stop Seven – Ice Cream on Kirkwood, Bloomington, IN

Duh.

Stop Eight – Home, Indianapolis, IN

One of my favorite things about Bloomington was driving to and from Indianapolis, because it is a gorgeous drive.  It’s better to do it at certain times of the day.  Dusk in summer is the absolute best, especially on this most humid days when you can see the air just sit over the fields.

A Return to Daviess County

Months ago I made my first trip to Daviess County.  I posted about it in December here.

My friend Amy was back in Indianapolis, taking a vacation from New Orleans (huh…).  We decided last fall that we just hadn’t gotten enough of this area and that we would have to come back.  So that’s what we did this weekend.  It was a delight.  We learned a ton!  We found many many tombstones of family members.  We visited the home churches of Amy’s family.  We even danced in a cornfield and in a Dairy Queen drive-thru.  It doesn’t get much better than that on a chilly spring Saturday.

Stop 1: GOP Conference Cornfield

We left Indianapolis early after a delightful breakfast at Sister’s Restaurant.  We took I-70 over to Cloverdale and went south all the way to Washington.  The drive was beautiful.  The weather was weird.  Super cloudy and eerie, and then the clouds would go and it was bright blue skies, and then back to grey and sad, then BLUE!  We got pretty close to Washington when we saw a sign for a Historical Marker down another road.  We stop for all historical markers.  So we turned down a small country road, crossed some RR tracks and ended up at a marker in the middle of a cornfield.

We learned from the marker that the GOP had a rally/conference/meeting in this cornfield during the elections in 1938.  We also discovered that they buried a time capsule at the site that is not to be opened till 2038.  I loooove time capsules (or at least the idea behind them), so needless to say I got really excited.  As I was lying on the ground, posing for a picture with the time capsule spot I saw a dead turtle near my head and ran away.  Bleh.

I might be too excited about this time capsule. I kind of want to show up for this opening in 2038. I wonder if the neighbors would think that was weird.

We then walked on the dusty road a bit and smelled the air because it was so so so clean.  It was absolutely silent.  I forgot now nice it is to be in the country sometimes.  We attempted to enjoy the country by dancing and playing airplane in the road.  It was enjoyable.  It worked.

Erin airplaning

 

Amy dancing

We drove through a couple of small towns of note:

  • Freedom, Indiana – Home of an Indiana libertarian that Amy heard speak, who moved here because the name of the town was “Freedom”.  Gag.
  • Elnora – Sad.  This town looked like it had seen better days.
  • Newberry – Cute but very tiny town.

We finally got to Washington and Amy got us to the library without any help of a map.  Amazing!  Yay Amy!  I think she has such a good memory of how to get there because of the stress I caused her trying to get there last time.

Stop 2:  Washington Public Library, Washington, Indiana

Simply put, this is a beautiful Carnegie library.  It’s just so pretty.  The exterior is solid and the interior is broken into small rooms, but somehow still feels open and airy.  I loved it.  We came here last time we were in town and got here 15 minutes before it closed because it closes at 2 on a Saturday!  What use is that?

We camped out at a room in the genealogy section on the other side of the bookshelf from a serial grunter.  We knew exactly how successful his research endeavors were going based on the grunting.  He was often confused, frustrated, and then every once in awhile successful (these were a higher pitched grunt-more of a sigh).

We began scanning the shelves and immediately found histories of the Arvin family, which was the maiden name of Amy’s grandmother.  There was even a published book about the entire history of the Arvin family in the area and how they got there.  It was pretty amazing.  We found her great grandfather, great great grandfather, and so on.

Now, one thing about my friend Amy is that she is really Catholic.  Like we’ve been working on her tree for a while now and I hadn’t found a single relative of hers yet that was not Catholic.   It’s a part of her identity.  I can only imagine a tragedy unfolding if she ever found out she wasn’t 100% Catholic (oh…the guilt).  Then the Arvin book did what I was supposed to keep secret if I ever found out.  Henry Arvin, the man who brought the family to Indiana was a Catholic convert (a 400 pound one at that, who was too big to farm) and was most likely Baptist before he converted to his wife’s religion.  Amy went through a series of facial transformations that had me laughing so hard I thought I was going to run the grunter out of the room.

This is her actually finding the text that he was a convert. When she gasped I grabbed my camera.

Feeling the shock.

Attempting to deal with the news.

After the discovery of the Arvin information we continued to find information of the family in wedding records, church records, and county information.  It was a pretty successful trip despite the fact that we only had 3.5 hours there.  Before we left I used the information we got from our research there to plot out the next portion of our trip.

Stop 3: St. Peter’s Church – Montgomery, Indiana

St. Peter's Cemetery in Montgomery, Indiana

We headed to St. Peter’s Church in Montgomery, a large church in a tiny town.  The older part of the cemetery here was much larger than that of the rest of the cemeteries we visited that day.  It was on a hill and quite scenic.  We were able to find quite a few people named Arvin, including a grandparent!  Win!

As we were driving out of Montgomery, we saw a sign for an Amish Village down the street.  Obviously we had to go.  We turned a corner and there was an entire “village” of white buildings with a couple buggies and some horses.  There were also a TON of older folks milling around the grounds and shopping.  What we came upon was Gasthof Amish Village.  There was a hotel, a bakery, an antique shop (maybe more than one), a restaurant, buggy rides, nature, and more.  We walked around in sort of a stunned, open-mouthed stupor.  Where did this come from?  Where are we?  Is that singing?  What is this place?  We gave up trying to figure out most of the answers to these questions and continued onto Cannelburg!

Stop 4: Cannelburg, Indiana (again!)

We visited Cannelburg the last time we were here and loved it.  We had to go back to see the Catholic Church and see if we missed a cemetery that might have been there.  All Saints Catholic Church was there and we decided that those parishioners were most likely buried in St. Peter’s.  We revisited our favorite Cannelburg landmark, the Cannelburg Jailhouse.

Amy got gutsy, got out, and decided to give a little peek inside said jailhouse to find out what’s going on in there.

Amy being brave.

Turns out it was just a shed.  Boo!  I think she was hoping to see some shackles and a tin cup for water.  No such luck.

Stop 5 : St. Mary’s Cemetery (unplanned)

This was unplanned because this church has burned and is no longer listed on any maps.  In fact, the cemetery that is adjacent to the burned church is not even listed on Google Maps.  I have looked for it since and cannot find it again!  Well, I’m glad we turned around and followed the signs toward St. Mary’s because we found a ton of Amy’s relatives there.  For those of you looking for this place, the church (no longer open) and cemetery are located at County Road 1200 East and County Road 350 North, on the NW side of the intersection, just south of West Boggs Lake. The most important things we found here were numerous McAtee graves.

St. Mary's Cemetery - Headstone of Daniel McAtee, Amy's 4th great grandfather

We loved that we found this place without planning for it.  The opportunity presented itself and we had to go.  And it was awesome.

Stop 6 – St. Martin Church and Cemetery, Whitfield, Indiana

Based on Google Maps I was pretty sure Whitfield was going to be a small town.  I was right.  I’m pretty sure Whitfield consists of the church and a couple of houses.  The church is a pretty white building, reminiscent of New England country churches.   The Anticipation service was going on at St. Martin while we were visiting the cemetery and when church was out we were able to actually go inside.  It was an older church and the interior was cozy and simple.  The churchgoers seemed friendly and didn’t look at us like we were criminals, which was nice.  Amy was convinced that most of these people were probably her cousins.  She was waiting to get invited home to meet the relatives.

St. Martin Church, Whitfield, Indiana

We found the one grave we were really hoping to find, that of Anna Dell (McAtee) Arvin.  This is Amy’s great grandmother.  She was delighted to find it.  It wasn’t until we got to St. Martin that she felt any sort of connection to the area.  Earlier, as we were driving away from Montgomery, I said, “It’s so weird that your people are from here…isn’t it?”  And she said, “I was just thinking that.  I feel like no connection to this.”  But she loved St. Martin, and now wants to go to the Hog Roast they’re having this summer.

Stop 7 – Hindostan Falls, AKA Disasterland

Things had been going too well.  Other than a Mexican food lunch and stomach issue, the trip had been too perfect.  So something had to go awry.

When I looked at the map, I noticed that heading away from Whitfield and driving towards French Lick we could make a little stop in a town called Hindostan Falls.  There isn’t anything left of the town anymore (which used to be the almost the same size as Louisville back in the earlier part of the 19th century).  It’s now a small recreational area.  That would be nice, right?  No.  It wasn’t.

The drive started out fine, till we saw two cars pulled off on the side of the road.  It looked like a back country drug deal.  I’m sure it wasn’t, but I made a joke about it and Amy got stressed.  Then the County Road we were on turned into a gravel road.  Amy got more stressed.  A bridge showed up ahead of us and she said, “You’re not taking my car over that, are you?”  I really considered turning around because she looked like she was going to have a panic attack.  Then as I was getting ready to switch into reverse, a truck pulled up behind us.  “Welp, looks like we have to go over!”.  And we did.  And it was fine.  The road turned back into pavement and it seemed like we were out of the woods.  I wasn’t aware that we would soon be in the mud.

Brooks Bridge - On the way to Hindostan Falls.

Southern Indiana has seen its fair share of flooding this spring.  I was not, however, aware that there were still flooding issues.  The street began to look dirty, then muddy, then mud.  Like there was no street.  Just mud.  I soon realized that if I stopped the car, we would probably stay stopped for good.  So I very very carefully maneuvered the car into a U-turn and started going back the way we came.  The man in the pickup truck was walking towards us with two kids.  As we got closer, I rolled down my window as I slowly rode by and said, “This mud is horrible!  I had no idea!”.  He said, “Just be careful, I looked over at the river and all of a sudden my truck was off the road.”  I realized that they were walking cause their massive truck got stuck.  I realized there was nothing we could do for these people.  If we stopped we would stay stopped.  We had no phone reception.  We couldn’t help push that thing out, they needed a massive truck for a tow.  Their only chance was to get to one of the neighboring houses, and luckily there were a few nearby.  I just kept thinking, “Move on!  Save yourself!”

Driving out of the mud. Ugh. Muck muck muck.

We finally got back to pavement and decided to NOT go back towards the scary bridge.  We passed a church that we were convinced was called “The Church of the Gross” because they had a very unfortunate graphic designer for their font.  It was, in fact, called the Church of the Cross.  We laughed…a lot.  We soon made it to French Lick. (sigh)

Stop 8 – French Lick, Indiana

When is French Lick not a good idea?  Never.  Both Amy and I love French Lick.  We stopped by the French Lick Winery for dinner and had a wine tasting while we were waiting for our food.  Neither of us bought any wine, but I was definitely tempted.  After dinner Amy was very interested in a mini-Blizzard from Dairy Queen.  And who am I to say “no” to Dairy Queen?

Amy played DJ during our entire trip and did a pretty good job throughout.  When we got to Dairy Queen she really hit her DJing high point.  She turned on the new Justin Timberlake and Timbaland song, Carry Out.  If you haven’t heard this song, I would highly recommend it.  I was skeptical of it myself, but after watching the ridiculous video I was completely won over.  We danced.  The guy behind us was very amused.  And then MotownPhilly came on.  It was kind of awesome.  We listened to three fabulous dance tunes before we got our mini-Blizzard.  We didn’t mind waiting.

Post blizzard we headed back towards Indy.

Stop 9 – Home

Dead dead deadski.  Home and to bed.

 

 

 

 

Fun with Google Maps

I am a huge fan of the writer, Bill Bryson.  He used to write primarily hilarious travel books.  However, he seems to be interested in EVERYTHING now , and therefore has to write about everything.  I just recently finished his most recent book, At Home.  In this book he talks about history, but using the things that you find in your home.

A little, seemingly insignificant event happened to me in college that really made me more interested in houses and the histories within them.  I used to live in an off-campus house when I went to school at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.  I LOVED my house.  It was 5 bedrooms, hardwood floors, dining room, garage (without functional doors, but a garage nonetheless), and a small yard.  I had great roommates too.  I have nothing but fond memories of my time there.  One of my roommates my senior year was dating a fellow named Zack (whom she eventually married).  The two of them were visiting with some of Zack’s family one day when Zack’s grandfather was asking her about college life.  When he found out she was living off campus, he asked her where abouts.  She told him it was south of town.  He said, “Oh!  I used to live south of town.  What street?”  She said, “2nd and Fess.”  He said, “Wow!  That’s near where I grew up!  I grew up ON Fess!”  He asked her what the address was and she told him his old address!  We were living in Zack’s grandfather’s house!  WHAT?!

That one experience left me so interested in the history, not only of our own home, but of homes in general.  I wonder what life was like for Zack’s grandfather in Bloomington in the 1930s.  I can’t even imagine.  I am guessing there were less couches on front porches.  I am guessing there was much less frisbee played down the middle of the street in the summertime.

So one of the things about genealogy that has me most interested is using Google Maps to see where my ancestors are from.  Using the census records (usually starting in 1900) on Ancestry.com you can find the addresses to anyone you’re seeking.  One problem I have come upon is that there are never addresses for farms (mostly because there weren’t really addresses for them).  Sometimes you can work out a nearby intersection, but that’s about it.

It’s interesting to see what the landscape looks like.  Even if it’s obvious that the home is no long on the property, you see their proximity to other places within a short walk.  Streetview, in Google Maps, has made it possible to even see what the exact home looks like from the front.  Even if some of the houses addresses may not be lined up EXACTLY with the homes, you can generally get the feel of the street.

Some homes are amazing, glowing in the sun on tree-lined streets.  Some houses, as I have stated in an earlier post, look like total crack dens.  Some houses look like they were probably once amazing…and are now homes to the animals and intravenous drug users, hiding from the cops.

I have included here some of my favorites so far.

My Fam

1910 Home of Bascom Taylor Lacey at 1559 Washington Street in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

This is the home of my great great great grandfather, Bascom Taylor Lacey.  Here is an example of a time when I was like, “I wonder if there’s any way to prove that I should have inherited his money.”  Amazing house, right?  And that name….Bascom Taylor Lacey.  A man with that name SHOULD live in that house.  A fun little sidenote about B.T.  (a nickname he often used), he was the President of the Green Ridge Club, which was a cycling club in the Scranton, PA area.  I learned recently from American Pickers that biking was a rich person’s hobby back in the early 1900s.  Bikes were VERY expensive.  Very.

The parking lot for this theatre seems to have taken over my great great uncle's home.

So, I have a great great uncle named Allison Kinsley.  It took me quite awhile to come to the realization that this man was actually a man.  Allison?  Yeah, he was a guy.  He moved to Denver, far far from the rest of my Kinsley family in Pennsylvania and New England.  He lived here in 1920 (I don’t know till when because I still don’t have a death date for him) and the Esquire didn’t open till 1927.  It was redone in the 1960s, as you can tell by its ugly boxiness.  But how about that Old Timey font on the front!  Capitol Hill is supposed to be one of the cooler and trendier ‘hoods in all of Denver.  I’m proud of my Uncle Allison.

Tucson home where my great grandparents lived.

You may be thinking, “Are those cacti in the front yard?”  That’s what I was thinking, and yes…yes, they are.  This is the house (or at least right next to the house) where my great great grandparents John Darl and Eva (Hill) Munn, moved in their middle life after their kids had grown.  They ended up moving back to Ohio later in their lives, but they spent quite awhile in Arizona when there was still not much going on there.

Andrew’s Fam

East 12th Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. There is really a house behind this.

When we were growing up we lived in a neighborhood for a few years where there existed an urban legend of a man.  His name was Weedy Man.  We called him that because he lived in a house that was so surrounded by weeds and foliage that you truly could not even see it.  When I looked this house of Andrew’s great great grandmother, Fannie (Galloway) Bastion Johnson, I was brought back to my childhood of terrifying neighborhood characters.  It looks like it was quite a large house and was probably quite lovely in 1920.  It is currently a hot mess.  This neighborhood is known for being in the middle of Sketchyville.

2021 Nowland Avenue - The home of many generations of Andrew's grandmother's family.

This house, on the near NE side of Indianapolis is where Andrew’s grandmother lived as a child.  I saw a picture of what this house looked like back then and wish I had it to post along with all this.

Friends’ Fams

4054 Saint Ferdinand Ave in St. Louis, Missouri. This was the home of Mary Margaret Hardin in 1930.

The one on the left is the home of my friend Ragin’ Nortron’s great grandmother.  You may remember a story I recently posted about Ragin’ and his family in Wabash, Indiana.  Much of his family is also from the St. Louis area.  This was one of my favorites.  You can tell that these houses were probably amazing when they were built and before they started becoming vacant lots.  I LOVE that this home still has shards of glass sitting in the frames.  I can just imagine the exciting adventures that go on behind those empty window frames.

This used to be a house.

As we can see from the steps, this used to be a house, and was most likely the house of Andrew Brosman in 1930.  He was the great grandfather of my friend C-Dogg.  He only lived for a very short time in Indianapolis, but when he did he was located at this home at 2546 N. Harding Street.  It was probably a great place to live then, within a short walk of Riverside Park.

Illustration of Riverside Park from an old postcard.

I am a traveling fiend, and sometimes I feel like Google maps lets me take little trips to the places where my family comes from without ever leaving this great. comfy, green chair.

Any genealogists out there enjoy this little mini-hobby as well?  Anyone have another fabulous use for Google Maps?

Friends for Generations

We have some really good friends.  I am one of those people who when I find a good friend, I hold on to them.  What I have learned recently was one of the most adorable things I have ever seen, and it involves my husband and his friend.

So I LOVE getting people excited about genealogy, although it may be sort of a selfish thing.  I MIGHT automatically assume people will think less of me if they know that I’m interested in such a geriatric hobby, so I try to make it sound REALLY cool and hip.  However, when I get people excited I will often hear, “Well, let me know if you have time to work on my tree.  That would be cool.” And honestly, I kind of like it.  I love looking into other people’s histories, almost as much as my own, only because they are so different.  My friends, C-Dogg B-Dizzle and husband Ragin’ Nortron (names have been changed to protect the innocent), are two friends whose trees I am working on.  I must say, it is a nice diversion from my own.

I was working on Nortron’s tree the other day and made a lovely discovery.  When I look through census records I love to find out the actual home addresses of the people in the tree and put those addresses in my notes section.  Then if you want to pull up the address on google maps, it’s kind of awesome.

“Oh look!  This is where my ggg grandmother lived, and now it looks like a crack den!”  This happens a LOT.

So I was looking at Nortron’s gg grandfather’s (Arthur Jones) addresses in the actual copies of the census pages and noticed something interesting on the page.  I recognized the name under him.  Delmar Morts.  Hmmm….  I know there were Morts’s in my tree because of Andrew but I wasn’t sure if they were from Wabash, Indiana like this one.  So I switch trees, and what do you know.  Delmar and Arthur were neighbors!  Delmar was my husbands gg uncle!  Now…this wouldn’t be strange if any of us were from Wabash.  None of us were.  In fact, I don’t know that any of us have BEEN to Wabash.  Maybe, Ragin’ Nortron.  I can’t say.

My husband and Ragin’ have been friends for years, since we were all in high school together (WAY too long ago).  Ragin’ wooed and married a friend of mine and an old roommate.  They are now close neighbors to us and they are delightful friends.  I wonder if Delmar and Arthur were good friends.  I’m just going to assume they were… and sigh a lot, thinking about how precious it all is.

O Cannelburg, O Cannelburg, How Lovely are Thy Jails

I have a friend who is very Irish.  She’s got the white skin, the red hair, grandparents named Patrick and Bridget…everything.  But there are a few branches on her mother’s side that are German…very German.  These include generations of people ALL named Emil.  I can imagine family gatherings with that family was a lot like my Brown side.  We have like 800 Johns.  My dad is a John, but when we’re at a family gathering in Ohio, his name is Tom.  It was easier that way than having all 800 Johns turn around when someone calls for you.  Anyway…I imagine that’s how it was in her very German family with Emils.  They were probably nicknamed Heinrich, Klaus, and Lou… or something.

Anyway, when she was in town visiting last year we started working on her family tree.  We worked for hours, well into the night.  We worked until all her makeup had washed off from tears of laughter.  What we discovered was that my friend Amy had VERY deep roots in Southern Indiana in the Catholic German community.  One town that stood out to us was Cannelburg, mostly because we had never heard of it before and it was just so obscure.  We decided then and there that we WOULD go to Cannelburg.  That is what we did last week.  We went to Cannelburg and discovered some great places down in Southern Indiana.

I geeked out the nights before our departure and made a Google map of our trip.  Of course I forgot to send it to myself before we left and I had to wing it.  It worked out.

Stop 1:  Bloomington, IN – Farm

Farm is actually a restaurant.  Not a farm.  They specialize in locally grown and organic foods.  They are well known for their breakfasts, and for good reason….jeezy creezy it was good.  I could have survived on the biscuits alone, but I ate way more than that.  Amy and I went to Indiana University Bloomington, so it’s a nice time when we can revisit Kirkwood and reminisce.  I’m glad Farm wasn’t around when I was in school.  I would have been even broker.

Stop 2:  Scotland, Indiana

Scotland was not the goal.  In fact, neither of us had ever heard of Scotland, Indiana.  As we drove down the road towards Daviess County Amy saw a small blue sign that just said, “Historic Site”.  She made it very apparent that she thought we should go back and see what the site was, and we did.  We drove up a massive long hill and came upon the town.  We saw what I believe was the “historic site” immediately on our left.  This used to be a hotel, and as I drove around the back to turn around there were two remaining outhouses.  Fabulous.

I felt a little bit like we were the only people in the whole town, except I also felt like we were being watched the whole time…very Children of the Corn.  A very manicured grey poodle ran manically across the street a lot.  Like frantic street-crossing.  Back and forth.  Amy was solicited in the street by a black cat while she tried to take the following pictures.  She hates cats.  It amused me.

Scotland, Indiana.  National Register of Historic Places

This is Scotland. The Scotland Hotel is the blue building on the left. This is now a residence, but there is a marker in front of the home declaring its place in the National Historic Register.

Stop signs, Scotland, Indiana.

Scotland really wants you to stop here. One stop sign is just not enough. Also they want you to know that they are an OFFICIAL community. They have a sign that says so. It doesn't matter that this is a sign from when Robert Orr was governor of the state (1981-1989).

General Store in Scotland, Indiana.  Osh Kosh B'Gosh advertisement.

A fun little general store we saw as we drove around town. This place was vacant except for the many motorcycles inside.

We were running low on gas, and I was afraid a Scotland native was going to grow weary of our picture-taking, so we left.

Stop 3:  Some Big Lake or something, Daviess Co. or possible Martin Co., Indiana

So we stopped and got gas.  I was pumping and Amy ran in to get something to drink.  I’m not sure where my mind was, but it certainly wasn’t on the task at hand.  When I finished pumping I pulled up to the gas station and waited for Amy.  When she came out she looked a little frazzled.  She told me about the conversation of the locals that were in the gas station and the fact that every one of them was smoking in the store.  She got out as soon as she could and just hopped in the car.  Neither of us were paying attention like we should.  I pulled out of the gas station and headed towards Loogootee, what was to be our next stop.  About a half hour later I heard Amy say, “Oh Erie!  We have to stop!” She explained that our gas flap was open.  So I pulled into a parking lot about 1 minute later.  It was a parking lot for a lake-side restaurant.  As I was opening the door to get out Amy said, “I think there’s supposed to be some big lake around here or something.”  I looked up.  Ummm….We were completely surrounded by a lake.  We were literally on a large peninsula.  And I just looked at her and looked at the lake.  Really? So that was hilarious, and then I got out and realized that not only was the gas flap open, I didn’t even put the cap on!  WHAT?!  All of our brain power had obviously been sucked away by Scotland’s charms.

Daviess County and Martin County Indiana

So here I am, in front of the MASSIVE lake Amy just kind of missed, putting on the bright yellow gas cap we both missed.

Stop 4:  Loogootee, Indiana

We learned that a number of Amy’s ancestors were buried in St. John’s cemetery in Loogootee.  They were also baptized and married in its church.  The cemetery was a small and peaceful place FULL of surnames we recognized in her tree (Norris, Arvin, McAtee, etc.).

Catholic cemetery, Martin County, Indiana

St. John's Cemetery in Loogootee, Indiana on a cloudy day.

We found good old Hillary, one of her great great great grandfathers (who we often refer to as Hilaire, because of what seems to be a Hilaire-ious census error).  We both felt close to Hillary (who’s name is misspelled on his headstone – what?!).  So we both had our pics taken with him, in his final resting place.

Hillery McAtee, Martin County, St. John's Cemetery

Amy, showing love to the McAtee ancestry. "What up, g-pa?!"

The church, located about a mile from the cemetery, was “whimsical” as Amy said.  Hand-painted angels adorned the walls.  Pink was the color palette of choice.

St. John's Catholic Church in Martin County, Indiana, Loogootee.

St. John's Catholic Church in Loogootee. You could use this church as the template for an 8 year old girl's bedroom concept. Very pink.

It was just sitting there! I kind of wanted to take one. Like they were preparing to sell them at the next bake-sale.

Confessional sign

How awesome is this sign that was built in over the confessional booths? What is with that fabulous font?! I kind of loved it.

We couldn’t spend too much time in Loogootee so after the church we drove through kind of quickly to get to our next stop.

Stop 5: Washington, Indiana.  Daviess County.

I recently read a book that I randomly came upon in a Half-Priced Books.  It was called Indiana Gothic, by Pope Brock and was amazing!  It was written in a style that reminded me of In Cold Blood, in the sense that it was a true story written like a novel.  This Mr. Brock wrote the story of some of his own ancestors that lived in Daviess County around the turn of the century, and later.  He had some DRAMA up in his family.  His family never talked about but it was saved in the history of public record and newspapers.  Almost all of the story took place in Daviess County, specifically Washington, Indiana.  So it was kind of fun for me to visit this place.  We drove around downtown looking for the library, and finally found it.  We headed inside to the Genealogy section and had all of 15 minutes to do a little searching.  In that VERY short time we found a ton of stuff.  We realized that one day of research in that little room would fill in some gaps.  Maybe on her next trip to Indiana.

When the library closed we drove around town for a few minutes.  I gave Amy the task of map-reader since I was driving.  I quickly learned that Amy doesn’t like to read maps.  She may have liked to read maps before she moved to New Orleans, but now life must be lived, and maps are a hindrance.  Or maybe she never liked to read maps.  So I showed her how to use the maps app on my iPhone and she just continued to stare out the windows with iPhone in hand.  This is how the conversations would go:

Me:  So where next?

Amy: What?

Me:  Where to?  Do I need to turn here?  Check the map.

Amy:  Oh, Ummm… (turning phone, looking confused, looking out the window again)  Where are we?

Me:  Amy!  You’re supposed to be the map reader.

Amy:  Stop yelling at me!  You’re making me work too fast!

So, we finally got moving to our next stop after some wandering…

Stop 6: Black Oak

Really not much going on here.  Like…for real.  Nothing.  We did come upon a LOT of Mennonites in this area.  I’m pretty sure the majority of people that lived here are German Dutch or Mennonite or Amish.  Most homes had a carriage.  We did come upon a very strange place here called the Candy Haus.  We thought, “Yay!  A small local family owned shop!  Let’s stop!”  So we followed the signs and came upon a house with a sign inviting us in.  What I saw was very strange.  There was a strange booth in front of the house with the same vinyl siding as the house, with a man talking on a phone.  A woman dressed in a long dress and head covering was walking out towards the booth to go talk to the man.  Amy kept asking me to stop and I had to repeatedly say, “Amy!  They’re in a phone booth!  In their front yard!  I am not stopping!”  I think after the 3rd or 4th time I explained it to her she also decided that stopping would be weird…you know, while they were in the phone booth.

We drove on.

Stop 7: Cannelburg.  Finally.

This location was our main goal.  Many of Amy’s family members lived in farmland immediately surrounding Cannelburg (also sometimes spelled Cannellburg).  Cannelburg was very similar to Black Oak, but actually still had the post office that Black Oak has since lost.  The post office and meat processing center seems to be the center of this bustling town (even though it’s not nearly big enough to be a town).  As we were driving around town, I saw a street we hadn’t driven down yet (keep in mind we drove through the rest of the streets in like 10 minutes, including Amy’s stops to take photos).  We turned down the road and what I saw was amazing.  A shed, made of wood with some weird metal covering, with a sign proclaiming it as the “town” jail.

Cannelburg jail, Daviess County, Indiana

If you cannot read the sign in this picture, it reads Cannelburg Jailhouse, Est. 1890.

At first we thought Cannelburgians were just Hilaire-ious.  But then we started discussing whether this actually could have been a jailhouse for the town.  We decided that it totally was, and knowing Amy’s love for bourbon, her family members were probably there from time to time.

That was it.  That was Cannelburg.  At first it was sort of a letdown, but the “jailhouse” made this stop totally worth it.

We wanted to get to French Lick so we started out of town and started the scenic drive.

Stop 8: Shoals, Indiana

Shoals, Indiana is one of the prettiest little areas I have seen in Southern Indiana.  I have been through a lot of our state and had never been to Shoals.  I might be back.

Overlook in Shoals Indiana

They had an amazing little overlook along the route to French Lick so we had to stop and take pictures.

Stop 9: French Lick, Indiana

We both love French Lick and West Baden, Indiana.  If you live in Indiana or Kentucky and have never been here, please go.  You will be shocked and amazed by the two gorgeous hotels located here. Not only are the hotels gorgeous, but the renovation of the hotels and creation of the casino in town has lead to a movement of economic revitalization in the community.  The downtown has way more going on, and it’s so cute.

French Lick church

Please visit French Lick and West Baden. This is part of the adorable downtown, settled in what is known as Springs Valley.

On the drive to French Lick I had a small meltdown.  I get carsick now.  This is something that’s gotten progressively worse since I’ve gotten older.  It’s usually fine as long as I’m driving.  The roads from Cannelburg to French Lick were SOOOO windy though.  I don’t think it helped that I was very hungry.  When we found a place to eat in French Lick I was truly thinking to myself, “I can’t get back in that car tonight.  We are going to have to stay here.  Or Amy will have to drive back and Andrew will have to pick me up tomorrow.  I cannot get back in that car.”  I didn’t say these things out loud cause I was REALLY hoping it would pass.  It did.  We got a mediocre dinner downtown and headed over to the West Baden Hotel, the more impressive of the two hotels.  We stopped at the precious little ice cream shop and I got some Rocky Road, which brought be completely back to life.  We sat in the massive atrium, ate, people watched, and just relaxed.

Stop 10: Home

We rocked out to Elvis Presley.  Isn’t Suspicious Minds a fabulous song?

We got home.

Recent Americans

I have been helping the aunt of a friend of mine sort out her genealogy material.  It has been interesting to talk with her (and my friend) about their family because their relations came over to America much more recently than my own.  They are some serious Irish.  Like…REALLY Irish.  Like most of them are named Patrick, Bridget, Mary, or Joseph Irish.

While I was at her home on Friday her new son-in-law was hanging out.  He is the son of Basque Cuban refugees.  He knew exactly how his family got from the Basque region to Cuba, and then from Cuba to America.  He didn’t understand how we had to do so much research to figure out how we ended up in this crazy place called America.  “My mom got here on Eastern airlines.”

There is only one branch of my family that came to America after 1830 or so.  That is a branch on my maternal Grandmother’s side.  They’re Welsh and they unfortunately have the most boring and average names you could find.  There is a Jones branch and a Smith branch.  Very helpful.  Thank you.

While we were in New York recently we were lucky enough to be at Ellis Island the day that they were naturalizing new citizens.  I have to say it was kind of moving.  I’m interested to know if two generations down the line the children of these new Americans will know where they came from.

Front entrance to Ellis Island (Museum).

New Americans on Ellis Island

Practically a neighbor

So a friend of mine has moved to New Orleans.  She obviously doesn’t visit very much because, well, she lives in New Orleans and “Home” is Indianapolis.  Which sounds more exciting?  Anyway, she came home for a week because of a baby shower and we hung out for a few days.

We used to be roommates at IU so one day we drove down to Bloomington for a nostalgia-fest.  Andrew works down there three days a week so we made sure to go on a day that we could have lunch with him.  We made all the usual stops. Yogi’s for lunch, the Union, Kirkwood, our old house, the Auditorium for a visit with old friends.  I even got a no-bake cookie from Sugar and Spice, or what my friends and I decided to call it our Freshman year, a no-bake-ie.  Eh?  Clever, right?  Eh?

Anyway…

Of course I can’t go anywhere without thinking, “Is there a cemetery I need to visit?”  Well, there weren’t any for my family, but I recently started working on a friend of mine’s tree.  We’ll call her C-Dogg B-Dizzle to protect her identity.  She is also a friend I have known since Bloomington days and I found out that much of her family came from Bloomington and the nearby areas.  In fact, I lived ONE BLOCK from where her Great Great Grandparents were buried.  We were neighbors!  In fact, I used to take little strolls in that cemetery.  I’ve always loved cemeteries.  In fact, one of the reasons I loved my last apartment in Bloomington so much was because it was nestled right in between two cemeteries, and I had a great view of the pretty one on a hill out my living room AND bedroom window.

Now C-Dogg was not really aware of her history there and only knew that a grandfather of hers went to high school there.  Her Brosmans have been living in that area for generations, if not in Monroe County, then neighboring Greene County.

My New Orleans friend helped me find the headstone in White Oak Cemetery.  I can tell you with certainty that she REALLY didn’t want to get out of the car in that 98 degree heat and help me hunt for headstones, but she was a good sport and SHE found it.

What I found very interesting about the plots of her family is that they were scattered sort of haphazardly across the back line of the cemetery along the trees.  Ella and Alvin Brosman (married) had matching stones, but were like 25 yards from each other.  William Byrd, a son of theirs, was somewhere in between along with like 6 others.

Headstone for Ella Jane Brosman

Headstone for Alvin Brosman - C-Dogg's gg grandfather

Another thing I found amusing was within the tree line was another sad little cemetery but for unwanted headstone decorations.  They absolutely littered the surrounding woods.

Abandoned flowers in White Oak Cemetery

The closest we got to an “adventure” was mixing up White Oak Cemetery with Rose Hill Cemetery.  Thanks, Google Maps (that was sarcasm).  BUT we had a lovely time on our visit.  And I was delighted to find something for a friend.