A forgotten murder/suicide in Downtown Indy

So, one of my favorite things about doing genealogy is coming upon these wild stories in families that people knew nothing about.  A lot of times horrible things will happen and people don’t want to talk about them and they get swept under the rug.  These stories get lost in history.  I found one of those stories today!

I started a new tree for a friend with the last name of Totten.  While she was here I hit a few little roadblocks but once she left I had some more time to delve a little deeper into her Totten branch and figured out how her family got to Indiana.  The first Totten to have a child in Indiana was Calvin P. Totten who came to Johnson County with his parents and quite a few siblings.

I couldn’t find any death or burial information on Calvin and his wife Cora, which was frustrating me so I hopped on genealogybank.com to see if there were any newspaper articles where either of them were mentioned.  This is what popped up in my first search:

“Jealous Husband Kills Wife and Commits Suicide

A Double Tragedy Enacted on Streets of Indianapolis

In a fit of jealous rage, Calvin Totten, a contractor, aged fifty-five years, this evening shot to death his wife, aged forty-years, as the woman ran screaming into the street, and then in the presence of a crowd of Saturday afternoon shoppers he sent a bullet into his own head, inflicting a fatal wound.”

Ack!  What?!  I must know more!

This came from an article in the Cleveland Leader on Aug 31.  I couldn’t find anything online from the Indianapolis News or Star about this so I’ll be looking tomorrow.  How will I look tomorrow?  I knew you’d ask.

Well, tomorrow is my birthday.  Andrew asked what I would like to do for my birthday and I asked him if I could spend some time at the State Library because it’s been about forever.  Today, after working on this Totten tree I have even more to research!  I could spend all day there.  Happy Birthday to me!

The Totten that I know was shocked at this bit of news.  Although she did respond with a, “Tottens are pretty intense.”  HA!   I hope to find some more info tomorrow to pass along to her.  I am also interested to find out if her grandfather Totten (still alive) knew anything about this craziness.  It seems that many (not all of them, obviously) of the Tottens may have left Indiana after this incident so there may not have been a lot of family around to even bring it up.

********************************************************************************************

(Written the following day)

So I found an article in the Indianapolis News from September 1, 1902.  The article is pretty wild, and obviously very sensational writing (given the times) so I think I have to post the whole thing.

“Slain Wife and Suicide Are Buried Together

Calvin Totten, Jealous Husband and His Victim

At Town of Courtship

Husband Killed her Saturday Night After Years of Jealous Rage – Efforts to Evade Him

Imbued with a jealous rage that had been rankling within him for several years, Calvin P. Totten murdered his wife by shooting her with a revolver, Saturday evening, and then turned the weapon on himself.  A bullet in his brain caused his death an hour and a half later at City Hospital.

The shooting occurred at the home of Mrs. Benjamin Carr at 216 East New York Street, where Mrs. Totten and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Minnie Totten, had gone to make a social call.

Because of domestic differences, Mrs. Totten had left her husband several months ago, and refused to live with him.  She had applied for a divorce on the ground of inhuman treatment on several occassions.  The threats of Totten to take her life had caused the family no end of alarm, and care was exercised to keep Totten from ascertaining the whereabouts of his wife.  The woman moved many times to keep from coming in contact with her jealous husband.

Recently she had been living with her daughter Minnie at 427 East Market Street.  The girl is employed by the New Telephone Company.  Last Friday Minnie saw her father lurking near their home and Mrs. Totten in moral dread, asked the police to lock him up.

Superintendent Taffe allowed Totten to go free on his promise to leave the city immediately.  He was not seen again until he appeared suddenly in front of the Carr home.

The woman and girl were talking of Johnson County, where all of them formerly lived.  Minnie went to Franklin last week to attend the Johnson County Fair and she was telling of her experiences when her mother, with blanched face, suddenly exclaimed, “My God, here comes Cal.”

She seemed almost paralyzed with fear, but managed to struggle to her feet as though to escape.  She was too late, however, as Totten with the expression of a demon in his face, drew his revolver and began firing.  With a scream Mrs. Totten staggered and was about to run into the house when four shots from the revolver came in rapid succession.  The woman fell heavily to the floor of the porch, three of the four bullets having inflicted fatal wounds.

One of them had passed through her heart and the other three entered her back.  Mrs. Carr was so close that the bullets almost touched her as they sped by to their mark.  Minnie Totten fell in a swoon and the man turned toward the street.

The firing attracted the attention of a dozen or more men passing in Massachusetts Avenue nearby.  They ran to the house and the murderer coolly emptied the shells from his revolver and filled the chambers with fresh cartridges.  Waving the weapon defiantly at the crowd he started to run east in New York Street. The men followed him at a respectful distance, and when Totten realized that escape was impossible he stopped and fired a bullet into his right temple.

The couple were married in Franklin seventeen years ago on the wife’s nineteenth birthday.  Totten at that time was thirty-six years old.  Mrs. Totten’s maiden name was Cora Kipheart, and her brothers and relatives are well-known citizens of Johnson County.  Totten was also a member of a well-to-do family.  He was employed as a carpenter and a bricklayer.

Totten from the start had a jealous disposition and this culminated in an unreasoning suspicion that his wife was not true to him.  Quarrels were frequent, and as a last resort, and after sixteen years of suffering, Mrs. Totten decided to separate from him.  This only developed and strengthened the man’s jealousy and he swore often that he would someday take her life.

Yesterday evening at 6 o’clock both the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Totten were buried side by side in the little graveyard at Bargersville, Johnson County.  It was in this little village that Mrs. Totten was born and reared, and it was there she first met Totten.  There was much feeling against Totten among the relatives and friends of the dead woman, but it was finally decided that both bodies should be buried in the family plot next to the grave of one of their children.

The grave of Mary Lenore Totten who died just two years before her father killed her mother and himself.  She was just 13 years old.

The grave of Mary Lenore Totten who died just two years before her father killed her mother and himself. She was just 13 years old.

At 2:30 o’clock yesterday afternoon two hearses bore the bodies from Ragsdale’s undertaking establishment to an electric car of the Franklin line, at Georgia and Meridiant Streets.  This car was met in Franklin and the funeral procession went over a country road to the Bargersville cemetery.  A large crowd of people followed all the way.  Short services were held at the graves and the last chapter of the tragedy was closed when the coffins were lowered into the ground.”

Bravo, 1902 journalist!  Well-written, sir!  One thing that always amazes me about reading these old stories…they are so rarely labeled with the name of a writer.

The next time I get some time to go to the library I hope to check out some of the newspapers from Johnson County during that time.

Any Tottens or Kiphearts out there in the world ever hear about this story?  Please comment!

 

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

Fall Break Part IV – Someone is Trying to Erase My Family

On our last morning in Scranton I was ready to really use that Google Map I had created for the trip.  On the map I included every address from my ancestors that I could find.  Usually you can find addresses in cities for census records from 1900 and later.  I was also able to find a lot of addresses in the city directories.

Andrew played navigator as I drove (have I mentioned that Andrew is a saint?) and he would use the map to lead me from one house to the next.  I would attempt to park at each house and one of us would snap a picture (and imagine life in 1900) and then I would enter into my phone the address.

I decided at one house to start entering the houses in advance and this proved to be a mistake, mostly because it seems someone is trying to erase any history of my family in Scranton.  We drove down an amazing street in the Dunmore area of Scranton with beautiful houses.  I thought, “Yes!  My family was rich!  And somehow I am entitled to this house!”  So as we moved slowly down the street and read the addresses I realized there was one missing.  And there was an empty lot.  Crap.  Well, let’s move on.

We drove to a neighborhood a little less nice, but still some cute houses.  We drove down the street, Andrew announced the address, and I drove past another….you guessed it, empty lot.  There was a house on either side!  In fact, it was the ONLY empty lot on the street.  This literally happened 5 times.  Almost the same situation every time!  Both houses on either side were there….and then there was an empty lot.  The one that was NOT like this situation was the street that was completely removed and taken over by a warehouse.

By the fifth house, obscenities were coming from both Andrew and I.  And then Andrew said, “Someone is trying to erase your family.”  Oh haha….

And then I thought about it…

  • The gravestones covered in mud at Forest Hills Cemetery
  • Emmaretta Lacey’s missing headstone
  • 5 houses completely gone.  Bulldozed.  Surrounded on all sides by survivors.
  • An odd missing page from the Scranton newspaper where Andrew was trying to find my grandfather’s obituary.  It was literally the ONLY page missing.

I did find a few houses though.  Here is what I found:

Home of Charles W. Kinsley Jr. and Sr. in 1930s and 1940s

116 Oak Street. I found this picture in an old photo album of my mom's. I am guessing this was taken sometime before 1955.

 

Updated picture, Fall 2011 of 116 Oak Street. I love the subtle differences.

Home of Charles W. Kinsley Sr. in 1918

According to Zillow.com the last time this house was sold was in 1944 for $46,500. I am wondering if it was always multi-family. They could have definitely used the space as Chick, Sr. and his wife had 7 children.

Marion Lacey’s Childhood Home in 1900

1002 Columbia. This is the home of my great grandmother Marion and her father Bascom Taylor Lacey.

Newlywed home of my grandparents, Charles and Lois (Smith) Kinsley

1107 Lafayette Street - This is what the home looked like in 1943, right after my mother was born. This is the home where my grandparents lived right after they married and had my mom. It was really pretty back then.

 

It says "1109" but it's actually 1107 Lafayette. Unfortunately we didn't see this one in real life while we were there, but I found a picture of it when I got home on the Google maps. It's not looking so hot these days. It seems a lot has been removed all around it. Sad.

Despite seeing a lot of empty lots, we were able to find a lot of other homes that made it worth the trip.  I love seeing the old and the new photos together.  Now I’m gonna have to rummage through some more pictures to see what I can find that I might have missed previous to this trip.

I think a summer trip to Scranton might be in order.  Right?  Yes…I think so.

Scranton Lace Company, Here I Come

Teaching is hard.  Like….really hard.  You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in two months!  Two whole months!  Sometimes I’ll sit down to the computer to write something out cause I have a great thought…and maybe…just maybe…a three sentence post is better than no post at all.  But I am honestly too tired to even begin to think about what to write.

I started teaching this year, full-time, US History and US Government.  I have had not a moment’s rest since the first day of school.  But today…I took a little diversion from grading bell-ringer worksheets and started planning my fall break.  I work at Indianapolis Public Schools and we are now on what is called a “balanced schedule”.  This means we go to school earlier in the fall, get out later in the spring, but have these amazing breaks in between.  So I have a lovely 2 week fall break coming up, and I can’t wait!

I am heading out east to visit some friends in NYC and do some family history research in Scranton, PA, FINALLY!  I am absolute delighted to be going to Scranton, where generations of Kinsleys, Laceys, and Smiths resided.  This is the town where my mom spent her young childhood.  This is also the town of the fictional Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company.  If there was a museum devoted to The Office we would be going.

While I got distracted, planning my vaca, I also took a little diversion onto ancestry.com (so naughty! I know!) and just did a general search for Charles W. Kinsley (my grandfather and also his father).  I ended up finding a new little tidbit of information about what C.W. Kinsley Sr. did as an occupation.  The 1936 City Directory had him working as a purchase agent at the Scranton Lace Company.  So I decided to Google the Scranton Lace Company to see if it was still in operation.  Sadly it seems that it closed in 2002 – but I was utterly delighted to come upon someone’s photo-blog of their urban exploration photos of this shuttered factory.  The photos are amazing, and have me dying to go visit.  If you’re into abandoned/urban decay pictures, you’ll love this:

The Art of Abandonment

As I was reading more about this company I came to find out that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s father and grandfather worked in this factory as well!  So I perused the R’s in the 1937 Directory and the one page that the Rodhams were on was missing!  Shenanigans!  So I looked to see if they had any other years posted and they did!  One year earlier, 1936.  So I looked up the Kinsleys first to make sure they were working at the factory then as well.  They were.  Then I found Mr. Hugh Rodham!  And yes, he worked at the lace factory with my great-grandfather.

1905 Scranton Lace Company Gold Bond Note

In addition to their place of employment, the directory also lists their residences.  It turns out these two fellows lived less than a mile from each other, both pretty close to the factory.

Whether you appreciate the Clinton’s politics or not, it’s pretty cool to have a link to a “first family”.

 

Wordless Wednesday – Assorted intimidating pictures of my grandfather, Charles W. Kinsley. Who was this guy?

Charles W. Kinsley, hunting. Of course.

I have no idea what those charts mean and don't want to know what those missle-shaped things do. Charles Kinsley (right), in Alabama.

Charles W. Kinsley (far left) with Governor Patterson (seated) of Alabama.

Charles W. Kinsley, downtown Indianapolis development, early 1980s.

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.

An Adventure for All Ages

We recently took a day trip up to Plymouth, Indiana, which is where Andrew’s maternal grandfather lives.  We just went for a visit (honestly we don’t get up there enough) and to start helping him look through his stuff because he is most likely moving to an assisted living facility.

So while Andrew took his grandfather’s floor-plan map and measured his furniture to see what was doable in the new place, I got to hang out with said grandfather and chat family tree!  I also got to check out some amazing pictures.

4 generation picture (1895, Plymouth, Indiana) - Back row standing: Maude (Yazel) Seymour, Nancy (Hippert) Yazel (Maude's Mother). Seated: Peter Hippert (Nancy's father), Edna Faye Reed (Maude's daughter and Andrew's great-grandmother)

This above picture was my favorite for one great big obvious reason (hello Beardy McBearderson!) but it’s also interesting  because it is one of those multi-generational pictures that people still take today.  Peter Hippert died just four years after this picture was taken.  Chances are that not many, if any, exist of him before this time.  Peter also did not live in Plymouth.  He still lived in Auglaize County, Ohio at this time.  He was just on a visit, which was probably quite the little journey at that time.

Earlier in the day, when we first got to the house, I mentioned our timetable and said that we might be stopping at a cemetery on the way out of town.  Andrew’s mom decided we should all go and have a little adventure.  She asked her dad, “Are you up for an adventure?”  He answered, “Well, yeah.”  And an adventure we had.

We all piled into the little Pontiac and headed out of town, toward a very small town called Bourbon, Indiana.  Actually, we weren’t headed for Bourbon, we were headed for outside of Bourbon.  The goal was Mount Pleasant Church of the Bretheren.

Andrew’s family on both sides were mainly Church of the Bretheren, and this area of Indiana is full of these little churches.  Unfortunately, according to Roy (the Grandfather), this one will be closing in the fall.  I might have to find out if they have any church records before things get handed off to ‘who knows where’.

Thanks to Google Maps and www.findagrave.com we were able to find the cemetery easily.  When we left the house in Plymouth we were all a little worried about the heat and how Roy would feel outside for so long.  As we drove the temperature dropped…and dropped some more.  We were followed by dark, menacing clouds the whole way.  When we got to the cemetery it was cool and breezy, still humid but so very comfortable.  The clouds were pretty much coming straight for us.

I knew we didn’t have much time, so I started snapping pictures of any headstones with Seymour, Stockman, or Yazel.  These are all names in that branch of Andrew’s family.  I even made sure to get a couple family pics.

From left to right: Gloria (Reed) Nelson, Andrew Nelson (posing?), and James Roy Reed. Visiting Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

The older part of the cemetery was across the street.  Roy was convinced that some of the earlier family members were buried over there, including Peter Hippert and a George Washington Seymour.  I don’t know anything about this GW’s plot, but I did find out that Peter is actually buried at a Horn Cemetery in Ohio.

Andrew and I headed back to the newer section, and immediately a lady in a fabulously comfy looking ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ T-shirt came out of her house next door to tell us that the weather map showed some nasty weather almost right on top of us and she didn’t want us stuck out there.  She said there would probably be hail.

Andrew’s mom rushed to get the car turned around so Roy could hop in.  The sprinkles started the second we got in.  We decided maybe would be a good time to eat, but we would have to get to a restaurant first.  This required driving through what looked like some sort of hell-mouth.  We did it, well Gloria (Andrew’s Mom) did.  The darkest part of the storm wasn’t nearly as horrible as it looked.  It was sort of downpour-y though, and when we got to the restaurant (where I proceeded to consume more carbs than I had in weeks combined) all of us got soaked.

We headed back to the house for a few minutes before we went along on our way back to Indy.  I sort of wish we had looked at a weather map before we left.  The “hell-mouth” we drove through earlier was nothing compared to the near-firestorm we drove through to get home.  I don’t know that I’ve ever driven in a lightning storm that was so prolific.  There was literally lightning every single second for about 15 minutes straight.  Once we finally got out of the storm it followed us home the rest of the way, behind us by about a few miles.  This is what it looked like the entire way home.  We were right on the border of heavenly and hellish weather.

The edge of the storm

I’m going to have to take a trip up north again, and maybe this time check the weather.

Still Amazed at Andrew’s Native Indy-ness.

So I went to the library on Thursday for a short little stint after school and was possibly going to meet up with my friend Amy.  She was, however, waylaid by the Catholic cemeteries and couldn’t make it.  No fear, I had plenty of my own research to do.

One thing I was really hoping to accomplish was discovering the location where Andrew’s Heaton branch had property throughout Marion County, and how early did they get here.

Well, using the deed records I was able to find out a couple of locations.  Andrew’s gggg grandfather, Eli Heaton, had about 80 acres up in the Nora area (which is now a shopping center that runs right along the Monon Trail) that he bought for $300 in 1835.  I’m currently trying to somehow prove that we are entitled to that land now, and all the subsequent improvements to that land.

I also discovered that Andrew’s gggg-uncle purchased land on the south side of town, not far from where we live now.  Asa Heaton owned a chunk of land that now lies adjacent to the Eli Lilly Recreation Area off Raymond Street in Indianapolis.  He paid $100 for this in 1823.  I’m not quite as excited about this chunk of land as it is now being used for industrial uses.  Sneh.

I also decided it was finally time to stop by the old family cemetery (since we were driving by it anyway) and see where the Indy old-timers are resting.  It’s a lovely little cemetery really, just 1 mile north from where Andrew’s parents reside today.

Entrance to Union Chapel Cemetery on the far north side of Indianapolis.

But isn’t it insane? They’ve been here since at least 1823!  Indiana wasn’t even a state till 1816.  Good job, Heatons.  Now, why aren’t there any streets named after you?

 

Indianapolis Pioneers

New Pioneers

As I have mentioned before, my family is not from Indianapolis.  My dad’s side comes from Western Ohio for generations.  My mother’s side was from Pennsylvania and nearby New York towns for generations.  My Grandfather Kinsley changed that for all of us.  He moved the family from Scranton to Alabama (where my mother attended school) and then he settled in the Indianapolis area.  During his short time in the city he certainly made his mark.  I would almost consider him a pioneer.  He was a developer, and had huge impacts on trying to improve the downtown Indianapolis area.  He was even one of the founding board members of the Near Northside Community Development Corporation.  He was an important part of bringing businesses to the area that still remain in the city today.

Charles W. Kinsley Office

My grandfather, Charles W. Kinsley in his office....with a cigar....and why not?

Now, when I was growing up I didn’t know any of this about my grandfather.  All I knew was that he was kind of scary.  My memories of him include him refusing to read me Cathy from the comics because, “Women shouldn’t be writing the funnies”.  Even at age six I thought that was a weird thing to say.  I mean, I think Cathy is horrible too.  I just don’t think that’s the type of thing to say to a kid.  Anyway, I didn’t know much about him growing up except the stories I would hear from my mom, aunt, and uncle.  They were often kind of scathing.  But as I began to research the family in my own search I found out that my grandfather was kind of a pioneer for the city of Indianapolis….or rather current Indianapolis.

Old (Timey) Pioneers

Now, as I have ALSO mentioned before, I am kind of jealous of Andrew’s family because they have been here for ages, so it’s much easier to research that branch.  But I hadn’t realized that they had been here for so long.  I had hit a brick wall for so long on his Nelson branch.  The farthest back that I could get was a James A. Nelson who was born in Kentucky in 1814 (who knows where…?) and died at some point before 1870, after living in Keithsburg, Illinois.  I also knew that James was married to a lady named Sarah Heaton.

So one day I was just messing about on the Internet trying to work my way through that wall.  I very rarely use Census information before 1850 because the information is so sparse it’s hard to match up with real people.  However, I typed in James A. Nelson in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.  I found one living in Washington Township, Marion County (which was considered outside Indianapolis at that point).  Turns out this James Nelson lived next to a family of Heatons!  BINGO!  Based on this information I tracked the Heaton branch farther back.

The most interesting part was finding out that Andrew’s great great great great grandparents (Eli and Mary Heaton) are buried about a mile from where his parents live now.  No one in the family had any idea!  They are buried in Union Chapel Cemetery, and have been living in Indianapolis since the early 1800s; although, like I said, this was well-before this area was part of Indianapolis.

Eli Heaton's headstone in a cemetery just about a mile from Andrew's parents current home.

They are some serious ye olde Indianapolis pioneers.