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!

 

A new VERY little leaf in our Family Shrub

So, I like to be a little different.  Some people like to have babies who are full-sized after a 9-10 mos pregnancy.  Nope.  Not me.  I am into delivering before even the third trimester.  Actually, I didn’t choose to deliver that early.  I was very sick; and my little stinker, Coraline Reed Nelson was born on 11/20/2012 at just 1 lb 1 oz.  She just came home from the hospital and her NICU life three weeks ago.  She’s a pretty awesome baby.  She sleeps through the night (sometimes with one snack break in the middle – depending) and is really cute.

Coraline poses with her sock monkey friend.

In the NICU, many people commented on her name.  They would either ask if it was supposed to be Caroline or if we got it from the Tim Burton movie, Coraline.  Well…we named the baby under crazy circumstances.  When I went in for pain issues, it turns out I had what was called HELLP Syndrome, and the pain was my liver swelling up.  I also had severe pre-eclampsia which shot my blood pressure through the roof.  So they first gave me morphine.  Then they came to tell me that I was having my baby that night…in like…a half hour.  WHAT?!  One of my first thoughts was, “We don’t even have a name!”

We hadn’t even discussed names.  Andrew still said we had plenty of time.  The goal was to each make a list of 10 names that we really liked and then we would cross reference.  My list consisted of a lot of family names for either the first or middle name.  My family doesn’t really have a ton of awesome names, but one of them was Cora.  My great grandmother was Cora (Motzenbacher) Smith.  I never met her as she died a few years before I was born, but her daughter, Lois (Smith) Kinsley was a fabulous lady.  So I can only imagine that Cora had to be as well.  Coraline seemed like a nice play on the name so I put it on my list.  Reed is Andrew’s mom’s maiden name.  I think it’s pretty.  And Nelson is…well…Andrew’s last name, obvs.

I was on a magnesium drip when we chose the name.  If you’ve ever been on it, then you’ll understand that I am very lucky that my child isn’t named “Puppy McGee Nelson” or something.  I was TOTALLY out of it.  I hope to never have to be on magnesium again.  No fun.  No fun at all.  So I’m not really sure how the decision making process went with Andrew.  I don’t really remember.  Everything is very fuzzy.

Unfortunately, just as Coraline was coming home, another part of the Nelson family tree died.  Dorothy Jane Boyce Nelson died at age 96.  She was a great lady and had an amazing life.  I can only hope to have such a full life.

Dorothy Boyce Nelson

Since her death I have been reminded of the really interesting Indianapolis roots in that family, and will hopefully continue to find new information and will continue to post.

Babies keep you busy, though.  For serious.  For updates on little Coraline, visit the other blog at www.AndrewAndErin.com.

Thanks for sharing, Girl Scouts!

Early on in the history of this blog I wrote a post about how the Girl Scouts devoured a cemetery that I REALLY wanted to go to.  I had a sneaking suspicion that within this cemetery lay quite a few of Andrew’s old family, including great great great great grandparents.  I finally got the guts to confront this nasty Girl Scout camp, “Camp Dellwood” (I am using finger quotes…as I am typing this…as difficult as that sounds).  I had the help of my trusty cemetery-stomper friend, Jumwaltie (the spelling has been altered protect the innocent).  Jumwaltie has been a trusty friend in cemetery-stomping for years, and as far as I am concerned…things better stay that way.  We call it “cemetery-stomping” but we don’t actually stomp on them.  It just a crass/shortened way to describe driving around and visiting graveyards.  We don’t jump on headstones or anything weird like that.  Anyway…I digress.

Jumwaltie joined me on our trip.  She played navigator to my driver.  Thank heavens she did, because even as I was driving my car sickness was making we woozy.  Uncool.  Road trips are my favorite thing in the world and this situation seems to be getting worse.  Navigating (reading anything) makes it all ten times worse.  Anyway, Jumwaltie got us to Camp Dellwood.  We drove in the front entrance and the “park ranger” was washing his car in his driveway.  I met him and said that I heard there was a cemetery back in the camp that I was eager to visit.  He seemed nice enough, possibly annoyed, but definitely nice.  The gatekeeper allowed us through.

Old Union Cemetery on the west wide of Indianapolis, Raceway Road, located inside Camp Dellwood.

About 500 yards into the camp the cemetery was on the left.  It seemed pretty well maintained, especially considering the age of many of the headstones.  What I found out was pretty awesome.  Andrew’s great great great great grandfather was buried there.  His name was John Hornaday.  His family relocated from Chatham County, North Carolina and ended up in western Marion County and Eastern Hendricks County.  In fact, Hornaday Road runs just north and south just 2 miles west of the Old Union Cemetery.  This is the cool part..

Andrew’s grandmother, Dorothy Boyce Nelson, was John’s great great grand-daughter.  She was also a girl scout troop leader.  According to her she used to spend many a nights camping at Dellwood with her troops.  I haven’t talked to her about it, but chances are she had no idea she was camping directly next to where her great great grandparents had been for 100 years already.

Headstone of John Hornaday at Old Union Cemetery

Just goes to show that the girl scouts are good for way more than just Samoas (although they are kind of the best).  Thanks, girl scouts, for sharing in my family history.

It was a good start to an all day trip.  More to come.  Learn how Jumwaltie is convinced that my Andrew and her man-friend are somehow related.

 

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.

And the Weekend Has Yet to Begin…

I feel like I’m on a bit of a permanent vacation these days.  I know it’s not true.  I go back to work soon.   I’m also doing some work from home in between to keep us off the streets.  Not that my monetary contributions to the household really do anything but pay my students loans…

This sob story is for another time.

Anyway, I have been enjoying lovely little weekday trips.  I had one yesterday and one today…both with a little ancestry research in the mix.

Here is yesterday:

A few weeks ago I was at the Indiana State Library (which, as you remember, I have mad love for) and found out that a group of my ancestors, the Staudts, came from Wolfersweiler, Germany.  Is that not the best name for a town?  It might be.  So I also discovered that a woman by the name of Burgert had written a number of books and pamphlets over German immigration to the United States.  So I looked to see if the one about Wolfersweiler was anywhere in a library near me, and it was, kind of.  It was in Anderson.

Anderson is a sleepy little town NE of Indianapolis, known for a few things:

You might not know this about me, but I love the pony races.  I looked at this as an opportunity to take a trip and see some horsies.  I called up a couple dependable adventureres:  My younger sister, ‘Lil Amy, and my trusty friend in genealogy, we’ll call her Jumwaltie.  They were excited to join me on this trip.

We got to Anderson, drove through the downtown, and all got kind of sad.  It was a bit mopey.  The library was kind of awesome though.  And it was right next door to a Rax!  I haven’t seen a Rax since about 1990, which is when they all closed in Indianapolis.  I still get a little reminiscent and teary-eyed thinking about the plastic alligator cups that came with the kids meals.  They were so great.  Anyway…

We find the Indiana Room very easily at the library and I found my book within 2 minutes of stepping foot in there.  It is a very well organized space.  I got the information I needed…and then looked around to see what everyone else was doing.  Jumwaltie was looking up some of her own family from Bucks County, Pennsylvania and found some birth records.  Lil Amy was doing her favorite research activity, hunting down death records of absolute strangers.  She finds the way people died to be very interesting (and sometimes amusing).  The most interesting record she found was in one of the Marion County, Indiana books.  One little boy was killed by a streetcar right outside of where Lil Amy used to live downtown.  He was 6.  I’m guessing this sort of thing happened a lot.

We also found a very interesting book, which included the inbound and outbound records for the Indianapolis Asylum for Friendless Colored Children.  This was an institution that was opened in Indianapolis by the Quakers in 1870.  Some of the information in there was amusing, some was devastating.  Often children would be taken there if their parents couldn’t care for them (especially if they were sick).  So their in-date might be 3/21 and then on 3/23 it will say that they died.  This happened a lot.

Here is one of my favorite titles of the day, because it was just so tragically blunt:

I had to thumb through this one for a minute. You have to.

After getting some questions and a few dirty looks from a lady who worked in the Indiana Room, we decided to head to the track and get our betting on.

I won’t go into the specifics of how that part of the trip went, but I did come out a winner (and by “winner” I mean I broke even).  Julia won in one race.  Lil Amy won in at least one.  I bet on the girliest-named horse, just for Andrew (like he asked).  That horse did not win.

On the way home we were talking about cemeteries (because we would be visiting a few on Friday) and Lil Amy said there is a cemetery near Julia’s house that she LOVES to visit, and can we please go?  We will LOVE it.  It’s SO CREEPY.  So we agree to go.  Then she started explaining how we get there.  Then it started sprinkling.  I started to wonder if this was a good idea.  It didn’t matter.  She thought it was.

Directions for visiting West Cemetery in Hamilton County.

  1. Park at Walgreens at 96th and Allisonville
  2. Walk west down 96th street, and to be safe stay in the grass (which is not comfortable in sandles currently)
  3. Turn onto the gravel road
  4. Follow the gravel road till it kind of ends
  5. Follow Lil Amy down what seems to be potentially a deer path to the edge of some woods.
  6. Walk into the woods and look for a sort of clearing.
  7. See headstones and walk towards them
  8. Trip on a headstone as soon as you get into the “cemetery” because it is completely covered in overgrown 3 foot tall grass.  It does look as though someone has tried to kill the grass immediately surrounding the center of the cemetery cause it’s now 3 foot tall brown grass.
  9. Start flailing your arms wildly because you realize you are being attacked by giant mosquitoes that have never tasted human blood and are very intrigued.
  10. Look as quickly as possible at headstones that might be interesting and try to remember how you got in and desperately seek out an exit route.
  11. Exit out the obvious, open way that you did not come in because you couldn’t see it.
  12. Seek out a new deer path which hopefully doesn’t have as many stickers and itchy, sting-y plants.  Continue swatting the bugs that have followed you out of the woods.  Note:  These bugs will probably “bug” you till you get to your car again.

Now, I don’t want this all to be negative.  This would be a great place to go when it is not July.  It certainly reminded me of that cemetery search I went on with Andrew about a year ago, where we ended up climbing barbed wire just to get to the edge of a cemetery that was so overgrown we could hardly see anything.  This little bit of 96th Street is still amazingly beautiful.  They are probably developing it very soon, which makes me sad.  If they do I wonder what will happen to this little cemetery in the middle of the woods.  According to findagrave.com this little cemetery was part of the farm that once belonged to John W. Becker.

I wanted nothing more than to get in the shower.  I almost asked Walgreens if they had one in the back.  I figured I would be home soon enough.  I dropped off Jumwaltie.  Then Lil Amy wanted ice cream.  How do I say “no” to that?  I don’t.  We went.  Brics.  That’s all I have to say.  If you’re in Indianapolis, go here.  Now.  Put down whatever you are doing now, and go eat at this shop.

Then I went home…and showered…for longer than was probably appropriate.  It was a good day.  An adventurous day of research is always a good day, especially when it involves gambling at a horsetrack.

 

Ode to The Indiana State Library

Ok, so I’m not actually going to write “an ode” cause I don’t do poetry; but I want to express my love and gratitude for this place which gives me a place to nerd up when the weather and/or my car isn’t eager for me to travel very far.

Now, I’m not talking about the Central Library.  I love that library for a completely different reason.  In fact, sometimes I wish I lived in that library.  Everyone who lives or visits Indianapolis should go up to the 6th floor and just enjoy the view facing south towards the Circle.

Central Library in downtown Indianapolis. Amazing library. Go there now if you haven't been yet.

On the exterior, Indiana State Library seems like the frumpy sister of the Central library but there are amazing resources there.

Today is a great example of reasons I love the State Library.  This is what happened, in order.

1.) I parked out front on the street.  There is almost always street parking out front.  And the tops of the meters were removed!  There were no “no parking” signs.  So that means Free Parking!  And it was!  I did not get a ticket.

2.) I went inside and had no problem finding an open easy place to sit.  The library is generally known for being a haven for homeless people.  I don’t generally have a problem with this, but it can be an issue with space.  Downstairs the only usable computers are hooked up to genealogy research sites and THAT is the only reason they are used.  This is not the biggest hit with the homeless population of the city.

3.) I had been researching a branch of my family, the Staudts (or Stoudts…or even Stouts) and found a book on the internet that would be so very helpful.  It didn’t even occur to me until I got there today that the State Library might actually have this very random family history called “Stoudts and Allied Families”.  And they did!  And I used it.  And it was so very helpful.  For those interested, I found out that my Staudt family came from Germany, a little village called Wolfersweiler.  Sounds awesome, I know.

4.)  It sounded as if there was a scuffle in the entry way about mid-way through my research there, and I had no worries.  There are capable security guards at the library whenever they’re open.

5.)  I asked the librarian a question.  Now, this seems like a silly reason to like a library, but I’m kind of shy about asking strangers questions because I hate sounding stupid.  But honestly, everyone who goes to this library is so geeked out on genealogy it makes me feel more comfortable.

6.)  As I was leaving I noticed a flier with information about presentations they’ll be doing over the course of the next month.  What is really amazing is that it’s free!

In addition to what happened today, other things that get me all excited about the State Library include:

  • The insane collection of newspapers from pretty much every county in the state, and even some nearby states.  I use these regularly, especially for obituaries and marriage announcements.
  • The fact that it’s across the street from the Indiana Historical Society, which also has a small but pretty cool library.
  • Records, records, and more records.  I can get lost in all those deeds, wills, death records, marriage records…it’s all very exciting.  Most of it is sorted by county and very easy to find.

For those who are interested in visiting the Indiana State Library I recommend checking out their website because the hours can be kind of weird; and there are some days they are just not open.

 

 

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?

 

A new obituary for my Mom

My mom died a year ago today.  Needless to say, it’s been kind of a rough year.  Throughout my genealogy research, one thing I have learned is that obituaries used to be much more personal and interesting to read.  While attempting to put together my mom’s obituary a year ago, we made sure to get all the “important” stuff in there; but there were a lot of family names we had include, and not enough space to mention how unique of a person she really was.

So for my post I would like to write a much more personal obituary for my mom.

Linda Lee Kinsley Shaw Jennings Brown Kelley (as I used to call her when I was being a brat and she would refer to me as Erin Elizabeth) loved music.  She used to ride around in her car with CDs that were especially made by her children with all of her favorites, dancing the Linda dance.  This dance took on three different forms.  There was a fist shake.  There was the flat hand thrust.  Then there was the combo of the two.  She loved all kinds of music.  She even loved disco.  Every time some cheesy disco song would come on an oldies station she would remind us about how disco was a “real art form” and that she took disco lessons back in the 1970s, and so did A LOT of other people.  She loved Motown.  She obsessed over Michael Jackson’s live performances, especially when he was young.  She hated John Mellencamp because he was “too country” but loved Kenny Rogers.  She loved films, and therefore loved soundtracks.  A year later and I still can’t listen to You Can’t Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones without bursting into tears (as The Big Chill was her favorite movie).

 

Linda Kelley in her senior portrait, abt. 1960.

Linda loved movies.  She claimed to dislike violent films that didn’t have any moral value, except she loved Die Hard (and many others that didn’t fit her description of moral).  She loved watching movies about the persecution and hardship of groups of peoples.  Anything civil rights or Holocaust-based was right up her alley.  In fact, when she was in the rehab hospital just a month before she died she told me all about how she had watched Fiddler on the Roof the night before and how she just cried and cried.  “Isn’t that the best movie?”

To my mom, everything was the best or the worst.  It was always, “Wasn’t that the BEST cheeseburger you’ve ever had?”   Yes, mother.  I remember all cheeseburgers in my history and that one was THE best.  “Isn’t this the worst winter EVER?”  Yes.  The worst.  Ever.

Linda had six children.  She was their biggest fan and most vocal advocate, especially to each other.  Within sibling relationships there will always be strife, but my mom was the peacemaker.  She tried to make us realize that we are all so completely different.  We shouldn’t try to change each other, but accept each other as they are.  One thing I heard from my mom often was, “You’ve got to get over it.  That is how _______ is. “  This was easier said than done, but I understand what she means.

She finally got to do what she really wanted to when she started her company, which eventually became Healthcare Professionals.  But she always worked, before and after Healthcare.  I mean…she took vacations and whatnot.  But I never remember my mother taking much of a break.  She never really retired.  When she “retired” she continued to work on her booth and work for Alliance Home Care.  When she got sick she was so upset that she wasn’t working, and couldn’t wait to get back to it.  She gave that work ethic to her kids.

She always thought I was better than I was and tried to be a cheerleader for everything I was interested in doing.  When I moved away from home she demanded a phone call every other day or so.  If I didn’t call her, she would call me.  If I didn’t return calls, I would get an earful and a guilt-trip.  This usually wasn’t so hard for me, considering during my entire childhood my first move when I got home from school was to call my mom.   It is still hard for me to pick up the phone after an interview or a really good movie and realize she isn’t the person to call anymore.

She loved to travel, but refused to leave the country (“There’s just so much to see here!  Why would I need to leave?”).  She loved having a place to get away.  They had what we called “the metal tent” at Lake Lemon for years.  Her other favorite places to visit were Las Vegas (because she loved the nickel slots), French Lick, Indiana (a place we went as a family for years), and pretty much anywhere else with Fred.

On a short weekend jaunt to Lake Lemon, (near Bloomington, IN) with the whole fam.

She loved her husband, Fred.  She took care of him and probably drove him insane.  I can still hear her in my head screaming, “Frederick!  Get In Here!”  She nagged him, but I am convinced that he liked it.

Linda was sick for years, but kept most of her health problems a secret from her children.  She had a heart attack at 57. She had diabetes for years before she told us she had it.  She had congestive heart failure for a long time before she told us she had it.  Her kidneys were failing when she attended my wedding and never mentioned anything about it.  While she cared for everyone else, she did not take care of herself.  I never saw her eat a fresh vegetable or a piece of fruit…in my entire life.  When she finally got outwardly sick, it was too late.

My mom was in the hospital for a few weeks, and then in PT rehab a few weeks.  Things were looking up when she was finally sent home to continue physical therapy from there.  She seemed upbeat and happy.  She had started dialysis, which she hated.  The last time I talked to her we were making plans for me to take her to dialysis and then hang out and have dinner at her place.  I never got to pick her up.  She went to the first treatment of dialysis that week and had a heart attack as she was waiting.  She never woke up again.  I am at least grateful that our last conversation was a good one, and she was in good spirits.  We didn’t bicker at all, which is mildly shocking.  But I didn’t get to tell her I really did enjoy her, or tell her I liked seeing movies with her (even really bad ones), or that I always liked her spaghetti the best.  Or goodbye.

My mother was not a saint.  There are things that she did in her life that I would not consider commendable.  She was stubborn as anyone I have ever met in my life.  Sometimes when I talked about my mom the word “infuriating” would slip out….regularly.  She was often close-minded about the weirdest things.  “I could never date a bald man.”  But she was nice.  She was SO nice.  Anyone who ever met her could never say otherwise.  These are the things she should be remembered for.

My mom, after letting her gradndaughter Remy work on her hair.

I really miss her, more than these (or any) words can say.

Erin

Blogging about blogs

*** Warning – This post has nothing to do with ancestry***

I have some amazing friends.  They are talented in all sorts of manners.  A few of them have blogs.  This post has nothing to do about ancestry.  It is merely recognition of my friends who have neat blogs you might want to read.   The links to these blogs are also located under “Friend Blogs” over there….on the right.  See it?  Good.

(in no particular order – other than this is the order already listed on my page)

cottage revolution

Claire (C-Dogg in some circles) has been a friend of mine for well over a decade now.  We were co-workers in college, and every so often we still work together.  She is the craftiest person I know in real life.  I’m not talking decoupage.  I’m talking about making her own clothes, terrarium-building, slipper development, and sewing buttons back on my clothes (because I’m useless at such things).  She is my neighbor and we do neighborly things like walk the dog together, or borrow eggs.  It’s super cheese, but I love it.

Her blog is all about the things she creates.  Her photos are simple and amazing, sometimes with the help of her husband (who I’ve known even longer!).

Irvington Bungalow

Carmen is a friend of mine from grad school at Ball State.  Unfortunately we don’t see each other at ALL anymore which is not enough, especially since she lives like 12 minutes away.  Side note:  I know it’s exactly 12 minutes because we used to carpool, and it was fun. Luckily there is Facebook and her blog, which allows me to see what’s new in Carmen’s world.  For a long time much of her world revolved around fixing up their bungalow in a near-east side Indianapolis neighborhood called Irvington.  I love Irvington, and I love their house.  I want most of their furnishings and want her husband (Chad) to plan a landscape for us.  This is the blog about the work they have done.  I have posted a few things on facebook about work we have done, but they are doing their best to maintain historic integrity.  I love it.  Carmen recently had her first baby and blogging has gotten sparse.  I’m hoping we’ll see some more when the little one gets a little older.  Speaking of the little one, I STILL need to go meet her.  I am a horrible friend.

The Sweetest Baker

I have had some great roommates throughout my past.  Kelly is one of them.  I only got to live with her one year in college at IU but we had an amazing time (at least I think so).  Months (and sometimes years) could go by without talking to my old roomie.  Once she moved back to Philly, communication was sparse…but then she got on Facebook.  My friend Kelly is alive!  Sometimes when people aren’t on Facebook it’s almost as if they have fallen off the earth.  I hate that I am so reliant on this stupid website to keep me up to date on friends, but I am.  I really am.  Kelly has finally gotten on Facebook and I found out what has been going on with her.  She is a pastry chef!  Well, now I might have to move to Philly soon.  Check out her blog, full of great information, pictures, and news on what she is doing.  It makes me hungry just thinking about it.

View From an Irish Backyard

I met Maryann through Claire.  They were co-workers and we all eventually were in a little book club together.  Unfortunately for all of us in Indy, Maryann met and fell in love with an Irish filmmaker (Frank Kelly).  She skipped town…and in fact the entire country…and moved to Drogheda, Ireland, just outside Dublin to be with Frank (and they have a baby girl, Evelyn, now).  We are all able to keep up with her crazy days and hilarious musings via her blog.  Many of her posts are about life in Ireland and how it can be SO different, challenging, enjoyable, and amazing.  If you are an ex-pat at all, or if you’ve been to Ireland, or if you just enjoy good writing then this is a great blog.

So those are some of my talented friends that I felt like I had to show off.  There will be more ancestry adventures coming up soon.  The weather is getting warmer!