Ray's Ramblings - Volume 1
Ray Kessler is a lifelong Mt. Vernon resident who has played a lot of ball, written about others playing a lot of ball and loves to wax eloquently about Mt. Vernon. We are fortunate to have access to many of his short stories and observations to show here.
We have organized the articles by the period of time Ray is referencing.
Come back often, because Ray just keeps finding items to add.
Dust Explosion Causes ADM Fire.....January 1994
An explosion of flour dust at ADM Milling Company had fire fighters busy for several hours from five area fire departments. The fire heavily damaged the main building of the complex at 612 West Second Street and forced evacuation of employees and nearby residents. The cause was determined to be an apparent flour dust explosion in a filtration system in the southwest section of the fourth floor said Fire Chief Roger Waters. It was ruled accidental. A spokesman of the Indiana State Fire Marshall's Office said the fire caused between $500,000 and $1.5 million in damages. The company's storage elevators were not damaged by the blaze. Waters said the filtration machinery had been shut down for several hours for routine cleaning and the fire started after the system was started back up. No one was injured. New Harmony brought a ladder truck as did Evansville as Mt. Vernon's ladder truck was being serviced in St. Johns, Indiana as required by state regulations. Local businesses pitched in. McDonald's and Subway donated food and drinks to be served to those fighting the fire and watching for hot spots through the night. McKim's IGA donated hot chocolate and Toler's and Platoline donated coffee and plastic cups. Workers with the Posey County Red Cross were also on hand.
Joan Baez-Carbondale, Illinois.....1994
After sort of a sabbatical, TJ and I looked for a concert we could get into again. It had been a while maybe since 1975 Kiss Concert. We had married and started a family. The music scene had changed for us, much of which not to our liking. I found that Joan Baez was going to be on the campus of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. When I ordered the tickets on the phone, I asked if he could deliver a letter from me to her before the show. He said he would try. Joannie was a favorite of mine and I had read two of her autobiographies. She has a great natural voice that can fill a small auditorium without the need of a microphone. She told some great jokes and imitated Bob Dylan. At one time she was romantically involved with Bob and introduced him to the folk scene at the Newport Festival. She sang many of my favorites that night including: "With God On Our Side", "The Night They Drove Ole Dixie Down", and "Sweet Sir Galahad". The letter that was forwarded to her she got, and she autographed two anti-war leaflets I had saved for over a decade. It was postmarked Louisville, KY, so she must have done it on the plane. If you ever get a chance to see her she is the real thing. At one time she was on the cover of Newsweek or Time for being part of social change in America. She marched with Dr. King, and for migrant workers in the southwest. She sang for peace, justice and civil rights. I once had a poster of her on my dorm wall that said, "Girls say yes to boys who say no." This of course was an anti-draft poster.
Cable Hook Up Completions in Sight.....June 1980
Horizon Cable Television has now hooked up over 1500 homes and hopes to have everyone scheduled and hooked up soon who wants the service.
Strike in Mt. Vernon....January 1980
Windshields were shattered when four men tried to break a picket line at Archer Daniel's Mill where negotiations are deadlocked. Picketers at the mill say ADM is bringing in workers from other mills to keep the plant in operation. Workers were offered a 7.2% increase over three years, but it was rejected.
Bethel A. M. E. Church in 1980
The church was first organized by Richard Allen on West Ninth Street on the property of Lloyd Cooper after a conflict with the all white Methodist Church erupted. The Church moved to Third and Mill Street in 1890 and dedicated in 1891. There... were 28 members in 1980, but now stands in disrepair. I attended a funeral here when I was in Little League for a black teammate who drowned that summer. It left an impression on me and later during the Civil Rights Movement especially in the south I became more and more aware of bigotry and racism. My generation saw things I believe in a better light than did our parents. Television showed us Jim Crow and Bull Conner hatred down south and the non-violent movement of Dr. King and Abernathy only wanting to be treated as everyone else. George Wallace and his ranting compared to the eloquent Martin was no contest. Vietnam saw black men dying right alongside white men only to return home and be discriminated against. Motown music made its inroads into our generation and accepted and adopted by white audiences and bands. No longer would audiences be separated by race at concerts and ball parks and movies. Integration was good for us in Mt. Vernon. I never thought much about it having gone to school and playing sports with black children all my life. "Black town" is gone! We are integrated in our neighborhoods and although prejudice continues times are better.
Southwind Plaza has Grand Opening.....January 1978
Tenants were the Union Federal Savings and Loan, Wesselman's Supermarket, Wesselman's Coffee Shop, Index Notions, P.N. Hirsch, The Lily Pad, The Center for Hair Today, Coast To Coast Hardware and the Radio Shack....Revco Drugs was ready soon after.
Local Gas Stations Start to Feel the Pinch.....January 1974
Service station owners locally started to tighten their belts around this time when across the country we heard of stations running out of gas, restricting fill ups and getting fuel only on certain days of the week. Here in Mt. Vernon Randall Oil Company replied that their station was working at a 92% allotment from Shell Oil Company. They also started closing at 7 PM instead of 9. Schroeder's Marathon on Fourth had started closing on Sunday's and reduced hours during the week. They limited gas fillups to ten gallons. Berry's Sunoco on Main also limited customers to 10 gallons of fuel and reduced their day 2 1/2 hours. The Martin station on Fourth also had a 10 gallon limit. I can remember taking a weekend trip with a friend through Missouri and up to almost Chicago and home in my little Fiat Spider around this time and almost running out of gas looking for a station open on a Sunday.
SWIDAP Begins Here.... January 1974
A drug counseling program opened in Posey County by the Southwestern Indiana Drug Abuse Program headquartered at the Dharma House in Evansville. It met at the Trinity United Church of Christ education building for five hours every Wednesday.
Charles Hames - 58 Years Teacher-Administrator.....1916-1974
Mr. Hames in his later years I had the opportunity to work with when I was on the Mt. Vernon High School Athletic Hall of Fame Committee in the mid to late eighties. He sure was a stickler for Peter's Principals and many other formal ways of parliamentary procedures when we were writing the by-laws. He was say, "I draw your attention to Article 1, Section 4, Letter A, the third word, beginning with the phrase " You would have thought we were drawing up the Articles of Confederation. Anyway, through all our meeting, phone calls and his visits to my house we discussed Mt. Vernon history. Here are some of his accomplishments:
- 9 1/2 years in one room schools of Posey County
- 1 1/2 years teaching in Kosciusko County, Indiana
- 10 1/2 years science-social studies teacher MVHS
- 26 years teacher-principal at MVHS
- 5 years science-social studies teacher at Evansville Memorial H.S.
- 3 1/2 years science-social studies teacher at Dahlgren H.S.
- 1 year principal at Marrs Elementary
- American Legion Commander
Some of His Opinions:
- Never underate any human being
- Excellence in any vocation is prestigious
- Scholarship alone is no criterion of life success
- Personality and determination have equal or more influence on one's future than have IQ or scholarship
The Origin of the Wildcat Nickname and Colors from Charles Hames Sr
Former Mt. Vernon graduate of 1915 and longtime Mt. Vernon principal, Charles Hames mentioned to me that the origin of the Wildcat nickname occurred through the efforts mainly of a former Mt. Vernon principal, Mr. Rust. Prior to this the most often used nickname was the Mountaineers. Mr. Rust looked for a new name for the team as Mt. Vernon athletics were starting a new era by moving into the new gym and high school on Canal Street. Principal Rust, according to Mr. Hames, took the gray school color of Evansville Reitz where Rust had been principal and the maroon from the University of Chicago where he did graduate work as Mt. Vernon's school colors. The name Wildcats came from Northwestern University where Mr. Rust also attended. Considering Northwestern's record and ours, I sure wish that Mr. Rust had attended U.C.L.A.!
Another Bull Island?.....July 1973
Posey County Sheriff Bill Cox received an application for another mass gathering at Bull Island for a three day fest around Labor Day devoted to country music.
A restraining order was issued in August to stop the fest and promoters said, 'this proceeding was biased and prejudiced against the festival, the people were unduly aroused.'
Garth Whipple's Editorial....June 1973
Editor Whipple of the Mt. Vernon Democrat was hoping someone was working on a solution to the Main Street parking problem of our "boom town." He thought a solution was as simple as making parking illegal on the street and making it a four lane thoroughfare. However traffic might be somewhat better, but the acute problem of parking of then would just be moved to another street. He thought no one was thinking big enough or far enough to solve some of our problems. I guess we were busy for that time; but, now, park just about any place you want.
A roofing materials manufacturing corporation located on Givens Road next to the refinery. Opened in December of 1972 with a crew of supervisors making sure good product could be made. In January of 1973 a day shift crew was hired with the first hourly clock number given to Vernon Marvel in maintenance. The first plant manager was Bill Gay, first superintendent Norman Dixon, and first HR Jack Norvell. The plant went to two ten hour shifts in May of 1973 and by the fall to three. GAF has continued to add new products and lines over the years and is a leader in the roofing industry. I could tell you many interesting stories especially about the early years, but I still work there so I can't tell them. LOL.
Bosse Field Freedom Fest.....July 1972
An announced crowd of 30,000 filled a 7,000 cap stadium to see 15 acts in Evansville, In. Terri, then only 15 and I, 22 yrs. old went along with another friend of mine, Bob Roby. The mood was festive and exuberant despite the long delays in starting. Firecrackers flashed and crackled throughout the concert sometimes producing screams to those close to the blasts. Drugs were consumed openly as security stayed near the gates to keep out gate crashers. A light drizzle began falling before everything began as stage crews as well as fans stretched a tarpaulin across the top of the stage near home plate. The concert began with blues man Howlin Wolf. The marijuana was passed along with Boone's Farm apple wine, Frisbees were tossed and we were off! Let's see we had Country Joe McDonald's "Gimmie A F", and Edgar Winter. Trouble erupted late in the day as police used tear gas and nightsticks to scatter some 2000 fans outside wanting in without tickets. Finally the promoters, Tom Duncan and Bob Alexander relented and the gates were opened. The rain returned as Ike and Tina Turner started, but the fans didn't care. The concert was halted for a while to drain the tarps as fans built fires near the outfield walls to dry off. As night came and the stadium lights came on, the place took on a look of a battlefield from the smoke of fires and fireworks. The concert pressed on to around 5 am and when it was over the baseball infield was torn up, garbage everywhere, and just what you would think it would look like after 18 hours of tens of thousands of fans jumping on it. Garvin Park, nearby was the scene of nude bathing and complaints of vandalism occurred throughout the nearby neighborhoods.
Bull Island Boogie.....1972
On Labor Day weekend, 37 years ago, I along with 275,000 of my brothers and sisters of the counter-culture, experienced the Erie Canal Soda Pop Musical Festival and Peace Jamboree!! At a time in history when America stood divided over Vietnam and with a large part of a generation psychedelicized, a multitude swarmed upon Bull Island to enjoy three days of music and political rhetoric. Despite restraining orders and threats of using the National Guard to stop the festival goers, the concert went on in defiance to authority. The first was produced by Alexander-Duncan Productions who had earlier on Independence Day held a highly successful 16 hour concert at Bosse Field the same year headlined by Tina Turner, Country Joe McDonald, and REO Speedwagon. Bull Island was entered by a small road running past a cornfield near Black River close to Griffin, Indiana. The walk in was over five miles from the highway. The first evening before the concert, I spent my time setting camp, placing a peace flag above our tent, sitting on a ditch embankment watching people arrive, and looking heavenward at the TV helicopters taking aerial photography for the local news shows. The fest had put the tri-state on edge for weeks as fans packed every park in Southern Indiana waiting for the location of the concert to be announced. It was originally scheduled to be held in Chandler, IN, but was stopped. A restraining order was issued by a Posey County judge too, but the show went on anyway. On the first day of music, I walked to within viewing distance of the stage to see Canned Heat but the crowds were so pressing that I pulled back for the duration. Site conditions were intolerable. Capitalists never had it so good. Believe me "everything" was sold or bartered with the biggest shortcomings being food. I witnessed no hassles between fans. I thought the Millennium had come. I was affected by the coming together of the people. We came to those events back then to be different, to show our individuality, and to make a statement to the establishment. Many bands scheduled didn't show like: Black Sabbath, The Doors, The Doobie Brothers or Joe Cocker. A list that did play included: Canned Heat, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Brownsville Station, Gentle Giant, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes, Black Oak Arkansas, Foghat, Cheech and Chong, and Rick Derringer.
MVHS Basketball Team Compiles 22-2 record.....1972
The greatest overall team record in Mt. Vernon high school history. Some of the school records they set were highest winning percentage .917; Longest winning streak 14; Most points scored 1899; Most points in one game 102, First MV team to win the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference; Most wins 22; Most wins on the road 13; undefeated at home 9-0; Largest margin of victory +17.71. Individual highlights were many: Charlie Uhde played every game on the varsity in his career and became MV's all-time leading scorer, since broken. Eddie Shelby led the Cats in scoring for the season with 440 and went on to play at the University of Evansville. He had a high game of 34 points vs. Wood Memorial. Mike Kohlmeyer scored 411 points on the season with a high of 32 vs. Evansville Harrison. He played later at Lincoln Trails College averaging over 20 points a game and scored 33 in one game making an all-tourney team. Kohlmeyer was a big rebounder at forward for Mt. Vernon also having as many as 17 vs. Tell City. Charlie Uhde went on to play college football and became a high school teacher and coach. Wayne Rueger continued the fine Rueger tradition at Mt. Vernon...was very scrappy and a terrific defensive player. He averaged just less than ten points a game, three times reaching 16 points in a game. He later played baseball at Southern Illinois University and carried a .300 plus batting average. Nick Schaffer was the starting center at 6'7" or maybe 6'8". He wasn't really a varsity player much until his senior year but improved greatly as the season wore on. Rick Moll was the super sub, spelling Schaffer and sometimes others. He led the 1972 team in field goal percentage at 51.9%. David Lawrence played quite a bit also. Roster also included Kim Siefert, Marc Brooks, Wayne Cloud, Chuck Hamilton, Terry Crawford, Gary Muslier, and Geof Leffel. Mt. Vernon defeated all 7 Evansville schools that season that had never been done before locally. They won the Holiday Tourney in North Posey, scored 100 vs. Owensville and 102 vs. Rex Mundi. The team was so popular that extra bleachers were put on the north end of the gym for the first time. They won the Princeton Sectional for only the second time in school history and then lost to Tell City 73-71 in the Evansville Regional. In this game in front of 12,309 fans at Robert's Stadium, MV started strong leading 25-15 after the first quarter. Things fell apart and with only 3 minutes left in the game they trailed by 14, when they caught fire, but ran out of time. They had two losses on the season - both to Tell City, by two in the Regional and by one; 71-70 in Tell City in overtime. The team was coached by Chuck Valier.
Jack Higgins Runs For Mayor...The First Time...May 1971
Jackson L. Higgins was the Democratic candidate for Mayor of Mt. Vernon and had a unanimous endorsement from the city's central committee; first time ever happened said veteran politicos. In the fall he would defeat incumbent Albert Bluebaum in the general election. Prior to running for Mayor he was Black Township trustee and served seven years as a city councilman. He was a captain in the National Guard and former Battery B Commander when the unit was located in Mt. Vernon. He was employed at General Electric and had been associated with the Mt. Vernon Democrat newspaper for 13 years. He was assistant scoutmaster for three years, coached Little League and American Legion baseball teams. He was a member of the Elks, Kiwanis, Young Democrats, Civil Defense Fire Department and the First Methodist Church. He had also served as secretary of the Democrat Central Committee and Vice President of the Kiwanis Club. He went on for eight terms as Mayor. No other Mayor in Mt. Vernon had won consecutive terms. He is known by his pipe, his smile buttons, his football announcements, and his introduction of the basketball teams to name a few. His efforts help build the Cloverleaf senior housing complex and the Mt. Vernon Seniors Center. He expanded Brittlebank Park adding a shelterhouse and baseball diamonds. My dealings with the Mayor go back to my youth where he and Ron Bennett coached me on the Advance Drillers All-Star Little League team that played county teams. At the end of the season they took us to Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. That was a special treat in simpler times. I also worked with him on the MVHS Athletic Hall of Fame. We were on the committee along with George Ashworth, Charles Hames, Ron Bennett, Ruth Fulwilder and a few others drawing up the by-laws. I stayed for a few years helping elect the first three years of selections. Jack had done about all one person can do in our town and will be remembered in our history forever.
M Men's Alumni Club Organized....January 27, 1971
At that time a constitution was ratified and a Board of Directors elected. Initial officers were Dennis Roos, President; Michael Ashworth, Secretary; Max Dieterlie, Treasurer; and William Roach, Vice President. The basic purpose of the club was to provide a scholarship for a deserving MV athlete graduate each year. Later they would be in charge of the Mt. Vernon High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Tale of Two Barbers...One New, One Moved.....1971
Clyde Straw took his 15 years of experience cutting hair to 109 West Second Street and new barber, Steve Burris opens his shop in January at Second and Main. I haven't been to a barber since the 60's. From 1972-1975 I didn't have any haircuts...hahaha; then I got a trim from my future sister n law for my wedding, then I saw a beautician/stylist for awhile in the Davis addition and since the late 90's, my best friend PJ has had me on the "family plan." She should take me the rest of the way until either my hair fails me or my heart.
Some 1971 Local Happenings
Totties #2 liquor store at 113 South Main Street was robbed of $4394.81 according to Alfred "Totttie" Ashworth, owner. Intruder made his way in by removing a fan out of the wall. $2200 of the total was payroll checks from Babcock and Wilcox employees.
A delegation of 15 persons from Mt. Vernon and Evansville presented testimony in Indianapolis for a proposed $9.8 million Ohio River port east of Mt. Vernon. Garth Whipple and Norman Wagner were part of the local delegation.
Memorial Field Dedicated.....October 6, 1970
A plaque was installed at the flag pole on the site of the new football field and track at Memorial Field. Dedicated to those who served in the armed services of this country.
Federal Census Statistics.....1970
Median home values for Posey County was $11,500 up from $6600 in 1960. Posey population classified at 31.17% urban and 68.9% rural. It was 98.5% white, the same as it was in 1960. There were 21,421 white citizens, 297 black and 22 persons of other races.
Farm Bureau Insurance Moves.....May 1969
Farm Bureau Insurance Agency moved to Highway 69 North and Vista Drive. Al Noelle is the manager of the unique A-frame style building with concrete shingles, brick siding with redwood trim. Noelle said that Mrs. Harold Brown (Joanne), full time secretary served as the interior decorator choosing paneling, carpets, and furnishings.
Mt. Vernon Drive-In Theater Closes.....September 1968
Opened in 1952 and provided fun for thousands over 16 years. Owned by John Mills it closed as the State Highway Department makes room on the new section of Highway 62 leading into town. Also a double wide bridge was put in across McFadden Creek. Many have memories of play grounds, bug sprays, sitting out in front of the car with lawn chairs, dating, fireworks, concession stand ads with all those dancing hotdogs and popcorn.
Chicago's Democratic Convention And A Surprise From Dad.....1968
Nightly I watched CBS news coverage of the convention in Chicago of the worst year in my lifetime. Dr. King and Robert Kennedy had been murdered that year, urban cities afire in the summertime, massive peace demonstrations in Washington D.C., Black Panthers in Oakland, the country was in uproar. I sat there that night watching Humphrey get the nomination, thinking about the year that had happened. LBJ resigning, Eugene McCarthy (my choice) turned back, RFK (whom I could have accepted, murdered), and here we were with a choice at a crossroads in American with HHH and Richard Nixon. The TV showed the Illinois National Guard moving into the parks of Chicago and General Richard Dunn took a microphone from a stage where moments before Peter, Paul, and Mary had been singing, "If I Had A Hammer" and addressed the crowd to disperse. Ten thousand people had gathered at a band shell and when the American flag was burned, the police charged in swinging. Exits were blocked by the guard as police moved in firing tear gas barrages. Medics moved through the crowds, dampening handkerchiefs with water to fend off the gas. The police would club down a man and then pull him out for arrest. Police, according to the Kerner Report, beat people at will. Watching from the Hilton Hotel, delegates threw anything they could find out of their windows at the police to get them to quit. I was becoming radicalized right there, that moment, this was real, this is my defining moment when I had enough. Dan Rather was roughed up in the center; Mayor Daily cussed the reporters inside, despair everywhere. The Hilton Hotel became filled with hysterical people, crying, youngsters with blood flowing down their faces America..."The whole world's watching", they chanted. Drive-by old ladies rescued kids from the police by putting them in their cars and removing them from the beatings. People took sides along with me at that moment in time. At McCarthy headquarters, sheets were ripped up for bandages. Senator McCarthy wanted to address the crowd at Grant Park but was dissuaded by the Secret Service. Chicago smelled of Revolution. The song by Crosby, Stills, and Nash is in my head now..."Won't you please come to Chicago...We can change the world, rearrange the world, it's dying". Later in November, I watched the returns as Nixon won a close decision. Dad said, "Son, I just want you to know I didn't vote for Nixon." I smiled at him and turned and said, "I couldn't have supported either one." Four years later after Kent State in 1970 and after being discharged as a CO, and with Vietnam still raging, my father along with me cast our vote together for George McGovern.
Babcock & Wilcox Offers Jobs ....1967
In May they offered jobs for welders, electricians, utility mechanics, lathe operators, and vertical boring mill operators. Hourly wages ranged from $2.04 to $3.29 an hour. It had a liberal fringe benefit program which included reimbursed education refund plan, life insurance free and contributory, hospitalization and surgical insurance at no cost, major medical insurance, paid holidays, vacation plan, and a retirement benefit plan. Applicants could apply at the works on Highway 69 West.
If I Had Only Stayed in School.....May 1967
That month the House approved a four year extension of the draft virtually guaranteeing college men they would not be called up until they got their degree. The bill prevented LBJ from terminating undergraduate deferments (2 S). The version passed by the House provided that when a student gets his degree or reaches age 24, whichever comes first, he would be placed in the draft pool for one year. Youth who do not go to college would be placed in the draft pool where they reach 19. If they were not called before their 20th birthday, they could reasonably assume they would not be inducted except in national emergency. (I was 19 and 9 months). Many congressmen were in an irritable mood that debate was cut off on amendments. Charles Joelson a Democrat of New Jersey called it a mockery, a travesty. "We are asking our boys to give up two years of their lives and you won't give us two days to debate." In June, a lottery like selection system was cut from the draft provision. The bill reversed the order of induction to take 19 year olds for service rather that the oldest eligible starting with age 26. It abolished post graduate school deferments, except for physicians, dentists, and students in other fields found to be vital by the top level national security council.
Aurora Borealis Seen Locally.....May 25, 1967
A number of local citizens called the home of the Democrat publisher about 9:30 PM to say that the Northern Lights were seen. The phenomenon is visible only at night and then usually in the Arctic region. It radiates streamers of color, often in a fan shape. Sometimes it has a waving appearance and occasionally a variety of colors from pale red or yellow to deep red or blood color. It is believed to be electrical in origin.
Not BP.....May 1967
The Petroleum Industry Committee of the Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission passed out litter bags to boaters to "not go overboard." with their trash. "Help make the Ohio a more beautiful cleaner river", they urged.
Old Memorial Days Remembered By Speaker and Former Resident.....1967
Sherman Carr gave the observance address at Bellefontaine Cemetery that year. He was a former Mt. Vernon resident and Junior Vice-Commander of World War I, Illinois Department. Some of things he mentioned were his thoughts of Mt. Vernon as a boy. He recalled how his father was so proud as he groomed his best team of horses, harnessed them in freshly polished harnesses, put red, white, and blue ribbons on their manes and bridles. The horses would be brought down the street where old Mr. Kirk's shed was and here the caisson would be attached to the old cannon to pull in a great parade. Major Kimball, astride old Dolly would lead the parade followed by the cannon. Kimball for many years was the parade marshal. Following the cannon would be the Mt. Vernon band, Civil War veterans, Spanish American War veterans, Ladies Harrow Relief Corps, patriotic and fraternal organizations, and school children carrying small flags. Starting at the L&N depot the parade would march down Main Street to the river. There the caisson would be unlimbered and the old cannon would be put in position to fire across the river, directly in front of the special erected speaker's stand that would be decorated in red, white, and blue bunting. The band would take its place and the dignitaries and folks taking part in the program would take their places on the speaker's stand. After a few patriotic songs a barge would be released containing a small float of fresh flowers. The cannoniere would then fire the cannon to a tremendous roar.
I wrote on this before but Charles Hovey, the son of Governor Alvin was killed firing the cannon. Mt. Vernon was celebrating the anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans on an Andrew Jackson Day celebration and Hovey was the gunner on the cannon. The cannon barrel was hot and the man in charge of the touch hole jerked his thumb away from it and the powder in the gun went off. Charles Hovey was in front at the time ramming down the powder. He had the ramrod still in the cannon when it went off according to William Galligher an eyewitness and the ramrod was shot through Hovey's body and left him mortally wounded. The crowd was horrified and dumfounded. Dr. Harper was present and attended the dying man who lived until the following morning. Another woman as a small child at the event remembered her father had a shawl with the blood of Hovey's blood on it. The shawl was a heavy oblong, pepper and salt woolen garment pinned in front from neck to waist. Back in that day shawl pins were two long pins with ornamental heads, connected by six inch fancy metal chains. They were worn like overcoats.
MVHS Band Gets A Nice Tour....May 1967
Classmate Sharon Rowe in her Mt. Vernon Democrat column, "Teen Topics" reported that the MVHS band departed on a trip to Mammoth Cave, a horse farm and Stephen Foster's home. They then played a concert at the Coney Island Amusement Park with free tickets for all the rides afterwards. Sharron also reported that all seniors would be admitted free Monday to Kramer's Lake.
MV basketball that season was 13-8, and had some impressive wins including the Holiday Tourney in Owensville and nice wins over Memorial, Mater Dei, two over North Posey, and a homecoming victory over Princeton. Teams in the area were talent rich that season. Bosse was tough with Larry Weatherford who went to Purdue and one of only two teams to defeat North that season. Harrison was the other team to defeat North with Nelson and Wediking who played at Jacksonville I believe in the final 4. Evansville North won the state championship that season behind Bob Ford who starred at Purdue. They beat us by 13 during the season. Mt. Vernon had good balance of scoring from Stan Billman and Ernie Dartt and Brian Bishop had his days offensively too. The center junior Bill Bullard had some fine games as did Dennis Reineke and youngster Bill Newman. In the Princeton Sectional we drew Oakland City then undefeated. The Acorns were tall, very tall for the times. Stan knows better than I, but I believe the starters must have all been 6'4'' or better. We had lost to them by 17 during the season. The day of the Sectional, it snowed and the wind blew and was cold. We took Terry Utley's dad's truck to the game and we were all over the place on Highway 41, but we made it. I believe Billman told me the team bus was delayed by the weather. Things looked terrible as we fell behind 21 points in the third quarter, but Mt. Vernon rallied, and fought back and after three quarters we were down 16. So much heart was shown in the fourth quarter as the Jolly Green Giants of OC rattled and we came all the way back to force overtime. We lost by 4, 59-55. Oakland City lost to eventual State Champs North 71-60 the next Saturday in the Evansville Regional.
Visiting Major League Clubs to Bosse Field.....1967
Over the years, I saw a few major league teams come into Evansville to play their farm clubs. I saw the Tigers play the Triplets and recovered a homerun ball hit by catcher Lance Parrish. Saw the "Bird", Mark Fidrych pitch against the parent club also. My favorite exhibition came in 1967 when the Cincinnati Reds played the Chicago White Sox as the two teams were heading north to open the season. Evansville was the E Sox a Southern League farm club of the White Sox. The two major league teams played eleven innings ending in a one to one tie. Many stars made at least a token appearance like Pete Rose and Tony Perez and for the Sox, Gary Peters and Tom McGraw and Pete Ward. Pete signed my scorecard. Evansville has a fine tradition of real baseball, not this Otter independent nonsense. In the World War 11 era the Tigers actually had spring training here due to travel restrictions. The great Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg played here as did Kirt Gibson, Bert Blyleven and even Ty Cobb played against Evansville way back. I was looking at the papers from 1939 and I saw two scheduled exhibitions to be played in Evansville on back to back dates in April. The first was a Thursday where the St. Louis Cardinals took on the Evansville Bees, then the farm club of the Boston Braves. The next day it was the Pittsburgh Pirates vs. the Bees. Grandstand seats 65 cents, box seats 25 cents extra. That would have been a good time. Come on spring!
After 93 Years Gronemeier's Sells to Stinson....1967
Gronemeier Hardware was formed in 1874 by Simon Gronemeier and in its entire history was owned by a Gronemeier. The first store was on the 100 block of lower Main Street. In 1902, it moved to where the Heidelberg Cafe was and it moved to the 400 block of Main Street in 1906. The building still in use today - Bud's Hardware.
Old Western Star At Coliseum for Gospel Roundup.....1967
"Sunset" Carson, action B Western Star of dozens of movies was in Mt. Vernon with a giant gospel roundup crusade in June of 1967. This gospel event featured known gospel singers like Peggy and Neal McCormick and had witnessed for the Lord from "Berlin to Bangkok and from Rangoon to Rome." Ad says, "Come see a shoot-out for Jesus!" Carson starred in many movies including, "Santa Fe Saddlemates, Oregon Trail, Bandits of the Badlands, and Cherokee Flash." His horse was named Cactus.
The Bend of the River - Town's Birth Told.....July 1966
A mammoth pageant spectacle occurred that summer at Athletic Park on a specially constructed 200 foot stage. The show was the largest production ever attempted locally, with over 250 people in the production. The cast was dressed in colorful and authentic costumes with special scenery as they brought forth characters of our city's history to life with Indians, early settlers, and hometown heroes. There were scenes of Gay Nineties, Dandies, Belles, Flappers, and the Roaring Twenties. There were buggies and horses, songs, dances, comedy, old autos, etc., in the 90 minute show. Miss Lucille Redman was in charge of the pageant and Jim Baxter was in charge of the casting.
Golden Rain tree Planted To Our Oldest Citizen.....June 1966
In the yard of the Masonic Temple at Walnut and East Fourth was planted a tree to memorial Ollie Stewart of Tulsa, Oklahoma who observed his 107th birthday on April 26 and is believed to be the oldest living person originally from Mt. Vernon. Governor Roger Branigin advised Mt. Vernon of his existence and thought the former home of Governor Alvin Hovey would be a fitting location. The 107 year old Stewart is the son of John and Elizabeth Huff Stewart and was born in Mt. Vernon. Relatives still live in New Harmony. Stewart still lived alone and does his own cooking. He came to Oklahoma when it was Indian Territory as a boy with his parents. He enjoys watching television and reads the New Testament which he carries in his pocket. He was a farmer all his life and didn't quit doing that until he was 100! He was a critic of government controls and is bitter towards them. "No freedom anymore. You think we got freedom, you're crazy. When I was young there was freedom, but that's gone now", he said. In 1918 fire played a major role in his life when his first wife and three children died in a blaze.
This old gentleman believed that the outlaws he saw in the earlier days of Oklahoma were better than the government. When he first came to Oklahoma some of the Indians he said carried scalps on their belts and that he would go to stomp dances. It was hear he tasted what Stewart called a Indian delicacy...roast dog.
McFaddin Landing Re-Enactment.....June 1966
More than 200 people were present on the Ohio River front to watch the re-enactment of the landing of the McFaddins that took place 166 years ago. The show was emceed by Francis Knowles, attorney, and former judge. Educator, Ed Pence narrated the landing. As the raft bearing the McFaddins drifted slowly down the Ohio towards the site, Pence told the story of how Andrew McFaddin in 1806 founded McFaddin's Bluff which became Mt. Vernon in 1814. Playing the roles of the McFaddins were direct descendants of the original founders-John McFadden and his daughter, Mrs. William Grabert, Mrs. Hazel McFadden Cox and her son William Cox, and Woodrow McFaddin Jr. The keynote address of the opening was delivered by Douglas McFadden, Posey County born and raised and deputy attorney general of Indiana. He was a former aide to Senator Vance Hartke (D). McFadden spoke of the re-enactment as a re-awakening of the pioneer spirit which settled Mt. Vernon and America. He likened the landing to the spirit of modern pioneers who have helped our town grow into a significant industrial area in Indiana. Prior the McFadden address, Mrs. Pence read a poem which was read in 1916 during the Mt. Vernon Centennial. At that time the poem had been read by Mrs. Mary Husband of New Harmony and was part of the water pageant of 1916.
There were many activities during the week of the Sesquicentennial. There were parades and ceremonies at the high school where Mayor Harold Gentil opened the celebration. The activities there were emceed by Jack Norvell. It was here they crowned the sesquicentennial mother, Mrs. Julia Alexander. A little Miss Contest was held too where Sonja Hunt was the winner. We had guided tours through historic homes in Mt. Vernon arraigned by Mrs. Alice Fogas. Business windows just like in 1916 were filled with items a century old or better for display. Kangaroo courts, old fashion style shows, clay modeling and quilt contests, folk dancing, cake decorating contests, art shows, street dance, beer garden, old recipe contest, bands for old and young from gospel, country, rock, and Dixie land. There were public dinners at the Elks and the American Legion, there were lectures at the Trinity Church, demonstrations of pioneer cooking, a drawing for a new 1966 Tempest Custom Convertible, awards for the best beard, Fireman's water fight, Kiwanis Barbecue Picnic, a basket dinner on the Hedges School grounds, a Religious Heritage Program and Mammoth fireworks at the Athletic Park following the pageant. Also, boat races and water skiing at the riverfront and old fashioned bargains offered by merchants downtown.
Old Bible Shown...May 1966
228 year old German printed Bible belonging to Louis Ed Pfeiffer was put on display for the public at People's Bank & Trust.
The Highest Scoring Basketball Game.....1966
This game was played at the old Central gym in Evansville as Central defeated our Wildcats 92-91. The 183 points represents the highest total of points in school history dating back to our first game in 1912. Mt. Vernon was very good from the charity stripe hitting 29 of 33. The three top scorers for Mt. Vernon that day were Eddie Howard with 23, future Reitz football coach Bob Ashworth with 21, and Tommy Junker with 16. Wildcats had a 15-7 record that season, losing to North Posey in the Sectional semi-finals after defeating them twice that season.
Editor's Note: This high scoring game record was eclipsed during the 2010-2011 season. Watch for the details of that record breaking game.
Some Local Business Establishments From Sesquicentennial Year.....1966
- Babcock and Wilcox
- Bayer Agency at 220 East 4th
- Behrick's Cabinet Supply Shop at 917 West 4th
- Beste Cabinet Shop at 115 Main
- Breeze Motors at 312 College
- Bunnell & Davis at 301 Main
- Charles Lawrence Homes
- Clyde Straw's Barber Shop
- Continental Grain
- Culley Pharmacy at 231 Main
- Culligan Water Conditioning at 405 Vine
- Dave Morris Chevrolet at 201 West Second
- Dog 'n Suds
- Estelle's Beauty Shop on College
- Farm Bureau Insurance
- Farm Bureau Refinery
- Farmers Elevator at North Main and Walnut
- Frank Moll Motors at 1029 East 4th
- Fuelling Concrete at 1210 Sycamore
- Fuhrer-Ford Milling Company
- Gerber's Supermarket, 700 East 4th
- Gottman Electric
- Gronemeier Hardware at 413 Main
- Hageman Sand and Gravel
- Interstate Finance, 425 Main
- J&J Welding at 1114 West 4th
- Juncker Bros at 601 West 4th
- Keck Motor Company
- Lutterman's Super Market at 512 West 4th
- Mt. Vernon Auto Parts at 1200 East 4th
- Mt. Vernon Drive In
- Mt. Vernon Farm Center
- Mt. Vernon Milling Company at 129 East Water
- Mt. Vernon Screw Products, 1020 Canal
- North Main Drive In Restaurant
- Norvell Funeral Home at 512 Main
- Ohio Veneer and Lumber at 600 Wolflin
- Oliver Jewelers at 220 Main
- P.N. Hirsch Department Store at 311 Main
- Parkett Drive In Restaurant at 1328 East 4th
- Paul O'Donnell Heating and Air Conditioning
- People's Bank and Trust
- Pioneer Corn Company
- Posey County National Bank
- Posey Lanes
- Randall Shell Service at 901 North Main
- Ricketts Bros Lumber at 734 East 4th
- Risch's Neu Way Cleaners at 409 Main
- Russell's Print Shop
- Schroeder's Shell Service at 4th and Locust
- Shrode Agency, 109 East 4th
- Staples Foundry
- Stephan Implement Company
- Tasty Treat Drive In
- Tomlinson's, at Mill near 2nd
- Tom's Furniture at 309 Main
- Tottie's Liquor Store at 120 West 4th
- Tresslar's Five and Dime at 403 Main
- Tygart Funeral Home
- Utley Auto Supply
- Wehr's Flower Shop and Green House on 531 East Eighth
- Wheaton's Pharmacy at 201 Main
- Yaggi Heating
- Zink Oil Field Service
Souvenir Half Dollar Distributed by Lions Club.....1966
For Mt. Vernon's 150th anniversary a half dollar was minted that was redeemable and exchangeable with local merchants. Really, I don't know how this was allowed because recently a Evansville man was arrested for making what he called a Liberty dollar and certain merchants used them. Anyway, the bronze coin was the size of a 50 cent piece and on one side bears the resemblance of Andrew McFaddin, the original settler of Mt. Vernon (not counting Indians) an on the other a sesquicentennial celebration date. 5000 of these coins were minted and I have one around here someplace. It was said that on our centennial celebration of 1916 a $1 coin was minted...I have never seen one. My mother also had a sesquicentinnel plate which had in the center an old fashion paddle wheel river steamboat. Also there were scenes of the library, coliseum, court house, the high school and the Hovey House. Thirty dozen of these were sold at a price of $1.75 each.
Civil Defense Duck 1966
"If it looks like a duck..."
Old Resident Returns.....1966
In 1916, a re-enactment of the landing of the McFaddins was an important part of Mt. Vernon's Centennial celebration. Playing the part of Noah McFaddin then was a lad named Elsa Barbee. Fifty years later Elsa came back to his hometown to watch the 150th birthday of Mt. Vernon. He was a descendant of the McFaddins and later moved to New Mexico and Arizona. He said during the re-enactment in 1916 a jug was being passed around by the older participants on the boat. Haha... Mt. Vernon. More Sesquicentennial notes coming.
Hall of Fame Coach Arad McCutchan Speaks Here.....May 1965
Head basketball coach of Evansville College coming off an unprecedented third NCAA crown and a undefeated season was a guest speaker before the weekly session of the Kiwanis Club. George Ashworth, administrative assistant of Mt. Vernon Metropolitan School District and later an Indiana Sports Hall of Famer was the program chairman. McCutchan spoke in general on athletics at Evansville College, past triumphs and future goals.
New Airline Stewardess from Mt. Vernon....May 1965
Miss Judith Ann Tenison of 725 East Eighth Street started her career as an Eastern Airline stewardess. She graduated from Eastern's Flight Training Center in Miami, Florida schooling in grooming, makeup and gracious presentation of dining services. She had previously graduated from Mt. Vernon High School and Indiana University and had been employed by Evansville Welborn Hospital. She will report to Chicago where she will be based. From there she will fly to many of the 110 cities Eastern serves in 26 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Bermuda
MVHS Club Selling Sesqui Auto Plates.....1965
The Social Studies Club of Mt. Vernon High School started selling 150th Anniversary car plates in preparation for and during the observance of Indiana's Sesquicentennial year of 1966. Plates sold for $1. Anybody got one now? I'll buy it.
Dorothy Challman Has a Concern.....May 1964
Dorothy Challman had a column in the social page for many years in the Mt. Vernon Democrat called, "Domestic Daze" that contained her observations and interests that were sometimes quite funny and often helpful. This one article she was going on about hearing of a high school that had divided its corridors into traffic lanes and posted one way signs to speed the flow of students between classes. There was talk of even one way halls. She said, "Maybe parking meters for young lovers along the corridor walls might help too."
Dancing at the Drive-In.....May 1964
Every Friday night for the summer there will be dancing before the screen program. For the first ever dance the rock band "The Wanderers" composed of the Chaffin and Gibbs brothers will perform. Then, Elvis will rock you in "Kid Galahad."
Wharf Improved by Street Department.....May 1964
Ralph Storey is commissioner of the Street Department and he reported that they had completed the laying of concrete on the Mt. Vernon wharf that is designed to provide a full 16 foot driveway from the end of Main Street to the water's edge of the Ohio River. The 129 feet of concrete laid connects with an earlier concrete road laid for ferry operations. In addition to providing a thoroughfare to the river it will eliminate mud and debris which has accumulated in the area.
Court Square Gets A Facelift.....May 1964
Construction of new sidewalks through the Court House square by contractor Hartmann is nearing completion and a contract for fertilizing, spraying and seeding the lawn has been awarded to Bennett's Garden Lawn and Gift Center of Mt. Vernon. The grass is in good condition, but spot seeding will be introduced as needed. Next a long term program of planting native shade trees, shrubs, evergreens and perennial flowers drawn up by Hank Gilbert of Purdue will be implemented.
Babcock & Wilcox Expansion Begins.....May 1964
An $11,000,000 expansion at B & W got underway with a main bay of 700x135 ft being constructed. The expansion is for the fabrication of large, heavy walled pressure vessels used for nuclear reactors. Over $20 million has already been spent at the facility. The first two phases had been completed by 1963. The main bay will be as high as a ten story building and will be able to handle vessels up to 1000 tons in weight, 75 feet in length and 30 feet in diameter. Included in the machinery required for the plant is an x-ray machine capable of examining steel plate more than two feet thick. In 1963, B & W sold eight vessels for a new petroleum refining process. President M. Nielsen said, "The expansion of the Mt. Vernon plant will make it the worlds most advanced for manufacturing large, heavy walled pressure vessels such as are used to contain nuclear reactors." The addition at the Mt. Vernon works will be located south of the present facility toward the Ohio River. An application by B&W for installing Ohio River docking facilities at Mt. Vernon is currently pending with the US District engineer's Office.
Then in May of 1965, the world's largest furnace for heat treating nuclear vessels was constructed in Mt. Vernon. The multi-million dollar furnace was one of two designed for installation here. It can heat boiler vessel components to as high as 2250 degrees. Some of the components required at that time in the vessels were up to 15 inches thick and weighed 2 million pounds.
Coliseum Vandalized.....May 1964
City Police Chief Kenneth Terrell said all of the offices, except the school district on the upper floor were broken into by thieves. It was discovered by custodian John Higgenbottom who found a door glass broken out of one of the front doors on Third Street. Upon further investigation it was found that all the offices on the first floor had their glass doors smashed. Only a small amount of money, maybe ten dollars was taken from the License Bureau Office and a RCA Victor radio was smashed in the office of Atty. Charles Rachels. File drawers were pulled out in the Mt. Vernon Chamber of Commerce office, but nothing taken.
Pepsi Shopping Spree Nets Mother Sum of $109.....1964
Mrs. Kenneth Lester had a five minute shopping spree...well sort of, she is pregnant, so her mother, Mrs. Irene Benner of West Third Street did the racing through the store, cheered on by the crowd at Lutterman's Market at 512 West Fourth Street. She racked up $109.63 worth of food and commodities which included a large amount of meat and sugar and detergent and diaper laundry aids. Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company general manager Stan Atkins and his sales manager were in attendance to watch. Official timer for the spree was Courtney Smith, manager of radio station WPCO.
Back before Title IX, few high schools had female athletic programs. From what I remember there were Girl's Athletic Associations. I believe teacher Mary Flo Niednagel was the sponsor at our school back in the mid to late sixties. I remember the girl's gym at school was this little room just across the hall from the main gym. What went on in there was almost always a mystery to male students. Of course, if the door was open just a hair we tried to catch a glimpse of a female classmate in shorts! No doubt there were some fine female athletes in my graduating class, but we never will know who they were. Earlier this season I attended a boys' basketball game and during intermission I exited out the back end to the concession stand. This wasn't even there back in my day. Neither was a trophy case, maybe fifty feet long completely full of girl's athletic achievements, trophies, plaques and pictures of titles won and records broken since the 1970's. A few years ago I was working out at the MAC center in Mt. Vernon and former classmate, Sharon Rowe was down on the basketball court shooting some hoops while I was walking a treadmill. Even in her fifties, she was nailing jumpers, dribbling through her legs and I thought then what she had missed. We talked and I found out how athletic a family she had including a daughter who not only played college basketball but coaches it too. So back to the playing days, I found a meet between Mt. Vernon, Huntingburg and Vincennes. Part of it was at the girl's gym and part of it was at the Memorial Coliseum pool. Mt. Vernon today has one of the best swim teams in Southern Indiana and especially the girl's teams. At this time it looks like we had a water ballet troupe demonstrating dives and strokes used in synchronized swimming under the leadership of Diane Dunigan and Ann McCullough. Familiar classmate's names jumped off the page at me who were a part of this like Vicki Turber, Nancy Wheaton and Sara Stubblefield. There were girls' softball games at Athletic Park, now a school sport and here again; I see names like Alta Mason, Henrietta Coburn and Phyllis Rohlman. I never saw any of these ladies play, but I have no doubt if having the opportunity that exists today they would have excelled.
From Sharon Rowe Barbarette: Wow! Thanks Ray for the comments. And, yes, it was frustrating for us to have girl's athletics so limited. Let me just add a couple more names from our class...Sonnie Walker was, and still is, a terrific athlete in all sports. Kay Kishline... was famous for drilling a long ball from almost anywhere on the court. As for my kids, I have another daughter who played on 2 FL high school state championship basketball teams. Both daughters, now in their mid 30's, remain active in athletic competition. I am delighted they had opportunities available as they were growing up. And my son is a Purdue wide receiver with two years of eligibility remaining. Watch for #27. He has a 4.3 forty time.
Ex-Oliphant Edifice Becomes a Apartment.....May 1963
Conversion began of the Oliphant medical center on the northwest corner of East Seventh and Mulberry streets. The fire proof Dr. Frank Oliphant building will be converted into five apartments - two efficiency, one-bedroom apartments and one two-bedroom apartment will be located on the first floor and two two-bedroom apartments on the second floor.
New Harmony's Gates Dedicated May 1962
Father Rapp would have been amazed...
MVHS Dedication.....February 1961
The new high school replacing the one on Canal Street was dedicated in the 1182 seat auditorium with a large program. The school built at a cost of $2.5 million is a beautiful building with a large gym and every modern need to educate our young. Following the address from Dr. Lawrence Pound, Professor of Education at Purdue University, an open house was held. The new cafeteria with its glass sided dining area in the courtyard provided a 280 pound red school house cake.
Junior's Skating Rink Burns.....January 1961
Located on Highway 69 North this wonderful recreation site for young people was erected in 1948. Owned and operated by Leo Angermeier Jr., the 60x138 foot structure was a total loss of over $100,000 as the terrific heat twisted the structure into pretzel shapes. A previous fire in 1956 resulted in a $40,000 restoration. The fire was discovered in the early morning hours by Lloyd Overfield who resided nearby. I was eleven when this happened and I was heartbroken. I loved skating every Saturday afternoon to the fifties hits, enjoying a frozen snicker bar or a coke and hoping to get my nerve up to ask the girl I was sweet on to hold my hand for one song as we moved around the oval. If not I would "shoot the duck" or play the "hokey pokey" game. They also had a four corner game. Those were some really good times!
Many things to do then: Mt. Vernon Drive In Theater applied the Mt. Vernon area customary fireworks. A sizable display of set pieces, aerial rockets and bombs fired at 10 PM. The movie that day was Cash McRail with James Garner and Natalie Wood.
There was also the Junker Bros and Massey Furgeson Field Day staged on both sides of Indiana 62 on west outskirts of town. Old steam engine thresher demonstrations using former farming methods. Vocalists and instrumental musicians entertained along with Ruth Schneider reigning as Farm Queen.
The largest celebration was the Kiwanis Community Park Carnival and Pit Barbeque with was held at Kiwanis Park on West Eighth Street. Menu of BB ribs and shoulder, baked beans and cole slaw. Music by the MVHS band. Hotdogs, hamburgers, ice cream, cotton candy, pop corn, snow balls and soft drinks also available. So was a dunking machine. 2200 pounds of ribs were cooked. In 1959 an estimated 8,000 people attended with concessions of $1200.
Ambassador of Nationalist China Visits Mt. Vernon.....June 1960
Dr. Kung Chao Yeh, ambassador to U.S. from the Republic of China and later the Foreign Minister of the Chinese Nationalist Government on the mainland and the island on Taiwan was the speaker at the First District Medical Society at the Farm Bureau Co-op Park. 150 medical people attended. He was a distinguished diplomat, teacher, doctor, and author and was the guest of Dr. William Challman whom he had met during the second world war. Just weeks prior to coming here he took part in President Eisenhower's visit to Formosa. He will leave following his speech to Washington D.C.
Paul Mason Hurls Nohitter-Advance Drillers win.....June 1960
The Advance Drillers were an elite Little League All-Star team that I had the privilege of playing one year with in the early 60's. They were coached by Ron Bennett and Jackson Higgins. We would play county schools like Wadesville, Cynthiana, St.Wendel, New Harmony etc. Most years we were undefeated and then they would take us to old Sportsman's Park in St. Louis to see the Cardinals play. I so remember the good times sitting in left field hollering at Dodger outfielder Wally Moon to throw us a baseball and getting Dizzy Dean's autograph on a scorecard when he came in once for a Game of the Week broadcast. On this particular afternoon Paul Mason a fine righthander struck out 16 Poseyville batters, just one short of the all time Driller record of 17 by Eddie Howard as the Drillers stomped the Poseyville Kiwanis 16-0 in six innings. Mason, Perry Hobby and Mark Nix all had three hits. J. Wiggins was the only Poseyville baserunner with a walk. Mason and Howard would team up again in high school and in their senior year would lose only two games.
Custom Farm Services.....May 1960
The fertilizer blending and general fertilizer sales plant is located on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, between the lower Mt. Vernon-New Harmony road and North Mill Street, handles a complete line of dry and liquid fertilizers in bag, bulk and tank. The firm offered delivery and land application service. Anhydrous ammonia is in tank storage.
The Avalon steamer was back for romantic moonlight excursions to Evansville and back, April 23 and 24th of 1960. Adults $1.75, Child 75 cents.
Payne's Barber Shop.....1960
This was where I would get flat tops as a kid. It was in the Gerber's Shopping Center where auto parts store is today on east Fourth Street. At that time it had a barber shop on the end and a laundromat next to it. Would go in sit in the long line of chairs with the huge stack of comic books piled up in the middle. Would get the flat top and you bought this little plastic thing that fit on your middle finger to keep the front waxed up like a little comb. What was that stuff beeze wax? Came in a can didn't it? Anyway, wasn't long after that came the Beatles and no more short hair. The barber shop became a good pizza joint ( think it was called Wanda's first and predecessor I believe of Dean's). Got a lot of pies there until they tore the place down for the first CVS Store. It had a different name then what was it?
The park on the west side of Mt. Vernon that contains tennis courts, baseball and softball diamonds, a playground , a picnic area, and a community outdoor swimming pool is a gift from a great benefactor, Mr. Julius Brittlebank. He only lived in Mt. Vernon for three years in the late 1880's, but bequeathed the town a large share of $325,000 for a park. The will of the late Charleston, South Carolina broker created a trust fund late in life and after paying the trust for some 21 years to his son, the principle was to be divided between Charleston, Mt. Vernon and Terre Haute for the establishments of Brittlebank parks. Brittlebank was once an executive of the Hudnut Milling Company. He died July 25, 1937. While here he was prominent in the Knights of Pythias and a leading figure in social circles, a gentleman of marked refinement and culture. His residence for the majority of the time he lived here was at the Kahn Hotel. While on his 18th trip around the world he suffered a heart attack aboard the steamship President Polk near Honolulu, Hawaii. He was born in Terre Haute in 1859.
I don't know if they still do these tours or not to what now is the Sabic Corporation. When General Electric was new to Mt. Vernon as was the new high school on Harriet Street there would be tours of the plant of the top scholars of the local high schools near the end of the school year. Usually 40 or so scholars from MVHS, North Posey, and New Harmony high schools would participate. They would go out and see the process of manufacturing the Lexan polycarbonate resin made at the facility. They would be met by all the 'big wigs' like the quality control manager, manufacturing engineers, plant manager, etc. There would be a banquet and many faculty and school administrators would be there too like Hugh Price, then superintendent of the MV school district, Charles Hames, principal of MVHS; Earl Rapp, superintendent at New Harmony; Kenneth Woods, principal at New Harmony; Ivan Holen superintendent of North Posey, and Lloyd Hutchinson, principal at North Posey High School. Our yearbooks of my high school days always carried a picture of these events.
When the Western Hills Country Club golf course was built, the greens and course were prepared by Guy Clark who continued on as resident golf pro for several years in the sixties, left and returned to his old job in 1971.
The Old Wade House circa 1960's
This was once the residence of Mrs. Jennie Wade who died at age 101 in 1966. Historically, this property dates back to times when Mt. Vernon's primary source of income came from river traffic. In 1837 the original land owned by President William Henry Harrison was portioned off and this property was sold to George Walker who later sold the land to Morris Fuhrer in 1849. The house was built somewhere between 1849 and 1875 at 209 East Water Street. The house had many owners until 1904 when the Wades purchased it. Mrs. Wade was a descendant of early Mt. Vernon pioneer people. Her mother, Victoria Thomas was a member of a family who came here in 1813. Her father, Milton Lichtenberger was also an early resident. Mrs. Wade lived in this house until 1955 when she moved to College Avenue until later living in a sanitarium in Evansville her last eight years. Her husband's name was Albert. Several fireplaces exist in the structure and one was last used in 1964 when Mt. Vernon was struck with a severe snowstorm. The Cotner family was living there then and they cooked from that fireplace during the storm. During redecoration, the Cotner's found a few antiques including a book of music inscribed by Mrs. Wade.
Seven Arrested In Raid On Dice Game....September 1959
A weekend raid by State Police trooper Jack Eads resulted in seven men being arrested for playing dice beneath the McFadden creek bridge on the Bluff Road east of Mt. Vernon. Each pleaded guilty and was fined $5 and costs each. Six were Mt. Vernon men and the other a former resident. The ages were from 18 to 60.
Future Mayor Gives Club A Newspaper Tour.....August 1959
Members of the Mt. Vernon Kiwanis Club were given a verbal tour of the Mt. Vernon Democrat plant at their noon luncheon in Hovey's old residence, the Elks Home, at which time Jackson L. Higgins, advertising manager of the Democrat, spoke on the subject, "Your Newspaper." Higgins was presented by former mayor, Frank Fessenden, production manager of The Democrat, who was the program chairman. Higgins explained briefly the intricate workings of a newspaper, including all departments necessary to produce the paper which arrives each evening bearing national, international, and local news. Jack spoke on how the material is gathered and prepared through local channels and United Press International teletype. He explained editing of all copy as well as head writing. He also went into detail on how pictures are prepared for printing. In the production portion of the daily paper, Higgins took the listeners through the plant explaining typesetting both by linotype and Ludlow machines, stereotyping, make-up, how advertisements were prepared and the final printing and delivery of the newspaper.
Shario Cafe Moves to Main Street...August 1959
The Shario Cafe of Mrs. Marie Curtis reopened in the Fischer building at 307 Main Street after moving from 419 West Third Street which was purchased by Attorney Steve Bach for his offices. Bach had moved from the second story of Gronemeier Hardware store. The cafe building has been redecorated in pastel shades of green with a large mural on one wall and the floor is of vinyl linoleum in coral green and beige. The room was designed by Reba Quinn of DeFur's Paint store. The new cafe will serve homemade pastries, fried chicken steaks, chops, seafood, and plate lunches. A private dining room is available for groups of 50 or more.
"Have A Drink On Me".....August 1959
The abandoned school building four miles west of Griffin was the scene of homebrew operations, Sherriff Ed Rutledge and Deputy Malcolm Buchanhan discovered. Acting on a tip, the officers "swooped down" on the building and found the brew fermenting in ten and five gallon jars with a large supply of bottles and caps on hand. No arrests were made. Evidently, the brewers wanted a product with a kick for they had added raisins and potatoes to the fermentation process. "Sheriff Rutledge invited owners of the jars, bottles, and caps to call at the county jail to identify the property." Yea, right!
Groundbreaking For GE Plant.....August 20, 1959
The new General Electric Lexan Resin Plant was started with groundbreaking at the 160 acre site, two miles southwest of Mt. Vernon. The ceremonies were covered live by the local radio station WPCO and all businesses in town stopped for two hours to honor the new addition. Indiana Lt. Governor Crawford Parker participated. The announcement that Mt. Vernon had been awarded the plant came from Pittsfield, Mass. on June 4th. Production plans are for some latter part of 1960. Initial employment will be about 75 persons, 50 of which will be production employees. Full production levels will be over 150. Mt. Vernon Chemical Materials will be the sixth General Electric Plant in the state.
Repairs Made to Mt. Vernon's "Big Ben"....August 1959
The town clock is in the steeple of St. Matthew's Catholic Church. The idea for it came about during the late 1890's, but it wasn't installed for about twenty years later. The city did not have the funds for the clock, so it was decided to buy it by raising funds. Fred Leonard, a local attorney headed the fund with a gift of 50 dollars. Some thought the clock should be on a government building, you know like in the movie, "Back To The Future" on the courthouse or coliseum. It was decided however, to place it on the tower of the church where it would be well cared for. The clock was built in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For many years the town gave the parish $50 annually for upkeep. Originally it would have to be wound daily with the weights weighing 400 to 600 pounds. It is now run electrically and the city pays $300 annually for maintenance. In 1959, a bolt of lightning burned out a motor in it and it was repaired by Tom Hall, an electrical contractor.
Pits Dragged In Search For Loot....June 4, 1959
FBI agents and MV police and fire departments dragged Hagemann and McDonald gravel pits northwest of Mt. Vernon in a futile attempt to find canvas deposit bags and some of the checks taken in the Christmas Eve burglary of the night depository safe of People's Bank & Trust Company. Chief of Police Raymond Cox said that Harold McMahan told FBI agents after his sentencing to nine years in federal prison on charges of the robbery that some of the checks were put in a tow sack and dumped in a lake or pond northwest of Mt. Vernon.
Posey County Basketball Tourneys 1922-1959
The tournament idea took birth through the efforts of Coach Fowell of Poseyville in 1921. The first tourney was held in Poseyville the next year and the Mt. Vernon "Brownies" were the first champions. Six teams took part those being Mt. Vernon, Poseyville Posies, Cynthiana Anna, Wadesville Red Devils, New Harmony Rappites, and the Stewartsville Owls. Later Griffin joined the tourney and Booker T. Washington played one year. In all Mt. Vernon won 10 tourneys, Poseyville 8, New Harmony 5, Griffin 5, Cynthiana 5, Wadesville 3, and Stewartsville 1. Some records set were "Lefty" Garrett playing on 4 championship teams with Griffin in 1928 and 1929 and with Poseyville in 1930 and 1931. Mt. Vernon had the most points scored in a game with 92 in 1959. Armond Moltz had 17 free throws made in a game for Cynthiana in 1957, Mt. Vernon the only team to win three straight championships 1943-45, 30 points in a game was done three times by Smith of New Harmony in 1955, Richie Moore of New Harmony in 1952, and Wade of Wadesville in 1958. Richie Moore of the Rappites had 173 points in the tourney in his career, more than any other player.
Lion's Little League team sells Cracker Jack 1959
Some I can make out: kneeling in the first row is Larry Russell: on the second row the third one from the left is Jimmy Reeves, then Allen Stevens, Steve Hames, and Gary "Bucky" Burns. On the third row the second from the left is Jimmy Estes, then Bruce Smith, Bobby Ozinga, Jerry Smith and the far right player is Hilton Reeves. The tall thin man is cartoonist Glenn Curtis.
Advance Drillers Win 4th Straight County Little League Championship.....1959
Led by Eddie Howard's homer and two singles and two hits each by Mark Nix and Gary Burns the locals dumped Cynthiana, there 11-6. This was the sixth championship in the eight years of play with Wadesville winning two. The next year I would be part of winning the fifth straight. "Sneak" Howard's blast was plastered over the centerfielder's head. Steve Fuelling had a triple and Gary Coon and Jimmy Estes had doubles. Coon was also the winning pitcher. For winning the championship, Mr. and Mrs. Vance will send the Drillers Sunday to see the Cardinals-Dodgers game and Bob Estes on behalf of the Western Auto Store will present the winner's trophy and individual medals to the Drillers prior to Saturday's All-Star contest.
Howard hit .511 that Driller season to lead the team, Nix .444, Burns .419, Coon .375, Paul Mason .368, Estes .361, and Bobby Ozinga at .351 were the top sticks. Nix topped the long hitters with three dingers. Other top players on the team were, Danny Miller, Paul Walker, Steve Fuelling, Warren Chambers, and Rodger Redman. This was the second year in the row that Ed Howard led the team in batting average. He also led the team in runs scored with 21 and singles with 17. He was 3-0 as a pitcher and played a total of 5 years with the team!! Wow. His last three years he hit .462, .482, and .511. Managed by Jack Higgins and Ronald Bennett, the last four years the Drillers went 50-4. The next season, I remember losing only once to St. Wendel on a disputed call by one run.
Kiwanis Karnival and Barbecue on 4th.....1959
In an attempt to revive old time American history of 35 to 50 years ago, a picnic and barbecue associated with Independence Day was held. Kiwanis Community Park hosted over 8000 persons with red striped stick candy, pink lemonade and bursting fireworks. The Karnival continued until late evening as square dancing brought down the curtain. There were pony and goat and wagon rides, a Ferris wheel, chair swing and a fire truck for kiddies, plus a novelty stand. At midway there was a senior citizen's homemade cake and pie and handicraft booth, a soft drink stand, an ice cream bar stand, a canned cherry sales concession, a popcorn stand, hamburger stand, and a snowball stand. A dunking machine was also a popular attraction. The tented dining rooms, of course were the most popular. Approximately a ton of barbecued pork ribs, shoulders and hams were sold for consumption on the grounds or for carry out. A concert by the high school band, directed by K.V. Bryant was held as was an accordion concert of pupils of Mrs. William Southard. WPCO held on the spot interviews and spun the records for the dance that evening with Gordon Alldredge as the caller. Dr. Frank Turber the Kiwanis Club President declared it a great success.
Big One Snagged On Highway 62....1959
A group of Evansville fisherman snagged a 210 pounder on the pavement of Indiana 62 at the Marrs-Black Township line. Bernard Kurzendoerfer of E'ville driving a 1951 Chevy with James Pritchett, Joe Wright and Alton Heil as companions were en route home after fishing at Goose pond, southeast of Mt. Vernon. Pat Hoehn, of New Harmony who happens to weigh 210 pounds was traveling west in his 1953 Buick. Kurzendoerfer and friends had their cane fishing poles lashed to the left side of their auto. As the two cars passed, the string holding the poles broke. One of the falling poles punched Hoehn's left forearm resting on the door, inflicting a laceration requiring stitches. Also a left parking light on the Hoehn auto was broken and the left door slightly damaged. Sheriff Ed Rutledge and Deputy Mac Buchanan investigated; but no one was cited.
Mt. Vernon Merchants Win Second Straight Double I League Championship.....1959
At the time it was the hardest hitting team in Double I League history. Team had Mel Weiss, Jesse Walker, Ron Weiss, future MVHS and Oakland City College Hall of Famer Charlie Brauser, MV Hall of Famer Darwin Rueger who played in this league for 25 years, Frankie Dickens, legendary semi-pro Bill Hall, MV Hall of Famer and future MV high school coach "Chummy" Jeffries, Art Hall, Ray Boerner, Linc Baro, Norm Wade, and New Harmony legend Richie Moore. They were managed by Bob Roby. Some of the team batting averages were: Shirley Weiss at catcher hitting .343, Chummy Jeffries at second base .426, Ray Boerner at third hitting .403, Mel Weiss hit .309 in the outfield. Linc Baro won the batting title hitting .526, Bill Hall hit .398 Ron Weiss was 6-0 that season as a pitcher. Hall and Jeffries made up one of the best double play combinations the league had ever seen. I would go down to Athletic Park in my youth to watch these Sunday games. It was like big leagues to a little boy. Grown men playing baseball, seriously. Big swings, hard slides, tobacco chewing, tempers flaring...fun! Tiny Waller, the great player who lost his leg in a industrial accident may have been on his way to the big leagues would be there hitting fungos to us kids. Sometimes a wooden bat would be broken and they would hand it over the fence to a young child. Baseball has a long history in Mt. Vernon to the 19th century and seen many a pro player play on our field. I grew up hearing stories about "Dutch" Wehr, "Tiny", and "Dead Eye" Gentil and later on I learned of outstanding players before that. It was not uncommon back in the barnstorming days of the 20's and 30's to have minor league players on our rosters after the Evansville Bees ended their season, who were a farm club then of the Boston Braves. The players would pick up a few extra dollars playing until the weather turned cold.
Rider and Horse Ran Down.....1959
Oscar Nurreburn, 35, was riding along the shoulder of Indiana 62 near Marrs Elementary School at around dusk one January evening when his mount was hit by a 65 year old driver. Nurrenburn was out looking for a stray hog when he was thrown off from the collision. Substantial damage to the car occurred, the horse had to be destroyed and Oscar was sent to the hospital with lacerations and possible internal injuries.
Local Born Man Helps End Prison Riot.....1959
Noah Alldredge, captain of the guards at the U.S. Prison Medical Center at Springfield, Mo. helped plan and led a five pronged assault which broke the back of a vicious 16 hour riot. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Noah Alldredge, R.R. 4, Mt. Vernon. Noah as a long record of service stationed for 12 years at Terre Haute Federal Prison, duty at the Federal Correctional Institute at Texarkana, Ark., and the Federal Reformatory at El Reno, Oklahoma. Prisoners stormed the guards in the gate yard, used bolt cutters to cut through the corridor fence where they met resistance. Guards were armed with gas guns and ten rounds of assorted gas ammunition which they fired freely. The next five guards carried gas grenades and hurled them into the masses of prisoners hooting and yelling. All the remainder of the 100 attackers surged forward with clubs in their hands and swinging them with fury. The clubs were made of baseball bats, two foot long pieces of one inch gas pipe with adhesive tape around one end to assure grips. Several of the prisoners had their heads bloodied by their own clubs and went down to be hauled out by the assault troops and the more contrite prisoners. The five hostages were released and were among the first men to come out. Knives made from scissors were found as were table knives from the mess hall and surgical tools. The hostages were virtually unharmed thankfully.
Farm Bureau Park Barbecue Pit.....New 1959
My father was a Farm Bureau Refinery river dock employee of over 25 years and I remember the Farm Bureau picnics they would hold. They would give gifts away to the kids along with ice cream and the adults would play bingo for silver dollars. What always fascinated me was the huge barbecue pit. This pit was constructed in 1959 for the Centennial Outing of the 100th anniversary of the first oil drilling. The pit was completed in June of that year and was designed to provide maximum efficiency in the preparation of meat via a pit design. The pit is 65 feet long, 3 feet wide and 1 1/2 ft. deep, and shaped in the form of a horseshoe. By using this unique design, one or two men can attend the entire length of the pit within a very small area inside the horseshoe working on both sides. Either side can be fired independently or the entire pit can be used at one time. Capacity of the pit is 2400 pounds of meat when fully fired. The pit walls are 6 inch thickness of heat resisting concrete with angle iron grates and stainless steel iron mesh over that. The entire pit is covered by a roof with adequate ventilation.
People's Bank & Trust Robbed Christmas Eve.....1958
An arrest of four Mt. Vernon men for federal bank burglary and aiding and abetting came as a result of a Christmas Eve robbery. Money -$17,079.22 - was taken from the night depository safe of the bank as the robbers entered through the basement air vent and apparently unlocked the night depository safe. A ball peen hammer believed to have been used to break an air vent grate and providing entrance to the bank was found in a foundation opening near the vent. One of the robbers was picked up in Orlando, Florida and the other suspects aging from 24 to 45 were arrested in Mt. Vernon. The suspect that was in Florida was found driving a 1951 Chevrolet which he purchased in Orlando for $505 cash. He had $7755 in cash on his person when arrested. One of the burglars (I am leaving their names out), led authorities to the private garage at 722 College Avenue and revealed a buried glass jar containing $1070 in currency. Also money from a local break-in at the Floyd LaDuke residence was also recovered with articles he owned like a radio, binoculars, electric blanket and linens. The four were held in the Vanderburgh County jail awaiting prosecution in Federal court.
Harlem Magicians Dazzle at Mt. Vernon Gym.....December 1957
Marquis Hayes known to be the world's greatest dribbler was supposed to be with the squad, but was ill; but two other former Globetrotters help defeat the Boston Shamrocks at the high school gym. MV Lumber Company sponsored the exhibition with the Mt. Vernon Indians defeating Wadesville 75-71 in the preliminary. Jim 'Red' Howard led the Indians with 17 points, Art Hall 15, and Johnny Johnson added 10. Tommy Gibson dazzled the crowd with his amazing dribbling while in lying, kneeling, and crawling positions as the Magicians won 59-58. Former Globetrotters Sam Wheeler and Josh Crider did play.
Flashers Signal Installed.....November 1957
The street crossing at the West Fourth street location is now in operation. Similar signals were specified by the Common Council of Mt. Vernon for West Second and West Eighth crossings, but enforcement may be delayed pending the completion of plans of the railroad company to shift its trackage attendant upon its contemplated building of a line to the proposed coal terminal in the Hovey vicinity.
First Step toward 3 Elementary Buildings.....March 1957
A Citizens committee began circulating petitions among real estate owners in the Mt. Vernon Metropolitan School District for bond issues to finance three elementary grade school buildings. The petition procedure for the issue of bonds is in accordance with Indiana statute. School authorities estimate that bond issues of $750,000 will be required to finance the three elementary buildings which will replace present obsolete rural buildings. The Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan School District in its session moved ahead with plans to establish a cumulative building fund earmarked to provide equipment of the new elementary buildings and develop a nest egg for a new Metropolitan District high school building whose erection has been made secondary to the new elementary buildings. The trustees are studying sites for the three elementary buildings in accordance with present school population and population trends.
Legion Post Looted of Cash and Liquor.....March 1957
The Owen Dunn post, No. 5 American Legion home at Second and Walnut Streets was burglarized before dawn and cash estimated at $335 and eight fifths of whiskey stolen. Whiskey stolen included two fifths of Walker's, four fifths of Old Taylor and two fifths of Calvert's. Entrance was gained by prying open a window on the north side of the Legion Home. Evidently, the thieves confined their operations to the bar room.
In 1965 the Legion moved to a new home a 68x100 brick veneer over concrete block construction and will face Walnut St with a Second Street entrance. A table and recreation area, a post meeting room, measuring 48x68, a kitchen, storage quarters and restrooms are included.
Ewing Buys Building at 428 Main Street.....March 1957
The building at 428 Main Street, adjacent on the south to the Mt. Vernon Democrat building has been sold for an expanded Goodyear Store in Mt. Vernon with Ewing Tire Service, Inc as the owner operator. The building has 5600 feet of floor s...pace and will be adapted to the firm's needs along with a 70x140 vacant lot of the former Stephan Implement Company. George Ewing Jr announced that his firm will move into the new location from their present location on the northeast corner of Main and Second streets where they have been very successfully operated for the past three years. The volume of business has outgrown the facilities and they were in need of room to grow. The Mt. Vernon Goodyear Store will continue to handle tires, home appliances, TV's, radios and a super service tire service shop. The 428 Main Street building had been vacant since the removal of the Breeze garage, Chrysler-Plymouth agency and general automotive serve garage went to College Avenue.
MV Common Council Issues.....February 1957
City Attorney Steve Bach was authorized to draft an ordinance, which, upon adoption would require the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad to establish cross-bar barriers at its West Fourth Street crossing to protect street and highway traffic when trains are moving across the crossing. That crossing had been the scene of a number of collisions of trains and autos.
They refused to set uniform taxi fares of services in town.
Extermination of rats was brought up again. Those programs had been successful in the past, but repetition is necessary. The program was extended to city dumps and the Mill Creek area.
A new city dog ordinance received its first reading that would require that all dogs be licensed and that tags be affixed to the collars of the canines and that unlicensed animals and those not carrying tags evidencing rabies inoculation in the past 12 months be impounded and those not claimed after five days be destroyed.
When the shoe was on the other foot.....Ike's....1957
President Eisenhower attacked budget cuts by Congress as foolish and fatuous. As for specific recommendations by Sen. Harry Bryrd (D, VA), that the budget of $71.8 billion for 1958 be cut by $5 billion the President said a cut of that size would hurt the welfare of our country. The President challenged the American people if they really wanted to cut benefits to veterans, agriculture and to the schools. His speech went long to support his budget against growing demands on Capitol Hill for sharp reductions.
Mt. Vernon's Midget Burglar.....1957
The young teen boy who weighed only 45 pounds was committed to Boy's school for his part in a wave of over 25 safe cracking and break-ins in the tri-state area. He would slip into small opening, cut in ceilings and let two other accomplices in who would safe crack businesses. The boy started paying for tractors and farm equipment for his dad who had a small farm with his loot. The father of the 16 year old was also arrested later for being an accessory after the fact.
I wrote once before how in the late 60's after baseball practice, Marvin Dremstedt would drive us to the Parkmore where we could get ten hamburgers for a dollar! In 1957 I saw a ad where you could get a hamburger and a choice of a salad for a quarter or a banana split for the same price.
Street Grading 1957
Grading began in February of 1957 and the Mt. Vernon Police appealed for the cooperation of autoists to permit the work to go forward smoothly without interruption. Chief of Police, Raymond Cox asked owners of jacked-up autos on street to remove them without delay. Keys of autos parked on the streets should be left with someone in the home so that the cars can be moved when grading reaches their locations.
In 1955 a widening of Walnut Street between Third and Second Street between Walnut and Mulberry was undertaken. This followed the recent widening of Walnut Street between Fourth and Third. The addition of ten feet to the width was made on the west side of the present thoroughfares.
Wabash River Memorial Bridge Dedication.....July 7, 1956
Bands, beautiful floats and marching units comprised the mile and a half parade that passed in front of 15,000 in Mt. Vernon to dedicate the new bridge connecting Indiana and Illinois. The Girl Scout float ranked first among all the floats. There was the Hadi Shriners marching from Evansville with four groups including the Oriental Band and Drum and Bugle Corps. The Carmi Shrine Motorcycle Unit contributed with precision riding maneuvers. Our movie star Jeannie LaDuke rode in a convertible, we had a Accordion Band, Clowns Happy Keliums and Peppo, there were police departments from Indiana and Illinois, Gold Star Mothers from WWII, ancient vintage cars, governors of both Indiana and Illinois, U.S. Senators, congressman and highway commissions from both states, 24 floats, 17 military and veterans units and much more. Virtually every city and town mayor in a radius of 50 miles of Mt. Vernon accepted an invitation to attend the dedication. The Grayville marching unit was awarded first place in their unit with the Hadi Shriners second. The Mt. Vernon Saddle Club was represented with the oldest rider being 66 and the youngest 9.The lead car was honorary Parade Marshall, C.B. Enlow, chairman of the Evansville Chamber of Commerce. After the parade, a caravan rode the nine miles to the $3 million dollar bridge. During the parade three jet planes made a fly over town. A thousand helium filled balloons were released at the courthouse square. Attached to the balloons were postcards with instructions to mail them back wherever they were found. The bridge entrance was timed in cream and crimson and orange and blue ribbons; colors of the two state universities. Radio and television coverage was on site. Later a banquet was held in Evansville at the McCurdy Hotel hosted by Mayor Vance Hartke.
Junior High Tours Historic Vincennes....May 1956
The MVJHS's eighth grade class of 103 with three teachers and seven parents toured Vincennes. Three charted buses conveyed the children to see the George Rogers Clark Memorial, Territorial Capitol, Harrison Mansion, and the Old Cathedral. Lunch was served at a Vincennes University coffee shop. Teacher chaperones were Mrs. William Seifert, Mrs. Charles Rachels and Terry Hudson.
Further Drilling Halted at Hovey Lake....May 17, 1956
No "Drill Baby Drill" here from Republican Governor George Craig, who often went against the more conservative influences in our state. He halted further drilling negotiations on Hovey Lake, wildlife sanctuary and game preserve. "It is my belief that at this time the public interest is best served by refusing permission for the negotiation of further leases of oil drilling.", he said.
Menacing Attic Blaze at 105 Main.....May 15, 1956
Fire threatened a quarter of a block of business buildings on Lower Main Street but was brought under control and kept from spreading from the LaPlaza Bar attic at 105 Main. Flames originated on the third floor owned by the Templeton family... who live above the tavern on the second floor. Firefighting was directed from a nearby roof top. Water damage will run the cost of the fire into the many thousands. Fire was first spotted from the ground by a passerby Henry Harris.
Mobile X Ray unit.....1956
The Posey County Tuberculosis Association brought this unit in from Evansville for two days to provide chest x-rays for the public for a fee of $1.50. The unit set outside the Mt. Vernon Milling Company for one day and in front of the Memorial Coliseum for another. Trained technicians read the pictures and made individual reports.
Ex Mayor Herman Bray Sells His Liquor Store.....1956
After 18 years, Mr. Bray is selling his package liquor store to Jon Forthoffer located at 107 Main Street. Failing health is the reason for the sale and in the eighteen years of business he never once was cited for a liquor violation. Bray originally had a store at the back of the Wheaton Pharmacy and in 1945 he erected the building at 107 Main. It sent out a statement thanking the community for their patronage. Forthoffer was to combine his beer dealership with the package service.
Ground Broken For Radio Station WPCO.....April 1955
Acreage purchased from the Willford Hagemann family located on State Road 62, a mile and a half west of Mt. Vernon opposite the Hagemann home will be the site of Mt. Vernon's first radio broadcasting station. H. C. Sanders, station manager and co-owner said construction would be rushed with hopes that the station would be on the air by August or September. The station will be a one story, concrete block structure providing 1350 square feet of floor space. It will house a reception lounge; air conditioned studio and office, control room and modern rest rooms. Running water to be supplied by a deep well. Station WPCO will operate on a frequency of 1590 kilocycles with 500 watt power for coverage of a 50 mile radius.
Dairy Dream Opens April 1955
East Fourth and Kimball Streets was the location of this little block building that served delicious ice cream , root beer and Coney Island hot dogs. Good malts, shakes and sundaes! It was originally owned by Norman Blackburn and Jack Anderson, later by Henry Shuler. Drive up into the rocks, get a cool drink out of the side water fountain...flirt with the help..oh yes..I miss that place too!
Flagpole Dedication at Hedges Central.....April 1955
A fund was instituted by Mrs. John Doerr, a charter member of the Tuesday Club as a project. The flag and flagpole were financed by alumni of the old Central grade school that burned in 1945. Former pupils of that school were invited to contribute $1 each. At the ceremony, the Hedges Central band played "America the Beautiful" and Jon Anderson sounded the bugle call for the colors. Four boy scouts advanced and raised the flag and Joel Deckard (future Republican congressman) led the audience in the Pledge to the Flag. The audience then sang The Star Spangled Banner followed by of closing prayer.
Hmmm...Unusual...Don't Think Would Happen Today.....April 1955
Coach Bob Scheller lost the services of a Mt. Vernon Wildcat baseball player who was expected to be of much help to the teams this spring to an employment opportunity. William "Bill" Mattingly, infielder, accepted employment in the office of the Indiana Farm Bureau Refinery and started to work on Monday. He will attend high school in the morning and work in the afternoon and will receive his diploma with the 1955 graduating class. Mattingly was the leading scorer on the basketball team this past season and received the Kiwanis "Player of the Year" award in the sport.
Modern Woodman's Hall Goes Down...January 1955
The old Knights of Pythias Hall and later the Modern Woodman's Hall Lodge was located on Walnut Street, between Fourth and Fifth. It was the location many of us remember that became the Shrode Agency site. The old hall went back to 1852 and was used as a Methodist Church for over a half a century. The Methodists moved to another location in 1905 and the building was sold to the K & P Lodge and later to the Modern Woodman. It was the site of many dances in the community and even held dancing lessons. The foremost ball it held was the annual Fireman's Ball, which was always heavily attended. From 1921-1923 the former dance floor was the site of Mt. Vernon boys' and girls' basketball teams. It was not ideal for this as there were steps going down just beyond one goal and they had to block it off to prevent injuries. Of course, seating was limited and in those days great interest was shown in our outstanding girl's teams. Those teams went 35-6 during those three years and 22-2 at the Hall. When it was a church it had the colored window panels that reflected the sun through many hues onto the congregation. It had a tall belfry behind the building with a large bell. It was rung for church services, but also as a fire alarm. During the dance period, old Sunday school class rooms became places for music lessons and recitals. The main room became what was called the Swing-In Youth Center. The Woodman's went out of existence and the building fell into disrepair due to no funds to maintain it. It was given to the town. Sadly, if was unusable with broken windows, a home for pigeons, vines and weeds. During the demolition, a rare red bat was captured by workman in the interior. They also found one brick that had the perfect footprint of a dog. So, sometimes when we see an old city building in disrepair and later a pile of brick and mortar, give a think of what it once was and what memories were once made collectively by our town.
Accomplishments of Mayor Paul Hironimus 1952-1955
Although he was defeated in the primary of 1955, his list of accomplishments in his political ad seem quite impressive. Here are a few: Purchased a new fire truck, organized a auxiliary volunteer fireman squad, replaced the heating plant in the City Hall serving both the hall and the library; modernized the City Hall with new fixtures, modern counters, laid out more baseball diamonds at Athletic Park, built a concessions stand and installed lights for night games, bought a tractor and a street sweeper for the Street Department, built a new street at Canal and East 7th Street, build sidewalk and gutter on East Sixth Street, constructed a storm sewer on Kimball Street, widened streets like Walnut, built an addition to the City Garage doubling its capacity and installed a new furnace, rerouted Mill Creek at the mouth, created a Public Steering Committee, Creation of a city planning commission, made initial contact to bring a radio station to the city and helped in providing an insurance company for city workers. And all this from a Republican? That is probably why he lost the primary...too much spending, and too large of city government.
250 Kiddies get Ducking....June 1954
Mt. Vernon youngsters took to the streets as the Water system flushed fire hydrants. Children donned bathing suits and old clothes to play in the water. The 'ducklings' via a 42 foot sprinkler were staged on Pearl Street between Second and Third and at Seventh and Mill and Sixth and Canal.
"Smoke on the Water"....March 1954
Mt. Vernon fought a fire in the middle of Mill Creek! Floating trash saturated with waste oil caught fire in mid stream north of Second Street. Where do you suppose that "waste oil" originated?
Town Easter Egg Hunt.....1954
I remember when I was a youngster; we had this huge Easter Egg Hunt down by Sauerkraut Lane at the home of a lady named Anderson. It was huge. Did I mention it was big? Some hunts for the smaller children and one for the older ones. When my oldest son was of that age, we went to the General Baptist Church hunt and Nathan was an expert gatherer! He burst out with so much speed he gathered so many eggs he had to give some back. Ha ha. He couldn't understand that some children didn't get enough and he had to share. He thought he earned them fair and square. I would hold off mowing the yard for the first time each spring to let the grass get a little higher so we could hide eggs in our back yard for our boys. My wife Terri really dressed those kids up for those hunts. Well, back to the town hunt of 1954. It was held at the Athletic Park and over 400 youngsters participated in tracking through the high grass picking up nearly 100 dozen eggs. Prizes in some of the eggs included Tressler's gift certificates and passes to the movie theater.
Hurdler Don Foster at State Finals....1954
Don Foster, Mt. Vernon High School Hall of Famer, scored eight points in the State Track and Field Meet in Indianapolis to record the first points ever scored by Mt. Vernon in the annual event. For the second year in succession, however, Foster was victimized by fate and did not win the high or low hurdle title. Having fallen in 1953, Foster was a heavy favorite to annex the high hurdle title in 1954. A freakish mishap, a one in a million occurrence, stopped him just short of his goal. Going into the third hurdle in the championship race, his trunks caught on the hurdle, pulling him back momentarily. This caused him to be off stride for the fourth hurdle, and hit this hurdle hard. Recovering Foster then set sail for the pace setter, John Abell of South Bend Rilet, but Abell having his best day ever nosed him out by one foot in 14.8, Abell's best time ever and incidentally, Foster's time in the morning trial. Evidence of Foster's trunk catching on the hurdle is to be found in the trunks, which were ripped halfway to the waist. No one had ever heard of such an incident before in a hurdle race, much less a State Championship. Hometown fans welcomed home the star hurdler with his two seconds along with Coach James O. Baxter with a fire engine parade arranged by Mayor Paul Hironimus. Foster was presented a Key to the city.
Magazine Sale at Hedges Central.....1954
In April, Hedges Central Elementary's youth magazine sale again a success selling subscriptions totalling $1,972.08. Charlie Naab was top salesman at $100 and in return received a $10 reward.
Camp Pohoka May Become Larger Scout Center....1954
A recommendation was made that more land be purchased for Camp Pohoka, southern Indiana's Boy Scout center located on the Wabash River between New Harmony and Mt. Vernon which then included 140 acres. Hope was to move it up to 300 acres. Attendance in 1953 was at the 1000 boy level and it was hoped to bring it to 1800. It was determined that the lake facilities were large enough to take care of a camp that size. Additional water facilities, four new campsites and a new road should be included. Winter cabins were also increased in number from the three they had last year. I remember being a boy scout there in the early 60's. Jack Hargett was our scoutmaster - Troop 95. We had our meetings at Trinity Church. I liked the camping at Pohoka, Pfister's Pond, Trinity Grove, but I didn't like wearing a uniform except a baseball uniform and I quit after becoming a Star scout. I remember taking a swimming test at Pohoka, drinking the kool-aid we called, 'Bug Juice' at the dining hall, campfire ghost stories, and the Order of the Arrow ceremonies at the lake. One class reunion, Denny Hargett brought some of the old photos from that time to show.
Creamery Passed Down From Founder.....1954
Holder Anderson was a native of Denmark and came to America in his youth at 17 and settled in Minnesota. He trained in the dairy industry in his native land and continued in that field here. From Minnesota to Kansas to Evansville to Mt. Vernon he journeyed. In 1926 he purchased a building at 214 College Avenue from Edgar Thomas. He bought raw milk and cream and manufactured butter, pasteurized milk and ice cream starting in 1926. In 1954, Holder's two sons, Jack and Bob formed a partnership to operate the Mt. Vernon Creamery as their father went into retirement, but will be around as an advisor.
Additions to Athletic Park.....1954
Additional lights were added for night baseball as was a badly needed drainage system. A thirty foot backstop, a grandstand roof and construction of seats were all untaken. A new concession stand was added and a huge Osage hedge which had grown out of control was removed. The Advance Drilling Company added a drinking fountain also. That drainage system didn't work too well at least not in right field. When I was in school we had so many rainouts and games called because of standing water in right field. Anyway, the first night baseball game was played that season and Mt. Vernon defeated the Poseyville Posies 5-4 in a game called after 5 innings; of course, due to rain. Ha ha. Southpaw Charlie King struck out nine for the Cats allowing only 4 hits. Gerald "Chummy" Jeffries, my future head coach, had two hits including a double.
Tree from the steeple..... October, 1950
In October of 1950, a tree or a large bush was growing from the steeple of St. Mathew's Catholic Church. It was believed a bird carried the seed that was dropped in a crevice in the brick belfry. The tree until removed jutted out from the northeast corner of the steeple level with the town clock.
Johnny Johnson-MVHS's First Great Black Athlete.....1950
In 1950 Johnny Johnson along with another black athlete Marshall Steward integrated Mt. Vernon High School Athletics. The 1950 freshman team was undefeated for the only time in our history going 14-0 under Coach Jim Baxter. They played every Evansville team but Lincoln and defeated them all. Johnson led the freshmen in scoring with 152 points, and then he played one reserve game netting 8. I interviewed Johnny in 1983 for my basketball book of this fine athlete who earned 14 varsity letters out of a possible 16 in those days. This is the most letters of any athlete in our history. He was the first local cager to crack the single season point barrier of 300. Football was his love though. But in basketball he was able to play in the last four games of his freshman season with the varsity. When I spoke to him about facing racial prejudice he sort of dismissed the subject, calling it, "just a sign of the times". He praised Coach Jim Baxter for the sound advice and friendship. He had told Johnson that there would be difficult times and he just had to bear it. To fight back, Baxter remarked, would only bring about trouble for Johnny and the school. This was the same advice pretty much that Branch Rickey gave Jackie Robinson in 1947 when he broke baseball's color line. We had more county teams then and none of them had black players so there were times when it wasn't easy in those all white bandbox gyms. The three varsity basketball seasons Johnny played on went 13-7; 16-8; and 16-5 under Coach Harold Brown. Johnny scored 866 points in his basketball career which was then the school record. He still ranks in the top ten. He was outstanding in football and track too and very good in baseball.
UFO's - We are not alone.....1950's
Thus far I have found four references of strange objects in the sky of Posey County. The first comes from July 26, 1883: "It looked like a bright star, came from the south and moved due north at a very rapid speed," according to men working with a thresher in the daytime at the Hiram Phillips farm. That one to me is interesting because of it being during the day and before airplane travel. During the 1950's there was a rash of sightings across the country. For instance flying saucers were seen ten times in a short period of time over Washington D.C. and the government blamed in on a physical phenomenon such as mirages. Even those these objects occurred on radar they were said to be from "temperature inversion." The next two sightings occurred one day apart on July 31 and August 1st of 1952: A mysterious object was seen over the skies of Mt. Vernon seen by Mr. and Mrs. Taylor Winebarger and Mrs. Robert Sherretz as they sat in their car at the Mt. Vernon Drive-In. A number of other people saw it also. "It moved very fast from east to west in the southern heavens, pale green in color with a red tail." The next night, according to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Allen who reside three miles northwest of Hovey Lake the flying object appeared in the heavens for almost twenty minutes and apparently over Mt. Vernon. They stated that it also was greenish in color and had a red tail. The last one, I seemed to have lost the date; but, it is from the fifties also: Floyd Alldredge of Farmersville saw saucers flying at a high rate of speed and when they appeared directly overhead they turned suddenly in a southeasterly direction between 7:30 and 8 PM. He said they looked like golden Christmas tree ornaments and made a swishing sound at low altitude. This same object was also seen in Evansville at the same time.
Hedges Central School Carnivals - A 1950's Remembrance
My old elementary school would hold these PTA carnivals at the school to supply finances for school needs not provided by regular channels. Hundreds of people would come; usually they had bought tickets from school children for admission and to use at the carnival. The school cafeteria would serve a lunch like roast turkey or baked ham and then you would mull around the classroom enjoying the carnival concessions and the merrymakers in the corridors. One event I remember was around 1956 or 1957 with the appearance of TV's Uncle Dudley and Jerry Giraffe who met people in a classroom. There were pony rides on the school grounds, hot dogs, soft drinks, ice cream, homemade candy and popcorn sold in the foyer. Silent movies were shown in a room, there were cake walks, and rooms full of balloons, cookie stands, a white elephant auction, duck ponds, wishing wells and pick-a-pocket booths. It was real fun in a simple time.
Posey County Courtroom....1950
The judge at that time was James Blackburn. Renovation occurred that year with painting, varnishing, lighting, and new flooring.
An earlier picture of the Hovey-Elks Home.....1850's
131 East Fourth Street was a home built by Alvin Hovey in the mid 1800's. Hovey as many of us know was a local lawyer, Union General, U.S. Minister to Peru, congressman and Governor of Indiana. It was in this home that his children were born and his wife, Mary James died. After three of his children died and his wife in 1863, he sold his home and everything in it to Matthew Thompson who later sold it to Dan Rosenbaum. The Rosenbaum family occupied the home for many years - Dan then Moses, then Moses's son Lee. After Lee built a new home they sold the house to the Elk's Lodge. Once upon a time the home had a large latticed porch on the northwest side. There was an old pecan tree in the west yard that was took down when the Elks added a large lounge to the fraternal home in 1949.
The cocktail lounge and basement ballroom opened in August of 1950. The next year the Elks held an annual Old Timer's Night attended by 125 members. The oldest exalted past leader was John Tente who was the head in 1909-10. Edward Alles was also in attendance, a lodge member since 1913. Thirteen members were in attendance with memberships over 30 years. 1951 was also the year the lodge had its 57th birthday in Mt. Vernon and savory turkey and trimmings were served. Ten past rulers were present. The Elks have always been active in our community supporting baseball teams, hosting Yule parties for poor children, observance of flag days, helping fund raisers for numerous causes including cancer and promoting Americanism. Many speakers have come in to address the public over the years and even a minstrel show was held for charity at the Memorial Coliseum in 1949. Of course, I always liked the Beer Gardens!
From Planks to Bricks to Concrete.....September 1949
Ex-Mayor, Herman Bray replaced the last brick sidewalk with concrete on the Main Street business district in front of his liquor store at 107 South Main. Many crumbling brick sidewalks still exist in the residential areas. I have read many city commissioner reports of contractors getting contracts to build plank sidewalks downtown. One motion I have readily available was for a plank sidewalk from Walnut to Main Street in December of 1875. It had to be put off before finishing however, due to all the saw logs having been exhausted. That was also the meeting that opened up a new street in town - Eighth Street.
Parking Meters Come In 1949
The installation of Mt. Vernon's parking meters was completed. Alfco Twin Automatic meters were used. The meter zone includes Main Street from Fifth to Water, and Second, Third and Fourth Streets one block east and one block west of Main. A Mt. Vernon police officer will assume the duties of enforcing the meter compliance. One meter will service two parked cars. One cent for five minutes, two cents for 24 minutes, 3 cents for 36 minutes, 4 cents for 48 minutes, and five cents or a nickel for an hour. The meter will not operate with a dime.
New Operators of Parkett Drive-In....1949
Clifford Hoe and Ray Blyth of Evansville, who formerly operated the cafeteria in the Union building adjacent to the Chrysler plant in Evansville became the new owners. They leased the Parkett from Mrs. Ollie Hartmann, owner. It was also leased at one time by Clarence Schoate. For their grand opening they held a one cent sale. So like you could get a banana split for 35 cents and a second one for one cent. Sundaes a quarter and the second a penny. You had nickel cones, dime cones and fifteen cent cones and another also for a penny. I remember when prices started going up in the sixties; someone walked into the Dairy Queen and asked, "How much for a ten cent cone?" We got so used to the sizes that is what we called them. Sounds funny today, but it's true.
President Harry S. Truman Addresses 6,000 in Mt. Vernon.....September 1948
Thousands roared their welcome to the President, in a short stop at the Louisville & Nashville railroad yards. Farmers, merchants, factory workers, housewives, and children overflowed the railroad yards and neighboring streets. Main and Walnut Streets and adjacent alleys were blocked to traffic at Grant, Tenth, and Brown Streets. Mt. Vernon witnessed the Secret Service agents, 20 National Guardsman, a detail of Indiana State police and local police and fireman provide security. Truman was two hours late in his small city stops on his campaign tour. He had also given a short speech at Carmi, Illinois. The L&N streamliner moved slowly down the main track and halted just before the concrete bridge. Upon arrival the Mt. Vernon High School band played a number. The crowd gave a spontaneous ovation when the President appeared saying he was "Fit as a fiddle." In his short address he urged the crowd to give proper consideration to their prosperity under Democratic administrations. "Give me a Democratic Congress," Mr. Truman urged. Because of arriving late, he was unable to great the people as he would have liked. He went on to Evansville for a short speech, then a major address on NBC radio from Louisville that evening. Many Hoosier dignitaries were on the train, including Mt. Vernon's Orvan Hall, chairman of the local Truman Day and Posey County chairman Wilbur Baldwin. A Posey county newspaperman of national reputation from Bufkin, Robert Nixon is the White House representative of International News Service and is accompanying the President on this tour. Also Henry Rethwisch, a Mt. Vernon native and now vice president of the Missouri State Chamber of Commerce and associated with Truman in civic work in Missouri was on the train. Baldwin introduced the President to the crowd as well as introducing Winfield Denton, eighth district Democratic candidate for Congress. In November the Truman/Barkley ticket won Posey County by 850 votes over Dewey/ Warren.
This was the first known sitting president to visit Posey County. William Howard Taft was in New Harmony for their centennial in 1914 but he was an ex-president at the time. Franklin Roosevelt spoke in Mt. Vernon in 1920 when he was then running for vice president and when he was President during WWII he passed through the county on the railroad, but did not stop. Some evidence that Abraham Lincoln was here prior to being President, but it is disputed and is unclear.
Mt. Vernon Goes To Daylight Savings Time by Poll of Readers.....May 1948
The Mt. Vernon Democrat, local daily newspaper then conducted a poll of whether the city should revert to Daylight Savings Time. 1,022 voted for it and 502 voted for Standard Time. The Mt. Vernon common council then held a special session and complied with, "the voice of the people." The town clock at St. Matthews church was then reset.
Mt. Vernon Postal Service Has Job Openings.....May 1948
The basic rate of pay for substitute clerks and substitute mail carriers is $1.04 an hour. After one year of satisfactory service, including time served as a special delivery messenger, the basic rate of pay is increased 5 cents an hour each year thereafter until a maximum pay of $1.54 an hour is reached. For full particulars inquire for George Grabert at the post office.
Mother's Day.....May 1948
Mother's Day was observed locally as 46 mothers over 60 years of age were guests free to the New Vernon Theater. Same courtesy was given fathers on Father's Day.
Scat!....Bless You.....April 1948
"Pop" Mattingly bent over the refrigerator door at the Friendly Cafe to get a bottle of milk-sneezed really really hard-went to the doctor--broken rib!
Historic Elm at Temple Is Felled.....March 1948
An historical Mt. Vernon landmark fell to the woodsman's axe. One of the city's largest elm trees, standing in front of the Masonic Temple at Fourth and Walnut streets was felled. Although the trunk and main branches were sound, limbs had fallen repeatedly in recent years and it had become viewed as a hazard. The temple was once the home of Governor Alvin P. Hovey, one of our town's most illustrious sons. County Agricultural Agent Riggs examined rings on the trunk and was of the opinion that the giant elm was at least 77 years old.
Large Crowds Attend Observance of July 4 with Boat Races and Fireworks.....1948
Mt. Vernon made its two day observance of the holiday a grand and glorious affair, combining the second annual Jaycee sponsored boat races at the riverfront that drew an estimated 3,500 onlookers with a stupendous fireworks display at night sponsored by Owen Dunn post No. 5.,of the American Legion. The fireworks were at a crowded Athletic Park. The Mt. Vernon High School band played a concert of patriotic songs at the ballpark. The boat races were in three horsepower classes 10, 16, and unlimited. Each race had three five mile heats and cash prices were awarded. Buoys marked the course.
Mt. Vernon Census.....1948
In September of 1948 a census made by Hoffman City Directories revealed that Mt. Vernon had 6,872 residents: 4732 white adults, 1723 white children under age 16, 253 (black, my words) adults and 164 (black) children. This represents a gain of 1234 since the Federal Census of 1940. In 1930 we had 5035 and 1920 we had 5284.
Historic Home on College Avenue.....1948
I am not sure if it still is a beauty shop or not; but most of us remember it as the Witch's Hut at 303 College Avenue. It became that in 1948 after a modernization and renovation was made. It was then operated by Mrs. Estelle Gerth. It also had a small radio shop there where her husband Albert ran. But this building has another important history in Mt. Vernon lore. It was built by Enoch and Jane Welborn between 1834 and 1837 and was originally what they call a 2/3 I-house; part of which remains visible at the second story. Dr. Adolph Matzdorf, an early Mt. Vernon physician who died in 1873 lived here with his wife Louise Pfeffer. He was one of three doctors who remained to treat the city after our town's worst cholera epidemic of which over 80 people died. He became a "martyr to the cause" as he too became a victim. His widow continued to live in this home when she married Dr. Oscar Schultz. Later a new addition was added to the front and an ornamental wall along the south side.
Schools Close For Three Days for Flu Epidemic.....March 1947
On March 12th 188 students were out sick in Mt. Vernon public schools and the next day 291 which represented one out of four or 25% of the student population. One teacher was out and several employees of the Post Office. After one 17 year old girl died from it, schools were closed for a few days.
Giant Navy Dry Dock Passes Mt. Vernon.....March 1947
Navy dry dock, AFDL-47, the largest vessel ever launched on an inland river, passed Mt. Vernon that March en route down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to the Gulf of Mexico, through the Panama Canal to its destination of the San Pedro, California Navy yards. Built by Dravo Corporation the 448 foot in length dock , 45 feet high and 97 feet wide is not self propelled and was being towed. More than 73 miles of welding were performed during the construction of this self contained unit, having its own water distillation plant, diesel electric generators for lights and power and a crew quarters designed for 130 men and 7 officers. Hundreds of Mt. Vernon residents lined the riverfront to watch the giant craft go by in the tow of the National, 1600 HP Diesel towboat of the American Barge Line Company. The fire whistle was blown to announce to the public that the dry-dock was in sight by arrangement of Mayor Frank Fessenden and Water System Superintendent O. D. Benner.
Sir Edwards and Tex Justus Featured in Poseyville.....March 1947
Sir Edwards, mentalist and magician, assisted by Constance was the featured attraction at a family party of Breiner & Uhde Implement Company, Poseyville I-H-C farm equipment dealer, in the Poseyville school gym. Tex Justus and the Texas Cowboys also came. Tex was the king of the 1940's Owensboro Kentucky tri-state dance circuit and later became a Boonville on air personality. He played in a style similar to Bob Wills and was inducted into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame in 1988.
I guess the tractor people liked this Justus fella, since the next week ole Tex was in our fair city sponsored by Hasting Equipment Company, local International Harvester dealer for a show at the Memorial Coliseum. The coliseum not equipped for any shows anymore, times have changed...guess you could have some at the high school auditorium. Saw, I think his name was Baxter Black, large animal vet and comic there once. Hahaha
Chicago Firm Buys Mt. Vernon Industry.....February 1947
The J.R. Short Milling Company of Chicago purchased the interests of all stockholders of the Mt. Vernon Milling Company. The sale was up to that time one of the largest business deals involving local properties. The mill had long been a white corn milling center since the days when the Hudnut Company came to Mt. Vernon in 1877 and the mill had ran uninterruptedly since except when the mill burned in 1893. Included was the North Walnut street elevator and elevators at Welborn Switch and Upton in Posey County and at New Haven, Illinois. Short has been a manufacturer of Wytase, a cereal product used in baking and other processed cereal products. In 1901 the Hudnut Company merged with the American Hominy Company. The mill filled the town with the smell of hominy and won national recognition for the high quality of its corn grits, meal, flour, flakes and feed and even corn oil.
FB Refinery Erects Four New Tanks.....January 1947
Ten carloads of steel arrived for the erection of four gasoline and crude oil storage tanks on extended Farm Bureau refinery property at Mt. Vernon undertaken by Graver Tank Company of East Chicago, Indiana. The two new 55,000 barrel, expansion roof tanks and the two new 25,000 barrel, standard comb tanks will be used for storage of gasoline and crude oil. The additional tanks will increase the capacity of the processing plant to 420,000 barrels owned by Farm Bureau Co-Operative Association.
Learning What Makes Indiana Bell Tick.....January 1947
221 Mt. Vernonites saw their telephone exchange from the inside at an Indiana Bell open house at the Mt. Vernon exchange. Phone subscribers had the opportunity to see firsthand the functioning of the exchange and the heart of the communication system. Local manager, Kercheval and chief operator, Miss Nell Combs conducted the visitors through the process. An educational treat was to see the switchboard lights flashing signals for incoming calls and heard operators give there familiar 'number, please" and "thank you" as they made the connections enabling the party making the call to talk to another not only locally but anywhere in the world. In the control room the wire chief explained the complicated mass of wires and circuits. The worldwide growth of telephones since 1941, six short years, was exemplified locally by a 71% increase in the number of telephones and increasing the number of operators from 8 to 21. Calls had doubled locally in the past years and long distance calls had tripled.
Kroger Will Have Modern Local Store.... 1947
Ike Rosenbaum, local jeweler and civic leader, leased to the Kroger Company property at 410-414 Main Street and they converted the two-story building into a modern super market. The vacant lot adjoining the building on the south would become the parking lot. Complete rebuilding of the present structure was done formally occupied by Moll Wholesale Grocery which moved to North Mill Street. The two story brick front was razed and replaced with a front of glazed brick and plate glass. Sidewalks were reduced to one story height. The overall depth of the store was increased from 90 feet to 110 feet and the width remained at 4o feet. All center posts were removed by using bowstring trusses. Plastered walls were made, celotex ceilings, fluorescent lighting, and ceiling supported blower-type heating system. The new store, supplants the previous Kroger store in leased quarters on Main Street between Third and Second.
Strike Over - Garment Workers Return.....1947
New contract was signed in January by the Garment Corporation of America and Local 193, United Garment Workers of America so the Mt. Vernon plant on North Main Street will resume operation at once. The plant had been idle for three months. Idleness had affected over 100 workers and their families. The plant will resume operation with approximately 120 workers and the number will soon be stepped up to 160 when full production is reached.
Yellow Cab Company.....1947
Formerly the Vernon Cab, just off Main at 110 West 2nd Street had a 25 cent charge anywhere in the city. Garland Stokes was the owner-operator and you could call at 22 or 273. Quick Service, careful drivers.
"Let It Roll Baby Roll....Let It Roll".....1947
Justice of the Peace Hillard Daugherty has ordered $118.75 contained in three slot machines confiscated in a raid by state excise officers of Paradise Inn, east of New Harmony deposited in the New Harmony National Bank in a police emergency fund. Operator and owner of the machines were fined $25 and costs.
New Business Opens.....Jan 17, 1946
The quarters formerly occupied by Manus Bishop's recreation center at 230 Main and next door to the New Vernon Theater will have a new firm. A complete line of General Electric appliances will be sold and complete servicing of all home appliances regardless of make - as long as it's powered by electricity or gasoline motors. Electronic radios will also be featured. Jack Fuelling, former superintendent of the Mt. Vernon Water Works who has operated an electrical shop at his home for many years will be the new store manager. No name has yet been decided on. Charles Nolan with many years of experience in radio servicing will have charge of that department. Miss Julia Thompson formerly of Stinson Department Store will be the saleslady.
Farm Bureau Refinery Nears Completion.....January 1946
The new towers of the cracking unit of the Indiana Farm Bureau Refinery are in the process of erection in Mt. Vernon making it the most modern plant of its size in the nation. The six year old refinery has been under one management and superintendent since its erection with Ralph Booker the general manager and Russell Potts as superintendent. The present topping or skimming giant has now run 304 continuous days. Erection of an air conditioned, fire proof office building of brick is accompanying the installation of the cracking unit. It will provide ten offices flanking a secretaries' corridor, a general office, reception room, vaults, and storage and supply room. The new plant will be powered by steam and electricity.
In 1955 the refinery celebrated 15 years of operation paying out over $9,000,000 in wages over that time and pumping $31,000,000 into the local economy. Employees went from 70 in 1940 to 235 in 1955.
City Airfield Starts Construction....January 1946
Construction of two 2600x280 foot runways began made of sod. The property east of town formally was owned by Edgar Thomas. The field was dedicated that summer and aviator Dave Alldredge was chairman of the Mt. Vernon Board of Aviation. Public response was gratifying as contributions came in from the public to help erect the first buildings including a small administration building and several individual hangers. Other nearby land was leased from Casper Graulich for the runways, one running north and south and one east and west. The 64 acre airfield had 35 acres devoted to runways.
Stephan Implement Co. Expands.....1946
Stephan's was the local sales-service agency of John Deere tractors and other farm machinery, Purina feeds, Goodyear tires for tractors and farm equipment, and even Kenworth home appliances. The enlargement came at their quarters at 418-422 Main Street. The structure of a building behind the previous brick building would be 26x40 feet and house a department devoted to cleaning, painting, welding, and tire repair of farm equipment. There is also a new magneto shop specializing in servicing generators and starters of all makes. The equipment company was started in1937. Elmer J. Stephan is the manager of the company.
Class Presents Gift to High School.....1946
The class of 1946 of Mt. Vernon High School presented it with a Magnavox record player radio and records. The record player/radio was purchased with a cash gift of $300 made by the class. The item was mounted on rubber-tired casters to permit its use anywhere in the school building. The presentation was made at an auditorium program by the class sponsors, Miss Catherine Howard and Mr. Thomas Berry.
Booker T. Vets Defeat Non-Service Alumni.....December 28, 1945
A large crowd at the Booker T Washington gym on the east side of town saw the ex-military men defeat an alumni team by the score of 36-32. Leading scorers were S. Waller (13) and Cole (12) for the service team and A. Waller (13) for the alumni.
Returning veterans that year too would sometimes get free passes to the high school gym at MVHS.
First Plane To Land on MV Airfield..... December 10, 1945
The man on the left is Dave Hastings, vice chairman of the Mt. Vernon Board of Aviation Commissioners, and the other is Henry Graening, commission secretary. The plane is an Army trainer, PT17, piloted by Hasting. Graening was the first passenger taken up from the field.
Mt. Vernon Democrat photographer John Doane use to fly out of here taking photos of the Wabash Bridge, the town, General Electric, the river giving us shots we had never seen before. When the airport first started there were four planes quartered there belonging to Dave Alldredge, Dave Hastings, James Duckworth and Dr. William Challman. Early on there were over 20 people taking flying lessons. My dad went up for a ride with some pilot offering free rides to returning veterans from WWII.
Western Star Publisher, Herbert Leffel dies.....March 9, 1945
Herbert was the dean of Posey County newspapers when he died at the age of 67. He was public spirited and active in Indiana Democratic politics. He passed suddenly at his home at 319 East Second Street. He had been owner publisher of the Western Star for 14 years and for 36 years previously he was associated with his late father, John C. Leffel, in publishing and editing of the local paper. He had been critically ill for several years, but continued to work in the industry he knew so well. He died reading his newspaper when he was seized with convulsions. He was married 45 years to the former Agnes Pfeffer. He was a powerful political figure though he never held office except to serve as a Southern Indiana oil inspector under Indiana Democratic administrations. He gave his time and life to our community to civic enterprises. He was a past president and director of the Chamber of Commerce and past president of the Kiwanis club. He never lived to see it, but he was a promoter of a bridge across the Wabash River and he directed the Posey County World War II bond drive of which his son is a veteran. His father John C. Leffel was the editor and proprietor of the same newspaper for fifty years. Born in Blairsville in 1850 of parents born in Karlsruhe, Baden, Germany, John was educated in Mt. Vernon schools and got into the newspaper business in 1867 at the Mt. Vernon Democrat and assisted Tom Collins in putting out that first edition. He remained there until 1875 when he established the Mt. Vernon "Wochenblatt", the first and only German language paper to be produced in Posey County. In 1877 the first issue of The Western Star appeared, the founding of this paper by Mr. Leffel being the result of repeated requests upon the part of democrats that he establish and edit a paper that could be counted on as the organ of the party in the county. In 1855 the publishing of the German paper was discontinued.
Order to Quarantine Mt. Vernon Dogs.....March 1945
An injury to a Mt. Vernon resident by a dog gave every indication of being afflicted with rabies before it died. An order went out for a 30 day quarantine of all dogs. The order came out by the Secretary of the Board of Health who instructed police to dispose of all dogs running at large without muzzles. In the early days of our city it wasn't unusual to see newspaper articles on how many dogs had been shot that were loose on the streets, especially after altercations and reports of "mad" dogs foaming at the mouth. Even in the fifties and sixties, my dog ran wild in the neighborhood.
In 1881 I found where a two year old child developed hydrophobia from a dog bite and physicians stood by helplessly and watched the child die as the sufferings were very intense that it took two adults to hold the child in bed. People were so scared that the Wasem butcher shop had to take out an ad saying they were not serving meat from hogs, bitten by mad dogs in their grocery. In February of 1881, 50 stray dogs were killed by the Marshall and physicians warned parents to keep their children off the streets. "There is no effective treatment known for those bitten by a mad dog", they said. Several horses were bitten and there was an incident where a colt went mad and ran tearing down the street biting and kicking everything that happened to be in his path. Fear spread through the town as several other reported horses and even cows were bitten. Several hogs were rabid too as the Marshall, policeman and citizens chased down Water and Fourth streets through alleys trying to capture or kill the animals.
During the war, Mt. Vernon like other communities collected license plates, waste paper, fat grease and other items for the war effort. One item collected too was bluevine pods which was made into floss and used for military life jackets. Two of the local salvage chairmen were John Forthoffer for tin and Rev. Cecil Atkinson for waste paper. Ration cards were issued that had stamps in them for the likes of sugar, coffee, even gasoline and tires. My uncle and my future mother worked in defense plants in Evansville and because of this my uncle Leonard Huff was able to purchase tires to help drive workers to the shipyards making the LST's
Early MV History Revealed in Fire Swept School's Cornerstone.....1945
Removal of the contents of the cornerstone of the fire leveled Central grade school building brought to light some interesting mementos of our early history. From a solder sealed copper box sealed by a plumbing contractor in 1910 we found not only articles placed in 1910, but a package of souvenirs of the cornerstone laying of the original Central building erected in 1867. When the 1910 building supplanted the old structure, the contents of the original cornerstone were transferred to the cornerstone of the new building. The contents of the two boxes were displayed in the show windows of Rothrock Pharmacy. The oldest box contained a bond for the original deed for the school site, known as College Square for $1200. The box contained names of the usual city and school officials, the judge, the mayor, doctors, lawyers, trustees and ministers. Newspapers too were added from the Mt. Vernon Union, New Harmony Register, Evansville Journal, Evansville Courier, and interesting the La Crosse Wis. Democrat. The most valuable item was an original photograph of an Abraham Lincoln coin from a studio in Cleveland Ohio. Local photographs were also included. There was a long list of marriageable young ladies along with enrollment figures that showed we had 367 boys and 438 girls in school on August 9, 1867. Also included were business cards, list of lodges, and a McGuffey Reader. The 1910 box also contained similar historic mementos, personal photos, school letterhead forms and newspapers from The Unafraid, The Western Star, Evening Sun, Mt. Vernon Democrat, along with coins and club programs.
J & J Welding Established.....1944
Welding partners John Smith and John Miller used their initials to establish their corporation. The first location was on Fifth Street and then the extent of their services was limited to the oil fields. Later they moved their shop to North Main Street and in 1948 they transferred to their present location on the one thousand block of West Fourth Street. A machine shop was added in 1957 and employees were increased from four to fourteen. The influx of new plants to our area added services and employment to J & J. In the sixties a fabrication unit was added. Services expanded to aluminum and stainless steel welding. They had steam cleaning, wench truck service. In 1967 they donated a large stainless steel time capsule for the storage of items of Mt. Vernon's Sesquicentennial celebration. It contains records of insurance policies, booklets, expenses, canceled checks, 204 photographs of sesquicentennial affairs, buttons, top hats, bonnets, certificates, still slides, calendar of events, license plates and numerous other items. The capsule was buried in front of the City Hall on May 9. 1967 and will be recovered (if we can find it) in the year 2016. Okay Bryan fill me in on what I have missed. haha. Oh, thanks to your dad for sponsoring our softball team in the early 80's.
It's Tulip Time In Mt. Vernon.....April 1942
On the hillside behind the John P. Wehr residence at 521 East Eighth Street, there was over an acre of the early spring flowers in bloom, a virtual sea of rainbow hues from the darkest maroon to the most delicate of the pastel shades over 600 dozens of the flowers were shipped by Mr. and Mrs. Wehr and son Gil, to Chicago and other cities besides, bouquets have been sent to shut-ins and to the various churches of Mt. Vernon. The Wehr family extended an invitation to all flower lovers to stop by and view the lovely flowers at their height in the blooming season. I remember the green house that stood there when I was growing up and when I first bought flowers for my girlfriend and later my wife I went to their shop. Great people the Wehr's! I was in the Netherlands in the early 1970's and saw acres of beautiful tulips growing like we would see corn here. Flowers and bulbs were sent all over the world from places like Amsterdam, Voldendam and The Hague. The Breeze family had a greenhouse in Mt. Vernon too in the middle of the 20th century near Robin Hill. I believe his name was Covington.
Incendiary Bomb Handling Demonstrated in Mt. Vernon.....February 1942
A large crowd attended the demonstration of how to handle an incendiary bomb at Sherburne Park given as a Civilian Defense project. City fireman, Roy Green, instructor of the auxiliary firemen's corps as well as regular city firemen attended the demonstration. The instructor demonstrated the devastating effect of throwing water from a hose or a bucket on the burning magnesium. He stressed also the danger of the use of tetrachloride, regular equipment of fire fighters, which combines with burning magnesium to produce a fatal gas. Use of dry sand or water in the form of a spray in controlling the blaze was demonstrated.
Veneer Plant Locates in City....January 1942
The old Mt. Vernon Canning Company buildings on Wolflin Street were sold to Abner Carey, veneer manufacturer of Grayville, Ill. Machinery was moved in to manufacture veneer for wire-bound boxes and egg cases employing approximately 40 men, the greater of will be local labor. Mr. Carey will personally manage the plant, but his son, James Carey, who is at present in Ohio, later will manage it. Mr. Carey is the owner of two other plants of this kind, one in Grayville and the other in Alabama. In choosing Mt. Vernon as a location for the factory, Mr. Carey stated that the available supply of softwoods in adjacent lowlands, and river, rail and highway shipping facilities are such to afford adequate transportation for both raw materials and finished veneer. The Mt. Vernon Canning Company packed tomatoes there for many years, but the plant has been idle for some time.
Plant was eventually destroyed by fire I believe in the 1990's.
Old License Plates Used for War Material.....January 1942
Ivan Field, director of Civilian Defense in Posey County and Clinton Maurer, license distributor, made an appeal to motorists for their cooperation in saving old license plates. The metal they said was needed by the government for the manufacture of war material and motorists were asked to leave their discarded plates at their nearest gasoline service station. The stations have been requested to serve as collection points until a general collection could be made. The license branch will start selling 1942 plates January 2 at the E&OV bus station and not at the Keck Motor Company as in previous years.
Peerless (The Friendly Tavern) Ad from 1942....
"What'll you have? We've got it! Where can you find a more elaborate room with its eats and volume of liquors? Who caters more to the farmer and the big hearted class of laboring people? Can you find friendship and that good old hospitality excercised more that at the PEERLESS. At one Saturday night's jam three devotees claimed their allegiance for their place for an evenings entertainment."
Major Winston Menzies, Former MV Newspaper Man and Military Figure Dies.....1942
Major Menzies was the son of G.V. Menzies, one of the Midwest's prominent lawyers and a nationally known Democratic leader and Ester Hovey Menzies, the daughter of the late Governor and Mt. Vernon native Alvin P. Hovey. He was a graduate of Mt. Vernon High School and later attended Indiana University where he played football. Following graduation he worked for the Mt. Vernon Democrat and the St. Louis Republic. At the outbreak of the Spanish American War he enlisted and later became captain of Company B, 61st Indiana Infantry Volunteers serving under Colonel Winfield Durbin, later governor of Indiana. He was the youngest commissioned officer of the regiment and saw service in Cuba. He returned to Mt. Vernon and in 1907 became editor of the Evening Sun, a local Republican daily. In 1909 he became the owner publisher of the paper. In 1909-11 he helped coach the Mt. Vernon football team. When World War 1 broke out, he volunteered his services to Theodore Roosevelt. He attended training school at Culver Military Academy where he was commissioned a first lieutenant in the Army. He was among the first 1500 US troops into France in 1917. He served with a liaison division and promoted to captain and assigned to Military Intelligence service at Chateau-Thierry and Soissons and promoted to Major and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. When the war ended papers had been submitted for promotion to lieutenant colonel. He came home for awhile, then back to France as a member of the Graves Relocation Bureau. He married Celine Demaree, widow of Captain F. Demaree, a French flying officer who died during the war. From France he became a resident of London as assistant manager of the Procurement Division of the U.S. Shipping board, a subsidiary of the Emergency Fleet Corporation. Later he became employed by the U.S. Company out of New York, operating the luxury liners, SS George Washington, and SS Manhattan. He became the firm's European representative with headquarters in Nice France and Berlin Germany. He is buried in Nogent France.
Explosives Stolen in New Harmony....December 1941
The Mendenhall Torpedo Company of New Harmony issued a public warning about eight quarts of nitroglycerine stolen at the end of December. Farmers and hunters were advised to be on the lookout for small bottles of fluid which may have been hidden on farms. The color of the fluid is yellowish, but will be either red or green if anti-freeze is used, and is whitish if frozen. Farmers were especially warned to be cautious, because if struck by farm machinery the nitro will explode.
The Coming of Christmas....December 1941
Not even a week into the Japanese-American War, the spirit of Christmas finally is being injected into the downtown section. Among the first buildings to be lighted were the Masonic Temple, Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Company, and the Odd Fellows Building. The lighting on the latter is unusually attractive - colored lights having been strung from the tip of the flag pole to the roof of the building, the fourth floor section of the lighting giving the effect of a huge Christmas tree on top of the building. Large Christmas tree has been placed in the foyer of the courthouse also.
Editor cautioned against open flame candles on Christmas trees, holiday automobile driving, over-enthusiasm for bottled Christmas cheer, don't try to eat everything in the world all in one day, watch out for youngsters, and to remember the spiritual side of the holiday and remember "holidays or no holidays, we've all got a war to win."
Crime fighting improves locally with police installing 2 way radios....1941
Police made 301 arrests in 1941 and issued 281 parking tickets. The most common arrest was drunkeness with 117. Some others were: driving drunk-15, liquor law violations-3, aggravated assault-4, other assaults-28, burglary-3, sex offenses-2, gambling-5, disorderly conduct-33, and larceny-28.
Burning of Slush Pits Attracts Scores....1941
Spectators visted the oil field northwest of Mt. Vernon, attracted by billows of black smoke and leaping sheets of flame, thinking that an oil well or storage tank had caught fire, only to find that crude oil was being burned off the surface of slush pits. The fire was very spectacular.
Do We Have A Pied Piper?.....1940
The Mt. Vernon Chamber of Commerce is in dire need to get rid of rats in the city which we have been infested with since the 1937 flood. A dinner for the rodents was spread throughout the town with a menu of fish and ground hamburger garnished with the rat poison- Red Squill. The pests not only make unfavorable sanitary conditions, but destroy thousands of dollars' worth of property annually. Money for bait for city dumps, business houses and mills has been allocated under the supervision of experts from Purdue University.
Old Home Razed.....March 1940
This old home stood at the corner of Fourth and Mulberry and was once the home of Dr. E.V. Spencer back in the 1880's. It was here in February, 1881 when a murder attempt on the doctor was foiled when an assailant was scared off by worshipers coming out of the Methodist Church on Fourth Street. Dr. Spencer was returning home, next to the church when entering his gate he was struck twice from behind with a hatchet. The first blow severed two fingers and the second knocked him unconscious. The would-be killer emptied the doctor's pockets removing money and a watch. One man was sent to prison a year later and two others served time as accomplices. Spencer built this home for around $8000 and at one time was one of the more beautiful homes in Mt. Vernon. Early in the 20th century the St. Matthews church used it as an extension of their parochial school.
New bus in town.....1940
On Feb 9, 1940 a modern streamlined bus was placed in operation on the Mt. Vernon-Evansville division of the Evansville & Ohio Valley Railway Company. The coach held 25-29 passengers and was the "last word in comfort and accommodations." Bert Fowler is the driver on the left.
Local Dance Joints.....1940's
Outside of Mt. Vernon we had the Paragon owned by Leo Hoge who held dances on Wednesday and Saturday nights with live orchestras and for a while I believe there was Sunday dancing to records. Can't you just see the men in their pompadours and the ladies with their curly high hair doing the jitterbug? "Hubba Hubba". For a real dance treat Evansville had the Club Trocadero on U.S. 41 South where they danced maybe five times a week back when orchestras ruled with dance floors crowded moving to trumpets, drums and saxophones. That was a dinner club too I believe with entertainers coming in like comedy star Sammy White. I bet that was a swell place...listing to Glenn Miller hits and ending the night with..."Good Night Sweetheart ...Goodnight".
"Aunt Jemima" at Rosenbaum's.....October 1939
You know I really hate these characterizations of people, but it is the history of our country and our town. How tough was it to get a job in show business other than a bit part in "Gone with the Wind" or "Amos and Andy" in the old days of blatant discrimination? The pioneers like Nat King Cole and others of every profession who had to be great to get their foot in the door. Here in Mt. Vernon the famous southern "mammy" whose picture graced the boxes of the famous pancake flour marketed under her name came to the Mt. Vernon Fall Festival in 1939. At Rosenbaum's she served free to the public her famous pancakes. The recipe was purchased from her by the manufacturers. She was at the New York World's Fair earlier in the summer and visited many schools signing autographs. This is her first visit to this section of the country she said. She was born and reared in the south, first becoming famous for her brown cakes when cooking for a white family down south. She opened a restaurant and became so famous Quaker Oats bought her out. She travels around the country making public appearances always dressed in her picture costume.
Sort of Googled it and I am not sure the above information is correct other than a spokesman was here as Aunt Jemima. Looks like the mix goes back to the 1880's and that several versions of the original exist one being a woman from Kentucky. Marketing sounds good so it may have all been a ruse.
Removal of Traffic Signal Opposed.....April 1939
Earlier in April the traffic signal at Fourth and Main Street was removed by the Indiana Highway Commission. Immediately, the city and requests of local citizens contacted officials of the state commission in an effort to have it restored. Fourth Street is a state highway and is controlled by the commission. Since the removal, all traffic on Main Street was forced to come to a complete stop at that point. This was the busiest corner of the city and in the interest of public safety the city has made application for restoration of the signal. Since its removal, Chief of Police, Ralph Rowe announced that speed regulations of 20 miles per hour in the city business district will be strictly enforced. I do not know when the traffic signal was restored; but in October it still was not back. At that time a petition was circulated through town for the commission to take action. The petition drive was headed by Kelly and Dale DeFur and they could be signed at the DeFur Paint Store. Later the petitions were placed at other various business houses throughout the city.
Work Started On Site Of Oil Refinery.....March 30, 1939
Negotiations had been in progress for several weeks ended with an announcement of the Indiana Oil and Oil Refining Company would have a plant in operation in Mt. Vernon within 60 days. The new industry would be located one fourth mile northwest of the L & N and C & E.I. railroads, on the site of what once was the old brickyard. Plans are to build a pipe line from the refinery to the Ohio River. A surveying crew started work this morning on a plant which would have a capacity of 5000 barrels per day converting crude oil into gasoline, kerosene, naphtha and fuel oil. On May 4, concrete was poured for the foundations and three carloads of fire brick, steel and other material arrived and construction work was expected to proceed at a rapid rate. 26 carloads of material and machinery for the plant are expected to arrive within the next few weeks from Texas. The plant will initially employ 35 men in the immediate refinery and from 15 to 25 men on outside work. In October of 1939 the Western Star reported a transfer of property on the banks of the Ohio River just south of the old Graham valve factory, to the Indiana Farm Bureau where it is believed there will be an erection of large oil tanks and loading docks at the river's edge. The site is at the junction of the L & N and C & E I railroads, northwest of Mt. Vernon. Activity was humming that summer of 1939 with the arrival of steel for the crude oil storage tanks. The tanks were erected by workman from the Hammond Iron Works of Warren Pennsylvania. Fifteen welded tanks of varying sizes were erected to provide the refinery with 54, 750 barrels of storage. Foundations were erected for the boilers and smokestack. A new railroad switch was also in the process of construction. The erection of the refinery, tanks, docks, etc. will represent an investment between $250,000 and $500,000 it was announced. A skimming plant of 2500 barrel capacity will be erected, with all provisions for converting it into a cracking plant within a year's time. The association will produce all grades of gasoline with the exception of leaded gasoline, kerosene, distillate, tractor fuel and residual fuel oil. Three major advantages of Mt. Vernon were responsible for the location of the plant here, according to the owners. The advantages are the high and dry location above Ohio River overflows; available river, railroad and highway transportation facilities, and the general advantage of location in a smaller community.
Aviators Return From Interesting Trip To Cuba.....January 1939
Following an absence from Mt. Vernon for almost three weeks, one week of which was spent in Havana, Cuba, Dave Alldredge, local aviator, and Allen Meyers of the Meyers Aircraft Company of Detroit, Michigan arrived in Mt. Vernon Friday with interesting tales of their journey. The trip of approximately 3000 miles was made in a Meyers sport trainer, which the Meyers Company expects to place on the market soon. The trip was made to attend the annual air maneuvers at Miami, Florida and to participate in the air cruise to Havana, where another air show was held. Almost 1000 planes, principally Taylor Cubs and Taylor Crafts attended the Miami meeting. Myron West, local banker and aviator, attended the Miami maneuvers, but did not make the trip to Cuba. Rigid requirements permitted only 38 planes to make the trip across the gulf to Cuba. The Coast Guard had posted boats every ten miles in order to assure the safety of the aviators. One plane, piloted by an aviatrix from Ecuador, was forced down in the water after the gasoline tank became emptied when strong winds carried her off the course. She was rescued. A portion of the air carnival in Cuba was canceled after Captain Orta, ace of the Cuban air force, was killed while stunt flying. American aviators attended the military funeral which was held the next day. While in Cuba, Alldredge, with other aviators, was the guest of the Cuban government, being received personally by the president of the republic and by the mayor of Havana. The visitors were taken on a sightseeing tour, were guests at the Oriental race track and were also guests at the Bacardi Rum Club. Alldredge was especially impressed with his visit to the famous Morro castle.
The President was Fernando Laredo Bru of the National Union Party. United States presence lessened during this time. He did bring about some needed reforms by providing social welfare programs like limiting working hours, minimum wage, insurance and pensions. He did have a law passed making it a law that all business heads must be Cuban nationals.
The Mt. Vernon High School yearbook, which started in 1912, quit publishing during the depression in 1934, and returned in 1939. It sold for sixty cents. Prior to that time, the price was normally one dollar.
Neighbor of Jesse James, A Mt. Vernon Resident.....1939
The Mt. Vernon man, Henry Schaefer then 12 is now a well-known barber on lower Main Street. Henry was a neighbor to James when they lived in Nashville, Tennessee shortly after the robbery of the bank in Russellville, Kentucky by the James gang. Jesse and his family had located just outside the corporate limits of Nashville and stayed there for three months. Henry with his mother lived less than a half a block away and played with Jesse's son, Tim, and his mother and Mrs. James neighbored together. Jesse, during his short residence there was employed at a sawmill. According to Mr. Schaefer they always had three fine horses in his stable and one of them always had on a saddle. Frank James, brother of Jesse and member of the once famous James gang, visited his brother often during the three months residence in Nashville. According to Mr. Schaefer, neighbors did not realize who they were until they were almost ready to move as they went under the name of the Howard family. Mr. Schaefer also states that he can remember when they planned to go to Missouri, and Mrs. James came over to his mother's house to tell all of them goodbye. It will be remembered that the James gang continued their career of crime after moving to Missouri.
Looking back to the 1850's from 1939 Citizen
J.S. Hacker, a retired steamboat man of Cairo, Illinois, whose wife is the great granddaughter of General Thomas Posey of which Posey County is named had these observations of life in days gone by:
In my childhood I slept in a truckle bed, with other children, like a litter of pigs. When I went to school we had no busses for me to ride in. I had to walk and if a long distance I rode a mule. There were no brass bands in our schools, no basketball teams, no baseball nines, no football gangs. There were no theatre stages either. Dressing rooms and running water were not thought of. When a horse got sick we shot him and when a man got sick they bled him. If he was very sick, the doctor told his folks he could not do anything to circumvent the will of the Lord. There has been more advancement in medical science than in anything else. Surgery has come from the barber shops to hospitals fully equipped. You can get your face lifted, your nose straightened and your appendix taken out. We had no cold storage. Our apples, potatoes, and turnips were put in a hole in the ground in winter to keep them from freezing; and when we ate them they tasted earthy. We had no ice in summer. Screens had not been invented. For light we had tallow tip candles and coal oil lamps, then flickering gas. Nobody knew anything about vitamins. The principle diet of children was mush and milk. For old folks it was corn bread. Beauty salons were not known and everybody washed their faces with soap and water. Women twisted up their hair in a knot. There were no million dollar corporations making cosmetics. Women wore many skirts. When they went out to milk or chop food for the kitchen fire, they wore mitts and not a spot was exposed for the sun to kiss. Her face was only visible through the tunnel of her sunbonnet securely tied under her chin. I was 25 before I knew a woman had two legs and it was revealed from a mouse on the kitchen floor. It is a long way from those long pants with ruffle all the way down, to the modern step-in. When we worked it was ten to 14 hours for a day and six days in a week. The first work I did was painting wagon wheels in a factory for $3 a week...good money. The closest I came to a picture show was what we called a Magic Lantern with stereopticon views which were standard equipment in dentist's waiting rooms.
George Payne, known as "Jupiter", the maker of all things, was known as one of the most interesting characters in Mt. Vernon at that time. He was one of the fixtures at the Water Works plant, starting as a boy of 14, taking the ashes out of the boiler fire pits. Then he received a salary of ten cents per day. He had a desire to learn. By close observation and by asking questions he learned about as much as anyone in the plant, and he knew how to control the use of the steam and why it made a pump engine go. Before long he was master of the engine. He was also interested in the Mt. Vernon ferry steamboat and he made up his mind to have a steamboat all his own. Not having the money to buy one, he decided to build one. By this time he was 16 years old and had acquired all the knowledge necessary for the construction of the craft he had in mind, but how could he build it? He accumulated quite a quantity of scrap lumber. Then with the assistance of another boy he began the construction of the hull of the vessel. It was made about 20 feet long and part of the bottom was lined with brick and cement, on which a fire could be made beneath the boiler. But how was the boiler to be secured? This question was answered by securing a steel oil barrel. He also obtained from a junk pile an old engine. Jupiter soon got it in working order and the next thing was to get a wheel to push the boat. This was supplied by two wagon wheels with slats fastened between. Finally the day came for the launching of this craft. With the help of a gang of boys it was pushed into the water. Fire was put under the boiler and plenty of steam was generated. The boat moved out into the river amidst the shouts of the crowd. But attention to the strange vessel that later began plying up and down the river was given by the Navy Department and an officer was sent here to examine the steamboat and interview the captain, Jupiter, was then asked a number of embarrassing questions. The examination disclosed that the vessel was without a license, and the pilot was deficient in his knowledge of the river, and the boiler did not come up to the required tests of the government. As a result the boat was condemned by the Navy Department and Jupiter's navigation experience came to an end.
Civil War Vet dies leaving only one left in county....March 1938
William Thomas Tinsley, 98, one of two surviving members 'of that gallant Army of the Blue which marched forth to the war of the rebellion more than seventy years ago' died of pneumonia and complications at his home at 329 Kimball Street. His demise left Ed Galbreath, 89, of Griffin, and the lone survivor of that band of between 300 and 400 Civil War veterans who returned to Posey County after being mustered out in 1865. Tinsley was a native of Caldwell County, KY, and saw service with Company A, 13th Regiment of the 'colored-heavy artillery. This was a volunteer unit and Tinsley enlisted October 20, 1864. He was mustered out of service on November 8, 1865. He is believed to be the county's oldest resident at the time of his death. Major G.W. Kimball's death in 1937 removed the last white veteran in Mt. Vernon. Burial was in Odd Fellows Cemetery.
Lightning Strikes Elevator; Circles Walnut Street Block.....March 1938
A bolt of lightning, during a rain and electrical storm was in a dangerous yet playful mood it seems. The bolt cavorted around the block at the Main and Walnut street intersection in the northern part of town.. It struck the telephone wire at the Farmer's Elevator Co. office about 8:30 in the evening and blue out the fuse box. It then jumped across Walnut Street to the warehouse of the elevator firm where stray sparks fell on some sacks, however the sacks were wet and no flames resulted. The bolt traveled from the warehouse to the store building across the L&N railroad track where it knocked down Mrs. Erwin who was in the store. The shock numbed the side of her face but resulted in no serious injury. A portion of the original bolt which struck the elevator office traveled over to the service station of the Tank Car Oil Co. where it broke light bulbs, blew out the telephone fuse box and stunned Harley Curtis, the attendant in charge.
The beautiful excursion steamship the Island Queen took residents on a moonlight dance excursion, May 11th, 1938 leaving Mt. Vernon at 8:30 PM. It was the world's largest and finest excursion steamer, all steel, glass enclosed decks. Tickets were 55 cents. On September the 10th, 1947 several giant explosions destroyed the five deck steamer in Pittsburgh hurling bodies high in the air and landing them thirty or more feet away, killing 28 and wounding 17 others.
Former Chief of Police and Local Hero Running For Office in Illinois.....1938
W.C. "Bud" Maier of Nashville Illinois, former chief of police of Mt. Vernon where he was born and reared is a candidate for sheriff of Washington County, Illinois on the Republican ticket. A World War I veteran, he is remembered here for the courageous act several years ago in Nashville when he knocked down a man named Mickey Jankowaki as the latter was drawing a gun in an assassination attempt of then States Attorney J.D. Maxwell.
Local Girl Tours Hollywood and Meets Actor Harold Lloyd.....1938
Ann Fuhrer of Mt. Vernon a recent graduate of Stephens College at Columbia, Missouri was one of a group of eleven girls from the college who toured Hollywood as part of an educational course, met Harold Lloyd the veteran screen comic at the Paramount studios. Her picture appeared in the Sunday Evansville Courier.
Former Resident Quits Magazine Editor's Post.....1938
Frances Cavanah, associate editor of Child Life and a former Mt. Vernon resident resigned her position on the magazine to devote her full time to writing. Recently, she completed work on the manuscript, "Boyhood Adventures of Our Presidents.", a juvenile work which Rand McNally published in the fall.
Francis, 1889-1982 studied at DePauw University and wrote many short stories, textbooks, and books for children. She is credited with writing the following books: Boyhood Adventures of Our Presidents, Pocahontas, A Little Girl from Jamestown, Abe Lincoln Got His Chance, Our Country's Freedom, Jerry Lind's America, When Americans Came to New Orleans, We Wanted to be Free, They Lived in the White House, and The Truth About the Man Who Sparked the War Between the States.
MVHS New Band Uniforms.....1938
Stocker Grocery Specials.....1938
Once there was a grocery called, F.X. Stocker on 735 East Second Street. Here are some specials: Heavy colored hens and fryers, 20 cents per pound; fat heavy roosters, 14 cents per pound; fresh seasoned hamburger, 12 cents per pound; pork barbecued ribs, 35 cents per pound; exceptionally fine breakfast bacon at 22 cents a pound and fresh raspberries on this June weekend.
Former Merchant Retires....1938
Robert Fischer, came to America from Essen, Germany in 1904 and finally settled in Mt. Vernon in 1906. From a humble beginning he enjoyed the "American Dream" developing his meat market into a successful and profitable business, keeping step with innovations in butchering and meat processing and applying a full measure of industry, thrift and personal supervision to every department of his business. He retired in 1938 after 32 years in the industry. He died in 1955 and one of his sons was the manager of the meat market of Gerber's Super Market.
Mt. Vernon native - New Golden Gate Bridge....October 1937
Wendel Monroe 46, the son of Edwin Monroe was picked by the state of California to be consulting electrical engineer for the Golden Gate Bridge, a $77,000,000 span which welded together several communities and is one of the greatest engineering triumphs of all time. Wendell perfected the designs and wrote the specifications for the work. The state supplied him with a staff of 20 assistant engineers and draftsmen. He attended the grade schools in Mt. Vernon while his father was city superintendent. His father then moved to Oklahoma and Wendel graduated from high school there. His college training was started at Washington University where he majored in electrical engineering, received a fellowship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving his Master's degree and was also granted an advanced degree from Harvard. He worked for the U.S. Bureau of Standards in Washington then moved on to General Electric at two plants. He completed the railroad electrification of the Chicago interurban lines and the new Illinois Central Railroad terminal. He was an inspector for the U.S. Navy, supervising electrical installations in warships at the yards in Philadelphia. He is now considered the top of his chosen profession in America.
Remains of Robert Dale Owen Moved to New Harmony.....October 1937
The mortal remains of Robert Dale Owen, outstanding world figure in the middle of the nineteenth century, were interred at Maple Hill cemetery outside New Harmony beside the bodies of his equally famous relatives. His body was originally laid to rest at Lake George, New York where he died on June 24, 1877. A simple public memorial was held at the Old Fauntleroy Home, the last residence of Owen preceding the burial. The remains will now rest beside his wife, Mary Jane Robinson, who died in 1871, and one sister, Mrs. Robert Fauntleroy, nee Jane Dale Owen, and three brothers, William, David Dale, and Colonel Richard Owen and five of his six children. Mr. Owen's daughter, Rosamound Dale Owen, who gained world fame with her explorations and writings as the wife of Oliphant Templeton died this year and is buried in Wales. Through the efforts of Miss Mary Emily Fauntleroy and the late Mrs. Templeton the remains were brought to New Harmony for burial on the soil in which Owen conducted his experiment in Utopian social life that stirred world interest. Several relatives of the Owen family attended the burial.
Prominent Farmer Killed by Bull.....September 1937
A three year old Guernsey bull with no prior temperment problems butted down Mr. William Tennison, age 62 and then trampled him under his hoofs. No witnesses to the death and he was found later by his son who went looking for him.
MV Fall Festival....September 1937
The fifth annual fall festival was held in Mt. Vernon with a carnival with four mechanical rides of loop-0-plane, chairplane, Ferris wheel, and kiddie autos. There was a doughnut eating contest, a pet parade, industrial parade, and 35 piece band concert on a stage on the court square, an exhibit from Purdue University at the coliseum, and a baby show. The highlight of the festival may have been Korak from Moscow who rode an electricity illuminated bicycle on a wire 55 feet above the ground! Thousands came to view the festival and the buntings adorn city buildings.
Indian Relics Found.....March 1937
Tom Zimmerman of West Eighth Street while working as a carpenter in the vicinity of Half Moon Pond and the Wabash River in Point township uncovered a find of excellently preserved Indian relics. Included in the group were a pipe bowl in the shape of an Indian head and several pieces of pottery, two of the pieces being perfect and in fine condition. Several Indian bones were also discovered. The site of Zimmerman's find is believed to have been an ancient burial ground.
Veteran Mt. Vernon Physician and Surgeon Dies.....March 1937
Dr. John E. Doerr, 71 practiced here for 41 years died at his home on East Fourth Street of chronic myocarditis. He had practiced a total of 46 years and in Mt. Vernon since 1896. From 1898 on he practiced at one location, that being on East Second Street, just off Main. He dedicated his entire life to the suffering humanity and was a local pioneer in modern hygiene. Extensive clinical studies here and abroad helped him keep up to the front of his profession. He was born in Santa Claus, Indiana, his father being a German Methodist minister and was pastor of the St. Peter's Methodist church near St. Phillips when he died. Dr. Doerr graduated from Medical School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1891. He attended clinics in England, France, Belgium and Germany. He was in London when the World War broke out. "His marvelous and extraordinary ability in diagnosis, medicine and surgery services were in demand in Evansville and elsewhere." He was a member of the Posey County Medical Society, the Indiana State Medical Society and the American Medical Society. He was also a member of the Mt. Vernon lodge of Elks and Posey camp of Modern Woodmen. He was buried at Bellefontaine cemetery.
Also found that he was trustee of the Eagles when the new building on Water Street was dedicated in 1907 and a charter member of the Masonic Lodge.
Leaves To Join the Circus.....March 1937
Houston "Dusty" Rhodes of Mt. Vernon left for New York City where he will again join the advance crew of the Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey circus. Rhodes who has been connected with the circus for several years spends his winters here. The circus opens at Madison Square Garden on April 8.
Local Potato Chip Factory Opens Again.....March 1937
The local potato chip factory of Mrs. Amos Erwin was re-opened this week in the annex of the Bishop Grocery building at Mill and Seventh Streets with three women being employed. Mrs. Erwin operated a potato chip factory several years ago and it was a successful venture. Mrs. Erwin has established a sales outlet through Posey county food stores, restaurants, and confectionaries, Evansville, and Henderson, Ky. Mr. Erwin is directing the sales department of the business.
New Harmony Man Travels 15,000 Miles Sightseeing .....1937
William Russell returned after a month's visit in Washington D.C. with his daughter and son in law, Mr. and Mrs. John L. Reeves. During his stay he traveled visiting eight old Civil War battlefields. He brought back a stone from the grave of George Washington's mother. While in Washington and going through the White House he met and was entertained by Hines Terry, a former Mt. Vernon boy.
Guarded Lincoln As He Lay In State.....1937
In February of 1937, Major George Kimball, age 93 of Mt. Vernon and a Civil War veteran died at his home at 523 College Avenue. He distinguished himself at the battle of Richmond Kentucky and was presented with a sword of his superior officer. He was a major on staff of Governor Alvin Hovey and was a guard at the bier of Lincoln as he lay in state. He was buried in Greencastle, Indiana.
Starting in early January the rains came up north and down south along the Ohio River. In Louisville, KY they had 19 inches of rain in January and locally in Mt. Vernon we had 17.47 inches! On January 25th the river surpassed the highest crest ever seen in Mt. Vernon going over 52 feet which was larger than both the 1884 and the 1913 floods. The river finally crested on February 2nd at 59.2 before receding. From Pennsylvania to Cairo, Illinois the flood raged. Landmarks like Crosley Field in Cincinnati and Churchill Downs in Louisville were under water. What only weeks ago was picturesque became a violent river floating homes away. Residents in Mt. Vernon had to boil their water for six weeks and yet the Water Works continued to pump water until a grate bar burned out and then Keck Gonnerman furnished three steam traction engines to run the pumps. The Memorial Coliseum was used as a Red Cross hospital and command center. The flag of the Red Cross flew on top of the building during this time. The Consumer's Ice Company filled two storage tanks with pure water each holding 5,000 gallons for drinking purposes, Phone calls during this period tripled and long distance calls overworked the operators with long waits. The National Guard Battery E enforced the martial law that the town was put under starting on January 25th. Mt. Vernon remained high and dry and was the haven of 2750 refugees some from Shawneetown that the Coast Guard brought in along with those from Point township, western Black and southern Marrs townships. Water covered West Second Street between Mill and Chestnut at the Mill Creek fill and Water Street between Main and College Avenue. It also covered a quarter of a block at the south end of Elm Street. The Mt. Vernon Milling Company was the only local industry closed by the river stages. Seven shelter camps existed in Posey County. Griffin at one time was isolated with all roads covered and only way in or out was the railroad. Traffic over the New Harmony Bridge was exceedingly heavy as most traffic was routed that way. Early on six Coast Guard boats were shipped here from Chicago for the rescue work. Lt. Beauford Alldredge was in charge of the martial law in town and the issued 8 general orders. Many were keeping people away from the riverfront, people evacuated not to reenter their properties as long as rescuing continued. There would be no increase in commodity prices, no unnecessary motor traffic within the military district, no firearms to be carried by citizens, no loitering, all businesses closed by midnight. The establishment of a military headquarters at the Armory, all refugees to be inoculated against typhoid fever, all schools closed until further notice. Because of conserving water only the Keck Gonnerman Company and the Overall Corporation could work. All others would cease immediately. Sale of livestock was prohibited until ownership could be proven after the flood. Also, the sale of liquor was to be suspended except for beer. We had 196 refugees brought in from Shawneetown by the Steamer Patricia Harrett and they were housed at the Trinity Evangelical Church in the basement and the Sunday school room. The basement of the Coliseum was used as a dining hall. The third floor of the People's Bank was also used for housing. Supplies came in from other counties by trucks loaded with steel cots, blankets, clothing, mattresses, portable stoves and food. The Eagles after pumping their basement out opened it up to those refugees. The Mennonites religious organization donated $115 to replace textbooks lost to flood victims. Livestock was lost tragically. One farmer Pete Rhodes from Point Township related that he lost all of his stock of 52 head of cattle, three mules, two horses, four milk cows, and two calves. When he returned to his farm he found them floating in the water. Red Cross revealed that 125 homes were destroyed in Posey County, 14,035 head of livestock and 7 deaths (2 from my family by typhoid). Tons of crops were lost. The steamer, Jay Hawker operated by radio station WSM of Nashville, TN anchored in Mt. Vernon and went on live to tell the nation of the heroic work being done here "Mt. Vernon is doing a mighty fine job of taking care of more than a third as many people as its own population", they said. Martial Law was lifted on February 13th and cleanup began...some went back to nothing.
1937 Flood of Ohio River at Mt. Vernon
Bowling Before Posey Lanes.....1936
In December of that year three lanes opened in the Maas Building at 124 Main owned by E.E. Powell. I think there was bowling later in the Evertson Building. I have also heard there were once duck pin bowling in town, but I haven't pinned it down. In 1947 I saw a add where afternoon bowling during the week cost 22 cents per game. It was called Mt. Vernon Bowling Lanes.
New Doctor Opens Practice in Mt. Vernon.....November 1936
Frank W. Oliphant, M.D., has established his office in the small brick building at 214 Walnut Street, formerly occupied by Dr. Fullinwider. Phone number is 180-W. He is a graduate of the Indiana School of Medicine and served his internship in Indianapolis hospitals.
150 Gallon Still Seized.....May 1936
Federal, state, and county officers unearthed a moonshine still in an underground room of concrete in Harmony township. The ownership of the farm and liquor manufacturing plant, which is the most complete ever found in Posey County is credited to Owen Rietiger of Mt. Vernon, who with Thomas Winchester of New Harmony, is already a prisoner in the Harrisburg, IL jail facing a federal liquor charge. Officers cut their way into the underground plant but later found a trap door which was used by the operators. A 150 gallon still, a power pump and 16 empty barrels were found in the room. The still was then destroyed. The two men were arrested three weeks prior by federal agents near Flora, IL with a large quantity of illegal liquor in their car.
Memorial Cross Installed On Steeple of Trinity.....April 1936
John W. (Jack) Rose, Mt. Vernon's only steeplejack and considered one of the best, installed an electrical illuminated memorial cross on the steeple of Trinity Evangelical Church. The cross has a total of 34 fifty watt lights, 17 on each side, with unbreakable globes. It is visible for many miles and is eight feet high made of heavy durable metal. The cross is a memorial to departed members of the Ladies Aid of the Church. Raised a Baptist, my wife went to church here like a good German so we married there as did my sister. Rev. Yegerlehner surprised me at the wedding with a scarf with a large peace symbol on it. That was a good omen!
World Champion Chopper in Mt. Vernon.....1936
Peter McLaren, who claims the wood chopping championship of America, staged a log cutting demonstration in front of Gronemeier's Hardware Store at 415 Main Street. His wizardry with an axe has carried him from a poor farm lad in Australia to the peak of his profession. His tours over a score of years have put him in front of hundreds of thousands of people. The 50 year old man took on all comers.
Officers Seize Yet Another Large Still.....1936
Federal, state, and county officers seized and destroyed one of the best liquor making establishments found in recent years on the Wolf & Harlem farm in Point township. The still was of all steel construction and 120 gallon capacity. Five barrels of mash were also destroyed. The operators had evidently been warned, according to Sheriff Chars. Frieg, as no one was in the vicinity at the time of the raid.
The King's Song.....1936
Helen Hovey Daniel of Mt. Vernon sang for King Edward VIII, the new British King at a private dinner party. She is known as Elena Danieli in the opera world. She sang two areas from LaBoheme and Madame Butterfly and four English songs, "Do Not Go, Love," "Pirate Dreams," "Little Brown Bird", and one more. She then talked informally with the king.
Prehistoric Animal Bones Found...October 31, 1935
What was believed to be prehistoric remains were unearthed by Charles Schutz, Stewartsville barber, in Cox creek, two miles west of Stewartsville. He made the discovery while seining minnows. The bones were found about 18 feet below the top.of the creek bank. Two ivory tusks, measuring five and one half feet in length and six inches in diameter were unearthed. They were slightly curved. A bone, four feet long and over six inches in diameter believed to be a leg bone was also taken out of the creek bed. Bones of the skull were also discovered and one piece contained two teeth, each with a cutting surface of six by three inches. The teeth were seven inches long, including the roots. One section of what was believed to have been a skull bone measured three feet long and two feet wide. An Indiana University scientist was called in to identify the bones.
American Legion Baseball Team.....1935
The '35 team qualified for the final four state tournament by winning the regional tournament at Tell City and advanced to the final four in Indiana before losing to powerhouse East Chicago, a team that later became the champion of 16 states before losing. Mt. Vernon defeated Huntingburg, Paoli and Tell City to qualify for the state finals in Seymour. Some of the players on that team are in Mt. Vernon High School's Hall of Fame such as Alfred 'Dutch" Wehr, Dale Gentil, Paul Moeller, Oliver 'Boob' Willis, and Elsby Goffinet. Three Wadesville players played infield, those being Ralph Schneck, Dennis Wentzel, and Francis Knowles. The team was coached by Robert Blake and Dr. Bill Jenkinson. Moeller and Gentil played professionally with Gentil reaching the level of Triple A with Louisville before enlisting in the Navy during World War II. Gentil who starred at Indiana University pitched a five inning no hitter for Little Rock in the lower minors. Many felt Wehr was professional material, but somehow he fell through the cracks. He pitched the game against East Chicago, losing 3-0. Dale Gentil told me the pitcher for that team later played for the New York Giants, but I have misplaced his name. "Dutch" pitched service ball with and against many big leaguers and played semipro and coached league teams here for over a decade and is a local legend.
The Home Guard Cannon.....1935
The brass cannon used by the Home Guard during the Civil War was made in 1844 in Springfield, Illinois. It was in possession of the regular army until the war began. Mt. Vernon had its share of southern sympathizers and went through periods of unrest early in the conflict. It was alive with rumors of potential raids. Alvin Hovey was home awaiting further orders from the war department and he brought with him a company of regular soldiers along with five cannons. The cannons were placed in position on Haws Hill at Mt. Vernon, later the site of the Charles Smith lumber yard and there they stayed under the direction of Captain John Hinch, of the Home Guards. At the end of the rebellion, one of the cannons disappeared for a number of years. One of the men believed to have taken it was Thomas Pitcher. It was taken into the country and hidden. The wheels were removed and used on log wagons. Hidden under a load of hay it was turned over to the Harrow G.A.R. Post when it was formed. New wooden wheels were added and the rust removed and for years it was displayed on the old courthouse lawn. Later it was remounted on iron wheels. Captain Henry Baldwin took it to all patriotic celebrations and claimed ownership of it for making the repairs. In 1900, the Post decided to take the cannon back and Baldwin hid it. When Baldwin went on vacation a search of his stable was made and the cannon was again found. Sylvester Kirk became the next caretaker and he decorated it and himself. He would wear bunting from shoulder to waist and around his hat when in public with the cannon. He died in 1927. In 1928 the cannon was moved to the Armory in care of the American Legion. The cannon was placed in concrete and presented to the Bellefontaine Cemetery on Memorial Day of 1935. Major G.W. Kimball, the last surviving member of the Home Guard made the presentation. The cannon became vandalized at the cemetery so it was moved to the Owen Dunn Post #5.
New Harmony 1930's
In 1934, the New Harmony Fairgrounds attracted over 38,000 people for the Tri-State Rodeo. A mounted march to the grounds from a downtown parade with contestants, Indians preceded it. There was bull riding, bareback riding, trick roping, Sioux ceremonial dance, etc. The Western Star reported: "Most of us know how difficult it is to gain a closed personal acquaintance with a bull in a pasture, but just imagine what it's like to take the horns of a wild steer that has probably never known what a fence is and endeavor to bring it to the ground...in record time." Other events included wild Brahma steer riding, bullfighting, and a wild horse race. People loved it and came back day after day. In 1935 a second rodeo came attracting large crowds with four ranked cowboys in attendance. A street parade included a 95 year old stage coach once belonging to Wells Fargo Company. Music was furnished by a 22 piece cowboy band and 200 Sioux tribal members pitched their teepees on the New Harmony fairgrounds.
Mt. Vernon's First Tri-State Fair.....October 1933
The four day fair had many activities. There was an open house at the Memorial coliseum where they served around 800 each day. Motor boat races were held at the riverfront and one boat piloted by a local man had his motor fall off into the river. Clifford Tribble of Owensboro, KY, thrilled the crowd with his plane doing snap rolls, inside loops, power dives, tail spins and falling leaps. He also performed the very difficult outside from an inverted position. His Waco taper winged plane was equipped with a 225 horsepower Curtis Wright whirlwind motor. Boxing and wrestling matches were held at the court square. Merle Weissinger was the referee for the three events. The Owen Dunn Post No. 5 did an exhibition drill in a splendid manner. A little boy did a dance number and then we were entertained by an accordion expert. Free circus acts followed with trapeze, swinging ladder and iron jaw butterfly acts. Don LaVola, a Cuban slack wire walker of merit walked the line at 18 foot. 1500 people jammed the coliseum for the beauty contest with every seat taken and people standing in every nook and corner of the building. Miss Nellie Bailey of our city was crowned queen and was given a gift from the Ike Rosenbaum jewelry store. A free dance followed and the kids partied late. There were exhibits that featured an art show at the Alles Bros. furniture store, an antique show at the coliseum and a flower show at the Elk's home. Mt. Vernon high school boys appeared and did an excellent tumbling act. There were over 100 entries in the pet parade and prices were given away like for the animal with the longest tail, most comical outfit, ugliest dog, smallest pig, prettiest pony, and the largest rabbit. There were tap dancers, and even a rolling pin throwing contest for distance and accuracy. Over 8000 saw all the events it was estimated.
A Depression Christmas.....1933
Stallman's Grocery at 417 East Third Street opened on October 5th with a complete line of groceries, notions and school supplies. Phone 319-J. Within just weeks of opening burglars entered the store in midweek but received little for their trouble only three or four packages of cigarettes. No cash was stolen. An unlocked safe was ransacked as was an empty cash register. The thieves gained entrance by breaking the glass in a rear window and releasing a lock after they had made a crude attempt to "jimmy" the window.
"Santa Claus will visit more homes in Mt. Vernon and Posey County this year than was anticipated several weeks ago. His visit has been made possible through our President and our governor in their program of relief work. Many a child, and even the mother and father, would have gone through the holidays of 1933 without a crumb of bread, much less some delicacy. It is a blessing that this program is working smoothly at this time and many men who have not had an opportunity to earn a dollar for the past two years are now at work and are happy. In these homes Santa will appear not with a heaping bag but with enough to change a nothingness Christmas into a cheerful one. Christmas time is for the children and they are to be made happy." That December over 200 toys were repaired and painted by city fireman, wives of fireman and Boy Scout Troup 1. Later the Boy's Booster Club of the high school volunteered. The Elks Lodge had a Christmas tree party and the toys were distributed to children under the age of twelve that would not have received a visit from Santa. Santa Claus presented the toys in person and each child also received a gift of nuts, fruits, and candies. Manager Davis of the New Vernon theatre also provided the poor children with a Christmas morning show featuring Will Rodgers in "Dr. Bull" and "The Pied Piper" as well as a short comedy of "The Three Little Pigs."
E.H Fuhrer Looks Back on Fifty Years of Milling Industry.....1933
President of the Fuhrer-Ford Milling Company looked back on his career at the same business in the same location in Mt. Vernon. In 1883 the first mill was erected on the site of the present structure, and then known as the Fuhrer, Boyce & Company. W. C. Fuhrer, father of the present milling company president was head of that mill and the late George Washington Boyce was also connected with the company. This mill was the first complete steel roller mill west of the Allegheny Mountains. On October 19 of that year E.H. entered the employ of the company as a common laborer. He saw the plant change hands a number of times. The property was next acquired by W.C. Fuhrer and company, one of the owners being D. J. Mackey. Still later the mill was purchased by the Kaufman Milling Company of St. Louis. In 1899 the mill was destroyed by fire and the Kaufman Company withdrew from the field and the plant was reorganized with W.C. Fuhrer as president and E.H. Fuhrer as secretary-treasurer. Following the death of W.C., William Ford became president and upon his death E.H. was elevated to president. The present mill was erected in 1900 and is of brick construction and three stories high and has the capacity of 600 barrels daily. Mammoth concrete and steel wheat bins provide a storage capacity of 150,000 bushels and an elevator of 45,000 bushels capacity provides storage for corn. Dictator is the chief brand of flour manufactured and the greater portion of the output is sold in the southern markets. The Fuhrer-Ford Milling Company is strictly a Mt. Vernon institution, the entire personnel from the president down to the most humble laborer, being residents of this city. E.H. was born here in 1864 on the site of the present Paul Sort undertaking establishment on Main Street. He is connected with the People's Bank & Trust company as a director and has extensive farm lands locally.
Prohibition, Volstead Act and 3.2 Beer.....1933
The 18th amendment was passed in 1919; Indiana was the 27th state to pass it out of the 46 states that voted for it. Of course, we all know prohibition was a failure, the jails filled up with shiners and in early 1933 the Volstead Act was passed allowing 3.2 or near beer to be produced. When it rolled into Posey County in a truck produced by Falls City Brewing Company of Louisville it was sold for $2.75 a case, including a dollar for deposit for the case. Local residents were allowed only one case per day. Business was swift. In a local vote, Posey County voted to return to being "wet." Albert Heckman and John Moeller were the delegates to the Indiana Convention for the repeal of the 18th Amendment. The "wets" carried 56 of the 92 counties in Indiana and became the 10th state to repeal the law. The 21st Amendment ended prohibition later that year.
Tragic Drowning of Two Local Businessmen.....June 1931
William Bryant, 47, and Harvey Breeze, 37, met their deaths when their boat capsized in the Ohio River. Other members of the boating party included attorney R.U. Barker, Edward Alles, publisher of the Mt. Vernon Democrat, and Carl Clemens, an employee of Breeze Motor Company. Barker was credited with saving the three others lives from the watery grave. Hundreds of citizens thronged the river front as the Mt. Vernon ferry boat brought in the body of Breeze. Four days later the body of Bryant was recovered from the accident by the aid of a dream by Elijah Rhodes of Point Township. In his dream he recounted that he plainly saw the location of the body. He notified authorities of his vivid dream and together with his brother Arthur, went to that spot in a motor boat and there they found the body.
Lightning Strike in Rappite Graveyard.....July 1930
Around 9:30 PM that July weekend their came a terrible electric storm passing just south of New Harmony. A bolt of lightning seemed to be thrown from the clouds into the Rappite Cemetery, where it struck a locust tree and tore half of it to pieces. Bark was stripped from the trunk and the ground plowed up a considerable distance. A dove on a nest or at roost was killed. The demolished tree stood about 30 yards from John Axton's barn. The stroke was quite startling, as the storm was apparently a long way from New Harmony and the sky was pretty clear over town. None of the rain even fell in town. Many people in that locality felt the shock of the bolt. Mrs Neva Glump stood not more than 50 yards away when the tree was struck as she walked from her home to the cemetery to get a better look at the gorgeous electric display in the storm clouds south.
Pet Parade Poem.....1930's
We see them every summer parade...our kids pulling wagons with their cute little animals. Here is a poem from eighty years ago from the Western Star Newspaper: Hats off, here comes the band with uniforms knobby and music so grand. Shall we give them a cheer as they pass in review; To herald the coming of others to you. Who are these others, open your eyes wide, Tis a band of dear children with pets at their side. Let's give them a cheer as they pass on their way; With hearts bursting on this, their very big day. Ready and willing to do their best, that the Pet Parade may be a big success. And, what of the pets, the dogs and the cats. The chickens and guineas, the rabbits, and rats. The ponies and pigeons, the ducks and the geese, Won't you please rise and applaud at the very least?
Last Covered Bridge in Posey Expires.....October 24, 1929
The old covered bridge over Big Creek at Solitude erected by W. T. Washer in 1867 was torn down. Still in fairly good condition, it was no longer necessary since the new route of State Highway 65 is just east of the bridge where a culvert has been built over the creek.
Whip Blow Results In Loss of Eye.....April 20, 1929
Loren Walker, son of Mr. and Mrs. Neal Walker, West Sixth Street, lost sight in one eye as the result of a blow in the optic from the tip of a whip while he was driving a team near Savah. Removal of the eyeball was found necessary.
Local Survivor of the Battle of Shiloh.....April 1926
Sylvanus Barnett of Mt. Vernon celebrated the 64th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh with a drink and is the sole survivor of Co. B. 25th Indiana which was company of Posey County soldiers who took part in the battle in southwestern Tennessee on April 6-7, 1862. In the union victory, 3500 were killed and over 15,000 were wounded.
Zebroid Sale.....April 1926
Phil Hageman sells two of his zebroids in the St. Louis stockyards netting $1000 for the pair.
Special Judge Sentences Man to Five years For Still.....April 1926
Charged with possession of a still Owen Williams 29, of Mt. Vernon was found guilty by Special Judge George Zimmerman and sentenced him to five years in the state reformatory and fined him $500 and costs. He advised the prisoner not to return to this city but to start a new life anew in another location. Williams said he had no intention of returning. Williams was arrested by Sheriff Rowe and deputies as they made a raid on the Julius Gore farm in Point township. Williams, Gore, and Henry Williams were standing around the still when the raid was made, but the other two escaped. Of course, during Prohibition, a lot of shine was being produced in the country, especially Point township. I have heard stories of gangsters coming as far away as Chicago to pick up moonshine. Another raid I will mention happened in 1929 at "Jerry's Place", just north of Farmersville where Sheriff Thomas found 84 quarts of home brew, seven half pints of white mule, and a pint of peach brandy. All of the liquor was concealed under the floor. The place was busted from a tip from a 13 year old boy who had been caught with liquor and "squealed".
Posey County Giant.....January 1926
In 1926, 17 year old Teddy Engler traveled with the Shrine Circus and the Hagenback-Wallace circus. He was 7 foot 2 inches tall and weighed 169 pounds. The picture is with his dad who was 5 foot 8 inches. 1926 MVHS basketball team won 15 games that year, but I still think we could have used him.
Fogas Drug Store.....1926
Second and Main Street, long identified with Mt. Vernon's early history, was established by the present owner, William H. Fogas, in 1884 and is the oldest in the city. Mr. Fogas received his early training with James G. Gardiner, druggist of this city, remaining with Mr. Gardiner until his death in 1880. From 1880 until 1884 Mr. Fogas was a clerk for William M. McArthur & Company, and while in their employ he completed a course in the St. Louis College of Pharmacy. Following his graduation he established the present business which is one of the oldest establishments in the city. Mr. Fogas' standing among the pharmacists of the state is attested by his appointment as a member of the Indiana Board of Pharmacy in 1907 by Gov. Hanly, re-appointed in 1908 and appointed by Gov Marshall in 1912. The Fogas drug store, known throughout Posey County as The Rexall Store, carrries a complete line of everyting usually found in a first class store of its kind. Mr. Fogas is assisted by Joest Wade, clerk.
Van Camp Packing Company....1926
In the spring of 1925, the Van Camp Company chose Mt. Vernon as a site for a canning plant because it was located in the center of an agricultural district with rich soil and climatic conditions.
Years before a small tomato canning plant was operated in Mt. Vernon on the site northwest of L&N on the New Harmony Road, but was abandoned, chiefly because of a lack of capital. (I believe the area he is referring to is the section of houses just past the tracks and before you get to Grant Street.)
At one time it was looked upon as one of the city's beauty spots consisting of 20.71 acres of woodland with many of the native trees being over a century old. It was located in the northwestern section of Mt. Vernon. In the twenties, G. W. Kimball, came into possession of the park through inheritance, being part of the old James homestead entered in 1811 by Rev. Samuel Jones, the first Primitive Baptist minister, locally and the great grandfather of Mrs. Kimball. This wooded part was cut from the original grant by the L&N and the C&EI railroad tracks. The Kimballs came into possession 36 years prior (1890) and took great pride in beautifying the park and holding all kinds of outdoor community affairs there. Decayed stumps and brush were removed and new trees were planted. I have seen accounts going back to the 1870's of gatherings of people here when the railroad first came through. Fourth of July gatherings were held there for decades. Political rallys were held here and many times politicians would step right from the trains and get on the soap box. Some years alcohol was allowed and some years not. Sometimes segregated celebrations were held for Independence days. When not in use, sometimes hobos and gypsy's would make camp in the woods until the sheriff would run them off.
Located on Lower New Harmony Road just south of the railroad tracks in the back of the Farm Bureau Refinery shelter-house.
Mt. Vernon Strawboard Plant.....1926
Occupied twenty one acres of ground on Mt. Vernon's west side and had offices at Water and Parke Streets. In the twenties it ran 24 hours a day, everyday, but Sunday. One hundred and twenty men were employed with an annual payroll of $125,000. This corporation was originally organized by John W. Funke, Ferd Funke, Joseph Funke, M. French, and Frank Endress all of Evansville. Construction began in 1903 and completed the next year. The plant manufactured straw and chip board, container combination for egg case fillers, shoe boxes, etc. Most of the straw is brought in from a large radius of our city. The company consumes 100 tons or two carloads of coal daily and had the largest steam engine in Southern Indiana. A row of boilers almost a half a city block long were necessary to furnish the steam. Coal was fed into the fire boxes by means of automatic hoppers. Ten wagons were used daily in hauling loose straw to the plant.
Fuhrer-Ford Milling Company.....1926
Mt. Vernon Coliseum.....1926
The site was selected by Board of Trustees in May of 1920 from property once owned by Jacob Cronbach and Dr. D.C. Ramsey. Mt. Vernon paid $11,000 for the two lots and the $200,000 building was dedicated on November 18, 1926. On Armistice Day of 1926, a salute of eleven guns was fired by a squad of soldiers from local Battery E at the foot of Walnut Street. Services were held in the auditorium where a roll call of Posey County Gold Star men was read. Two addresses were given, one from Judge Thomas Coulter of Vincennes and another from ex-governor of Kentucky, A.O. Stanley. Mt. Vernon C of C Band played patriotic music. The woodwork inside the building is mahogany and the four main columns in front weigh 25 tons each. Three entrance doors signified the different branches of the then military services-the Army, Navy, and Marines. Two cannons were put in place in front of the building. The cornerstone was laid February 24, 1926. The box contains records of coliseum proceedings, papers pertaining to the G.A.R. Woman's Relief Corps, War Mothers, American Legion, Battery E, Boy Scouts, and all Posey County veterans of the First World War, Spanish-American War, and Civil War. Copies of all Mt. Vernon newspapers were also included. Plaques were later added in the foyer of the Coliseum to honor the Posey County dead who served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. There was then a gymnasium that had a hardwood floor originally that measured 70X40 feet with a seating capacity from 600-800 people. Mt. Vernon High School basketball was played there from 1927-1929. The first game was a 35-8 loss to Cynthiana. First win was a 29-5 victory over Stewartsville. I remember playing recreation basketball there in the winters of my youth. The court had a very low ceiling. There was also a swimming pool which was "big time" back in those days. During the 1937 flood the coliseum was used as a Red Cross post and many people were helped here with shelter, food, instruction, and compassion. The building was used for dances, lectures, beauty pageants and even boxing matches. It is now government offices and used for court cases.
Lady Champs and "Never Miss Sally".....1926
Mt. Vernon Girl's Basketball did not start as some believe after Title 9 in the mid 1970's. We played basketball from 1917-1930. Shortly following Armistice Day of World War I until the stock market crash preceding the Great Depression, Mt. Vernon girls dominated Southern Indiana basketball like no team has ever duplicated. These inspired teams took on the best Southern Indiana could offer and were usually victorious. At home, especially at the old Armory building they were, it seems invincible. Not only did they win, they did it by large margins. Some of their scoring totals would be hard pressed to be reached even today by boy's teams. From 1917-1930 the Lady Champs were 135-38. In 1925-1926 the girls were 36-1! Their only loss was by 2 to Huntingburg early in 1926. The best player for the locals and one of the best in all of Indiana was Sara "Never Miss Sally" McGregor. Some of her highlights were 42 points in a 50-14 win over Reitz, 38 in a 47-15 victory over Newburgh, 18 in a 26-17 win over then 8-0 Central, and a school record 56 points and 27 field goals in a 72-2 win over Memorial! At the end of the regular season, an invitational tournament was held in Huntingburg for the mythical state championship. The Mt. Vernon lasses defeated three opponents, including Reitz 11-7 in the championship game in front of 1000 fans. Each MV squad member was given a plant by a Huntingburg florist, and the school was given a 14 inch loving cup. More honors followed when the girls were invited to a Westfield Challenge Tourney in Youngstown, Ohio for a National Tourney; but A.L. Trester, Secretary of the Indiana High School Athletic Association refused to allow them to travel out of state. How good was "Sally?" Well she averaged 4 points more a game than the opposition her last 2 years! She was once described in the Evansville Courier as "the fastest forward ever produced in Southern Indiana with speed that would make the famous Man O War look like a plow horse." The Western Star said, "When other girls were playing with their dolls, she was tossing 'em through the hoops on a rough backboard in the backyard of her home." I had the privilege to meet Sara in the 1980's when she was inducted into the Mt. Vernon Hall of Fame. Unable to continue her basketball due to no college basketball in that era, she did graduate from the University of Pittsburgh after which she taught girl's physical education in Pennsylvania and Hawaii, playing lots of golf.
Some 1926 Mt. Vernon Businesses
- Weilbrenner & Sons (Distributors of Bake Flour) 501-505 Main
- Lynn Strack (Plumbing and Heating) 415 Main
- Hempfling's Meat Market 409 Main
- Breeze Greenhouse 913 Mill
- Steven's Studio (Artistic Photographs, Kodaks, finishing, Albums) 4031/2 Main, upstairs
- George Ashworth Dry Goods and Grocery 819 Main
- Mt. Vernon National Bank and Trust 215 Main
- The Old First National Bank 233 Main
- Abel Shoe Doctor 321 West Second
- Hironimus and Miller Garage (Kelly-Springfield Tires, Repairs) 331 W. Second
- Rowe and Rawlinson grocery 400 W. Second
- Thompson's Tire Store 345 W. Fourth
- Claude Wilson (Custom Blacksmithing and Harness
- Charles Hagamann (Mt. Vernon Ferry and Beach Resort) at door of Main
- Alles Bros. Furniture (Stoves, Rugs, Linoleum, shades, and Edison phonographs) 127-29 W. Second
- Charles Joest (The Sandwich Shop) corner Main and Second
- Lawrence Reedel (Hardware, John Deere Implements and repairs)
- Elwin Lichtenerger (car repair, Ford parts, Tires) 132 E. Second Rosenbaum & Bros. (Mail Order and Mall Dept store) 309-15 Main
- Schenk Hardware (Red Jacket Pumps) 205 Main
- Boyce & Williams (Drugs, Kodaks, School supplies) 333 Main
- Rothrock Bros. (Drugs and Drug Sundries)
- Hartung Bros (Popular Dry Goods)
- The Bryant Co (Dry Goods, clothing and shoes) 132 Main
- John Forthoffer (Soft drinks) 113-15 Main
- Clem Schenk Plumbing and Heating, Tin and Sheet metal 212 Main
- J.G. Herrmann (Garage-Buick) 418-420 Main
- Peoples Bank & Trust 4th and Main
- Fogas Rexall Drug Store 201 Main
- George Weckesser (soft drinks, candies and sandwiches) 300 Main
- Clem Schenk (Plumbing, roofing, repairing and electric lights) 212 Main
- Niblo's Variety Store (ornamental and useful articles for the home) 403-407 Main
- James Pearson & Sons (Your home outfitters) 327-29 Main
- Suddoth-Lawrence Insurance Agency 408-410 Main
- Charles Smith Lumber, sash and Doors 338 W. Second
- Scholey's Laundry
- John Alldredge (Groceries and Notions) 300 W. Second
- Stinson Bros. (Dry Goods) 207 Main
- Schlomar Jeweler 220 Main
- Hurley & Son Groceries 1001 Main
- West Bros. Bakery
- James Monroe (Feeds, Seeds) 218-20 W. Second
- Schiela's Millinery and Jewelry 327 Main
- Southern Indiana gas and Electric 319 Main
- Ike Rosenbaum Jeweler 303 Main
- Oliver's Restaurant 125 W. Second
- The Service Shoe Shop 331 Main
- Cyrus Ward Chrysler Motor Vehicles 114 College Ave
- The Craft Shop (Electrical contractor) 411 Main
- Peter Espenschied Groceries and Lunches 1101 Main
- Farmers Elevator (poultry, feeds, fertilizers) 1018 Main
- Home Mill and Grain Company 1017 Main
"Stop In The Name Of ..." September 17, 1925
A crew of men in charge of Street Commissioner Ed Green installed stop signs at each of the arterial street intersections as required by the ordinance passed by the city council. The signs were placed at each intersection on Main Street, for Eighth Street south, and on Second Street, from Mulberry to the depot. "On one side of the signs was the word 'stop' in large six inch letters, underneath which appear the words 'Arterial Highway". On the back of the signs really it said, "Watch Your Step." The signs were the shape of a shield painted white with black lettering. They were mounted on an iron post manufactured by Keck-Gonnerman. Anybody got a picture of one of these? That would be interesting. The ordinance was not enforced until all the signs had been placed. No complete turns (U turns) were allowed on the "Arterial highways". Now they had something called "preferential and through streets " too....but I'm already confused.
Labor Day Circus At Athletic Park .....1925
A real circus program in its all its glory and splendor was given with much of the talent being furnished by local citizens. Price of admission was a dime. Included in the circus was a grand entry, high class society dogs and ponies, an array of fun making clowns, a mounted singing chorus, Roman riders, Hurdle races, an exciting fox race and a bucking mule comedy act. Features will be the dog and pony show put on by Mr. Frank Smith. Hundreds of our citizens have seen these animals perform at previous engagements and these acts alone will be worth more than the small admission price. Two shows were given, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. Before each performance a 15 minute band concert was given. Practically the entire Athletic Field was brilliantly lighted. Artists will enter the Sixth Street gate and in order to avoid traffic congestion will leave the field at Eighth Street. During the day eats and refreshments will be served on the grounds. Arrangements were made with the American Decorating company of Evansville to assist John Keller, local electrician in lighting and decorating the field and grandstand. Late added attractions were the battle ax juggling and gun spinning act by the Keifer brothers of Evansville, former Posey County boys, and the bucking Ford automobile. Ample police protection was provided for safety by Mayor Osborn with special patrolmen on duty in charge of Chief of Police Moses. It was said for the two events over 6000 people attended. The circus was put on by the local Modern Woodmen of America lodge.
Marker Requested At Grave of Indiana's First Circuit Rider.....August 1925
The official members of the First M.E. Church of Mt. Vernon recommended that the annual conference of M.E. churches of Indiana take some action in placing a suitable marker at the grave of Aaron Ashworth now quietly lying in a little cemetery in Point township. It is said that the exact spot where this minister's body is buried in unknown and it is hoped to find more information to present to the conference before all trace of this grand old man of pioneer Methodism is lost. (I am not aware of any marker...do you?)
Not A New Thing Arizona....Alien Registration.....March 11, 1925
Looking at an old Mt. Vernon "Unafraid Republican", I found an article about the Immigration Act of 1925 being passed by an overwhelming vote to restrict immigration into the United States. They described the situation as not being effective and that immigrants were coming in from all directions regardless of the law and until they are required to register they will continue to do so the editor said. "We have three thousand miles of Canadian border and long Mexican border which can be crossed in innumerable places. Thousands who were seamen have been landing at our ports. Thousands cross the border as visitors for business or pleasure and many of these appear to have forgotten to return. Moreover, many of these aliens who enter illegally are mentally and physically defective, and would never be admitted by our medical inspectors." Now the editor gets a little racy, so I can't clean it up much, it is what it is..."Anybody who has traveled over our transcontinental lines (railroad) during the last four or five years can see the increase of brown Mexican peons, living in old freight cars all along the way, and can learn of the rapidly swelling slums in many towns. It is evident that unless we take measures to put an end to this influx, our law will be ineffective, and we shall have merely substituted a new race problem thrown in. They cannot pass an illiteracy test, but they can pass the border. The whole thing looks hopeless."
G.A. Ashworth Grocery.....1925
Started in the 1890's, his first venture was in the frame building on Main Street just south of the one now at 819 Main Street. That frame building became inadequate and he moved to Seventh and Mill Streets. The business continued to grow and after nine years he was compelled to seek larger quarters. A Main Street location was sought after a while at a vacant lot near where he first opened. Within several months a modern brick building 24x70, graced the site. It carried a high class of canned goods, groceries and merchandise stock with a large line of dry goods and farm eggs and produce. Three clerks were engaged to assist shoppers.
Local Civil War Letters Found of Local Soldier.....1925
Captain John Oaks was the grandfather of Mrs. Henry Ostermann of RR3 Mt. Vernon in 1925 and she found some interesting letters of his from the front of the Civil War. The letters recalled the events of 1862 and 1863. One letter from Pittsburg Landing in Tennessee on April 16, 1862 related the circumstances of Oaks during the Battle of Shiloh. He was in camp at that time with Grant's army and he described it raining in torrents and that when the battle was over he said, "I have been in it and I don't wish to be in another battle." Confederate leader Beauregard was forced to retreat to Corinth. The last of the letters found was written on October 27, 1864 from near Gaylesville, Alabama. He wrote of communications long since been cut off, denying him any news of home. He described "a nice little fight the other day at Snake Creek Gap and our regiment alone whipped them nicely." He reported that the Captain had been wounded again and that he had been advanced in rank to First Lieutenant. When he left the army he was upgraded to captain. He is identified as such on the grave marker in the little cemetery that sits on a hillside not far from the Ostermann homestead.
He also reported that in 1863, 94 boys went AWOL by crossing the river to go squirrel hunting and were attacked by 40 rebs. "They had a right smart liitle fight, but nobody was hurt."
The Ku Klux Klan burned a twenty foot cross on the sandbar opposite Sherburne Park.
This wasn't all that unusual at the time as the Indiana chapter of the KKK was started in Evansville in 1920.
Son of Governor Hovey Dies.....1923
Services were held for Charles J. Hovey at his late residence, corner of Walnut and Third Streets. Hovey, 73, died of heart disease. He was highly honored as a citizen, patriot, and soldier. Mrs. Ester Hovey Menzies, wife of Major G.V. Menzies was a sister. Hovey was born in Mt. Vernon on January 8, 1850 and his father was very influential giving him many opportunities most boys never had. He received his early education in Evansville schools, Northwestern Christian University, Indianapolis and spent three years in the Polytechnic school of Carlsruh, Baden, Germany. He later returned to Germany where he spent three years studying medicine and chemistry, from which he graduated. He was an extensive traveler and following a visit with his father in 1867 who was then United States minister to Peru, he made an extended tour of South America. In 1876 he again visited Europe, sailing via the straits of Magellan and remained abroad three years. He was obliged to pass through three armies in order to reach the city of Paris as the Franco-Prussian war was in progress. Mr. Hovey's business interest was varied. In 1870 upon his return to Mt. Vernon from his first trip abroad he purchased an interest in the Mt. Vernon Banking Company, and entered that institution as a teller. He was also engaged in the mercantile and agricultural business and served Mt. Vernon as an efficient postmaster for two terms under President Harrison and Arthur. In 1900 he retired from active business and after several years served as Justice of the township. He was still serving as such at the time of his death. He was united in marriage on March 6, 1871 to Lillie Jaquess of Evansville and they had five children. Services were held and he was buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery
A Studebaker Light was given the mileage test in July on the Evansville-Mt. Vernon route. The tests were given by running the automobile several hundred miles, then detaching the carburetor and letting the engine run until it ran out of gas. The car driven at a steady 23 mph, got 28.4 miles per gallon. These cars later named the Studebaker Standard 6 were built in South Bend, Indiana from 1918 to 1927.
Franklin Roosevelt Greets Mt.Vernon.....1920
On October 21, 1920, the Democratic candidate for Vice President, Ex-Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York, was greeted in Mt. Vernon by an audience estimated at 2,000. En route here from Princeton, the speaker made short stops in Cynthiana, Poseyville, and New Harmony. Mr. Roosevelt spoke for forty minutes in front of the eastern corridor to the court house and was introduced by William Espenschied, chairman of the Democratic County Central Committee. His speech was devoted to discussing the League of Nations and denouncing the 'Wiggle and Wobble' of the Republicans.
Street Commissioner's Topics... June 1918
A footbridge on Sixth and Vine was said to be in disrepair and a large wagon bridge on Eighth Street was in need of new flooring. The repair of North Main Street was brought up again for about the 20th time and again no definite action was forthcoming. The Fire Chief, Chris Wildernan said he was not satisfied with his present horse wagon driver and would like him replaced. A salary of $15 a week was recommended.
"As For Me, I Will Choose Freewill"....1918
As usual preceding most American military action, patriotism was strong. Some people's attitudes were questioned, their patriotism challenged. As the First World War started, there was talk in town of some who were "too German." German language was used less in churches, on documents, no longer taught in school, certain merchants were talked about, etc. Those who "talked too much" or appeared to be disloyal were looked on as outcasts. On one April day, James Timoney, a special agent for the Department of Justice, headquartered in Indy, arrived in Posey County unannounced. His mission was to investigate remarks from a snitch who fingered someone or persons that they made comments unwise against the American involvement in Europe. I don't think they turned up anything, just people expressing their personal rights of expression. I doubt there were those saying like me...The Army consists of soldiers- We ourselves are the soldiers. If we refuse to be soldiers, there is no Army"....no probably not too many.
Bootleggers at the wharf.....1918
Steamboat crews don't even have to step off the boat now days to wet their whistles. Bootleggers until arrested recently were selling "rot gut" by the drink at a joint behind a log pile at the riverfront.
Man Falls From Tree To His Death....November 1917
Herman Millspaugh fell out of a pecan tree to his death at the old Hads home on the corner of Water and Wood Streets. As had been his custom for several years, Herman climbed this tree and shook down pecans to the ground. When about 35 feet high, he became dizzy and told the children on the ground who were picking up the nuts to look out as he was going to drop his pole he used for threshing down the pecans. He moved down a few feet and with a moan he fell face forward to the ground, death being almost instantaneous. In his fall both jaws were broken and his face disfigured beyond recognition. A little two year old boy, the son of Mr. and Mrs. James Black, who resided at the home was in the act of picking up a pecan when Millspaugh's body fell and striking the child a glancing blow breaking the child's left leg just below the knee. Herman was a mail carrier in Mt. Vernon for nine years and was held in high esteem. He was an active member of the St. Paul's M.E. Church. He had one son and was married to the daughter of Mr. Martin Barnett. He was 29 years old. Interment was in the Bellefontaine cemetery.
Biscuits Distributed Among The Poor.....October 25, 1917
At the baking demonstration held at the H. Brinkman Company store on lower Main Street to test the superiority of Buck's Range, 2,000 biscuits were baked with less than one bucket of coal. These biscuits were taken to the office of Trustee Barnett and distributed among the poor. These biscuits filled two large tubs and it was a pleasure I would imagine to see the faces of those brightened by this generosity. It was said as they were distributed among the women's remarks were. "thank you Mr. Barnett, and may the good Lord bless you and our dear old Uncle Henry Brinkman!"
Our First Soldiers Head Off To War In Europe.....September 1917
The famous ride of Paul Revere was repeated in Mt. Vernon when a rider on a fiery steed, dressed in a Paul Revere uniform dashed down Main Street announcing to our townspeople that on this day 34-40 local men have been chosen to fight. All businesses in turn closed until the L&N train departed from our depot for Louisville where the men will be housed. Soldiers of the past marched with the men as well as the conscript's sweethearts. We also had a band, Harrow Post, Women's Relief Corp, Boy Scouts, Labor Organizations and the Fire Department in the parade which formed on Walnut Street. The parade ended at the train depot and the band played, "America" and up to 7000 people assembled. A large buttonhole bouquet was pinned on each soldier boy by Mrs. Joseph Wade of New Harmony.
Indiana Governor Warns Against War Time Fireworks.....July 1917
Gov. J.P. Goodrich in an open letter to the citizens of Indiana published in the Mt. Vernon Western Star appealed to everyone to forego the use of fireworks in the celebration of Independence Day. One unusual reason and first listed was that he believed that there could be a danger that "alien enemies might take advantage of celebrations of this kind to conceal incendiary operations by destruction of bridges and other public, as well as private property." He also stated that materials used in the manufacture of fireworks were needed in the production of munitions. He went on to state that many are maimed and killed and that thousands of dollars have been wasted annually on this "fleeting manner of entertainment." He said that millions of dollars had heretofore been lost in fires in this country started by toy balloons and other fireworks. "It would be a calamity for food warehouses or elevators to be destroyed at this time." He closed by suggesting that city and town councils should at once pass ordinances prohibiting the use of all fireworks, toy balloons, etc., in said celebrations. He regarded it as a patriotic duty of all citizens to lend their support to enforcement of all laws and restrictions on this subject.
Streets To Be Oiled....May 1917
The city council purchased 40,000 gallons of street oil for use on the roads that summer. Clerk Schulthis was instructed by Mayor Grant and councilmen Brinkman, Tente, Robinson, Davis, Moses, and Dexheimer to purchase from the Fuel Oil Company of St. Louis, the oil at 5 1/4 cents per gallon. Competitors looked at had prices on oil ranging from 5 1/4 cents to 7 1/4 cents per gallon. In other business on a motion of Tente, an all-wool bunting flag was ordered to be placed on the flagstaff at the city building.
And There Shall Be Light.....April 1917
Roy Agin, superintendent of the Mt. Vernon Electric Light and Power Company reported at the commissioners meeting that the installation of lights on Main street has been completed on April 1, 1917. This plant was then located on Store now College Street, having been built somewhere around 1890. At first the plant operated only during the evening hours as there was no or little need for electricity during the day. It wasn't long however before the city had plenty of things to turn on both commercial and residential.
Happy New Year.....1917
The year 1917 ushered in by long continuous blowing of whistles and the ringing of church bells and the shooting of fire crackers along with roman candles. Not a single accident occurred in Mt. Vernon during the holidays, no doubt was due to the scarcity of explosives. Our merchants this year having refrained for the past two years to place any orders and the old stock is almost exhausted.
Train Tracks A Pain For Autos.....1917
We have these train tracks that I pass over very slowly on the way to work each day that run across Givens Road leading into the Farm Bureau Refinery. At present they are again bad. You have to cross them at a 'snail's pace' to cross them safely. Some things do not change. Back in the spring of 1917, orders by the city council of Mt. Vernon were given to the Evansville & Mt. Vernon Traction Company to maintain the interurban street eighteen inches on either side of the rail tracks in good condition along Fourth Street. Ten days elapsed at the Mr. Leffel of the Western Star was getting upset that not a single pick and been struck in the ground. He said for several occasions this corporation had been ordered to place the street in good repair, but for reasons best known to them they had failed to do so. He bitched, "Are they again going to pay no attention to the orders issued by our city dads? Is this franchise as thin as ice, or are they privileged characters and can do as they please?" He went on that taxpayers and property owners along this street had a perfect right to demand of this company to place the street in good condition. He was also of the opinion that the brick crossings at the intersections should be replaced. He demanded of the city council to see that the corporation did their duty at once! I love it when the old editors got fired up!!
Call to Arms.....1917
Local citizens wasted little time getting ready to fight the Kaiser as Woodrow Wilson asked for a Declaration of War. Immediately, the Elks Lodge issued a message of support for the war saying, "Our nation's flag is our flag. We also pledge our support to assist the nation and we favor preparedness and we will lend practical aid in this community." Winston Menzies went about organizing a company of volunteers from Posey and Vanderburgh counties and had 75 by early April. Any man between 18 and 45 who desires induction should telephone or write him. The local Negro community also responded. Jim Payne and Charlie Cameron went about organizing a company of Negro soldiers to start practicing until the call comes. Newspaper said, "You will not find the Posey County Negroes in the slacker column. This speaks well for the Negroes in this city and county and we should not forget what the colored troopers did for Colonel Roosevelt at San Juan Hill, and also what they did for Captain Boyd during the Carrizal incident in Mexico." (I do not wish to offend anyone by the use of Negro or colored; however, those were the terms then. I pledge not to use any n word references or worse that may have occurred in our cities' past. We all know they were there and it is embarrassing to see them in print; however, as the nation changed so did the coverage and we can see that civil rights and human rights advance as we move further in time to the present.)
Mt. Vernon Centennial.....1916-1917
In January of 1917 a box was placed in one of the city banks and the key turned over to the clerk of the Posey County circuit court and handed down from one successor to another until the bicentennial of 2016. Earlier in 1916 hundreds of items were on display in the show windows of our local merchants to celebrate Mt. Vernon's first one hundred years. Some were:
- confederate bomb shell from Kentucky
- candles over 100 years old
- mud and water carrier made in 1839
- 150 year old spinning wheel
- saddle bags used during the Civil War
- 103 year old copper tipped shoes
- wedding dress from 1837
- three confederate $20 bills
- hymn book from 1812
- 300 year old iron pot from Ireland
- 150 year old coffe mug
- shank bone of deer killed at Mt. Vernon court square and the rifle that killed it
- 1774 Bible
- 1829 Bible
- 100 year old rolling pin
- letter written in England in 1751
- 150 year old flint lock shot gun
- 1837 lace cap
- 100 year old toys
- century old wooden handle razor
- 400 year old pearl and topez brooch from England
- framed wreath from 1860
- 1852 bassoon
- 1530 German Bible
- 1845 trunk
- 165 year old savings box
- 1850 earthen churn
- fife used in the Mexican War
- 107 year old grandfather clock
- 1800 hand made shears
- 1759 arithmetic book
Editor Complains About Headlights....1917
John C. Leffel, the long-time Western Star editor going back to the 1870's complained that many automobile drivers were not following the law in dimming their lights. He wrote: "On Saturday evening after the supper hour autoists go through Main Street with the powerful headlights of their machines turned on, some having the audacity to also use the spotlights in connection. We do not propose to censure drivers for using the cut-outs, but we do think it is time for all of us to begin to use some judgment in handling our cars. Use the dimmers on your machines, especially on Main Street, if not in other parts of the city. Main Street is lighted sufficiently not to need lights at all on your cars, but the law says you must have lights and they should be dimmed. The use of the dimmer light on cars is abused to a great extent. That is, they are not being used when they should be. Some drivers using the public highways have no regard for the dimmers and clearly forget, either intentionally or otherwise that their machine is equipped with this sort of light. These lights aid wonderfully when one machine is passing another, and should by all means be used. The law says that this must be done and if autoists do not obey these laws our officers are going to get them. Again, all machines should be equipped with the legalite lens. This lens is so made that the awful glare from the lights is deadened and the rays are thrown from them just a certain distance.
Charles Nolan and Zebroid 1917
Charles Nolan of Point township had the honor of the first zebroid foaled in Posey County and perhaps the United States, the colt being sired by the African zebra imported from Germany by Dr. Hastings about 1912. The colt had a parent form an Arabian mare. Several of these creatures were born during the teens and twenties.
Old Relic Found....1917
The original flag and colors of the 25th Regiment of Indiana Volunteers was found in the possession of James Hummel of Evansville. It was given to Hummel by Captain Hasting of Company C after the Civil War.
Building Collapses.....March 1915
Buildings in disrepair seem to burn or fall in on Main Street...so it was...so it may be again. In 1915, the north wall of the Hanner & Winstead two story building on Lower Main Street fell and few moments later the second floor and roof collapsed and fell into the basement. In falling hundreds of bricks of the south west wall fell on the roof of the Clint Stroud feed store making a ten feet square hole and falling to the lower floor, damaging a large quantity of floor and seeds in the store room. A portion of the northwest corner of the building crashed through the Mt. Vernon Republican newspaper building, scattering the debris over type cases and presses. The office appeared as if a cyclone had struck it. The building just north of the Hanner & Winstead building and owned by Robert Fischer is also badly damaged. The south wall, as well as the southeast corner of the building is badly cracked and this portion of the building has settled several inches. The collapsed building was being remodeled for the Alles Bros. Furniture Company and a crew of men had been at work for the past week excavating for a basement the full length of the building. It was noticed that one corner of the building was settling and temporary props were placed there, but they failed to hold.
Horse Show.....May 1914
May 1914 just before Fourth Annual Horse Show. A judges stand erected between Third and Fourth streets. The first ring of horses were stallions. Horses were taken care of by Chas Hempfling, Dr. Moses, Chas Stats, Phil Hagemann and Judge Herrmann. The horse show had several rings that were fast, pretty and strong. There were also suckling colts and general purpose horses.
"One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer".....1914
In 1914, Posey County had 36 licensed saloons; 16 located in Mt. Vernon, 6 in New Harmony, 5 in Marrs Township, 4 in Robinson Township, 3 in Black Township, and 2 in Center Township.
Local Businessman and Confederate Soldier Dies.....1914
Benj. Lowenhaupt, 75, prominent and progressive Mt. Vernon merchant died after a lingering illness. He had served in the Civil War as a corporal in the Confederate army and being wounded in the battle of Shiloh was discharged. He had found the opportunity to talk about his battlefield experiences with Union soldiers who fought against him in the same battle from Mt. Vernon. He was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Shortly after the war he came north to Mt. Vernon. He served as a member of the firm of Rosenbaum & Brothers and later severed this connection and embarked in the men's clothing and furnishing business.
MVHS First Trophy.....Early 1900's
Somewhere between 1911 and 1913, Mt. Vernon High School won its first athletic trophy. It was a school relay team. I sold all my early yearbooks a few years ago, but I know Dr. Fred Clements was on that track squad. He was in both World Wars in the Navy and retired with the rank of commander. He taught at the US Naval Academy and then practiced medicine in Evansville as an eye, ear, nose, and throat specialist. As a young man he was a state employee of the Secretary of State's Office and took in mailing the first auto license plates ever distributed to Hoosier motorists.
1910 tragedy in Mt. Vernon
At the Mt. Vernon Fairgrounds of August of 1910, stuntman Jack Cassell was ascending when at 900 feet the white spots on the balloon ripped open and he fell to his death at a great speed. The fairgrounds were located at the once Mt. Vernon airport east of town. Mr. Cassell was wearing a parachute but it was collapsed by the falling balloon before he reached the ground.
Chain Gang.....July 1910
Mart Barnett, our street commissioner was out with his chain-gang several days this week, sweeping and cleaning the streets. Each of the prisoners, three in number was dragging a heavy ball, which was fastened to the right leg. 'If this mode of punishment, to say nothing of the disgrace, is kept up, our county jail will be given a wide berth by the habitual offenders, who would rather lay in jail than go out into the harvest fields.'
Dickey's wild West and Indian Congress.....June 1910
This group of cowboys, cowgirls and a band of 25 full blooded Sioux Indians put on several shows in town that summer depicting realistic scenes of western life on the plains before the encroachment of civilizations' environment. It was preceded as they did then with a free street parade then out to the fair grounds. An altercation did occur though. One of the Indian chiefs, "accompanied by his squaw and boy, went into the drugstore of C. P. Weber and asked to see some rings on display in the showcase." Mr. Weber detected the woman hiding one of the rings in her hand and told her to put the ring back in the tray. The woman denied having the ring. Marshall Clements was outside and was called in and arrested the trio and marched them around to the jail where a thorough search was made, but the ring was not found. Several people in the store said they saw the woman take the ring and some said she swallowed it. Not enough evidence was gathered to prove the theft thus the culprits were turned loose.
Still Adding New Machinery.....June 1910
The strawboard factory has just added a 50 inch Seybold 20th century paper cutter to their plant, which is run by electricity, and they are now prepared to do work which they have heretofore not accepted. This is now one of the largest and most complete plants of the kind in this section of the country, and as they run day and night, gives employment to several hundred men constantly.
The factory had a network of switch tracks of the C&EI. railroad in order to facilitate the receiving of coal, straw, supplies and the shipping of their manufactured product. The plant maintained its own private fire department with hose reels stationed at various vantage points and three fire hydrants of the Mt. Vernon Water Works connected with city mains. The plant saw several destructive fires at which time huge stacks of baled straw were destroyed. In November of 1923 there was a fire that destroyed the rotary building. The entire plant was then equipped with a sprinkler system.
A team of horses belonging to Will Benner ran off the road with a load of hay. Mr. Benner had stopped at the saloon when an auto came up and frightened the horses. No damage was done only they jerked George Rienetz's mail box off the post.
Buster Brown and his Dog.....1910
In 1902 the comic strip Buster Brown made its first appearance. In 1910, Buster Brown and his pet pit bull Tigge was the main attraction in the show window of Stinson Bros. and spectators from morning to late at night looked at them sit in the window and wave to the crowds. Later Buster Brown became the emblem of Buster Brown shoes.
Fire Hot...Jack 'O Lantern Bad.....Halloween 1909
Aline Schneider, the nine year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Schneider, while returning to her home at 9 o'clock with her Jack O Lantern which is now a popular craze among the children of the city was painfully burnt about the left thigh and hips. Aline was passing the corner of Fifth and Walnut Streets, when one of the lights in the lantern went out, and in attempting to light the candle her clothing caught fire and had it not been for the prompt arrival of Walter Sarlls, who heard the screams and extinguished the fire by rolling her on his lawn, her entire clothing would have burnt off. Sarlls blistered his left hand saving the life of the little girl. Dr. Doerr attended to the injured child and she is expected to be okay.
Circus in Town....September 1909
Fitz-Hugh-Leonard Bros. was a local circus organized entirely of little boys and girls aged 7 to 10. They paraded the streets of town attracting more attention than would Barnum's Big Show. Nearly every Shetland pony in the town, about 25 in number, upon which a little boy or girl was seated attired in circus costumes, paint and tinsel. Each pony was led by a little boy in uniform. The parade was headed by two young tots, one playing a fife and the other beating a drum. In the middle was an imitation of a monkey riding a pony and in the rear was a goat drawing a wagon in which seated the clown. Cowboys, Indians and fair equestriennes were represented and 'without a doubt, one of the cutest and most amusing parades ever witnessed in this city.' Their first performance was given in Leonard's backyard with an admission of ten cents and all that attended were delighted by our young people.
Melton's Stable Burned....September 1909
The stable in the rear of Wm. L. Melton's saloon 714 West Second Street was entirely consumed by fire at 10:30 in the morning having gained such headway before being discovered that nothing but the horse, buggies and harness could be saved. Mr. Melton estimates his loss at about $350 with no insurance, his policy having expired but a few days previous. The fire is supposed to have been started by a couple of boys who were seen near the stable smoking cigarettes. A coach and baggage car standing near the fire on the track of the E.& T.H. had all the windows cracked on the east side and were so badly scorched before being removed that they will have to be sent to the shops for repairs.
Labor Day Observed.....1909
All places of business were closed during the afternoon and evening. A picnic was held at Black's Grove given by the various unions of the city and was well attended. Lloyd Dixon was the Master of Ceremonies and Mayor Page delivered the address of welcome. Revs. Ashbey and McFareland were the principal orators of the day, and a most pleasant day was spent doing various contests like barrel race, sack race, lean men's race, fat men's race, tug-o-war, and an archery contest.
Oxford Indians Play Mt. Vernon Nine....August 1909
The Oxford Indians crisscrossed the United States for almost twenty years barnstorming local baseball teams. The group that came to our city was composed of two white boys and ten real Indians selected from different tribes and reservations, such as the Sioux, Cherokee, Winnebago and Arapahos. Last season they played 119 of the best teams in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Kansas, South Dakota and Nebraska and defeated 98 of them. They wore Indian costumes, war paint and gave their signals with Indian signs. 'Watch for the Big Chief who plays centerfield.' The Indians defeated the Mt. Vernon 5-2. The score was 2-2 until the ninth inning, but an error opened up the game. Following the game Robinson of Mt. Vernon was signed by the team to pitch the following week vs Hazelton. In that game, it was found that he allowed just two hits striking out 11 as the Indians won 11-2. 'Ernie has the stuff in him to make an excellent pitcher and some day in the future will see him playing in the big league', the Western Star editor commented.
Who's Got The Right-A-Way?....1909
In August Louis Keck received his brand new 30 horsepower Cadillac touring car and immediately took the "prettiest" automobile in town for a ride to "test the wind." In the corner of Second and Mill he just narrowly missed tearing it all up when he swerved to miss Ike Rosenbaum who was also out joy riding his contraption. Mr. Keck turned into Tente's Wagon Yard who luckily had left the gate open to avoid Ike. Mr. Rosenbaum turned his car sharply to the right and struck a curb puncturing a tire and grounding him for a few hours.
Fined for Speeding.....July 1909
Alfred White and Lawrence Stead, the former in charge of Wm. Gonnerman's auto and the latter steering Dr. Hardwick's Buick , concluded to test the speed of their critters, and selected East Water street as their course. When brought before Squire Hutchinson later, the gentlemen were undecided at who had won the race, but rather than have a repetition of the same concluded to fine them $3 and costs making it about $15 each which they had to pay for their fun.
Ice Cream Festivals.....July 1909
Along with box socials these gatherings were used to raise funds for causes, churches, and social fellowship. An example would be like this one: Given at the Farmer's Chapel in Point Township, refreshments of all kinds were served. Children sat on hand cranked ice cream freezers and enjoyed sweet watermelon. Proceeds from the benefit went to the church along with money collected from the sale of quilts.
The German Lutheran Church in Marrs Township employed a man of fine appearance, 42 years old, a highly educated German and English speaker as their minister. He had hardly started taking charge of the church when he appeared in the pulpit under the influence of liquor and a few weeks later the keys of the church were taken from him. The next Sunday morning, Sheriff Grant and Chief Barton were called and arrested him for intoxication. The minister threatened to kill his wife and daughter and a suit for breach of peace was filed against him. His wealthy father still living in Germany came over to visit and seeing the life his son was leading, before returning home made a will leaving his son's interest in his estate to the wife and child. The wife left the area to live with her retired parents in Iowa and in the meantime apply for a divorce.
River Excursion on the G. K. Flesher.....1909
This was a steam wheel packet 135x27 foot that operated out of Evansville in those days as a passenger ship with a crew of ten. The local lodges like Posey Aerie of Eagles, the Elks and others would hire the ship to run excursions to Evansville or Cave-in-Rock Illinois and back. Two to five hundred people would take advantage of these trips. The Flesher later became a towboat with a port of New Orleans in the late teens and early twenties.
Former Resident Falls 110 feet to his Death in New York City.....1909
Clyde Young formerly of Mt. Vernon met death in New York while working as a painter on the new Pennsylvania depot. Born in Owensville he was 22 years old and worked in Mt. Vernon for six years as a blacksmith under George Lacey and as a cigar maker for Wm. Frier. He joined the General Baptist Church in 1904. He was secretary of the Painters Union of Evansville in 1908. The exact cause of the accident was unknown. Funeral services were in our city with interment in the Bellfontaine Cemetery. Funeral services were held at his sister's home at 119 Store Street.
Receipt from old MV Hotel.....1909
Located at 128 West Third street in late 1800's and early 1900's. Back then, horse carriages would pick up and deliver the guests to the riverboats and the railroad depots. The proprietor was Louis Brettner.Not so much...some missed their spittoons, bootblacks were gruff old nasty dirty men, hotel lobby was dingy with old dogs laying about, sidewalks had average ladies of the evening, organ grinder on the corner was interesting and the monkey ...was wild. The circus was in town though so the streets were filled with excitement. The guest room I had trouble getting the window open to get some fresh air and I had to keep walking around the pot belly stove near the wash basin. Did venture down to Heindrich's for a haircut, a shave and a bath. Gonna go see the bearded lady, the dog faced boy, the snake charmer and the wild man of Borneo. Then maybe have a pint or two and slip into the hoochie koochie show tent. Got some gold dust and a few silvers to play with.
"Keep" Mt. Vernon Beautiful.....August 1908
Large ten gallon garbage cans have been placed at convenient points along Main and Store streets to receive waste paper, etc., but, "it is doubtful they will ever be used."
Swell Time for a Barbeque.....1908
In August a barbeque and picnic was given by the members of the Poor Soul's Catholic Chapel in Point Township and hundreds from the city attended, spending what appears to have been a delightful day in the grove adjoining the Chapel. The outing was under the supervision of Father Luebberman of Mt. Vernon, a genial gentleman who made everyone feel at home. For dinner three barbequed hogs and at least that many sheep, hundreds of fried spring chickens and there was enough food to feed a small army. After dinner the Hon. Herdis Clements, then a candidate for Judge and later a judge for over a decade delivered an appropriate address. The balance of the afternoon was spent in socializing and athletic sports. Clements must have been quite an orator as I have found many examples of him speaking all through the tri-state, especially patriotic events during the First World War.
Dedication of the Soldier's and Sailor's Monument.....July 1908
On a Thursday morning, Mt. Vernon was alive with excitement...a booming cannon blasted the city air heralding a day of celebration. By mid-morning crowds filled the town square, buildings were decorated with bunting, our roads crowded with ...buggies and wagons and horse...ah well, moving on, a large magnificent parade headed by Grand Marshall, Captain Frank Greathouse marched down our streets. A large platform decorated smartly with flags and bunting was erected on the west side of the court house, just to the rear of the monument itself. Potted plants decorated the platform and the chairman, Captain John Corbin, of New Harmony, a former member of the 91st Indiana Infantry Regiment called the large assembly to order. Harrow Post, G.A.R. had charge of the dedicatory exercises. The principal speaker was James Watson from the Sixth Indiana district and a republican candidate for governor. The democrat candidate Thomas Marshall was unable to make the event due to another commitment. The idea for the monument goes to Christian Dannheiser, a native of Bavaria, Germany and a worker at the Keck_Gonnerman foundry. Four years prior he began talking about a project until the Grand Army Post took up the matter. Later, Major G.V. Menzies and Leroy Wade became interested and started a petition drive circulated throughout the county. Mr. Dannheiser, a civil war veteran was given the credit for his zealous efforts on behalf of the project. The monument cost in the neighborhood of $14,000, and its building made possible by a tax levy of six cents on each $100 worth of taxable property in the county. The monument is 55 feet high, base 8 feet square and 12 feet high, marble shaft is a solid piece of granite 24 feet in length, 3 feet in diameter, and weighs 25,500 pounds; the bronze statues representing the army and navy are 10 feet tall and weigh 1560 pounds each, the Goddess of Liberty being 13 feet high and weighs 2500 pounds. Resting on top of the base are four bronze statues representing a soldier, sailor, infantryman, and artilleryman, and on top of the shaft a bronze figure representing the Goddess of Liberty, holding in her hand an unfurled flag. These figures were designed by Mr. F.M. Young of Litchfield, Illinois and molded by Rudolph Schwartz, a noted sculptor of Indianapolis, who was present at the dedication. Two 8 inch bore cannon, 7 feet 10 inches in length, and weighing 9000 pounds each were donated to the Grand Army Post by Uncle Sam, which are no longer there.
Nickel Bags and Three Finger Lids.....1908
No, No, No....I'm talking about ginseng...you know...herbal medicine. Something you pick and put in a sack and ah well you know. Back in 1908 two local young men ripped off another man and headed to Henderson where they decided to split their stash and make some money and still have some for themselves. They approached an undercover man and tried to work out a deal for the precious herb. $125 dollars was asked for the sack; ( I guess they didn't have freezer bags) and then they were put "up against the wall" and "inspected, selected and arrested" and all kinds of not so groovy things they were doing to them there. They were returned to Mt. Vernon and "the man" put them behind bars.
"See ya later...".....1908
Robert Randolph, a fisherman while returning his lines discovered an alligator about 2 1/2 ft. in length sunning himself on a limb over- hanging the water just below the strawboard plant.
Woman Horse Whips Her Husband.....June 1907
Well the monotony on the corner of Second and Store Street didn't last too long...did it? Citizens along the thoroughfare were entertained by the novel sight of seeing a woman give her husband a sound thrashing, first starting with her fists and later resorting to a buggy whip. It appears that the husband without the knowledge or consent of his wife started out for a big drunk and meeting him before he got there was his wife who took him on like John L. Sullivan. "Judging from the way he yelled, he no doubt regretted the day he became the husband of such a woman."
Vaudeville at the Opera House.....January 1907
The Strollers, the one of the best vaudeville companies on the road played in Mt. Vernon after a one week stay at Evansville's Grand Opera House. Consisted of top vaudeville and comedy artists like: Miller, the Handcuff King, the mystery of two continents; The Great Beno, King of the Silver Thread; Lucille Byrne, the California Contralto; The Rosenbrooks, laugh producers; Louise Hess, in her Indian specialty; and Belleno, the Mystic Master and Mind of Magic.
Walking On Water.....January 1907
Professor Charles Oldrieve walked, believe it or not, 1513 miles from Cincinnati to New Orleans in 40 days on top of the river! The feat was to earn a wager of $5000. Thousands of people watched the riverfront that evening to watch him pass by. Nothing has ever been witnessed like this since the 1880's when Captain Paul Boyton attired in a rubber suit, inflated like a pneumatic tire floated down the Ohio River. Oldrieve is being followed by his wife who is a champion oarsman to help him in case he falls and needs to be rescued. His walking on the water is made possible by specially built wooden moccasins which are six inches wide by three and one half feet in length. Looking for conformation on this story, I found it in the New York Times that he arrived in New Orleans on February 10th.
According to a Jeffersonville Indiana newspaper he walks on water using a motion similar to that of persons skating on ice. At that city people lined both sides of the river shore and greeted him with whistles and yells. He does not travel at night and sleeps on a gasoline launch.
Interurban Underway.....June 1906
The substation of the Evansville to Mt. Vernon traction line was started for the first time.
Leading up to this in 1905, Mulberry Street was asphalted and in November of that year the rails for the line were delivered and distributed along East Fourth Street for eventual laying the track. One week prior to opening the last fastening to the trolley lines were made. Hundreds of citizens gathered along the street to watch the first test cars run along the line. These electric cars had a hub in Evansville as they ran to places like Princeton, Newburgh, Patoka and Washington, Indiana. Plans had been made to make more of them like from Mt. Vernon to Poseyville, New Harmony, etc, but they never materialized. This was great transportation when automobiles were just making their appearances on our very bad roads. In the summer months it was very enjoyable I would imagine to ride the rails with the sides off the summer cars to enjoy the cooling breezes of the countryside. When the new Soldiers and Sailors Monument went up in front of the court house, many people rode the interurban to join in the festivities. The ticket office I believe was at the old People's Bank building at the intersection of Fourth and Main where the tracks ended.
In New Harmony the "snag boat" pulled up a large hollow log in which inside was a 65 pound catfish. Also in the log were 5 gallons of fish eggs.
Old Soldier, Local Politician Run Down by Team of Horses.....1905
Captain Thomas Stevens a veteran of the Mexican and Civil Wars was run down in the street and killed by a team of horses belonging to the Hempfling Meat Market. The old vet who lost his left arm in the Battle for Atlanta had his funeral one week later at the Court House. His son came up from Mississippi for the burial. Stevens served in the previous court house as the county treasurer and several terms as justice of the peace.
Riding the River.....January 1903
The towboat, Exporter, bound for Louisville, stopped at our wharf and being short of laborers, ten or twelve of our young men were employed. They will go to Louisville and make the round trip from there to New Orleans.
You Can Take it With You....1903
South Jenkins died at the age of eighty, coming to Mt. Vernon from Virginia when our city was just a wilderness. His dying request was that his trusty old muzzle-loading shot gun along with his old powder flash be placed in his coffin with him. His request was honored. Happy Hunting.
George Carr Killed At The Home Milling Co.....1903
George Carr employed by the mill as a night watchman, met with a horrible death when he went to the ground floor of the elevator to adjust a conveyor which carries corn from one bin to another in the mill. Shortly after he left for the elevator, the head miller noticed there was no corn coming through and asked James Patmore an employee to investigate. Upon entering the room he found the remains of the unfortunate man scattered all over the floor. His clothing while changing the shift were caught in the sprocket-chain which made a revolution of 140 per minute and he was carried around the same until the chain broke dropping what was left of his body to the floor. Carr was about 50 years of age and leaves a wife and two children. Coroner Weissinger returned a verdict that the death was accidental.
Courthouse Fence Removed.....1903
Mr. Calvert, the superintendent of the Poor Infirmary as been instructed by the county commissioners to remove the old iron fence around the court square, and place it on the south side of the Infirmary extending east towards the E.& T.H. Railroad track. This is a move in the right direction, and the first step towards converting this beautiful site into a park.
Get On With It.....August 1902
The weeds along the sidewalks on the west side of Mulberry between Second and Third, and on the north side of Second Street fill should be cut at once. They are over six feet high, and spread out over the walk, that it is impossible for two ladies to walk abreast. Cut 'em.
Overcome By Dynamite Gas.....August 1901
Clint Watkins, an industrious young tenant on the farm of John Phillips five miles northeast of Mt. Vernon, commenced cleaning out and old well on his farm and doing so used a considerable quantity of dynamite. The next morning he started down into the well and after filling one bucket, when the second was lowered, and waiting several minutes for the word "hoist", those above became uneasy, and an employee on the farm was placed in the bucket, but before going down twenty feet gave the signal to be drawn out. Johnny Breeze, a neighbor, volunteered to go down, and succeeded in placing a rope around the body of Watkins, whom he found lying in the bottom of the well, face downward, and when both were drawn to the surface the former almost overcome, and the later was scarcely breathing. Dr. Peckinpaugh was summoned, but says there is little hopes for Clint's recovery, as it was two hours before he was taken from the well. He was highly respected, and has a wife and seven children. In assisting to bring her husband out of the well, Mrs. Watkins had her left hand caught in the pulley cutting off part of the second, and tearing off the nail of the third finger of the same. This is the same well in which a man, now an inmate of the Poor Infirmary, came near losing his life four years ago, and who has since been a county charge. He placed dynamite in the bottom and when nearing the top the rope broke letting him and the bucket drop, the fall causing a concussion. The bucket was gathered up in fragments, and the old man picked up unconscious, and upon examination it was found that both arms and legs were broken, but was otherwise uninjured. He is one of Supt. Millett's best inmates and cheerfully does what little work he is able to do.
Nice touch....April 1901
Charles Schutz one of the leading harness makers in town received from Ohio a life sized wooden horse which he will place in front of his business.
Measles report.....March 1901
In March of 1901 there were 187 measles reported to Dr. Doerr in Mt. Vernon, the city health officer.
My little runaway.....Jan 1900
A team of horses belonging to a young farmer became frightened at the corner of Main and Third Street. The started down Third and ran as far as Jarodzkis Poultry House where they tore down all the awning poles, broke one of the window glasses and tore up Max's Express Wagon. The horses were scratched up, but not seriously hurt.
Small Pox in Mt. Vernon.....January 1900
The Western Star newspaper's editor, Mr. Leffel grew tired of sitting quiet in his columns saying nothing contrary about efforts in town to fight small pox. Finally, he broke and said, "We supposed that the physicians with the help of the Board of Health would see to it that this disease would be stamped out and not allowed to spread to other parts of the county, but that doesn't seem to be the case." The Mt. Vernon Daily Democrat mentioned a man named Krapp who had been working at the electric light company, was ill all day and attempted to reach his home at Martin's Station. When he reached Poseyville it was discovered that he had small pox. People there became excited, and chased him out of town. He walked to his home, as the railroad would not let him board their train. New Harmony Register reporter joined in and said, "This only shows how loose and lax the proper authorities in Mt. Vernon are. This man is down at his home with a very radical case of small pox, and he is exposing a great many people in the neighborhood to taking it. We believe the health officer and attending physician, at Mt. Vernon could be prosecuted for not doing their duty." Again the Daily Democrat reported, "Small pox is raging throughout the county. The disease is of a violent nature." New Harmony Register then said, "Who is responsible for the condition of the plague, no one but the officials of Mt. Vernon. It is time that we who hold our homes sacred and life dear, should, at once see that every effort is put forth to stamp out the disease in our capital city. Let the County Commissioners get after the guilty parties. The north end has had enough of this, and if nothing else will do, order Mt. Vernon quarantined....at once!"
Medal of Honor Winner Speaks in Mt. Vernon.....1900
Real Admiral Richard Pearson Hobson a Medal of Honor winner during the Spanish American War appeared in Mt. Vernon on a lecture course and was entertained at the home of G.V. Menzies where an elaborate reception was held and patriotic notables in attendance. Hobson sank his ship the Merrimac in the harbor of Santiago de Cuba under the guns of the Spanish shore batteries in a partially successful effort to "bottle up" the Spanish fleet. He became a prisoner of war and released in 1898 in a prisoner exchange. A Navy destroyer was named after him. He became the Democratic U.S. Representative from Alabama. Later he was a writer and lecturer for prohibition of alcohol and drugs. He died in 1937 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Industrial Brick Company.....early 1900's
This was located in the area of the Mt. Vernon Refinery at the turn of the twentieth century, organized in 1903. One of the last officers of the plant was the influential town businessmen of William Gonnerman and Louis Keck. It is said that over three million bricks were manufactured there each year for local, southern Indiana and Illinois buildings. I found one article in 1909 where 70,000 bricks were sold to Mt. Vernon, Illinois to be used in the construction of the L&N Depot there. The plant was on 21 acres of ground and most of it clay that they used in huge kilns. The plant existed for about a quarter of a century. The bricks were taken out of the kilns and placed on large racks for cooling and then loaded on horse drawn wagons usually for delivery, but some may have been delivered by rail, I figure.
28 barbers, 2 banks, 4 pool halls, 3 drug stores, 2 funeral directors, 3 furniture stores, 20 groceries, 5 hotels, 5 newspapers, 14 doctors, 6 restaurants, and 17 saloons.
Local 19th Century Composer....
We once had a ragtime composer....Arthur E. Henrich born in 1878. Art published his own compositions in Mt. Vernon around 1900 and they were picked up nationally by the firms of H.A. French and Frank Fite of Nashville. Three surviving compositions have been found, Just Laughin, Dixie Flyer, and Queen Raglan.
Time to Butcher.....December 1897
Andy Stallman, a local blacksmith had made quite a reputation within our community for being an expert in making sausage. He made his annual visit to a farmer friend, east of Mt. Vernon where he assisted him in killing 25 head of hogs, and made "sassages" at least five miles in length, after the kinks were taken out.
A Just Punishment.....December 1897
Geo. Hempfling and Wm. Leadley, two young farmers living near West Franklin, sixteen miles southeast of Mt. Vernon, while on their return home drunk, assaulted Geo. Kueber, an old farmer, whom they had overtaken on the road. They were taken before Judge Welborn, who upon hearing the evidence sent them to prison for four years. After the sentence, there was hardly a dry eye in the room. The wife and children of both prisoners were present, and clinging to the necks and arms of their husband and father, they plead for mercy, but the words of the judge had spoken, and the prisoners placed in charge of the sheriff, who will take them to the penitentiary. Outside in the wagon yard while both ladies were trying to put the harness upon their mules and hitch them to the wagons, sympathetic friends came to their relief and assisted the unfortunates into the wagon. They started their ride back home aware of the fact that for four long years they would be deprived of a husband and father.
Paraphernalia for a Dirty Weed.....November 1897
Thomas Peckinpaugh and Wallace Bishop in Mt. Vernon have received machinery for the manufacture of corn cob pipes and their large warehouse is on Third Street between Store and Mill. The cobs at first will come from Missouri until local farmers can supply the right type of cob. They expect to hire between twenty to thirty people.
Sad Death of Little Ralphie.....November 1897
Ralphie Smith, 3 year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Smith lost his life by falling into the Forthoffer's cistern. The body was discovered by his mother an hour later. Mrs. Smith, who is suffering with a breast disease, decided to take a nap and the little boy asked his mother if he could go see the children of the neighbors who lived near. One hour later, Mrs. Smith went in search for the boy, and learned that he had not been seen at the Forthoffer residence and then a search of the neighborhood began. Discovering that the barrel used at the top of the cistern had disappeared, and peering down into cistern discovered the body of her babe floating in the water, with his head resting on the barrel staves that went down into the cistern with him. Only about two feet of water was in the cistern and it was determined that the boy died from the fall. The accident cast a gloom over the entire community. His remains were interred in the Bellfontaine cemetery.
Commissioner's Meeting.....August 1897
It was reported that certain street lights were out a total of 143 hours during the past two weeks of night time. Mr. Lamb asked that posts be placed at the wharf near the boat for tie ups. Referred to committee on streets. The city attorney Kahn was instructed to draw up an ordinance fixing the license for the sale of cigarettes and cigarette paper (zig zags, Big Top, Double Wide Roaches ? LOL). Street commissioner instructed to do work repairing 9th Street, between Canal and Locust; build 5 foot brick walk over 5th Street, on the east side of Walnut and grade Mulberry Street. The marshal was instructed to notify Frank Stackler to build a five foot brick walk in front of his property on James Street.
Child Falls From a Second Story Window.....1897
In August, the two year old son of Mr. and Mrs. L. H. Jameson, the barber on Main street, between First and Second, while playing near the window in the second story of the building at 8:30 AM, knocked down the screen, and fell to the pavement below, a distance of eighteen feet landing on his head. The child was picked up apparently dead, carried into the house, and medical help summoned. No broken bones and no internal injuries! Slowly the child made a complete recovery.
A Big Fish......July 1897
The largest fish of the season was caught in the Ohio River, just a short distance above town by two local fishermen, Gongengiser and Davis. After much labor the fish was landed and measured 7 feet 2 inches in length and weighed 130 pounds. The local boys who nightly bathe in the river at the wharf, will not rejoice as they have been frightened often during the past two weeks by a tremendous fish that had frequented their quarters.
'Who wants to buy this'.....1897
Frank Normandin, of Evansville, who was employed by Carl Victor as an oyster solicitor, came to Mt. Vernon and pawned his employer's watch. Victor was the proprietor of an oyster depot on the corner of Eighth and Locust Streets in Evansville. He gave Normandin his gold watch with instructions to have it repaired at one of the local jewelry stores, but instead boarded a train of Mt. Vernon, pawned the watch for $1.25 with one of our saloon keepers and proceeded to get drunk. Later, he was sent to jail for drunkenness and for theft.
Swindled Out of 19 Cents.....1897
A young man named Hughes, claiming to be from Princeton, Indiana, was brought before Mayor Larkin charged with swindling a farmer out of 19 cents. The farmer came into the city on a load of corn and stopped at the L&N depot. He requested Hughes to hold his team a few minutes, which Hughes complied with. After his return the farmer offered Hughes ten cents for his trouble, which was accepted. After leaving the wagon Hughes shortly returned and produced a highly polished copper which resembled a ten cent piece, saying to the farmer that he did not want the copper; that he wanted pay for his work. The farmer took the polished copper and gave Hughes the second ten cent piece in return, thus being defrauded of 9 cents. Hughes was arrested and placed in jail to await investigation.
Complaints on our Opera House.....1897
The Daily News said: 'One good thing about our hall; we have splendid raised seats--in the gallery! But, the opera chairs in the parquet are somewhat out of date and uncomfortable, and the benches in the family circle, under the gallery might be improved upon. Editor Myer went on to add that 'the barn is where the stormers congregate.' The Princeton Clarion commented, that if he wants to see a barn they should see Princeton's!
The Masonic Lodge/ Opera House/ Alles Furniture Store has been a lot of things. Our first high school basketball floor, diplomas were given out here, the lower floor was the home of different businesses among them being Myer Rosenbaum, clothier; Frank Smith, grocer; Pfeffer & Dieterlie and John Schneider, saloon; and also the post office was here for a time. The was once a stage on the second floor that was torn out. The third floor was used for unpacking and the storing of smaller pieces of furniture. The second and third floors are serviced by a electric elevator.
Wavy Shady Grady Apprehended.....1897
Officer Quick arrested a man claiming to be from Tennessee, who was found walking up and down our streets, acting in a queer weird manner, with a large revolver in his hip pocket. He was walking around minus his shoes, and said several townsmen were after him and intended to kill him. He was either drunk or crazy, so our constable took him into jail to find out which and for the safe keeping of himself and our community.
The Oochie-Coochie Dancers Get Canned.....1897
Marshall Holloman and Deputy Quick made a raid on the risque dancers who gave two performances on a boat, anchored out in the Ohio River at the foot of Main Street. They were brought before Mayor Larkin, charged with public indecency, and sent to jail. The Negro, who represented himself as a Turk, and who was the "manager" of the show, was turned over to Sheriff Maier with a charge of pimping. "Our officers did the right thing in raiding the show, but should have done it during the first show."
Drinking and a Cussing.....1897
Alex Lucas was before Mayor Larkin, charged with intoxication and profane language. He was assessed $1 in each instance, totaling $24. He put his hand over his mouth as he paid the fine.
Hon G.V Menzies Death...December 1896
G.V Menzies was born in Boone County Kentucky. He was educated in the schools of Covington, KY and Cincinnati, Ohio and in 1861 enlisted in the 1st Kentucky regiment, Union service. He served until September of 1861 when he was appointed to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. In 1864 his class graduated and he was assigned to the Gunboat "Marblehead." He did duty for awhile at the Brooklyn navy yard and afterward assigned to the flagship, "Colorado." This was the first man-of- war to go to European waters after Lee's surrender. In 1865 he was made Ensign, and up through the grades, master, lieutenant and lieutenant commander, which commission he held until he resigned in 1871 and came to Mt. Vernon. He was married in 1869 to Miss Ester Hovey, daughter of ex-Governor Alvin P. Hovey, whom he met in South America while her father was Envoy Extraordinary and Minister to Peru. He practiced law here and was a member of the State Senate for four years and was an elector on the Democratic ticket in 1876 and delegate to the Democratic National convention in Chicago in 1896.
Decoration Day.....May 1896
Before it was called Memorial Day it was Decoration Day. I remember as a child we would all go and decorate the graves of family members in Indiana and Illinois. We would do it for all our relatives not just the fallen servicemen. My mother came from a large family in a small rural Illinois hamlet. They had this huge hill the cemetery was on and when we would go up there, we would always meet mom's old neighbors, friends, and family doing the same. Sometimes we would clean a tombstone or two with a wire brush and vinegar. Years ago there were parades on Decoration Day in Mt. Vernon. In 1896, I ran across one that met on the corner of Main and Second streets to form. It had a firing squad platoon escorting eight guns, the speakers of the day riding in horse carriages and ex-soldiers and sailors marching under colors. Then the military posts would follow like the Harrow Post and the Sons of Veterans. Next would be the lodges, fire department, and civic organizations like the K of P, Knights of St. John, Elks, German Aid, Modern Woodman, Knights of Honor, Home Forum and the Women's Relief Corps. Buggies, wagons, carriages and persons mounted would fill out the parade with city officers and the mayor Their were special singers with an organ accompaniment, an address by Gen. C.W. Pavey of Mt. Vernon, Illinois and then the floral committee would decorate the graves of the veterans in the local cemeteries.
Mrs. Matilda Alexander.....May 1896
The first library in our town came about directly of the efforts of Mrs. Matilda Greathouse Alexander. In the fall of 1892 she had formed the Alexandrian Literary Society which met in her home. A need for a library was evident and she took the leadership to secure one. On September 28, 1895 the first real library was located on the second floor, in the rear room of the city hall building on Main Street. It was right above the fire department and when the alarm sounded, children rushed to the windows to watch the horse drawn fire carriages race to the fire. The library was a success, but too small and they needed a place of their own. A committee was formed to solicit Andrew Carnegie for funds for a library building. He had been erecting them all across the country. After several efforts, Mr. Carnegie decided to donate $12,500 for the building and an additional $1400 for equipment. In the mean time, Mrs. Alexander transferred her handsome two story brick residence on Main Street and a 40 acre farm near Farmersville to the construction of a library to take effect after her death. A site just south of the city building was selected for construction and it was completed in the summer of 1905 and in October of that year was dedicated. Mrs. Alexander died before it became a reality I believe, but she donated 1200 volumes of books to the new place of learning. From then on it was called, The Alexandrian Free Public Library.
Pioneer Settler Dies.....June 1894
Billy Hendricks, known as "Uncle Billy', died at his residence on Mill Street between Fifth and Sixth at age 84. Mr. Hendricks was born in this city in 1810 when it was known as McFadden's Bluff. A that time it contained only three log cabins and the cabin occupied by his father was situated on the site now owned by the Water Works Company. When Billy became old enough to fire a gun he killed many a deer and even bears within less than a half mile of our courthouse. In his youth it was said he never missed a dance, but he seldom wore shoes and the ladies seldom gave him an invitation. He was not shy however and "woe to the girl who refused to dance with him." He made numerous trips to New Orleans on flat boats before the 1850's and every morning, health permitting he could be found viewing the river. He was coroner of Posey County for twelve years and leaves an aged wife and one son. His remains were interred in the Bellefontaine cemetery by the organization he was a member of the Odd Fellows.
LaPearl's Big 10 and 20 Cent Show.....May 1894
All right more entertainment hits Mt. Vernon. We don't get these anymore. A vast assemblage of 25 distinguished performers and many animals. They had a troupe of performing goats and monkeys, riding dogs, riding goats, riding monkeys and performing ponies, educated dogs and six funny clowns. There were performers on the triple horizontal bars, trapeze artists, six beautiful lady gymnasts and even a contortionist. These shows really were big back in the day. I would have been there!
Hundreds of our citizens went over to the wreck of the steamer, Eugene on a Sunday in May to see the diver at work as he descended upon the wreck sunk at a depth of twenty four feet. The longest he remained under water was thirty-seven minutes, but could have remained under for hours if necessary, it was reported.
Steamer Crew Find Body.....April 1894
The crew of the steamer "Racket", a small steamboat on the Wabash River, unearthed a sack which was sewed up and filled up with rocks. When opened they found the remains of a little girl.
Rosenbaum Brothers Store.....1894
This old building virtually on its last legs across the street from the court house was constructed in 1894 by Moses and Daniel Rosenbaum. Earlier in 1854, the establishment was formed in a building of 450 square foot of space. The present structure was constructed with 24,000 square feet of show cases. The furniture was natural oak and highly polished. The building was originally heated by steam and lighted by ten arc and ten incandescent electric lights. Earlier in 1881, the boys, on the same location, built a large store with an annex to the south side in 1888. The entire structure was destroyed by fire at a loss of $100,000 on August 26, 1893. The Rosenbaum Store was known regionally for high quality goods, many personally selected by the Rosenbaums on their frequent trips to New York City. Much of the merchandise arrived by steamship on the Ohio River. Some of the goods sold were clothing, furnishings goods, hats and caps, boots, shoes, dry goods, millinery, carpets, curtains, and housekeeping needs. Their earlier building had the first large picture window in town and it didn't take long before someone couldn't stand it any longer and broke it with a rock.
It was such a beautiful building in its day. I hope that some of the stone work will be saved and used for something, like at the new riverfront. Parts of the stonework of old People's Bank was used for their sign out front which is a nice touch.
Court house becomes school house.....August 1893
On August 18, 1893 the old court house at Springfield, was torn down and the material used for a school house.
Child Evangelist Packs Them In.....June 1893
Miss Fannie Edwards, the wonderful child evangelist, all of fourteen years age conducted services for a week at the M. E. Church attracting large crowds. Her thorough knowledge of the Bible and her unusual ability to propound the Gospel has people flocking to her services. She has already been guest speaking for several years.
Need A Ride to the Circus?.....June 1893
A passenger coach was attached to the L&N east bound freight train, leaving for Evansville for those wishing to see the PT Barnum's Circus, $1.30 for the round trip including a ticket to the show with return trip that evening.
Monument Bogs Down.....June 1893
The monument that was eventually erected over the grave of our late Governor, Alvin Hovey, was being transferred from the L&N depot to the Bellefontaine cemetery. One of the pieces weighing 17 tons, loaded on an especially designed wagon imported for this purpose and pulled by two traction engines, mired on Main Street after being unloaded from the railroad. It only made it about a block as the wagon went down to the hubs and took several days to extricate it.
Roll Out Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer.....June 29, 1893
Around July 5th and until the first of September the merchants and milliners of our city closed their doors at 6 P.M. in order to give their employees a rest. "Now if the saloons would do the same, most everyone would be happy."
Lost and Found.....May 1893
Right after dusk, Mary Stacker, aged 12 and her companion Anna Neuman were playing "hide and seek" near the marble yard on the corner of Fourth and Store Streets, the former suddenly disappeared and upon a search being made, Anna discovered... her playmate had fallen into a well. She gave the alarm and Manor Weisinger, who was nearby rescued the girl barely alive. The well was 20 feet deep and was nearly full of water and it was a miracle she had not drowned. Anna, who made the discovery came near walking into the well also, and had she done so heir parents would not have known their whereabouts. It would have been another case similar to that of George Neuman who fell into a cistern in the rear of Presbyterian Church several years prior and whose body was not found for four months.
I walked around the Presbyterian Church yesterday, looking around for where a cistern may have been. Don't think I would know one if I saw one, but probably if I fell in one! LOL. That church was constructed in 1872.
Steamboat Race Goes By Mt. Vernon.....May 1893
A new record was set by the steamer Dick Fowler who arrived in Evansville, Indiana from Cairo, Illinois in a time of 14 hours and 47 minutes. Built in Evansville by the veteran boat builder, Captain Reager they now enjoy the distinction of having built one of the fastest boats ever run on these waters. She left port at a high pace and after just two hours out she was already breaking existing records. Not a stop was made as she passed Mt. Vernon at 1:35 PM away ahead of the famous Idlewild steamer who held the previous record. Amid the cheers of thousands on the boats and on the shore she came rapidly forward. At Division Street the time stopped and the Dick Fowler sounded a long salute.
The record was lowered by 42 minutes.
"Ride Ride Ride; Gonna Let. 'em Ride".....1893
Guy Spencer and Ira Nye rode to New Harmony on their bicycles, traveling the fifteen mile distance in one hour and forty five minutes and considering what the roads would have been like then that's excellent time.
On June 12th, Mt. Vernon High School then on North Main Street started a summer session for those wanting to improve themselves. The term was six weeks and classes consisted of Algebra, Latin, book-keeping, penmanship, commercial arithmetic, and German.
Burris' Having a Rough Day.....1893
First there was a cutting and shooting affair at the Burris Saloon on Main street between a father and son and Tom Campbell the bar keeper. Neither party was injured although it did cause a commotion. The difficulty arose over the price of soup and attempting to throw the young man out, the father pulled a razor and cut Campbell's pants, barely missing his stomach. Tom pulled a revolver and fired, but the ball went wide of its mark. The men escaped back to Kentucky. The second incident was an exciting foot race between Mrs. Burris who owns a boarding house on Main Street and one of her former boarders. The latter pawned his rifle for board and according to Mrs. Burris' statement, entered the rear part of the residence and took back his gun. The loss was discovered and the landlady, who weighs about 250 pounds, gave chase up the alley, but she soon gave up the chase.
Sightseeing from Nashville.....1893
The steamer John K. Phillips landed at our wharf on a Saturday morning and the excursion party from Nashville unloaded 93 passengers, mostly women as they took in the sights of our town for over an hour. Wonder how that went?
Thomas James the acting coroner of Posey County determined after examinations that Rebecca Jackson and W. Jackson died by drowning by the capsizing of a boat in a gravel pit near the Wabash River owned by the L&N Railroad. Rebecca was found floating in a blue calico dress with lace apron, dongola shoes and black cotton hose. She had no valuables on her person, was 5 foot 7 inches high, of dark complexion, 28 years of age and weighed about 140 pounds. Her daughter was about 5 years of age, three feet high and weighed about 40 pounds. She was also of dark complexion and black eyes. She was dressed in a cashmere coat, spring heel shoes, and dark cotton hose.
The Mansion House.....1830's-1893
A large three story hotel on the SE corner of Main and Water Streets. The builders were Richard Lowery and Enoch James. When constructed it was called the finest hotel on the river between Cincinnati and Cairo, Illinois. As it changed hands it was known by other names like the Flower House, the Carter House, the Stewart House, the Mt. Vernon Hotel and the Duckworth House. Finally it was purchased by Theodore Hudnut who converted the building into a hominy mill and used it until 1893 when it was destroyed by fire. The site later became the J. R. Short Hominy Mill.
The printers of the Mt. Vernon Sun newspaper which numbers two went on strike because of a puny salary. One was devoting his time to breaking a span of billy goats and the other is digging worms for early spring fishing. Such is the life of the newspaper man.
"Don't Do Me Like That".....1893
Another Saturday night fight, this one between Jas. Jennifer, in the employ of R.M. Spencer, and Willy Will, an ex-convict, employed at Burris' Saloon on Main Street. Jennifer shot Will firing four times, but only one "took effect." The ball struck the seventh rib and ranging upwards, doing little or no damage. Dr. Geo. Spencer extracted the ball, and says the shot would have proven fatal had the cartridge been properly filled with powder. Both men were arrested.
An 1893 Baseball Game....
Sunday the West Ends and the E.B. Schenks squared bats at the commons the game was called at 7 PM before the close of the ninth inning as the West Ends winning 99 to 56! "When it comes to cock fighting or playing ball the West Ends are hard to beat,"
The Poseyville News reported Thomas Fletchall, on the tenth of August threshed his wheat and built a straw stack near the barn. He had a fine line of hogs running in the lot in which the stack was put up, and in it was a very fine sow. The next morning after threshing he missed her, and a search of the neighborhood failed to locate her. This week while near the straw stack he heard the grunt of a hog under the straw and securing a fork removed the straw and to his astonishment discovered his long lost hog. It is supposed she crawled into the stack, which settled down and cut off her escape. She had remained in this stack for seventy-two days without food or water and during the dry and heated weather. She was found to be still rather fleshy but very weak, and would not take any food and little milk and as a result of her long fast is being watched with much interest.
Needs a Clothing Allowance......July 1892
Frank Beverly was arrested for stealing a pair of pants from a man named Burrows. The case against him was strong, but the prosecuting witness would not prosecute him feeling sorry for him. Beverly was thus released and given hours to leave town.
Body Found Eighteen Months Later...May 1892
On a January 22nd night of 1891, resident John Kisner mysteriously disappeared. The family did everything within their power to learn of his whereabouts to no avail until mid May when the body was found by John Held in the Ohio River. It was lodged in the willows, about two miles down river. The body was identified by the clothing as that of Mr. Kisner, but the body was in such a state of decomposition that he was immediately taken to Bellfontaine cemetery and interred. The last time he had been seen alive was when he left the Frielinghausen saloon on Main Street on a Friday night. In company with several friends he spent the evening playing cards and near nine in the evening his partner in the game reprimanded him for making a misplay. This enraged the old gentleman and walking up to the counter, paid his bill, lit his pipe and left the saloon. This was the last he was seen.
Noted Speaker, Historian, and future Senator speaks at Bellefontaine....1892
On Decoration Day of May of 1892, two thousand people participated in honoring local war dead. Under the auspices of Harrow Post G.A.R., the booming of a cannon to start the day s parade procession formed on Second Street that moved slowly ...through Main and out to the cemetery some two miles from town. The parade consisted of the Grand Marshall and assistants, the Mechanic's Band, Harrow Post G.A.R., visiting comrades, orator of the day and escort, Mayor and city officials, I.C.C. Combination, decorated wagons with flower girls, Mt. Vernon Fire Department, King David Post G.A.R., Decorated wagons of the K.D. Post, Relief Corps of the K.D. Post and other carriages, buggies, wagons and horseback riders. Hundreds of people, on foot, horseback and in carriages were already at the Silent City of the Dead, inspecting the grounds and decorating the graves. The chaplain made a few remarks as did the commander, followed by a song from a choir. Major Menzies then introduced Hon. A.J. Beveridge who delivered "the most eloquent Decoration Day oration ever listened to in Mt. Vernon." He recounted the victories and the defeats, the trials and the hardships of the Great War. He eulogized the late Governor Hovey, the "hero of Champion Hill." Albert Beveridge (1862-1927) who gave the speech was an American historian and a United States Senator from Indiana. Known as a compelling orator he was known as an imperialist supporting territorial expansions and increasing the powers of the federal government. He supported the annexation of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War. He practiced law in Indianapolis before starting his political career. In 1899 he was elected to the U.S. Senate as a Republican serving two terms until 1911 when he was defeated. He gave the keynote speech at the Progressive Convention in 1912 that nominated Theodore Roosevelt for President. He later wrote history volumes. The book, "The Life of John Marshall" won him a Pulitzer Prize. It contained 4 volumes. He also did a two volume book, a biography of Abraham Lincoln.
Southern Indiana Gas and Electric.....1892
An engine and boiler for Ford & McGregor's new electric light plant is now being placed in position by Keck-Gonnerman Company. It is 270 horsepower made in Hamilton, Ohio, the fly wheel weighing 16,000 pounds. Okay this article was from May 1892 and looking at Pop's book, "The Old Timer" I find that this was the city's first light plant located on College ( then Store Street) between First and Second Streets. Papers show a ordinance was granted to William Gonnerman to erect electric poles and wires for lighting in July 1899. This plant would be located where Southern Indiana Gas and Electric is today.
Judge John Pitcher Passes.....1892
98 years old!! He was a small boy when George Washington died, and was 21 years old when Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated at the battle of Waterloo. He saw the sun rise and fall on every administration of the country from Washington forward. In his prime he was an intellectual giant and although he was somewhat deaf, he was mentally sound to the end of his long and eventful career. Even in his last days he could remember principal events occurring at his initiation as a Mason and he used anecdotes about many men of long ago. He always kept informed on the current events of the day and was one of the best read men in Indiana. He was an eloquent jurist, and one of the most powerful advocates that ever addressed a jury. As Judge of the Common Pleas Court, he transacted business with promptness and strict impartiality. He was a true friend of the widows and orphans, protecting with zealous zealous care their estates. He died at his family residence on the corner of Store and Fifth Streets. He was a native of Watertown, Conn. where he was born on August 22, 1794. At the age of 17 he began studying law, and was admitted to the bar in 1815. A year later he went west, making nearly the entire journey on foot, and located at St. Louis Mo. He came to Indiana in 1820, practicing in many counties. He came to Posey County in 1835, where he practiced for forty years. He was a Democrat, but previous to the war of the rebellion he was a Whig. In 1832 he was chosen to represent Spencer and Perry counties in the State Legislature and was for many years Judge for Gibson, Vanderburgh, and Posey, and Warrick counties. He was the oldest Mason in the United States if not the world. He was initiated in Federal Lodge No. 17, Watertown, Conn on July 3, 1816. He became a part of the Mt. Vernon Masonry in 1832 when the lodge met in the cupola of the old court house. I have heard stories how he loaned law books to Abraham Lincoln and went to his inauguration.
Carl Sandberg, in his book, "Abraham Lincoln- The Prairie Years" says that Abe walked twenty miles from Pidgeon Creek to Rockport, Indiana to borrow a book from Pitcher. Pitcher's son Thomas became a General and helped defend Harper's Ferry in the Virginia campaign. He was wounded at the battle of Cedar Mountain and became Superintendent of the Military Academy at West Point. He was a school mate there of U.S. Grant.
Republican Governor Delivers Sermon at Christian Church in Mt. Vernon.....1892
Ira Chase, who became Indian's governor after the death of favorite son, Alvin Hovey gave his hell and brimstone speech locally Sunday evening. He is the only state governor in the nation that has the distinction of being an ordained minister. Chase was a civil war veteran and was criticized for his temperance stand, his anti-labor views and opposing work reform laws. When he ran for a full term in 1892 he was defeated. He served as Lt. Governor of Indiana and Governor from 1891-1893.
Sounds a little too much like Governor Walker of Wisconsin to me!
Former Resident Deplores Leonard Cemetery Condition.....1892
At the same time, grand festivities were being held at Bellefontaine Cemetery a former resident criticized the upkeep of another one. He wrote of visiting his former town and enjoying the hospitality and friendship of his former neighbors. He tried to be tactful and not to bring up any umbrage or ill will towards him for his remarks; yet he felt a need to speak out. He said he was delighted to see the city so beautiful and residences so orderly and kept up. But after leaving the Central school yard and visiting the cemetery he felt "almost paralyzed with astonishment and sorrow." He said the departed had been shamelessly neglected. Tombstones were scattered all about, some broken into many parts, half covered with dirt and vines. Some had sunk and disappeared all together. He asked if this was the proper way for an enlightened and wealthy community to treat their departed relatives and friends. "If so then a heathen or savage possesses more of the correct virtues than we do." He asked for wealthy citizens to pitch in to show that Posey Countians are more than just half civilized, to make it a magnificent park, a "fit city for the dead, a place of beauty, instead of an eyesore." He asked the city to renovate the Leonard and Templeton graveyards. The letter was signed by George Posey Barter. In recent years the damage was even worse. Thanks to the Posey County Historical Society for salvaging the stones they could and resetting some, fencing them in and making markers. Many of our pioneer families are buried there.one great among them Judge John Pitcher.
Rosamond Peckinpaugh 1864-1892
A poster in New York City read: " Missing since April 22, 1892, 3 PM' Mrs. Rosamond L. Peckinpaugh, 28 years of age, 5'4" high, rather slight figure, long slender hands, tapering fingers, light complexion, ash blonde hair, grayish brown eyes, round face, left ear projecting slightly outward, small scar in the middle of forehead, large scar in center of abdomen covered with strips of adhesive plaster, two front teeth filled with gold. She was last seen wearing a dark blue merino traveling dress, black cloth jacket, small blue felt hat with blue veil, gray-black stockings, button shoes, and rubbers. Tied in underskirt pocket, a visiting card written in ink, "Mrs. Dr. G.R. Peckinpaugh. In case of an accident, address Mrs. M. Alexander, Mt. Vernon, Posey County, Indiana. Carried a mingled broche shawl, a gold handled silk umbrella, gold watch and chain, and about $60 in bills in black purse, she is well educated, self-possessed and of retiring disposition. She may be slightly demented and probably secluded possibly in another city. $1000 will be paid by Dr. G.R. Peckinpaugh, her husband, for the recovery and identification of her body, if alive, or $500 for dead body, within three months from date. Address information to Henry Steers, Chief Inspector of Police, New York City." On May 19, 1892 the painful news came that the body of Mrs. Peckinpaugh had been found floating thirteen miles up the Hudson River at New York. Although disappointed the family and friends were gratified to learn the body had been recovered and part of the mystery of her disappearance solved. It was determined that she committed suicide rather than face another dangerous surgical operation to be done in a few days. Having already undergone one she preferred death rather than do another one. Her remains were brought to Mt. Vernon and a funeral took place at her late home on Main Street. Her mother was Matilda Greathouse Alexander of whom the Mt. Vernon Library is named. She contributed her vast volumes of books for a temporary library at the City Hall in 1895 and later Andrew Carnegie donated money to help build a library next door. Money contributed from the sale of Alexander's property after her death went to the library in her daughter's name The Alexandrian Public Library.
Honey I'm Home.....1892
Back in 1849 John Alldredge left Posey County to seek his fortune in California. He was at that time 40 years old and left behind a wife and three children. For several years he corresponded regularly with his wife and the last letter she received from him was in 1857, when he wrote his wife informing her that he intended to sail for Australia, since then nothing was heard of him, and he was mourned as dead until last week when he put in an appearance at his former home. His wife, although believing him dead never remarried, and with the assistance of three children, one of whom recently died, succeeded in accumulating quite a sum of money. Six weeks ago, Mrs. Alldredge died, and in making her will left all her property to her two surviving children, both of whom are married. She made a provision which said if her long lost husband ever be found a certain part of said property should be set aside for his maintenance. Mr. Alldredge is at present living at the home of his brother.
Tough Way To Get Out of Jury Duty.....1891
Thomas Forcuan, 40, of New Harmony in a drunken condition was excused from work at the Grand Jury because of his state of soberness. He started down the stairs of the Court House reeling and toppled over the stair case and fell to a thud on the flag stone pavement below. The noise of his fall was heard throughout the entire building. He lay lifeless of a long time, but survived, his right shoulder being dislocated and fractured, but no internal injuries. He fell 25 feet striking both banisters on his way down.
"Rally around the Family with A Pocketful of Shells....1890
Oscar Shultz was severely injured by the explosion of gunpowder which he carried loose in his coat pocket. He, in a company of several other boys had built a bonfire in the eastern part of Mt. Vernon and amused them by jumping over the fire. It is supposed that a spark of fire flew into his pocket, igniting the powder. Almost all of his clothes were consumed and his hands and body severely burnt.
Commencement of Black Students.....1890
Up front let me say that the word was 'colored' in those days in the white press. I mean no disrespect, but it makes more sense if I use the terms of the times. The commencement exercises were held on a Friday evening in the court room of the court house. The room was comfortably full of both white and 'colored', and the best of order prevailed. In those days it was tradition in small graduating classes for each student to read an essay. The first was by George Brown who led off with a composition on Great Men. It was reported to have been of very good composure and expression, though slightly defective in articulation. I guess the reporter graded them too. He did well, however and was handsomely remembered with bouquets and presents. Next was Miss Minnie Patterson with her reading of Decision of Character, "speaking of ease, self-possession and good articulation." Her exercise was greeted with general applause and bouquets and presents were lavishly bestowed. Miss Minnie Bishop followed next with The Worth of a Scholar, which in matter and manner of delivery was excellent. Applause, bouquets and presents were also freely bestowed on her. George Tompkins, On Labor, did well and received a generous acknowledgement in line of applause, bouquets, etc. Miss Emma Barbour followed with Stepping Stones acquitting herself in admirable fashion and receiving the same beautiful testimonials of appreciation as had been accorded those in the class that preceded her. At the conclusion, the Hon. E.M. Spencer, president of the school board, stepped forward and congratulated the graduating class of five upon their creditable exercises and the display of proficiency to acquiring learning, where upon he presented them with their diplomas. Professor Leavenworth presided with dignity, and the Schrieber orchestra rendered good music at intervals and the benediction was given by Rev. Huber to close the ceremonies.
MVHS Alumni Reception.....1890
This was the first attempt at a reunion committee since 1883. The Masonic Lodge was brilliantly lighted it was reported and all the members and friends gathered at 8 0'clock. Everyone enjoyed themselves even though there were no formal programs. Well kind of one duet was rendered by Misses Duckworth and Mann and Flora Baker sang a charming solo and responded with a encore song. The principal of the high school was given a handsome rocking chair by the class of 1890. I think I have seen a picture of Professor Levenworth sitting in it in early Hoop Pole yearbooks. Until the 20's or so, the Alumni was very active...games were played against the school in football, basketball and baseball. There was always a section in the yearbooks for what prior classmates were doing. That night a history of the Alumni was read to the class of 1890 by Mrs. Jesse Rosenkrans. She said the beginning of the Alumni went back to 1869, even though at that time "the schools had not been graded." "Prof A.J. Snoke was assigned the difficult task of grading some five hundred children; and five years later the result of his work was apparent in the graduating class of 1874." Thus was laid the foundation of the Alumni. Graduating ceremonies took place in the Masonic Hall (Alles Bros) in June of 1874. The first class consisted of Clifford Thomson, Sarah Wright, Mollie McAllister, and Mame Jones. Clifford became a Posey County farmer, Sarah became a teacher as did Mame, Mollie went on to finish her music education at Wesleyan College and resides in Cincinnati.
"They're Back!".....June 1889
Gypsies in town again, camping at Black's Grove. Editor called them, "A blot on the face of creation." In 1888, they entered a house near town and stole all the bed sheets of the home, with the exception of those on the beds.
Committee on Light Reports to City Council.....June 1889
The Mayor and common council organized a committee of light to investigate the problem of Mt. Vernon's city lighting, after the expiration of the contract with Sun Vapor Light Company of Canton, Ohio. They found that the present lighting system was unsatisfactory, with many complaints from its citizens of the amount of light furnished, irregularity in time of lighting, and that part of the city is left in total darkness on some of the darkest nights of the year. They proposed to end the contract with Sun Vapor when it expired in September. Due to the financial condition of the city they felt they could not spend more than $1500 to $2000 per annum for lighting. They felt the company, Electric Arc Lights would more brilliantly illuminate our streets and that 85 to 100 lamps of from sixteen to twenty four candlepower each, properly placed and burning from dusk to 3 am would be sufficient.
"Oow oow That Smell; Can't You Smell That Smell?" ......May 1889
The health officer, O.t. Somulate, M.D. had orders published in the Western Star newspaper requiring Mt. Vernon citizens to clean up their premises. Several weeks later he said that those orders had not been carried out and so our city continued to live in very filthy conditions. It was his intention to fully carry out the ordinances applying to nuisances and he asked for assistance from the public to do so. "Garbage, slop and off fail of all kinds are being constantly deposited upon the streets and alleys, many privies are full, and manure heaps are kept until they are rotten." He chastised the town and warned that if the dry spring and winter should be followed by a wet and hot summer, citizens will deeply pay for their carelessness. He asked for tips so he could investigate those that are guilty parties and said such information would be kept strictly private.
Young Folk Give Concerts At Masonic Hall.....May 1889
On the eighth and ninth of May of 1889 a successful concert of our young people was held. There was a quartet sung by Misses Naas, Smith, Schenk and Messrs. Hite and Schenk which was "beautiful and held the audience in silence, while the sweet, harmonious strains were wafted in perfect chords to the many listeners." Miss Fannie Rosengart did three pieces "with much grace." Miss Thomas played "Old Hundred" masterly and Miss Hattie Tente's Overture from the Opera was "executed in graceful style and her time was even and good." Miss Garnett Niederst played "Trovatore" with "master skill." Miss Florence Niederet's version of "Last Hope was executed with skill and "her fingering was graceful. Georgie Fogas and Arthur Henrich imitated the calliope to perfection. The little folks in their "Greeting to the Months" recited remarkably well too. Miss Ester Harrow sang her two solos "in sweet tones, her voice keeping in perfect harmony with the piano." Miss Lillie Leffel's recitations "could not be excelled, they were recited in grand style." Miss Mary Scheidel sang beautifully and many remarked about her sweet voice. "Mrs. J.B. Weaver came forth like a nightingale, bringing those high notes out so clear and beautiful, that she received an encore both evenings." Two plays were given; a drama and a comedy were performed well. The play showed characters in theatrical style displaying considerable talent. Mentioned were Gus Schieber, Aaron Pentecost, Otto Brinkman and Karl Schwenzer.
Old Marriage Record Found.....1889
Fretageot, the county clerk of Posey County was moving some old papers in the clerk's office and found a marriage locally when we were just an Indiana territory of the 7th day of December 1815. It read: "Any judge, justice of the peace, or other person authorized by law to solemnize the bonds of matrimony in he said county of Posey are hereby licensed to join together as husband and wife, Charles Givens and Mary Moore, both of said county. In testimony whereof, I W.E. Stewart, clerk of the circuit court in and for said county have hereunto set my and hand and seal this sixth day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifteen."
Heavyweight Champ Visits Mt. Vernon.....1889
Prize fighter, John L. Sullivan was a guest of John Niedrist who operates a saloon and restaurant on the North West corner of the alley between Second and Third Streets. They seated him in a large chair inside the door and he shook hands with hundreds of admirers. Here for two days as he was driven around the city in a buggy to drum up business. Sullivan was heavyweight champion from 1882-1892, when he lost his belt to James Corbett.
Mt. Vernon had nine churches, one high school, three grade schools, one catholic school, one private school, three hotels, two banks, three newspapers, three flour mills, one machine shop, one tannery, three brick yards, one soft drink factory, two cigar factories, one tile factory, five copper shops, two sawmills, and eleven wagon and carriage shops.
Town Celebrates Election of Favorite Son....1888
General Alvin P. Hovey was elected Governor of Indiana and the citizens of Mt. Vernon celebrated with pride. An election pole was raised and a flag was raised. A parade formed with brass bands, fife and drum, tin horns, bells, and torches.
During the early part of the Civil War a company of soldiers were organized in Poseyville who became part of the 16th Indiana Infantry. In 1861 while in camp at Cheap Mountain, West Virginia, the boys sent home a "hard-tack." Hard tack was a cracker used by the soldiers of that time as a substitute for bread. They were very hard and it was said that after a week of setting in water or coffee it would have little effect on them. LOL. This hard tack was sent to Mr. Downs, who placed it in a neat frame with glass front for display. Each local boy signed their names: W. Anglestine, H.N. Barrett, G.J. Reeves, J. Kauffer, Dick Weaver, Jas Barrett, J. Leonard, T. Ayers, H. Jaquees, W. Jaquees, and L. Marsters. The relic is highly valued by Mrs. Downs who takes pleasure in showing it.
An old musket that Tony Fuhrer was shooting burst and left nothing in his hands but the stock of the gun. None of the barrel could be found. He escaped without injury.
The Western Star newspaper editor, Edward Leffel complained about how the sidewalks in the city were in deplorable condition, blocked by every conceivable article known to man. You had to walk around everything from a 'peanut roaster to a road scraper.' Just imagine trying to maneuver through beer kegs, chicken coops, lamp stands, dry goods boxes and whiskey barrels. Kind of like going by the old Stinson Building today! LOL. The editor was pleased that the city replaced some of the wooden sidewalks with brick walks on Second Street and they were ten feet wide from Jaodoski's corner to Fritz's Grocery.
General Hovey Proposes City Hall Site.....August 1887
'As one of the oldest citizens and taxpayers in the city I should be gratified to see a respectable city hall and fire department headquarters erected in any suitable and central locality of the city.', thus were the words of General and Governor of Indiana Alvin Hovey. He mentioned the growth of the city, both in population and business demand. He offered two lots 122 and 123 in the Williams part of the city for that purpose. The present city building housing all the departments of the municipal government then was erected in 1893. At the time, (1887) objections were offered against the building on that site as it was not then considered centrally located and of easy access to all parts of our town.
Mayor Terry 1886
On a hot sweltering day in 1836, 22 year old Oliver C. Terry dropped his suitcase he was carrying onto the grass beneath a large mulberry tree, which stood near the junction of the Henderson ferry and Mt. Vernon turn pikes and sat himself down in the shade to await the coming of a stage coach from Evansville. Terry was off on an adventure. He left the familiar scenes of his childhood in Henderson County, Kentucky to start a new life beyond the river. He was not sure exactly where, but he had an idea to try the bustling little town of Mt. Vernon, Indiana. As he waited for the stage, his thoughts turned to the past of his life on a plantation and the slaves that were left behind. He wondered if the next overseer would treat them kindly. He started to second guess his departure. The stage came and he hailed it as it screeched to a halt in the midst of a cloud of dust. The driver leaned down from his high seat and took his suitcase and Terry climbed aboard. Young Terry found two other travelers on the stage that hot July day. One was a merchant from Mt. Vernon returning from a business trip to Louisville. The other was a man from Rising Sun, Illinois. The man from Mt. Vernon was L.H. Floyd and becoming friends, Terry accepted a clerking job. Years later Terry became mayor of Mt. Vernon in 1886.
In March of 1879, Terry accused Policeman Tom Hinch of being "trigger happy" and Hinch resigned.That year Terry also bought out Kahn's Grocery. Later on her received an appointment by the Pension Department in Washington D.C. He died there in 1907.
Jewish Synagogue in Mt. Vernon is dedicated.....January 1886
S.H. Sonnerschersh of St. Louis officiated. That night a grand ball and banquet was given. This temple was at the location on North Main Street where the Calvary Baptist Church now stands. At one time our town had a significant Jewish population and involvement in the community.
In August of that year the disease was rapidly spreading in Posey County. Disposing of the bodies became a real problem as buzzards were in large numbers. Then a disease called Texas fever broke out affecting cattle killing scores.
'Everybodys Crazy 'bout a Sharp Dressed Man'.....July 1884
A well-dressed gentleman in a light suit, straw hat, light mustache, jumped from the train while the train was under full speed near Caborn Station. He had a large satchel and a heavy dark overcoat with him. Under his seat were two expensive revolvers. The conductor who telephoned this information said that he 'represented himself as coming from Louisville and that another man on the train said he came from Russellville, Kentucky.' There was a manslaughter there a day or two ago and it is supposed that the man who jumped from the train, may have committed the act. He had a ticket for Poplar Bluff Arkansas. Everyone was put on alert if this 'dude' is spotted.
'Old tyme Gospel Hour'.....June 1884
Mt. Vernon (black) preacher, Geo Johnson, aged 110 years, preached a very interesting sermon to a lot of white sinners in the sugar orchard in the western part of Mt. Vernon. Deacons Caborn and Carpenter passed around the hat and collected 75 cents for the old gentleman.
In May of 1884, 12 candidates ran for Marshall of Mt. Vernon in the Primary election.
The Last Legal Hanging in Posey County.....January 1884
On August 19, 1883 the body of a young man found in the Ohio River about a mile above the wharf front was found with his throat cut from ear to ear. The body was of a farm laborer about 18 years old. An investigation afterward found that the young man had been safekeeping at Rosenbaum and Brothers safe and when last seen alive he was seen in the company of two other men of similar age along the river bank. The two men were arrested and they made a full confession to Sheriff Hayes. They had persuaded the victim to go swimming and then killed him and spent the money at a den of prostitution for the women and the purchase of wine. They were found guilty of murder in the first degree and Judge Parritt pronounced the death sentence. A scaffold was erected in the rear of the jail. The prisoners had black caps over their head and each wore a nice suit. The platform of the scaffold was twelve feet square in which stood in their presence, the sheriff, four assistants, a minister, twelve reputable citizens, four physicians, and several visiting sheriffs. The prisoners before death were reported to be extremely repentant, sang hymns, and thought they would go to heaven.
Western Star Editorial 1884....Rather Small
On Tuesday evening last Mr. Tall Clark, employed for the past five years in Hudaut's hominy mill of this city, circulated a petition asking the council to permit the hogs to run at large, and presented the same to the council at their meeting Tuesday night. The petition was signed by some thirty or forty citizens, and the request was granted. Immediately after the meeting Mr. Clark was confronted by Bryan, the foreman of the hominy mill, who pays more attention to other people's affairs than he does his own, and informed Clark that Mr. Hudnut paid more taxes than all the signers he had on that petition, and that both he and Mr. Hudnut were opposed to allowing hogs to run at large. Among the number who signed the petition besides Tall Clark was Jesse Robinson, an engineer at the mill, who has been in Mr. Hudnut's employ ever since the mill was established in this city, and Johnny Clark, another employee of four years standing. Yesterday morning when these men went to work, they were informed by Bryan that their services were no longer needed; that no man who was in favor of allowing hogs to run at large could work at their mill. No one will deny that Mr. Hudnut has a perfect right to discharge any one in his employ, but we do claim that neither he nor any other single individual should take the responsibility upon himself to dictate what the remainder of our citizens should or should not do. If this is not an attempt at bull-dozing, what is it?
Drunk on his A**, Decides to Crash.... .April 1883
A drunken man entered Mr. George Throop's kitchen at a late hour, took off his coat, lay down on the floor, covered himself up with his coat and went to sleep. Mrs. Throop heard the noise, became frightened and called Mr. Joseph Moore, a near neighbor to investigate. The man was awakened and taken to jail and fined $3 and costs for drunkenness.
"Doing the Wild Thing".....April 1883
Thirteen of the "soiled-doves" residing at a house of "ill fame" in Mt. Vernon were fined $5 each by the Mayor's Court. Business must be good as the fines were promptly paid.
We Need Lights!...Editor Crys.....March 1883
After several more nighttime robberies in the city, the Western Star said it is no wonder with the amount of our city in complete darkness without street lamps. "This is a matter that our business men would do well to have remedied. The cost would not be large, and we understand that the city government would supply the oil and a lamplighter if the lamps were furnished by the public."
Flooding upstate was very bad as thousands were evacuated, businesses closed and thousands lost their farms especially around New Albany and Jeffersonville, Indiana. Cincinnati got hit badly as did Louisville. Here at home in February the paper noted that three homes drifted down the Ohio one day, one of them belonging to Mr. Thorton Neale located on a farm just two miles north of Mt. Vernon. The next month, Wm. Greathouse of Point Township killed 25 rabbits in one day. The rabbits were found upon a small strip of land surrounded by water and his weapons were brick bats! Up to a mile of track between Big Creek and the Wabash River had to be replaced due to being washed away by flood waters. Later, the relief steamer Halpin having Governor Porter, Lt. Governor Hanna and other notables on board made a brief stop in our city then proceeded down the river to distribute the remainder of aid furnished for relief of flood sufferers. All of those on board were outspoken about Mt. Vernon's future for industry due to its "high and dry" reputation.
Amphitheater Burns at Fair Grounds.....1883
Construction for a new facility for the Posey County Emergency Services began at 305 Mill Street in Mt. Vernon. The building will be 4800 square feet and will hold the ambulance service, the Enhanced 911 emergency phone system and the Emergency Management Agency. It will also contain a training room and living quarters for ambulance workers. The cost was bid to Arc Construction Company at $261,500.
"Breaking the Law....Breaking the Law".....1883
On Saturday night while Downey's buggy was awaiting the arrival of the E&T.H. south bound train, some person mounted the seat and drove the horses at a break neck speed up Second Street. The driver, who went into Melnot's saloon to warm, hearing the noise, gave chase, but did not overtake the team until he arrived at the corner of Fifth and Main streets, where he found the team in the possession of the owner, George Downey, who was on his way home, and thinking the driver was drunk ran out upon the street and caught the horses. Before he could get the horses quiet the man leaped from the seat, and jumping over the fence at Maj. Melnot's residence disappeared into the darkness. "It is not known who he was, but it is supposed to have been under the influence of liquor. If George could have caught him he would have sobered him up in short order."
A Remarkable Invention.....1883
J.C.Campbell a young deaf mute, aged 19 was in Mt. Vernon with an instrument of his own invention which enables the deaf to hear, and the dumb to talk. The hearing apparatus is on the principle of the telephone, with a small electric battery carried in his coat pocket. The talking he does with a thin piece of copper, wrapped with common tape, which he places in his mouth and vibrates as his breath passes over it. He said he could teach any mute to talk in three months time. Several of our deaf citizens tried the invention and pronounced it a success. Mr. Campbell gave a performance at the Masonic Hall to introduce his instrument properly. I wonder where you got those little batteries in 1883? Must have been a time traveler.
"You Got Mail".....December 1882
On the 14th of December mail service to New Harmony from Mt. Vernon by stage coach was discontinued. Starting then the railroad would deliver the mail between the two cities. Didn't go over too well as many residents were disappointed that what once took a day to get mail by a horse now takes three days by an iron one.
Posey Mob Murders Murderer.....October 1882
Hume Redman served ten years in prison for shooting a man in the cheek for no apparent reason. When he returned to our county he was feared by many. He had been married four times, his first wife was still working in Mt. Vernon as a prostitute, his second wife he supposedly killed in Illinois, but not enough proof was found to convict, his third he abused and his fourth Eva he shot through the brain. She was 18 years old. Upon examination of her body it was found that she was terribly beaten up, her body form her head to her toes was covered with cuts from a pen knife and black and blue bruises, in all stages of healing, caused from kicks and blows. She was shot through the skull with a 42 rusty derringer. Eva was the daughter of Andrew McFaddin, better known as "Heddy", a farmer six miles from Mt. Vernon. News of the killing stirred excitement in Mt. Vernon and the town was intense that Saturday evening. Sheriff Crunk fearing his prisoner was in danger and not wanting a repeat of 1878 when Negroes were removed from the jail by a mob and lynched placed 15 to 20 guards around the jail. The streets swelled with farmers coming into town and by 8 pm the town square was full of citizens on Main and Second streets all swearing vengeance. The saloons were ordered closed by the Marshall. At around midnight a mob began to assemble at Black's Grove, just north of the city and a 1AM moved down Mill Street to within two blocks of the jail. The mob dispersed then came to the jail in small squads, where anti-mob speeches were made of several of our citizens to the utter disgust of the boys calling loudly for Redman. The sheriff the next day fearing another mob on Sunday had the prisoner transferred to the Vanderburgh County jail in Evansville. The next night riders went to a blacksmith shop in St. Phillips and compelled him to deliver the tools they deeded to get the prisoner out those being sledge hammers and cold chisels. A posse of 75 men gathered in Evansville and as the prisoner was being moved in a buggy it was collided into throwing out Redman. Redman's skull was crushed with a sledge hammer "like a coconut." He also was shot in the head four times. He was taken to the Klee undertaking establishment and laid on the brick pavement on a couple of boards with his hands tied in front of him in rope. "Much of his skull was gone, the pieces dropping off into the street." An indictment for conspiracy to commit murder was returned for three Posey citizens of George Floyd, David McFadin, and Quincy Gill which said, "did feloniously and knowingly, unite, combine, conspire, confederate and agree together and with each other for the object and purpose and with the latent then and there by force to take one Hume Redman from the county jail of Vanderburgh County, said state, and then and there him, the said Hume Redman feloniously and willfully kill and murder contrary to the form of the statutes in such cases made and provided and against the peace and dignity of the State of Indiana." Judge Parrett fixed bond at $1000 each. Never found it they were convicted. Another man named Murphy was killed during the mob scene. As for Redman the Carmi , Illinois paper said, "He goes to the grave, unwept, unhonored and unsung."
"Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage".....October 1882
The wife of a saloon keeper on Main Street, of Mt. Vernon purchased ten cents worth of arsenic from Cronbach & Company for the purpose of killing rats. She changed her mind however, after returning home, and took the whole dose herself. Doctors Peckinpaugh and Cronbach were promptly called in and after several hours of work succeeded in relieving the lady of the poison. No reason was apparent for the rash act.
Petitions to County Commissioners Goes Nowhere.....September 1882
The county commissioners at their session refused to make a "donation" for the erection of a bridge across Mill Creek on Fourth Street. That left the matter as it stood before and those desiring a bridge will have to construct it themselves or do without. A second petition was being circulated asking the council to appoint two night watchmen for the town. The editor thought it would probably result in the same judgment the bridge took.
Temperance War.....September 1882
Must be said that the city of Mt. Vernon loves its booze. The Cincinnati Enquirer quoted a story about an incident in our city. Headline said, "Mt. Vernon., In the Hands of Executed Mob-The Marshall's House Burned!" The story reported how our town was intensely excited over a mob reigning supreme fir several days in September. The cause of the trouble was reported to be the decision of City Marshall John Paul closing down the saloons at 11pm Saturday and all day Sunday. Rev. Scammihorn, pastor of the Methodist Church, was taking an active part in temperance work for the Republican Party and compelled Marshall Paul and his police to close the saloons. The deputy Marshall was roughed up by the mob. Paul's residence was fired upon a half a dozen times and his residence was burned to the ground. His wife and baby barely made it out of the home at 3:30 Sunday morning. Telephone and telegraph stations were manned by the mob to prevent communication to other towns. Gangs collected on the street corners discussing the situation.
On the same night, Marshall Paul attempted to arrest Charley Hosa whom he found on Main Street intoxicated, using boisterous language. A struggle ensued, during which the officer's club was taken and as help arrived Hosea was hit upon the head. The mob told the officers if he did it again they would "send him to Hell in a minute." The officers released their prisoner.
The Great Comet of 1882 Seen Here
What would later be known as the "Great Comet of 1882" was seen here from September 1882 through February of 1883. The comet was bright enough to be seen by the naked eye as it moved next to the sun in the daytime sky. The Western Star newspaper reported that Professor Lewis Swift of the Warner Observatory, Rochester, New York stated that the comet grazed the sun so closely as to cause great disturbance, so much so that it has divided into no less than eight separate parts, all of which can be seen distinctly by a good telescope. There had been only one other instance on record where a comet had divided, that one being the Biella comet of 1846. Scientists today say that fragments from the Great Comet of 1882 will reappear within several hundred years time.
Noted Lecturer & Social Reformer Speaks Here.....September 1882
Mrs. Henrietta Shelton, the widely known German temperance lecturer and organizer lectured in Mt. Vernon at the German M.E. Church and in St. Phillips. Her subject was "Total abstinence, and prohibition from the German stand-point." She was born in 1852, the daughter of a professor at Heidelberg University. Married in 1869 at age 17, she lost her husband and child and threw herself into the temperance work. She moved to California in 1883 was a national figure in the movement visiting over 28 states with her message. An author of a half a dozen books she died in 1900. She was a lady of culture and great speaking skills and devoted her life to her cause. Her speeches were delivered in German.
Poor Asylum Report.....September 1882
The Grand Jury reported on the 'Poor Farm' and found it satisfactory in most respects. The twenty five paupers living there seemed to have no cause for complaint as far as food concerns; but the jury suggested that bedding be changed at sufficiently frequent intervals. As for the dirty condition of the inmates and their "slovenliness" there can be no approach to neatness and not much to cleanliness amongst them who have studied their habits. "The majority of them are idiotic or feeble minded and suffering from ailments which renders perfect cleanliness practically impossible. Nearly all of them smoke or chew tobacco, and with few exceptions they have evidently fostered habits which they cannot be reclaimed, notwithstanding, persistent and continued efforts on the part of the Superintendent and his wife." The clothing has always been sufficient to guard them from the weather and clean clothing is furnished at least once a week. This, however, does not prevent some of them from accumulating filth on their clothing for several hours. They have access to abundant soap and water, but many of them have a decided aversion to their use. "As it was never my understanding that I or my wife should ourselves scrub the dirt from the inmates of filthy habits we have not. As far as pauper labor the superintendent remarked that only a trifling amount of unwilling labor is done which is of no benefit. "There is not one able bodied pauper of sound mind at the asylum at this date, and the females who are able bodied are encumbered with children who demand the greater part of their time."
Marshall Paul Sweeps the Town of Riffraff.....August 1882
The marshal at that time really took his job seriously it seems as in a three month period himself and officers Gates and Garrison made 111 arrests. Among them were 31 drunks, 6 gamblers, 5 fast drivers, 24 for disorderly conduct, 3 attempted murders, and many minor offenses. One fight I haven't written about before was between Jo Gee, the Chinese laundryman and Joe Griffin, a shoemaker. Mr. Gee came out the victor, but both were arrested. As evidence was obtained it was found that Gee acted in self-defense and was discharged; Griffin was then fined. The jail filled up rapidly and the court was busy. One fellow was fined for stealing a hat. Things were looking up for the town until Marshall Paul with encouragement from the churches decided to close all saloons on Sundays. One week before he started to take action, police officer Allen Gates had a knife pulled on him by a drunken carouser as he was being arrested. Gates defended himself with his billy club and knocked the drunk to the ground. Help arrived and Gates was sent to Dr. Ramsey where he had two gashes to the face and two deep cuts in his left arm. In fact the knife blade had broken off and was still in his arm. Then came the day they shut the saloons. Chaos ruled as people roughed up the Marshall and one of his deputies on Main Street. The Marshall's house was burnt down and the telephone and telegraph services were stopped by the mob. Headlines reached as far away as Cincinnati. Comparisons were given of the mob led hangings of 1878 that occurred here. The cause of the trouble was the Marshall's enforcement of the Sunday liquor law which had the backing of the Temperance Union, the Methodist Church, and the Republican Party.
On June 8, 1882 the Evansville Journal called the Mt. Vernon Democrat correspondent, "an ass!"
Newspaper editors in that time were very competitive and they were always trying to make their paper the best even at the expensive of lying about the other. In Mt. Vernon it was recorded once that a editor of one daily took a shot at another and missed. There was also times when editors almost came to blows while meeting each other on the sidewalks.
Bounty Hunter Needed.....1882
Sheriff Hayes, jailer of Posey County issued a $50 reward for Peter McClure who had been sentenced to the penitentiary for one year for stealing liquors from the Ike Kahn cellar. He made his escape from the county jail. He was 5 feet 8 inches high, weighs 160 pounds, around 35 years of age, heavy built, small mustache, wearing light brown checkered pants, blue striped shirt, box toed shoes (well worn), a drab colored hat with a black velvet band.
Edward S. Hayes Sheriff Short Biography.....1882
The Democratic nominee for Mt. Vernon sheriff won the election by 413 votes over Republican Thomas Barrett. Edward was born in Lancaster County Pennsylvania in 1836 where his parents were natives. His family moved to Iowa for a while, but Edward came to Posey County to live with his uncle who was a cooper. He learned the trade and lived with him until 1854. In 1855 he enlisted as a private in the regular army and that year as a member of the Calvary he pursued the Sioux Indians under General Harney for three months. In 1856 he was sent on an exhibition against border hooligans during the troubles in Kansas and later against the Cheyenne Indians whom engagements were resulted in 17 soldiers killed and 25 wounded. (No mention of native dead). In 1858 he was sent to Utah to suppress the Mormons who were committing outrages against settlers. Back again into Indian Territory he went this time against the Comanche's fighting in two battles. After being discharged, the Civil War started and he entered once again into service this time as a lieutenant. In 1865 he finally mustered out of service and was elected Mt. Vernon Marshall and has held the position ever since with the exception of two terms.
Famous Actor Visits Mt. Vernon.....1882
One of the most famous actors in the United States, the accomplished Louis Aldrich, also known as Joe Saunders visited in Mt. Vernon with his two half brothers, Mt. Vernon businessmen Manuel and Jacob Cronbach. He invested in the town's future by purchasing $2000 in city bonds. Aldrich was a child prodigy appearing in many plays before 1857 in such productions as Richard III, and MacBeth. He traveled to Australia and New Zealand during that time. He returned to join an Opera House Company in San Francisco from 1863-1866. Later he worked at the Boston Theatre for eight seasons supporting such great actors as Forrest, Booth, and Cushman. He also worked for companies in Philadelphia and New York. Eventually, he became President of the Actor's Fund of America until he died in 1901 at age 57.
Enough Nonsense....Off to Jail....June 1881
Wiley Evans, a sawmill worker locally had a little too much fun on a Saturday night. He walked out of the Jolly Bear Saloon and sat down in the middle of the street in a very drunken condition and started insulting the local constable. Finally, it led up to a fight with the police officer and off to the pokey he went. "$20 in costs", said Squire Daniels.
Seems like every day lately it storms, sirens go off, TV weathermen break into our shows to update us with a new warnings, the ditches and fields are flooded and on and on. I was reading about storms 131 years ago. No early warning system beyond looking at the sky back then. A big windstorm at that time would play havoc with Mt. Vernon. I can't imagine what the town would look like caught in a storm with all the horse carriages and buggies. The warehouse of the hominy mill had its roof blown off and several barns were a total loss. Waves on the Ohio River were said to have reached 8 to 10 feet high. Many trees were toppled and people went to their root cellars seeking shelter. A barge in Evansville was sunk with 500 sacks of corn on board that belonged to Fuhrer, Boyce and Company of Mt. Vernon. Smokestacks and chimneys were destroyed locally too.
"Down On The Corner; Out In The Streets".....January 29, 1880
John Goodwin, who had been to Wadesville, and filled up on the worst quality of "bug juice" that a community was ever cursed with, was passing the residence of Jesse Moye in Center township, when he discovered that the young folks were having a little dance. Feeling for a little adventure, Goodwin dismounted and entered the house where in a few minutes he was in a quarrel with John Stallings and without a hesitation of any cry of warning drew a revolver and fired at Stallings. The pistol was a Smith & Wesson 32 caliber, and the ball struck Stallings square in the breast but he was fortunate in having on very heavy clothing and the ball after passing through them, barely penetrated the flesh. It was reported that Stallings was spitting blood the next day and is confined to his bed, but no serious result is expected. Goodwin left the county.
"Go on...Take the Money and Run".....1880
A thief raised the rear window of Lichtenberger's harness ship on Second Street and stole about $15, all there was in the box which was left standing on the work bench near thus window. Lichtenberger's uses a cigar box in which he places his daily sales, and seldom deposits the money in his safe until he locks up for the night, a fact which no doubt was known by the thief, as the robbery was committed during the time he was out for supper. A previous night an attempt was made to enter Frailey's barber shop on Second Street, but the thief was frightened off.
Mt. Vernon's Great Fire.....1880
Mt. Vernon's most destructive fire since its founding, hit the business district on October 19, 1880. Because of this tragedy, Mt. Vernon got serious about fire protection and started a fire department. The entire block of store buildings on the west side of Main Street, between Second and Third Streets went up in flames. Two hundred thousand dollars' worth of property which would be millions today was reduced to ashes. The fire broke out in the Gerdings Candy Shop and was the fourth fire in three months to occur there. Arson was suspected. Totally destroyed were the New Era Store of Fuhrer and Boyce, Harlem and Son's Clothing, Gerdings, Heinrich's Barber Shop, Mt. Vernon Banking, the office and home of Dr. Eldwood Smith, Sutcliff's Millinery, Walter's Saloon, Dunn Restaurant, Kahn's Saloon, Zimmerman Boot and Shoe Store, Feldman's Barber Shop, a butcher shop, and Clark's Jewelry. Several injuries were reported fighting the fire with a bucket brigade. Mt. Vernon Democrat called for the purchase of a fire engine. Spectators from Carmi and Evansville came by train to view the burned out city. The only building standing on the west side of the block would be the Drug Store that became Fogas' and later Wheaton's Pharmacies. Insurance companies thereafter, refused to take risks on properties downtown until proper fire-fighting equipment became available. George Heinrich relocated his Barber Shop a month later in the 100 block of Main three doors from the riverfront. Some stock was saved from the Fuhrer and Boyce store and the inventory was sold to Raben and Naas for their store. To start the purchase of a fire truck a ball was held over Thanksgiving by the newly organized Relief Fire Department at the Masonic Hall. Rebuilding started almost immediately with many injuries to workers working in the cold winter. The newer downtown now featured nice brick three story buildings replacing the small frame shops before the fire. Mt. Vernon was still Mt. Vernon however with the usual fights at the bordello on Main Street where clubs and knives were used in a first class fight in January 1881. The city council in January of 1881 voted on buying a lot for the fire engine house, but there were still concerns about an inadequate water supply from public wells and cisterns. In September, those concerns were addressed with the construction of four city fire cisterns that were eight feet wide, twenty five feet long and nine feet deep. The sides were supported by brick walls with a capacity of 400 barrels of water. Their locations were at the corner of Second and Main, Fourth and Main, Second and Mill, and Water and Locust Streets.
Accidental Shooting of Moses Withrow.....1880
Frank Muncy was having trouble with sheep being killed by dogs. One evening he gave his pistol to Moses Withrow to take with him as he passed through the fields on his way to Bethesda Church. While walking through the fields he met a young lad he knew. As they walked on, the young boy noticed the bulge in Moses's coat pocket. Withrow told him it was a pistol and if he saw dogs bothering Mr. Muncy's sheep he was to use it. The young boy wanted to see it and Moses took the pistol out of his pocket and handed it to him, who, in taking it, must have pulled the hammer back and let suddenly down. The pistol discharged, the ball passing through Withrow's right arm and entered his side and he died two weeks later. The boy eventually moved to Evansville, became a barber and died eighty years later at the age of 88.
Damron House Hotel.....1880's
This was one of the late 19th century Mt. Vernon had along with the Brettner Hotel, Kahn's, Riverside, Southern, and Stallings and Carr's that I know of that period. The Damron House Hotel was on the wharf front facing the Ohio River. The owner was U.G. Damron who was Mayor of Mt. Vernon during the cholera epidemic of 1873. I have found several interesting items concerning this hotel. More than once or twice visiting mariner boat people would get into noisy brawls. That it seems is a Mt. Vernon legacy of the first 100 years if not more. There was even one in 1881 involving Damron himself and a man named Newton Crabill which drew hundreds of spectators to watch them duke it out. The streets were unpaved and drained to side ditches back then, with horse troughs and horse droppings. Big old ruts from wagons...mud and then dust. Good place to fight I guess. Imagine back at that time the temperance lecturers at the courthouse giving remarks for prohibition then going to their hotel past all the bars and seeing fights on the riverfront. In 1879, there was a grain dealer from Evansville who disappeared from his hotel room at the Damron House along with $6000. His body was found 6 months later on the bank of a receding river near Barter Street, dead from a fractured skull and a broken neck. That same year a thief entered the room of another guest and stole all his clothes. The thief was spotted about to enter a passenger boat at the wharf. He dropped the clothes and made his escape by jumping into the river and swimming into the darkness. Not exactly the Hilton I gather.
Dumb Ole Boy and Naughty Boys.....Winter of 1879
John Divine's juggling act, trying to see how many brick-bats and boulders he could keep up in the air at one time and then see how far he could run while doing it resulted in him becoming "jugged" on the head. He was said to be all right but will refrain from such foolishness in the future. The second story is where the Western Star reporter said, "There are several boys in town, whose names are known, who have been in the habit of visiting certain residences at night in the eastern part of the city (on Fourth Street) and acting in a manner very unbecoming of well raised boys. A repetition of previous offenses will cause their names to be published."
Jewish Ball of November 1879
The Jewish Young Men's Association gave one of the finest gatherings ever in our history to this point. Nearly all the leading ladies and gentleman of our little town and quite a few from Evansville and New Harmony were in attendance. The music was furnished by the Carter's excellent band from Evansville and everyone danced to their heart's content. Many of the ladies were handsomely dressed in satins, silks, lace buntings, cashmere with diamonds and other fine jewelry. Over 150 people were present. Refreshments such as wine, beer, and lemonade were furnished in abundance. Nobody drank too much. $800 was collected.
Ye Olden Times.....November 1879
Another Saturday night and Mt. Vernonites continue their favorite indulgences...fighting. "Several old-fashioned fist fights and others so inclined shed their coats, vests, and hats and pawed up the dirt at a fearful rate." Maybe it was the immense corn yield that season or the products from the previous season that got everyone's wrath up, but there was one thing for certain...drinking our water didn't cause all that trouble.
"Well I Won't Back Down; Yes, I'll Stand My Ground".....October 1879
About half past twelve, Monday night after Joe Kahn had closed up his saloon and billiard parlor and was on snug in bed he was aroused by a crash, which sounded like all the glass in the house had been broken at once. Joe did not tarry long as he rushed down the steps to find George Flagler and William Rosenhour enjoying a regular fist and skull fight and during the tussle, maybe $20 worth of glass out of the parlor windows had been broken. No injuries to the combatants however.
Just Hanging Around.....October 1879
In the part of Mt. Vernon that was once called Belleville around 3 PM on a Sunday this strange story occurred. Sampson (last name omitted) asked his wife, who is a banker, to cash a check for him, but she refused to do so knowing he had exhausted all his funds and it would bounce. Sampson sought to put an end to his miserable existence by hanging himself. He procured a rope, but was careful to pass the rope round back of his head, over his ears and across his forehead, instead of under his chin. As soon as he got dangling in mid air, he called to his wife to cut him down, and she, told him calmly that he could hang. Then poor Sampson discovered that he was in a fix and that "his wife would not scare one cent." The rope was getting sharp and he couldn't get down-but he could yell and he did until 20 or 30 persons gathered at the stable, and it was some time before anyone would cut him down. Finally, the miller at Mr. Schnur's mill cut him down (under protest) so as to get rid of his yelling. The town was united that he did a bad job of hanging himself; but hope is that if he tries a second attempt the town "will be rid of the worthless being."
"Swing that Hammer John Henry"...July 1879
AJ Ashworth was messing around an old straw pile and stumbled upon a den of copperhead snakes. They were anywhere from four inches to three feet in length. With a big old hammer and other "implements of destruction" he killed 43 of them. Boots anyone?
Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves.....June 1879
A gypsy tramp cigar maker, who says his home, is in Pennsylvania, and gives his name as Henry Miller, visited the store of C.F. Tente and stole the following articles: Fourteen pocket knives, one pair of scissors, and one dozen files, amounting to a value of $12.40. He was arrested by Constable Caborn, and taken before Squire Cox, where he plead guilty, and in default of $300 bond....went to jail.
Valuable Horse Put Down.....June 1879
A two horse team belonging to Mr. George Reece turned the corner of Main and Sixth Streets near the residence of Mr. Noble Craig, when one of the animals ran into the bridge on the crossing and broke one of his fore legs. It was a young bay mare, and considered very valuable. The accident resulted in the animal being shot.
"Old Man Take A Look At Yourself".....May 1879
Hey man cool it! That's probably not the way they said it back then. Anyway, an elderly man, seemingly sober threw a temper tantrum on Main Street and put on a good show for the shoppers it seems. It took several deputies with considerable strength to rope him like a steer, tie him up and transport him to jail. Maybe they should have the jail put on Main Street.
Maybe he didn't like the organ grinder down the street who was charming the kids with his blind man's tunes. That new music just doesn't beat a Jew's harp, a jug and a washboard does it grandpa?
Or maybe he was under the influence of that opium that was increasing 140% in the United States. Hang on gramps...Real Coke is on the horizon!!
"Something's Happening Here; What it is Ain't Exactly Clear." Poseyville 1879
Their little village, usually quiet, was for awhile the scene of drunken revelry, eclipsing into wild orgies. The editor hoped that the quiet, orderly people will no longer be forced to listen to the senseless prating as well as obscenity indulged in by youngsters who having no self respect and none for themselves will reform at once and watch their ways.
What you gonna do with a generation of young people lying around drinking in their buckskins, smoking their pipes, drinking their wine, messing with the girls? Got to be that darn fiddle and juice harp playing making them crazy! Next thing you know they will want to do it in place like Griffin maybe over at Bull Island.
Iron Fence to Be Contracted Around Public Square.....1879
Auditor Alfred Owen accepted sealed bids in October for an iron fence around the public square with four gates for persons and one for wagons according to plans and specifications which can be seen at the Auditor's Office. All plans must be accompanied with a bond in the sum of $500, certified by the Clerk of the Posey Circuit Court.
Fence was removed in 1903.
Editor Rips Posey County Fair...1879
The editor of the Mt. Vernon Democrat complained of the manner the fair was conducted. Inside the grounds was gambling in the form of one "wheel of fortune", where a man paid his money and took his chance. Outside of the New Harmony grounds were rowdies, drunkenness and gambling prohibited by law and not honest amusement. Tables were set up outside the gate and men and boys gathered, trying to lose their money and the majority of them finally succeeded. Gaming devices were in full blast it was reported. "This money is generally the savings of months of hard labor, and goes into the pockets of scalawags and thieves who are too lazy to work for a living, and the practice being allowed is a disgrace to any county institution."
Looking After the Girls.....1879
Mt. Vernon editor viewed an alarming custom which seems to be growing among the girls of our town walking the streets during the evening. He thought although walking was good for young women to get fresh air and exercise, that this practice ...was very dangerous, "Modest girls should not be seen on the streets, unless necessity compels it, after dark," he reported. He was afraid that if this continued something "alarming" would occur and that what was going on "required a great deal of faith in human nature to believe that no mischief would become of it." He felt that girls were too often inclined to get up little flirtations with the gentlemen they meet. "Sometimes, it is no more than an interchange of glances, a cough, a wave of the handkerchief that can lead to dangerous ventures and we shudder to think of the consequences." He urged parents to watch over their children and to allow their girls to grow up in such a way showing "woman dignity and responsibility." He was sure that he wasn't exaggerating the danger in our city.
Snake Oils, Potions, Pills and Quacks.....1879
If it wasn't bad enough that the advertisements were full of quick healing products, they sold them on the street corners to gullible souls looking for relief. People gave up their cash for remedies of elixirs that cured everything from toothaches to cramps. These quacks sold things like Electric Bitters some sort of "medicine" that cured the female complaints, "exerting great strength to the female organs that helped appetite, nervous sleeping, constipation, headache, sexual desire, fainting spells, excitability, melancholy and even coughs and colds." There were also claims of bottles that had Doctor's names on them like Dr. Mendenhall and Dr. Foley who sold alcohol disguised as medicine for throats, chest, lungs, chills, fever, kidney problems and even malaria. I am sure everyone was a satisfied customer and each dose, "Hit the Spot."
Brinkman Business Interests.....1879
A story from 1879 says: "Mr. Henry Brinkman, manufacture of the celebrated Brinkman Wagon, sold on Saturday last fourteen wagons; during the week twenty seven, and in the last nine months, ninety one wagons. This is undoubtedly one of the largest sales ever made by one firm in this city, and shows that the wagons turned out by Mr. Brinkman are superior to all others manufactured."
The Mob Hanging of October 1878
One of the worst incidents in Mt. Vernon history still is surrounded by controversy. Judge Redwine's recent book, "Judge Lynch" goes into great detail of what may have happened. I highly recommend the reading of his novel. Not knowing for sure the facts of whether the black men were indeed guilty of ravishing the prostitutes, I leave to others to find the entire truth. The Western Star newspaper does speak of a mob gathering at Black's Grove and disguised themselves by turning coats, pants, and hats inside out and covering their faces with black calico. They made a pledge never to divulge the deed of revenge they were about to commit. They formed a line and marched down Walnut Street to the jail, one half entering the east gate, and the other half the north gate. Someone then fired a pistol as a signal for the balance to come in of maybe 300 men and several hundred shots were fired as the work of disarming the guards commenced. Sheriff Hayes and several other guards fought the best they could to protect the prisoners but were overpowered within fifteen or twenty minutes. A key was obtained to the outer door of the jail, but they did not have a key to the cell. Heavy thuds from hammers against iron bars gained their entrance after about one hour. Four blacks were hung on the court square and one escaped and was thrown into the furnace of an engine locomotive. Those in the mob that did not have their faces covered were moved to the other side of the square until the deed was done. After the hanging reporters were brought in and Mr. Jones, the Mt. Vernon artist took photographs of the four Negroes lynched by the vigilantes and sold copies to the public. I have never seen a picture, but I have heard that they still exist. The bodies remained hanging until the funeral of Capt. Thomas, the deputy sheriff, who was killed by gunfire earlier, was held. The funeral procession, on its way to the grave yard, passed by those bodies hanging in the trees. A coroner's inquest appeared in the papers afterwards; they are all similar; he is one: "On the 12th day of October, 1878, an inquest was held in the city of Mt. Vernon, Posey county, Indiana, by the undersigned Coroner of said county, upon the dead body of Edward Warner, found dead upon the Public Square of said city. The deceased at the time of his death was about 23 years old, about six feet high, spare build, black complexion, black kinky hair, had on a black beaver coat, gray wool over shirt, white cotton undershirt, brown jeans pants, white cotton drawers, wool socks and brogan shoes. He had no valuables on his person. Verdict of the jury is he came to his death by hanging of persons to the jury unknown. "Wm. Hendricks, Coroner
New Harmony Gets Rowdy.....July 1878
One weekend in July of 1878 we had bruising brick throwing, festive fists and bloody bludgeons. One man, drunk was beaten around the head with a brick and the victor escaped away across the river to Illinois, never to be seen again. Then later that evening we had considerable intoxication and rowdyism in town and two employees of the "government" works seemed anxious it seemed to have chips knocked off their shoulders. A fight issued and despite being a more powerful and larger man the government worker was knocked out in short order. Soon another government worker got involved and he too was put down. What happened next was a brick was thrown through the saloon of Ed Martin and as he came out of the saloon to see who it was he attacked a man standing nearby with a heavy blow to the head. Some said he was not the man who through the brick. Well thinks settled down until the next morning when Martin decided to take a buggy stroll when another government employee attacked Martin, striking him a blow to the mouth. Martin fired a pistol at him running him off.
New Harmony Independence Day....1878
Seldom has more perfect quiet reigned upon the streets of New Harmony then during the Fourth of that year. Very few people were intoxicated, and those who were so kept out of the way and "behaved themselves, as drunken men should, by going to sleep." The trade in fireworks was not brisk. Young people seemed to be content with smashing a few torpedoes or shooting fire crackers. Many of the citizens formed fishing or picnic parties. The Sunday school children took an excursion up the river on the steamer "Obenchain." Other parties went to Evansville and Wadesville while those who stayed at home celebrated the day by playing "sell" or "seven-up". A fearfully warm day that few were sorry when night came.
Charles Mons dies.....June of 1878.
Charles Mons, living near the "bone bank" in Point Township was kicked to death by a mule in June of 1878.
Also during that period a man named Davis in Point was shot and robbed by an unknown man.
New Harmony Fish Salesman Upset With "Carpetbaggers!".....April 1878
Frank Collins says he always serves his friends and customers with live, healthy fish, and he should be patronized in preference to the carpetbaggers who have little care what kind of fish they palm off as long as they make money. He said the fish that they hawk the street with are often stale and unhealthy. "People, who have no interest in our town beyond making money, come here and place nets across the river to catch fish in direct violation of the law, and then bring them to our citizens, often dead and stale."
We Will See About That!!.....March 1878
A young child of Henry Dietz was refused burial at the Catholic graveyard in St. Wendell, because the father owed $4 in pew rent. He took the hinges off the gate himself and buried his child.
A couple of Italians arrived in town with a huge brown bear. The keepers performed with the bruin on the streets to the delight of all the town's folk.
Peter Heckman a saloon keeper in New Harmony came home drunk after a visit out of town and after drinking considerable beer went to sleep in a chair in his yard. Some town's people with the help of Mt. Vernon saloon keeper, Ike Kahn procured a coffin and set it up before him with a suitable inscription of his death announcing his burial the next day. The next morning they went around with a brass band to bury him amid great excitement and good humor. Heckman took the joke well; although, he said it wasn't beer as that is too light for him and that the next time he sees Ike he "will shoot him on the spot!"
P.T. Barnum Circus Comes to Evansville.....September 1877
I wonder if any of our local residents took the train to see the circus which came to Evansville by rail upon immense special excursion trains containing fifty magnificent cages. Some of the highlights were:
- A noble Albanian Greek, tattooed - from head to foot
- A litter of lion cubs
- A baby camel
- Two baby baboons, the only ones ever born on this continent
- A stupendous tent temple of mechanical marvels, operated by a silver steam engine
- A grand field museum of living prodigies
- 100 principal performers
- 6 educated stallions
- 2 super bareback riders
- huge elephants
- Tickets 50 cents
Grand Centennial Barbecue at Black's Grove.....July 1876
On July 4, there was a big barbecue and basket picnic at Black's Grove just north of Robin Hill and all the citizens of Posey County and all the adjoining counties of Kentucky and Illinois were invited. A Grand Procession parade marched from downtown to the festivities. Arrangements were made with steamboats and railroads to carry passengers to the event for half fare. The celebration was ushered in by the firing of cannon, and the ringing of bells to celebrate our countries' 100th birthday. A history of Posey County was read as was the Declaration of Independence. The Centennial Orations was delivered by the Honorable Wm. P. Edson. Singing and music were provided by the Singing Societies.
Court House Furnishings....January 1876
The George H. Grant and Company was granted $4623 to furnish the new Court House with furniture. The Court House had developed a leak on the roof and Norris & Hinkley, contractors were ordered to repair it.
The Eastern part of town was called Belleville and was the leading portion of our town. A rivalry existed for a time between west-siders and east-siders. One passenger train passed east around 1:30 PM and one passed west around 2:30 PM. Those were the only passenger trains going through town at that time. Practically all that part of town which lies west of Pearl Street and all that part lying north of Fourth Street and northwest of the Fourth Street fill was an open common, over which, roamed and grazed the cattle and hogs of the residents of the day. An old wooden bridge crossed Mill creek, but the bridge was torn down and replaced by the Fourth Street fill. At that time, there were not more than eight or ten kerosene street lights in town, and with the approach of night the town was in complete darkness. In those days everybody owned a dog or two, a horse and some cows and at night you could hear every variety of howling and barking. Herds of cattle grazed the west end common, each cow bearing a bell around its neck by which the owner could distinguish it both day and night. Fireflies and insect life infested the air. Nature was abundant, the soil new and fertile. Timber was cheap and abundant. Our forests were covered with a heavy growth of poplar, hickory and oak trees. Immense trees - many over a century old - supported squirrel, deer, wild turkeys and smaller animals and the area was a hunter's paradise. Wild bird life was abundant as you woke in the mornings to thousands of sweet voiced singing birds.
Cole's Zoological and Equestrian Exposition.....1875
W.W. Cole's circus still exists and in November of 1875 they unloaded by train in Mt. Vernon and paraded through town with a team of camels pulling the band wagon. Animals of every kind in were seen in cages as they moved to the big tents at the fairgrounds. Preceding them to Mt. Vernon were full size newspaper advertisements, yet they lived up to their billing and surely the best circus ever performed here. The parade was novel and interesting as hundreds gathered along Main Street. When the show opened that afternoon, the circus tent was crammed full of expectant people. The Menagerie and Museum tents were full of curios and wonders. There were wax figures of famous people, a mechanical steam man that walked, there were large serpents crawling around in glass plate dens. Rare animals were shown one being the largest sea lion every found, a 13 foot giraffe, and huge monster lions and tigers. Of course, there were elephants. The grounds were full of people walking about in excitement as a steam musical instrument played. The performances in the ring were outstanding. The lady performers equaled anything we had seen before. There were bareback riding and somersaults while riding spirited horses going full speed which drew deafening applause. The greatest act was a man on a trapeze that did a double somersault onto a moving horse beneath him.
A Bloody Deed...Axe Murderer.....1875
Blood curdling affairs maybe hard to think of; but, they occurred far more often than I would have imagined in our town's history. The 19th century was full of them, seemingly monthly. This story is about a husband and wife that had a problem of male jealousy. The wife, a very attractive lady by all indications and a faithful wife by witnesses was killed by her ex-husband. In the marriage they quarreled frequently and finally the wife was compelled to seek a divorce. There was a revival going on at a Baptist church in town. The ex-husband with his former wife in attendance pretended that he was converted, went to the mourner's bench and publicly declared his intention of reforming himself to become a better man. At the same time he had murder in his heart. After the service, the lady, first name Minerva started home in the company of another man. Her ex followed her, and when they were a few steps away from the church, called to his former wife that he would like a few minutes conversation with her. She assented, walked up to where he was standing, near a tree, when, without saying a word, he dealt a fatal blow to the head with an axe which he had hidden there earlier for that purpose.
Brinkman Business Interests.....1875
Henry Brinkman was the owner of the Tile Factory that was on what is now Tile Factory Road just north of the railroad tracks and west of the road. It was founded in 1875 and employed six men manufacturing from the 25 acres of clay tiles that were placed in molds and baked in ovens. He also operated a retail store on Main Street with his sons selling furniture and implements. Earlier he made wagons, buggies, and plows, including the" 'Posey Clipper".
Fourth of July in New Harmony.....1874
Saturday's celebration passed pleasantly in New Harmony. Picnics were held in the woods. Sand and lemonade were abundant. A band turned out at 4 PM and treated their citizens with "exquisite music." A ball was held that evening and with very "little gunpowder being burned" there were no accidents to record.
New Harmony Weighs In On New Courthouse Factions.....1874
The New Harmony Register reported that the building of the court house in Mt. Vernon is progressing slowly. They noted that there are two parties of thought in our community one for and one anti court house. "We take stock in neither party, but so far as we are able to judge the new building is going to be a big thing." They thought it would be a credit to the county and that the people of Posey should wait until its construction to decide for themselves. "Whether the new Court House was absolutely needed or not, is too late now to discuss; but that it will be a fine building we believe, and when finished we think the people will be proud of it."
The discussion of a need for a new building was probably just as in April of 1870, Judge Jones deemed the old one unfit and rented a room in the Masonic Hall for weeks at a rate of $20 per day.
New Paper Introduced.....March 1872
Editor Collins of the Mt. Vernon Democrat has commenced the publication of a daily evening paper. It is styled, "The Daily Evening Democrat" and is furnished at the moderate price of fifteen cents per week. The New Harmony Register looked it over and said it was filled with spicy local news. "Mt. Vernon is large enough to support a daily, and we trust the citizens will liberally aid Tom in his efforts to establish one in that young city."
The Republican County Convention was held in Mt. Vernon and was slimly attended and was decidedly a U.S. Grant affair. General Hovey told the convention what he knew of Grant, and Col. John Mann, the chieftain bold and hero of nameless bloody fields told what he knew of Grant's honesty and likewise how easy it would be crush out the 'Democracy of Posey' at the ensuing election. "We don't go much on him as a prophet of the first water. We have heard the Mt. Vernon itemizer and the truthful Thomas before and they have been wrong." To show you how southern sympathies still lived in old Posey I give you this item from the New Harmony Register..."We now have a manufactory of first class, reliable Ku Klux bloodcurdliers in our midst. It is a branch of industry that has been too long neglected by our Radical (Republican) brethren."
Sidewalks & Shade Trees' Protection.....New Harmony 1872
The editor of the New Harmony Register complained to its citizens about those who unnecessary practice hitching horses to the boxes protecting shade trees, or the trees themselves which destroy them. He also was upset that some people drive or ride upon the sidewalks. He found that they were in violation of state laws on those subjects that was approved in 1859. Section 1 enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana forbid for any person to ride or drive upon the brick, stone, plank or gravel sidewalks of any town or village where the street is forty feet or over in width. Section 2 made it unlawful for any person to remove, destroy or cut any shade tree in any village except as necessary alterations by the owner. Section 3 made a violation of this law a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined a sum not more than three dollars.
First Iron Horse Comes to Mt. Vernon.....July 1871
The L&N Railroad Company ran their very first train from Evansville to Black's Grove for Independence Day celebrations. A big city picnic welcomed the new progress in our city.
Overcome By Too Much Religious Excitement....February 1870
A young man named Piedicott, from the upper end of Posey county was brought to Mt. Vernon by his relations, as a hopeless maniac, caused it is said by a religious overdose. When first brought here he was wild and turbulent. Wm. Nelson, county clerk, was the one man that could approach him with safety, but before he left became more rational under good treatment of Mr. Nelson and other county officers who took a great interest in the unfortunate young man. Hopes are entertained that the aberration of mind is only temporary and will recover.
Fiendish Attack on Lady.....1870
Louis Beckley made an attempt to kill a young lady, the daughter of John Noel. Beckley worked on the Noel farm, about 9 miles out of Mt. Vernon. Beckley was seen by Miss Noel whipping a little three year old girl and Miss Noel stopped him by threatening to hit the rascal with a stool. He said he would have his revenge, and that night he broke into Miss Noel's room and tried to pour prussic acid in her ear. The acid struck her neck, and when she awoke he escaped from the room. He fled to Illinois, but was captured and put in our jail.
Prussic acid was used to kill vermin in the old days and even was used in capital punishment injections for awhile.
"Ba, Ba, Ba, Bad; Bad to the Bone".....1870
Albert Bell was stabbed and instantly killed by George Ferguson on October 18. Bell was a farmer living close to Mt. Vernon and Ferguson had been working for him. Both came to town and became considerably intoxicated. In the upper part of town the two quarreled and Bell was stabbed in the right breast. Bell who was known as a peaceable man and Ferguson was known to be very quarrelsome with under the influence of liquor. Ferguson made no attempt to escape. When arrested he was lying on the body of the murdered man, crying.
Jury Partakes with a "little help from their friends.":....1870's
Back at that time Luning shot and killed a man named James Beard. Luning stood trial for murder of the third degree and then the jury retired to their room. After lunch, the bailiff allowed them a few moments outside to breathe some fresh air under the trees of the courtyard. Here someone brought them a "growler" and they partook of some beer. (A growler was a container used to carry fresh beer from a brewery to home). The bailiff was fined and the jury discharged. The prosecution insisted on a new trial, but the Supreme Court ruled that "the defendant's life had already been jeopardized, and he could not be tried again and thus he was liberated."
Early Settler of Mt. Vernon in 1810 Reminisces.....1870
Samuel Rowe crossed the Ohio River with his father's family in 1810 to what was then known as McFadden's Bluff. At that time the only white persons living there were Robert Dunn, Old Billy McFadden, unknown McFelie, Jack Givens, and Andrew McFadden. The Bluff received its name from Andrew McFadden who was the first settler although not owner of the lands. At that time, Posey County was part of Knox County, with Vincennes as the county seat and capital of the territory, having but two counties Knox and Clark, General William H. Harrison being Governor. At that time the nearest places of trade were Shawneetown, Illinois, and the Red Banks, Kentucky, the present site of Henderson. Persons wishing to purchase goods of any kind would go to either the Red Banks or Shawneetown with their venison hams and coon skins to exchange for goods, these two articles being legal tender. In 1813, William Robison came to the Bluff with a store boat and rented a log stable to sell his goods and found a ready market. Robison sold his articles at a high price on credit until fall when he would receive his pay in pork, pecans, hams and coon skins. He would then sell his wares down south. Mr. Robinson gave us the name Mt. Vernon in honor of the residence of General Washington. Jesse Welborn was the next person to become a merchant here in the fall of 1817. Dick Barter came around 1818 and rented blacksmith tools and erected the first smithy shop in the town. The county seat remained at Blackford until it went to Springfield after Posey County came into being. It stayed at Springfield until 1827 when it was reinvented in Mt. Vernon. The first sheriff of the county was John Carson and William Stewart was the first Clerk and Recorder. The sheriff also served as tax collector. Ratliff Boone was the first representative of Posey County and Thomas Givens the first born Mt. Vernon senator. The first sermon preached was by Sammy Jones a Baptist who lived one mile north of town. He was followed by two Methodists around 1829. They preached in the court house.
Attempted Assassination.....Nov. 20. 1869
Around six in the evening as Charles Lounig was on his way home from supper to his grocery he was shot at by some person from behind a tree in the public square, the ball whistling over his head. Suspicion at once pointed toward a known young man and a search was instituted for him, but was not found for four days when he was arrested by Marshall Piper at Smith's Mills in Kentucky. He was brought back and had a preliminary examination before Squire Campbell where bail was given.
Mayor Caned.....November 1869
The third mayor in Mt. Vernon history was Jonathan Burlison. From looking at records I find that he was mayor it looks like three times, but not consecutive terms. Anyway, in 1869 there was a Catholic Fair in town and the mayor was awarded a cane. In a drawing at the fair he won this cane, but it was an ordinary one, 'not such as the highest function of a city like Mt. Vernon should tote", consequently the managers of the Fair sent to Cincinnati and ordered an elegant gold-headed one, bearing the following inscription: "Presented to Mayor Burlison by the Catholic Fair, at Mt. Vernon, November 1869." The cane was then presented to the Mayor by Father Sondermann. Brother Jonathan is very proud.
"I Feel Like I Got To Travel On".....1869
A young gentleman of New Harmony becoming disgusted with the stagnation of business said publicly as willing to leave town for a month for the modest sum of ten dollars. The bystanders concluded the sum was too great and the anxious would be traveler reduced his terms to six dollars, at which rate the novel trade was closed. A contract was drawn up specifying that he should not set foot in Posey for the period of one month, and that he should not take his departure without the privilege of bidding farewell to his lady friends. The town bell was tolled and a party accompanied the banished youth over the river, delivered the greenbacks, after which he lit out for the wilds of Illinois for 30 days. Well, it seems he found a job and will be there permanently.
Editor Thomas Collins Goes Off On Radical Republicans.....1869
Thomas Collins was perhaps my favorite editor and publisher of the Mt. Vernon Democrat. His views sometimes were way off, sometimes racist, but always passionate as he blistered the hated Radical Republicans during the Civil War and during Reconstruction. Here is an example" "Did you ever? Ever what? Why, when the good old Democratic party was in power did you ever hear of spies and pimps nosing among your private goods to see if you had complied with the provisions of an unknown and unpublished law? Did you ever have to swear as to how much money you made? If a manufacturer, did you have to make a monthly report to some lazy revenue assessor who received from five to ten dollars per day? Did you ever hear men as you now do advocate the policy of paying the laborer with paper rags and money shavers instead of gold? Did you ever hear of a United States Treasurer going cahoot with the bulls and bears of Wall Street? Did you ever hear of a tax on everything you eat or wear, in addition to your State and County taxes? And did you ever hear of the President riding about in a steamboat wholly to his own use; at the expense of the people, when he receives a salary of $25,000 per year?
Republican Writes Letter of Protest Against Removal of Postmaster.....1869
Wishing to make remarks in the local newspaper on the removal of the local postmaster the unnamed writer commented: "In regards to the late grand strategic movement of a certain small clique, in removing George Kincaid from the post office ...I suppose they represent the essence of the local Republican Party. It would not due any of them to associate with a Democrat, else their hard earned reputation for morality, Christianity, and honesty might suffer. They evidently represent the chaff of the party. This band of three or four all firm believers in the one man power met in a dark office somewhere near the corner of Second and Main Streets and concocted the brilliant movement which resulted in the removal of a one legged soldier from an office on which he depended upon his support. This one legged soldier, too, served under Grant, in the trenches of Vicksburg in defense of the country. Tis true they may give his office to a soldier. Well yes, they took the office from a one legged soldier who served his country in the ranks in the early part of the war, and gave it to an eleventh hour soldier who enjoyed the comforts of home near the close of the war, and then, induced by high bounty and a captaincy he entered the army, and a few months marched home, well paid for his services to relate to his late companions the wonderful things he accomplished."
Steamer West Wind Purchased by Mt. Vernon Partners.....1869
Locally owned, West Wind arrived here on its way to Cairo, Illinois. she is a neat new steamer, built in February 1868 at Cincinnati and is 157 feet long, 29 foot beam, 3 twenty foot boilers, 36 inches in diameter, 12 engines with a four foot stroke. She has a plain but neat cabin, well furnished having 19 state rooms. She trims in 18 inches and will carry 375 tons. Capt. A.B. Mackey is her commander and Marsh Walthal is her clerk. She will run in the Evansville and Cairo trade route during low water.
Poseyville Flag Pole.....1868
In August, a 147 foot tall hickory flag pole was erected in Poseyville. A large beautiful flag floats from the mast head while at the top of the pole is the irresistible rooster symbol of the Democratic Party.
Future Vice President Visits.....August 1868
Senator Thomas Hendricks visited Mt. Vernon welcomed by the New Harmony Brass Band. People came by wagons, buggies and horseback to hear the distinguished senator. He became the 16th Governor of Indiana and became the 21st Vice President of the United States.
River Items.....February 1868
The Ohio River has been rising the last few days and is now at good boating stage for the largest steamers. The ice has about all run out and it is doubtful whether the ice from the upper gorges will reach here. After a cold January where the temperatures fell to as low as minus ten on the eighteenth, the packets have again commenced making trips after temporarily laid up by ice. The steamer Commonwealth, a large steamer came to our wharf on Sunday evening last and filled out with corn and pork. She made out a full load here. Welborn, Sullivan & Co., and Decker & Fuhier handled her. The Richmond also received a quantity of pork and corn here Thursday.
Load 'em up Boys-Steamboat in Town.....1868
Editor counted 105 wagons of corn on the streets of Mt. Vernon in one day to be loaded on boats at the riverfront wharf. Each wagon contained 20-25 bags of corn.
Steamboat, Steamboat Run Mighty Slow. Railroad, Railroad, They Really Go.....1868
The title was a jingle I found from that time. Although I haven't actually read it, supposedly Mark Twain wrote in his book, "Life on the Mississippi" in 1883 when he was a steamboat captain about our area. Prior to the Civil War, Twain said, "flatboats being piloted by Posey Countians should not be allowed on my river because the rafts were a hazard to paddlewheelers."
Just In Time for Christmas Dinner.....1867
Charles Gerding received a beautiful assortment of Christmas presents such as toys, candles, etc. He also has many oysters available as well as a fine assortment of oranges, pineapples and bananas from New Orleans. Joe Moore was selling fire crackers for the fancy of the children this holiday. And Rosenbaum's has new selections of dry goods especially boots, shoes and hats.
Oysters were also brought in from Baltimore to a man named Mr. Wimpleberg who would sell them and was known as "The oyster man" at that time and into the 1870's.
The town of Mt. Vernon, at this time, had many convenient stores and interesting features such as the Nelson House at the corner of Store (now College) and Water Street (once called First Street). Just east was the residence of J. B. Wilbur, then the saloon of Joe Gamble and Bill Balue, where both lost their lives in an argument with a Federal soldier who was home on furlough during the Civil War. Next place east was a steam boat store owned by Wilber. Other businesses downtown were dry goods stores, the James and Lowrey Bank, Dexheimers Baby and Toy Store, Stittlers Barber Shop, Fogas Cigar Manufacturer, the Test Taylor Shop, Barter's Hardware Store, the Cawson Book Store, the Stewart Millinery, and a Hoop Skirt factory. Still other popular outlets were the Tombstone Works, the Fulling Tailor Shop, Dryden Hardware and Tin Shop, Scherdels Harness Shop, Moores Candy Store, and Schenk's Hotel. The old courthouse then was not the one we see today and it was fenced in with a plank fence all around with a cap board on top, of which loafers sat all day carving with their knives on the yellow poplar wood. The court yard was filled with honey locust trees. On the east corner of the square was the Cannon House where they kept two big brass cannons. They had a company of men who were past the draft age limit to serve in the ranks, whose job was to protect the women, children, and property of the city. The newspaper was then called the Advocate and was edited by Thomas Prosser. There was a covered bridge on Second Street. Where the Water Works stands today there was an old warehouse owned by George Thomas, the wharf master. The wharf boat was a hull of an old steamboat decked over to protect the freight shipped in and out of our busy port. The boat had two stage planks about seven feet wide with half foot banisters on the side and ends that rested on the wharf. There were two wheels about twelve inches thick and thirty inches in diameter made of solid wood. They were for rolling up and down the wharf as the river would rise and recede. Teams would drive in on one side of the boat and out the other, eliminating turning round on the boat. Main Street was lined with boulders the size of coconuts from Water to Fourth Street.
Viewed Lincoln's Body When He Came To America.....1865
Frank Smith of Mt. Vernon in 1917 was one of the few men living who viewed the slain President's body after the assassination. Mr. Smith arrived in New York from Germany where he had just graduated from Heidelberg University, the day Lincoln was shot, and with thousands of others viewed the remains as they were lying in state in New York.
Brewery Hill Settlement.....1864
Brewery Hill was settled by Benjamin Wilson. He was from Kentucky and was a sergeant in the 136th Regiment, Company "H", Indiana Volunteers, 1864. He purchased land in the northwest part of Black Township along Big Creek. The black settlement soon built some cabins, a blacksmith shed, a store and a cemetery. As it grew a church was established that was also used as a school. Before a school was constructed, the New Harmony Rappites were aiding in the education of the people of the settlement.
Picket Duty by Charles Hovey During the Civil War
?"Another time the Militia turned out to receive the enemy. Pickets were thrown out and placed at the different roads, entering the town. One old gentleman, who knew nothing about military affairs, was placed in command of a squad, and ordered to picket a certain covered bridge and road. He started off with a plug hat worn back on his forehead and specks on his eyes and a little jug of whiskey in his hand. Reaching said bridge, a halt was ordered, a drink taken all around and a man placed on duty, then forward march again and the same thing repeated. At last the jug was empty and lo and behold, the squad was the same size, as when they started out, each man simply falling in line, when said squad moved on."
There was a fire squad patrolling the town every night and ladders placed up against the building to see if all was right. The Captain had a tin horn about three feet long, in which, he could call, "Any fire up there? Answer, "No", "Come down" He could be heard at all hours of the night. A cavalry company would often drill on the commons and somehow they did not learn readily, how to manage their horses. The Captain's command would be, "gentlemen will you please right oblique?" and then they would get their horses all mixed up, heads where tails should be and tails where heads should be, he would storm, and yell, "God damn you, gentleman won't you please right oblique?"
On one occasion the citizens who had money on hand, hid it in various places, one gentleman residing on Main Street, dug a hole, put some paper money in a box and buried it, a heavy rain during the night completely soaked it. He placed it up on top of his porch to dry. A breeze sprang up and scattered it all down the street. He secured the most of it, although some got away with those who helped gather it up." Drill practice was every night with wooden sabers.
Hovey went on to add that tin clad gun boats would be on the Ohio, opposite the town such as the Conestoga, Lexington and the Tyler. At times he said the boats would land with rebel prisoners and young Charles would trade apples with them for souvenirs of the war such as buttons and belts.
Mt. Vernon and Vicinity During the Civil War....1864
Two months before he died Charles J. Hovey, son of the late General and Governor made these statements. "As my father had predicted when we left New Orleans, the terrible struggle between the North and South, started only a few months later. The gun at Fort Sumter was fired in the early part of 1861 and the North sprang to arms as one man. My father at once raised the 1st Reg. of the Indiana Legion. He was commissioned Colonel of the 24th Indiana Volunteers and immediately started to the front and joined Fremont's command in Missouri. Fortunately, for Indiana, Kentucky remained neutral, but furnished men for both the North and the South. Had Kentucky gone with the South, Indiana would have been a big battlefield. It was not long before our little city was threatened by the Guerillas and organization of lawless men who claimed to belong to the Southern Army, but were not recognized by same and robbed both sides. Mt. Vernon was stirred up quite often by threats. I remember one day, called Bloody Monday when word was received that the rebels were crossing the river at Uniontown, Kentucky and marching on the town. The farmers were to be notified by firing off one of the cannons, so they could come to our assistance. The Armory was located on the northeast part of Public Square, directly opposite our front door and discharged. The wad struck the door and the concussion broke every window in the house. I was in bed at the time, but almost bounced to the ceiling with fright, being awakened out of a sound sleep, I thought a shell had struck the place. I got my gun; one sent me from Shiloh an English army gun and determined to help defend my native hearth. I stationed myself in the south west corner of the lot, which had several large apple trees, intending if hard pressed to fall back behind said trees and finally over the back fence. Shortly I heard the yelling, "They are coming, they are coming," and as the Dan Rice Market house occupied the northwest corner of Public Square, they would have come around the corner before I could get to see them. I rested my heavy gun on the fence, cocked it and awaited their approach; finally, there came a lot of men running single file. Thinking they were the enemy I took sight on the foremost and pulled on the trigger, but my finger was too high up and I could not discharge the gun, by that time, I recognized the foremost man, as one of the Home Guards. Had the gun been fired, probably I would have killed two or three of them, they being directly behind each other and the army guns were powerful shooters. (The Hovey home referred to was on the northwest corner of Fourth and Walnut, now owned by the Elks)
Captain Absalom Macky - Civil War Sailor.....1861
In 1861 he enlisted in the Navy with 74 other Posey County men whom he secured to man the wooden gun boat, "The Conestoga", of which he was given command. He was a fearless fighter and the gun boat made a good account of itself at the battle of Ft. Donaldson. Shortly, after Mackey became very ill and came home to recuperate. He was persuaded to resign his commission and he took charge of the transport, "The Tom Scott," which had been purchased by some of the leading businessmen of Mt. Vernon. This vessel had been in service only a short time when it was sold for a better boat called the "Idaho." It was purchased at the cost of $40,000 and was one of the finest transports on the river. Captain Mackey had a financial interest in it and was given the command. While in Paducah, Kentucky, the boat was attacked by rebels. The boat had been preparing for departure and was being held at the wharf by only one rope when the rebels charged the boat. The captain saw them coming and rushing to the engine room, had a hose attached to the boilers and streams of boiling water were poured on the rebs making them retreat as he made his escape.
The Origin of Bellefontaine Cemetery.....1860
In 1860, nine local citizens of German heritage, John Schisley, Wm Stritter, Charles Haas, John Pfeffer, Henry Brinkman, Fred Reichert, John Zimmerman, Jocob Bischoff and Chas. Kreie met around a table, lit by kerosene lamps and devised a place to bury the dead. They purchased two acres of ground from Valentine Shryock and named it German Cemetery. In 1863 they added two more acres as their English speaking neighbors began purchasing lots and changed the name to Black Township Cemetery. Around 1898 the name became Bellefontaine, I don't know why. By 1913 there were 4054 bodies there almost the population of the town in this silent city. The first sexton of the cemetery was Frank Lintz who dug graves the first 18 years.
Young Ladies Seminary.....1850's
Early in the 1850's a group of businessmen from Mt. Vernon decided our town needed a select school for women. These individuals were Tomas Hinch, George Green, Walter Larkin, Ed Sullivan, John Evertson and Alvin Hovey. A lot was purchased on the east side of College Avenue between Second and Third streets. This was the site of the building with the Leonard Home to the north converted into a dormitory for out of county students. The seminary was built in 1856 of brick construction. Although only one story high the building was long and the rooms were of generous size all opening off a center hallway. The grounds were enclosed with an iron fence with two iron gates. The first president was Dr. Jury who came from Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts and him and his family also resided in the building. Judge Edson was an instructor there as was Elizabeth Ber and Miss Dill. The school attracted students from Mt. Vernon, Evansville, New Harmony and southern Illinois. Martha Wilsey was a student there who became a charter member of the Minerva Club of New Harmony. Another student was Ester Hovey who married G.V. Menzies. An Episcopalian minister, Dr. Foster of Boston was the next seminary president in 1860 and the school name was changed to Foster School. Foster lasted that one year as the Civil War broke out and further interest in the school was gone. The two buildings were sold in a sheriff's sale in 1863 to Joseph Welborn and Edward Sullivan. The school was later used as a residence by John Butler. In 1868, one of the original sponsors Walter Larkin bought the place, kept a few boarders and planted the yard full of beautiful flowers. Many owners later it had a Third street entrance and became a hotel by several owners, known best as the Brettner House. In the summer of 1955 it was torn down and the space used as a parking lot by Brite Motor Sales , later Breeze Motors. The hotel was also known as the European Hotel and the Damron House. When it was the Hotel De Brettner owned by Louis Brettner it had a restaurant and a saloon.
The Wabash Flood.....1847
In January of that year the rain was intense and after it stopped falling the temperatures dropped so rapidly that within one night ice formed so thick that it would support a man's weight. At Popular Ridge about five miles above New Harmony there was a tract of land of ten acres where according to the newspaper account, "carcasses of horses, cattle and hogs lay so thick that a person could travel over them without touching the ground." Hundreds lost everything and many would have perished from exposure without the generosity of their fortunate neighbors. One who deserves special mention was a man of French birth Achilles Fretageot of New Harmony who showed Christian benevolence to his suffering fellowmen and their families. All his resources were placed at his command and placed at the needy citizens disposal. New Harmony became a point of supply to the scattered settlements on both sides of the river some as far away as 50 miles. Trading points were scarce. The editor of the Western Star said in 1882...."The convenience of modern travel were unknown in those days...What once took three or four days to go to and from New Harmony, the same can be accomplished in as many hours today."
Location of the Hoop Pole Fight....1832
At one time, Mt. Vernon was known unofficially as Hoop Pole Township. Around 1832, about a dozen flatboats were docked at the wharf at the end of Main Street and the rivermen came into town for some fun in the riverfront saloons. Initially, they stopped at the saloon of John Carson, on Water Street. They were soon joined by men from the adjacent cooper shop until the drinking led to a fight. The locals were badly beaten; but, some rougher elements heard about this melee and came armed with hoop poles used in the making of barrels. The fight was on again and this time the boatmen were forced back upon their watercrafts badly bruised. As the flatboats went down river others noticed and news of the fight spread. From then on we had a reputation as a rough town. According to a document I found in 1926 researched by Alice Fogas the location of the fight was north of Water Street, east of alley between Main and Store Street (College). The cooper shop was on the north side of Water Street at or just west of the N.W. corner of Main and Water. To this day, a Hoop Pole sits in the trophy case and the senior class ties their ribbon on it. Our first graduation class was 1874. I do not know when the tradition started, but if someone knows I would like to hear of it.
In 1939, the National Historical Magazine monthly publication of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution showed a photo daguerreotype of two people standing in front of a steamboat in Mt. Vernon in 1853. No other information was available. It was discovered that the first daguerreotype ever taken in Mt. Vernon were Martha Green, wife of Judge Geo. Green and her two children, Charles and Phoebe, pioneer residents of Posey county. This was before 1840. Mrs. Green was the mother of Mrs. Sallie Ashworth a resident in the 1930's living at 614 Main Street. I have some of these daguerreotypes myself of family members that are very dark. Did have some prints made off them which brought out the images better. I believe mine are from around the 1880's.
$3000 Posey County Thimble....1827
Edmund Rogers was born in Connecticut in 1801, a direct descendent of Thomas Rogers, who came over on the Mayflower in 1620. As a child he came with his family to Indiana. In 1827 Edmund Rogers and Adam Moffitt of Mt. Vernon opened a general store in New Harmony. One day a customer came in the store while Edmund was behind the counter emptying a bag of coffee into bin and Moffitt was in the rear of the store unpacking a box of onions that had arrived by flatboat from Evansville. The customer, a man, stopped half way in the store and turned to leave, apparently undecided to whether make a purchase or not. Rogers stepped around the corner and asked if he could help him. The customer was nervous then mumbled that he would like to purchase one thimble. Rogers didn't think they had one, then remembered that a shipment of notions had come in that day and Mr. Moffit was opening boxes in the back at that moment. The man followed Rogers to the back and they found some thimbles. The man selected one and hurried from the store. A few hours later in walked the sheriff. Firmly he brought the proprietors to the front of the store and read to them a writ of injunction closing the store issued by Judge Goodlet and ordered them to be placed in the county jail to await orders from the court. A complaint had been made to the judge by a company who claimed they had an exclusive right to sell merchandise in New Harmony. The store was locked, and Rogers and Moffitt started off for Mt. Vernon and jail. Reaching Big Creek they stopped at the grist mill of James Black where they took a ribbing from the farmers gathered there. In Mt. Vernon they were locked in the old log jail but were free again before the next day. Higher courts heard the case and made the decision in favor of Rogers and Moffitt. The pair raised a suit for damages for false imprisonment and they were awarded $3000.
Long Distance Mail.....New Harmony 1825
In September of 1825, mail would arrive at New Harmony from the east via Cincinnati, Louisville, and Evansville every Thursday and outgoing mail would depart every Friday morning.
Mt. Vernon's First Hotel.....1820
Jesse Y. Welborn built and kept the first hotel in Mt. Vernon in 1820 on the corner of Main and Water Streets, constructed of logs. He later built another log hotel (name unknown) on a lot partly occupied by the First National Bank, fronting Main Street. These were the first places of "public entertainment." Later where the water works payment office is stood the Nelson House, a first class hotel popular with steamboat visitors. In 1831 the Brettner Hotel was built on Third and Store Street corner. It operated under different names form the 1870's to 1884. It had a restaurant and a saloon.
Welborn was also our first postmaster, appointed in 1818, and the first post office was in a room of his home at what became Second Street and College Avenue.
The Whipping Post.....1815
The first criminal case in Posey County on June 19, 1815 found Meshack Green guilty of marking hogs. This amounted to larceny in those days. The defendant was given a fine of $50 and was to receive "twenty-five lashes on his bare back publicly between the hour of five and half after five this evening." At that time, the whipping post was still a duly recognized proper means of punishment of criminals in the United States.
Ray Gets Personal
"IF and When I die", My Mother's Reflections of Her Rural Youth.....1924-1942
Going through some filed papers of mothers prior to her funeral, I found a series of notes my mother had written in long hand of times long gone living in Illinois. I thought I would include some of them here as they show what simple yet a loving family did during the Depression, 1937 Flood, and World War Two years: "I was the youngest daughter and 13th child of Oliver and Anna Huff, born November 23, 1924 in White County, Illinois, Rising Sun or Marshall's Ferry, but known as Dogtown. Back then women did not go to the hospital and I was born in our home. I had 7 sisters, 3 brothers and two children died young, a boy and a girl. My oldest brother Walter had one girl, Vina who was my age and was like a sister. My sister "Tootsie", her real name Violent was the closest in age to me, being 5 years older. I was tall 5'9" and she was short, maybe not 5 foot. Her growth was stunted by scarlet fever and she liked to died. I remember when we went to shows or to fairs, she could get in for half fare, even though she was older and I would have to pay full price! Ha ha. When we were small we kids played in the play house with our dolls. We made mud pies and we even had a store where we would trade in our mud pies and cakes for colored water or crepe paper. Back then we made flowers from this paper for Decoration Day. We would go out in the fields and gather wild ferns to make sprays for the graves. I remember that when we went to the grave yard we would meet people we hadn't seen all year long. We always had a lot of family stay for dinner, mostly eating outside in nice weather under the old pecan tree. If that tree could talk it could tell a lot. Our home dated back to the mid nineteenth century so it seen so many gatherings. It was the coolest place around before air conditioning or even fans. The winters were cold, had lots of snow and ice. We would sleigh ride all the time going down the hills and make a big log fire so you could stay out for hours at a time. We would ice skate on the ponds near our house until we were nearly frozen then run home crying and warm up to a big pot bellied stove. We had lots of snow ice cream too. In the spring and summer we would put out big gardens of potatoes, tomatoes and beans. We would can food every day, all day in the summer except Sunday as that was church day. We had a big old cellar in the back yard full of garden produce. Dad raised hogs and chickens to kill and put them in the smoke house to cure. We made pork sausage, had country hams, ate fish, rabbits, squirrels, and even turtles. Dad worked hard fishing the Wabash putting out big nets and also collecting mussel shells selling them. We use to walk from Dogtown out on the hills four or five miles to pick black berries to can. Mom would can about 100 quarts then we would sell the rest. We made jelly and great blackberry cobblers. We canned all kinds of fruit. Peaches were ripe in August and we would do another 100 quarts. We didn't go very far only to church and maybe one day to the Carmi fair.
We did walk a lot meeting other young people on Sunday playing games. I remember we would walk to Maunie, before I learned to drive. We didn't have hot water heaters, had to pump the water and heat it to wash. We took baths in large wash tubs. Our heat in the winter Dad would cut the wood to burn in the stove. I remember he use to pack poles on his back from the woods home and then we would have to saw it. I would help him saw wood. It was a big saw with handles on both ends and you go back and forth. As the years passed we started using coal for heat. We got a big truck load every winter to supplement the wood. We would heat irons and wrap towels around them to warm our feet in bed, lots of quilts, and blankets on the beds as our rooms were unheated.
The great 1937 flood came and I was 12 years old I guess, it rained and rained and rained ... it just kept raining! Our family and others moved to the school house away from the river because it was higher ground. The water came up to the roof of our home. One day "state men" came and said all women and children must leave ... we had to get out. Poor mother she had to take care of Julia's half a dozen kids and us too because Julia was pregnant again and they had took her to Carmi to stay. So here we are all 20 or so of us riding it a big boat from Dogtown to almost Carmi, water everywhere. When we got there, people filled the town as other communities were forced out also. Mom had someone drive us to Mt. Vernon, Indiana to my sister Louisa home and we stayed upstairs. They had to put up beds everywhere. The Red Cross, Salvation Army helped we flood people and I remember I ate some grapefruit for the first time. We had all kinds of shots given to us and our arms were so sore. Poor Louisa and Raleigh never complained about putting us up. We kids would go down to the riverfront everyday to see if the river was falling, we were so home sick. We had never been away from home in our lives except to go to school. Three other sisters were now living in Mt. Vernon working at the Garment factory and they rent rooms. Dad and my brother Bryle would stay at the school house and take care of what things we had stored there away from the flood. They had no one to cook for them so they didn't have it so well either. Finally, the water began to fall, my older sisters went over before we did, been taken as far as a car could drive them then picked up in a boat by my sister Myrtle's boyfriend back home. Anyway, they had to start cleaning up the house and get things back in order so we could all go home. Mom finally took us all back when the first train returned to Illinois. Boy, were we happy! Everything was a mess, mud, old trees and brush lying around. It didn't smell very good. Spring was on the way so our spirits were lifted.
As I said Leonard, was working for the railroad and had to be away from home a lot, but he helped make the living for the family. He was always buying things for the house ... a car for instance. He started working at age 18 and died in 1962. He was a great brother, never married, almost like a father to us. He gave us each a silver dollar every Christmas. He would come home on weekends living in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. Back then there were trains going through Maunie twice a day, one in the morning and one at night. After I learned to drive, I would take him to catch the train. He came in on Saturday mornings and go back on Sunday nights. Myrtle used to make the family clothes. Tootsie would look in the Sears catalog what styles there were and Myrtle would use the old foot model sewing machine and make real pretty duplicates. 1938 or 1939, the older sisters all got married, but didn't move away too far. They were always coming back to the home place to help out in the garden and canning. That left Leonard, Byrle, Tootsie and me still at home. I was driving now and they were having picture shows in Maunie and once a week sometimes we got to go. I would also take people to the county churches.
The war came in 1941 and all the young men had to go. Byrle had to leave getting his training at Ft. Leonardwood in Missouri. While there Leonard got us a pass on the train to visit Byrle and it was the longest ride in my life but Mom, Tootsie and I were so happy to see him. Then Byrle was sent overseas to England. After that they started taking married men ... Gib and Corbet had to go. Corbet was at Ft. Knox Kentucky for awhile. My sister Nellie went by bus to visit her husband there. He went to Europe too. I stayed home and worked making LST's in Evansville as my brother Leonard would take me as he worked in a defense plant too. There were no young men left. I would watch the troop trains leave and wave at them and being young they would whistle and holler back at us. Ha ha.
My school days we had a one room school ... all grades together having two teachers, one male and one female. Black boards on both ends. We would have pie suppers and box socials where boys would bid on our food. Then you would eat your lunch ... with a boy. This was how we were learning about each other. The money went to the school. We had wiener roasts and big Sunday dinners. My Uncle Tom Huff would come over and say he wasn't hungry, but he would eat more than anyone else! We had no washing machine; you heated water outside in a big tub. You used a wash cloth and a washboard. You ring out the cloth and put it on the clothes line. I had to do a lot of ironing back then and we would starch our clothes real stiff. Those white shirts were something else to iron. We didn't have refrigerators either. Later we had an ice box, when we could get a block of ice from Maunie. It was 1942 before we got electricity. That was real nice to have electric lights, a radio to hear Roosevelt, electric irons, and electric fans. In later years we finally got that refrigerator.
In the spring of the year we would pick greens down by the road to eat. They didn't spray for weeds back in the day. It tasted like spinach and mom could make corn bread from it. We always had something sweet like pies, cakes and we done it ... from scratch no box mixes back then. Apple, cherry, blackberry, mince meat, rhubarb, peach ... all kinds. I hoed the garden and picked weeds and Tootsie worked inside cleaning and starting dinners. I did a lot of washing dishes and we didn't have running water. We used dish pans and heated water in kittles. We caught rain water in barrels and once a week we would wash our hair in the soft water. In the summertime we would sleep on the floor as it was cool. We didn't lock our doors and we just had the screen doors open. No one was afraid and there was always a cooling breeze at night. People helped each other more then ...not so much today.
I am thankful I was raised in a Christian home. Mom sure believed in prayer. I can still see her as she always kneeled beside her bed each night before she slept praying for her family and others. She prayed that she would live to raise all her children which she did. I can say I never saw my mom or my dad drink or smoke while I was growing up. They were a good Christian family. We attended revivals all the time and made quilts for sale to support our little church."
UFO's - We are not alone.....1950's
Thus far I have found four references of strange objects in the sky of Posey County. The first comes from July 26, 1883: "It looked like a bright star, came from the south and moved due north at a very rapid speed," according to men working with a thresher in the daytime at the Hiram Phillips farm. That one to me is interesting because of it being during the day and before airplane travel. During the 1950's there was a rash of sightings across the country. For instance flying saucers were seen ten times in a short period of time over Washington D.C. and the government blamed in on a physical phenomenon such as mirages. Even those these objects occurred on radar they were said to be from "temperature inversion." The next two sightings occurred one day apart on July 31 and August 1st of 1952: A mysterious object was seen over the skies of Mt. Vernon seen by Mr. and Mrs. Taylor Winebarger and Mrs. Robert Sherretz as they sat in their car at the Mt. Vernon Drive-In. A number of other people saw it also. "It moved very fast from east to west in the southern heavens, pale green in color with a red tail." The next night, according to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Allen who reside three miles northwest of Hovey Lake the flying object appeared in the heavens for almost twenty minutes and apparently over Mt. Vernon. They stated that it also was greenish in color and had a red tail. The last one, I seemed to have lost the date; but, it is from the fifties also: Floyd Alldredge of Farmersville saw saucers flying at a high rate of speed and when they appeared directly overhead they turned suddenly in a southeasterly direction between 7:30 and 8 PM. He said they looked like golden Christmas tree ornaments and made a swishing sound at low altitude. This same object was also seen in Evansville at the same time.