Ray's Ramblings - Volume 2
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. This is Volume 2.
President of Botswana Visits Mt. Vernon Ostrich Farm.....1995
Andy Weilbrenner, owner of Southwind Ostrich Ranch near Mt. Vernon, received a call in October from the U.S. Secret Service saying President Quett K.J. Masire wanted to see his ranch. Masire was in the states celebrating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. Weilbrenner had met Masire a few times during business trips to Botswana. Masire grew up a farmer in the ostrich business. An advance party of Secret Service agents arrived in the area one day prior to the visit and remained until he left. Weilbrenner said he wanted to visit without fanfare. He was met at the Evansville Regional Airport along with the first lady and about a dozen agents. After a social gathering, Masire was given a tour of chick and breeding facilities. In the evening, Masire hosted Weilbrenner, his wife and five members of his staff for a dinner at Bernie Little's River House in Evansville where the president stayed. Two days later the president flew to London.
Masire was very interested in the history of a nearby school house and Weilbrenner's collection of animals he had hunted on safari. A gift was given to the president of Fabregé style ostrich egg. The main reason for the visit was to learn ways to develop an economic market for an animal which is largely populated in the president's country. Ostriches are so abundant in Botswana they are much like the whitetail deer here. His country is about the size of Texas with 1.4 million people, most of which live in rural villages. Besides Secret Service agents on site were Indiana State Police officers, Posey County Sheriff Deputy Ed Thompson, and Mt. Vernon Police Chief Glenn Boyster.
Island Queen at Mt. Vernon for a two hour cruise.....1995
Gilligan, Mary Ann, Ginger, oh Ginger, and the skipper did not make it, but 200 local citizens did. Sponsored by the Mt. Vernon Chamber of Commerce, the cruise's proceeds were used for Christmas decorations for the city.
Old Mt. Vernon Democrat office.....June 30, 1993
It was located at Fifth & Main and down it comes.
Buzz Swimming Wager.....1990's
Back when the Peerless Saloon was on the corner of Water and Main Streets, a "gentleman" made a $100 bet with a "lady" that he could swim across the Ohio River, kiss the barge tied on the other side and return. Out he went, fully dressed work boots and jacket. Worried patrons didn't think he would actually attempt it and when he did they called the MV Civil Defense. The CD lit out in boats and when they caught up to him they could not convince him to abandon his swim. "I am not breaking the law", he yelled. They escorted all the way, he threw his jacket over his shoulder, walked into the Peerless dripping wet and said, "Give me my $100 bi**h!"
Deadly Refinery Explosion.....May 1989
A flash fire at the local Farm Bureau Refinery killed Jon Rueger 22 of New Harmony and later after many weeks of hanging on a classmate of mine, Doug Lowrey, then 39. Another injury was to Don Byes, 52 of Poseyville. Doug was life-flighted to Humana Hospital in Louisville with burns over 85 percent of his body. Byes had 40 % burns and another man. Thomas Humston of Mt. Vernon was treated and released from injuries at Welborn Hospital. Humston was a backhoe operator when the explosion occurred and was able to help others get away from the scene. The first explosion came from a leak which created a great deal of vapor and sought an ignition source. The explosion really shook the town and the St. Matthew school picnic at Brittlebank Park was abandoned. On East Tenth Street windows were broken from the blast at the home of Steve Waller. My mother Agnes and neighbor Vera Carey who lived nearby on Emmick Street were interviewed to their reaction of the explosion. Mom was always frightened of the refinery and my work at GAF after that day. Mom described the scene as "a huge cloud of smoke and flames shooting up." Ann McNamara and friends were teeing off on Number 3 at the refinery golf course when it occurred. The groundskeeper said, "Leave your clubs and get in the truck." Investigators were called in to determine the source of the ignition whether from a fire, spark or a hot steam pipe. I never did know the verdict.
IHSAA Bans Wood Memorial from playing Mt. Vernon.....1987
Always a great rivalry, especially because for years Mt. Vernon graduate Charlie Brauser was the coach of the Oakland City cagers. An animated coach, a Mt. Vernon Hall of Famer as well as a Oakland City College honoree. Mt. Vernon fans would taunt him with, "Have a seat Charlie, Have a seat." The Acorns back in my day were very good. Another yell we used was..."Hey stomp those nuts!" So, you can see we didn't get along that well at times. Charlie was gone by then coaching the girl's teams I believe. This game was in Mt. Vernon and I remember seeing it. The center for Wood Memorial was probably the best scorer on their squad. He was being guarded very tight by double teams, and two Mt. Vernon centers being rotated on him. As I saw it the game was very physical, but fair. The young man for the Trojans lost his temper at the end and became violent. Parents, school officials, and police ran onto the floor in the game that the Wildcats won 76-65. The player for Wood was dismissed from the team a few days later. Later the Indiana High School Athletic Association ordered that we could not play regular season games versus each other for two years. The ruling was handed down by IHSAA commissioner Eugene Cato. Wood Memorial principal John Johnson, said "It probably was a wise decision." Mt. Vernon Wildcat coach, Brian Smith though the ruling may have been a little drastic.
Short Milling Company Shuts Its Doors.....November 30, 1984
Short Milling Company closed down putting 70 workers out of jobs. The decision came down with little warning and was not made until two weeks prior to the plant ceasing operations. J.R. Short took over the mill in 1947 and production according to recent progress reports quadrupled between that time and 1977. Many workers were left with no pension benefits also. Recently, of course the Mill found another victim with a body being found in the mill as it was being razed in 2011.
Saturn 2 Gameland Opens at Southwind.....January 1982
Video game enthusiasts now have found a place to fight the monsters of the machines. Saturn 2 Gameland opened its doors at the Southwind Shopping Plaza Mini Mall. The arcade opened with two machines I would be familiar with being pinball machines. But I could never get ole Donkey Kong to hang on the rope so I would be lost doing Pac Man, Asteroids Delux, Centipede, Defender and my nemesis Donkey Kong. Owners are Neil and Chris Ramsey who also own a game room in Tell City. An attendant was on duty at all times. A pool table will be added soon for more enjoyment.
Bomb Threats....January 1981
We take these a little more serious in today's world. We have emptied our factory a few times over the years due to these call ins by undisclosed disturbed individuals. We stand in the parking lot or along the rail road tracks while the fire department or someone walks through the plant looking for something that looks out of place. In this threat of 1981 at Mt. Vernon High School, superintendent of schools Melvin Levin never considered the threat to be legitimate. Even so, the school cleared the school and used it as their monthly fire drill mustering out on the sidewalks and parking lots. A decade later I believe there were a series of incidences at the school where fire alarms were being pulled in great numbers by students. Eventually, I believe they came up with a solution by having some sort of ink stain coming from pulling them.
Local Bells Ring For Release Of Hostages.....January 1981
The bells of Trinity United Church of Christ rang loud and clear on January 20th, 1981 as 52 hostages in Iran were released. Minutes before, it was announced on television that they had been released. It was ironic that they were released as soon as President Carter left office and President Reagan assumed the duties. The Rev. Dwayne Yegerlehner stood in the foyer of the church as Alvin Kleinschmidt rhythmically pulled on the heavy bell cord for two minutes. Yellow ribbons tied around trees and poles were taken down as they were put up to keep the crisis in the minds of the American people. The captives were held 444 days. As the 52 freed Americans landed in the United States, the Mt. Vernon Civitan Club placed American flags all over town as they always done on the 4th of July. Civitan President Dennis Herrmann called the display, "Freedom Flags."
"Polar Bear Club" Go For A Dip on New Year's Day.....1981
For the second year in a row local ski enthusiasts including several from my graduating class plunged into the cold Ohio River on New Year's Day. They try to stay up on the skis , but inevitably, someone will fall into the cold waters. There were 25 members to this club at the time of this gathering. Didn't catch all the names, but the ones I did were Tony Gross, Carolyn Reineke, Bob and Cathy Joe Bulla, Randy and Sue Leonard, Dan Funk, Mark Fields, and Bob Riniger. You daredevils are crazy!
Southwind Maritime Centre Has Banner Year .....1981
The four year old port continued to set cargo tonnage records and the number of barges loaded and unloaded reached new highs. Tonnage was just a fraction under the million mark at 943.754 and barges handled came to a total of 685. Port manager Mark Allen was enthused that predictions made earlier have them already doing what was projected for their tenth year. Expectations for tonnage of 1.2 million in 1982. Private investment in the port was $21.5 million and $13 million in public funds. A sixth harbor boat, the "Marty B." was delivered in early 1982 to the Mt. Vernon Barge Service also. In the works are plans for construction of a massive new dry dock to accommodate building and repair of Ohio River towboats and of super-size barges. Arthur Bayer, chairman of the Mt. Vernon Barge Service expects ten new jobs to add to the present employment of 32 at his firm.
Southwind Maritime Centre Dedicated.....June 1979
Governor Otis R. Bowen said, "Marks the beginnings of growth for Mt. Vernon and it is destined to become a major hub of transportation in our state and nation, and in the world." Bowen said energy problems may force the use of waterborne transportation "since a ton of freight can be moved twice as far by barge on one gallon of fuel as it can by rail." Also speaking was Lt. Gov. Robert Orr who said that "Hoosier farmers are getting better prices for their crops, and Indiana becomes even more attractive to new industry and to expansion of existing businesses. Others on the program included Rep. and Mt. Vernon native, Joel Deckard (R), Senator Richard Lugar (R) and mayor Jackson Higgins (D). Members of the U.S. Navy's Chuting Stars jumped from 10,000 feet with a diver unveiling the American flag as he fell to the drop zone and the 74th Army Band from Ft. Benjamin Harrison played the national anthem. There was a 1000 foot free fall, divers jumping simultaneously from helicopter, and a team who passed a baton in flight and presented it to Lt. Gov. Orr. Senator Birch Bayh (D) issued a statement: "One of my greatest concerns in public life has been to create and retain jobs for people who want to live and work in the great state of Indiana. This center makes a fine contribution towards this effort." Representative Deckard said, "With containerization, it gives us a way to play a part in world shipping projects. it gives us a doorway to the world." The site of the center is nearly ideal. Of three sites considered it had the largest quantity of open land and was located in the midst of a transportation network that included Indiana Highway 62 and an adjacent railroad. Most of the acreage was flat and flood free. It offered easy access to farm products and vast coal reserves. It offered a natural fleeting and mooring area and was protected from wayward winds and barge tows by an island. Groundbreaking started in 1970. In 1971 Governor Edgar Whitcomb approved the project at the Mt. Vernon location and in 1971 asked for funds from the General Assembly.
Lillian Root Retires After 45 Years Teaching.....1979
One part of a husband and wife teaching team, she taught mostly elementary school in Posey County and Mt. Vernon for forty five years. When she first started in 1934, students had to go home right after school and work on the farm and as she retires she says most are more mobile and have so many more activities today. I remember her as teaching fifth grade at Hedges Central. She believed that children in the seventies received a much broader education than earlier students. The subjects have exploded she remarked. She mentioned several current notable students she had taught like those two running for Mayor, Democrat incumbent Jackson Higgins and Republican Glenn Curtis. She also had Joey Deckard, Eighth District Representative.
14 Year old MV Girl Sets State Record in Long Jump.....1979
Mary Renschler, 14 year old member of the Mt. Vernon Track Club became the state record holder in the long jump for her age group (14-15) with a mark of 18' 4", breaking the old record of 17' 11 1/4 ". The mark was set at the Junior Olympic Sectional held at Central Stadium.
Steam Calliope Comes To Town Again.....1979
What was one of the few remaining authentic steam calliopes owned by the Indiana University Alumni Association and sponsored by Hooks Drugs, appeared at the Mt. Vernon Summer Street Festival that June. The rare old steam powered instrument was built in 1923 and formerly graced the Showboat Majestic which docked many times at our wharf in decades past and it was the last showboat on the Ohio River. In 1976 it was removed from the boat and placed on a replica of an ornate circus wagon. Its 32 whistles can be heard for up to five miles and has been used in numerous parades and festivals throughout Indiana. The wagon had a self-contained electric generator which provided power to pump water and energize the electric keyboard.
Merle Phelps And His Special Car.....1979
Remember when we had that first little energy crisis during the Carter administration and gas reached maybe a dollar a gallon? Well, Mr. Phelps could be seen riding around town in his motorized peddle car. He said he got something like 100 miles per gallon in it and a speed of up to 22 mph. He claimed it was basically maintenance free and he put over 1000 miles on it that year. He said, "You really only use the motors to help you up the steep grades and it is really just an exerciser for the rest of the time." That meant that the driver peddles and is pushed along by the motor. He also had a bicycle with one having two wheels in the front and one in the back. He always was a builder of things since he was four years old he commented.
Jon's Cycle Rama Burns.....May 1978
The fire broke out early on a Monday morning and a neighbor called the fire department around 3:45. Explosions occurred at the front of the building from gasoline in the motorcycles. Arson was the cause reported as doors to the back of the facility were slightly opened which had been locked. A truck load of bikes were saved however. Damages ranged from $500,000 to $1,500,000.
Patrolman Henry Brakie Retires.....1978
In May of 1978, Patrolmen Brakie for 24 years drove cautiously towards the high school for the last time through the familiar streets of Mt. Vernon. As reporter, Gerda Unzner rode along, he commented, "It's an opportunity to serve the public and serve your fellow man. It may sound a little old fashioned but I'm a member of the Church of God Mission-that's Pentecostal." Originally, he did not set out to be a policeman. He was working for the Chrysler Corp. in Evansville in 1953 when they went on strike. "It was just a job, soon I started caring." On being a policeman he said, "It's a special breed of person. It is not profitable and you don't get attention, love or respect for doing a nasty job that has to be done. People expect so much of you. If a policeman drinks, he is a drunk, if he talks to a girl, he's chasing women....it hurts, but you learn to live with it." He said the job was challenging with every day being something different. "It can be boring, but then in a couple of minutes it can be exciting." Remembering an incident he told of an apprehension of a man at the Riverside Motel where a man was shooting, shot the flashlight right out of Brakie's hand, but the police managed to arrest him without hurting him. "I have been a policeman for 24 years and I have never hurt anyone with a gun or a club...I've wrestled, but never hit anyone." Brakie said he also apprehended a murder suspect while holding an empty pistol. After chasing the suspect and having his tires shot out on the open highway, the man pulled over while Brakie and the other officer approached him with empty pistols. He gave up. The worst thing he saw as an officer was around 20 years ago a little boy hung himself accidently with a rope as he swung out over the river in the bottoms. He was the first officer to arrive and gave him artificial respiration, but he didn't make it. "That bothered me the most." In retirement he said he was going fishing.
Mead Johnson Expansion Underway.....June 1977
The Mead Johnson expansion of its Mt. Vernon facility, expected to bring 300-350 new jobs to the area is underway with the completion date set for the fall of 1978. Construction has started on the first phase of the expansion: a 150,000 square foot warehouse building which will cost $3.7 million. Included will be 60,000 feet of air conditioned space. It will include a sprinkling system and will be divided from the rest of the new facility by a fire wall. The total expansion cost will be $17.7 million. The warehouse will be completely modern, enabling us to meet the very high storage standards necessary for drug production materials. The site was adequately served by a four lane highway only minutes away from Evansville.
Music Director Retires....May 1977
After nineteen years as head of the music department of the Mt. Vernon Metropolitan School District. K.V. Bryant retired. He came to Mt. Vernon in 1958 from Princeton, Kentucky. In his time here Mt. Vernon bands won 15 out of 17 superior ratings in marching and concert contests. Bryant said, "The success of the program is in making music attractive to young people and teaching them at the same time it teaches appreciation of music and self-discipline." Bryant estimated he taught over 1900 music students over the years, many of which went on to find careers in professional music. Band directors throughout the country were taught by Bryant. The Mt. Vernon Band Boosters set up a scholarship fund in honor of Bryant.
WPCO Broadcasts the Nixon/Frost Political Interviews.....May 1977
Local radio station WPCO 1590 kHz, broadcasted the four David Frost and Richard Nixon interviews on May 4, 12, 20, and 25th of 1977. The segments were Watergate, Nixon and The World, War At Home and Abroad, and Nixon the Man. Each segment was 90 minutes long. On television the opening show drew over 45 million viewers. Gallup Polls thought Nixon was still covering up and deserved no further part in American political history. I sat there at home watching the man that sent me a draft notice, who had a plan to get out of Vietnam but never told us, a man so paranoid he would authorize the Watergate break-in of Ellsberg's office and at the same time win by a landslide over George McGovern. I reflected on my opposition to his carpet bombing of Hanoi, the escalation into Cambodia that resulted in the Kent State Massacre, his position on John Lennon and the leak of the "enemies list" that listed people like David Crosby and Daniel Schorr and I looked for redemptive love from myself. After three decades I still have trouble penetrating the walls of almost hate for the man I despised in the sixties and seventies. In many ways, he was far more liberal than most Republicans today...he did open up China for which I give him credit. I found by watching that there is "some good in the worst of us, and some evil in the best of us." I think hate scars the soul, so I have disdain for his policies, yet I choose to believe like him that I am not beyond the reach of God's love. When I go back to my Gandhi and Martin L. King readings I know that I must forgive in order to love and that "darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that." Dick....you are no longer on my "enemies list." R.I.P.
Glen Curtis cartoon.....May 17, 1977
Motoring....What's your price for flight You've got him in your sight
Glenn Curtis cartoon 1977
Folk Music at Hedges.....1977
Indiana Rain Crow made a performance at Hedges Central Elementary. This was a folk art component integrating folk music, folk dance and folk visual art. They did traditional Indiana folk music and dance. They played love songs, working songs, hymns and ballads. The band was originally from Indianapolis but later moved to French Lick.
New Harmony State Park Opens With New Improvements.....1976
Years ago in the midst of the hippie movement I learned of a party at New Harmony State Park. This must have been around 1972 or 1973. It was before Terri and I were married. After a party early in the morning we were awaken by the park ranger and as maybe 30 young people lay sleeping on the grounds without a permit we were in danger of being thrown out or worse. Somehow an arrangement was agreed on where I bought tickets for the whole lot as I recall and no questions were asked about all the Boone's Farm bottles lying all around. Well, anyway by 1976 the recreation area opened with two miles of road under construction, 200 modern and 60 primitive camping sites, a new concession stand at the pool, a firewood concession for campers and a campground general store. When I visit now I still remember that long ago gathering.
Rick Moll Takes Strange Trip Home From College.....May 1975
Former cager, Rick Moll decided on a different trip home from Wabash College. He was a member of the Little Giants basketball squad this past season. Rick and a buddy took a canoe from Crawfordsville, working their way down the Wabash River by Sugar Creek in Turkey Run State Park. They stopped each night at a beach or a clearing along the river. It took them six days and they said their biggest problem were small rapids on Sugar Creek that turned the canoe around and speedboats on the Wabash.
Mt. Vernon Adopts A Sister City.....1975
Mayor Jackson Higgins, in May, proclaimed a "Peronne Day." The French Club of Mt. Vernon High School adopted Peronne, France as a sister city for Mt. Vernon. The mayor of Peronne, France on behalf adopted Mt. Vernon as its sister city. Peronne has a population of 9100 citizens. More on Peronne
- Cloverdale Circle apartment house for the elderly opened in January
- City population at 7,092
- Posey County Elections Board procures new electrical voting machines
- County applies for $50,000 to fund the initial planning for a by-pass around Mt. Vernon
- In March county unemployment hits 12.3%. GE lays off 36
- Hook's Drug Store and Dairy Queen announce plans to locate in town
- Mt. Vernon Lions Club builds flatboat, "City of Mt. Vernon" for the Great Ohio River Flatboat Race. It wins prize as "most authentic."
- Residents on West Water street protest L&N railroad tracks
- In July, the town was rocked by an intentional explosion of the new Dairy Queen on East Fourth Street under construction
- Court house robbed twice, during one break-in, vandalism was extensive
- Four firms plan to locate at the new Southwind Shopping Center
- Ku Klux Klan rally in Posey County is poorly attended
- $1 million dollar fire destroys warehouse of Fuhrer-Ford Milling as 3 firemen overcome by gas
- A Vietnamese family is brought to Mt. Vernon for location and the first Vietnamese orphan is adopted in our town.
"Look Out Ethel...Too Late.....1975
Remember the streak? I talked recently to a man who ran naked down Mulberry Street and learned of three young men who stripped down on the alley by the post office and ran around the courthouse late one night. Sorry guys.....I can't reveal the names. LOL
Plane Runs Aground at Airport.....May 1973
An unidentified student of Tri-State Aero ran off the runway at Mt. Vernon Municipal airport and hit the ditch at the end of the strip. The pilot, told Mt. Vernon airport manager Frank Parrish that he was practicing "touch and goes" on the field when he decided to turn around and approach the airport office. The decision was late and he was unable to halt the plane before running out of room to turn. The Cessna Skyhawk suffered only minor damages and the pilot was uninjured.
Construction Begins on Cloverleaf High Rise.....May 1973
On what was once a cornfield and a dirt road at the site of Lincoln Avenue and Jefferson Street would later become a four story high rise for the elderly. Groundbreaking had begun in October, but soil samples showed the ground was too soft. Additional HUD money had to be found to correct the problem. When completed housing to the elderly would be offered at a rate of 25% of their adjusted income. This was nearby from where I grew up and I was there to see the dedication. It was a big feather in the cap of new Mayor, Jackson Higgins.
Two Ex-Wildcats Make Mark In College Baseball.....May 1973
Gary Redman and Dave Bell, 1971 MVHS graduates have played an important role of the Three Rivers Junior College Raiders after they won the team's Central District Tournament in Oklahoma and headed for the Nationals. Both former Wildcats at this writing played on the 1971 Mt. Vernon team that advanced to the finals of the Indiana baseball semi-state, losing 3-2 in extra innings. This is the farthest a MV baseball team has ever advanced. As we know, Bell later became Mt. Vernon's head baseball coach after "Chummy" Jeffries retired. Redman became Division 2 head baseball coach at University of Southern Indiana. Three Rivers is located in Poplar Bluff, Mo. Redman was the starting second baseman of the Raiders and in the district tourney he had 5 hits in 11 at bats. He hit right at .300 his sophomore year and was a good hit and run man. Bell had been limited in playing time since the end of April due to fouling a ball off his foot. At the time of the injury he was hitting .363.
$1 Million Harmony Inn Dedicated.....May 1973
Several hundred persons turned out for formal dedication ceremonies for the new inn in New Harmony. Mrs. Jane Owen, financed the inn, threw the first shovel full of dirt and declared her pride in bringing such a facility to the community. The plans are for completion in early 1974 of the 50 room facility located just 40 feet east of the Red Geranium Restaurant. The inn was to be built in the style of an 1880's Harmonist dormitory. When finished the community will have overnight lodging for the first time since 1970 when the Raintree Inn was consumed by fire. On this same day Mrs. Owen attended the dedication of the Red Geranium Bookstore on Church Street. The bookstore holds over 3000 volumes dealing in many areas of interest such as history, religion, wine making, handicrafts, architecture, ecology, and natural heritage. Several maps and prints are available too depicting the heritage of the community from 1824.
Glenn Curtis cartoon from 1973
Here Glenn combined a story of a creature being seen in Enfield, Illinois, with a request for a second Bull Island Music Festival, this time a country one that was eventually halted.
I always admired someone who could draw and I love political cartoons. I never read the "funnies" as a kid but I was always drawn to the editorial cartoons. I noticed that not only did Glenn grace our newspaper for many years with his local stories. He also had cartoons for the television schedules published. He would use his own children in them too which I found amusing.
A festival stopped.....1973
Those of you who know me know I attended Bull Island, Farm Aid 1995, Woodstock 1999 and many mini festivals like Freedom Fest 72 and one in Germany in 1970. I have attended hundreds of concerts in the sixties and seventies especially. The above ticket was for a festival in Tennessee that was stopped. The Grateful Dead was scheduled to play there. I was all ready to go when it was stopped....Damn
Rock Group Nazareth Enjoys Bull Island.....September 1972
Members of Nazareth, a Scottish rock band said they had a good time performing at the Labor Day Soda Pop Festival at Bull Island. On their second swing through the states they mentioned that rock festivals are much different in the British Isles. They mentioned that organization was much better in England, but poor weather creates real problems for concert goers. Group manager, Derek Nichol said, "American audiences are really great. They are much more adaptable to different music forms." He went on to add, "In every U.S. audience we've seen there are people who can relate to all kinds of musical expression."
Dr. Eckerty Retires.....August 1, 1972
.L. Eckerty who began his dental practice in Posey County in New Harmony in 1936 announced his retirement. He moved his practice to Mt. Vernon in 1937 and practiced continuously except for 4 1/2 years of military service during World War II. Due to an asthmatic condition, Dr. Eckerty close his office at 115 East Fourth street and is moving to Scottsdale, Arizona will he will reside. His wife and the good doc were members of the First Methodist Church for 35 years as well as the Elks Club. Mrs. Eckerty was well known for her painting skills.
Dausmans Honored For Heroics.....July 1972
When an auto owned by George Alldredge rolled backwards into the Ohio River at the Mt. Vernon river dock June 20th, Brian and Bruce were responsible for saving Mrs. Alldredge and two small children, witnesses attest. Brian and Bruce, twin senior lifesaving graduates were awarded special certificates by Posey County Red Cross Chairman Roger McCormick and Water Safety Chairman Harley Kauffman. Both young men are lifeguards at Brittlebank pool. The two were cited for "rendering Red Cross Lifesaving techniques in sustaining the life of fellow human beings by performing a heroic act." Modest in their acceptance the Dausmans commented: 'We just did what anyone else would do."
"Promises Made-Promises Kept?".....1972
In a city councilman meeting, Gene McCoy petitioned the filling in of holes in an alley between Locust and Canal Streets. Mayor Jack Higgins quipped: "I know it is full of holes...but it has been for the past two years!" McCoy's laughing rejoinder was: "I know it has Mayor, but the people hope that you'll fill it after all the campaign bragging you did!" Later in the meeting, the then first term Mayor apologized to McCoy for being flippant about the problem. I can just see them both smiling and refilling their pipes.
Democrat Publisher Makes Best Dressed List.....1972
Garth L. Whipple, publisher of the Mt. Vernon Democrat was named to the state's "10 Best Dressed Men" list for 1971. Announced in 1972 he was selected by the Indiana Retail Men's Wear Association at the annual meeting in Indianapolis. He was the only one selected south of Indianapolis.
Your Tax Dollars at Work.....1972
Glenn Curtis cartoon from 1972. Been awhile since I have seen a sign that said, "Your tax dollars at work."
Same O, Same O.....1972
While looking back at some old papers I have filed away from rock festivals, concerts, demonstrations...you know the usual things a pinko leftist revolutionary has around his pad i found some articles of the 1972 Presidential election. Everybody knows how much I love Richard Nixon. He is still dead right? Oh, Ok....on the very day I was out rocking at Bull Island, "King Richard" was giving a speech at San Clemente, California blasting poor ole war hero George McGovern. Same old "class warfare", this time from the right. Here he is plugging for the blue collar vote saying all us hippies are the same ones who followed Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy looking to sell out Vietnam, refusing the work ethic, looking for an 'easy life' under the "welfare state." Yes, Dick I am about as left of center as they come, but I have worked overtime my entire life and have been a pawn to the social planners of the radical elitist liberals so long I actually am completely indoctrinated beyond anything Patricia Hearst could imagine. I am so dependent on the federal government as my "nanny state" that the only avenues left for me is to redistribute the rich man's income. Well Richard Sir, I gotta go...thanks for the memories and that draft notice....no tricks now.
- June 1- Sixteen year old Carl Pierce was electrocuted on a utility tower behind West Elementary School.
- June 4- Dragging operations continued for Kathy Woolsey, 11 who drowned June 3 in the Wabash River while wading with her family.
- June 7- High School baseball team win their first ever Regional title and advance to the Semi-State tournament by whipping Evansville Memorial 2-1.
- June 8- About 1/3 of the Mt. Vernon school district teachers appear before the school board in response to the termination of their negotiations policy.
- June 11- Two area men die in crash of small aircraft near Poseyville.
- June 15- Mayor Albert Blubaum casts the deciding vote after a common council deadlock to accept $480,700 in federal funds for construction of secondary sewage treatment facilities.
- June 21-A former Mt. Vernon man, Thomas Cox, releases his first novel, "Shadows of One Another."
- June 23- Kim Simpson is crowned CD Festival Queen.
- June 26- Fire destroys Farmer's Elevator with damage at $100,000 and a loss of 25,000 bushels of grain.
- July2- MV receives an award for no pedestrian - auto accidents in the city for more than two years.
- July 15- Pickets go up in front of the Indiana Bell Telephone offices in Mt. Vernon as Communication Workers of America go on nationwide strike.
- July 24- Mt. Vernon city fathers attend ribbon cutting of new Brittlebank Park now open to the public.
- July 27- Common Council approves $35,000 for new skating rink floor on request from Park and Recreation Director Bob Michel.
Mayor Seeks Federal Aid For Clean Up.....March 1971
Mt. Vernon asked for federal aid to clean up Mill Creek, said Mayor Albert Blubaum. The mayor traveled to Indianapolis to see if the project can qualify for federal funds under the Housing and Urban Development space and flood control program. The creek which runs through the city is approximately 2000 feet in length. The mayor estimated it would take over $100,000 to clean up and improve the creek. It begins at the intersection of Eighth and Mill Streets and runs through the city to the Ohio River. The mayor's plans for the creek include building concrete walls, filling in behind the walls to raise the land to the level of the surrounding terrain. The bed of the creek will also be lined with concrete. The mayor said this work needs to be done because; debris and dumping by residents have made the creek "unsightly." He said the walls would stop the dumping of refrigerators, stoves, and automobiles into the creek and would make it easier to clear away tree limbs and other debris which stop the creek water from flowing into the river.
Stinson Building Turns Into Mini Mall.....July 1970
The Stinson building at 205 Main Street, adjacent to the Mt. Vernon Pharmacy, was sold to Otis Allyn, Tom Payne, and Alan Curtis. The building is to be converted into a mall with small shops on both sides and a walkway through the center form Main Street to a parking lot in the rear. The mini-mall offered space for five or six shops and a 10 foot wide walk through. The building was purchased from the heirs of the Stinson estate.
Wildcat Strike at B&W.....July 1970
On the second shift on a Wednesday, a dispute between a worker and a supervisor resulted in many employees participating in an illegal work stoppage at the Mt. Vernon works. Twenty seven employees of the Boilermakers Union 904 walked away. The next day only 40% of the 350 man first shift work force came to work. Police were called into the plant and as second shift opened only 15% of the work force reported. Third shift reported only 30% on job. The union urged the employees to return to work and a spokesman of the company announced they had filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis seeking a restraining order against the employees engaging in the strike.
Posey County Jail Escape.....July 1970
Two prisoners escaped from the Posey County jail after moving an 18 inch thick stone and pulling it out of the rear wall of the jail. Sheriff Ed Rutledge identified the two escapees as Clyde Ours, 37 of Griffin and Charles Grisham, 20, of Evansville. Ours was arrested for theft of a shotgun and Grisham was arrested near Kramer's Lake on charge of drug possession. The stone pulled out was 18 by 22 by 22 inches. The block was pulled from the inside of the fourth wing. The wing housed the escapees and eight other prisoners. The stone was dropped about 10 feet onto a bunk. The jail break was discovered by employees of the Posey County Highway Department which is next door to the jail. They were investigating a break in at the highway department. Truck keys and a small amount of money were taken. The highway department break in was discovered when employees reported for work.
Clifford Maas on Early Movie Theaters.....1970's
Cliff was a fixture in this town for maybe 75 years and he sat down with reporter Deborah Burdick probably in the late seventies or early eighties and commented on the early movie houses in Mt. Vernon. He said "before my time" there were several places on the 300 block of Main Street where empty showrooms were equipped with a screen or a white sheet in front of folding chairs. Projectors were often hand cranked in those days. I had heard somewhere that the first film shown in Mt. Vernon was the "Great Train Robbery" and it was in the Opera House on Second Street. Cliff says that the first theatre was really built around 1910 and was at 126 Main Street, next door to the Armory. His grandfather built it, having only one projector and folding chairs for seats except for a few benches up front for children. It had a ticket office out front and the projector room was reached by a ladder. The theatre was called the Colonial. The next one he recalled was called the Dreamland and it was a block up the street. It had a player piano for the silent films. It had two projectors that were hand cranked and had carbons for lights that were behind the machines. The operators learned to blend one machine into the other so there was no break in reel changing. Improvements then came with electric fan motors to provide power. One of the first operators to use these machines locally was Frank Cooper. Across the street another movie house opened called the Empress. This was then the most beautiful with more room. The Empress was operated by Hayes and Hurley and managed by M.L. Maas. Then came the Vernon theatre. It consisted of the Dreamland and Lembiegar Barber Shop next door. The dividing wall between them was torn out to make the Vernon occupy both rooms. The ticket booth was directly in the center. You could walk down the side aisles or upstairs to the balcony. It held around 600 people. Occasionaly, there were vaudeville shows there to managed by Mr. Sterling of Henderson, Kentucky. The Empress continued to operate during this time also showing mainly Western films. Customers were close to the HI-HO Shop which stood on the corner of Third and Main where Fifth Third Bank is today. The Vernon was refinished later on becoming the New Vernon. The Drive In then came in and was operated by the Miles Brothers. It had places for 400 cars. Competition from Evansville finally spelled their doom too.
Built in 1926
Fighting City Hall.....1970
The wives and children of Mt. Vernon policemen picketed the Mt. Vernon City Hall for days seeking support for a ten percent pay raise. The ten percent raise was included in the budget by Mayor Albert Blubaum, but was reduced to 5% when the city council reviewed the budgets. Ultimately, the protest failed and patrolman got their 5% increase which brought their wages up to about $6100 per year starting in 1971.
Editor Garth Whipple On Rock Musical Hair.....1970
Mt. Vernon Democrat editor, Garth Whipple said he was half amused and half sad that the coming of "Hair" to Evansville was causing such a furor. Some had called it a "dirty picture." "It would seem there is much commentary on present day society which I would not find myself in complete accord, yet my appreciation of a theatrical production has not been impaired." Some argued that the small fraction of a second where the cast appears nude to be sufficient cause to bar those who which to see it. Garth felt differently. "I fail to see how this will corrupt the 'good people' who will NOT be paying and seeing. My copy of the Holy Bible has some pretty raunchy scenes and dialogue. I do not consider this good reason to have the Holy Bible run out of town." At any rate, Garth was right...the hassle created a capacity audience and Evansville and the tri-state maintained their conservatism.
Hironimus Unique Service.....1970
In 1970 The Hironimus Food Center suffered a fire in the warehouse section of their grocery. It was pretty severe for a time stopping the unique service it provided to the inland waterway traffic on the Ohio River. Hironimus had become famous throughout the barge towing industry for all the extras it offered and for its in stream food service from the Bonnie-Jill tug. Towboat firms had learned through the years to place their trust and dependence on this firm. Our town had been known favorably far and wide because of Hironimus and from Arthur Bayer's Barge Cleaning and harbor service. When a boat needed food it radios to Hironimus, day or night, and Carl Emory, Paul Poole, or Ernie Cross would be right there with help. Sometimes they picked up mail or sent it. The tug would meet the barges at mid-stream as the tow never stopped and ties on alongside them, up or down stream. If the crew needs laundry done, Hironimus would take care of it often even buying a present for the captain's wife's birthday. The market was an ambassador for our town spreading so much good will in its day.
Explosions At Texaco Terminal Kill One.....May 1969
John Kirkpatrick, 26, of Point Township was killed as he was standing on his tank waiting to be filled with aviation fuel when he was blown off the truck from an explosion at the local Texaco terminal. He was later flown to Indianapolis where he died from his burns at 4:30 am. A series of explosions rocked the terminal and huge steel beams at the loading dock were bent in the aftermath of the massive flames that engulfed the area.
Two Of My Teachers Retire.....May 1969
Gerald L. Jeffries retired from Hedges Central, a 37 year veteran who began teaching in 1926 and served rural schools in Point, Black, and Lynn townships prior to being on staff with the old Central school. He taught my father in Point Township and me in the sixth grade. Adelaide Martin retired from the high school finishing a 30 year career, 20 of which in the high school. She began teaching in 1925 had been in Evansville, Springville, Rising Sun, and New Harmony prior to coming to Mt. Vernon in 1946. I had her for history, very strict, always called me by my first name (Charles) and you could hear her walking down the halls with those heavy black shoes.
Carrying You With Me.....1969
I guess we could go back to the earliest evidence of a photograph to find that soldiers carried their sweethearts and wife's pictures with them when they went into battle or were far from home. I remember stories of dead Japanese in WW11 and Viet Cong during the Vietnam War being found with such items. Kind of humanized the victim; something that was probably not advertised much during those conflicts. We were supposed to think our adversaries were evil and not patriots, or husbands, or fathers. I had one too; not a real relationship, but a fantasied one, still have that photo today that traveled to 7 countries with me in a billfold or a front pocket. Looking at that little picture brought back a thought of home, a friendly beautiful face, and thoughts of a cherished past. I guess I always was looking backward instead of forward; hence, Ray, the "historian."
Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter and New Baseball League in Mt. Vernon.....1969
Back when Nixon decided that he needed my services to protect Western Europe....haha the Global Baseball League born out of a vision of Evansville business man Walter Dilbeck came to Athletic Park. Dilbeck, a WW II veteran wanted to form a global league from the likes of the USA, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Japan and Mexico. He was instrumental for bringing the White Sox farm club to Evansville in 1966. A tip of my Sox cap for that! Anyway, a co-worker and baseball fan, Jim "Smokey" Rainey went down to watch the tryouts that spring. He said there were all kinds of Japanese players practicing under the watchful eye of Enos "Country" Slaughter, former Cardinal great. Slaughter sat up in the bleachers behind home plate and with a Louisville Slugger as a pointer would tell fans about his players. Slaughter was hired to manage the New Orleans franchise, but it was moved to Mobile, Alabama before it ever hit the field. Teams were supposed to be in such cities as San Juan, Manila, St. Paul, San Diego, Phoenix, Akron, Chicago, Caracas, Seattle, and Cincinnati to name a few. Happy Chandler, former MLB commissioner when Jackie Robinson broke the color line was to be the new league commissioner. Dilbeck tryed to raid the major leagues of some talent offering contracts to such established stars as Jim Bunning, Jim Fregosi, Joel Horlen, Ron Santo, Jim Maloney, Juan Marichel, and Brooks Robinson. He landed none. He had an idea also to have Geisha girls come out after the fifth inning to entertain the fans. He tried to buy the Kansas City A's before they moved to Oakland too. Anyway, the league was about the equivalent to a Class A league it was said and instead of becoming the third major league it folded after 12 games with most games played only in Central America. Players were scattered and had to find their way back, many never receiving a pay check.
I'll clean this language up a little bit, but you will get my point. I arrived in San Antonio, Texas June 1969 and filed out of a bus around 4 am to stand on some yellow lines painted on the pavement trying to stay arm's length from the next guy. The drill sergeant, they called them TI's started yelling, "When I tell you to sound off, you sound off with Sir, you got that?" "This is always the first word to come out of your scuzzy mouth and the last one too. Got it"...."Yes sir", we said. "Louder damit! Louder!... "YES SIR" We did this a lot. We would do pushup as the crazy man would say, "You do pushups like an elephant Sh*ts, maggot, slow and sloppy. From now on that is your name-SH*T, understand." He would tear up the barracks throwing shoes at us , stripping our beds, calling us names, making us scrub the floor with tooth brushes, shine our soap with a rag, clean out the inside of a shaving cream container with a q-tip, etc. "Because until you leave basic, I am your mother, your father, and your God. You forget that once, just once, and you can wish to hell that your old man never climbed on top of your old lady and made your sorry ass. You understand that?" "Yes sir"..."I CAN'T HEAR YOU"..."YES SIR!!" We talked loud a lot! We would stand it front of our beds, so tight you could bounce a quarter off them and repeat "codes of conduct" and "rules of military justice" so we could be just like him. Seventeen hour days of indoctrination...felt like Patty Hearst! I'll never forget that guy, with his veins in his neck sticking out treating me like an animal. Somehow, my father's words came to me..."Son, they can't eat you." In that place, those funny words made sense. I made it through and I told myself I would never forget the evil that was represented there. I did not believe a word they told me, just repeated what he wanted to get by until I would have my day to resist. I would squeeze into my bunk at the end of a long hot day and lay quietly, trying not to disturb my tight bed as little as possible. I would try to think and stay in touch with my inner spirit, to make sure that I was not being changed, that this too would pass. Lots of soul searching for my 32 months of military service. I made it, I'm still here, and my minority opinions are still being told, for what they are worth.
To celebrate its first anniversary, Penguin Point at 901 East Fourth Street sponsored a "Happening" on a Saturday night from 8:30 to midnight. The Lavender Hill Mob provided the music for all the "flower children" in the parking lot. No admission was charged and flowers for the hair were given free.
Mayor Albert Blubaum buys a poppy.....1968
On Veterans Day formally Armistice Day poppies are sold by the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans. The flowers themselves are made by veterans. Sold is not really the right word. The flowers are given to people who donate whatever amount. The practice goes back to the 1920's. The poppy became a symbol because during World War 1 in Belgium the flower grew wild amongst the devastation of the wall torn land. "In Flanders Fields the poppies grow, between the crosses, row by row."
First Black Patrolman Joins Mt. Vernon Police Force.....June 1968
For the first time in Mt. Vernon history, a black officer became part of the local police department. Bobby Joe Stewart, 29, started his duties in June patrolling the streets of Mt. Vernon. Married and the father of two children, he is a Mt. Vernon High School graduate and served four years in the Marine Corps. Mayor Albert Bluebaum and Police Chief Henry Brakie called it a step forward for the community.
Mt. Vernon Honored At E-Sox Game.....June 1968
The city of Mt. Vernon was honored at a Wednesday night game at Bosse Field between the Evansville White Sox and the Charlotte farm club. Attending the game was a delegation of city officials including Mayor Albert Blubaum. The Mt. Vernon High School band was also on hand as was the local ball teams, coaches and parents. Ticket prices were lowered and sold at City Hall and a free bus was available that left from the high school.
Pee Wee League Changed to T Ball.....May 1968
I played Pee Wee League (the White Sox); thus a Sox fan today. It was really great fun. We had a good team with good pitching. "Dink" Stewart was our ace. I can't remember watching games where the game was only walks and errors. Maybe, I have a select memory. Mr. Berryhill was my coach and I pitched and played shortstop. "Glory Days" it was. But, in 1968 this program was changed to hitting a ball off a tee for seven and eight year olds. I coached a year of this myself and it was a struggle. The good kids hated faking a throw to home then the batter would swing and miss and knock the tee over. We had a bad team with only three boys capable at that time of the coordination to play the game. I bunched them all at pitcher, second base and first base. I can't imagine we were that bad in the late 50's and 60's. We played ball all day till night in the summer. Just pitch and catch with your dad or a neighbor was what we did until something else came along. We still have good high school baseball teams, but the youth programs don't seem the same to me. I am kind of a purest at baseball and softball. Played softball for ten to fifteen years on some real competitive teams and 45 minute time clocks and home-runs after a certain amount becoming outs seems immoral to me.
On To Kuwait.....1968
A new era opened in the Port of Mt. Vernon with the sailing of the ocean going vessel for Kuwait. The Babcock & Wilcox Company's Mt. Vernon Works completed loading the vessel and the ship headed down the Ohio to the Mississippi and on to New Orleans where it will make a short supply stop before setting sail for Trinidad. After a short fuel stop at Trinidad, it will continue to Kuwait via the Cape of Good Hope. The voyage is expected to take 47 days. The giant 700 plus ton hydrocracking reactor is 90 feet long and measures more than 12 feet in diameter. This is one of the heaviest pieces of equipment ever assembled for the petroleum industry.
For the Fifth annual Mt. Vernon Civil Defense Festival they brought in Sam the Chimp, a nationally known chimp who appeared for two nights doing roller skating, bar walking, acrobatics, impersonations, and other stunts. Guess that might upstage all the usual squared dancing, Little Miss, and amateur contests I am used to seeing at such events. They did bring in the Evansville Hadi Shrine clowns who were nice, but all that country music ran this long hair off I'm afraid.
Whipple's Editorial on Sex Discrimination.....1968
Garth L. Whipple, editor of the Mt. Vernon Democrat wrote an article in June of 1968 on non-discrimination between the sexes. He mentioned that before the federal government ever put in statutes prohibiting discrimination, "employment and other aspects between male and female, were being implemented in our own program of non- discrimination." He felt however, that at the newspaper office they felt "the edge of the knife of reverse discrimination by some of the governmental agencies." He said they were prevented by law from working females more than one hour over eight in any one day and that they were required to see they had a properly approved lunch room, or that they would not have less than a one hour off duty at noon. There were also prescribed work breaks in the morning and in the evening. Time and one half pay was required on any time after eight, regardless of the number of hours worked during the week. He went on to say that they never objected to any of these regulations; but, what he did object to was that none of these regulations were applicable to males. "In all fairness this regulation is somewhat exemplary of the attitude of government, generally in regard to the sexes. The most flagrant example of such discrimination is the exclusion of females for the military draft. It is our opinion that females should not be discriminated against in this manner. They should be subject to the draft on a completely equal basis with males. That's fine, Garth, the government was having its handful with us males already opposing the draft, no such stirring the pot anymore.
Mt. Vernon's First Ever Sectional Championship.....1968
Remember at this time there was only boys' basketball for a sectional championship. Mt. Vernon in years past had several undefeated football teams, excellent track teams, and a winning baseball program. Basketball was and is a sport where Mt. Vernon will have a winning record maybe three or four times a decade. The 1968 team was only 12-12 on the season, but they did something up until then had never been accomplished by a Mt. Vernon team...win a sectional. Coached by Hobby Gibbs, the team struggled out the gate losing their first four games, all by double digit scores. Then came the South Spencer game at home and the Wildcats won 98-55 setting a then new home school record for points. Playing in the Holiday Tourney at North Posey they defeated easily Owensville as center Bill Bullard set a new single game scoring record of 36. They then took the Championship game from the Vikings on their home court by 21. After the holidays they won 4 of 5 and lost by Evansville Central away by only 2 points. Clearly, this team was coming together with Bullard scoring near 20 every game and Bill Newman and Dennis Reineke hitting double figures. Playing in the Princeton Sectional, Mt. Vernon blew out New Harmony scoring 93, beat North Posey for the third time by 8 and beat the Wood Memorial Trojans 44-42 for their first ever championship! Jim Rueger, a multi-sport athlete hit a 17 foot shot with 5 seconds left for the win. Bill Bullard was named SIAC All Conference 2nd team and Jim Rueger placed on the 2nd All Regional team as Mt. Vernon dropped to Dale 52-40 at Robert's Stadium. Bullard led the team in scoring with 483, Newman 339, Reineke 266, Rueger 175, and Terry Clayton 90. Other players were Mike Stern, Jeff Hartmann, Jim Atkins, Bob Stallman, Rick Brown, Ed Hickey, Craig Stewart and Bill Lewis. Newman and Rueger went on to be Mt. Vernon High School Hall of Famers. Big Bill Bullard ended his high school career with 835 points.
Ewing Tire Service on Main Street.....1967
Culley Pharmacy at 231 Main Street was a site of a drugstore for many years. At least five different me dispensed medicine from here including Crombach, McCarthy, Dawson, Rothrock, and then Culley. Lloyd Culley while a high school student worked under Ira Rothrock and 34 years later after pharmacy school and many years as a registered pharmacist, he purchased the store from his former employer. Culley returned to Mt. Vernon in 1961 and before that he had his own store in Evansville for seven years and had been manager of Petersheim's Apothecary for ten years. Culley was one of eight young men employed during high school days by Rothrock who later became pharmacists. The store had always maintained one of the largest stocks of roots, herbs, barks, and oils available. In 1919, under Dawson's ownership the entire stock of the Wheatcroft Pharmacy in New Harmony was purchased especially for the roots and herbs in its medicine bottles, which are in such great demand by antique lovers.
High School Club Pictures in the Sixties.....An Unscientific Observation
Looking back at many of my old Hoop-Poles from the mid-sixties and they are interesting. I may just be "full of it", but you can almost guess what club they are just by looking at the pictures. I mean your JCL, Footlight Performers, and Sunshine clubs were attractive students for the most part. Industrial Arts has what I imagined was down that long hall. I never went down there and so today I can't read a blueprint, time a watchamacallit, or change a belt. The citizenship club looks like they were sentenced there by the juvenile truant officers. None of these fellows I would want to meet in an alley. These were the guys who would stick your head in the toilet, stick you with a pin, and pull your fruit loops. FFA...just what you would think...farmers with their nice jackets saying they would one day be farmers. FHA? Got a nice little mix here of young women able to hem a skirt, bake you a cake and balance a checkbook. Key Club now that's a good one. You got to be smart. I guess it was just a boy's club...no girls here but I see several future doctors, businessmen, an airline pilot, and a couple of military officers in my class alone, Radio Club...bizarre! GAA...Got some hotties here who looked good in those blue workout uniforms. I don't know the difference between a Secretarial Club and a Secretarial Practice but they had the same sponsor and they all look like they would be competent to take short hand or put you on hold. M Club was cool in my day. Of course, back then girls didn't play sports above the club level. By the time a got a letter it was May of my senior year so I couldn't make the cut. Natural History Life Science Club? I thought I was in that club...maybe I didn't want my picture taken. Joined just for the entertainment of Mr. Bonar. DECA what is that? Something to do with getting a job and going to school too? Not for me. I think I saw some of these people working at the drive-in, Roth's and one at the funeral home! I guess that about wraps it up...I wasn't in much but the Booster Club where you only had to learn a few things like, "No, No, Never, Never, Ugh, Ugh, Ugh," and wear a red little pull over. At least I didn't have thirty keys hanging from my belt, pushing a projector, and answering to Ock or Rudy Zimmer.
Youngsters Rescue Man Trapped in Ditch.....June 1966
Four Mt. Vernon youth were credited with possibly saving the life of an elderly resident of the Posey County Home on Infirmary Road. The boys, Ricky Smith, Gerald Folz, Mickey Kennedy, and Dave Thompson were walking down the railroad tracks, "just goofin' off" when they heard a cry for help. Upon investigation they found the man leaning against the wall of the ditch. The young men pushed and pulled the gentleman to the street, waved down a car that comforted him out of the sun and ran to a nearby house to telephone the Mt. Vernon Police. The man said he had been in the ditch over two hours and tripped over some brush getting out of the way of a passing auto, tumbling into the ravine. He was uninjured and the Police returned him to the County Home..
Sesquicentennial jailhouse.....June 1966
Up goes the Sesquicentennial jailhouse on the west lawn of the courthouse.....June 1966. The man in the hat is Paul Gerton, the bearded man is Bob Beste, the checkered shirt is Allen Stevens.
Kangaroo Court Justice...June 1966
During the Sesquicentennial celebrations of Mt. Vernon one of the highlights was the Kangaroo Court sessions. Justice, if you can call it that was swift. The dastardly villains, who committed a crime such as refusing to grow a beard, etc., were brought before the magistrate Otis Allyn and prosecutor Jack Norvell seems to have won all the cases. People were sentenced to being dunked in a dunking machine, put in stocks, wearing a sign around your neck saying your wife was the boss of the family, make you go into the audience and kiss a man at random, put in the stockade, etc. Some women were hauled in for showing an ankle or dressing too daring, or insulting a policeman. That was a fun summer of dress-ups and beards and plays.
B&W Will Construct Huge 800 Ton Vessel.....June 1966
The Babcock and Wilcox Company's boiler division announced they will build a 800 ton nuclear reactor vessel for the General Electric Company. The vessel is to be part of a $80 million nuclear generating station to be built for Commonwealth Edison near Cordova, Illinois. To be known as the Quad Cities Station, the new plant will initially generate 715,000 kilowatts, but is designed for an ultimate capacity of 809,000 kilowatts. It is scheduled for operation in 1970. The reactor vessel will be fabricated at B&W's multi-million dollar heavy pressure vessel facility here with some work to be done at Barberton, Ohio. The reactor will be barged to the site via the Inland Waterways System.
American Legion Moves Out Of Old Home Into New One.....May 1966
Owen Dunn Post No. 5 dedicated their new home at Second and Walnut on May 29 and laid a cornerstone. An open house to the public and a dance was held in the new facility a day earlier. Their old home was once the Ranes' residence and it was razed by donated labor.
1966 MVHS All-School Party
Sesquicentennial celebration was the theme of the all school party held in May at the school. Dress was in the style of those 150 years ago. State Fair, a musical hit by Rogers and Hammerstein and about Indiana's State Fair was shown. Additional entertainment was provided by the Huff and Puff Square Dancers of Mt. Vernon. Contest winners were: Joyce Culley, pie-eating; Bernie Moll, cracker-eating; and Jackie Cotner, hog-calling.
General Baptist Church Bus.....1966
The man in the picture is good old Stacy Givens...still kicking today. He drove the bus for many years on College Avenue and then at the new church on North Main street. It was called, "Operation Pickup." I played many a softball game with him as a teenager in the sixties. He was the picture, always a nice small. He also was the head usher at the church. I took up the offerings many times. After we picked up the offerings we would wait at the back of the church for the song, "Praise Him whom all blessing fall, praise Him all sinners her below, praise Him above thee heavenly host, praise father, son and Holy Ghost. AAAAAmen." During the song the congregation would rise and we would bring the plates up front and the minister would give a prayer of thankfulness and a blessing that the offering would be used in His name. Then, I would return to my pew.
Frank Moll Motors.....1966
Opened in 1953. Started by Francis Moll with a force of 5 employees and first was called Frank Moll Oldsmobile. Located on East Fourth Street, now sets vacant.
Gary Carr Breaks SIU Records.....1966
Gary Carr when he left Mt. Vernon was known as our best 440 man ever and he went on to the Southern Illinois University track scene and broke every 440 record there but one in his brilliant collegiate career at Carbondale. A 49.7 runner in his senior year with the Wildcats, Carr had a career best 46.0 with the Salukis. The only record he did not own was the freshman SIU record in a meet he did not participate. Their coach, Lew Hartzog labeled Carr as the "hardest worker' and the boy "with the most intense desire" he's ever coached. Further, he is the greatest anchor relay runner, particularly when behind, Hartzog says, that he's ever coached. Alan Ackman, Mt. Vernon's other Saluki runner, had a 1:51.8 half mile leg in a relay.
Elmo Utley of Utley Auto Supply.....1966
Back when I was in grade school around 1960, the Utley's moved to Mt. Vernon from Kentucky, Henderson I believe. They had a beautiful Queen Anne home on College Avenue and Elmo had a auto parts store on College. His son Terry was a good friend back in those days, we played baseball and golf together and their parents took me to Florida for the first time in the early 60's in their big ole Chrysler Newport. Elmo was a fine man, real slow of speech with a nice smile. When our house burned down in the blizzard of 1965, he gave me a job at his auto parts store for a few weeks until baseball season started, to get my mind off our tragedy. Later the store went to Joe Wooten and became Joe's Auto Supply.
Family Treasure Is a Bible From 1738.....1966
Back in 1966 Ludwig Pfeiffer, better known locally as Louis Ed displayed during Mt. Vernon's 150th anniversary a family Bible printed in German brought to this country by his great-great-grandfather, Gottlieb Pfeiffer. The first child, if a boy, born in each generation inherited the Bible down through the years. It just happened that each first child was indeed a male. Louis Ed inherited it from his father, who was Louis Jr., who inherited it from Louis Sr. Now the question of who gets the Bible becomes complicated because Louis Ed's first son and grandson are both deceased. He presumes the Bible will become the property o his oldest living son, Raymond who lives in Black Township. The Bible has large print and is quite cumbersome because of its weight. The book has been rebound once, but the fly leaf with family records of deaths remains intact. Louis Ed said his great-great grandfather came to America around 1841 on a sailing ship making good time getting here in two months. The ship landed in New York and for a while the family resided in Buffalo. Around 1850 they migrated to Posey County
Strongbox Opened of 1916 Mt. Vernon Centennial.....1966
To kick off the Sesquicentennial celebration of Mt. Vernon in 1966 a time capsule was opened. At Memorial Coliseum before 40 spectators, the 50 year seal of the box was broken by Merle Strack, the man, who along with his brother, the late Lynn had closed the box for posterity. He was assisted by his sister in law, Mrs. Ester Strack. Attorney Gene Brooks served as master of ceremonies. Among the contents were pictures and programs from the centennial celebration, records, receipts, and two ornamental balls taken from the old county Court House cornice torn down in 1880. There was a September 13, 1916 Centennial edition of the Mt. Vernon Democrat. There were copies of two other papers no longer in existence- The Western Star and The Unafraid Republican. Also were numerous copies of the special Centennial booklet. The most interesting find was a sealed envelope that revealed a chew of tobacco left by Lemuel T. Osborn, executive committee chairman of the Centennial. A note said the "chaw" was good and "help yourself." Upon seeing it, Harry Wilson, general Sesquicentennial chairman, said he was "much obliged." If a doctor, ambulance and 4 or 5 pretty young nurses were present, he promised to take one chew, but vowed that the rest of the tobacco would be sealed in a Sesquicentennial time capsule for Mt. Vernon's second Centennial celebration. Okay, anybody know where it is?.
Fake court square funeral.....1966
During our 150th city celebration they had a funeral for Ray Zor a fake bad man on the court square while Zor's wife weeps. The bucket is for tears shed.
Main Street School Torn Down.....November 1965
A page of Mt. Vernon history was discarded as the old school constructed in 1887 crumbled into a pile of debris. The structure was once surrounded by a cast iron fence. It was located between east and west Tenth streets on Main. In the early 1920's, William Klotz was the principal. It had a varied history at a time when the high school was only graduating 7 to 25 students a year. Most graduating ceremonies at that time where held at the Courthouse. In the 1960's, Mrs. Henry Klitz of Rt. 1, who graduated from there in 1893, remembered that her husband as a young man would walk five miles each morning and afternoon on a dirt road to attend high school. The school was once used primarily as a Negro school to before Booker T. Washington. The school was also at one time called "Grammar School" and housed at least grades five through eight. George Ashworth, coach at MV high school and later school superintendent went there in the fifth grade. The school later became part of the overall factory and it was added on to the present structure. Later the Exylin Company tore down the school and built a more modern manufacturing center.
The All-American Red Heads.....April 1965
These sensational queens of the hardwood played in the Mt. Vernon gym co-sponsored by the Mt. Vernon Civil Defense and the Band Boosters came to Mt. Vernon and played the Mt. Vernon Frank Moll Motors Indians. The Red Heads started playing men's teams by men's rules in 1936 and continued playing until 1986. They played before tens of millions of fans in dozens of countries. In some years they played over 200 games in a season. They were like the Harlem Globe Trotters with the best talent available all with red hair. They who were not naturally red-haired used henna to make them so. The Red Heads featured fancy passing, clever ball handling, deceptive play patterns and amusing routines to usually defeat their male opponents. In June of 2011 they were honored as "Trailblazers of the Game," at the woman's Basketball Hall of Fame.
Pocket Hotel Sold.....March 1965
John Medcalf sold the Pocket Hotel at 119-21 West Second Street to James Mattingly. The Mattingly's own and operate the adjoining Idelwild Tavern and won the building it occupies. The sale ended a successful operation of the hotel for almost 20 years by the Medcalf's. The hotel contains 25 rooms and on the ground floor an air conditioned barbershop operated by Clyde Straw and the Mt. Vernon office of Evansville and Ohio Valley Railway Co. bus lines. The hotel later burned to the ground in which there were loss of life.
Gerber's Celebrates 50th Birthday of Establishment.....March 1965
Gerber's Bi-Rite at 700 East Fourth celebrated their anniversary by having all 23 employees dressed in the styles of a half century ago. The supermarket in 1965 was owned and managed by Harry Gerber who established it as a partner with his father, Jacob Gerber and Arthur Hoppes. The location was at 733 East Second Street. Jacob was a native of Austria. While employed in Anderson, Indiana he met Hoppes. Gerber Grocery Company operated as a credit and delivery store with deliveries made from a horse drawn wagon. After a successful operation, the East Second establishment was sold to F.X. Stocker and the Gerber-Hoppes partnership established a store at the corner of East Fourth and Owen Streets, the site of the parking lot of the store in the 1960's.Prior to World War 11, the building was remolded and enlarged to begin operation as a cash and carry market. In 1963, the newer store advanced to an ultra-modern store with equipment, stock, and business methods. Assistant general manager was Elmer Pharr, and Michael Kissel was manager of the meat market with Hazel Jackson the head of the produce section.
During this time period, graduations were held at the School auditorium on Canal Street, outdoors across street of school on Canal, and the HS gym on Harriet Street. 1937-61; 1938-68; 1939-76; 1940-82; 1941-88; 1942-72; 1943-67; 1944-78; 1945-57; 1946-99; 1947-77; 1948-101; 1949-84; 1950-74; 1951-98; 1952-102; 1953-81; 1954-103;1955-107; 1956-104; 1957- 102; 1958-100; 1959-124; 1960-132; 1961-132; 1962-123; 1963-116; 1964-157; 1965-193.
Idlewild Pianist is of Top Reputation.....1965
Mark "Red" Holland, Evansville, who has been tuning pianos since he was 14 and estimates he has done 20,000 is the pianist at the piano bar of the Idlewild Cafe in Mt. Vernon on Friday nights. On Saturday nights, Holland plays with the Gene Hayden Combo at Rolling Hills Country Club in Evansville
Kiwanians Look Back to Origin.....1965
C.C. Maurer, a charter member of the Mt. Vernon Kiwanis Club, gave a superb resume of the club's history at a noon luncheon. With Maurer at the head table was the only other charter member remaining, LeRoy Agin. President Paul Hartmann introduced Maurer. Maurer told of activities of the organization during its first year. Started Feb. 18, 1927, with 36 members, the club grew through hard work and determination. He told of the black days of the depression of the 30s of the great flood of 1937 and how Kiwanis's helped relieve some of the hardships. Maurer also related the club's first major project- that of purchasing a horse for a local coal hauler. The horse cost $15, and Kiwanis's were able to raise the amount and "15 cents to boot." The additional 15 cents was judiciously put in the club's treasury. Of the 36 original members which held its first regular meetings in the former Court Hotel, located on the present site of the Post Office, only 8 were alive in 1965 and only the two present remain with the club. Kiwanis guests that day were Ray Clayton, Charles Blakley, Louis Oehlman,Bill Sefton, Jack Tainter, Bob Oehlman and Bob Tomlinson.
Gerton Bros. Opens in Mt. Vernon.....1965
Gerton's office machine and supplies service firm opened in Mt. Vernon. Paul Gerton and Bob Gerton, brothers, both of Henderson, Kentucky comprised the firm. The location was at 128 East Second Street owned by Mrs. Herbert Leffel and occupied for many years by Niblo's. The store stocked supplies including printed forms and office equipment and machines. They also had a service department. Several types of typewriters and adding machines were stocked, both new and used, for sale or rent.
"A Gentleman and a Scholar".....September 1964
This was a favorite phrase of teacher, coach, and administrator at Mt. Vernon high school, James O. Baxter. A very successful football coach in eight man football with over a .700 winning percentage. He coached an undefeated team in 1954. In basketball, he coached the only undefeated freshman team in our history in 1950 with a 14-0 mark with 8 of those wins vs. Evansville schools. They also won the P.A.C. Tourney at Petersburg. Baxter was a mentor to Johnny Johnson, MV's first black athlete a multi-sport star. Mr. Baxter was also an excellent boy's track coach which was probably our most successful sport for decades. Anyway, my friend Terry Utley and I skipped school the fall of 1964 and camped out on Grand Avenue at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis hoping to get tickets for Game 1 of the 1964 World Series between the Cardinals and the New York Yankees. We stayed up all night freezing to death on the sidewalk as the temps fell into the 30's. We survived on hotdog vendors on the street. To make a long story shorter, we did not get tickets; we were left standing without tickets maybe 20 feet from the ticket window when they sold out. We ended up watching it on TV in St. Louis at a relative's. I remember now announcer Mike Shannon hit a home run off the scoreboard in left field off of Hall of Famer "Whitey" Ford. When we got back to school the next day, Mr. Baxter, then the vice principal called us into his office. He had heard a rumor that we went to the Series. He asked us and we admitted skipping school. He signed a release to get back into class with no detention time or discipline at all. He just said, "Thanks for your honesty...You are a gentleman and a scholar." Rest in peace J.B.
Four T33 Jets Can't Find Mt. Vernon.....May 1962
Four T-33 jets, scheduled a "fly over" on a Friday evening, somehow missed the city. Scores of Mt. Vernon residents braved the sweltering heat on porches and lawns vainly watching the heavens for the planes. Major Frank Current, Evansville group commander of Civil Air Patrol in southwestern Indiana said the jets swooped low over Evansville and Henderson, Kentucky as planned and disappeared in the direction of Mt. Vernon for nearly seven minutes. He's puzzled too about the non-appearance over Mt. Vernon. It was like they disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle as the flight was scheduled some five months ago. "They should know the route", the Major said, "They've been there before." He promised an investigation of the errant flight.
Sprinter Gary Carr.....1962
Back when I was in junior high on Canal Street, I would go down the hill to Athletic Park to watch the high school play baseball and track teams run. I remember Mike Stewart, the greatest overall MV athlete I ever saw in four sports compete. He could win a track meet all by himself. There was this sprinter though who caught my eye - Gary Carr. He was so swift running on that cinder track and he made the worst possible face as he ran; he looked in complete agony. I saw him win a regional title in the 440 yard dash at Evansville's Enlow Field one year. I believe he won that event a couple of years along with Sectional wins. He went on to compete in college and was known to peddle a bicycle from St. Louis to Mt. Vernon years later.
This was fun back in 1962!
The pitching machine did not have a ball coming out of a chute like you see today, but had a arm you could follow and when it got over the top it would push it towards you. They had wooden bats too. I loved watching the high school kids take their cuts and sometimes the Double I Leaguers too.
Grand Opening of Ed's North Side Market.....1962
?"The Superette", 819 Main Street held its grand opening in 1962. For three days festivities were held with registry for free prizes by owner, Charles (Ed) Moll. The prized included 10 baskets of groceries and a charcoal grill. Balloons and candy were given to the children and a Colonial Bread merry-go-round was installed outside the store by that big tree for the celebration. A representative of the Swift Company spoke and demonstrated different cuts of beef. The building underwent a face lifting and interior decoration in March and April following its acquisition by Moll. I was a patrol boy back in those days and I would spend my 50 cents each day here buying Topps Baseball cards. The 1962's were wood grained looking. They always remind me of that store.
Noon's Dairy Queen Adds New Dining Area.....February 1961
A new dining area was erected at East Fourth and Wood Streets for the Noon Dairy Queen. Also there was an expanded menu of steaks and some seafood. The progress included and enlarged kitchen and an additional dining room on the south side of the building. Samuel Noon designed the new addition, measuring 15 by 34 feet and Amos Copeland contracted the block and glass construction at the front of the original building. Furnishings of the new section included ten tables and 40 chairs with the Formica top tables in primrose yellow and the chrome chairs upholstered in turquoise.
Fire at Brite Motor Sales....January 27, 1961.
Heavy damage resulted in a fire confined to the interior of the Brite Motor Sales building at West Third and College Avenue. The flames did not break through the roof of the 2 1/2 story building, thanks to quick response by the local fireman.
Civil War Train Visits Mt. Vernon.....1961
The Louisville & Nashville Railroad's "The General" visited Mt. Vernon on the occasion of a meeting of the Civil War Roundtable of the Vanderburgh County Court House. Bish Thompson, an Evansville Press columnist, recited the history to the crowd assembled. Built in 1855 in New Jersey it was used to carry freight and passengers from Atlanta to Chattanooga before the Civil War. It is now preserved in the Southern Museum of Civil War in Georgia.
"Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree".....November 1960
A 35-40 foot Community Christmas tree was erected on the Courthouse Square. Sponsored by the Mt. Vernon Chamber of Commerce. Peoples Bank & Trust is selling bulbs at a quarter each for the public to help light the tree.
Pee Wee League.....1960
Top: Jesse Stewart, Greg Seifert, Tony Lawrence, James Gibbs, John Meinschein, Mike Benton Middle: Richard Fischer, Dale Breeze, Steve Chambers, Rick "Stick" Russell, David Cox,, Rodger Hobby. Bottom: Steve Dausman, Ray Kessler, Billy Newman, Jim Rueger, Mac Fuhrer, Bruce Smith. This is how I became a White Sox fan. I played on the Sox Pee Wee League team and the Sox were in the World Series in 1959. We went to the Elks and saw the Sox/ Dodger World Series Film. I was hooked. Bill Causey was the sportswriter for the Democrat back then and he did a wonderful job covering sports. When was the last time you saw pitching and hitting records of all leagues in the paper? He founded MV Little League with his own money he bought equipment. He should be honored in this town some way. Anyway, for you stat nerds, if there are any I hit .381 that season, not bad, tops on my team, but only good for 19th place. Jeff Hartman led our league at .748 and Jim Rueger was the top pitcher that season going 6-0. In pony league however, I did finish second one year in hitting losing out to Rick Fischer on the last game.
Advance Drillers Open Season.....1960
The Drillers, defending Posey County Little League Champions, will open the season at Cynthiana. The squad is managed by Jackson L. Higgins and Coaches Ron Bennett and Gerald Phillips. This year's team consists of Perry Hobby, Jimmy Estes, Greg Davis, Paul Mason, Mark Nix, Steve Lowery, Richard Bryant, Ray Kessler, Charles Hopper, Jerry Dunigan, Warren Chambers, James Gunter, Jim Poshard, Billy Harp, Doug Lowery, Jack Kayser, Merl Potter, and Johnny Meinschein.
Custom Farm Services Opens.....1960
This is a fertilizer blending and general fertilizer sales plant located on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad between the Lower Mt. Vernon-New Harmony Road and North Mill Street. It handles a complete line of dry and liquid fertilizers in bag, bulk and tank and blends basic fertilizers in any formula desired by the user. The firm offers delivery and land application service also. Anhydrous ammonia, supplied by Mid-South Company is moved to Custom's through the company's local Ohio River terminal and is in tank storage.
Farm Bureau Refinery.....July 1959
Eddie Daws....Stock Car Racer.....Late 50's, Early 60's
Eddie was a veteran Mt. Vernon dirt track race car driver who earned many a title locally at places like Oakland City and the Evansville Speedrome. The Speedrome was located on North Green River Road which is now in the city of Evansville; but then it was on the outskirts of town. They ran modified coupes plus stock cars - sometimes even midget races. It was a 1/5 mile dirt track and ran usually two nights a week. The cars were like old jalopy's. Some of the drivers of that era beside Daws were Curly Farnsley, Hark Carlisle, and Eddie Hickey. I believe it closed around 1959. Several articles in the paper chronicled his many wins. One was a feature he won there in the feature race in a 1934 Ford coupe, white in color with a big 88 on the doors. In 1952 at the Speeedrome he earned the checkered flag by inches over veteran Jim Mays in a two car duel that extended through the final 15 laps of a 25 lap feature. He started in the 10th position and at the end of the 10th lap he settled in to the duel with Mays that time he was driving a stock car sponsored by the Heidelberg Cafe and Advance Drilling Company.
I Was A Jaycee Ice Cream Man....1959
Charlie Huey was my Little League coach one year and he was also the Ice Cream Day Chairman for the Jaycees. One Saturday morning we all got dressed up in our uniforms like we were going to play the Lions or Moose; but, instead we ran around town door to door selling pints and half gallons of Mt. Vernon Creamery ice cream in flavors of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. I remember pushing the doorbell of the White House on College Avenue. It had an intercom.....I didn't know they existed. When that voice came out of that box I jumped off the porch! The woman finally came to the door laughing at me and bought some ice cream. What will they think of next?
Ring Lost 40 Years Found.....May 1958
Mrs. Grace Alldredge, R.R. 4, Mt. Vernon, found her ring. Shortly after Mrs. Alldredge bought the ring for her son, Myron Lee Alldredge, he lost it in a straw pile at their residence. Yesterday, as Mrs. Alldredge was walking through the garden, which is in a different location than was the straw pile, she found the ring. After a good washing the ring looked like new.
First Baptist Dedicates New House of Worship.....May 1958
A dream came true after 12 years of hopeful anticipation for members of the First Baptist Church as they dedicated their new home on the west side of Main Street, a short distance north of Grant. On July 13, 1946 thirteen persons met in Weisinger Funeral Home under the leadership of Rev. Cullen, Rev. Goebel Phillips, and Rev. Herbert Schmitz. Robert Cullen later would be a missionary in Africa organized the First (then Missionary) Baptist Church. The church met in the homes of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Utley for a time and then the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Walls. Then for over a year the church met in a tent. For warmth in the winter, sawdust was scattered thickly on the floor and an old fashioned pot belly stove was kept roaring with a fan blowing the heat out over the worshipers. Under the leadership of its first pastor, Rev. Thomas Walker, later a medical missionary in India the church began its construction. The church grew and at the time of the dedication it had 160 members and 200 enrolled in Sunday school.
Loaded Semi Flips Into the Ohio River.....May 1958
The listing of a ferry flat of Traylor Brothers, operator of the Mt. Vernon coal terminal, was blamed for the spilling of a semi-trailer, both tractor and trailer, and its cargo of heavy timbers in the Ohio River at the ferry landing at the foot of Main Street at 7 a.m. The terminal boat, Mary B. of Traylor Bros. piloted by Noble Owens, was pulling away from the bank with the flat on which the semi-trailer had been driven when apparently it was caught in the current of the flooded river, listed and flipped over. Rayburn Rawlins of Evansville, driver of the semi, left the cab after driving onto the flat and did not plunge into the river with the tractor trailer. The timber aboard was being moved to the crane barge of the coal terminal to be used as the mounting for a new steel deck on the barge. After hurling the semi-trailer into the river, the listing barge righted itself. The semi turned upside down and only the wheels were visible above the water at a depth of ten feet. The upset vehicle was moored with a line and was not removed until the floodwaters recessed.
Once before, I mentioned this on out on the highway near Marrs School. I believe it was Kent Burris who knew what it was; finally, I find something. This was a new Civil Aeronautics Administration installation, located eight miles out of town and it provided directional radio range for aircraft. The old station is in the inset and the new building is the one I have seen for decades. This picture was taken in 1958. The new station was built to make possible installation of V.O.R.T.A.C. equipment which had yet to be installed. It provided aircraft pilots with directional beams to guide them in flight. A T.A.C. was added providing pilots to know their distance from the station so as to determine their exact location. The 36X36, pre-fab building had a flat roof 54 1/2 feet in diameter and a motorized high antenna protected by a non-metallic cone. The station was controlled from the control tower of Evansville Municipal Airport with the call letters of EVV.
Collection Mail Truck.....1958
The picture is of a new collection mail truck that served Mt. Vernon in 1958. The photo shows carrier Bennie Newman and Postmaster William Reineke looking on. The red, white and blue truck was used approximately six hours per day for special delivery, parcel post delivery, and the collection and relay of letter mail from the 20 letter boxes throughout the city. Formerly, this service was performed at an hourly vehicle hire rate by Post Office Custodian Gus Kirk as contractor. As the hours of need for a truck increased, it was the belief of the Post Office Department than an in-postal service truck could be operated at a lower cost. This was a used truck that was replaced by a newer one in Cincinnati and transferred to Mt. Vernon.
Kenny had a tremendous track season his senior year. In one of the least publicized activities, Kenny established the highest score ever to that time in the Wildcat Pentathlon. Using the following five events: 100 yard dash, 220 yard dash, 440 yard dash, high jump and broad jump, Stewart averaged 951 3/5 points out of a possible 1000. A trackman may select any five track or field events for his pentathlon, but they must include both track and field events, with no more than three field events or no more than three running events. Prior to Stewart's record breaking feat, the greatest pentathlon score was by Don Foster with a 926 score in 1954. Only one other Mt. Vernon athlete-Kenny's older brother, Gary, who averaged 920 in 1956 ever had gone over the 900 mark. I wonder how Mike Stewart did later, he was the finest athlete I ever saw locally. Anyway, other pentathlon winners were Gerry Allyn, Arby Mason (1955), Bob Martin (1954), J. D. Smith and Willie Marvel (1950), and Adriel Schaffer and Vercil Potts (1949). During his high school career, Kenny won four letters in track, three in football, and three in basketball. During his senior year he was named all-league back in the Pocket Athletic Conference. In track he was captain in 1957 and co-captain in 1958. In four years of track he totaled 291 3/5 points for the team. When he graduated he held the school record in the 440 at 51.9 and the P.A.C. 440 record at 52.1. He ran a leg on the mile relay team along with Bud Wright, Danny Scheller, and Charlie Brauser, which set a new mark at 3:33.8 In the 880 relay he ran with Wright, Allyn, and future congressman Joey Deckard to a record breaking sectional triumph.
MV Band in Chicago Parade late 1950's
After the 1957 reserve compiled a 14-2 record in 1957 and the 1957 varsity team had defeated the then undefeated Evansville Lincoln that year, expectations were high in 1958. This team did not disappoint. Up to this point they were the best team ever assembled at Mt. Vernon going 18-6, winning 11 games on the road. That win total held up until 1972, when Mt. Vernon went 22-2. This team set numerous team records that only the 1972 could beat, such as the most points in a season, 3 post season wins, and 90 points in a game. Six future MV Hall of Famers on this team: Bud Wright 1986, Gerry Allyn 1985, Charlie Brauser 1985, Kenny Stewart 1986, Sam Gander, and Charlie Naab 1990. Other players were Jim Challman, Frank Dickens, Joel Deckard, Steve Noon, Jim Russell, and Bueford Deig. The Wildcats also won the Holiday Tourney that season defeating Oakland City in the Championship game. Mt. Vernon again beat Lincoln 71-69 in overtime despite Porter Merriweather getting 37 for the Lions. They defeated them again in the Sectional semi-finals before dropping a 58-57 game to Evansville Central in the championship game that was televised on a disputed out of bounds call at the end of the game. This team was coached by Jim Solomon and after the season, a full size picture of the team hung in People's Bank. The bad call came late in the fourth period as the Wildcats battled back down 10 points to take the lead. An out of bounds call was made and the officials disagreed on who would get possession. Gerry Allyn was standing out of bounds getting ready to throw the ball into Challman when the other official took the ball from him and handed it to the Central player and they scored. The call was not called back and MV lost on that play
Mt. Vernon's new Christmas decorations went up in November with street light standards being decorated with aluminum foil wreathing, Christmas balls and evergreen. Illuminated laurel extending across the street will have new central decorations of three foot stars framed in aluminum wreaths with both star and frame illuminated. For the first time the U.S. Post Office on Walnut Street was permitted to have the exterior of their building decorated.
Sputnik Seen.....November 1957
Noah Alldredge believes he saw the Soviet satellite Sputnik 1 from his home in Savah. The Alldredges said, "The satellite or rocket shell was the size of a small star and took about four minutes to pass from the northwest horizon to the southwest horizon." The path was directly over their home.
No More Cherry Cokes at Boyer's.....June 1957
Another Mt. Vernon institution passed from the scene....the drug store soda fountain. Boyer Drugs the only remaining Mt. Vernon drug store to have a soda fountain and coffee bar discontinued them to provide more needed space for the store. Boyer had operated the fountain since its location in Mt. Vernon-first at the Second and Main location and then at Fourth and Main. It was installed and operated by Stuffle Drugs which Boyer Drugs succeeded.
Pupils of 3 Schools Moved to City.....June 1957
It was announced that all pupils of Jeffries and Upton schools in rural Black township would be shifted to Riley, Hedges Central, and the Junior High schools in Mt. Vernon and seventh and eighth grade pupils of Farmersville School in rural Black will attend MVJH at the opening of the new year. The shifts would be temporary and will end with the completion of the three new rural elementary school buildings of the district. The board's decision was announced by Supt. Hugh W. Price. The shift will primarily give the affected pupils better educational opportunities; it will not increase the enrollment in any one class of the three schools by more than three or four pupils. It will create an additional first grade room at Hedges Central. Moving 7th and 8th grade pupils from Farmersville will reduce overcrowding in that existing rural school. No additional buses will be needed and mileage will be slight. Three additional teachers will be needed, but costs for maintenance of Jefferies and Upton schools will be eliminated.
Mt. Vernon Born Youth On Ted Mack Amateur Hour.....June 1957
Bobby Crider, formerly of Mt. Vernon did a pantomime for the Ted Mack program on ABC television. It was shown live on WTVW, channel 7. Bobby is now living in Evansville attending North high school. It was also his eighteenth birthday. He specializes in pantomiming of Jimmy Boyd and Stan Freeberg records and offered his rendition of Freeberg's "Yellow Rose of Texas" on the Sunday night show. Bobby went to New York to audition two weeks prior. He was running third in popularity after one week. To vote for him a viewer had to mail in a postcard saying, "I vote for Bobby Crider," signed by the sender to Ted Mack, Box 191, Radio City Station, New York City.
Ewings Opens On Main.....June 1957
The new Goodyear and General Electric store of Ewing Tire Service, located at 418-28 Main Street opened with a grand opening sale. The ribbon cutting picture shows: Robert Sawdey, assistant manager of the St. Louis Goodyear district; George Ewing, store owner- manager; Mayor Percy Bartlett; R. Palmer, Dallas TX, Goodyear divisional manager; and H. Dean, St. Louis Goodyear district field representative.
My Dad's Battle in Floodwater.....May 1957
A life preserver, ability to swim, and presence of mind were the formula of which my father Phillip then 36 years of age survived a hard battle with the turbulent Ohio River. We were living at 315 West Eighth Street then and my sister was only one year old. Dad was employed with the Farm Bureau river dock in southwest Mt. Vernon. Kessler, seeking to free a mooring cable of the dock which had become fastened under a rock started out in an outboard motorboat from the shore below the dock and around an oil barge tied off the dock. He negotiated the trip around the barge and the dock and was preparing to head toward the bank to release the cable. It was at this juncture that the outboard motor conked out and the floodwater current made use of the paddle extremely difficult as it kept sweeping dad and the boat toward the head of the tied-off barge. Just as he pushed against the barge with his paddle to go around it, he saw that his boat was going to be carried under the barge and he leaped into the river. The boat and motor seconds later were swept under the barge. Dad succeeded in swimming down the length of the moored barge but when he cut toward the bank after rounding the barge he encountered the current. He finally managed to grab a bankside willow and held on until he rested enough to crawl up the bank. Dad was a fine swimmer and I once watched him swim across the Ohio River. He worked on the dock and the river until he died in 1980. He always enjoyed the meals and the company on the barges and longed for a day he could travel to New Orleans on a barge in retirement. He never got to do it.
Kiwanis Hosts 30th Birthday Celebration.....1957
In a meeting on Feb. 18, 1927 in the gymnasium of Memorial Coliseum, the Mt. Vernon Kiwanis Club was organized and received its charter the following month. Thirty years later a delegation of Evansville Kiwanis's met with a group of Mt. Vernon in fellowship dedicated to community progress. In a birthday party in the dining room of the First Methodist Church, 160 Kiwanis's and ladies representing 10 Southwestern Indiana Kiwanis clubs saluted the local organization. In attendance was Lorin Badiskey, governor of Indiana Kiwanis and George Fischer, governor of the district of Illinois and Eastern Iowa. At the end of the tribute was a comedy appearance of the Cannelton Catfish Band. A turkey dinner was served. Four charter members were still living, LeRoy Agin, Edward Alles, Clinton Maurer, and William Shrode.
New Gulf Station on Indiana 62.....1957
Owned by Douglas Miller two miles east of Mt. Vernon on a road intersection corner. He also owned one on West Fourth and Mill Streets. This station had white porcelain construction and the traditional Gulf trim in blue. It had two bays for auto servicing.
Survivor of WW1 Sunken Ship Recalls.....1957
William McReynolds of 114 1/2 East Fourth Street was aboard the RMS Moldavia on May 23, 1918. The ship was built as passenger steamship and was owned by Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, but was purchased during the war by the Admiralty in 1915 and converted into a armed merchant cruiser. It was torpedoed off Beachy Island in the English Channel by u boat UB-57 as she was carrying United States troops. 56 men lost their lives among them Barney Williams of Sturgis, Kentucky, and Frank O'Dell of Shawneetown, Illinois. McReynolds survived but then was gassed when American and French troops captured Chateau Thierry.
Snatched From Big Creek Flood.....1957
On the right is Walter Stabach, 49, cigar and all, Chicago representative of Wellco Shoe Corporation who was plucked out of the flood waters of Big Creek overflow of Indiana 69 at Solitude. At the car we see James Burch, of Newburgh, a State Highway Department employee, attaching a tow chain to the auto preparatory to pulling it out. Atop the hood is Foster Watson, maintenance superintendent of the Evansville sub district of the State Highway Department. Another employee, not shown assisting from Mt. Vernon was Angelo Stephens. Stabach drove into the flood and was trapped in the overflow for 45 minutes with his auto poised at the edge of a 30 foot drop off from the highway into the old creek bed. Sheriff Edmond Rutledge and Deputy Malcolm Buchanan were at the scene to check traffic and enlisted the aid of two Mt. Vernon men, Casper Eilert and Henry Lang, who piloted an outboard motorboat through the terrific current at the spot the auto was disabled and rescued Stabach. Following an overhaul of the car, Staubach left for his home in Chicago. Water damaged not only the auto but his personal belongings and his shoe sample cases and contents.
An 8-11 team, but they had one huge win an 81-80 victory over Evansville Lincoln who were undefeated at the time, something like 14-0. The game was won on a last second shot by Jim Russell. Lincoln went on to be Regional Champions. Unfortunatly, we drew Lincoln in the opening round of the sectional at the then new Robert's Stadium. Coach Scheller decided on a strategy of stalling the entire game. We lost 34-8. That was the end of his coaching career at MV. We had three Hof'ers on that team in Ken Stewart, Gerry Allyn, and Charlie Brauser. Dick Vance was the captain. Chuck Largin was the high scorer on the season with 215; Russell had 201, Jim Howard 133, Stewart 101, and Vance 100. Some of the other players were Jim Challman, Doug McFadden, Milburn Mattingly, and Marvin Guest.
Refinery Will Erect 200 foot Radio Tower.....May 1956
Indiana Farm Bureau Co-Op Petroleum Department received permission of the FCC to erect a 200 foot pipe construction radio tower on the golf course. The raid tower will facilitate communications of the refinery and Farm Bureau Oil Co. with mobile units in oil field and pipe line areas. The tower contains a 20 foot antenna on its top at 653 feet above sea level. At the top of the tower were placed two flashing beacons and at the midpoint will be two constant warning lights. Of course this was always a hit at Christmas time when they added the green lights and it looked like a huge Yule tree.
The transformation of the tower to a giant Christmas tree was a project directed by Refinery Manager Russell Potts.
Breeze Motors Moves.....June 1955
Breeze Garage moved from 428 Main Street to 312-14 College Avenue after 20 years in operation. Breeze will continue being the local Chrysler-Plymouth franchise.
River Yields Human Skull....April 1955
Howard Barriger of Mt. Vernon was running his trotline in the river and found a human skull. Authorities were trying to make a connection to disappearances of local residents in recent years whose bodies never were recovered. The skull was found on the Indiana shore of the Ohio River opposite the foot of Slim Island. Police working with the coroner's office said the skull was not that of Walter Heriges a local man who disappeared about four years ago. Comparison was made by teeth analysis. A local physician said the skull was that of a person of middle age or older. There is also the possibility that the recent high stages of the Ohio River might have washed the skull from a grave alongside the river.
Break-In At L&N Station.....April 1955
Mt. Vernon police probe speculated that a forced entrance of the Mt. Vernon station office was the work of strikers. Excellent fingerprints were left by the intruder and Police Chief Henry Brakie said any recurrence would bring prompt police action. Hmm, what's that mean...they gonna let this one slide? Anyway, the entrance was early on a Sunday morning while no one was on duty at the station due to a current strike vs. the railroad. Communication switches were thrown and a teletype was "messed up." Since no trains were operating there was no real actual damage, but had there been it could have been disastrous. The actual break-in was accomplished by removing screws from a screen on the window leading from the waiting room to the office and raising the window.
Former Booker T Washington Teacher, Reflects.....1955
Jennie Bishop and her husband Guy were school teachers and Guy the principal for 44 years 1911-1955 at Booker T. Washington. In 1911, there were 5 teachers, four at the old brick building at Third and Owen and one at the annex east of the main building. In 1927, the seniors were sent to Douglas High School in Evansville, which in 1929 became Lincoln High School. This was done in order that the scholars might have the better rating of a commissioned high school. All classes were returned to Mt. Vernon later following the rebuilding of the school following a fire. They worked at the old building until 1932, and then came the fire. With no integration, for a time they were housed at the Catholic building at Fourth and Mulberry Streets. The W.P.A. and Mt. Vernon superintendent M.N. O'Bannon helped the school recover getting what they needed in as far as facilities including old toilet fixtures from the high school. The school had a very successful basketball team called the "Blue Devils." They first played at the Armory on south Main Street, where Mayor George Krug would referee free of charge. Later they were allowed to play at the Coliseum and later their own building. For around 12 years in the late 40's and early 50's their high school students were again sent to Evansville Lincoln and the staff of Booker T was reduced to the elementary level. Finally, the black students were admitted to the public schools and BTW became a memory. The principals from 1911 to 1955 were W.E. Best, R.C. Jackson, R.T. Anthony and finally Guy Bishop. After the school closed the Bishops retired and moved to Los Angeles, California. Mr. Bishop besides being a school teacher and principal in Mt. Vernon also was a printer for many years at the Mt. Vernon Democrat and worked as a mail carrier for the Postal Service. They had 4 children, one a WW2 veteran and one a school teacher in Indianapolis. I have also been trying to compile the graduates of Booker T. Washington over the years. From my findings the earliest graduating class I believe would have been 1890 when there were 5 graduates. The largest class I have found was 8 in 1895. Some years there were none, but most classes seem to run from 2 to 5 per year. Many of their commencements were held at the court house.
Old Cistern Caves In.....August 1954
A bricked cistern twelve feet in diameter on the extreme end of Mill Street east of the Mt. Vernon Gas Plant at Mill and Second was revealed by a cave-in. The Street Department was called to fill in the partially exposed hole. It is probable that the abandoned cistern once provided water for the former Tente store "hitch lot" or was a water supply for the Fire Department of bygone days.
Eddie Daws and Wife.....1954
Eddie Daws after winning the 50 lap stock car championship trophy at the Evansville Speedrome, July 1954
Yippie Yi O.....July 1954
"Get along little doggie, head 'em up, move 'em out." A cow owned by Paul O'Donnell, residing on the Country Home road northwest of Mt. Vernon, escaped and led the owner, Mt. Vernon police and Posey County Sheriff's office men a merry chase through the city before being corralled. The chase started at 11:15 a.m. and took cow and officers through the Hedges Central school yard, Athletic Park, and out the Tile Factory Road before being captured!
Emmick Addition Lots Are On Sale.....July 1954
This is the street of my youth starting in 1957. Dad bought two lots here and we moved into a Bedford limestone three bedroom home with full basement. After a fire destroyed the home we rebuilt in 1966. John (Jack) Emmick opened Emmick's subdivision on the new street running east and west from the Lower New Harmony Road. At this time there were 13 lots left measuring 60x87 feet and one lot measuring 75x87 feet. Great time on this block....plenty of softball, football, basketball, whiffle ball. All kinds of pretty blondes, I think we had 4 varsity cheerleaders here and one the next block over in the 1960's and 70's. Right next to the refinery golf course, I would play golf all the time, hunt balls in the bushes and ponds, play in the Kishline barn behind me, and play spin the bottle. I can still see dad and I playing catch in the side yard, Marion and Ann folding papers, and Debra walking down the street. It was a time of great joy. ?"Ice cream man, Ice cream man," we would yell as we ran back to our parents for change. Our dogs ran loose, we stayed out to dark, and then sometimes past catching lightning bugs and putting them in a Mason jar or making rings of their light source. We could lie in the grass, look at the clouds, search for four leaf clovers, and start a butterfly collection. We had plenty of entertainment and then sometimes we would load up and go to the drive-in and see Elvis or a western.
Beating the Heat Wave.....1954
In July of 1954 there was an extended heat wave across the Midwest and Mt. Vernon had at least nine 100 degree days. The thermometer on July 14, hit 104 degrees in town and 108 in Logansport and Washington, Indiana. Mt. Vernon did a series of sprinklings or as they called it "dunking for ducklings" by opening up some hydrants, closing some streets and adding a special sprinkler for the children and adults to cool off. This photo was on East Second and Mulberry. The 85 foot sprinkler provided a needed break in the days when air conditioning was rare.
"Born to be Wild".....1954
Ever seen a fire chief ride a farm tractor to a fire? Mt. Vernon did one hot July day in 1954. William T. Booth, chief of the Mt. Vernon Fire Department, was en route on a farm tractor to the Keck-Gonnerman display at the 4H Club fair shortly before noon when a fire alarm was sounded when a burning rubbish pile in the rear of the Arrow Cafe on Main Street threatened to spread. The chief made the run on his tractor. Thata boy
Thieves Rob Clothesline.....1954
Thieves looted a loaded clothesline at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Gentil at 418 East Second Street. Mrs. Gentil early Sunday night hung the newly washed clothes of her family on the line, which was only 12 feet from the rear of the Gentil home. When the family awoke the next morning, the line was devoid of about half the clothing. The thief or thieves were discriminating taking mostly new garments belonging to Mrs. Gentil and her daughter Peggy Ann. However, they did take Mr. Gentil's socks and underwear.
Business District Fire.....December 1953
Flames menaced a quarter block bounded on the north by west Second and on the east by Main on the 17th of December. The fire broke out in the early afternoon as the Ed Turner apartment building, the building occupied by the Al Rio restaurant, an upstairs apartment on Main Street, the Friendly Cafe and apartments above the cafe bore the brunt of the blaze. Roofs of those buildings were caving in and several others were being threatened like Yaggi's plumbing and a heating firm. The Evansville Fire Department dispatched two pumpers to help us out. The severe cold handicapped the firemen and water from the hose lines froze on the adjacent streets. The fire originated in either the rear of the Turner building or the Al Rio. Damages were reported of over $50,000. Twenty three fireman and several volunteers fought the fire for eight hours in sub-freezing temperatures. Pumpers poured water high above the Christmas decorations across Main Street. One invalid women living in one of the apartments in a wheel chair had to be carried out.
Old Fashioned Hoe Down....On Horses?.....1953
On June 5, 1953 at the Athletic Park, Mt. Vernon held its Seventh Annual Horse Show. Sponsored by the local Saddle Club along with the Kiwanis it had the popular features of a gaited horse show and a Western program. What I would have liked to have seen were the four couples on horseback doing the "dosey do." Now that's entertainment! LOL. They also brought in this girl who was an "exponent of Roman riding," who standing she used three horses in hurdle jumping act. "Yippie I Yeah" We had competitive events like jumping horses and a pulling contest. There were 14 competitive events like open pony, gaited pleasure, Tennessee walking, Three-gaited, English tack, five gaited stallion, amateur gaited, ladies western pleasure, saddle scramble, men's pleasure, and pulling contests. I have no idea on most of what I just wrote. But, I bet it was a good time! "Happy trails to you, until we meet again."
Historical Old Home Becomes Office of Mt. Vernon Doctor.....May 1953
One of the oldest and historical homes, located at 431 Walnut Street (across from the Catholic Church) became the office of physician and surgeon, William Challman. Dr. Challman moved from his office building at 131 West Third Street to Walnut recently purchased from George Black. In this spacious two story brick building, Benjamin Harrison, then a prominent Indiana lawyer and later President of the United States was a visitor during trips to Mt. Vernon to practice law with Judge William P. Edson. The dwelling was the Edson home for many years and afterward the home of Jacob Rosenbaum, Mt. Vernon merchant. The lower floor will be the reception room for patients, a business office and record room, two treatment rooms, an emergency surgery room, laboratory, drug room and x ray laboratory. The second floor will be used as a library, additional surgery quarters and a clinical laboratory. In 1968 the home was sold to George Ewing and he refurbished the brick exterior with a fresh coat of paint. The house had a long, narrow hallway on the south side provides access to vital portions of the downstairs, via a sturdily built stairway to the upper floor as well. Fancy trim work was added to the outside of the house by its second owner, George Naas. From Naas it went to Rosenbaum, then to Black, onto Challman and then to Ewing. Ewing bought it and placed it on the market and it became occupied by the Posey County Welfare Department. It was torn down in June of 1988. It was 123 years old. The property now is an additional parking lot for St. Matthew parishioners.
Gigs 500 Pounds of Carp In Backwater.....May 1953
Elvis Gentil, of Stephan Home Appliances and Jack DeKemper of the Indiana Farm Bureau refinery, gigged 500 pounds of carp in the Ohio River overflow below Hovey Lake in Point township. Both of them said a Mt. Vernon minister can vouch for their catch.
Riley Grade School Boasts of New Library.....May 1953
The PTA at the start of the 1952-53 school year, started a long range project to provide a library and books for the James Whitcomb Riley Elementary School in Mt. Vernon. Although there were book shelves in every classroom it was thought that these were not adequate for the "eager exploding minds" of our children. Mrs. Melvin Redman, the PTA president appointed a committee to study the possibilities. Along with herself she chose, City School Superintendent Cyrus Gunn, Paul Bayer, Mrs. Lealon Allen, and J. Fred Kennedy, a Riley teacher to look into a library and how to pay for it. A school carnival and chili supper were held and the support of the community was gratifying. The children made $64 in candy sales too which was used to buy new books. The walls were lined with beautiful bleachwood shelves. An adjustable library table was installed. Also some new draperies and a slip cover for the couch were purchased. It is hoped that this will continue to be an ongoing project.
Booker T. Washington Puts On Year End Program.....May 1953
B.T.W. grade school put on an unusual program called, "Spring Varieties," which delighted an overflow audience of parents and friends. From the vocal welcome, "Howdy, Howdy, " to the "Good Night," the program moved smoothly and reflected the talent of the Booker T. students under the capable direction of teacher Jennie Bishop. "Animal Capers" was a very pleasing number with penguins, lions, deer, kangaroos, polar bears and elephants represented. The upper grades were well received in a Gypsy Dance which was performed in a campfire setting with a chorus singing, "Jolly Gypsy." Lower grade students made a major contribution to the program in their Maypole Dance, Minuet, Parasol Parade and Kitchen Band led by Drum Major Clarence Lee.
Local Student In Inaugural Parade.....January 1953
David Keck, of 400 Mulberry will march with the Indiana University Marching Hundred with the famed band when they participate in Dwight Eisenhower's presidential inaugural parade in Washington D.C.
Mt. Vernon Born Writer Authors Boy's Ranch Story.....January 1953
Marhalee Forgy Patton, a writer of considerable reputation and a native of our town was the author of 'Rainbow In Florida," a nonfiction story of Rainbow Ranch for Boys, a project of Homer Rodeheaver, nationally known evangelistic song leader. The story appeared in the January issue of The Christian Advocate, publication of the Methodist Church. Mrs. Patton's father was Horace Forgy, a druggist employed by the former D & H Rosenbaum Drug Store in Mt. Vernon many years ago.
Just About Ready for Hironimus Food Market.....January 1953
Construction work on the new Hironimus Food Market on the southeast corner of West Third and Mill Streets owned by Oscar Hironimus were almost completed. Moving day arrived shortly thereafter, from Second and Mill to their new building. Later in the month a Grand Opening was held. At the new location the Hironimus store discontinued their previous delivery service and began a cash and carry basis. Wouldn't be long I guess, before the Bonnie & Jill tug would be ferrying out fresh meat and groceries to the barges on the Ohio River though.
Damn the Luck.....1953
Betty Thrall, 19, of West Third Street suffered a minor injury when she fell in a manhole on the sidewalk in front of Alles Brothers Furniture Store after alighting from an E. & O. V. bus depot at the Pocket Hotel. Police said that the manhole cover tipped when the woman stepped on it and she fell through.
Come On Down "Rocky Boy".....1953
A raccoon perched on top of a utility pole at Walnut and Water streets caused quite a stir. Mt. Vernon police believe he was routed from his lowland habitat by the rising Ohio River and possibly chased up the pole by a dog. Anyways, he attracted much attention and resulted in one person being fined. Louis Roberts, 20, who police said tried to dislodge the coon by butting the pole with his auto and was fined by the Justice of the Peace Court $5 and costs for reckless driving.
The Jarvis Wildcats were a semi-professional woman's softball team sponsored by Sam Jarvis, a well-known oil operator. The women were from all over the tri-state I gather and used Athletic Park in 1953 as their home park. They played many out of town ladies' teams and looking at the sports page they were very, very good. I don't know what their record ended up being but they started off 9-0 with impressive wins over teams from Louisville, Paducah, and Logansport. The picture shows three of the players, Sue Jones, Ruth McMillen, and Mary (Tommy) Taylor. Miss Jones was from Logansport, Indiana, a school teacher and won two of the first nine games. I am thinking this was fast pitch softball. Mt. Vernon sportswriter, Bill Causey, who started our little league program himself in Mt. Vernon would cover this team just as he did the Double I League entry. He was a fine sportswriter locally.
I didn't know of this man until recently. He didn't play for Mt. Vernon High School, there was segregation. I don't have his high school stats, because the papers normally didn't cover ever Negro game. But, Beuford Moss, son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Moss of Mt. Vernon was a star athlete at Maryland State College and graduated from there in 1953. Moss, was a graduate of Mt. Vernon's Booker T. Washington school here and Evansville Lincoln High School. He was captain of the Maryland State basketball team for three consecutive years and also played football and baseball. During his senior year he helped Coach V.E. McCain, coach the freshmen. He majored in physical education with a minor in history, was a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and was a popular and well liked figure on campus. He was called "The Wheel" by his teammates.
Stephan Implement Company Moves To Town's East Side.....July 1952
Ground was broken in January of 1952 on the new facility at the east triangle to Mt. Vernon on State Highway 62. The new location will provide greater convenience, more display service, storage facilities, and plenty of parking space. The John Deere dealer moved from 418-22 Main Street where it had been since their foundation in 1937. Elmer Stephan, owner-manager is excited to be moving to the larger store.
New Scout Troop Sponsored by the Elks.....May 1952
On Elks Youth Day the lodge announced the arrangements for sponsorship of a new Mt. Vernon Boy Scout Troop. Karl Kishline will be the Scoutmaster and Warren Kishline the assistant. Members of the troop committee are Ted Wheaton, chairman; John Forthoffer, Herman Bray, Malvern Redman and Charles Carr. John Doane, the immediate past exalted ruler of the lodge will serve as institutional representative. Walter King, a veteran local Scouter, was credited for giving valuable assistance in organizing the troop. Membership in the troop will not be confined to Elk affiliated boys.
Mt. Vernon Host to Home Show.....May 1952
The coliseum was the setting for a two day electrical home appliance show which was filled with throngs of women and many accompanied by their husbands. The display of electrical home appliances of seven Mt. Vernon dealers sponsoring the show caught the eye of people as they entered the hall. The theme of the show was, "Of course it's electric." One demonstrator of products complimented the inquiring shoppers with the statement, "I never heard more intelligent questions concerning desirable factors of electrical equipment than those forthcoming from the Mt. Vernon and Posey County women." Wonder how many times he had used that line? haha. The seven sponsoring dealers were Southern Indiana Gas & Electric, Stephan Home Appliances, Mt. Vernon Home Appliances, Benton Tire Service, Gronemeier Hardware, Lindley's, and Oscar Keck had their attractive display booths in readiness for the show. All exhibits had actual demonstrations of the appliances to make "the homemaker needs a housewife's paradise." Glistening ranges, refrigerators, freezers, automatic washers, dryers, ironers, dishwashers, toasters, vacuum cleaners, coffee makers, corn poppers, sewing machines were displayed. It must have been a good time. I learned a long time ago however; not to buy a wife an appliance for a birthday, or Christmas.
- 101 Peerless
- 104 Stephen Farm and Home Supplies
- 104 1/2 Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3258
- 107 Bray Package Liquor
- 119 Murphy's Tavern
- 127 Al-Rio
- 128 Mt. Vernon Republican Newspaper
- 132 Boyer Drugs
- 133 Washington Tavern
- 200 Benton Tire Service
- 201 Wheaton's Pharmacy
- 202 Alles Cigar Store
- 205-207 Stinson Bros.
- 209 McFadden Furniture Store
- 210 Schenk Cigar Store
- 212 DeFur Paint Store
- 211 Ben Franklin Store
- 213 McCarty's Tavern
- 218 City Dry Cleaners
- 219 The Arrow Cafe
- 220 Fox Jewelry
- 221 Dagger's Cafe
- 222 Western Union Telegraph
- 225 Western Auto
- 226-228 Mt. Vernon Theater
- 231 Rothrock's Pharmacy
- 233 Oliver Jewelers
- 301 Palace Soda
- 303 Rosenbaum Jewelry
- 305 Old Heidelberg Cafe
- 311 Indiana Brokerage
- 323 Garrison Radio Sales
- 331 R&M Cafe
- 333 Mt. Vernon Home Appliance
- 401 Hardy's Tavern
- 402-404 People's Bank & Trust
- 403 1/2 Moose Lodge #497
- 409 Neu-Way Cleaners
- 412 Kroger Company
- 413-415 Gronemeier Hardware
- 520 Keck Motor Company
Kiwanis Assists School Athletes.....1952
Local Kiwanis's traveled 4582 miles in transporting Mt. Vernon High School athletes to and from practice sessions in football, basketball, baseball and track this past year. Athletes were transported from the rural vicinity. They had no way of reaching home except by school bus which left prior to practice sessions for school sports. It was especially important for freshman athletes to have transportation. Many would not have participated without the transportation provided.
Remember "Panty Raids ?" Mt. Vernon Editor Has Opinion.....1952
Back in 1968, when I was in college at Murray State one of these broke out with men running all over campus setting fire to trash cans, turning on water hoses in the dorm elevator, shooting off fire crackers, and running from one girls' dorm to another acting stupid. I was too busy protesting war to take this serious. It was still interesting to see the campus police come out with their bull horns and try to restore order. In 1952 a wave of these panty raids were sweeping across the nations' campuses, the latest in college fads. Tear gas was used at two schools to restore order. Yeah, I know how that burns! ha. National Guard troops were called out at Columbia to turn back male students bent on carrying off unmentionable trophies. Raids were heavy in Big Ten schools with multiple raids at Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Orvan Hall, the Mt. Vernon Democrat editor weighed in: "The zestful commandos who have liberated lingerie enjoy a deferment status not accorded young non-collegians. The question, then, is whether the dormitory invaders are demonstrating sufficient progress toward education and maturity to warrant the high favor of continued deferment. But it's spring and girls are cute. We wouldn't want to see too harsh a judgment passed on the panty commandos as long as nobody gets hurt, physically or morally, in the forays. We might point out, however, that if a lad has an all-consuming desire for free underwear, any good supply sergeant stands ready to issue it to him. Or if he has an overwhelming interest in articles made of silk and nylon, the Armed Forces have a plentiful stock of unused parachutes."
German Methodist Church at Fourth and Locust 1840-1952
After 1933 the merging of this church and the First Methodist Episcopal Church occurred and this building was used as a Parish House for church meetings.
Style Rite Shoe Store Opens.....1952
Under the ownership of Robert L. Stinson, the family shoe store opened at 223 Main Street in the old Empress Theatre building. The building was completely modernized for mercantile occupancy. The 18x50 foot sales room is designed with shelving on two sides and the rear and a wrapping counter with socks, hosiery and purse displays in the front. The front of the store is recessed, flanked with display windows. Inside the color scheme was green and gray with an asphalt tile floor. Lighting was fluorescent. The new Mt. Vernon merchant came from a three generation of local merchandising family and had been associated with the Stinson Department Store in Mt. Vernon for 12 years, broken by two tours serving in the Navy. Clerical employees at the startup were Miss Anita Mathews and Miss Virginia Stein.
New Owners Of Palace Soda Shop.....1952
Alfred and Edith White purchased the Palace from Nick Andriakos, who left on vacation to his native Greece. The Palace was located at 301 Main Street and was known for its popular confections and soda fountain. They also manufactured their own ice cream. Mr. Andriakos, the former owner was a very successful businessman during his 30 years in Mt. Vernon. He purchased the shop on July 2, 1923 from George and Pete Hilakos. Nick came to the United States in 1909 and the shop was popular with the younger set of our town as sort of a recreational center as a place to gather and talk to their friends.
Old Dwelling Built From First MV Post Office Razed.....April 1951
One of the town's oldest homes and a local landmark came down-the George Washington Thomas home on the southwest corner of College Avenue and West Second Street. Gonnerman Auto Co. bought the property some time ago bought the property from Joe Vail and the brick residential building was torn down in preparation for the automotive firm's establishment of a modern used car sales lot. The nucleus of the building was erected in about 1818 by Jesse Y. Welborn, Mt. Vernon's first postmaster, and was used as the city's first post office. George Washington Thomas purchased the property in 1856 and added to the building and converted it into a family home. It was the only home in Mt. Vernon at the time that had a stone foundation. Charles Hagemann, who directed the razing of the historic building, said the main structure of the building still was sturdy. The woodwork, except for the eaves was well preserved. The stone foundation was purchased by the Texas Oil Company for use at its Mt. Vernon terminal.
Mayor James Bennett Extols His Accomplishments.....1951
I remember seeing Mr. Bennett on the streets of Mt. Vernon in the 1960's - an interesting looking man, tall and thin with a mustache. He was a long time public servant in Mt. Vernon and was mayor of our town for one term serving 1948-1952 losing to Paul Hironimus. During the summer months of 1951 he was trying to be re-elected and he did a series of advertisement on some of what he felt were his accomplishments. Here are a few:
- A permanent dumping place was established which cost the taxpayer less to maintain than several dumps.
- School zone signs placed at all schools to provide a higher standard of safety for children.
- A resuscitator bought and located in city hall and ample supplies for an emergency.
- Best street signs ever erected in Mt. Vernon purchased.
- A new Mt. Vernon wharf driveway which provided an all purpose out of the mud thoroughfare for the movement of people and freight.
- 139 Alfco twin automatic parking meters were installed which made parking conditions in the business part of our city better. The headache of "double parking" was thus relieved. The meters proved to be financially sound with receipts from them being used as operating expenses for street repair and traffic light installations.
- Started repairs on the City Hall building with parts of the interior painted and papered. A new entrance was installed and a new roof installed. There was also caulking work outside.
- A new lighting system was installed in the business district and plans for more street lights along east and west Second Streets.
- A new FM Police-Sheriff radio was placed in operation at the City Building.
- The L&N Railroad Co. co-operated with the city and installed an improved safety signal device at their Main Street crossing, which rendered proper signaling for both short and long trains.
- Plans are made to the laying of more sewer to relieve overflow water conditions which occur in Brown Town and adjacent territory.
- A new enclosed garbage collection wagon purchased.
Air Conditioned Gerber's Store.....June 1950
Gerber's Super Market at 700 East Fourth Street announced another first locally. It has installed in operation Carrier air conditioning throughout the entire store. The system employs mechanical refrigeration to cool the air and reduce humidity and is used in larger stores and office buildings worldwide." Customer convenience and comfort prompted the instillation," said Harry Gerber, store manager.
Mt. Vernon Drive-In Theatre Opens....May 11, 1950
For eighteen years this little amusement enterprise was a fun place to go, play on the playground, run back when the movie started, get some popcorn and a coke and watch an Elvis movie, a John Wayne western, or a biblical saga. Located on the outskirts of Mt. Vernon on old SR 62 it held 400 cars and had of course 400 speakers, two to a post. The first night everyone got in free to see the first movie shown, "It Happens Every Spring" a baseball movie. I remember this show it was a good one! After the initial night admission was 50 cents unless you wanted to hide in the trunk. Always cool when they drove that mosquito truck around before the movie fogging the place up. I hope that wasn't DDT or some kind of Agent Orange stuff. Of course, you could go to the concession stand and buy this little box that had this green coil in it and you would light it in your car, early incense I gather. Eventually, in 1968 the little home town theater ran its course, no more fireworks or dancing hot dogs. By then, I started sitting in the back row of the Evansville West Side Drive-In watching Hell's Angels flicks. My first date with my wife of 35 years was here. She polished the passenger side door handle ...I think she thought I was Charles Manson.
Local editor said, "Sure, we ought to have a Congressional snooping committee to keep tabs on the peace delegations, but who shall we get to watch the Congressional committee?"
Bill Hall....Did You Know?.....1950's
I remember watching old Bill in Double I League play. He was past his prime, but was still called on to pinch hit from time to time. There is a house on the far east corner of East Eighth I believe that Bill Hall hit with a home run clearing the street of Athletic Park. I have heard this story many a time. His nephew, I talked to recently said it is true. The only one who could match him would be the "Ruthian" clouts that Carlton "Tiny" Waller was said to have hit. Wish we still had traveling baseball adult teams!
Two Mt. Vernon Hunters Bag 80 Raccoons.....1950
Where the Odd Fellows Building or People's Bank was back in the 1860's, this corner of Fourth and Main Street was a two story frame building occupied by the newspaper, The Mt. Vernon Advocate, edited by Thomas Prosser. Unfortunately, no editions seem to be in existence today. Just north of this was the Duckworth and Gregory livery stable. On the corner next would be the blacksmith shop of Thomas Hollis. Across the street on the corner of Fifth and Main, on the Westside would be the residence of Enoch James. Going back up Main now we had the Weilbrenner shoe shop and grocery, the gunsmith shop of Thomas Ries, Stackler and Weckesser saloon and grocery, "Peg-Leg" Fuhrer's saloon, John Evertson residence, Rosebaum and Brother dry goods store, Charlie Lennig's saloon and grocery near the corner of Third and Main.
State Supreme Court Judge Praises Hovey.....May 1949
Indiana saluted Mt. Vernon native Alvin Peterson Hovey as a jurist, statesman, soldier, and diplomat on the spot in Mt. Vernon where he lived in his early manhood. He was a man who left his mark on our town, state and nation. He was honored as one of 24 historical recitals being sponsored by the Hoosier Historical Institutes and the Kiwanis in the hometowns they came from. The site was the beautiful lawn of the Elks Home, formerly Governor Hovey's residence and law office. His home at the peak of his brilliant career stood diagonally across the street. An audience of 200 persons, many who remembered him personally, heard Justice Frank Gilkison of the Indiana Supreme Court acclaim him as a "rugged man who developed opinions of his own based upon realities, who became self-reliant and trustworthy." In the audience where direct descendants of the man. Dr. Alvin P. Hovey, Indianapolis, a grandson and a former secretary of Governor Hovey; Mrs. Conlin Alexander, Indianapolis; and Mrs. Walter Gillespie, Williamsport, great granddaughters, and Mrs. F.P. Leonard, Mt. Vernon, a niece by marriage. Ex-Mayor Frank J. Fessenden was the master of ceremonies. Edward Behrens, Mt. Vernon, supplied the local viewpoint for the Governor in a narration that included many personal incidents. He mentioned in passing his birth in a small house near the spring that bubbles up and across the road a quarter mile west of Farmersville; his mother's moving to Mt. Vernon with her fatherless family; Alvin's attendance of a public school located on the southeast corner of the public square, and his later brief service as an instructor in that school; his apprenticeship as a bricklayer under his brother, and his decision to enter the legal profession when he completed laying brick in what is now the Fullinwider home at Sixth Street and College and he threw away the trowel. He did use a trowel once more in his life, when he laid the cornerstone of the Posey County courthouse in 1874. After studying law under Judge John Pitcher, Hovey was admitted to the bar at the age of 22 and opened his law office on what is now the Elk's lawn adjacent to his residence. After eight years of legal practice, he was appointed judge of the Third Judicial district court. From there he went to the Supreme Court of Indiana, and was the youngest jurist ever to that time. Hovey was first a Whig, later a follower of Stephen A. Douglas, Democrat and finally a Republican. He made liberal contributions to local churches and was a supporter of the Mt. Vernon Mechanics Band. He was said to be a handsome man and his name is preserved in the village of Hovey and Hovey Lake. He died in 1891 in his third year of his term from pneumonia contracted on a pleasure trip to Mexico. He lay in state in the rotunda of the Posey County courthouse with Lt. Gov. Ira Chase conducting the funeral service at the family residence. Eulogies at the grave site at Bellefontaine were given by ex-governors, Albert Porter and Issac Gray. On the day of the recital, Mt. Vernon schools were closed as were many business firms.
Rosenbaum & Bro Department Store Sold.....April 1949
Our cities oldest retail store, 95 years old and one of the oldest in Southern Indiana was sold to the Greenberg Mercantile Company of St. Louis. No interruption of business occurred with the transfer. The Mt. Vernon institution was established in 1854. The sale came just 9 months after the death of Jesse Rosenbaum. Although the business was sold to the Greenberg Company who own 20 department stores, the building itself still belongs to Herman Rosenbaum and is being leased to the Greenberg firm.
Dick Fischer Heads to Braves Farm Club.....April 1949
Richard "Dick" Fischer of St. Phillips came home for a few days after contract difficulties with Jackson, Mississippi, a club in the Southeastern League of the Boston Braves. Fischer, a graduate of Mt. Vernon High School has been in organized baseball for several years, last year winning 7 and losing 9. Later, in the Fifties he played Double I League locally.
Pinkeye, Trench Mouth Near Epidemic Among Mt. Vernon Students.....April 1949
Mrs. Elizabeth Thomas, Posey County public health nurse warned parents to watch for symptoms of pinkeye and trench mouth among their children. Pinkeye begins with redness in the eye, a scratchy sensation, a watery discharge and perhaps sensitivity to light. Children showing these signs should be taken to the doctor and kept home, isolated as much as possible from others, and must see a doctor for a permit to return to school. "This infection is very catching." Trench mouth is a disease of the throat and mouth. It is spread by contact or indirect contact with a person with the disease. It is spread by use of common drinking cups, common towels, unclean dishes, etc. It is more apt to be found where there are deficiencies in diet and develops with fatigue. The germs that cause trench mouth are found in almost any mouth, but the disease usually begins in the area of the wisdom teeth. To avoid it oral hygiene is important along with a good diet and general sanitation practices. Any symptoms of mouth infection, red painful areas, or white patches on the gums should be reported to the dentist.
Jeanne LaDuke and Natalie Wood.....1949
1949 movie, "The Green Promise". Jeanne said, she learned of her winning the part after an audition in Los Angeles. As they were traveling home by car in Missouri they were pulled over by the state police and informed of the studio's decision. Her dad Floyd pulled over and bought her an ice cream to celebrate. Being the same age as Natalie Wood they studied together with a tutor while filming. On location was in northern California.
Mt. Vernon Adopts Race Law Policy.....1949
Mt. Vernon school trustees, after weeks of consideration of legal advice and Indiana Department of Education rulings on the new Indiana anti-segregation law announced their plan of compliance with the statute which forbids the segregation of public school pupils according to race, color, creed, or national origin. Compliance with the anti-segregation law is mandatory if school units are to receive state school tuition support and maintain their accredited rating. Prior to their decision on the plan of compliance with the law, Mt. Vernon school trustees received, accepted and entered of record the voluntary requests of parents of all "colored" children entering the first grade that their children be permitted to attend Booker T. Washington school during the coming school year. White elementary school children will continue to go to Riley and Central school. The two Booker T. teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Guy Bishop have been reassigned as instructors at that school. The 15 or 16 "colored" high school pupils in Mt. Vernon will be admitted to Mt. Vernon High School. Admission of the six or seven first year high school "colored" pupils is mandatory at the opening of the 1949-1950 school year, the admission of the second year pupils is mandatory the following year and so on through the four high school grades.
This toured Mt. Vernon in the spring of 1949, sponsored by the Navy Club of the USA. The trailer was parked on the courthouse square. The plane was a well-guarded secret because of their inability to obtain suicide pilots. Most of those who did volunteer were women and it was a woman who designed the plane. The sub was manned by two Italian undersea "frog men" and it was like riding an undersea horse. It had a detachable warheads and small bombs that could be attached to ship hulls or used in a suicidal attack on a ship by ramming it. This was the only one of its kind in America. No admission was charged, but contributions were accepted.
Gronemeier Hardware Celebrates 75th Anniversary.....1949
In May of 1874 a young man with the trade of a tinsmith borrowed $300 and founded his own business at 106 Main Street here in Mt. Vernon. That was where the old Armory building now stands. His business was manufacturing tin ware, selling fine stoves, and heavy hardware. Three generations of Gronemeier's owned the business. In 1901 the firm moved to 307 Main Street. In 1906, the business moved again to the Boberg building on Main. When founder Simon died in 1916, his sons carried on. The firm became Gronemeier Brothers and in 1914 a 35 foot addition was made to the building and 1918 another 30 foot addition was erected. Reuben left the firm in 1921 and moved to Spokane, Washington. Ralph Gronemeier, son of Alfred and grandson of the founder, entered the firm in 1923. In 1935 when the First National Bank was liquidated the firm bought the north half of the building at 415 Main Street.
"Going To The Roadhouse, Gonna Have A Goodtime.".....May 22, 1947
The Stucco House, a new roadhouse on Highway 62 , eight miles east of Mt. Vernon, opens.
New Al Rio Restaurant Opens.....March 1947
The Al Rio Restaurant at 127 Main Street closed for several weeks for a complete rearrangement and remodeling reopened. Mrs. Agnes Graening is the owner-manager. Harold Wilson who has managed the Java Coffee Shop in the Hotel McCurdy was employed as the chef. "The extensive interior rebuilding program has shifted the modern, fully equipped kitchen to the center of the restaurant where it will connect with the new, modern counter at the front and private dining room in the rear." The new furnishings were of bleached mahogany and streamline design. Among the new items are a cold food and salad serving unit and an automatic French fryer which uses electrically controlled gas for cooking. Ceilings have been lowered and recessed fluorescent lighting installed. The restaurant will open at 6 a.m. and close at 10:30 p.m. Sandwiches, fountain drinks, steaks and chops and noon lunches and dinners will be served. In addition, Chef Wilson will cater especially to private dinner and club parties. Other employees include Barney Frederick, grill cook, Mrs. Harvey Bishop, pastry chef, and Mrs. William Hendricks will be head waitress.
Depression Leads to Suicide.....1947
A World War II veteran for whatever reason decided forty minutes after being booked on drunk and disorderly conduct to take his own life in the old jail in Mt. Vernon. His body was found by another prisoner who was getting a drink at a faucet opposite the south corridor where the man was jailed. He had used a torn Army undershirt to fashion the noose and was strangled by fastening the noose to the top of the 6 1/2 foot high steel door and then slumped down. He was survived by six stepchildren. Owen Dunn, Post 5, American Legion officiated at the grave.
What The World Needs Is Another Silly Love Song.....1947
?A song - Me and My Girl of the Golden West - the words of which were written by Joseph Ofer, Mt. Vernon, was published by the Westmore Music Corporation and the Golden West Music Publishing Co. of Los Angeles. The local man composed the words in 1946 and the publishing company provided the music of which Mr. Ofer has a royalty interest.
TB Patch Given in Posey Schools.....January 1946
Hundreds of county students, both rural and city at that time were receiving the tuberculin patch tests. Consent from parents was practically unanimous. All children that show a positive reaction to the test would be offered a chest x-ray without a cost while the mobile x-ray unit was in the county.
"Keep A Cool One Baby".....January 1946
Charles Birchler and Kenneth Birchler, brothers from Evansville purchased from People's Bank & Trust Company the former Jarodzki poultry packing building on West Third Street and will convert it into a modern locker and packing plant. The brothers formerly operated a similar plant in Carmi, Illinois. The locker-packer firm will butcher and process livestock, including rendering lard, and provide cold storage of the products. Employment at the plant was expected to be ten to twelve new jobs. "Our business makes old fashion hog killing out of date," Charles Birchler said. Yes, I guess it won't be long before the killing room will be filled with animals, minus their hooves, heads, tails and skins dangling down from an overhead rack as workers in their blood splattered white coats are in constant motion....hungry? LOL
The end of the war and the return of hundreds of Posey County servicemen made the holidays merrier despite severe cold and terrible driving conditions. The Elks lodge entertained underprivileged children at the group's 27th annual Christmas party. The Eagles was visited by Santa and a large tree donated by Mayor Frank J. Fessenden provided a appropriate setting. Gifts of candles, fruits and toys were distributed. Those children who had attended the Elks party were hosted at the New Vernon Theater absolutely free. Christmas services were abundant in our houses of worship. St. Matthew's had a midnight mass and had a beautiful crib of nativity. During the intercession the choir sang, "Silent Night", accompanied by violins. At Trinity, "The Christmas Story" was enacted by the pupils. It was a simple dramatization of that ancient story which has been re-written for little children by the pastor, the Rev. August Binder. The senior department presented, "The White Christmas." Trinity also had a 21 foot tree fully illuminated. Christmas pageants were held at many other churches too.
Mt. Vernon Pauses In Homage to Passing of FDR.....April 1945
Mt. Vernon paid heart felt tribute to Democratic President Roosevelt during the White House funeral service Saturday afternoon. Retail trade suspended for two hours and public business halted the entire afternoon. A memorial service for the public was held in the house of worship of the Mt. Vernon Christian Science Society. Hundreds of Mt. Vernonites kept in touch with memorial services in all large metropolitan centers of the nation by the radio which in the past 12 years had brought the voice of the dead leader in his memorable "fireside chats" with America. Flags on public buildings continued to fly at half-staff through the 30 day mourning period proclaimed by President Truman. Western Union telegraph was halted for one minute nationwide to honor the fallen leader. FDR before he became President spoke from our court house over twenty years ago. Truman made an address to the nation revealing his beliefs on the war and domestic issues. "Let me assure the forward looking people of America that there will be no relaxation in our efforts to improve the lot of the common people." As far as I know there was no Republican response. :)
Soldier Saves Life By Firewood Search.....April 1945
When he went outside to collect some wood for a fire, Private William Bridwell, whose wife Imogene lives in Mt. Vernon had no idea it would result in saving his life. A member of Company M, 304th Infantry Regiment, Bridwell set up his machine gun in an upstairs room of a small German building. Just as he reached the outside of the structure in his search for wood, a shell struck in the upper part of the building, demolishing the room Bridwell had just left. Two of his companions in the downstairs part of the building were slightly injured. "If I'd stayed in that room another minute I'd have been killed sure," Bridwell said, "but I guess luck was with me that day."
Staples Foundry To Offer Auto Service.....April 1945
Garage service, including repairs of all makes of cars has been added by Staples Foundry at 711 West Second Street. Rosco Phillips is the mechanic in charge. Ralph H. Staples has been connected with the automotive industry in Posey County since its inception and was one of the first auto salesmen in the county.
Prisoner of Nazis Comes Home.....March 1945
Pfc. James E. (Eddie) Jones, 35, US Army became the first Posey County prisoner of war to be repatriated to America in a 90 day furlough to visit his father James M. Jones of near Upton. Pfc. Jones was wounded and captured by the Nazis in Italy in 1944. The International Red Cross arranged for his release in an exchange of prisoners and interned civilians. He arrived in the States on the Exchange Liner Gripsholm. The FBI authorities have instructed the repatriated local man to refrain from all discussion of conditions in the Nazi POW camp where he was confined.
Clothing For Victims of Axis Made in Mt. Vernon....Spring of 1945
A pickup of clothing and bedding to relieve the suffering in the ranks of innocent victims of war in Europe was made in April. County trucks made the collection from rural schools and rural churches. G. Edward Behrens, was Chairman of the Posey County Junior Red Cross which was taken the leading role in the collection effort. Boy Scouts manned the trucks. The armory building was used as the sorting and shipping center. The need for clean, wearable garments for all adults and children is tremendous. Allied military leaders have reported liberated areas in Europe where there is acute suffering and in need of America's great humanitarian heart. Mt. Vernon was still collecting locally too for the war effort salvaging tin cans, blue vine pods, and waste fat grease.
This picture was taken moments after collision of locomotives of L&N and a Chicago & Eastern Illinois trains on the crossing of the main L&N line and the C&EI branch at the northwest outskirts of Mt. Vernon. The locomotive of the 42 car first section of L&N freight train NO. 76 was derailed and the smaller engine of the C&EI branch freight and the coal tender were hurled off the track and overturned on the right of way. Trainmen of both locomotives set the brakes and jumped from their cabs when they saw the collision was inevitable and were uninjured. L&N rails were wrenched loose for a distance of 125 feet and the buckling of one rail served as a support preventing the L&N locomotive from overturning. The rail crash recalled the collision of L&N and E&TH trains on the same crossing in 1896.
Local Star Shines in Military Service Baseball.....June 1944
During the Second World War, many major league players were in the military and from time to time played some service baseball. Great names like Feller, Dimaggio, Berra, Spahn, and Ted Williams. Mt. Vernon had two local standouts that I recall of Dale Gentil in the Navy and Albert "Dutch' Wehr in the Army. Dale was a standout in high school, and at Indiana University. He later played minor league baseball and he told me once that he threw a five inning no-hitter when playing for Little Rock. "Dutch" had a great arm, but somehow never was signed, even though he played many times vs. professional players in service and in semi-pro leagues. For an example, the Western Star paper reported in June of 1944 of a game Wehr played for Camp Crowder, Mo. that defeated the 1943 national semi-pro champion Kansas City Rupperts 6-3. Wehr led the victors with a long homerun and a double. He handled 8 chances in the field without a bobble and was on the pivot of a double play. Two major league players were on his team that day, Bill Cox pitcher of the White Sox, Maurice Van Robays of the Pirates. A week earlier, Wehr pitched a three hitter in a win over the UTC Signalers.
New Marvel at Rothrock's Pharmacy.....May 1944
A new electric ice box at Rothrock Pharmacy has been added to their equipment. This immense tool will be the place where candies and serums will be stored with temperatures maintained at near the freezing point.
Community Day Stresses Peace Price.....1944
World Community Day was sponsored by the Mt. Vernon church women in a approach to study the political solutions towards the securement of an enduring peace. It was held at the Trinity Evangelical & Reformed church and the audience heard from speakers what "we as individuals and as families, must be prepared to pay for world order." Topics included major things like relief and rehabilitation, economic interdependence and problems on the home front. Talks were held on rationing, Victory gardening, etc. People were asked to sign a pledge to do all in their individual and collective power to work for an enduring peace. I wonder if they considered a different system where there is not one standard for the mighty and another for the weak.
Mt. Vernon Bombed in Civil Defense Drill....April 1943
Not really...it was called off due to 42 mph winds at the Evansville airport. The bombs that were supposed to be used were imitations with different colored streamers denoting the type of bomb it would have been. Even without the bombs segments of the raid went off. For instance the "alert" was signified by a long continuous blast of two minutes of the Water Works whistle, the Farm Bureau whistle, and the Texaco siren. This means that there is a possibility of an air raid. From there air raid wardens, auxiliary police, auxiliary fireman, medical corps, transportation units and all Civilian Defense groups reported to their posts. The "blackout" began next with all traffic stopping and streets cleared. CD personnel with armbands then will man the streets. Under normal raids, citizens would be asked to take shelter in their homes; but for this test citizens were asked just to remain on their premises. Three short blasts from the previously mentioned whistles and siren will start the blackout. The all clear notification was the turning on of the street lighting system.
Mt. Vernon Student Pens Poem About the War.....January 1942
Charles Reeves a MVHS student sat in the library one day, after Pearl Harbor, meditating on the events of that time....under the caption of "The Call to War," Charlie expressed his thoughts without any knowledge that his written words were to be published...."Now that war is brought upon us, and its struggles will be hard and long, let hope not vanish from your heart, for we have done no wrong....keep up your spirit and do your part, and share your hardships, one and all; and after all is said and done, and victory has been won-may the Lord in Heaven keep you and guide you from any harm; for this is war, my fellowmen-war for each and every one."
Uebelhack Turkey Farm Starts.....1941
No longer a supplier to local markets it was for over a half a century a tradition at Thanksgiving to get your festive bird here. It all started with 13 turkey eggs purchased in a Benton, Illinois store. From there the farm grew to supply residents and restaurants over 5000 turkeys a year. Many of the turkeys were gifts of firms to employees for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My employer, GAF, did that for many years. When my children were young they would like to tag along and they would always be given some turkey feathers. The old McCurdy and Vendome Hotels in Evansville were their clients also. The farm was located on Blackford Road, just past St. Matthew's Cemetery on Tile Factory Road. You could get cooked, smoked, turkey steaks, jerky, ground turkey, turkey roast and barbecue turkey
Dale Gentil in Prime Time.....August 2, 1940
Dale Gentil, former Indiana University and Mt. Vernon pitcher pulled a game out of the fire for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association. In the second game of a double header vs. Milwaukee, Ole "Dead eye" took over the hill for Louisville after 4 2/3 innings with his team trailing 6-2. The Colonels came back to win 7-6 with Dale shutting them out the rest of the game on six hits gaining his first victory.
Somewhere around 1850, Mary King was born on a plantation near Atlanta, Georgia. She lived with a "master" who by her testimony let her be care free and happy. Her needs were met of food, shelter and he always observed the Sabbath. Two years or so after the Civil War she made her way north to Kentucky. Life had become unpleasant in the South after the war as carpetbaggers had taken over. The telephone was invented in 1876, and a few years later Mary got her first job as a scrub lady of the old Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph Company. Later she moved here to Mt. Vernon and found the same job with the Home Telephone Company which was succeeded by the Southern Indiana Telephone Company. For many years Mary dreamed of owning a telephone of her own, but the monthly rental was more than she could afford. She later learned that she could have an individual line service in Mt. Vernon for $2.50 per month and she signed up. In her remaining years she was fond to tell others that she had something her former master, Mr. Stark couldn't possibly have had on his big plantation....a telephone.
Idlewild Tavern Changes Location.....October 1939
The Idlewild beer tavern moved from the location of the Fischer building, corner Main and Second Streets, to the building owned by Joe Vail on West Second Street next to Alles Bros. Furniture store and the Utley Hotel.
Good Accurate Arm In The Pen.....1939
No I am not talking about a polished veteran arm in a baseball bullpen; but jail. 'Twas foot race down Second Street and across Main with Joe Bell, armed with a lump of coal in his right hand. He was in hot pursuit of another man for an unknown reason. When Bell measured his distance he let go of the coal and reached his target with force and accuracy.....wham!...right in the head. Bell was arrested on a charge of assault and battery and he was found guilty by Judge Clements in Posey circuit court and fined $25 and costs. Maybe he should take his talent to the diamond; Dr. Hardwick has too many victims of bar fights to stich up as it is from what I read.
Breeze Greenhouse Enjoys 25th Anniversary.....1939
Covington Breeze, one of my wife's relatives opened a greenhouse on West Seventh Street on January 17, 1914. He stayed there for three years than moved to Mill Street. In 1939 they celebrated twenty five years in business in Mt. Vernon overcoming a fire and two tremendous hail storms which all but wrecked their greenhouses. Following each disaster the Breezes rebuilt and made improvements.
Large Attractive Sign For Alles Bros.....July 1938
Martin Smith completed a large sign on the southwest corner of the large building of Alles Bros. Furniture Company, Second Street and College Avenue. The sign is very attractive and is easy to read from a distance. "Many of this city will recall the days when on this spot the announcements of the forthcoming plays at the old Masonic Hall appeared."
Maybe, the editor was referring to one like this from January 1914: Opening on the 15th at the Masonic Theatre there will be high class vaudeville and moving pictures. The vaudeville acts will be furnished by the Gus Sun Vaudeville Booking Exchange, Springfield, Ohio, one of the highest priced exchanges in the country. It is affiliated with the Western Vaudeville Managers Association, which furnishes the Grand at Evansville as well as other city theatres. A No. 6 Power's Moving Picture Machine has been installed at the Masonic and Universal Service will be used. The prices were 5, 10, and 15 cents and you are guaranteed and hour and a half of clean wholesome amusement. And remember every Friday night is amateur night!
Canned Heat....Maters, err Tomatoes.....July 1938
The Mt. Vernon Canning Company Plant is in readiness for operation for canning tomatoes which looks like the finest commercial crop in several years. Present plans indicate for the next three weeks the plant will can the tomatoes on a part time basis of operation and be running full time by the third week of August. At the peak of operation employment will be provided for 150 local men and women. Plant manager, William Stanton said applications for employment should be made with the Indiana Employment bureau.
Gentil Cafe Remodeled.....June 1938
The popular Gentil Cafe, then on Main Street, just off Fourth Street reopened after a program of remodeling. Attractive booths were installed with a long service counter and work counter covered with a beautiful "brown battleship" linoleum and woodwork of the benches were painted a smoothly contrasting buff color. A back bar was installed adjacent to the soda fountain. The food and service even then was a legend in Mt. Vernon and was attested to the popularity it held. Later on Second Street on Sunday's, my parents would take us town for a plate lunch and a piece of homemade pie. But, back then August Gentil was the proprietor and Mrs. Martha, his wife made the wonderful pies. Roast beef sandwiches were the specialty even then. Something called, "Hot French fried popcorn" was catching on back in the thirties...have no idea what that would be or even look like. Haha.
Local Catcher Joins Evansville Three I Bees.....May of 1938
Oliver Willis, just then 18, a graduate of Mt. Vernon high school in 1937 and an all-around sports star, signed a contract with the Evansville Bees, a farm club of the Boston Braves that spring. He joined the team in Clinton, Iowa when long term manager, Bob Coleman gave him a call. "Ollie" had a tryout a few weeks prior, but was not in the best of shape and was told to come back when ready. A second string catcher by the name of Lawrence Steinbeck, refused to sign his contract so Oliver was rushed up. Willis although very young had plenty of experience in American Legion baseball and local semi-pro. He was regarded as one of the brightest stars in the Evansville Junior League two years ago. He has never batted below .300 at any level and was always considered "clutch." Playing semi-pro with the American Legion team of 1937 he batted .349 with 22 hits in 63 at bats with a fielding average of .950. In basketball he was very "heads up". I recall reading about him in a game vs. Evansville Reitz, inbounding the ball under his own basket, and scoring the winning field goal by bouncing a pass off the back of a defender, recovering the ball and scoring the winning deuce.
School Board Brings Back Old Sport.....January 1938
Long ago Mt. Vernon had an eleven man football team for the high school going back into the late 1890's. As a matter of fact they had an undefeated football team in 1908. But the depression came and our fortunes were not too good and we endured one season where we were outscored on the season 374-0! We lost to Princeton in the twenties 102-0.The last year of operation a deficit of $900 was run up and it was abandoned. For a while Mt. Vernon played fall and spring baseball at the high school level. However, a committee of grid iron fans assured the school that they would support a team if it was formed. At this time six man football was sweeping the nation for the smaller schools. In February of 1938, the Pocket Athletic Conference was organized by representatives of seven southwestern Indiana High schools to start play in 1939. Owensville, Winslow, Dale, Rockport, Cannelton, Tell City and Mt. Vernon would compose the conference. The Wildcats played in the P.A.C. until 1957 when they became part of the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference and still later the Big 8. Later other schools would be part of this football conference and it would move to 8 man football. The conference still exists today playing eleven man football. Some other schools in the latter group would be Petersburg, Oakland City, Huntingburg, Poseyville, and Jasper. Mt. Vernon played very good football in the forties and fifties winning many conference championships and several undefeated teams. Those I recall being undefeated were 1943, 1944, and 1954. Big rivalry developed during those times with Tell City which lasted for decades. The two top coaches for Mt. Vernon during these years were George Ashworth, an Indiana Hall of Famer, and Jim Baxter.
New Year Receives Warm Welcome.....1938
Mt. Vernon had a grand old time on Friday night and Saturday too observing the new year of 1938 with parties and dances. All the taverns were open and liquor and beer flowed easily and abundantly. There were 55 couples at the dinner-dance at the Mt. Vernon lodge of Elks for members and their wives and lady friends. Does that line sound funny to you? I'm gonna let it stand anyway...haha. Music was furnished by the Wee Willie Webb and his "colored" entertainers from Mt. Vernon, Illinois. Fifty couples ushered in the New Year at the Eagle's Home on Water Street with a dinner dance and music furnished by Jean Kohler and his orchestra. Revelers were treated to a beautiful starlit sky providing a perfect setting to listen for the steam whistle at midnight and "catch a smooch." Happy New Year!!!
Young Slayer Kills Two.....October 1937
A young father of two, aged 26 killed his wife and father-in-law with a Winchester 12 gauge pump gun. He then shot himself in the arm and it became infected and had to be amputated in Evansville. The murderer was angered over a divorce suit filed by his wife, age 23. Apparently a brooding rage over a week sent him on the fatal shooting spree. Two people were killed and he also shot his mother-in -law with a wound to her left side and a minor injury to her arm. When he shot himself the youthful killer lay in the mud and rain at 929 West Second Street. He had gone to the house hoping for reconciliation with his wife, but she would not see him. Williams then left, got the gun and went to New Harmony for a while. When he came to Mt. Vernon he entered a Main Street drinking parlor and ordered a beer, but was refused. He then tried another tavern but was again refused. From there he went to the scene of the crime. He first shot his father-in-law sitting in a rocking chair listening to the radio. His wife ran outside from the bedroom and was murdered outside.
Brick From Razed Building Was Hand Made in 1825.....1937
Old brick removed in the dismantling of the residence on Main Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets was made by hand in 1825 in the Mt. Vernon brick yard. The razed building was erected from materials salvaged from the first Posey County court house and public office building in Mt. Vernon. These buildings were erected in 1825 following the removal of the county seat from Springfield to Mt. Vernon.
Western Star Editor Comes Out Against Name Calling of President.....1937
Herb Leffel wrote that he hoped all truly patriotic American citizens would stop their whispering campaign of party leaders. He noted that in presidential elections of years past, slander had been in order way too often. "The drooling batteries of obloquy have done their worst, and Dame Rumor has had her inning." Perhaps the great men of this nation have always been the objects of bitter attacks, Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln....there were no exceptions. He went on to say that Washington had illegitimate Negro children and it was a lie. Jefferson was supposed to be insane, so the story went, "Mad Tom" was what the Tories of the day, led by Tim Pickering, labeled him. The thinks said about Mrs. Jackson, he said he would not reprint, but they were all untrue. Lincoln was subjected to more vilification and abuse than any other man of his day and age, but he survives today in the hearts of men. Andrew Jackson was supposed to have been a downright drunk when he took office after Lincoln's assassination. As a matter of fact, he was violently ill and many have took a small measure of brandy to settle his stomach. Mrs. Zachary Taylor was painted as a devotee of pipe smoking and in reality did not and would not let anyone smoke in her presence. Grover Cleveland, on the eve of his election, was accused of having an illegitimate child and Warren Harding was charged of being partially Negro. So it has gone on it in the past, let us of have none of it this time.
Hall of Fame Pitcher In Town and Other Baseball Notes.....July 1936
World famous 300 game winner and 1926 World Series star, Grover Alexander, was a guest at the American Legion and coliseum. Phillip Rowe took him out to lunch at Jensen Cafe and then down to Athletic Park for a few minutes to see the lighting equipment and briefly speak to the American Legion baseball team at their practice session. That month three local boys tried out for the Indianapolis minor league team - Dale Gentil, Elsby Goffinit and Oliver Willis at Perry Stadium. Dan Scism, sports editor for the Evansville Courier said of Willis, "He may not be up for professional ball just now, but he's not far away." Willis was hitting over .500 for the Legion team.
Walkout at Keck-Gonnerman's.....July 1936
Twenty-five men walked out of Keck-Gonnerman foundry on strike. The purpose was an attempt to unionize the shop for increased wages. The strike attempted to a keep a truck from unloading freight but were unsuccessful.
Check That Clearance.....July 1936
A Mt. Vernon man, Owen Williams, 36, who left to join a carnival company, was killed at Olney, Illinois when his head struck the bottom of the B&O Railroad trestle as he rode in the back of a carnival truck.
"Big Black Bear" is Seen On Slim Island ?.....May 1936
From time to time all kinds of critters have been reported seen near Mt. Vernon. A resident of Slim Island below Mt. Vernon called on Elijah Rhodes, known as a great hunter in Western Black township to come as quick as possible to look for the black bear roaming about the island. Rhodes came with his high powered shells and trusty gun and organized a posse to hunt for the "big bear," which he doubted would be found. After spending time beating under brush and tramping over the island in an effort to find the bear, Rhodes was about to give up when he saw a large black Newfoundland dog suddenly dart out of a woods, run to the river and swim to the Indiana side of the Ohio River.
Mt. Vernon High School Graduates 1874-1936
For a long time now I have been researching the number of graduates of Mt. Vernon High School. I still do not have a complete list, but here is a complete list through 1936. Graduations were held in many locations. In the period I am disclosing here, they occurred in such places as the Court House, Masonic Hall, Opera House, Coliseum, and the high school auditorium. In two years there were no graduates (1879, 1880). We start with 1874 where I have two counts, one says 3 grads, another 7, 1875-7; 1876-7; 1877-5; 1878-18; 1881-10; 1882-1; 1883-13; 1884-1; 1885-2; 1886-11 or 12; 1887-21 or 22; 1888-7 or 10; 1889-12; 1890-17; 1891-15; 1892-21; 1893-19; 1894-25; 1896-19; 1897-19; 1898-23; 1899-3; 1900-10; 1901-13; 1902-14; 1903-12; 1904-27; 1905-14; 1906-12; 1907-27; 1908-17; 1909-30; 1910-33; 1911-30; 1912-34; 1913-50; 1914-48; 1915-44; 1916-49; 1917-52; 1918-43; 1919-45; 1920-37; 1921-39; 1922-54; 1923-48; 1924-63; 1925-55; 1926-54; 1927-56; 1928-49; 1929-62; 1930-58; 1931-75; 1932-45; 1933-63; 1934-42; 1935-52; 1936-61
High School Student Is Burned By Acids.....May 1934
Leland Terry, a junior at MVHS was seriously burned about the hands and face when two acids he was mixing in the chemistry department suddenly reacted with great force. He was brought to the office of Dr. R.L. Hardwick by Principal Rust, where it was found that his hands were horribly burned and his face slightly so. The accident occurred after school hours when Terry was in the chemistry laboratory alone at the time. He told Principal Rust that he would take all the blame for the incident, which he said would not have happened if the instructor, Charles Hames, had been present. Bearing complications, the injuries are expected to heal nicely.
Lt.-Governor Speaks At Coliseum.....May 1934
A capacity audience was present at our Memorial Coliseum to hear the address of L.-Governor M. Clifford Townsend of Indiana. Under the auspices of the county Farm Bureau, Townsend with his farm background praised Posey County after a tour. "I believe that Posey County has the best wheat of any county in the state," he said. He was loud in his praises of our farms. He explained the changing conditions of the farmer's income, his taxes, his expenses, and the value of his farm lands. "Industrialists and economists have asserted that this terrible economic crisis through which we have gone was the result of the financial crash in 1929, but in reality it began in 1921 as an aftermath of the changing conditions brought about by the World War." The future Democratic governor of Indiana would work in the future on reforming the state tax code and lead relief efforts during the 1937 Great Flood.
Cheese Factory Added To Mt. Vernon Creamery.....1934
Back in 1926 the Mt. Vernon Creamery started their successful business operation at 214 College Avenue. It was founded by Holger Anderson. It was a supplier of excellent pure pasteurized milk, cream, ice cream and butter. It had five employees and made ice cream novelties like "Stick Stacks and Lolly-pops" Farmers brought in their whole milk to the creamery in ten gallon cans and a sample was taken from each one to determine the butterfat. The milk was then dumped into the pasteurizer where a constant temperature of 143 degrees is maintained for 30 minutes to kill off all injurious bacteria. Eventually it is bottled and capped and kept in a cooler for one day at a temperature of 34 degrees. The ice cream was manufactured by means of electric refrigeration. The creamery had a six ton machine that generated the current for the making of the ice in the cooler and the refrigeration for use in making the ice cream. The milk is put into the freezer where it is whirled in a rotating cylinder surrounded by small pipes through which the brine is circulating. The creamery also had a 600 pound churn from which butter is made. Then it was placed in a cutting machine where it is separated into cubes. Then the cubes are cut into pound squares and then placed in a cooler for one day to harden. The cheese factory meant the birth of a new industry in Mt. Vernon and will "add to the advancement and welfare of the community."
Ann Hovey; MV Film Actress.....1933-1938
Ann was a chorus girl and minor film actress of the 1930's, primarily in B movies. Born in Mt. Vernon into the prominent Hovey family, she was a descendant of Alvin Peterson Hovey, General of the Union army in the Civil War and governor of Indiana from 1888-1891. Her mother had been part of the San Francisco high society scene until marrying Ann's father, a prominent banker. She began appearing in films in 1933, her first being 42nd Street starring Ginger Rogers and Warner Baxter. Her first credited role was the 1933 film Private Detective, starring William Powell. She was in six films that year and three in 1934. She was selected as one of thirteen girls to be "WAMPAS Baby Stars". In 1935 she was in one film called Circus Shadows. Dark haired and pretty, Hovey caught the eye of studios and in 1936 was signed by RKO. That year she was placed in her most memorable role in a supporting role to cowboy film star Tom Keene and Joan Barclay in the western The Glory Trail. In 1937 she appeared in five films and in 1938 she appeared in her final role in Flirting with Fate. That year she married William Crowelll of the Crowell Publishing Company and retired from acting. She later was divorced and married Robert Husey, a press agent, to whom she would remain, married to until her death at age of 96 in 2007. Born in 1912, she attended grade school in Mt. Vernon and in June 1929 graduated from high school. She studied music and dramatics in Chicago. She was 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighed 98 pounds. She was of French-Irish extraction and had brown hair and dark brown eyes.
The First Booker T. Washington School.....1869-1933
Originally called the Eastern School and it was then used by white students. Carpentry work was done by one of our best, Edward Brown, Sam Houts and William Smith. Tom Allen was the main bricklayer and the framing done by Adam Quinzer, Charles Smith, and Charles Springer of Mt. Vernon. Material was shipped from Kentucky by flatboats for the construction. It was for a time the oldest public school building in the city. It was located at 3rd and Owen Streets at the east end of town which was called Belleville back then. Fire was believed to have been caused by an overheated coal stove.
Mt. Vernon Grads.....1931
This photo is of Frank Fessenden Jr., on the left and George Ashworth on the right, freshmen at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Ashworth had graduated from Mt. Vernon in 1929 and Fessenden in 1930. George went on to be a sucessful football coach here in Mt. Vernon and a college coach and is in the Mt. Vernon Athletic Hall of Fame and the Indiana Sports Hall of Fame also.
MV Fullback Closes Out Great Career.....December 1930
Francis Deig, grizzly 190 pound fullback at Marquette University learned his trade here in Mt. Vernon. The "Hoosier Hurricane" developed into one of the greatest fullbacks to ever wear the blue and gold and his highly efficient punting was a big part of the success of the Marquette eleven. Coach Frank Murray called him "the outstanding man and most consistent performer in the backfield of this undefeated team. He is a giant on offense and has been the most reliable performer on defense, both against passes and in backing up the line." In his last performance for the Hilltoppers against the Butler Bulldogs, Deig crashed over for his team's last touchdown as Marquette won 25-0. Milwaukee Journal said, "He'll be missed!" After a visit with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Deig, in Mt. Vernon he left for Dallas, Texas to play in a Midwest aggregation of college players to battle the all-star southwestern stars. The players from this section were gathered together by Coach Bob Zuppke of the University of Illinois and include the very best players in the Midwest. The game was played on New Year's Day.
Mulberry Street Bridge Closed.....December 1930
The city council at the request of the L&N Railroad ordered the Mulberry Street bridge closed to traffic for the winter. The railroad believes the bridge to be unsafe, due to the fact that the concrete in the structure was weakening because it had been poured during the cold weather. The company plans to erect a new bridge over this street but to avoid a repetition of poor concrete, will not attempt reconstruction work until the spring.
Leo The Roaring Lion.....1930
Remember that roaring lion that would be at the start or end of old movies? Well, on November of 1930, Leo passed through Mt. Vernon en route to Evansville on a world tour in an auto cage. Guess we were not big enough for a visit.
Editor Calls For Good Sportsmanship.....October 1930
Editor Leffel said that football is a great game, but after all it is only a game, not to be taken seriously and nothing from which we should leave it with feelings of animosity and anger. He called for common decency in accepting defeat with good grace and recognizing that officials know more about the game than the by- standers. He went on to say that we should not offer alibis when the game is lost. He mentioned in Mt. Vernon that hardly a football season passes without some gross violation of good sportsmanship among our followers. He mentioned the loud jeers at officials who make a call against our team and that when we go on the road we represent our town. He asked that we please don't ruin the experience with our poor behavior. Mt. Vernon lost every game that season and scored only once in the first game of the season.
Local Minister Observes 101st Birthday.....September 1930
Rev. Louis Miller of 515 East Second Street celebrated his 101st birthday at the home of his son ex-mayor Samuel J. Miller at 330 East Third Street. Rev. Miller was the county's oldest citizen and notwithstanding his advanced years is in good health. He was a retired minister of the German Methodist Episcopal conference and was years ago pastor of the St. Paul's Church in Mt. Vernon. Don't know how long he lived, but he did reach 102. He was born in Alsace-Lorraine in 1829 and came to America when he was ten.
Hero Dog "Jerry" , Dead From Poisoning.....September 1930
Jerry the German police dog owned by Edward Galloway, died from poisoning. The dog proved himself a hero a few months prior when he snatched a small dog from in front of the grinding wheels of a freight train near the L&N station. Persons who witnessed the act of the dog stated that the animal in this episode almost displayed human intelligence. Jerry was the friend of everyone in the neighborhood and naturally his owner was very fond of him. He was brought to Mt. Vernon by Mr. Galloway from Jackson, Mississippi when a puppy of four months. He was a registered specimen of his breed and very faithful and always seen at the heels of his master. Very sad that someone would take upon himself to end this beautiful creature's life.
In September 1930 horse radish manufactured by Joe Wolf of near St. Phillips, made its appearance in the local markets in town. The product was put up in neat glass containers with an attractive designed label. The quality of the product was very fine and those who purchased either the 10 or 15 cent jar were high in their praise. Mr. Wolf stated that he was enjoying a good demand for his product and that many places in Evansville and Henderson were giving him repeat orders which encouraged him to increase his output. Bet it would be good on a nice bratwurst with onion.
School Cafeteria Started.....September 1930
A public school cafeteria, which has been the dream of school officials for some time, became a reality. The cafeteria was housed in the basement of the Central building (burned in 1945), in the rooms formerly used by the domestic science and manual training departments before the six year High School plan was inaugurated. A competent cook and helpers were employed and the diet was under the supervision of Miss Anormalee Martin, head of the domestic science department. The cafeteria will serve noon lunches at cost to students of the rural district and of Mt. Vernon, as well as teachers. Eventually, it was planned to operate the High School continuously from the opening to the closing which would mean pupils and teachers would obtain their lunches at different periods.
Baby Rides Into City - On the Fender.....August 1930
Joseph Folz, three year old son of George Folz residing several miles out of town on State Road 62 had an unusual trip into Mt. Vernon. Mr. Folz brought a number of sacks of wheat to the Fuhrer-Ford Milling Company in the rear of his sedan and when he left home told his children, who were playing about the car, that they were not to accompany him, little Joseph thought differently. When Mr. Folz arrived at the mill he found that the child had ridden into the city on the running board of the machine. The father did not know his child was riding in the dangerous position until after he stopped at the mill.
"Don't Bring Me Down".....August 1930
Back at this time there were people doing weird things like sitting up in a tree all day to set endurance records. Mt. Vernon had one of these characters and he lived on North Mulberry Street. I don't know his last name, but he was nine years old and his first name was Herman. The little boy was determined to stay put in a tree for at least 100 hours! Twice he was tempted to stop this attempt and "come down to earth." His aunt offered him an opportunity to go to St. Louis for a short visit, but that didn't work. The family was even in the process of moving to another residence; but he still didn't come down and they moved anyway. When he passed the 100 hour mark he came down and his mother was very proud. "He went up there on his own accord", she said, "and there was no way we could get him to come down, I even offered him money to come down." "You only offered me a nickel," interrupted Herman. Good for him. I think we should revive some of this tradition. I think I would like to set the record for sitting in a chair the longest having lap dances!! Hahaha. Nah, run through money real fast that way.
Little Girl Fatally Injured On Way To Movies.....August 1930
Tragedy followed in the footsteps of little Vivian Douglas, 9, granddaughter of Mrs. Levi Douglas of West Seventh street as she was en route to the Vernon theatre for an evening of entertainment. Early Saturday evening as she was hurrying across Main at Fourth, she was hit by a local man in his automobile. After being struck the little girl was picked up by Herman Walters and was taken to the office of Dr. John Doerr. She was found to be badly bruised, injured internally with a crushed chest and abdomen and suffered lacerations about the head. She was taken home and carried into the Douglas home and was still conscious and telling everyone she felt better. She died ten minutes later. According to witnesses of the accident the traffic light showed green and as a result the police exonerated the driver from all blame.
Looking Back at Old Fourth of July's From a 1930 Perspective
Editor Leffel in 1930 looked at the planned celebration in town for Independence Day and thought back to his unique set of memories to another time. "There was something about it in years gone that cannot be duplicated in our present age. Life was then lived on a different plane. There were no cars, except for a few which marked real wealth. There were few interests outside the limits of the city and people worked hard and long with nothing like radio, or the movie to give them a vision of the color of the outside world. With nothing but a drab outlook, according to modern standards, it is no wonder that people turned out on the Fourth determined to have a good time, and it is further no wonder that forms of entertainment that were comparatively simple brought pleasure and excitement. Our lives are now surrounded with so many wonders that we are a bit blaze. We are getting hard to entertain." We say that today over eighty years later that our kids don't play outside anymore, too much video games, and TV to play baseball in the hot sun. What will they say in another few decades?
Golf Gardens Opens To The Public.....July 1930
The Mt. Vernon Golf Gardens owned and managed by C.C. Maurer and Charles E. Lawrence opened to the public with a large crowd taking advantage of the first opportunity to enjoy miniature golf in Mt. Vernon. The Golf Gardens were located at Fourth and Wood Streets in the site of the old car barns. The course was 18 holes, excellently lighted with eight large flood lights, installed by Oscar Keck, local electrical contractor. Besides providing the city with amusement the course adds to the beauty of the city, replacing an unsightly lot.
New Cases of Smallpox in Mt. Vernon.....June 1930
After we thought the city had been cleared of smallpox following a slight epidemic several months prior, two new cases emerged within Mt. Vernon. According to Dr. W.E. Jenkinson, secretary of the city board of health one case was discovered at 215 Chestnut and another at a resident on North Canal Street. Both appear to be mild cases.
Carnival at Old High School Grounds.....May 1930
A galaxy of stars appearing in costume marched down the main drag with their gold and silver wagons. Heading the parade was the "spieler" whose voice rang out: "l-a-d-i-e-s a-n-d g-e-n-t-l-e-m-e-n", etc. there was Junior Thomas, the heavyweight prizefighter who announced he would fight anyone white or black under the age of ten years old. haha. He rode in a chariot stripped to the waist displaying his muscular power. Glenn Highman, a world renowned clown had spectators holding their sides with laughter. The carnival was held on North Main Street on the old school grounds (Exclyn Company) and inside the big top there were fortune tellers, no show would be complete without them. So everyone come on out and enjoy the shows and the concessions, and don't forget another circus comes in next week!
Skull of Unknown Animal Dug Out of River Bed.....May 1930
A large skull of some unknown animal of pre-historic days was dug out of the Ohio River bed three miles above West Franklin by Earl Hostetler, mussel man of that place. The skull is of the flat type, similar to that of an alligator. Near the back on either side of the skull is a 10 inch horn which is 4 1/2 inches in diameter at the base. The horns measure 37 inches from tip to tip. From the base of the skull to the base of the horns is 18 inches. The eyes point at an angle of 45 degrees from the nose and between the eyes is a space of 15 inches. The entire skull weighs 38 pounds. The skull was put on display at the store of Pacific Hendricks in West Franklin. A few weeks later the skull had been classified by Richard Soaper of Henderson, Kentucky as that of a water buffalo, now extinct, but was found in this section of the country about 1000 years ago. According to Mr. Soaper there were three other such skulls in the United States.
Burglars Rob High School - Loot is $84.50.....April 1930
Burglars entered the Mt. Vernon High school building secured cash from the safes in the offices of Superintendent M. O'Bannon and Principal G.S. Rust and caused damages to the building estimated to around $400. The work of the thieves was discovered by Herman Hofmann, janitor. Entrance was gained by smashing a window in the rear. A rear door had been removed from the hinges. Locked doors leading from the manual training room and adjacent rooms were also removed from their hinges. The safes were chiseled and pried open, the cold chisels having been secured from the manual training room and a heavy poker and shaker from the furnace room. All were found in the principal's office, giving evidence that the superintendent's office was entered first.
Help Wanted.....April, 1930
Hall Clock Made Here Attracting Attention at DeFur's.....April 1930
A seven foot hall clock, made by Herman Banknect of Mt. Vernon, is attracting considerable attention in the show window of the DeFur and Son paint store. The clock was made without the use of the regular cabinet making tool. The case was said to be one of beauty and made of inlaid walnut. The works were imported from Germany, former home of Banknecht, and are of the best obtainable. The clock chimes every quarter hour.
Mumps Cause Closing of Booker T. Washington.....1930
The Booker T. Washington school was closed from March 27 to April 7 in 1930 when an epidemic of mumps claimed 50% of the student body.
The Unusual As Seen Down The Main Drag.....1930
This was a new column in the Western Star in the spring of that year. One of the first weird ones I noticed was of a street light globe out on Wolflin Street in which dead bugs accumulated to a depth of six inches.
Unearthed Handmade Ring Found.....1930
George Robinson, in charge of Hovey Lake, while digging at the east of his residence unearthed a finger ring which has the appearance of being hand-made. The metal of the ring resembles that of brass, but upon close examination it was found to be a metal unknown to him or those who have examined it. It is thought to be a ring made by the Daytons, early settlers of Point Township, since it was found at a point where it is known that one of their houses stood. The ring was given to Otto C. Klein and will later be placed in the coliseum building in the department of relics. Now that to me is interesting. What happened to that department? What else may have been there? Mr. Robinson was said to have found a number of articles near the lake and on the lands adjoining which indicate that in the early days the Indians lived in that section. An Indian burial ground is said to have been at a point near what is known as the lake club house.
Delivery Horse Retires.....1930
After 16 years of faithful service in delivery of flour and feed of the Fuhrer-Ford Milling Company throughout the city, a 24 year old horse was recently put on the pension list of the company when they secured a new truck which will make future deliveries. It was estimated that the horse traveled 96,000 miles in making deliveries. The horse has now been retired to the farm of Eugene Fuhrer, head of the mill where he will spend the remainder of his life at leisure in the barn and on the pasture.
80 Year Old "Horse" On Display at Western Star Paper.....1930
A "Schnitzel Bank," better known as a "cooper's horse," which is 87 years old, was on display at the newspaper office in Mt. Vernon. The "horse" was made by John Yunker shortly after his arrival in Posey County in 1843, coming here from Germany. He was a cooper by trade and made the 'horse" for his own use. Old time coopers used this article to shave off the old hickory hoops, which were used around barrels very extensively a half century ago. At the death of Mr. Yunker in 1919, the horse became the property of his oldest son Carl and later to John Yunker.
School Lunches Used 9,485 Bottles of Milk.....1930
During the 16 weeks that milk lunches were provided for the children of the Mt. Vernon schools, a total of 9,485 bottles were consumed, according to a report given to the Parent-Teacher club at the Central building. The report of treasurer Klotz showed that the sum of $556.67 had been expended, which included straws, crackers and milk. Around $300 was spent by the club and the remainder paid for by the children. I remember I would have milk money when I went to Hedges Central. We ate in these old barracks looking buildings that were put up following the fire at Central in 1945. I remember my mother would tie the change I needed for my lunch in a knot in a handkerchief so I wouldn't lose it. Anybody else do this? I had a heck of a time getting that knot out at time
"How Hot Is It?".....early 1930's
Lately, we are experiencing here high ninety degree temperatures with a heat index of 115. It has been brutal on those of us working outside and cooling centers have been set up all around the tri-state to help those without air conditioning. Most of my life we have had that luxury, but that was not always the case for mankind. Back in the early 1930's we were having a hot summer with little rain and Tim Crunk had a story that Ripley's Believe It or Not could have used. Crunk was the city street commissioner then and he had a testament of the intense heat on the streets. He stated that he sniffed the odor of burning rags during one afternoon and when he arrived home following his day's work he discovered that the heat from the pavements had scorched his socks and he was wearing a pair of heavy soled shoes....."Believe It or Not."
Black students in Point twp prior to 1930
I have forgotten the name of the school. Several of these children's last name was Napoleon. Records show that several eventually went to Booker T Washington in town.
Local Prohibitionary Era Wisdom?.....1930
Back in the 1930's we had a retired school teacher who had a column in the papers called, "Retired Rube Sez." He would have little sentences of wit from time to time. Here is an example: "Why don't they prohibit autos? They kill more people than whiskey."
New Harmony Bridge and Ferry.....1930
The ferry ran a course defined by two steel cables stretched from bank to bank. The first ferry here was established by the Rappities in 1815. The bridge opened in 1930.
Van Calvin Saloon on corner of 2nd and Main.....Late 1920's
Future Detroit Tiger World Series star, pitched for Mt. Vernon in 1928 and his catcher was "Liz" Ehrman in the old I-K (Indiana-Kentucky) League. Fox was a batting star in the World Series of 1934 and 1935.
Visits Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in Dugout.....September 1927
?Joe Boy Kaiser, nine month old son of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Kaiser of Mt. Vernon attended a game at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis between the Browns and the Yankees and through a friend who was St. Louis Globe Democrat sports editor they were able to meet the "Bambino" and the "Iron Horse." "Joe Boy" met the homerun twins with the Babe holding him and playing with him for some time. Ruth presented the fan with an autographed scorecard.
Gentry Bros. Circus Pleases Large Audiences...September 1927
Large audiences filled the white top at both the afternoon and evening performances of the Gentry Brothers Circus. The trained animal acts were especially good, the performing elephants were said to have been the best ever seen here. There were trained dogs and ponies and horses and for the first time performing goats. Bare back riders and tight wire artists drew their share of applause and the children loved the "pep" of the clowns. The circus came in by rail containing 300 horses, 60 aerialists, 30 riders, 60 acrobats, 5 bands, three rings , 30 clowns and 2 stages.
New Harmony Girl Sees Lindbergh's Triumph in Paris.....June 1927
Miss Mary Fretageot, of New Harmony and niece of A.B. Hart of Mt. Vernon saw Colonel Charles Lindbergh in Paris. Miss Fretageot was studying French in Paris with a former college instructor. She told the New Harmony Times: "He looks just like his pictures, a broad smile, and wavy hair and is a splendid looking boy. You have never seen nor heard of such entertaining and enthusiasm as there is still for him. Truly, he's the hero of the day. The papers are full of articles and pictures every day and the public knows what he does at every hour." "I have never seen so many American flags before, not even on the Fourth of July, streets are lined with French and American flags. I think it is Lindbergh's youth, simplicity, and sincerity that have won the French." Later, that month Father J.T. Bauer of St. Mathew's church and a stamp collector was thrilled to receive a letter from Washington, D.C., bearing one of the new air mail stamps issued in honor of Colonel Lindbergh. The stamp bears a picture of "The Spirit of St. Louis," the plane piloted by Lindy.
Five Arrests For Home Brew and White Mule.....June 1927
Three raids were made by Sheriff Al Rowe and his deputies during the weekend resulting in five arrests and a quantity of home brew and white mule. The first residence raided was on Mackey ferry road, seizing a gallon of "white mule" which was hidden under the floor. The next raid was on West Sixth Street as officers seized 14 pints, eight quarters, and an eight gallon jar willed with home brew. The third raid was at the "Y" crossing of the railroads as officers arrested two men and seized a quantity of home brew the men had on ice.
Judge Clements Presented With Historic Gavel.....May 1927
Judge Herdis F. Clements of the Posey County circuit court, was presented with a gavel that has a historic value. The presentation was made by M.N. O'Bannon, city superintendent of schools. The gavel is made from the famous Constitutional elm, recently cut down at Corydon, Indiana, the state's first capital. It was under this tree that the first Indiana constitutional convention was held in June, 1816. In 1927, only the trunk of the tree remained and was protected from the weather by a shelter.
Law Prohibiting Mailing of Firearms is Now Effective.....May 1927
The amendment to the postal laws and regulations, prohibiting the mailing of firearms in now effective and Postmaster Phillip Rowe has authorized the following warning: "Pistols, revolvers and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person are hereby declared to be non-mailable and shall not be deposited in or carried by the mails or delivered by any person in the postal service. Anyone caught doing the above will be fined not exceeding $1000 or imprisoned more than two years, or both." How about that? Gun control from a Republican President and Republican control of both houses of congress! Moses, I mean Charlton Heston was four years old and they had to tear his rattle from his cold, almost clammy like dead hands I would imagine.
New Swings Donated For Sherburne Park.....April 1927
Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Cronbach, former residents of Mt.Vernon, but now of Santa Monica, California, again displayed their interest in Mt. Vernon children. Being the donors of the park on the river front, they have continued to bring joy into the hearts of the little ones. Although many miles from us, their thoughts are still here with their kind deeds. The latest addition was six swings made especially for use in public play grounds and amusement parks. They were purchased locally and were erected by Edward Stallman, a close personal friend to the Cronbachs. Sometimes we take for granted the gifts like this and of Brittlebank and of grants and scholarships by individuals and the hard work of volunteers to help our community. Whether it is cleaning the river front of trash, helping in the community mission, or coaching a Little League team those things are very important. Hey.."It takes a village!" Thank you.
Negro Spiritual Group Plays Coliseum-Main Floor Reserved For Whites.....1927
In May of 1927, Guy Bishop, principal of the Booker T. Washington school and captain of the Ben Hur team of the Bethel A.M.E. church under the auspices of which Douglas High School Glee club of 40 voices of Evansville would sing here had to make the announcement in the paper that the main floor of the auditorium would be reserved for white patrons. The balcony would be used by people of color and no reserved seats would be sold. The Douglas singers came with a fine reputation as a musical organization with a program of negro spirituals and folk songs. Some of the songs sang were: "Go Down Moses", "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot", "Old Black Joe", "Suwanee River", "Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny", and "Little Liz."
Improvements at the Dreamland.....1927
W. Jackson, who recently came into possession of the Dreamland theatre on Main Street, having purchased it from R. Bishop, is arranging to make extensive improvements to the interior of his "photo playhouse." Among the improvements was the installation of a large blower. The blower is used to purify the air and makes his theater as he says, "one of the niftiest little playhouses in the state."
Coliseum Swimming Pool Opens and Busy.....December 1926
Posey County's first and only swimming pool located in the Memorial Coliseum has been crowded nightly. The water temperature is a steady 75 degrees and is sterilized and doubly filtered. "Bathers desiring to rent suits may do so by seeing the custodian at the coliseum." Really? People rented suits? Come on! Once when I got married in 1975, we spent our first night in nice hotel that had a pool on the top floor...very nice, torch lit; but I had not packed a suit. At the front desk, I swear to God, they sold me what they called a water resistant paper suit. Wear it once then it was disposable. Haha. Funny thing was I sure looked funny in the elevator in my paper suit. LOL
Girls Invited to Take Part in National Tourney.....March 15, 1926
Coach Allgood's Southern Indiana Champs 18-1 fresh off an invitational tourney championship in Huntingburg received further honors when it received an invitation to participate in a Westfield Challenge Club Tournament in Youngstown, Ohio. The local girls planned on attending but a telephone call from A.L. Trester, secretary of the Indiana High School Athletic Association halted all plans when he refused to permit any girls' team from the state entering the national contest. Mt. Vernon claimed the Southern Indiana Championship and the State Championship when no takers came from Northern Indiana. Mt. Vernon's only loss on the season was 34-32 to Huntingburg (T) which stopped Mt. Vernon's 27 game regular season win streak.
Former Mt. Vernon Girl Pipe Organist at Grand Theatre.....1926
Anna Louise Kuebler has been hired as the pipe organist at the Grand theatre in Evansville. For several months she held the same position at the Strand, but transferred to the Grand at a considerable increase in salary.
Western Star Looks Back On Fifty Years.....1926
Some of the things they mentioned in their article that had changed since 1876 included the Central School (destroyed by fire in 1945) being constructed once a site of another school and old buildings that were once there and razed. They said every church in Mt. Vernon with the exception of the Presbyterian Church was built since the establishment of their newspaper. The lodges were built for the Masonic Home, Elk's, Eagles, Modern Woodman of America and the Odd Fellow's building. People's Bank was organized and the Mt. Vernon National Bank & Trust reorganized. Mills were established like Fuhrer-Ford and the Home Mill & Grain and the Mt. Vernon Milling Company. The Keck-Gonnerman plant with its various buildings were not here then. More came like Keck Motor Company, Gonnerman Auto Company, Sherburne Park and practically all the beautiful homes in our city. Main Street was practically rebuilt and the buildings there once composed of frame, office, and mercantile buildings of one story were destroyed by the great fire of October 1880 which burned all the buildings from Fogas corner to the First National Bank. The greatest progress mentioned in the life of the local newspaper was electricity. Fifty years before planes, automobiles, submarines, radio, electric cars, trains, and lighting systems were just dreams. The Star reported that now their office is propelled by electric power and not steam. They commented that they had seen the county rise from its primitive origin to modern times. They had the good fortune to write and print all the important news items of Mt. Vernon and Posey County. It told of the birth of children "who come to brighten and gladden the home," and extended the hand of sympathy in the hour of sorrow and grief, and it advocated progress.
A Tale of a Fire.....1926
After the great fire of 1880 when Main Street lost so many buildings in a blaze, the Mt. Vernon Fire Department was originated. As far as I can tell, no fire fighter has ever lost his life...thank God. In 1926, we came close at a fire on Main of the Utley Variety Store. All three floors of the building were burning when fireman came on the scene and five lines of hoses were brought out to fight the fire. Hoses were used in the front and back of the store as well as the roof of the Stinson building adjoining the store to the south. Firemen went inside the structure to get at the fire and while directing efforts, Chief Chris Wilderman fell two floors from the second floor to the basement which was filled with burning debris. Because of the noise of the fire, his yells for help were not heard. He finally managed to find his way out of the basement and continued his duties. How he got out, remained a mystery. The fire was finally extinguished by the fire department, the police department, members of Battery E and many volunteers.
Minor Leaguers Appear in September 1925 Title Game
As I have mentioned before it was not unusual to have professional athletes barnstorming for more spending money after their season was over and until the weather turned too cold to play. In this battle with Harrisburg, Illinois, the Mt. Vernon team was bolstered up with the addition of "Spatsy" Speraw, at third base, who played that season with the Peoria, Illinois team of the Three-I League. Al Reitz, a pitcher and a hard hitting outfielder was also added of late of Milwaukee of the American Association. We picked up Frank Matthew of the Western Coast League to fill in at shortstop. Mt. Vernon won this game rather easily in front of a large Sunday crowd. Good thing too; because securing players was expensive, and the visitors were guaranteed part of the gate. It was always a crap shoot at the games, but Mt. Vernon maintained a good reputation as a place to play. Sometimes a hat was passed for a player who made a good play or had a good game to show their appreciation of their efforts.
Huntsman Breaks Track Record.....1925
Owen "Country" Huntsman of Mt. Vernon , a student of Earlham college broke his own record of 148 feet in the javelin throw by heaving the spear a distance of 157 feet in a meet with Butler and Franklin held in Richmond. Owen in addition to being a member of the track team is a pitcher on the baseball nine, a halfback on the football squad and center on the basketball team. Huntsman had the distinction of lettering in all those sports and is a founding member of the Mt. Vernon Athletic Hall of Fame.
Our First Stop Signs.....1925
I guess up until this time the first one into the intersection had the right away. I can imagine a lot of tobacco spitting and cursing and obscene gestures from Saturday "go to town" shoppers and drinkers when they got cut off. So someone must have said, "what do we want?....Rules!....When do we want it ?....Now!" Okay," so it be said, so it be done." The first stop signs in our town were in the shape of a shield, white, with black lettering. At first we only had them on the "main drags'. They said STOP on one side and directly under that were the words, "Arterial Highway." Believe it or not, there were words on the other side of the STOP sign that said, "Watch Your Step." Must have done away with the reverse when horses disappeared from downtown.
A Ghastly Find.....May 1924
Wm. "Mike" Rosenhauer, while out skiff riding in the Ohio River discovered the body of a child floating in the river just below McFadden's creek and upon being brought to the shore it was found that its head and legs were missing. Coroner Weisinger held an inquest and he said it was a newborn, fully developed female child, with the appearance of having been in the water a month or more.
Dr. Hasting Receives Nine Siver-Gray Foxes.....May 1924
A crate containing nine young silver-gray foxes in front of the American Express Company office attracted a number of persons. The shipment was consigned to Dr. Wm. E. Hasting of Mt. Vernon and was made by the Shady Fur Farming Co. of Springfield, Minnesota. The silver-gray fox is a variety of the red fox of North America and produces very valuable fur. The cunning little animals were taken to Dr. Hasting's Point township farm and it thought that within a short time Posey County will have a fur producing farm.
Reception and Banquet For Soldiers.....May 1924
Company B arrived home and they were royally welcomed. The various organizations of the city, headed by the band, were in waiting at the station when the regular trained pulled out carrying several companies of Illinois soldiers, who were given a hearty cheer. At 2:30 in the afternoon the special train carrying Co. B was sighted down the track and her appearance was a signal for loud cheering which continued until the train stopped. Cheer upon cheer greeted the train and when the boys got off there was scarcely a dry eye among them. The parade formed at the depot and marched down Main Street, which was lined with people. Arriving at the court house, Dr. Ketcham offered a prayer. Mayor Owen then delivered the address of welcome and it was received with loud applause. After Mayor Owen's address the members of Co. B headed by the band marched to the Masonic Hall, where the ladies of the Relief Corps had prepared a fine dinner for the returning soldiers. It was a pleasant surprise and when the boys sat down to the long tables which were laden with delicacies, they ate "like they meant business."
Mayor Lemuel Osborn Issues Clean Up Day Proclamation.....May 1924
Two dates were designated for cleanup of our city. "A city as a whole can be no cleaner than the individual habits of its citizens will permit, so let us all unite in washing and brushing the streets and alleys of our city until they shine like the newly scrubbed face of a healthy boy," the mayor said. Nice rhetoric there Lemuel! He went on..."Those who are financially able are requested to have all dry rubbish hauled to the dump at Sixth and Vine Streets. Dry rubbish will consist of ashes, cinders, tin cans and the like." Anything else? Yes, "wet and foul smelling matter is to be buried or burned." He instructed the city wagons to haul the rubbish of those not able to hire assistance, and also that garbage that does not seem to have a owner. Lot easier today isn't it just to haul it to the curb and have the city pick it up isn't it? I wonder if the crows were bad back then? Probably worse.
Nephew of Local Man Outfielder For Phillies.....1924
Franz Wilde Henrich "Fritz", nephew of John C. Leffel and son of former residents, Mr. and Mrs. George Henrich landed an outfielder's birth with the Philadelphia Phillies. He only played that one season with the Quaker City appearing in 36 games with 19 hits, 4 doubles, 4 rbi's, and hitting .211.
Coach Pulls Team Off Floor in Protest.....1924
Mt. Vernon had claimed a mythical girl's state championship in 1923 and as the 1924 season began a major change was the resignation of Coach George Brown who in his only season led the girls to a 17-1 record. The new coach was Homer Allgood who studied at the University of Illinois and Indiana State Teacher's College. Brown took a new position at Cicero, Illinois. Brown had also been a coach of the boy's team and at one time our team was unofficially called, "The Brownies." He was the first MV coach to ever win a sectional game and compiled a 31-24 records as boy's coach. The 1924 team had two future school hall of famers in forward and captain, Lorraine Zimmerman and forward, Sara "Never Miss" McGregor. Mt. Vernon started the season with two easy wins over county schools then loss to an independent team from Evansville by 22. This was the only blemish heading into a series of games with Evansville Reitz. With a record of 8-1, the girls were tied with the Panthers 9-9 at the Mt. Vernon Armory. Another game was scheduled with the Panthers, this time in Evansville. Reitz had lost only one game all season at that was to Evansville College. At the half the score was 10-10 in front of 1500 fans. When our girls came out of intermission the score had been changed to 11-10 Reitz. Mt. Vernon objected to the score and Coach Allgood pulled his team off the floor. One official called the game a 2-0 forfeit for Reitz as the Mt. Vernon girls dressed and sat in the bleachers. The officials huddled and decided they did not want a state champion defeated by a forfeit so after 45 minutes the score was again 10-10 and the game resumed. Mt. Vernon won 22-21 with Zimmerman scoring 14 and McGregor 6. The girls finished the season with a 13-3-1 record losing to Sullivan in a state challenge game by 6.In the game we lost to the Independents the officiating was described to be so terrible that if Mt. Vernon fans were bad sports they would have thrown coins at the referees. One other outstanding player that season was center Veryl Stallings who scored 35 points vs. Newburgh and 41 vs. New Harmony.
Court House Drinking Fountain.....1923
Mr. Strack has completed the installation of a beautiful drinking fountain in the main corridor of the court house. The fountain was of the latest design and the arrangement of the piping is such that the coils will be cooled by crushed ice which will be stored in a large container in the basement. Custodian Harry Smith witnessed the work and will be capable of all needed repairs.
"Going For The Downs".....1923
The Whitmore Handle Company of Mt. Vernon made an offer to give a Poco ash baseball bat to any Mt. Vernon player who hits a home run at Athletic Field.
Some 19th Century and Early 20th Century Local Ferries.....1811-1923
Way back when Indians were paddling canoes and occasionally a flatboat would be seen gliding along the currents of the Ohio River, there was a ferry at the present location of what became Mt. Vernon. In 1811, James Jeffries operated a ferry here. All of a sudden the great quake of 1811 at New Madrid, Missouri occurred. It was reported that crossing the Ohio for two or three days was impossible as the waves were "mountain high" caused by the disturbance. That information on Jeffries came from his grandson who in the 1920's lived in Black township. That boat probably was operated without a license. The first known license granted was to Squire McFadden. This ferry went through many owners decade after decade. There was John Weir in the civil war, George Rankins and Joe Bagwell, Walter McKinley, Phil Williams, a man named Tolliver in the 1870's, then Captain Long, Tom Watson, Lou Wolfinger, B. F. Hockman and in 1893 a side wheel stern ferry was operated by Young P. Watson. In 1896, a stern wheel steamboat ferry was built which was used until 1904. A gasoline launch was in effect until 1907 when it was sold to L. Holleman who operated until 1910. The Fred Hironimus and Malcolm Abel were joint owners who sold out to George Zergiebel in 1914. A few more....Zergiebel sold to Captain Flesher would sell out to Charles Hagemann in 1923. Other ferries were nearby; for instance, Jesse Welborn was granted a license in 1823 to run a ferry from the foot of Walnut Street. He was to pay a tax of $3 per year. John Weir ran his ferry for over 30 years from the 1820's into the 50's. One episode during his ownership occurred when a little girl Maria Dunn, the step daughter of Weir fell overboard when a large steamboat, plowing its way nearby rocked the ferry so violently she lost her balance. She rose twice than sank again. A passenger on board the steamboat pulled off his coat and diving for her brought her to the surface. The stranger was never identified.
New Athletic Field Planned.....June 1922
The city school board received from the Clifford Shopbell Company of Evansville, plans and specifications for the new athletic field. Plans call for an expenditure of $4600, exclusive of the cost of fencing and drainage. Cement bleachers seating 1,035 persons, a baseball diamond, quarter mile track, football gridiron and a tennis court are in the plans.
Henry Brinkman, Man of Many Business Interests Dies at Age 97.....1922
At the time of his death he was the oldest Posey County citizen. At age 97 and 16 days he passed on at his home at 225 East Water Street. Mr. Brinkman was born in Duchy of Lippe-Detmold, Germany on May 16, 1825. In Germany he went to school until he was 14, then the next six years he learned the brick makers trade and later that of wagon making. In 1850 he came to America to Evansville for two months. Moving here he entered into employment of Gottlieb Koerner, a wagon maker. As the years went by he secured an interest in the business and during the years 1854 to 1861 he was engaged in the manufacture of agricultural wagons and implements. He was also an associate of the business with John H. Barter. I have seen Barter's tombstone at Bellefontaine and it has a large hammer on it. In 1861, he began the manufacture of the "Brinkman wagon," starting with just one apprentice and a assistant. The factory grew until he had 20 men working for him. He was the inventor of the "Posey Clipper" plow which he manufactured in profitable quantities. In 1869 he established a brick manufacturing plant which lasted until 1875 when he changed into a drain tile factory. This is why we have a Tile Factory Road. Brinkman with William Burtus formed the firm of Brinkman & Burtus in 1875 engaged in the implement business. When Burtus retired in 1881, the name was changed to Brinkman & Sons. He was one of the most influential leaders of Mt. Vernon from 1860-1895 as directly and indirectly he was involved in other enterprises within the city up-lifting the town. For several years he was president of the Manufacturers Aid Society of Mt. Vernon. He was a Republican since the formation of that party and served several terms as city councilman, being first elected in 1869. As director of the Mt. Vernon National Bank he seldom missed a meeting even into his old age. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and had 11 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren. He was laid to rest in Bellefontaine Cemetery which he helped form in 1864.
Get Your Pennant for Your Vehicle.....1922
Mt. Vernon was selling metal pennants that advertised our home city and were easily attached to you license plate and were visible for quite a distance. They were quite popular it seems and were sold at cost and were picked up at the Western Star newspaper office.
Battery "E" Detachment.....1922
Organized in June of 1922 and then occupied the Joest building on the corner of Third and Main. Soon afterward the Armory was built.
First Kiln of Tile.....May 1921
The first kiln of tile manufactured this season at the Henry Brinkman company factory, near the L & N tracks east of the city was emptied. All those contemplating the use of tile on their farms at the present or in the near future should arrange for their supply at once. Several new machines were installed at this factory in view of the increased demand for their product. One of the very latest automatic cutting machines known to the tile manufacturing has been installed and with several other improvements the proprietors feel that they will be in a position to take care of the local trade in connection with their foreign orders.
James Whitcomb Riley School Dedicated.....March 1921
A dedication of the handsome new school facing Fourth and Mann held an night open house and music furnished by the high school orchestra. In the afternoon program music was supplied by the pupils of Riley school and readings of "Little Orphan Annie", "The Raggedy Man", and "The Lost Kiss." Work on the building began in October of 1920 by J.A. Behrick & Son as the general contractor and was erected at a cost of $32,000 of red race brick, with Bedford stone trimmings and Johns-Manville roofing. "The walls are hot water painted in a dark yellow and the ceilings are a light yellow." All woodwork is stained and varnished. On the first floor were two class rooms, 14x20, with a large hall through the center and a toilet room on each side. A teacher's room, 8x10 is in the rear of the first floor. A boiler and fuel rooms are located in the basement, as is also an auditorium 35x40, amply large enough to seat 250-300 persons. Practically, all the furniture was moved over from the old Western school and the rest was sold at auction.
Troubling Historic Landmark Now Gone.....March 1921
The old frame building at the extreme end of East Second Street, which was one of the oldest in the city, owned and occupied by Richard Bolin was torn down. On the night of October 8th, 1878, this house was occupied by a Negro, Dan Harris and shortly after midnight Sheriff Hayes and his deputy, Oscar Thomas went to the home to arrest a son of Harris, and as Thomas passed the southwest window of the house the contents of a shotgun entered the left breast of the deputy, the shot being fired through the window by old man Harris. Thomas died a few minutes later. The killing of Thomas resulted three days later in the hanging of three men on the locust trees in the Public Square by a mob and the burning of Harris in the furnace of an L&N locomotive on the tracks near the depot. No one was ever charged. Oscar Thomas lived in a brick house on the corner of the first alley and College Avenue, built in 1830 by McGonegal . As Thomas was taken to be buried the procession passed the court square where the men were left hanging for some time.
Tahan, "The Indian".....January 1921
Tahan and his daughter Princess Nacoomee, and Miss Short entertained a large audience at the Elk's lecture course. Miss Short gave several vocal and piano solos which were delightfully received. Following, Princess Nacoomee rendered several selections on the violin. She relayed to the audience her story of life as an Indian girl. Tahan, the principal number on the program occupied the platform for almost two hours. He wove the story of the red man around his own life and vividly portrayed the Indian as a loyal and true American. Tahan was the son of the famous Indian scout, California Joe. His mother was a full blooded Indian. When he was a small child he was captured and adopted by a neighboring tribe and at the age of 14 was present at the memorable engagement of General Custer and his Indian foes of the Southwest plains. After escaping from Fort Sill, where he was awaiting sentence to be shot for "defending the sanctity of his home", Tehan wandered East and by hard study he secured an education and for many years was a Presbyterian minister in Buffalo, New York. Many years later he was pardoned by President Cleveland and in 1916 he became a U.S. citizen, even though he had lived here all his life. His story was well received even as he touched on the injustices his people had endured to the white man.
New Studebaker Agency in Town.....January 1921
Arrangements were made and contracts signed allowing Derrington Auto Sales, corner of Second and College to sell Studebaker cars in the city and county. Since entering the automobile and garage business Mr. Derrington has enjoyed an exceptionally good patronage. Originally he was connected with the automotive department of Keck-Gonnerman Company.
The Cronbachs....donors of park. Insert is son Sherburne....1921
I was down at the riverfront this morning looking at a photograph from 90 years ago and comparing it to today. The trees were very mature even then so I doubt they are the same even though one on the east side of the park looks to be very old. What struck me were the antique lights we have down there. I know they must be reproductions but the one near the bandstand or shelter house as they called it had 5 globes just like the one they have now. Kudos for reproducing the period to whomever was responsible!
Becky Higgins: I was on the committee for MV's 175 birthday in 1991. With our left over money from the celebration, we used it in Sherburne Park. And yes we brought reproductions for the lights. So, that means the new lights are now 20 years old.
People Used To Shop Here.....1921
Special inducements by Mt. Vernon merchants was in evidence as over 100 parked cars were counted at one time on Main between Second and Fourth Streets, Very noticeable were the number of cars bearing the Illinois license plates and from townships bordering Mt. Vernon.
"Rollin', Rollin', Rollin On The River"......1921
The big wheel kept on turning of the large steamer Queen City as it passed the city amongst heavy rain, vivid flashes of lightning and heavy peals of thunder. On board was a large party of excursionists from Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Louisville and Evansville bound for New Orleans to attend the Mardi Gras festivities. I wonder if women flashed the men for beads in those days? Different time, but now. "Heaven knows, anything goes."
The Hovey House.....1860's-2011
Records show that the grounds were purchased in 1822 by Jesse Welborn from Thomas Givens. In 1845, Richard Sullivan paid $300 for the corner lot on which the home was built before 1864. For a time Issac and Nancy Nettleton lived there. "Famous Nancy" as she was called was the only female tavern keeper in Mt. Vernon. Governor Alvin P. Hovey bought the home in 1871 and eventually gave it to his daughter Ester, and her husband G.V. Menzies. Hovey was buried from this home on Thanksgiving Day of 1891. The Menzies lived here in elegance calling their parlor a salon and here they met many with many social and political gatherings. The Menzies were very important both here in Mt. Vernon and internationally. Mr. Menzies died in 1917 and ownership passed down to the couple's two daughters. Mr. Von Behren had the back of the house rebuilt and in 1921 sold the historic home to Beulah lodge No. 578 and the home was turned into the Masonic Temple. The Masons replaced the new addition with a much larger one and the upstairs became lodge rooms and the assembly hall, dining room and kitchen were on the first floor. Today it is used for city political meetings.
n Case Of Fire, Walk, Don't Run To The Nearest Exit.....1921
Don't yell fire in a theatre! Oh yes you should if there is a fire. That's what happened in May of 1921 at the Dreamland Theatre. A burned out fuse plug in the operator's booth caused damage of around a thousand dollars when nine reels of film were destroyed. After the fire started in the "fire-proof" booth, Operator Matherly attempted to extinguish the blaze with a fire extinguisher. With the assistance of firemen, who responded quickly to the alarm the blaze was quickly knocked down by the aid of a chemical apparatus. The outside of the building was slightly damaged by the flames. A good size crowd was in attendance at the show and management succeeded in getting all out in an orderly manner. The machines were repaired and new films arrived for the next night's showing.
Singer of National Reputation In Mt. Vernon.....1921
Owen Dunn Post No. 5, American Legion announced the securement of Ada Jones, herself, and company of artists for a concert at the High School auditorium in March. Miss Jones was a singer of national reputation; her records have been used all over the country. She was accompanied by a very fine violinist in the person of Miss Ester Almahagen, whose playing has stirred audiences to real genuine appreciation, and by J. Allen Troke, a noted flutist and magic worker. Mt. Vernon delighted in the opportunity to hear artists of rare ability right here in "River City."
Notable Old Residence Razed.....May 1920
Sad day as the Spencer home built in 1845, which stood the storms of time and where many notables were entertained is no more. The Spencer homestead stood on the corner of Main and Fifth Streets and came into the possession of the late Hon. E. M. Spencer in 1865. In May, 1845, the home was purchased from Elizabeth Welborn by Enoch R. James, father of Mrs. Juliet Harrow. This was the scene of many gatherings, many notables, both state and national. During visits here, both Senators Turple and Vorhees, prominent state and national figures, received hospitality in the old landmark home. During the years Mr. Spencer served in the legislature, 1861-63, many political gatherings were held at the home. "It is a rare instance where one will have lived in a house long enough to have celebrated their golden wedding, but the Spencer's did just that." Another rare instance was the 50th anniversary celebration as a practicing attorney before the Posey County bar in 1906. The timber from this house was well preserved. It was freighted down the Ohio River on flatboats and was purchased by Mrs. Welborn, who intended erecting a warehouse, but instead built this residence which was of poplar and cypress. All pieces throughout the home were hand-hewed, the rough lumber for the joists measuring 3x10x30 feet long, while other pieces used in the construction are ten inches square by 46 feet long. The chimneys were three stories high, 5 foot square and of solid masonry. The interior was finished in hand dressed walnut. The wrecking of this old landmark was under the supervision of Thomas Brown. The timber was reserved by E. M. Spencer for building other structures and with the wrecking marks the passing of one of the oldest and most prominent homes in Posey County. Taking its place at the home site became a gasoline and oil station erected by the Standard Oil Company.
We Got A Convoy.....May 1920
Twenty-three trucks from Evansville arrived in Mt. Vernon one morning in May and parked on the north and west side of the court square where they remained for over an hour to arouse interest and enthusiasm among our merchants to ship by truck all goods purchased from abroad. Mayor Zimmerman came out and met the truckers giving them an impromptu address. Quite a number of merchants and citizens came out to hear what the truckers had to say as they believed they could be successful competitors to the railroad and barge traffic. From here the truckers pushed off with their message to New Harmony, Poseyville and Cynthiana.
American Legion Notes.....May 1920
Owen Dunn Post No. 5 met over the Klein & Wasem Grocery Store. Meeting called to order by Vice Commander W.C. Walker. Rowe and Suddoth gave a good report on their baseball activities, and are now certain a strong team will be organized. It was decided to buy a typewriter, as correspondence of the local post and other business makes it necessary. Local citizens have given the Legion a number of pieces of furniture towards the furnishing of our new quarters. The local Legion baseball team defeated the local Independents 12-5 at the West Side commons with a large crowd in attendance. A campaign for new members is underway. "Only about one man in twenty is eligible to join the Legion. Only about three million nationwide are eligible having served in the active Army, Navy, or Marine Corps.
"Boogiedie, Boogiedie, Boogiedie Shoop...It's Pony Time!".....1920
Who ever heard of ponies riding in a car? Well it happened in Mt. Vernon in February of 1920! It started when two ponies got loose from a stable and took off, "lickety split" heading north out of town. According to the Western Star newspaper, the owner took chase in a six cylinder touring car. After six miles the ponies were stopped and the driver, after checking with the owner of the automobile loaded the animals in the back seat and drove them home.
MV's Athletic Great Owen "Country" Huntsman.....1920's
Before Huntsman came on the local scene MVHS basketball teams had never won more than five games in a season or won any post season games. Owen was a man of dreams and his main one was to "make" the high school team. Residing three miles northwest of Mt. Vernon on Upton Road, Huntsman decided to run to High School on College Avenue each day instead of walking. It was a hard grind but he followed his schedule. Each day he ran a little further, until finally he was able to run the entire distance with ease. As a junior in 1921, Mt. Vernon for the first time won 10 games in a season, 7 of which were in the old Knights of Pythias Hall. Back when low scoring was the norm he had 20 in one game vs. Stewartsville. Mt. Vernon won their first two games ever in post season defeating Patoka and New Harmony in the Owensville Sectional. His senior year he was part of the Brownies, our unofficial team name coming from the coach George Brown, to a 16-5 record. Two of the losses were to Oakland City College. Mt. Vernon was 10-1 at home. The Brownies won the first annual Posey County Tourney held in Poseyville when Hunstman scored 25 in a 33-30 victory over the Posies. The Evansville Sectional was held then at the Evansville YMCA and Mt. Vernon defeated Elberfield in the opener; but lost to Evansville Central the next game as Huntsman was sick and could not play. Central won that Sectional and reached the State Tourney being eliminated by Franklin. After high school Huntsman participated in four sports at Earlham College. He participated in the Pennsylvania Relays and won second place in the decathlon. He later became a college coach at Earlham and Wabash colleges. One son of his later coached at Indiana State. When football returned to Mt. Vernon in 1939 in the newly formed Pocket Athletic Conference, Huntsman brought his entire college football team to Athletic Park to view the Wildcats. I had the honor of voting for him for the high school athletic Hall of Fame in the very first election.
Huntsman scored 402 points for the "Hustlin' Quakers of Earlham College in his career. That point total stood for 16 years when it was broken in 1942. He won the state championship in the javelin and high jump. In 1926, he finished second in the decathlon at Penn Relays at the University of Pennsylvania.
Posey County Baseball League Title Game With Major Leaguers.....1920's
Several major league stars have played on Mt. Vernon's Athletic Park in recent years like Don Mattingly, Andy Benes and Scott Rolen; but even long ago Hall of Famer "Three Finger" Brown made an appearance here. A rumor had it in 1920 that "Black Sox" conspirator, Ed Cicotte was pitching for Poseyville. His games were dominating and as rumors spread of who he was he suddenly disappeared before Mt. Vernon and Poseyville played their title game. On a cold and blustery day at our local diamond the park was packed and Mt. Vernon took the lead for good in the bottom of the eighth. Never before had so many diamond stars been present. There was Cy Warmouth of the Washington Senators, Hall of Famer Eddie Roush of the Reds, Jack "Punch" Knoll who played professionally before 1900 and Syl Simon of the St. Louis Browns. These guys plus the fine Posey County talent especially "Hammer" Wenderoth and "Rabbit" Hanes made for great baseball. Gene Stiker was our manager with his cigar in his mouth nervously scooting around the bench making his moves. Stiker was a big fan and it was said he would sit out on his porch and extoll the merits of his beloved Babe Ruth. We also had this little sparkplug catcher named Fred Dugan. He played the "Gas House" brand of ball later famous with the Cardinals. He died a hero they say saving two women who crashed into his train. Just like him they said, "Always good in the clutch!"
More Good Eats.....1920
The Carrs will feature Jordan's "(colored)" five piece saxophone orchestra at a special four course dinner which will be served at the popular cafeteria on the evening of June 16th. Several weeks ago ninety couples enjoyed a four course dinner at which time this orchestra was featured, and each and every one was perfectly satisfied with both the music and the eats. Reservations should be made to avoid disappointment.
The Little Ol' Newspaper.....1920
When you're feeling kind of lonesome an' the atmosphere is blue, When life's no bed o' roses, An' folks seem down on you, I know what will make you happy, An' folks seem down on you, I know what will make you happy, An' chase away the frown- Read the little ol' newspaper from your ol' hometown. You won't laugh about the trifling things the paper has to say. For every line's a message from the ol' home far away. Even Si's new chicken coop will not provide a smile an' the great big city dailies lie unopened all the while. Bill's girl has gone to college, an' Joe's boy is home from France, The Ladies Aid will hold a social, and the Masons give a dance. So you read the local happenings, an' never miss a line, an' cause they're all your neighbors, You'll be glad that they're crops are fine. Then before you know it, You've read through and through an' all the world seems brighter an' life seems good to you. So for a pill of pleasure, to chase away the frown, Take the little ol' newspaper from your ol' home town. From Cherry Wilson in Spokesman Review printed in local paper, 1920.
Long ago you could purchase a bag of popcorn or a hamburger on the streets of Mt. Vernon. One vendor was named Preston Loveland who would pull his machine from his residence to the alley on the west side of Main Street, between Second and Third and he was ready for business. At that time he was well located between the old Mt. Vernon National Bank and Bishop's Pool Hall. Hamburgers were sold at Third and Main and later at Fourth and Main. Butch Dieterle was a vendor with his hamburger and egg sandwich. The egg was mixed into the hamburger meat. Not a bad snack for a nickel. Vendor's licenses became the norm and these old ways of making a few coins left the landscape. Reminds me of a vendor that used to be several blocks off of Bosse Field in Evansville. He sold hot tamales and for decades, I would pull over and have me one. Went to an Otters game recently and when I got to that corner, I wanted a hot tamale.
Moeller Cooperage Company...Late 1920's
The Moeller Cooperage plant, located on North Mill Street just south of the L&N railroad was destroyed by a fire in the late 1920's. This would have been located about where the Country Mart loading dock is today. The plant originated in 1864 when John Moeller Sr., started it at a different location east of the hominy mill on the south side of Water street. The plant was moved a few years later to Mill. The plant later was under the management of his son, William Moeller. Barrels in five sizes were produced there and shipped by the carload to the Evansville market and to points in Kentucky and Illinois. A car of barrels ranged from 300 to 500 in number, according to the size of the car. The barrels were used for packing poultry, paint, apples, and other fruits, flour, sugar, etc. The firm put out about 50,000 barrels a year. There was a second plant in Henderson, Kentucky under management of Moeller. Large lots of barrels were sent to the Iglehart Mill in Evansville as they were supplied with a special made barrel and ordered them in large lots. The fire that destroyed the plant was discovered by the night watchman, but as he went to get a bucket of water to extinguish the fire it got out of hand. Strong southwest winds blowing across the Ohio River destroyed the 30,000 staves used to make the barrels and 5,000 headings. A large smoke stack fell into the fire and could be heard throughout the town. The fire was thought to be arson. Over 60 men lost their jobs.
Off to the Strawboard Factory.....1920's
This huge load of straw is on its way to the Strawboard Factory which was located on Uniontown Road in the early 1920's, later called Indiana 69 South. The man out front is Roy Topper, the loader and hauler who lived on Route 5, southwest of Mt. Vernon. He was one of several persons hired to deliver the wheat straw after the wheat grain had been threshed out of the straw. The factory was known for manufacturing corrugated boxes.
First Boy Scout Troop in Mt. Vernon.....1918
Organization started in 1915. Back row: Clinton Maurer and Shannon Pleasants. Front row: Paul Dietz, Paul Pfister, Willard Hurley, Roy Schlomer, Roy Kreie, and Gerand Welch. This was called Troop 1 and according to Pop Fessenden's column they began at the First Methodist Church and received their charter on July 31, 1924. Frank Fessenden himself was the first scoutmaster. Some of the early scouts he mentioned included, Don Flesher, John H. Leffel, Jobie Oliver, Everett Alldredge, Carl Suttner, Loren O' Bannon, Frank Fessenden Jr., Ted Brinkman, Herschel Aud, Robert Soden, Charles Hix, Kenneth Millspaugh, John Schenk, Damian Ofer, John Ofer, Raleigh Cowan, James Short, Malcolm Abell, Kenneth Ranes, Floyd Monroe, George McKinney, Norton Walling, James Reeves, Harold Brown, Sterling Bartlow, and Malcolm Aydt.
McGregor Kitchen Cabinets.....1917
Not exactly where in town this was, but Wm. McGregor began manufacturing special made all oak kitchen cabinets that spring of 1917. One of the first orders filled was for Alles Bros. Furniture Store and they described them as the best made and convenient cabinets they had ever handled and the price was lower than from other local factories. The firm was in the process at that time of enlarging their plant and adding new equipment, enough to keep 50 men busy. So "Made in Mt. Vernon" was becoming something of local pride as this new product hit the market.
I'll Do You One Better.....1917
Paul Short's Funeral Home purchased a motor funeral car, Studebaker make, 6 cylinders, 60 horse power, beautifully carved and finished in silver gray. He continues to have horse drawn carriages if that is your choice. A.V. Weisinger, not to be outdone by Short placed an order for a 8 cylinder , 90 horse power hearse.
Mt. Vernon To Have Traffic Posts.....July 1916
Editor Leffel said, "At last the sleepy councilman have awakened to the idea that there should be something done pertaining to the traffic of automobiles through the business district of town." A committee was appointed to survey the situation. They included Davis, Moses, and Dexheimer. Really, I don't know what a traffic post is! haha. They wanted to put them anyway on the intersection of Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Streets on Main, and on Second Street at Walnut and Store Streets. A motion was also raised to designate one of the city policemen as a traffic officer, especially on Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. The editor said the Mayor and the "efficient" police judge have for some reason neglected this important duty. Leffel went on to say that the parking of automobiles on Main Street should at once be done away with, and the east and south sides of the Court square should be set aside for this purpose. "There is ample room there to accommodate all of the machines; at least, two hundred and fifty of them could easily be parked on these two squares." He also called for the machines to use dimmers. Things sort of "came to a head" when in May, John Gentil was killed when he walked diagonally across Main Street from the Odd Fellows building to the Boyce & Williams drug store. When he was in the center of the street he was struck and thrown onto the fender of a Ford touring car. The driver lost control or became so confused as to what she had done that she ran onto the curbing, tossing the 55 year old man from the fender and hitting his head against a mailbox. The body rebounded after striking the box and the car swerved to go west on Fourth Street and the hind wheel ran over the neck of the man. He was picked up and carried into the drug store where he died minutes later.
Centennial Display.....July 1916
Clarence Schlomer, the progressive manager of the Smokewell cigar store, corner of Main and Third Streets, has a unique display in the south window of his business house. In this window a number of old and very interesting relics are shown, including lock and key used in the first house built in Mt. Vernon, a watch that is over a hundred years old, two flint-lock pistols, a pair of handcuffs which were used in Kentucky in slave times, a binder wire cutter, first patent hand-cutter, a bear gun, a bullet mold, hand-made nails, a wild turkey beard, and a number of arrowheads and tomahawks. The display is attracting considerable attention as men light their stogies.
Terrific Hail Storm Hits Mt. Vernon.....June 1, 1916
On a Friday afternoon one of the most severe hailstorms hit the county in memory. Hail fell from the size of "moth balls to hen and goose eggs." In places it reached "pigeon egg size" breaking out window panes, destroying entire crops of wheat and corn, gardens, and killing chickens and turkeys. Hail in places reached six inches in depth. The territory covered by this hail was about four miles in width and five in length. "Fully ten minutes before the hail began falling, it turned almost as dark as night, a heavy rumbling could be heard in the west and it was feared our city would be struck by a cyclone." Peter Strattmann working on the George Ries farm had 65 acres of fine wheat destroyed and said not a blade was left standing and growing corn was cut down level to the ground.
Another Carnival Company In Town.....June 1916
A large carnival company arrived by train and pitched its tents, merry-go-round, Ferris wheel, etc., on the Jack Moeller lots on West Second Street and is billed for the balance of the week. They have a very good band say parties who have visited the show grounds and are a "clean looking outfit." The editor however believed they would not make a rich haul here as the farmers are all busy and the local people are not eager to patronize carnival companies.
Local Woman Bitten By A Bear.....May 1916
Mrs. Carl Hein was bitten through the arm by a two year old brown bear at the fairgrounds. The teeth of the animal penetrated to the bone and made a severe wound. She was also struck just below the neck by the bear's claws and her waist torn and lacerated. The bear belonged to a band of gypsies in town. They had two bears and offered to sell one. Mrs. Hein along with her husband went to see the bear and purchase it as a pet. The bear was removed from its cage and it seemed they were getting along just fine when the unexpected happened. Before bystanders knew what was happening, the bear gave out a fierce growl and seized Mrs. Hein on the left arm near the shoulder. At the same time it struck her with its paw, tearing her waist and neck. She was brought to town and had her wounds cauterized and dressed. Although painful, her wounds were reported to be healing nicely.
"Slow Down, You Move Too Fast".....May 1916
These newfangled driving machines are causing all kinds of trouble in Posey County it seems. Both the New Harmony Register and the Western Star newspapers warned drivers to slow down. A local man was run down and. killed by a woman from Evansville on Fourth Street and witnesses claimed she was doing at least 40 mph. The local paper mentioned that Mt. Vernon had two day and two night officers in the city and that arrests for fast driving are few and far between. The editor, Leffel, said driving at a rate of 25 to 40 mph over our streets is a hourly occurrence. He went on to say that in the previous week an auto flew by him on Second Street of a speed not less than 60 mph. Leffel called on our officers to stop these 'speed cranks.' He wanted no favoritism and that the speed limit of eight miles per hour should be respected. He called for officers to be given the funds for a motorcycle. The New Harmony paper wanted people to remember that those people walking a street have a right-of-way. They should not have to run and jump from a squawking machine. A special police board was held to take dramatic steps to stop the speeding and the purchase of a high grade motorcycle equipped with a speedometer was discussed. Thus far I have found no evidence one was purchased.
Hose Wagon Painted.....May 1916
The hose wagon of the Fire Department was turned over to the H.O. Notter Company where it was painted, striped and lettered. The body of the wagon was to be a bright red, the color used by all the larger city fire departments and the letters, "Mt. V.F.D." will be placed on the front of the body just under the driver's seat. Martin Smith will do the striping and lettering. The city can be assured of first-class workmanship it was reported.
Another Indian Relic Found...May 1916
Carl Mann while plowing near an Indian mound on his farm found a Indian pipe in and excellent state of preservation. The pipe was six inches in length and represents a tiger in a squatting position, both his sides being artistically carved. It seems it was made out of some dark rock or flint. The front foreleg was missing, probably broken off by the plow or the feet of the horses. A search for it found nothing.
A tribute to the honored dead was delivered at the Baptist Church on a Sunday afternoon by Pastor Barrett. Twenty-two veterans of the Civil War marched under "the auspices of Harrow Post, G.A.R., following the flag, to the church, accompanied by 25 of the ladies of the Relief Corps." After entering to applause, the choir and orchestra rendered some patriotic songs, after which Commander Marrs announced the purpose of Decoration Day. At the conclusion little girls pinned carnations upon the lapels of the veteran's coats furnished by the W.R.C. It was announced that the youngest veteran was 70 and two were 80.One veteran, Hollingsworth, whose "sojourn was in Chattanooga during battle gave a touching short address expressing his joy to once more being permitted to mingle with his comrades and friends at home." At the conclusion the veterans shook hands with many in the audience as the people moved out. Earlier that morning, a number of automobiles had conveyed the veterans to Bellefontaine cemetery to pay tribute to their departed comrades who lay there. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was read and a "roll call" was pronounced and 30 "grizzled veterans who fought in the Great American conflict answered 'here." One hundred and seventeen graves in the Soldiers and Sailors plat received flowers, amid a cornet duet. The flowers were placed by 25 little girls and boys .At the conclusion of the ceremonies and the benediction, "taps" was sounded from the bugle.
Henry Brinkman Turns 91.....May 1916
One well known successful business man of the 19th and early 20th century in Mt. Vernon was Henry Brinkman. He had several ventures he was a merchant in plows and farm equipment like wagons. It was called the Brinkman wagon and he invented the Posey Plow...two big sellers. He also had retail hardware and furniture stores. He is also known for the Tile Manufacturing Company founded in 1875. His legacy is the road named Tile Factory Road. He also made the second ever fire hose reel for the Mt. Vernon Fire Department around 1882, He served some politically locally...I know for sure he was on the Black Township advisory board and also was a city councilman. So on this his 91st birthday he opened the day by getting a shave at Dietz' barber shop and then spent the day visiting close and intimate friends.
Dr. Hastings Buys Arabian Mares For Breeding.....1916
Dr. W.E. Hastings returned from Ohio where he purchased thirteen full-blooded mares, eleven of which he will use for his stock farm in Point township to be bred to his zebra. The other two mares were sold to Paul Short, the undertaker, to pull his hearse. All are snow white with pink skin.
Strawboard Factory at Full Capacity.....1916
All "hustle and bustle" from the main office of the business manager to the large pumping station one half mile away from the plant on the Ohio River. The plant employs 40 men on each shift. The article went on to say that they were paid exceptionally good salaries, and that a number of them were property holders. In each department there is a foreman, who is a capable paper maker, engineer or beaterman, and those heads are responsible for the production of the plant. New machines were added in the last year which allows the plant to now produce 40 tons of strawboard every twenty-four hours. The general manager is Mr. Squires and the superintendent is Riley Byron. With the plant located here the farmers are enabled to dispose of their straw with large quantities being used each day in the making of strawboard. Each day sees load after load and car after car unloaded, to be placed in the eight large beater tanks. The straw not only is produced locally, but from points in all adjoining states. Good prices are paid for the straw and at no point has the plant refused to be in the market for more straw.
"Bang A Gong, Get It On".....1916
The Street Commissioner's weekly report to the City Council and Mayor Grant told the clerk to instruct the Traction Company to repair their interurban track at the corner of Fourth and Walnut and notify their motormen to sound their gongs before reaching the intersection of streets within the city limits. On another matter, it was reported that the public watering troughs in the city were not furnishing sufficient amounts of water for stock during the extreme hot days and they should be readjusted.
Teddy's Mocking Bird.....1916
After reading former governor and Supreme Court justice Charles E. Hughes' acceptance speech for the Republican nomination for president, local politician Major Menzies of Mt. Vernon declared Hughes to be Roosevelt's mocking bird. He said, the speech reminded him of an old German who for many years lived in Posey County. The old German would come to town with a load of apples, and a block ahead of him was an American who also had a wagon load, and was constantly crying out the price of his produce. The old German spoke very little English and meeting a friend asked him what the fellow ahead of him was saying. He was told that he was yelling out the price at which he sold his apples. Whipping up his horses the old German followed the wagon, and being unable to remember the prices in the English language, after each yell of his competitor, he would reply, "Yust de same," meaning that he sold his at the same price. Hughes lost a close election to Woodrow Wilson when the electoral votes of California fell into the Democratic column.
Miller and Alles Cigar Store.....1916
William Bryant Dry Goods.....1916
Lowenhaupt Clothing Store.....1916
Caborn Spookiness.....April 1915
For three consecutive nights the traction line and roads leading to the home of Dr. T.J. Hall, one half mile south of Caborn, have been filled with people who desired to see the haunted house. A report was circulated that weird noises were occurring from 11 PM to 3 AM nightly. Two weeks prior, Miss Theresa Wallin, a singer from Berlin Germany sang at a concert in St. Phillips, and later was invited to spend a couple of days with Dr. Hall. When she left, around midnight, three days ago a loud knocking was heard at the door and Dr. Hall arose to respond, but opening it found no one. Later windows began to rattle; knocks were heard on tables; and weird noises throughout the room that had been occupied by the young lady. The next night it happened again and Mr. and Mrs. Hall were "worked up" about the disturbances. Hundreds visited those two days, having different opinions as to what was causing the noises. Some believed that Miss Wallin was a medium, contacted she denied she was such. The third night Dr. Hall told the ghost to leave and the spirit did.
50th Anniversary of Appomattox Observed Locally.....April 1915
On a Friday night at the First M.E. Church the fiftieth anniversary of the capitulation of the south was celebrated under the auspices of the local Harrow Post GAR. An audience of around 400 assembled to hear some of the history of the closing of the civil war. The audience room was decorated with flags and on the platform was placed the pictures of Generals Lee and Grant. Some seventeen veterans of the Civil War marched in at one door under the colors, while at another door the Ladies of the Relief Corps marched in and took their seats on the opposite side. Choice music was then played of the nine piece orchestra under the direction of Dr. Rinear. Invocation was given by Thos. Hollingsworth. U.S. Marrs made a short address. The principal address of the evening was by Major G. V. Menzies who went over the history that led to the final strife between North and South. He claimed the seeds of secession were sown early in colonial days and that "states' rights" sentiments existed in the "cotton states." As the South wanted more land and more slaves the dangerous "extension of ambition" came to a head. Menzies praised Generals Stonewall Jackson, Lee and Grant and even showed praise towards the brave soldiers of the confederate armies. He made brief reference to the war in Europe brewing and deplored monarchies. His address lasted about 40 minutes to a diversified audience of students, women, professionals, and businessmen.
Winstead's Saloon is Burglarized.....April 1915
For the second time in four months the saloon of R.E. Winstead, corner of Second and Store Streets was entered sometime after closing and $5 in change, was taken from the cash register, a lot of cigars, and bottled goods. A large revolver that hung against the wall back of the counter was also taken. The burglars gained an entrance by opening a window of the little restaurant just west of the saloon, and from this room pried open a door leading into the saloon.
Kahn Hotel Man Dies.....1915
Mark Kahn, known as "Mocksey", died at the home of his sister, Mrs. Max Jarodzki. Mark from early manhood assisted his father, Joseph in the management of the Kahn Hotel, and on the death of the latter took charge. He remained in the hotel business until around 1910 when he moved to Florida. He had been living the past few months back in Mt. Vernon when he passed suddenly. At one time traveling salesman always took delight in making his hotel their headquarters. He was a man of a jovial disposition and he could be seen upon our streets almost daily. He was just 46 years old, a member of the Elks. Manual Cronbach, an old friend eulogized the departed in a touching talk. The Kahn Hotel stood at the corner of Main and Third where Fifth Third Bank is today. It was a $2 a day hotel in the 19th Century. Owned and manned by Joseph Kahn who moved from Evansville to Mt. Vernon in 1870. He began his business on Second Street in the old Masonic block for 13 years. Next he opened in the Evertson block on Main Street (recently torn down), where he remained until 1895. Then he moved to Third and Main, where Mark worked as the hotel clerk.
Joe Schlomer Gives Gift To Best Cinderman.....1915
Back in the day, it was not uncommon to give gifts to athletes who performed well. No regulations on gifts I suppose. If a boy pitched a good game, hit a homerun, or scored three touchdowns a hat might be passed through the stands for donations. At this early period in Mt. Vernon athletics Joe Schlomer was a west side jeweler and at the end of the year he awarded the athlete who scored the most points a gold knife and a gold chain. I don't know who won that year, but some of the names are interesting. Charles Hames our long time principal was on that team. I was researching a meet vs. Wadesville and Griffin where he won the mile event in 5:09. The Captain on the team was an Alles and in this particular meet he was the high scorer winning the 440 at 58:45, second in the mile run, winning the half mile in 2:19; and taking the pole vault at 8 feet 3 inches.
Keep On Truck'in.....1915
A man by the name of Captain Hicks, an Indian scout and champion long distance walker, stopped by the Western Star newspaper office, looking, "fresh as a daisy." On a wager Hicks left New York and walked to San Francisco. He was on his way back carrying package of about a 100 pounds and with a dog as a companion. It was said he supported himself by selling postcards and lecturing. In 1910 as a missionary he was declared Champion Walker of the World when he walked 25,000 miles in two years. He was 72 years old when he stopped in Mt. Vernon and was to be given $10,000 when he returned to his starting point in New York. Wonder if he got it?
"Trouble In River City".....December 1914
Sam Walker flourished a large revolver and scattered the crowd present at the L & N depot and was arrested by officer Richards and Chief of Police Lawrence near the "Y" just west of town. He was sent before "Squire" Cartwright, fined $25 and costs and sent to jail in default of payment. Another man, "Irish" Kelley, attempted to take on the Mecca Cafe, but the proprietor had the best of him using a poker to win the argument and he fled. As he ran towards the Klein-Wasen grocery there stood Otto Klein and Guy Green, two clerks of the store. Although Kelly was armed with a big knife, Green floored him with a right upper-cut to the jaw. Officer Adams was summoned on this busy day and the judge fined him $10 and costs and being without funds was sent to jail also.
A month earlier John Puff was released from Michigan City prison after one year for stealing horseshoes from the shop of Fred O'Nan on Store Street (College Ave) from whom he was formally employed.
Also that same month we had a vandal who went up and down Main and Second Streets, disfiguring the show windows with a piece of soap, starting at the bottom and going as high as he could reach for two consecutive nights. They didn't catch the cur, but the editor called for 'ninety days on a rock pile" if he was ever caught.
Kessler Child Killed By Train....November 11, 1914
Charles, the little 2 year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Kessler, a tenant on the Peter Keck farm , two miles west of Mt. Vernon was instantly killed by the east bound L&N passenger train Saturday afternoon. The child was playing on the railroad crossing about 200 yards from the house, and his little wagon, which he was playing became fastened in the rails, and while attempting to free it the fast approaching train struck and killed him instantly. The horrified mother was an eye witness to the scene and rushing to the track picked up the body and carried him into the house.
Mules Run Off.....November 1914
Abijah Allyn and John Derrington have returned from a visit with relatives in Illinois. While nearing the Wabash River en route to here they stopped their auto to talk to Jasper Whipple who was driving a team of mules with a wagon loaded with straw. Without any apparent cause the mules began kicking and started to run off, jerking the lines out of the hands of the driver, who fell from the wagon but was not injured. Mr. Whipple, who was sitting in back of the driver, crawled over the straw and getting hold of one of the lines checked the mules after they ran quite a distance. Straw was scattered in all directions but beyond that no damage resulted.
Ex-President Taft Speaks At New Harmony Centennial.....June 1914
On June 8th, William Taft addressed a large audience at the Centennial celebration and declared, "no community the size of New Harmony in America has contributed so much to industrial and social advancement." His address was confined almost exclusively of a review of New Harmony history and its significance. He discussed the reasons the utopic communities of the Rapps and Owens failed due to socialism. He described founder George Rapp, a German mechanic as motivated primarily for religious views and classed him with the likes of the Shakers, the Zoarities and the communes of Amana and Bethel. Initially, Taft said they were successful because of the intensity of their religious motive to spur industry and self-sacrifice. In 1825 the Rappites sold out to the Owenite community who tried a similar community using the principles of a social philosopher. His theory was not purely socialistic, but a compromise of harmony between capital and labor in which he gave to all laborers a choice of occupations, and short working hours Wages were regulated as was price controls to secure community happiness. He praised the advances made by the utopians for women and the high purpose of serving mankind they advanced for adults and children.
More New Harmony Centennial Notes.....June 1914
The big event in New Harmony was well managed. If you didn't know what or where something was happening there was an information bureau at the Ford building. Ladies rooms were provided at the school building and auditorium. The police force was quartered at the City Hall with the telephone number of 160. The Accommodation Committee set aside the old German cemetery as a place in the shade and grass where parties could bring their lunches and benches were provided. A thirty piece band from Decatur, Ill. was on hand to entertain. The E.B. Schenk Hardware Company of Mt. Vernon had an exhibit furnishing running water continuously with their celebrated Red Jacket Pumps. Ample hitching room was provided and several places were set aside for parking of automobiles. If you were hungry or dry in addition to the Tavern, the Bismarck Catering Company of Evansville served meals at the Old Fort Inn and the Golden Building. The Calvert Dining Hall will be located on Main Street between South and Steam Mill streets. It is estimated that the above places can easily feed from 2500 to 3000 people per day. In addition to those there were additional lunch stands scattered over the town. Ex-President Taft was accompanied by Ex-President Fairbanks on June 8th also to give an address.
City Police "Called Upon The Carpet".....May 1914
The police board met nightly for almost two weeks discussing the advisability of making a change in the city police force. Trouble arose when a night policeman was accused of not making an effort to capture a "negro" man who fatally shot another "negro" on a Saturday night. The shooting occurred on lower Main Street. The Western Star had reported on a tip that all three policemen would be fired and replaced by two democrats and one republican. The republican had considerable experience, having previously been on the force for many years.
Rappite Wagon Arrives For New Harmony Centennial.....May 1914
An old Rappite wagon bed arrived in New Harmony from Economy, Pa., where it is a treasured relic. The wagon was made in New Harmony over a century ago. The bed will be put on a set of running gears of old time construction and exhibited. When the Rappites left New Harmony they took with them many implements of husbandry, loading them on a boat of their own construction. Among them was this wagon, which had high sides that rise at each end like a John boat. "This old bed carried the early produce of the thrifty people whose anniversary of arrival we are now celebrating." When that wagon did service in that rural community, it was just a trackless forest. The Wabash River was the only thoroughfare and it was used by Indians and hardy settlers heading west. "Vincennes was a trading post and St. Louis a village for fur traders. That wagon did business forty years before the Pony Express and before the railroads." Welcome Home!
42 Injured When Seats Crash In Evansville.....1914
In Evansville in May of 1914, 8,000 persons crowded a public school Field Day to witness a beautiful butterfly dance and while the band was playing, a temporary grandstand gave way precipitating 300 persons falling to the ground injuring forty two. No inspection had been made of the structure prior to the event and it is thought the structure collapsed due to the lack of side bracing. The crash came without warning, or without any apparent reason as there was no unusual movement of the persons occupying it. For an instant after the stand collapsed there was strained silence. Then a terrible medley of cries and shrieks, accompanied by a gasp from the thousands of people who crowded the grandstands, bleachers and the great throng of little children who occupied the field. The band resumed its playing a short time after the accident in a heroic effort to calm the crowd, but soon subsided under the tense feeling of anxiety and fear that gripped the audience.
An Old Campaign Relic Unearthed On Farm.....April 1914
One of the sons of Richard Stevens was plowing in the fields five miles northeast of Mt. Vernon and uncovered a campaign watch charm. The charm was made of pewter and was the size of a silver dollar. On one side is the engraving of an eagle with thirteen stars, and on the opposite side the engraved portrait of John Bell, with the words, "For President, John Bell of Tennessee." In 1860 John Bell was the Union Party Candidate for President with Edward Everett as his running mate. Initially, a Jacksonian Democrat he fled to the Whig Party. His credentials were excellent, a graduate of Harvard, a state representative, and even Speaker of the House. At first he opposed secession from the Union but after Lincoln was elected and the firing on Ft. Sumter he retired from politics. Bell won 13% of the popular vote in 1860 carrying three border states and 39 electoral votes.
Rappite Clothing.....April 1914
The New Harmony Times reported that "like a voice from the past came a trunk full of Rappite clothing to the library." Among the articles of apparel were complete gowns and suits worn by the men and women who settled New Harmony one hundred years ago and most remarkable was a shirt that had been worn by Father Rapp himself with his initials neatly embroidered in the garment. The trunk was sent to New Harmony under the orders of John Duss, who was taking great interest in the New Harmony Centennial. A pageant will be done and the principal figures will wear the original garments and hundreds of patterns will be made for the other participants. The women's garments were quaint and simple showing beautiful needlework and care in making. The men's clothing was more elegant and much of it was made of silk. "The garments are all spacious and showed that the followers of George Rapp were not small men." Among the articles received were three men's hats, two felt and one beaver. four straw hats of which two for women and two for men, two blue silk Sunday bonnets with pleated ruffles, two plum colored silk Sunday bonnets, one black silk muffler, a number of handkerchiefs, two men's home spun shirts, three silk aprons, three silk Sunday garbs, one ladies' cloak mantle, two pair of silk trousers, two black silk vests, one woman's skirt, homespun linen, one week day vest with brass buttons, and one reel of twisted straw used by the Rappites in their hat making. Not sure for certain where all this came from but the article mentions at the end of the Centennial the articles would be returned to Economy.
New at Sherburne Park....April 1914
S.B. Redman, the contractor began work on the concrete steps and walks of park, and will have them completed by Horse Show Day when the park will be thrown open to the public. Many new attractions for the amusement of the children will be added and none of those used last year will be removed, and "when all are installed it will be a veritable little paradise for the youngsters." A handsome new fountain will also be added, Mr. Stallman, the superintendent said and that Mr. Cronbach, the parks founder will spend over $1000 more dollars on the park this year in honor of his son.
"What a Bunch of Crap!".....March 1914
Wm. Henrich filled a tank with gasoline and finding a pint remaining in the vessel used for filling the tank, and not really knowing what to do with it concluded to empty the contents in his privy-vault. After dark he visited ye ole water closet and lighting a match to find his way threw the match into the vault. An explosion followed that could be heard for miles it was said and Billy was thrown about ten feet against the partition of a coal bin. His hair was badly singed and the building had the appearance of having been struck by a cyclone.
Lookout, Here We Go Again.....March 1914
The team of horses hitched to Klaus' bakery wagon became frightened at one of those newfangled driving machines and ran away and when it reached the corner of Eighth and Main overtook and trying to pass a two horse wagon driven by a farmer, struck the hind wheels of the wagon. The collision was so sudden that it threw both Klaus horses to the asphalt street. In the struggle to get up they broke the trace hooks and ran a mile out the road before being caught. Both horses were badly skinned about the legs and the wagon was badly damaged. Guess they will have to take it to Brinkman's Livery for an estimate. I don't know what there deductible was.....:)
Editor Praises Woodrow Wilson.....March 1914
Leffel of the Western Star had high praise for our president saying how one would be hard pressed to find an administration more completely in approval of its populace in its first year in office. "Every right thinking citizen realizes that here is a man of high ideals, great wisdom, wonderful tact, marvelous personal magnetism and the highest form of inner courage." He credited Wilson for equality of opportunity and the abolition of special privilege. Leffel spoke of the valor of our citizens, our institutions and the principles of our being. He believed in the integrity and the dependability of the chief executive for the American advancement and prosperity.
Hotel Brettner Changes Management.....January 1914
Hotel Brettner for years was the place to go for all traveling men coming to this city. Time came where it was sold to Mr. and Mrs. G.G. Bateman of Huntington, Indiana. Mr. Bateman was for years a chef on a Pullman car and later managed other fine hotels.
Paddling Seven Thousand Miles In A Canoe.....January 1914
Hayward Green, a writer and illustrator, accompanied by his wife spent two days in Mt. Vernon. They left New York City in a canoe on August 10th 1913, paddled up the Hudson and down the Ohio River to this point. Their plan is to paddle to the Gulf and then go back up the Atlantic coast to the starting point reaching New York by next August. To paddle 7000 miles in a canvas covered canoe, daring the storms of Lake Erie, the shifting sandbars and treacherous currents of the Mississippi, the hurricanes of the Gulf of Mexico, and canoe 2000 miles up the Atlantic coast is the plan of this adventurous young man and wife. Mr. Green carries with him a letter from ex-Governor Sulzer of New York, which he is to deliver in person to Governor Luther Hall of Louisiana, these being the only two governors who are located on the streams he covers. On this trip he also expects to make a study of flood conditions, dikes, etc. in the interest of the Deep Waterway Commission, and besides writing a full description of his trip for the International Press. Green is 29 years old, his wife several years younger and both are tan and in excellent health. They carry with them a tent, cooking utensils and bed clothing, pitching their tent on the river bank shortly before nightfall. The "Whitewater", the name of their craft weighs 90 pounds and is constructed of cedar, double ribbed and copper fastened. His entire outfit is packed in four parcels, two water proof duffel bags and two water tight boxes. He also carries a camera and has already taken over 2000 photographs.
Tried to find documentation that they made it ; but couldn't find anything. Remember the story about the man who walked to New Orleans on specially built skis I wrote about months ago. That guy made it! Amazing.
Western Star Issues A Warning.....1914
One of the local papers, The Western Star, gave out a timely warning to the thief who has been continually robbing someone named "Uncle Bob". The article said that Bob was seen at Schenk's Hardware Store, which must have been the establishment violated cleaning and repairing his "artillery" so next time he would be met with a warm reception.
Celebration of Washington and Lincoln at High School.....1914
The auditorium of MVHS was filled to capacity (400) turning out in patriotic fervor with remnants of Civil War veterans in attendance. The rostrum was decorated with flags, the walls containing pictures of Washington and Lincoln. "The high school mascot eagle, "Old Abe" stood at the front on a pedestal as if scanning the faces of the throng." The Sunday school orchestra under Prof. Nelson was a musical treat with strains of patriotic music. Commander U.S. Marrs of Harrow Post, served as Master of Ceremonies, outlining the program and spoke of the great monuments to the great Presidents in Washington D.C. He spoke of the American ideals transmitted from our fathers from colonial times to the present. At the close of the introductory address the audience sang "America" accompanied by a full orchestra. The invocation was offered by G.W. Kimball acting as Chaplain blessing the youth to minimize illiteracy. Nineteen Civil War veterans sat on the rostrum. They were saluted for their patriotism under fire and for seeing the dawn of a new era. Rev. Paul Press of the German Evangelical church spoke to those present about Washington and praised him for formulated the ultimate destiny; "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." Press said he and Lincoln were both the 'man of the hour.' The speaker referred a number of times throughout his able address to the unerring hand of God on our nation. Lincoln was praised as a son born without prestige, wealth or influence. Abe had a drive however for education. Every new trial was an opportunity. He was a rail splitter, he flatboated, he was a store keeper, a postmaster and a member of the legislature. He was a kindly man with deep seated convictions and was a good story teller with humor. A original poem by Mrs. Edwin Rinear was told with poetic rhythm and from memory. She recited in rhythmic form the epochs in biography and history with tender touches of the dramatic on Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, Grant, McKinley, the Boys in Blue and Gettysburg. The final speech was by John Turner, cashier of the First National Bank whose subject was "Our Patriotic Creed."
"And the Sign Said"......1914
Keck & Smith, the city bill posters are erecting just east of Schenk's saloon on Second Street, a 10x42 1/2 foot galvanized steel billboard which will be a great improvement over the old wooden one which has stood there for years. This is the only kind of board permitted in larger cities, and is the only kind approved by the National Bill Posters Association, of which this firm is a member.
Booker T. Washington Publishes First School Paper.....November 1913
The students of Booker T. Washington on Friday issued their first ever school paper-"The Progress." The paper was a four page, three column sheet, ably edited by the students of the school, the mechanical part being done by the Western Star newspaper. It is their intention to publish this paper monthly.
Former Hotel Man Dies.....November 1913
Louis Brettner died at his home at the corner of Third and Store streets after a short illness to chronic Bright's disease. He was born in Bavaria, Germany in 1849 and had been a resident of Mt. Vernon for the past thirty six years, during which all of this time he had been in the hotel and retail liquor business, and as a host he was personally known to every traveling man who delighted in making his hotel their headquarters in our city. Besides the hotel Mr. Brettner owned some stock in the Mt. Vernon Ice & Cold Storage Company. His remains were escorted to Bellefontaine cemetery by the Mt. Vernon Elks lodge.
Reunion of Old Vets.....July 1913
The surviving members of the 65th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, of whom sixty are still living in southern Indiana was to be held at the home of comrade V.M. Cartwright of Mt. Vernon on September 22, 1913. This date was selected because it will be the 50th anniversary of the battle of Blountsville, Tennessee in which the regiment took an active part.
Buggy-Car Collide.....July 1913
Mrs. John Esche, residing six miles northwest of Mt. Vernon while on her way to town in a buggy on Tile Factory Road, was struck by an auto. The car passing her, struck the hind wheels of her buggy, overturning it and throwing her out. The horse was also thrown to the ground, demolishing the buggy and breaking the harness. Before Mrs. Esche could crawl from underneath the wreck the hit and run reckless driver had disappeared down the road, never stopping to see what damage he had done. Fortunately, Mrs. Esche was not seriously injured, and it was a miracle she was not killed or badly injured by the struggling horse near whose heels she fell. Another narrow escape occurred the same day when the little son of Mr. and Mrs. George Weckesser, while coasting down the hill on South Walnut in a wagon collided with a buggy driven by another small boy who was crossing Second Street. Injury was avoided by only a small margin.
Motion Picture Man Takes Mt. Vernon Scenes.....June 1913
Mr. Randall of Evansville representing the S & R Film Company was in Mt. Vernon for two days taking motion pictures for his company. The first work he filmed was the fire department showing the hose house horses being harnessed and later as... they made a run south on Main Street. After that as the apparatus was returning on Main, he also took a view looking north on Main, showing the great throng of people and the monument on the court square. The next scene involved Chief of Police Smith arresting a chicken thief. The thief "coughed up" everything from chickens under his coat to razors in his pocket. The next morning he took pictures of the Keck-Gonnerman foundry, the Strawboard factory and Sherburne Park. He also took more movie scenes of the fire department on another run, the laying out of hose, and views of a street cleaning machine. He filmed members of the Mt. Vernon Commercial Club and both railroad depots. The film was about 1000 feet long and expected to be shown in Mt. Vernon in about a week.
Sherburne Park Dedicated.....May 29, 1913
The park is a donation to the citizens of Mt. Vernon by Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Cronbach and made in the memory of their departed son, Sherburne who died before reaching manhood. The park was filled with benches, teeter-boards, swings, merry-go-rounds and chute-the-chutes. Prof. Liewelyn, the high school principal, called the audience to order and began the program. Mr. Cronbach turned over the keys to Mayor Moeller and made a few remarks. The mayor on behalf of the citizens of Mt. Vernon thanked Mr. Cronbach for the gift, and pledged that the property would be properly cared for, not only by him but by his successors in office. Judge Herdis Clements spoke for about fifteen minutes and mentioned that the gift from the Cronbach's represented an expense of over $4000. A nine foot concrete walk surrounded the property with two long and two narrow steps leading into it. A fifty foot steel flag pole was erected and a six foot concrete walk was laid around the lounging and toilet rooms. A beautiful fountain for the thirsty was placed in the park and electric lights. As Dr. Rinear's orchestra entertained the large crowd, Mr. and Mrs. Cronbach occupied seats in the shelter house watching the shouts of the children laughing and testing the playground equipment. The park has continued to be used by the town now for almost a century, It has been the scene of fireworks and patriotic displays, band concerts, church services, and a place to quietly think and watch the river flow.
A new band was then organized, called the Sherburne Park Band that played weekly evening concerts at the bandstand. The sixteen piece band was organized by Prof. C.J. Nelson and Drs. Rinear and McElhaney. Those who composed the band were: Billetz, bass drum; Merle Weissinger, snare drum; Ed Robb, alto; Conrad Maier, alto; Gene Highman, cornet; John Larkin, cornet; Harold Hellmuth, cornet; Claude Nelson, cornet; Dr. Rinear, baratone; Dr. McElhaney, bass; George Maurer, bass; Billie Weir, clarinet; Grover Keck, clarinet; Jess Rosenbaum, trombone; and Charlie Moeller, trombone.
Comrades To Celebrate.....May 1913
The old comrades of the Civil War who fought at Champion Hill, May the 16th, 1863 under General Alvin P. Hovey, will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of this bloody and memorable victory of Hovey' division at the handsome home of Captain Will Warren in Newburgh. Local men, Captain Henry Baldwin of the 24th Indiana Infantry, Captain Frank Greathouse, Josh Seward, Ralph Bonnell, John Cale, and Alf. Gerton of the 1st Indiana Calvary and Charles J. Hovey will be going. General Hovey's division was composed mostly of young men between the ages of 16 and 20 and was known throughout the 13th Army Corps as "Hovey's Babies" on this memorable day when nearly 5400 men killed and wounded and they were praised for their gallant fighting by General Grant. General Hovey's men took the hill, which was called the "Key of Vicksburg."
Fogas Wants To Wipe Out Sale Of "Dope".....May 1913
President Wm. Fogas explained to many retail druggists how a pharmacy acting under a new law will stop the indiscriminate sale of dope to cocaine and morphine fiends. He mentioned that in Evansville there is a tremendous sale of morphine to dope fiends. "Cocaine is being peddled among Negroes by men who slip into the city from other places." Little opium is used in its raw state. Fogas explained to druggist that the law bars the sale of cocaine, opium, morphine, codeine, heroin, cannabis indicia and their derivative salts except on prescription of a licensed physician or veterinarian. No doctor can prescribe for a habitual user or fiend. Conviction of the druggist or doctor carries a heavy fine and compels the court to attach a jail sentence. First offense is a $50 fine and jail for six months.
New Harmony Floods.....March, 1913
On March 30, 1913 stores and residences go under water in New Harmony for the first time in town history. Water came down the Wabash like a tidal wave that morning and rescue boats headed out. One relief boat took fire in midstream. The scenes around the town were indescribable with practically all the town flooded 5 to 10 feet and the hills filled with hundreds of refugees. The next day seven-eighths of the town was under water and three fourths of all the houses were flooded. People rushed to the upper floors of their homes. In Mt. Vernon, a relief headquarters was organized on West Second Street ran by Jacob Cronbach and his able assistants, Guy Green, Ike Rosenbaum, Chas. Pearson, and the ladies of the Associated Charities. They were busy handing out food and clothing to many sufferers. Drays were loaded with supplies which were transferred to boats then to wagons to help those in need from New Haven, Ill, Shawneetown, Ill, Dog Town, Ill, Sand Ridge, New Harmony and Point Township. Cronback estimated that of the first week of April about 5000 people had been supplied and distributions of over 100,000 rations. Hundreds of hogs, and thousands of chickens and poultry had been swept away by the rushing waters. Wagons, buggies, rollers and farm equipment left in the fields were gone. To this time it was the worst flood in southern Indiana history surpassing the high water record of 1884.
Petition for New School.....February 1913
A petition was circulated asking the members of the school board to take steps towards the erection of a larger and "more sanitary" building for the children who are compelled to attend the Western school. "When this school was erected the foundry (Keck-Gonnerman) and machine shops one block south were only a small affair, but it has since steadily grown to such an extent that it now occupies the entire block, and the noise from machinery makes it almost impossible for teachers to hear the pupils recite their lessons, to say nothing of the smoke that on certain days fill the rooms." The building was described as being inadequate and overpopulated. Many classrooms were twice the size they should be and the number of students was increasing from year to year. Western school was located on the southwest corner of Fifth and Pearl streets and was eventually replaced by West Elementary on Fourth Street. James Whitcomb Riley school on Fourth Street preceded West.
Carbide Tank Explodes With Disastrous Results.....January 1913
Fred Hironimus who lives on the corner of Fifth and Kimball streets lost his left arm, right eye, and chances of losing his left one also with several severe cuts about his head, right arm and his breast as a result of an explosion. Hironimus is an inventor, and recently had invented and applied for a patent on a tank used in supplying light on automobiles, and while working on this tank the serious and almost fatal accident occurred. While generating or pumping acetylene gas from a smaller tank into a larger one he had invented, preparatory to placing it his automobile, a terrific explosion occurred. Immediately the interior of his basement was one mass of flames. Mrs. Hironimus and their son were thrown up against the wall, but recovered to pull Mr. Hironimus away from the fire. He was rushed to Deaconess Hospital and was taken into the cleaning room were doctors and nurses were in readiness for him. It took over an hour to remove the burnt carbide from his charred face, arm and hands, after which he was operated on. His right eye was removed, being completely destroyed by a piece of iron from the tank. His left arm was removed two and one half inches from the shoulder. The explosion shook buildings for blocks and there was hardly a window pane left in the Hironimus building. The concrete foundation was badly shattered, and the furniture scattered as if a cyclone had passed by. The piano which was open at the time was filled with plaster from the ceiling above and was ruined. One piece of the tank weighing more than two pounds went through the first and second floors of the building and imbedded itself in the rafters of the roof.
Steamer I.N. Flesher Burns to Water's Edge.....January 1913
The steamer I.N. Flesher, in charge of Captain Flesher of Mt. Vernon burned at Cottonwood Point, nine miles below Mt. Vernon where she had taken several barges the evening before to be loaded with corn. The fire was first discovered in the "dog-house" underneath the front stairway, which was used for storing ropes and from that point spread rapidly in less than fifteen minutes consuming the entire cabin. In order to save the barges the Flesher was cut loose from her moorings and was swept by the current into a corn-field on the opposite side of the river. The fire is supposed to have been caused by one of the roustabouts throwing a cigarette into the rubbish. Capt. Flesher valued the boat at $29,000, upon which he carried insurance of $17,000. About four years ago the Annie L., steamer in charge of Capt. Flesher took fire while tied at the foot of Vine Street near the Ice plant and she was set loose and drifted to the head of Slim Island before sinking. Capt. Flesher visited the hull and removed the safe and upon opening it found the contents consisting of about $300 and a lot of valuable papers in good condition.
Down To One Rebel Soldier Left in Mt. Vernon.....1913
Mt. Vernon, it was believed never had more than four confederate soldiers among us as permanent citizens and with the death of John T. Combs, they had but just one, James W. Smith who resided on North Main Street. Two others moved away, George Smith of Donniphan, Mo., and John Smith residing in Gallatin County, Ky. None of the Smiths were related. Combs died at his home of Water and Wood streets, from the effects of a paralytic stroke received while entering the jury box as a juror in the circuit court three months prior. He came from Hickman, KY thirty five years ago and was a brick mason. Interment in the Bellefontaine Cemetery
Overcome by Escaping Gas.....1913
During the winter of 1913 a party composed of John Pfeffer, C.F. Weckesser, Edward Works, Henry Hironimus, Ira Meadors, Sam McClanahan and Roy Pfeiffer charted a gasoline launch for the purpose of going down the river on a duck hunt. The engine conked out on the way down and after working on it for several hours the men concluded to land at a point 14 miles below Mt. Vernon and telephone home for assistance. When help arrived the disabled craft was lashed to the stern and pulling down the curtains to keep warm the hunters soon became drowsy and upon arriving at our wharf after midnight it was discovered that all were in a serious condition. Works, Weckesser and Pfeiffer were in worse shape, as it took considerable time to get them aroused from their stupor. Upon examination it was found that the exhaust from the launch towing the disabled craft was making its way into the closed launch occupied by the hunters, causing them to be overcome; almost losing their lives.
Top Notch Theater To Be Here.....1913
In April, L. L. Hurley purchased the building on Main Street, between Second and Third, paying $3600. Hurley intends to thoroughly overhaul this building and add 60 feet to the rear to accommodate his large trade in paints and wallpaper. This building was formally the "Smoke Well" cigar factory. The building to be vacated by Hurley will be converted into a nickel theatorium, under the firm name of Hayes & Hurley. A drop floor leading from Main Street to the alley will be laid, thus giving an unobstructed view of the screen from the main entrance. Four hundred seats have been ordered. The ceiling and interior will be rebuilt. Opening is scheduled for June.
John Lefffel Calls For A Humane Society.....1913
John C. Leffel, editor of the Western Star thought a humane society in Mt. Vernon would be a good thing. He said the citizens of our town were paying for a humane officer then at $14 a week, and what was he doing for that hefty salary? "Hasn't he had time to look after the many rack of bones in this city?" He said a walk to the levee front will demonstrate the fact that help is needed. "A team of horses hauling corn to the hominy mills looked as though they had not seen a curry comb or had a good feed for many a day. Such neglect of animals should be stopped!"
Remember the Buffalo Nickel? MV Editor Dislikes It.....1913
The new nickel is on the market. It came into existence with a storm of protest, and the storm has followed it in every city where the new coin has been placed in circulation. Editor felt it was anything but artistic and not what small change should be. He didn't like the "deeply stamped" presentation of a buffalo and the terrible Indian. He felt what I called the V nickel to be of better design and didn't look "clumsy." In my opinion, I like the nickel far better even than the Jefferson nickel that replaced it in 1939.
Phil Suddoth closed the first term of his dancing school at the K of P Hall with a reception on a Friday night. The hall was decorated with red, white and blue bunting and a large American flag stretched across the west end of the hall, which with the pretty gowned dancers added to the brilliancy of the scene. There were ninety seven couples on the floor and a hundred or more spectators in the hall and gallery, making it the largest crowd ever assembled there of this kind. During the evening $10 in gold was presented to the couple dancing the waltz, the prize being given by the committee to Clarence Crunk and Miss Agnes Bates, whom they considered the best. Many out of town guests and performers were present.
What Brought This On?.....1913
A young barber employed in Welborn's barber shop on Main Street sure was mad at Al Spillman on a Friday night. The young man fired his weapon at him, "but the ball failed to take effect." He attempted to fire a second shot but the pistol was knocked out of his hand by night policeman Schneider. Spillman believing in the proverb, "that a man who lives to fight and runs away, lives to fight another day," took to his heels and escaped.
In May of 1906 the city council for some reason passed an ordinance vesting in the mayor the power of selecting and naming three police officers of Mt. Vernon, the naming of the chief of police being already given him by the laws of Indiana. It was thought that the ordinance had been fragrantly abused by the mayor in several appointments and the members of the council "very wisely" concluded to divest him of this power and passed an ordinance vesting the right of naming the three policemen in the hands of the council. Mayor Moeller has intimated that when this ordinance comes up at their next regular meeting he will veto it, as he has a perfect right to do, but it will avail him nothing, as the council has come to the conclusion to put a stop to this one man power and will pass the ordinance over his veto, thus making it effective at once. The Western Star newspaper congratulated the council members for the step they had taken. The paper felt that now when the time comes to select men to fill the vacancies, we trust they will choose a body of police officers who will "work in harmony together and to the best interests of the entire community."
Train Tragedy.....October 1911
The mangled body of a "colored man" identified as Haywood Minton of Mt Vernon was found along the B & O tracks about a half mile from Enfield, Illinois. It was believed he had boarded a freight train and was westbound when he fell from the train and was killed, but who knows?
Vicksburg Remembered By Carmi Doctor 50 Years Later.....1911
Dr. Daniel Berry of Carmi was a doctor in a White County unit during the Civil War and reminisced about the 43 day siege on Vicksburg, Mississippi which ended in a rebel defeat on July 4, 1863. I will add that a relative of mine, Captain Edmund Emery died in a farmhouse at Vicksburg on July 18, 1863, not from wounds but by the effects of severe diarrhea. The good doctor mentioned that the only thing they were eating at the end was mule meat. Dr. Berry, rode four miles from his union camp into Vicksburg and saw stakes sharpened by the Rebs and driven at a 45 degree angle, hidden by grass to deter Union charges. He saw two balls from Enfield rifles smack together in mid-air and welded together. The doctor found a crude hand grenade in a trench...an iron "goose egg" fitted with pasteboard wings and stuffed with gun cotton which he described as close to nitroglycerine. An army of half-starved confederates, numbering around 24,000 were left after the surrender. A third of these were sick or wounded. He said they were paroled and allowed to go home and the officers were allowed to keep their horses and side arms. The rebels were given 30 wagons of provisions to tide them over. The rebels had dug deep holes in the sides of the hills for protection against Grant's artillery from land and from gunboats on the river below. My relative, Captain Emery was of Company C of the 87th Regiment Illinois Volunteers Infantry. He had been mustered in at Shawneetown, Illinois in September of 1862. His wife I believed received a War Department pension of$6 per month but waited decades before receiving anything.
Charles J. O'Malley, Author.....1857-1910
Born near Morganfield, Kentucky he was related through his father to Father Abram J. Ryan, the poet priest of the Confederacy. His mother was of Spanish descent. He was educated at Cecilian College, in Hardin County, Kentucky and at Spring Hill, a Jesuit institution near Mobile, Alabama. Afterwards, he returned to Henderson, Kentucky providing prose and verse to the newspapers near there. He became well known in the state with a series of prose papers including, "Summer in Kentucky, and By Marsh and Pool." His finest poem, "Enceladus", appeared in the Century Magazine in 1892. In 1893 he moved to Mt. Vernon to become editor of The Advocate, a Roman Catholic periodical. His first and best known book, "The Building of the Moon and Other Poems" was written here in 1894, brought together his finest work in verse. From this time until his death he was editor of Roman Catholic publications and a contributor of poems to The Century, Cosmopolitan, and other top magazines. Some other works of his was "The Building of the Moon, The Great White Shepherd of Christendom, Thistledrift, and the Songs of Dawn." He died in Chicago and lies buried near his Kentucky birthplace.
David L. Scholey had a steam laundry located at 215 West Second Street. He was a familiar sight in Mt. Vernon with his droopy mustache and bowler hat as he pedaled around town in large wheeled bicycle. He died in 1949.
August Schieber 1841-1910
He was a very influential citizen of Mt. Vernon for over 50 years. He was born in Wittenberg, Germany in 1841 and immigrated with his family to Evansville where he was educated and worked in his stepfather's brewery and learned the cooper's trade. He took college courses at night and then was in the 24th Indiana volunteer infantry during the Civil War. Our own Mt. Vernon general, Alvin P. Hovey was his commander. After the war, August's step father erected a hotel in Mt. Vernon on Water Street named the Flower House and young August was put in charge of the cafe. In 1871 the hotel was sold and August ventured out on his own, establishing a retail grocery and liquor store on the same street. His endeavor proved successful and around 1890 he moved to Mulberry and Water streets continuing as a merchant. He developed farm interests and from his merchant profits bought farm and city properties so that at one time he owned more than any other individual in town. He owned such properties as the Masonic Hall building, forty-one residences and farm land covering 2000 acres. He also owned the fair grounds. He was the largest stockholder and President of the Consumers Ice and Cold Storage Company and President of a Lumber Company in Memphis, Tennessee. He was a Republican in a Democrat town and served a couple of terms as a councilman, but had little time for politics. He was married to the former Mary Anna Schutte in 1870.
Vote Fraud?.....November 5, 1908
The Western Star newspaper said that Beech Hollman, our postmaster and his able lieutenants were kept busy during the entire Election Day "keeping the colored voters in line," and instead of paying them the usual $2 per vote, they demanded and received from $5 to $25.
A 1908 Summary....
In January there was a terrible accident on the Evansville to Mt. Vernon traction line near Caborn killing John Niederst, seriously injuring Mrs. Henry Kling and Major Menzies narrowly escapes. In February, fire damaged the Jeffries school, and Tom Goodwin sent to prison for killing his brother with an oar. On April 23rd the Sailors and Soldiers Monument in front of the courthouse is dedicated with impressive ceremonies. In May, school records show 1733 children in Mt. Vernon schools. Guy Spencer opens "The Vista", a new electric theatre. The Indiana state building inspector orders fire escapes put on a number of three story buildings in town. The Second annual horse show is held in town. In June, a $5000 verdict is rendered against the Traction Company for the death of John Niederst in January. In July a government official arrives to investigate cut worms in the county destroying corn. Drought is reported in all parts of Posey County. In September there was a big fire at the fairgrounds where all stalls burned. Only 3.88 inches of rain fell locally the entire summer. Mt. Vernon defeats McLeansboro, Illinois 5-0 in football. Senator Slack speaks in the city. In November, Democrats sweep Posey County by large majorities. Mt. Vernon football team defeats Boonville 23-6. Harvey Eakin acquitted of murdering Wesley Wallace. On the 16th the "Cozy Corner", Mr. Heyden's Electric Theatre closes for lack of patronage. Mt. Vernon claims football championship of Southern Indiana with 18-6 win over Princeton. Fireman's dance on Thanksgiving night. In December a charter was granted to the Elk's Lodge so a new home can be completed. On the 27th a YMCA was said to be organized in town.
Chess Expert, Doctor, and Abolitionist.....1908
In 1908 Dr. John Harper died in the two story brick home he built years before. The location of the home I am not sure. What I have found is a reference to him being the first abolitionist in Mt. Vernon. He was also a chess expert playing in the 1890's three of the greats of that time; Max Judd, Jack Showalter, and the World Champion Joseph Blackburne.
Old Vet Gets A Raise.....1908
William York better known as "B.I." was notified that his military pension had been increased from $17 to $30 per month. He was a member of the 91st Indiana Infantry Volunteers during the Civil War.
Our Remodeled Opera House.....1906
Mt. Vernon's fine little play house, owned by Gus Schieber and managed by Jesse Wade was remodeled with up to date scenery and all the opera chairs were elevated, thus giving all patrons a splendid view from all parts of the house, "provided, however, that some of our ladies will take off those big hats." Mr. Wade booked none but first class companies this past year and this theater should be patronized by all our fine citizens, the Western Star encouraged.
Mt. Vernon Library Dedicated.....October 16, 1905
The Alexandrian Free Public Library was dedicated Sunday afternoon with appropriate exercises, which were conducted in the First M.E. Church in order to accommodate the crowd. Henry Tansey, a member of the Library club, gave a brief history of the library to which he eulogized the late Mrs. Matilda Alexander, who spent much of her time and money in giving this city a library. Prof. Bauman, chairman of the committee, told the "ups and downs" of that committee in securing the donation of $14, 500 from Andrew Carnegie for the erection of the beautiful building. At the conclusion of the exercises, the doors of the library were thrown open to the public and hundreds inspected the building during the afternoon and evening.
Five Killed in Upton Railroad Wreck.....July 1905
Five persons were killed and others injured seriously in a wreck on the L&N railroad one half mile this side of Upton at 11:30 on a Saturday morning. Train No. 79, loaded with perishable goods bound south, with a track supposed to have been clear, collided head-on with train No. 80, with both engines remaining on the tracks and the boilers thrust into each other. Dispatcher error was cause. In the seventh car of the south bound train thee were about 250 sheep and in the eighth car 18 mules. Of the former about 20 escaped and of the latter nine. The loss to the company was said to be $150,000.
Former Resident Looks Back to 1905
Thomas Underwood of Washington D.C. in 1968 wrote about Mt. Vernon as he knew it in 1905. "The corner was a lively center of activities during my youth. It was here that a hamburger stand was overturned by an irate customer on a busy Saturday night. It seems that a rather stout lady overheard the hawker cry out, ' Another little girl has bought a big hamburger,' and with that over went the pushcart, hot grease, hamburger meat, buns, pickles, sliced onions, and all. On this same corner one was apt to find Preston Loveland's peanut and popcorn vending machine, the courthouse coping sitters evidently being a main source of trade. How many of you can remember the coping sitters, their whistles and wolf calls at the passing belles of the era? And have you ever passed the courthouse on your way to church on a Sunday morning treading gingerly upon a carpet of peanut shells? Several times each year medicine shows would set us stand usually for a week's stay at the corner. The bottled medicine sold was 'good for what ailed you' regardless of the symptoms one might relate to the 'doctor.' To attract and to hold a crowd Dixieland banjo music was played. There followed a song and dance act in the Al Jolson manner, and then Mr. Interlocutor would toss questions to the end men whose answering jokes were further emphasized by white gloved knee pounding and resounding back slapping. All of this to set a proper happy mood before his sales pitch. I still remember one ditty which always received vociferous applause. It went, 'I've been out east, and I've been out west, and I've been down south as far as Louisiana, but the BEST town I've EVER been IS Mt. Vernon, Indiana.' That brought forth pocketbooks for the quack's elixir. Third and Main was the scene of annual horse shows, and more specifically drag racing. Percherons, Clydesdales, and other draft animals would be matched in pulling contests. Drags made of heavy timbers such as railroad ties, and piled with huge stones, would inch slowly up grade on Third Street, horses straining at their collars, sparks flying from their metal shoes as they strived to gain a foothold on the hard surfaced street. Every swish and crack of the whip sent flinching waves of sympathy for the beasts. I never once stayed to see the finish of those exhibitions."
Swinging Bridge Across Mill Creek.....1905
Six decades later, former resident Thomas Underwood spoke of his experiences of a footbridge, a shortcut for pedestrians across Mill Creek. It was constructed of wooden slats, something on the order of barrel staves, linked together at the ends and suspended from wire cable supports attached to trees on each bank of the stream. It spanned the creek bed for a distance of twenty five or thirty feet and possessed a free swinging motion irresistible to the youngsters of that day. "Many an hour, if the minutes be totaled, did I spend along with companions on the old swinging bridge. It was great fun to jump up and down at one end, set the bridge in motion, and then watch the rise and fall of the waving floor boards as they raced to reach the other side. Or again, to stand in the middle of the span, just above the rushing creek and in unison apply our combined strength to propel the bridge sideways." He said, that after a while they reached a degree of fright and danger and it was not unusual to hear a splash and to glimpse a playmate accidently or purposely plunge into the creek.
State Senator William Gonnerman.....1904
William was born in 1856 and immigrated to the United States in 1873 and arrived in Mt. Vernon in 1884. He was vice president of the Keck-Gonnerman Company and president of the Industrial Brick Company. This German born businessman was elected to the Mt. Vernon city council in 1890 and served for ten years. He introduced the measure which was passed, proving the funding for the present city hall. He also was instrumental in bringing what was then modern fire equipment to our city. William was elected to the state senate in 1904 and served one term. He was a member of the Elks, Criterion Lodge, Knights of Pythias, and the Modern Woodmen of America. He worshiped at the German Lutheran Church. He was a Republican in politics.
"Burn Baby Burn".....May 22, 1902
Mt. Vernon fire department had a slow burn after city council vote reducing their yearly salaries from $75 to $60. They all quit, moving their personal equipment and possessions out of city hall. The fireman agreed to protect the city until a new department was organized. Before the day ended eleven new men took their place.
Adventure At the Old Tile Factory.....1902
Thomas Underwood, a former local citizen wrote of his childhood about the Tile Factory, once located in the far northeast section of the city. It wrote of it being of great interest to inquisitive minded lads of that time. "A visit to the plant to see its mud-vats, shaping molds, conveyor belts, drying racks, and glazing kilns in operation, and the completed products of varying sizes, was like an educational adventure. Like kittens at play, we would walk through the largest tiles, crawl through the smaller ones, and with great effort and determination squirm through still smaller sizes." He went on to mention that the really big adventure was experienced on days when the plant was closed. Then the chain driven conveyor scoop used to carry dirt from a nearby pit up into the plant set idle and it was "the piece de resistance to the stout hearted youngsters. " Nowhere else in the town could one find a faster, more breath-taking, more daring, more hair-raising, more perspiring, more frightening ride than the wild downward plunge in that scoop. And only at the last second were the brakes applied by our trusted companions, and the very worst result was a precipitate tumble into the soft dirt of the pit. The reverse trip back up into the plant was slow, tedious, yet pleasingly satisfying in the knowledge that the descent was over and mission accomplished." All good things must come to an end however, and one day they found the chain lever locked and secured and rightly so to end such activities.
Negro Civil War Soldiers Buried In Posey County.....Turn of 20th Century
All of these veterans died between 1890 and 1916: Alexander Caldwell, Peter Carter, Henry Clay, Rolla Dunaway, Sid Greene, William Greene, Richard Naym, Thomas Phipps, Jasper Towns, Charles Wade, Henderson Waller, Peter Webster, and William Whitworth or Whitmore. Six of the thirteen are buried at Bethel Cemetery, one unknown, one at Fuhrer, two at Odd Fellows, one at Black Twp. and one at Maple Grove. Can you imagine being a Negro union soldier that would be wounded on the battlefield or taken prisioner by the Confederates? I have read of how bodies would be mutilated of what were to the southerners still slaves.
Town Named After Former Mt. Vernon Resident.....Early 1900's.
Riggins, Idaho was named after a husband of a Mt. Vernon woman. Mrs. Clara Riggins died in 1972 in Toppenish, Idaho. The Idaho County Free Press wrote that Mrs. Riggins was born in Mt. Vernon, Indiana and moved to Idaho at the age of two with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Rowe in a covered wagon. She and Fred Riggins were married in Denver, Idaho in 1897 and homesteaded the Salmon River. In 1901 they developed what is now known as Riggins Hot Springs which they operated until 1919. Riggins was a young woman when she and her husband, Fred moved south to Gourge Eye at the confluence of the Little Salmon and Big Salmon rivers. More commonly known as the "River of No Return," Riggins Hot Springs is still in existence as a resort spa and the town of Gourge Eye now bears the Mt. Vernon native's married name.....Riggins and had 523 residents in 1972.
"Git 'er Done".....March 16, 1899
Mr. Henry Brinkman, the well-known Mt. Vernon manufacturer of tile and owing to the increased demand commenced that week in erecting another kiln, making four erected on his yards, just northeast of the city. The demand for his tile continues to increase annually and to supply the needs of our farmers he adds annually to his plant.
This Little Piggie Went To the Market.....1899
Lee Rosenbaum and John Pfeffer are daily shipping to Evansville a large number of hogs, bought from farmers in this section. The hogs are shipped to the packing company there, in which Rosenbaum has an interest. In a related item; Wm. Redman of Upton, was compelled to kill a fine cow and hog as both showed symptoms of hydrophobia.
Construction News.....October 1898
The Maas building, corner of Second and Main Streets is completed. Also the roof has been placed on the new Odd Fellows' building at Fourth and Main and the plasterers are now in charge of the same. It should be ready for occupancy by the middle of November. Of course, in later years we know this building as People's Bank & Trust.
It's Sunday Boys, Day of Rest.....June 15, 1898
I remember what they called "Blue Laws" where you just didn't do some things on the Sabbath. You would see these blue stickers on merchant's doors saying, "Closed Sunday...See you in church." I remember for the longest time a person would not mow their lawn on that day. Baseball was frowned on for Sundays, even in the major leagues for decades. My story here is about four young boys who were fined by Mayor Leonard, $15 for playing baseball on Sunday. It was said they were disturbing a religious service being held nearby. I guess the congregation was all fired up because the topic of the sermon on what was called, "Children's Day" was, "Everlasting Punishment of the Wicked."
Stinson Bros. Building To Be Erected.....May 1898
A new building on Main Street the Stinson Building started construction on the 18th of May, 1898.
And the Mail Was Delivered.....April 1898
The mail carriage descended a hill in Mt. Vernon and the coupling-pin broke. The horses started off with the front wheels and overtook a buggy in which were Henry Schafer and Philip Wagner. The stage horses "straddled" the buggy, smashing it into kindling wood hurting both men. Wagner was badly bruised and the mail driver, John Stevens, was also hurt, but not bad enough to incapacitate him from gathering up his wreck and bringing the mail to town
"In the field a bodies burning, as the war machine keeps turning"....April, May 1898.
On April 28, 1898 hundreds of our citizens were at the L&N depot to see three trains of regular soldiers pass through Mt. Vernon in route to Cuba. Many of our fine ladies came with pretty bouquets to present to the boys, but since the train didn't stop they were deprived of the pleasure. My mother told me of doing that in Illinois during the passing of troop trains of World War 2. She was 17 when the war broke out and I think she enjoyed the attention. On May 5th, 1898 a part of the Ninth Calvary "colored' passed through town en route to Tampa Florida. The troop consisted of 119 men and five officers, together with their stock, baggage and paraphernalia. The outfit occupied 18 rail cars. One old vet, W.D. Crunk was so caught up in the war hysteria he tendered his services to General Mount and wished to organize a company of soldiers from here to go all the way to Spain. Well, we never got to Spain so I guess that didn't happen. By the way, the Spanish did not sink the Maine...so forget it.
Two Men Killed, One Seriously Injured by L&N Engine.....August 1897
On a Friday morning as the westbound freight train due here at 8 in the morning was within two miles of Mt. Vernon the engineer discovered two men lying on the track and immediately sounded his whistle and began to reverse the brakes, but too late to save them. Both men were hurled a great distance of twenty feet or more, breaking the neck of one. They were picked up by trainmen and brought to town neither one a local resident, but farm laborers. They were interred in the Potter's Field.
It is really amazing the number of people that were run over by trains! Not just wagons and cars; but people sleeping on the tracks, people collecting coal, hobos, little children left unsupervised, etc.
A Skirmish Among Our Officers and a Number of Negros.....July 6, 1897
Many of these race items I have been holding off on doing for a long time; but if true history is to be revealed they must surface. I will "clean them" up some; but I want the content and the passion to be known. "Saturday night a festival was given at the colored Odd Fellow's Hall on East Second Street, and Dan Powell, a bad (n word), concluded to bring the entertainment to a close. Officers Moore and Culley were sent to quell the riot and arresting Dan, started to jail, but they were shortly overtaken by a mob, and in the skirmish the prisoner made his escape. Several shots were exchanged, but unfortunately our officers being out of practice, were unable to furnish the coroner with a job." Rufe Martin, a member of the mob was arrested later.
Decoration Day was observed as usual in Mt. Vernon, but owing to the fact that the exercises were held at the North Cemetery instead of Bellefontaine, the crowd was sparse.
A Fish Story.....May 1896
Cecil Alldredge while cleaning out the standpipe caught between two and three hundred pounds of fish, many of them being fully eighteen inches in length. As the suction pipe at the plant will not take in a fish over six inches in length, the question arises where did they come from? Maybe it was the river pirates who put them there who on the same day stole twelve bag of corn off the banks belonging to Trice Whitman, AKA, "The Corn King."
General Manson Speaks on Decoration Day.....May 1893
Along with Col. Owen, Commander of the Harrow Post and Jos. Cheadle, ex-congressman of the 9th District, Brigadier General Mahlon Manson spoke at services at Bellefontaine cemetery. The old general, a descendent of David Manson, an aide in the Revolutionary War to George Washington was a veteran of two wars. Due to a paralytic stroke of the tongue two years prior he was unable to speak at length. Manson was wounded twice during the Civil War and was captured by the Confederate forces. He was a Democrat, served as Indiana state auditor, and United States Representative from 1871-1873. He said he came to Posey County solely for the purpose of visiting the home for the last time of his old friend and comrade, the late General Alvin P. Hovey. While he differed in politics with Hovey, he felt perfectly at home here and had a meal with Mrs. Ester Menzies, daughter of the late General. He also gave a brief history of the first time he met Col. Owen and a story about Major Kimble, who was in his command.
Black Citizens Pass Resolutions.....April 24, 1896
Here I am again using the words they described themselves at that time in their letter:" The colored citizens of this city met Tuesday night at the A.M.E. church, and passed the following resolutions: Whereas we, the colored people of Mt. Vernon and Posey County, realize that we are American citizens, entitled to all the protection guaranteed us by the Constitution and the law, and that the highest duty of the citizens is to respect and obey the laws. Therefore be it resolved, that we denounce all manner of crimes practiced by the colored people of Posey County, as opposed to the well-being of a regulated society. Resolved, that whenever a crime is committed, we are willing to assist the majesty of law in searching for the guilty ones, and thus uphold the dignity of the State. Resolved, that we denounce mob violence as a relic of barbarism, and inadequate to serve the demands of justice. Resolved, that we deplore the fact that many honest, upright colored citizens must suffer for the sins of the few, and we hope that there is charity enough in the American spirit to recognize true manhood, regardless of the color of his skin." Gurley Brewer, George Tompkins, Wm. Jenneffs, Henry Watkins, and Prince Jones.
Some Hopefully Interesting Facts of 19th Century Posey....
Shhhh...don't tell anybody, but when New Harmony was formed in 1814 by George Rapp it was socialistic in their beliefs. OMG! All property belonged to the community (commune) and no individual or private interests. Old "Wavy" gonna try that one day with my band of beauties, "Wildflower, Happy Dancer, Stormy, Mountain Momma, Gypsy Rose and Sunshine." Another item I'm reminded of the old sandbar that use to be across from the Mt. Vernon riverfront. Remember that? I guess that disappeared after the Uniontown locks and dam when up. Anyway, legend has it that in the 1800's it was formed when a boat sank on that spot and sand formed around the wreckage. Do we have any archeologists reading this? In 1810, William Hunter at the present site of New Harmony built and launched the first flatboat to ever carry produce from this area to a southern market. One other item: In December of 1896, Graham, the jeweler in Mt. Vernon erected in front of his business on Main Street, a fine large clock which could be seen for blocks and during the night was lighted with electricity.
Beer Dummy Cremated...Painters Mourn.....May 1895
Two painters in Sam Miller's Shop that was destroyed by fire are in mourning over their loss of "dummy" that was attached to a rope extended from the upper window of the shop to the main entrance of Schenk's Saloon across the street. For years when Bill Smith and Tim Reichert were in need of a "growler" they would send "dummy" on his errand. "Dummy" was a member of the Painter's Association of which he was an honest and hardworking member, having been called on to make over fifty or more trips to the saloon daily and returning with a bucket of beer, not a drop of which he was ever known to spill or drink. "Owing to his sad fate both young men are now almost inconsolable."
Naylor Bentley, a young man cultivating a farm near Upton Station for Lee Rosenbaum, five miles west of Mt. Vernon, turned his mules out to graze in the front yard and while driving them to the barn late in the evening was kicked in the pit of the stomach, death resulting fifteen minutes later. Naylor was 26 and leaves a wife and a child.
A alarm was turned in for the purpose of training the horses of the fire department, but the driver was unable to make a turn at the corner of Main and Second Streets, owing to the fact that the street was full of men and children which might have resulted in the death of our citizens. The chief requested to the newspaper to notify all to keep off the streets when they hear the sound of the gong, as in case of fire he must have the free use of the streets, and will not drive around a half dozen blocks even through some of our citizens might be injured. "If you are determined to see the horses make a run, keep on the sidewalks, and you will be out of danger."
A Little Taste of Nightlife Locally .....1894
Joe Clements, aged 22, a black man was tried before Squire Jones charged with illegal voting. The papers right after the civil war weren't all that nice to the black community. When they are mentioned many times it is not enough to mention an alleged crime but their character, race and speech was criticized. If a fight broke out in town involving minorities, the worst stereotypes imaginable were used. It was difficult in those times for people of color to advance beyond the most menial of jobs. We read of saloon shoot-ups, riverfront fist fights, horse whippings of husbands embracing another woman, etc. When they were reported as being liked they were often described as like an animal whose spirit was broken. I know those words sound harsh and they were not just part of Mt. Vernon history but our country for the longest of times. It is not my intent to condemn our city, but to reflect on how we evolved. Attitudes change and when you look back into another time we see the racism, the sexism, the religious bias. What will historians look back to our time and be shocked with?
New Mill on the Riverfront.....November 1893
The contract for the erection of the Hudnut Hominy Mill was let to the Terre Haute Planing mill. It is to be of brick work as masons have purchased 400,000 brick locally from Henry Brinkman which was all he had on hand. The building will be five stories high and it will require about 700,000 brick to complete.
Attempted Rape.....October 1893
An attempt was made to rape a local woman around 9 PM by a "well-known Negro" in the city. The "brute" was concealed in the alley of Mr. Lee Wolf's, and as the young lady passed down Second Street, he jumped out and dragged her back into the alley about 25 feet from the street. Her screams attracted the attention of Mr. Wolf who came to her assistance as the man escaped into the darkness. The young lady identified her assailant and "as this is his fourth attempt on as many different girls, about ten feet of rope might break him of this habit."
Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones.....October 1893
Mr. O. N. Fretageot discovered what appeared to be a horn imbedded in the river bank at Mackey's Ferry, on Wabash River, and upon excavating the same it proved to be a skull and a portion of the back bone of an animal somewhat similar to the buffalo of the present day. The remains were in a layer of clean sand, about twenty feet below the surface, and in the land washed away by the waters of what was formerly Black's Cut-Off, now the main Wabash River. The bones were to be sent to Chas. F. Artes, of Evansville, who has one of the finest private collections of prehistoric relics in the United States.
Emancipation Day Celebrated.....September 1893
The order of the colored Odd Fellows celebrated Emancipation day last Friday and in honor of the day gave a big barbecue at the fairgrounds. Honorable Gurley Bruler was toast master, and after the services those in attendance were served with elegantly flavored meats. "No difficulties occurred, and the day was celebrated in a more civil manner than usual."
Fuhrer Elevator Destroyed by Fire.....September 1893
Mt. Vernon was again visited by a destructive fire on a Sunday morning. It was said that we were in luck that the wind was blowing from the northeast, or the lower part of the town may have been destroyed. Shortly before 4 am, Mr. White the engineer at the ice factory discovered the large corn elevator on the bank of the river at the foot of Vine Street on fire, but as we had no fire alarm, the entire building was one mass of flames before the department arrived. The building was owned by Fuhrer & Co. and was valued at $18,000, and contained three or four thousand bushels of corn. The firm carried insurance for $9500, and no one was at work at the time, the work is supposed to have been of an incendiary. Owing to the fact that the water supply was not as strong as usual, the fire department only by hard labor succeeded in saving the ice plant of Mr. Lee Wolf, just north of the elevator. The roof of the cold storage room was badly damaged, and the entire south side of the building proper will have to be rebuilt. Mr. Wolf's loss was estimated at around $2000. The editor asked for an investigation as to why the water pressure was so low. "The members of the department can throw water but not mud," the paper squealed. The paper also called for a regular flushing of the plugs and a good span of horses and a fire alarm.
Goat Races At The Fair.....September 1893
A novel attraction at the fair was goat racing! It started when Gabe Moorman, a lover of goats offered a purse of $5 and many a boy in the city has made a cart and harness to pull "these sweet scented animals." The distance was 200 yards and the money was divided into purses of $2.50, $1.50, and $1.00.
Brittlebank In Town.....September 1893
Frank Brittlebank, for who are park is named, was in Mt. Vernon in the fall of 1893, thinking of making a home here. He is with the Hudnut Hominey Mill (on the Main Street riverfront). The Western Star newspaper was unable to find out if Mr. Brittlebank will continue taking his meals at the Pearless, or go to housekeeping for certain. It was a fact, however, that the new hominy mill will be commended in a few days, and the Hudnut Company will be prepared to buy all the corn that can be delivered by our farmers as soon as it is in a condition to be gathered. When he died he left money for 3 parks, including Mt. Vernon. Another is in Terre Haute. He was a world traveler.
Floater.....June 22, 1893
A Negro floater supposed to be about 14 was found in the river in front of Main Street. Unknown. Remains interred in Potter's Field.
Daily Democrat Items.....June 1893
The Daily Democrat, I do not quote much from mainly because only few examples exist. Albert Sparks was the editor at this particular time and I found three nice items from June of that year: This first one had some boys fined for disturbing religious meetings on a Sunday morning. It didn't say what they were doing, but I have found a similar story about boys playing baseball and getting fined. Well, these particular boys didn't take to the fine very well and they were threatening to have the brethren of this black church arrested for disturbing the peace with their loud singing and shouting to the Lord. The next item is of a boy fishing at "Deep Slough", wherever that is, catching a terrapin in a net that measured eight inches across and had the inscription, "G.W., 1776" on its back. The third item from that month was where two festive organ grinders were in town accompanied by two monkeys. The air resounded with the inspiring tunes of "Boom de Aye," "Annie Rooney, " "Maggie Murphy" and "Razzle Dazzle."
Mrs. Matilda Alexander at the World's Fair.....June 1893
During the World's Fair in Chicago the summer of 1893 it was said over 200 Mt. Vernon residents attended, mostly by train. Mrs. Alexander, of whom our library is named, visited the fair and reported back to the Democrat newspaper. She arrived by the Big Four Railroad and found Chicago to be a beautiful city with an elegance of architecture. She was complementary of the streets, parks, avenues, and boulevards as they were clean and shady. She went to the fair, attended many exhibits, saying that the buildings were superb and with so many things to see, study and admire it would have taken weeks to understand each and every exhibit. She found the Moorish buildings, Japanese tea gardens, and the Turkish, Algerian, and Persian displays very interesting. She also visited exhibits from France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Russia, England, Belgium, and Mexico. She admired the Venetian glass and mosaic works as well as sculptures, statuary and paintings of fine art. She saw gems from India, diamonds from the Cape Colony, Gold from Australia; there were logs from Washington state and Canada; plants from the sunny tropics and from the frozen tundra. The United States state exhibits including grains and animals like Rocky Mountain Elk, numerous birds and fish, a Washington black bear, and skeletons from prehistoric beasts. "So many things to admire," she wrote. She loved the lake shore and the "music of foaming waters hitting the shore line and white vessels in the lake, and multitudes of people in crowded cars and streets, " all speaking of affluence and grandeur of the magnificent queen of the north." The grounds of the fair had a full corps of physicians and nurses. The crowds were well dressed which gave the spectacle, "an agreeable feature." She drove by Mayor Nichol's residence on Ashland Avenue, a large old fashioned stone building, surrounded by lofty trees and lovely grounds. "I saw buildings on elevated roads, buildings eighty feet wide, seventy five feet deep, and three and a half stories tall." She visited the Hay Market, and the historical Fort Dearborn, which recalls the massacre of 1812. Drawbridges pulled back and large four mast schooners go sailing down the streams. She saw the elegant residences of Chicago's millionaires which to her must be like the "old stone castles on the Rhine." She saw the reaper manufacturer, McCormick and drove through Lincoln Park seeing the statues of Lincoln and Grant. Finally, she added that "there is a collection of experts in Chicago who could pick the pockets of a billiard table. Have your pocketbook riveted to the strongest part of your trousers and fasten it with a padlock."
Look Out....Runaway!!!.....May 1893
A team of horses belonging to D.C. Lawrence hitched to an express wagon ran off, and trying to check them, Charles Drury, the driver, unfortunately broke the line. The horses turned the corner of Second and Store (College) Street and Drury jumped from the wagon. The horses kept on up Second and turned down Canal running straight into the Ohio River. The two horses were saved with great difficulty by Chas. Miller who had a skiff nearby; otherwise they would have drowned.
Example of Racist Funeral Notice.....May 4, 1893
?Sammy Paine, better known as Sam Pudding, died at his residence aged around 80 years. Uncle Sammy was formally a slave, and has been a resident of this city since the close of the war. He was a member of the Catholic Church, and a believer in voodooism and said when a young man, a snake about four feet in length was taken from his leg. For the past ten or twelve years he could be seen almost daily upon Main Street picking up the cigars that were swept out of the saloons. These he would take home, dry them, and smoke them in his pipe which was his constant companion.
George Is At It Again.....May 1893
On May 11th, George (I'll leave his last name out) was brought before Squire Jones on the charge of intoxication pled guilty and was fined $2 and cost and failing to give bond was sent to jail. Three days later he was again brought before the 'Squire and charged with stealing a mare from Jas Monroe. He pled not guilty in his defense and was bound over in the sum of $300 to await action by the grand jury. On failure to give bond he was returned to jail by officer Quick, who remarked that the 'Squire was very reasonable with him. "Yes," replied George. "I would like to crack his old head, he is just like you. He has it in for me." If George is convicted it will be his sixth term, and Quick has the honor of making each and every arrest.
OD'd on Weed.....May 1893
The family of Wm. Orth, consisting of self, wife, and three children, living near West Franklin, were poisoned by drinking coffee which had been ground in a mill previously used for grinding Jimson weed seed. Dr. Heusler was sent for immediately, who rendered them aid, and of last accounts was doing well. Mr. Orth had a sick horse, and had used the coffee mill in the early afternoon, but neglected to inform his wife of this fact, which almost proved fatal for the entire family.
Town Cryer, Or Something Like That.....May 1893
That Charley Glass must have been the best night watchman Mt. Vernon ever had. He was known to alert the fire department of fires and the police of crime. On this occasion, on a Saturday morning he had calls to wake ten families who desired to go to Evansville on the steamer Hopkins which arrived at our wharf at 3:30 a.m. He had but one half hour to do the work, but he got there all the same. Charley is a regular "nighthawk, and can never be found asleep while on duty." The families traveled to Evansville to attend the Damrosh concert and they returned on the same boat and spoke in the highest terms of the concert and the attention given them of Hopkins officers.
Happy Fred.....March 1893
?"The most fashionable standard bred horse in Southern Indiana will make a short season to a limited number of approved mares. Season closes May 15th. For pedigree and particulars call Al Bryant, Mt. Vernon, Indiana."
Furniture Pioneers....Alles Brothers in Mt. Vernon since 1893
The business was started by John Alles in Jasper, Indiana which was his sole ownership until he died in 1906. That store was operated in conjunction with a sawmill for a while after by two brothers Jacob and Joseph. Jacob wanted to make furniture so he constructed a building in Jasper and made walnut beds. He sold these beds for 50 cents apiece! On a business trip to Texas, Jacob wrote home that everyone wanted a covered desk so he came up with the idea of a roll-top desk and he started a factory. That business was eventually bought out. In the meantime, a third son, Adam Alles, a music teacher, came to Mt. Vernon to teach in the Catholic school. Jacob, of Jasper came to visit his brother in Mt. Vernon and noticed the E.B. Schenk hardware store was up for sale, so Jacob bought the furniture department of the store. This was the store many of us remember in the 1960's as The Dollar Store. So up from New Orleans, brother Joseph comes with his new bride to run the store. Another store was started in Henderson, Kentucky. Confused? Well the genealogy of the family goes to Louis Alles the son of Joseph and from Louis A. to Louis B.Alles who run the store as we knew it on West Second Street in the old Masonic Temple.
I have read several articles where there were demonstrations of products at Alles like stoves and phonographs. For instance, in 1917 I came across one for sewing machines. The Western Star reported that traffic was almost impossible in front of the store as the building was packed watching a demonstration of the wonderful Free Sewing machine. Mr. Alles said it could do everything the Singer model could do. A lady demonstrator was present to convince the large crowd of the wonderful things that could be made on this particular machine, while several salesmen were busy taking orders.
Child Sick ? Visit Dr. Sugg or.....1893
Dr. H.H. Sugg was a prominent doctor in Mt. Vernon at that time and he advertised liberaly with a specialty in diseases of children. He had an office at 3rd and Main, and his residence was on the corner of 3rd and Canal. I hope he wasn't giving those children that Carter's Little Liver Pills. They sounded good with their claims of gentle action, pure vegetable, and great for the bowels....then there were those electric bitters...tonics that treated "all measures of the stomach." hmmn, I don't know, Small pill, small dose, small price...most likely FAT chance!
The summer kitchen in the rear of the Pfeifer residence on Upper Second Street, was discovered and put out by citizens before the fire department made the five blocks to it in 27 minutes. "The old mule and Texas pony that are used for drawing the four ton reel should be given a rest and turned out to pasture."
"Well Done My Good and Faithful Servant".....1893
Charley Glass, our night watchman, was presented a handsome silver police badge by Ike Rosenbaum for valuable service rendered in our late Main Street fire. Mr. Glass is an efficient officer, but we are sorry to say does not receive the financial encouragement he is entitled to. "Our business men should follow the example of Mr. Rosenbaum, and by so assist a worthy and industrious young man."
Vice President Stevenson Passes Through Mt. Vernon.....1893
Adlai Stevenson passed through our city at 2:06 A.M. on the L&N train enroute to his home in Bloomington, Illinois. Stevenson was a democrat and as a young man truly disliked Abraham Lincoln. He was a believer in the "spoils system" firing republicans from jobs as often as he could and replacing them with democrats. He became the 23rd Vice President in United States history of the second term of Grover Cleveland.
A man passing Myer Rosenbaum's store on Second Street, Saturday night, robbed his 'dummy' of a coat and vest. Mr. McFaddin, one of the clerks, detected the thief and gave chase, following him to the corner of Third and Store streets, where the thief dropped the clothing and escaped into the darkness.
He Looks Good In Stripes.....1893
Poor George, who has already served four or five terms in the penitentiaries of Indiana and Illinois, is again behind bars in Mt. Vernon with "a bright prospect of making another trip," charged with stealing a horse from Mr. Monroe. He got out just two years ago and since his return has served most of his time in our jail on various petty charges. "In order to save cost, we would suggest that he take out a life membership, and stop the installment plan."
"It's Me, It's Me, It's Earnest T".....1893
The Poseyville News reported an episode that sounds like it is right out of Mayberry. A weird character had been dodging officials for weeks for petty crimes. The deputy sheriff of Mt. Vernon and the Marshall of Poseyville got into a foot race with the slippery fellow who would dip and dodge and sprint the officers until they were winded, he would then stop and laugh and tip his hat at them and wait for them to catch their breath to chase him again. The downcast officers returned to their respective towns about dark....downcast without their prisoner.
Born in 1855, Old Fly was reared on a farm of George Barrett near Stewartsville in Robb Township. She was enlisted in the First Indiana Calvary in June of 1861. Fly was in the battles of Fredrickstown, Round Hill, Helena Arkansas, Oakland Mississippi, Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Mt. Elba, and Mark Hill. She was in the Army 3 years and mustered out in Indianapolis in September of 1864. She died in 1893 at age 37 and 10 months.
Dairies Merge......November 1892
Sam Rowe purchased Mr. Scott Woody's dairy consisting of wagons, horses, and twenty cows. Mr. Rowe now is the oldest dairy in the city and has three wagons and over fifty cows. Because of the merger he will be more enabled to supply his large increasing trade.
Revenge For Letter to Editor?.....July 28, 1892
Louis Drury, a black citizen of Mt. Vernon wrote the following letter to the Mt. Vernon Democrat and is posted here the way it was printed: "Having found out that the Republican party is no friend of the colored man, and cares nothing about the colored man only for his vote, I have ceased to be a political slave no longer and have joined the party of the people. The Republican Party has abused and threatened the colored man and just a little too much, and when the offices are passed around they all give out just before they reach the (N-word), even though they could not carry a state without the black man. The only way the colored people will ever be recognized is to divide their vote. We can't live on promises, and I for one am for the glorious statesman, Grover Cleveland." Yours truly, Louis Drury. The next day Mr. Drury was fined $1 and costs by Squire Meshane for harboring an unregistered dog. Hmm.
"Don't Throw Your Bat!".....April 1892
While playing baseball at the Commons, Sunday morning, a bat held by George Wilson slipped from his hands and knocked Otto Leffel down inflicting a severe scalp wound four inches in length. Dr. Ramsey Servel sewed up the wound and Otto is back in action.
Labor Troubles.....Winter of 1892
The coopers of Mt. Vernon, about 60 in number, went on strike. Trouble arose when two "scabs" were hired in the shops of Moeller & Sons who decided to now go with non-union coopers in the future. A free-for-all resulted on West Second Street and ten coopers were arrested.
Crime and Punishment.....1891
Silas J. Raleigh, who was sent to jail for thirty days and fined $10 for stealing a lot of coon skins from Robert Short, was taken out of jail by street commissioner Large for the purpose of working the streets. Raleigh refuses to work, and says he would rather die than be caught cleaning the streets of Mt. Vernon. The street commissioner brings him out, however, and with ball and chain fastened to his leg, he can be seen watching the others at work while he leans against some fence or building, shivering as though he has a severe chill in the February cold. He is very thinly clad and one citizen gave him a heavy overcoat, but the officer compelled him to return the coat and he still continues to freeze rather than work
Mr. Knowles of Terre Haute, who is the State Veterinarian, arrived in Mt. Vernon and ordered the sales stable of James Bluff, quarantined on account of glanders. Of the twenty-four head of horses and mules now in the stable, he says nine are suffering with the disease. Mr. Bluff had previously moved two to a stable in Black's Grove, and upon an examination, they were killed by Mr. Knowles, who also shot two mules, similarly afflicted, belonging to George Vaubel. Every precaution is now taken to prevent the spread of this terrible disease. Mr. Knowles left for home but will return in three days with a committee, who will make a thorough examination, and should the disease prove to be glanders, all of Mr. Bluff's stock will be appraised and killed by the officers. Mr. Bluff says he lost eight or ten head of mules this winter, but supposed their death was caused from lung-fever, a disease which his stock had nearly every winter.
Old Relic Displayed.....May 1890
That year on a trip up the Tennessee River, Captain George Throop of Mt. Vernon was presented with a mold used by a freed slave during the Civil War that was used to make counterfeit half dollars. He then traded them to Union soldiers for ...greenbacks. In 1867 this mold was found in possession of another man employed at the Cumberland iron works in Tennessee. Throop brought it home and it was displayed at the county clerk's office for all to see. So many treasures I have come across reading that are gone who knows where today. A shame we didn't or don't have a museum in the county.
On a Thursday night between 10 and 11 o'clock as William Trainor, agent for the E & T.H. railroad at Poseyville was returning home from the depot and near the school lot he was knocked down and robbed. The instrument used was called a "shotbag." The blow left him unconscious and he was left on the pavement until the next morning when he was discovered around 5:30. Near his body was found the bag filled with No. 8 shot, which in given the blows had burst with shot scattered in all directions. Trainer died from his injuries and a man named Elsey Webb was arrested after seven shots were fired at him attempting to escape.
Matilda Greathouse Alexander Residence.....1890's
On the east side of Main Street between Eighth and Ninth Streets, stood a large brick house belonging to the Alexandrian Free Public Library in the 1960's that was once the home of Mrs. Matilda Greathouse Alexander who founded the public library. Originally, the home was a frame shotgun house built by a Mr. Craig in 1853. The two story front was added later and the old part was remolded with brick siding. Mrs. Alexander was an idealist and tried to make her ideas a reality. Besides her interest in literature she wrote several books on poetry and was a special correspondent for the Indianapolis Times. She originated the Mozart Club, a musical society for children. Another one of her creative ideas was a working girl's home which was tried for a time at a frame house on Mill and Sixth Streets. For years Mrs. Alexander lent books from her home then several thousand of her books were donated to form a temporary library at the City Hall. Alexandrian Library was named for this woman who wanted to share her love of books with others. The old building was made possible by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation opening one year after her death in 1905. Her two houses and around 40 acres of farm land were given to the library. The farm land today still is rented out to farmers and is owned by our Mt. Vernon library.
Locals Marvel At Electric Lights.....December 1889
For the first time, electric lights were turned on and the 'territory covered was made almost as light as day.' The streets remained crowded to a late hour as men, women, and children came down to rejoice in town pride as Mt. Vernon put on "metropolitan airs."
Relic of New Harmony Found.....December 1889
Just north of the rear part of the residence of John Corbin was found a wide mouth crock about 10 inches in diameter and used by the early Rappites. The relic was a perfect specimen of old Rappite pottery, handmade and buried there without a crack or flaw after its interment of over 90 years. It was buried close to the foot of the great oak tree under which Rapp and his followers spent their first night at that place known as the "Old German Oak" as long as it has survived. The jar was in an upright position about 18 inches below the surface. It was thought that the jar was used as a hiding place for some valuables, perhaps coins; perhaps upon the departure of the Rappites in 1825 the contents were removed and the jar was left undisturbed. According to the New Harmony Register at that time the jar had been found accidentally by the use of a step ladder nearby which loosened the soil and the decay of old tree roots.
Extreme Measures Used For Healing....November 1889
?"Pack" McGregor, fasted for 46 days with hopes of eventually curing his paralysis. He is slowly regaining his strength. No record of it being successful. Maybe, Chinese laundryman Sue Lee should have tried it to cure his bout with illness. He became so distraught that he cut off his cue, and said he was now more than determined to be an American citizen.
"License? We Don't Need No Stinking License!".....November 1889
Three men by the names of Anderson, Slater and Hunt were out killing quail without hunting licenses. The game warden, Mr. Mauck and his deputy, Ed Bringmeyer came upon them. The men would not stop and the warden fired purposely a wild shot, but that did not frighten Anderson who raised his gun to his shoulder when Mauck fired a second volley hitting him in the arm and side inflicting a flesh wound. The men were brought to town and Anderson was given attention and then they were put into custody.
Three prisoners, Wm. Nelson, Joe Edwards, and Harry Holland broke out of the Mt. Vernon jail, by breaking out two bars in the main corridor, which admitted them into the basement, after which they had no trouble in making their escape. The jailor, Mr. Ruminer thought all his prisoners were safely confined in their cells, but that was not the case. At six o' clock when he sent the prisoners to their cell, the three who made their escape hid in the bathroom, and their confederates reported them all safely confined. Nelson was confined for disturbing a public meeting, Edwards for forgery, and Holland for grand larceny. A reward of $25 was offered for Edwards and Holland.
Several farmers living near Upton Station were "humbugged" by a slick citizen who claimed to be an Israelite and a harness maker by trade. Finding no one at home but the lady of the house, he would show her a pair of pillow-shams, and inform her, amid sobs, they were the last pair made by his wife, who had died a short time ago. No money could induce him to part with them, but as he had a family of children, and his house rent was due, he would sell them for $6.50 (actual worth $1.25). Where he met a lady that had but $4.00 or $5.00 in the house, he would accept that amount, and politely request her to leave the balance with Mr. Chas Schutz, in Mt. Vernon, where he had been promised a situation, and would commence working at his shop in a couple of weeks. Upon inquiry it was ascertained that Mr. Schultz knew nothing of the man, and one of the farmers whose wife was duped, followed the scoundrel to Farmersville, where, upon examining the buggy, found a trunk full of pillow-shams. The farmer received his money back and the broken hearted Israelite left for Poseyville to relate his tale of woe to other poor suckers.
Teacher Held For Questioning.....April 25, 1889
Charles W. Jones, a Posey County school teacher was held at police headquarters on the charge of having knocked a pupil's eye out while chastising him in school.
Unusual Clocks On Display.....March 1889
A clock carved from a pen-knife, a "monster structure" presenting a review of America's history from the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the emancipation of the slave was exhibited for a few days in Mt. Vernon. There was also exhibited a model of the Strasburg clock. I wonder if General Hovey viewed the clocks as he came by train to Mt. Vernon to spend a few days and was met at the depot by a committee of soldiers, members of the local G.A.R.?
Second Street is in such a condition that the hacks are compelled to go through the alleys in order to reach the E.&T.H. depot. How much longer this condition is to exist remains with the new council to be elected in May.
Not Exactly The Sea of Galilee but,.....1889
Seven men were baptized in the cold Ohio in the "name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" at the foot of Store Street, Sunday morning. The conversion was being witnessed by a large number of citizens who happened to be on the wharf at that time.
Purchases and Possible Purchases.....1889
At the meeting of the Citizen's association Nick Joest, John C. Leffel and Dr. Elwood Smith were appointed a committee to ascertain the probable cost of establishing a fair ground near the city. Also, the county commissioners in March purchased thirty acres of land from Milton Black for the purposed of erecting a poor infirmary thereon. Work upon the building will be commenced early in the spring, and one that will be a credit to the county.
Straw and Blade Not Included - Dentistry.....1889
Can you imagine what pain it must have been to have teeth removed back in the 1800's? I mean in the movies if you got a bullet in the arm they would burn a knife in the fire, tie a tourniquet, give you a bottle of whiskey and have you bite on a stick! damn! Well, Mr. Ellwood Smith in Mt. Vernon who had an office downtown would administer nitrous oxide or laughing gas to you for pain. I bet most took that cocaine he was offering instead.
Terrible Holiday Accident.....December 27, 1888
A local ten year old boy was horribly mangled by an explosion of a toy cannon Christmas day. Both hands and arms had to be amputated, one eye was lost and the other damaged in the incident.
Child Injured in Auto Accident.....1888
On All Saint's Day, Grace Weir, an 8 year old daughter of Mr. David Weir, accompanied by her 6 year old sister, and another little girl walked to the Catholic cemetery and on their return were overtaken by an auto driven by a lady of Mt. Vernon and two other women. The ladies seeing the little children in the road slowed up, and calling to the children wanted to give them some nuts and candles. Two of the children ran to the side of the car for their presents, while Grace ran in front, and the lantern of the car struck her forehead and knocked her down. The car then passed over her body. The driver thought she had killed the little girl and ran back and picked her up and placed her in their car and took her to Dr. Whiting where it was found that her forehead had been badly cut and she suffered a concussion of the brain and was unconscious for over an hour. Remarkably, no other severe injuries occurred. The driver was so sorry for the incident that she told the doctor to send her the bill and when the child was recovering nicely, she drove over to see her and presented her with a bouquet of flowers to cheer her up while she was confined to her bed.
New Flag Pole in Town.....August 1888
A Grover Cleveland and Alan Thurman Democratic ticket flag pole, 150 feet high was erected on the south side of the Second Street fill, near Tente's Grocery. This pole was erected by the young democrats of the western part of the city, and the large rooster, with head and tail erect can be seen all over the city. Commodore "Husky" Thomas and Dick Tente will attend to the hoisting and lowering of the flag daily. A note: Twenty five years later in 1913 the large flag that adorned this pole was still in possession of the Tente family.
Notable Son Visits Mt. Vernon.....May 17, 1888
General Thomas G. Pitcher of the U.S. Army and future superintendent at West Point was in town visiting his father, Judge John Pitcher and family. John of course is known for living a full life into his nineties and his one of the most prominent people buried at North cemetery. Recently, the lane leading up to the cemetery was named in his honor, the man who loaned the first law books to Abraham Lincoln and attended his inauguration. He lived on Store Street now called College Avenue.
Somebody Catch This Punk!!.....May 1888
A one hundred dollar reward was offered for the conviction of the person who placed pulverized glass in the feed box in the stable of John F. Colton, which caused the death of two fine buggy horses.
Veteran Undefeated Fighter.....March 29, 1888
Silverhorn, the noted game rooster belonging to Gus Schieber of Mt. Vernon has fought more than fifty battles and so far has never been defeated. "Cock a doodle do"
"I'm On The Highway To Hell".....1888
Al Smith, a drayman was hauling a barrel half-filled with gasoline through the alley from Second to Fourth, between Main and Store Streets, and before taking it off his dray the gasoline had escaped from the barrel, flowing freely from one end of the alley to the other. Along comes Billy Topper, the driver of the Adams Express Company and he touched a match to the escaping fluid and in an instant the whole alley went up in blaze. As a result Leunig's stable and out building in the rear of the Clark's Jewelry store were badly damaged.
Weather Observer Looks back to 1834
John Lockwood in the spring of 1888 recalled a killing frost in Posey County in April of 1834 that cut off all the fruit and killing much of the peach and black oak trees that had been almost in full leaf. The damage was heavy and "the woods smelled bad."
School Notes From 1888
During the month of November there were 19 cases of corporal punishment handed out to those who misbehaved of the 982 students enrolled in Mt. Vernon schools. No breakdowns on spankings, eraser throwing, or ruler hand slaps. Percentage of attendance for the month was 87% and there were 30 cases of tardiness.
The Mayor of Mt. Vernon had a salary of $450 per year in 1888 the same as the city treasurer.
"Take This Job and Shove It".....July 3, 1884
Mt. Vernon is again without a nightwatchman, as John Schneider "through in the sponge" in disgust. Maybe, he will want to take the janitor's job of Johnny Doyle over at the court house who found a "stiff" suspended by a rope in the dome when he went to work Monday morning.
"You Give Love A Bad Name".....May 1884
Tom Lewis quarreled with Patience Buckner on the Crunk farm and struck her on the head with a jug of vinegar. Although seriously injured, she was thought to recover. Tom decided to skip town.
In February, the governor of Indiana, Albert Porter visited Mt. Vernon on a relief boat, "The City of Frankfurt," at the wharf to inspect Posey County flood and storm damage. The state contributed $11,000 to aid local flood victims. In June, the business district of Mt. Vernon began taking on a completely different look after the great fire of 1880. Many new and taller brick buildings on Main Street, between Second and Fourth Streets have replaced the former one story shops. Main Street has been transformed by an application of crushed rock. In August, tempers flare as local elections near. One incumbent judge called his opponent as belonging to that "dirty party." In October, the remodeled St. Nicholas Hotel on the corner of Main and Third Street reopens. Everything was looking good, and blue grass will be sown on the court house square come next April.
"If You Want It, Here It Is, Come and Get It.".....October 1883
?"Some stores are advertising goods at ridiculously low prices. What kind are they? Nothing but shoddy trash! They are welcome to sell that kind. I want to sell no junk!".....Myer Rosenbaum. "Old Reliable"
Rabbit Season and Other Flood Items of the Spring of 1883
Wm. Greathouse of Point Township killed 25 rabbits one day. Because of the flood, they were found upon a small strip of land surrounded by water, and his weapons? Brick bats! Three buildings were seen one day drifting down the Ohio River past Mt. Vernon, one of them belonged to Thorton Neale, a farmer located two miles from town. A mile of track of the L&N Railroad between Big Creek and the Wabash River was washed away by the flood waters. Governor Porter and Lt. Governor Hanna and other state notables made a brief stay in Mt. Vernon coming down on the relief steamer Halpin distributing aid for flood sufferers. The Governor commented on our town's future being bright as we were, "High and Dry."
An incendiary fire was discovered in the wagon yard of Raben & Naas at a late hour on Sunday night by Deputy Marshall Garrison, who gave the alarm, but managed to extinguish the fire before aid arrived. An on empty hogs head had been filled with rubbish, saturated with corn oil and set on fire, with the evident intention of burning the stables and other buildings.
Sprechen Sie Deutsch?.....1882
In the school year of 1882 the German language was being taught in every building of our public schools. We had it spoken in church (Trinity for one). We had a German newspaper (Wochenblatt), and we had a large population of German immigrants in our county. It wasn't until the First World War that some people of German ancestry started to use more American or English names and some people's patriotism came into question.
Fourth of July.....1881
On the third of July the L&N Railroad completed the building of their tracks from Evansville to Mt. Vernon and on the following day a monster celebration in commemoration of the event was held at Black's Grove. The railroad in order to complete the laying of the rails to the grove was compelled to work several crews day and night a few days nearing the Fourth. On the morning of the Fourth a special train from Evansville, which consisted of but three coaches and a large number of freight cars, brought a monster crowd to Mt. Vernon. It is estimated by those in attendance at the time, among them long time editor John C. Leffel of the Western Star newspaper that the crowd numbered 5000.
"Train Kept A Rolling".....October 1890
Arriving at the train station a huge fire was built nearby and three hours passed pleasantly telling "whoppers", when at last the long looked for train put in her appearance, but to utter disgust she failed to stop, running right thru St. Phillips at a full clip. The atmosphere of the men turned blue and cuss words were not enough to describe their feelings. After a while they decided to walk to Caborn, a distance of six miles and catch the westbound freight train that stops at that place at 7:30 a.m. After a two hour walk the men arrived at Caborn with not a dry piece of clothing among them. A heavy downpour had begun fifteen minutes after they left the station in St. Phillips. After a little while the freight train was sighted, but like the early express, she flew by the station and so they had to walk back home another six miles. A suit was brought against the dispatcher of the L&N railroad for $5000 each for carelessness and a compromise was agreed on. Twenty-five years later it was reported that none of the gang present that memorable night ever received a penny from the railroad for hardships endured.
Caborn Station Picnic.....October 1880
Now this was a successful picnic it seems with four long but interesting speeches. Politics was big time back "in the day" at these type of gatherings. One of the speakers gave his address in both English and German. It was noted that 91 Marrs Township club members attended all dressed in uniform and on horseback. The Mt. Vernon Brass Band was there as well as our glee club. Evansville sent it's Schmidt's Silver Band and forty wagon loads of people piled out and had a great time by all indications. Political poles were erected all over the county, one of which was 165 feet tall in St. Wendal. The long winded politicians were into the stretch drive and their addresses were sometimes met with applause and sometimes with hisses, depending on your bent.
McGuffey's Revised Reader.....1880
These went on sale at the local Western Star newspaper office and they were the only lawful readers to be used in our schools certified by the Posey County Board of Education. I have one of these the Sixth Eclectic Reader and it is full of names of people who had used it over the years. Many of the names are from other towns like New Albany but several say Mt. Vernon like Meifs Bullard. There is even a nice note on the back inside cover in pencil that reads, "True friendship is a sacred tie that kind hearts unites a churning flame that are the same and burns no heart but brightens the golden chain of iron strength a tie not easy given and when departs kindred hearts of angels weep in heaven." The book is very advanced, like nothing I ever studied. There are principles of elocution including articulation, inflections, accent and emphasis, gestures, etc. There are 184 lessons in prose and 186 in poetry. There's Patrick Henry, Dickens, The Bible, Sir Walter Scott, Shakespeare, Blackstone, Wilde, Daniel Webster, Whittier, Milton, Longfellow, Bryant, Cooper, Franklin and a host of others. I pick it up every once in a great while and read a story.
The Evils of War from the McGuffy Reader.....1880
Before I am accused of reading from some Communist Manifesto, this comes from a reader from our school system over 130 years ago. "Nobody sees a battle. The common soldier fires away amid a smoke mist, or hurries on to the charge in a crowd, which hides everything from him. The officer is too anxious about the performance of what he is especially charged with, to mind what others are doing. The commander cannot be present everywhere, and see every wood, water course or ravine in which his orders are carried into execution. Over miles of country, at every field fence, in every gorge of a valley, or entry into wood, there is murder committing-wholesale, continuous, reciprocal murder. The human form, God's image is mutilated, deformed, lacerated, in every possible way, and with every variety of torture. The wounded are jolted off in carts to the rear, their bared nerves crushed into maddening pain at every stone or rut, or the fight and pursuit trample over them, leaving them to writhe and groan, without assistance; and fever and thirst, the most enduring of painful sensations, possess them entirely. Thirst too, has seized upon the able bodied soldier, who with blood shot eyes and tongue lolling out, plies his trade, blaspheming; killing, with savage delight; callous, when the brains of his best loved comrade are splattered over him! The poor, the aged, the sick are left in a hurry, to be killed by stray shots or beaten down as the charge or counter charge goes over them. The ripening grain is trampled down; the garden is trodden into a black mud; the fruit trees, bending beneath their luscious load, are shattered by cannon shot; churches and private dwellings are used for fortresses, and ruined by conflict, barns and granaries take fire, and the conflagration spreads on all sides. The surviving soldiers march on, to set the same scene again, elsewhere. The scattered inhabitants return, to find the mangled bodies of those they have loved, amid the blackened ruins of their homes; to morn, with more agonizing grief, over the missing children. There is desolate fields and famine and pestilence, engendered by the rotting bodies of the half buried. The soldier marches on and on, inflicting and suffering as before. War is a continuance of battles, an epidemic striding from place to place, more horrible than the typhus, pestilence, or cholera, which not infrequently follow in its train. This is the scene of war."
Girls Gone Wild.....1880
Troubles are plenty in our little boom town as the temperatures hit the nineties. Passions are hot and tempers are short. Even construction workers and bricklayers are at each other's throats as the new city buildings rise. The saloon fights spilled out into the riverfront, concealed weapons are being confiscated and break-ins are numerous. Then we have our young girls! What's with them? They have been observed staying out after dark and some even throwing love letters at men passing by on the railroad. This behavior is dangerous! "The mothers of tomorrow desperately need to take another look at their honorable grandmothers." The newspaper mentioned some of these grandmothers. Guess what they were doing? Making garments from corn sacks....corn sacks! I know times are hard, but corn sacks? I don't think that would appeal to the young women of the new fast pace ultra-modern 1880's.
Rappite Building Burns.....1880
Fire destroyed one of the oldest buildings in New Harmony. The Vietz house, a brick structure was built by the Rappites and was occupied by the Neal Frank family at the time of the fire. It was owned by C.A. Parks of Mt. Vernon and the loss was partially covered by insurance.
Gobble, Gobble, Gobble....1880
An outbreak of potato beetles has infested the fields of Posey County and the editor of the German Mt. Vernon paper, "The Wochenblatt, " suggested letting loose a few turkeys into the fields as the would quickly devour the bugs.
Fourth of July.....1879
A picnic was given at Jeffries School House Grove, two miles west of Mt. Vernon. "A first class band was in attendance for those that wished to dance." Refreshments were on the grounds, but no intoxicating liquors were allowed. Another picnic was held at Black's Grove for the benefit of St. Matthews School. No report on how much gun powder was shot off.
Our Temperance Friends Are At It Again.....May 1879
On a usual Sunday morning there were religious services at Miller's Church, conducted by the Rev. Charles of Mt. Vernon. In the afternoon, at the same place, a grand temperance rally was held, about 1000 persons being in attendance, and three good speakers addressed the meeting. "It was a pleasant affair and much interest was manifested." On the same day in Farmersville, a very successful meeting was also held, about three or four hundred persons being present. Five speakers made excellent addresses. Mr. J.C. Clark, presented the clubs of both places with a fine pledge roll, being beautifully framed and printed in golden letters.
The Death of Nathan Frank.....1879
The disappearance and finding of the body of Nathan Frank was reported in area newspapers as another example of lawlessness in Mt. Vernon. Again Mt. Vernon was put into a very ugly position of defending itself. Editor Sparks of the Democrat said it was wrong to believe that a respectable person could not walk our streets at night. "It is true that only a short time ago the citizens of this community took the law into their own hands and avenged the murder of one of her more respected citizens, and an outrage upon of number of white women (prostitutes) by four Negro desperadoes. While we are not encouraging mob law, we feel justified in saying that the hanging of those Negroes was one of the things necessary for the future welfare of the community." Now that's a pretty hateful racist statement wouldn't you think? Sparks went on to say in regards to Mr. Frank that he was of the candid opinion that he accidently fell into the river and was drowned. He said he had a good look at the body when it was taken out of the water, and he said there was no outward evidence of any violence whatever. He felt that he couldn't understand how the man could have been knocked in the head with leaving a mark that could clearly be seen. Frank's watch was missing, but the editor scoffed at that saying there was a plausible explanation. "He wore his watch in the watch pocket of his trousers, with the chain fastened in the lower button hole of his vest. Now, in moving along by the current he said, the watch chain must have caught on something, and the weight of the body would have been sufficient to pull loose and leave the watch and chain where it caught.. His money being silver could have easily rolled out of his pocket while in the river. Sparks said the coroner made a great mistake in allowing the body to be removed from the city without a medical examination. The coroner admitted it was murder without providing evidence of foul play. What has been written elsewhere, Editor Sparks took exception to and he was of the opinion that the matter should be put to rest and not discredit the people of our city.
Yes we have had a rash of burglaries recently. Is it a new thing? Not hardly. No matter what decade or what century I read about we had people thieving, pilfering, or stealing. Back then it was probably worse. We had everybody and his neighbor it seems "packing." We had lynch mobs and horse napping. In one day in 1879 we had chicken thieves wiping out whole blocks of poultry, we had a complete harvest of wheat taken out of a barn and a complete grove of walnut trees felled and floated down river without the owner having knowledge of it. The "Good Ole Days," may not have ever existed for everyone.
Posey County Reaches its Limit On Crazies.....1879
A local doctor was out making a "house call"...remember those? When he returned he found his wife being accosted in an offensive manner. The doc took the man by the collar and turned him over to the sheriff. That new jail is starting to fill up it seems. At the trial it was determined that the man was a 'lunatic'. Posey County had already reached its allotment on demented inmates so it took a special action of the Indiana Legislature to get this man institutionalized at the asylum in Indianapolis.
Grand Gala Day In Evansville.....July 4, 1878
The Fourth of July celebration at Evansville was "one of the grandest affairs ever witnessed in the West." A large number of statesman were present including Governors, Senators, and members of the Cabinet it was reported. A week before the event 30,000 tickets had been sold by the Odd Fellow's Hall Association. In Mt. Vernon two ball were held for Independence Day, one for adults and one for children on the fifth.
This commencement program, printed by the Democrat in May of 1878 has just recently came to the library in a gift from the family of the late 19th century doctor, Charles Spencer. This was the fifth graduating class in Mt. Vernon High School history. According to my records 18 students graduated. That is unusual, because the next two years none would graduate. The commencement was held at the new courthouse over two nights. The program had musical solos, duets, trios, quartettes, lectures, illustrations, essays, and orations. One of the essays was, "Republican Manners"...Bet that was good! hahaha. Finally, the valedictorian said his words and the presentation of diplomas made by the Superintendent of Schools leaving only the benediction to end the impressive ceremony.
Posey County Jail.....1878
This jail was completed in 1878 at a cost of $17,700. The jail was also the sheriff's residence. The front residence was built of brick and the prison was made of heavy limestone with a roof of iron and slate. It had fourteen cells, separated into five wards. The doors were made of grated prison iron with May lever locks. This jail replaced an earlier one built in 1855 that had four cells.
"There Is A House in...".....August 9, 1877
A house of ill fame has been opened in the very heart of the city, Store Street between 3rd, and 4th. "If there is no law for the abatement of the nuisance it is more likely that the citizens of that favored neighborhood "WILL FIND" a law that will effectually rid the city of the nuisance.
"You Can't Always Get What You Want".....June 1877
A Swiss gentleman named Kommenzink living five miles below Mt. Vernon, sent his wife, who is partially demented, and his daughter, age fourteen up the road to the Barney Phillips place after cabbage plants. After picking up the plants, on their return home the mother and daughter were overtaken by three inebriated men, on horseback, who began to mistreat them. One of the men dismounted and as he approached the women one remarked that he "liked the looks of that woman," meaning the mother, upon which the 'old lady' got frightened and sprang over the fence into Gilbert Templeton's wheat field followed by her daughter. The men then rode on leaving the women hiding in the field the entire night.
Great European Zoological Museum and Circus In New Harmony.....1877
The Grand parade came through New Harmony on September 14, 1877 led by the Golden Car of Cleopatra, followed by a Bavarian band, a drove of elephants, camels and dromedaries dressed in rich purple housings. There was a beautiful young lady representing Lady Liberty and at her feet were Brazilian tigers. The show had Moriacha the tamer of lions and tigers, Tashee, the African bush boy snake charmer, and there were all kinds of miniature Shetland ponies pulling carts and chariots. There were 32 cages of exotic beasts and birds all beautifully decorated with scriptural paintings with flags of all nations mounted on top. There was a double horned rhinoceros, seas lions, polar bear, an ostrich, a white yak, Rocky Mountain Moose, water buffalo, and a multitude of tigers and lions.
New Harmony Tells MV, "Back Off!".....1877
The Mt. Vernon German paper, The Wochenblatt, wanted the Fair Grounds located near or at Mt. Vernon because it said, "New Harmony is isolated and has no communication from the outside world!" The New Harmony Register took exception. "How absurd!" They committed that the grounds had 6000 to 8000 visitors each day from all points of Posey as well as from Edwards, White, and Gallatin counties in Illinois; Henderson and other places in Kentucky; Vanderburgh, Warrick, Knox, Gibson and others from Indiana and that New Harmony is THE place for the Posey County Fair as it has been for the last 19 years!
Summer of 1877
The alleys of Mt. Vernon are in a dreadful condition. "Where is our civic pride and where is the Sanitary Board? * Twenty-five witnesses the weighing of Nels. Goldsmiths 121 pound catfish he caught in Hovey Lake. * City Council authorizes Raish Weaker to paint small tin sings of names of our streets and place them on the corners. * The Historical Sketch of Posey County prepared by General Alvin Hovey has been printed and is for sale at the Western Star paper office for 25 cents. * Two infant baseball clubs are organized in town. * Our Captain Jim Hobbs, a tame Indian, lectured at the Masonic Hall and his lecture was as about as tame as he is. *Western Star comments on national news of General Howard and a force of 400, three howitzers, and a Gatling gun attacking Chief Joseph and 300 Nez Perces Indians in Idaho. After a seven hour battle eleven men from our side were killed and 24 wounded. The "savages" lost a large number of their "hostiles." * In July a rousing temperance meeting was held at the Masonic Hall. * The extremely filthy condition of the county jail was mentioned as a disgraceful institution with torpid cesspools of creepy vermin and that it was a "lonesome den and a shame and scandal upon us all." * A bathroom was added to Geo. Henrich's shaving saloon. "It is much needed, and should be well patronized."
The wheezy notes of a hand organ were heard on our streets one weekend and all the juveniles at play were happy. The performing monkey did many little feats that brought forth long loud and enthusiastic applause. While performing at the corner of Main and Fourth Streets he made a spring and lighting on the head of a child he relieved him of a considerable quantity of hair, which the monkey "exhibited with as much pride as a Comanche would with the scalp lock of a border trapper."
Mt. Vernon Papers On Little Big Horn.....July and August 1876
News accuracy was not always just that especially when news of the battlefield took weeks to be published. On July 20, 1876 it was reported that agency Indians along the upper Missouri had received an account of Custer's fight through some hostile Indians who took part in it, and they say Custer shot three Indians with his pistol, and killed three others with his saber, when he fell, shot through the head by Rain-In-The-Face, a Chief whom Custer had forcibly arrested some time ago for murder. The Indians were said to have lost 70 men, many noted chiefs. The fight was hand to hand. The Indians said they did not fear the pistols as much as the sabers. They are nearly out of ammunition, and will not fight again until resupplied. The bodies of the slain were treated in the most barbaric manner, sources said. Rain-In-The-Face is said to have cut out the heart from Custer's dead body, put it on a pole, and a grand war dance was held around it. The victorious Sioux are dressed in Custer's men's clothing and mounted on their horses. In August, it was reported that Sitting Bull did not himself participate in the fight. Crazy Horse and Black Moon were the principal chiefs engaged. They claimed to have killed 300 white men and captured some 600 stand of arms besides large lines of horses and immense qualities of ammunition. On August 24th, the Connecticut Peace Society resolved that Gen. Custer's death was a just retribution for the slaughter of friendly Indians, and the army should be withdrawn from Indian Country.
Western Star Article On Our Town.....1876
?Oh the mud, the beautiful mud-----we do not remember the rest, of the poem. If our readers will attempt to get from the public square to the church any dark night, they will appreciate the sentiments of the poet. How about the walk to the school house? We see the scholars and teachers wading through the mud back and forth, four times a day; wet feet, soiled clothes, etc. Let's have a walk to the school house by all means. Who will take the lead? Well I guess, we can at least in town today take a walk even for exercise around the beautiful Mt. Vernon Middle School and High School and not get our feet muddy or step in horse droppings. Sometimes when we look backward and then forward we see improvements.
Mt. Vernon Business Firms.....1876
- Dr. John Harper, surgeon and dentist
- Dr. O.T. Schultz, physician and surgeon
- Dr. John Weever, physician and surgeon
- Dr. Richard Moore, physician and surgeon
- Dr. G. Northman, physician and surgeon
- Mrs. John Kisner, midwife
- August Schieber, grocery and saloon
- Wm. Wimpelberg, grocery and oyster depot
- Hartung Grocery
- Charles Loerch, saloon
- John Zimmerman, shoemaker
- Rhein Leukrodth, shoemaker
- Ferdinand Schiela, agent Germania Life Insurance
- Wm. Edson, attorney
- Henry Brinkman, manufacturer of wagons and general blacksmithing
- Mutz & Yunker, grocery and saloon
- C.F. Tente, grocery and saloon
- J.R. Duckworth, proprietor of Duckworth Hotel
- J. Bischoff & Company, grocery and saloon
- Frank Bicker, gunsmith
- Philip Yunker, grocery and saloon
- H. Weisinger, furniture and undertaker
- A.C. Fogas, cigar manufacturer
- E.B. Schenk, well and cistern pumps
- John Pfeffer, Phil Traudt and J.D. Dieterle, flour mills
- H. Freeman and Ike Wolf, meat market
- Rosenbaum & Bros., dry goods and clothing
- J. C. Woody, city foundry
- Karl Schiela, furniture and coffins
- Karl Wasem, First National Saloon
- H. C. Schrader, grocery and saloon
- A.J. Clark, jeweler
- August Neumann, undertaker
- Walter Sullivan, life insurance
- Henry Schnur, Belleville Flour Mills
- Henry Dexheimer, baby carriages and toys
- August Kiefer, shoemaker
- Andrew Wasem, Courthouse Exchange Saloon
- J.P. Holzmeier, shoemaker
- Henry Soechtig, shoemaker
- Philipp Mann, tailor
- Karl Springer, lumber and saw mill
- Max Rosengart, dry goods and groceries
- Charles Weir, druggist
- Milton Black , druggist
Black Votes Thrown Out.....1876
During the disputed Presidential election between Tilden and Hayes, locally 50 "illegal" black votes were thrown out as they poll takers claimed they were from Kentucky. All voted Republican. Mt. Vernon editor did not hide his racism saying the Negroes of Mt. Vernon in 1870 were being instructed in citizenship by a Negro who came all the way from Massachusetts, "Who taught him to read?" He went off on "colored" chaplain of the Louisiana Legislature who he said was recently bewitched by his voodoo. He went on to say the parson had an "irresistible inclination to squeal like a mouse, crow like a rooster, meow like a cat, and bark like a dog at intervals." I guess ole Thomas Collins, Democrat editor had a bunch of aggression to let out. These comments are mild compared to what I could say he printed. If I have whet your appetite to the racial climate of that time I encourage you to load up a post war newspaper on the microfilm reader and see for yourself what African-Americans had to endure.
The First Court House Plans Found and Delivered to New One.....1876
Papers dated January 19, 1815 were found and transferred to the new court house. The first court house was built at a cost of $150! The plan for it were as follows: "Ordered by the court that the following plan be the form of the new courthouse; vis; 26 feet long and 20 feet wide, to be built of logs of handsome size, hued down outside and inside, one story and half high with one door fronting the street and one window right opposite the door of six lights eight by tens; the lower floor to be well laid with good plank or puncheons. The upper floor well laid with plank with a convenient staircase from the lower to the upper one; the house to be well covered with a clapboard roof, the ribs and weight poles well pinned. One chimney is to be handsomely built of wood; the house to be well chunked and daubed. All the timbers of said building to be good lasting wood. All other parts of said building heretofore mentioned to be finished and done in a customary and workmanlike manner."
Fight At The Old Court House.....Pre-1876
Of course the court houses of Posey County have had many legal battles in almost 200 years, but I came across a colorful tidbit from the court room that I found was interesting. Before the present temple of justice was erected in 1876, we had a log court house that sat on the court square. An attorney by the name of J.R. Goodlet attacked Judge Samuel Hall who had replaced him on the bench. You see Goodlet was replaced as circuit judge by the governor because he had a high temper. So, during an argument in court, Goodlet was told to show cause why he should not be held in contempt. The lawyer brooded over the matter and the next day while court was in session he made his attack on Hall. Judge Hall defended himself with a dagger! The sheriff pulled the angry attorney away before any real harm was done and Goodlet was fined $30 and put in the jail to simmer down.
Back then there was not a telephone in Mt. Vernon and only one railroad passed by daily. About the only way of communication was the Western Union which had a small telegraph office in a small room on West Second Street. Of course there was the Western Star newspaper, founded by John C, Leffel. Then it was located in a small frame building on the site of the old Armory building, now Recreation Center. Later, The Star moved to West Second and then later to East Second Street. The equipment then was meager, consisting of a small Washington hand press, a few fonts of type and composing stones. And all the work was done by hand or "mule power" as it was then termed. Eventually, in 1949 the weekly Star consolidated with the Mt. Vernon Republican. What was once published under John Leffel and then his son, Herbert Leffel became under new publishers...Floyd and Doyle Oursler who also owned the Cynthiana Argus. Files of the Western Star became property of the local library and eventually were copied on microfilm.
Early Court House Items.....December 1875
On December 16, 1875 a young man on the public square was dispensing drinks from a package he claimed was taken from the corner stone of the old court house. The judge's chair used in the old building was now being used by the President of the County Commissioners. That month the clerk and Sheriff Wheeler moved into their new offices at the temple of justice. Councilman Hancock suggested that night police be hired to protect the building and others on the downtown district. On the 23rd of December, it was found that the roof around the dome was leaking badly and repairs were ordered. On January 2, 1876, Recorder Hutchinson moved into the court house to his new quarters and a week later Treasurer Naas did likewise. General Alvin Hovey had the honor of opening the court which was imminently proper.
Letter From The Frontier.....November 8, 1875
?"I am a Posey County boy at present in Uncle Sam's service, helping to protect the rights of the Noble Red Man from the Pale face, and the top knot of the pale face from the scalping of the noble reds. It is my desire to keep informed of affairs of old Posey; and I cannot do better than by subscribing for my old friend, The Democrat." Sergeant John Cox, Company K , First Infantry, Ft. Randall D.T. I'm thinking D.T. must mean Dakota Territory.
Points of Interest on Main Street.....late 19th Century
One could go from the river to the old depot and find all sorts of historical tidbits the average Mt. Vernonite probably doesn't know. A few I would mention would be Main Street itself. It was once called Harrison Street for William Henry Harrison, later President who owned at one time much of our city property. It was along this street in 1873 that over one thousand residents fled our city by horse and by rail to escape the cholera epidemic which claimed over 80 lives. Where the Exlyn Company was there was a school and before that a seminary which served as a hospital it is said for the Shiloh wounded of the Civil War. The first brick school house was erected on the corner of Sixth and Main in 1830 and in 1882 was the home of John Lockwood who it is said knew President Lincoln. There was a Standard Oil station on Main back in the fifties on Main that was erected on the site of the home of Enoch James, whose daughter, Juliette, married William Harrow. Harrow was a general in the Civil War and he lived on Mulberry Street. Harrow was accidentally killed while electioneering in the Greeley campaign and was a personal friend of Lincoln. The republican Harrow was just on the threshold of his own promising political career. There was once a pork packing plant on Main Street which was the center of trade in the 1860's. Records show it shipped as high as one million pounds of pork in a single season. The first brick house built in Mt. Vernon was constructed by James Dunn in the block of West Water between Main and College. It was used as a general store until 1836. It was in this building that Henry Pratten kept his priceless collections of bird, animal, and plant lore. He was the person who stuffed the birds shot by John James Audubon in this vicinity. At the time of his death Pratten was the state Geologist of Illinois. More on General William Harrow
Now That Would Grab Your Attention!.....December 18, 1872
While extinguishing the lights at the Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church, one of the chandeliers gave way, crashing to the floor and it was remarkable that the church edifice was saved with only minor damages.
Town Fire of 1872
Fires have been a major problem throughout our town's history. I was burned out as a teenager myself in 1965. I have seen fires take out mills, Keck Motor Company, Printing shops, appliance stores, the Pocket Hotel, bars, restaurants, and Jr.'s Skating Rink to name a few. In 1880 a fire threatened all of Main Street. If was after that great fire that finally the town got serious about a fire department and equipment. We have had fires at Farm Bureau that took lives and Central School burned in 1945 and the first Booker T. Washington School in the 1930's. In November of 1872, dispatches reached the Evansville Journal newspaper that Mt. Vernon was ablaze. A reporter was sent down by train the next morning to "eye-ball' the wreckage. He found five buildings still smoking. The fire originated in a defective flue in the home of Mrs. Hannah Smith, on Water Street, below Main, and extended from there to the grocery of John Baldwin. From there it spread to the grocery of Mutz & Junker on the corner of Main, destroying the stores of J.R. Gardner and E. Spencer. Almost all the goods had been removed as well as the furniture from Mrs. Smith.
The city was without fire engines or any efficient means to put out a fire other than water buckets at that time. With buildings being built with walls right up against the next building without fire protection, sprinklers, hydrants, etc., they were bound to happen regularly.
A dispatch was sent from U.G. Damron to the mayor of Evansville saying: "Please send us a fire engine that will carry water from the river. Our town is burning down." The editor of the Demorcrat, Thos Collins sent a dispatch to Evansville ...also, saying, "The fire broke out at half past 12, on Water Street, near Main, and is rapidly spreading east, and soon destroyed large brick business houses. Engines from Evansville are hourly expected."
General William Harrow.....1822-1872
Born in Winchester, Kentucky in 1822, his family moved to Lawrenceville, Illinois where he grew up, studied law, and was admitted to the bar. According to his daughter he became friendly with Abraham Lincoln and traveled the Eighth Judicial Circuit with him. He relocated to Vincennes, Indiana and around 1859 he moved to Mt. Vernon. When war broke out he was made captain in April of 1861 and moved quickly up the ranks to colonel. As a member of the 14th Indiana his regiment began its service in West Virginia; however, his first important battle wa of Antietam where as part of Nathan Kimball's 1st Brigade it fought for four hours within sixty yards of the Confederate line losing over half of its troop strength with 181 killed and wounded. On April 4, 1863 he was appointed a brigadier general of volunteers and commanded a brigade on November 29th at Gettysburg. After the Mine Run campaign in 1863 he was transferred to the west and in the course of the Atlanta campaign he commanded the 4th Division of the XV corps. He was assigned to Sherman at Savannah and then back to Washington where his resignation was accepted on April 20, 1865. He then returned to Mt. Vernon to resume his law practice and to get into politics. Originally, a "Radical" or Republican, he became identified with the liberal movement in the presidential election of 1872 and was campaigning for Horace Greeley when he was killed in a train accident at New Albany, Indiana on September 27, 1872. He is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery. General Harrow was married to Juliet James, daughter of Enoch and Ester James of Mt. Vernon. A promising political career was ended by the terrible accident.
More on General Harrow
Wasn't Once Enough?.....1872
In 1872, John Harrison was found near Mt. Vernon shot and run over by two trains......I don't know how they knew it was two.
106 Bottles Of Beer On the Wall; Take One Down.....March 1871
A man from Mt. Vernon boasted that he had "drink, drank, drunk" one hundred and six glasses of lager beer between six o'clock Monday evening and eight o'clock Tuesday morning.
Two 1871 Court House Cases
This first one was a rape case of Dunlap vs. Price in which Price, the defendant was acquitted. The jury believed that the woman was not all that credible and that there was no great amount of forcing done by Price. "The amorous old gentleman was highly elated over his release." The second trial in Circuit Court was John Fulner vs John Dieffensback, where the plaintiff sued the defendant for breaking his skull. The defendant denied the charge and attempted to prove that it was this boy who did the skull mashing. One of the plaintiff's witnesses, a physician, testified that the plaintiff's brains were "rotten" from the effects of the blow. The case was tried by jury, and a fine of $250 was rendered. Also, in March of that year smoking was no longer allowed in the court room as ordered by Judge Johnson. So Havanas and Tobies must be thrown away before entering. Snuff is okay.
The Lawrence James House....1871-2011
The building at 232 Walnut Street across from the Memorial Coliseum is a two story brick Greek revival home built in 1871 by Lawrence James, son of prominent merchant Enoch James. Years ago there were shutters at the windows and an iron fence around the building. Over the years the house enlarged by adding rooms on the south side and in the back. Also a brick wall has been added facing the post office. The house was owned for a short time by Enoch James who along with his sons Lawrence and Dewitt established Mt. Vernon's first bank in 1856. Enoch also served on the Board of Directors of the Mt. Vernon-New Harmony Plank Road Company of the 1850's. Today the home is occupied as the office of Dr. Rice.
A Few 1870 Gleanings....
In April, Judge J.G. Jones declared the court house unfit for use and removed the court to the Masonic Hall. "The building is a disgrace to the great county of Posey," he said. Six more years judge until a new one...hang on. In May, an editorial condemned the bad roads between Mt. Vernon and New Harmony as a "disgrace to any civilized community." He wondered how farmers could possibly haul their produce over such roads and he lit into the supervisors to do their duty to provide better roads. In July a Fourth of July picnic was held at Fuhrer's Grove with the Mt. Vernon Brass Band in attendance. Good order was preserved with no liquors on the grounds; but there was ice cream and lemonade in abundance. In September, the editor felt that baseball had played out and we need no more coverage of it. October came and we find that "our friend, Wolf the meat man has removed his meat stand from the market house to the frame building first door above the Mt. Vernon bank." Of course, there were the usual attacks on freed slaves, both here and nationally from the Democrat office now moved to the corner of Fourth and Store Streets.
Local Census Notes.....1870
Was looking over an old federal census of 1870 for Posey County. It had the usual statistics of those living in a dwelling, ages, value of real estate, place of birth, marital status and whether they were white, black, or mulatto. What I found interesting were the occupations of the time. Here are some of them: architect, author, attorney, butcher, banker, baker, barber, bookkeeper, book seller, bricklayer, broom maker, boat pilot, brewer, carpenter, coal miner, confectioner, cigar maker, chair maker, cook, cabinet maker, constable, cooper, carriage trimmer, dry goods merchant, dress maker, druggist, distiller, ditcher, engineer, editor, steamboat engineer, farmer, flour miller, finder, ferryman, gardener, grocer merchant, gunsmith, hotel keeper, harness maker, huckster, house painter, jeweler, jailer, wharf boat keeper, livery stable, minister, mill engineer, milliner, Minister to Peru, mill sawyer, music teacher, mayor, notary public, physician, pump dealer, photographer, poor house, plaster, pottery maker, produce dealer, printer, priest, postmaster, runs gristmill, runs sawmill, saddler, steamboat worker, stage driver, dentist/surgeon, shingle mfg., scientist, stock trader, saloon keeper, shoe maker, sewing machine agent, sign painter, speculator, stone mason, surveyor, stove manufacturer, tobacconist, tailor, tomb engraver, undertaker, weaver, woodcutter, wool dealer, wagon and carriage manufacturer, wools spinner, and watchmaker.
A Little Railroad History.....1869-1880
The record of railroads in Posey County begins in 1869 when 100 people signed a petition asking for an appropriation of $100,000 for construction of the Mt. Vernon & Grayville Railroad. The election of July 27, of that year decided in favor of the construction and the 80 cent levy tax imposed on each $100 worth of land in the county. Soon after construction began, the company was consolidated into the Chicago & Southern Illinois Railway Company. The first railroad to be completed in the county was the Louisville & Nashville Railroad running east and west through Mt. Vernon. Construction was completed in 1869-70. The railway had 23 miles of track initially through the county an in 1880 L&N leased the track built earlier by the St. Louis & Southwestern Company.
What Did They Call Them Before Red Lights?.....1869
I seem to be on a roll with bad news so let's touch on the subject of prostitution shall we? In January of 1869 a lengthy petition was presented to the Council praying for the abolishment of the "greatest of all nuisances"-the house of prostitution near the bridge. Well, in February the "shebang" as it was called on First Street (Water), near the bridge, known as "Pavements" was gutted by fire at night by "unknown" parties. The front was completely demolished and Mrs. "Pavement" thinking discretion the better part of valor beat a hasty retreat. She left the city for the more hospitable and congenital village of Shawneetown....Good Riddance. Now that same day or night a man named "Blue" was killed instantly by Pete Baker at the Negro "shebang" on "Haw Hill." The town is now rid of two dangerous men by this transition. Three months later another "shebang" on "Haw Hill" was set afire and the shanty is now a heap. So where will our whites and blacks of rather doubtful character go next? All this mob action and arson precedes the mob killing of 1878 which started in such a place of employment.
Let Us Have Peace.....September 26, 1868
?Last Sabbath morning while our citizens were at divine worship, a piece of artillery was being furiously driven through the streets. A squad of twenty-five or thirty men arrayed in all the pomp of a glorious war, accompanied by the gun. While the choirs in places of worship were singing Peace and good will to man the shrill notes of the bugle rang out War War! We have had enough, let there be Peace.
"Well We Got No Class, We Got No Principles".....February 1868
A fine mare belonging to Mr. Phillips was stolen in front of the Patmore and King's Grocery. Phillips had gone in to make some purchases and tied the animal to the rack. He was in the house but ten minutes and found that his steed was gone when he came out. No clue was obtained and the robber remained at large.
Editor Thomas Collins Rants.....Again!.....1868
My favorite Mt. Vernon editor was Thomas Collins for his passion and for his outlandish statements. This man went after African-Americans, Indians, and especially the Radicals or Republicans. He seemed to especially dislike Ulysses S. Grant of which some of the nicer things he said about him was that "he is general of the armies of this dis-united states and (n word) equality candidate for the presidency. He made analogies of Grant carrying the Negro on his back and would break down from the load. He called Grant a military dictator for removing a Lieut. Governor of Louisiana who was white and replacing him with a black man. Of course he had seven adjectives before the black man's name I won't use that were not complimentary. He mentioned Grant going out to the Rocky Mountains to visit a tribe of Indians that could not talk any English. Collins said, "Perhaps they can talk horse." Things got so bad a letter appeared in the Democrat signed by 20 merchants that said: "Ed. Democrat: The undersigned would hereby request you to stop their paper, and would also from this date withdraw their business cards from the columns thereof. The bitter warfare which you have waged against us as a party we can freely forgive, but when you make war upon our wives, sisters, and children, then forbearance ceases to be virtue." Wasn't too long before Thomas found better employment as a newspaper man. I believe he went to Terre Haute. Bet he would have been great on radio!
Mt. Vernon Democrat Editor Goes Off On Negros, Republicans and Prostitutes.....1868
They didn't hold much back in the early days of Mt. Vernon print. Editors from rival newspapers would spit on each other and in one instance actually fire a shot at an editor who was riding in a buggy with his wife. Editor Collins was a real firebrand and he loved to rile up his Republican neighbors" feathers." Finally, some merchants had enough of his attacks and pulled out their advertisements from his paper. Old Tom kept at it...."The Democrat will continue to be published despite the efforts of Radical proscriptionists who sought some time since to break me down by withdrawing their patronage from my columns," he ranted. He came down hard on a white man from Evansville who came to Mt. Vernon to teach in the "colored school." He said the teacher was telling them that soon "they would be preparing them for positions to occupy the councils of the nation." He wrote an unflattering poem about "Sambo and the Congo" that I won't repeat here. He also liked to talk of harlots and how brazen they were in the city, even in broad daylight uttering language that would "blush a heathen" and that law enforcement was making no effort to stop them. Muckraking was a science back then....and you thought I was rotten.
Lieut. Wm. F. Dixon and the Sultana Explosion.....1865
Somewhere on Mill Street there was a home of Lieut. Wm. Dixon of Co. A., Tenth Indiana Cavalry. He was held prisoner at the infamous Andersonville Prison during the Civil War. He was also a survivor of the explosion of the Mississippi River steamboat paddle wheeler on the 27th of April in 1865. This was one of the greatest maritime disasters in United States history. Over 1500 of the 2400 passengers on board died with estimates going up to 1800. There were four steam boilers on the just two year old ship and three exploded. Those not killed directly by the explosion and fire were thrown in the river near Memphis and had to fight cold water and heavy flood current to swim to shore. The cause was poor maintenance of one boiler which was patched leading to an unsafe steam temperature. As great a tragedy as it was it did not receive all the publicity you would think because it came soon after the Lincoln assassination.
Lieut. Dixon on Andersonville Prison...1865
William Dixon survived many a challenging moment, as a union officer, a prisoner of war, and as a survivor of one of the worst maritime disasters in American history. Here you here some of his own words of his experience in the Confederate Prison in Andersonville, Georgia during the Civil War. Here like Dachau in the Second World War people died in the worst way. 12,913 union soldiers died here of the 45,000 prisoners on seventeen acres of land. Dixon, a Mt. Vernon native saw masses die of dysentery and hunger, and exposure, and neglect. He said there was not much room to lie down in the camp and his bed was "Mother Earth" and his ceiling the sky. He was placed in a small stockade with sixty-five officers in a stockade 70 feet long. They were not allowed to communicate with the general population. "Our hollow eyes, dirty, smoked faces, had not seen soap for months." "We were put up like hogs without room, clothes or shelter, and but little to eat." He spoke of those who had been there a considerable time as being skeletons, many had their feet amputated. Those who tunneled out were recaptured by blood hounds and the pursuers would let the dogs bite and shake them. "It was equal to a fox chase." Dixon worked on a tunnel crew, but rumors of a prisoner exchange came and they stopped work on account of fear of punishment. "At last the glad tidings came in the prison pen and those sweet words, I never shall forget them came to my ears--Fall in, Fall in line." The men got up and formed a line of crippled and drawn men in all shapes and diseased, some naked. They were marched to a depot enroute to Jackson, Mississippi. Arriving there they had to march 40 miles to Vicksburg. "We all yelled and shouted when we sighted the old Stars and Stripes floating in the air." Looking back, he had trouble believing he had survived such and awful hell. When they were at the union camp they say kettles full of pork and beans, beef and potatoes, hominy and rice, coffee and sugar, and fruit and pickles. They were allowed all the coffee they wanted, but were advised not to eat too much. They were give soap, a new suit of clothes and they took a bath in the river. Soon the war was over, Richmond fell, Lincoln was killed, and he went home. Bet Mt. Vernon looked real good to him! Years later he attended a reunion at Enfield, Illinois, and met with a comrade who had lost both feet at Andersonville and he walked on his knees.
Lieut. Dixon on Sultana Tragedy.....1865
Bad enough that Dixon had to endure war and being a prisoner of war, but still yet there loomed another terrible event in his life. On April 25, 1865, the Sultana landed at Vicksburg. Two thousand prisoners of war were crowded on board her. The ship headed north making its usual stops and the men's thoughts were of home and loved ones. At Memphis the boat unloaded freight and took on a supply of coal and the men went to sleep. Around 2 in the morning, ten miles above Memphis, her boilers exploded and seventeen hundred lives were lost. "I was lying on the crowded cabin floor near the ladies cabin and I was awakened by a sudden jar that threw me across the boat, hurting me in my breast and I heard someone calling out that the boilers had been blown up." Dixon looked out at the cold rough waters and thought is this how he will die after all he had seen? The fire was moving towards him and it was either burn to death or drown. He preferred the latter. People were jumping in the river by the hundreds. Those that were crippled and of poor health went under straight away. All he could see was darkness as the Mississippi was swollen with flood waters five miles wide. He secured a plank and floated some eleven miles, his limbs frozen. As the sun came up he saw a rescue boat pulling in another man. He called to them and he was picked up and taken back to Memphis. There was a hot fire furnace there and someone wrapped a coat around his shoulders and nurses gave him a half tumbler of whiskey. He was taken to a hospital and was poorly for several days, spitting blood. Finally his legs came around and he had escaped death again.
Looking at Main Street During the Civil War.....1865
Where the Odd Fellows Building or People's Bank was back in the 1860's, this corner of Fourth and Main street was a two story frame building occupied by the newspaper, The Mt. Vernon Advocate, edited by Thomas Prosser. Unfortunately, no editions seem to be in existence today. Just north of this was the Duckworth and Gregory livery stable. On the corner next would be the blacksmith shop of Thomas Hollis. Across the street on the corner of Fifth and Main, on the Westside would be the residence of Enoch James. Going back up Main now we had the Weilbrenner shoe shop and grocery, the gunsmith shop of Thomas Ries, Stackler and Weckesser saloon and grocery, "Peg-Leg" Fuhrer's saloon, John Evertson residence, Rosebaum and Brother dry goods store, Charlie Lennig's saloon and grocery near the corner of Third and Main.
The Barter House.....1856
The farm house at 1700 North Main I have known all my life as the Seibert farm. It is a two story brick building that was then on the Old Plank Road between Mt. Vernon and New Harmony. In fact, a toll booth once stood nearby. It was built in 1856 by Richard Foote Barter who came from England with his parents in 1819. He came to Mt. Vernon by flatboat at the age of four from Pittsburgh. Like his father he became a blacksmith and married Martha Ann Alldredge and was very successful. He dabbled in whiskey making and dry goods and became a river trader delivering grain and farm products down south and buying back groceries, wines and liquors. He was also part of our lore by being a participant in the "Hoop-pole fight" at the riverfront. The bricks for the house were made right on the farm and the woodwork of the house are said to be hand carved. At one time the house had a two decker colonial porch out front. I drive by this place all the time and always admired it from the highway. Sure would like to see it. The barn even looks much the same as it did in my youth. The home became part of the Seibert family in 1936. Not sure of the occupants today.
Emily Rosencrans wrote in the Western Star newspaper in 1925 about the steamship, Mayflower, which in the spring of 1854 struck a snag opposite Mt. Vernon and turned over. "Oh the screaming, ringing of bells and people running." Every available skiff and boat went out to their assistance, pulling people out of the Ohio River, including five or six women. The survivors were taken to the Nelson House (then a local hotel) and the good ladies of our community furnished them with dry clothes and something to eat.
Hand Made Shoe.....1853
In the year 1853, Dunn Bradley made a child's shoe of deer skin, hand sewn and with wooden pegs. It was made for Mr. Bradley's son, Thomas who died when he was quite young. The shoe is about a no.2 in child's size. Dunn was an excellent shoemaker and also an expert gunsmith and blacksmith near Bufkin. The shoe still existed here in town in the 1930's belonging to a grandson, Richard Stevens.
Mt. Vernon Market House.....1850's
Many years ago circus acts were the big attraction. One of the great clowns of the nineteenth century was Dan Rice. He would ride into Mt. Vernon on a big white horse at the head of the parade. He was like P.T. Barnum. Once he scheduled his circus in town only to find that a rival was here also. He had been coming here for many years and had lots of friends in Mt. Vernon. In order to ensure a great gate he offered to the town all the receipts of his show one afternoon and they filled the tents and his rival was left with little. He kept his word and gave funds for the building of a market house upon the northeast corner of the present courthouse square. The funds allowed the city to build a 120' by 50' building and a large sign said, "Dan Rice Market." For a while in 1861 the building was used by the fledgling enlisted volunteers of the armory. Afterwards, the market was used by farmers to sell their produce and butchering stalls were used for the meat market. Rice was a colorful man...he ran for the Senate and for President dropping out of each race. He was mentioned in Mark Twain's book, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He was an inspiration to George M. Cohan and was one of the main models for our "Uncle Sam." The market house was torn down when the new courthouse was constructed.
Big Creek Covered Bridge.....1845
The bridge was ordered built by County Commissioners in March of 1844. Two commissioners voted for it and one against on the grounds it cost too much. Must have been a Republican, haha. Thomas Prosser was the county auditor at the time and George Washington Thomas, who owned the sawmill on the right side of the bank, just across the creek, sawed up the white oak lumber which was used in its construction. The contract was secured for the sum of $3150 and ordered completed by January 1, 1845, the year James Polk was President of the United States. Many notable political and social gatherings took place at this point on route to Illinois. Andrew Johnson who was running for vice president on the ticket with Lincoln in 1864 made a speech at New Harmony and on his way stopped at Big Creek and spoke to a large crowd of people. A duel between a Texan by the name of Browning and man from White County, Illinois was fought in the shade of the overhanging Maples, twenty feet from the bridge. Farmers and merchants met here to swap horses and mules and exchange hides and furs for lumber from the sawmill. In another article from 1929, the year it was torn down, that the Solitude bridge was erected in 1867 so this must have been another bridge across Big Creek. This bridge was no longer needed because in 1928 the route of State Road 65 was changed so as to miss the bridge. That bridge was built by W.T. Washer, who later built the poor infirmary. This bridge was on the Old Plank Road which in 1929 was converted into a hard surfaced highway. Records showed at that time that it was one of the oldest roads in the state. It was part of the Mt. Vernon to Princeton highway established by the General Assembly of Indiana in 1822. The old road followed the present highway to north of Solitude, thence swung through Springfield and followed a line almost due north to Princeton. In age it rivals the Paoli to New Albany highway.
A Little Love Note About Alvin Hovey.....1844
Across the street from Robin Hill once stood a house built on a slope by Enoch James. It was a two story house, on the south side of Lower New Harmony Road. It is said that future General and Governor Alvin Hovey watched a window of the house for a lighted lantern as a signal from Mary James, his future wife that he could come and visit. They were married in 1844. It was also in this house that the First Eastern Star Chapter was organized in 1866. Later on this house was owned by Glenn Hannah, former teacher at Mt. Vernon. He remolded the home in the early 1940's and sold it to Dr. Gerald Dunigan in 1946. A fire destroyed much of the original building, and it was rebuilt and is the home you see today. It was then sold in 1963 to Norman Wagner. Not sure of the owner today.
My Little Runaway, a Run, Run, Runaway.....June 1842
A stage coach driver by the name of A. Barnes, believed to be from New Harmony was attacked by William Thurston for running off with Thurston's daughter. Thurston caught up with the duo in Mt. Carmel, Illinois and Barnes was arrested.
Angora Cat A New Harmony Creation in America?.....1840
Towns like to claim many things. It is said that the beginning of the Angora cat in the United States started in New Harmony in 1840. At that time a German woman came to New Harmony by stage coach being attracted to the communal community as well as its German origin. She carried with her two beautiful long haired cats which she called Angoras and because of the difficulty in travel in those days she left them behind in New Harmony. Believe it or not!
Pioneer Life In Posey.....1810-1840
I could not have survived in the early days with little comfort and a whole lot of manual labor. Everything was rural; maybe, just maybe I could have raised sheep; but then again wolves would attack them and there I would be running out in the middle of the night with a torch or lantern without a musket to take on a wolf or a bear...oh my! Growing wheat was a pain! Way back in time it was almost like Egypt.....sowing the grain by hand, reaping it with a grain hook, beating it out with a flail, cleaning it through a sieve and letting the air currents carry away the chaff. Mortars and pestles...work, work, work! Thinks improved over time, but not much. Now you get to take the grain by horse and wagon to a grist mill. You had to wait in line with other farmers for days probably as the horse mill couldn't do more than about 25 bushels a day. So what do you do while you wait? I guess fire your rifle, drink, and fight. Mt. Vernon loves to do those things. Maybe we should have a festival around those activities. Later we had steam mills which improved things a little faster. Markets for your produce and livestock were hard to come by in the beginning. If you had eggs and butter, well, so did the farmer down the road. Pork was cool, but maybe you could barter with another farmer for some beef. The river finally became a major industry to our town as markets down south bought our items. If we went to town, it would have looked far different than today. You made your own clothes, so you normally just bought knives and barrels and visited the blacksmith and while you waited you had a beer or ten. Can't imagine digging in my pocket for silver coinage like 61/4, 12 1/2, 25, and 50 cent pieces. I think I would enjoy a visit to the past, but I wouldn't want to live there.
New Harmony's Workingman's Institute Established.....1838
William Maclure was a wealthy naturalist and was associated with Robert Owen in the purchase of lands surrounding the Rapp town of Harmonie. Mr. Maclure became the founder of the Institute. He lived in New Harmony until 1827 then went to Mexico. He left behind an endowment for the Workingman's Institute. He also gave books and philosophical instruments from his own collection. He despised the wealthy and became a philanthropist. He honored the working man and loved the poor for their affliction. It was at his suggestion that the membership of the institute would be limited to those who "got their living by the work of their hands." In 1847 the library held 1092 volumes and these were not "light" reading. They were works of great merit. For example: 95 volumes of high class fiction, 12 of poetry, 17 of philosophy, 60 of sociology, 105 of science, 250 of history, and only 7 of religion. Remember New Harmony was of communist origin. Four of those seven volumes on religion were opposed to Christianity. Volumes grew over the years in the same subjects from the $1.50 per year dues to members and gifts. Up until 1894 the library was held in what was called, "The Hall", one of Mcclure's old buildings. Then there was Dr. Edward Murphy. He had been an active member of the institute all his life coming to New Harmony after the failure of the Owen community. He first found work as a tailor, and then studied medicine. He accumulated some wealth and after all his children died he and his wife Sofia donated $42,000 to the institute. After they both died within days of each other, $142,000 became into possession of the Institute. The building the institute sits in was the home of the Murphy's. The money has been used for the museum, books, and insurance, repair and expense funds over the many years. The library grew in richness of knowledge, even overcame its aversion to religion. The library contains the books of Dr. Richard Owen and Dr. Murphy. Some of the artifacts here are a beloved skeleton of a fire horse of New Harmony, a 1814 Harmonist fire wagon, a trunk from Robert Owens and naturalist finds of William Maclure. The Workingman's Institute remains the oldest continuously operating library in Indiana.
Historical Reference at Third and College.....Mid 1800's
In 1835 there was a large frame building constructed on the south side of the 100 block of West Third Street which became the Posey Hotel. It was built by Charles P. Leonard. Leonard's wife and mother died during the cholera epidemic locally. Leonard's mother was the grandmother of Col. John Hay, who was born in Salem, Indiana. Hay became personal assistant secretary to President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State under Presidents William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt. Across the street with what was called the Gonnerman lot once was the home of Edward Brown who was associated in the operation of the Underground Railway from the material I have seen.
Muster Duty "Conscientious Objectors".....1820
In 1820, muster duty was imposed on all able-bodied men in Posey County, and failure to act was punished by a fine. Members of the Society of Rappites in New Harmony refused to obey the law. Thus, the Sheriff was ordered by the commissioners to collect forty cents from every member of whom there number eighty five. Their reason for not taking part in the muster was their opposition to bearing arms and war.
The Murder of Young Physician, Thomas Parks.....1817
On October 29, 1817, Thomas Moore Parks, a young physician of much promise, along with his wife Nancy moved to the village of Mt. Vernon. The doctor had studied at the prestigious medical college, the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Why he came to the Indiana wilderness is a mystery, One English visitor noted at the time that our cabins were "structures fit only for dogs, hogs, or cattle." Thomas Parke was born of a prominent Connecticut family and his wife was use to the finer life in New England; yet here he came to the Indiana frontier. They found prejudice against them as most of the people of Mt. Vernon were from the south, and they were looked upon as "Yankees." Mt. Vernon's culture then was described as "clannish", having already established strong ties through intermarriage and religious affiliations. Mostly uneducated, the people excluded outsiders. An English traveler, William Faux, described our town as full of people "looking wild and half-savage." Another said, they "devoted their time to hunting and drinking whiskey." Bethel Baptist Church was the only congregation at the time in the Mt. Vernon community and they were said to have anti-eastern convictions. A man in Mt. Vernon was said to have seen another man whose face was disfigured having lost his nose, bitten off close by a neighbor. Anyway, back to the murder. A man named Peter Hendricks while riding his horse was thrown against a stump of a tree at Second and Walnut streets, dying instantly. The physician obtained the body for the purpose of dissection and took it to a stable loft where he covered it with hay. Someone passing by saw the corpse's feet sticking out and the doc was brought in under the suspicion of "body snatching." He faced abundant public condemnation. A woman by the name of Rachel Givens took upon herself to see the doctor punished. She employed a drunken man named George Gibbons to avenge the wrong promising to award him with a jug of whiskey if he would take care of the doctor. Gibbons on March 29, 1818 snuck up behind Parks as he was crossing Second Street and clubbed him several times over the head killing him. The physician had feared for his life and in a will in the Posey circuit court it read as follows: I am now in sound state of health and mind, but am fearful of a deadly attack being made upon my person through Rachel Givens, Matthew Williams and George Gibbons. If I am murdered I wish the world to look upon them as my murderers. Gibbons was arrested and taken to jail at Springfield. He was indicted by the grand jury in May and he furnished bond for a September call of $1800. Rachel posted a $2500 bond as an accessory. On June 7, 1819, both Gibbons and Givens were given their freedom. It is said that shortly afterwards Gibbons and his wife were set adrift in the Ohio River in a small boat with provisions and a jug of poisoned whiskey. Gibbons took freely of the whiskey and died shortly afterward. He was buried near Hovey's Lake near a roadside. Mrs. Givens started for California, but died on the plains of Wyoming territory by cholera. Court records do not mention Mathew Williams.
West Ninth Street Items.....19th Century
I don't have the address but there was a site on this street that was the home of John Noel. Noel served on the flagship of Commodore Perry at the Battle of Lake Erie, one of the decisive conflicts of the War of 1812.
Legend has it that in 1811, the first steamboat that ever passed down the Ohio, "The New Orleans," passed by McFaddin's Bluff and local residents were so frightened that they fled to the woods. The steamer traveled at five miles an hour and had a crew of six. The steamer was a joint venture of Robert Fulton, Robert Livingston, and Nicholas Roosevelt and left Pittsburg on the 20th of October. It was in Louisville on the 27th and passed what would become Mt. Vernon a few days later. It was 148 feet long and almost 33 feet wide. It was said that the people of McFaddin's Bluff (MV) were "shivering in their night clothes" at the sight they saw. I wonder what they thought about the New Madrid Fault earthquake. Now that would make me shiver!!
Legend has it that the first European infant born in Posey County was Milinda Weir in 1805 at the present site that became Mt. Vernon. According to stories, the small child was stolen from her mother by Indians, who wanted to view the baby as a curiosity. They returned the baby a few hours later unharmed.