Ray's Ramblings - Volume 8
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. This volume started in July, 2014.
Come back often, because Ray just keeps finding items to add. This is Volume 8.
New Brick Sidewalk at Sixth and Mulberry
Riverbend Park.....Sept, 2014
Old Posey Bourbon.....2014
Donated to Posey County Historical Society by Bob Bayer.
A old 19th century envelope donated to the Posey County Historical Society by Jeff Miller
Fate of New Harmony Bridge Undecided.....Not 2014, but 1956!
Recently Posey County seems to have taken over leadership of this bridge built in 1930. Just 26 years later, in 1956 a Congressional hearing was conducted by Congressman Winfield Denton on the bridge. It was hoped that Indiana and Illinois would accept the bridge, but they wouldn't until it was in good condition and repaired. Engineers from both states looked it over and said at least one million dollars was needed to make the bridge safe back then. Denton called the situation "deplorable." In 1941 the White County Bridge Commission was financed by $945,000 in bonds and three million dollars in tolls were collected the next 15 years, paying off the bonds, but the bridge was never free of tolls. I wonder what the future holds. Bridges across the country are in need of replacements, but the government is not in any mood to improve infrastructure it seems.
River Days Opening Ceremony 500 school children attend
One of the last parades those buildings will see. Saw this photo on line, May have been a Mt. Vernon Democrat photo. I stole it anyway for the benefit of all. Excellent shot whomever took it. Thanks.
Evansville Courier Editorial.....August, 2014
As Jo-Jo calmly tears up an old baseball, stripping it of its cowhide cover I read the Evansville Courier and especially an article by editor Tim Ethridge on shootings in Evansville. The first five months of 2014 showed over 400 shots fired in the city and a map had been plotted of the occurrences. He writes: "guns, often legally purchased before being illegally shared, are readily available." "At some point, sooner rather than later, someone has to make enough noise to be heard above the gunfire-" Agreed...Joe Aaron is terrific this morning too. Very funny.
Over a dozen different religions met at the Roofless Church today to petition for Peace in prayer. My prayer is that we use our hands to heal the sick and provide for the have-nots once we wash the blood off them. Amen.
Ray ALS Challenge.....August, 2014
Correction to Ray's Ramblings Volume 1
Looking over my books I found that I had the wrong Charles Hovey dying from cannon fire at the riverfront. I identified him as Charles J. Hovey 1850-1923, the son of Governor Alvin P. Hovey when it should have been Charles Hovey, who was the uncle of Charles James Hovey. Sorry about that. If you notice in 1923 in that volume that I correctly said that Charles J. died of heart disease. Earlier I had him dying of the accident at the riverfront where one of the Home Guard cannons (possibly the one at the American Legion) went off while Charles was ramming down the powder and with the ramrod still in the cannon it shot through his body. This was a celebration of the victory of the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812 on January 8, 1815. I don't have the exact date of this accident. Charles was assisted by a Dr. Harper and carried away where he lived until the next morning. Mrs. B.O. Hanby was a small child at the time (making it a 19th century story) and recalled that her father's shawl was soaked in blood from Hovey's wound. Men did wear shawls then. "It was a heavy, oblong, pepper and salt woolen shawl, pinned in front from neck to waist, with the shawl pins made with ornamental heads, connected by a six to eight inch fancy metal chain." Shawls were warm as overcoats. A visitor from Colorado, former resident William Galligher came back to Mt. Vernon in 1922 and recalled that the incident was the biggest impression in his mind of the time spent in Mt. Vernon. He said the celebration was an annual event. He said the accident occurred when the man who had his thumb over the hole got too hot and he jerked his hand away, the air got to the powder and the gun went off. "Onlookers were horrified at the sight, and stood dumbfounded."
First Presbyterian Church 7/16/2014
You get your news daily ....and it's free except for my editorials.
John Kell Highman - First Posey Soldier Killed in the Civil War.....October 21, 1861
At Maple Hill Cemetery in New Harmony lies John Kell Highman, the first Posey County soldier killed in the Civil War. He died at age 37 a captain in the Union Army. He left behind a wife and soon to be his ninth child to fight. How awful it must have been to leave his log home on the bluff bank of Rush Creek. His home life had been happy and contented one. With a heavy heart and many talks with his wife Jane he arranged his affairs and in April of 1861 he went for Cavalry training at the Salt Wells in Evansville. The cavalry of Posey men was composed of 84 men and rode in a parade in town. They trained with wooden sabers and one is said to be at the New Harmony Workingmen's Institute. When they left for war each soldier was presented with a silk pin cushion prepared by young ladies. Highman did not have a real good education, but he was well read on general subjects and was recognized by neighbors for his mental brightness and that made him a leader. His writing was very legible and he used a quill pen, always shaping a new one for each long entry written. He was a man of faith of the Presbyterian Church and had been married since 1845. When drill was over in Evansville the men organized and left for St. Louis on July 15, 1861. The battle of Fredericktown was fought on October 15, 1861 and the first news of telegraph came to the St. Louis Republican newspaper and among the dead was Captain Highman. The genial and warmhearted father was no more. The Evansville Journal of October 23rd said, "Capt. Highman is a native of Posey County who left his family and business to serve his country upon the tented field. He was a brave soldier and a good citizen and his loss will be mourned by his numerous friends in Southern Indiana." The Mt. Vernon South Western Advocate paper said on November 1: "We were unable to be present at the burial of Capt. Highman which took place at New Harmony, but understood the occasion was one of peculiar interest. The procession, which accompanied the remains of the gallant deceased to the grave, being the largest witnessed in the county and the burial ceremonies performed being imposing and impressing. The number present is variously estimated at from two to three thousand. The delegation from this place was large, embracing all of our military companies under command of Col. James. There were five companies present, the Artillery, Cavalry and three Infantry companies. Capt. Hinch Commanding the Cavalry and Capt. Larkin the Mt. Vernon Guards." It was said that as the last carriage left the house, the head of the funeral procession was at the cemetery, a distance of four miles. The New Harmony Grand Army of the Republic Post was named after him. When his wife died in 1903 at age 81, she never remarried. Col. Julian Dale Owen, who attended in command of the Calvary escort, had performed the same service for her husband 40 years before and had accompanied his body from Fredericktown, Missouri.
Was Looking at the old Wheaton's Rexal Pharmacy and A Metal Plate Caught my Eye
William Heilman and Christian Kratz were mid-19th century immigrants from Germany who started a foundry in 1847. By 1860 it and a machine shop provided sales of over $200.000 a year. Not bad, considering 13 years earlier they started out with $2000 in capital and two blind horses. The two men were brothers-in-law and over time the business grew to the size of a whole block and employed 111 men. Republicans, Heilman in time bought out Kratz and Heilman became a state senator.
Mt. Vernon National Bank Checkbook at the Historical Society.....2014
According to Leffel's History in 1913, the Mt. Vernon National Bank was organized in 1905 which took over from a bank called the Mt. Vernon Banking Company organized in 1867. People's Bank and Trust came along in 1907 which made three banks in Mt. Vernon at the time. Mergers soon led to all the firms under People's.
Mt. Vernon Hometown Currency Note from 1865
This morning we had a guest speaker, Mr. Larry Rudisill who is a currency enthusiast at the Posey County Historical Society. He provided a very interesting program of the history of coinage and currency in America and of Posey County. We saw local tokens for barter and notes from Mt. Vernon, New Harmony, Poseyville and New Harmony. On February 25, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Hometown Currency Act and Mt. Vernon had one of the earlier charters in the area in December of 1863. The First National Bank of Mount Vernon received a charter, number 366 to issue federal money with the Mount Vernon print. At one time there were over 14,000 hometown currency banks in the United States of which $17 billion dollars were passed out. To be eligible a band had to sign a contract and use the word National in their name. This local bank had $1.2 million printed in currency with the Mount Vernon name from 1864 to 1923. It was reorganized in 1923 as the Old First National Bank, charter # 12,466 and was liquidated in 1931. It issued in that period another 408,000 in currency. Banks and citizens bought into this because the money was good country wide and the local name gave them confidence in what currencies they knew before national currency could catch up with demand. The Lincoln administration printed $60,000 of "demand notes" during the Civil War using green ink to make it harder to counterfeit. One could at that time demand silver or gold for their notes. In 1935 the National Currency Act was repealed and no longer could local bank names be used. The money was still good, but as it was turned in it was destroyed except what is in collector's hands today.
For a Favorite Son.....May, 2011
In May of 2011, Becky Higgins persuaded the City Council to name something after our famous judge John Pitcher as I suggested. The lane going up to North Cemetery was named. He in fact is buried there. Unfortunately, before the summer ended the sign disappeared of the friend of Abraham Lincoln.
Mulberry Street During Ice Storm of February 2009
57,000 households of Vectren Company were out of power.
Centennial Celebration of Soldier's and Sailor's Monument.....July 2008
It was all good....Poems, a song, a certificate from the statehouse...Judges and lawyers...politicians and the DAR. The Legion was present and ~ Wavy got some refreshment from the MV cheerleaders provided by IGA and the county historical society.
SAVE OUR BANK!....1993
MV Preservation Alliance. Judy Powers, Priscilla Kelly, Christine Babcock and Judy Heberer.
First Overtime Victory in Mt. Vernon Football History.....1990
For the first time ever in our history of eleven man football the Cats won in overtime 16-13 over the Vincennes Alices in Vincennes. This propelled us into a state ranking in class 4A probably for the first time. It was our best start since 1957 when they won their first three starts. Max Dieterle had both touchdowns from 2 yards out and a 52 yard punt return. Going into the fourth quarter the Wildcats led 13-0. Wade Harris had thrown for 169 yards on 8 of 23 with 2 interceptions and Dieterle had six catches for 139 yards. He also led us in rushing that game with 58 yards on 11 carries. Andy Kessler had 37 yards on 13 rushing attempts. Slanton kicked the winning 19 yard field goal in OT to win the game. He was also good on earlier attempt but was negated by a penalty. The team finished the season with a great 9-2 record. This was the most single season wins in Mt. Vernon history. Max Dieterle was First Team All State as was Eric Ellison. Honorable Mention All State players were Andy Kessler and Dusty Wilson.
Dutch Corner Restaurant in St. Wendell.....1989
Mayor Higgins Wins Again!.....1983
Orvan Hall, Publisher and Editor of MV Democrat. Here he is checking with old friends in 1981.
D. A. R. .....1978
Utley Realty - 417 Main.....1976
Frank "Pop" Fessenden Speaks On Importance of One Vote to Kiwanis....1976
"Pop", the former Mr. Everything in Mt. Vernon spoke to the Kiwanis shortly before he died on the importance of voting. He chose as his subject the impeachment trial of President Johnson in 1868. Edmund G. Ross, a Republican from Kansas cast the vote against impeachment that saved the nation the disgrace of having its highest official humiliated just after the Civil War. In order to remove the President a two thirds majority was needed. The vote was 35-18 and Ross' vote would either convict or acquit the President. Ross broke as did six other Republicans to vote for the President and against the charge of being guilty for "high crimes and misdemeanors." Johnson, a Democrat lost his nomination for President that next term but returned to the Senate in 1875. Ross would lose his re-election bid and would return to the newspaper business. Ross was included in JFK's "Profiles of Courage" in the middle of the 20th Century as an example of a man who thought for what was good for the country over his own self-interest. Whether all that is true or not is debatable as Ross' intent has been debated and some say he was bribed. Regardless, it is a good story of how our privilege in a democratic government is important and we should inform ourselves and go to the polls. Your vote does mean something...each time you go. Remember the fate of the nation was once held in the hands of one vote. So join my vote or cancel me out, but vote.
Oliver Community Club Float in 1976
Griswold Rentals 819 Main.....1975
Fun Times at the City Council.....1975
Mayor Jackson Higgins came into the meeting and said he was going to sue Councilman Harold Gentil. The reason? Jack at Harold's request had him climb down the riverbank to investigate a sewer problem. In doing so, the Mayor got a "galloping case" of poison ivy. Councilman Robert Freimiller told Mayor Jack that he didn't no nutt'n about lawsuits, but he had a good remedy for poison ivy. Jack asked..."Is it any better than your remedy for rats?" You see, a few weeks earlier at a works board meeting, Bob had told the board that the best way to kill rats was to feed them a laxative. You know that chocolate one that breaks off like a Hershey bar? Bob never did get to tell what his remedy was as everyone broke out laughing and would not listen to him.
Spirit of Mt. Vernon.....1975ish
For at least 4 years in the mid 1970's the "City of Mt. Vernon" participated with other river communities in the Great Ohio River Flatboat Race. Gonna go back to 1975-1976 and through some of Glenn Curtis' cartoons capture some of the flavor. "The Spirit of MV" was voted the most authentic boat by captains of the other vessels. It started in Owensboro and ended in Henderson, Ky., as I recall.
Boat Races Through Glenn Curtis.....1975
More Flatboat Races.....1975
Even More Flatboat Races.....1975
Mayor Higgins rides with Corps of Engineers to Look at Ohio River Erosion "Mmmmmmm....motorboatin'".....1975
Evansville Central.....As it looked in 1970s
Where Posey County Boy's Basketball teams played in the Sectionals held for 45 years at Evansville Central until moved to Robert's Stadium in 1957.
Fred Gladding, One of Several Big League and Minor League Stars Hold Clinic at Athletic Park.....1974
Fred Gladding was then the pitching coach of the Evansville Triplets. Ike Brown was here, Bruce Kimm, Bob Molinaro and minor leaguer Bryan Lambe. The Assistant GM of the Trips, Tom Coyne also made the visit. Discussions were given by Gladding and Brown and then the kids (boys and girls) were divided up into defensive positions for more individual instruction. This was the first time the Evansville Triple A team had done this sort of clinic outside of Evansville. Future clinics were scheduled for Princeton and Boonville. Triplet's owner Don Labbrusso had discussed such a gathering at a dinner at the Elk's Club All-Sports Banquet in 1973. Gladding pitched in the big leagues for seven seasons and Ike Brown was as I remember a good utility man and pinch hitter for the Tigers. I actually got to talk with him once behind the screen at Bosse Field. Molinaro was a really fine hitter for the Trips and I recall him playing for my White Sox for a time. He became a minor league manager. Kimm also played for my Sox briefly and has been a minor league manager and major league coach for many teams and many seasons "in the show."
I Was Reading A Old Evansville Courier During the Watergate Scandal and Came Across some Hits and Misses of Jeane Dixon.....1973
The things ~Wavy socks away....who knew I would be pulling out my own files and writing about them decades later. I have a clipping from the Washington Evening Star of October 20, 1968. It reads: "A wiretapping scandal which I have predicted previously (1967) is yet to come. It will involve Richard Nixon, but will show him as a sincere man and will help his public image.....the entire matter will affect Mr. Nixon favorably and would seem to put him in a position to right a great wrong, which would be for the good of the image of the United States." ....Hmn, well, she got the first part right. Then in July of 1973 in the local Courier she had this to say: "President Nixon will be vindicated long before the full truth about Watergate becomes known. There is still a great deal of information being withheld, both in national security and to shield some principals in the drama. After the current investigation ends in partisan quarreling, and when the complete story comes to light of double agents, hidden meanings and secret payoffs, it will be discovered that the President knew nothing of Watergate or the ill advised adventuring of some of his subordinates. In time the American people will recognize that President Nixon was the hapless victim of unperceived evil and alien forces beyond anyone's control, and they will rally 'round the Presidency in a movement of national unity that will avert the constitutional crisis that now threatens our democratic system." Boy, so much for psychics! Are there anymore newspaper psychics in print now-a-days? I'm not aware of any. She also said the military should work in breakthroughs of new weapons of rockets and nuclear and laser and that politics will reform the rules and they will end the money worship in American politics by returning the opportunity for elective office to within reach of the qualified man of modest means....hahaha
Just Park Anywhere.....Bull Island 1972
I remember walking along that road with a duffle bag of "supplies" and helping a brother carry a case of Boone's Farm. We walked along this road in. It was just dusty moving in and the soundtrack of CSN&Y was in my head. We made camp and sat along the trash ditch watching the tribes gather. That first night television news helicopters watched us from the sky.
White House Flag.....April 26, 1972
Wanda Douglas (Deputy Clerk) and Donald Miller (Auditor) Receive Flag Flown at White House from Congressman Roger Zion (R)
Representative Joel Deckard, (R) a MV grad speaks to his old high school on the importance of the new 18 year old vote.
The Life of a Mayor...1972
Becky Higgins, one of the daughters of Jackson L. relayed a story of the life of a public official. It was Easter Sunday and Mrs. Higgins had a beautiful dinner set up for the family. Ham and all the trimmings. There came a knock on the front door and it was a man holding a shovel with a dead squirrel in it. He bitched long and hard how the squirrel had been lying in the road for a few days and the city had not picked it up. He made a point to not only pick it up but bring it to the new Mayor. "What do you want to do with it?", he said gruffly. Jack I imagine went from holding his pipe in his mouth of Kentucky blend loosely to straight out in irritation. "Put it over there on the porch." Jack said. He then went back to family time and a wonderful dinner. Later the family buried the squirrel and said a few words over it. I can only imagine the life of a public figure.
Reserve Cheerleaders Without A Reserve Football Team - Feeling Sad....1972
(L-R) Toni Cremens, Sherry Carey, Pam Baird, and Sherry Oeth.
Dave Benthall Reliving "Glory Days" of 1922 Season in 1972
Mt. Vernon Brownies were 16-5 that season losing twice to Oakland City College. They had two wins over Evansville Reitz that season. This was a team that had the great Owen "Country" Huntsman on it who went on to stardom to Earlham College. He was tremendous in track setting state college records in the javelin and high jump. In 1926, Huntsman finished second in the Decathlon at the Penn Relays at the University of Pennsylvania and went on to coach college football. 1922 was the first season the Posey County Tourney was held and Mt. Vernon took the title.
Thievery Early 1970s
In January 1971, Ed's Superette was broken into at 819 Main. $50 was taken. In another break-in the next month, $500 in coins was taken from the Maytag Coin Laundry owned by Jake Moll as his coin changer was broken from the wall and carried away. This was located at 624 East Fourth Street.
MVHS Memorial Field.....1971
13 Spanish Class Students Visit Mexico.....July 1970
Miss O'Risky and her sister chaperoned thirteen students on a trip to Mexico. The students were Sandy Hessler, Jackie Kauffman, Steve Noelle, Karen Rowe, Nancy Ries, Ann Shuler, Karen Bullard, Kathy McFadin, Connie Barnhart, Hershal Hottman, Rodney Hammer, Rick Stallings and Mike Dunigan. They traveled in a caravan of three busses with students from Indiana and Illinois. They spent eleven days in Mexico viewing bull fights, pyramids, the Shrine of Guadalupe, Xochimilco, the national palace and swimming in the ocean.
I bought most of my baseball cards here in the 1960's - nickel a pack. In 1962 I was a patrol boy on Main Street and I would spend all of it on baseball cards. My lunch was the bubble gum. You ever put 25 sticks of gum in your mouth at once examining the new Mickey Mantle card?
In 1969, MV student Brent Almon (future judge) traveled to New York and toured the United Nations as a youth delegate, sponsored by the Odd Fellows.
Sunday after church my parents would take me in for a "plate lunch" and a piece of pie.
I would stop here as I walked home from Hedges Central to Emmick Street. Sometimes I would get a coke or a zero candy bar. I would then find a beer can and kick it all the way home.
Mt. Vernon Auditor Tells Robert Kennedy to Get a Haircut.....1968
Democrat Auditor Don Miller was in Indianapolis when Robert Kennedy was running for President. The story told to me by his son Jeff is that his dad handed the Presidential candidate a dollar and jokingly told him to get a haircut...of which we believe he took. LOL. As I was looking up the date it dawned on me that it was in April and the date that Martin Luther King Jr., would have been murdered in Memphis. Robert told the largely black audience the terrible news and they gasped in horror. He went on to speak of King's dedication to love and justice and peace and that he died in the cause of that effort. What a strange day that was....a few months later RFK was shot.
Mt. Vernon Wrestling Undefeated In Duel Meets....1966-1967
This squad coached by Jack Maroni did something I would imagine we have never done before and for that matter, few others have done....We defeated state power Mater Dei twice! Our local Wildcats beat their Wildcats 22-20 and 36-5. We also beat Bosse, Memorial, Central, Harrison, Carmi, and Reitz. 12-0 during the regular season and placed second in the Lebanon Invitational and second in the Sectional. Some of the best records were Irvin Folz 18-3; Paul Kramer 18-3, Tom McReynolds 20-3, Bill McGennis 15-4, and Gordon Johnson 15-5. Every team member had a winning record being Joe Moll, Joe Hannah, Randy Leonard, Greg Levenduski, Curt Bogan, Phillip Schneider and Ed Hoehn.
Remember "Cat Clubs" before Mt. Vernon games? Here is a pin from one such game courtesy of Brenda Rainey....1966
In 1965, Marvin "Pony" Dremstedt (Class of '67) returned an interception back against the Tell City Marksman for 100 yards breaking the school record of 88 yards set by Herschel Aud vs. Oakland City Acorns in 1928.
Miscegenation Laws In Indiana Repealed in 1965
Starting in 1818, Indiana throughout most of its history tried to discourage social interactions, sex, and marriage between the races. These laws were sometimes called amalgamation laws and it was made a felony crime punishable up to five years imprisonment and $5000 fine whenever a white person married another person, "having one-eighth or more of Negro blood." Our neighboring states of Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan legalized interracial marriages way before Indiana did....in fact Illinois did in 1887. When Indiana changed their law in 1965 it came just two years before the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision found the states statutes unconstitutional. There were 16 states still having laws on the books...all of them Southern states. Alabama still did not take their law off the books until 2000.
Fish Fry at Grafton Community Center.....October 4, 1964
Here we see Donald and Teresa Miller along with Dura Baldwin. Photo belongs to son Jeff Miller.
Want a Flat Top?....Three Barbers to Serve You.....1964
I was just thinking about Payne's Barber Shop in what they called the Gerber Center on East Fourth Street. I can recall pre-Beatle days of going in there and sitting in a long line of chairs with a table full of comic books to occupy your time. I haven't read too many comic books since well...those old hippie ones we got at Folz City Boutique..."The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers," but for some reason I liked this one about putting people in "the phantom zone." It may have been a Superman comic. Anyone remember? It was a more humane way of dealing with capital punishment. Instead of killing someone who killed someone to show that killing is wrong they banished them to the phantom zone. I wish I could do that! I'd start out with all the dictators and then anyone in the future who starts a war, hurts a child or domestic animal, commits a rape or hate crime would live in their own gray world away from the beautiful earth we could have more abundantly. I guess I am still in a dreamy state from last night's concert. I think I will research that phantom zone and its author. Should be a trip. Here it is. Phantom zone was a fictional prison in another dimension that first appeared in Superman comics in 1961. First used on the planet Krypton (Superman's former home) as a way of imprisoning criminals. They were sealed in capsules and rocketed into orbit in suspended animation with crystals attached to their foreheads to slowly erase their criminal tendencies. They resided in a ghost like existence from which they can observe.
"Just Leave This Long-Haired Country Boy Alone".......Poseyville 1964
I ran across this fellow who calls himself Uncle Zeke in several Letters to the Editor columns in the Poseyville News back in 1964. I am not certain his stories were real, but they sure were entertaining. Here's one from some place he called, "Coon Hollow." .....Dear Editor, I wuz sitting by my fireplace the other night, it was snowin' and the wind howlin' like sixty, snow wuz siftin' through the cracks in the wall where the mud had falled out between the logs. Ole Sport, my dog, wuz curled up on one end of the hearth, Old Tom, my cat, on the other end. The batteries in my radio wuz dead so we wuz just letting time go by. As I lay back in my rocker, my mind drifted back to last summer, when I had Ezra Potter helping me cut some weeds outta my corn. Ezra wuz a large, over grown youth in his early twenties, weighing around two ten or better, standing better than six three able to take care of himself any place ...even at the table. He sure could put away the vittles. Ezra and I had just made a round comin' outa the end next to the road. Along came a car with one of those city slickers in it, smoking a foot long cigar dressed like a Philadelphia lawyer, going to a hundred dollar a plate banquet. He stopped, looked over at Ezra who wuz leaning against the fence. I had gone down a ways to pick up the water jug. As I returned he said, "Hey son, your corn looks kindly yellow." Ezra turned facing him and said, "Yep, we planted yellow corn." Then the stranger said, "Don't look like you'll get more than half a crop." "Nope, we won't," said Ezra,"the landlord gets the other half." I came up as I could see the slicker was getting red. After a few moments hesitation he said, "You're not very fer from a durn fool are you?" "Nope," said Ezra, "just the fence between us!" That was the one that lit the fuse. He jumped out of that car dropping his cigar. I said to myself, "Oh brother, you're making a mistake." But he stopped....I guess he saw the look in Ezra's eyes. Ezra then jumped the fence and the slicker threw gravel all over the place as he sped away. I could see the disappointment in Ezra's face when he said, "Shucks, wonder what changed his mind?"
The Mt. Vernon Common Council was taking heat in early 1964 over a proposal to convert the east side of the court house square into a metered parking area of 54 places.Two councilman and Mayor Harold Gentil were scheduled to meet with the county officials to sell the project.
"Buster" Briley from Backcourt - Booom! Aces Netter Speaks in Poseyville.....1964
His given name is Harold, can you believe that? Buster was from Madison Indiana and was a fan favorite with the Evansville Aces fan base during his collegiate career. He hit the longest shot in Robert's Stadium history near the far free throw line as I remember. They put a marker of some sort on the floor to remember it. Besides his antics on the floor, along with his ability to knock down the bottom of the net he went into local politics, becoming a city councilman. Buster played for the Aces from 1962 -1964 and had 1335 points and was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 1977. In Poseyville, he spoke at a father and son affair, a banquet presenting letters and trophies to Viking squad members in the school cafeteria.
41 Year Old Former Boston Brave Throws One Hitter vs Wadesville in Double I League Action.....August 1962
James Harold "Lefty" Wallace grew up in Evansville and played for the Braves briefly in 1942, 1945, and 1946. He had a lifetime 5-6 record, 4.11 ERA and had 51 strikeouts. He played 10 years in the minors winning 82 games with a high of 17 wins twice. In this 1962 encounter, "Lefty" faced only 29 batters pitching for St. Wendel in a 2-0 win in Double I League action. He walked one, fanned six and allowed only a second inning infield hit to Byron Benton. Wallace also hit a triple in the seventh inning.
Big Brother is Listening to You - North Posey High School.....March 1962
The Poseyville News questioned how "democratic or American or Gestapo or F.B.I. or something is the intercom system at North Posey?" They questioned the intercom installation that would permit an operator or operators to in a private office to tune into conversations in classrooms, the auditorium, the gymnasium or a teacher's lounge at any time to hear what goes on without anybody else having the knowledge of it. "That sort of thing smacks of something we don't like. No one can perform their best work when they are under suspicion they are being bugged." ....you hear that J. Edgar and Richard Millhouse?
Resident of 1961 Mt. Vernon Looks Back To When She Came Here in 1878.....
Mrs. Anna Roos was interviewed by the Evansville Courier in 1961 and said this about Mt. Vernon: "I was a girl of five years of age. My family moved here from Tell City in an old fashioned covered wagon drawn by two old fashioned horses and the old fashioned Bristel Muly Cow tied behind the wagon. My mother was the driver. We were on the road four days with four wagons. We stayed all night the first night at a farm home near Santa Claus, Indiana. The second night we stayed with a German preacher in Boonville. We moved onto a farm owned by Elijah Spencer, a lawyer who had a brother, Dr. Edwin Spencer. The people laughingly proclaimed, "The doctor kills 'em and the lawyer takes their farms." Actually it wasn't a laughing matter...there was much malaria then that not even Mendenhall's Chill Tonic, much less an apple a day, could keep the doctor away. The doctor didn't kill us though, and we soon learned our way to town. There was a two story tenement house on the west side of the creek, which had a wooden covered bridge on Second Street. The John H. Barter blacksmith shop was located on the north side of the street; on the east side of the bridge was a grocery store and a saloon owned by Mr. Tente, and another grocery and saloon were on the other side. Trout's Flour Mill and a brewery were along the creek to the north. As a young man my father made flour barrels, we had one in our kitchen with a dough board on top. We made many a batch of molasses cookies there! In those days we got 40 to 50 cents a bushel for our wheat and 10 cents a gallon for blackberries. We had plenty to eat. Steamboats would come to town; Dad would hitch the horses to the wagon, we kids would pile in and we would go see the big old elephant walk over the gangplank from the boat to the circus. We would watch the parade to the circus grounds; sometimes we would get to go into a side show and once we got to see the Big Show. I remember going to Evansville to see my grandmother. She talked about the trip from Germany and the war in which my grandfather fought and was taken prisoner and starved to death the day before he was to be released from Andersonville Prison in Georgia. He is buried there. The old town is still here, is growing and being made new. About the only thing still familiar is our courthouse. Even our 19 or 20 churches are new and we still don't have room enough for everybody to go to church. I sure am happy about our new schools and high school. I didn't have a chance to get farther than the fifth reader and long division. I had to wade through mud and snow to get that. We studied the old McGuffy Reader and I think some of our young folks ought to read them yet! I remember the first high school commencement I went to. It was at the Masonic Building (Alles Furniture) and I only remember one person in the class....Rosina Armbruster. One day maybe Mt. Vernon will have a President from here. We elect every four years you know. One time we vote for the Democrats so they can straighten out the Republicans, then the next time for the Republicans so they can straighten out the Democrats. Anyway, I am glad women can vote. My advice to anyone looking for a home and or a business site is, you make no mistake if you locate in Mt. Vernon Ind."
Poseyville Fill Up.....1958
In April Mac Lamar drove into town with Don to get summer grade in his hoss and the wheels needed some grease. The colt's name was "Pal." and the kids liked to hear him snort....even if he did smell like a nag...a high grade nag.
City Cab Company 107 Main.....1950's
In 1957 this cab company was a competitor of the Veteran Cab Company on Second Street. The man on the far right is identified as one of the drivers Gene Darnell. Others have identified the man in the middle as Royce Felty and Norman Sailer is on the left.
The Original Ten Commandments Stone at the Courthouse was a Gift of the Eagles in May of 1956
In the 50's we had the Model Store on Main. It is now the law firm of McFaddin, Higgins, and Folz. These mittens were found upstairs with the 99 cent price tag still in place. They are now framed in their office.
"Stuck in the 50's Again".....
William Newman on right and Dick Vance who played end.
Lutterman's Market in the early 1950's.
Five Local Eagle Scouts in One Ceremony.....1952
George Hurley, David Keck, Gary Gronemeier, Bob King, and Richard Bottomley. Troop 81.
Purn W. Bishop Retires After 42 Years as MV Mail Carrier.....1952
Seventy year old Pern Bishop on his last day left with tears in his eyes as he said his goodbyes at the Post Office to his associates. Pern succeeded Earl Alexander when he retired in 1910. He kept the same route his entire career. His eastern boundary was Canal and he delivered to the west to Mill Creek.
Chicken Travels 936 Miles...Burns Feathers on Manifold.....1951
This story is about an old hen which must have had a desire to travel. The Hidbrader Motor Company had this car pull in out of state scheduled for a grease and oil job. Before putting it on the grease rack, the employees thought they heard cackling but couldn't locate it. When they raised the car they immediately spied the old hen which they figured had traveled at least 936 miles from her home. The figured the chicken had probably been roosting on the undercarriage of the car and hadn't had time to get off when the operator put the car in motion. Her tail feathers had been burned off due to the heat from the manifold. The boys named their new mascot "Oscar" at least until the owner comes back to pick up the car or the hen lays an egg.
Corridor Pass - "Don't Leave Home Without One".....1951
Barbers Raise Price of a Haircut to a $.....July 1950
Local barbers in Mt. Vernon raised the price of a haircut to a dollar late July of 1950. The only exception is if your child is not over 12 years of age then it will be 75 cents, except for Saturday when it too will be one dollar. They also set the price of a shave to 65 cents. "Hey, a man's gotta eat!" Operating hours remained 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. through the week and 8 to 8 on Saturday.
Lost And Found.....May 1950
Found-Slightly used plate of FALSE TEETH, thrown up or thrown out in the vicinity of the post office. Muddy, but still in good condition. Owner may have same by identifying, and paying for advertising at The Democrat office.
Ice and Snow Storm has Children Sledding Bottom of Sawmill Street Towards Bridge.....January 9, 1950
This is one of the earlier photos by John Doane when he first came to Mt. Vernon and his photos started showing up in the Mt. Vernon Democrat.
"A Call for Peace"...Poem of Jennie L. Wade, Local Resident.....1950
What horrors disguised in the garments of glory, What crimes in the name of Liberty done, What brave deeds exploited in song and in story, Oft prove but brute force over helplessness won. With passions inflamed, forth you go, never thinking...That laurels once gained may be fleeting and vain. Oh vaulted ambition for this are you linking. Your lives and your hopes to remorse's deep pain?.....The blast of the trumpet, the uniformed column, the glittering musket so dazzles the eye. You sacrifice all earthly ties in what volume to clasp to your bosom this sin purchased prize,....Oh Thou, Prince of Peace, now in glory abiding, who spoke to the billows so storm tossed and wild, Send forth thy meek spirit in power overriding the storms of men's passions by Satan beguiled........Speak, Lord, the sentence so long ago spoke. The whole earth must surely submit to thy will. Speak, Lord, and tyrannical power shall be broken; Oh listen, ye nations and hear...."Peace Be Still."
Al's Place Aces.....1949
It was a ball field behind the store/ gas station on the old highway to Evansville. It would be on the south side of the road past where the gas station is now or across the road from Wilson's BBQ, half way to Evansville. I don't personally remember the diamond but I am familiar with the ball team playing in the Double I League semi-pro circuit.
Winter of 1948 ....John Doane Photo
Doane Captures Ice Filled Ohio River with Barge Load of Cars.....1948
Bethel Church....May 6, 1947
The first three pilots to sign up for the commercial course at the local airport were Albert Noelle, RR1, Jimmy Cox of East Fifth and Edwin Gregory of New Harmony.
Flying Saucer Advertising.....1947
Within days of the Roswell incident, local flyer Bud Bauer of Bauer's D-X station took to the local skies and dropped small paper plates at noon with trade value at his service station. Pretty clever I figure! One local pilot of that time said he sees flying saucers every time he gets sassy with the Mrs. at home.
The Mt. Vernon Airport Happenings of 1947
That was the year the first three pilots to sign up for the commercial flying course were Albert Noelle and Jimmy Cox of Mt. Vernon and Edwin Gregory of New Harmony. A new porch and patio for pilots was completed with a roof over it. The floor was red concrete with five chairs and a settee. Good place to have coke while you watch a Cessna bounce land. I found out that except when necessary during take offs and landings, aircraft could not be lower than 1000 feet above town, or open air assemblies of persons.
New Harmony Soldier Saves Officer at Iwo Jima.....February 1945
A New Harmony marine, Pfc. Herbert Baker, Jr., 21, seeing a buddy collapse while carrying a wounded soldier out of a Japanese cave, braved smoke fumes and enemy fire to help carry the wounded man and assist his friend to safety. "After we threw a smoke grenade in the cave, my buddy and another man rushed in to bring out the wounded officer," said the private. "I saw him collapse while helping carry the officer out, so I went in to help." Baker was a member of a field artillery forward observer team on his third trip to the front lines when the officer was wounded as American GI's battled to take the island. He helped cover the entrances to the cave until Marine infantrymen took over. Once the unconscious officer was out, Baker helped in applying first aid. This story was within a week or so of the battle and I do not know if he received a medal.
Stewartsville Soldier Carried A Swastika in his Billfold.....February 1945
Sgt. Ernest Dunlap wrote home that he had removed a swastika from the sleeve of a dead German as he entered his first German town with General Patton's Third Army. Besides the armband, Dunlap had a folded up picture of himself opening Christmas packages that was printed in the Stars and Stripes newspaper.
Stewartsville Boy Writes of Ship Hazing Crossing the Equator.....Christmas 1944
Christmas came and 18 year old Harold Baker wrote home. From the Red Cross aboard an unnamed ship he got five cartons of cigarettes, shoe shine, two decks of cards, pocket books, soap box, razor blades, sewing kit, two books, writing paper, comb, candy, and gum. He praised the organization of one of the finest he knew. He then crossed the equator and it was a Navy rule that when you do so for the first time, you have to go through an initiation. Baker along with others had fire hoses turned on them, they were spat on and paddled. They were then put in grease, oil, paint, feathers and a stinking dead fish. They got the works. It took three hours to come clean. All the time they were doing this the sailors were blindfolded. At the end they got a certificate proving they had crossed the equator before.
Meliso the Magician at Poseyville Gym.....1944
George L. Hail was his real name who started in 1905. He was a comedy magician for over 50 years before he hung up his wand....that don't sound right does it? He had a puppet theatre and I have seen several ads of his in Billboard magazine. He visited Army camps too during the war with his mild humor. When he was in Poseyville he had five vaudeville acts with him including a Chinese Prisoner Escape Illusion they called, "Japanese Torture." Then there was Nada..."the girl with the shrunken head." I don't know if she had one or carried one -LOL. Our coliseum use to be ripe for such acts. I wouldn't mind watching a few at the riverfront today. Maybe not the torturing part or the shrunken head; but you know something moral and uplifting - LOL - with dancing girls.
The First Week After Pearl Harbor in New Harmony.....December 1941
The New Harmony Times newspaper was a weekly back then and the first edition after the Japanese attack to come out was on December 12th. Lots of things had happened dampening the spirit of Christmas. The business ads still wished for "Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards Men," but we all know and they knew it was not to be for a very long time. The editor wrote of how "the tinder box in the Pacific had exploded." They wrote of the excitement and fear and determination of the people of this country to put away political barriers and unite. The "call to arms" as always requiring many sacrifices home and abroad. They warned that the standard of living would drop to a much lower level, but in the end they would subdue our enemies and then we would reconstruct the "bleeding and battered world." The Strand Theatre in New Harmony played the movie, "Sergeant York," That movie as you recall starred Gary Cooper and told of the event where he captured 100 plus Germans by himself in World War 1. What was surprising was York's admission that he did what he did to stop more killing as he believed in the Biblical adage...."Thou Shalt not Kill." He was not however a pacifist. The highest grossing film of the year helped recruit soldiers into the war. Days following Pearl Harbor fifteen planes flew in war formation over Posey County. Residents looked to the skies and you know they were thinking of what the future had in store for them and the world. Germany, Japan, and Italy seems to have learned from their past, thankfully. If you read the real Sgt. York you will find a very interesting character. A hesitant Medal of Honor winner who was not sure World War I did any good and yet he tried to re-enlist in the Second World War. He worked on a draft board and called for the internment of aliens into camps. A Democrat in politics he took offense to Lindbergh yet at times also praised American isolationism. It seems to me he was a loyal patriot with conflicting ideals of God and country trying to serve both the best he knew how.
First Ice Cream Cone.....1941
In 1941 an old man in New Harmony had his first ever ice cream cone. He sure had a time of it because he didn't realize the cone part was also good to eat. He stretched his tongue out so far trying to get the cream out of the bottom of the cone; he had it all over his face and said, "I think I pulled my tongue loose on one side!" He had thought the cones were like paper plates and he didn't want to get caught eating one.
So Papa said, "This soup is too.....1941
Mrs. Otto Schertiger made a nice pot of soup one day. She thought her aunt, Mrs. Mollie Robb, might like some too, so she sent her some in a bucket. In carrying it five blocks the soup got a little chilled. The Robbs were just getting ready to sit down for dinner and the soup arrived just in time for the hungry family on a cold day. Without a microwave oven like today, Mrs. Robb heated the bucket on a gas stove. Ole Otto there seeing the soup on the stove and being in a hurry, like I get, thought he would help and turned up the heat and pressed on the lid just a little tighter. Within a short period of time there was a loud explosion and the soup was blown to the four corners of the room and dripped even from the ceiling! Well, that's the power of steam, Otto figured. It gave him a idea. He jokingly said later, "I think I can paint the room using my pressure method and that a quart of paint can cover what a gallon could before and it will be done instantly!" Better refigure there sir.
"Just a Simple Case of Mistaken Identity".....1941
Stancel Long took his car back to Poseyville to have some seat covers installed. He said, "Now, see hear Mr. Davis, I can't stand around here all afternoon waiting on you guys to put them thar covers on, 'cause I'm a busy feller, ya here?" Davis said, "Well Stan my man if you are indeed that busy, why can't you drive my car and that will give us time to do the job right without you bitch'n?" Stancel said, Where's your car at?" Davis replied, "Why it's that green car parked out front." That's was all fine and dandy to a point. You see there were two green cars parked there at that time and Stancel picked the wrong one and drove it maybe fifty miles before coming home and getting a phone call that he was wanted for stealing a car! He was driving a car that belonged to a Mr. Cleveland. Davis told him he had better get back to town while Cleveland was still in a good mood. Stancel wasted no time getting back to the shop and the only swearing he did that day was to himself.
Third Grade Essay Captures First Place in New Harmony Contest.....1941
Hashhead Ward (now there is a name for you), wrote his essay on "Papa's Thermometer: The nine year old said: "Papa's thermometer hangs on the north side of the back porch and is always right according to Papa. It gets colder in the winter than Aunt Phillinda's feet and is hotter in summer than Uncle Bazat's model T ford. Papa says during the big blizzard of 1877 the mercury got so low that he had to dig for it after the ground thawed out in the spring. Papa's thermometer causes more arguments than a presidential election and has caused Papa to get more black eyes than he ever received by splitting kindling and on cold days he swears at it."
Photographer at the high school in 1941. In the background you can see old Central school which will burn in 1945.
Photographer may be Jones who was before Doane who sold his studio to John. There was also a Buell back in the early 1900's.
Mayor George Krug ...late 30's or early 40's
New Harmony Granary.....1939
Christmas Flavor of 1938
The Christmas spirit was high throughout the town of Mt. Vernon as decorations were on the interior and exterior of all the Mt. Vernon stores. The Mt. Vernon Creamery were busy making ice cream cakes for customers and even drove by the homes of their usual clients in the city to deliver a quart of pasteurized milk and two large white candles all done up in a Christmas box absolutely free. Christmas trees showed up in the lots just two weeks before the holiday. Miniature trees were put on the lamp posts outlined in colored lights which added to the beauty of shopping downtown. Colored spangles and streamers formed the look inside Stinson's Bros. Dry Goods as well as a large Christmas tree in the center on a stage. The windows of E.B. Schenk Hardware had the scene of the nativity. A winter farm scene was placed in the corner windows of the Eilert Farm Equipment Company. It included a house, garage, barn and other buildings with a plowed field in front. The land was snow covered and it had an addition of small figures, animals and trucks, tractors and plows in the field. It was illuminated with a blue lighting effect. At Hartung's a huge tree with small human figures and animals were underneath in a snow covered display. Rosenbaum's had colored streamers in their interior with show windows in Christmas attire. At Southern Indiana Gas and Electric there were simple decorations of red and green and brilliantly lighted as you might expect. Rothrock Pharmacy had Christmas trees and colored Christmas bells all around the store. The front of the Craft Shop had an illuminated star near the top of the three story building and colored lights down the sides of the building. At Strack Plumbing there were five arches of colored lights with a pair of Christmas trees in lights for good measure. Icicles dangled from colored ropes in front to the rear of Ike Rosenbaum's jewelry store and silver stars dangled from colored gum drops at Edgar Alldredge's Dagger's Place. The Elk's Home had a huge lighted star over its entrance and the Masonic Temple decorations included colored lights across the entire front of the building and lights forming an arch at the front entrance. Keck Motor Company had trees and lights galore and a huge wreath adorned the Hall cleaning and pressing establishment. The American Legion placed a mammoth and gaily lighted tree on the west side of the courthouse lawn. The Legion emblem was at the top of the large cedar. Streamers were part of the Weckesser building as were the south and east sides of the Keck-Gonnerman Auto Company. The Dunn Grocery on Fourth Street and the Ford and Turner barber shops were finely decorated. Did I miss anything? Santa didn't I was told.
Van Camp Had Contract on Wolflin Street - Old Label.....Late 1930's
Around 1942 Abner Carey bought up the property and it became Ohio Veneer and Lumber Company.
Razed Smokehouse in St. Wendel in 1938 has Awful Past of Mt. Vernon Cholera Epidemic of 1873
In the fall of 1938, a brick smoke house at the home of Alex Newman in St. Wendel was torn down. Residents connected of the erection of it in 1873 long remembered the cholera epidemic in Posey County and especially Mt. Vernon. Anthony Raben was the owner of the house during the epidemic and employed John Tragraser to build a smoke house. Tragraser came directly from working at the Miller farm and where seven members of that family had died from cholera within three weeks. Raben insisted that Tragraser take a bath and change clothes immediately and warned him of the danger and offered to give him new clothes. Tragraser only laughed and told Raben that he was silly. The building was completed on a Saturday morning and the next day Tragraser died of cholera!
Overheard at the Post Office; Opening Light Bill.....Late 1930's
A woman took her mail out of her box; tore opened the envelope pulled out the bill, read it and said, "Well, for Pete's sake! My bill is two dollars and thirty three cents this time and I've been gone most of the month. I'll see whose bill they have mine mixed up with. I don't want to pay for the light plant myself!" Another heard her and noticed she had her bill too. Opening it she exclaimed: "My land, I can't understand this light bill business either. There's no trying to save on lights. Last month we had longer nights and had company three nights and now the bill is higher than it was then! I don't know how to read my meter but if rates keep going up, I'll put in coal oil lights real soon!"
During that time there was lots of exploration of oil in our county and the papers were full of how many holes were dry or producing. Some of my family in those days found hard employment as young men working in the oil fields. The old hills and hollows were hard to get to...next to impossible in some areas. Sometimes it looked like the Old Plank Road was making a comeback as heavy oak timber was sometimes put down over gravel to get to oil wells and pay sands. Stories say of a Gulf filling station in New Harmony where big trucks that operated in the fields would get washed off. He charged $7 to wash a truck back then and he earned it! So much mud would come off those trucks it had to be hauled away. The owner once said that if he had a place to put all that mud in one place since he started he would soon own a good farm and maybe have an oil well of his own.
"Look Through Any Window Now...What Do You See?".....1938
"Smilin' faces all around rushin' through the busy town." That would have been the scene three weeks before Christmas of 1938. The shopping district was a "go-go," and merchandize was plentiful once again. Citizens were urged to "Buy at Home" this holiday season. Radios were big sellers. Everybody wanted to hear the FDR fireside chats I reckon. The Fox jewelry store had an interesting window display. It was a ear-wiggling, tail-twisting pig carved out of a pecan. Must have been a small item, but it seems the public loved it and wondered how he got it to move. Foxy didn't want it published so as to continue the curiosity. "Ok hunnie...you keep shopping, I'll meet you at Daggers'...I got a terrible thirst and I need some rolling papers.
Posey County Teams Win Postseason.....1938
During the 1938 Evansville Basketball Sectional Posey County did something they never did before to that point...defeat two Evansville Schools in Post season play. Mt. Vernon defeated Evansville Reitz 25-24 in the quarterfinals behind the 13 points of Bill Crider. Our Wildcats lost in the semi-finals 33-17 to Sectional Champs Evansville Central. Poseyville also proved not to be as dainty as their name by defeating Evansville Bosse. At that time there were only three Evansville Schools.
"Know Your Town," Theme of Kiwanis Luncheon.....October 1937
It was brought up that Mt. Vernon was the third largest city in the Eighth congressional district behind Evansville and New Albany. Mt. Vernon had no bonded indebtedness, 16 churches, and had 22 industrial plants. Twenty two cents of every dollar was spent on education, corn was the biggest agricultural crop and births exceeded deaths. Incorporated officially on December 7, 1865 by a vote of 230-130. Two other previous votes in 1832 and 1846 brought no formal incorporation. First called McFaddin's Bluff, the name Mt. Vernon was selected in 1816, nine years after the town was founded, and was suggested by Samuel Rowe, whose father George Rowe, served in the Revolutionary war as a lieutenant under George Washington of Mt. Vernon, Virginia.
Coast Guard Boats 1937 Flood
Hammond Organ Installed at Funeral Home.....1937
The premiere of the new invention...the Hammond Organ came to the Short funeral home. Miss Virginia Byrd, well known Indianapolis organist, played informally the first Sunday morning at the Chapel. The new organ creates exquisite tones by electrical impulses rather than by air pressure. Using no pipes or reeds, the Hammond produces the beauty of those familiar with the cathedral organ.
Mayor Herman Bray, James Bennett and George Krug....all became MV Mayors. Circa 1935-1938
OMG do I have some photos for you people! These photos like some that have been placed on the Posey County Historical Society page come from the Krug family and are being shared with us by Debbie Dixon Morgan. Dozens and dozens of them! I am going to show some of the highlights and over time the others will be scanned and kept. I thank Becky Higgins for having me come down and see them and putting them up. Debbie Dixon I am so happy you shared these with the community!!!!
11-7 Mt. Vernon Wildcats who started the season 9-0. Interesting photo and rare as there was no Mt. Vernon yearbook that season....1937
1936/37 Mt Vernon Basket Ball Team. #9 is Dutch Weir and 5 Bill Keck. This team was successful because they played with a center jump after every made basket. You'll notice they had a big tall center which was unusual for the times. Dutch and Bill were known as the "red headed field goal twins!" There are four players on this roster that are in the Mt. Vernon High School Hall of Fame...Oliver Willis and Alfred "Dutch" Wehr in 1986, Paul Moeller in 1986, and Bill Keck in 1990. In this season Mt. Vernon for the first time did not compete in the Posey County Tourney since its inception in 1922. Reasons seemed to have been that we were not hosting enough of them and had the largest gym. Oliver Willis was the leading scorer that season with 153 points and a .324 field goal percentage, Cats had stellar victories over Tell City, Reitz, Boonville, Henderson Kentucky, Owensville and Princeton. They lost to Sectional Champs Central in the tourney 22-20. Price of a game in those days was a quarter for the general public and 15 cents for students.
Stephen Implement Store, then at 418 Main in 1937
Booker T Speaker.....1937
In 1937, Dr. Carl Chester Lyles of Lyle Station in Gibson County, a settlement founded by free slaves in the 1840's came to Booker T. High School in Mt. Vernon for a Tri-State Symposium as a guest of principal Guy Bishop. Lyles was an educator for 52 years and the great grandson of a freed slave. He was one of the first black educators to become an administrator at a predominately white school in Evansville.
"Old Nick" McFadden former Posey County Sheriff. ...photo taken in 1930's. He was given the Biblical name of Enoch.
New Harmony's "Dance of the Nymphs"...1934
Kenneth Cartwright Garage....100 Main Street...1933
Come on down, we got the service you require. "Free air, water, advice, radio program guides, road maps and information. We put the spark in spark plugs! That's right spark plugs cleaned, tested and adjusted for just 10 cents each." They would bore your cylinders; fix your brakes, grease and oils all available. Come get your blow outs patched today. Complete satisfaction. Phone 127.
That year Mt. Vernon and Griffin met twice and split the two games. The first was played in Griffin as the Tornados won 20-18. The second meeting was the Posey County Tourney Championship held in Mt. Vernon where 1300 fans watched the Wildcats take the Championship for the second time in their history since they won the first one in 1922. Mt. Vernon won that game 28-25 behind the 16 points of Dwight Roberts. The two teams met 49 times between 1926 and 1959 with Mt. Vernon winning 31. Mt. Vernon won the last game in 1959 by the score of 92-66 as the locals set a new Posey County tourney record for points. In that game future Oakland City coach Charlie Brauser had 25 points and future congressman Joel Deckard contributed 14.
Hominy Mill Fire of November 3, 1932
As is the case in Mt. Vernon there have been many mill fires over the two centuries. This one occurred on a Thursday morning when watchman August Beste discovered the blaze in the conveyor under the floor of the grinding room near the southwest corner of the mill. It started around 5 a.m. and the exact cause was not determined. At the height of the fire the corn oil tank at the west end of the mill, containing 7000 gallons of uninsured corn oil exploded! The blast shattered windows in the Eagles Home, the Cartwright garage and adjacent structures throughout that part of town. The loss was estimated at $300,000 of which was half insured.
New Harmony Register Ceases Publication.....October 14, 1932
The New Harmony Register, published since 1867, closed its last column after 3,395 issues. All of these under editors C.W and Harry Slater who called the last issue his "swan song." He refused to sell his license or register and donated the printing press to the town of New Harmony. His was a paper of merit without solicitations to annoy you. C.W. Slater had an earlier paper called the "Advertiser" and they were published in the 1850's. The Civil War came and Slater enlisted and the Advertiser was suspended. In 1867 he started the Register and it was published every week since. In 1894 C.W. died and passed the paper to his son Harry. The paper was known to have had its own character...honest and reliable. Slater was known to have been a man who went about his work in a kindly way, minding his own affairs, loyal to friends and not one to get into shouting matches with other papers or political muck raking. A man who could make his living with a small town newspaper over many decades like the Slater's did shows they had something special going on be it dignity or genius.
The first place to buy legal booze after Prohibition in Mt. Vernon was at the Elks Lodge in April of 1932
Democrats in their platform of the election of 1932 said; "We advocate the repeal of the 18th Amendment. To effect such repeal we demand that the Congress immediately propose a Constitutional Amendment to truly represent the people by immediate modification of the Volstead Act and to legalize the manufacture and sale of beer and other beverages of such alcoholic content as in permissible under the Constitution and to provide therefrom a proper and needed revenue." The Republican platform was...."the Republican Party has always stood and stands today for obedience to and enforcement of the law. The 18th amendment must be enforced as they find it enacted by the people. To this course we pledge."
MV Social Program of November 1931
Mt. Vernon wasn't waiting on the newly elected President FDR to start pushing out domestic "New Deal" programs....we got our own. Democrat Mayor E.F. Bamburger and the Chamber of Commerce wanted to raise $1500 as a "Fund for Relief" for the unemployed. They asked all employed persons to donate one half days wage per month to the endeavor. Bet that went over real well....damn liberals!
Dog Put Down - Kids Get Shots.....July 1931
It was a hot month in the high 90's and the county was sweltering. "White Mule" arrests were up and farmers were actually dying in their fields from heat stroke. At least two succumbed to sun strokes. In Marrs Township, three children of Mr. and Mrs. Roscoe Ruminer were bitten by their pet dog. The children were Louise, 10, Anthony, 7, and Angela, 3. Dr. Robert Hardwick gave each child a 14 day anti-rabies treatment after the dog was found to have developed hydrophobia.
Congressional District Change.....1931
In early 1931 the citizens of Posey County were put in the Eighth Congressional District instead of the First as they had been due to reapportionment of the legislature.
Thomas Hardy....Posey County Moonshiner 1920's and 1930's
New Harmony's Thomas Hardy did an interview with the Mt. Vernon Democrat in the 1980's I thought was insightful. He told of his old life to reporter Deborah Burdick in great detail. He started making whiskey in 1924 with a friend before he was 21 years of age and ran 30 barrels of mash a week of which each barrel contained seven gallons of whiskey. "I was just as safe as if I'd been shucking corn," he told Deborah. He said he always knew when the revenuers were coming, but said he would not tell how. He went on to say that there were so many moonshiners in Posey County that they "needed to put tags on themselves to keep from selling to each other." Police were corrupt and once excise men confiscated a lot of 188 proof whiskey in five gallon tin cans. He got it from the excise people and resold it into Illinois. He had many brushes with the law, but never spent a day in jail. Judge Clements in Posey County would fine you $40.25 the first time you were caught and the second time you went to the penal farm for six months. His best story I think was when he was running whiskey up to Ontario, Canada, of which he did many times. He was going through the customs line and his turtle back trunk on his 1927 Model T Ford was full. He had overload springs on it to keep the front end from coming up. "The car was loaded down and I was half loaded and couldn't walk too good," Thomas said. "Get out of the car," the custom's man said. He dug for his driver's license as they beat his back seat cushions with a club. He was then told to raise his turtle back. When he did they saw that it was full of whiskey. "Put it down and get out of here," they said, and he did.
"Greek's" Sells 621 Gallons of Ice Cream......August 1928
The Tip Top Creamery of Vincennes, the local dealer for the Palace said the Mt. Vernon establishment exceeded all other customers for the month of August. During the first eight months of the year we sold 2,887 gallons. Mt. Vernon seems to love the stuff. And these totals are not including the hundreds of gallons of ice cream sold in town from other dealers and other companies.
Mt. Vernon Men at Browns Game are Kidded by Sportscaster On the Air.....1928
Let's see, a bunch of Mt. Vernon sports fans, J. Stewart Yow of Yow Tire & Battery Station, V. L. Grubb the manager of the Vernon Theater, Ed Alles of the Mt. Vernon Democrat, and Raymond Hoehn of the Hoehn Insurance Company went to Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. Here we have the surprising St. Louis Browns playing Connie Mack's second place Philadelphia Athletics. That had to be a good game as Ty Cobb and Mickey Cochrane, Eddie Collins, Jimmy Foxx and Lefty Grove still active. They won 98 games that year in a 154 game schedule, but the Yankees were still the Yankees and they won 101. The men had tickets in the second tier of the grandstand up where the broadcast was being held and after introducing themselves to the radio men, they told the world...."Four corncob smokers of Mt. Vernon, Posey County, Indiana are present with us today to see the game."
Keenie's Pop Corn Crispies Manufactured In Mt. Vernon.....1928
A new industry popped up that didn't last too long but I find interesting as say "Snap, Crackle, Pop." Keenies Pop Corn Crispies was the name of a product that started production in September of 1928 in the rear of Louis Kuehn's residence at 616 East Second Street. Kuehnie had a King-Quary electric popper which he bought for $250 that would supply four bushels of the popped corn. After popping it was conveyed into a heating tank where the syrup was cooked into the corn and then poured over the corn again. It then becomes molded, pressed, and wrapped and is ready for delivery. I bet that was good. Sounds like one of my old aunt Myrtle's popcorn ball treats I had as a kid. That's right...relished delicacy for young and old alike. I wonder how many orders he had?
Drowns In His Sleep Investigation Shows.....1927
Ed McDaniels, a former storekeeper below Mt. Vernon on the Mackey Ferry road died in his sleep from drowning. He was anchored in a houseboat on the Illinois side near Maunie when the boat sank and as it slowly filled with water in the darkness of the night, McDaniels drowned. The man was working as a cook for a construction camp and foul play was ruled out. The boat was raised and the leak was found and his body was lodged behind the stove. There was evidence that he had been drinking.
Hello Out There in Radio Land.....1927
I can only imagine the emergence of radio in the 1920's. All them vacuum tubes oscillating and what not.....Okay, it's now 8 P.M. and during the past half hour Grandpa ~Wavy has just listened to a splendid program from a thousand miles away in Schenectady, New York from station WGY. I heard the Mayor of that fine city address his citizens as clearly as if I were there. Yesiree. I thought how wonderful this age is to live with this mysterious new instrument of science. It's like fairyland I tell ya. All the romance of Dreamland and all the drama of no-mans land. Who knows or imagines what the future will bring? Radio land is a reality broadcasting music from another address way far away. Here I am a poor farmer in Point Township and I can listen to a opera in Philadelphia like the city folks! I bet there are millions of people throughout the world enjoying these wonders of radio land. Maybe I will hear the World Series one day or President Coolidge? Na, I hear he don't talk much. But someday we will. Wouldn't that be somethin'? We are the wonder workers of all the ages. The marvels of discovery and progress are now common place. Hey, we are even flying like birds in the sky! What in the name of Isaac Newton will come next?
"I say, I say, Is that your horn?"......1926
A county doctor bought what he said was a second hand cornet. Really it was not second handed, its fifth handed and in the second place it was not the Doc who bought it but his wife. The doc said he would not have known it was a horn if the auctioneer had not have said so as the mouth piece was gone, three keys were missing and the bell was battered flat. Why his wife wanted it was a mystery but the Doc thinks there must have been some history to it. The horn was made in 1790 B.T. The B.T.means before tunes were in style. It may have been played in the World War and from the looks of it all the armies had been shooting at it. Couldn't even get one toot out of it.
New Harmony Man Remembers Rise and Fall of Steamboats.....1926
M.B. Creek was born in Aurora on the Ohio in 1849 and saw the steamboat era in all its glory and glamour. He participated in the flat boat trade to New Orleans making trips in 1866 on boats built in Aurora and loaded down with meat and grain. He recalled meeting many boats from the Wabash and upon hailing them and inquiring as to their cargo, hearing, "hoop-poles and pumpkins." Not sure about that one, but that is always part of legends. Creek recalled seeing the collision of the Mat Holmes and the Gibson, big side wheelers that occurred near Aurora in 1861. The down river boat was loaded with emigrants seeking homes in what then was the near west. The survivors were brought to Aurora and sheltered in people's homes. Mr. Creek was a cabin boy on the steamer United States at the time it collided with the Claiborne at Smithland, Ky., and burned at the water's edge. He had just got off at Aurora before the collision of which there was great loss of life. Later Creek became part owner of the Mamie, a little vessel 60 feet in length, 18 feet beam and drawing 3 feet of water. The boat piled up the small tributaries to the Ohio River bringing down produce from the towns situated away from the mainstream. It was on that boat that Creek first came to New Harmony in 1875 and made his home. For a time he also ran a packet from New Harmony to Grayville.
Electric Wires and Poles Removed from Court Square.....August 1925
Poles and wires that have been located around the court house square ever since the town got electricity were removed by the Southern Indiana Gas and Electric Company. That part of the distribution system that formerly supplied power will in the future be supplied over lines placed in the alley between Walnut and Mulberry Streets. The removal of the wires and poles greatly improved the appearance of our square.
One Woman's Death of Griffin Tornado.....March 1925
One lady (I am withholding the name) had a piece of plank ran through her body and she ran a hundred yards before fainting. Her husband placed her on a sled and hauled her to first aid. Placed on a train to Evansville she died the next morning. It required eight people to pull the plank out of her body.
Griffin Tornado....March 18, 1925
Forthoffer Calendars from 1920's
New Harmony Editor Sees His First Ever Basketball Game and Boos.....1925
It was a Saturday night in New Harmony and the newspaper editor of the Times he thought he would go see a game considering a Sectional would be held in that town for the first and only time later that season. He had never seen a basketball game before.He wrote: "One thing is clear to me is New Harmony was winning, a fact conveyed by the joyous yells of the locals. It seemed to be to my uninitiated senses that the game would have progressed much better if it had not been for the referee, a fussy, whistle-blowing gentleman who stepped in just at a time when the playing seemed going big and took the ball away from the players, who were beginning to enter into the spirit of the game with just the proper zest. I may be wrong, but there seemed times when rank favoritism prevailed. For instance, on occasions the referee would give the ball to certain players who crouched close to the basket and from this easy vantage spot registered a bull's eye with no opposition in front of them. I liked the work of the yell leaders who were colorful and industrious, but yelled at times when I saw nothing I should get excited about."
Mt. Vernon Basketball Team Plays in New Harmony Sectional in Green Uniforms with Scarlet Stripes.....1925
Yes, those "Mountaineers" under Coach Virgil Robbins predicted a win despite being 6-14 on the season. Only two ways this bunch was going to win....poison the other teams or play two girls...Wade and McGregor from our State Championship girl's team. Mt. Vernon was eliminated in the opening game in the only Boy's Basketball Sectional ever held in Posey County. We lost in the "rubber match" to the Stewartsville Owls 30-15. Those "hooters" knocked us out of the first game of the Posey County Tourney that year also.There were 674 teams in the state tournament that season! Poseyville won the Sectional outscoring their three opponents 68-30. In the Regional the Posies lost to Huntingburg 18-17. Evansville Central won that championship.
Old Public Square Jail Remembered....1925
Mary Ann Evison Nolte wrote in 1925 about the old jail that once held the prisoners of 1878 that were taken out and lynched by a mob. "The jailor's residence was a brick building, two rooms and a hall downstairs and two rooms and a hall upstairs. At the back of the residence was a long wide hall that was two stories high and in summer the north end was used for the family kitchen. The jail key was about ten inches in length. When we were good children, Mr. Jenkins, jailor would reward us by telling us to shove the prisoners' food through a chute, into a tin plate in the hands of the prisoners inside the cell. "Mary said there was this one inmate that was there practically all of the time....an Otis Campbell sort of fellow (Mayberry), "harmless but incurable." She would ask him about what made him so crazy. His answer was..."a limb fell and hit him," but he always added..."it hit the rest of the family too!" A stage coach ran from Mt. Vernon to Evansville in those days and the coach would stop at the jail. Prisoners would sometimes be sent on the stage. Once a woman was transferred to Jeffersonville and she wore a silk black dress, a black hat with lace and a veil over her eyes. She carried her parasol and looked happy. Why was she happy? She had killed her child and had escaped the gallows.
First Ku Klux Klan Funeral Held in Mt. Vernon.....June 1924
Around 35 robbed and masked men conducted Klan ceremonies at the Bellefontaine cemetery for Edgar Coon. They also attended the services at the residence and acted as pallbearers. Mr. Coon was buried in his Klan robe.
Don't Come Around Here No More...Stop.....1924
The big Fed game wardens arrested six Evansville duck hunters at Pitcher's Lake, ten miles northwest of Mt. Vernon. Them good ole boys were hunting out of season. Nine of the mallard ducks they downed were turned over to the Posey County Infirmary and another dozen or so were sent to Princeton for the Methodist hospital. For disobeying the federal hunting statute, they were cited before a federal judge who promised to come down hard. "I fought the law and the law won."
Prospectus of the Strawboard Company of Mt. Vernon by Chamber of Commerce.....1923
In that year the local company is to be sold to the Graham Paper Company of St. Louis. It would soon be closed. The general manager was Robert Stevens who had that position for six years. He was the son of R.P. Stevens who represented the paper company in one capacity or another for fifty years. It employed approximately 125 men (all white) and its payroll averaged about $2,200 per week. It owned 24 acres of property with footage on the Ohio River in Black Township. No labor problems were ever acknowledged. The buildings were kept up in good condition and sprinklers were added over time not only for safety but for advantageous insurance rates. Straw and labor were plentiful and it had rail facilities to larger cities.
Main Street School - 5th & 6th Grades.....1920-1921
FDR in Mt. Vernon.....October 21, 1920
The Democratic candidate for vice-president, ex assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt of New York was greeted in the city that Thursday afternoon to an audience of about 2000. En route here from Princeton, the speaker made stops at Cynthiana, Poseyville and New Harmony where he made short talks to the voters. A platform was erected in front of the eastern corridor of the court house from which he spoke amid applause at 5:15 p.m. He was introduced by William Espenschied chairman of the Democratic county central committee. He spoke for forty minutes and was devoted to the League of Nations of which he explained in detail.
Charles T. Johnson Entertained Franklin Roosevelt at 531 Mulberry in 1920
In a house built by Herman Rosenbaum, Johnson, hosted FDR then running for Vice President. Johnson was president of several mills in Mt. Vernon and Evansville as well as a director of People's Bank & Trust Company. When he died in 1933 the MV Democrat said: "Public spirited and civic minded to an unusual degree, he gave liberally of his means and effort in development of this locality. No public cause nor undertaking in the last quarter century but that drew his loyal support. " The Rev Paul Press, pastor of Trinity Evangelical Church had charge of the service. Burial was at Bellefontaine cemetery with the Mt. Vernon Elks in charge of rites at the grave. Mills across Mt. Vernon sat silent during the funeral.
Highlights of Board of State Charities Report on County Jail.....1919
At the time the board came to Mt. Vernon to look at the jail on Mill Street we had 15 inmates of which five were women. Walter Hinkley was the sheriff and man in charge at that time. The board took note of the strong stone structure, but criticized the lack of natural light and poor ventilation. They called it, "exceedingly poor." There were 14 cells then, 12 for men and 2 for women. If any children were present they were kept with the women. It was lighted by electricity, had city water and sewage and was heated by steam. There were two baths for the prisoners, one for women and one for men and each inmate got one bath a week. Hammocks and iron beds were provided for the men and iron beds for the ladies. No religious services were provided. Tramps were not housed here unless they broke a law. They just were run out of town.
Hooray for Hollywood.....1919
"Sis Hopkins" was a movie made in 1919 and redone in 1941 where a pigeon-toed girl from homely Posey County, Indiana moves to the big city of Los Angeles to stay with wealthy relatives.
The Cotton Blossom Caught in Ice Gorge of which she sank.....1918
Main Street.....Winter 1918
1916 Centennial Parade
A Modern Bathroom of the 1916 Centennial Parade
1916 Centennial Parade
Harmonists wagon now stored at Workingmen's Institute in New Harmony.
1916 Centennial Parade
Moving Pictures To Be Shown At Sherburne Park.....July 8, 1915
Jacob Cronbach, the donor of the Park completed the arrangements to have a screen and moving pictures at the park. The "screen machine" was said to have over 300 different views. The views were said to have been Biblical and educational pictures as well as views of the larger cities and many wonders from foreign countries. Cronbach was saluted by the press for giving people who had never seen a movie a chance to do so. It was said that the audience was greatly satisfied.
Award Winning Display at Evansville's Tri-State Farmer's Institute.....March 1915
Awarded a "loving cup" for this presentation. There were 5 honors given and Posey took 4 of them. Poseyville even got the prettiest girl ...Marjorie Bailey. The booth was made by Martin Smith of The Craft Shop in Mt. Vernon. It was constructed of hoop poles. There was a log cabin in the back set around hoop poles and pumpkins. There was also a coon skin. Products of corn, wheat, peas, apples, nuts, eggs, etc. were shown. There were scenes of Hastings' zebroids and photo of Fred Thomas, a boy champion corn raiser. The booth was in charge of F. L. Wright, John Hines, Fred Thomas, Carl Sander, and Misses Bailey and Gwaltney.
Krug Saloon 101 Main.....1915
This is just one of several pictures I have never seen before from the George Krug family now on the Posey County Historical Society Facebook page....Check them out. They are excellent! J.W. would be John W. Krug who was a member of the Eagles Club nearby. The upper floor was a dance hall. Many a Labor Day, Christmas or New Year's Eve Party was held there. The sign above the small door on Water Street says Lunch. The round sign on the door at the bottom says beer. A city directory of 1915 shows that 101 Main was the saloon and 103 Main was Krug Bros. Cigars.
Mecca Cafe at 411 Main according to a 1915 city directory
Looks like a Posey County Fair poster in the window.
Ride, Captain, Ride.....1915
In 1915 Two Mt. Vernon boys Charlie and Sherman Carr Rode Bicycles from Indianapolis to San Francisco then a distance of 3052 miles. Charlie was manager of the Western Union Telegraph Office in Mt. Vernon before the war. He had a long career in overseas service directing relief work and with the Red Cross. The other fellow is Horance Alldridge.
"Super Freaky"....November 1914
Oscar Brinkman was digging in his patch and found a funky potato which was the exact image of a human foot and leg from the knee down. I like how these stories always ended with them taking their strange vegetables and even animals to the Western Star newspaper office for comment.
Man (30) Is Decapitated by Train.....October 1914
Will (name withheld), a Negro employed in the E.E. Thomas coal yard was killed by an L&N train with his head being severed from his body. Will was under the influence of alcohol and about eleven in the evening was met at the corner of Sixth and Main by a night policeman who started him towards his home in the eastern part of Mt. Vernon which was then the last time he was seen alive. At six in the morning as workmen were coming down the track between Mulberry and Locust streets, they found the body lying on one side of the track and his head on the other, the head being severed from the body as though it had been done with a sharp knife. He must have been killed by the passenger train going west at 3 A.M. as seventy cents in change which he had in his pockets were found scattered along the track a distance of about 25 feet east of where the body was lying. He was unmarried and bore a good reputation. His body was moved to Weisinger's morgue where an inquest would be held and prepared for burial.
Mt. Vernon Sends Christmas Boxes to Orphaned Children of Great War...October 1914
Before America's entry into the war we followed its action in the newspapers trying to stay out of it. The German community heard from relatives in Europe of the war and our churches organized to help them trying to stay out of the fray. Locally, the War Children's Christmas Fund sent boxes to the helpless children of Europe. Each child's box was put in a separate little pasteboard box and carefully wrapped and decorated with a ribbon and bit of holly. Each box contained some useful article of clothing, a Christmas card, a few pennies, and a handful of candy and nuts. Each had a printed label in the language of the country it was delivered to as we didn't take sides with children. The label said, Best Wishes with love from the children of America."
New Machinery at Frier's Tobacco Factory.....September 1914
Billy Frier, the cigar manufacturer on West Second Street installed a Universal Stripping Machine, which took the place of six girl strippers. (girl strippers!) and does the work much neater, stripping from 400 to 500 pounds of tobacco per day. Run by a small motor it was the only one of its kind in Southern Indiana. Mr. Frier has 28 hands working with more to be added as the busy season approaches. Light 'em up!
The "Busy Corner Grocery" is Just That.....August 1914
Fred Dietz's grocery on West Second Street was one of the most popular groceries in town early in the twentieth century. He had a wagon yard out back for customers and one Friday night following closing he set rat traps in the yard. The next morning he found 32 full grown rats in his traps of which he released and were speedily killed by his pet fox terriers.
Excursion Cancelled as Ship Sinks One Day Before Reaching Mt. Vernon.....June 1914
The Majestic that could hold up to 2500 passengers was due in Mt. Vernon for an excursion on June 23, 1914. The locals had gone to the expense of advertising the event with the Sherburne Park Band set up with a gala event. A concert was set for 4:30 and the boat would leave at 8 p.m. and return at 11:30 p.m. The fare was to be 50 cents. It was to be her first appearance here and locals looked forward to dancing on her 30X165 foot dance floor. The big steamer collided with the submerged foundation of a new intake tower of St. Louis' water works at 1:30 a.m. just two hours after dropping off 900 excursionists at Alton, Illinois. There was only a crew of 37 on board and many jumped overboard with two drowning. The two victims were a watchman and a second cook. Some of the survivors had on life jackets and some clung to wreckage floating as much as four miles downstream before being rescued. The pilot, S.B. Withrow said he did not see the red lights which marked the cofferdam and was unaware that the city was building a new intake tower which was northwest of the older one. A federal investigation was begun soon afterwards.
Evansville German Day Parade Float.....June 1914
Soon this will be suspended in the United States. This particular float was called, "Watch on the Rhine." The soldiers on the float are dressed in uniforms of the regular German Army in battle against the French and English. Also in the parade were German veterans who were at the front of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. In front of this float were men on horseback representing the different classes of German cavalrymen. The parade was said to have been spectacular!
"Whoops ...My Bad" - Shooting at Black's Grove.....June 1914
It was Friday night...date night and Calvin Smith who was recently released from the Jeffersonville penitentiary and in the company of his "main squeeze" Jennie visited Black's Grove and while there he shot her with a revolver, the ball penetrating the right side of her neck, inflicting a painful although not a dangerous wound. Police said the couple both said the shooting was accidental, hence no arrest. Felons I guess were okay to open carry. Since then, I think we have made great progress in gun control....NOT!
Mt. Vernon did it again. Captain Kirk (real name) with his comrades Mills, Duckworth and Schnabel got war-like applause when they marched our brass cannon hitched to two brilliantly harnessed heavy drafts walking with a stately tread towards the river to shoot it off one more time.
Top Evansville Baseball Club Moves to Mt. Vernon Only to Fold by Lack of Attendance.....1914
The Evansville Shamrock Baseball Club under manager Schofield secured the O.V. (Ohio Valley) League grounds and promised to bring one of the best teams in Southern Indiana.. The team was loaded with fine amateur and semi-pros. There were originally 25 tryouts afforded an opportunity to make the team. Some of the better ones were Barr who went 6-1 the year before; Waters of Lake, Indiana, the best pitcher of that section; Garrison a southpaw from Owensville; Schisler of Mt. Vernon, Guy Parson a promising catcher from Newburgh; Dugan a catcher who had played in Owensboro, Princeton and Oakland City; J.C. Maier a catcher from Mt. Vernon, Nation a former Kitty League catcher; Cox a catcher from Mt, Vernon; Merl Weisinger a second baseman from Mt. Vernon; Dart a speedy Kitty Leaguer who played for Harrisburg in 1913; Rore an outfielder from Cynthiana and several players from Evansville. They got off to a 3-1 start, but attendance was bad and they seemed to have moved on. No mention of them after May as Mt. Vernon then had two new clubs called the Mt. Vernon Monarchs and the Mt. Vernon Giants. The Shamrocks never even stayed long enough to get a decent nickname....They were just called, "The New Mt. Vernon Team."
And You Thought Skateboarding was Bad at Court House Lawn.....1914
Two signs on east side of court house said: "Notice: Persons playing baseball, football or jumping on these grounds will be prosecuted. Custodian ordered by Commissioners to have violators arrested." When the Evening Sun newspaper asked for a quote they got: "The court house grounds are the property of the tax payers of Posey County and do not belong to bunch of players who have seen fit to convert this beautiful lawn into a football field, and we are surprised you question us. The lawn surrounding the court house is one of the most beautiful spots in the city, and is the first thing that catches the eye of visitors, hence it should be as carefully guarded and as neatly kept as though it were the lawn and individual property of a private citizen, If Capt. Menzies had such a lawn surrounding his home (Hovey House) we seriously doubt if he would allow the same to be converted into a baseball park or football field. So get with it and give us a hearty approval as no doubt these orders are enforced for all time to come."
Several Years Before the United States Entry In World War I ....Locals Were Still Pretty Friendly With German Kinfolk.....1914-1915
For instance, in the late summer of 1914, Ludwig Thon, a young medical student was in Mt. Vernon visiting relatives for six weeks...the William Schaffer family and he was called to Cincinnati by the German consul. They sent him back to Europe as a member of the infantry to fight for the Kaiser. He had been in the service already with one year to go but had been granted permission to come to America to finish his medical education. Just as he enrolled in St. Louis he was called back. C.P. Klein of Mt. Vernon received a letter from his sister Louis Klein of Frankfort on Mainz saying the people of Germany were in good spirits, feeling confident that Germany would win. They had plenty of food, money and ammunition. Klein had six sisters still living in Germany and five nephews. Two were in the front, one in the Navy and one a staff officer while the other, a lieutenant was waiting impatiently to do "God's will" and protect the fatherland. My great grandfather Karl got a letter from Germany too about this time, but never picked it up. I guess he didn't want any part of the war. Bad enough we had the "Great Waldo Pepper"(Ernst Kessler). Miss Margaret Doerr of Mt. Vernon was corresponding with a young German girl from Thuringen, Germany. The pen pal wrote: "My dear Margerete, since writing you last this horrible war has broken out. With us everything is in turmoil and every able bodied man is either at the front or getting ready to fight for his Fatherland. Our Kaiser waited patiently for peace as long as possible but he was forced into this fight by the treacherous English and French. We are fighting for the right, and those who thus fight are aided by God, as we now again see from the results of the battles fought thus far. The English are doing everything within their power to keep everything from us with the exception of that detrimental to us. You perhaps know nothing of our glorious victories as nothing but lies are sent abroad by the English. Enclosed you will find several clippings from our German papers in which you will see the facts and victories gained by us. The Russsians and the Belgians are using "dum dums" fired shooting out the eyes of our brave soldiers and cutting off their fingers. Isn't it horrible?
In 1914, State Representaitive Charles Weilder of South Bend Spoke at Court House.....
Weilder called himself a Bull Moose Democrat. As you know, the Bull Moose Party was started by Republican Teddy Roosevelt. Uncle Teddy was upset about Taft and how they were drifting from his progressive policies when he was President. Roosevelt wanted the government to intervene to achieve a higher degree of social justice. The right rejected that....something Teddy called, "A Square Deal." His new party took liberals away from the left and the right who wanted to regulate big business, to curb child labor, to provide minimum wages, and worker's unemployment compensation and a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes. The Party existed for a few years but its ideas were absorbed mainly by the Democrats.
Mt. Vernon Mayor Gets A Car....Be Aware....1914
Local citizens were warned to get out of the streets and keep away from the corners when Mayor Alonzo Grant is driving his Maxwell. He purchased it this week and is learning how to drive all at once! I mean this Maxwell was a used car. How many were they around? He bought from Otis Hogan, who must have had a time taming it too. It would be a safe bet to give Lon a wide berth.
Robert Fischer Family Well Represented in German Army.....1914
Robert Fischer was a proprietor of the meat market that once stood at Second and Main. Fischer had served two years in the German army before becoming a naturalized American citizen in 1912. When the world war started Robert had two brothers, six nephews, and a brother-in-law with Kaiser's army fighting in France. It had to be quite an ordeal to see your new country fighting against your old country. The market was built sometime around 1820 and was remembered as a grocery ran by a "Hud" Park around 1838. It was torn down in 1915 by contractor Behrick.
Methodists On Attack Again...This Time Women's Fashions.....1914
In the past the Methodists had taken on alcohol and tobacco and now women's fashion. The Reverend F.L. Dimmitt, sort of did an early rap with this volume of interrogations from his pulpit...A one, A two, A three: "Little girl you look so small, Don't you wear no clothes at all? Don't you wear chemise or skirt? Don't you wear a pretty skirt? Just your corset and your hose? Are these all your underclothes? After a while I do believe, You will dress like Mother Eve.".....I give it an 8....good rhythm, but no dancing in church! He went on to say that the latest fashions should have a sign saying, "Standing Room Only."
Electric Baseball Game At I.O.O.F. Building For View.....1914
A baseball game played by electricity was attracting lots of attention in the window of the Craft Shop. The diamond is laid out in green and players stand at their respective positions. The heads of the players were electric lights with the players faces painted on the bulbs. The umpire first lights up, and the pitcher delivers the ball to the batter who then strikes out. The fans in the bleachers also are electric and they wave their arms when the batter strikes out. The second hitter bats and knocks it to centerfield where the outfielder catches the ball. The fans again cheer. The third place hitter hits a grounder to short and is thrown out at first. The side is retired and the ball is delivered to the second sacker who then turns and throws it to the centerfielder for some reason. The designing of the game was done by Martin Smith, and the electrical work by Oscar Keck who had an intricate system of wiring, motors and switches to operate the game automatically. Nice display just in time for the World Series....You know those "Miracle Braves" of Boston have no chance against Connie Mack's A's of Philadelphia.....Wrong!
Grand Jury Reports on Traction Line Wreck Near Mt. Vernon.....1914
The grand jury failed to return an indictment against any of the parties connected with the traction line accident that caused several injuries. The jury was unable to fix the blame on any particular person, but says train men failed to do their full duty. They found that there was no certain person that could be charged with the responsibility for the accident and though some of those in direct charge of the car, including the motorman, conductor, and dispatcher, may have failed to do their full duty, they did not feel in the light of all the attending circumstances justified in returning indictments against any of them. The evidence to their judgement was of general inefficiency and mismanagement in the operation of the road which was apparent.
The 1913 flood was the largest on record until 1937.
Post Office Safe Blown.....November 1912
The large safe at the Mt. Vernon post office was blown open shortly after midnight on a Monday by burglars who made off with $3500 in stamps $99.15 in silver and $377 in postal savings stamps. The thieves did overlook $193 in currency.
Big O' Co'n Crop A Comin'.....1912
The harvest was a big one as huge wagons; four side boards high pulled by four horses filled the streets. The corn was bringing in 42 cents a bushel in the local market. Those eating the sweet corn were eating it for almost every meal and making corn cakes and corn muffins. The cobs were good to start fires in the stoves come cold weather. Farmers looked forward to a warm fire, a rocking chair, a pipe of tobacco and good eats.
Drinking in the Park after 1912
When Sherburne Park was new after 1912 there use to be barrels of ice water in the park. This was also true of Black's Grove. A couple of dozen tin cups would hang on the side of the barrel which was filled with a huge cake of ice from the ice house. You just took a cup, rinsed it (maybe) and without regard to sanitation you drank from the same cup. Kind of like what we hippies did passing a bottle of Boones Farm Strawberry Hill. You got to live in the moment I say.
Building of the Eagles Home...Around 1911
From a document found within the photos a short history was told. "The first attempt to organize an Eagles Lodge in Mt. Vernon was from a traveling deputy in 1906 which failed. In the fall of 1906 a doctor from Princeton tried and also failed. He collected dues of $5 from two prospective members however and never returned their money. Joe Boarder and Fred Fuelling tried again in the spring of 1907 without success. In September of 1907, M.A. Hadden, deputy grand worthy president from Sullivan, Indiana, along with three men from Evansville asked John W. Krug to take up the challenge. They had 214 men on their list but only 20 had paid their dues of $5. Krug took the list and shortened it to 98 names of these he got 20 more to pay as did 20 from Fuelling made 40. He needed at least 50 names or $250 to get a charter. He took it to Evansville and got 71 names and $365. On November 14, 1907, Evansville Aerie 427 instituted Posey Aerie 1717 with 71 charter members.
Forthoffer Home that once stood on East Fourth Street. Built in 1910. This painting was done by Ginger Greenfield
"There's No Place Like Home".....1910
A hundred years ago Carl or Karl Statz (depends on how close we are to WWI), had a meat market on what was called the "Evertson Block" (from Fourth Street to the alley beside Rosenbaum's) on Main Street. You remember that building that was torn down that held Bernie Moll's Furniture that had the name Evertson on the top? Sure you do! Statz had a stockyard also on Barter Street and son Lawrence was quite a cowboy herding the cows for slaughter. At Statz's you could get a choice line of beef, pork, veal and mutton. All kinds of sausage could be purchased and he bought hides too! Well one day a horse belonging to Phil Hagemann was hitched to Carl Statz's delivery wagon (everybody delivered in those days) and he ran off. After circling around about a dozen blocks or so he ran into the livery barn on lower Main Street (later the site of the Armory). The horse was not injured, but the fore axle of the wagon was badly bent by striking an awning post at the office of the Hominy Mill. Good to be home!
Circus Tents Near New Harmony Around 1910
Probably the Cole Bros. circus. I say that because several circus photos from that time in New Harmony exist.
1909 - 101 and 103 Main Street
When William Jennings Bryan Came To Poseyville.....September 10, 1908
By Thursday evening the crowd of 8000 wound their way home inspired by the Presidential candidate who honored the small town with a visit. Posey responded by voting for him for President in the national election. People arrived early on the morning trains all full. A special train from Mt. Vernon brought 300 persons. People in the country rode in and by noon the entire town was a sea of humanity. Accommodations to eat were taxed but everyone was cheerful. The little town gaily decorated with bunting and flags and people on the street tipped their hats, waved and smiled joyously. When Bryan's train pulled up to the depot a mighty cheer rang out and increased tenfold when he appeared. He was met by District Chairman T.D. Scales and Mt. Vernon's Maj. Menzies. He at once entered his carriage and driven to the grove for his speech. He stepped upon the platform and a voice yelled out, "Posey County for Bryan!" The audience exploded into celebration and demonstration for several minutes until quieted. Bryan waved his hands for silence and began his address. He complimented the county for his past campaigns and asked that the good people increase his majority. He spoke for an hour and merely touched on the issues of the day dwelling mostly on guarantee of bank deposits, election of U.S. Senators, trusts, publicity of campaign contributions and the comparison of the two political party platforms. At the conclusion he shook a few hands and was escorted to his ride. He was presented with some watermelons by Charles Nix and Bryan expressed his gratitude. He said later he "analyzed" the melon on the way to Evansville.
In September of 1908.....
Mt. Vernon began enforcing a curfew in the evenings. At the tap of a bell at 9 o'clock all kids must start hiking for home. No playing under the street lights now....git!
That Would Smart!.....September 1908
William Shane was a fireman on the Big Four Railroad (Central Pacific) and he lost his nose! No, really he lost his nose! His train was running on a double track portion and was passing another train at a good rate of speed. Shane had his head out the window, when a piece of tin or something sharp flew from a car window he was passing and cut his nose off smoothly, leaving it hanging only by a shred of skin. The unfortunate man will be terribly disfigured for life. So next time you see a sign that says..."keep all body parts within the vehicle," be alert.
Mt. Vernon Fair.....August, 1908
Plowing Nets Indian Relics In Two Parts of County.....August 1908
Fred Kleinschmidt, while plowing near Mt. Vernon found a curiosity that had him guessing.....It was made of brass and appeared to have been used as a helmet. It had two large ears resembling those of a deer with two openings for eyes. Meanwhile, Henry Trice, a Point township farmer plowed up a rock in his wheat field that was about 2 1/2 feet wide, 7 inches thick and 3 feet long, one side of which bore the imprint of a pony's hoof and a moccasin, reported the Mt. Vernon Sun newspaper. This part of the field contains no rock and it was evidently been put there for some purpose, unknown today.
"Why Do We Want A Great Military Force?".....July 1908
News was published in the Poseyville News from The Chicago Journal that summer. Uncle Teddy Roosevelt was striking the drums of war. The paper wondered if he had had enough just going up San Juan Hill because he wanted to enormously increase America's standing army. He proposed to organize the regulars and the state militias together and mobilize them in army corps. He wanted eight new camps where 50,000 regulars and volunteers could be drilled together for a month every year. This would be the start of the Army Reserve. He wanted an army of 250,000 men, ready for action at an hour's notice. The Chicago paper rejected it as it would raise taxes paying salaries and expenses. "If we mind our own business we shall not get into another war beyond our present power to handle," it wrote. "The day when war had glory in the average man's eyes and when every citizen was anxious to display himself in uniform has passed," it hoped....but was not to be.
Joe Fowler Steamboat.....1908
Joe Fowler steamboat in 1908 included four locals who provided music in the summer...Ralph Barter, John Krug Jr. , Orval Cavanaugh, and Henry Stevens. It was a packet boat built in 1888 and ran from Evansville to Paducah. Built in Jeffersonville, Indiana.
Pardoned Ex-Republican Kentucky Representative Speaks in Mt. Vernon Following Eight Years In Prison for Accessory To Murder.....1908
Caleb Powers gained national reputation for his alleged participation in the murder of Governor William Goebel in 1900. Goebel was shot and served only four days after being mortally wounded by an assassin the day before he was sworn into office. It was a real screwed up situation where almost everyone charged or having a connection to the murder was acquitted or pardoned and the assassin's identity was uncertain and never found. Powers, was convicted, overturned then tried three more times with two convictions and a hung jury. He was pardoned in 1908 and then again was elected as a Republican congressman!
WCTU On March In Poseyville.....1908
"The cause that lacks assistance for the wrong that needs resistance. For the future in the distance, and the good that you can do." That slogan was the rallying cry and the Women's Christian Temperance Union wore their white ribbons as a badge of royalty and lifted their hearts at a noon hour prayers. Their motto was "For God and Home and Native Land," and they took on the townships of Posey County. Already five of the ten were now dry and they were now eying that of Center Township of which there were four saloons in Wadesville and one in Oliver. The movement marched to the county commissioners with petitions seeking to wipe out every saloon out of business. Like a great army the temperance wave is moving slowly and gradually towards the southern end....look out Mt. Vernon!
In November of 1907, Mayor Edwin Page celebrated, no that is not the word....nearly separated his right index finger on the anniversary of his first year as Mt. Vernon mayor. How did he do this you ask? He slammed the door of the vault of the First National Bank on it! I bet he never did that before when he was just city treasurer.
Independence Day Baseball....MV vs. Poseyville.....1906
In what I believe to have been a game at the east end of town...the fairgrounds, Mt. Vernon and Poseyville locked up in a double-header. In the morning game they played a great one by all accounts. For ten innings the two fine clubs gave it their all and the game was stopped at 1 PM for dinner. The audience sat past mealtime without a murmur it was written to see the finish. How long would these two teams played they asked if not stopped? In the first inning each side scored one man. Steinbrenner of Poseyville hit a triple and scored on a passed ball. Mt. Vernon then loaded the bases and brought home one. In the seventh Poseyville got half of their six hits and brought home their second score. Mt. Vernon evened it up again in the eighth. In the game Chamberlain of Poseyville allowed 5 hits and struck out 11. Keeler of Mt. Vernon allowed six Poseyville hits and also struck out 11. Errors were 4 for Poseyville and 3 for Mt. Vernon. I noticed "Hud" Smith was catching for Mt. Vernon. He would be way past his prime in 1906. He was the janitor at the courthouse and he loved small town life. Neither the Cubs nor the Browns who were interested in him could pull him to the big cities. "It was a very gentlemanly game, no rag chewing by either side. Both teams may feel proud of their game," said the Poseyville News. In the afternoon, the second game was played after the horse races were over and played a six inning game due to a start at 5 PM. "The Poseyville boys were far from their merits of the morning game who put up a very poor article of ball." Mt. Vernon however, showed very much old time vigor and put the visitors in the hole early getting six runs in the first two innings. Half of the runs were unearned as the Poseyville nine made 7 errors to Mt. Vernon's 2. Chamberlain of Poseyville showed weakness after his ten innings of work in the opener and was hit pretty hard whereas Keller was his old self winning 7-1. The only run for Poseyville was a long home run knocked by Almon, said to be the first ever on those grounds. Hit totals were 5 for MV and 3 for Poseyville.
Back to the Future.....1906
In 1906, Grover Keck, a recent graduate of the engineering department of Purdue University, became assistant secretary and treasurer of the Keck-Gonnerman Company and manager of the automobile sales department. What kind of car did he drive? An electric car!
Gronemeir Hardware was founded in 1874 by Simon Gronemeier starting in the 100 block of lower Main. In 1902 it moved to where the Heidelberg Cafe once was and in 1906 it found its home on the 400 block of Main, now Bud's Hardware.
A Harmonist Castor Oil Factory that once Stood on Tavern Street in New Harmony.....Photo is from 1906
Notice that it was made of logs. Gus Sun American Minstrels were in business for around sixty years traveling the country, mostly the Midwest variety houses. In tent shows they had animal acts. They actually had the Sun Bros. Circus for a while and advertised as "the best 25 cent Show on Earth." When bad weather came they would go inside with vaudeville shows. Quite a showman I guess.
The First Methodist Organ of the Early 1900's
This year I got to see and hear the beautiful organ at the Presbyterian Church by the Fire Department. What a magnificent day that was for me and those in attendance. I had never been in the old First Methodist Church that was on Sixth and Main Streets. Maybe one of you can give me a few details. "Pop" Fessenden wrote that in the early 1900's there was a pipe organ operated by water power which sounds strange to me. Come low water pressure and bam you were screwed. He said the purchase of the instrument came from Andrew Carnegie who helped with funds just as he had for our first library. The first organist was Charles McFerrin and then Mrs. Clint Calkins. Mrs. Inez Lysle Johnson took lessons from Calkins as a high school student and then became organist for a quarter of a century herself. Inez as organist and choir director was said to have produced many a special program for many occasions utilizing the organ, piano, choir and orchestra. It sure was a beautiful classy building and I am sure the sounds that were emitted were equally pleasant.
"It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World".....1905
A little New Harmony girl asked her mother one day: "Ma, if I ever get married will I get a husband like pa?" "Yes, dear." "And if I don't get married will I be an old maid like Aunt Jane?" "Yes, dear, why?" "It's a tough world for us women, ain't it ma?"
Mt. Vernon Hunting Club in Oak Valley Camp Mississippi.....1904
When the Library was in City Hall.....1897-1904
Back when Mrs. Matilda Alexander donated her books for a public library there was a room at City Hall for such a place. We had several different people who served as librarian those first few years before we got a real library and one of these was Mrs. Olive McGregor. Olive made $25 a week working four hours a day, three days a week and two evenings.
If You See A Lightning Bug In the House, Someone Will Soon Die.....Early 1900's
I had a chat with Tom Schneider today of Schneider Funeral Home and I got to thinking of relatives of mine that had died when I was young in rural Illinois. I can recall bodies lying in state in the living room of their residence for three or four days before a funeral. Black crepe paper or black ribbons would be hung on the front door or beside it as relatives and friends came to show their respects. Obituaries were on the front pages of the local newspaper and they were long. Highly respected people would get an obit from the editor of the paper. Before embalming came along the flowers and the scented candles help cover up the smell of the deceased. The body was watched around the clock until the funeral. They say that is how the name "wake" came about, because they wanted to make sure the body was dead and not in a coma......Freaky! I can remember one relative like that and when they took the casket out of the home and across the street to the little country church they took him out feet first. They say that is so because they didn't want the deceased to look back at his home as that is bad luck and another family member would die soon. Some caskets had a bell in the box in case the deceased should awake. That's how the expression, "saved by the bell" became into vogue. Also one didn't want rain to fall into an open grave so now we have tents. Ever notice how many burials have the head to the west and the feet to the east? That goes back to pagan culture some say, but others say judgment will come from the east. Death is so ritualistic. ~Wavy plans on just "blow'n in the wind."
Church of Holy Angels Dedicated.....October 26, 1902
The new Catholic church in Point township, was dedicated on a Sunday with imposing ceremonies with a crowd of near 2000 present. In impressive exercises even an excursion train ran from Evansville bringing ten coaches of people to Mt. Vernon who were then transferred to vehicles to the country. Rev. E. F. McBarrou, of Evansville, officiated the dedicatory exercises and Father Bauer of St. Meinrad, acted as Master of Ceremonies. Father Rowan of Montgomery delivered the sermon. Other pastors were Rev. J.F Souderman and Rev. Leubberman, pastor of the church. A dinner was then held in the afternoon and socializing was pleasant in an orderly and well behaved crowd. As they say, "A good time was had by all."
Before Farm Aid and Willie Nelson we had the American Society of Equity.....1902
We went to Farm Aid '95 in Louisville and listened and read the literature they passed out on the dangers of corporate farms and the need to help the small farmer in danger of losing their farms after many generations to debt. Great concert. Going back to 1902 in Indianapolis a new movement was afoot for the American agricultural cooperative and political organization called the American Society of Equity. Mt. Vernon had a chapter and in 1907 I have found that they met at our courthouse and elected O. W. Stephens, Frank Bailey, Oral Erwin, and Charles Little as delegates to the national convention in Indy. The aim was to become a national power right alongside the capitalists and the unions. This movement really took hold in places like Wisconsin and North Dakota. In some areas it was quite radical like Kentucky with night riders. In North Dakota there was cooperation with those dreaded socialists trying to make everybody the same. Eventually, this organization morphed or merged with others like the Non-Partisan League and the Farmer's Union. Cooperatives still exist today organizing and bringing awareness of a need for the small guy to make a living on his own land.
Dr. Edwin V. Spencer and Wife Sara Celebrate 50th Wedding Anniversary.....1902
The old doctor who came to Mt. Vernon in 1852 made money from his practice and real estate. They lived at 229 East Fourth Street on the corner of Mulberry.
A Whip-Saw or Pit-Saw Found with A History.....October 1901
Florian Pritchard brought into New Harmony a genuine curiosity of Posey County's past. It was a whip-saw which had sawed the gunwales (upper edge of a boat) for the first flat boat to go out of Big Creek over 75 years before. The saw was owned by Tanner Thompson and was found by Pritchard at the old red home that for many years was a landmark between New Harmony and Mt. Vernon. The house had been remolded and it was then that the saw was found. When it was used the tree was propped up on stilts and a man stood on top and laboriously sawed its full length. Big Creek at one time was a clearing house for flat boats and other craft laden with all kinds of produce as far up as the old covered bridge. The whip-saw found was intended to be used by only one man. The Rappities sawed out the frames for the New Harmony buildings with whip saws and the pit used to be in the rear of the C. Lichtenberger's store. The log was placed over the pit and one man stood above and one beneath and in this way timber by timber and plank by plank were sawed. The whip saw was placed in the Library according to the New Harmony Times. I will be looking for it in my next visit.
Hot Fun in the Summertime.....July, 1901
Parasols must have been out in force when Mt. Vernon recorded its all-time high temperature of 109 degrees F on July 24, 1901. Other towns were even higher. Olney, Illinois hit 109 that day and MCLeansboro 108. The highest in the nation that day was 113 in Warrenton, Missouri.
Confederate Major General John Brown Gordon Lectures in New Harmony....1901
The former veteran of such battles as Antietam, Gettysburg, Spotsylavania, Overland and Appomattox Court House lectured his seventh lecture in New Harmony. The subject was "The Last Days of The Confederacy," After the war he was a staunch critic of Reconstruction and did all he could to endorse measures to maintain a white dominant society in the South. Rumored to be part of the early Klan, it was never known for sure. He served as U.S. Senator of Georgia from 1873-1880 as a Democrat and again from 1891-1897. He was also Governor of Georgia at one time. He spent his last years traveling around the country giving lectures like this one and writing a book on his Remembrances of the Civil War.
McFadden's Bluff Book Reportedly Published.....1901
A Poseyville News story of January of 1901 reported that Munsey Publishing Company had accepted a serial story from the pen of Captain Winston Menzies, entitled..."A Spray of Golden Rod." It was said to be a romance of Old McFadden's Bluff. The names of a number of the prominent characters mentioned was said to be familiar to the old residents of Mt. Vernon and the county. I am trying to find more information on this book or story. Menzies was the editor of the "Evening and Weekly Sun" newspaper of Mt. Vernon and the son of Maj. G.V. Menzies a former Mt. Vernon newspaper man and Spanish American War veteran. He was also a prominent lawyer and married to the only daughter of Alvin P. Hovey, who became a Civil War General, diplomat and Governor of Indiana.
Don't Enter Here - Chicken Pox or Measles!.....1901
Over 150 Mt. Vernon children were out of school on the account of symptoms of sore throat, headaches and the pox. Almost every street displayed a measles or pox sign keeping people away. Kids were scratching and Fogas and Dawson drug stores were busy selling Vaseline to ease the itching. Gonna be some pit marked kids come summer. All in all, the doctors said the diseases were all in the mildest forms. Poseyville seems to be having many cases of the mumps....glands all puffed out and stuff....make me sick and as Roseannadanna use to say: "Well Jane, it just goes to show you, it's always something-if it ain't one thing, it's another."
MV Gets First Paved Street Around 1899
This photo surfaced in the 1970's when a former resident living in Louisville, Ted Ponder sent it to "Pop" Fessenden to identify the administration shown. Ted's father Ernest was a councilman from the Third Ward at that time. The identity of all the men is in question..... Fessenden said that he was sure the sixth from the left was Charles Dieterle who was fire chief at the time. Another old timer thought it was Joe Wingo. Malcom Fuhrer stated he thought the third man from the left was G.V. Menzies, (captain in Spanish American War and then a newspaperman in Mt. Vernon until 1901), and that the second man was Dr. Dorsey. Mac had the seventh from the left to be Asa Williams (First Lt. under Menzies in the war). He says maybe William Holton on the far left and the fourth one on the right, the small guy as Mayor Alfred D. Owen. Everyone seems to have agreed that the third from the right is Louis Brinkman. Herschel Millspaugh came up with a few names (none of which he was sure of) as Gus Daniel (7th from left), John Krug (third on the left) and Henry Kling (former city clerk) first on the left. Others said third on the left to be councilman Ponder and City Clerk/Treasurer Laura Bullard seems to have thought the seventh from the right was John H. Moeller who would later be Mayor. I don't know any of them, but I can point out the Ike Rosenbaum Store with the big clock and People's Bank & Trust in the far right background.
1899.....Building became Totties
Political Cynthiana Friends Start "Campaign Monkey Wrench" Tradition.....1898
In the early day of Posey County Sports there was once something called "The Dope Bag", believed to be an old doctor's bag that contained sports clippings of the victor. Not every game was a dope bag game, but it happened the victor got to take back to their school the bag as an item of pride. This story begins back in 1898 and has a friendship background. Frost Wilson was a dyed in the wool Republican and on the other side of the political spectrum was an equally devoted Democrat named James Smith. It seems the Republican Wilson borrowed a wrench from Smith. Smith, being a Democrat was up to the task of helping his fellow man. There was some friendly kidding over a two year period. The Republican Wilson told Democrat Smith in 1900 that if William Jennings Bryan was defeated in his Democratic candidacy that year for President, he'd buy Smith a new wrench. He never believed he would have to do it, but he promised and delivered a small monkey wrench to Smith. Smith was good natured about it, and told Wilson that since his party won the election he should keep the wrench. Thereafter the wrench changed hands each time the national politics changed. Neither ever used the wrench. It became their "old oaken bucket," so to speak. When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected in 1932, Republican Wilson gave up the wrench to Democrat Smith. Present at that time was Roy Smith of Poseyville, the grandson of James Smith. The two aging men talked of old times and Mr. Smith was of the opinion he was getting too old, and perhaps couldn't carry on the tradition. Who knows maybe F.D.R. would be President for a long, long, long, long time. He turned the wrench over to Roy. Both men died of course, but Smith lived to age 99. Roy moved to Indianapolis with the wrench. I don't suspect the tradition went beyond Roosevelt. Relatives of both original gentlemen I understand still live in the county. I wonder of anyone knows any more information on the "campaign monkey wrench?"
Inspiring Sermon Brings House Down.....1897
Col. Reverend J.W. S.P. Woodfork, a black minister in town who works for Henry Brinkman's Implement house was to give a sermon at the District Conference to preach the gospel. Word has it that his first sermon he ever gave, "burst the plaster from the ceiling of his church and brought in seven policemen who arrested the congregation." When asked if that was true, the Rev only said, "The days of miracles are not over."
They Couldn't Catch the Winner.....1897
In Circuit Court, Jas. Blake was found guilty of riding in a horse race on local streets and was fined $5.
Indecent Exposure - Five Times Guilty - Fined $10.....1897
A local dude of Mt. Vernon was tried before Squire Hutchinson and charged with making an indecent exposure of his person to one of the most prominent Jewish ladies in town. This character appeared at this residence, that of which he was employed at and asked to be shown a cage of white rabbits in the rear yard, and while there made indecent proposals and exposed himself which was again repeated two nights following when he seen her again upon Second street en route home. This was the fifth time this man had appeared before our courts on similar charges. The newspaper called the fine not enough and said, "An inch rope in the hands of the proper parties might, perhaps, maybe, learn him a lesson."
Chain Gang Awarded with Smokes.....1897
An amusing sight it must have been on West Second Street that Saturday afternoon when sidewalks were blockaded on both sides of the street while a chain gang of eleven prisoners scraped the street. They did such an excellent job that insurance agent Edwin Wade awarded each "wandering Willie" with a ten cent cigar which drew quite a crowd of laughing citizens.
Mt. Vernon City Roads A Mess As Town Grows.....1893
Store (College) Street from First to Eighth and Eighth Street from Locust to Mill are in horrible condition. It is with great difficulty that teams are able to pull through the thoroughfares at all. Loads heading to the mills and wharf are overloaded and they are constantly tearing up the roads. The City Hall is under construction and will be a great feather in our cap, into the 21st century. Sadly, it will look out of place surrounded by mud bayous on Main and Sixth Streets. There was a big ole mud hole on Fifth and Main in front of the Republican office and it was long overdue for a sewer. When fixed the newspaper said, "Now the elephants can find something else to bitch at." The Hudnut Hominy Mill on East Water was destroyed by fire that year, but rebuilt the next. We were in the 18th year of a healthy boom building the courthouse, a new class of downtown stores (following 1880 fire), a flour mill, a strawboard mill, a brick company and a new high school. Back to the streets the commissioners got busy and dumped many wagons of macadam in the holes on Main and it became semi-hard, then dust rolled in dry weather.
Popcorn Boy Wanted.....1893
An ad in the Western Star said: "Wanted-Boy to stay at my corner stand. Tobacco chewer or cigarette smoker not wanted...." Preston Loveland. Old Pres operated a popcorn machine for many years. "Pop" Fessenden said he could be heard hollering out "Best Buttered Popcorn" to the shoppers on the street. He lived on West Second Street and he would hand pull his cart to the alley on the west side of Main between Second and Third. Other hamburger vendors, even egg and hamburger vendors were at other locations.
Editors Sarlls and Thomas try to Drum up Subscriptions with this Ad in Mt. Vernon Republican in 1893
Upside inside out.....1892
The first copy of the New Harmony Times went off the press on August 20, 1892 and was fed into the machine wrong and came out upside down!
Stamping out the White Caps.....1890's
Our local governor, Alvin Peterson Hovey campaigned for governor on solving the white cap problem in Indiana and putting an end to lynchings like had happened in his home town here in Mt. Vernon. Over 60 hangings by vigilantes had occurred in years prior but only two happened while Hovey was governor. One of the judges here in Southern Indiana that helped stamp out the lawless spirit of white-capism was Oscar M. Welborn who was a judge for 36 years ending in 1909. You could find him at the circuit court in Dubois County or in Gibson. He was known to have been "confident, clear, considerate, patient respectful" and tempered justice with mercy. He presided over many white cap trials and by his firm hand he administered law and wrote a section in the statutes of Indiana that placed white caps in the list of crimes to which it belonged and made the punishment commensurate with the offense. He made the night rider a dark blot upon Southern Indiana and not something to admire. His law contained the provisions that "when three or more men meet in the night time with their features masked and commit violence, it shall be considered white-capism and be punished by not over ten years or less than two years imprisonment with a fine not to exceed $2,000." Soon white caps were convicted with quickness. Other states followed and adopted the Welborn and Indiana statute.
Wow, What is it Daddy? Give me a nickel.....1890's
The first graphophone came to Mt. Vernon, one without the big horn during the "Gay 90's." A man came in and sat up on the street corner of the courthouse and charged 5 cents to listen to it. He stayed until interest waned and moved on to another town. It ran by winding a large spring to make it run. The record was a round tube like disc that slipped over a cylinder that revolved. The tube was of soft wax and kept in cotton to keep it from being marred. To hear it the listener used some type of earphones resembling a doctor's stethoscope.
Watch Those Fireworks Down at the River....1891
I'm going to be down at the park tonight to watch the fireworks with the rest of you fine folk, but I got a little story from way back when a Livery Barn on Store Street near Water was consumed by fire. Pres. Loveland was fast upon the scene and released the horses, maybe 25 in number and also saved a few buggies from the flames. The fire was started by careless fire crackers and roman candles. So be safe, act right and no fire arms....~Wavy don't like that.
Cynthiana Woman Writes for Help for Family.....1890
I have come across a letter from a woman in desperate need that makes one think of the times they lived in and the dire circumstances a person like this would have faced without government when there were no pensions, no healthcare, no social security, no Medicaid or food stamps. "Sirs I write you in behalf of my family, I am a widow with five children, the oldest is not old enough to be of any help to me in the winter and it takes all I can make to pay our rent and keep us in fuel. Our trustee told me to write to you gentleman (county commissioners) and he thought that you would help us through the winter. I don't ask for anything only what we can't possibly do without. I need common clothing for my children and such provisions as flour, meat, sugar, coffee and molasses if you can grant me those things for the winter. You will have my everlasting gratitude of a widowed mother who has tried by every means in her power to keep her children together. "Yours with respect. (name withheld)
Mt. Vernon Weekly Sun Celebrates Alvin Hovey as Governor.....January 23, 1889
Although he did not gain a majority in his own town, Alvin P. Hovey rallied behind his humble beginnings and went from log cabin to the governor's mansion. Celebrations in the capital reached a climax at Tomlinson Hall were fancy couples twirled in mystic style at the grandest affair outside of Washington. The Weekly Sun said, "What could keep the heart of Posey County citizens from swelling with pride as we remember that all that pump and glory was done in honor to a once poor lad when he grew up to manhood in our own Posey County?"
Business Card of Enoch Thomas....Mt. Vernon Mayor.....1889
Enoch was the son of George Washington Thomas who was the wharf master in Mt. Vernon going back into the 1850's G.W. Thomas was a state representative for two years, a county recorder and a city councilman. Along with Alvin P. Hovey secured the passage of an act permitting the use of funds of the country treasurer to build the present court house. G.W. and Enoch were both lifetime Democrats.. Enoch was schooled at the old Mt. Vernon seminary and at age 18 he too was involved with the wharf business. In 1882 he started a new career in the coal business. After being the Mt. Vernon Mayor he became Sheriff and was reelected. He was always a active member of the community and a charter member of the Elks Lodge.
Bodies to be Exhumed and Transferred to Bellefontaine Cemetery.....1889
The soldiers tombstones were put in place at the then called "German Cemetery" and applications were put in for in February of 1889 to the government to have the bodies of the soldiers removed from Leonard and transferred to German. Leonard Cemetery is North Cemetery and is located behind the former Hedges Central School. No burials were held there in the 20th century.
City of the Dead Records Burials at German Cemetery.....1889
Frank Lintz was then the sexton of the German Cemetery (now Bellefontaine) since 1882 and during that time he buried 272 persons. It was estimated that now fully two thirds of all those who die in Black Township are interred there.
Fourth of July.....1888
"This is the time of the year of meetings and rallies and stump speeches and our enterprising saloon keepers are already replenishing their stock of bottled enthusiasm."......Western Star Newspaper.
A Little History on Electricity in Mt. Vernon.....Late 1880's
From a old scrapbook I came across the following information. Within seven years of Edison making a practical incandescent lamp.....Mt. Vernon merchants gave it a shot. They installed the newfangled thing, "a return tubular boiler of several horsepower with engine mounted on the boiler driven by a belt conveyor to an Edison bi-polar type direct current generator". Wow, ~Wavy is lost already! This equipment was installed in a small building on the vacant lot at the rear of what later became the Utley Hotel. (May have been where the Pocket Hotel was later). This so-called electric plant supplied current to two progressive business houses, the Fogas drug store and the Raben Dry Goods store. Fogas is where Wheaton Pharmacy was and Raben is where Stinson Bros. later built right next to it. (Second and Main) So in 1889 in March, what had only been one light bulb that everybody came by to watch in a generating plant now was in two buildings. We now had the Home Electric Light Company of Mt. Vernon. Sort of....Something happened and it did not fly. So, in July of that same year, the city council granted a 15 year franchise to the Central Thompson-Houston Company of Cincinnati. From them we got 31 arc lights for five years. That company then had the rights to use alleys, streets and lanes for their system for fifteen years. It was all a new thing and dangerous too for our citizens. Delays were frequent and the council wanted to cancel the contract for a time. Finally by December we started getting some street lights and the Evansville Journal newspaper said, "Mt. Vernon is taking on metropolitan airs and next they will want street cars." The electric plant was said to be south of Water Street near Wolflin. Our earlier lamps were oil and were supported by wooden or iron posts. The equipment was owned by the Sun Vapor Light Company. This plant was located at the foot of Wolflin Street and after a few years was abandoned and relocated on College Avenue, then Store Street. This plant operated until about 1895 under the ownership of Ford & McGregor and was sold to Wm. Gonnerman and operated under his leadership for about a decade. In June 1904, the property was purchased by the Mt. Vernon Light and Power Company, then a subsidiary of the American Water Works. For four years the new owners operated the plant with few changes. They were still using the open arc lights, but more, maybe twice as many were now being used. They had these people called arc trimmers who would come around every day and work on the lights. Okay that is the birth of Mt. Vernon electricity.
Big Melon Day.....1887
In northern Posey the largest melon day in memory was experienced. On that Tuesday 35 rail cars containing 40,000 melons were loaded and shipped. Eight cents each was the average price so that for a days work brought the growers $3200. The freight charges were $20 a car so the railroads made $700. On Monday 26 cars were loaded and 20 on Wednesday and 23 on Thursday. The harvesting started on July 19. By 1900 Posey County land was running from $100-$150 an acre in places, but for cantaloupe and watermelon land you could get it for $40-$50 an acre. One man in Black township went by the name "Watermelon" Coan. In two years he came down the Wabash on a raft and from all appearances was a "Wandering Willie" yet he bought 40 acres of watermelon land on time and in these two years he has paid for it and built a first class home and barn and now is considered a substantial citizen.
School Teacher Wounds Two Students.....February 1887
A Point township teacher and a man who lived on Bonebank Road had a dispute that resulted with the teacher attempting to shoot the other with a double-barreled shotgun. Missing his target he wounded Mary Hollis and James Lawrence who were bystanders in the room. Hollis was severely injured. Willis was tried before Judge Hovey the following Monday and was found guilty of using a deadly weapon. His punishment? A mere $25 and costs.
Old Time Zeal.....1887
In 1887 there was once an old campground near Poseyville and people would flock from many miles around to hear the apostolic zeal of the Methodist minister and the shouts of the saints. Old timers then said these revivals reminded them of the older times when Methodism was in its primitive days. Back in 1887 it was written that the only church in town was built in 1859 and it was Methodist.
Postcard from John C. Kleiner (D) of Evansville to Posey County Auditor George Green to Fill Vacancy to West Point....1886
"Hot Child in the City".....December 1885
Mollie Henrich was gathering kindling in the woodshed and her little brother couldn't resist throwing a fire cracker under her skirt. By the time Mollie returned running into the kitchen, her clothing was ablaze. Her father, the barber, frantically beat the flames out with his bare hands and suffered burns on both hands. Mollie received severe burns and little brother Arthur soon had a sore spot too!
Applications for Superintendent Of Infirmary Were Numerous....1885
When the Poor Asylum, as it was called then was being built they had to hire a superintendent. They had lots of "want to be's" of different qualifications. I have seen applications of those who would have a very professional letter saying something like " In accordance with the conditions set forth in an advertisement in the Mt. Vernon Democrat of the 18th, I hereby offer to feed, clothe, care for and furnish for the inmates of the Poor Asylum for the term of two years " his services and he would enclose his rates and salary. Others were just scraps of paper wanting the job, One even sent in the newspaper ad from the paper with his name and address to contact. One citizen heard of another citizen applying for the job and sent a warning about him! "To the county of the honorable board of Countians of Posey County. I hear a man by the name of (name withheld) has bid on the pore (sic) house youse (sic) will do well to be sorry in to his compatancy (sic) for that palace and also his wife is not so much quality a hint to the wise is enough yours truly above all truth"......no name on letter.
Merry Pranksters Not Funny.....August 1883
Maybe we can blame it on the heat and idle hands, but something got into some folks who thought it was funny to nail a dead cat to a wall of a restaurant with a sign....."Free Lunch Here To-Night." The proprietor didn't think it was all that comical and he promised to take their scalp if he found out who were the perpetrators.
Interesting Find of Alvin P. Hovey's Relatives.....circa 1880's
Charles Fox Hovey was born in 1807 and was a businessman in Massachusetts. Not sure of his direct lineage to our favorite son governor, but he was related. It was said of him that he was an ardent supporter of all reforms, a member of the anti-slavery movement and lectured and wrote on moral reforms. He was a very successful man economically in contrast to Alvin's humble origin. What I find interesting is his funeral directions: "No prayer is to be solicited from any person and no priest is invited to perform any ceremony whatever, on or after my body. The priesthood are an order of men, as I believe, falsely assuming to be reverent and divine, pretending to be called from God, the great body of them, in all countries, have been on the side of power and oppressors. The world has been cheated by them and sooner they are unmasked the better for humanity." Pretty strong comments my friend. I'm glad I am so laid back that I don't make waves....whoops ~Wavy does do that and now you know the story behind my name.~
Mt. Vernon Born Hahn Rode with Buffalo Bill Cody.....1880's
Frank Hahn was born in Mt. Vernon on August 18, 1864 and died in 1941. As a young boy he learned to ride at age four when his father tied him to the saddle of a pony. By 1877 the young man took off on his own learning the art of cow punching in Texas. In 1880 he headed to Nebraska and Wyoming, but by 1883 he was a cowboy again in Texas. He said he rode with Buffalo Bill Cody then a Indian Scout just starting his Wild West Show. Records show that Hahn told a few tall tales in his day, but records show that Cody came to visit him in Wyoming in 1888. Hahn kept moving around leading a horse team from Wyoming to Idaho and then he went on to the northwest working in logging and owning a livery stable until it burned to the ground. The photo is from 1935.
George S. Green...Auditor 1883
Born in Mt. Vernon in 1850, Green gained a basic education and learned the carriage trimmer's trade in Evansville. After four years he returned and worked as deputy auditor under Frank Pentecost and later under Frank Bolton and A.D. Owen. In November of 1882 he was elected Posey County auditor as a Democrat. His father, Judge George S. Green went to West Point, came home to Mt. Vernon as a lawyer then was elected to the state legislature.
Two Men Fined for Horse Whippings in Mt. Vernon Court....December 1882
The streets nearing Christmas were covered with four inches of snow and amongst the children and adults with sleds and sleighs were a couple of men whipping their horses in a brutal and merciless manner. Blood dripped onto the snow as people turned away in horror. Both were nabbed and sent before Judge Parrett who showed no leniency to the pair who snapped their whips conditioning the horses to torment and pain. One offender said his animal "is the meanest and most balky one in America." Each was fined $20.35. Some thought the judge should have sentenced them to the smells and pungent aroma of the jail house.
So What's On the Docket for December 1882?
Well let's see....the circuit court has a Grand Jury indictment against a prominent citizen for fornication. Oh that should be a hoot. We got six cases of larceny, one case of robbery, four cases of carrying concealed weapons, three cases of disturbing religious services, one case of rape, six cases of assault, ten cases of prosecution, and 18 cases of giving away liquor on election day. Then we will break for Christmas. Oh we got a new bailiff who was known to sleep during trial making musical snores. It should be a very festive month as the snow flies.
MV's First Labor Day....Not So Good.....September 5, 1882
Oh peace where aren't thou? Anarchy ruled the town and all orderliness and decency seems to have been abandoned. Marshall John Paul, was not helped by his Godly name as he gave in to the Temperance Union, the Methodists, the Republicans and backed a Sunday liquor law in town. The newspaper said the excitement in town was much akin to that of the court square hangings of 1878. Marshall Paul's house was torched in six places and was burned to the ground and gangs ran through town cutting telegraph and telephone lines to keep from bringing in help. The following week, Henrietta Skelton, a temperance lecturer of Cincinnati, delivered a lecture in German at the German Methodist Church in town and the next night in St. Phillip. She formed the first German temperance paper in the United States called "The Bahnbrecher" (Roadbreaker) and was a famous lecturer. She was a pioneer for her cause in the pacific area and wrote many books; one of which was "The Man Trap."
Editorial in Western Star Deplores High Cost of Medical Care.....1882
Editor Leffel said, "Fifty years ago, physicians were paid a fee of 6 1/2 cents per visit, including free medicine. In 1830 an advance was made to 50 cents, which brought forth an outburst of indignation from the people, and the members of the medical fraternity were obliged to explain that if they received pay from all of their patients they might be able to gain a livelihood." You see, people didn't pay their bills with coinage and paper currency as readily as they do today. Newspapers were always bitching and publishing "dead- beats" that were behind on their newspaper subscriptions. The poor old doctor would have to get out in a buggy in the middle of the night in all kinds of weather and terrible roads to visit a person who needed a arm set or had the flu. I can't imagine one wanting to become a physician to tell the truth. Time went on and the charges went to a dollar a visit and then even $2. People medicated themselves with "snake oil" and all types of alcohol. People tried ancient plants preferring to doctor themselves rather than "submit to what they termed ruinous charges" from the doctors. Medicines were not regulated until early in the 20th century with the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act when the federal government stepped in and tried to regulate the plagued patent medicine industry as well as the nation's food supply. Legislation languished in Congress, where the Republican leadership, protecting the patent medicine and packaged food trade, kept it buried in committee. Teddy Roosevelt however responded after unhealthy practices were disclosed at a Chicago stockyard and intensified demands to pass legislation. It finally passed in 1906....a triumph for the common man and for progressives. It was also this Republican who called for Universal Healthcare in America and limiting the economic freedom of large corporations.
"Hey, I'm the Preacher....You Can't Do that Here!".....1882
Too bad we didn't have Judge Judy back in the day. A legal hassle was settled in Squire McShane's court one Monday that fall when a local minister asked a monetary judgement in the sum of eight dollars against a member of his congregation who preached at his own wife's funeral. The court rendered judgement in favor of the parson at the sum of four dollars. "No buts....Two people cannot talk at the same time. When my mouth is moving that means be quiet...judgement for the pastor....now go away!"
"Society's King"...A Partial Poem of Our Library Matriarch Matilda Alexander.....1882
They lifted her up in the morning, dead, and from her eyes wide open stare they read this sorrowful tale of her life, of want and woe and care. He had wooed her guileless heart in youth and through crime's dark ways had led her lower down in the slimes of sin till tonight she begged for bread and starving want drives her out in the cold. She shivers and gasps for breath, and God in his mercy reaches down and seals her life in death, woeful crime, O sinful shame, that man dare such sorrow to bring, while in linin and gold and broadcloth coat he's tonight Society's King. While this pitiful girl, whose ruin he wrought, dies out in the street alone, starving for bread, while he's nobly fed, the world casts to her a stone when mercy and love have their opinions spent, then justice, stern-eyed, will come and ring the death knell in his dying ears, for your deeds receive your dooin'. What good from his gold and diamonds then and where will his riches be?
Mt. Vernon "Horseplay" on Steamboat Leaves One Dead.....May 1881
A group of Mt. Vernon families took an excursion tour from Mt. Vernon up to West Franklin aboard the steamer, "Samuel Borne." Several of the men went up on the top deck for some target practice shooting at objects in the water. The sport took to horseplay, especially between Mt. Vernon businessman William Bare and John Hendricks. Bare, as we have seen so many times before, thought his .32 caliber pistol was empty of bullets, pointed it at Hendrick's abdomen and pulled the trigger. It discharged and Hendricks was wounded critically. They did what they could for him as the ship turned around and headed back to our wharf. Bare took the man to his own house and Dr. Moore extracted the bullet, but Hendrick died a few days later. Squire Daniels placed Bare in our new jail on Mill Street without bond and charged him with murder. Scores of witnesses saw the event and claimed it was unintentional and he was eventually released.
Now Available in all MV Pharmacies..."Pinkham's Vegetable Compound" for all your "Lady Problems".....1881
Made from all the roots you can think of....like life and unicorn root. It has black cohosh, ethanol, mortar wort, Jamaican dogwood and drinking alcohol to name just of few of the fine ingredients contained within....This concoction was made by Lydia Pinkham of Lynn, Mass of who knows all about your menstrual and menopausal pains. Pinkham 1819-1883 started out from a Quaker family in America in the 17th century. Her home tonics were so good they said that she went into business. At a time when medical knowledge was low and expensive to some, people like this sold lots of root and herb "medicines." She was good at marketing and her face usually was on the medicine along with testimonials from grateful women. Twenty years after her death people were still writing her and the factory wrote them back hoping they would think she still was alive and answering their letters. The ruse was broken in 1905 when the Ladies Home Journal published a picture of her tombstone. I don't know how effective her compound was but she was given credit by women's groups for bringing attention to women's health that was not always greatly served.
Orders to be Delivered from August Scheiber Grocery at Water and Main.....1880's
In the spring of 1881 August Scheiber bought some property on the corner of Water and Main Streets from Henry Yunker for $750. Here he erected two houses for business. A funny thing happened then in the summer of 1882 when excitement was created when it was learned that oil was flowing in a nearby water well on a lot occupied by William Black and owned by Charles Haas. They thought they were soon to be rich. Oil was skimmed off the top of the water into bottles and cans, but the next day Gus Scheiber discovered that a barrel of lubricating oil in his cellar had leaked the oil and ran through a drain into the Haas well.
Summer Plans for German.....1880
In the summer of 1880, The Mt. Vernon Democrat planned to publish the personal news in the German language once a week trying to take some of the thunder away from the Mt, Vernon Wochenblatt. a local German weekly. The column was to be written by Professor Schneider, but I have yet to run across it while researching.
"Times Get Rough When You Ain't Got Enough".....1880
Ah, a lovely spring evening of 1880, good day to go "rambling around this dirty ole town," and come upon a nice looking bottle of wine sitting in the picture window of Andreas Wasem's Saloon. No night watchmen in sight, no street lights, so this thirsty person taps the plate glass JUST a little too hard and retrieves the "fruit of the vine." I am sure he was quite disappointed when he got into the alley and found out it only contained colored water. "Leave me alone, let me go home, let me go home and start.... over."
Fourth of July Celebration Only Had a Few Fights and One Killing.....1880
Well, all the hoopla actually started on July 3, 1880 which was a Saturday and that night there was the usual drunken fights and one killing on Second Street. Sunday the fourth was quiet and rain dampened much of any kind of foolishness. Come Monday, the fifth, it was the official day of celebration with a brass band playing at the court square in the morning and the Firearm Society gave a noisy demonstration, as if Saturday night was not enough gun powder. People marched down the main drag over to Black's Grove and we had the usual nineteenth century celebration of speeches by dignitaries from the State and the town. Bands, flags, baseball, an abundance of food and drink made it a good day.
Wochenblatt Editor Says There Use to be a Cheaper Way to Deal with Criminals.....1880
John C. Leffel, you know that fella who wrote "The History of Posey County" in 1913? Well he hinted in the German language newspaper, "The Wochenblatt" that there was a time when criminals were disposed of without all the expense. I guess he might be referring to vigilante justice that lynched people and threw them into a firebox. What got him all riled up was a series of murders in one week in town. One involved a son of a wealthy Carmi merchant that was released on a $1000 bail. Another was the death of a man named James Pigg. Pigg was killed by another man named Prince Albert. Funny names. The Albert trial cost the county $954 which included $300 for the jurors and transportation costs to the prison in Jeffersonville where Prince Albert was put in a can for life.
In 1880 we had an enrollment of 85 students in our public schools taking the German language. The main teacher was a man called Hecht and at the high school in Mt. Vernon even non-Germans were signing up. This was a time when we had sermons in German as well as English and we had a German Aid Society and a German newspaper. All this would rapidly change in a couple of decades. The Mt. Vernon Wochenblatt was the name of the four pages weekly starting in 1875 and discontinued in 1882. It was mainly Republican in nature and the name means Weekly. The paper was still popular when it ceased but there was a scarcity of German printers to put it out.
"I Feel Like I Gotta Travel On".....1880
In a stormy domestic quarrel, a wife decided she had had enough. Neighbors watched as the husband threw his wife's dishes out of the house and cut clothing she had left behind to shreds. The husband was well known in town to have had jealousy issues. The wife she decided to end her marriage to the Hominy Mill worker, boarded the night train at the L&N depot, opened the window, shook a fist at her husband and yelled, "I'll never come back!" He answered loudly as the train pulled out, "I hope you don't." Calamity and misfortune seemed to walk hand in hand that year in Mt. Vernon. Get to the library and check it for yourself.
"Don't Do Me Like That".....1880
Oh the terrible racket going on at the Red Ribbon House in Mt. Vernon. Residents find it bad enough on a normal night, but on this particular night is was a little more unusual. A "gentleman" drew a knife and commenced slashing one of the "soiled damsels" across the head. Well of course all hell broke loose and the man was captured and lodged in the jail with a charge of assault with intent to kill. No word was mentioned on the fate of the damsel in distress.
McGuffy's Revised Readers, like mine, shown here were sold at the Western Star Newspaper Office at the Start of the School Year and were the only ones Lawful to be used in our Schools... 1880
My cover has many names ...the first one is Florence Bullard and then a Fannie Black of Mt.Vernon. There is a Julia Keeler and a Nettie Fox, two more Bullards, an Anna Lockwood, Emmie Compton, a Sarah Carson, a Bettie Danniel and a few I can't make out. It is actually a very hard book. There are essays on the evils of war, Blackstone essay on the origin of property, the character of Napoleon Bonaparte, speeches of the Virginia Convention, the description of a storm, the art of oratory, one on the lone Indian and the prospects of the Cherokees. There are several hundred articles from Intoxication to Lafayette, John Adams, the character of Columbus and Washington, the last words of a dying soldier. There is no religion of the Bible in here, but there is Milton, Shakespeare, Longfellow, Cooper, Byron, Franklin, Scott, and Curry. I pick my copy up now and then and read a story. On war it says: "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....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 able bodied soldier plies his trade; blaspheming; killing with savage delight; callous when the brains of his best loved comrade are splattered over him!...That is their vocation. "....it goes on, but that is enough for today. Read the second and fourth chapters and turn in your outlines Monday morning class. Now clean your slates put on your coats and go home and do your chores.
Posey Goes Democratic Along With Every State That Was Part of Confederacy, but Nation Votes Republican.....1880
In a close popular vote Republican James Garfield was elected President of the United States over Democrat Winfield Hancock by less than 10,000 votes. The Electoral College vote was wider however at 214-155. In Posey, Hancock won 2615-2121, but Indiana went for Garfield. Tension in political circles again was at a high pitch and the election was the topic of conversation in nearly every gathering. They argued tariffs, voting rights, morality, money, corporate control, class distinctions, increasing poverty, intermittent employment, the unprecedented use of the veto power, peace in the streets and the filling of jails and poorhouses. Some thought the demands of life, the lewdness and debauchery and lack of temperance was too much for the moral purity of public charities and that government should have a stronger role; others disagreed. Some still were bitter about the election of 1876 being in some minds...stolen by the Republican Party. Locally a political dispute between Thompson Oliver and Joe Eckels leading up to the election had the two men screaming at each other. Oliver's revolver didn't discharge and Eckel missed with his brickbat. No one was injured. Rallies were held all through the county and poles put up expressing their political leanings. One for Hancock was 165 feet tall in St. Wendel! One editor of the newspaper said legislators visiting the districts on behalf of their candidates delivering political speeches were becoming quite hoarse due to their busy schedules. The German paper, "The Wochenblatt" tongue in cheek said, "The lengthy word flow is so reduced that it should forestall any raise in the price of cotton to put in one's ears to keep from hearing that entire clamor."
Girls Gone Wild.....1880
Violence has got so bad in Mt. Vernon that women are fighting. The editor of the Democrat said: "sharper words are spoken, fist fights are more numerous and mistrust is more often in evidence than love and understanding. Women are said to be carrying knives hidden in their stockings, but this reporter has not been able to verify such report." One of the local proprietors was literally beaten up by his wife in his own store in front of customers. He dodged many of the earlier blows and escaped out the back door while stunned citizens thought it best to clear out quickly out the front door.
St. Matthew Catholic Church Nears Completion.....December 1879
All that was left to do was to add the cross to the spire in December of 1879. The beautiful house of worship would soon have the first concrete sidewalk and house the town clock. In a related move, Bishop Francis Chatard of Vincennes "in order to preserve spiritual values in these changing times," declared a ban on all forms of dancing for Catholic believers of Indiana. I thought the women of Israel danced after they crossed the Red Sea....maybe not.
St. Matthews Lies Cornerstone in Bilingual Ceremony.....August 1879
The local Catholic Church laid its cornerstone on Walnut Street on a Sunday afternoon. The moving ceremony was simple but touching. Father Schoentrup spoke in English and Father Dudenhauser spoke in German. I mean we did that back then....we didn't say "English, English, English," we made some allowances for immigrants. Bishop Chatard could not make it, so Father Distel placed the little tin capsule containing papers for future generations into the stone and placed it in the ground. Afterwards, the party headed over to the courthouse lawn where more speeches, singing, refreshments and festivities continued. Lots of people showed up. There were 60 Catholic families then and a delegation of 500 people came from Evansville and non-Catholics joined in also.
It was a sweltering summer that year. A young German immigrant working as a farm laborer in Marrs Township died of a heat stroke and several horses fell over also. A threshing machine ignited a load of wheat in St. Wendel from sparks and the horses attached to it barely were freed. During this time on a hot Sunday afternoon, Jailer Hayes tried to keep cool himself by sitting out on the porch in front of the jail. He allowed the inmates to catch a breeze in the corridor of the building. Unaware, Bill Miller, Bill Davis, Bill Mason and Bill Martin made their way to the basement living quarters and from there escaped through a window. The admired jailer was reprimanded. About a week later Martin was apprehended in Petersburg and Mason was captured in Gibson County. I never found anything on the other two fugitives.
Shoot first.....March 1879
In March of 1879 policeman Tom Hinch resigned his position when Mayor Oliver C. Terry accused him of being "trigger happy." He had been deputized as a special duty policeman along with Enoch Randolph in November of 1878. He became later a hired night watchman in town. He seems to have rejoined the force in February 1880 as the force increased to seven men. One patrolman was present to ensure peace in and around the high school building on North Main Street.
Posey Reaches Its Limit on Insanity.....March 1879
Local doctor, Pfnender was called out for a house call. While he was gone, his wife was accosted by a seemingly demented individual who raved and yelled in a very offensive manner. Probably didn't have insurance. The doc, he got home just in time to take the fellow by his collar and march him off to the sheriff in a citizen's arrest. The man was studied and investigated and found to be insane. He was sent up to the asylum in Indianapolis; but it was found out that Posey had already reached its limit of three inmates to the institution and it was only March. He had to be locked up until a special session of the Indiana Legislature waived the limit and committed him.
The Winter of 1879....
The Ohio River which grew higher during the month of December 1878 froze over in January of 1879 as people from Kentucky did Christmas shopping by crossing the ice to Mt. Vernon. Frozen ears were a problem for outdoor workers with many cases reported. We had our usual fights and shootings at the levee one involving a new immigrant that couldn't get along with a local at the Kahn saloon. The ice houses were filling up for later months with river ice and Leo Fuhrer fell and broke his wrist on ice in front of the Mt. Vernon bank. Mayor Terry asked for citizens to sprinkle ashes from their stoves on the icy sidewalks to prevent more injuries. The county roads were in deplorable condition and the newspapers called for immediate repair of side streets of the business district. A frozen body was found in West Franklin and hog cholera was all the rage west of town. As one paper said, the "city fathers will probably wait until someone breaks their neck on the Fourth Street bridge," before repairing it. The Mayor said city funds were depleted so much that they couldn't meet their obligations. Closing I guess with the pigeons who were shot at from the street to kill them because their droppings were contaminating the cisterns. One man shot a finger off and another had his gun stolen while he was hunting them...true story.
Railroad Convenient Store.....1879
Back when the railroad was in its first decade in Mt. Vernon there was a "Depot Saloon" ran by Mr. Phil Yunker that was open day and night. The railroad schedule was known so hot meals were always available at almost fast service for those catching, departing, and waiting on people to arrive on the iron horse. A small assortment of groceries was also available to put in the buggy to take to the hotel, steamship or on your way home.
Got a Shield Nickel? Rosenbaum's has a Sale.....1879
A five cent sale was on in August of 1879. A special table was set up with useful items like combs, hairbrushes, sun umbrellas for the ladies, notebooks for school, notions, hosiery, socks, and other useful kitchen items. Kids with their moms were given toys and candy and one lucky person was drawn to win a "George Washington hatchet." One good way to get the folks out in the dog days of summer.
I'm Just Here"Waiting for a Train".....1879
The country was going through great change as immigration supplied much unskilled labor into the industrial revolution, but kept masses in poverty with low wages, long hours and no benefits. Capitalists got rich with monopolies and the little guy little. Many people searched the country for work. The city council in May of 1879 in Mt. Vernon were met by an angry group of people living near the then north end of town, close to the railroad tracks, just north of Robin Hill. The vocal protestors showed their frustration over the increasing number of "hobos" staying in the Black's Grove area. They camped out with fires cooking what they said were stolen chickens of nearby residents. Vigilante justice was threatened against them if the town did not act. The Mayor got the small police force on it and dispersed the camp and the next day only a few had not caught onto another boxcar. It remained a place for patrolling for many years to come.
Man Buries His Son and Then Stabbed Over a 50 Cent Debt.....1878
Willis McClanahan was severely stabbed in several places by an intoxicated local who demanded payment of a fifty cent debt. McClanahan had just buried his son that day and went to purchase some groceries at Scheiber's. The assailant met him as he was carrying his bags and asked him for the money. McClanahan told him he had just buried his child and was in no mood for talking at the moment. Without any further provocation the man drew a knife and stabbed Willis five times, the wounds being to his side and back. He did survive the attack and recovered.
The Daily Sun Newspaper 1878-1879
The Daily Sun tried to publish each day of the week at a cost of $1 a year but went under. It was to be "independent of all party, person or sect...a paper of the people and not of the rich against the poor or the poor against the rich." Editor John Leffel of the Western Star said it was established by James M. Barter in 1878 and "was inclined to be in the blackmailing order" and discontinued in its second year. So much for "fair and balanced."
18 Months Before Mt. Vernon Mob Hanging; Letter Sent to Judge About Our Jail....April 1877
A man named Frank Boltin (hard to make out the last name) sent a letter to Posey County Circuit Court Judge Wm Parrett. He said that a Grand Jury had "respectively examined the county jail (on court house lawn) and were of the opinion that it was unsafe for the keeping of criminals and also found that the privy faults also were part of the unhealthy influence." In October of 1878 before the new jail on Mill Street was opened, masked men attacked the jail and hung the Negro prisoners from Locust trees, dismembered a man and put him in the privy and burned another alive in the fire box of a locomotive. No one ever paid for the crimes.
James Watts, Stage Driver from New Harmony to Princeton.....1877
Sort of hard to write this without thinking of that controversial Reagan appointee, but I will give it a shot. In 1927, James Watts came back to New Harmony to look around and see the sights. As an eighteen year old back in 1877 he use to make the round trip by stage to Princeton three times weekly. Watts was employed by Joel Mineweather who held the mail contract at the time and he brought the mail to New Harmony every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. In summer the trip took six hours but in the winter the stage didn't arrive until after 9 o'clock in the evening frequently. The fare from Princeton to New Harmony was $3 and 50 cents extra for a trunk.
Invoice for Goods-Rosenbaum Bros. & Harlem.....1877
This was the first Rosenbaum Store. The one that is still standing on Main was built in 1894.
Letter Found Requesting State Scholarship to Purdue For Daughter.....1877
In June of 1877 John B. Elliott of New Harmony, a son of a noted Owenite and a Methodist minister petitioned the Board of Commissioners of Posey County for a scholarship for his daughter Lena. John B., was a fruit grower and farmer and he became aware that the legislature of the state of Indiana had passed an act at the last session empowering the commissioners of each county to appoint two students, or scholars to Purdue University. Doing so the students would receive certain benefits. Not known if Lena received such benefits, but the letter is well preserved and is beautifully written. Mr. Elliott had seven children and Lena was the second born and they were very progressive citizens, a member of the Odd Fellows and a Republican. He was also President of the Posey County Agricultural Society for two terms and he himself had attended college for two years.
Aboard the Steamer Grey Eagle.....1877
Documents from Jeff Miller show the packet side-wheeler Grey Eagle landing in Mt. Vernon. Built in Jeffersonville Indiana it served the Ohio River from 1871 until 1888 when it was dismantled. They say that one of the sweetest sounds is that of a steamboat off in the distance. The whistle always was placed above the pilothouse and supplanted what before had been the sound of a gun or a bugle. I have read that the sound was mellow with a four or five musical chord starting low, rising higher and dropping back.
Box of Books Coming to MV by Steamboat Idlewild....1877
Thanks to Jeff Miller.
Mt. Vernon Judge Gives Long Long United States Centennial Oration....July 1876
Judge William Pauly Edson was said to have read every book in Mt, Vernon and on this occasion he seemed to have plenty to say. I have looked at his speech that runs 12 pages of small print. It's real flowery language too ranting about foreign despotism and praising the wisdom of the founding fathers locked away behind closed doors of Independence Hall. He went on and on about the Continental Congress paragraph by paragraph, page by page, clause by clause until surely the locals just wanted to throw horseshoes and have a snort. I mean I love political rhetoric more than most, but I was getting lost in the message. When he started talking about the advancements of steam, I was ready to quit reading; but I stuck it out. I mean the man was the youngest Indiana representative at age 22 when elected in 1856. He learned from Judge John Pitcher who had a habit of teaching young lawyers like Abraham Lincoln and Alvin P. Hovey. They say that like the old blowhard, 90 plus year old Pitcher he had a wonderful memory and a mind that was a storehouse of knowledge. He was a friend of Lincoln they say and he was one of the founders of the Mt. Vernon First National Bank. He passed on in 1902.
As Town Grows.....Sidewalks Needed.....December 1875
In November and December the commissioners opened up the new Eighth Street from Walnut to Main and workmen began tearing down the old courthouse in preparation for the new one finishing up. The old "Temple of Justice" stood for fifty years yet the timber was as solid as when it was put in they said. Maybe some of the planks should have been saved for the new sidewalks along Main Street as workers for a time ceased work as saw logs became exhausted. In other news the "back houses" or out houses on the court square were said to be....."not a success!"
Receipt from Rosenbaum & Harlem.....1870's
This was an earlier store than the one now on Main Street that was built in the early 1890's. Harlem later had his own store. Goods came by steamboat from New York where the Rosenbaum Brothers Moses and Daniel bought to supply their store, then the largest in the county.
The graduating class of Mt. Vernon in 1874 consisted of four persons: Clifford Thomson, Mary Jones, Mary McCallister and Sarah Wright.
City Council Meets Over Gas Works and Pass Nothing.....February 1872
The council meeting got very festive it seems on that Tuesday evening. Some were trying to get a gas works in town and said "it was necessary for our happiness." To perfect so-called happiness, Colonel John Mann and an equally interested partner proposed to build it, provided the city fathers would allow a monopoly and tax exemption for fifty years! Plus they wanted the town to "shoulder a few more undisclosed expenses. "Oh hell no", said one as the proposition was vigorously debated and the Colonel and councilman Evertson almost came to blows. "It ain't happening!" said the man who would have his name enshrined for over a hundred years on the building on Main Street. The paper said, "They fought and fit, gouged and bit" each other until the pleasantry turned violent and they had to be separated. The Mayor Damron, he had a hotel to run, and enough is enough so he adjourned the meeting without a second and the momentous gas question remained unsettled. Next week.....maybe we might need a water works too?
Presidential election of 1872
The Evansville Journal had a headline: "Vote as you Shot; No Compromise with Traitors!"...Despite Grant winning Indiana, Posey County stayed democrat voting for Horace Greeley. Despite General Alvin Hovey and General Wm Harrow campaigning for Grant here ....Mt. Vernon continued their streak of voting for a Democrat. Lincoln lost Posey both times also. New Harmony said: "to the shame of Democrats be it said, their apathy, absenteeism, and criminal neglect of their duty as partisans, has placed this country again under corrupt leadership. May all such Democrats repent in sackcloth and ashes for we should be sorry to have them die with such an enormous load of sin weighting down their diminutive souls." Damn, I wish I could write like that!! Greeley was actually a liberal Republican who had the support of the Dems for his crusade against Grant. He opposed slavery believed in vegetarianism and socialism. He died in November just weeks after the election before all the electoral votes were tabulated.
Party Like It's.....1872
Some of those in New Harmony brought in the New Year with disorderly conduct with their amusement. From early in the evening of December 31 to daylight of January 1 the rowdy element held the town at sway, granting little sleep for the rest of the citizens. Buggies, wagons, and movable property of all descriptions were transported for the manufacture of street barricades and fires lit. The fire bell was vigorously rung and cries of fire were heard during the night caused anxiety to many. What was called fun caused damage, disturbed residents, and was a disgraceful occurrence to the community. Good thing Father Rapp wasn't alive to see this!
Robert Dale Owen Pens New Book...."The Debatable Land Between this World and the Next".....1871
About six years before his death Robert Dale Owen, the son of socialist utopian Robert Owen penned this book on Spiritualism. The New Harmony Register said of it: "However much one may differ with Mr. Owen regarding the views expressed in this work, there can be but one opinion as to the ability of the author, and as to the honesty of his convictions on the doctrine of Spiritualism. The style in which the book is written is clear, forcible and elegant; such as we might expect from the pen of a gentleman of Mr. Owen's rare attainments. It will commend itself to every reasoning person, whether friend or foe to the cause advocated, and we predict for it a wide spread and general circulation. It was printed in New York City by the Carleton Company and is near 600 pages in an attractive style binding." RDO also wrote "Moral Physiology (A treatise on the Population Question) (1831); Labor: its History and its Prospects (1848); The Policy of Emancipation (1863); The Wrong of Slavery (1864); Beyond the Breakers (1870); and Threading my Way (1874).
A Stroll Down Main Street.....1870
Okay ~Wavy is back in the "Far Out Time Machine" again and I appear at the northwest corner of Main and Water Street in the day of our Lord....1870. It's a beautiful day as I start my walk up the west side of the main drag. The first place at the corner of Main and Water is occupied by Mutz and Yunker Grocery with a bar in the rear. We like bars in Mt. Vernon. The next building is Uncle Morris Fuhrer's saloon. I told you we like bars. Here we have a no nonsense bar...no barbecue just plenty of first class fire water. Next we have a tobacco shop of Smith and Sons, manufactures of all sorts of smoking and chewing tobacco. Moving along we hit Mr. Kincade's General Store which is good for just about everything dry goods. We get to the Samuel Kincade's Tailor Shop next and then the next two rooms are Rosenbaum and Harlem Dry Goods. They also have a tailor and you could get your boots and shoes here. Finally, we are at an alley and as we cross it we hit Judge Wilber's wholesale and retail establishment where again they have more groceries, more tobacco, ropes, whiskey, boat supplies and hardware. The goods are said to be so numerous that there is only a small passage through the store. Okay we have covered whiskey and smokes....what do we need next? Some say guns...well here in river city we have guns. George Hall has a gun shop. I don't go in there so ~Wavy don't know what type of mini-balls he has for sale. Next door is Doctor John Weaver in case one gets tanked and shot up. Then we come to A.C. McAllister's Dry Goods and General Store. He also buys grain and meat so park your wagon out back and we will see if we can make a deal. Gotlieb Leukroth has a shoe shop nearby and the Sullivan, Saris and Company which is a leading Dry Goods store in town. It is two rooms. The First National Bank in next which is on the southwest corner of Main and Second.....and you thought there was always a tavern there. Let's cross the street...watch what you step in! We are now at John Mann's Dry Goods and next to that is Dr. Spencer then the Fritz Ricketts Shoe shop. The Gerding confectionary and ice cream parlor is a good place to rest. Jo-Jo likes ice cream (my dog). George Henrich has his barber shop for the gents nearby and then another bank....the Mt. Vernon National Bank under the management of Charles Park. We cross another alley and Mr. Peck has a store where you can get eight cigars for five cents. Getting tired walking, lean up against a brick wall and light up one of these nasty cigars. Whew....strong. Can't buy a lighter anyplace. I say hi to Mr. Rosencrans who has a store and the first place to have a delivery wagon to bring your groceries to your door. I look in the window of Whitelsey's Jewelry Store and Zimmerman's Shoe store. There is another barber shop and Leonard's Dry Goods on the corner of Third Street. Crossing Third we get to August Sonderman's Hardware place then Phipps Jewelry store and then Leuning's saloon. Next door is Steffin's Harness and Leather Goods. Smells good in here like a hippie boutique. Fresh tanned leather....can you smell it? Upstairs is a Hall used for shows. Not too many businesses on Main with upper floors yet. That will come after the great fire of 1880. Rosenbaum has a Dry Goods Store. No not the one from the 21st century, that was built in 1894. This is an earlier model. This is Daniel and Moses Rosenbaum who pass the store down into the 1940's. You can get an overcoat here for $4 or dress cloths. We come to millinerys and another tailor before reaching the alley. We now are at the Evertson home. Yes a home. Remember back in the 1970's when Bernie Moll had a furniture store? Up above it was in black letters...EVERTSON. Well at this time it was a brick house there and in the back was a store room where a Thomas Stevens ran a small grocery. For decades to come this was called the Evertson block. Waving to Mr. Evertson I move on past a law office and then to Bacon's Saloon on the corner of Fourth and Main. Nothing is coming as I look left and right and I cross 4th street to the wooden sidewalk that leads to Steckler and Weckesser's Grocery with yet another saloon in the rear. There's a warehouse next that will one day be Niblo's. There's a bill on the window announcing a circus is coming. Thomas Rel has a gun shop nearby too. I hear you can get locks and keys made here also. He has a sign about a new celebrated breach-loading shotgun in the window.Okay I could go on talking about residences, notary publics, seed stores and Weilbrenner's Grocery but I don't want to move on to Fifth Street just yet....maybe someday I will hit the east side of Main too. Jo-Jo wants to see mamma so we must get back to the future.
Christian F Tente Grocery...Right By the Dump... Starting in the 1860's
All of you know Mill Creek. It used to be much bigger. Slaves reaching freedom are said to have come through there on their way to the backside of Robin Hill. We had a rope bridge at one point crossing it for walking. Several children were swept away in that Creek along with a mother trying to save them during a flash flood. Crossings at Second, Fourth and at least Eighth streets had wooden bridges. They were probably more than that. C.F. Tente was born in Prussia of what became Germany in 1833 and in 1859 he came to America. He moved to Mt. Vernon in 1864 and took up a partnership with a Charles Leuring in a grocery and retail liquor store on the corner of Second and Mill streets. The back end of the store faced the creek and during those times and for many years afterwards it was used as one of our city dumps. Jim Rainey and I were discussing Barnes' Grocery on that creek. I can't remember it, but Smokey said the tail end of it was actually tipping towards the creek! I can't imagine that or the smell of a dump nearby. Must be how the name "Skunk Holler" came into being. Now Tente he married a Leuring so he had a good deal going there it seems. He bought Charles out after a couple of years. He sold groceries and all kinds of liquor, wines and cigars. I wonder if it was the same store?
Civil War Between Mt. Vernon and New Harmony?.....1868
Another feud is in place between this time the editor of the Mt. Vernon Union newspaper (Republican) and the New Harmony Register. New Harmony was upset of the use of terms used against democrats being called, "copperheads, rebel democrats and traitors." The Union was spelling out the sympathies of the Mt. Vernon community and the Register reported" "In the Union we find no courtesy displayed week after week in their attacks continuing their tirade and abuse against Democratic soldiers who actually fought for the Union."
Out to pasture.....1860s
Somewhere on North Main Street, probably between Fifth and Seventh Streets, there was a home of James Whitworth, the county surveyor in the late 1860's. The two empty lots next door to the home is where General Alvin P. Hovey's white horse he rode in the Civil War spent his last days in retirement.
Former Mt. Vernon Democrat Editor...Says He Was "Ku Kluxed" in Late 1860's.....
Tom Collins was a strange sort back when emotions were strong of the Civil War and after. He had several different roles as newspaper editor and politician. Republicans didn't like him and some pulled their advertisements from his paper. He didn't care, he wrote about them even worse. He started a daily evening paper and called it, the "The Daily Evening Democrat" and charged fifteen cents a week for it and now he had two papers to fight the "radicals." Somewhere along the line he wanted to be postmaster and he felt he was stopped by criticizing favorite son, General Hovey. He also was on General Harrow for his drinking. Collins didn't get the job and raised a sissy fit. He sort of "jumped ship" to the Republicans later on. No one could believe him. He told the Evansville Journal that he was "severely down on Democratic outrages North and South and in fact he himself had been so afflicted when he was Ku Kluxed in his race for Auditor of Posey County a few years before." He blamed it on political enemies within the Democratic Party for switching sides. He signed his letter with the initials T.J.T. People laughed at him and called him "Truthful John Thomas" and mocked his expressions of Posey Democratic outrages and dirty tricks. His Daily Democrat soon was a daily organ of Repubicanism and folded.
Down On the Corner, Out in the Street.....1867
Was reading about Mt. Vernon in the late 1860's when "Willie and the poor boy" were hanging out on the plank sidewalks of Main Street. You know the learned men and merchants would be down at the Evertson building discussing the news, smoking a cigar and holding court. Now up the street next to the pool rooms and tobacco shops, laborers and loafers hung out spitting on the street and admiring the horses. If an attractive female was seen the men would rush into the tobacco store and grab a tobacco leaf and rub it on their cheeks. I have no idea why....do you?
Alvin P. Hovey's "Digs" as Ambassador to Peru.....1866-1870
After the Civil War, Mt. Vernon's General returned for a short time as a local lawyer then President Andrew Johnson appointed him Ambassador to Peru. Wasn't a real good gig as there was a war going on there too; but he lived in style. He was furnished a mansion in Lima with seven servants, a French cook, a head steward and many porters. As far as I know there were no attempts to burn it down.
Imagine Being a Old Man of 1865
Wavy sat down at the river today, pleasant enough. I envisioned an old man and at age 64 I would indeed have been an old man at the end of the Civil War. My great grandfather Karl he came to Mt. Vernon from Germany right about this time. But I am thinking of a grandfather watching and hoping for his returning grandson coming home from the Civil War. Each morning he would get up and after breakfast head down to the wharf and look west for a steamer as they plowed their way up the broad river heading north. He would probably sit down there with another old man or two playing checkers for a few hours. Now and again a boat carrying federal soldiers returning home would come into view and they would be cheered as they passed. Could this be the one? Sometimes a small brass band would be present at each unloading to welcome the soldiers back as they trickled in. The men were thin and those remaining on the ships for the next town were sleeping in extra cots spread all around the cabin and the decks. They filled their time with others playing cards, chess, dominos and checkers. Finally, one day a slightly familiar face of a young man....my grandson! I began to see what three long years had done to him. We hugged and cried as we struck down eastern Water Street making our way to the Flower House hotel. He was quiet but relieved. Some townsmen shook his hands and a few who remembered the young boy when he answered the call tipped their hats. Mt. Vernon was overrun with strangers to him and work was scarce, but the family was sound and well and there would be merriment that day as family learned of his return. No more long marches and death. Time to heal.
A Letter from Camp Douglas to President Lincoln from Mt. Vernon POW.....1864
Camp Douglas was one of the largest Union Army Prisoner of War camps for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. The small paragraph letter reads: "To His Excellency A. Lincoln President of the United States. Sir: I am a prisoner (Hole) in Camp Douglas at Chicago (hole)Ill in (hole) and being desirous to take the Oath of Alelleegance and become a good and Loyal Citizen, I beg your Excellency will grant me pardon, that I may return to my home in Mt. Vernon, Indiana. Most Respectfully"
1,2,3 in the Field Artillery.....1861-1865
Back in the Civil War the home guard here in town was always doing something with our cannons, Alvin Hovey procured for us to protect our town from Morgan's Raiders and the Confederates in general. One story goes that on the east corner of the Public Square where the home guard sometimes trained they kept two cannons. When news reached us of a northern victory over the Rebs they would take out the brass weapons take them down Main Street and fire them and every intersection moving down to the levee. When they got there they would really let them fly with a big finale. Must have been terrible for the horses on the street! Merchants and homeowners were warned to raise their windows to keep the noise and vibration from breaking their panes.
Some Camp Morton Notes from a Confederate Prisoner.....1863
Camp Morton was at Indianapolis during the Civil War and named after our governor Oliver Morton. Once a Union training facility it became a POW camp in 1862 after the fall of Fort Donelson and the Battle of Shiloh. From those battles, Mt. Vernon was one of the places that took in wounded soldiers in makeshift hospitals. When this particular prisoner arrived he made a journal. He arrived in December of 1863 and was marched to the main square in front of the headquarters where Yankee Lieutenants and Sergeants started searching them. They took knives and money, some recording the items on paper and some not. They came back again and took every good coat they had and distributed some thin cotton jackets with some "ridiculous looking tight spade tail Yankee coats." Those who had photographs were even taken. One day this prisoner had a severe cough for several nights. He wrote: "I went to the medical facility and they gave me about two inches of a stick of licorice and told me that was all." On Christmas it was a dull day, both in spirit and in temperature. The men joked about not getting Christmas gifts, but none were expected. A Yankee officer examined the barracks that morning and asked. "Any of you engaged in the go-fur business? (He meant an intent to dig out of prison.) In the evening there were a few gifts exchanged between men. Items were small candles, a bottle of pepper sauce, a little pad of butter or lard, maybe even a small container of coffee. The evening ended with a toast...to Morgan's Raiders. "Unclaimed by the land that bore us, lost in the land we find, the brave have gone before us, cowards are left behind. Then stand to your glasses steady, here's a health to those we prize, here's a toast to the dead already, and here's to the next who dies."
Karl Kessler Jr., Age 14, Rockenhausen, Germany Immigrates to America.....1862
My great grandfather came from Germany in December of 1862 right in the middle of our nation's Civil War. His father, Karl Sr. let almost all his family of boys come to America, It was a bad time in Europe where a poor man was hardly ever noticed by a rich man. My family in Europe were bricklayers mostly and they seemed to have done pretty well. They sure worked hard enough building the town, but taxes and rents were high and many families begged for their daily bread and schools were expensive. They made something less than a dollar a week by all accounts. When a boy turned 20 years of age and healthy they must become soldiers for three years and even after that he was called for sharpshooting practice on the many weekends and was in what they called the landsturm , a sort of reserves until age 40. Many Germans were tired of the economic problems and the draft. They looked for a better life elsewhere. It had to have been painful leaving behind your parents and other relatives, never to see them again. He left Germany behind, never to return, moving through the English Channel and on to the Atlantic Ocean arriving in New York on December the eleventh. He kept on going down the Ohio River and passed his brothers in Evansville to Slim Island in Posey County. A bad choice I imagine. It took 80 years to escape Point Township and the floods resulting in generations of poverty. His first wife died at age 33 of blood poison due to an infection that moved up the arm from a finger. My grandfather farmed for others by mule and never made much, but 13 kids I believe and only a few made adulthood, Typhoid fever took two in the 1937 flood and one was killed by a train, another still born. Gramps wife died in her 30's, four days after childbirth. I guess I got it pretty good...the first Kessler I know of in Posey to graduate from high school and to go to college. Not to say that my uncles and dad did not work hard, get a GED and make a good living...they did. All the surviving uncles and one aunt became fine men and woman and raised fine families. I hope that continues. Rockenhausen is the name, a small town about the size of Mt. Vernon in the Rhineland near Kaiserslautern. I have never been there, but I did go to Kaiserslautern while in the service. I didn't know then where they came from. Years ago relatives of the brothers of Karl that settled in Evansville went for a visit and the Kessler family is still present in that town! They met with descendants of siblings that stayed in Germany and did not immigrate. One relative owned the Kessler Brick Company in Evansville which still exists carrying on the tradition of bricklayers and masons. Others have become doctors and prominent professionals. Dad stayed with some kin waiting out the 1937 flood and said he never had it so good.
Civil War Recruitment on Gunboat.....August 1861
Recruitment posters were pasted and nailed all over Southern Indiana in anticipation of the gunboat Conestoga coming to Evansville looking for seaman with a salary of $18 a month, Navy rations, and a $100 bounty at the end of the war with land grants. She ended up with around 50 as she moved on to Cairo, Illinois. She was a frequent visitor to our river including Mt. Vernon. A few months later she returned with a new coat of black paint and was called locally, the "Lincoln Sneak."
Soldier in Newburgh Seen Kicked Out of Military.....1861
A soldier stepped off the boat wearing his blue uniform, but oddly without a cap. On one side of his head it was shaved close, not like the other side giving him a "freakish" look. He had been drummed out of service they said for misconduct. He had wanted to get out of the fighting so he had purposely put his fingers on the rails in front of a moving coal car. His hand was crushed so that he could never carry a gun again. His fellow soldiers branded him this way when he was released. It was also in Newburgh that two local men were accused of giving aid to the enemy. An angry mob hung them at sundown.
Stars & Bars in the Area Following Attack on Ft. Sumter.....1861
Early in the spring Captain Archer of the "Commercial" landed in Evansville and hosted his colors on his boat. He was directly told to move on and when he got to New Albany he was told to take the flag down within ten minutes or be fired upon. The first thirty days following the start of hostilities there sort of was an amnesty for north and south transportation and shipping to get back to their own side. The "Peytona "came down the Ohio river gathering secession troops to take south. Met at Henderson sympathizers fired fifteen rounds of cannon in honor of the South. Evansville said if they land there at their wharf they would sink her. Henderson vowed that they were prepared to go to Evansville to defend it. The "Peytona" decided to keep on floating south along the Kentucky side of the river.
We don't Want your Yankee Beef or your Ass!".....December 1860
A steamboat, the "Lady Pike" left Evansville for Memphis Tennessee with fresh beef and a mule. The consigned refused the cargo, sent it back and included a note: "We do not intend to eat Northern beef and you can have back your abolitionist mule too!"
"Love is in the Air".....Mt. Vernon 1859-1860
Across Mill Creek near the river was a lover's lane on a high point called, "Lover's Retreat." In town, there was a contingent of young people....a society called, the Terpsicordian Society. It was an invitation only group organized for dancing and dining that met every two weeks on Friday nights at the Leunings Hall. This building was at Third and Main on the second floor that later would be a new building called, "Palace of Sweets."
Where the Water Works now stands was once the home of Judge Wilber and it was known as "Noah's Ark" for the variety of items within. One story of its origin says that a stranger passed by, peered into the place and exclaimed, "this must be Noah's Ark," to which the good Judge replied: "It is, we have everything here but a Jack Ass....come on in."
The original Rosenbaum store was established in 1854 by Moses and Daniel Rosenbaum. Above the store in a upstairs apartment, Jacob Rosenbaum was born, the son of Moses and Lena Wolf Rosenbaum. In 1894 that store was replaced by the one that still stands on Main Street. Upon the death of Moses and Daniel, Jacob and Lee, sons of Moses, and Julius and Mike, sons of Daniel continued the store and dairy business. By 1919 the store was run by Jacob and his two sons, Herman and Jesse. Jacob died in 1931.
Steamboat "Tribune" Docks at Wharf.....March 1850
Said to have been "magnificence in style and far ahead, in every particular way of any boat to visit our city." The packet bell sounds and eager gazers fill our shore. A side wheeler of 251 tons it drew 20 inches of water. Built in 1849 she would burn in a Louisiana bayou later in the year.
Census of Mt. Vernon In 1850....I Did Some Research
In 1850 the city proper of Mt. Vernon had 1120 residents in the federal census. Of these 658 or 58.75% were born in the states of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, or Wisconsin. 227 residents or 20.27% were from southern states. The next highest percentage was foreign born. 108 in total representing 9.64% of the town's population. The three highest foreign countries were 59 from Germany, 24 from Ireland, and 13 from England. All foreign born were European except for one person born in India. From the Mid-Atlantic states there were 84 or 7.5%. Next comes 38 citizens or 3.39% from the New England states.
Strange Phenomenon On the Wabash River.....January 1847
Oldtimers long ago called it, "The Great Freeze of the Wabash." Rains brought the river to an unusual high stage and when it was at its highest point the weather turned its worse and the backwater in the woods froze in a thick sheet of ice. At that time the Black river bottoms were all covered with a dense forest and it froze a thick sheet of ice all through the bottoms. The weather stayed extremely cold for a very long time and when the river went down the water ran down from under the ice while the trees still held the ice up. It was said a man could ride on horseback for miles under the ice. The swaying of the trees in the wind caused the ice to grind the bark off the trees and when the ice did melt; all the trees had circles on them showing how high the water had been. Some of those trees showed their marks for up to thirty years.
Posey County Lawyer Writes of Hard Times.....April 1842
Charles I. Battell, a Posey County lawyer and state legislator wrote a letter to William H. Law of Evansville on the hard times in the county. "Produce is low, currency is bad, and people are unable to keep contracts. The condition of the country is appalling. I just returned from Indianapolis, where I went for the purpose of getting the scrip that was to be issued to pay the debt due from the State to the Bank. The state owes the Evansville branch upwards of $100000. Only $30,000 was ready. I hear Wisconsin is fast filling up with good inhabitants......" The country was in the fifth year of depression and President Tyler was burned in effigy outside the White House. So much for nationalism vs state rights.
Off to Vote for Andy Jackson...New Harmony 1842
Artist Bodmer described the scene: "People from surrounding settlements came to New Harmony on the morning of November 5, 1842 to vote for President either Andrew Jackson or Henry Clay. Many came on foot or wagon, but the majority by horseback." Democrat Jackson easily won re-election and in Posey County the returns were 646 for "Ole Hickory" and 278 for the Kentuckian. Start the barbecue!
In the fall of 1838 it became very dry in Posey County and creeks and brooks started to dry up and water became scarce to some. Considerable mortality was common, especially bloody flux. Later the term dysentery became used as people lived in poor sanitary conditions.
In 1837 there was a triple Owen wedding in New Harmony where six white horses drove the brides and grooms in three carriages. Some other notable horses of the 19th century was "Old Fly" the 38 year old Civil War horse of George Barrett whose horse's bones now are in the Workingman's Institute. Robert Dale Owen had three horses named "Massadonia", "Fire Fly" and "Polly Fox." Richard Owen brought home from the Civil War his saddle horse "Blue Buck." Alfred Ribeyre, "The Corn King" of New Harmony had a favorite horse named 'Gipsey Girl." A horse by the name of "Black Bess" appeared on the New Harmony stage in 1868 with a naked women on his back in a Byron play called 'Mazeppa."
Land grant for Posey Settler, Endicott signed by President Andrew Jackson with seal in the early 1830's
Watercolor of New Harmony by Swiss Artist Karl Bodmer.....1832
It was on a calendar for the 2014 New Harmony Bicentennial this year. He did several drawings of New Harmony in his visit. He was here with Prince Maximillian. He did many native American drawings and paintings in his visit to the west.
Thomas Price Grave in Robb Township. Colonial soldier and Revolutionary War Vet....died in 1828 about 90 years of age
Thomas Price was a soldier in Col. Charles Lowe's regiment on October 10, 1874 and was wounded in his left arm by an Indian that left it almost useless. In battle he carried an old Deckard rifle and powder horn of which were still in existence in 1932 and were then according to a book in possession of the Murphy Museum in New Harmony. The rifle barrel was long and small bored and the stock was of silver bands and plates. The powder horn was covered with etchings of the likes of crocodiles, Indian heads, an eagle, a sun and a moon. The tombstone is in the Bethsaida Christian Church Cemetery. The inscription says: "Thomas Price. Died November 12, 1828 aged 90 years or upward. He was born in Culpepper Co. Va., & wounded in Lewis Battle at Point Pleasant by an Indian in the left arm. Died in Posey Co. Ind."
Mt. Vernon Banker Met Honest Abe As A Boy.....1827
John M. Lockwood was a descendant of Edmund Lockwood, who came with Governor Winthrop and his pilgrims to the new world in 1630. As a boy in 1827 he was working for a Mr. Evans in Princeton, Indiana. Abraham Lincoln then was living with his parents near Rockford, Indiana and he came to town on horseback with a sack of wool. Lockwood took the sack and had it carded into rolls. Lincoln spent the night and then returned the next day. Lockwood later became the bank President here in Mt. Vernon of the First National Bank.
Court Lays Down Laws For Posey County Commissioners.....1826
Ok, there will be no member absent more than five minutes without permission. (I guess you better hurry to the outhouse and back.) 2) No member shall be interrupted when speaking or allowed to speak more than twice on any one subject without permission. (Man the man is big on permission isn't he? No spin zone...no crossfire) 3) When the court adjourns for any stated period of time, all members shall promptly return to the courthouse. (That's right, no chewing or whittling, keep moving) 4) When anything is before the court, profound silence shall be observed, except the member speaking. (There is no wonder why ~Wavy is excused from jury duty). 5) There shall be no "spirituous" liquor "drunk" in the courthouse while the court is in session. (Maybe afterwards is ok when everyone is partying.) 6) If indeed any members of the court shall break any of these rules he shall be fined fifty cents. So, I guess they were big on the fines. I read where in 1832 one member he was fined twice for profane swearing and another man he swore at swore back and he was fined. Then, after the swearing the first swearing councilman assaulted the second swearer. It gets a little hot in July in these parts.
Rappities in Leaving Sign Document.....May 21, 1824
Registered at the Posey County court house is a deed giving up Harmonie as they move on to Economy, Pa. It is signed by 501 Rappities and is sealed and signed by Judge Isaac Blackford. (Record D, 116-127). These 501 signatures are sort of interesting. There are lots of German names with the most common being Rapp, Kurtz, Knoder, Bauer, Schmid, Bamsberger, Nachtrieb, Schnabel, Klein, Jung, Wagner, and Weingartner. I counted 41 marks for those who could not write their name......they were all women.
George Rapp Sends Supplies to New Community.....October 1814
A list of items Rapp had sent to Harmonie early on in his utopian venture included: 106 barrels of flour, 95 barrels of potatoes, 17 barrels of sauerkraut, 6 barrels of apples, one barrel of oil, two barrels of eggs packed in flour, one barrel of vinegar, one barrel of peaches, four barrels of hay wire, one barrel of old brandy, two boxes of window frames, one chest of cloth, one barrel of tar, one saw for sawmill, one crank for sawmill, two small tubs of butter, one barrel of peas, two dozen German calendars, two dozen English calendars, four hanks of thread, one dozen leather aprons, 22 leather trousers, two dozen calf hides, and six dog hides.
Rappities Formed on the Basis of Biblical Book of Acts.....1814
George Rapp was a little different. He believed that Napoleon was the anti-Christ. Here he was in the swamps of the southern most part of what would become Indiana watching all his poor Germans dying of malaria as they struggled to form their community. Around 120 died that first year before the damn swamps were drained. Rapp had called himself a prophet in Europe and he believed that Christ would come in his lifetime. They are now called Millennialists. He based his commune on the Book of Acts, chapter 4, and verses 32-35. Verse 32 says: "And the multitudes of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul; neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things common." He called the commune, "Harmonie." Since Christ was coming back in their lifetimes, he pushed chastity and in order to make themselves more worthy for Christ's 1000 year reign, he sat about Articles of Agreement to be signed by all citizens. Ten years later, he had a ad put in the Albion, Illinois paper that Harmonie was for sale. It was time to wait out the savior's return in Economy, Pa. He even had a date in September of 1829. When Christ didn't make it the town started falling apart there also. There were six withdrawals from 1823-1825, 26 in 1826, 20 in 1828 and 24 in 1829. It would take other dreamers like Karl Marx to continue with the thoughts of "distribution was made unto every man according as he has need." That is not from his Manifesto, but from Acts 4:35.
"Noah's Ark" in Harmonie....1814
It seems there was a man with the surname of Straheli who was a herdsman for the Rappities. His job for the community was to tend to the flocks and herds. He had this huge wagon, fondly called, "Noah's Ark" drawn by cattle and he would take it to the pastures and the fields south of town and to cut-off island to feed and put the animals in barns and sheds at night for protection. Made for a long day I presume, but although Father Rapp preached temperance, I believe he must have indulged in the fruits of the Rappities which was wine, whiskey and beer. I mean he was close by to the 18 acres of grapes and the wine press of a Mr. Strock. I would have worked out some sort of barter....but that is just me.
James Audubon Visits the Area Around 1818
The French naturalist and painter, who lived in Henderson, Kentucky from 1810-1818 is said to have been in this area many times. I have written in my earlier books of him in what would become Mt. Vernon. A Mrs. Philip Speed, niece of the English poet John Keats said in Harper's Magazine that her father, George Keats and Audubon visited the Rappities on occasion and later to visit the scientific men of the Owen community. Some scholars doubt that last part. A journal of Audubon says that on November 3, 1820 Audubon was at Diamond Island hunting blue cranes, a winter wren, deer and many turkeys. Two days later he was at Slim Island looking around, but found little. I always enjoy going to Audubon State Park in the fall, walking through the leaves and looking at the museum. The gifted man did well in Kentucky but soon afterwards he was bankrupt and even thrown in jail for debt. He put together a massive book called, "The Birds of America" containing over 400 drawings. The book cost over $100,000 to print in those days....millions today. It may have been the greatest picture book in history. Sadly, most of the copper plates have been melted down when he again became desperate for money.
The Cox Fort, Near Stewartsville.....1809
About a mile and a half almost due west of Stewartsville, on a high bluff was located the fort of John "Double-Head" Cox. It was built like most forts...of logs and clapboard with holes to shoot out of if deemed necessary. Leonard's History of Posey County mentions it a little. It says: "A block house was constructed in the immediate vicinity of this village (Stewartsville) in the year 1809, on the farm of John Cox who, with the families of Maxey Jolly, Thomas Robb, V. Leavitt, and John Wallace, occupied it for protection against the Indians." This property was legally entered by John Cox on January 31, 1811. An eye witness in 1925 said she remembered the old fort when she was young. Mrs. Martha Welborn lived about a half mile south of it as a young girl and remembered it being turned into a barn or granary with sheds on each side to shelter farm vehicles and machinery, but it was in pretty bad shape even then. "Double-Head" Cox was an interesting guy it seems. Nicknames were big then like "Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum" or "Turkey John and John Duck." "Double-Head" seems to have got his name because he had an unusually large or peculiarly formed head. I worked with a guy for years we called "Bucket- Head." He seems to have been a good farmer and a surveyor. He surveyed many of the small towns around like Stewartsville and Winfield. Coming up next...."Double-Head's" son tells an Indian story.
Thomas Cox Tells of Cox Family Feast With Indians Near Black River...Circa 1809
Thomas G. Cox was the son of "Double-Head" Cox of Stewartsville. When he was a young boy he told a story to a neighbor of his that was written up in the Poseyville News in 1925. The story goes that there was a camp of Indians located on Black River, only a short distance away. From time to time strolling Indians often came to their home and each tried to be friends. The Cox's treated them kindly, after trust was established and often gave them something to eat. The Indians appreciated these favors, especially the old chieftain of the tribe. The Cox family was invited to a feast at the Indian camp, but they were hesitant to go. They also didn't want to offend the chief and all the goodwill they had established. They decided to go and after a short time in the camp, hunters came in with wild turkeys they had killed. The cooks got busy while the visitors watched with deep interest. The big birds were dipped in boiling water and soon denuded of their feathers. Then they were ripped up and washed in the same water. The Indian women quickly dismembered the fowls, put them back in the same water and cooked them until they were eatable. Sally, wife of "Double-Head" experienced nausea of the stomach. John leaned over and whispered to her: "We got to eat, whether we like it or not; forget everything and wade in!" They braced themselves up and did justice to the occasion....smiled big grins to the delight of their hosts.
Another Cox Pioneer Tale....1809
Soon after the Cox family went to the Indian village for the feast, Mr. Cox rode away on horseback and was gone all day. Around noon, Mrs. Cox looked out the door and spotted an Indian behind a tree as if watching the homestead. Alarmed she grabbed a revolver and placed it close by if needed. Watching, she saw the Indian move forward and quickly towards the house. The Indian pulled up a chair on the porch and fixed his gaze into the forest watching intently for hours. He seemed not concerned of the goings on in the home and Mrs. Cox, not being no longer alarmed went about her household work. At last, the Indian got up and drew his blanket over his shoulder and disappeared into the forest. Soon Mr. Cox was home and Mrs. Cox told him of the strange behavior. They wondered about it for some time and concluded that the Indians had learned that the white man was away and fearing some might molest or disturb the white woman, they sent a tribesman to watch over her until all danger was passed.
I can just seem them McFaddins, Rowe's, Greathouses, and Duckworth's dancing by a fire on the Bluff stomping in the mud puddles. Pipes lit, fiddles ablaze, harpsicords providing feedback and drums a beating to "Buffalo Gal's" and "Turkey In the Straw." Old man plays a Jew's harp and another plays the spoons. Fathers watch their daughters with muskets at the ready as romance fills the air.