Monday, February 26, 2007
When my parents were first married in May 1946 they lived for a short time with her father (Vic Phend) in Larwill. This was the house that her parents had purchased in the late 1930's and the same house that my cousin now owns. Then, before my older brother was born in March 1947 Mom and Dad purchased a small concrete block house that was originally built by my uncle Emory Wiseman as a garage. It was a part of the old Wiseman homestead in Tippecanoe Township, Kosciusko County, Indiana - property that my great grandfather Samuel Bray Wiseman had purchased from his father in 1885.
The garage was converted into a home albeit a very small one, perhaps 20 x 30 feet, but it was 2 stories high, with two rooms downstairs - the kitchen/bath room and the living/family room - and two bedrooms upstairs. We lived in this house until I was eight years old and by that time there were four kids in the family. We did have indoor plumbing but just running water in the kitchen and a toilet hidden away in a closet. Baths were taken in a tub with water heated on the oil stove. Believe me, it was awful cold getting up in the morning in the winter. Maybe that's why I'm not a 'morning' person!
We were out in the country, 15 miles to the nearest town, but there was a neighborhood grocery store ½ a mile to the east. Everybody in the neighborhood was related in some way to nearly everyone else. Us kids couldn't get away with anything without Mom finding out about it. And if it was something we shouldn't have been doing, she'd make us go and cut a switch from the big willow tree. If the switch wasn't just right we had to go get another one! After we'd grown up she told us she made us get the switches so she wouldn't swat us when she was mad. It gave her a chance to cool down some so the spankings probably weren't near as bad as we thought they were. The worst part was going after the switches ourselves!
The house was on top of a hill and below the hill was a swamp. Of course, the swamp was off limits. And of course my brothers and I spent some time and had some fun exploring it and the various forms of life it held - snakes, frogs, turtles, etc. We built forts and tree houses in the big trees surrounding the swamp. The large old willow tree had more uses than swatting switches. It was on the side of the hill and was an awesome swing - grab a few drooping branches and let yourself fly! It's a wonder we made it through childhood without any broken bones.
Our 'uncle' Howard Wiseman owned the farm to the south of our house on 80 acres, about half of which was farmland and the other half wooded land. Howard passed away in May of 1956 and his heirs offered to rent Howard's house to us, which was quite a bit larger than ours, but old and not in good shape. We lived there about 2 years. When I was 10 years old we moved into a newer 'Ranch' style house about 10 miles north, on Armstrong Road, that had little personality. Neighbors were just a stone's throw away. There was a separate bedroom for the boys and another for the girls, a full bath with hot and cold running water - all of the modern amenities, even a television!
We lived in the house on Armstrong Road through my high school years. It was about four miles from North Webster. Close enough so us kids could ride our bikes into town or even walk in if we really wanted to, which we did many times. I lived there off and on until I joined the Navy in 1969. My parents had divorced in 1964 and Mom couldn't afford to keep the house on her own so she and my sister, the only child still at home, moved to Larwill to live with her father. Back where she started.
I lived in several different apartments and houses in Fort Wayne during the 3 years between graduation from high school and enlisting in the Navy, but my favorite house was located at 1234 Home Avenue!
If you'd like to get a feel for what it was like to live on a farm in the early 1900's my grandmother wrote a series of stories of her life, one of which vividly describes her memories of the Brubaker farm where she lived from 1910-1916. It is posted on my Kinexxions website at http://www.kinexxions.com/mykin/grandma/part4.htm
Also, I recently posted some memories my Aunt Phyllis had of her grandparents and the Phend home in Columbia City.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Grandpa and Grandma Phend's house was big. There was a side porch that ran the length of the kitchen which had a swing at one end. Grandma loved sitting there in warm weather. There was moss rose on both sides of the walk leading to the porch door that opened into the kitchen. There was a big wood range. For her 50th anniversary, in 1942, Uncle Russell bought her a gas range! There was a cupboard, a small sink that had cold water only from a pitcher pump. There was a big round table; a wood shed off the west end; and the door to the pantry on the back porch.
The pantry had a lot of cupboards where Grandma kept the food...and the sugar cookies from Jones Bakery. They never had fresh milk, only canned. We always had to have a cookie when we went to Grandma's. Since there was no milk, we dipped them in a tin cup of cold water. They were delicious!
Also in the pantry, in front of the cupboards, was a lift up cellar door and a door to the back yard where there was a mulberry tree. We always had stained clothes when the berries were in season. They had a large grape arbor with vines on both sides and over the top. My cousins Josephine, Betty and Louise and I loved to sit under the arbor. We talked and played and always ate a few grapes before they were ripe and had belly aches.
Off the kitchen, through a swinging door was the dining room, it probably would be called a great room today. They had a large square table that opened up to seat a lot of us. There was a buffet, a heating stove, a day bed, and Grandpa's big drawing board where he drew his house and building plans. The drawing board had a high stool in front of it. We were never supposed to touch anything but I loved to crawl up on the high stool and just look at all the drawings on the big sheets of paper.
On a shelf in the "dining room" there was a clock that had to be wound daily. And there was Grandma's wood rocking chair. It had a leather seat and a little footstool. Beside the chair was her floor model radio. On the wall above the radio was the telephone, their number was 472. You just lifted the receiver and told the operator the number you wanted! Grandma would call Yontz Grocery Store and read off her list and in a short time they would be delivered to the back door.
There were big double doors off the dining room that went to their bedroom and yet another door led to two large parlor rooms that were used only on special occasions. There was a crank phonograph, a wood and leather davenport that opened into a bed, and a chair. A door opened to the front porch on the east side of the house facing Chauncey Street. The light plant was on the other side of the street. In the other room was a pump organ and stool and some other furniture.
When Aunt Gladys died [July 4th, 1931] her casket was in the room where the organ was. I was about eight years old. All of us cousins were running in and out through the rooms and all the doors, just going in circles. We got scolded for it too. After the funeral everyone was sitting on the front porch reminiscing about the "olden days". The funeral directors were Luckenbills and my dad and uncles had grown up with them. Everyone was laughing and having a good time when just a short time earlier everyone had been so sad. I remember Grandma commenting on that fact.
I thought my grandpa and uncles were the tallest men. At family get-togethers, which were often, they would always seem to be standing together and talking so loud. One time I asked Mom why they were always mad at each other. She didn't understand what I meant at first. I said they were always fighting and arguing. She laughed and said "Oh no, they're not mad at each other, they were just talking politics and like all good Republicans they were talking against the Democrats and giving them the devil." They got quite loud on these occasions, even Grandpa who was really a quiet man.
In the 1930's there were a lot of tramps and hobos that came through town (and the rest of the country). Grandpa fed all of them that stopped at his house. But they had to chop wood or do some kind of chore to earn their meal. Grandma always cooked up big meals for all her men folk with enough for extras. I asked Grandpa why he always fed the tramps and he told me that the Bible says that Jesus was coming back and we would never know when or how. He thought the He might return as a tramp so he took them all in. He even had a building out back where he would let them sleep. We always thought that they somehow had marked the house because Grandpa never turned anyone away.
My Grandfather Phend was a very Godly man. He believed in his Lord and he lived for Him. He was an honest man that probably never received as much as he gave. He was very particular about doing good work. He was a perfectionist and so were his boys... slow, deliberate, good, quality workmen.
Patricia Phend Reiff (second child of Victor, my aunt):
Grandpa would give this advice to his grandchildren when they got married. "Never go to bed mad at each other. When you have an argument, one of you go for a walk." He attributed his good health and long life to the many walks he took of an evening. Grandpa Phend had a very dry sense of humor. Grandma Phend was always the first person in Whitley county to find and cook a mess of dandelions each spring. This major event was always reported in the local paper. She had a great sense of humor, loved a naughty story and laughed readily.
Evelyn Phend Winebrenner (youngest child of Cecil, my 1st cousin once removed):
Grandpa was such a kind and soft spoken man. I remember him sitting at his drawing table in the front room. Grandma was always so much fun for me to be around. I stayed with them a lot and she always wanted me to set her hair and comb it out. Every April Fool's Day, when I was in my teens, I would call Grandma and tell her I was the hatchery ready to deliver the 500 chicks she had ordered. She would just have a fit, as she had no place to put that many chicks. Then I'd say "April Fool" and she knew it was me and just laugh and laugh. I did this for about four years straight and she always fell for it.
Shirley Phend Webber (youngest child of Victor, my aunt):
Grandpa wore high top shoes and had a mustache. He was very quiet, but pleasant. I don't remember being afraid of him or awed by him. He was just a very solid and very old person. Grandma gave me my round body and long arms and legs. I can remember her long, thin, rather elegant Sunday shoes. Grandma was a kind lady, though she was not a hugger. And I think she liked me, but never seemed to know what to say to me. I remember thinking she always seemed rather sad, but I don't know about what. We didn't go to see them on a regular basis, though Dad may have spent more time than I knew with them.
Virginia Phend Wiseman (middle child of Victor, my mother):
I don't remember Grandpa hugging and kissing very much, until she got sick and lived in a nursing home. Then she wanted to be hugged and kissed all the time. But there was one time I do remember. At the family reunion in 1949 I had three children all under the age of three! Jack Lynn had just been born in July, Becky was about a year-and-a-half old, and Doug was two-and-a-half. So there I was with one child in my arms and two hanging onto either side of my dress. Grandma just looked at me, started laughing and saying I reminded her of the way she had been in younger days, and wrapped me in her arms and hugged me and kissed me. It was the only time I felt really close to her.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Henry's first job in Columbia City was with the Heel factory but his lifelong occupation was that of building contractor. His firm was responsible for the construction of many homes in the Columbia City area as well as many churches (Columbia City EUB, Collins EUB, Hively EUB, Big Lake Church of God and the Trinity Methodist Church). More than 50 of the storefronts in downtown Columbia City were remodeled by him and his employees in the early 1950's. His last 'job' was in 1952 when he served as inspector of the Mary Raber school.
In addition to the three children mentioned in part 1 (Vic 1893-1991, Cecil 1894-1991 and Gladys 1896-1931), Henry and Susie had seven more children: Bernice Gertrude 1899-1991, Russell Lowell 1900-1983, Donald Dwight 1903-1987, Virgil Gilbert 1904-1972, Paul Eugene 1906-1982, James Gerald 1908-1994, and Richard Lincoln born February 12, 1915 and died February 14, 1915.
Most of Henry's sons worked for him at one time or another. Two of them, Don and Gerald, followed in his footsteps and made the construction business their own life's work. The Phends were known for good workmanship and high quality; when someone hired Henry Phend or his sons, they knew the job would be done right.
My grandfather, Victor Phend (oldest son of Henry), often told of being pulled out of school to go work for his father. While still in grade school he would have to help carry bricks or mix mortar. He spoke of a church that was being built; the workmen had finished laying the exterior bricks and were doing some inside work. Henry went in, took a look around, and told them to start tearing the wall down, as it was out of alignment. The workmen did as they were told; grandpa and another boy had to scrape and clean all of the bricks so they could be used again.
As a teenager in the late 1940's, my uncle, Bill Phend, worked for Henry for a summer. One day on the job, Bill was doing some work on a foundation. He happened to be sitting on the edge of the foundation and reaching down. Henry came along and said to him, "William, it would be better for you to stand up to do that job. You'll look busier that way. Anytime you can stand up to do some thing, then you should stand up." So Bill stood up to do the work, he still had to lean down over the edge, but he was standing up!
Another time, Henry told Uncle Bill how to test a ladder to see if it was sturdy enough to work on safely. "William, take that ladder and lay it down against the curb so that it extends into the street. Now, walk on it and if it doesn't break, then it is strong and good." Then they took the ladder and climbed up to the roof of a house they were working on. At that time Henry was in his eighties, but he was apparently a spry old man. Henry went first up that ladder without a second glance to the ground, Bill followed nervously. Henry never asked anyone to do something he could not do himself.
Susie had become a resident at the Irvin Nursing Home in September 1954 when she suffered a stroke. She died April 29, 1956, aged 84 years. On January 29, 1956 Henry fell at home and fractured his hip. He too became a bed-patient and lived at the Irvin Nursing Home till his death at the age of 92 on July 10th, 1958.
They had lived at their home at 502 South Chauncey street for more than 35 years and had been residents of Columbia City for more than 50 years. They were active members of the Evangelical United Brethren Church in Columbia City. At the time Henry died in 1958 they had 30 grandchildren and 51 great-grandchildren. Now there are 99 great-grandchildren plus two more generations of descendants.
I really don't remember Henry and Susie at all. I would have only been 6 years old when Susie went into the Nursing Home. Back in the day, little kids didn't visit 'old people' in nursing homes and they didn't go to funerals either, at least not in our family. After Henry and Susie's 60th wedding anniversary, their children revived the Phend Family Reunion, which had begun in 1897 and continued until 1942. The reunion has now been held annually since 1952 but attendance has been dropping each year.
That's in addition to the 10,000+ records that were done in January. Still no batches available today for indexing. I fell a bit short of my personal goal of a batch a day, more like one every other day, but that's okay, I feel like I've contributed a little bit anyway.
It's your fault there are no indexing batches available! You indexed so much faster than GSU anticipated, they haven't been able to keep up with you. They have lots more batches and records to be indexed but they are not ready yet. They are trying to speed the process on their end now that they realize how enthused and fast you are, but we will have a bit of a pause here while they catch up. The A batches are all out right now, but as they are completed, they will available as B batches so keep checking back periodically. Arbitrators still have plenty of batches available as that work lags behind the indexing.Thank you for the terrific effort you have put forth in the first 15 days of February, indexing over 25,000 records -- that's an average of 1,600+ records per day! Fantastic!
Monday, February 19, 2007
Jackson Park, the site chosen for the Columbian Exposition, was originally a desolate, murky swamp of 586 acres, stretching for a mile and a half along the shore of Lake Michigan about eight miles south of the business center of Chicago. In a little over two years the area was transformed; more than one million square yards of earth were removed or relocated in the landscaping process. More than 300 buildings were erected utilizing the newly developed techniques of iron and steel manufacture. The exteriors were coated with a new plasterlike substance called "staff". They were intended to be only temporary structures, to be demolished at the fair's end.
The main period of construction was between March 1891 and May 1893; at times there were more than seven thousand workers at the site. "The Great American Fair" by Reid Badger has this to say about the working conditions and the workers themselves: "The subordinate artists and construction workers must have been inspired to have accomplished what they did in so short a time, as the conditions in Jackson Park were at times abysmal. Working in the bogs and swampy quicksands, men and horses sunk leg-deep, wagons tipped over and nearly disappeared, and plank-roads had to be laid out before any vehicle could safely proceed with its load of lumber, soil, or shrubbery."
He continues, "The winters of 1892 and 1893 were unusually severe, with temperatures sometimes falling to twenty below zero, with heavy snow storms that crushed the unfinished buildings and thaws that flooded areas recently prepared. Storms, cold spells, wet spells, deluge from the skies, hell underfoot, challenged the gritty men who had sworn to put it over; and still the work went on. Accidents were numerous; seven hundred injuries and eighteen deaths were recorded in one year alone. Pay for the workers was low and often delayed in coming."
It was under these conditions that Henry did his work. What exactly his job was we have no way of knowing. At some point, Henry contracted "the fever" and the family returned to Nappanee. Two more children were born while they were living in Nappanee: Cecil in 1894 and Gladys in 1896.They lived there until 1898 when they moved to Columbia City, in Whitley County, Indiana.
Continued in Part 3...
I've got 'a few' New England ancestors too, mostly in Massachusetts and Connecticut but don't know if there are any Presidential connections. In the Goodrich line are Price, Dewey, Beckley, Deming, Orton, Treat, Kilbourn, Bulkeley, and Brownson. Through the Joslin line there is Whitcomb, Gardner, Tarbell, Bowers, Waters, Linton, King, Wilder, Gardner, and Mason.
To be honest, I have not done very much research in original records on these folks. Much of my information on them comes from books that have been compiled by other researchers, some well documented, some not. I did spend quite a bit of my spare time for about 3 months early last year trying to find the parents of Abigail Price who married John Goodrich in 1776 in Wethersfield, Connecticut. That led me down a path to some fascinating people but it was the wrong tree. So, I've been concentrating on my Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland ancestors while saving my New England ancestors until I retire and (hopefully) have more time to devote to them. I'm looking forward to the quest!
Sunday, February 18, 2007
The topic for the next Carnival of Genealogy will be: Shelter from the storm, stories of the home and hearth.
His life on the farm was probably typical of the era. The Phends were not wealthy in terms of money but they were hard working and industrious. The Phend Homestead was the third farm purchased by Henry's father, Jacob. The first was in Greene County in southern Indiana and the second one, which he still owned when Henry was born was located in German township in Marshall County, bordering the Kosciusko and Elkhart county lines.
Hepton was a small community with a general store, a mill, a creamery, and a school. Henry attended that school in Scott township and it was there that he received his education in the English language, however, only German was spoken at home. In his later years, Henry often joked that the only reason he learned to speak English was so that he could talk to the girls - Susie in particular.
Susie Yarian lived with her parents, Eli and Lovina (Berlin) Yarian, in the town of Locke which was located in Elkhart county, several miles north of Hepton. In the early 1870's Locke was a thriving community consisting of three dry goods stores; one drug store; one grocery store; one hardware store; one tin shop; one furniture store; two shoe shops; two sawmills as well as a shingle-mill; one wagon-making shop; one steam and grist mill; three blacksmith shops; about 40 dwellings; one hotel; a public school house; one church; and three physicians. Its official population in the 1870 census was 167. As you can see, Locke was considerably larger than Hepton and it was likely that the Phends purchased supplies and various other necessities there.
It was in the early 1870's that the Baltimore and Ohio railroad laid out its route in such a way that it passed midway between the two towns of Hepton and Locke. A depot and passenger house was put up and in December 1874, the town of Nappanee was born. There was nothing else there at the time, but they called it a town! The creation and platting of Nappanee eventually led to the demise of the towns of Locke and Hepton. There are a few houses and a church in Hepton now. And Locke is a quiet village with some houses and a general store.
In January of 1890, when Henry was 24 years old, his parents sold their farm at Hepton to his oldest brother, John, and moved into Nappanee. On September 4th, 1892 Henry was married to Susie Yarian. They made their first home in Nappanee, but shortly thereafter moved to Harvey, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Their first child (and my grandfather), Rolland Victor Phend, was born there on June 19th, 1893. Henry was one of tens of thousands of workers who helped in the construction of the site and buildings used during the Columbian Exposition which was open from May 28th through October 28th, 1893.
To be continued...
Henry A. Phend - Part 2 of 3
Henry A. Phend - Part 3 of 3
Friday, February 16, 2007
Be careful when you go to ephemera, you could get 'lost' there like I did... it's a fascinating place.
Monday, February 12, 2007
The Huntington City-Township Public Library in Huntington, Indiana has an excellent Indiana Room. Unlike most of the other libraries in the area, they have a librarian assigned to the Indiana Room so there is someone onsite to help with questions. The hours for the Indiana Room vary so you need to call to make sure it is open. In addition to resources specific to Huntington County, such as microfilm of county newspapers, files on local businesses and industries, school yearbooks, City and County Directories dating from 1892 to the present, they also have a collection of books from states east of Indiana.
The Kosciusko County Historical Society has a very good Genealogy Room. In addition to the "normal" books that you'll find on local history and families are some original record books. The Genealogy Room is located at the Historical Museum but does not have the same hours. The Kosciusko County Indiana GenWeb is an awesome site put together by Gene Andert.
In Whitley County, the Genealogical Society has a small research room at the Historical Museum, which was the home of Vice President Thomas R. Marshall. The Museum always has nice exhibits. The staff and volunteers are very helpful. The Whitley County Archives house the older original records such as estate packets, marriage records, etc. The Peabody Public Library has microfilm of the Columbia City Newspapers and a complete set of census records on microfilm. The South Whitley-Cleveland Township Library has the South Whitley newspapers on microfilm as well as an extensive obituary file and lots of other local resources.
And then there is the Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana State Archives and the Indiana State Library Genealogy Division, all located in Indianapolis. I attended a one-day workshop at the Historical Society and took a tour but have not actually done any research there. I've heard that all three are very nice and hope to find out for myself someday!
Elizabeth Helms was born in Somerset or Bedford County, Pennsylvania on April 3, 1804 to Conrad Helms and Mary Swigart. The family was in Bedford County, Pennsylvania in 1810 and in Armstrong County in 1820 but by 1830 had moved on to Muskingum County, Ohio.
Elizabeth married William B. Jones, date and place unknown, but their first child, Maxamillia Francis (later known as "Aunt Maxie") was born March 12, 1827 near Dresden in Muskingum County. Conrad Helms and William B. Jones were both found in the 1830 and 1840 census in Jefferson Township. There was another William Jones in Muskingum County in 1830 as well as James Jones, John Jones and Phillip Jones. In 1840, in addition to William B. Jones there was David Jones and Joseph Jones. I've not pursued the Jones family beyond Muskingum County. I've also not done any further research into the Swigart family. The only record I have of that surname is from Elizabeth's death record.
Elizabeth's obituary said her husband, Wm. B. Jones died in 1843 and "Aunt Maxie's" obit stated "Through a bad business deal the family competency was lost and the father died in 1843." I did some research in Muskingum County in 1992 and found several land records where William sold land in August 1842 and again in May 1843. At that time I just made note of the entry rather than making copies but it appears that the same tract of land was being sold in three different transactions. Administration Docket "B" page 189 had the following entry: "William B. Jones, Dec'd, Case No 2173. March 6th 1844, Chauncy Pardy was appointed Administrator of the estate of William B. Jones, decd. Bond $1,000.00 Charles Gilbert and Charles Wilson, sureties. Inventory filed June 11, 1844. Sept 7, 1845 (R. 41) one year allowed." Naturally, that particular case file was missing.
Sophia Elizabeth Dunfee, Elizabeth's granddaughter, clipped obituaries and other interesting items from the newspaper and pasted them into a scrapbook, unidentified, of course. There were several clippings that told of the family's arrival in Whitley County:
Landed Fifty-seven Years Ago.
On the 31st day of October, 1845, Curtis W. Jones, with his mother, three sisters and a brother, landed in Columbia City. At that time there were perhaps 75 or 100 people in the place, but the only survivor who was over 21 years of age then is Mr. John Rhodes. The mother died in November, 1883, and the brother. D.C., died in February, 1882. Mrs. F.H. Foust, Mrs. W.H. Dunfee, Mrs. James E. Sherwood and C.W. Jones still survive. The family came here from Muskingum county, Ohio, leaving there on the 23rd day of October, 1845.Curtis Jones Recalls One Halloween Day.
Attorney Curtis W. Jones of this city, the dean of the Whitley county bar, recalled his arrival in this county Monday and stated that it occurred just sixty-five years ago on Hallowe'en Day, when his mother and five children, reached their journey's end, after traveling through the forests of Ohio and Indiana.Elizabeth's obituary was published on December 26, 1883 in the Columbia City Post.
They arrived just as the sun was sinking in the west and took up their habitation in a deserted log cabin with punchen floor, and as their Hallowe'en diversion, heard the howls of wolves, screams of catamounts, hoots of the owls and other inhabitants of the wild wood. As a further pleasure to them, within three and four hundred yards, were located two Indian villages. Their first night under such circumstances is one that will never be forgotten by Mr. Jones.
He was 77 years old on October 9th, and his only sister, Mrs. Mary E. Sherwood, just east of the city, is 75 years of age. His mother has long since passed to her reward, and Mrs. F.H. Foust, Mrs. William H. Dunfee and D.C. Jones, have also passed away, but his recollections of the Hallowe'en night will always remain.
Died. Jones - At the residence of her son-in-law, F.H. Foust, on Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock, Nov. 17, 1883, Mrs. Elizabeth Jones, after an illness of several weeks, with heart disease and dropsey, aged 79 years, 7 months and 14 days.
"Grandma Jones," as she was familiarly called by everybody, was one of the old pioneers of Whitley county, having moved to Columbia City in 1845. Her maiden name was Helms and she was born in Pennsylvania, April 3d, 1804. At an early age she removed with her parents to Ohio, where in 1825 she was married to Wm. B. Jones who died in 1843. She was thus left a widow with five children to care for, the eldest of the number, Mrs. F.H. Foust, being only about sixteen years of age.
Having made up her mind to remove to Indiana, she hired a team to haul her household goods and she and her children walked the entire distance. She was of heroic disposition and bravely combatted the trials and hardships incident to a pioneer life, and labored night and day, to add to the comfort of her children and rear them in a way that should cause them to grow up to be useful men and women. In this she succeeded admirably and was surrounded by the unbroken five until the death of D.C. Jones a couple of years ago. Her other four children, Mrs. F.H. Foust, Mrs. J.M. Sherwood, Mrs. William Dunfee, and C.W. Jones, still survive.
Too much cannot be said in praise of this aged lady, who is now enjoying the reward of a faithful, consistent christian. Everybody loved her for the many noble traits she possessed. She was always ready to respond to the demands of the sick and to aid in comforting those in distress. She thought it no hardship to get up at any hour during the night to administer to the sick. She ever had a kind word for all and as long as memory lasts those who received her kind benedictions will ever cherish the memory of "Grandma Jones."
She knew for several weeks before her death that it was only a question of very short time when she should be called hence and therefore carefully and calmly arranged all the details for her burial, selecting Rev. H. Wells, of North Manchester, who was so many years her pastor, to preach her funeral. She selected as one of the hymns for her funeral, "Sweet Bye and Bye" which was one of her favorite songs while in life. She gave away her personal effects to her children and grandchildren, designating which particular one should have each particular item.
The funeral took place from Grace Lutheran church, of which she was a member, on Tuesday, Nov. 20, and her remains were deposited in the Masonic cemetery. Rev. A.J. Douglas assisted Father Wells at the funeral. The following named old settlers acted as pall-bearers: Jacob Wunderlich, C.D. Waidlich, James Worden, I.B. McDonald, Wm. Carter and John Brant.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Hell’s Half Acre. This was a term almost synonymous with Whitley county for some years before the Civil war, reaching its height of degeneracy during the war period, and even yet is regarded as a term of reproach. Forty or fifty years ago, mention of this fearful place was enough to scare any boy of fifteen, under the bed.
Its fame extended not only all over northern Indiana but into other states. The exact location of the place was not understood, but the swamps, heavy timber and thickets of south-west Columbia township and extending into Richland, were supposed to be alive with thieves and marauders.
Three different vigilance committees were organized and incorporated under the laws of Indiana, for the purpose of cleaning out the Half Acre, one in Richland township, one in Cleveland township, and one in Troy township. Each member was, by the authorities, vested with the rights of a constable, to make arrests, and it was generally understood that if he abused the legal right of an officer and overstepped his duty, he would in no way be brought to book for it. They were supposed to be a secret, oathbound organization, and the weird story of what they were doing was overestimated as much as were the fanciful stories of what the denizens of the place themselves were doing.
The place was really located on the spot of the Indian village in section 20, Columbia township, and began to be notorious about the time the Indian history was dying out, some few straggling Indians being still about the place to add to its mysterious horrors.
George Helms moved on the north-west quarter of section 20, early in the 40’s, the farm now owned by the Korts, Harrison Dowell lived a mile south. They were always quarreling and always involved in law suits. Helms was regarded as a very desperate character. He was vulgar and profane to the extreme, was very insulting to women and was charged with several very serious offences. He would go away for weeks at a time, and return with a lot of money. Every crime in the catalogue was imputed to him. Others might commit any crime from murder to counterfeiting and on down to petit larceny, and George Helms get the credit.
Many stories have gained currency from time to time as to the origin of the expression, when and how it came to be called Hell’s Half Acre. The exact fact is this: In the early winter of 1849, Sanford Mosher came to Ben Beeson’s blacksmithshop on Main street, on the bank of Blue river. Helms and Dowell had a lawsuit that day in Columbia, which was the general topic of conversation. The late Harmon Beeson was also at the blacksmithshop and began twitting Mosher about his quarrelsome neighbors and finally said: “There is a place down in Kentucky they call ‘Hell’s Half Acre,’ they must have moved it up here.” The expression raised a great laugh among the bystanders, which Mosher appreciated as much as any one, and the neighborhood received a name from which nearly sixty years has not divested it.
Though the family name of Helms was very intimately associated with the Half Acre they were by no means the only ones, but it was left to Howard, son of George Helms, and his cousin, Sam Helms, to give the place a reputation for feckless daring and public, open and notorious defiance of law and law officers. George Helms’ two sons, George and Howard, were not regarded as worse boys than their neighbors. Indeed, in contradistinction to their father, they were generally called good boys, and their natures chafed seriously under the tyrannical domination of their father.
Early in the Civil war, they both enlisted and entered the service, and had they not come home on a furlough their history might have been different, but they came home with the full intention of returning. The father did all in his power to prevent their returning to the service. They took counsel from Orrin Mosher and others, who urged them to return to duty and observe their oath of allegiance, but the very atmosphere was surcharged with excitement engendered by war, and a spirit of hostility to persons with hereditary criminal natures, about being deserters, and the boys chose the wrong course and became at once fugitives and outlaws.
Now began an era of crime beside which all former exploits of the Acre were tame. Howard Helms was captain, his brother George an able lieutenant and they had plenty of followers and assistants. Withal, there was something about Howard that attracted men to him, perhaps his reckless daring and fidelity to his friends. He always said he had as close friends among the vigilance committees as he had inveterate enemies, and that they always gave him warning of an attempt to get him, either by direct word or by some sign, and said that he would once have been caught unawares before for the signal could be made to fire. For several years he defied federal officers with warrants in their pockets when they knew where he was and he frequently went from the fastnesses of the Acre to Columbia City and other towns. The old criminal docket of Whitley county is burdened with causes against him and his associates, and constables and sheriffs had their pockets full of warrants, which they made but feeble attempt to pretend to serve and thus crime went on in defiance of all law. Indictments for larceny, resisting officers, assault, riot, etc., were but idle mockery.
George Deer, Joseph, George and Mathias Slessman, from Columbia City, once undertook to arrest Howard. They had learned to a certainity that he was at Lawrence Manier’s house, section 20, farm now owned by Jules Romey. The Eel River Railroad now runs directly where the house stood. It was torn down on building the railroad, He saw them when within a few paces of the house and struck off south-east toward Harrison Dowell’s; they rode out the lane and turned south toward him. They called, halt! but he moved on. Then one of the party shot to scare. He was more than twenty rods from them and deliberately took aim and shot to kill. The bullet whizzed past Joe George’s head. They ran out of the road to see the dust raise from the second shot on the spot where they had stood, and the expedition ended.
The provost marshal made one attempt to arrest him. With a large posse of mounted men and with the knowledge that he was at Harrison Dowell’s house, they started in high glee. As they neared the house Dowell came rushing in exclaiming: “My God, Howard, the lane is full of men on horses! For God’s sake, Howard, go!” He walked right out with a big navy revolver, his finger on the trigger, and the weapon across his arm, and when they came within a rod or two of him he said calmly, “Gentlemen, what do you want?” The marshal said: “We are looking for Jake Long.” Harrison retorted: “I am the Jake Long you are looking for.” The marshal said again: “No, no, we want Jake Long.” Howard then coolly said: “Gentlemen, turn around and go back. I am not guilty of murder and don't want to be, but will shoot dead the first man in your party who attempts to draw a gun. I have no ill will against you, but you’ll not take Howard Helms this time.” They all quietly turned and left as they were bidden to do.
Early one morning as Hiram Mosher went to the field to work he heard a voice calling him. He looked around and saw Howard Helms sitting on the fence stark naked. “What is the matter,” said the boy. “Oh, the regulators were after me last night. I heard the signal of two shots from one of the party and got out of the house into the woods. They soon swarmed all around me and I just had to crawl into an old elm tree uprooted. I crawled into it and had to lay in mud and water, up to my face. John Anderson, one of my worst enemies, was so near me twice that I could have caught him by the leg, and it seemed so funny I had a notion to do it. I am now waiting for my clothes to dry, but some of them may yet be prowling around and as I am not in good shape to defend myself I guess I’ll get off the fence and squat by that log.” He had not thus concealed himself three minutes until Erastus Rollins rode up and accosting the boy said: “When did you see Howard Helms?” “Yesterday,” said the boy, which was true. “If I ever get sight of him I’ll shoot him on the spot,” and then he moved off. Howard said laughingly, “I had a notion to come out naked as I was, with a stick in my hand and point it at him and scare him white-headed, but I was afraid there might be a lot more of them around and I am not just now hunting trouble.”
The store of Combs & Edwards, at South Whitley, was robbed, but not a window was opened or door unlocked or broken in. Some one who knew all about the place, conducted the thieves under the floor and up through an opening. George Williams, who was said to be a “Hawpatch horse thief and counterfeiter,” was supposed to belong to the gang. He was taken from a sick bed to the “red brush” schoolhouse in Richland township, a rope was put about his neck and threatened with death if he did not tell all. The best they could get out of him was, “I feel sick enough to die anyhow and you can just finish up the job if you want to,” but they didn’t and they learned nothing.
A few days after, as Orrin and Sanford Mosher were striking a bee-line below Taylor’s station or Wynkoop, in section 30, they heard noises in the swamp and listening, distinguished who they were, and that they were quarreling over a coat and other things. Howard and the fellow the regulators didn’t hang were two of them. Orrin went quickly to Peter Snyder’s and had him go to Comb’s and Edwards at South Whitley and tell then to meet Orrin and San Mosher at Eliakim Mosher’s, just after dark, and they would conduct them to the place of the stolen goods. Nobody came, perhaps Combs and Edwards were afraid of some trap, as they went instead to their lawyer. Three days after, Howard Helms appeared at Sanford Mosher’s and brandishing a revolver, said: “Some Mosher has told on us, and if I can find out which one it was I will blow his brains out.”
Anderson Grimes had a fine set of double harness stolen, and the regulators offered ten dollars for their recovery. Soon after, Sanford Mosher, out hunting, saw a man carrying a set of harness, but he soon disappeared in the thicket. The next day, taking Orrin with him, they found the harness concealed in a hollow tree. They sent for John Anderson, leader of the regulators, and he took the harness and paid the reward.
These are but a very few of the incidents of the terrible years when “Hell’s Half Acre” held mad riot in the center of Whitley county; but with the coming of more settlers and the strengthening of the power of the law, the clearing of the swamps and hiding places the on-rushing tide of progress must necessarily clean out such festering places.
No one knew this better than the Helms boys. George left some time before Howard and went to Ohio. Howard went from here to La Otto, Dekalb county, in 1867 or 1868, and married there, George going there, too.
There began a new era of depredation. They gathered about them other thieves and tribute was levied by night on the country for anything that could be hauled to Fort Wayne and turned into cash, or could be used by the gang at home; but the fame of Helms traveled thither and the ravishing of that neighborhood was not of very long duration.
One night as Howard was out scouting, as he termed; crossing a road he found himself in the midst of a troop of horsemen. They asked him if he knew Howard Helms. To say he did not would be to arouse suspicion, for his terrible name was on the lops of all the settlers. Yes, he had heard a great deal of him, but never saw him. “Well,” said the leader, “he is at the house below the cross-roads two miles down and we are going to get him tonight.” He could easily save himself, but all thought was of his brother George, whom he knew was sleeping in that house. Quick as thought, he said: “I want to go along and help take him.” “We want all the help we can get,” the leader said, “but you have no horse and we are in a hurry and it is nearly two miles down there.” “If you don’t ride too fast I will keep up,” said Howard, and he never made two miles so quick in his life.
Arriving at the place, the captain caused the men to surround the house some thirty rods from it and then move cautiously to the center. Howard stayed near the captain, whom he took for a coward, and he felt if he were out of the way the others would flee in terror. He thought the time had come to kill his man. When about ten rods from the house he gave the double shot, to warn George and wound the captain and not kill him unless further events necessitated it. Two shots, frantic yells, and the captain wounded in the leg and all was confusion and excitement, terror took the place of discipline. Just then George, fleeing from the house ran right up to Howard, and before the frenzied crowd knew what had happened, the brothers were out of their reach and made their way to Michigan. Howard, later, came after his wife and they made their home in Michigan.
After he had gone to Michigan, three Whitley county regulators, armed with a belated warrant and stimulated by the promise of a reward, undertook to capture him. He was at his uncle Dowell’s. Just after dark, one evening, Dowell came in and said: “Howard, there are three men from Indiana, regulators, right here.” Howard immediately jumped out of the back window and stood there with his navy revolver ready for fire. They filed in the house, two within range of his gun. His first impulse was to shoot all three, so enraged was he that they should follow him for the reward and after all deserters had been freed, and he waited till all would come within range so he might despatch them. Nothing happened, they stood seemingly amazed and he stood with cocked gun until he got tired and walked away. One of these men still lives in Whitley county.
Both the boys settled down and became good, respectable citizens. George was elected sheriff of Lake county, Michigan, a few years ago and made a good officer. He still lives in that county. Howard, after several years’ respectable residence in Michigan, moved to Wisconsin, where he still lives. By an accident, while out hunting a few years ago, he lost a leg.
Hell’s Half Acre of a half century ago with its swamp, morass and wilderness has become a beautifully cultivated country of elegant farms and pretty homes, good, intelligent and law-abiding citizens, and life and property are as secure as anywhere in the world, not a cabin or landmark by which to remember the days of Indian sloth and drunkenness, nor yet of the sterner days when Helms was a name to be feared and dreaded.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
The Genealogical Society of Whitley County is going to conduct a "Beginning Genealogy" workshop on Saturday morning, March 17th. It will be held at (and sponsored by) the Peabody Public Library. There is no charge but participation is limited to 20 people. We may also be having a workshop later in the spring for the young people in 4-H that have signed up for the genealogy project.
"Internet Genealogy" is my portion of the workshop. So, just what can be said in the allotted time that will make sense and not totally confuse the beginner?
Monday, February 05, 2007
Matthias Irion is my 6th great grandfather, and Carl's 5th great grandfather. Our most common ancestor is Matthias' son George Yerion. Carl is descended from George and his first wife Anna Barbara Fosselman while I am descended from George and his second wife Margaretha Williams.
In the mid-1970's Carl developed an interest in genealogy, specifically in the Yearian/Yarian family. His research has evolved into a database of over 30,000 people related to Matthias Irion. Carl assisted Jim Weaver with his book "The Yerian-Yarian Family" (which was published in August 1989) and also with the "Fosselmann/Fusselman and Allied Families" compiled by Alice Ann Askew.
On October 11th, 1732 Matthias Irion arrived in Philadelphia on the ship Pleasant with forty two Palatines and their families. In "Pennsylvania German Pioneers" (Strassberger and Hinke) he is listed as Marthiy Jargon, Matthias Jurian, and Mathias Jergon. In the volume that has the facsimiles of the signatures, Mathias signs with his initials "M I" which has also sometimes been interpreted at "M J".
Matthias was indentured after his arrival to farmer David Kaufman of Oley, Pennsylvania for a term of 3 years and 9 months. By 1744 Matthias had his own farm in Linn Township, then in Philadelphia county (after 1752 it became Northampton county, and in 1812, Lehigh county). In his will which was signed November 6, 1761 Matthias named five children: George, Conrad, Elizabeth, Susannah, and Jacob. Jim Weaver's book identified the first four generations of known descendants of Matthias Irion and provided some clues as to Matthias' origins. Additional research by others found that he was born in Talheim, District of Tuttlingen, on the Danube in Germany and lived in Graben, District of Karlsruhe, on the Rhine prior to his emigration in 1732. A marvelous piece of detective work on their part, for which I am grateful!
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Shirley Richison Fields, the IGS coordinator for the Indiana Marriages project reported that in the month of January, the first full month, there were 9,117 records indexed and 2,019 were arbitrated. There were 1,063 records done in December (the project began on December 22, 2006) so the total so far is 10,180 records! [bwNote: I'm not sure if this is the number of names that has been submitted or the actual number of records that has been indexed. Each record would have 2 names. The number of records per batch varies.] As of the end of January there were indexers signed up from Canada and Japan as well as 23 of the 50 states.
This would be a great opportunity to give back to the genealogical community. To learn more or to sign up for the Indiana Marriages projects go to the Indiana Genealogical Society website. More information on this and other indexing projects can be found at the FamilySearch Indexing website.
What Bob Scheiffer said this morning on "Face the Nation" really puts it into perspective for me:
"For sure, the Super Bowl has become an institution, as much a part of American life as the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving — even a factor in the national economy.
For all of that, for all the hype, whatever happens here doesn't really matter, and to me that is the best part.
We worry, we bet the office pool, we cheer. We analyze and agonize. But in the end, nations will neither rise nor fall because of what happens here. Soldiers will not die. Disease will neither spread nor be cured.
Some years back a weird Dallas Cowboy running back named Duane Thomas put it in some perspective when he said, "If this is the ultimate game, why are they playing it again next year?"
Yet, for a few hours, millions here and even some of our soldiers overseas will put aside what does matter and enjoy something that doesn't. Not many things in American life have the power to do that. And that is a good thing, the great value of sports."
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Tuesday ~ September 2, 1952
Thursday, September 4, will be the 60th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Phend of this city. The event was observed Sunday while the daughter, Mrs. Bernice Holderman of San Gabriel, Calif., could be home to have a part in the family observance. The eight children of Mr. and Mrs. Phend were all present for the event.
On Thursday evening the Evangelical United Brethren church will give a dinner at 6:30 o'clock in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Phend and members of their family. Mr. and Mrs. Phend have long been closely associated with the local church and Mr. Phend has long served as a member of the Board of Trustees.
Seventy-five people attended the dinner at noon which was served on the lawn. In the afternoon 150 guests called between 2 and 5 o'clock. The large anniversary cake, in white and decorated in gold and pink, formed the decorative note of the serving table.
Mrs. Phend, bride of 60 years ago, was attired in a white print marked with a purple design and on her left shoulder was pinned an orchid with a purple throat.
A Packard electric organ provided music and vocal music was furnished by Mr. and Mrs. LaMar Phend of Osceola, who have their own program on the radio entitled "Strolling Down Memory Lane." The couple were heard at the Republican Convention in Chicago.
Four generations were in attendance at the Platinum anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Phend, who were showered with gifts of every description. A wrist watch, something Mrs. Phend has always wanted, was a gift from one of her children. Other gifts from the children included a pop-up toaster, an electric blanket and there were gifts of money. The Phend home was aglow with flowers that had been brought in by friends.
According to Mr. and Mrs. Phend it was raining on their wedding day. The couple was united in marriage, at the hotel in Nappanee owned by Mrs. Phend's aunt, by the Rev. O. L. Richart, a minister of the Evangelical United Brethren church. Two of the guests at their wedding 60 years ago were present at the anniversary observance Sunday. They were Ed Phend and Mrs. Clara Phend, cousins of Mr. Phend, both of Nappanee. Movies were taken during the day.
Since 1898 Mr. and Mrs. Phend have resided in Columbia City where Mr. Phend has long been known as a building contractor and where this summer he has served as an inspector on the Mary Raber School where classes were organized today for the first time.
All of the Phend children were in attendance at the wedding anniversary observance of their parents, also some of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.Guests attended the event from Nappanee, Elkhart, South Bend, Fort Wayne, Goshen, Monticello, Larwill and Pierceton. The daughter, Bernice Phend Holderman of San Gabriel, Calif., left today for her home on the Golden State Limited out of Chicago, after a month's visit here.
Henry and Susie with their children: Rolland Victor "Vic" (my grandfather), Cecil, Russell, Paul, Bernice, Virgil, Gerald, and Don Phend. September 2, 1952.
Henry and Susie Phend with their great grandchildren, September 2, 1952. That's me on the left side, sitting on the ground. My brothers, Doug and Jack, are between me and Susie. Doug was 5, I was 4, and Jack was 3 years old. I wish I could say that I remember Henry and Susie, but I don't. I would have been 8 years old when Susie died and 10 when Henry died. Two years after this picture was taken Susie went into a Nursing Home after suffering a stroke and remained there until her death on April 29, 1956. In January 1956, Henry fell and broke his hip. He too was put into a Nursing Home where he resided until his death on July 10, 1958.