of the North Manchester Historical Society, Inc.
VOLUME XX, NUMBER 1 FEBRUARY, 2003
by Jack Miller, former curator of the
Wabash County Historical Museum
At the corner of West Third Street and West Street in the good town of North Manchester lies this vacant lot been vacant for many years. Why should such a valuable corner lot remain unused? If you were superstitious or had a wandering mind had this been an old burying ground scene of a tragedy? Let's go back into the history of this section of the town of North Manchester. In the early 1900s this was the west end home of the laboring factory workers where they had big families and tough kids.
There was Peabody School Furniture Company, Cox Showcase Company, The Baldwin Handle Factory, North Manchester Foundry and Syracuse Cedar Chest Company. None of these factories ever gave steady employment. A man might work three months with twelve-hour days and then be laid off for four months. There was no
unemployment pay back then. You ran up grocery bills in bad times and paid them off in good. It was the west end way of life.
In the 1920s when I was growing up in that end of town, North Manchester was divided into three parts. The west end was separated from the rest of the town by two railroads; the Big Four and the Vandalia. To those of us who lived in the west end, anything east of the railroads was foreign country. The merchants, the factory owners, doctors, lawyers, learned people had their homes around the hub of the downtown business district. Oh yes, our teachers in the old West Ward Grade School also sought sanctuary in that section of town. Then there was the third section of town, the whole northeast section the College end. You only had to see those kids up there hey, their dads were all high-class college professors. Every school day they went to school with their shoes on, white shirts, yes, some even wore neckties, and their hair always seemed to be combed. Such was our idea of the town as we grew up in the 1920s.
But what did the kids in the northeast section think of us? Sad to say we never knew, as they never came to our west end to swim in the old gravel pit, fish in the river below the dam or hike and play in Amos Miller's pasture and woods. Well, what the heck did learned college kids think of the west end of North Manchester. Manchester College was a fine school of learning backed by the Church of the Brethren. They believed in no nonsense college education with emphasis on the humanities. Manchester College, headed by Professor Otho Winger was justly proud of the young graduates who moved out into the heathen world as Christian missionaries; China, darkest Africa, anywhere in the world there were souls to be saved.
We will never know what discussions and meeting were held, but the college and the Church of the Brethren came to the same conclusion. There was no church west of the railroads in North Manchester a place where there was a real need. They would take some of the overseas mission money and build a church in west Manchester beyond the tracks. It would be operated and run by college students who were studying to be missionaries. I have always felt the real reason went something like this if the students could survive making converts in this part of town they could make good in any part of our heathen world.
They built a two-story stucco-coated church on the corner of West Third and West Street in the heart of west Manchester and they named it the Mission Chapel It was operated by college students with the guiding hand of the college and the Brethren Church. There was only one paid employee, Bill Gill, who lived across the street. Bill was paid one dollar a Sunday when the weather was cold enough that he needed to fire up the one-lung furnace in the basement of the church.
The Church had a full one half basement where the children's classes were held along with the furnace room. The auditorium upstairs was reached by steps to the front door and then stairs up to the full open auditorium. Here curtains were used to separate adult classes. The rest of the church had a belfry and every Sunday morning we were jarred out of bed by the clanging bell, jarring our conscience
Was the Mission Chapel needed? Of course it was. I can't say it was a roaring success with the adults at our end of town, but we youngsters found it a good place to be on Sunday morning. As a kid I only lived two houses east of the church and by age three I was going to Sunday School there. The college students were just great with us children, and I shall always remember Jim Reber, who led our boys' class when I was seven or eight years old. Jim knew what boys were made of and he like hiking, swimming and a light dose of Bible teaching,
I will sign off this piece of history by telling you this Mission Chapel was the only church I have ever been thrown out of. Yes, during a service I was told to go home. Here is the sad story:
I was four years old, as was my chum Raymond Gill. We both lived next door to the church and through our pleading our mothers let us go unescorted to a special Sunday evening service that had been talked up that morning in Sunday School. I an sure Raymond and I expected something very exciting as we climbed those steps up into the auditorium. A lady usher met us and looked around for our guardians. Seeing we were unescorted, she put us in a trap right next to the register in the middle of that room.
Soon more people filled up the row. We were each given a program, telling of our speaker's journey in foreign lands. The hot air register was right at my side and putting out a good flow of hot air, as it was a cold night. A hush fell over the audience, a prayer, and then
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the main feature - a dull male speaker. It wasn't long until Raymond and I had the fidgets, as only four year old boys can have. I had torn off a corner of the paper program they had given me. I held it out over that blast of hot air next to me and released the scrap
Raymond and I watched as the paper went sailing up to the ceiling. We looked at each other and like one, we tore both programs into tiny bits and pieces and filled my cupped hands to the brim with confetti. I held them out over the register and let them go as our speaker was building up steam. The bits of paper went up like Old Faithful spouting to the ceiling. A gasp went up from the audience. The speaker froze in the middle of a sentence, as paper snow fell all over the audience.
Very soon that same lady usher was standing at the end of our pew, beckoning for us boys to come to her; We were escorted to the church door and told to go home to our mothers.
Today the church is gone. The went end now extends a mile further to the west and North Manchester is one nice town to live in. I am still proud to have been a west end brat.
Reprinted from THE PAPER by permission of Jack Miller.
The Volunteer Mission Band was an organization of students focused on creating and directing the religious life of the school. Members were those who expected to spend their life in Christian service in the US or abroad. It was a large organization and one of the activities the group sponsored was Sunday School work in the west end of North Manchester. On May 17, 1916 the minutes show that a committee of the Mission Band was authorized to rent a house for the use of the Sunday School. On March 4, 1917, a committee was appointed to confer with the Manchester and the West Manchester churches soncerning the purchase or erection of a permanent building for the Mission. Permission was granted by both churches to solicit funds and A. D. Helser was given charge. Largely through his untiring personal effort and contagious zeal the necessary amount was secured. Some of the money was secured from North Manchester and community and the remainder from outlying churches that made donations to this fund.
On Feb. 2, 1919 a beautiful chapel, equipped for Sunday School
and preaching services, as well as Manual Training and Sewing rooms for the children was dedicated. Sunday School was held every Sunday afternoon, followed by a short sermon by some minister of the town . On Saturday, sewing and manual training classes were conducted for the children of the district. This work was done through the Volunteer Band, and offered splendid opportunity for practical mission work. The people in the district of the Chapel responded in a beautiful way to the service rendered them. The Chapel was the property of the College, but the work there was in the hands of the Mission Band.
January 13, 2003
Thanks to the Museum committee: Mary Chrastil, Art Gilbert, David Grandstaff, Steven Hammer, Bonnie Ingraham, Ralph Naragon, Phil Orpurt, Tim Taylor, Robin Lahman, Bill Firstenberger, consultant and Jeanne Anderson, Project director.
The building assessment was done by Pyramid Architecture/Engineering and Construction Administration, Inc. In general the building is in satisfactory condition but, as expected the heating and cooling and electrical systems need to be upgraded. To achieve ADA compliance an elevator is needed. Exterior repairs like tuck pointing and some roof repair is needed. Some structural support the main floor and the second floor are desirable for full usage.
A First Annual Fund drive was conducted led by Debbie Chinworth and Sharon Fruitt for funds for current operation. Thanks to their good planning and hard work, the goal was met. Volunteer work for the museum work has been excellent and old shelving has been removed, several dumpsters of trash collected combined with hours of cleaning and painting changed the appearance of the building
The official name chosen is North Manchester Center for History, Phone number 260-982-0672 e-mail nmhistory@kconline,net. A Logo has been designed .
The artifacts were unpacked after the move a year ago. Work has progressed on identifying photographs. Most of the artifacts have been accessioned and stored and records are computerized. There has
been a regular stream of new material coming to the collection.
There has been a regular change of excellent window displays one focused on Christmas, another WWII, and others. Many of the museum holdings were displayed but some were materials from collectors. There was an outstanding collection of WWII materials displayed inside the building in November. Other community use of the building included some special events during Fun Fest and the Chamber of Commerce Dinner for the second year. About 75 attended an Antique Appraisal sponsored by the Manchester Library during Fun Fest.
The fact that downtown North Manchester was designated an Historic District during the year is a definite plus for our activities. We are cooperating with the Main Street organization to prepare and publish a walking tour of the historic buildings of North Manchester.
As we project into the work for 2003 we will continue with fund raising. Proposals have already been made to foundations and individuals for nearly two million. The climate for fundraising is not promising in an uncertain time such as we are now in and we do not know what the year will bring. Meantime we are considering the preparation of some traveling exhibits and also the possibility of sponsoring a Public Lecture series in addition to other community activities.
by Mary Coe
I was born to Robert M and Maude Miller on August 18, 1926. I was the third child and the long hoped for daughter, so I was named after my grandmothers, neither of whom I ever knew since they had died before I was born. They both knew of my coming, however, but could not know in those days if the expected one would be a boy or girl. My father was the pastor of the Manchester Church of the Brethren. He had returned from seven years in California where my oldest brother, Bob, was born in 1917. My second brother, Bud, was born in January of 1925 here in North Manchester. They went by the nicknames while here in school but became Robert and John after College
One of my earliest memories is being sent over to the church to get my dad for lunch. His "study" was on the third floor of the northeast
wing, up the flights of wooden stairs. I would go in and begin to call to him and he would answer me as we conversed and I went up the 'dark stairs'. Those are the same stairs which allowed the fire to get into the wooden framing structure above the sanctuary and cause the heavy damage to the west wall early in the morning of the recent fire.
In 1929, my father joined the faculty of Manchester College and we moved from the parsonage to 703 College Avenue. During those years we had a very large garden where East Hall is now. My father was the gardener and my mother was the preserver. She canned what he grew. Many times there were no pay checks from the Treasurer, or part ones only. Bud and I spent most summers on my Grandfather Reiff's farm. We thought it was for our fun, but as adults we could see that it was for economics mostly. When butchering or canning was done Mother came down and we went home with our share. The other thing that got us through those really lean years was the kindness of J. K. Lautzenhiser. He ran a grocery store on the south side of Main Street next to Louie's Candy Kitchen and carried a credit line for Dad that he kept paying on up until WWII.
I never knew hunger during that time. My husband could tell a different story. His father worked as a molder at the Foundry. I do remember Christmases with one gift at home on Christmas Eve, but we knew that the next day we would go to 'Grandpap's' and have a big time, ending with the passing out of silver dollars to all. I still have most of them. After the dollars, Grandpapa would bring out a bushel basket full of oranges, bananas, hard candy and apples! What a thing to look forward to. It almost made up for the collection of the Miller family dollars by my dad!
In order to help with the rent, the folks took in roomers. Most of the time there were eight college boys and my brothers upstairs. They had their own bathroom, but I was not allowed to go up there. The usual college pranks were played, blown fuses, loud scary noises, short sheeted beds for my brothers, etc.
I have been asked to compare my life with 'the other side of the tracks'. I think that one of the biggest differences was the place of books in our budget. We have my father's ledgers for those twenties and thirties and many months more was spent on books and educational journals than on food and clothing. I was really lucky being the
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only girl, so no hand me downs. Mary Neher, a local seamstress would spent several months living at our house and sewing for Mother and me. I thought she was a really neat lady. She lived in a wheel-chair and I could ride on the foot holder! I was in school before I had any store bought clothes. She even made coats.
The other adult, beside family, who became really important in our lives was Grace Miller. Her father owned the farm we know as Eleanor Miller's farm. Grace was our sitter whenever Mom and Dad had to be gone. Also, in the days before WW II no substitute teachers were supplied by the administration. Many times my mother took over giving exams or reading the lecture for Dad.
In 1935, through the support of Ad Urschel, president of the Indiana Lawrence Bank, Dad and Mom bought their house at 606 East Ninth Street. He began digging out the basement, bucket by bucket. When he got a section dug out for a wall he would pour the wall with an old cement mixer and a wheelbarrow. In 1939, the basement was finished and that spring they moved the family into the garage, a separate structure facing west. They constructed a screened in porch where my brother Bob slept unless it rained. Mon and Dad slept in a double bed on the south side with a single bunk built above them for Brother Bud. I have a camp cot on the north side with an aisle between wide enough to pull Bob's bed in if it rained. The east end had an old fashioned kitchen cabinet with clothes rods above it. A table and chairs and several drawer chests finished the furniture. We lived in there for six months while the contractor finished the remodeling of the upstairs. I can remember hearing the news boys calling out the extra edition of the News Journal announcing the invasion of Poland by German forces and being just into my new bedroom in the new house!!
I did not know that there could be less than sixteen years to my education. I knew from very early on that I was to go to Manchester College. There wasn't free tuition for faculty in those days. I don't know what kind of ministerial discount there may have been, but the school was very glad to have us in the forties. As soon as we were old enough to get a work permit, we went to work. Bob worked for the grocery store, Bud worked for Card's Greenhouse, where CVS is now on Market Street. I worked for L. J. Yoder Insurance as the clerk-receptionist until I got into college. Then I worked for the bookstore
in the basement of the Ad building. We did not have to share for food, but we were expected to clothe ourselves and save some, THEN to run around money.
My parents instilled in us that we made our own judgments. They made it clear how they felt or believed, but we were encouraged to think it out for ourselves. I am certain that many times they were aghast and wished we had done differently. I cam remember Dad looking down the table and saying, "Maude, where did we go wrong?" One of the best examples for forgiveness that I have seen, was my Mother's dependency, in her later years, on my husband who had been a challenge for them to accept as a son in law at first. And then there was the time that my father told my mother that Mary's mince pie tasted better than hers and he knew it was the shot of Jack Daniels that got in from my kitchen. So life goes.
They gave us a deep sense of faith, family and fairness. We were taught that all people bleed red and tears are all salty. We were aware very early of the presence of God in our lives, and for two of us that has developed into the organized church. My brother Bud became a doctor and met God on his own level. Because both my husband and I were "natives" we felt a calling to expand our world through travel and cultural challenges. I have never regretted being a 'small town preacher's kid'.
by Otho Winger in The Kenapocomoco -
The Home of Little Turtle
During the summer of 1795 Gen. Wayne met the Indians in a great peace council at Fort Greenville. Several hundred Indians from many tribes, led by their greatest chiefs, were present. But the greatest of all these chiefs was Little Turtle, the Eel River Miami Indian. Most eloquently and fervently did he plead the cause of his people. When it became apparent that Gen. Wayne would demand the cession to the United States of much of the present state of Ohio, Little Turtle made this memorable speech:
"The prints of my ancestors' houses are everywhere to be seen in this region. It is well known to all my brothers present that my forefathers kindled the first fire at Detroit; from thence he extended his line to the head waters of the Scioto; from thence to its mouth;
thence to Lake Michigan.I have now informed you of the boundaries of the Miami nation where the Great Spirit placed my forefathers a long time ago and charged him not to sell or part with his lands but to preserve them to his posterity. This charge has now been handed down to me."
No one can read this passionate appeal without high regard for this Indian who with patriotism for the land of his fathers had done his best to preserve the sacred trust. But the onward march of civilization was against him and he knew it. He could not move the great American general from his purpose to demand large cessions of land in Ohio and some in Indiana, including the ancient capital of the Miami nation, Kekionga. Little Turtle signed the treat reluctantly and as he did so remarked: "I have been the last to sign the treaty; I shall be the last to break it." And he never did. He left the treaty grounds with no bitter resentment but really proud to have as his conqueror a hero so great as General Wayne.
Little Turtle and Works of Peace
From the treaty of Greenville, Little Turtle returned to his home on Eel River, the Kenapocomoco. Realizing that the Indians were bound to lose their hunting grounds before the onward march of the white people he saw that they must depend on something else besides hunting for a living. The United States government was friendly to him and ready to help. It made him a gift of a thousand dollars with which to build him a house more in keeping with the new life that he was to live. There is some question whether Little Turtle built this house at his old village or at the Eel River Post. Evidence rather favors the latter place for it is certain that there he spent his last years.
The government also made him a grant of twelve hundred dollars with which he attempted to teach his people the art of agriculture. With the money he received he had cleared some two hundred fifty acres of land, but the enterprise was doomed to failure. The braves were not inclined to work and the squaws complained that the cleared land about their village made it necessary for them to carry their wood too far. In this work for agriculture Little Turtle likely received help from the Quakers who also made an attempt at an agriculture school on the Wabash, but likewise failed to induce the Indian men to work.
The greatest scourge of disease among the Indians was smallpox.
Its ravages among them at times had been frightful. In some cases whole villages had been wiped out. This had been one of the causes why the Indians could not muster a greater force of fighting men. Little Turtle had heard of vaccination. When on a visit to Philadelphia he learned how to vaccinate and returned to his people to help them fight off this terrible disease by the white man's method
Little Turtle is entitled to great praise in another and unexpected effort to help his people. The worse of all scourges among the Indians, greater than war or smallpox, was the curse of drink. Unscrupulous white traders had been active in selling the Indians bad whiskey at outlandish prices. The Indian was fascinated with the white man's firewater, but under its influences he degenerated into a brute, ready to slay his best friend or continue in drunken brawls until he died or met violent death. Little Turtle declared that whiskey had killed more of his people than all the wars that they had had with the white man or with one another. In vain did he plead the cause of total abstinence among his people. He was the first great prohibition worker in Indiana. He visited the state legislatures in Kentucky and Ohio, beseeching them to prevent unscrupulous white men from selling his people intoxicating liquors. He visited the national capitol calling on President Adams and later on President Jefferson, pleading that laws should be passed to protect his people. President Jefferson received his petition kindly and recommended to congress some favorable action on restricting the sale of liquor among the Indians. But in all his efforts to secure reform he received very little help from the government. His later years were saddened by seeing his people degenerate under the influence of drink.
Little Turtle as a Traveler
Little Turtle was really a great traveler for that day. Before he made peace with the white man he was familiar with every Indian trail in the Northwest Territory. From his home here on Eel River he made trips to almost every important Indian Village. He had gone as far northeast as Montreal and as far south as New Orleans. Beginning with the treaty of Greenville in 1795 he attended most all of the treaty meetings during the next fifteen years. He visited the capitols of Ohio and Kentucky and made at least three visits to the national capitol.
Shortly after the treaty of Greenville, Little Turtle visited the
national capitol which was then at Philadelphia. Here he met President Washington himself who presented him with a handsome sword in recognition of his great genius and the high esteem in which he was regarded by the leading Americans of that day. President Washington also presented him with one of the best guns to be had at that time. Little Turtle prized this very much for he was fond of hunting.
While on his visit to Philadelphia he had many unique experiences. Here he met the philosopher, Volney, with whom he had many conversations. Here too he met the famous general Kosciusko, who presented him with a brace of pistols and an elegant robe made of otter skin, worth several hundred dollars. While there the noted artist, Gilbert, painted the picture of Little Turtle at the arrangement of President Washington. Perhaps he painted two pictures, one showing the great chief in his Indian costume and the other showing him as a man of peace. In each he is shown with a necklace of bear claws and a medal said to have been given him by President Washington. The original painting was carefully kept by the government but was burned when the British burned the Capitol building at Washington in 1814.
Little Turtle visited President John Adams in Philadelphia and President Jefferson in Washington hoping to secure some laws that would protect his people from liquor. In 1807 he visited Baltimore to see about securing a mill for Fort Wayne. In all of these visits he was received with much respect and was entertained by some of the most noted persons of the day. As a rule he dressed in American fashion and always showed himself the equal of the best in good manners and gallant decorum. Gen John Johnson said of him: "He was a man of great wit, humor and vivacity, fond of the company of gentlemen, and delighted in good eating."
Many stories are told of his wit and repartee. When the philosopher, Volney, asked him what he thought of the theory that the Indians had sprung from the Tartars of Asis, Little Turtle replied with a question: "Why not think that the Tartars descended from us?" On one occasion a friend of Gen. St. Clair said in Little Turtle's presence that St. Clair's defeat had come because of a surprise attack. Quickly Little Turtle replied; "A good general is never taken by surprise." In
his later days he was troubled with gout. Some one jokingly said to him that gout was a gentleman's disease, whereupon Little Turtle replied. "I always thought that I was a gentleman."
Do you have anything that would help in two current research projects? Do you know anyone who might be able to help?
l. A building was erected for the Rex Windmill company about 1890. In 1900 the Syracuse Screen and Grill company moved from Syracuse and occupied this building. In 1925 the Syracuse Cabinet company came from Syracuse and moved into the same building... The primary product of the Syracuse Cabinet company was cedar chests and most of them were sold through Sears Roebuck. At least a few can be found in this town... with a label inside the lid saying they were made in North Manchester.. Now the question: Exactly where was this building; was it torn down... and when?
2... There was a musical group in this town before 1900. Some describe it as a drum corps but we know of no firm information. In the early 1900s a group played on Main Street every Saturday night for many years.. We know some of the persons who played in that Band and the instruments they played.. Can you tell us more?
Louie's Ice Cream Shop, a North Manchester landmark on Main Street, is for sale. Are you a former patron? Do you have a story that could appear in this journal?
The Thomas Marshall school building has been sold to Historic Landmarks of Indiana and they plan to restore and update it. In the future ownership may move to a nonprofit group. There is no plan to demolish it.
A recent inquiry was received telling of a folder for the Blickenstaff Public School 1901-2 teacher Inez Cowgill Trustee A. L. Clevenger Pupils:
Ethel McPherson Homer Blickenstaff Hazel Miller Lydia Buckingham Clarence Miller Fern Swank Emma Miller Esta Blickenstaff Noah Buckingham Alvah Blickenstaff Artie Reelhorn Stella Blickenstaff Charlie Butterbaugh Dora Miller
The folder could be purchased. Where was the school? Contact the Historical Society Box 361