NEWSLETTER OF THE NORTH
MANCHESTER HISTORICAL SOCIETY, INC.
VOLUME III, NUMBER 3 (August 1986)
MEMORIES OF JACOB ULERY
By Joan Koller
From the looks of my great grandfather Jacob Ulery’s disreputable hat, one would assume that he wore only one during his entire lifetime. In reality he wore many hats, in the role of pioneer, husband and father, member of the German Baptist faith, landowner, and a well-known thresher of grain.
As a pioneer he came from Montgomery County, Ohio in 1851 with his family, consisting of his bride of two years, Christina, infant son, Sam P., her parents Henry and Hannah Heeter, Jacob’s father and others. It is presumed they came across in the large Pennsylvania schooner wagon, which he then used the rest of his life, without the canvas cover, to haul threshed grain to market.
Jake settled on a large farm three miles west and one mile north of the Manchester community, where he lived until his death in 1916. The original barn is still standing there, the house has since burned.
Jake and Christina raised four daughters and six sons who all except one settled in this area. So today there are many local residents who can claim a kinship with this strong-willed man.
He was quite a sight about town, even for this rural community, in his oversized coat, usually tied at the bottom corners in order to keep it from getting tangled in the machinery, a red bandana about his neck to keep the chaff out, and bare footed much of time.
This picture of “Thresher Jake” was probably taken at the family’s insistence, as there aren’t too many photos of him in existence to be found. One can imagine that even though he went to the local Blickenstaff studio, he still stubbornly refused to dress up. Now his descendants fortunately have this priceless picture of him as he was.
In this connection there are several stories, probably enhanced by time. My father told of an unusually wet spring, when Jake broke a plow point. Hurrying in to town, he was told there were none in stock, but the train was about to leave for Indianapolis. So Thresher Jake in his farm attire and barefooted, boarded the train, purchased a new point in the city, and returned on the evening train to a somewhat dismayed family.
For this next story there are at least three variations. It is safe to assume that it is rooted in truth. Thresher Jake came in the local hardware store, handed the proprietor a list, and when it was filled, walked out the door with everything. A salesman sitting by the fire was dumbfounded. “That tramp walked out of here without paying or even signing anything.” “Well,” said the storeowner, “I’m not worried. That tramp, as you call him, could buy and sell me several times over.”
Another version has Mr. Noftzger asking the surprised salesman how much he thought the man was worth who had just been in. “Well,” replied the salesman, “I wouldn’t give you 15 cents for his clothes.”
Great grandfather had his hand in running the household based on the same rules of hard work and industriousness as in the rest of his life. I remember my grandmother Lautzenhiser, “Aunt Kate” to all who knew her, telling the story of the window. It seems that her father had a small, narrow window put in the door to the sitting room at eye level. Since one of his sayings was that “the devil finds a use for idle hands,” his patient wife and young daughters were expected to busy themselves with needlework when not occupied with other chores. Many times as a girl, Kate would look up to see a stern pair of eyes at the peek hole, checking up.
In his wife Christina’s obituary, it is stated, “By her Christian deportment whe endeared herself to all who knew her.”
The large schooner wagon, after carrying the family and household goods here, was used for another sixty-five years by Jake to haul the grain from where it was threshed on his own 500 acres, and for others, to the buyer, sometimes to the east and west rail lines in northern Indiana, returning with salt blocks and other staples. Filled with grain, it took four large horses to pull. As one of his sons said, “You knew when you had shoveled that wagon full.”
When Thresher Jake and his ring had finished harvesting in this area, they loaded the threshing engines on flatcars headed for South Dakota, where the season was, of course, later and threshed out the grain there. My dad told of going there as a boy to help in the hot, dusty fields.
An excerpt from one of the Heeter letters in a book by the same title authored by Lester Binnie, page 52, it says – “Jacob Ulery hauled his wheat away, he is got 4 hundred & 25 bushels, He maid rite Smart money out of his crop, he got 97 cents for the most of it.”
After the North Manchester streets were paved, it was suggested that perhaps now he should drive on the right side. “I’ll drive where I please,” was the answer. The wagon was sold in December, 1916, a month after his death and its present whereabouts are unknown.
On the occasion of his eightieth birthday all of his children gathered at a family dinner and presented him with a rocking chair. Since he was hale and hearty and out of doors most of the time, and worked till the day of his death at 87, the rocking chair was probably little used.
An Aged and Much Traveled Cookie
article appeared in the newspaper in December, 1924:
Miss Martha Winesburg received a Christmas present last week that was much appreciated. It is a cookie that her mother baked, and was one of a number that graced the table when her mother was married. The cookie was sent to Miss Winesburg by Mrs. Eva Heeter Bixler, daughter of Abner Heeter, who had kept the cook most of those years. Its story is told in the letter Mrs. Bixler sent along with it, and which follows:
“Mr. and Mrs. James Winesburg were married on November 20, 1858. This cookie was taken from the wedding table by Abner Heeter. He put it in his pocket, took it home and kept it for nearly ten years. Then he sent it to his cousin Lucinda Heeter, in Ohio, as a wedding present. She kept it for a time and then sent it back to Abner as a wedding present when he and Sarah Lantz were married, May 1, 1868. He kept it then until his death. I would like to know how many miles the cookie has traveled. It has been to Washington state three times, California, Ohio, and Indiana. I should think it must have traveled in all considerably more than eight thousand miles. Please accept it as a Christmas gift.”
The North Manchester Historical Society has recently
received a copy of this newspaper article along with Martha Winesburg’s
response, written in her own handwriting, as follows:
North Manchester, Ind.
Jan. 4, 1925
Mrs. Eva Heeter Bixler
Los Angeles, Cal.
As I addressed you “dear friend” the thought came that you were really some number of a cousin or distant relative, any way your father and my mother were cousins and very dear friends besides as the little token of remembrance proved. I have heard them discuss that cookie and call to memory pleasures of bygone days that it suggested. Then after a lapse of years you a daughter of Abner Heeter, brought you children to a daughter of Rachel Winesburg, to be started on the road to meet life. I think that if I had the power of a poet I could put into verse the incidents of 66 years of this little piece of sweetness. I received the package containing the gift and wish to thank you for remembering me with it. I assure you that I appreciate the kindness. I have put the gift safely away to keep as long as I live.
I would like to know more about you and the children, where they are and what they are doing. Please write to me again and tell me all the news of the family. I am still teaching in the same room where I started all your children. I am well and outside the loss of mother and sister which brings lonely hours. I am getting along very well. I have a cousin, Eli Winesburg, in Annaheim, Cal., who sends me a box of oranges and nuts each Christmas.
We have had some very cold weather and a heavy snow fall. This kind of weather I suppose you are now escaping.
With best wishes and hoping to hear from you again, I am
Yours with love
The newspaper clipping and the letter written by Miss Winesburg were a gift to the Society by Mary H. Harriman of San Diego, California. Also included in the package were two pictures, one a postcard picture of Lawrence Bixler’s first term class at West Ward School, taken October 1914, and the other a blow-up of Miss Winesburg in that class picture. The class picture is reproduced here for you with but a few of the pupils identified.
THE PAVING OF MAIN STREET By Virginia Glist
It started peacefully enough. In January of 1903, the Town Board met and passed an ordinance to pave Main Street. Spirited debate was expected, but none ensued. Instead, the headlines in the News-Journal read “Town Board Passes Pavement Ordinance Without a Kick”. The paving was championed by John Isenbarger, and the fact that there was no opposition was expressed in the news article as”…without the slightest murmur of objection.”
As time went on, North Manchester received paving reports from other cities, notably in New England. Most of these were reports on bituminous macadam waterproof pavement, but the trouble was, none had been in use long enough to make a judgment.
In February the bidding was opened. There were bids on bituminous macadam, rock asphalt, Barber asphalt, and brick. Grossnickle and Bridges were awarded the contract for Metropolitan block, the best brick around, and the amount was $40,000. Each brick weighed ten pounds, and it was believed that North Manchester would have the finest paving anywhere.
Problems started in April, when Mrs. Elizabeth Mills asked for an injunction against the paving, claiming that the Town Board had acted illegally in their methods of proceeding on the bids. When Judge Shively finally made a ruling, after the town and contractors had been kept in suspense for some time, he said that the Board actions were all legal except one – the advertising for more than one kind of paving material.
The Town Board decided to bring a lawsuit. The editor of the paper commented that disappointed bidders had sparked the injunction, and if the Town Board wanted to put up with that kind of horseplay they could, but it was not likely that anything like that would happen again.
In June, however, the contractors began work. People were afraid that someone else would ask for an injunction, but, as the News-Journal commented, it would be a” …rather nervy man who undertakes it.”
Thus North Manchester got its brick pavement, its first pavement.
SPEECHES AND ORAL HISTORIES TRANSCRIBED FOR THE
MEMORIES OF EUNICE CRIPE RIBLEY by Lester Binnie
ETHEL LONGENECKER REMEMBERS by Lester Binnie
LEEDY MOTOR COMPANY – MEMORIES OF HOWARD WARREN by Lester Binnie
SOME MEMORIES OF LAKETON – HOWARD ULSH by Lester Binnie
ORREL LITTLE ON EARLY EDUCATION 7 FAMILY HISTORY by Sally Allen
OBITUARY OF JOSEPH B. HARTER, October 21, 1917 From a collection of Roland Schmedel
EARLY HISTORY OF NORTH MANCHESTER (1 typewritten page) From a notebook authored by Josh Billings in Roland Schmedel collection
INDIANS OF WABASH COUNTY, INDIANA From a Wabash County Historical Museum by Warder Crow, 12/4/1934
Blacksmith shops & livery barns BY Glen Beery
HOW THE STREETS WERE NAMED By Eleanor Malott
A SENSE OF PLACE (A story of westward migration) By Dr. Ladoska Z. Bunker
FIVE FLAGS OVER THIS LAND (A recap of the five nations who one controlled this territory) By Dr. Ladoska Z. Bunker
THE TRAIL OF TEARS – SOME SECOND THOUGHTS By Dr. L. Z. Bunker
THE HISTORY OF BARBERSHOPS IN N. MANCHEWTER By Edwin Lowder
HISTORY OF PHOTOGRAPHY By Kenneth Werking
THE CANNING FACTORY By Orpha Weimer
MEMORIES OF CENTRAL SCHOOL By Karl Merritt
MEMORIES OF MARKS OLD DRUG STORE By Louise Marks
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (The History of Christmas Carols) By Edwin Lowder
SIDNEY, A COMPLETE TOWN (1910-1920) By Hugh Miller
THE OLD MILL – MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE By Keith Ross
SERVIA By Gladys Airgood
INTERVIEW WITH MRS. ROSA MICHAELS By Orrin Manifold
BUCKEYE HILL (Now the Home of Dr. & Mrs.
Howard Terrill) Some Memories of Eunice (Cripe)
I have lived most of my life on land that my great-great-grandfather, Daniel Cripe, purchased in 1840. He came here from St. Joseph County, Indiana, where he had lived since 1828. His land consisted of two sections and extended west from the intersection of State Roads 13 and 114 to the first county road north, across from the West Manchester Church. He soon sold most of his land to others. A tract of about 116 acres was obtained by my great-grandfather, David Cripe. This included the land on both sides of Clear or Crooked Creek on the north side of road 114. His father, Daniel, must have been interested in the community; as he subscribed $500 in 1853 in an effort to get a railroad through North Manchester.
Clear Creek was one of the best mill streams near North Manchester, and great-grandfather, David, built a sawmill (the blade moved up and down) that could saw logs that were four feet in diameter. It is said that much of the lumber used in the early days in North Manchester came from that mill. I do not remember anything about the mill, but I know that it stood just east of where I now live and about 500 feet north of road 114. It was on the old crooked channel where the water ran before the creek was dredged. I believe it was in 1908 that a dredge boat was put in the stream, somewhere up stream, and worked down to Eel River. David died in 1855. He was only 41 years of age and was buried in the little cemetery north of road 114 and just west of the lane that leads to my house. All the persons who were buried there were members of the Cripe family except one.
I knew my grandfather, Isaac C. Cripe, when he lived on what is now the farm of Dr. H. F. Terrill, D.M.V. This farm had belonged to his father-in-law, Nicholas Frantz. In about 1876, Isaac had the large three-story brick house built that still stands on this property and that was restored in 1972 by Dr. Terrill. It is said that the bricks for his house were obtained from a mill near Marion, Indiana, and that they were transported to the farm by wagons. There is another Cripe cemetery on this farm, but it was first known as the Frantz Cemetery. I remember that grandfather had a sawmill on this farm and that he was also a thrasherman. He was always a hard worker and very religious.
When I was a child, he had a large steam engine, the essential water wagon, a separator to thresh wheat and oats, a clover huller to hull clover seed, and a shredder to shred corn in the fall and winter months.
In the late 1980’s he and his sons, David and John, moved their shipment by rail to North Dakota and spent whatever time was needed and then returned the equipment by rail. Sometimes the two daughters-in-law went along to cook for their men and some additional help that went along from this area.
My father, David S. Cripe, first lived on the farm of which my home was a part in 1902. At that time the buildings were in the middle of the section. He moved the barn to its present location and had the house build in which I now live. He stacked the lumber on what he thought was high ground near the creek, and then came the 1913 flood. The lumber did not wash away, but the end of each piece stood in water about two feet deep. After it dried out, he contracted to have this ten-room house built. The cash cost, including the basement, fixtures for the bathroom, kitchen and furnace came to $2,000. We moved in on my thirteenth birthday, August 27, 1914.
When my father took over the threshing job, he went where he was wanted in rotation. Then, later, they started what were called threshing rings. These consisted of about 12 or 15 farmers who agreed to work together as a group. Each farmer furnished a team and wagon and an extra man. Father had about four rings at the last; and during this time, he changed from a steam engine to a large tractor. Wherever they were working a noontime, the woman of the house, with help from friends and relatives, prepared enough food to feed all workers. The meal consisted of everything they could think of: and if you could get it today, it would probably cost about $25. At the end of the season, everyone would meet in a group to settle up. In each ring there were some persons who were slow in paying up; so father proposed that if they would all pay up at the meeting, he would furnish all the ice cream and cake that they and their families could eat; and it worked very well.
There is a new bridge on road 114 now. I recall that the culvert that was removed in construction was installed in about 1918. Before that, there was an iron bridge with planks for a floor, and when they excavated for the new bridge they uncovered some heavy timbers that were likely part of an earlier bridge.
THRESHING DAY! Hot July days ripened the wheat and haste was made to store or sell it. The evening before threshing day the steam engine and threshing machine, with their crews, arrived at the farm for an early start in the morning. Then neighbors arrived with wagons and extra horses. Wives came along to assist the farm wife in preparing the bounteous noon meal the hungry threshers required. Soon loads of grain were threshed and removed from the fields. The straw stack grew to monumental proportions. It was a great day as the sun bonnet girls and straw hatted boy could attest.
The dedication ceremony for Holderman Park has been postponed, due to the hot summer weather. It will now coincide with the Pioneer Festival and has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 4th at 6:00 P.M. You won’t want to miss it, since it will be the finale for a full day of celebrating our pioneer heritage.
IT WAS FUN AT GRANDPA’S – THE BAKERY By
E. William Ranck
My sister Lena, brothers Ivan, Royal and I, were glad when Papa said that we could stay at Grandpa’s while he and Mama went to Wabash for the day. “Grandpa’s,” was the farmstead of Mama’s parents, Isaac and Mary Frantz Cripe, three miles west of North Manchester.
Grandma and Aunt Edna welcomed us warmly and took us down to the kitchen-family room. It was bake day and they were already working with the dough and other ingredients that by the alchemy of baking in their brick oven would become delicious bread, pies and cakes.
Grandpa grew wheat, harvested it with a binder pulled by three horses and threshed it with his own steam threshing rig. He and sons John and David also threshed for most of the farmers in the area for many years. With horses and wagon he hauled some wheat to the water-powered grist mill on Eel River at North Manchester where it was ground into flour and bran. There were quite a few mills on Eel River seventy years ago. Most farm families baked their own bread, frequently from their own wheat.
Grandma said, “Lena, bring your brothers; it is time to build a fire in the oven.” This surprised Lena a bit. She had always seen Mother build a fire in the firebox of our kitchen range when she did the baking—but in the oven?? We boys came running to see what Grandma wanted at the bakery twenty feet south of the southeast corner of the kitchen. We learned that during cold weather Grandma baked in a kitchen range like ours, but that using the outdoor bakery during hot weather helped keep the house cool.
The oven was made of brick and shaped like an arched tunnel, three feet wide and four feet long, front to back. There was an iron door at the front. A stove pipe at mid-height of the back end had dampers so that the smoke could be directed into a chimney or into the back room where meat was smoked. The oven floor was at table height and formed the top of the brick ash pit.
Grandma said, “Lena, roll up two sheets of that old paper for me. Royal, bring some cobs from the basket. Ivan, we need four sticks of wood from the cord, but not hickory; that is for smoking meat. E.W., you may pull on that chain and hook the ring over this spike nail. That opens the damper to the chimney so the fire can burn.” Our parents and grandparents believed we should learn how to do things by working with them.
Yes, she really did build the fire inside the oven. She adjusted the sliding damper in the door to give air to the fire and explained that she would return later and push the fire together, so all the wood would burn. “When the fire is finished, we can bake,” she said. “You can play now. When you hear this hand bell, come and see how we do it.”
We boys were ready for action, but where should we go first? There were many tempting options—Grandpa’s steam powered sawmill forty rods east of the house, the blacksmith shop, the steam engine and the threshing machine, the spring house, the big red bank barn, the two-story squared log house by the west spring where Grandma lived as a girl and the three-story brick house itself. We were playing in the barn when we heard the bell.
The oven was built into the north end of the bakery, facing the kitchen. The roof and brick floor extended five feet beyond it for more protection. The women now placed the things to be baked on shelves beside the oven. A small trap door in the oven’s floor was opened and the ashes pushed down into the ash pit. What looked like a wide wooden boat paddle was now put to use. They could place two pans of bread, or one pie, on it and push them into the oven, slide them off and nudge each pan into the right spot. They knew just where the bread should be placed and where a cake or pie would bake the best. The heat radiating down from the hot walls and arched top of the oven was ideal for baking.
Aunt Edna said, “Let me show you our smokehouse.” A door at the right and a small passage-way led behind the oven to a 10 x 10 foot room. The walls and floor were of brick and a shallow pit down the center made a safe place for a wood fire. Hickory was used for the fine flavor it gave to meat. Two 3 x 8-inch beams on edge six feet above the pit, had meat hooks from which hams, shoulders, slabs of bacon and stuffed sausage could be hung for smoking after the late fall butchering. Two hams and some sausage were hung there, very brown and smelling very good.
We were on hand again when the oven was opened. The mingled odors of hot, freshly baked bread, pies and cakes were something for a child to remember. So was our afternoon snack, enjoyed that day, in the cool summer dining room. Each had a slice of that bread, just out of the oven, with butter and applebutter on it, plus a glass of cool whole milk, all produced on that farm. To paraphrase a popular song, “Thank God, I was a country boy.”
GENEALOGY, ANYONE? Resources Within Your
Community By Virginia Glist
If you’ve ever wanted to look up your family history, find out where a relative is buried, or look into an ancestor who got off the boat in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620, it’s possible the answer is right here among the various genealogy resources in the North Manchester Public Library or the Manchester College Library.
Why not start in the basement of the Public Library?
DaVonne Rogers, librarian, tells us about the genealogy section there,
and says it contains the following aids or information:
Books: (1) Bound volumes of the News-Journal from 1936-1983; (2) Cemetery records; (3) Wabash County histories; (4) Obituaries from the Bender Funeral Home files;, including an Obituary Index; (5) A few books on counties other than Wabash; (6) Some individual family histories; and (7) High school yearbooks.
Pamphlet File” (1) A collection of Historical Society Newsletters’ (2) Some family histories; (3) A file on “how to” for those who have never explored genealogy.
Microfilm: (1) Films from 1882-1884; (2) A general index compiled by Harry Leffel, former columnist for the News-Journal.
Rogers says she will show you the records if you ask, or find you some “how to” books.
The Manchester College Library has two resources: (1) Family histories, but please note that these are of Brethren families; and (2) A three-volume book by Rupp which gives information about the people who got off the boats, for example the Mayflower. These are housed in Special Collections, and require permission to take from the library. Allen Willmert, librarian, will be glad to help.
In addition to our libraries, three special people can be of further assistance to those interested in genealogy. Keith Ross, Lester Binnie, and Catherine Canfield Smith have done a great deal of work in the areas of family histories, and are willing to talk with you about what they know.
A special treat for anyone interested in the field of genealogy will occur this fall on October 4, when the Fellowship of Brethren Genealogy will meet for a workshop at the Timbercrest Home. No reservations are necessary, and the group will meet at 9:00 A.M. in Fellowship Hall. Speakers scheduled for the occasion are Donald Durnbaugh, who will speak on the Brethren Encyclopedias as an aid to genealogy; Mrs. Durnbaugh, who will examine some materials available in Europe for genealogy; Judy Warner, who will speak on the Warner family, and William Brumbaugh, who will talk about the Brumbaugh family. The workshop sounds like a treat for those interested.
For those who are still uncertain as to how to proceed, there’s plenty of help. After exhausting the material mentioned in this article, ask a librarian or one of our Historical Society experts.
Our sources tell us that within the year, this bridge is to be dismantled piece by piece. The Wabash Road Bridge, standing but no longer in use, is a year older than the covered bridge. Its iron frame was the first load of freight brought to town when the southbound railroad came through in 1871. Serving as the south exit from town, the bridge was on the Hoosier Dixie Highway, a Detroit to Miami thoroughfare, flourishing in 1915-1920.
The Beef Ring – An Early Farm Co-op.
By E. William Ranck
Our people were not always dependent upon the government. They were often originative, co-operative and equipped with self starters. The Beef Ring was a good example of farmers organized for their mutual benefit.
I do not know when or where the idea originated, but one of my earliest memories (around 1896) was of going with mother to the barn and watching her harness Nelly and hitching her to the buggy. It was Tuesday morning and we were going to bring the beef home. Father and the hired man were already at work in the fields. We would also bring the beef for our good neighbors, the Henry Cripes, who lived on the farm across Clear Creek from us, half a mile west of North Manchester, Indiana. The next week Henry would bring ours.
The creek was small most of the time and a driveway from our buildings led across a shallow, gravelly ford up to Henry’s place. Also there was a flattened footlog on the downstream side of the ford. One end was chained to a tree, else spring freshets would have carried it away.
Nelly trotted briskly down our lane, which passed near the creek and through some woods as we came out to the graveled pike (now Ind. 114). When Nelly saw some of her friends pulling a plow near the lane, she nickered, frightening a rabbit which crossed in front of us. Mother taught me the names of the birds we saw: a brown thrush, two bob-o-links, a bluejay and in the pasture a pair of mocking birds. There were many beautifully colored song birds in Indiana then. The starling (that destroyer of birds) had not yet been introduced.
The Ring consisted of twenty farmer members. Each was assigned a week when it would be his turn to supply a well fleshed, beef type steer or heifer of approximately the specified weight..
The Ring's butcher would arrive at the designated farm in his one-horse springwagon with tripod and tools, late Monday afternoon. The springwagon was a light weight, four wheel vehicle. A platform type spring seat up front accommodated a driver and two small boys --if they held on tight going around corners or over bumps. The shallow box bed was suitable for light loads. The butcher would kill, skin and quarter the animal, then drive to the farmstead of Isaac C. and Mary Frantz Cripe, my mother's parents. They had a large, cool springhouse. In it he would hang and wash the beef and leave it to cool all night.
In those days before farmers had electric refrigeration, a springhouse like this one was very useful. Few had one so well located. In 1876 when Grandpa built his three-story brick home three miles west of North Manchester, he notched into the southeast corner of a long, low hill and built the first story in the notch. This floor had doors at ground level on the east and south sides. On the north, or front side, the ground was level with the second floor, which contained living room, parlor, library and two bedrooms. The third floor had two very large bedrooms and two smaller ones. Each floor had porches one above the other on the east and on the south sides.
When they were digging to built a cistern near the Northwest corner of the house, they ran into a stratum of gravel filled with spring water. Grandpa decided to make maximum use of this Godsend. The cistern could be placed somewhere else. The circular excavation was bricked up and closed with a brick dome and entrance at the top. Then a springhouse was built twenty feet west of the southwest corner of the house, with its brick floor set four feet below ground level.
Steps near the east end of the south side led down into a small entrance room, where a stream of water from the captured spring fell from a pipe into a pool in a 30-inch diameter vitrified sewer pipe set into the floor with its top end reaching six inches above the latter. A dipper hung nearby and many a thirst was satisfied there.
My mother told us that once when her sister Edna had just learned to walk and her brother Dave was about five, the two were playing in the south yard between the house and garden. They decided to go down into the nearby springhouse and were there on hands and knees amused by their reflections in the little pool. Mother said that their guardian angel must have been watching, for Edna’s hands slipped on the moist rim. In an instant, she was standing on her head in water as deep as she was tall. Dave said, “I first started to dash up the steps and over to the house to call Mother, but decided it would be better to pull her out first.” Uncle Dave lived to be 84, but he never made a better decision.
A screened door from this room led west into a 10’ x 14’ room, which had a two-foot wide concrete trough built as part of the floor, but six inches higher, all along the north wall. A pipe from the pool brought all of the flow into it. The water was five inches deep. Covered crocks of milk, cream, meat, etc., set into it were kept cool. A pipe at the far end continued the flow out to a large drinking trough in the barnyard where the cattle and horses could enjoy fresh water that never failed and never froze. The entire system worked at all times and by gravity.
There was a long table along the south side of this larger room and on a shelf above it, twenty shallow boxes each named for a Ring member. About 3:00 a.m. the butcher began to cut, weigh and wrap the meat for each box. As near as possible each family got the same amount and each received a total of four soup bones during the season. People came early for the meat while the morning was still cool. Some farmers had their own ice houses and put up ice each winter from Eel River or some lake. They used it in an icebox refrigerator or in what was called a "creamery" to keep food cool.
Soon after the last beef of the season as butchered and distributed, a meeting was held "to settle up the Beef Ring", as it was called. And with no T.V. programs to keep them at home, the entire family attended. The meeting was usually held in Grandma's family room and overflowed into the adjoining summer dining room. Both were on the first floor. The former had a fireplace and kitchen in the south end, a long dining table in the center and an open stairs leading to the living room on the second floor. The summer dining room’s whitewashed stone walls were always cool because outside they were against the hill.
Since the animals that were supplied varied somewhat in weight, the average net weight of all twenty was computed. Members whose animals fell short paid into the treasury at a pre-fixed price per pound and those who supplied more were compensated accordingly. A captain for the next year was elected. He would hire the butcher. Then each member drew a number indicating which week he was to supply the animal. This Co-op enabled these families to enjoy fresh beef all summer at minimum cost, produced from their own pasture and feed. The only cash outlay was to pay the butcher. Nothing was charged for the facilities.
The business session was soon over, it was still early evening and what we youngsters enjoyed most would now begin. Big baskets appeared and the ladies began to decorate the tables in both rooms with beautiful cakes and pies while the men opened freezers of ice cream. Grace was said, then all enjoyed the abundant good food and the fellowship with good neighbors. We children and the teenagers were soon exploring the many interesting things and places inside and outside the large and unusual home. It was a great time to make new friends and over the years more than a few romances began under the October moon at Grandpa's place-- because there was a Beef Ring.
E. William Ranck, a graduate of Purdue University, was an agriculturist and economic advisor for the State Department in El Salvador and Puerto Rico before he retired in 1958. He has traveled in 61 countries and has written several articles and pamphlets. Later, he lived in Ft. Wayne.