NEWSLETTER OF THE NORTH
MANCHESTER HISTORICAL SOCIETY, INC.
Volume V, Number 1 (February 1988)
Early Education and Family History
by Orrel Little
At the request of Historical Society friends, I have been reviewing my public school experiences in the first quarter of the 20th century. Though I was born in North Manchester, our family had moved to a farm in Whitley County before I was of school age. My father, H. B. Little, was a rural elementary teacher for over 30 years. My mother, Stella, bore him four sons: Thurle, Ivan, founder of the Ivan Little Ace Hardware, Wayne, Hubert and then me.
In September of 1906 Wayne and Hubert introduced me to the Harris School on Road 800S in Whitley County, probably less than a mile from our home and six miles northeast of North Manchester. This one-room, red brick schoolhouse had been built on a small clearing of a woods and had ample space on the west for playground and two outdoor toilets. Except for a few balls and bats, no play equipment was needed for the games we played. To the east of the center front entrance was a well where we pumped the water we drank from a common cup, or used to wash dirty hands and blackboards. At 8:00 o'clock, five days a week, September through April, the teacher used a handbell to call us into the building.
When the weather permitted we enjoyed our mid-morning and mid-afternoon recess of 10 or 15 minutes, as well as an hour lunch period outdoors. The yelling and laughter quieted down as we lined up to enter the building. Girls hung their wraps on hooks on the front wall, left of the entrance, and placed lunch boxes on the shelf above. The boys did likewise on the other side of the door. A large desk sat in the middle front of the room, facing five or six rows of combination desks and seats for the pupils. These varied in size for children in the eight grades, probably 15 or 20 of us. Also, at the front of the room, west of the teacher's desk, was a wood-burning stove and a wood box tended by the teacher or one of the older boys.
The walls held blackboards and erasers which were often used for lessons and for play. My brothers and I joined neighbor children walking to school in all kinds of weather. I especially enjoyed wading deep drifts of snow in the fence corners along the road. Occasionally, instead of following the road, we found our way through the woods on the east side of our farm. If the weather was really bad, somebody would hitch up old Fuzzy and drive us to school; we had only heard of kid hacks or school buses.
That year I was the only first grader. My subjects were reading, writing and very simple arithmetic - addition and subtraction. My only texts were a primer and first grade reader. As my brothers had already taught me to read, I went through both books quickly, then repeated them as many times as the seven months permitted. We had no library books to borrow. After I had recited and prepared my lessons for the next day, I listened to the older people recite. My teacher that first year was Clara Miller, who later married Bill Baker of North Manchester. They became parents of Margaret Baker Leonhard (Mrs. George) and Richard Baker, who married Sally Nichols, and opened an upholstery shop later.
I understand that Miss Miller's salary that year was $20 a month for seven months. My second teacher at the school was Carl Bollinger. I think he must have grown tired of hearing me read the second reader for I also completed the third reader and in April was promoted to the fourth grade. I don't remember that I had an arithmetic text, but I was learning my first two or three multiplication tables and the spelling of simple words. Phonics were never mentioned. On holidays, and the last day of school, parents were invited to bring basket dinners and then listen to spelling and ciphering matches, along with recitations of poems and stories.
In the summer of 1908 my family moved back to the big brick house on the southwest corner of Fifth and Buffalo Streets, where I was born. So, that fall I attended West Ward School, located on Buffalo Street, just south of Main Street. Later, this school was renamed the Martha Winesburg School in recognition of one of the superior primary teachers. Still later when the Laketon and Pleasant Township children were bused to town, a new one-story building was constructed and the name was changed to Maple Park School. Back in 1908, West Ward was a two-story brick building which had four rooms, each serving two classes, and a fifth room that was variously used as a class room, the principal’s office or as a library
We had drinking fountains in the halls and toilets in the basement. Inside each classroom, to the right or left of the entrance, was a cloak room. From the front, the teacher’s desk faced rows of smaller desks for two classes. Ethel Shafer, later Mrs. John Snyder, of Maple and South Streets, was the third and fourth grade teacher. She and my mother decided I should try the fourth grade and I must have progressed satisfactorily because at the end of the school year I was promoted to the fifth grade. However, in later years I sometimes wondered whether missing a year of arithmetic might account for some difficulties I had with math. Here, as in the country school, there was no physical education, but when the weather permitted, we played running and jumping games outdoors. Otherwise, we played quieter games inside.
In the first four grades, at least one period a week was devoted to music and one to art. Trained supervisors taught these special classes. Mrs. Meda Sexton taught music and she may have taught the art, too, I don’t remember. I lived five blocks from the school and had to cross the Vandalia Railroad tracks when going home. Sometimes problems developed. Freight cars were standing across Buffalo Street at the noon hour. Daring boys often crawled under the cars but I had been cautioned never to try that for fear the train would suddenly start to move again.
Students Hear Governor Marshall
Probably the most memorable event of my third year in school was seeing and hearing Governor Thomas R. Marshall deliver a political speech. Because Mr. Marshall had been born in North Manchester in 1854, and in 1909 had become governor of the state, local schools were dismissed so we could attend this afternoon gathering. It was held on Haney’s lot, the vacant block bordered by Main Street on the south and Elm Street on the east, often used as a ball park, playground or good place to pitch a tent for traveling circus or dog show. Here a platform had been erected for the speaker and some boards provided seats for the audience. I regret to say that this fourth grader did not remember a word Governor Marshall said, but he was elected Vice President in 1913 and again in 1917.
In the fall of 1909 our family moved to N. Sycamore Street where my grandparents from Larwill, Indiana, joined us; Alva and Orrel McBride, their names. Wayne, Hubert and I then attended the original Central School, built in 1874 at a cost of between fifteen and twenty thousand dollars. It was a two and one-half story brick building for both elementary and high school classes. It was located in the center of the block bordered by Market, Fourth and Walnut Streets. On the northwest corner the standpipe still stands; the alley for the north boundary has been opened for street traffic. Most of the land surround the school was well sodded and shaded by beautiful maple trees. Yet, there was plenty of space north of the building for outdoor games. The front entrance, facing Fourth Street, was used only by teachers, high school and eighth grade pupils and visitors. As the elementary classrooms were on the middle floor of the building, we entered by high outside steps at the center of the north end. A wide hall separated the four classrooms. The first and second grades, taught by Bertha Shoemaker, daughter of Dr. George Shoemaker, Sr., occupied the northeast classroom. The third and fourth graders under Edna Dawson used the northwest room.
Deane Kitterman Swank taught me in both the fifth and sixth grades in the southwest room. Hazel Miller Hewitt taught our seventh grade in the southeast room. Also on the sides of the hall, between the east and west classrooms, were stairs leading down to the basement classrooms for science, manual training and domestic science as well as the wash rooms. Above those stairs were others leading to the third floor. A large assembly hall used the north half of the floor, classrooms covered the east and west rooms below. Railings and a narrow hall shielded the wide open space between these halls and led to the office. Rows of seats and desks facing the south end, that is the front of the assembly hall, were assigned by classes. The eighth graders sat at the far east and seniors at the extreme west. At the center back (that is the north) was an elevated platform holding the desk for the teacher who was monitoring attendance and discipline.
As an eighth grader, I sat on the far east side in complete awe of the teachers and upper classmen. Concentration was difficult. I too often spent study time just watching activities. Some days Meda (Mrs. Charles) Sexton taught music or Russell Hippensteel taught penmanship to a small group while the rest of us studies. Friday mornings a period was often cleared for a program by a local minister or a visiting entertainer. I still remember President Otho Winter of Manchester College as he cautioned us not to waste time. He quoted Horace Mann’s famous line,” Lost yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward offered for they are gone forever.”
Physical education was not part of the curriculum in those days. Boys were supposed to get their exercise during chores with their fathers and girls with their mothers doing housework. Some did, others formed teams and found outsiders or volunteer teachers to coach them in ball or tennis games. We had no gymnasium, but the old Opera House on the south side of the Main Street was a fair substitute. We had other extracurricular activities we enjoyed, for example, boys and girls glee clubs, Latin and German clubs, debate clubs and a program committee. I belonged to the Latin and debate clubs and the program committee.
I enjoyed school and most of my teachers. Among them were the following: Grace Martin, the principal and my teacher of algebra and plane geometry. I avoided solid geometry. Ellen Dwyer and Mattie Empson taught me Latin, four years, and German, two. Ermina Moore and Fay Fisher stimulated my interest in language and literature so that I chose to teach English many years. Teachers of history, Dan Reahard and Ralph Batton, who later practice law in Marion, Indiana, interested me so that history became my minor in college.
Grace Martin was also the first person to introduce a social organization to teenage girls of the community. During our sophomore or junior year she invited fifteen or more of us to become Campfire Girls. We learned not only some camping techniques but also some handcrafts and the ability to plan and carry out youth activities which required responsibility and creativity. One spring after school had ended, Miss Martin took us to Lake Tippecanoe for a thrilling week of experiences which most of us had never had. Years later Boy Scout troops developed here and eventually Girl Scouts replaced Campfire Girls in this community.
Lloyd C. Douglas Was Graduation Speaker
In my senior year, World War I was raging in Europe and worrying families here. After the United States entered the war, April 6, 1917, boys began to wonder whether they should leave school and enlist in the armed services. As we were to graduate May 17, most in our class decided to wait, but Conrad Hare enlisted, served during the war and was still living the last time I heard of him.
Our Baccalaureate sermon was delivered at the old Methodist Church on the corner of Second and Front Streets, now the Masonic Temple. From that service we all went to 204 E. Third Street where Foster Sheller’s mother, Mrs. Dan Sheller, prepared a tasty meal for the teachers and our class of twenty-one.
Then on May 17, 1917 we sat on the platform of the Zion Lutheran Church on Main Street to hear an address by the well-known Hoosier author, Reverend Lloyd Douglas. He wrote “The Magnificent Obsession,” “The Robe” and several other novels. Superintendent Alvin Ulrey gave us our diploma.
In 1925, when I returned to North Manchester to teach English, the old Central School building was gone, having been replaced in the same location by a modern, two-story junior and senior high school by a modern, two-story junior and senior high school in 1922. As late as the nineteen twenties no married women could teach here and we never used teachers’ first names. Hence, I have included eventual husbands’ names for identification. Of course, Mrs. Sexton was an exception as part-time teachers of music and art were hard to find.
In 1968 I retired from teaching English at Manchester College. Then in 1981 I moved to the Timbercrest Retirement Home, North Manchester.
I believe five other members of the class are still living. They are: Lorraine Bollinger Ranger of Hisperia, California; Conrad Hare; Lyman Knecht, who retired from the Bippus Grain Elevator to Huntington, Indiana; Mae Lefforge, Palm Harbor, Florida; and Bonnie Shock Paulus, Altadena, California.
Deceased members were Vera Barnhart Stoner, June Beck, Marion Bonewitz, Lester Coe, Iva Cripe, Harold Grossnickle, Marjorie Gump Jackson, Clure McPherson (a dentist), Blanche Nichols Smith, Arthur Ober, Charles Sheller of the Sheller Hotel, Foster Sheller (another dentist), Robert Smith, Madaline Wolfe, and Dorothy Young Shubert. I regret that I do not have the married names of some of the girls.
LLOYD C. DOUGLAS
August 27, 1877 – February 13, 1951
Article Submitted by Shirley Rogers; taken from Indiana Authors and Their Books 1917-1966 (1974)
Lloyd Cassel Douglas, American novelist, was born in Columbia City, Indiana, the son of the Rev. Alexander Jackson Douglas (later a physician) and Sarah Jane (Cassel) Douglas. He was educated at Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio (B.A., 1900; M.A. 1903), then went to Hamma Divinity School (B.D. 1903). He was ordained as a Lutheran minister and became pastor of the Zion Lutheran Church, North Manchester, Indiana, from 1903-1905. In 1904 he was married to Bessie Io Porch; they had two daughters.
The next year he moved to the First Church, Lancaster, Ohio, and in 1908 to the Lutheran Memorial Church, Washington, D.C. While there he was chaplain of the First Infantry, District of Columbia. From 1911 to 1915 he was director of religious work at the University of Illinois, then became minister of the First Congregational Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he stayed till 1921. From 1921 to 1926 he was at the First Church in Akron, Ohio, from 1926 to 1929 at the First Church in Los Angeles, from 1929 to 1933 at St. James United Church, Montreal. He then retired from the ministry and devoted all his time to writing.
Mr. Douglas’ first books were entirely of a religious or inspirational nature. He was in the midst of a series of lectures on ‘personality expansion’ when, at over fifty, he suddenly wrote his first novel, Magnificent Obsession. No one was more surprised than he at its immense success, or at that of his next novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses. He said modestly: “Most reviewers are agreed that the author has done a clumsy piece of work, and wonder that the thing is read….They are a pair of old-fashioned novels in which the characters are tiresomely decent and everything turns out happily in the end.”
Soon, more novels were added to the list. All are of the same nature and all are enormously popular, both as books and, in most cases, as screen plays later on.
Looking back over the novels of the past half century that have contrived to outlive the decade in which they were published, one is impressed by the very considerable number of stories which have endured because of their moral purpose rather than their literary workmanship.
To the editors of Indiana Authors and Their Books, from which this article was taken, he wrote: “If my novels are entertaining I am glad, but they were not written so much for the purpose of entertainment as of inspiration. There are many people who realize their great need of ethical and spiritual counsel, but are unwilling to look for it in a serious homily or didactic essay. It has been my belief that many such persons can be successfully approached by a novel, offering in a form palatable to them the inspiration they seek.
There will always be room for the ‘purpose novel,’ and aspiring young writers will do well to consider the importance of the school of fiction that is more concerned with healing bruised spirits than winning the applause of critics.”
Mr. Douglas’ principal works were: Wanted – A Congregation, 1920; The Minister’s Everyday Life, 1924; These Sayings of Mine, 1926; Those Disturbing Miracles, 1927; Magnificent Obsession, 1929; Forgive Us Our Trespasses, 1932; Precious Jeopardy, 1933; Green Light, 1935; White Banners, 1936; Home for Christmas, 1937; Disputed Passage, 1939; Invitation to Live, 1940; The Robe, 1942; The Big Fisherman, 1948; Time to Remember, 1951; and The Living Faith, 1955.
Other articles written about him include: Cosmopolitan Magazine, November 1938; Newsweek, January 16, 1939; Rotarian, December 1940; Time, January 16, 1939; Wilson Library Bulletin, December 1932.
Some interesting comments
on Indiana, gleaned from Travel Accounts of Indiana
Compiled by Shirley S. McCord
1679 (LaSalle) – From Niagara to Fort Miami (South Bend), “Many huge streams and mostly all swamp. Impossible to walk through. Indians fire it yearly to make buffalo hunting easier.”
1733 (Sieurde Vincennes) – “A sturdy warlike Indian population who do little farming or have settled homes. Some English along the large Northern Lakes. Our people on river to the south. A few savannas, many bottomless bogs and a goodly number of navigable streams all interspersed by huge gloomy forests. The whites are aggressive homesteaders and the Indians are becoming restless.”
1792 (John Heckewelder, a Moravian Missionary) – “The white families here in the south [southern Indiana] live very well. They grow cotton and make linen. The soil is rich and their gardens produce abundantly. The rains make the weather very changeable. Me thinks many whites live too much like the Indians. Any man who starves here does not deserve to live.”
1796 (Dr. George Hunter, a Scotsman, physician, chemist and mineralogist) – “Headed a party of explorers for President Jefferson along the Eel. Excellent land for farming, second only to prime Kentucky soil. Good limestone near the many small rivers, clay for brickmaking. Small risings and goods bottoms for farming, sufficiently watered and will drain well. Much good timber and some open savannas. Small streams very suitable for mill work.”
1815 (Caleb Lownes, Englishman) – To his son-in-law in New York. “Crossed over the Ohio line, paid my respects to Gov. Posey [last of the Territorial Governors]. Set off through the wilderness with an Army Officer for Tipton’s place at Fort Wayne. Saw three houses in the next 120 miles. Two whole days, much of it through a Beechwood. Pigeons here are incredible. One man who lived nearby called it Pigeon Roost Country. Birds from the cold north winter here. They are quite a pest. We went across the edge of a 50 acre patch where the trees are literally stripped of limbs, broken down by the weight of the birds. The droppings were 12 to 18 inches thick. They eat the mast away from the hogs and pull up newly planted grain. Passengers on some of the stage coaches hold shooting matches as they drive through here. Some of us settlers shoot pigeons to feed our hogs. Talked to some men along the Wabash and Eel Rivers. They say the land up there is free of the bird pest and is very good soil too. Land is rolling but not enough to bother. Good rains in the spring. Rises slowing in a big swamp near Fort Wayne and falls slowly. Lots of good walnut timber about Illinois land is windy cold but a few Indiana trees left about would make good shelter. Cattle would not need winter stables, just light shelter. Rich black loam soil. I bet it would bring 30-40 bushel of oats. Think I’ll bid for a farm on the Eel. Advise you to consider it quite soon. Indians here now but it will soon sell and go fast. Can scarcely believe the prices here. Taverns for the general public keep a horse overnight with hay and grain for 50¢. Food is 25¢ a meal, lodging 12 ½ ¢. Fair brandy is 50¢ a half pint and corn whiskey is 25¢. They say when the roads improve the price of liquor will go up to 25¢ a gallon. I heard some men say they will boycott it but from what I’ve seen I wouldn’t bet on it.
Needles to say there was skullduggery about, but lawyers, dentists, doctors and home seekers came to Indiana. So did highways, canals, trains, telegraphs and churches. The 16th section in every county was set aside for schools. As Mrs. Myra Burdett, a local poetess wrote:
No fairer scenes nor softer skies
Await the sun’s bright warm caress
Than where Indiana smiling lies
Lovely blossom in the wilderness.
WHAT DID COLUMBUS
By Orpha Weimer
Back about 1910, every schoolchild knew all the words to “Over The River And Through The Woods,” and when November arrived, sang it lustily and often. Thanksgiving would soon be here with the first school holiday. My brother was in seventh heaven for he was to be allowed to go rabbit hunting with the neighborhood men and boys. Yes, he could carry a gun too! Mother and several local ladies kept the telephone line busy handing out new recipes or bringing old ones up to date. Grandpa had several pumpkins lined up, suggestively, in the cellarway. And Old Shep and I kept a sharp eye on everything. Mother and I had spent a couple of evenings hulling ground cherries—three big heaping cup fulls. Uncle Taylor and Aunt Mae were coming from Kokomo to stay over, as it was our turn to have the family gathering. Uncle Taylor did like Mom’s ground cherry pie. Dad said we might even butcher a hog if it was cold enough, then everybody could have a good mess of fresh sausage, spare ribs or back bones and liver (ugh) to take home. Funny, we hadn’t even thought about Christmas yet. Of course, we made most of our Christmas gifts and didn’t have a big shopping spree in mind. Neither did Dad and uncles sit around and watch television ballgames.
Captain Miles Standish, Priscilla Mullins and John Alden, all classic literary characters who, along with the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock, were all well known to us. They needed to be remembered before Christmas arrived.
Honestly, one might almost say America was born with a nose and any eye out for food. The men generally didn’t go out turkey hunting in those days, but we had a big turkey down by the barn in a pen getting fattened up and ready. A lot of changes have been made since then.
In a group meeting recently the conversation turned from “Meals On Wheels” and “School Lunches” to the weighty question of the history of food. After our dead end, no-answer session, I have been giving it much thought. There are lots of pioneers in the gastronomic field, I’m sure; ones that I never heard of even before Nicholas Appert (1750-1841), who invented a canning method and was later followed by the Ball Brothers of Muncie, Indiana. The frozen foods branch would have some heroes too, and there is Julia Child, Doris Day and Dom DeLuise of present day television fame and I dare say, each of us have a shelf full of cookbooks. However, food is too broad a subject to be narrowed down to our time and place.
During all of this mental turmoil, I came upon an article written by Raymond Sokolov in an old Natural History magazine that seemed to just solve the question. Cristobal Colon, born in Venice, 1451, was the man. As Christopher Columbus, he is well known even today. He is admired and honored for his historical achievements and I doubt if even the U.S. Senate could scare up a radical or anti vote. I hope I am around in 1992 to help celebrate a Columbia quinquecentennial fete. Everyone should ‘read up’ and get ready.
Now, what did he do? Discover a new continent, yes, but more than that, he is the Isaac Newton of the world’s food table. Put yourself back in time to, say, 1400. What would your Thanksgiving or harvest banquet have been like? A pretty dull, benighted affair by our standards and with none of the trimmings we are accustomed to today. Some have experienced one of those Elizabethan banquets served in an ancient castle for one and all with the price of a ticket in their pocket. You ate boiled cabbage and pork chunks with your fingers, sopped up the juices from a common bowl with a piece of rye bread, and if lucky, you might have a carved horn spoon and cup for peas and meat. Your wood trencher plate held the fat meat on one side and was turned upside down for your fruit dessert, which was eaten as is. The lady of the castle might pass a swizzle stick for you to dip up a little honey to sweeten your tea if she was able to afford that.
Sailors in those days didn’t starve. Columbus carried supplies of cabbage, hardtack bread, salt pork and wine. The records tell of the Nina’s jubilant catch of a sea turtle and a dolphin before turning back. Columbus’ own sailors, consequently, were anxious and ready to trade with the natives which they found on the coastal islands.
True, Columbus did not find silver or gold or even the northwest passage to China, which he sought, but he sagaciously gathered sample food stuffs, seeds and plants and made notes on culinary skills for his return trip to Spain, along with a few India slaves and birds of brilliant plumage.
He made four trips in all, mostly into the semi-tropical regions where fruits were plentiful. In his diary notes he describes the sweet potato as a great carrot that, when ground and baked on hot stones, was like a tasty bread. When roasted in ashes, it had a good chestnut flavor and could be boiled and eaten with anything to enhance the flavor. Another fruit he enjoyed was like an artichoke, only much larger, with fruit shaped like a pine cone. This, the natives peeled and cut into slices. It was deliciously sweet and juicy and that quite aptly describes the pineapple. The papaya was most like an apricot and full of tiny red seeds. Other foods we recognize were green beans, big colorful lima beans, rhubarb, chili peppers, asparagus, potatoes (Irish), pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, chocolate, and several spices. There were also a variety of birds and animals and fish along with lobster, crabs and mussels.
One unusual episode he recorded came about when they were in a storm and their boat was damaged. They were becalmed for several days in Jamaica while making repairs. Food was in short supply. The natives were growing a bit suspicious and threatened to stop bringing in food for a few baubles. Columbus, who knew a bit about astronomy, knew a lunar eclipse was about to occur. He told the natives that if they did this, the Gods would take the moon out of the sky permanently. When the eclipse began, the terrified natives begged Columbus to interceded and promised him the food. Just before the eclipse ended, Columbus, with a little hocus pocus, agreed and all was well. This story has been authenticated by using computer dating methods of today. There was a lunar eclipse on February 29, 1504 (Natural History 1-87), corresponding to the date of Columbus’ sojourn there.
Another record Columbus made concerned the growth of their European seeds which his men planted. Cucumbers, lettuce and parsley, along with onions and wheat, grew very fast and large in the new world climate and soils.
The interest which Columbus showed in these food exchanges certainly found favor with jaded European appetites. Almost everyone was anxious to try them. One look at the pre-Columbian recipes of Spain, England and France, will tell how much the old world benefited from its colonial raid on the new world. This is what Columbus made possible. He merged the menus of both hemispheres and set in motion a migration of ingredients and ideas that spread like ripples in a mill pond.
I am truly thankful that a toasted spider or roasted lizard, along with a monotonous repetition of boiled turnip and cabbage, doesn’t sound appetizing even if dipped in Dijon mustard or tartar sauce.
We know seed specialists, horticulturists, orchardists, chefs and just plain gardeners are still experimenting and coming up with new ideas and better quality even without the emphasis of a new world. However, food habits are sometimes hard to change. Nearly everyone can relate a family food story. Like when my father didn’t speak to my brother’s wife because she fooled him with a squash pie which he thought was good old pumpkin. Or when my mother as a five-year-old, was spanked for eating a raw, red love apple (tomato) because everyone knew they were poisonous. Yet she ate them all her life with a vinegar/sugar topping.
My husband’s pet story was when he and Professor Paul Keller were attending a college banquet in Chicago. A tray of assorted pie cuts was passed for dessert and my husband chose pumpkin. Paul quickly whispered, “You don’t have to eat that. I’ll call a waitress and have it exchanged.” He was most anxious to please, but while he didn’t care for pumpkin, it was Harry’s favorite pie.
Slowly over years we have learned what and how certain foods are best eaten. I still use only two varieties of wild mushrooms, but not so long ago I enjoyed a “polkweed” lunch at Sally Allen’s home. I was so glad she invited me; they were delicious. Maybe she had been reading Ewel Gibbons’ book on wild foods, but at least she knew to par-boil them first. How about frog legs, groundhog, or rattlesnake cutlets, and maybe horse meat in France? They are all good but my imagination is rather rebellious.
Speaking of foods, the U.S. Supreme Court was once in a stew over the tomato. Under the Tariff Act of 1883, fruits but not vegetables could be imported duty free. When John Nix brought a shipload of tomatoes into New York in 1886, he was charged a duty tax. He protested, saying that the tomato was a fruit as any botanist would say. The case went to the Supreme Court and puzzled lawyers poured over dictionaries for a legal definition. On May 10, 1893, Justice Gray handed down a decision. Botanically speaking, tomatoes were the fruit of a vine, as were cucumbers, squash, beans, and peas. But by the common language of the people, they are vegetables. Usually they are served at dinner and not like a fruit as a dessert. So by nature, they are classed as a fruit, but by law they are all vegetables. Consequently, Nix had to pay his duty tax.
Another goodie concerns the residents of Salem, New Jersey in 1820. Col. Robert Johnson decided to prove that tomatoes were not only a safe food but were delicious. He mounted a platform at the fair and ate a basket of the fruits, ripe and raw, in front of the crowd. They expected to see him topple over dead. So did his doctor. He didn’t! All were amazed and delighted to cheer him vigorously. Yes, it takes time to change habits and ideas. Godey’s Lady’s Book of 1860 advised that tomatoes were safe, but that they should never be eaten raw or unpeeled and preferably stewed three hours to ensure safety.
Oh yes, we must not forget corn or maize products. Columbus didn’t come up with it in the tropics, but it too is strictly American. This includes all of its forms and varieties—popcorn and sweet corn too. Do you enjoy your mush, grits and cornmeal pancakes with syrup? By the way, Columbus is entitled to count molasses also. He did have a record for finding sugar cane. He was a man of “foods” as well as “parts.”
THE WAR IS OVER FOR ATLAS
Article supplied by Dr. L.Z. Bunker
From the Monday, September 3, 1945, issue of News-Journal
Approximately 150 people visited the Manchester Atlas plant Thursday afternoon. Open house was held so people could see the war production of the plant before it is converted to peacetime purposes. Few people realized the amount of war materials turned out by the plant while the war was in progress, for strict secrecy about production prevailed. However some of the parts run into the hundred thousands and some into the millions. The principal parts produced were for airplane motors and two sizes of bomb noses. All parts, some of intricate or tedious design, had to be machined to a thousandth of an inch or more degree of accuracy, for they had to fit and work in the intricate pattern of B-20 and other plane engines. It is one of the marvels of the war, that specifications and production could be so accurate, that parts were made in many small plants of the nation, and when brought into an assembly line they fitted and worked in a marvelous way. Few people realize what an important part the smaller plants of the nation played in the overall war effort.
The Atlas plant, which is affiliated with the Arnolt Motor Company of Warsaw, started as did many other war plants with a war department order. Specifications were sent and then it was up to the local management to not only obtain the necessary basic machinery, but also to design the many gigs and tools that not only would turn the parts out on a fast production basis, but also do it in a precision manner. Three men were largely responsible, John Kolbe, plant manager, who designed and developed the special tools and processes necessary for production; George Wyncott, who put those tools to work, synchronizing the work into an overall production picture; and Benjamin Sturdevant, who was the final inspector on the product. Others who played an important part were Oscar Benefiel, night foreman; R.A. Smallwood, office manager; and James Shultz, time study. In this work they were aided by a loyal corps of men and women, most of whom had sons or husbands in military service, and were doing their bit to help win the war. Loyalty to war production was such that there were no labor disturbances of any kind in the plant, something that can be said of few war plants of the nation. Thursday there ws a general air of relaxation. The big job had been done. There was an attitude of pride on the part of both employees and management in what had been accomplished, and yet a feeling of relief that the pressure was off.
Another divisional unit of the Arnolt Company is located in the Eiler garage building in the uptown district. This plant operated only the last year of the war. It was in charge of A.W. Long and inspected the M57 adaptors used in the noses of the 81 millimeter shells. During the time it was in operation many thousands of parts were inspected and many of them no doubt did their part in whipping the Nazis and Japs into submission.
The sudden cessation of hostilities brought on sudden
cancellation of the war production, but already the management is getting
started on peace time work. Most of the machinery can be converted into other
types of metal work, the lathes, polishers, planers, drill presses, etc., are
essential in any metal working plant. Already a superior type of automobile
spotlight is being produced, it is likely that small four cylinder inboard
motors designed by Mr. Arnolt, will be produced in quantity, as well as other
products calling for skilled labor. It is impossible to predict the time
required, but it is hoped to have the plant on peacetime production very
LIBERTY MILLS AND ITS
From Tales of the Old Days by W.E. Billings
The early days of Liberty Mills and John Comstock are so closely interwoven that a story of the one is a story of the other, for John Comstock both made and then as nearly killed Liberty Mills as it comes within the province of one man to kill a town. He made it because of an untiring energy and a scope of vision beyond that of any of the men about there in his day, and he killed it by the one mistake of wanting to control the town he had made, operating it as a one man town. But he was not to be blamed for that. Early history speaks of men who started towns as the “proprietors” of the town, and then as now the word proprietor carried with it the idea of management. John Comstock made the town because he dreamed of great things, and worked to fulfill his dreams. He killed its chance of being the trading center of the community by wanting to control its business, and by stifling legitimate competition by his powerful will and more powerful means, for money and credit amounted to much in those days, possibly even more than today.
John Comstock was born in Rhode Island in 1792. His mother died when he was a child, and he was “bound out” by his father. At sixteen, large for his age, weighing 160, he broke away from his bond master, and went to Lockport, New York. He cared for stock for Deacon Whiting and went to school. About 1820 he was able to get a job as school teacher at $8 a month. In 1826 he married Salena Newhouse. About the same time he bought a small farm in New York and against the advice of all of his neighbors he planted five acres, all that was cleared, in potatoes. Lack of potato market had always before been in the way of them being a successful crop for New York farmers, but luck, Irishmen and canals seem to have played a part with John Comstock, and a gang of Irish laborers on a New York canal bought his entire crop at 50 cents a bushel, then an enormous price. Again at Liberty Mills the same Irish luck held and later from his distillery he was able to supply most of the whisky that the Irish laborers used along the Wabash & Erie canal. With the proceeds of his potato crop, the earning from a little store, the profits from his farm, and the money earned by well digging with one Thomas Gamble, he was able to gather enough money to come to a land sale at Fort Wayne in 1835, and buy 80 acres of land in Indiana, the beginning of the Comstock farm that at one time reached 1600 acres.
In the spring of 1836 he loaded his family, consisting of wife and six children into a one horse wagon, then with two yoke of oxen hitched to a wagon containing their household goods, and a hired man to drive his six cows, he started for Indiana. After 27 days arriving at the farm he had bought he found an error had been made in the survey, and the house he thought was on his farm was really on a neighboring tract, so he had to camp while a log house was built. But John Comstock was a man who never stopped because of difficulties. In a few days a log pen was built high enough to give shelter and from then until the latter days of his life he was too busy to even stop to hesitate. A physical giant, able to work by the side of the strongest of his men, and do a little more than any of them, with a mind and a will power that could keep pace with his physical strength there was little limit to his activities or his possibilities.
The first winter he dug a mill race and built a saw mill, but the mill burned just as he ws ready to start it into operation. Without stopping to hesitate he built another, and soon had it in operation, no doubt sawing the boards that went into the store. A grist mill followed, and was hailed with delight by the scattering settlers who before had had to go a long distance to mill. No one seems to remember the name of flour made, or even whether it had a name, but the “Liberty Bird” flour later manufactured by E.S. Rittenhouse was its direct successor, and was manufactured by water power from the same mill race that ground the flour in those early days. The saw mill and flour mill were near the present mill site. Near to them he started his distillery, and a woolen and carding mill. A little farther north near the present race bridge he operated a tannery, and not far from these was his ashery where lye was made from the wood ashes. All of these were under the personal and direct management of Mr. Comstock, who constantly employed a force of from thirty to sixty men. It was due to this collection of mills that the town was given the latter part of its name, but no one so far has been able to tell the writer where the “Liberty” part came from.
From the beginning all of these enterprises were busy and profitable, but the distillery was particularly prosperous. Liquor from it was hauled in barrels by ox teams to the Irish shovelers on the canal at Lagro. It was also hauled to Warsaw and Mishawaka, there being extensive thirsts at both of those places.