VOLUME VIII, Number 4 (November 1991)

Martyr To Science
By Orpha J. Weimer

My mother was a first-class squirrel.   She was interested in many things and was always saving clippings.  When we settled her estate, my brother and I spent a whole day going through a big boxful.  Years later, on my brother’s death, his wife gave me a box, marked in Mother’s handwriting.  “Family Pictures.”  I didn’t have time to go through it, as I was leaving on a long tour the next day.  It was set aside and forgotten.

When I closed my nine-room house to come to Peabody [Retirement Community], I found the box and brought it to Peabody, opening it just a few days ago.

There were a few pictures and some family news, but underneath Mother’s bedside Bible was a folded news article from the Indianapolis Star, dated August 2, 1959.  Mother died in 1947, so she wasn’t the only squirrel in the family!

The picture facing me was of a man I could recall having heard in the morning chapel speech when I first went to Manchester College in 1922.  It was John R. Kissinger of Liberty Mills.

He was a crippled fellow who walked with a cane and not a very good speaker.  He murdered the King’s English, repeated himself at times and laughed at his own jokes, but I thought he was interesting.  I knew a little bit about his subject for I had an uncle who was a doctor and read some medical journals.  Afterwards I was quite surprised to hear several local people ridiculing chapel talk as being untrue, saying Kissinger was just a lazy good-for-nothing trying to be a hero.  I wasn’t so sure they were correct, as I remember from some of my reading about the terrible yellow fever scourge and how frightened people were.  Today I am grateful that the College did honor him by having him speak.  I honestly believe he was grossly misjudged.  It all happened so long ago that I haven’t been able to get many first-hand facts.  Several old-timers say, “Yes, we knew him,” but that is about all.

Our sense of values and understandings are much different than they were in 1922 or even earlier.  Medical science and communications have improved greatly, but we still jump to pretty hasty conclusions without waiting for facts.

Medical books and encyclopedias record mostly bare facts and mostly the “top brass.”  They recorded that more American soldiers died from yellow fever or “yellow jack,” as it was commonly called in 1900, than were killed by Spanish bullets.  Or that the disease was far more prevalent in the warm, lowlands of the South, although the North, especially in port cities, had recurring outbreaks.

Newspapers likened the fever to bubonic plague and cholera.  Everyone was afraid.  No one knew what caused it or what to do; rigid quarantines were set up, and violators were shot.  A little progress had been made in its study, but no proof had been found.  It was in such an unsettled climate that young John Kissinger grew up.

From the best I could find he was born about 1880 into a poor farm family near Liberty Mills.  Land ownership meant wealth, and without it Indiana and the Midwest had little to offer.  Schools were haphazard.  Industry was meager, and, without the support of land, living was tough going.

Young John was probably an ordinary, happy-go-lucky youngster who didn’t like school very much, so, when he was 12, he quit school to help his father farm.  When he was 19, jobs were scarce, so he signed up with Co. D. of the 157th Indiana Volunteers for service in the Spanish-American War.  The war ended before he was sent to Cuba.  Like others, when a recruiter told them they were getting corpsmen together to go to the Philippines, he signed on again.  But it didn’t work out that way: he was placed in a hospital corps and at once shipped out to Cuba!

The Indianapolis Star gave a vivid account of the incident.  Walter Reed of the United States Armed Forces, differing from his superiors, was determined that yellow fever was caused by mosquitoes.  The Surgeon-General, Major Carter, believed that contaminated clothing and filth was the cause.  Reed and three of his associates devised a plan to find the proof.  They had begun in a southern hospital laboratory, but one of them was bitten by a mosquito and died.  The others quietly moved to a new camp in Cuba near Havana.  Reed ordered two sealed shacks built: one was tightly screened, the other not.  In the screened shack were mosquitoes known to be contaminated by biting a soldier who had died.  In the other were contaminated clothing and refuse.

A call for volunteers to help in the tests offered $100 pay for the test and $150 more if the volunteer became ill.  John Kissinger was now a hospital orderly.  When off duty he hung around the labs, watching and listening to doctors.  He had watched fellow soldiers writhe in pain and die in agony, and he knew exactly what he was doing when he walked into Major Reed’s tent as the first volunteer: “Sir, I just want to do something that might help some people.”  Eight others participated in the experiment.

On November 23, 1900, Kissinger, stripped to the waist, entered the screened mosquito cage.  Placing an infected mosquito or Kissinger’s stomach, the insect was allowed to bite him and also John J. Moran of Columbus, Ohio.  After four days of usual incubation, nothing happened.   Reed was beginning to doubt his theory but decided to give a second try.

Kissinger went back into the pesthouse on December 5, this time with five mosquito hosts, and again nothing happened.  In the meantime the other seven volunteers entered the second hut containing contaminated clothing and filth.  The stench was overwhelming, but none of them became ill.

Reed ordered a third try to find the proof he needed, and Kissinger went back to the “den of death,” as the Star called it, on December 23.  Adjusting his cape for morning inspection, Dr. Reed noticed it was much cooler.  Could that make a difference?  He ordered two small stoves installed.  Again the mosquitoes were released, and the doctors kept watch.

On Christmas Day the telltale symptoms began to develop: jaundice, severe chills, vomiting, and high fever.  Kissinger’s entire body was racked by severe pain for eight days.  Working constantly the doctors managed to pull Kissinger through, but young Moran died.  The seven volunteers who had been sealed in the second hut and away from the mosquitoes, entirely unaffected, were paid the $100 bonus and dismissed.  Now there could be no disputing the mosquito theory!

The Army made a full scale war against mosquitoes, clearing, cleaning, and disinfecting everywhere.  Yellow fever was no longer considered a plague and the disease could be treated, though they still knew little of its aftereffects.

Reed’s official reports gave full credit to the volunteers.  Of Kissinger he wrote, “No more courageous act than his has ever been recorded in the annals of the United States Army.”  Kept around for nearly a year under observation, Kissinger was proclaimed cured, was paid his $250 bonus, and was sent home.

Back home Jack Kissinger and his younger brother pooled their money and bought a farm near Wabash.  Jack however was restless, sold his interest, and moved to the west coast, where he met a young widow, Mrs. Ida Johnson, and married.  When they returned to Indiana in 1904, Jack took a job in a South Bend box factory.  Then while visiting his sister in late 1906, his legs buckled under him in a bad case of malaria and badly crippled…this was mosquito revenge.  Local doctors wanted to amputate, but he refused, sure that he could overcome it.

Because times were hard, Mrs. Kissinger took a job as a cleaning woman in the Huntington Post Office and did private washings.  Jack pulled himself about on a wheeled cart to turn the wringer for her and spent late evenings crawling about on railroad tracks near their home to pick up lumps of coal to heat their house.

One of the postal authorities who knew them finally insisted on filling out preliminary papers for jack, and the government awarded Jack a pension of $12.00 a month.  On good days he would now hobble about with crutches.  By the time the first World War came along, he could manage slowly with a cane, as I recall having seen him.  He earned a little extra income from speaking for Liberty Bond drives.  His biggest joy came when an anonymous person who heard him speak sent him a gold watch, engraved “To J.R. Kissinger.  For Courage,” a dear treasure with which he would never part.

In the mid-1920’s a couple of national magazines launched a campaign to help him, to which the government responded with a raise to $100 a month in his pension and gave him a Congressional Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest award for individual courage.

The American Association of Medical Progress promoted a fund drive which raised $6,000 to buy the Kissingers a small two-story on two-and-a-half acres near Huntington, along with a spotted Jersey cow called “Sunshine.”  The Kissingers named their home “Dream House.”  In 1938 they were invited to Washington, D.C., for a tour of the Walter Reed Medical Center where their pictures were taken for medical archives.

The Kissingers returned to “Dream House,” living there quietly until 1943 when he could no longer farm.  After a short time at Soldiers Home in Lafayette, they tried Clearwater, Florida, but his health did not respond.  He died in July 1946 about 60 miles from where it had all begun. 

Jack Kissinger died almost forgotten, as he had lived most of this life.  He did live long enough to see American boys fighting another war in the tropics, but they didn’t have to fight yellow jack, too.  Kissinger wanted to “help people,” and he got his wish.

Historical Society Welcomes You To Tour of Beautiful Houses on December 1st 
You are invited to tour six historic North Manchester homes beautifully decorated for the holidays on  December 1, 1991, noon to 6:00 p.m.

The house tour committee has been working since the beginning of the year, under the direction of Evelyn Niswander and Grace Kester, co-chairmen, promising to provide interesting stories about our architecture and exciting visual memories as well!  This is the Society’s 12th tour. Ticket sales benefit the work of the North Manchester Historical Society.

Tickets will be sold the day of the tour and refreshments will be served at the Historic Manchester Inn, successor of the Old Sheller Hotel, 202 North Walnut Street, now under new ownership.  Please invite your friends and neighbors to participate!

Home of Jeff and Kim Clark  *  405 East Third Street.   A Victorian cottage dating from 1874.  Remarkable gingerbread on the front porch survives, as does the summer house; this house was associated with the Lautzenhiser family until the Clarks bought the house recently and added their creative touch.

Home of Larry and Susan Dockter  *  710 North Wayne Street.  This free classical house was built soon after the turn of the century by a member of the Leedy family.  Lovingly restored and furnished by the Dockters, the house features an open stairway from the entry hall and is decorated by handcrafted items and stained glass.

Home of Merrell and Lois Geible  *  3007 North Wayne Street.  This 1920’s bungalow-style house sports beams in the living and dining rooms, characteristic of the Arts and Crafts movement which is being studied more and more these days.  Art by members of the family is a special touch, as is the deck which looks over a peaceful backyard. 

Next door is another tour house, for your comparison, of similar style yet quite different, the home of Home of Kelly and Wendy Koons  *  311 North Wayne Street, who recently bought the house from the Dan Naragons.  Before that it had been for a number of years the Knauff home. 

Home of Don and Kathy Rinearson  *  716 North Wayne Street. This free classical house was built near the end of the century.  The Rinearsons have respected the architecture of the house while fitting it for use as a modern family dwelling which brought about a number of improvements and exceptional decorating which focuses on a point of interest in each room.

Home of Susan L. Young  *  110 West Fourth Street.  This is a larger, warmly-painted Victorian frame house of the early 1890’s with a wrap-around porch.  In the short time of her ownership Young has created surprising effects which will please you from the time you step inside the front door.  Welcome!

100 Years of Housing in North Manchester 1891-1991 
By L.Z. Bunker, M.D. Ret.

Since 1966 effort has been made to catalogue and preserve the history of the early residences, churches, and business buildings of North Manchester.  One hundred of these structures were listed in 1986 (North Manchester Chronology, Bunker and Reed).  Of this number the Main Street Church (old Lutheran Church of 1848) and the Brick Mill are now missing.

No structures were listed which were built after late 1880-1890, so we are now confronted with numerous structures built following this date which are now 100 years old.  Many of these merit documentation.

To keep the history of our town on-going, an attempt to identify and list these structures, their builders and history will be made.  If you live in a house that falls in this category and it is not in this list, please call: Dr. L.Z. Bunker, 201 North Mill Street, North Manchester, IN 36962.

The recent group of these buildings involved different framing construction, the first since the days of William the Conqueror (in the year 1066), wholly new concepts of style, materials, planning, and execution.

The earliest frame construction in England and on the Continent was called “post and beam,” in which heavy timbers were raised to support the roof, walls, and floors of a building.  This required much labor and was expensive.

About 1833 “balloon framing” appeared, said to have been around Chicago.  This was a light frame using 2X4 lumber instead of 2x6 or heavier, with many light studs rising to support the roof.  Various Civil War hospitals were put up by the United States government as emergency housing in this pattern, and its use became widespread.  Heavier framing was still used for barns, for example.

A further development for frame structures appeared later, using still shorter and lighter lumber.  Here the studs in two vertical rows.  This was called “platform” framing.  Other new elements changed construction:  better tools, steam-powered saws, and efforts to build a warmer house, using sheeting, paper sheeting, and so on, as insulation.

The wide spread of information, books, magazines, and builders’ manuals after the Civil War gave impetus to house-building.  At the end of the century, mail order companies began to ship entire precut houses by railroad to customers who could hire carpenters and put them up or even do it with the help of their relatives and friends.  Sears, Roebuck and Co., Montgomery Ward, and the Aladdin Company were three which shipped thousands of houses all over the United States into the 1930’s.

Many new ideas in construction, Richards serpentine designs, water towers, curved porches, and shingled siding, appeared across America.  What was early called “Mission” or later “bungalow” style arrived from California.  Many of these houses had thick textured plaster, elaborate plumbing and heating and amenities unheard of previously, to say nothing of electricity and telephones which everyone now enjoyed.

Frank Lloyd Wright built his “Prairie” house which had a great impact on local builders by way of builders’ magazines and pirated designs.  These houses were characterized by many windows, large flow of indoor space, built-in furniture and, of course, heating and plumbing.

The first indoor plumbing in North Manchester was in the Noftzger House, Market at Third Streets, 1881.  The city water system was soon put in , in 1894, after which plumbing and steam heat became prevalent.

Whole families worked in the building trades.  Among them from 1874: Allie and John Spurgeon, three generations of the Grist family, the Ezra Frantz family, Charles Taylor, William Bickel, and the Renicker brothers.  Charles Kohser and Oliver Rager laid hardwood floors and made door and window frames.  Otis and Bert Young were stone and brick masons, as were Marion Grim and Grover Trick.  Hayes and James West worked in brick and stone.  Charles and Henry Hower were notably cement masons.  Plasterers were the Meek brothers and Roscoe Bash and sons.  There were many others whose work is their monument to this day.

At the turn of the century, Joe Blickenstaff built the large frame residence at 116 West Main Street, now the Fruitt Basket Inn, and also George Scheerer’s agency building at 114 West Main, then a residence.  105 West Third dates from this time, built by Oliver Rager, as well as the Austin Blickenstaff house, northwest corner of Third and Market streets, a large Georgian Revival.  In 1905 Owen Smith built the former North Manchester Marble Company at Mill and Main Streets.  The North Manchester Public Library was built in Arts and Crafts style by Ezra Frantz in 1910 [The latter structure is listed in the Historic American Buildings Survey.]

Charles Weatherhogg, the Fort Wayne architect, planned the John Snyder house on the northeast corner of Maple and South streets, using two old houses as a base and incorporating a sunroom, marble fireplace and, paired windows which we see today.

Stucco appeared as a siding, and the Tobias Pugh house at South and Elm streets and the Simon Burkett house near the corner of Wayne and College were created with this material as well as two houses from other locations, now on West Ninth Street.

J.J. Wolfe of the Peabody Seating Co. built the large light brick residence at 410 East Third Street.  This had the broad architectural planes of Frank Lloyd Wright’s works which we find in the overhang of the roof in particular.

An example of the prevalent foursquare house was built by Lyman Philips on North Mill Street and other similar structures appeared, often built by the houseowners themselves.  Many of this kind of house are found along College Avenue.

Milton Schubert, Sr., built in 1918 at 401 East Seventh Street and then remodeled in 1929 as a California type with a sunroom and a tile roof.  The Alvin Ulrey residence, 509 East Third Street, used similar materials in the Dutch Revival style.

In the mid-1930’s were built two executive homes, both opened to the public in recent historical society house tours.  A.M. Strauss, a Fort Wayne architect, planned the Fred Gingerick house, 201 South Maple Street.  Charles Weatherhogg returned to North Manchester to direct the construction of Thomas H. Peabody’s house, 300 West Seventh Street, the largest residence build here since the 1880’s.  Weatherhogg was the architect for the Peabody Retirement Home, built by Grist Builders.

A number of houses were built in the town limits.  Harry Leedy’s, 710 North Wayne, a so-called “Free Classical” house; E.B. Dunlavy’s, 301 West South, a ranch house in brick; Chester Teeter’s Art Deco house, 304 North Bond; and Rollin Smith’s prize-winning Better Homes & Gardens house at 313 Bond Street, which uses large sheets of ceiling-to-floor glass and cathedral ceilings.

The Subdivisions
Old maps of the town show a platted area across the Market Street  bridge marked “Riverside.”  Nothing is known of its origin, but we must consider it North Manchester’s first subdivision.  Its largest house was that of George Gaddis, complete with modern improvements and steam heat which Gaddis had built single-handed and elaborated over the years.

About the time of the first World War Ben Oppenheim and other local businessmen, probably including Jonas L. Warvel of Olinger and Warvel Ford dealers, arranged our town’s first formal subdivision with cement sidewalks and street signs.  This was on the edge of Harter’s Grove, the town’s old-time recreation area from about Fifth Street north to Seventh and extending west to the fairground (where Peabody Retirement Community now stands).

It was called the Oak Park Addition.  It did not immediately catch the public’s fancy, and grass covered the new sidewalks.  It was 50 years or so before many lots were sold.

In 1942 Dr. William K. Damron platted Rolling Acres, extending from Wayne Street to State Road 13 and west to Walnut Street.  It immediately was popular and, as soon as World War II was over and building materials were available to the area, was soon built up.  Some of the early homeowners here were Tom Wetzel, Dr. George K. Balsbaugh, Clyde Eckart, Elmer Aschliman, and numerous others.  The town’s earliest swimming pool was constructed in Rolling Acres at the home of Glen Blocher.

In 1955 Dr. Damron remodeled a farmhouse on State Road 13, creating a beautiful Bluegrass mansion.

The year 1955 is also the year of Dr. Damron’s second subdivision, Briarwood, the site of Heckathorne Woods.  Some remaining virgin timber was here, and stumps 4-1/2 to 5 feet across were found here, from the great trees of pioneer days.  Many fine homes soon appeared, such as those of Dr. Lloyd Smith, Paul Grandstaff, and others.  This area continues to have shade and shrubs, and building continues, including two homes of the Briner families.

Across from Briarwood is the condominium development, Woodspoint, built by Michael Welborn.

Mr. and Mrs. Paul Wendel developed Wen-dells on State Road 114 west of the Sam Blocher farmhouse, a brick structure from 1863.  From the early 1950’s this expanded over a large area and many new houses, split levels and country styles were built.  Glen Frantz built a fine house which he planned himself.  This well-kept area is marked by open spaces and many decorative plants and bushes.

The period of 1971-1972 marked the growth of Wendels’ River Dells, from the west end of Main Street to Road 13 and south to the river and along its banks.  Among the numerous attractive houses one received an award for its imaginative use of electricity.

In 1957 Richard and Jane Hostettler tore down an ancient log cabin east of college property on East Street, once the site of Cook’s Orchard, and platted the Hostettler addition which maintained a rural setting.  Here houses were built for Prof. Emerson Niswander, Donald Strauss, Raymond Kauffman, Al Nordman, Enrique Quintana, among others.

 Paul Hathaway carried out construction of steel-framed prefabricated houses in the area known as Eastgate at the east end of Seventh Street.  There is also an interesting Japanese type, built by Howard Fuller, at 807 East Street.

There are a number of innovative houses in our town, built in the last quarter century.   Included in the group are the David Grandstaff house, a solar house at 207 Grandview Court, and Earl Montel’s house built with earthen embankments on three sides at 701 Baker Street.

The author hopes that this will interest you in your own house and that we can compile a reliable list of buildings dating from 1890 and following to 1991.

Two Who Endured
By Elizabeth L. Hendrix

Joe A. Cunningham: N’03MC+…only a name in Manchester College alumni directory, but the significance of that entry has meaning for the college, the community, and the history of human relations.  He and his sister, Martha Cunningham (Dolby), were the first black students enrolled in Manchester College.  Martha received a Bible degree in 1903, and Joe an English degree in 1903; further research reveals an elocution degree was awarded to Joe in 1906.

Joe played basketball.  The college archives has a picture of his 1903-1904 team.  He was active in the Lincoln Society, one of the literary societies at the time, and his interests leaned toward the sciences.  He did not excel in grades but continued his schooling and became a medical doctor.  Little is known about his career except that he was later associated with the Department of Health in Chicago.

Joe and Martha were from a family of 12 children originally from Ohio.  While they were in public school, the family moved to Indiana, and they attended and graduated from New London High School.  The family was once honored by New London for having “the most high school graduates of any family in the area.”

The grandparents had been missionaries in Africa, but their father was opposed to higher education for women.  Girls could learn all they needed to know at home assisting with the duties of homemaking and caring for siblings, he said.  Mattie, as she became known early in her life, was determined to pursue higher education.

Life was not easy for them on Manchester campus in 1900.  They were barred from the dining room the first year and cooked and ate their meals off campus.  Otho Winger, a fellow student, organized a support group for the Cunninghams, and they ate in the dining room the remainder of their stay at Manchester!

Mattie entered missionary service to Blacks in a depressed area of Arkansas after graduation.  She started a school, but frequent bouts with malaria left her in poor health; she left the field in 1907 and returned to Ohio.

Mildred H. Grimley relates in The Gospel Messenger, “Growing up Black in the Church of the Brethren at the turn of the century offered no advantages, Mattie discovered.  The doors of opportunity stood neither open nor ajar.  But Mattie entered and in 1911 became the first woman the Brethren installed in the ministry.  What happened afterward, however, would have defeated a lesser spirit.”

Mattie married Newtom Dolby, a licensed engineer, who was employed by Wilberforce College.  They attended a Church of the Brethren some 12 miles from their home.  After several years they were met at the door by new church officials who suggested they were no longer welcome and that perhaps they should find a church “closer to home.”

Without the luxury of bitterness, they found a Methodist Church nearby and attended regularly.  She was a minister to a Church of God in Illinois from 1936 until her death in 1956.  It is a tribute to her ministries that the white Church of God and the black Church of God merged shortly after her death and continued harmoniously.

Mattie gave fully of herself but sounded no trumpet.  Her husband died in 1926; it was extremely hard to feed her family and to encourage them to gain a formal education.  Her six children became contributing citizens to society; one of her grandsons was the first Peace Corps volunteer from Ohio to serve in South America.

An article by Mattie was printed in the Missionary Visitor in which she wrote, “As the hand on the dial of the 19th century clock pointed to the last figure, it showed that the American Negro had ceased to be a thing, a commodity that could be bought and sold, but was indeed a human being, that possesses all those qualities of mind and heart that belong to the rest of mankind, capable of receiving education and imparting it to his fellowmen, able to think, eat, feel, and develop those intellectual and moral qualities, such as characterize mankind generally.”  What does the hand on the 20th century clock reveal?

Mattie C. Dolby, 1878-1956, humiliated by the church which nurtured her, yet forgiving, wise, encouraging others, compassionate, a constant student.  A forerunner without fanfare.  And she attended Manchester College. [Note: Dr. A. Ferne Baldwin, archivist of Manchester College, gave invaluable help in research for this article. E.L.H.]

Create the Kind of Museum You Want!  
By Rosemary Manifold, Curator

What are the things that make a community great?  If you could name the things that made this place, North Manchester, special for you, what kinds of things would you name?  Can any of this be captured by objects or pictures or stories?

If our museum is going to be the best place to capture the history of North Manchester, then we need your help to tell that story. 

What gives North Manchester character, personality, or makes it distinctive, or what people helped its development?  How can people know that it is, and was, a good place to grow up in?

You can tell them, but the Museum needs to be able to show them.  Look in your closets; examine your pictures for those which belonged to your parents; search through your souvenirs, your school memorabilia, your toolbox, your dish cupboards, your office; ask your neighbors.

Our Museum can develop only if you can help.  Think about the possibilities!  A museum for and about North Manchester ---because you helped to determine the kind it should be!