of the North Manchester Historical Society, Inc.
Volume XXII Number 3 August 2005
At the May meeting of the N Manchester Historical Society we heard the story of a writer born in Wabash County who became well-known in his time, but is largely unknown today. This story was told by Edward K Jones, Jr. , Wabash County and local historian, who writes a column for the Wabash Plain Dealer and is known as Pete Jones.
Ed Howe was born in 1853 or 4 in Wabash County and moved with his family to Missouri when he was three. His father was an itinerant Methodist preacher who also farmed. Ed did not get along with his father and left home when he was 15. He became a tramp printer, traveling much of the West as he moved from job to job. By age 20 he bought a newspaper in a Colorado town but it was so unsuccessful, that when two of his children died of diphtheria, the competing newspaper owner paid for their burial. Ed Howe moved to Atchison, Kansas and bought another newspaper -- The Atchison Globe. This time he learned the business, became part of the community and made a success of the newspaper -- despite his cantankerous personality. At his death, Howe's son described him as the unhappiest man alive.
Pete Jones became interested in Ed Howe upon reading a Saturday Review of Literature article which mentioned three Wabash County people in a single column -- Lloyd Douglas, Gene Stratton Porter, and Ed Howe. At the time, Howe was an excellent reporter who worked the street -- which competing newspaper reporters frequently did at the time. Howe's Atchison Globe circulated in all the states in the Union and in thirty other countries.
Howe wanted to write a novel, but still didn't have much money. So after work each day, he went home and wrote at his kitchen table in pencil on a yellow tablet (possibly a Golden Rule tablet made in Marion, Indiana) until late in the evening. He wrote a book called "Story of a Country Town," about his unhappy experiences in a small Missouri town. Pete does not recommend that the members read the book, although it was critically acclaimed as being early naturalistic and realistic writing in American Literature. It is a sad story similar to Sinclair Lewis' "Main Street," before that famous book was written.
Howe tried having the book published, but half a dozen publishers declined to print it. This prompted Howe to print it himself, regardless of the tedious hand-set type process. He had 1500 copies bound in Kansas City, gave several copies to friends, and placed some in bookstores. He sent copies to Mark Twain and William Dean Howells, well-known critic of the day. Both Twain and Howells liked the book and this caused Howe to extend distribution of the book. The "Story of a Country Town" remained in print until just a few years ago and may be back in print.
Howe enjoyed running the newspaper, and soon became financially solvent. However, his personal life was less successful. His wife divorced him in 1901 and he was periodically estranged from his children.
He started a monthly magazine which enjoyed large circulation, and initiated a "Don't Worry Club." He traveled and freelanced, writing about his experiences. He became a well-known humorist and frequently had by-lines in the Saturday Evening Post in the 1910s and 20s. He bought a house outside of Atchison, named it Potato Hill, and soon became known as the Sage of Potato Hill.
At the 50th anniversary of the Globe in 1927, a Testimonial Dinner was held for Ed Howe, including many famous guests of that time period such as Bernard Baruch, Ervin S. Cobb, Roy Howard, Ring Lardner, Grantland Rice, and Gene Fowler. Rube Goldberg, Walter Winchell, John T. McCutcheon, Fritz Chrysler, Will Hayes and John Philip Sousa also attended.
Pete Jones read a few of Ed Howe's humorist sayings. He also shared a couple of sayings indicating that Howe wasn't always right in his instincts -- such as his opinion that Marconi's invention of the wireless would never become helpful; he also predicted failure for the Wright brothers.
As Howe neared retirement, his townspeople honored him. He stated that the decent way to die was to come home after a hard day at work, go to sleep and never wake up. This basically describes the death of Ed Howe. He went home after work one day in 1937, and died in his sleep. His last book was not quite finished at the time. The newspaper, managed by his son, praised his journalistic talents, saying that Howe had the ability to be precise with brevity.
More than a year ago when a new parking lot was threatening the historic Rice house on Second street a group of restoration minded people of the town worked out a plan whereby they could receive the house at no cost, restore it, sell it as a commercial property and put it back on the tax rolls. That was the beginning of an amazing story.
The N Manchester Historical Society agreed to sponsor the project and Historic Landmarks of Indiana provided a construction loan. Dr. Parks Adams was the ideal person to provide the leadership and uncounted hours of skilled work. Many volunteers -- too many to list in this publication -- gave hours of labor; the dirty kind of labor required in an old neglected house. Knowledgeable people advised on colors of paint and many other things and Dr. Adams used his experience and his engineering skills to reconstruct windows or build a staircase. Slowly, the Rice House came alive. New walls where needed, a wonderful new door was found the replace that awful blue one we had lived with for unknown years, a new roof, a charming new porch with bannisters replaced the crumbling old one and finally a professional landscaper surrounded it all with a garden typical of the late 1800s which is now in full bloom.
And then, late in August, Amber Blackford and her husband, Russell, bought the house and will complete the interior restoration themselves. They were interested because it was a restoration project and because Amber Blackford wanted to open a law office in North Manchester. She is familiar with the town because she is a graduate of Manchester College.
Both the preservation group and the Blackfords have and will continue to restore this building as near the original as possible. It represents the best of the new appearance that can come from restoration of the old. We think it adds to the area where the Hospitality Inn and the Studio make a very special corner and raises hopes for more restoration on Second Street.
Based on the minutes of the meeting - Davonne Rogers, Secretary of the Society.
Remembering North Manchester Indiana in the 1930s and 1940s
An important new addition to the information available about an earlier North Manchester has been put together for us by R. Ned Brooks and Don Jefferson. Ned Brooks was born and raised in North Manchester, son of Raymond Brooks, an attorney and Beatrice "Bee Brooks, who managed advertising for the News Journal. Ned married Mary Jane Bowman in 1947 and they have three children -- Nedra, David and John. He was employed by the Travelers Corporation for 34 years and retired in 1985 as a manager and as Vice President of two Illinois divisions. They live in Surprise, Arizona.
Ned and his brother-in-law, Don Jefferson set about writing as complete and accurate as possible record, building by building of the businesses in North Manchester in the 30s and 40s. Much was from memory but they followed many other resources. Included were North Manchester Historical Society Newsletters, letters from Merlin Finnell, W. E. "Josh" Billings booklet on local industries, interviews of such people as Louie and Lex Longo and a 1958 local phone directory saved by Ned's mother. The Wabash County Directory of 1914-1915 was also helpful as were Manchester College Auroras.
They first aimed for a pamphlet, but quickly the information grew beyond that size. We now have a 100 -page with eight - page index. Included are listing of schools, churches, railroads, small neighborhood businesses and building by building listings of both sides of Main Street, Walnut Street, Wayne Street, Market Street, and Second Street. This is an extremely useful compilation and researchers will revel in its usefulness.
The first edition sold out quickly and planning for a second editon is underway. It will include corrections made since the first printing. You can add your name to the list for a copy of the second printing by contacting the North Manchester Public Library. The authors have kindly given permission for copying material from the book and this newsletter will print excerpts beginning with this issue.
Ned Brooks and Don Jefferson
Main Street, South Side from East to West
407 East Main St. - In the early 1930s, Eart Heeter was in charge of the water works and the street department, both at this location. He was also the town marshal. Paul Hathaway became town marshal in 1932. The writers can still see Earl driving a road grader down the street to smooth out the dirt roads in the summer and remove snow in the winter. In the few big snows we had, he piled the snow over 6 feet high down the middle of Main Street.
405 East Main St. - In 1939, Earl Heeter and family moved to a new house next to the water works. The old house was sold and moved and a new house was built. An October 26, 1939, News Journal article reported an open house, put on by the town for the residents to tour the house before the Heeters moved in. Per a July 31, 1939 article, Frantz Lumber Company built the house for $5381. The obvious gap in numbers here is due to the fact that this is a residential area. The missing numbers represent houses between the water works and the following business address:
303 East Main St. - Carson C. Priser lived here and operated the Crystal Ice Company from his home, which was started in 1934. Priser had an icehouse on North Washington Street and remained in the ice business until about 1947. He also sold coal and hauled gravel. His son, Danny Priser, drove the ice truck and delivered to residents while in his early teens - though he had no driver's license, as Danny related to us.
301 East Main St. - Wayne Ruse and Lorin J. Badskey started a Standard Oil filling station and announced the opening in an ad on December 30, 1935. They called their station Ruse and Badskey until 1945. From 1946 to 1947 the name was Badskey Standard Service.
In 1948 and into the 1950s, Clem Westafer and Lawrence Westafer took over and operated the station as Westafer Standard Service. Wayne Deardorff joined them in the later 1950s, and the station became Westafer and Deardorff. This station was on the southeast corner of Mill and Main Streets and continued to sell gasoline into the 1990s.
231 East Main St. - This address, across Mill Street from the Standard station originally included both 229 and 231 East Main Street. George N. Bender bought this building for his Bender Furniture Store in 1921. The 1924 phone book listed George N. Bender, "House Furnisher and Funeral Director." Furniture was sold on the main floor and caskets displayed for sale at the rear of the store on a balcony area that is still there. We do not know if the bodies were embalmed in the basement at the rear of this store or at the Bender residence. Mr. Bender left this location in July of 1931. He then opened Wabash County's first funeral parlor on West Main Street. Before 1931, a corpse was embalmed, placed in a casket and taken to a church or the home of the family for viewing. A black crepe wreath was hung on the home's door to indicate a death in the family.
After Bender moved, this building was not occupied with any regularity and short-term tenants have eluded us. Harting Furniture Company - owned by Harry Blaine Harting, his son Clayton Byron Harting and Harry's brother, Earl Harting -- moved here (from across the street at 224 East Main Street) on April l, 1937. Harry died on June 21, 1946 and Byron and Harry's son-in-law, Lloyd Warner, took over the operation. Byron's two sons eventually joined them: Von Harting in 1967 and Kent Harting in 1971. In 1980 the store moved out to its present location on West S.R. 114.
Thomas Marshall Birthplace Dedication 8/12/05
For any of you who have been out of town for a very long time, my name is Marshall; Thomas Riley Marshall, and I was born in this very house on March 14, 1854. Do the math: I'm a certified Geezer! But I have also been a legal counselor to small communities, a Governor serving all Hoosiers, and the Vice President of all these 33 states ... yes, Kansas and Nebraska have just been admitted, though the news may not have reached this tiny town!
You may already know that this birthplace home was located on Main Street in 1854, but I'll rely on someone much younger than I to tell the travel tales of The Marshall Home.
When I was born in this little house, there was no Historical Society, much less a Public Library, Manchester College, Peabody Home, Timbercrest, or Fun Fest. My parents' idea of a Fun Fest was hearing a horse draw up in front of the house with a rider that was NOT about to deliver a baby! You do recall that my father, Daniel, was a doctor, don't you?
Anyone looking out the front door of this simple frame house would have seen an unpaved street where dust choked the traveler in the dry days of summer, where hogs and dogs and the occasional mule were free to wallow after a rain. Do I understand that travelers today can choose among The Treeway, The Hospitality House, and the Fruitt Basket? My, how North Manchester has grown!
We were a hardy population of 400 in 1854. If one looked down from a hot air balloon in those days, we'd see the cross-hatching of a few streets, a few thread-like roads winding among the trees; a few plumes of smoke; the gleam of sunlight on the river; we'd hear the distant thud of an ax; the sound of children shouting and laughing at play; a horse's whinny; a creaking cart; and all around this scene lies a vast forest, like an emerald ocean, stretching to the horizon.
Here and there we'd see open spaces, like islands, that indicate the feeble beginnings of agriculture. My father, Daniel Marshall, told me that he had cut down walnut trees that were six feet in diameter at the stump and soared a hundred feet into the sky before there was a limb! Those mighty trees were logged and burned to gain ground for growing crops! My, how we have wasted the resources of nature!
Well, it's nice to be back in North Manchester! From this gathering, I surmise that people here do recall that I got my humble beginnings here! I recall another visit, that time to Columbia City, to visit friends and family. I was vice president at the time and Mrs. Marshall and I came in on the night train. Unannounced. Unrecognized. As we were riding from the station to the hotel in the town hack, I thought I'd have a little fun with the driver.
"I hear Thomas Marshall once lived in this town. Is that right?" I asked.
"Yep," said the loquacious man, shifting his chaw of tobacco.
"Isn't he vice president of the United States?" I continued.
"Yep," replied the man, growing ever more eloquent.
"Well, what do they say here in Columbia City about Vice President Thomas Marshall?"
"They don't say nothing," the driver said. "They just laugh!"
On that humbling note, and given my bland ambition toward high places, I will dispense with my political rise and address what I see as the needs of your times.
Yes ... I know ... you are expecting me to say that, "What this country really needs is a good 5 cent cigar."
However saddled with that offside commentary I remain, I would today suggest, "What this country really needs is lasting and loving homes."
And so, we are gathered here today at this old home.
This house became "home" to me in 1854. That was just 20 years after Richard Helvey became the first white settler to find the solace and promise of this place beside the meandering Eel River compelling enough to make it his home.
Indeed, I have often speculated within the dusty reaches of my own mind, if this place has some cosmic connection to another home that became famous in 1854? That famous retreat and home belonged to Henry David Thoreau and sits beside Walden Pond. I suggest that one might draw more than a few parallels between the lessons of Walden and life beside the Eel.
My father was a doctor, so this house dispensed care and healing even before I came along. After we moved on to Pierceton and ultimately Columbia City, this old home provided warmth and shelter to a succession of people in a succession of places!
In my reading of the Holy Scriptures, I was always reminded that "As ye sow, so shall ye reap." Thus, it is entirely appropriate that this old home, having given care, comfort, and love for so many years, is now the recipient of this community's care and labors of love.
It is good to see your efforts and your continued commitment to being a community of lasting and loving homes.
It's been 19 years since I first returned to this town to participate in your sesquicentennial celebration in the play "Memory Speaks." As I did on that stage, I ask you to remember, "Friendship and goodwill. Friendship and goodwill."
The Marshall birth-house Dedication
With the dedication of the Thomas Marshall Birth-House on August 12, 2005 we have marked the completion of the first phase of this significant project. We have rescued the house, moved it to a secure location, and restored the basic structure to its original form. We have recovered its "architectural integrity". This has been a long and time-consuming process.
It was exciting to have Thomas Marshall himself (a.k.a. David Grandstaff) bring some remarks at this dedication ceremony. President Ferne Baldwin gave a history of the house itself. There was special music by Terry McKee, Marilyn Mason, and Debra Lynn. The Rotary Gazebo provided a beautiful setting for the program. Special guests included Mr. Stephen Berrey from the Indiana Historical Bureau and Mr. John Harris of the Indiana Historical Society, both from Indianapolis.
The second phase will involve the final refinishing of the interior in a somewhat original form. This involves painting, finishing the floor and woodwork and installing floor coverings.
The third phase is the furnishing of the house and creating displays of Marshall history. Since we have no original furniture from this house from the time of the Marshalls, we need to acquire various pieces from that general time frame. I am suggesting the period from 1850 to 1900. If we want to include the time span of Mr. Marshall's life, we would extend this to about 1925.
It will be doubly significant if furniture and other household articles have a North Manchester connection. We already have a cast iron stove made in North Manchester. We also have a dresser that was purchased by Amos B. Miller of rural North Manchester for his daughter, Bertha, on her 18th birthday, February 8, 1891. The Manchester merchant who sold the dresser was J. Straw, whose store was located in the building now occupied by John Knarr's book store. The shipping tag is still attached to the back of the dresser. A penciled notation in one of the drawers indicated the price at $10.00. There is also a small collection of doctor's supplies, including medicine bottles and a satchel carried by an early physician on his home visits. A committee has been working for some years on identifying items for the house. Our staff at the Center for History can develop exhibits and photographs for display.
We have applied for an official Indiana Historical Marker for the Marshall House. If this is approved, we can expect the marker to be installed sometime late summer or fall of 2006. It would be desirable to have most of phase three completed by this. This will call for another ceremony when this marker is installed. William R. Eberly
The Story of the Thomas Marshall House
Told at the Dedication of the House
Riley Marshall grew up in Virginia, in what is now West Virginia. In 1818 he and his family came to the newly admitted state of Indiana and settled in Randolph County. Then they moved to Grant county and later sold his land there and moved to Wabash County. In the fall of 1848 he purchased 142 acres of farmland west of Lagro and soon original plat 108 in Lagro. In the late 1850s Riley moved to Kansas near his married daughters.
Daniel Marshall, one of Riley's nine children, became a physician. He married Martha Patterson who had come to visit her sister in Marion, Indiana and met him there. They located in North Manchester in 1848 and Daniel established a medical practice. They lived in a house on Original Plat 24 on Main Street which the Thorne family had purchased from Peter Ogan in 1839. The Thornes probably built the house sometime between 1839 and 1848.
Thomas Riley Marshall was born in North Manchester in this house March 14, 1854. When he was two years old, his mother developed tuberculosis. Daniel determined to treat her with what was called the open-air treatment and they moved westward near Urbana, Illinois where Martha was put on a diet of raw eggs and milk. Her health did not improve so they moved to Kansas near others of the family.
Kansas was in a turmoil with the struggle between pro-slavery and free state settlers. The Marshalls soon moved to La Grange, Missouri and there Martha regained her health. But Dr. Marshall had become involved in the political controversy and his life was being threatened. They fled at once: by sundown the family was on a boat headed for Quincy, Illinois. By November Dr. Marshall was practicing medicine in Pierceton, Indiana.
The Marshall House was moved about 1870 to the northwest corner of Third and Market Streets, probably by M. S. Marshall who owned the house from 1866-1872. His relationship, if any, to Daniel Marshall is unknown, but during the restoration of the building a business card for M. Marshall was found in the wall. George and Ellen Cowgill Rhodes were owners and occupants after the house was relocated to Third and Market. After George Rhodes died the property was sold to John and Augusta Shively. In 1905 they completed the building of a residence on the property and sold the building to Bartlet Krisher. Bartlet moved it to the northwest corner of Ninth and Walnut.
The history of the house during its life on Ninth and Walnut has not been documented. By 1992 it was a rental property owned by Walter and Mary Jenet Penrod. That year it was acquired by The North Manchester Historical Society and the restoration began. Additions to the house were removed there, a new roof was put on and the house was prepared for another move. On September 30, 1994 the house moved slowly a block west to Market and down Market to a site at the south end of Halderman park where a basement had been prepared. There the restoration continued.