of the North Manchester Historical Society, Inc.
Volume XXIII Number 3 August 2006
Those Hobo Days
by Jack Miller
I liked to hear Johnny Cash sing that song: "I've Been Everywhere." I always think of Carl Calhoun of North Manchester and those hobo days in the 1920s. Do you old timers remember Coonie? That's what everyone called him. He hung around Blick Barbershop, next to Brady's Men's Clothing Store on Main Street. I was just a kid, but I remember Coonie. He was a well built man, always wore a cap. His face was ruddy and clean shaven, but when he opened his mouth -- that's when this boy's eyes popped open.
He had solid gold-filled teeth. It was as if the front wall of Fort Knox had fallen out. That was special enough, but what he would do...
One day he would be at Blick's, then he would be gone for weeks or months. Suddenly he would reappear and talk about wheat fields in Kansas, picking oranges in California and then apples in Washington state. All of these things he would see and do by hopping a freight train in North Manchester and heading out. You see Carl Calhoun had that wanderlust. He was a true hobo at heart. Well, to most people in the 1920s in town, Coonie was a world traveler.
Our home in North Manchester was a block and a half from the Big Four Railroad yards. We were in prime territory for hobo handouts. He always knocked on the back door. Some offered to mend umbrellas, sharpen knives, etc., but most just looked pitiful when they looked at my mother. No fancy grub at our house; bread and butter sandwiches is what they got! They would sit on the back stoop and eat, then cross the street to Maude Gill's house where she was willing to hand out pie. Oh, yes the houses were marked for handouts.
Any town of North Manchester's size that had a railroad, and we had two of them, had a hobo jungle as they called them. A place where the "king of the road" could rest and compare notes and experiences with others of that brotherhood. Well, North Manchester had a fine jungle on the south side of Eel River, just west of the Vandalia railroad bridge. The Big Four railroad bridge and water tank were just up the river above the dam.
There was a well-worn path to the jungle. The site had one other plus - there was a spring of clear, cool water. There was always a campfire and a pot of Mulligan stew over the fire. A new caller was always welcome to the stew but was expected to contribute vegetables and meat to the pot, if he planned on an extended stay. All summer long there were always hobos in that camp - sometimes three or four and other times a dozen or so.
How did this 8 - or 9 -year - old boy know? Because Howard Lindsay and Gail Grossnickle used to spy on them. Boy, was that exciting, as it was rumored that they cut off boys' ears if caught in the act of spying on them. Relax, I am sure those "kings of the road" were well aware of those d --- kids out there!
The hobos as we knew them back in the 1920s are gone. The main blow came in the 1930s and the Great Depression when every freight train through Wabash carried hundreds of unemployed men, looking for work. Some would drop off in Wabash where they could spend the night in jail, breakfast in the morning and told to get out of town.
Unemployed Detroit men headed for St. Louis as St. Louis men were heading for Detroit for employment. Today the modern railroad cars have no open door or rods under the cars to ride on. The age of the hobo, as I remember them, is history.
Letter of Memories
A letter from Bertha Stine to her sister, Ida Winger (Mrs. Otho) dated July 15, 1936 loaned by William and Eloise Eberly)
My dear sister.-- Wouldn't it be pleasant this morning if we could board a fine modern airoplane and sail off to some nice, cool country where we could be young again, and strong and well and disillusioned? Since we cannot do that, how would it be if we could enter a comfortable little cage, press a button, turn a wheel and take a trip into the future where we could see the world as it will be in the time of our children and grand-children and great-grand-children? Well, since that, too, is impractical, I know what we can do. "Let's take a trip in Memory's ship, back to the by-gone days", when "you and I were young." Agreed? Ready? Then here we go. - - -
First stop. An old, unpainted frame house on a hill, furnished very simply but comfortable, tho it has no modern conveniences. A young mother goes about her many tasks and leaves the dinner dishes for her two little girls to wash on the shaded porch. Long before the task is done the little girls drift off into an imaginary country of their own, the dishes are forgotten and "Kittie" and "Flossie" are encountering grand adventures of their own under the old crab-apple tree in the orchard. Even on Memory's ship we cannot recapture all the thrill and the romance that lived in the old orchard.
Next stop. A hot afternoon by a shady creek in the woods. The old swimming hole resounds with chatter and laughter and care-free gaity as five little girls splash and float and dream the hot hours away. We can see them in memory, but here again, the beautiful fancies, the fairy-like dreams of a future that could never exist in a world like this, we can now but vaguely recall.
Next stop. A sandy country road, a shining summer sun that burns and blisters the men toiling in the hay and harvest field. Blithely tripping barefooted through the sand we see again the five girls as yet untouched by sin or care or sorrow. Their heads are decked with big pasteboard sun hats gaily trimmed with long streamers of paper ribbons and their shoulders shaded by capes make of dock and horseradish leaves. Where are they going? What will they do when they get there? Of what are they so happily chattering? Oh, Memory, you may carry us back for a moment but you cannot re-capture for us the joyous spirit that animated us in those happy days.
Another stop. At grand-mother Miller's home by Long Lake. As an unexpected favor we had been permitted to walk the three miles to that place and told that we might stay over night. Grandfather getting bait ready to take us fishing when in the evening Pa came driving over in the old spring wagon and said there was a new baby boy at our house. How our hearts leaped with joy and almost doubt. How slow the old horse travelled on the way home. Do you remember?
Again. New neighbors had moved near us and they had a girl nearly our age. They were not "Brethren" people and Myrtle had a flounce on her dress. How we begged for dresses with flounces too until finally Ma agreed to make us each one. She made the gathers so very scant they could scarcely be detected by critical church members, but what cared we? They were flounces and we walked on top of the world. Remember?
Last stop. At the old school house. Everyone dressed in Sunday best and acting as unlike everyday school children as we could, for it was "The Last Day of School." We loved school and we loved our mates and our teacher, Mr. Ward, who was not returning next year. On this account this last day was for some of us a day that marked for us the very end of everything. We shed tears openly. We gave him a present of a fountain pen bought with money begged from unwilling parents. The big dinner but partly assuaged our sorrow. The day ended. The old school house door was closed. Childhood was over.
Smash! Slap! Bang! The ship has vanished and I hear only the banging of screen doors and the swatting of flies as the hired girl performs her arduous duties in the kitchen. I am no longer the care free "Flossie" of a by-gone day, but an old woman whose strength is failing and who can see more clearly in Memory than in Prophecy.
Best, Loving Wishes, always, My Little Sister. Bertha
Whitman's Wabash County Business, Wabash County, Ind. 1890
North Manchester is situated at the crossing of the Wabash and C., W. & M. Railroads, fifteen miles from Wabash. She is the second town in population in the county; has a weekly paper, opera house, two banking houses, good hotel, fine graded school, electric lights and good business blocks. She has numerous fine private residences, and her streets are wide, well shaded and graded. It is also the location of the Tri-County Fair Association. Her business interests are cared for by competent business and professional men.
Churches of the following denominations are represented: Methodist Episcopal, Rev. N. S. Marble; Lutheran, Rev. W. J. Funkey; Christian, Rev. W. D. Samuels; Progressive Dunkard, Rev. W. W. Summers; United Brethren, Rev. A. W. DeLong and Dunkard. F. & A. M., I. O. O. F., K. of P., G. A. R. and S. of V. societies are represented. Special mention is made of the following firms: The Rex Manufacturing Company; J. P. Noftzger, dealer in Scotch and native granite monuments; A. F. Rice, photographer; Ulrey & Tyler, saw and planing mill; J. J. Martin & Son, photographers; North Manchester Canning Co., cash paid for tomatoes and apples; John Jelinek, merchant tailor; Lowman & Harter, the City boot and shoe store; A. W. Bowman, dealer in harness, implements and wagons of all kinds; Rhodes & Custer, manufacturers of the celebrated brand "Our Pointer," and other cigars; Sam A. Baer & Co., dealers in buggies, etc., specialty of plows; Wm. Stadler, carriage and wagon manufacturer and blacksmith; Reuben Moyer, junk deal, highest cash price paid for same and Hersch Leffel, turning , band sawing and screen door a specialty. Population estimated at 3,000.
R.R. Leonard ..... Postmaster
Isaac E. Gingerick - Lawyer and Notary
Ten Year Practice - Collections a Specialty.
W. H. Warvel - Attorney at Law; collections a specialty. References: Either bank in the city. North Manchester, Ind.
Notary Public, Life and Fire Insurance, Real Estate, General Collector and Loan Agent.
Office in the Ulrey block. Switzer & Gist
Insurance and Loans.
Best Companies Represented. Collections made.
North Manchester Loan Agency.
Money to loan on farm and city property, on long time.
Office in Schoolcraft building; Arthur & Watkins, Managers.
Situated on Main street, near business part of city; everything neat and clean; a home for travelers; good sample room; rates, $l.25 per dy; Shelby Sexton, prop.
A. F. Rice
The Rex Manufacturing Co.
Manufacturers of the Rex windmill, reservoirs, stock tanks; dealers in pumps, brass goods, and all kinds of windmill and well supplies.
Manufacturer of carriages, wagons and buggies; blacksmithing, horse shoeing and general repairing.
Dealer in rags, metals, hides, pelts, furs, tinware, tallow and beeswax; ginseng a specialty; highest price paid for above.
Saw and Planing Mill.
Ulrey & Tyler
Retail lumber of all kinds shingles, lath, door and window frames, mouldings, lime, plaster and cement.
North Manchester Canning Co.
Highest market price paid for tomatoes and apples.
Turning, band sawing, ripping and dressing mouldings; also odd size screen doors a specialty.
J. J. Martin & Son.
First class cabinet photographs only $2.00 per dozen; life size portraits at lowest prices; viewing, copying and enlarging a specialty. "The Leading Photographers."
Fashionable merchant tailor; perfect fit guaranteed; prices reasonable; call and see us.
Boots and Shoes.
Lowman & Harter.
Dealers in boots and shoes, rubber goods and hosiery; ladies' and gents' fine footwear a specialty; Union block, Main st.
Staple and fancy groceries, canned goods, fruit, choice confectionery, etc., cigars and tobacco; Main st., opposite opera house.
Rhodes & Custer.
Manufacturers of Spanish and domestic cigars; our leading brand, the celebrated "Our Pointer," and other brands -- only cigar factory in the city.
J. P. Noftzger
Manufacturer of monuments and head stones, from the best of marble; dealer in Scotch and native granite monuments, and building stone estimates of work furnished on application.
Harness and Implements.
A. W. Bowman.
Manufacturer of harness and dealer in agricultural implements, wagons, carriages, buggies, carts, pumps, binding twine, robes, blankets, whips, etc.
Implements and carriages.
Sam A. Baer & Co.
Dealers in buggies, harness, robes, etc; farm machinery of all kinds; sole agents for the Oliver steel and Solid Comfort sulky plows.
New State Marker
The Indiana Historical Bureau presented a new Historical Marker to the town of North Manchester commemorating the social and economic impact of the Brethren's Annual Meetings in North Manchester in 1878, 1888 and 1900. This project was initiated by the North Manchester Historical Society. These conferences, hosted by the Manchester Church of the Brethren with lots of help from nearby Brethren churches and many community residents, attracted thousands of visitors to the week-long gathering.
In 1900 attendance was variously estimated as high as 60,000 people on Sunday, June 3, 1900. You can imagine the impact of this crowd on this little rural town of barely 4,000 inhabitants. The demands for services (food, lodging, local transportation, etc.) were a tremendous challenge to local residents, both in town and in the surrounding rural area. The 1900 conference attracted perhaps the largest crowds ever assembled at a Brethren Conference. It might also have been the largest religious assembly ever held in Indiana up to the time.
Church of the Brethren Founded 1708 in Europe. By 1778, Brethren Met Annually to Determine Church Policy. First Annual Meeting in Indiana Was in Elkhart County 1852. North Manchester Church of the Brethren Hosted Annual Meetings 1878, 1888, 1900; Last Two Meetings Held Here in Harter's Grove Had Enormous Social and Economic Impact on Area.
Business Meeting and Preaching by Prominent Brethren Leaders Drew Thousands from U.S. in a Fair-like Atmosphere, Visitors Had Access to Modern Conveniences of the Time, Including in 1888, Electric Lamps. Area Residents Cooperated in Providing Visitors with Housing, Transportation, Vast Quantities of Food, Goods, and Clean, Running Water.
The historical markers are large black metal plaques (about 2 ft by 4 ft) with raised letters in gold or brass color, mounted on a post. About half of the historic Harter's Grove is today occupied by the city park, while the remainder is a nature preserve complete with nature trails. The marker will be located on the south side of the Grove (Seventh Street) about a block west of Market Street.
This Historical Marker for the Brethren's Annual Meetings will be unveiled and dedicated on Friday, August 11, 2006. A Dedication Ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Park, near the entrance to the Scout Hall on Seventh Street, A representative of the Indiana Historical Bureau will be present, as will representatives of the North Manchester Historical Society and various church and community leaders.
A choir will present some old-time, favorite hymns. At 11:00 a.m., an illustrated lecture on The Social and Economic Impact of the Brethren's Annual Meetings in North Manchester will be open to the public at the North Manchester Center for History at 124 East Main Street in North Manchester.
On the way from the park to the Center for History, you will pass the recently restored birth house of Thomas Marshall, early governor of Indiana and Vice-President of the United States under President Wilson. Vice-President Marshall was born in North Manchester March 14, 1854.
This is the first State Historical Marker to be awarded to the North Manchester area. It is also the first time that any Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren has been so recognized.
From Remembering North Manchester Indiana in the 1930's & 1940's
by R. Ned Brooks and Donald L. Jefferson
The Town of North Manchester purchased all the properties from 101 to 111 West Main Street to raze them for a town parking lot. Once there had been all that activity between Market Street and the Lutheran Church and now it is just an open space accommodating a town parking lot. All those activities in the 1930s and 1940s are now only memories.
113 West Main St. - The Zion Lutheran Church was built in 1883, replacing a frame church that was here as early as 1847. The Reverend Homer R. Ogle moved to North Manchester with his family in mid-May 1929 to become minister of this church, and remained here during our entire time period. The Reverend Ogle was probably the best-known minister in town, due to his long tenure at the church and, more importantly, for his friendly manner and participation in community affairs.
As a historical note, the pastor of this church from 1903 to 1905 was Lloyd C Douglas. Mr. Douglas went on to become a famous author who wrote The Robe, among many other well-known books.
115 West Main St. - Mabel and her husband Frank Dunbar managed the Young Hotel until it burned down on February 25, 1943. The hotel had a large dining room where the local Kiwanis held their luncheon meeting every week. After the fire, the parsonage for the Lutheran Church was built at this location. Ironically, as this information is being compiled the parsonage is being moved to make room for a church expansion. In the early 1930s, Earl Snell operated jitneys to local communities in the area. He kept the small buses at his home on Maple St. but used the hotel as a deport and ticket office. Don Jefferson remembers that one old bus is buried on the riverbank on the east side of the Lutheran Church.
A November 20, 1939 News Journal article reported that the Indiana Motor Bus Company out of Plymouth, Indiana, bought the E. S. Snell franchise. The franchise operated between North Manchester and Ft. Wayne and Winemac through North Manchester to Ft. Wayne, with stops at Rochester, Athens, Akron and Disko. There was also a line from Peru through Roann to North Manchester. In later years, Bud Gibson operated the Indiana Motor Bus franchise and ran one bus between North Manchester and Ft. Wayne, making a stop to pick up passengers in South Whitley. One of the authors of this piece, R. Ned Brooks, was a substitute driver for Bud. The Young Hotel was used as the bus deport and ticket office. W. A. Weesner, better known as Bill, had a taxi stand at the hotel as advertised on May 30, 1940. A New Journals article on March l, 1943 reported the fire but also quite extensively told the history of the building for those who may care to look it up.
The hotel had a number of owners over its lifetime. Originally, many years prior to our study, it was a three-story structure where a furniture factory occupied the first two floors and the Masonic Temple was on the third floor.
201 West Main St. -- Joseph B. Harter was the original owner of this residence, and then his daughter, Emma Harter, lived here for many years. A News Journal article dated December 6, 1928, stated that Dr. Ladoska Z Bunker was starting her medical practice in the east half of the Miss Emma Harter house. Dr. Bunker was here only a few years before moving to her Mill Street address. A number of families occupied this residence in later years. On November 20, 1944, Mrs. Alice Hippensteel advertised, for the first time that we found, the Colonial Flower Shop. Alice was here from 1944 into the 1950s - she operated her flower shop and lived here as well.
Note -- there is no period after the initial "Z" in the doctor's name above because she had no middle name, only an initial.
207 West Main St. The Bender Funeral Home, owned by George N. Bender, was in a residential neighborhood just west of the main business district. It became a funeral home after Mr. Bender moved into it sometime in 1931 or earlier. George's son, Todd Bender, worked here and later became the owner for the rest of our time period.
Note -- In a pamphlet authored by Dr. L. Z Bunker in 1992, she stated "George N. Bender founded the county's first funeral home in this building in 1931." The authors are told that prior to 1931, there were people in the business of embalming, as was Mr. Bender, but there were no funeral homes for visitation or funeral services. In those bygone days a casket was purchased at a furniture store, the body was embalmed and placed in the casket and then taken to the residence for viewing prior to the burial. Even in those days they did have hearses for transportation of the body. An excellent "The History of North Manchester Undertakers" article appears in the North Manchester Historical Society Newsletter Volume XX, Number 4, November, 2003. Their information varies somewhat with ours and we don't know which is right for sure.
305 West Main St. - Dr. Zera M Beaman, MD had an office at this residential address. Dr. Beaman built the current house around the existing structure in 1930 and continued to use it as his office until his death on December 20, 1940.
409 West Main St. - Madeline Bush had an April 15, 1940 ad for the opening of her Vanity Beauty Shop on Wednesday, April 17, 1940. Then Mrs. Dwayne Ulrey (which was Madeline's married name) advertised Vanity Beauty Shop in the 1947 high school annual.
605 West Main St. - We are told that Bill Lindsey had a barbershop at this address, but he advertised at 703 West Main Street in 1939. If he was at this address, we speculate that he moved here when George Wilcox constructed a building at the 703 address in 1945.
611 West Main St. - In 1918, Frank Percy Bunker started a junkyard here, where a huge mountain of scrap metal had accumulated over the years. The 1924 phone book listed F. P. Bunker second-hand store at this address, so there must have been a structure here as well as the pile of scrap metal. The 1924 Sandborn fire map showed a junkyard covering addresses 605 - 611 (which confirms how huge the scrap yard must have been).
Frank lived at 311 South Maple Street. He started the junk pile at the end of World War I and was quoted as saying, "The next time we have a war, I will be rich." Mr. Bunker was not able to realize the fruits of his prediction, because he died in 1937. His daughter, Dr. Bunker, was the administratrix of the estate and it was reported in the April 10, 1937 News Journal that she had sold the scrap metal to various steel mills. It was estimated at the time that there was enough scrap to fill 15 to 20 train carloads. (Yes, that is right, administratrix is a word no longer used, but we are quoting the paper from a bygone day.)
There was an ad dated October 6, 1938 for Jerry's Grocery at this address, but we don't know who this was - perhaps Jerry Parker, Sr. Reahard Farm Implement, owned by Russell Reahard, was at this location in late years. Reahard originally had his business on East Main St. His son Rex Reahard operated the business after Russell died in March of 1955. The business closed January l, 1957, we are told, but we found ads for Reahard Implement in 1958.
701 West Main St. - There was a filling station at this address in the mid-1930s. Delbert Drudge advertised a Texaco station on May 19, 1936. Lester Frye ran an ad on November 9, 1936 indicating that he was taking over this Texaco Station. George Wilcox purchased the property, including 703 West Main Street, and constructed a building in late 1945 for his Central Oil Company (which had been at 207 East Second St). He first advertised at this new address on February 18, 1946. The August 10, 1946 News Journal reported that George had leased the filling station and a car repair business at this location to James Boardman and Howard French. This business operated long beyond 1950 at this address.
703 West Main St. - William Lindsey opened a barbershop at this location as advertised on November 13, 1939. See address above for later occupancy.
705 West Main St. - Central Asbestos Plant, a break band firm, started here on December 15, 1931 with G. C. Andrews as president. It was short lived - an article in the February 13, 1933, News Journal told of the firm's bankruptcy. The paper then had a March 27, 1933 article stating that C. B. DeLancy & Son purchased the business and renamed it Hoosier Friction Products Company. The name was changed to Hoosier Break Lining soon thereafter. C. B. DeLancey and his son, Dwayne B. DeLancey, owned the business until it closed in the early 1940s.
The plant was vacant for a while and then it was reopened on March l, 1943 by L. J. Miley Company out of Chicago. The factory continued to operate into the 1950s with Wayne Brandenburg as plant supervisor and Howard Reed as production supervisor. This factory manufactured parts for vehicle brakes in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.
(To be continued)
Heads of Households in Chester Township from Kentucky 1850