of the North Manchester Historical Society, Inc.

Volume XXIV Number 3 August 2007

"Fordy" First Psalm

by Jack Miller

It's good to have a friend to talk to. One who can relate to experiences and events you have had in your younger days. I do have such a friend and we do get together quite often. Now, he is six months older than me and I do respect my elders - what the heck, we'll both be 90 in the spring.

This guy is Ron Thrush, a true historian of Wabash County and certainly in the Richvalley area. The other day we got into the subject of automobiles.

Ron said the first car his father owned was a 1913 Ford. They still needed the buggy horse to pull it out of the mud holes on country roads. My dad wasn't so far behind his dad, because his first car was a 1914 Ford. However, there was a small difference. It was slightly used when he brought it home in 1920.

I was around four years old, but I remember so well, sitting in our back yard on West End Street in North Manchester. My dad must have loved that "tin Lizzy," as it seemed he spent a lot of time with his head under the hood and over the motor, or his legs and feet sticking out from under that open touring car.

One day with grease and dirt on his face and clothes, he grabbed a crank in front, pulled out the choke wire and spun the crank. My mother and I both jumped in surprise as it started. Mother yelled, "What's that noise?"

Ron and I did the same thing when we were kids back in the 1920's - watch and identify every car that passed by. Not only the make of the car, but the year it was built. Try that with today's cars. Ron says you can't tell a $20,000 car today from the $50,000 car, and I agree. (All right you young guys, perhaps we show our age.)

Anyway, back in our day each car maker did have his own idea of what a car should look like. If you couldn't (tell), then they would put the name right up on the front of the car in big English letters.

Modern cars are beautiful and a joyous thing to drive. Wouldn't it have been a sensation if one of these 2006 models had shown up on the red brick streets in North Manchester, say around 1925?

It would have been like some spaceship from some other planet. After the questions and excitement quieted down then would come the inevitable question: "How fast can this thing go?" The speedometer has 150 miles on it. "I've got a Stutz Bearcat. What say we take them out for a race on the Dixie Pike?" Alas, we'll never know.

This 2006 has only a 6-inch clearance on the road, so you have to keep her on the paved brick street. Those foot-deep ruts on the country roads would do her in. So the old saying: Which came first, the modern car or the modern hard-top highway? They came up together!

It is kind of sad that the introduction of new model cars doesn't create the excitement of yesterday. The new 2006s came in with a load of 2005s -- Ho-hum.

Let's go back to 1928. You old timers will know what I am talking about.

Early summer 1928, rumors were flying out of Detroit, especially Dearborn. Henry Ford was up to something. He had raised the wages of the workers to $5 per day. Could it be that he was going to replace the Model T Ford? The secret was kept so close that nobody knew. The big news came in the Manchester Journal, Sept. 5, 1928. A new Ford would be introduced in the showroom of the Pottenger Ford Agency on North Walnut Street.

I was twelve years old and joined the crowd outside the Ford showroom the night before. The big glass windows had been covered with paper. People standing out there were on their knees, trying to see under the cracks in the paper of the two new cars inside and covered with sheets.

We group of boys from the west end went home excited and determined to be at the Ford garage early that Saturday morning. People lined up that Saturday morning at 6 o'clock for the opening of the doors at 7.

The reaction to that first look - goodbye, Model T, Hello Model A. Let's all sing the most popular song of that fall: "No more rattles, no more aches, now she's got those 4-wheel brakes. Henry has made a lady out of Lizzy."

Early Education and Family History

compiled by Orrel Little (from the files)

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 Hare School Road 800S in Whitley County, probably less than a mile from our home and six miles northeast of North Manchester. This one-room, block school house 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.

Trusler & Parmenter's Wabash County Directory for 1894

They say the only thing in common between Wabash and Manchester is their good-looking women.

North Manchester

The second city in size and commercial importance of Wabash county, has a population of some 5,000 persons, in located in Chester township, near the northern border of the county, on the northern bank of Eel river, and is exceptionally prosperous and progressive for a city of its size.

The streets of North Manchester, and a great many of the store rooms and residences as well, are lighted by electricity, supplied by the Jenney Electric Company, which has a well equipped plant at the junction of West Main street and the Big Four railroad

North Manchester is surrounded by a fertile farming district and is the center of a large share of the farming trade of this vicinity. There are located at this place several factories of considerable size and importance: The Rex Manufacturing Co., makers of the celebrated Rex wind mill; the butter tub factory of Scott Dunbar, the Noftzger Machine works, the Eel River Valley Planing Mill, the J. A. Brown & Co. Planing Mill and Lumber Yards, the Daisy Butter Co., the North Manchester Canning Co., and several smaller manufacturing concerns, all prosperous and employing a large corps of men, besides manufactories of flour, timber products, etc.

The press is represented at North Manchester by two weekly newspapers, each published Thursday mornings. Both offices are well equipped for newspaper and job work, and the papers are well managed, ably edited, and are fully in rank and sympathy with the progressive spirit of this little city.

The city has two railways passing through it -- the Detroit division of the Wabash and the Michigan division of the Big Four. The Nickel Plate passes within a few miles of the city, crossing the Wabash at South Whitley and the Big Four at Claypool. The Erie main line passes three miles south of the city, crossing the Big Four at Bolivar and the Wabash at Laketon, thus giving the city such railroad facilities as are seldom enjoyed by a city of its size, and making it an especially desirable place for manufacturing.

There are three hotels in the city --- the Hotel Sheller, corner Walnut and Second streets; the Hotel Central, corner Main and Front, and the Railroad Hotel, corner Main and the Wabash railway. Hotel Sheller under the personal management of Mr. H. B. Sheller, ranks among the best in this section of the State.

There is but one bank in the city, the Lawrence National, which is ably managed and strongly supported.

There is located on East College avenue the building of the North Manchester college. This institution is denominational (United Brethren) and up to the present time has not undertaken to present anything beyond a strictly collegiate and theological course of study. The college was founded in 1889, has been under the guidance of Prof. D. N. Howe, and though humble in its pretensions has been the instrument in the hands of Mr. Howe and associates of accomplishing much good, and has always been the chief pride of the citizens of North Manchester.

Lately a friend of the institution, of considerable means, appreciating the good accomplished by the limited means at the command of this institution, caused it to be endowed in the sum of $1,000.000. The name of the donor is not to be made public, that being one of the conditions of the donation. Among the other conditions of the donation is one that the institution shall hereafter be conducted on the University plan, and this will be done, commencing with the fall term of 1894. Mr. C. E. Kriebel has been elected president to carry into effect the conditions of the donation. Beginning with the fall term of 1894 there will be eight departments, Scientific, Classical, Philosophical, Pedagogical, Theological, Commercial, Music and Art.

The city is now (spring 1894) putting in a system of water works. The system is the stand-pipe method, and the work is being done by C. E. Coon & Co., of Upper Sandusky, Ohio, contractors.

The officers of the city are:

President Town Board -- Swank, D. D.
Clerk -- Cowgill, Joe
Marshal -- Williams, A. H.
Treasurer -- Sheller, Daniel
Attorney -- Clemans, F. B.
Fire Chief -- Puff, Deacon

The Journey of the Marshall House

In February, 1853 Daniel Marshall and his brother, Joseph, purchased lot 23 in North Manchester. In June of that year he was appointed Postmaster in North Manchester as part of political patronage under President Franklin Pierce. March 14, 1854 his son, Tom, was born in the house on lot 23, which was probably built soon after their arrival. Judging from a comparison of the value of the property when purchased and when sold, it appears that there was no house on it when the Marshalls bought the lot.

When Tom's mother became ill and the decision was made to move west in search of health for her, Joseph purchased the half share and then his brother, Milburn, bought the property from Joseph in March of 1863. Sometime during his ownership, Milburn moved the house to the corner of Third and Market and sold it to George and Ellen Cowgill Rhodes who lived in the house until George's death in 1872.

As part of the estate, the house was sold to John & Augusta Shively in 1872 and they lived there until they built a much larger house on the same lot in 1905. When the large house was finished, they sold the small (Marshall) house to Bartlet Krisher who moved it to a lot at the corner of Ninth & Walnut. After various owners there it became a rental property owned by Walter and Mary Jenet Penrod, who decided to sell it in 1992.

The North Manchester Historical Society had money in hand, hoping that the house would eventually be for sale and bought it. They began restoration at that site and arranged to move the house in September, 1994 to a site on town property at the southern edge of Halderman Cemetery. There restoration continued; the random-width poplar floors were exposed, the stairway was reset at the original location, the woodwork was repaired and restored, and shutters were repaired and all surfaces inside and out were repainted. Materials suitable to the period were used for most of the restoration.

The search for furnishings and other materials for the house is a long and difficult process. Slowly, as funds and suitable items are found, we are adding to the things in the house to show once more how the house might have looked in the last half of the 1800s. We are pleased to have this recognition of the significance of the Marshall House through the State Historical Marker.

Dedication and Acceptance of the State Historical Marker for the Thomas Marshall Birthplace.

On August 10, during Funfest, The Indiana State Historical Bureau presented a Marker to the Town and the Historical Society which has been placed in front of the house, now sited on Market Street on the grounds of the Halderman Cemetery. The text for the Marker is:

Side one Thomas Riley Marshall

Born 1854 in North Manchester in this house on Main Street. Was Governor of Indiana 1909 - 1913. Under his leadership, Indiana General Assembly enacted legislation, called the "Marshall Constitution," to improve government efficiency by amending the Constitution. Indiana Supreme Court declared the legislation unconstitutional, July 5, 1912.

Side two Thomas Riley Marshall

He was elected vice president 1912 under Woodrow Wilson. Marshall generally supported Wilson's proposals. He refused to assume powers of presidency after Wilson's stroke in 1919, believing it would be unconstitutional. Marshall was only the third vice president to serve two full terms. He died 1925 and is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis.

The event was chaired by Darlene Bucher, who directed the work of the planning committee. Ferne Baldwin described the various moves of the house, David Bennett , author of a recent book titled, He Almost Changed the World: The Life and Times of Thomas Riley Marshall, spoke of Marshall's life. A community choir directed by Debbie Chinworth and accompanied by Diana Bucher delighted with a number of songs of the period .

The Marker was presented by Pamela Bennett, Director, Indiana Historical Bureau, with appropriate remarks and accepted for the town by Carrie Mugford, City Clerk-Treasurer, and for the Historical Society by William Eberly, President. These three, plus Ferne Baldwin, uncovered the Marker . A sizeable crowd then read the Marker and toured the house which has been restored by the work of many volunteers under the skills and leadership of Steve Batzka, who completed much of the finishing work himself.

A note from Ms Bennett later said, "The ceremony was a model for community participation, and a lot of fun. . . . Please convey my thanks and appreciation to everyone for the ceremony and the tour, as well as the preservation of the Marshall home and your history. I'm glad we were able to spend the additional time learning about your activities."

Pictures of the event can be seen at

Center for History Cuts a Ribbon and Formally Opens

The former Oppenheim Department Store began its new life as the North Manchester Center for History on August 10, 2007 with a formal opening complete with ribbon cutting. Kathy Roberts, Annette Meggison, Laura Rager and Glenda Christiansen of the Chamber of Commerce, and 2007 Scholarship Pageant first runner-up, Caroline Anderson assisted Historical Society President, William Eberly in the cutting ceremony as many volunteers and friends waited to tour the Center and study the exhibits. In his brief remarks, Eberly thanked the volunteers and called the Center a "work in progress."

The Store was purchased by the North Manchester Historical Society in 2000 and since that time many volunteers has worked an incredible number of hours under the direction of Jeanne Anderson managing the flood of historical items which have been given by area residents. Every item was cataloged and researched and documented so that it could be located in its storage spot.

Other work concerned the building itself. There was lots of painting, cleaning, and some alterations. New carpet was laid and new wiring completed. Recently display cases were secured and forms for displays were constructed. Then the volunteers were finally able to begin the actual preparation of the exhibits so that many of the materials collected over the years can be on open view. As the exhibits are developed they will tell the history of a town and a river and remind us how life here has been, and is.

The Center for History expects to be open regular hours beginning in September, 2007.

Donald L. Jefferson

We note with special regret the passing of Donald Jefferson of Cincinnati, Ohio formerly of North Manchester on March 25, 2007. He was born in North Manchester, graduated from Central High School and earned a Bachelors degree in Accountancy from Butler University.

After service in the army , he was employed at Ford Motor Company for 35 years, working in Indianapolis, Chicago and Cincinnati sales offices. At retirement he started his own company and later became a volunteer and a collector of coins and die-cast cars. He enjoyed restoring antique cars. Other activities included memberships in a variety of service organizations. He was honored by the Governor of Kentucky as a Kentucky Colonel in 1991.

Don had a continuing special interest in his childhood home in North Manchester. He was the first decorated Eagle Scout here. Recently he has worked with Ned Brooks to do a wonderful research project and prepare the publication "Remembering North Manchester in the 1930s and 1940s."

This book will provide information for researchers for years to come.

He is survived by his wife, Beverly Bowman Jefferson, two children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Burial was in Oak Lawn cemetery in North Manchester.

Brooks & Jefferson continued

102 West Main St. -- In 1913, J. M. Jennings & Son Grocery built this modern building and moved into it from East Main Street. Jennings closed in 1936. The Kroger Super Market, previously on Walnut St., had a grand opening here on Saturday, May 9, 1936 and remained here for the rest of our time period. Mr. Ray Feree managed the store from its beginning on Walnut Street and his wife was the assistant manager. Mr. and Mrs. Feree resigned on April 16, 1943. John McFarland became the new manager. In July 1950, C. O. Goodwin became the manager. We think resigned meant Feree's retired.

The store had a double door in the middle of the building and was assigned 102-104. For those of you paying close attention, the entrance on the corner of the building was added in later years, and the address for this building changed to 102 Market Street. A picture at the Historical Society enabled us to establish that both Jennings and Kroger had the double door entrance in the middle of the building.

106 West Main St. -- Dr. Clarence D. Risser, dentist, occupied and owned this building when it was built. Dr. George D. Balsbaugh was listed in the 1924 phone book - but at 104 West Main Street, but we know for a fact that he was in the Risser building. It may have carried the 104 address in earlier years. We are not sure what this means, because as already stated the wide building next door was 102-104 West Main Street.

Dr. J. E. Buckner moved to this building on Monday, March 23, 1936. An article dated November 27, 1944 reported that Dr. G. L. Venable, MD moved to this address from New Sharon, Iowa, and took over Dr. Buckner's practice (after Buckner moved to Bluffton). Risser continued to have his office in the building all during this time. Dr. Venable eventually bought the building. Joe Ziker Cleaners advertised at this address in the 1940's. This out of town cleaner maintained a pickup spot in the reception area of Dr. Risser's office where customers could drop off their laundry or cleaning items.

The building has a garage-type structure on the rear that had to be entered from the alley behind the building. On December 21, 1931 Russell C. Kreamer advertised his Oakland-Pontiac dealership in the Risser building: it is this location that he moved to at the rear of the building. Lawrence Jefferson moved his garage here in 1944, after the Eiler building fire destroyed his business. He was here during the rest of our study period and beyond.

This building also had apartments on the second floor. As previously explained, the rear of the building is actually separated from the front part and can only be entered from the back alley. We only repeat this information because it can be a little confusing seeing doctor's offices advertised in the Risser Building and then seeing a garage advertised in another ad also indicating the Risser Building.

108 West Main St. - The current address for this building is 106 1/2, which changed sometime before Dr. Roger Sawyer advertised here January 5, 1950 as the court entrance which set back about 100 feet from the front of the other buildings. It was used as a residence at one time. Returning from military service in 1946, Dr. C. Eugene Cook had his practice here. He moved to a private residence at 114 W. Main St. in the early 50s.

110 West Main St. - The current address for this building is 108 West Main Street. The early occupant in our time frame was Bashore Feed Store & Hatchery, owned by Claude I. Bashore. Claude was from Silver Lake and had Lyman Stands managing the business for him in 1930 and later. Mr. Bashore constructed the building in about 1927. He had his store here until he moved to the west end of town in 1946. Then, for the rest of our study period and into the 1950s, Arden Carter had moved here from across the river, according to an ad dated February 7, 1946. Arden had a Kaiser-Frazier Automobile Dealership and also advertised as a Willys dealer in a December 26, 1949 ad. A number of years later, Mr. Carter became a Hudson dealer after Kaiser stopped producing cars.

112 West Main St. - This building is on the east aide of the alley - where the current address is 110 West Main Street, but the address back then was 112 West Main Street. Cecil Eiler erected the building in 1926 and operated an auto repair shop and filling station, selling Conoco gasoline. Eiler advertised Hudson - Essex Sales on June 25, 1934, then Hudson and Terreplane in a 1935 ad. A January 4, 1937 News Journal article reported that Asa Hines took possession of the Eiler garage that morning after he purchased the building. Hines leased the front part of the building to Mark Griffin, who operated a general automobile service and repair shop. Hines' shop - in the rear of the building - offered implement and tractor service in connection with his store across the alley to the west.

A notice dated September 15, 1938 advertised Bashore Filling Station, selling Bonded Gas & Oil, in connection with their store next door, A new barbershop, owned by Jim Crow and Jim Perry, opened in a small room in the front southwest corner of this building as per an ad of November 13, 1939. In addition to barbering, the two Jims also repaired radios. They later advertised as Jim and Jim Barber Shop. Then on January 12, 1942 they advertised Crow & Musser - Radio Service. On February 25, 1942 Odum & Reisinger advertised this as the new location for their auto body shop.

In 1943, the building was leased to Lawrence Jefferson for an auto repair shop. On Wednesday March 29, 1944 a fire that resulted from an upset bucket of gasoline, according to an article dated March 30, 1944 destroyed Mr. Jefferson's business and the barbershop. Mr. Jefferson then moved to the rear of 106 West Main Street, where customers gained access to his garage from the east-west alley just north of Main St. After the building was repaired in late 1944, Arnold Corp. moved some of their war material packaging here for one year. After that the town and township fire department trucks occupied this location at some point but we don't have a date.