10 May 2014


Blogging will resume soon.  Many thanks to to good folks of my county for making me the Republican nominee for county commissioner.  On to November.

07 May 2014

Lessons from the campaign trail

First off....for the record....it is 10:10 a.m. on election day.  I've already voted and have no idea what the outcome will be.  I say that because if I win in the Republican primary tonight, I don't want this to come across as gloating.  And if I lose, I don't want this to come across as sour grapes.  This post will go up tomorrow win or lose.  This is intended to be both therapeutic for me and seasoned with humor.

Here are several observations I've made from stumping on the campaign trail.

I should maybe drop my middle name from my campaign literature.  I'm not sure how, but some people get confused that I'm running for the west precinct, or West Township, or some other office related to being in or of "west".  I thank my great-grandfather, Wesley, for the confusion and in turn he can thank John Wesley.

Or maybe I should just change my name to that of a candy bar.  In speaking with one lady at Marbucks (our Martins grocery has a Starbucks in it...hence my name for it), and engaging in several important issues with her, she indicated that one of the other candidates gave her a candy bar so she committed her vote to him.  Based on the issues important to her seems like a bad trade for a candy bar.  I'm not going to buy votes with candy bars.

But I will buy votes with shamrock shakes.  One young man I teach Sunday School with turned 18 several months ago, so I said, John, we need to get you registered to vote.  I offered to help him through the process at the clerk's office and suggested afterward we could grab a cup of coffee or something-thinking it would be great to get to know him a little better.  But, time was of the essence the day he registered, so we just went through the drive-thru and I bought him a shamrock shake.

I attempted a grass-roots campaign with social media.  I now owe over 100 Facebook friends a major party since they met my challenge of 100 shares of my campaign video.  I honestly didn't think it would happen.

Lots of folks have offered to pray for me...and that's great and all....but I sure am hoping the roughly 20 nuns I sat down with to discuss the current state of politics in the county are thinking of me today.  I can't think of a better defensive line, nor can I recall feeling more at home ideologically when we met.  Maybe it was because there was apple pie and coffee involved.  God bless 'em.

Shameless self promotion is a difficult thing for an introvert.

When my wife and I voted, my mother came in the doors to the community hall......without my dad.  "Mom, where's dad?"  I asked.  "I don't know....he was supposed to come with me, but I think he's in Bremen."  My dad avoids things like this....he, along with a LOT of other Hoosiers, don't like to have to declare party affiliation.  It seems like there could be a way around this.  Meanwhile, I've been driving around for the last 3 hours trying to find him to escort him to the polls.

I already know that I have lost the used car lot vote.  If used car lots, mechanics garages, muffler shops, etc. can vote I am in big trouble.  All three of my fellow-candidates are in those lines of work and without hardly an exception these establishments have one or a combination of their political signs.  Notice:  I am in the market for a low-mileage truck....part of the deal includes removing my competition's signs.

Speaking of signs....one thing that has always rubbed me raw is the willful violation of the city and county sign ordinance which prohibits signs from being placed on any public property or right-of-way.  So I am extremely cautious about where my signs go.  The other guys-not so much.  I've never understood how people can vote for someone entrusted to uphold the law when they knowingly break it.  But, hey, sticking to my principles-win or lose.

Adversity builds character.  It also costs a great deal of time and money.  Things like having "late ad" boldly printed over your newspaper ad, the wind mysteriously taking away both signs and wire frames planted a foot into the ground, and finally receiving the Republican mailing list the morning after your mailer landed in voters' mailboxes are all great lessons in character development.

Based on my door to door glad-handing, I may well be related to one-quarter of the county.  Heck, one of my competitors is a cousin.

I can only handle so much fish.  Though last Saturday was a spaghetti supper.  Oddly enough, I was the only politician there but after getting a tongue-lashing from one older gentleman about not attending "HIS church's fish fry", and consequently losing his vote, I figured I had better attend HIS church's spaghetti supper Saturday night.  The supper was a benefit for the church.  On Monday morning I saw him at Marbucks.  I asked "Hey, why weren't YOU at YOUR church's spaghetti supper?"  The other old folks at the table got a good laugh out of that one.

What would you expect to be the most frequently asked question on the campaign trail?  Taxes?  Roads?  Economic development?  Nope.  Not even close.  The most frequently asked question was "How are you going to be able to get along with those other commissioners?"  Telling.

Some folks were disinterested during my door to door campaigning.  Only one was hostile.  I apologized and told my mom that I would be back to pick the kids up later.

One lady was truly confused.  She let me know that she had already voted for someone else but couldn't understand how I could be on the Republican ticket.  She said "Aren't you a democrat?!"  I said, nooo.  She said "Well you used to be a democrat!"  I said, nooo...you must have me confused with someone else.  Still with a bit cross and confused look in her face I said "Well-the Republican mayor appointed me to the plan commission way back, and then I ran and won my city council seat on the Republican ticket."  Hoping that would persuade her.  Then she said her name.  Ooops....oh yeah....her husband and I differed on a pretty major issue 14 years ago and I didn't tow the party line.  That's me-guilty as charged.

Fortuitous and timely.  That describes my visit to the assisted living facility the day before they voted.  My wife says I have a great rapport with older folks.  I think it's because I have an old soul.  And I also have an exhaustive wealth of useless historical information about most towns and buildings in a 20 mile radius.

While on the trail....I asked if one individual would vote for me.  He countered with "did you vote for me?"  I wanted to so badly ask if that was his litmus test because I'm thinking he might have been surprised by a few answers he would have gotten from others.

I have avoided "gauntlet style" campaigning where one would lay in wait for unsuspecting voters going in or out of a fish fry or other venue.  I would much rather go in and break bread with neighbors and friends and get to know a handful who may or may not vote for me.  To me, that's what building community looks like.  It may not win elections-but it is better for the soul.

Finally-there are good people all throughout our county with some really wonderful stories.  I'll be humbled either way tonight when the results come in.  If I lose, that will be a humbling experience for certain....but if I win, or lose for that matter, I will be and have been humbled by the kind words and support that I've been shown by folks who I've gotten to know recently or have known for years.  And it makes me wonder if people just talked with each other......if we just worked together......how much better our communities would be.

24 April 2014

Sometimes it's the receiving

Better to give than to receive, right?

Last week while out glad-handing and kissing babies in Bourbon and Argos (ok, I didn't kiss any babies, but I did pat a toddler on the head), I stopped on my way between the two communities at a home of an old friend in Tippecanoe Township.  I had been pushing my campaign paraphernalia off on poor folks as I knocked on doors and planted signs on their main streets, but didn't bother to take anything with me at this stop.  I left the car running because I doubted she would be home, but she was, and she invited me in to sit awhile.

As I was getting ready to leave she said that she had something to give me that had been presented to her late husband, a fellow I had worked with when I first began my civic career, a long time ago.  She pulled the neatly folded package out of a drawer in his former office and I could hardly believe my eyes.  Just the night before, as a friend was photographing Old Glory near our front door, I thought to myself....gee...I kinda need a Marshall County flag.  And that's what she unwrapped.

She said she thought I would appreciate it, tearing up.  Which of course began to make me tear-up as I relayed my thoughts from the previous night.  She said it was meant to be then.  Their son became a friend of mine who helped me do some renovation work on our house in town.  He literally worked for franks and beans.  A good guy all the way around.

I left with the flag, pointed my car west and drove into Argos where another sign was planted overlooking the town park, where a few bones of my ancestors were left when it was converted from a burial ground to a park in the 1920s.  I then walked the downtown and visited the barber who set up shop a long time ago in the building that housed my great-grandmother's dress shop, and then visited another merchant who relayed some tough things going on in her life.  By the time I got home that night my heart was pretty full, though my stack of flyers hadn't greatly decreased.  I much prefer this style of campaigning, when I receive a lot more than I hand out.

22 April 2014

The little school on the Summit

View to the southwest from the top of the cemetery
In Tippecanoe Township, of Marshall County there's a place where Highway 10 makes a steep climb above the Tippecanoe River valley below.....it is known as the Summit, the edge of a glacial moraine. And on the Summit in 1844, the township's first burial ground began, along with the township's first school and church. From this point you can get a magnificent 270 degree panoramic view of the valley below you, and it's quite something to imagine the pioneers looking down on Chief Benack's village of Pottawatomie camped near the Tippy to the south.

Summit School, c. 1865

The first school was a log structure that burned and was replaced with a frame building in about 1865. It's been told that windows on the west side of the building were closed in because children were too distracted with funerals in the cemetery around the building; having been on the hill during a cold west wind, I think it may have been for other reasons! And it's also rumor, undocumented, that an Indian brave who was a scout for the U.S. Cavalry is buried in the cemetery. Tyler McWhorter, who died in 1858, was a veteran of the Mexican War. While the little white schoolhouse has gone through some renovations that removed the bell tower and added the front vestibule, it still embodies life in pioneer days. A faithful group of volunteers cared for the structure for many years after school consolidation, and today, having been restored by a local organization, the building has invited school children, young and old, and community folk back for ice cream socials and chili suppers.

The schoolhouse was rededicated in 2002 with over 120 people in attendance, including three former students......one coming from Florida, who was the last pupil to attend through the 8th grade. Today just one of those pupils is with us.  The Summit School & cemetery were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in June of 2008.  Many more years to her!
Tyler McWhorter's gravestone

16 April 2014

Symbol of Sacrifice

The cross represents so much, doesn't it?  In it we find hope, redemption, love, that constant reminder of salvation in all its splendor and glory.  Of course, we understand all this would be impossible without the sacrifice made by God in His son, Jesus Christ.  And we understand how Christ laid down his life-this sacrificial act that brought us redemption.

I wonder, though, do we see the beauty in the cross as a symbol of sacrifice?  And what does that mean for us if we choose to "take up the cross" and follow Christ.  I think it's a stake in the ground for daily living in sacrifice.  In giving up our rights....and that's a painful thought, isn't it?

Through Christ's sacrifice we find life.  It would seem true that in our own personal sacrifices that new life can also be found.  The act of laying down your life, or rights, and the expectations you have in your life, if sacrificed, might produce the new life-a better life-than we could imagine for ourselves.  And most certainly through our sacrifice, new life for those around us.  Christ understood His sacrifice was for us; for whom or what should we make this sacrifice?  Daily nonetheless.

Through the years I've seen the cross in many different lights, but I tend to want to keep it up on the wall behind the pulpit where it can be safely admired from a distance.  I've never fully invited the cross to thrust through my spirit in a way that I think is demanded of us.  It's hard...because it casts a long shadow over the things I think are best for me, though they must pale in comparison to what God wants for me.  The cross is only beautiful because we understand what it led to....what was on the other side of death.  Life.

This Easter, and moving forward, I want my life to demonstrate the cross.  Not around my neck or tattooed on my arm, but I want it to become more powerful than my own will.  I want the cross to fill my spirit and pierce my heart until my will flows out like the blood and water from my Savior's side.  In that sacrifice can real life be found.

14 April 2014

Marshall County: My Hometown

Our family on closing day, 1996
Somewhere along in my life I started to realize that I never had that strong connection I heard peers or adults talk about in relationship to growing up in their hometowns.  I lived a ways outside of town and was transported some distance to attend a private school in Plymouth throughout my high school years.  I didn't have Friday nights at the grid iron, nor the hardwoods.  The community I knew revolved around my small high school, with kids from all parts of the county, and our family business which was a local hub of sorts for farmers, firemen, and the like.

Yet, as my wife can attest, I have this strong connection to Marshall County.  And as blogged earlier, I am running for county commissioner, so there probably is a bit of campaign stumping embedded in this post.  I think there are two reasons for this connection.....something that I think comes across when I talk with people.

Community at Garners Truck Stop
The first is related to my roots.  As my kids know all too well, we can't hardly drive down a country road before I'm pointing out where their forefathers lived.  Our roots go deep in the soil.  In North Township, my ancestors first settled in the 1840s.  In German Township, they settled in the 1830s.  In Walnut Township, they came in the 1840s.  In Green Township, they arrived in the 1860s.  And the family lived in Culver and the Tyner area during the 1930s-50s.  And then my mom, a Bremen girl, and my dad, a LaPaz boy, met at my grandparents' truck stop-Garners.  Then it was my turn to establish a family and I married a Plymouth girl and we began raising our family on Michigan Street.  Being a guy maybe a bit too consumed by history, I can't help but recognize that it wasn't one town that made this man-but I owe a great debt to this collective place I call home.  There's something that gets in the spirit of a person when they understand the blood, sweat and tears left on the soil by their ancestors.  To be surrounded by nearly 200 years of that humbles a guy and makes him want to do his part in building this place for future generations.

The second reason I think I feel this deep connection is maybe because of what I lamented at the beginning.  Thrown into a small school made up of kids from Culver, Argos, Tyner, LaPaz, Bourbon, and Plymouth made me realize the rivalries that far too often go beyond the basketball court, didn't translate within our friendships.  Which then led to hanging out at the Culver drive-in and going to their theater, grabbing supper at the Log House in Argos, or spending many a Friday nights in Plymouth.  Add to that, traversing country roads in and out of every little hamlet and burg, and soon it began to feel like all of Marshall County was my hometown.  Now, I have great memories of going to LaPaz School and the Church of God, and in many respects, Bremen felt like home since we did most of our shopping there, including getting my haircut at Don the barber's.  But the broader appreciation, and the ghosts if you will, from having spent my growing up time in each of our communities, spurs a greater devotion to make sure we all are succeeding.  We might not always agree or see things the same way, but we truly are stronger together.

If a guy can claim a whole county as his hometown, I'd like to stake that claim.  The memories, the history, and working with others over the last 20 years blurs the lines on the map.  In the words of Rodney Atkins, "These are my people, this is where I come from.  We're givin' this life everything we got and then some."

10 April 2014

The Schroeder Family of North Township

The Robert Schroeder Family
Here's a little history (ok, a lot of history) on the family who developed our farm:

Robert Schroeder, Sr. was born in Dearborn County, Indiana on October 27, 1815 to Peter and Nancy Lyons Schroeder.  This was one year prior to Indiana being granted statehood.  Peter was born in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania on November 11, 1786 to Nicholas and ____ Schroeder.  Peter’s parents had emigrated from Prussia in 1785 and settled in Schuylkill County, PA.  Nicholas was born in Prussia in 1745 and died in 1819 in Virginia.  He was a Lutheran minister who moved briefly to Dearborn County, Indiana before returning to Virginia.  They had two children:  Peter and John.

Peter Schroeder married Nancy Lyons in Dearborn County, Indiana in 1812.  Nancy’s parents emigrated from England, first settling in Virginia then moving to Indiana.  Peter and Nancy Schroeder had seven children:  Susanna, Robert, Eliza (Cummins), Peter, Jessee, John, and Joel.  They moved to Rush county in 1820, then to Clinton County in 1831.  Eliza (1817-1884) married David Cummins in Clinton County; they moved to Marshall County in October, 1834.  David Cummins was described as one of the oldest citizens of North Township, having always lived in sight of where he first located (McDonald, 1881).  The Cummins lived just northeast of the Schroeders, on the first road north of the Schroeder Farmstead.  Jessee Schroeder moved to Iowa during the early 1830s, but relocated to Marshall County with his wife, Emily, in 1833, settling along the Michigan Road, but then after 1860 moved to a farm in Polk Township.

Peter Schroeder and Robert Schroeder came to the area that would become Marshall County first in 1832 for exploration purposes.  The two dug ginseng and gathered cranberries to sell to markets in Logansport and Lafayette (History of Indiana, Marshall County Edition, Vol. 2, 1890).  The two spent a few months in the area then returned to Clinton County.  Robert was so pleased with the area that he returned in September, 1833, and settled near the location of the farmstead; he resided in the county for the remainder of his life.  When Robert settled in the county there were only two white families living in the county:  Samuel Taber (his son, Cyrus, was the first white child born in the county on June, 26, 1833), and Charles Ousterhaut.  Both families settled in the spring of 1832 and lived south of Plymouth.  Upon arriving in the county Robert was employed as a superintendent of construction by contractors opening the Michigan Road through Plymouth and some distance north and south of the town; he also assisted in constructing the first bridge across the Yellow River in Plymouth (McDonald, 1881 & 1908). The 1876 Illustrated Atlas states that Robert and Jesse Schroeder (brothers) settled along the line of the Michigan Road in 1832 and were the only white inhabitants in the area until 1835 when the remainder of the lands was open for settlement.

Siblings, c. 1910, prior to dredging Brush Creek
In 1834 Robert was joined by the remainder of his father’s family.  Peter located on Michigan Road lands a three miles north of Plymouth.  This appears to be on Section 9 of Michigan Road lands in North Township, in the vicinity or partly located on the original Robert Schroeder Farmstead.  The Hoosier Homestead awarded to the Schroeder Farmstead in 1977 stated that the farm had been in the family since 1833, indicating a portion of it had been the land on which Robert Sr. settled when he first came to the county (Farmers Exchange, June 17, 1977).  A quit claim suit in 1935 names Peter Schroeder (first, January 17, 1837) and successive owners of the “south part of the north half of the northwest fractional quarter of Section 9 of Michigan Road Lands by Galeman Dexter.  This would appear to be on the east side of Michigan Road, and the south side of 5B Road, an area where it is reported that Peter and Robert operated a cooper shop in the mid 1830s (Marshall County Genealogical Society Library Links, Summer 2011).  Peter Schroeder (Sr.) was present at the organization of the county in 1836, being appointed one of two first associate judges when the first term of court was organized in October, 1836 (1876 Illustrated Atlas); he continued in that role until 1843.  Peter was also listed in estry papers in 1838, having found a cow on his property.  Nancy Lyons Schroeder died in 1846 and was buried at Fairmount Cemetery, just north of the farmstead along the Michigan Road.  Peter (Sr.) died on November 15, 1868 and was also buried at Fairmount Cemetery (Marshall County Republican, Vol. 13, November 26, 1868).  Their son Joel, aged 15 years, 8 months, and 26 days, died on November 20, 1840 and was also buried at the Fairmount Cemetery.  This would have been one of the earliest interments at the cemetery.

Robert, in conjunction with Mr. Packard, erected the first sawmill in the county on Pine Creek in what would become Polk Township in 1835, as well as a log hut in which he resided during that time.  Robert Schroeder’s first home was described as a log cabin that had been built on what was the Frank Martin farm in the 1920s; this is located in the northwest corner of the intersection at Black Bridges (LaPaz: First 100 years).  The saw mill was abandoned.  Robert returned to central Indiana to marry Catherine Driskill on February 1, 1836 in Tippecanoe County.  Catherine was born on January 28, 1817 to William and Elizabeth Driskill in Clinton County, Ohio.  Robert became the North Township Constable in 1837 and held the office of County Commissioner from 1849-1851.  In 1840 both Robert and Peter Schroeder are listed as heads of households in Marshall County.  And in 1843 both are listed under a tax duplicates list for North Township.

Robert and Catherine were the parents of nine children, three of whom died in infancy.  The children who grew to maturity are John (b. 1838), Caroline (Thompson) (b. 1841), Mary (b. 1844), Susanna (Byers), Catherine (Trowbridge) (b. 1852), and Robert Jr. (b. 1860).  Two children who bore their father’s parents’ names, Peter and Nancy, died December 26, 1857 (age 1 year, 7 months, and 11 days) and November 16, 1850 (age 1 year, 8 months, and 8 days) respectively.  They are buried next to each other at the Fairmount Cemetery.  The name of the third child, its’ death and burial location is unknown, but likely it occurred prior to 1850, and likely it was buried at Fairmount.

In the 1850 census Robert is listed as a farmer and head of household in North Township.  His wife, Catherine, and children John (12), Caroline (9), Mary, Susana, and Nancy are also listed.  John was called the second white child born in the county in a news article reporting his death in 1925 (Plymouth Pilot, November 3, 1925); his birth would have been in 1838 and the article stated that his family had settled near Burns Bridge.  Robert, along with his brother John and Mr. Woodward (also from the area) left for California to mine for gold in 1852; they returned in 1855.  The same year the Marshall County Agricultural Society was formed “chiefly through the efforts of Robert Schroeder” and two other men (1876 Illustrated Atlas).  In 1857 Robert became a Wesleyan Methodist minister and in 1858 he was admitted to the Marshall County Bar.  He made a lucrative business of drafting legal documents.

The house, as it pretty much looks today too
The 1860 census lists Robert Schroeder Sr. as the head of household in North Township.  Catherine, his wife, and children Caroline, Mary, Catherine, Susan, and Robert, Jr. are also listed.  From 1860 to 1868 Robert Sr. engaged again in the mill and lumber business.  The family moved into their new homestead in 1867; it was located on a parcel containing just over 150 acres.  In 1870 the family is listed in the North Township census with children Mary, Catherine, Robert, and grandson Edward who was Mary’s son (born in 1862) and retained the Schroeder name.  Farmhands and maid William Wilkinson, Joshua Bryan, and Margaret Middleton, also resided with the family.  Robert Sr. was elected Justice of the Peace for North Township in 1874 and held the office for four years.  When the Old Settlers’ Society of Marshall County formed in 1878 he was unanimously elected President, since he was the oldest resident in the county at that time.  He was also a Notary Public from 1858 into the 1880s.

The 1880 census lists the family with children Mary and Robert Jr. still residing at home, along with grandson Edward.  Jane Wade, a maid, was also living with the family.  In 1880 Robert Sr. ran for the office of State Representative; he lost by only 331 votes.  Robert Sr. was a staunch Republican, having originally aligned himself with the Whig party then gravitating to the Republican Party when the Whig party dissolved.  He was also a firm promoter of the Temperance Movement.  Robert Sr. drew up a will on November 26, 1886, naming Robert Jr., and Edward, his grandson, at co-executors.  The will provided that the entire estate be left to his wife Catherine in the event of his death, with a stipend of $50 annually to Mary as long as she remained unmarried.  In the event that Catherine would die first, the entire estate was to be divided equally between Robert Jr. and Edward, and again, provide for the annual stipend to Mary.  Robert Sr. indicated that his other children were remembered by advancements he had made.

Their daughter Susanna, who had married Jacob Byers and moved to Iowa, made yearly trips back to the farmstead to visit the family.  She struggled with an illness in 1887 and thought a trip to the comforts of her native home would improve her health.  She instead died at the Schroeder Homestead on September 12 of that year, with her parents by her bedside.  She was buried at Fairmount Cemetery.

The mother, Catherine, died on March 14, 1890.  The location of her death was not mentioned in the obituary, but it is assumed she was at the homestead.  The obituary complimented Catherine by stating that the “hospitality of the Schroeder Household is known to almost every person in the county”.  She left behind her husband, three daughters, two sons, 26 grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren.  Services were held at the Fairmount United Brethren Church and she was buried at Fairmount Cemetery.  Robert Sr. died at his home on Tuesday afternoon of August 7, 1894 after being ill for several weeks, only able to sit in a chair “day and night”.  His funeral service was also held at the Fairmount United Brethren Church, and he was buried next to his wife.  At the time of his death he was called the oldest settler of Marshall County.  Their tombstone is inscribed with “first white settler of Marshall County.”

John Schroeder, the eldest son of Robert Sr., married Mary Abshire (b. 1843) in 1861.  They are listed in the 1870 census for North Township with the following children:  Milroy (possibly also known as James) (b. 1862), Mary (b. 1865), Sarah (b. 1867), and William (b. 1869).  William was a private with company M, 157th, IVI, in the Spanish American War; he died in the war.  There are two J. Schroeder residences listed on the 1880 North Township plat map.  One contains 80 acres and is immediately south of the Robert Schroeder Sr. farmstead.  The other contains 82 acres and is located just west of the Michigan Road, west of the Schroeder farmstead; the latter was owned by Carrie Schroeder in 1908.  These could be John, the son, or John the brother to Robert.  Both John (presumably the son) and Robert Sr. created a mortgage for the property south of the farmstead in 1876; likely the son built the homestead on that property that appears in the 1880 plat.  John, the son, was estranged for his wife for several years prior to his death in 1925.  He died at the county home at which he had been a resident since 1919; he was buried at Oakhill Cemetery in Plymouth.  Mary died in 1933 and was also buried at Oakhill.

Robert Sr.’s daughter, Catherine Trowbridge, died in 1928 and was also buried at Oakhill Cemetery.  Edward, the grandson who inherited an equal half of the estate, constructed a home further east of the homestead in about 1900, on the same side of the road.  Edward died in 1919 and was buried at Oakhill; his wife, also named Carrie, died in 1964.  Edward and Carrie’s children were E. Naomi (Stoneburner) (b. 1901), Olive R. (Dodson) (b. 1904), and Clarice E. (b. 1906).

After Edward’s death the jointly owned property, owned by his heirs and Robert Jr.’s heirs, was divided.  Edward’s heirs received the easternmost 40 acres of the farmstead and the south half of the acreage owned west of the railroad.  The remainder went to Robert’s heirs.  The division of land, included in the abstract, stated that Robert Jr. and Edward had jointly erected two dwellings and one barn on the farmstead.  A verbal agreement between the two men resulted in a general division of the land for farming and a general division of the barn for each to use half.  The house occupied by Edward Schroeder was to be removed from the lands that would be divided to Robert Schroeder Jr.’s heirs, and to vacate his half of the barn without doing damage to the barn.  If the men jointly erected the existing barn on the property, it likely was constructed during the 1880s.  The second dwelling constructed by the men mentioned in the abstract may have been a small farmhand quarters on the property, possibly used by Robert Jr. until his father’s passing when he moved his family into the homestead.

Robert Schroeder Jr. married Carrie Kleckner (b. 1871) on February 2, 1888.  They took up residence in the homestead, possibly prior to his parents’ death.  They were listed in the 1900 North Township census with their children:  Agnes (b. 1891), Veva (Basset), and Lynda (Thomas).  By 1910 two other children were listed with them:  Mildred (Boggs) and Kenneth (b. 1906).  Carrie’s brother, Harry and his wife, Maude Kleckner, and Carrie’s mother, Malinda, were also living with them.  They had a number of boarders:  Samuel Zile, Otto Dock, Ben Farel, John Anderson, Herbert Espach, Cliff Sanseman, Frank Whitner, John Williamson, George Barber, and George Moslander.  A speculative interurban line was being constructed through the Schroeder farmstead during this time and the census states that at least two of these men were working on the “electric road”.  The others were denoted with “odd jobs”, possibly farmhands.

Robert Schroeder Jr. died in 1917 and was buried at Oakhill Cemetery.  The same year two of his daughters, Lynda and Agnes, moved to South Dakota to teach.  Lynda met William Thomas in South Dakota and was married there in 1918.  Their only child, Robert, was born there on July 31, 1920.  The mother, Carrie, died in 1933 and was buried next to her husband.  Their son Kenneth, who remained a bachelor, became the sole resident of the homestead.  Kenneth made improvements to the barn in 1926; his initials “KWS” and “1926” are inscribed in the concrete on the west wall of the basement.  Agnes, who also remained unmarried, received the homestead from Kenneth in 1938.  Kenneth died in 1944 and Agnes died in 1947.  Both are buried at Oakhill.

Lynda Thomas’s family moved back to Marshall County on March 20, 1940 and took up residence in the homestead.  William and Lynda Thomas began raising beef cattle on the farmstead, which they increased to over 200 acres.  Their son, Robert “Bob” married Dorothy Carothers on June 7, 1944, who grew up on the farmstead immediately south of the Schroeder farmstead (the home fronts the Michigan Road).  

08 April 2014

Old Bourbon Gym-Iconic Indiana

The Old Bourbon Gym is heading for a listing on the National Register of Historic Places.  This may open the door for funding to complete some restoration work on the beloved community landmark.  Personally, I've never been in a better preserved gym from the time basketball was quickly becoming THE Hoosier pastime.  Good luck Bourbon, and God bless for saving this icon of Indiana.  The following is a brief history of the gym courtesy of KW Garner Consulting.

The Bourbon Community Building-Gymnasium was used for entertainment and recreation, as well as other community functions associated with the school.  School plays were held in the building using a stage built into the east wall.  Usually two plays a year were held:  a school play and a senior play.  Graduation commencements were also held in the gym.  Prior to its construction, the community often used opera houses in the downtown or church sanctuaries for commencement programs and other entertainment functions.  It appears the first graduation commencement ceremony held in the gym occurred in 1931.  A program for the event indicates the location as the “Community Hall”.  The new building also included a projection room from which moving pictures could be shown to a large audience.  The new community hall/gymnasium had filled a previous unmet need in the community for a facility large enough to accommodate such social activities.

The most pervasive use of the building was for athletic purposes, and more specifically for basketball.  With the growing popularity of basketball at the turn of the century, communities typically found large open halls in the upper floors of downtown buildings in which to play the sport.  Bourbon was no different.  In 1915 basketball was played in the Davis Opera House, a facility that also had served as a site for graduation ceremonies.  The Bourbon teams were called the “Comets”.  A girls’ basketball team was formed in 1918.  In 1928, with the construction of the community hall/gymnasium, the community had a new facility in which to play the sport.  The Bourbon boys’ basketball team won the Marshall County championship game over Plymouth in 1940.  They won sectional titles in 1943, 1950, and 1962.  The 1962 sectional title was won in a close game over the Bremen Lions with a final score of 56 to 55.  After consolidation in 1963, the corporation’s team names were changed to the Triton Trojans.

Basketball was invented at Springfield College in Massachusetts in 1891.  Its inventor, Dr. James Naismith, conceived the sport to provide athletic activity for young men during the winter months.  Reverend Nicholas McKay was one of the students who learned the sport from Naismith while attending college at Springfield.  McKay was sent to Crawfordsville, Indiana after his studies ended in Springfield.  McKay, working for the YMCA, organized the first game of basketball in Crawfordsville in 1894 where a team fielded by the Crawfordsville YMCA played against a team fielded by the Lafayette YMCA.  The game was played in a large upper floor hall in downtown Crawfordsville, using wood peach baskets for hoops into which the basketballs were tossed.  The sport was particularly well-received in Indiana.  By 1911 the state’s first tourney was held at Indiana University in Bloomington; twelve teams participated.  By 1938 over 800 schools participated in the state tournament.  The popularity of the sport continued to grow through the 1940s and 1950s, but attendance began to waiver as school consolidation during the 1960s began to reduce the number of schools participating in tournament play.

E. P. Smith, who served as Bourbon’s principal from 1928-1956, described the gymnasium-community hall addition in a Bourbon News-Mirror newspaper article on September 5, 1929.  Smith said that the community hall or “gym” as it was more practically called provided seating for 500 people in the built-in bleachers on the south side of the gym.  “Knock-down” bleachers on the north side of the gym provided for seating for 400 more people.  The gym was described as having two shower room and two dressing rooms (these are located beneath the built-in bleachers on the south side of the building).  The shower and dressing rooms could accommodate either two boys or girls teams.  The article stated that the building also had a fireproof room for a moving picture projector, though it appears that the building was not furnished with a projector until the class of 1940 purchased it as a senior gift.  The building also had a 20’ x 30’ stage constructed off its east side into the existing school building.  Curtains for the stage were purchased by the class of 1928 as a senior gift.  The article described the interior finishes:  the walls were composed of glazed tile and the gym floor is maple.  The principal stated the need for the facility because physical training had become a required course of study in Indiana.

02 April 2014

Will God make it 3 for 3?

Hoosier Reborn & Family at Sycamore Hill, Indiana
So-this notebook from my previous post.  In September, 2007, a band by the name of Simple Man followed our church leadership to their annual retreat which, in my mind anyway, became one of the most important watershed moments for the direction of the church.  The band came back to the church at the conclusion of the retreat to hold some time of reflection and worship for the congregation, just as they had facilitated on the retreat.

While the band was in town, our pastor asked if the lead singer would come in and pray specifically for a couple of guys in our church-me being one.  Dan (the singer) suggested I read a book called Discover Your Destiny.  Hmmmm.  I'm not typically one to get into self-help, self-actualizing types of books, so I was pretty skeptical.  But, I relented...and went through the book, journaling out the questions at the end of each chapter in my notebook.

As I went through each chapter and series of questions, the book led me (any reader) to process through goals and desires in your life to better understand what may be preventing you from fulfilling those.  It helped the reader pare down all of the "stuff" into three concrete dreams/desires of your heart.  I landed on these three:  start my own business focusing on preservation, have a place of retreat in the country, and change the culture of politics particularly in relationship to the Church in America.  As I was reading through the broad aspects of what these would look like and what would be necessary to see these happen, all recorded right there in my notebook on pages dated from October through December, 2007, it was quite startling to realize that in just seven years two of the three have been fulfilled.  Two out of three.  2 of 3.  In seven years.

How would I have ever known that by the end of June in 2008, I would have to make a decision to step out of the only job I had ever known and start my own business....in my own words to "ride it for as long as God lets me."  God still has me on that ride.  And then at the end of 2009, I would stumble upon this place of respite in the country we call Sycamore Hill, Indiana.  Which, I realized in sketching out a logo for the farm using its initials, in reverse, they are I H S...in His service.

So, God's left the toughest one until last.  And it's the only one I didn't ask for myself, though I desperately want to be an agent for change in breaking the sad culture of politics in our community.....and more broadly, change the culture of the Church as it relates to politics.  I don't know what that looks like honestly.  And I don't even know if I will get to be a part of that.  But for both the health of the Church, and the health of our community, we need to more fully grasp the negative impact of politics as usual.  I've been told to keep these kinds of comments to myself-that somehow it is unhealthy to talk about it in light of the Church, or that it only alienates me in political circles.  Yeah, somehow I think ignoring it won't lead to change.

So, now with a new understanding of how I need to be truly thankful for realizing and living those first two goals, I can only patiently pray that God will answer the third.  But I can't keep quiet....not when I'm expecting 3 for 3.

31 March 2014

Author & Finisher of the Notebook

From one of the retreat hikes
I have this old leather bound book-part sketchbook, part notebook, part journal, part prayer book.  I picked it up in 2003 during a trip to Galena, Illinois.  I keep it in a drawer in the coffee table.  It's very handy that way.  It isn't full yet, several more years to go, I'm sure.  The book has walked with me through some pretty difficult times in my life, through some dark times, through some pretty amazing times too.  It's become a chronology of the last decade of my life.

In February, 2008, it followed me to a cabin in southern Indiana for a focused time of prayer and seeking God.  I prepped my time by writing out several probing questions I wanted to ponder.  Instead I came back, questions unanswered, but with a much broader understanding of what God was doing in my life by just telling me to stop and enjoy "the clearing".  Several pages were filled during that retreat-and in looking back the scribbles became almost prophetic as life took some surprising turns later that same year.

Earlier this year we scheduled a meeting of the Historic Michigan Road Association in Madison, Indiana last week.  Realizing my wife and kids would be in Florida, and that I really love that area of Indiana-it seemed only appropriate to take a few days for myself.  But, booking a room where I had wanted to stay became an issue and ultimately I landed on returning to the state park, an hour away from Madison, where I had retreated to the cabin in 2008.  This only seemed appropriate since my wife "gifted" this retreat idea to me at Christmas.

The notebook followed me again to the cabin.  Early Thursday morning, before I set out for a hike, I started flipping through the book and landed on the pages filled six years ago.  So much has happened in those six years.  The words I read began to settle pretty deep in my soul.  And on the sleet-bathed hike they began to gnaw at me.  I got back to the cabin, plopped down on a couch, and started flipping back page by page chronologically.  And what it revealed, honestly, began to almost overwhelm me.

There was God.  Every step of the way.  In every page, walking through this notebook as if He were the author building and revealing plot lines in His own timing.  In simple journal entries from reading through the Bible in a year, in entries made from questions out of a book about our destinies, in simple questions and prayers that I scribbled down beginning in 2003.  In freehand sketch after sketch of the David Tree, of the lake outside that cabin, of a cleansing waterfall.

After reading aloud the fifth or sixth entry to my buddy who was trying to do his own thing......he said "that's quite a record" probably to shut me up.  I know, right?  So, I made a simple entry in the book during this retreat.  I wrote out my life verse, Micah 6:8, and journal-prayed it underneath the passage.  And that seemed like enough.  The affirmation found in seeing God page after page, made me realize.....well.....that that's all I really needed to know.  He'll be in future pages building and revealing the plot.  God, the Author & Finisher of our faith, my faith.....here in a tangible notebook.

27 March 2014


Flipping through some old files from my earlier campaigns I came across a letter written to party leadership in April, 2006, along with a "manifesto".  I don't see that my core values have changed during this time, but I found it quite interesting.  I soon remembered the scenario that led to the letter and values document.  The term manifesto has gotten a bum rap-often tied to probably the most famous manifesto (the communist one), but Ron Paul called one of his books a manifesto-so we find it used at both ends of the spectrum.

Today's leaders are careful not to fulfill the definition of manifesto in their words.  They hold their fingers up to see which way the wind (money too) is blowing, and then make decisions on that.  Not to be caught in flip-flopping or taking a position that might be unpopular with some, we see leaders with hidden agendas, scurrilous motives, and unable to take a stand for much of anything.  Looking back now, though I felt a bit indignant in having to defend myself, giving definition to who I am and what I believe has made me stronger in my convictions.  So...it's all good.

My letter stated that it was done to defend my conservative nature and began with "To write briefly of my Republican"ness":  I am descended from generations of Republicans and for over a decade had the opportunity to glean insight from probably our best party model, Doc Bowen......Regarding a possible agenda, I have no defense.  I do have an agenda-it's called a vision, a set of goals.  The thought that it is somehow hidden is ridiculous.  Likely I have been scrutinized more than most because of what I have produced.  There has been nothing hidden or inconsistent since I returned to my community after college.  My agenda is to serve the public, to make our community and county the best they can be."

And now publicly for the first time, the Manifesto:

I believe foremost in modeling Christ as the method to which I will apply myself and weigh decisions.  I will make and have made mistakes, but it is core to my belief system.  My values have been instilled through generations of conservative family and political leaders I admire.  Doc Bowen has been my model of servant leadership, I also admire the vision Ronald Reagan outlined for our country and the rugged spirit of individualism Teddy Roosevelt adhered to.

I believe in individual rights, but with those rights come great responsibility.  We must not infringe upon the rights of others or burden our society.  While my responsibility may be to serve the public, I believe our greater responsibility is to the next generation.

One should teach a person how to fish rather than give them fish, but not permit them to starve in the learning process.  Empowerment of the individual makes contributing members of our society, but in that must be understood the need to act collectively as a community.  I believe in, and am a product of, a strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit; my expectations of others are grounded in this.

I believe in order and enforcement of our laws.  There must be firm and appropriately severe consequences to the violation of our laws.

I believe in strict financial stewardship and diligent savings.  I do not believe in spending beyond available means.  I personally do not believe in the pursuit of wealth for its own sake; our calling should be our pursuit.

While me must continually find ways to streamline government and lower costs, I also recognize that our quality of life has the potential to attract people and investment to our community.  Dollars spent wisely will prove financially prudent long-term.

Private investment is the bedrock of economic success for society.  I also believe that there may be circumstances for government to apply itself or assist investment for the greater good when private investment on its own proves impossible.  I am also committed to the preservation of local vendors versus national competition for our local economy.

Government should set the standard for society.  Government should be a symbol of civic pride, just as our forefathers created it to be and left as a heritage for us.

We have been divinely appointed as stewards of our environment and therefore should work actively toward its betterment.  Our health depends largely upon its health.

I believe that there must be a vision for the future and careful planning to achieve it.  This vision must be one that is created by and for the people, championed by leaders and be grounded in our rights under the Constitution.

25 March 2014

The call to Fiji

My little brother's family-Fiji-bound
Sunday morning I dropped my wife and kids off at the airport in South Bend.  They were Florida-bound to spend time with her parents and soak in the warmth and sun.  Meanwhile, back in Indiana, snow is in the forecast again.

After I left the airport, I made a b-line for Middlebury where my little brother was preaching his last service at a church he had been with for eight years.  His family is Fiji-bound.  For two years.  That's a long time for so far away.  The church gave them a great celebratory service with a dinner after.  The theme of the service was answering the call.  My brother's family is answering a call by God on their lives in their move to Fiji to start a new ministry on the islands.

I began pondering what exactly a call from God can look like.  What the conversation with God goes like in answering the call, and how obedience to a calling may not necessarily result in how we think it should look.  I think the entire crux of "the call" isn't what may follow, but instead that we follow.  That we respond in obedience to what God is asking of us.  What happens next is entirely up to God.  Success, failure, joy, pain...all may follow a call on your life regardless if it is to Fiji or across the street.

God's just looking for obedience.  He's not looking for rock stars....quite the opposite I'm sure.  I hear of people who have stepped out and answered a call on their lives, only to be met with what most of us would perceive as failure.  And then we, and maybe because of us, those who answered the call, begin to question if they heard God correctly.  And doubt sets in.  Yet God's "success" was in the obedience and surrender of hearts in answering His call.  Not in what followed.

I've gently rebuffed comments by a few people who have framed my campaign as maybe part of some larger plan by God.  I used to think that way, but that's not what God is looking for.  He's just looking for someone to be obedient.  That's it.  It doesn't translate to a win or loss.  It's about understanding my heart, knowing God in how He created me, and answering the call.  And then learning about Him and myself along the way-in success and failure, in joy and pain.

Think about it this way.  When our kids were much younger, there were times we rewarded good decisions that they made by giving them a piece of candy or a cookie.  My wife and I weren't excited about the cookie-we were just pleased that they made the right decision, that they were obedient.  As our children grew older and we weened them off "rewards", they still (not always of course!) were obedient.  That's what brought us pleasure, because we knew that in being obedient they were making good decisions that would be for their own good.

Being God's children, we're left with decisions to be obedient all the time.  We're not entitled to rewards just because we answered the call.  If we demanded a cookie every time we obeyed God, the first time we weren't rewarded might be the last time we obeyed.

I'm fully confident my brother and his family are answering this call out of obedience.  In that sense, God's plan has already been fulfilled in his life....because His plan for each of us is simply to follow Him.  Too often we put the focus on ourselves by talking about a greater, larger plan of God for our lives.  God's just calling us daily to follow Him-let Him worry about the bigger picture and define what are our successes and failures.