28 March 2013

On a mission in Tefft: 46380

Hettie and Uncle Alonzo Hilliard, Postmaster at Tefft
As I mentioned before, I have collected more information on my family tree over the last few months which has led to a great cache' of pictures that I have found on-line.  This picture of my great x3 uncle, Orphus Alonzo Hilliard, and his wife, Hettie, was a great find.  Evidently Uncle Alonzo moved westward from LaPaz, Indiana to an even smaller town in the midst of the freshly drained Grand Kankakee Marsh in northern Jasper County, Indiana.  Now-whether he moved to Dunnville or Tefft in the late 1800s is unclear-but we know it was one and the same.

What?

Isaac Dunn, a pioneer settler of the Kankakee Marsh, laid out Dunnville in 1883 just south of his log cabin which was located between Dunnville and the Kankakee River.  Dunn built a bridge across the Kankakee, according to oral tradition, from a Ferris wheel he scrapped from the Chicago Exhibition in 1893.  I've heard this refuted, but it does make for a great story....and the restored bridge would make for a great picture on a sunnier day.


Dunn's Bridge
Soon the folks in Dunnville began getting their fellow Hoosier's mail intended to go to Danville, and Danvillites began to get Dunnvillites mail, which made the postmasters go, well, postal I suppose.  Because of the confusion Dunnville was changed to Tefft, named for Dunn's brother-in-law.  When this occurred, I'm not sure.  But I do know that at least while Uncle Alonzo was postmaster in the community, it was receiving mail sent to Tefft.  Alonzo was postmaster from 1909-1937.  If you look closely at the photo at the top, a board with POST OFFICE and TEFFT painted on it is nailed to the corner of the building in the background between the couple.  My guess is that the photo is from the 1930s.

Welcome to Tefft!
So, being the inquisitive fool that I am, and since a trip to Tefft would only be minutes out of my way from my latest excursion to Monon, with this picture in hand I went looking for Uncle Alonzo's house and former post office.  Amid the unusually late lake-effect flurries of our post-spring equinox, I rode into town on a mission.

The Alonzo Hilliard family and home, c. 1900, Tefft or Dunnville?

Unfortunately, I think I was looking for the wrong house!  Because when I went back on-line to dig up a little more information on Alonzo, I found this earlier picture of my ancestor-which I believe is the same house some 30+ years prior to the shot of the house-post office.  Alonzo was also a carpenter, and since the house looks new in this earlier photo-I imagine he built it himself.


What I assumed took the place of the Tefft Post Office
I also wanted to see Tefft's current post office, which was even less evident than a scrap piece of wood nailed to the corner of a house.  It is now housed in their former schoolhouse which was constructed in 1916.  I saw the school.  I didn't see the post office.  Surprisingly enough, Tefft has its very own zip code:  46380.  Why do I get the sense that this little town's post office may be on the chopping block? 

Another trip to Tefft awaits.



5 comments:

Valerie Kwasigroch said...

you are correct, the old post office house is no longer there, there was a fire, and a new house was built-this had to happen after 1915 b/c we have a firedamaged portrait of Grace Hilliard(b 1892), OL's youngest daughter and she is about 18 in the portrait. The new house was built on the same property, It is 3 buildings down from the railroad tracks heading into town from rt 10. (rr, garage, house, ol and hetty's house)

hoosier reborn said...

Thanks for your comments Valerie. I hope to swing by Tefft again.

Valerie Kwasigroch said...

we always do when we are traveling from Illinois over to ohio. Always looking to connect with cousins related to hilliards/coopers thanks for your blog! v

hoosier reborn said...

Valerie,

Do you happen to know from what part of Ohio John and Maria Hilliard originally came from?

Valerie Kwasigroch said...

I have been on that hunt for some time...my best guess is SW Ohio, (oddly near where I am from) Pls contact me at kwas44@yahoo.com for the details.