29 October 2014

A Cigar you can Bank on



Bankable cigars.  I'm not even sure what that means.  But it's patented and belonged to the N. N. Smith Company out of Frankfort, Indiana.  In a recent research project in Lebanon, just down the road from Frankfort, I came across a handsome building near its courthouse square that had the company name engraved high above its entry.


I had never heard of the company before, and so I went googling, as I often do just to see what's out there while researching and suddenly a number of photos of old cigar boxes popped up.  Mr. Noah Smith's "bankable cigar" was patented in 1917.  He built a cigar manufacturing facility in Frankfort in 1919, "the Bankable Building", and then expanded with a second building, remarkably similar to his Frankfort plant, in Lebanon in about 1926.  The production capacity of the company reached 125,000 cigars daily.  That just seems crazy.

Smith sold his interest to an intermediate manufacturer, until it was sold again to a firm known as the National Cigar Company in 1943.  That company began production of a few cigar lines with names tied to Indiana including the "Lincoln Highway" and the "Hoosier Poet" which featured James Whitcomb Riley on the box.  The company still exists in Frankfort, running production out of the old Bankable Building:  http://www.broadleafcigars.com/tour.htm.

I can't help but think of my grandpa and the smell of cigar smoke writing this one.

22 October 2014

Hymn 520 in the 900th Post


Earlier this year my aunt handed down to me a few family heirlooms, books mostly, that belonged to my Moore ancestors.  Of the small collection, the oldest is a chunky little book of Methodist hymns printed in 1829 from the collection  of John Wesley.  It is well-worn with a leather cover and tiny print.  There are a total of 606 hymns packed into this tiny book, of which I know but a small handful-maybe a half-dozen.  There is no music, only lyrics, which causes me to wonder what the unknown hymns sound like.  It makes me imagine my great x4 grandfather, Andrew Moore, standing and leading his congregation from this little book on the edge of the Indiana prairie in the 1830s.

Scouring the index for hymns I would know, I noticed that they are categorized into themes including birthdays, funerals, and Christmas.  And since this is my birthday-time-of-the-year, I thought I would include one of the two birthday hymns in my blog post today.  So, in celebrating 46 years in this my 900th post, a hymn I make my prayer.

Hymn 520, verses 1, 3, 6
Rev. Kingsworth

God of my life, to Thee
My cheerful soul I raise!
Thy goodness bade me be,
And still prolongs my days
I see my natal hour return,
And bless the day that I was born.

Long as I live beneath,
To Thee O let me live!
To Thee my every breath
In thanks and praises give!
Whate'er I have, whate'er I am,
Shall magnify my Maker's Name.

Then when the work is done,
The work of faith and power,
Receive thy favour'd son,
In death's triumphant hour,
Like Moses to thyself convey,
And kiss my raptur'd soul away.

15 October 2014

the Orchard

The first two (and only two) apples produced from Sycamore Hill Orchard this year-they tasted better than they looked
When I was a kid, the months of September and October came with the expectation that not less than a few days would be spent at Lemert's Orchard, just south of Teegarden, Indiana, picking apples with my grandfather.  Gramps set up a crate-making assembly line in the garage at the truckstop and often traded the crates he built for apples at Lemerts.  I recall riding in the back of his pick-up to the orchard and back, some 15 miles round-trip....something you can't do today.  And I recall stopping briefly at the cider press at the orchard farmstead and drinking amber goodliness out of an old tin cup they had strung to the press.  Recently I came across one of the crates gramps made, that my dad had placed on the brush pile, its in my garage now.

A few of last year's peach crop-none this year
When we moved to Sycamore Hill I determined to set out a small orchard for ourselves.  A year later we placed a dozen trees in the ground....and, with fierce competition from the deer, most survived.  Last year we picked a full bushel basket off the peach tree, and this year-which was pitiful for fruit crops-we pulled the first apples from a tree (2 apples to be exact).  The grape vines I set out are doing exceptionally well-our second season of canning juice completed last month.

2013 vintage grape juice
Last week I visited a friend in Culver and our conversation turned to the orchard industry that was thriving on the east shore of Lake Maxinkuckee during most of the 20th century, right up until the last decade.  One remnant orchard remains along 18th Road, the trees unpruned and now competing for room against an onslaught of brush filling the once neatly mowed paths of the orchard.  Since I have a project in that area that revolves around the old Lake Maxinkuckee Orchard, my curiosity was piqued when he started asking questions about an old foundation on what was once the Vonnegut Orchard.  So we took a long hike and found what appears to be the foundation of a caretakers cottage built about 100 years ago.  The cottage would have looked out over the vast orchard once managed by the Vonnegut (yes, Kurt Vonnegut) family who summered at the lake.

Believed to be the caretaker's cottage steps on the former Vonnegut Orchard
Standing there, imagining what it must have looked like, smelled like, hearkened back for me days standing in the midst of Lemerts Orchard, taking a big bite out of a Yellow Delicious and letting the juice run down my arm.  Years later, something in me still wanted that experience so I would stop and pick up a bag of apples in the fall at our local farm market, and eat not less than one on my trip back to college in Michigan.  A few years ago my daughter wanted that apple-picking experience and we were hard-pressed to find an orchard, let along one that would let you pick from their trees.
Our 2009 trip to the orchard
I don't think it's a matter of waxing nostalgic when I say I wish for yesterday, at least as far as this matter is concerned.  I think it's a basic instinct to want a stronger connection to the land, to understand the seed, the tree, the food of which you partake.  I think it's something our Creator put in us.  Maybe that's why fall harvest time has us longing for something we seek out in pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and the like.  Enjoy this time of the year.  I know I do.

08 October 2014

Then Pennsylvania Railroad in Warsaw, Indiana

A view along the Pennsylvania Railroad and Jefferson Street, in Warsaw, in c. 1910.  The depot is on the right and the Haines Hotel is on the left.
 The Pennsylvania Railroad through Warsaw, Indiana has a great collection of railroad structures.  Due to the alignment's push down the middle of a four block section of Jefferson Street, an urban "vista" is produced that is one of the nicest feeling, step-back-into-time sorta experiences one could have on the Pennsy.  A steel girder truss bridge forms a viaduct unlike any other along this route.  The viaduct formed at Columbia Street was a product of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation erected in 1929.  Most of the Pennsy's viaducts have a single span with no intermediate supports, only the stone abutments.  At Columbia Street the railroad provided for pedestrian walkways with a steel frame that separates the road from the sidewalk.  And then they did the unthinkable, they incorporated a bit of flare in the design with half-arched brackets to support the girders.
The viaduct at Columbia Street.  A plaque in the upper right corner indicates it was built in 1929.
This type of steel girder truss bridge on stone abutments is pretty common along the route.  Most date to about 1890-1905.  The design of the late arrival at Columbia Street I think shows the building success and popularity of the railroad in the public's mind.....the structure became a piece of civic pride.  Sanborn fire insurance maps indicate there was a steel bridge at this location as early as 1892; a similar viaduct on the Pennsy was enlarged in Plymouth in about 1890.

Detail of the 1929 bridge
 It was an exceptionally cold and snowy day on our Pennsylvania Railroad structures reconnaissance mission.  Which was unfortunate because I probably could have hung out in the four block Jefferson Street section for awhile waiting for a train to come through-just to get a sense of what it was like.  Unlike most of the locations along the Pennsy in Indiana, the alignment's routing down the middle of a street, or the street's alignment straddling the railroad (which came first, I do not know) provided an opportunity for commercial establishments to locate immediately on the route.

Same view as the old post card, but from the opposite direction
 In this view, facing east, the railroad constructed their depot (on the left and below) in 1893.  The 1892 Sanborn map of this location shows an empty plot of land with "depot to be built here".  Across the street the Haines family constructed a hotel (right side) shortly after the depot was built.  Brick pavers still form the platform around the depot from which people boarded the train, though the canopy is long gone.  The style applied to the depot came to dominate design for new depots constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad.  It has Colonial formality but borrows from Victorian-era Queen Anne design as well.

The Penn Depot, 1893, in Warsaw today.
 The house below screams railroad hotel or boarding house.  It is a great example of Italianate design, a style whose popularity rose with the economic boon most towns experienced with the coming of the railroad era.  Since the Pennsy was built in 1856, the bones of this old place may go back to as early as c. 1865.  It is located further west of the depot and viaduct.  And you can see in this picture, it had started to snow.

Another possible railroad boarding house, c. 1865, west of Columbia Street.

01 October 2014

T. S. Turney was here: 1904


I have a problem purely of my own making.  At times I can get a bit bored so I like to give myself "projects".  I have a lot of these, and often they go unfinished.  Such was the case when I decided to complete a survey of all of the Pennsylvania Railroad structures across Indiana.  This would have been from the 1856 line that largely parallels U.S. 30 today.  I worked with a budding historian, began in the middle of the route (Plymouth) and worked our way east to the state line.  We came up a few miles short before it was time to turn around and head home.

The survey yielded some great architectural finds.  We documented nearly 40 railroad-related structures on this line.  However, my biggest interest was in the stone bridge work that dominated the Pennsy line during their reconstruction of the route in about 1900.  The massive rusticated stone abutments and arches have always held a certain charm and engineering interest for me.  So, I was all in.

The legacy bridge between Atwood and Etna Green
Between Etna Green and Atwood we duly noted a railroad bridge with the typical rusticated (rough stone face) blocks that composed the bridge abutments.  However, this one was different.  It didn't serve as a bridge over a road or creek-it just seemed to straddle, well, nothing.  So in our photo documentation is seemed reasonable to walk under the bridge to check out the stone work.  I have seen chisel marks and other tooling marks that made me believe there was some carved instructions to assembly.  But, I had never seen century-old graffiti.  This was a legacy bridge.

Creating a stone bridge for a railroad, 1890
I couldn't have imagined how hard it was to find a photo of bridge-building by railroads!
The stonework under this bridge was loaded with the initials and names of, what I had presumed, were the builders of these bridges across the Pennsy.  These were all marked with the date 1904.  In later bridge investigations, we turned up only a handful of names on all other bridges combined.  So I had to wonder-was this the last of the bridges built by this crew?  Was it here that they were going to leave their mark for posterity?

A Baltimore & Ohio Railroad-building crew from c. 1920.
Unfortunately few of the names could be deciphered well.  I came back with three names:  T. S. Turney, J. E. Belliet, and Ben H. Frost.  I did as much on-line investigative work as reasonably possible and only Mr. Turney provided a solid lead.  So, for your reading pleasure, here is the life of T. S. Turney.

 I found that he was Truman S. Turney, born near Accident, Maryland in 1877 to a farming family.  He appeared in the 1880 census with his family and then reappeared in the 1900 census in Antelope, Nebraska as a laborer for the railroad.  He was single and probably lived in a boarding house or hotel as the crew was passing through.  Mr. Turney disappeared from the 1910 census, though I think it is likely he was on a crew passing through and was missed by census takers.  He was also married about that time and made it all the way to Greybull, Wyoming where he lived out the rest of his life.  He enlisted for the draft in 1918, though I'm not certain he was called to active service.  He worked for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad which went through Greybull in 1905.  He became an engineer for the railroad and retired from it in 1945.  He died in 1947.  His obituary stated that he "went west at the age of 19 and began railroad work in 1911".  My guess is that was when he was employed by the railroad versus a contractor building bridges for the Pennsy.

Greybull, Wyoming in 1909
I have to admit, this was an enjoyable investigation.  I sent a message to a descendant who manages an ancestry.com site for the family mentioning the photo of the carving I had.  My concern is that railroads are notoriously lousy preservationists, let alone maintainists (I made that word up).  The railroad already covered a section of the old stone work from the 1850s in Plymouth.  I should hope that at the very least we capture more of the names inscribed on these old bridges before neglect forever erases them from our consciousness.  I'll do a follow-up with some of the structures along the Pennsy soon.  And maybe one day be able to survey the other half of the state.