Sunday, March 12, 2017

Morris Family Dwelled Along Johnson Avenue

Ernest and Grace Mitchell Morris had grown up together near New Salem in Rush County, Indiana. Deciding that the life of a farmer was not for him, Ernest moved to Indianapolis and in 1896 became one of the founders of the Indianapolis Engraving Company. In 1909, he married his childhood sweetheart, Grace Mitchell, and they lived in a variety of locations before moving into the Arts and Crafts residence at 20 Johnson Avenue in 1921.

While Mr. Morris went to work at his office in downtown Indianapolis, Mrs. Morris stayed home with their two sons, Edgar and Maynard.  Tragedy visited the family in October of 1925, when fourteen-year-old Edgar came down with the polio virus. He was attended to by Dr. Oliver C. Neier, but the virus was too aggressive. Edgar Morris died on October 12, 1925, two days before the couple's sixteenth wedding anniversary. The teen had been named for his grandfather in Rush County. The Rushville Republican reported that the family was in complete shock over the suddenness of his passing.

For unknown reasons, the Morris family decided to leave Irvington and move to the north side of Indianapolis in 1926. They sold their home to Dr. Oliver Neier, the very man who had attempted to aid their son during his illness.  Mr. Morris died in 1956 at the age of 71. He was still associated with the Indianapolis Engraving Company at the time. Mrs. Morris lived until 1967.  Their only surviving son, Maynard, died suddenly in 1970 at the age of 50.

Ernest Morris as pictured in Fellow Citizens of Indianapolis in 1926
20 Johnson Avenue in 2017


Sources:  "Engraving Official Dies," Rushville Republican, July 9, 1956; "Boy Dies Suddenly," Rushville Republican, October 12, 1925, 1; "Engravers Saw 500 Hundred Mile Race Paved Way for Color Work," Indianapolis Star, May 26, 1946, 40.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Gathering in Christian Park c1930

Located in southwestern Irvington, Christian Park has been an important recreational site for the neighborhood since 1921. The land belonged to the Christian family for many years. The Christians lived north of the site on Brookville Road in a beautiful nineteenth-century brick residence. Eventually, Wilmer and Edna Christian donated the land to the city for a park.

Sometime either in the summer of 1930 or 1931, the Stewart family gathered in Christian Park at 4200 English Avenue for a photograph. Harry and Margaret Stewart lived across the street at 3939 English Avenue. Mr. Stewart was a veteran of World War One and worked as a railroader. Mrs. Stewart stayed home and raised the couple's three children, Martha, Hazel, and Harry (Bud) Jr.


The Stewart family c1930 in Christian Park: (Left to Right) Margaret, Martha, Hazel, Harry Jr., and Harry Sr. 
Christian Park at sunset on February 21, 2017 (photo: William Gulde)
The Christian family, for whom the park is named, dwelled in this lovely home along Brookville Road for many decades in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 


The historic photo is courtesy of Kenn Reinhardt.  

Saturday, February 18, 2017

South Hawthorne Lane Home Then and Now

Peter and Theodosia Lauck dwelled along South Bancroft and Linwood Avenues in the 1920s and 1930s. At some point in their early marriage, they also resided at 24 South Hawthorne Lane. This undated early twentieth-century photograph, shows the Dutch Colonial home when the Laucks lived in it. With the exception of the porch, the house has seen few alterations.

24 South Hawthorne Lane (Undated photo courtesy of the Laucks family descendants via Ancestry.com)

24 South Hawthorne Lane in 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Who Lived Here? Prominent Families Dwelled in Audubon Road Home

The first two families to reside at 19 North Audubon Road played an important role in the history of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. The beautiful American Four Square located along the north circle was built in 1908 for Joseph and Mary Ketcham Piercy. Mr. Piercy was a respected journalist who worked for a variety of newspapers including the Indianapolis Sentinel and the Indianapolis News. He was also a published writer and poet. Some of his short stories appeared in the Atlantic and Century magazines.  His wife, Mary, also appears to have been a writer and journalist. Their only child, Josephine, who was 17 years old when they moved into their newly built home, later became a writer and professor of English at Indiana University. The Piercys did not remain in their new residence for long as Mr. Piercy received an appointment in 1910 to head up the journalism department at the University of Washington.  In 1911, he returned to Bloomington where he took the same position at Indiana University. Mr. Piercy helped to train thousands of budding journalists at I.U. until his retirement in 1938.  Mrs. Piercy passed away in 1940 and Mr. Piercy followed her in 1943. Their daughter, Josephine, never married and lived in their Bloomington home for the rest of her life. She died in 1995 at the age of 99.

Joseph and Mary Piercy built 19 North Audubon in 1908. They sold it to the Jeffries family in 1911. (Pictured in 2017)

Joseph William "Will" Piercy was a journalist for the several newspapers including the Indianapolis Sentinel and the Indianapolis News where he served on the editorial board. He likely worked with another nearby resident, Hilton U. Brown, the publisher of the Indianapolis News. (Undated photo courtesy of Jeffries relatives via Ancestry.com) 

Joseph Piercy is shown in this photo a few years before he moved into his home at 19 North Audubon Road in 1908. He would later serve as the first chair of Indiana University's journalism department. (Undated photo courtesy of Jeffries relatives via Ancestry,com) 

Josephine Piercy, the daughter of Joseph and Mary Piercy, was a brilliant student. She earned her Bachelors's and Master's degrees from Indiana University. She later completed a second Master's degree from Columbia University and a Ph. D in philosophy from Yale University. She taught English at Indiana University for many years before retiring in 1966. (Photo of Josephine Piercy taken in 1918 and appeared in an Indiana University Yearbook)

On November 4, 1911, the Indianapolis Star recorded the sale of the Piercy home to Guy and Augustine Routiers Jeffries. The Jeffries family would remain in the house for over thirty years. Guy Jeffries had a storied career in the rail industry as he worked his way up from telegraph boy to becoming the General Superintendent of the Terre Haute, Indianapolis, & Eastern Traction Company. Thousands of local residents traveled in and out of the city of Indianapolis via traction lines and Mr. Jeffries managed those day-to-day operations. Like the Piercys, the Jeffries had one daughter, who never married. Lorene Jeffries attended nearby Butler University and remained close to her parents. Mrs. Jeffries did not work and was an active member of the Irvington Presbyterian Church. Newspaper articles from the 1920s reveal that Mr. Jeffries dined with Governors and Mayors and was a well-known figure in the city. He also joined the Hoosier Motor Club where he served as an officer. He must have known that automobiles would seal the doom of the traction companies because in 1931 he told a journalist for the Greenfield Daily Reporter, "People want individual transportation. They can run an automobile whether they have the money or not. If they can't buy gasoline and oil, they can borrow it." His prophesy eventually came true and the traction lines closed down in the mid-twentieth century.

Mrs. Jeffries died suddenly of stroke in their home in 1930. Mr. Jeffries passed away in 1941 leaving their only daughter, Lorene, in charge of the pretty home across the street from the Irvington Methodist Church. Diagnosed with heart disease in 1941, Miss Jeffries was advised to live with a friend for two weeks after a spell she experienced at home. Guinevere Ostrander, a neighbor at 323 North Audubon Road, invited her to convalesce at her residence until she felt better. Two weeks turned into thirty years as Miss Jeffries sold the home at 19 North Audubon Road and rented a room from the Ostrander family for the rest of her life until her passing in 1974.

Guy Jeffries, of 19 North Audubon Road, submitted this photo of himself for a publication titled Fellow Citizens of Indianapolis in 1926

Lorene Jeffries, the only child of Guy and Augustine Jeffries, moved into the Ostrander home at 323 North Audubon Road in 1941 to convalesce from heart problems. She came for two weeks and stayed over thirty years with the family. She died in 1974. (Photo taken in 2015)

Sources for the Piercy Family:  "Joseph W. Piercy, Former Professor of Journalism at Indiana U., Succumbs," Indianapolis Star, November 24, 1943, 12; "Miss Piercy, I.U. Author, Will Retire," Indianapolis Star, May 25, 1966, 14; Obituary for Josephine Piercy, Indianapolis Star, February 16, 1995, 41.

Sources for Jeffries Family:  "Guy K. Jeffries Resigns," Hancock Democrat, July 2, 1931, 4; Obituary for Guy Jeffries, Indianapolis Star, March 28, 1941, 16; Obituary for Mrs. Jeffries, Indianapolis Star, September 29, 1930, 12.  Information about Lorene Jeffries, Interview with Nancy Ostrander, February 9, 2017.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Snapshot from 1915 Reveals University Avenue Double

Edward Lollis had only recently moved in with his Uncle Robert and Aunt Mary Stevenson in 1915 at their home at 275 South Audubon Road when this photograph was snapped in the Stevenson's backyard. Young Edward, dressed up in costume, stood near the family garage. Behind him, you can see the rear of 5727 and 5729 University Avenue, a double that had only recently been constructed. The Lollis and Stevenson family is well-documented on this page. Click on the links below to learn more those interesting families.

John and Ida Battenfeld dwelled on the 5727 side of the double in 1915. They had already lived there for two years and would continue to do so for another eighteen years. Mr. Battenfeld was a buyer for the Wm. H. Block's Department Store at the time. They had no children. On the other at 5729, resided John and Louise Isaacs. They had three children, Mildred, Coleman, and John, Jr. Mr. Isaacs sold Ford Automobiles at a dealership in the 1300 block of East Washington Street. The Isaacs quickly outgrew the double and were gone by 1917.


Edward Lollis posed in the backyard of his new home at 275 South Audubon Road in 1915. Behind him, you can see the rear of the double at 5727-29 University Avenue.
The historic photograph is courtesy of Ted Lollis.  

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Postcard to Irvington--Mary Dale of Johnson Avenue

On July 12, 1967, "Marie" walked into a post office in Gillette Wyoming and sent her friend, Mary Dale of 37 Johnson Avenue, #12, a lovely postcard of the Badlands in South Dakota.

Hi!

The vagabonds enjoyed seeing the phenomena of nature at sunset last night. Quite a sight! We had such a good time in Boulder and are now heading toward Yellowstone and Tetons. Know you enjoyed your company over the week-end.  Love, Marie

While we have no idea at this point about any information regarding "Marie," Mary Dale was a well-known resident of Irvington from 1957 to 1979. Born and reared in Alva, Oklahoma, Mary Mondy was a bright student who received her Bachelor's Degree from Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma and her Masters in Arts from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. For a brief time she taught high school in the Dallas area. So how did she get to Irvington and why was she living in Maplewood Court?   

In 1944, Mary Mondy married Jack Dale who sadly died at a young age.  As a young widow, Mary Dale became very involved in the Disciples of Christ Church so much so that in 1957 she was ordained.  In that same year, she packed her bags and moved to Indianapolis to work at the Disciples of Christ headquarters at 222 Downey Avenue. She became the Executive Secretary for the Department of Homeland Ministries, a position she held until 1970.  Many of the employees and missionaries for the Disciples rented apartments at Maplewood Court at 37 and 47 Johnson Avenue. Mrs. Dale leased #12. She likely walked to work.  Upon her retirement in 1970, Mrs. Dale spoke at Christian churches throughout Indiana before retiring first to St. Petersburg, Florida and eventually back to Dallas, Texas. Incredibly, she lived to be 100 years old passing away on December 26, 2003. If any of our readers remember Mrs. Dale, then drop us a note and we will share them.

Mary Dale dwelled in Irvington and worked at the Disciples of Christ headquarters. She moved to Indianapolis in 1957 and left in 1979.  She died in 2003 at the age of 100.  (Photo:"Woman's Day Set at Church," Daily Journal, Franklin, Indiana, February 21, 1975) 

Postcard found in a local flea market


Maplewood Court at 37 and 47 Johnson Avenue on January 16, 2017
     

Sources:  Obituary, Dallas Morning News, December 26, 2003; "Woman's Day Set at Church," Daily Journal, (Franklin, Indiana), February 21, 1975, 2.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Builder Theodore Benson Brydon dwelled on South Bolton Avenue

Theodore and Mary Brydon moved into their newly-built bungalow at 124 South Bolton Avenue in 1915.  Mr. Brydon constructed many homes and apartment buildings in the city so it is possible that he also erected this house. Located just north of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Brydon children, Julia, Howard, Marie, and Louise, would have likely become accustomed to the noise and rumbles of the nearby trains. For a few years, Mrs. Brydon's Mother, Elizabeth Schwappacher, and her Uncle John Schwappacher resided with the family in the 1920s. 

Mr. Brydon's largest building projects in Irvington included the Washington-Audubon Apartments at 5730 East Washington Street (1925); the Arlington Court Apartments at 5901 East Washington Street (1926); and the Butler Apartments at 5230 East Washington Street (1927). At the Arlington Court Apartments, Mr. Brydon created a courtyard to protect century old trees from a previous estate. 

While his business career roared during the 1920s, the Brydons suffered from a series of tragedies for which Mr, Brydon never recovered. On May 15, 1924, while driving on North Illinois and Ohio Streets, Mr. Brydon failed to see Edith Kellum, a thirty-five-year-old woman from Connersville, Indiana as she walked out in front of him after crossing between two parked cars. He blew his horn to alert her, but Miss Kellum was going deaf and did not hear him. Sadly, she died shortly after being struck and Mr. Brydon was arrested for vehicular manslaughter, a seemingly automatic charge in those days. He did not go to jail. 

A little over a year later on September 25, 1925, the Brydons received a call from an official in Jefferson County, Indiana telling them that their only son, Howard, had been killed in an automobile accident near Hanover College. Two other students also lost their lives that day. Howard had just graduated from the college the previous year and was on campus to give another Irvingtonian, Mary McDonald of 45 North Irvington Avenue, a ride back to Indianapolis. Two other Hanover coeds asked Howard if they could be transported to Madison before the couple headed back to Indianapolis and he agreed. Apparently, Howard lost control of the car when the breaks failed as he drove down a hill near campus. The group plunged into a ravine killing three of the four riders. 

The news hit the Brydons like a bomb. Mr. Brydon was at the apex of his building career and he had recently named his company Brydon and Son as Howard had agreed to join the family business. Mr. Brydon became ill after Howard's death and when the elder Brydon died around Christmas in 1930, the Indianapolis Star attributed Theodore's passing at age 55 to a broken heart over the death of Howard. Mr. Brydon's death certificate lists the cause as a cerebral hemorrhage.  

Mrs. Brydon and her young daughter, Louise, continued to dwell in the bungalow on South Bolton Avenue. Mrs. Brydon eventually moved into the Julian House at 115 South Audubon Road as it was a nursing home by 1945. She died in that house after falling and breaking her hip.

Dozens of residences and at least three apartment buildings still stand in Indianapolis as part of the legacy of Theodore Brydon. 




Theodore Brydon submitted this photo to Fellow Citizens of Indianapolis in 1926

Tall catalpa trees, perhaps planted by the Brydon family,  still tower over their family home at 124 South Bolton Avenue in 2017.

Theodore Brydon built the Washington-Audubon Apartments at 5730 East Washington Street in 1925 (Indianapolis Star)

Theodore Brydon's most beautiful apartments were the Arlington Court Apartments at 5901 East Washington Street built in 1926. He preserved the large trees on the site from a previous estate. (Indianapolis Star)



In 1927, Theodore Brydon constructed the Butler Apartments at 5230 East Washington Street. 
Sources:  "Theodore B. Brydon Contractor, Dies," Indianapolis Star, December 26, 1930, 10; "Inquiries Started in Auto Fatality," Indianapolis Star, May 15, 1924, 24; "Six Dead, Auto Toll in State; One Motor Car Leaps Bridge; Another Plunges From Cliff," Indianapolis Star, September 25, 1924, 1; "Preserves Old Surroundings," October 31, 1926, 38.