Saturday, December 29, 2012

Irvington and Charles C. Deam

Many Hoosiers have hiked in the Charles Deam Wilderness in southern Indiana, but how many of you knew that Mr. Deam lived in Irvington for a brief time along Burgess Avenue?  The neighborhood, with its canopy of trees, and a nearby college would have been an ideal home for a conservationist like Charles Deam.  Hailing from Bluffton, Indiana, Mr. Deam and his wife Stella moved to 318 Burgess Avenue in 1909 after being appointed the State Forester.

While living in the home, Mr. Deam penned Trees of Indiana (1911), the first of many books.  He was fascinated by nature and under his leadership, the state expanded the Clark State Forest in southern Indiana.  Several Indiana newspapers printed press releases issued by Mr. Deam during his tenure in office.  On April 8, 1910, he issued warnings to the township trustees throughout the state to enforce existing fire laws to prevent forest fires.  On December 29, 1910, he announced that the state would be planting 1800 hardwood trees in the Clark State Forest.  He considered planting exotics, but decided against that idea due to the expense.  He also founded the Irvington Nature Study Club in his home on March 7, 1913.

By 1913, Mr. Deam found himself embroiled in a controversy when he refused to pay two percent of his salary to the political party in power.  He eventually lost his job and had to leave Irvington.  In 1917, with the assistance of fellow conservationist, Richard Lieber he was rehired.  The Wonderly family moved into 318 Burgess Avenue in 1914.

In his long life, Mr. Deam collected over 78,000 plant specimens.  It is possible that some of those might have come from Irvington.  The entire collection eventually went to Indiana University.  Mr. Deam, is one of the many talented people who have called this neighborhood home.

In the top photo, you can see the Deam Home before the family lived there as this photo was likely taken around 1898.  The home closest to the photographer belonged to the Richardson family at 312 Burgess Avenue.  (more on that home in another post) The second home at 318 Burgess Avenue would become the Deam home in 1909.  In the far distance, you can see the Toole Home at 336 Burgess Avenue.  This wonderful image is courtesy of Larry Muncie.

The second photo shows Mr. Deam surrounded by his collections. This was likely taken long after he left Irvington.  The bottom photo shows the Deam home in 2012.

Burgess Avenue homes in 1898: 312, 318, and 336

Charles Deam would later have a wilderness named after him in southern Indiana

The Deam Home at 318 Burgess Avenue in 2012

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