Monday, March 7, 2016

Who Lived Here? A Young Attorney and His Family

On March 8, 1915, thirty-three-year-old Earl J. Askren, an attorney, purchased lot number seventeen from Theodore Layman in the Chamber's Addition of Irvington with the plan to build a bungalow upon it. By 1916, Mr. Askren and his wife and two sons resided in their stylish new home at 5630 East Michigan Street.

Earl Askren had been the pride of Elwood, Indiana. He graduated from high school and had earned a reputation as a talented student. He then went on to graduate from the Indiana School of Law near the top of his class. In 1908, he moved to Indianapolis to start his law career, but it was nearly over before it started. On January 7, 1910, the young attorney traveled to Kokomo, Indiana to meet with Oscar Welty over business. The meeting did not go well and the two got into a physical altercation. Mrs. Welty tried to intervene and was punched in the face. Mr. Welty claimed that Earl Askren stabbed him in the forehead although a jury acquitted Mr. Askren as Mr. Welty had an unscrupulous reputation.

Ethel Hillis Askren, the wife of Earl was thirty-two-years-old when the couple built their home along Michigan Street. She immersed herself in club work and presented several papers. For instance, on May 27, 1919, she invited the Irvington Reading Club to her home for a picnic. She also stayed home to raise the couple's two sons, Robert and William.  Sometime during that year, sixty-two-year-old Esther Askren, the mother of Earl, moved in with the family and passed away in the house on October 30, 1919. A few days later, the Askrens held a small service for her at their Michigan Street dwelling.

Mr. Askren's success as an attorney allowed the family to think about moving to a larger residence. In 1925, he applied for a building permit to construct a garage on the property. The family stayed one more year and eventually moved to the north side of Indianapolis in 1927.

Sadly, Mr. Askren would outlive all of his immediate family members. His son, John William, was killed in a battle during World War II in Papau New Guinea in 1944 and his other son Robert died in helicopter crash in 1960. His beloved wife, Ethel passed away in 1959. Mr. Askren passed away in 1961 at the age of 80.

Photo appeared in Fellow Citizens of Indianapolis (1926)
5630 East Michigan Street in 2016
Information for this story came from the following sources:  Elwood Daily Record, January 7, 1910, 1; Elwood Daily Record, February 12, 1910, 1; Indianapolis Star, June 27, 1948; Anderson Herald, August 2, 1960, 3; Anderson Herald, November 12, 1961, 2.


  1. In the mid 1950s 5630 E. Michigan was occupied by the Kitchen family. Mrs. Kitchen was, at times, the office nurse for John K Kingsbury, MD, whose office was above Holmans(?) Drug at Ritter and Washington (NW corner). Steve Kitchen grew up in that house, attended School 57 and graduated from Howe in about 1960. The last I heard, Steve, after retiring from a military career, was working at the Ace Hardware in the old Arlington movie theater building.

  2. Thanks, Rick! I will see if I can find Mr. Kitchen. It would be nice to tell more of the story of that house. I also appreciated the documentation on Mrs. Kitchen.