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

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 

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.