Saturday, August 26, 2023

Local Woman Operated a Library Near the White House

     The Anderson Cemetery sits along East Tenth Street north and east of Irvington. Many older families in eastern Marion County are buried there. Some of the tombstones date back to the 1850s. One of those interred under an unassuming tombstone is Lucy L. McClain Hunter. (1840-1888). For the past couple of years, my friend and fellow local historian, Anne Hardwick, and I have been uploading information about the people buried here onto Find-a-Grave. Anne meticulously makes connections and builds family trees on the site. Researching nineteenth-century rural women can be challenging. So, when I encountered Lucy Hunter I assumed that there would be little information about her. I could not have been more wrong. 

     I first searched for her obituary in the Indianapolis newspapers. Few nineteenth-century women in rural Marion County received much notice in local papers but I always start there. As I suspected, I found very little other than a funeral notice so I assumed that I had reached a dead end. Something told me to dig deeper. Was Lucy guiding me from beyond the grave? Amazingly, I did find her but not in Indianapolis. She turned up in Washington D.C. 

Portrait of Lucy McClain Hunter (Courtesy of Google Books: John Collins McClain, Sidelines of a Business Man or the Meanderings of a Sigma Chi, Salt Lake City, 1913)

The Hunters and the McClains

     Irish immigrant, John Hunter, and his Pennsylvania-born wife, Mary Thompson Hunter farmed land on what would later become Irvington. Based on an 1855 map, it appears that the Hunters lived in a house along the Brookville Road near what is today Emerson Avenue. The northern part of the property was just beyond the Pennsylvania Railroad and would have later incorporated Butler University's Irvington campus.The Shimers and Sanduskys were their neighbors. Mr. Hunter served the country during the Mexican-American War. Upon his death in 1850, the Hunter land was divided between two of his sons, Thomas and William. An 1855 map notes that the "Heirs of John Hunter" possessed the land at that time. Only a mile away lived the McClains. 

     According to an autobiography by John Collins McClain, William and Mary McClain moved into Warren Township in 1854. Mary McClain's father, Josiah Bettle, operated a farm near what is today Kitley Avenue south of Washington Street and north of Brookville Road. After her father's death in 1863, Mary McClain inherited the Bettle farm. The McClains had several children. Anne Hardwick's thorough research indicates that most of the children attended Asbury College (later DePauw University). Two of their sons, like their father, became attorneys. Even one of their daughters, Lucetta, attended the school but did not live long enough to graduate. But what of Lucy McClain, the subject of our story? 

William A. McClain (1814-1881), the father of Lucy McClain Hunter, is buried in the Anderson Cemetery near Irvington. (photo courtesy of John Collins McClain)

Mary Ann Bettle McClain (1819-1889) was the beloved matriarch of the McClain family. Many of her children went on to impressive careers. She outlived many of her children, including her daughter, Lucy McClain Hunter. She is buried in the Anderson Cemetery.(photo courtesy of John Collins McClain)

An 1866 map of Marion County shows the farms of Thomas Hunter (far left) along Brookville Road and up into what would become Irvington and the McClain farm (right) just east of Irvington. (Library of Congress) 

Thomas Hunter and Lucy McClain Marry

     We do not know if Lucy attended Asbury College. We do know that she married Thomas Hunter in 1860 at the age of 19 and that they settled on the Hunter farm just a mile or so away from the McClain farm along Brookville Road. An 1866 map of Warren Township shows that Thomas Hunter inherited 80 acres and that his half-brother farmed an adjacent 80 acres. Four years later Jacob Julian and Sylvester Johnson purchased the nearby Jacob Sandusky farm and founded Irvington. The Hunters would also sell their land to future Irvington developers. But something seems to have soured between Thomas and Lucy Hunter. What happened? We do not know.

     Here is what we do know. By 1878, William and Mary McClain along with a son named Lorenzo "Dow" McClain, moved to Baltimore, Maryland. We also know that Lucy McClain Hunter went with them leaving her husband back in Indiana. In early 1878, Thomas Hunter tried to end his life in Richmond, Indiana. He was not successful and the local newspapers carried graphic descriptions of his suicide attempt. A few weeks later, he traveled to Jerseyville, Illinois on business as he was listed as a boot and saddle runner for a Boston company in the Indianapolis city directories. While in a hotel in that city, he killed himself. An Effingham, Illinois newspaper listed all of the letters in his possession at the time of his death including one to his wife, Mrs. L. Hunter in Baltimore, Maryland. Lucy's brother, Lorenzo made the sad trek to Illinois to retrieve Mr. Hunter's body for burial in the Anderson Cemetery north of Irvington.

Thomas Hunter's simple tombstone in the Anderson Cemetery at 6501 East 10th Street. 

Lucy Hunter Opens Circulating Library in Baltimore

     Lucy McClain Hunter began to rebuild her life in the east. She opened a circulating library on Charles Street in Baltimore in the late 1870s. Circulating libraries predate the public institutions that arrived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While some of these businesses catered to specific clientele, many provided the latest and most popular books of the time. One paid a monthly subscription and could "rent" a book or a periodical without having to buy it. These libraries specifically catered to the middle class and in particular to women. Often, the proprietors would also sell items that catered to female subscribers. Lucy Hunter sold stationery, album books, and greeting cards in her libraries. 

     She called her first library, the Baltimore Circulating Library and advertised profusely in the Baltimore newspapers. An ad in an 1881 edition of the Baltimore Sun on July 12, 1881, revealed that she offered "Delightful Summer Reading," complete with the latest novels, and "standard" literary magazines. Special summer rates were available. It is unclear where she obtained the money to start the venture, but she was highly successful. She did receive $1500 from a life-insurance policy from her deceased husband. It is possible that her parents might have also invested in the business, but we do not know. Two major events changed her life again. First, her father passed away in 1881. His body was transported back to the Anderson Cemetery. Secondly, a man named Enoch Pratt gave a million dollars to open Baltimore's first free-lending library in 1882. It looked like Lucy Hunter's era as a book lender was over. Why would residents of Baltimore lease books when they could obtain them for free? 

     But she wasn't finished and in fact, she would soon open a large lending library one block from the White House in Washington D.C.

Ad for the Baltimore Circulating Library (Baltimore Herald, July 12, 1881)

The Washington D.C. Circulating Library, 1882-1888

     In the summer of 1882, E.S. Wescott placed an ad in the Washington Evening Star about a building "for rent" at 1749 Pennsylvania Avenue NW for $75 a month. The ad promoted "a handsome store room," "French plate glass windows," and several rooms upstairs. A later ad touted a view of inaugural parades from the upper windows. Lucy Hunter must have seen the ad and leased the property in either late 1882 or early 1883. By the summer of that year, she placed ads daily in the Washington Evening Star for her newly-opened circulating library.

     Patrons of her shop had several options for payment. Subscribers could pay fifty cents a month or four dollars for the year. If a person wanted to check out two books at a time, then the rates went up to 75 cents a month or six dollars a year. Lucy offered over 3000 volumes. She eventually became so successful that she opened a branch at 1622 14th Street NW. Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jules Verne, Helen Hunt Jackson, and Mary Augusta Ward might have been some of the authors she carried. She likely partnered with publishing houses on obtaining the titles. Each January she sold off extra books. 

     So who patronized her libraries? It is tantalizing to imagine that because of her location so near the White House that some very powerful people might have subscribed. Senators? Wives of Senators? Representatives?  Cabinet secretaries? First Ladies? We simply just do not know. She arrived at the end of the Chester Arthur administration and could have watched all of the festivities for the newly-elected Grover Cleveland administration from her shop in March of 1885.  She soared with her new life in the nation's capital and then it all came crashing down.

In 1968, a  Washington D.C. artist, Kingsley Gibson, sketched 1749 Pennsylvania NW. Lucy McClain Hunter operated her circulating library here from 1882-1888. The building. located one block from the White House, has since been torn down. (DC History Center) 

Lucy Hunter's Conversion 

     Hundreds of miles away in Boston, Massachusetts Mary Baker Eddy chartered the very first Church of Christ of Science in 1879. Her theological tome outlining her philosophy had been growing in popularity. Could subscribers at the Washington Circulating Library lease this book from Lucy Hunter? In the spring of 1888, Lucy discovered that she had stomach cancer. An associate named "Miss Pollock" arrived to help to manage the library. She also introduced her to Christian Science. As her condition worsened, Miss Pollock contacted other nearby Christian Scientists to pray with Lucy. If newspaper accounts are to be believed, these new folks prevented Lucy's friends from seeing her. They even barred her mother, Mary McClain, from her bedroom because she tried to bring a doctor. Although there was little that could be done for patients with stomach cancer, there were some medical treatments that could have been administered to help with the pain; however, the Christian Scientists prevailed and Lucy Hunter died an "agonizing death." 

     The manner in which she died received national attention. Even a newspaper in Leavenworth, Kansas carried the story mainly because of the Christian Science "mania" taking root in the country. The Baltimore Herald editorialized,

     She was attended to by two faith curists from Baltimore, who doubtless prayed very fervently for her recovery, but the patient died in spite of their prayers. How long will it be before the law steps in to take hold of people who thus trifle with human life? 

Lucy Hunter Comes Home

     Mary McClain held an auction of her daughter's massive library and other inventory on June 15, 1888. Nearly 2500 books and periodicals along with stationary, jewelry, and furniture went up for bid. In her will, besides naming her mother as her executor and chief beneficiary, she left her surviving brothers each 20 dollars. Her niece, Clara Mitchell, received her watch and cameos while Lizzie Barnes received her wardrobe and bible. 

     Her mother and likely her brother Lorenzo, brought Lucy Hunter's body back for burial in the Anderson Cemetery near where she had spent her youth and early marriage. A funeral was held in the home of her uncle and aunt, George and Frances Hill, who lived near downtown Indianapolis on East Street. 

    In the span of her forty-seven years of life, Lucy McClain Hunter, had gone from a farm girl to a proprietor of one of the largest circulating libraries in Washington D.C. Her trajectory was remarkable. 

Lucy McClain Hunter is buried next to her husband and near her parents and siblings in the Anderson Cemetery. 


     Lucy McClain Hunter's siblings, many of whom are buried in the Anderson Cemetery, also had remarkable stories. For instance, one brother, Charles Sumner McClain, participated in the rescue of the crew of the Greely expedition in the Arctic. Lorenzo Dow McClain resided in several cities, including Washington D.C., where he assisted Civil War veterans and their families obtain pensions. Another brother, John Collins McClain, who graduated high school with future President William Howard Taft in Cincinnati, became involved in the mining industry in both Alaska and Utah. His autobiography or musings can be read in the link below. 


Sidelines of a Businessman by John C. McClain

McClain family

Sources:  McClain family information:  John Collins McClain, Sidelines of a Business Man or the Meanders of a Sigma Chi, (Salt Lake City), 1913;  Baltimore--City Directories and 1880 Federal Census; Washington D.C. Library--"For Rent," Ad, Evening Star, June 27, 1882, 2; Ad, Evening Star, November 3, 1883;  January sales--Ad, Evening Star, January 17, 1885; Ad, Evening Star, June 25, 1885; "Specials" (Ad), Evening Star, March 17, 1886, 6; "Stationery," Evening Star, March 31, 1886, 5; Number of volumes--Ad, Evening Star, May 15, 1886, 7;  "Books," (Ad), Evening Star, July 22, 1886, 4; Lucy Hunter's Will--Evening Star (District of Columbia), May 26, 1888,3; Auction of Library--Evening Star, November 24, 1888; Landlord and ad for 1749 Pennsylvania NW--Ad--Evening Star, December 18, 1888; For Rent--Ad, Evening Star, February 26, 1889, 2; Death notice--Indianapolis Journal, April 29, 1888; Articles about her death: Leavenworth Standard, May 7, 1888; Daily Times (Richmond, VA), May 8, 1888. Thomas Hunter's demise and death:  Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, January 11, 1878; Indianapolis News, January 11, 1878; The Effingham Democrat, February 7, 1878. Life Insurance--Indianapolis News, June 27, 1878.    

     I would like to thank Anne Hardwick for her collaboration on this post. I would also like to thank Steve Barnett and Deedee Davis.   






Friday, August 11, 2023

The Longs Celebrate an Anniversary--1954

     On September 14, 1954, Robert Bryant Long and Daisy Lee Long sat in their living room at 222 South Ritter Avenue on the day of their 50th wedding anniversary. The couple had lived in the bungalow for at least forty years. Mr. Long had earned a comfortable living as a salesman for the Bemis Bag Company located on Barth Avenue. He sold bags used for salt, rice, flour, potatoes, and feed for 53 years. Mrs. Long stayed at home and raised their two sons, Arthur and Robert, Jr. She was also involved in numerous clubs including the Irvington Woman's Club. The couple belonged to the Irvington Dramatic Club and they frequently starred in various productions often put on in Moore's Hall, formerly located on the northwest corner of South Audubon Road and Bonna Avenue. For example, on December 2, 1921, they both acted in a one-act play by A.A. Milne titled "Wurzel-Flummery." Mr. Long played the leading man named Robert Crenshaw, while Mrs. Long portrayed Violet Crenshaw, his daughter! 

     In the spring of 1922, the Longs took out a sizable building permit and remodeled the home. It is possible that they added the garage and sun porch at that time. During the Great Depression, the couple took in lodgers. We don't know the exact origin of the photograph below but it belonged to the Davis family, who lived across the street in the double at 217 South Ritter Avenue. The Davis family knew the Longs quite well as they leased their double from them. 

     Five years after this photo was snapped, Mr. Long died as he prepared to depart Florida for the trip back to Irvington. He was 76 years old. Mrs. Long lived on until 1970 and died at the age of 87.        

Daisy Lee Long and Robert Bryant Long sat in their living room at 222 South Ritter Avenue on September 14, 1954. (courtesy of Deedee Davis)

222 South Ritter Avenue, 2022 (Google Streetview)

     Thank you to Deedee and Dodie Davis for the photograph and information for this post. 

Sources:  Interview with Deedee Davis, July 27, 2023; Obituary for Robert B. Long--Indianapolis News, April 7, 1959, 7: Obituary for Daisy Long--Indianapolis News, November 17, 1970, 29; Irvington Dramatic Club--"Calendar," Indiana Daily Times, December 2, 1921; Federal Census Records for 1920, 1930, 1940, 1950; Building permit--Indiana Daily Times, May 10, 1922.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Local Artist and His Wife Moved to Maine

      Recently, while perusing some historic postcards in a local antique mall, I came across a brief note on stationery postmarked on May 26, 1948, from Eastport, Maine. The card depicted a beautiful lighthouse print by Robert Craig. I was drawn to the card because it was sent to an Irvington address. Soon, I fell into several rabbit holes while researching the people who sent the note and the "folks" who received it. I was even more intrigued when I realized that the card was actually sent by Robert and Winifred Craig. There were clues in the text as well.

Robert Craig sketched the East Quoddy Lighthouse located on Campobello Island, New Brunswick most likely from a boat. 

The Craigs mailed this note in 1948 to the Winslows at Maplewood Court in Irvington.

Both the Craigs and the Winslows lived in the Maplewood Apartments at 37 and 47 Johnson Avenue shown here in winter of 2017.

     Dear Folks,

     School is almost out and soon you will be starting Maineward. Wonderful new road from Portsmouth north to Portland done. Come to see us when you can--our latch string is always out.  Craigs

     Robert Craig taught at Arsenal Technical High School for many years. In fact, he headed the fine-arts department. Born in Spencer, Indiana, Mr. Craig later learned his craft at the Pratt Institute and at Columbia University. He also studied under William Forsyth. He and his wife Winifred moved to Irvington and lived at 37 South Johnson Avenue at Maplewood Court. When he retired from Arsenal Tech in 1941, the school named a gallery for him on the third floor of Stuart Hall. During his summer breaks the couple began to go to Maine where he found many beautiful scenes to paint. He preferred painting or sketching outdoors rather than in a studio. He often exhibited his works with other Irvington artists or in one-man shows. 

     In 1945, art critic and Irvington resident, Lucille Morehouse, featured Mr. Craig's one-man show at Lieber's Art Emporium in downtown Indianapolis in her column during the winter of 1945. He displayed many pieces for sale including 29 watercolors, six oils, two lithographs, and one etching. Most of the subjects were of Maine although he did include a few Indiana scenes. In 1947, he exhibited more work at Herron Art School including nine pieces of coastal Maine. Lucille Morehouse noted that besides Forsyth, he also studied under George Ennis in Maine. He reached his peak much later in life in 1964 when the Lynn Kottler Galleries in New York City featured his oil paintings and watercolors. A critic in the Manhattan East wrote of Mr. Craig that, "here is a realist who sees with clear vision and an unerring sense of color." 

Robert Craig was head of the Art Department at Arsenal Technical High School for many years. He is standing in the center of the bottom row. Flanking him were Thelma Adams and Ruth Kothe. In the middle row: Chelsea Stewart, Ione Hirsch, Sara Bard, Edmund Schildknecht; Top Row--Oakley Richey, Elizabeth Jasper, and John Simpson (Arsenal Canon, 1937)

     With that background, one can now begin to understand the text of the note. Harold and Harriett (Hattie) Winslow received the letter from the Craigs just as school neared an end in Indianapolis. Mr. Winslow taught music at both Manual Training High School and at Arsenal Technical High School, which is where Mr. Craig and Mr. Winslow might have met. Mrs. Winslow taught history at both Shortridge and Howe High Schools. They also lived at Maplewood Court in Irvington. The Craigs lived at #16 while the Winslows resided at #7. Mr. Craig had already retired by 1948, but the Winslows were wrapping up the school year.  School is almost out.  

     The Winslows, like the Craigs, had no children and traveled extensively on summer breaks. They had been to Europe and the Middle East. They also drove across the United States so it was not surprising to learn that one of those sojourns might be to Maine to visit their friends, the Craigs, who had made Eastport their permanent home by 1945. For Mr. Winslow it also might have been like coming home since he had been born in Maine. 

Harriett or Hattie Winslow taught Social Studies at Howe High School for many years. She can be seen at the far right in profile. Others in the image include (l to r): Lewis Gilroy, Wade Fuller, Russell Curtis, Dorthea Kirk, Hartwell Kayler, and Mary Diaz (Hilltopper,  1946)

Harold Winslow taught music for many years for the Indianapolis Public Schools and with many church choirs. (Ellen Manual, Find-a-Grave)

     Two years after the Craigs mailed their note to the Winslows of Maplewood Court, Mr. Winslow died in 1950. Did Mrs. Winslow ever see her friends again? We do not know as of this writing. Both Mrs. Winslow and Mrs. Craig died in 1968. Robert Craig died in 1971 at the age of 87. 

     Before purchasing the simple note on the lovely stationery, I had never heard of these interesting and talented Irvington couples. Come see us when you can--the latch string is always out. 

The subject of Mr. Craig's wonderful sketch still stands on Campobello Island, New Brunswick (Britannica) 

Sources:  Craigs--Lucille Morehouse, "Water Colors Feature One-Man Show," Indianapolis Star, February 25, 1945, 21; Lucille Morehouse, "Art of Mattison and Craig Exhibited at Herron Museum," Indianapolis Star, March 2, 1947, 70; "Eastport Artist Has 1-Man Show," Bangor Daily News, January 6, 1964, 26; "Robert Craig, Noted Painter Dies in Eastport," Bangor Daily News, May 11, 1971, 15; Federal Census and City Directories; Winslows--Obituary for Harold Winslow, Indianapolis Star, December 26, 1950, 16; Obituary for Harriet Winslow, Indianapolis News, September 18, 1968, 44. 
     Thank you to Paula Schmidt at the Irvington Historical Society.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

A Veteran in Ellenberger Park

      I do not know the name of the young man in this photo. Who is he? On the back of the photo, someone has written "January, 1944" so I know exactly when it was snapped. I also recognize the homes behind the young veteran as the 5300 block of East St. Clair Street. Is he coming or going off to war? Perhaps he is on leave. The dog is also not identified, but on the rear of the image someone has jokingly referred to the beautiful pet as a stray. I found this photo in a box of snapshots in an antique mall in Indianapolis. If you recognize the young man or perhaps his line of service, then drop me an e-mail or make a comment below this post. 

An unidentified service member posed with a dog in Ellenberger Park, January, 1944. Behind the young man you can see the houses at 5302, 5308, 5312, and 5316 East St. Clair Street.

Handwriting on the rear of the photograph.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Factory Workers Gift a Bust of Washington Irving

      There are many busts of Washington Irving, but most of them are located in his home state of New York. He died in 1859 and eleven years later, a group of investors near Indianapolis decided to name their new suburb after the beloved writer. For years there had been talk of erecting a monument to the man in the neighborhood. After the city annexed Irvington in 1902, local officials promised a monument that never came. In 1936, Grace Julian Clarke, whose father was a founder of the community, called for park officials to erect a bust for the Irving Circle Park. Silas Carr, a city councilman, successfully petitioned for WPA funds and in the summer of that year sculptor William Kriner put the finishing touches on the limestone bust of the author. Perched atop a limestone pillar, the sculpture became the target of vandalism. Finally, the city moved the bust to a more protected place in 1943 in front of School #57 where it has been for 80 years. 

     By the early 1970s, the Irving Circle Park looked quite forlorn without its original fountain or a bust of Washington Irving. John Readle, a local policeman, decided that the small green space needed a facelift. He successfully lobbied the city and helped to raise funds to recreate the fountain.  (later replaced in the 1990s) He also worked with his contacts at the International Harvester plant on Brookville Road to recreate the bust.  The factory had been a major employer for the city since 1938. Hundreds of workers and executives lived in Irvington and on the east side for decades.

     Hollie E. Cox first began working for the factory in 1939 as a pattern maker.  The young man was just getting started in life. During World War II, he left the plant and served overseas in the European theater of the war. In fact, he fought at the Battle of Bulge during the brutal winter of 1944. He survived the war and returned home where his job still awaited him at International Harvester. He married Leona Boyle in 1948 and they later had two children, Katy and Russell. We are not exactly sure how Mr. Cox became involved, but he helped to recreate the new bust of Washington Irving in 1971. It was cast in iron and coated in copper. They used the Kriner bust as the model for the new Irving. Instead of a stone pillar, Mr. Cox and others welded the head upon a metal pole. And while the factory and the workers are now gone, the bust serves as an enduring legacy of their time on the eastside of Indianapolis.  


The new iron bust of Washington Irving is in the center of the photo while the older limestone bust is at the right in 1971. (photo courtesy of Katy Smith)

Hollie E. Cox (left) and another International Harvester employee work on the new Washington Irving bust in 1971. You can also see the original mold in the photo. (courtesy of Katy Smith)

Pattern maker, Hollie E. Cox, used the historic limestone bust as the model for the new iron bust in 1971. William Kriner, who sculpted figures on the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Indianapolis, created this bust of Washington Irving in 1936. You can see the historic vandalism on Irving's neck. Local officials eventually moved the bust to the grounds of IPS #57. (Photo courtesy of Katy Smith)

Hollie E. Cox added a copper coating on the bust of Washington Irving in 1971 at the International Harvester plant on Brookville Road. (photo courtesy of Katy Smith)
The beautiful new copper-coated iron bust of Washington Irving in 1971 at the International Harvester plant on Brookville Road. (photo courtesy of Katy Smith)

Washington Irving still watches over the Irving Circle Park. He has suffered from the effects of weather and vandalism. Most recently, someone has drawn all over his face with a permanent marker. (photo taken on April 9, 2023)

William Kriner's limestone bust rests on a stone pillar in front of IPS #57. The ravages of weather have removed some of the features of his face. A previous act of vandalism in the 1940s is still visible on his neck. (photo taken on April 9, 2023)

  Photo provenance:  On February 11, 2023, I attended a reading by local poet Angela Barnes. While standing in line for her to sign my book, I met Katy Cox Smith, who was standing behind me. Her father helped to create the iron bust of Washington Irving in 1971. She generously sent scans of these historic family photographs.

Sources:  William Kriner bust--"Irvington Looks to Dedication of Life-Size Bust of Namesake," Indianapolis News, July 6, 1936, 20; "Washington Irving Bust to be Dedicated on Sept. 11," Indianapolis News, August 7, 1936, 15; Iron bust--Michael P. Tarpey, "Policeman's Pride in His Irvington to Restore Fountain," Indianapolis Star, September 22, 1971; "Indiana Rose Festival Selects City Policeman for Environment Award," Indianapolis Star, October 4, 1971; For more information on sculpture in Indiana--Glory June Greiff, Remembrance, Faith, and Fancy: Outdoor Public Sculpture in Indiana, Indiana Historical Press, 2000. 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Scouts, School #82, and a Long Lost House

      Ron Huggler, who grew up at 4613 Young Avenue, participated in both Cub and Boy Scouts. Many of his friends in the neighborhood joined the same pack. They met in numerous places including at the American Legion Lodge located in the former Scot Butler home at 124 South Downey Avenue. The shots below are the first known interior images of that home which was demolished in the late 1950s. On Memorial Days, the boys marched in honor of the veterans at places like Washington Park Cemetery. They went on field trips as well. During one spring vacation from school, Cub Scout Pack #29 visited U.S. Naval Ordnance plant at Arlington Avenue and 21st. Many of the Dads who worked at the plant proudly posed for a photo with their sons. 

Cub Scout Pack #29

This photo turned out to be a remarkable find as it is the first known interior shot of the former Scot Butler home at 124 South Downey Avenue. The home later became the Irvington American Legion Post #38 before it was torn down in the 1950s. In 1949, members of Cub Scout Pack #29 gathered in the former parlor of the home for a group photograph with their "den" parents and perhaps members of the American Legion. We know some of the names of the people in the photo, but we need your help. Let us know if you recognize anyone! Front Row (l to r) Unknown Man, Possibly Mrs. Proctor, Jerry Hatcher, Unknown scout, Robert Butler, Dale May, Unknown man;  First Row on stage (l to r) Unknown man, Unknown scout, Ron Huggler, Walter Bowles, Bruce Proctor, Unknown scout, Brad Lane, Unknown scout, Unknown scout, Unknown scout, Unknown woman, Unknown woman; Top Row on stage (l to r): Unknown scout, Unknown scout, Possibly Alan Miller, Unknown scout, Unknown scout, Royce Bourne, Robert Horton (photo courtesy of Ron Huggler)

Members of Cub Scout Pack #29 performed a skit c1949 at the Irvington American Legion Post #38 at 124 South Downey Avenue (former home of Scot Butler) Scouts pictured (l to r): Unknown scout, Dale May, Robert Horton, Ron Huggler, Brad Lane, Jerry Hatcher, and Unknown Scout (photo courtesy of Ron Huggler) 

Scot Butler, the son of Ovid Butler, moved to 124 South Downey Avenue. This photo was likely snapped around 1902. The home later became the American Legion Post for Irvington. It was torn down in the late 1950s to make room for the mid-century round office structure for the Disciples of Christ. The boys in the image above were photographed in the front parlor on the first floor. (photo courtesy of the Irvington Historical Society) 

On Memorial Day 1949, members of Cub Scout Pack #29 marched in the Washington Park Cemetery to honor veterans of both World War I and World War II. (photos courtesy of Ron Huggler)

Members of a local marching band joined the cub scouts at Washington Park Cemetery in 1949 to honor veterans. (photo courtesy of Ron Huggler)

On April 11, 1949, members of Cub Scout Pack #29 toured the US Naval Ordnance plant at Arlington Avenue and 21st Street. Let us know if you recognize some of the people in this photograph. Front row (l to r): Ron Huggler, Brad Lane, Robert Lanham, Unknown scout, Robert Butler; Second row (l to r): Unknown scout, Unknown scout, Dale May, Jerry Hatcher, Unknown Scout, Alan Miller, Ronald Lisby, Unknown Scout; Third row (l to r): Bruce Proctor, Walter Bowles, Unknown Scout, Unknown Scout, Unknown Scout; Fourth row (l to r): Scoutmaster Walter Proctor, Marjorie Bourne, Unknown woman, Unknown woman, Unknown woman, Unknown woman; Top Row: Ed Harwood, John Huggler, Unknown Man, Cleo Bourne, Unknown woman, Martha Lanham, Nathan Brinson

IPS #82 (Christian Park School)

     Most children from the Christian Park Heights neighborhood attended IPS #82. They could easily walk from their homes north and south of Brookville Road. The school had a very active parent organization and even sponsored a Mother's Chorus. Helen Huggler and other Moms sang at events around the city of Indianapolis and even participated in a competition in South Bend. Throughout the 1940s, a representative from the Christian family would welcome the kids to school. Ron Huggler remembered learning about the family's history near the school's beautiful fireplace in the children's activity room. 

IPS #82 on a snowy day c1951(photo courtesy of Ron Huggler)

A classroom scene inside IPS #82 c1951 (photo courtesy of Ron Huggler)

In December of 1951 students at IPS #82 performed a Christmas pageant. The art class created the "stained glass" behind the kids. Standing (left to right): Jimmy Christian, Katherine Kollman, Ronald Nichols, Unknown, Ron Huggler; Seated (left to right); Walter Bowles, Mark Bottema, Cheenu Rassman, Judy Bechtel, Dale May (photo courtesy of Ron Huggler)

Members of the Class of 1953 from IPS #82 posed for this formal photograph. Standing (left to right): James Christian, James Simmons, Ronald Corya, Walter Hill, Charles Karr, Karl Hedges, Ronald Chappell, Jerry Hensley, Tom Barber; Seated (left to right): Bill Wheeling, Dave Stafford, Sharon Means, Judy Proctor, Janet Redman, David Probst, Ron Huggler (photo courtesy of Ron Huggler)

We do not know the occasion, but several members of the class of 1953 from IPS #82 gathered for this photograph c1953. (photo courtesy of Ron Huggler)

Judy Bechtel and Cathy Dudley posed next to the Christian Park School "float" c1952.  Behind the girls you can see 4702 Wentworth Boulevard. Drop me an e-mail if you know what this float was used for as we are still searching for that reason!  (photo courtesy of Ron Huggler)

John Pogue posed next to the Christian Park School "float" c1952 along Wentworth Boulevard. (photo courtesy of Ron Huggler)

Sources:  Ron Huggler, "The Best of Times: Random Thoughts on My Journey to Now," Unpublished memoir, 2006; Interviews with Ron Huggler, January 23, 26, February 1, 15, 20, 2023. A special thanks to Don Flick and Steve Barnett at the Irvington Historical Society. 

Saturday, March 18, 2023

The Young of Young Avenue

      They gathered under a beautiful shade tree at the intersection of South Drexel and Young Avenues each race-day weekend for the unofficial Christian Park Heights bicycle race. Any kid who had a bike could participate. You might be aware that Johnnie Parsons won the Indianapolis 500 in 1950, but did you know who crossed the finish line on South Drexel in that year? The boys awaited the official start from Wayne Bruness. Then, they sped south on Drexel to Brookville Road.  They hoped that no oncoming car would slow them down. They raced east on Brookville Road and north on Bosart Avenue. In their imaginations they could hear the crowds cheering.  They skidded around the corner onto Young Avenue, a gently sloping down-hill street. And then, the moment of truth arrived. Ron Huggler, of 4613 Young Avenue, passed under the shade tree before the others. Another race was in the history books.

Bike race in May, 1950: Wayne Bruness held the flag. The racers left to right: Johnnie Robeson, Dale May, Bob Butler, and Ron Huggler. Their starting and ending line was on South Drexel Avenue under a shade tree in the yard at 4601 Young Avenue. Behind the kids you can see the houses located at 4572 and 4602 Young Avenue. (photo courtesy of Ron Huggler) 

On race day, many boys would gather at the Huggler house at 4613 Young Avenue and play a board game called "Huggin' the Rail." It was a simple game of chance whereby kids rolled the dice to move their race car along an oval track. (image courtesy of 

     If you walked down Young Avenue in the 1940s and 1950s on a beautiful day, you would hear the sounds of children. Nearly every other home along the block had a child in it. For young Ron Huggler, it was a "paradise." The newer neighborhood with its affordable housing attracted many young couples just starting out in life. Some remained in the area for years while others moved into larger homes in other neighborhoods. After World War II ended, another influx of newer families moved in as the veterans took advantage of the GI Bill to buy a home. 

     Ron Huggler recalled that on Saturday mornings he and his family shopped in Irvington. He fondly remembered patronizing the F. W. Woolworth Co. and Danner Brothers. He loved stopping by Taylor's Ice Cream and Candy Store.  Sometimes, he would join his friends for a double matinee at the Irving Theater. They also patronized the Tuxedo, Arlington, Sheridan, and Emerson Theaters as well. During his teenage years, he loved to lunch at Wolman's Drugs on the corner of East Washington Street and Ritter Avenue where he dined on the delicious chili, a sandwich, and a flavored drink. He also enjoyed riding his bike to Bob Steele's Hobby Shop as they had numerous board games, models, train sets, and all kinds of toys. 

     During the summer months, the kids played baseball in a field near Pleasant Run. They also enjoyed hanging around the nearby railroad tracks to flatten pennies or other objects. On one occasion, Ron found a rail-line lantern along the tracks. Several decades later he donated that artifact to the Irvington Historical Society. Another fun adventure for the kids was a bike ride or walk to Bob's Market on Orion Avenue just west of Emerson Avenue. Here, the kids could purchase an array of candy including bubblegum, licorice whips, Red Hots, Jaw Breakers, and even candy cigarettes. (Yikes!) The store had a huge collection of large chocolate bars, most of which cost five cents. 

     There were so many kids living in the area that years later as adults they gathered for reunions in places like Christian Park and the Huggler home. Most of the kids in the photos below are in their 80s now if they are still with us. Enjoy this trip down Memory Lane also known as Young Avenue. 

Several kids in the neighborhood gathered at the Huggler home at 4613 Young Avenue c1945. Behind the kids you can see the homes at 4609 and 4605 Young Avenue. Top Row: Unknown child holding flag, Unknown blond-haired boy, Ron Huggler: Middle Row: Unknown girl, Linda Teeguarden, Bethany Teeguarden, possibly Bonnie Dove; Cathy Dudley with flag. 

Many kids posed on the front yard of 4613 Young Avenue c1946. Top row: Ron Huggler, Sandra Clift; Middle Row: Dale Male, possibly  Wally or Johnny Paul, Alan Miller, Cathy Dudley; Front row:  Johnnie Robeson, Ronnie Riebe, Randy Toler, Linda Riebe, and Bob Butler. 

Bob Butler and Cathy Dudley posed in their western gear in the front yard of 4613 Young Avenue. Behind the kids you can see the north side of the 4600 block of Young Avenue c1947. 

Barbara Reed and her pet chihuahua visited the Hugglers at 4613 Young Avenue c1946. 

Billy, Connie, and Patty Harrell posed in their front yard at 4571 Young Avenue c1950. Behind the kids you can see 4568 and 4572 Young Avenue. 

Cowgirls, Cathy Dudley and Barbara Reed c1945 in front of the Reed home at 4572 Brookville Road.

Wayne Bruness and Ron Huggler posed in the Huggler living room at 4613 Young Avenue on Christmas Day c1947. 
Ron Huggler and Patrick c 1952 at the Huggler home at 4613 Young Avenue.

Ron Huggler stood at his patrol post in the winter of 1951, Behind him you can see 4658 Brookville Road.

Meanwhile on nearby Farrington Avenue in 1949!! (Hoosier Chronicles)

Sources:  Ron Huggler, "The Best of Times: Random Thoughts on My Journey to Now," Unpublished memories of life on Young Avenue, 2006; Interview with Ron Huggler, January 23, 26, February 1, 2023. I also wish to thank Mike Widner.