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Ray's Ramblings - Volume 3

Ray Kessler is a lifelong Mt. Vernon resident who has played a lot of ball, written about others playing a lot of ball and loves to wax eloquently about Mt. Vernon. We are fortunate to have access to many of his short stories and observations to show here.

We have organized the articles by the period of time Ray is referencing. This volume started in October, 2011.

Come back often, because Ray just keeps finding items to add. This is Volume 3.


1990's

A New Century.....2000

Riverfront Hub of Activity For Gasoline Spill.....1999

Workers from the environmental disaster clean-ups were back in Mt. Vernon just months after the large plastics fire to control the spill. As a TV crew from WAVE in Louisville looked on, brightly colored booms were placed around stranded barges and the water supply intakes of Mt. Vernon. A barge containing the colorless liquid cumene was tied up waiting for use at General Electric when a tugboat of Memphis attempted to navigate the river with barges of gasoline. Apparently the tug lost steering power and left the pilot headed for the barge of cumene. Although no explosion occurred the smell of gas was apparent and a boil order was issued for Mt. Vernon as a precaution. The leaking barge contained nearly 80,000 gallons of gasoline, most of which spilled into the Ohio River.

Plastic Warehouse Destroyed by Fire.....December 1998

Coming home from Evansville I saw this tremendous black cloud visible for miles. I wondered..."Where is it", as I flashed back to the time our house was destroyed by fire. Soon we had to detour and over 200 people fled their homes as a huge blaze engulfed over 300,000 square feet of warehousing. The black smoke produced by burning polystyrene kept at least ten fire departments working in shifts to fight the blaze. People within a one mile radius were evacuated because of the large amount of toxic materials within the building. Bruce Bauer, public information officer with Mt. Vernon Fire and Rescue said booms were set up in the river to prevent pellets of plastic from going downstream. The Mt. Vernon Water Works went on reserve tanks for twenty hours as a precaution. Howard Dunn, a University of Southern Indiana chemistry professor called GE about the possibility of toxic materials stored there so the community could make up their own mind on the situation. "If I were in the path of it, I would get out," he said. It looks just like Kuwait." John Blair, of the environmental group Valley Watch, called it, "a wakeup call." Loss was set at around $10 million dollars. The shopping center west of the fire was evacuated and used as a staging area for firefighters for several days. The WSI warehouse contained tens of millions of pounds of plastics and materials belonging to Lin-Pac Plastics, B&M Plastics and GE Plastics. In all thirty to forty fire departments were called with firefighters estimated at 150.A real concern during the fire was a large butane tank buried at the northwest corner of the burned building as "big as a semi-trailer." Foam units were used to cool down the tanks and used eventually on the warehouse itself. The fire which started on a Thursday really was out until Sunday. It was quite a scene!

City-Wide Curb Recycling Begins.....July 1998

A new recycling truck was purchased and little yellow bins were passed out and off we go recycling newspapers, glass jars, plastics and junk mail. Now if someone would stop stealing my bin.

City Council Says: "We Don't Like Your Kind; You Can't Do That Here!".....1996

A new ordinance called the Parks and Recreation Amendment specified that no person shall use the premises of Brittlebank Park for the purposes of playing or practicing golf. Also, no person may intentionally deposit any object which should cause a hazard during maintenance or mowing of the park. Any violation of this ordinance may be fined $100 per offense. Probably that was a good rule. Never heard of any child being hurt by a shag ball; but it might happen and I am sure lost balls could cause a pain for lawnmowers.

Now How Did They Get There?.....1996

A box of human bones were found in the basement at 411 Main Street. The bones were turned over to Indiana state authorities. It was determined that the bones dated back from 700 to 1100 AD.

Water Resored to Mt. Vernon.....January 1994

We sure were happy when our water came back on weren't we? It started when our town's water purification unit froze on January 15 and was out maybe a week as I recall. A boil order for drinking and cooking was put into place. Water was trucked into town from outside communities and the local industries cut hours to save water. The National Guard even came in and delivered door to door free bottled water. The temperatures on one night hit seventeen below zero. The town pulled together though and finally Water Superintendent Harold Cox and the Department got things in order and back on line and we enjoyed again the pleasures of modern living.

Back To Back State Championships For Wrestler Andy Schneide.....1994

Mt. Vernon senior Andy Schneider won his championship title with a 9-3 decision in the heavyweight class in Indianapolis going 45-0 on the season. He lost only once in his final two years and became the first heavyweight champion to repeat in 26 years.

Jeff Robb Completes College Swim Career With a Splash......1994

Former Wildcat swimming standout Jeff Robb ended his college career in fine form as he and his Western Illinois University teammates competed in the Mid Continent Conference Swimming and Diving Championship. Robb won the consolation finals in the 200 yard backstroke with a time of 1:55.46. He holds their school record in the 220 backstroke. Robb advanced to the final round of the 100 yard backstroke and placed seventh in the event with a time of 54:04 seconds. In the preliminaries he was recorded at 53:65. The Mid Continent Conference is considered one of the toughest in Division 1. WIU won the conference meet winning over 200 points ahead of second place Wright State University. Robb spent two years at Western Illinois after transferring from Vincennes University where he won the National Junior College championship in the 100 yard backstroke. When he left Vincennes he held the school records in the 100 and 200 yard backstroke events. He also was a member of the record holding 200 yard and 400 yard medley relay teams at Vincennes.

One of my letters to The Democrat in 1994

I was very pleased to read your tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Mt. Vernon Democrat. You praised him only as a civil rights leader. King was much, much more than that. At the core of his thinking and his commitment as a Christian was pacifism as practiced through the techniques of organized non-violent confrontations. His followers were not limited to desegregation but extended to the peace groups as well. It was King the pacifist, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who said in April 1967 that 'the greatest purveyor of violence in the world is my own government." It was also King the pacifist, who said, "If America's soul becomes totally poised, part of the autopsy must read, Vietnam." King knew that racism and militarism were related by the contempt of the powerful for the weak. With the world armed with nukes he said, "It will be worthless to talk about integration if there is no world to integrate." King preached that a nation that continues to year after year spending more money on military defense than on social programs is approaching spiritual death." King was a reader of Thoreau's essay of Civil Disobedience, a student of Mahatma Gandhi's Sayagraha, or soul force, and a believer in Jesus Christ's, "Love thy enemies." He was a rare phenomenon, a leader who was willing to die, but not willing to kill. He urged his followers to "study war no more." Hate destroys a man's sense of values, thus King walked the life of a non-violent crusader. He knew that love creates and builds up, not tears down. St. Matthew 26:52 reads-"Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place; for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." Someday, Washington D.C., will see a need to build a statue of King. A good location should be in front of the Pentagon with these words chiseled in stone. "The end does not justify the means-War is not the solution.".....Well the monument has been built this past year, but war is still here and America cannot seem to get by one year without a fight.

Looking North.....1991

To Top

1980's

Native Americans Restore Sanctity of Burial Mound.....May 1989

The leaders of 15 Native American nations and over 60 members of those tribes gathered at the Dan Fox Center on General Electric property south of Mt. Vernon to march to the site of ancient burial mounds disturbed during a county road project. It was reported that the mounds were the home of 2000 year old Hopewell Indian ceremonial burial grounds. Looting was apparent and motion detector cameras, fencing and patrolling was started to shut down the site. Three Indian leaders representing the Sioux, Cherokee, and Miami tribes presided over the gathering that had been desecrated. Wap Shing of the Miami's led the procession with Montezuma slowly beating a small drum. There were three pipe carriers and a ceremonial burning of tobacco while the leaders said a few things over the site. Leaders of the Native Americans on hand talked about recent passed legislation that made it a crime in Indiana to conduct archaeological digs of any kind without a permit signed by Democrat Governor Evan Bayh. The re-consecration ceremony was a private affair with a news conference following.

Henry Pfeiffer turns 105.....1986

Mr. Pfeiffer lived until 1992 which would have made him 110 or 111! Can you imagine? Born in 1881 in Black township he lived about a quarter of a mile from there in 1986. He spoke with a Mt. Vernon Democrat reporter at his home where the long time farmer lived alone. During the off season from farming he worked as a saw mill operator and worked hard living by his motto of "Let every day come. Let every day go." He quit school at 15 to help his father clear their farm debt. His greatest hobby was photography and making postcards. He bought his first camera in 1908 and kept it his entire life. He loved watching a negative develop in a dark room. His wife passed in 1977. They were together 6 days short of 65 years. That year he gave up his pipe too. With reflection he can recall each and every year of his adult life. Henry read the Bible each and every day, ate what he wanted as far as eggs and fried foods. He also liked to tinker with clocks. Pfeiffer once said one think he never had for a birthday present was violin music. So on his 105th birthday, the Senior Citizens Club entertained him with the Suzuki violinists containing 11 young artists to his delight

John Forthoffer with bottles.....1985

Barge Service Vice-President Killed in Accident.....November 1984

William "Jeff" Bayer, 33, of Smith Road, Mt. Vernon died in a freak accident at Southwind Maritime Centre. According to a witness, Bayer had lowered the boom on a crane and had removed a pin. He was attempting to put an extension on the boom when it dropped on him. He was pinned for about 10 minutes before barge workers and emergency medical techs could free him. It was blunt trauma and he suffered massive internal injuries. He was transported by Welborn's Lifeflight crew to Evansville. This was the third fatality in the past two years, one from an explosion and another who fell in river and drowned.

Mary Kinsey.....1984

Mary was an excellent Mt. Vernon athlete graduating in 1984. She earned nine letters in three sports, four each in volleyball and basketball and one in track. She made the first team Big 8 Conference Volleyball team in her sophomore, junior, and senior years and All-Conference Basketball team in her junior and senior years. She made All-State Volleyball twice and received Honorable Mention on the All-American team. She was a member of the 30-1 volleyball squad that was 8th ranked in the state and set the Big 8 record for the most digs in a three game match with 40. In her senior year she was named the Kiwanis and the Elks Athlete of the Year. She received a college scholarship from Kansas State where she lettered five times being captain of the 1986 and 1988 volleyball teams. She made the All-Tournament Team in the 1985 Colorado State Invitational and was selected MVP in the 1986 Kansas State-Pepsi Invitational. She became the number one in career service aces and number two in career digs and kills at Kansas State. In 1986, she was a United States Olympic Festival participant in Houston Texas and received a bronze medal. Elected to the Mt. Vernon Hall of Fame in 1995.

ADM Workers Strike.....1983

About 60 union workers walked off their jobs unhappy with what they felt was too small a salary increase and a better contract language. The company proposal was a 4% increase over the life of a three year contract with American Grain Millers Local 315. The President of the union said the average pay for workers at the mill was $7.56 per hour. ADM Manager Robert Rapp refused comment on the worker's walkout or contract details. A federal mediator was contacted to get the two parties back to the bargaining table.

Middle School Planned.....1981

In December, three options for housing a middle school in Mt. Vernon were unveiled. The proposed school with total costs ranging from $25 million to $33 million would eliminate the existing junior high program and put sixth, seventh and eighth grades in the same school.

The Hysteria of Boy's Basketball.....1981

In 1980 our Wildcats completed a 17-6 season starting the season 8-0. Then as a painful reminder to a previous great year we lost to Tell City. You see in 1972, the greatest Wildcat team of all went 22-2 and lost both games to the Marksman. This 1980 fell in the championship game of the Princeton Sectional by nine points hitting only 34% from the field. So here comes 1981 and expectations are sky high. Danny Deig, Andy Kinsey, Scott Pretzsch, Lance Merrill are there along with other fine players and then there is this guard.....Jeff Embrey. The excitement and quickness of this player was something to behold. The town loved him! Bleachers had to be put on the floor to accommodate more fans. Everything was going to be electric again. But something was not right. The team was struggling. They opened on the road with a six point win over North Posey as Embrey knocked in 35 pts for the 16th ranked Cats. We came home for a "laugher" vs. New Harmony and won by 22. In overtime we lost on the road to Evansville Memorial, a team we had beaten the previous year by 27. It looked a little better the next two games at home with wins over Mater Dei and Boonville as we scored into the nineties both games with Jeff hitting 35 again vs. the Pioneers. In Heritage Hills we lost by 16 giving up 85 points. "What's wrong with the 'Cats?", the town asked. The South Spencer Rebels defeated us next in two overtimes by 2 points and suddenly our once state ranked team is 4-3. Coach John Jameson was feeling the heat I guess and stepped down. Chuck Valier, who coached the 1972 squad, took over and spirits were lifted. Big home game crowd was fired up and the boy's spirit seemed lifted by the change. In the third quarter with the Huskies the game was stopped to present our fine guard Jeff Embrey a game ball for breaking our school record for the most points scored in a career. It was presented to him by former record holder and member of the 1972 team, Charlie Uhde. The Wildcats won by ten with Jeff pouring in 27 in Mt. Vernon's 600th win as a school. Washington Hatchets went down next with Embrey's 30 points, We smoked the Tell City bunch by 34. Now we are going we thought. A hard part of the schedule was before us...Harrison, undefeated Vincennes, and always tough Bosse. We lost all three by 4, 8 and 11. Then we lost to Gibson Southern by 2 and we are now 7-7. Reasons for our stumble were mixed. Some thought we had a one man team, some thought we didn't have a third dependable scorer, some faulted our rebounding or our defense. Crowds were still coming, but the vocal fans were not always happy and displayed their displeasure at times on the players who they thought were underachieving. The pressure was on them. Wood Memorial went down by 18 and we felt better. Evansville Central, the oldest school in Evansville and a team we have never had success with came in. The Bears had won 28 sectionals in their history and behind Embrey's 30 and Andy Kinsey's 22 we won 90-81. Princeton came in, a team we have played more than any other. Uncharacteristic for the Tigers, they decided to slow the game down, but we won 46-35. Jasper Wildcats marched into Mt. Vernon with a large following with their yellow hard hats to support their team. They would be Sectional Champs this year too with their fine guard Mike Ballanger later of Kentucky and Western Kentucky. We lost by 7. Jeff and Andy both hit into the 20's the next game as we defeat Reitz by 11. Ending the regular season, Embrey goes 14-14 from the line and scores 34 in a 13 point win over Castle. The Vikings of NP were our draw in the Princeton Sectional and we take them by ten. We get even with Gibson Southern next in a 9 point win. Princeton is next at their place in the finals. Will they slow the game down again? No. Mt. Vernon wins their 4th ever basketball sectional 73-64 with Embrey hitting 26 and Kinsey 21. In the first quarter, Jeff breaks the Wildcats single season individual point total and has 566 for the year after this game. The Regional is next and we have never won a game here before. The Rebels of South Spencer are our opening game and a team we lost to by two earlier. MV wins 53-51 in a tough game. As I recall, the Rebs had three shots at the end of the game for the tie. Danny Deig for the first time all year leads the game in scoring with 16, Embrey 14, and Mike Niehaus has a strong 14 point game. Here come the Vincennes Lincoln Alices coached by the legend, Orlando "Gunner" Wyman who would retire after this season. The Alices had only 2 losses and we stayed with them until late in the fourth quarter when Embrey got cramps in his leg and it fell apart the last minute. We lost by nine. Jeff had 24 and Kinsey 15. Deig had a tough assignment at center vs. Indiana recruit Courtney Witte, but he had a strong game, constantly getting position and bringing down key rebounds. I was very proud of the way Dan closed out his career. The Alices went on and won the State title finishing 26-2. Off season awards saw Embrey leading all southwestern Indiana in scoring with a 25.4 average and 630 points. He finished his career with what is still a school record of 1461 points. Embrey and Kinsey were selected all Big 8 guards. Jeff went on the play at the University of Evansville and the Indiana State University of Evansville. He was honorable mention All-State and honorable mention All American. Honors continued for Jeff at two schools. He was an assist machine at UE, but did have his scoring moments like 17 vs. U.S. International in his first start, a 5-5 game from the floor vs. Southwest Missouri State and 20 vs. Valpo. He set a single game assist record of 9 against St. Louis and in a nationally televised game vs. DePaul he scored 15 in a 83-82 loss to DePaul. Milo Hamilton of WGN said, "That little guy can play for anybody." He had 20 vs. Detroit and was named Midwestern City player of the week. He hit two free throws in the closing seconds of a game to defeat Oklahoma City. He had 110 assists in a season to break the single season mark at Evansville by Eric Harris. He was named honorable mention All-MCC. He was named co-captain in his sophomore year only the third time in school history. The others were Jerry Sloan and Don Buse, both NBA players. He transferred to Division 2, ISUE and played basketball and baseball there. He had honors there too, like Second 5, all Great Lakes Valley team, co-MVP for Eagles. Second in team scoring with a 17.2 average, 185 assists in a season. He had 29 points vs. St. Joseph. Voted to All Regional team and on and on.

MV's All-Time Leading Scorer.....1981

Jeff Embrey who graduated in 1981. Now a high school coach on Ky. Scored I believe it was 1461 pts in his career. Played for the University of Evansville and University of Southern Indiana. At the time he broke Charlie Uhde's scoring record who graduated in 1972. Uhde had broken Bill Newman's... 1969.

Babcock & Wilcox.....1981

Police Petition For Raise.....May 1980

Citing "insufficient funds" the city council rejected Mt. Vernon's policeman's efforts to drum up public support for a $1000 per year raise and stood fast on a previous decision to deny a raise. Policeman had been dissatisfied with that claim and had went public with a petition drive and brought over 70 people to the council meeting supporting their efforts. Patrolman, Bobby Joe Steward, the town's first ever black patrolman, suggested that the money be taken from the city's $110,000 federal revenue sharing funds which were used for city projects like street paving. Mayor Higgins, however felt that would be unfair to take money away from other departments. "Each department had the opportunity to participate in the revenue sharing budget. The police department quickly spent their money for two police cars," he added. He also stated problems with the state's frozen tax levy which prevented them from raising taxes and a directive to follow President Jimmy Carter's 7% wage guidelines. Sgt. Glynn Boyster, President of the Local FOP felt that local money was being spent poorly citing recent paving of Walnut Street as an example of misused expenditures. Charles Blakely, city street commissioner, said all streets that were paved were in need of it. Council members let their earlier decision stand by taking no action. Steward reiterated the department's previous statement that a strike "is not one of the possibilities being considered." Base pay for a policeman at that time was $11,770 plus benefits. They had been given a 7% raise in January.

Ron Jones Chosen As Best Prep High Jumper in the United States.....1980

Editors of "Track and Field News." a sports publication, notified coach Steve Britt and Mt. Vernon High School that Jones was picked by that magazine as the top high jumper in the nation. Jones won the state title and cleared 7'2" during the past season. Jones went on to a fine career at Indiana University and cleared over 7'4" in his collegiate career.

Seventy Gather From Across Country to Study Roots Here.....1980

Right after the Civil War, a 20 year old soldier named Benjamin Lowenhaupt became ill while traveling from Memphis to Pittsburgh, and was taken to a small river town for treatment. That town was Mt. Vernon. As he recovered he took a liking to the town and the woman who nursed him, Rachael Rosenbaum. Eventually, they were married and raised ten children and became important merchants here in our community. Over a hundred years later descendants of the family came together here to learn more of their clan's history. They came from as far away as Florida, New York, Colorado, and Oklahoma. They went out to Bellefontaine Cemetery to visit the graves of the Lowenhaupts and other relatives. They went to the Posey Count Court house and examined family records and heard a talk on the county's history. They toured the old home place, and later a business office on the corner or Fourth and Mulberry. They took a barge cruise of the Ohio River to see the town's industrial sites and view the town as Ben would have seen it. They stayed in New Harmony and also attended that weekend's Heyday activities before heading home.

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1970's

Mt. Vernon Democrat Sold to Landmark Community Newspapers.....1979

Garth Whipple, who while owner and editor of The Democrat took a bi-partisan stance politically with the newspaper, was described by many as being a Southern Democrat. Born in Missouri he came to Mt. Vernon in 1966 buying the paper from Orvan Hall. Whipple had studied journalism at the universities of Tulsa and Missouri. The Mt. Vernon Democrat for a century had been strongly Democratic in nature and Whipple, well, he even endorsed Republicans. Oh, my! But following the editors of the past he was involved in the community serving as president of the Chamber of Commerce and as a advocate for downtown revitalization and development of the Ohio River resources. He lobbied area legislators and politicians to back Mt. Vernon as the site which became the Southwind Maritime Centre. In 1969 he was named marketing development manager of Southwind Port and later industrial development director for the Indiana Port Commission. Garth Whipple passed on in February of 1989 and at his death he was working on broker arranging mergers and acquisitions for business and industry.

I guess old Glenn was a little of a prophet too.....1979

Explosions Cause Injury at J. R. Short Milling Company.....January 1977

Ed Jolley was injured from burns, treated and released from Deaconess Hospital from explosions caused by a fire started when a spark ignited grain dust in the mill elevator. Both explosions occurred within minutes of each other. Damage to the mill was extensive causing a hole in the top of the elevator and other damages to the lower sections according to mill manager Robert Ozinga. Short, a Chicago firm bought the Mt. Vernon industry in 1947. Back in 1924, the Mt. Vernon Milling Company was organized following the purchase at a bankruptcy sale by Joseph Kelly of the site and ruins of the American Hominy Company mill which burned in 1922. A new mill was erected by the local company, and it too was destroyed by fire in 1932. The mill that was there in 1947 began operation in 1933. Original stockholders were Joseph Kelley, Francis Keck, William H. Gonnerman, Dr. R. Wilson, William Gonnerman, and Robert Stinson. Theodore Hudnet and R. G. Jenks were attracted to Mt. Vernon in 1877 and established the Cooper, Hudnut & Warder mill which became known as the Hudnet Company. That mill was destroyed by fire in 1893, but was rebuilt in 1894. In 1901 the Hudnut Company merged with the American Hominy Company. The mill won national recognition for the high quality of its corn grits, meal, flour, flakes, feed and corn oil. The sale to J.R. Short also included the Sunlight mill, the North Walnut Street elevator and elevators at Welborn Switch and Upton in Posey County and at New Haven, Illinois.

Mead Johnson Begins $17.7 Million Expansion.....1977

Construction began at Mead Johnson, two miles east of Mt. Vernon on SR 62. First to be completed was the 150.000 square foot warehouse building which cost $3.7 million. The pharmaceutical production complex came the following year, also consisting of 150,000 square feet and cost around $14 million. Included in that second group were a sterile drug production building, a pharmaceutical packaging building, and a building housing production offices, cafeteria, and locker rooms. The total Mead Johnson Park consists of 600 acres bisected by the highway and purchased way back in 1957 for long range growth.

29 Tombstones Damaged at Beech Grove Cemetery.....October 1976

Not pranks but vandalism angered the Mt. Vernon community over thousands of dollars of damage to Beech Grove Cemetery in west Lynn Township. Posey County Sheriff Bill Cox reported 29 stones damaged or destroyed, some over 100 years old. A local resident also wrote a letter to the editor of The Democrat telling of the heartache of finding a tombstone of her son missing at Bellefontaine Cemetery. It was believed that the people involved at Beech Grove were driving a dual-wheel vehicle because of the tire tracks left behind. Larger tombstones were knocked over and chunks of stone and smaller headstones were thrown at other grave markers.

America's Bicentennial.....1976

Bicentennial Year Has Scenes of Mt. Vernon In A Film.....1976

Our town was used as "filler" by a Los Angeles production company when a freelance photographer came here in work on a seven minute documentary short called, "Now and Then." He took an old photograph and recreated the same setting on film. When the film was developed, the negatives were spliced forming a serial showing the same scene in different years.

Local Happenings of 1976

Unemployment in the county had dropped then spiked again when in the spring and summer strikes occurred at the Southern Indiana and Electric Company and Babcock and Wilcox. Although striking workers are not counted in the unemployment figures, the economic impact was still felt here. Both strikes lingered throughout the summer. Guy Ramsey got approval to construct the Southwind Shopping Center from the Economic Development Commission. Posey County National Bank expanded its drive up window service....no longer one at a time. The town searched for sources of funding to renovate the Memorial Coliseum and the Farm Bureau Refinery began receiving its first shipments of foreign oil because domestic supplies could not keep up with the demand. And what was I doing? I was cutting back on concerts only seeing a couple that year one of which was Uriah Heep, was married less than a year, bought a second or third hand trailer out by Farmersville and was helping pay off my wife's college loan. "Times get rough when you ain't got enough, to buy me a bottle of wine."

Some Tidbits on Ralph Staples of Staples Foundry.....1976

In the spring of 1976, Ralph Staples sat down for an interview with the late pastor August Binder. Ralph was born on the corner of Fourth and Munchoff here in town in 1893. His father came from Kentucky and his mother was Mary Jane Redman from Upton. His "home base" was that area as his foundry was only blocks away from where he was born. His dad worked at the Keck and Gonnerman factory and was the foreman of the molding room which of course was a foundry. His parents were unable to read or write and his father was also in charge of keeping tabs on the number of hours the laborers worked. Ralph as a school boy took that off his dad's hands. Ralph took their times down, their hours and kept a record. He was ten years old at and at 13 he started working there after school hours and on Saturday. Ralph in 1919 patented a can opener which he had made over at Keck-Gonnerman. He wanted to make them himself so at age 26 he founded his own foundry. The can opener opened with one stroke. He said it was like something you see every day when you go to the gas station and the service attendant (remember them?) punches a hole in the can and pours the oil out. It was of the same principle except it was larger and it would open a little "number 1" can, the whole lid with one stroke, "just like snapping your finger. ".I guess they were pretty successful as he sold 50 gross of them to Belknap Hardware on his first order. He then sold "thousands and thousands" of them. The work gradually moved into the stove foundry and furnace parts making repairs for heating and cooking stoves. Farmers then needed casting of replacement parts like cultivator spools and such; he had found his groove. He made stokers for years and had an outlet store in Evansville for years on Vine Street right across from the court house. There they sold stove parts off the shelf, "just like you would groceries." They sold castings to the Brucken Company in Evansville and for hotels and restaurants. Ralph had as many as 45 workers at one time. In 1976 he had four. The foundry business followed the trends and they moved into aluminum castings which were easier to work with and required fewer men. He got into plaques with pictures on them like emblems for furniture dealers, hardware men and implement people. Lawyers, chiropractors wanted them and mailbox numbers were produced. (I have one up for over 30 years) He sold them all over the United States. Many of you I am sure have seen his bicentennial plaques. Ralph said that his wife of 60 years started out as a bookkeeper and saleslady for Ike Rosenbaum's Jewelry Store. Ralph actually dabbled in selling cars too for a while. "My daddy had a car; a new Ford in 1909 and Grover Keck came to me and asked me if I would like to sell them? I said sure, but I don't know if I can. It was a Wednesday and I told him that if I could sell one by Saturday I would take his job." Well he did. As a matter of fact he sold 57 Fords that summer himself and got $5 for a Roadster and $9 commission for each Touring car. "I guess I was a natural born salesman." He sure was...when it was all said and done his business had been in Mt. Vernon longer than any company except for Alles Brothers Furniture.

Western Movie Star Col. Tim McCoy Entertains at Coliseum.....September 1972

The local coliseum was full of youngsters to see Western Movie star Tim McCoy perform tricks with an Australian bull whip. McCoy appeared in dozens of films over three decades and has a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame. The Colonel was in both World Wars and brought along clowns, Indians, and western singers to entertain his audience. At the height of his popularity he was even on a Wheaties box.

Glenn Curtis...Politician, Civil Servant, Non-Conformist....Darn Good Cartoonist.....1972

I have always loved political cartoons and our small town was blessed with a great one. Glenn Curtis started drawing for the Mt. Vernon Democrat in 1972 and published over 300 a year, doing thousands of them on all types of personal, local, and national themes. Whatever was happening on the street, a city councilman meeting, an unusual character, Bull Island rock festival, a fish story he memorialized it in a cartoon. He also did signs and greeting cards and cartoon requests. I was told he did the drawing of the man bowling on Posey Lanes wall. His ideas for a cartoon came from the unusual like big foot sightings and Civil Defense drills. It could come from a Fireman's ball or a basketball game. He would include his large group of children in them too over some simple observation at dinner, watching TV, or lighting the outdoor grill. Then there was the lovable frog. The story behind the frog included in his drawings goes something like this: A neighbor told him to draw a frog sitting on the bank of the Ohio River and put it in the newspaper. When it was published the neighbor would tell him why. Well, the frog cartoon was turned down by editor Garth Whipple. When he told the neighbor of the refusal, he laughed and said he should have put a pipe in its mouth. Finally, Glenn got the explanation he wanted. What happened was that Curtis missed a City Council meeting and during the meeting a woman came forward who was known to having dabbled in witchcraft. She requested something to Mayor Higgins regarding a parcel of riverfront property controlled by the city. After leaving one councilman quipped to the mayor, "You'd better give them what they want Jack or they will turn you into a frog!" Because his original frog cartoon was turned down, Curtis began hiding his frogs inconspicuously in his cartoons like behind a car, under a log, etc. They became very popular and the frog that started as Mayor Higgins became Curtis' alter ego and even started speaking and interacting with the cartoon. So Glenn all the work you did as a grocer, life insurance salesman, bank teller, street commissioner, city councilman, and district manager of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and mayoral candidate I thank you for; but my you made a mark as cartoonist that no one can fill. Thank You!

James Bennett Interviewed by Charles W. Hames.....early 1970's

James Bennett was born in Point Township in August of 1899 and his father and grandfather came to this area to work as farmers from Kentucky. In 1918, James found work at the Mt. Vernon Strawboard Company and then worked at several other jobs like the Ice Plant, a feed store, the Mt. Vernon Creamery and he sold insurance. He worked for the Posey County Highway Department, the Indiana State Highway Department, and the Mt. Vernon Street Department. He was a precinct committeeman for several different precincts, a town clerk-treasurer for several terms and Mayor of Mt. Vernon from 1948-1952. He also had the privilege of being a state delegate several times in Indianapolis. As a child he remembered that neighbors were real friends. "We didn't live close together like in the towns, but there was friendship." They would help each other out for whatever need one had and do it without pay. "Those are the things that were genuine and that I always valued," he said. James was married in 1926 and they had three sons and one daughter. He had tried to get into the service during the First World War, but his eyesight was so poor they would not take him. He remarked that there was lots of mythology town in Point...talk of "dead man's corner" and "the headless horseman" near Neader's Saloon. He said it was all fairy tales, but many people believed there was something to it and it was handed down by oral history of murders and lynching. During the depression James and his brother Stanley put on amateur boxing shows at the Coliseum. "It was hard times and we never received or did the boxers any remunerations." The little fee that was charged went to people of the milk fund and various charitable organizations. "It wasn't a great help, but it was some and we were glad to do it." Two of the boxers he mentioned that were good and still living at the time of the interview were Kenny Shephard and Tommy Givens. James Bennett also did some auctioneering...He then ended the interview with: "Say I've got one, now two, I've got two, say three, I've got three, three and a half, now, who'll say four, got four, four , four, four, four, sold to the man for four dollars."

Foltz City Boutique.....The Hippie General Store.....the 1970's

The happening place for we counter-culture freaks of the '70's. Here we could stock up on "supplies" before heading to a concert down the street at the Coliseum by the likes of Mountain, Edgar Winter, or Quicksilver Messenger Service. From the moment you opened that heavy wooden door with the black metal eagle adornment, your senses were on alert. The smell of incense and leather, the sounds of the Doors, or Hendrix and the art of psychedelic black light posters pulsating. You could browse the albums encased in heavy carpeted stalls, or shop for headbands, chokers, floppy hats, bells or beads. I bought my wife, now of 36 years a bracelet here in 1972 that she still cherishes. Literature from Abby Hoffman revolution to hemp farming techniques, the latest Crawdaddy or an underground comic book of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. If you wanted a concert ticket you could get them here too. It was a place of closeness and gentle goodness in an era of great turmoil. I miss you old friend!

To Top

1960's

Jim's Phamacy Carries On A Tradition.....1969

Jim's Pharmacy formerly was known by Boyer Drugs and before that Boyce and Williams in the 1920's and D&H Rosenbaum's in the late 1890's. Located at the corner of Fourth and Main it was bought by Jim Carroll from John Boyer who had been there for 17 years.

Inside Mt. Vernon Pharmacy.....1969

Mt. Vernon Pharmacy at 201 Main Street was a pharmacy for a long, long time. Joseph Gardner is believed to have been the first owner of this pharmacy back before the 1880's. In 1880 William MacArthur became the proprietor until 1884. Inventory back then included drugs of course, chemicals, oils, paints, glass, varnishes and putty. In 1884 William Fogas took over and managed way up until 1929. During that time the store became a Rexall agency with Rexall drugs and cosmetics. After Fogas died, his daughter Alice took over and sold the firm in 1943 to J. H. Thorton and T.A. Wheaton, who owned the firm jointly until 1948 when Thorton sold his interest to Wheaton. Wheaton did extensive remodeling and in 1968 sold the firm to Alan Curtis.

Refinery Fire.....1968

In June personnel at the local refinery and I am sure citizens close by got quite a scare when hydrogen ignited and exploded in a vessel. The system vented itself and the majority of the damage done was contained in the heating unit. The picture shows Civil Defense Fire and Rescue firefighters putting water on the fire. No one was injured in this incident.

Free the Mt. Vernon 32!!.....February 1968

After Mt. Vernon won their first sectional championship in school history, 23 juveniles and 9 of the age of 18 and 19 gathered together to celebrate. Word of it got out and State trooper Don Jackson and Deputy Sheriff James Kissinger along with others investigated. All of the young people were put on unofficial probation with loss of their driver's license a possibility. The location of the party was not noted in the newspaper, but it was widely known as the Mann's Beach incident. All were found guilty of at least one of the five charges: 1) trespass 2) accidental burning of a field 3) hot-rodding 4) illegal purchase of alcohol 5) consuming of alcoholic beverages. No obscene conduct was committed. Judge Gelb further stated that he honestly believes that all the youngsters involved are truly sorry for what happened and they have learned their lesson. The court asked Trooper Jackson, "Well, let me ask you, you said, they were dancing, drinking. When you say drinking, do you mean alcoholic beverages?" Jackson answered, "Yes, I saw several of them. They were holding it in their hands. There were a couple of them drinking it. I didn't write anybody's name down that was drinking at the time." The Court asked, "Dancing, drinking, singing, was there any other kind of conduct which was improper that you noticed?" "No obscene conduct at all, except drinking." Officer Kissinger was asked it he had anything to add. "Every one of these kids was real good, real cooperative." The court asked that the transcripts be released to cool the rumors circulating through the town. No names were released.

Two future governors in Mt. Vernon.....1968

Guests at a Meet and Greet with coffee for voters at the court house were Posey County GOP chairman Clinton C. Maurer, Secretary of State Edgar Whitcomb and his wife, and on the right, then candidate for state senator Robert Orr. Whitcomb would become Indiana's 43rd Governor from 1969-1973 and Orr our 45th from 1981-1989. He would also be appointed by President Bush to become Ambassador to Singapore.

John Noel Home, razed in 1968

This two story frame home once stood on West Ninth Street and at the end of James Street. It was built by John Noel, a veteran of the War of 1812 and served on the flagship of Commodore Perry at the Battle of Lake Erie. At one time it was known for its hand-carved front door and its excellent interior finish with high cupboards. The original entrance porch was small topped by a wrought iron railing. There was a door on the upper story that opened onto the roof and the windows were shuttered. His wife Margaret Lowry was one of Mt. Vernon's earliest families.

Let's go cruising 1968. Parkway Drive-in Evansville

All those mean "muscle cars" Goats, Cudas, Super Sports, Novas, Camaros, Mustangs running to Big Boy and down Diamond Ave.

Weejuns Play at Dave Morris Grand Opening.....September 1967

Saturday night the rock band, Weejuns entertained at a teen dance from 8pm to 11. Drinks and popcorn were provided as well as a $250 drawing. The new 1968 Chevrolets were on display in the three day celebration of a new location on Highway 62 West. I remember seeing a brand new corvette in there under $7,000 but I thought that was all the money in the world. Of course that was a year's salary "back in the day."

Slugfest in Double I League Tilt...Still Short of a Record.....September 1967

The Frank Moll Indians slammed Princeton 17-11 in the nightcap of a twin bill at Athletic Park. In this game there were 36 hits, 20 by Mt. Vernon. Jim "Red" Howard had six rbi's including a "tater" and Gerry Allyn plated five. Jerry Ruttledge also has a solo home run. Two games to mention here that were even larger would be a June 16, 1957 game when St. Phillips walloped Darmstadt 27-2 getting 20 hits and benefiting from 13, yes 13 errors. In August of 1959, St. Phillips smothered Union Township 28-1 in a seven inning game with the victors having 25 hits. Union Township could only record one safety and committed an even dozen errors.

MVHS Graduation.....1967

Front row i can see the Aldredge twins , Barry "Petie" Acuff, Joe Hannah, and Joyce Junker. Emilly Allyn too

Long Lost Brothers Reunited.....July 1966

Two brothers, both of which thought the other were dead, were reunited in Mt. Vernon. John Howard, 61, and a resident of Akron, Ohio was out looking for an aunt, the late Ella Howard of Mt. Vernon in order to verify his birthdate for service retirement purposes. He went into the Mt. Vernon Police station and inquired of his aunt. They told him of her death, but that she had a nephew in town which turned out to be his brother he had not seen since 1913 in Chaffee, Missouri. It seems that their father died and Earl Howard, being the oldest at 13, left home on his own. Eventually he came to Mt. Vernon, and at one time was a member of the police force. Both spent the weekend reliving old times and trying to understand the twist of fate which brought them back together. Another relation was found in Mrs. John McCarty, the daughter of Earl Howard and the niece of John Howard.

Main Street.....1966

Historical pictures.....1966

My thanks to Pat McCarty who was related to Harry L. Wilson who was President and General Chairman of the Mt. Vernon Sesquicentennial in 1966. He showed me a scrapbook of 150th anniversary items and of the start of the CD festival that use to be held in Mt. Vernon. Over the next few days, I will show some of these items. Nice meeting you Pat and thanks!

Historical Pictures.....1966

Peddler's Permit.....1966

Sesquicentennial Belle.....1966

Orvan Hall at Mt. Vernon Democrat.....1918-1966

In 1975, Mr. Hall sat down with the Rev. August Binder for an interview. I have included part of it here to honor this lifetime newspaper man. Orvan's grand parents came here from North Carolina in the early 1800's as many other migrants from there came. Orvan's father was active in politics here serving as sheriff and two terms as court bailiff. Orvan went to work at the Mt. Vernon Democrat in 1918, about six weeks after he graduated from high school. His father helped him get the job and told him, "Son, I want you to go there and stay there." Orvan obeyed his father quite well-staying there 48 years! His first job was a single wrapper, mailer which was where you put a sheet of paper down and write the name of the subscriber on it and then pasted it and wrapped the paper in it. Then he started a column called, "Told on the Street." It was about what he could find happening on Main Street each day. Edward Alles was then the publisher and before long Orvan was not only taking care of local news, but selling advertising. In the 1950's Alles incorporated the paper and gave Hall 48% of the paper and made an agreement that upon his death, Orvan would get the remainder of the stock at the book value. In 1966, Orvan sold the paper to Garth Whipple. The original owner of the Democrat was Thomas Collins, followed by Albert Sparks, the stepsons of Sparks then took over named Peter and John Roach, then Alles and onto Hall. Orvan said the biggest story he did was the 1937 flood. Another interesting period for him was the industrial interest in the community that came in the early 1960's. He said the first industry to actually locate here from outside was the Farm Bureau Refinery in the late 1930's. The 1937 flood actually helped our community by showcasing the "High and Dry" aspect of our town along the Ohio River. Companies wanted to be close to the river but safe from floods. That became a big seller for corporations like General Electric and Babcock and Wilcox. Another great story was the oil boom that came close to the end of the Depression. Oil was discovered near Griffin and that saved hundreds of farms because farmers were struggling to pay taxes. The opening of the Wabash Bridge linked us with Illinois much more than before too allowing industry to prosper. Orvan Hall also served as President of the School Board for nine years. During that time the town built the first school building in town in many years...Hedges Central Elementary. Orvan never ran for any political office, but he was a good democrat and was honored by Governor Roger Branigan as a member of the Sycamores of the Wabash which is sort of like a Kentucky Colonel.
More on Orvan Hall

Main St. Evansville.....1966

Medcalf Sells Pocket Hotel to Adjoining Tavern Owner.....March 1965

Mr. and Mrs. James Mattingly purchased from Mr. and Mrs. John Medcalf the Pocket Hotel at 119-121 West Second Street. Mattingly owns and operated the adjourning Idlewild Tavern. The sale ended a successful operation of the hotel for almost twenty years by the Medcalfs. During that time there was a continuing program of improvements with private baths and air conditioning. The hotel included 25 rooms and on the ground floor, a barber shop operated by Clyde Straw. There is also an office of the Evansville and Ohio Valley Railway bus line.

Drive In.....circa 1965

Mayor Harold Gentil Outlines Goals.....1965

  • Establish efforts to secure a Mt. Vernon to Poseyville highway to connect with Indiana 64
  • Completion of the Master Plan and Planning Commission Program and their functioning
  • Elimination of traffic hazards
  • Support programs and influence business firms and homeowners to repaint, remodel, repair and, in general beautify Mt. Vernon
  • Increase efforts to increase restaurants and motel facilities. Secure a medical clinic with two physicians
  • Codification of city ordinances
  • Enclose Mill Creek from Kiwanis Park to Ohio River
  • Comprehensive program to improve old and establish new sidewalks in Mt. Vernon
  • Continue efforts for the building of new Evansville to Mt. Vernon road (Indiana 62)

Will that be Type A or Ala carte? 1960's

Poseyville Man Found Drowned in Pond.....August 1964

An elderly man who said he wanted to get close to God in the pond where he was baptized was found drowned. Eugene Marse, 74, was found by Sherriff Malcolm Buchanan in two feet of water in a pond at Larkin Stallings farm two miles west of Poseyville. Marse had removed his shirt and trousers and left a note on the bank reading; "I am going to walk out into the pond and see if I can be as close to God as when Brother Dodd baptized me." Coroner Norman Norvell called it a drowning and an investigation was pending.

Hoagy Carmichael in Posey County.....June 1964

Famed composer, Hoagy Carmichael flew in from Los Angeles to purchase a large coin collection from James Crowder of Cynthiana. Carmichael formerly lived in Indiana and attended Indiana University where he wrote his most famous hit, "Stardust."

Uncle Jack and Aunt Kay.....1963

Jack and Aunt Kay were professional clowns at the inaugural 1963 CD Festival.

Anne Doane Sketches Displayed at High School.....1963

In December of 1960, Anne Doane presented to Mt. Vernon High School 31 felt pen sketches of earlier school buildings in the Mt. Vernon area. For three years they were stored in the school library until the Gamma Psi chapter Kappa Kappa Kappa had the unique drawings framed and displayed in the library. Finally the beautiful framed and well executed drawings could be enjoyed by everybody. Hugh W. Price, superintendent of the Mt. Vernon Metropolitan School District said the gift "enriched our school and our culture." The sketches were of the following school buildings: Central (1910-1945); Dunn, Booker T. Washington, Mt. Vernon High (1896-1929); Brewery Hill; Spencer, St. Matthew's parochial; Cronbach, Gill; Thompson, Springfield; Upton, Mt. Vernon High (1870-1887); Main St. High (1887-1896); Jeffries; Hartmann; Caborn; Smith; Martin; Farmersville; Miller; West Franklin; College Point; Black (Point Twp.); Lawrence (Point Twp.); Greathouse; Lawrence (Marrs Twp.); Western in Mt. Vernon; Grafton, Stucky and Walker in Savah.

Some 1963 Highlights.....

Just the facts, ma'am...

  • Police warned public that they will seize BB guns of persons caught shooting them in town. You'll put your eye out.
  • Lindleys purchase Sam's Tasty Treat Drive-In on East Fourth and Wood from Dennis Noon.
  • Dust explosion in the finishing area of General Electric which blew off a section of siding on the building.
  • Upshaws buy Gentil's Cafe at 132 East Second. Upshaws were also the owners of the Friendly Cafe 108 West Second.
  • Moonlight bowling at Posey Lanes where blue pin is the head pin. A strike on the blue pin awards the bowler a silver dollar. Nineteen were given away the first night.
  • Jaycees Baseball Diamond completed at the foot of the Junior High School.
  • A dog mascot at B&W named, "Hobo" was killed by a car. He arrived when construction workers began erecting the buildings and the men cared and loved the dog. He was around the grounds at all hours, welcoming each shift and walking with the guards. Grown men wept at the loss.
  • The graduating class of 1913 came back to Mt Vernon along with other alumni to see the new school. They were welcomed by two old timers, principal Charles Hames and teacher Catherine Howard. Memory candles were lit and songs were sung. Flowers were sent by the oldest MV living grad, Jeannie Wade of the class of 1883, then 98 years old. The oldest attending graduate was Mrs. N. Williams of the class of 1896.

J&J Donates New Cemetery Flagpole.....1963

Old Glory floated from a new 40 foot metal flagpole in a new location in Bellefontaine Cemetery that spring for Memorial Day thanks to J&J Welding Works in Mt. Vernon. A recent high wind had toppled the old pole. The new one was placed in the flat marker section and was visible from highways.

Breeze's Greenhouse Closes After 51 years.....1963

Mrs. Ernest Breeze worked with her husband there for 18 years and estimated she made over 6000 corsages during that period. They were second generation horticulturists and florists, succeeding Mr. Breeze's father, Covington who ran the business for 33 years. The greenhouses on North Mill had 2000 square feet of glass. Two were for flowers and one for plants. At one time they had a building on West 7th Street.

Future U. S. Senator Birch Bayh Visits Mt. Vernon.....1962

In the midst of the Cuban missile crisis, Terre Haute native Democrat Birch Bayh dropped by for a campaign visit. He had breakfast with party leaders at The Parkett Drive-In and then spoke to around 100 at the Democratic Headquarters at 213 Main Street. This was his second visit, the first being a fund-raising dinner a year ago. He spoke of President Kennedy and his efforts to rid the world of Cold War tensions. He hit his opponent Homer Capehart on trying to play politics with human lives in foreign policy. Bayh also visited local stores and shook hands on the sidewalks with voters. Bayh had a good career serving in the Senate from 1963-1981. He was influential in the passing of Title IX, giving women equal opportunities in public education. He was the principal architect of two constitutional amendments: the 25th and the 26th. The latter allowed 18 year olds to vote which was of great interest to young people during that time being drafted into the military. He intended to run for President in 1972, but his wife came down with cancer. His name was important for two other issues that never passed being the Equal Rights Amendment and the elimination of the Electoral College. He is the father of Evan Bayh who served as Governor and Senator of Indiana.

How Death of Teammate Affected Me.....July 1962

When I was in youngster of 12 a baseball teammate of mine, Jesse Adams drowned in the Ohio River on a Saturday afternoon around Independence Day. Jesse was the son of Frank Adams and was an excellent athlete; unfortunately, he could not swim. He went to the Highbanks with five other older boys. Jesse was wading and went under and the older boys were unable to locate him. Young Adams lived on East Second Street and the funeral was held at the Free Will Baptist Church. All his teammates, all white went to his funeral. They had us sit in the choir pews up front. This was quite a moving experience! All of us white children sitting in a black church with a black congregation at a time when I was just beginning to hear about "racial trouble" in the deep South. Of course, racism existed here too, but I didn't know it at the time. Mt. Vernon had a small black population then as it does today; but I had always gone to Hedges Central with black students and had played sports with them. The ministers who officiated the funeral made a big deal of us being there in support of our friend and there was lots of crying and wailing and nodding going on. I was brought up Baptist and if someone gave a real loud Amen we got tense. LOL. This was over the top. Everyone was nice to us though, and shook our hands and thanked us for coming. As the years went by and I learned about Jim Crow laws and segregation, I looked back on this time as a learning experience and to older blacks that day, I think it was important to them also. As I know more about American and local history, the changes in attitudes come slowly, but most of us evolve to do the right thing.

Navy Awards Contract to New MV Plant.....April 196

The Babcock and Wilcox Company announced plans to construct a new plant in Mt. Vernon and be awarded a contract for around $1 million to manufacture six combat-type marine boilers for three of the United States Navy's new class "amphibious transport dock" ships. A boiler division spokesman revealed that the production schedule calls for the fabrication of steam drums, headers and related pressure parts. The ships will be constructed in Brooklyn, New York.

End Comes to Distinguised Posey County Judge Herdis Clements.....1962

"Here comes the judge"....judge Clements that is. The eminent jurist of Posey-Gibson Circuit Court and then Posey Circuit Court for 37 years and two months died of a heart seizure at his home. He would soon have been 91 years of age and when he retired from the judicial bench in 1946 he had completed the longest tenure of that time than any judge of a major court in Indiana. He was an orphan at age ten, but by age 16 he was teaching school and became postmaster of Cynthiana (his native community). He began practicing law in 1896, and served as representative in the Indiana General Assembly. He also was a professor in Indiana University College of Law and Mayor of Mt. Vernon for one term beginning in 1904. He was married for 69 years to the former Fannie French of Lynn Township. Following his retirement from the judicial bench he helped form the legal firm of Clements & McClellan and continued as the senior member until his death. He was a Democratic leader in our community and a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. It was said that under his direction the Posey court had a certain formality to it minus the stiffness and there was dignity without pompousness and the legal decorum was free from awkward constraint. He believed strongly that "every man is entitled to his day in court." He was known as a sincere Christian and had love for his fellowmen. His home for over 50 years was at 723 Mulberry. He was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery. On his 90th birthday, Carl Shrode, the retired principal of Evansville Central wrote a poem of him. I will conclude with the last few stanzas of the poem: "I do recall long talks with you; in which we did decades review. And talked of deeds and politics; while we put in some right good licks. No doubt, like you, I like the show; and would like to see more before I go. While man proposes -gives the nod; the outcome of all lies with God. So happy birthday and no sorrow; Life is too brief to dread tomorrow. I hope to come to see you soon; while younger men go to the moon.

Gentil's Restaurant Terminates Half Century Serving Mt. Vernon.....1962

Gentil's Restaurant at 132 East Second, long a family tradition was leased in January to John Hester of 1202 North Main Street. August Gentil and his wife Martha operated their first Mt. Vernon restaurant, known as The Shadow at Third and Main Streets. August also operated restaurants successively at 109 West Second, 303 Main, 108 West Second, and a few other places. After August passed in 1957, Mrs. Gentil continued with her son Elvis at the East Second location, now home to the Mt. Vernon Democrat office. She died in 1961, and the family business went to Elvis. After the death of his parents, Elvis lost interest and went to work at Bucyrus-Erie in Evansville. The name Gentil's remained under Hester who closed down his Hester's Grocery on East Water to manage the restaurant.

Sitting Governor Speaks at Chamber of Commerce Meeting.....1962

In the past sometimes a Governor would come to dedicate a public works or a new industry, but to my knowledge it was unusual to have one come just to speak without running for office. At the invitation of Bill Keck, president of the Mt. Vernon Chamber of Commerce, Matthew Welch (D) did just that at a reception at the Elks Home. Welch was not the most popular governor in Indiana history; in fact he was called, "Sales Tax Matt" on billboards, bumper stickers, and painted barns during his one term. He came into office with a deficit of over $18 million and he decided to pay this off with a sales tax which ruined his chances for reelection, but put us on the path out of the red. License plates started appearing on the front of cars that said, "Welcome to Indiana-Land of Taxes."

Carl "Windy " Wade.....1962

Pitched 2 no-hitters in American Legion baseball. Struck out 22 hitters in 9 innings over Petersburg Legion. In high school he pitched two consecutive no-hitters. College scholarship to Indiana State, but developed arm problems. Became my wife's fifth grade teacher at Farmersville Elementary.

Roth's Department Store Opens.....December 1961

The spacious edifice, the largest building to be erected for a retail store in almost half a century opened in December. Its exterior had the appearance of brick and ceramic tile with an abundance of glass show windows. Located at Third and Main it was managed by Jim Atkins who is a partner of four other stores in the Midwest.

Mt. Vernon Students Receive T.B. Patch Tests.....December 1961

Two hundred and eighty-four 10th, 11th, and 12th grade pupils of Mt. Vernon High School took advantage of the Posey County Tuberculosis Assn.'s offer of free tuberculin patch tests. The number represented 65% of the enrollment of the three grades. Parental consent was necessary for pupils to receive the test. Mt. Vernon physicians will read the test four days later and positive re-actors will be supplied parents and arrangements will be made for x-ray diagnosis. Pupils of New Harmony and North Posey High Schools will get their tests soon.

Unclaimed Freight Moves to Downtown.....October 1961

The Unclaimed Freight Store used to be at 1000 on North Main Street. It was operated by Guy Edwards who came from Evansville and resided on Audubon Drive in Mt. Vernon. In the fall of 1961 he moved to 208 Main which was the F.B. Schenk Hardware Company building. Edwards leased it from the owner of that time...David Hasting. Hasting in turn moved his Skell Gas Service and large appliance department to the Hasting Equipment Company on West Fourth and Mill Streets.

Parking Curtailed on Fourth and Main.....October 1961

The Indiana Highway Department approves a recently enacted Mt. Vernon ordinance to eliminate parking in the area of the Fourth and Main Street intersection involving Indiana 62 and Indiana 69 so as to permit installation of turn lanes. New traffic signals were eventually installed providing "turn" signals as well as "stop" and "go" lights. The ordinance eliminates parking on the right side of the streets leading into the intersection for distances ranging from 140 to 100 feet from the intersection. The Works and Safety Board also approved the tubing of Mill Creek between Seventh and Eighth streets and implemented that our water bill be combined with the sewage bill. Under the new law, water users must pay sewage charges when they pay water charges.

Parking Curtailed on Fourth and Main.....October 1961

The Indiana Highway Department approves a recently enacted Mt. Vernon ordinance to eliminate parking in the area of the Fourth and Main Street intersection involving Indiana 62 and Indiana 69 so as to permit installation of turn lanes. New traffic signals were eventually installed providing "turn" signals as well as "stop" and "go" lights. The ordinance eliminates parking on the right side of the streets leading into the intersection for distances ranging from 140 to 100 feet from the intersection. The Works and Safety Board also approved the tubing of Mill Creek between Seventh and Eighth streets and implemented that our water bill be combined with the sewage bill. Under the new law, water users must pay sewage charges when they pay water charges.

Horse Riders Banned from Athletic Park....1961

The Metropolitan School District of Mt. Vernon decided that Athletic Park is not the place to be riding horse over the baseball, football and track facilities. Holes can be dug in the field they felt which could not be seen in the grass causing injuries to school athletes. Pretty good idea, wonder why it took them over 40 years to change it? That's not even mentioning all that other crap; but, I did.

Conscience Bothers Thief...Returns Loot.....1961

A 19 year old Evansville youth walked from Evansville to the Mt. Vernon Police Station to return four wheel disks stolen from the Thunderbird of Robert Imsande of 721 East Lincoln. "My conscience bothered me and I felt I should return what I had taken," he said. In December weather of snow and rain the man walked for over eight hours from the east side of Evansville to Mt. Vernon. Because of his honesty, neither police nor Mr. Imsande filed a theft charge. The items were stolen from the auto parked at Posey Lanes on December 21st.

Cross Country Becomes Mt. Vernon's Sixth Varisity Sport.....1961

For decades, Mt. Vernon only had at 3 to 5 sports in high school. There was football, basketball, track, and baseball. For thirteen years 1917-1930 there was girls' basketball and for a few years we had no football; but had fall baseball as well as spring. In 1960 we added wrestling and in 1961 cross country. It would not be until the mid-1970's that girls' sports would appear. The first CC team was coached by Jim Solomon and the roster included Jim Estes, Mike Jones, David Jones, Alan Ackman, Paul Rohlman, Gary Porter, Steve Lowrey, Gary Carr,Carl Wade, Oscar Fingers, and future mayor John Tucker. Ackman and Carr became outstanding track men and went on to great success at Southern Illinois University. Wade had several no-hitters in baseball and had scholarship to Indiana State. Fingers was an all-around good athlete. Bob DeKemper was the student manager and Bill Newman was the athletic director.

Santa Arrives.....1961

Schenk Hotel.....1961

Schenk Hotel, formerly the St Claire Hotel. When destroyed it made room for Roth's Department Store. Now site of Fifth Third Bank at corner of Third and Main. Back in the 1870's it was run by William Nettleton who sold his interest in 1880 to Pete Walter who rapidly sold it to Nicholas Joest for $5026. Some of the other owners were Munchoff and Schenk. In 1879 it was remodeled and it gave meals to its residents along with free transportation to the railroad depot and the city boat wharf.

Local Firms have Growing Pains.....1961

Charles Blakley, manager of the P.N. Hirsch store said his firm is interested in a new location in Mt. Vernon which will have a larger shopping area for more effective display of expanding stock. The Hirsch firm purchased in 1959 the Model Department store from the Goldmans who operated it for a number of years. The Western Auto store then at 225 Main was a growing firm retailing auto accessories, home appliances, sporting goods, batteries and tires. It had operated for the past 14 years in the Andriakos building and in recent months it expanded in the building for a service department in the Percy Brite auto store. The former Redman Paint Store building at 224 Main was razed in July to provide a more spacious site for the Roth's Department store building under erection. James Atkins of the Roth firm said that a part of the former Redman building site would be included in the basement area of the new store.

Sunday Night Reality TV - Tri-State Ten Pins......Early 1960's

When I was in junior high, I bowled a lot with friends, especially Kenny Heath and Terry Utley. Ken worked at Posey Lanes in Mt. Vernon. I just lived a few blocks away from the bowling alley and bowled on Saturdays in a youth league. I remember Paul Brenner had the first 300 game at Posey Lanes. Well back then there was this television show on WTVW, Channel 7 on Sundays at 10:30 P.M. Many times when a local bowler I knew was on the show I would stay up to watch. I can remember Buck Linder, Darwin Jackson and Bill Walker on that tri-state bowling show. Seems to me they televised the show from either Franklin or Willow Lanes in Evansville. I loved Saturday morning bowling leagues. I even won a tournament in 1962. I just barely won over Utley in series after coming close to a perfect game in the first game. I say close because I bowled strikes the first eight frames. The seventh and eighth frames, the entire bowling alley stopped bowling to watch me. I got so nervous. At that time I had never bowled even a 200 game. In the ninth frame I hit the head pen perfect I thought and left the seven pin. I missed my spare. In the tenth I opened for a 245. I bowled a 278 years later, but never again would I start a game with 8 straight strikes. The tension was so great that I got an upset stomach the next two games and bowled just average. I was so proud of that little six inch trophy.

Exlyn Factory.....1960

I worked there a few months between my time at Evansville College and transferring to Murray State. I started as a stock boy at $1 an hour. I also became a meter man putting postage on packages for shipments. Later I made $1.50 an hour putting handles on umbrellas. My recollection is of a very poor product. The factory was mostly women who worked very hard....the place was buzzing with sewing machines.

Hominy Mill 1960's

For over one hundred years mills existed on this location. No longer do we smell what we children called, "popcorn" as we shopped downtown. The new waterfront is a turn in a different direction and a hope for rebirth of downtown in a new century.

Crossing Guards.....1960's

One of the things I did in elementary school was to be a patrol boy. Believe I was in the sixth grade at Hedges Central and was in Mr. Jeffries class. At lunch time and at the end of the day you would get out a little early and we would run down those slick halls with our taps on our engineer boots and slide ten to fifteen feet. Underneath the stairs we would pick up our cane poles with the little safety flag on the end of them. We had these white belts with a harness identifying ourselves as safety crossing guards. We would run down to our posts before the bell rang. I had two places to let students across. One was on Seventh and Main Streets. When everyone had passed, I would head up to North Side Market and spend my fifty cents for lunch on 5 cent packs of baseball cards. My meal was the bubble gum. My other duty station was on Sixth and Canal Streets. There was a series of six or seven steps at the crossing. While waiting on the students to approach, Terry Utley and I would broad jump the steps or use our poles for pole vaulting. Years later, about the time I graduated from high school, Mayor Gentil hired crossing ladies. He told the city council that they would be well integrated, and hired without thought of party affiliation, religion, or race. But, hey, how come I didn't get paid?

MV Arrives Home from Terre Haute With First Ever Superior Rating.....1960

Wish we could still do this.....1960

This showboat was bought by Indiana University and would put on Shakespeare and lighter plays along Indiana and Kentucky towns.

Stanley Vogel at Coliseum Pool.....1960

Posey Lanes to be Built.....1960

The site located on the Lower Mt. Vernon-New Harmony Road on the outskirts of Mt. Vernon adjacent to the Farm Bureau Refinery Golf Course was leased from Otis Allyn and Paul Rossi. Harold Schroeder, a contractor residing west of Evansville was the contractor of the concrete block building and the installation of 12 modern lanes. Work began in April and ended in August. Mrs. Earl Werne was the manager of the lanes.

Bowling Class For 26 Local Women.....1960

With the new Posey Lanes under construction twenty six local ladies started learning the game at Franklin Lanes in Evansville. The ladies were: Majorie Dremstedt, Dorothy Hendrix, Betty DeKemper, Wanda Hendrix, Wilma Heriges, Julia Schisler, Ann Ewing, Glenda Johnson, Rosemary Rowe, Minnie Moll, Hazel Hanshoe, Leon Moore, Betty McCarty, Dorris Whicker, Margaret Hessler, Betty Bauer, Mrs. Robert Imsande, Margaret Gillenwater, Jane Malone, Mildred Wagner, Joyce Wiggins, Janice Crider, Ester Uebelhack, Shawn Thomas and Mildred Lowman.

Bunnell and Davis.....1960

Tresslar's Buys Store They Had Leased.....1960

Tresslar's 5c to $1 Store purchased from the heirs of Louis Wasem, deceased, the Wasem building in the 400 block of Main Street which has been the location of Tresslar's since its establishment here in 1948. Commenting on the purchase, Paul Nuding, manager of the store said a store expansion and modernization program was planned for the near future. Nuding had been with the Tresslar's franchise since 1928. At that time Tresslar's had stores in Salem, Olney, Carmi (2), Rockport, Tell City, Oakland City, Bicknell, Spencer and Worthington in Indiana and Owensboro in Kentucky. Tresslars moved into the Wasem building after Niblo's Variety Store moved out, Wasem was a grocery back at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century.

Another One Down, Another One Bites the Dust.....1960

A new year began and James Atkins, owner of Roth's Department Store begins razing the old three story brick St. Nicholas hotel building on the southeast corner of Main and Third Streets next to the adjacent theater building. Irvin Wrecking of Evansville had the demolition contract. The building, shop and residential apartment building following many years as a hotel, occupies one of the most desirable downtown locations. At that time the theater building was not included in the razing program.

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1950's

Chilean Tourists Visit Refinery.....November 1959

The Mt. Vernon Farm Bureau Refinery was selected by the United States Department of Commerce as a model co-operation enterprise in the oil industry. A touring party from Chili representing management and labor in that country were guests for dinner here as well as a tour.

Bennett's Garden-Lawn and Gift Center Opens.....October 1959

This I guess was our town's first Gift and Gourmet Shop located on East Fourth Street. It had at that time sausages, cheeses, smoked fish, home baked breads, coffee cakes, pies, rolls...lots of goodies. Operated by Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Bennett it also had emphasis on gifts and toys. It catered to parties and sold ceramics and carvings and even brass items. It sold Christmas decorations and even guns and shells for hunters and fishing equipment. It had a landscaping service with stocks of shrubbery and garden bulbs, seeds and plants. It was nice to have a place that for in its time provided something a little out of the ordinary in a one stop service.

R&M Cafe Fire.....January 1959

The first week of a new year and it started bad for Ross and Mary Benner owners of R&M Cafe at 331 Main Street. The blaze threatened to engulf the adjoining buildings on the north housing Boyer Drugs and professional offices and also the A&P Store on the south owned by Nick Andriakos. The cafe was a total loss at around $40,000. Almost all the loss was contained to the cafe. Boyer Drugs on the ground floor of the building belonging to the estate of Abijah Allyn and the offices of Frank Turber , a dentist, and the Marinello Beauty Shop of Mrs. Cullen Carr on the second floor sustained smoke and water damage. The A&P store had water damage and some fire loss. The Benners had been in business for ten years.

Transistor Radios.....1959

I saw an ad the other day from Oliver Jewelers at 220 Main for a transistor radio. It was selling for $39.95! Now that is a lot of money in 1959. I can't recall if I had one quite that early but I did have one in 1960, because I remember sitting in science class in junior high with one in my shirt pocket listening to the Yankee-Pirate World Series. I hid the cord through my shirt and up my neck and put my hand over my ear. "Ralph Terry winds and here's the pitch....Maz swings and there's a deep fly ball to left. Berra goes back, back, back, and it's gone...Holy Mackerel the Pirates win the series!!" Oh yes, they were about the size of a pack of cigarettes, came in colors of black, white, red and gray, had six transistors and a earphone. The little box had a round tuner on the right side. Man, those were real sellers in the day. It was our boom box or mp3 player, or whatever is hot today. I guess if my parents bought me one at that price they must have put it on lay-a-way.

And the Winner is.....1959

The Indiana Traffic Safety Office presented to the City of Mt. Vernon an Award of Honor for no traffic fatalities for the year of 1958. This made five years in a row! Radio Officer John Chaffin, Chief of Police Raymond Cox and Patrolmen Charles Thompson accepted the award and urged residents to continue their efforts to reduce traffic losses.

No Trace of Lynn Lion.....May 1958

Sheriff Ed Rutledge led a party of big game hunters when a mountain lion was reported in West Lynn Township over a wide area of rough terrain, but found no trace of the cat. Hunting with the sheriff was Herman Hoehn, Elwood Benthall, Louis Breiner, and James Robinson. Robinson, an employee of Rush Creek Oil Company saw the animal in the area earlier in the week and walked to within a few yards of the animal. He was unarmed and when the beast growled, he made a hasty retreat. While no livestock losses were reported, many herds of sheep in the hills and hollows may have been molested without discovery.

Flood Deposits Body of Woman in Point Township.....June 1957

Roy Duckworth, Point township farmer, and his son found the body in a field on the Hagemann farm nine miles west of Mt. Vernon near Indiana 69. Duckworth had gone to the field to clear away drift deposited by the flooded river. The only clothing on the black woman was a stocking and a heavy shoe. An upper false teeth plate and a gold tooth were noted. Later on, the badly decomposed body was identified as a woman from Owensboro, Kentucky. She had been missing for over three months. It was found that the woman had been treated for a mental depression and the heavy shoe was identified by her husband and the dental work by a doctor familiar with her. The family discounted any theory of foul play. They believe because of her mental state that she just "wandered away and drowned."

Flag of Fallen Soldier Given to Junior High.....October 1956

A World War II soldier, Lt. Ross Flemming of Mt. Vernon died and was buried in Anzio, Italy. The flag that draped his casket was donated by his mother, Mrs. John Flemming of 831 Mill Street to the Mt. Vernon Junior High School. Principal Mrs. Katherine Seibert acknowledged the much appreciated gift of the soldier who died in November of 1943 in Italy.

Wabash Memorial Bridge.....Spring 1956

Eddie Daws.....1956

Traction Engine Gets Ready For Parade.....1956

In 1956, the above Keck-Gonnerman engine was getting ready to be part of the Centennial Parade at Oakland City. The "puffer belly" belonged to H. D. Mason who worked on the boilers for practically a year to ready the machine for the birthday celebration. This type of engine was used around 1910-1920 to pull harvesting rigs.

Interstate Loan Company around 1956

Located at 425 Main. The building was erected as a office building by Alfred Gronemeier and Ralph Gronemeier. I think it has been used since as a beauty shop and martial arts school.

Area Switches to Prefix Dialing.....October 1955

Indiana Bell started dial telephone dialing in Mt. Vernon, New Harmony and Solitude exchanges on October 30, 1955. All telephones will use the two-five number systems. The Mt. Vernon prefix is POplar, New Harmony is OVerbrook, and Solitude is SUnset. The prefix names were selected from a list of about 300 that had been approved by the telephone companies throughout the United States. The $622,000 project moved on schedule replacing all manual telephones with dial instruments. At 2:30 in the afternoon, the cables to the manual switchboards were cut, switches were thrown and the new system went into effect. To call long distance you dial 0, 95 to call Caborn, 96 for Marrs, and 113 for information.

Two Injured as Wall Topples on Breeze Garage in Spring Storm.....March 1955

With visibility at zero, telephone service to Evansville disrupted, hail pelted Mt. Vernon as hail stones piled up several inches thick along the city streets. Medium sized stones fell for about ten minutes as TV antennae were bent and snapped, roofs damaged, and many windows of homes, factories and mercantile establishments were broken. With strong winds accompanying the deluge the north wall of the Stephan building fell onto the roof of the adjacent Breeze Garage at 428 Main Street, crushing the roof of the garage and injuring Arnold Dausman and Melvin Ziegler, employees of the Plymouth-Chrysler automotive firm. Both men were buried under the rubble. Dausman, a salesman, freed himself and managed to pull Ziegler, a mechanic from the debris. Ziegler was unconscious for a period and was moved to Evansville for diagnosis. Dausman's injuries were confined to facial lacerations. The entire glass front of the garage was demolished

"Heinie" Moore's Drive-In.....1955

In January of 1955 this business was erected with a 44x20 foot frame building. It had indoor seating as well as car service. Like I have said before I would go down after baseball practice with a friend and get ten hamburgers for a dollar. Even in the mid-sixties this was a good deal. My father liked to hang in there also to meet friends over a cup of coffee like seniors do today at McDonalds. It was located on East Third and Kimball Streets and served other fine foods like steaks, chicken, barbecue sandwiches, and homemade pies. Lots of eateries back then served homemade pies; be hard pressed to find one today. The official name was Parkmore, but we always called it "Heinie's" for the owner Hiram Moore. Previously, Mr. and Mrs. Moore were associated with the Highway Cafe that was then adjacent to the Texaco station on East Fourth Street.

People's Bank's New Look.....1955

People's Bank and Trust Co. took on a new fresher, brighter interior in 1955. The improvements were designed to go with the outsides Victorian look. Air conditioning, relocation of officer's quarters, new lighting, and renovated windows for the seven tellers were a major part of the work. Formica and metal counters replaced the old marble tops, the canopy outside was painted, and new frosted window glasses for the bookkeeping room. So bring your little blue books down and put it some money!

Downtown Fire.....December 1953

Scores of citizens were attracted to the spectacular fire downtown and many helped remove contents for the merchants. It was said that the north side of Second Street and half block of Main looked like a used furniture store. It was the largest fire loss since June 14, 1946 when the Breeze Garage was destroyed and the adjacent Mt. Vernon Democrat building at Fifth and Main. Flames spread quickly that afternoon in an area of closely jammed buildings with the only major break in buildings lines being a small court behind the Evertson and Gentil buildings and alongside the Weisinger building housing the Al Rio which extended to the street to the alley. Mr. Schroeder said that he first noticed smoke in the kitchen of his restaurant and believed it was pulled in by a suction fan. He turned in the alarm. From the roof of the Weisinger building he saw smoke coming from the rear of the Friendly Cafe. Soon Schroeder's restaurant and apartment were engulfed. Fire consumed everything Schroeder owned including valuable jewelry and currency that he had on hand for Christmas bonuses for his employees. Mrs. Mattingly of the Friendly Cafe heard a popping noise and smelled smoke and soon found the ceiling of a rest room in the rear of the cafe afire. Two buildings west of the Friendly Cafe were also on fire those being the recently vacated Gus Gentil restaurant and the former Dr. Hale dental office. Ivan Yaggi's plumbing and heating establishment south of the Al Rio was damaged as well as a wall cracked at the Al Rio. Small damage was also reported by the Washington Tavern and Kate's Beauty Shop. Fire Chief William Booth estimated the total loss at close to $60,000. It took two hours to get the fire under control by Mt. Vernon firemen and 12 Evansville firemen manning two pumpers. Nine hoses of 2 1/2 inch were directed at the fire during its height.

For Your Viewing Pleasure - A Test Pattern!.....November 1953

Reminds me of an old Cheech and Chong skit where Cheech says, "That ain't no Indian movie man; that's a test pattern." I guess if you never seen one it would be cool for a little while as you waited for the National Anthem. That's what we did back in the day. TV was only on certain hours and the day began and ended with the National Anthem. Evansville's first television station, WFIE put on a test pattern on channel 62 for the first time on November 8th and this pattern was on every day from 10 am to 7 pm until November 15, when regular program first began locally.

Paragon Raided and 9 Arrested.....November 1953

State excise agents, state police, the Posey County sheriff's office and the Posey County prosecuting attorney's office teamed up for an early Sunday morning raid on The Paragon, night spot east of Mt. Vernon on State Road 62. Nine arrests were made not mentioning the panic of the dancers that followed. Leo Hogge, 47, owner-operator was charged with the unlawful sale of alcohol as The Paragon had no Indiana alcoholic beverage permit. Twelve agents swooped down on the dance spot a few moments before 2 a.m. Sunday. Four of the 12 excise agents and the wife of one of them had been there for several hours participating in the dancing and merrymaking collecting evidence. Although the raid had been planned for two weeks, according to the authorities, there was no leak or tip-off. All exits were quickly blocked off. Seven guests were arrested for carrying alcoholic beverages into a place of public entertainment for the purpose of consuming and one was arrested for consuming the product as one with a charge of public intoxication.

Quinn Buys Paint firm of DeFur's.....November 1953

Lloyd Quinn, was vice president and sales manager a Keck-Gonnerman when he purchased from Clyde DeFur, the DeFur's Paint Store at 212 Main Street. The building had the business on the first floor and a four room apartment on the second floor. The firm handled paint, wallpaper, glass and hardware. Quinn had 16 years of merchandising experience including working for the Mt. Vernon Furnace and Manufacturing Company in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. The DeFur establishment had been in existence more than twenty five years Originally, Kelry DeFur became a partner with Lee Hurley. Hurley eventually took care of the Henderson Kentucky paint store and DeFur the Mt. Vernon one. The store at 212 Main was purchased in 1936. For many years, DeFur had worked with his sons Dale and Clyde.

Co-Op Employee takes Magic Carpet Ride.....November 1953

A lighted cigarette sent a Mt. Vernon employee of the production division of the petroleum department of Indiana Farm Bureau Co-Op hurtling through the air for a distance of sixty feet on the top of an oil storage tank in the Oliver Oil pool. Allen Curtis Newman, 18, was shaken up and only suffered a minor burn to his wrist from his "flying saucer" ride. He visited a Mt. Vernon physician as was truly lucky from his ordeal of the exploding tank and his journey through the air into a field. Two other nearby workers, Ray Smith and Bobby Gene Wolfe were unhurt. The trio was engaged in hooking up a heater. Newman was atop the 210 barrel storage tank which was approximately half full of oil when Newman lit his fag resulting in the explosion.

Our Police Car Gets A "Warning Signal" Light.....October 1953

A circle beam, revolving light was added to the top of the Mt. Vernon Police Department auto. This 360 degree rotating light was made either by Sireno or Federal Sign and Signal and allowed better recognition to the public from all directions of an emergency situation.

George Ashworth Authors Single Wing Story.....October 1953

George Ashworth played football and basketball at Mt. Vernon, graduating in 1929. He was captain of both sports during his junior and senior years. In 1930 he played football at Centre College and then at Indiana State serving as captain in his senior season. He was selected as the Bigwood Award winner as MVP in 1934 and the Hines Medal as the varsity athlete with the highest scholastic standing in 1935. He was a football coach at Washington High School in East Chicago, Indiana in 1944, then at Wiley High School in Terre Haute 1945-1948. He coached for 21 seasons of high school football going 100-61-13 with 2 undefeated teams and 6 conference championships. He coached 6 man football in Mt. Vernon and also varsity basketball. He was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame as player and a coach in 1979. He was elected into the MVHS Hall of Fame in 1986. More than 25 of his players went on to play college football, two were "little All-Americans", two others played in the Rose Bowl and one in the Orange Bowl. He coached two seasons of football at Indiana State also. He authored many articles on football for the Athletic Journal magazine over the years, which was one of the top publications for the grid coaching profession. The article in mention here was called, "The Single Wing Running Attack," and was heavily illustrated with pictures showing Ashworth's own offensive plays used at Streater, Illinois high school which he used to an undefeated season and chosen by the Champaign News Gazette as Illinois, "Coach of the Year." In the fifties, George lectured on his offense at the Illinois Coaches Association and instructed at the Utah Coaches Association Coaches School at Odgen, Utah.

L&N Razes Water Tanks.....October 1953

The Louisville and Nashville Railroad's old water tower at the local station, a fixture in use since L&N began operating trains through Mt. Vernon 81 years ago was dismantled. The towers or tanks made certain communities "tank towns" and it was dismantled because of the passing of steam locomotives. Modern diesel locomotives use water only for radiators and consequently can take on the limited amount of water required at St. Louis, Louisville, Evansville, and Nashville.

Geese Dying By Hundreds at Hovey Lake.....January 1953

Hovey Lake caretaker George Stevens sat on a big pile of Canadian geese with a cigarette loosely in his lips in the paper. The annual "epidemic" of lead poisoning was heavier than usual that season. A waterfowl biologist called in said the fowl get the lead from the beds of the lake and the shot gets into their gizzards and poisoning results. A new shell has been perfected he said that will not cause the poisoning.

Modern Food Store Opens at Third and Mll.....January 1953

Hironimus Food Center opened to a gala celebration with live guitar playing by Kenny Mason and Kenny Dielkes and representatives of Old Judge Coffee and Sunbeam Bakery were on hand to give away free samples of their products. Drawings were held for large gift baskets and treats were given to the kiddies. The spacious building of concrete block construction and built up roof looked great with a front of plate glass with Brazilian tile and Bedford stone copings. It had nine foot wide aisles and excellent fluorescent illumination. The produce department had a 12 foot Tyler refrigerator which insured proper temperatures and a meat department in the rear of the store which measured 10x14 feet. A modern office is adjacent to the meat department. There were Acco frozen and ice cream cabinets, a double action entrance door, large book and magazine racks and a nice large parking lot. The store was heated by city gas. The store was built mainly with Mt. Vernon products. The concrete blocks were purchased from the Hagemann Sand and Gravel Co. and the plumbing was installed by Ivan Yaggi and sons. The electrical wiring was by Bullard Electric, lumber was from the Mt. Vernon Lumber Company, and Gilbert Smith was the carpenter. Al Waters laid the blocks and P & L Utley Excavating did the excavating. Store manager was Louis Zenthoefer and Paul Poole headed the meat department. Walter Burks was in charge of produce, Carl Emory was head checker and additional help provided by William Owens, Harold Shelby and Junior Endicott.

Palace Soda Shop.....1950's

Maybe a reader can date this for me. This looks like the location of the former Palace Soda Shop or Greeks and that is definitely Ike Rosenbaum's Jewelry Store. I would say this is in the fifties, before Bunnel and Davis had their men's wear shop. Anyone recall this diner?

"Over My Head!" Inventor is Local Scientist.....1953

John Griess Jr., of Mt. Vernon moved to Tennessee and was employed at Oak Ridge by the Atomic Energy Commission where he is a co-inventor of one of 26 inventions on which patents recently were released by the A.E.C. for public use. Griess and another scientist invented a selective electrodeposition of silver when it was operated by the Monsanto Chemical Company. "The patent covers an improved process for selectivity recovering silver by electrode position from an alkaline aqueous solution comprising trace amounts of silver along with macro quantities of palladium and containing a complex forming substance, such as ammonium, hydroxide, cyanides or the like, in an amount in excess of that required to solubilize the silver and palladium present." Ok, got it?

"Sideline After-Thoughts " with Bill Causey....1953

Bill was a fine sportswriter and regular reporter too at times for the Mt. Vernon Democrat. He could write poetry, spin a phrase, and make a point. He is credited with almost starting the Mt. Vernon Little League with his own money I have heard. In 1953 he wrote of attending a basketball game in Owensville and marveled at it. "How can it be," he wrote. "A town with a population of about 2000 being able to build an edifice like that....the same with Winslow, still smaller, Dale and a host of other small towns. Princeton will be starting its big new gym soon. What about Mt. Vernon? This city of nearly 7000 population, where real estate and personal property valuations are constantly increasing, can't afford to enlarge the present gym? Other towns and communities have had to build new schools and were still able to construct new gyms, but not Mt. Vernon. We don't have anything else here either!" He said, the primary entertainment here seems to be bending elbows." Bill was a supporter of our athletic programs from Pee Wee League to independent Frank Moll Indians basketball. He gave us insight, statistics, and voiced our complaints and concerns. Sadly, his career was cut short by eye problems.

What's In Vogue?...Would You Believe Coon Dinners?.....1953

I know these civil organizations do a lot of good for the community supplying flags for the holidays, toys for Christmas, canes for the blind, sponsoring youth athletic programs, etc., but why would three of these fine groups decide to serve coon? I'm up to eating just about any kind of food, but game really doesn't appeal to me. Roast 'coon being the "piece de resistance" as a main course would make me want to go home early. Anybody had this? Well back in the early 50's the Elks, Eagles, and the American Legion all had raccoon suppers with all the trimmings within four days of each other. Maybe they were in season, I don't know. What sort of trimmings come with coon? City boy who doesn't hunt would like to know.

Close Cover Before Striking.....1953

I would think a horse drawn wagon-auto collision would have been a rarity by the mid-fifties, but one occurred in Mt. Vernon one November morning. Fred Hutchison, shop foreman of Hasting Equipment Company was checking the auto of Melvin Scharlach, Sunshine Feed Store manager to determine the source of a strange noise. They raised the hood and they took a ride with Andrew Marx riding on the bumber listening for the noise. Evidently, they could not see where they were going very well with the hood up and they rammed into the back of a wagon pulled by a horse on Third Street between Elm and Sawmill. Damage was slight and no one was injured.

Keck-Gonnerman Company 1884-1953

A small foundry, established in 1875 in Mt. Vernon became the most important industry in Posey County for decades. John C. Winfield Woody was the founder. Later his brother-in-law John Keck purchased an interest in the company. Woody became ill and sold his interest to John Onk of Louisville and the company became Keck & Onk. Onk left again for Kentucky and William Gonnerman and Henry Kuebler entered the picture, Eventually Keck bought out Kuebler so what remained became Keck-Gonnerman. In 1901 the business was incorporated with a capitol of over $200,000. Their business was making engines, threshers, and portable sawmills. In 1904 they added coal mining machinery to the line. Its products were recognized for their high quality and marketed throughout the United States. Shipments were made by railroad. Over 200 men made their living on West Fourth Street. The firm had branches located in St. Louis, Peoria, Illinois, and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Threshers bearing the "Kay-Gee" stamp were exported to Cuba to thresh rice. The last one was built in 1930. Our foundry had many firsts like: the first steam engine and thresher built in 1884; first kerosene tractor in 1918; first tractor separator built in 1921; first steel separator built in 1926; and the first 4 cylinder Kay-Gee tractor built in 1928. In 1953, Keck_Gonnerman Co. was sold to two engineers, Harrison and Spencer, from California who hoped to develop the manufacture of new equipment to fit the changing farming patterns. For many years now the Keck-Gonnerman Antique Machinery Association holds annual exhibits usually at the Posey 4H Fair Grounds in August.

New Shoe Store in Town.....1952

Robert "Bruz" Stinson, associated with the Stinson Department Store gets out of the United States Navy and opened his own individually owned shoe store under the name of Style-rite. Stinson leased the former Empress theater building at 223 Main Street from Southern Enterprises, Inc., St. Louis an undertook a complete remodeling program to adapt it for use as a store handling men's, women's and children's shoes. A new store front was erected. It stocked well known shoes of Robert Johnson & Rand, Trim-Tred, and Poll Parrot.

Elks and St. Matthews, early 50's

Parkett in early 50's

Back then it was two blocks east of the city limits on Highway 62. It was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Uhde. The building was of concrete block and the floor was tile and the walls were blue. It had booths and tables with Formica tops. It was the turnaround place for cruising in my day listening to the Beach Boys, and the Association, beating on the dash to the beat with a hair brush, honking to all your friends doing the same thing down Main to the bowling alley and round again.

John W. Doane MV Photograper.....1951

Back in July of 1951, John W. Doane and his wife Anne purchased the old Jones Studio at 213 East Fourth Street. The sale included the two story residence and studio building. John did portraits and commercial photography, took photos for the Mt. Vernon Democrat, sold cameras, projectors, movie and camera films. Doane took up photography as a boy of 14 and started working at age 16 in photographic studio in Rome, New York. He would later manage a camera shop there and became staff photographer for the Syracuse Post-Standard. We would see his pictures in the Mt. Vernon Democrat almost every issue in the fifties and sixties. Many of his photos were taken by plane as he was also a pilot. Many of his photos were given to the University of Southern Indiana. Anne was an artist and her pen drawings of county schools was given as a gift to the Mt. Vernon High School.

Post Office Built in 1818 is Razed in 1951

This was the George Washington Thomas home on the southwest corner of College Avenue and West Second Street. It was erected in 1818 by Jesse Y. Welborn, Mt. Vernon's first postmaster and it was used as our first post office. It was converted to a family home by Thomas in 1856.

The Welborn-Thomas home 1818-1951

This two story brick residence stood on the southwest corner of West Second Street and College Avenue. The original owner was Jesse Y. Welborn, the first postmaster of Mt. Vernon. The first post office was here. It had a stone foundation. George Washington Thomas lived there next starting around 1855. Thomas owned the wharf boat the "G.W. Thomas " and shares of two other boats the "Robert Mitchell" and the "West Wind." Thomas was also supervisor of the construction work of the Mt. Vernon Court House completed in 1876. The home was known for celebrations of the towns intellectual circles and Thomas was known to play a mean accordion under the poplar trees out back. Get out the fiddles and the bows boys! Light them pipes. Get down tonight!

Santa in Town....1950

Riverfront January.....1950

Thanks to classmates Toni and John Knisley for photo

Downtown parking.....1950's

Downtown in 1950's

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1940's

Mt. Vernon being sprayed with DDT during the polio epidemic of August 1949

R.J. Reynolds Targets Mt. Vernon as a "Test City".....1949

Cough, cough...excuse me, cough, cough. The new Cavalier brand of king size, extremely mild, (cough) cigarettes were introduced in Mt. Vernon as one of the first "test cities" for introduction of the first new cigarette to hit the market by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company since 1913. During that time the Reynolds Company has been producing the Camel brand. I remember the soft back with the dashng French cavalier in a 17th century uniform. Never tried it however. I smoked Kools for 25 years...2 packs a day (cough). Something nice to have written down somewhere for posterity don't you think? LOL. Not really funny however; because "Cancer cures smoking!"

Spraying us with DDT as a precaution against Polio.....1949

Photographer Doane even sprayed us from the air

Mt. Vernon Industrialist, William Gonnerman Dies.....November 1948

William Gonnerman, 92, whose mechanical genius was a cornerstone to the success of Keck-Gonnnerman Company died at his home at 521 West Second Street. He was a native of Germany, born in Solz, province of Hessen-Nassau, the son of a baker. William came to America as a journeyman machinist in 1873 and to Mt. Vernon in 1884. With John Keck and Henry Kuebler, both deceased, he organized and launched the then Keck-Gonnerman Company, foundry and machine shop in 1884. He was a Republican, active in local politics as a city councilman and rose to state senator of Posey County. He also launched with the late Louis Keck, the Industrial Brick Company which flourished for a few decades where the Farm Bureau Refinery is today. In 1908 he with the late Charles Greathouse organized the People's Bank & Trust Company and for many years was the director and officer there. He had roles in several other companies including supplying Mt. Vernon electric current and the Gonnerman Auto Company, the Garment Factory...his imprint here was substantial. As a progressive politician he served fourteen years as city councilman taking a leading role in the erection of the city hall and the organization of the fire department. He was a devout Christian, a member of Trinity Evangelical and Reformed Church. The only fraternal affiliation at the time of his death was the Elks.

DX service station at Fifth and Main.....late 1940's

It was run by Arnold Dausmann.

Baseball Returns to MVHS.....1948

After disbanding the baseball team in 1942, the high school again would break out the bats and balls and Athletic Park would once again be the place to hear the sound of wood against a baseball. Jim Baxter would coach the Wildcat nine and he had 50 willing recruits come out that season. Boys can play both track and baseball, but track would have top priority.

New Place to Eat...Gather...and Socialize.....September 1947

The Walgreen Agency owned by Ross Shuffle has opened with a new fountain and luncheonette. Bring your appetite and your wallet. The store is at Second and Main.

Do You Know.."Enter Sandman?".....September 1947

Garland Stokes, owner-operator of the Mt. Vernon Yellow Cab sold his taxicab line to follow his true passion as a bass fiddler in the widely known band of Mose Hodges.

The old MV Democrat Office on North Main Street.....1947

Of course the Mt. Vernon Democrat prides itself in being the servant of Mt. Vernon and the county since 1867. It had been published at several locations at least three in my lifetime. I can recall when we got it six times a week and my neighbor Marion Shuler folded his papers and delivered them door to door. Now of course, they come in the mail. As a reader of them and of other former local newspapers, I have a suggestion for them......Save the pictures! Repeat....Save the pictures! Someday, those pictures will be desired by the public as a historical document of who we were. Every couple of decades, make a book of photos for sale. If you no longer need the photos pass them on to the library. You too Posey County News....Thank you.

MV riverfront.....1947

Masonic Temple or Hovey House pre-1948

That 77 year old elm tree was cut in March of 1948.

Remember...

Not sure of date on this. There was a notice I saw in 1946 that 56 Posey County serviceman lost their lives 1941-1945.

Posey County Returns to Normalcy Following Japanese Surrender......August 1945

Mt. Vernon and Posey County settled down after an emotional spree of 36 hours waiting for the official end of the war against Japan. Most mercantile stores re-opened after a holiday. Taverns and other liquor dispensers re-opened after closing immediately upon the official announcement of victory. Lay-offs were issued by the hundreds at Evansville war plants following cancellations of war contracts by the federal government. But the economic effect of the war's end was more than offset by general happiness that the hostilities had ceased. The familiar request, "fill 'er up," was heard once again at local gasoline stations with the lifting of rationing. Food stores reported an upswing in orders for canned fruits and vegetables, no longer requiring blue ration stamps. Particularly pleased with the peace announcement were a number of local servicemen who were in town on furloughs meaning for many of them a cancellation of their second overseas mission. As a whole Mt. Vernon and the county took the announcement of the victory in stride. There were no cases of violence and few cases of disorderliness. Because of the fast breaking news the Mt. Vernon Democrat continued regular publication on their off days to keep readers fully informed of the history making events. Extra editions of the Democrat were grabbed up by eager buyers, but due to the newsprint situation they were quickly exhausted. The Democrat bulletin board kept up the news for workers heading for their jobs as shouts of joy were heard as they read the news. Radio news were all most on fulltime duty as listeners nervously listened for Japan's acceptance of "severe" Allied terms of surrender. Mayor Frank Fessenden urged Mt. Vernon-ites to act sanely and safely and not engage in law violations. When it was official the Democrat notified the Water Works and the announcement was rung in by the fire whistle with six loud blasts.

Main Street Poseyville.....1945

Aluminum for war.....1940's

Mt. Vernon Cannons Scrapped.....1942

After 35 years of sitting beside the Soldier's and Sailor's monument they were sent to salvage for the war effort. Each weighed over 6000 pounds. Also given away were two small guns that were in front of the Memorial Coliseum. The cannons of the court house were of Spanish-American war design.

Come See The New Stove and Get Fed.....October 1940

Everyone was invited to the Alles Bros. Furniture Store on a Saturday where hot biscuits and Old Judge coffee was served free as a demonstration was given of the Monarch range. The biscuits were cooked as customers looked on and mouths watered. "Hey can we get some butter and jelly?"

Ohio River Frozen.....January 1940

Thanks Toni and John Knisley for sharing photo

Mt. Vernon Closes Out 1940 Football Season Undefeated

In the muck and mire of Athletic Park the Wildcats netted a 25-6 win over the Owensville Kickapoos to complete an undefeated, untied football schedule. Seniors Warren Rueger and Elmer Ziegler accounted for the Mt. Vernon points. Because of the mud, the score was low as Mt. Vernon led only 6-0 at the half on a 23 yard TD run by Rueger. Rueger on the game had three touchdowns as the fullback. For the year Warren led the team in scoring with 18 touchdowns and one extra point for 109 total. In the 8-0 season the Wildcats outscored their P.A.C. foes 288-81. A torchlight victory parade was formed following the game as fans and students marched to the court square where a celebration was held. William Hill was master of ceremonies and J. Owen "Country" Huntsmen, one of Mt. Vernon's greatest athletes and then athletic director at Earlham College, made the principal talk in paying tribute to the Wildcat gridders coached by George Ashworth. Later the six man football squad received from the National Knute Rockne game committee a certificate for its victory and was displayed in the High School trophy case signed by its chairman, Herbert McCracken.

Airplane Rides Sunday.....1940

Airplane rides were offered to the general public on Sunday, October 27th at the Mack Curtis field on Tile Factory Road, one mile northeast of Mt. Vernon with Jim Wedeking of Evansville, a competent pilot in charge of the passenger flights. Charge for the ten minute ride was 75 cents per person. Just think...no pat downs, no scanning, no taking off your shoes and belts.

Central School.....1940

The original Central School that was razed for the second Central School built in 1910 and consumed by fire in 1945. Hedges Central replaced that.

Keck-Gonnerman.....1940's

Pie Business is a Success.....1940

Back in 1931 a young Francis Schenck was in his second year of study at the St. Meinrad Abbey. He had gone directly there after finishing the eighth grade in Mt. Vernon's parochial school system. That year Francis became suddenly ill which eventually was diagnosed as an unusual bone disease. He was put on the operating table, then into a cast and told to stay quiet and in bed. For two and a half years he was up and down, mostly down. Francis got tired of reading book after book and magazine after magazine during his short periods out of the bed. His nearest outlet for boredom relief was the kitchen. He started "puttering around." He started preparing cheese for a few months, but said his only success was "smelling up the house." Finally, he tried pies...any kind of pies. He went to the Evansville library and read all the books he could find on cookery there. He became quite an expert with the skillet it seems. He had to give up cakes because the pastry dough was usually worked chilled and with Francis' poor circulation, it was hard for him to work with those foodstuffs. Schenk tried his first customers through a his fathers business, but that was not the best place to sell pies where they sold hardware. So he decided to make several dozen pies a week in his mother's kitchen and sell them by preorders.

To Top

1930's

Mt. Vernon's First Backyard Pool.....1939

In 1937 Horace Kohler started to think about a pool for his home at 820 Mulberry. He looked at his fish pond and visualized it transformed into a "sumptuous Hollywood swimming pool." He couldn't find a contractor in Mt. Vernon willing to take on the job and the concrete men said it was impossible. Kohler being the superintendent of the Fuehrer-Ford Milling Company wouldn't give up. He grabbed his carpenter at work and found a cement man willing to build it as he designed with no guarantees and he was off to the races. There is nothing conventional about the pool. First of all, Mrs. Kohler insisted that her shrubbery and trees be not disturbed so "architect" Kohler designed the pool "L" shaped and rounded off the corners to allow the apple tree to grow. The pool has three wide steps for stepping down the sides and gave the walls additional strength against heat and freezing. "It gave the pool a look more than just a hole in the ground," Kohler explained. Total cost of the project?....$400. Of course, the pool holds 12,000 gallons of water which costs $5 to fill back in that day.

Grandstand at Athletic Park Damaged.....June 1938

Not only was "Dutch" Wehr's fastball smoking, but I guess the grandstand was too. A blaze believed to have originated for a carelessly thrown cigar during the progress of the game did damage to the grandstand of around $100. Those dog-gone big league scouts should know better! The game ended around 3:30 and the crowd filtered out with the cigar evidently smoldering underneath. Firemen were called and removed valuable WPA equipment and diamond supplies from underneath the grandstand and the fire extinguished. Okay, now "Dead-Eye" Gentil may be on the hill next Sunday so put out those butts!!

Mt. Vernon Creamery Observes Ice Cream Week.....May 1938

The Mt. Vernon Creamery in celebration of Ice Cream week was offering free, one can of Hershey's chocolate syrup with each quart of vanilla ice cream purchased this week. The local creamery's ice cream possesses its own pure delicious flavor which cannot be duplicated and is the favorite of all Mt. Vernon. Take advantage of the free gift offer and purchase a quart of vanilla ice cream right now. Sounds good to me. I use to drink it right out of the can and lick the sides. No wonder I was ....am so fat.

Wide Spread Thievery by Youths in Mt. Vernon.....May 1938

Five Posey County youths engaged in crimes in and around Mt. Vernon were rounded up and all plead guilty in Posey circuit court on charges of theft and receiving stolen goods. All received fines and up to six months in the state farm. All were under 18 of age and the loot included chickens, gasoline, bicycles and bicycle accessories. City police, Sheriff Charles Frieg and Deputy Sheriff John McFadden made the arrests.

Indoor Circus in Town....January 1938

Several circus shows played our coliseum and auditorium in the thirties and forties. One was the Martin Bros and another was the Hillyard Brothers Circus. These two were sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post and later the Owen Dunn American Legion. This public entertainment consisted of aerialist and gymnasts, trained pony shows and clowns. Usually these were one day shows ....a matinee and a night performance with prices under 50 cents a head

Counting Roadkill.....1938

I bet this was a good job! I can just see a Conservation Officer looking somewhat like Barney with a clip board counting rabbits, but somebody did it. In the month of May in the state of Indiana we actually paid people to count and record road kill. 1,235 rabbits were reported seen dead on the highways by game wardens along with 74 opossums, 41 squirrels, 32 quail, 24 skunks, 10 pheasants, five muskrats, two raccoons and one fox.

Where Have I Heard This Before?.....1938

Dr. William Jenkinson, Mt. Vernon physician, gave a very interesting and practical talk on "Socialized Medicine" at Tuesday's weekly luncheon session of the Mt. Vernon Kiwanis club. There was no mention of demonstrators outside condemning "Rooseveltcare."

Signs Erected Along New Harmony's Historic Route.....1938

Signs around New Harmony were erected by the Commercial Club which had done so many worthy things for their community. Surmounting the signs, made of wood was the image of George Rapp whose followers founded the town. The painting was done by Martin Smith of Mt. Vernon a scenic painter.

WPA Unearths Indian Relics and Skeletons in Road Excavation.....1938

A crew of WPA laborers working at the Maggie Murphy farm in Point township, unearthed a large collection of Indian relics and bones that had been buried for centuries. Some of the pottery discovered by the men was perfect and the skull of one adult aborigine was well preserved. Laborers were widening the road which leads to the oil wells being drilled by the Sun Oil Company on the Murphy and Gray farms when they dug into the mound. Otis Redman, 618 West Second Street caused the greatest excitement with the Indian piece his shovel dug up. It was a pot approximately six inches in diameter with the lid tightly sealed with dirt. Constructed of some material resembling the back of a hard shell turtle, the pot was heavy. It was in perfect shape. Three stone pestles that had been used to crush grain were found along with a small stone pot about two inches in diameter. Fred Freimiller, RR 4, dug up a small stone tomahawk and Fred Yewell of 908 West Second Street, a piece of what was a stone piece pipe. Fred Deifer, of 333 West Ninth, found a triangular piece of stone with a hole in one end where apparently a chain had been attached with a charm. Leslie Smith dug up a small axe made of flint and Earl Sturgal a mortar and pestle. Lester Smith of New Harmony found a collection of small bones which seem to be those of a child including a jaw bone with the teeth intact. A large jaw bone with teeth was found by James Axton of New Harmony. A large number of scrap pieces of pottery were found and pieces of large bowls with curved handles.

January 30, 1937 The Red Cross Sets Up A Regional Hospital at Coliseum

Mt. Vernon Democrat Press Room.....1937

1937 Flood

MV Democrat Staff...1937

430 Main Street. Edward Alles (owner/publisher), Orvan Hall (editor), Anne Fullinwider (social editor), Carl Blesch Jr., Wilford Clark, John Clark, Alvin Koerner, and Sylvester Clark.

Court House Painted.....1934

The court house must have started looking a little shabby as local newspapers drew attention to it and called for it to be spruced up. Wow eighty years past this date almost and it looks great today. It has to be the most beautiful building in the county and one of my favorite courthouses ever. While old buildings built later are going down, this is one building we are still in awe of. I loved the outside of the Rosenbaum building and sure hope the Alles Bros. building, a home of so much history can be preserved. The Hovey Houses are important to us as is the Coliseum and the Post Office. It takes money to preserve these buildings....I hope we choose wisely.

Alexandrian Public Library.....1934

Another Alexandrian Library photo of 1934.

A few items remain...there is a drawer cabinet that once held our cards in the Indiana Room. Two other items include an old umbrella stand was remade to hold some Hoosier magazines and at least one beautiful large long table is still used. In the center is a plug and I was told it once held a light fixture...it has been refinished and looks strong enough to last another century.

"Flying Fishers", Noted Aerialists, Visit Here.....August 1932

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fisher and daughter, Connie, better known in the circus as the "Flying Fishers" aerialists with a national reputation, were visitors in Mt. Vernon as the guests of Mr. and Mrs. Biff Carr and Eddie Jerome, well known stage artists. For six seasons, the "Flying Fishers" presented the feature aerial act of the Barnum and Bailey circus. Mr. Fisher was with the Hagenback-Wallace circus for several seasons and was with that show when it visited Mt. Vernon in 1914. They later played independent fair association bookings and were in route to Bloomington Illinois when they stopped in to see old friends.

Stunt Flying on Highway 62.....August 1932

Hundreds of Mt. Vernon and Posey residents witnessed more thrills than a circus for the small admission price of ten cents given at the Grabert field, two miles east of town on state highway 62. All proceeds derived from the exhibition were given to a charity organization for the relief of the unemployed and was sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. The state highway was patrolled by state police in order to prevent incidents and to avoid a congestion of traffic or parking on the highway. Martin Jensen, popular and international known aviator used his own plane, the Jensen Trainer, engaged in a series of loops, barrel rolls, turns and reversements. He stalled the ship and floated almost stationary and climbed to an altitude of 1000 feet in one minute's time. With this plane Jensen is enabled to climb almost straight up, a feat that can be accomplished by no other model. Five other planes accompanied the Jensen Trainer and were in charge of Pilots Weber, Schlundt and Copeland and an aviator of the American Airways company. The six planes flying in formation over the city was a treat for the air minded of Mt. Vernon and this was the first time this had ever been seen here. Jensen's Trainer plane and his Waco model were piloted to Mt. Vernon by Dave Alldredge More on Alldredge, manager of the Gonnerman Auto Company and an aviation enthusiast. At that time Alldredge was a student aviator. The planes went as slow as 22 miles per hour and as fast as 130.

Hundreds Locally View Eclipse.....1932

On August 31, a Wednesday in 1932 residents bought out their smoked glasses and photograph negatives to view the solar eclipse. This type of eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. In ancient days, people sometimes thought of these as a bad omen. I guess a depression would be a reason. The next one would occur in 1963...whoops JFK assassination. Actually, bad things occur every day somewhere. But, it is a known fact that during such eclipses birds run to their nests and sleep habits are affected.

Hundreds Gather To Witness Soldiers' Departure.....August 1932

A crowd of several hundred persons was present at the L&N depot just after midnight to witness the departure of Battery E, 139th Field Artillery, for a two week intensive training at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. The 69 men and four commissioned officers of the battery were in command of Captain Phillip E. Rowe.

Neu-Way Cleaners Locates In New Quarters.....May 1932

At 409 Main Street the Neu-Way Cleaners moved into the building for which many years was occupied by the Hempfling meat market. A portion of the building will also be leased to the Walton Maytag Company.

Wonder If It Would Work For Crows?.....May 1932

In the days past it was quite common to hear of someone having "snakes in their boot," but not until this moment did we hear of "snakes in his cherry tree." But these were imitation snakes and were put there on purpose. Ex-Mayor John Moeller, who served from 1909-1913, was the originator of that idea, which came about when birds threatened to eat all of his cherries before he had an opportunity to pick them. "Jack" placed pieces of garden hose, arranged to have the appearance of snakes in the top of his two trees and stated that now the birds "gave his trees a wide berth." The idea worked and he advised any "Doubting Thomas" to call at his residence and watch the birds taking a look at the improvised snakes and then fly on their way. So there you go...if you don't have a garbage can lid, put a garden hose on your trash and see if it scares the crows; but not the garbage collector.

New Empress Theatre Opens.....May 1932

Mt. Vernon's newest talkie house, the New Empress, owned and operated by V. Grubb, former manager of the Vernon opened in May after a restoration. The entire interior of the former Empress theatre has been torn out and rebuilt. Included was a spacious lobby, from which entrance to the main floor or balcony can be made. Sanitary drinking fountains have been placed in the lobby. All floors were elevated sufficiently that any seat in the house is a good one. In the rear of the main floor has been placed the screen, which is directly over the furnace room. On either side are wide exits, which lead into the alley. On the balcony floor is the business office, rest rooms, store room, and the motion picture booth. The entire interior and exterior were redecorated. The lighting system is one of the best that could be installed. It was possible to completely turn off or dim any light or any series of lights in the theatre. It had a seating capacity of 450 of which 150 are in the balcony. The first picture to show in the new improved theatre was "Dance Team", a Fox production.

Retired Rube Speaks of McFadin Cemetery......1932

"Sometime in the early 1880's my uncle, George D. Rowe and I were eating dinner at the old Damron house, Mt. Vernon, Ind., which stood at the foot of, the then, Store Street, now College Avenue, West corner. We had iced tea for dinner, the first I had ever drunk. I was in my early twenties. While eating, my uncle, who sat opposite me said, "John, did you know that you were eating your dinner right over a grave yard?" "Why no, what do you mean?" "Well, old 'Teedle-de Dum (Andrew) McFadin and his entire family were buried right under this hotel." The graves were not marked and of course the carpenters of the hotel didn't know anything about it." Rube said the above story was traditional, that it was handed down, from father to son and not historical. Rube thought that surely someone would have planted a stake somewhere bearing the legend "McFadin Grave Yard." If so, those carpenters might have built the Damron house a "leetle furder" up or down or to the side.

Retired Rube Speaks of the Naming of Mt. Vernon and his Ancestor.....1932

?Retired Rube was a retired school teacher from Mt. Vernon whose real name was John S. Williams. Back in 1932 he was 75 years old and had a column in the Western Star newspaper, usually with quips of short sentences. Sometimes he wrote an entire column. Here he writes about the Row family: "I happen to know that this George Rowe was my great grandfather. I also happen to know that the family moved into Indiana territory from Hardin County, Kentucky in the year 1809. The facts are George Row (not Rowe) was present and presided at the meeting Samuel Row (not Rowe) voluntarily suggested that this town of McFadin's Landin' be named Mt. Vernon after George Washington's home. The family name "Row" was changed to Rowe in the early 1840's. This was done to make the name more English." He went on, "It was Samuel who suggested the name be changed and he was married to Absolem Duckworth's daughter Polly (Mary). For a while the couple lived with his father, George Row, on the latter's farm, near the present town of Upton. Later he built an old hewed log house which still stands (1932), an hundred and five years old." This cabin was on the Hillecrest Orchard and built in 1827. "Mr. Row and his wife lived there until there were five children in the family." They moved to Harrison County, Indiana for a while and three of the children, George, Frank, and Mary returned to Posey County. George was elected trustee of Black Township several times. 'Retired Rube' taught four terms of school under him from 1879-1883. Rube said he had two uncles and an aunt living here in Posey during his boyhood days and had many interesting opportunities to discuss the early pioneers of Posey county. "Many letters passed back and forth. We didn't mail letters in my boyhood days. We passed 'em." "My grandfather was born in Kentucky in 1796 and was 61 when I was born. I always knew him as an old gray headed man, of kindly disposition and childlike in action, and full of legends and stories of the Posey County of his day. I use to ply him with all sorts of questions when a child. And to this day, although I am past 75, in imagination, I can still see the dear old fellow sitting in a splint bottomed chair, he made with his own hands, tilted back against the wall, on the shady side of the house, with me sitting on the ground beside him. And I still hear him, as he sat with eyes more than half closed, droning out those wonderful legends so dear to the heart of my childhood.

"Give Me Three Steps"....Prisoner Jumps Into Ohio River to Evade Police.....1932

Oscar Maynard, 25, formerly of Mt. Vernon, but more recently of Waukegan, Illinois, jumped into the Ohio River at the foot of College Avenue but was later captured and taken to jail. Maynard was arrested by county officers a week earlier on a charge of reckless driving after he had driven his car into the cars of two others. The reckless driving took place on state highway 69 near Solitude. Later he wrecked his own car near the Gill school house northwest of town. He was tried before Mayor Bamberger in city court which was held in the office of Prosecutor William Wilson in the Odd Fellows building and was sentenced to three months on the state penal farm and fined $50 and costs after he had plead guilty. Just as Sheriff Louis Holtzmeier and Deputy Sheriff Louis Thomas reached the sidewalk after descending the stairs from the Odd Fellows building, Maynard asked permission to converse with a woman standing nearby. The officers granted his request and Maynard immediately ran down West Fourth Street. Sheriff Holtzmeier took three shots at the fleeing prisoner, one of which took effect, but one shot drilled a hole in the side of the brick wall of the Newmann building, one half block west of Main. Maynard darted down the alley alongside the Newmann building, ran across vacant lots, through alleys and finally ran entirely through the residence of Harry Cotner, West Second street, between Mill and College Avenue and then to the Ohio River, where he jumped in and defied the officers to come and get him, claiming he was in Kentucky territory. Sheriff Holtzmeier and Deputy Thomas were joined in the chase by State Highway Patrolman Gilbert Behrick and Chief of Police William Lawrence. The county officers secured boats and followed their prisoner, who floated down the Ohio. Several times Maynard grabbed the boat and when officers attempted to take hold of him, he would drop back into the river. When opposite the Fuhrer-Ford Milling Company, the man was taken into custody after having become exhausted, his condition requiring the services of a physician after his removal to county jail. His condition was serious, but the prisoner was removed to the penal farm and began his sentence. He had previously served time for theft of hogs in this vicinity.

Local Creamery Now Delivers In Time For Breakfast.....1932

The Mt. Vernon Creamery inaugurated a new delivery plan which enables their customers to have fresh milk at the breakfast table. Trucks of the company now start their deliveries at 4 o'clock in the morning and Holger Anderson, manager and owner of the creamery asks that all customers place their empty bottles out the night before.

"A Patriot in Hoops", Latest Work of Former Resident.....1932

Miss Frances Cavanah, 1889-1882 at this time completed a new book. She was a well-known writer of short stories, articles, and text books for children. Some of the books she wrote were" Boyhood Adventures of the Presidents, Pocahontas, A Little Girl of Jamestown, Jerry Lind's America, When Americans Came to New Orleans, We Wanted To Be Free, They Lived In the Wilderness of the Nation, and About the Men Who Sparked the War Between the States. She was associate editor of Child's Life Magazine and wrote children's plays. Her comedy, "The Roasted Goose," was presented in 1929 by the Evansville Community Players under the direction of Miss Frances Goldern. Miss Cavanah spent most of her early years in Mt. Vernon and Evansville, her father was principal of the Central school here. She was a student of Central High School in Evansville before attending DePauw University in Greencastle where she graduated in 1920. She moved later to Chicago. She was a member of many organizations including the Delta Delta Delta Sorority, Theta Sigma Phi, Mortar Board, The Society of Midland Authors, The Chicago Drama League, and the Illinois Woman's Press Association.

Son of Steamboat Engineer Visits Captain Nelson.....1932

Alex Taylor, a printer in Henderson, Kentucky, with members of his family, were in Mt. Vernon and called on Capt. J.M. Nelson, then oldest native born Mt. Vernon resident and captain of the gunboat, General Sherman on the Mississippi River during the Civil War. "Uncle Matt" who that year celebrated his 90th birthday was given a feature story in an Evansville newspaper which was read by the Taylor family. Henry Taylor had been the first assistant engineer on the General Sherman. The warship was launched in 1864 and was 168 feet in length and was side wheeled propelled by a steam engine. Its armament was two 20 pounder Parrott rifles and three 24 pounder howitzers and was tin clad armored. It was constructed in Chattanooga Tennessee and spent most of her service on the Upper Tennessee River It patrolled between Decatur, Alabama and Muscle Shoals, Alabama controlling guerrilla attacks and preventing major elements of the Confederate general John Hood from crossing the river into Tennessee. It also convoyed Union supply ships and shelled Confederate emplacements along the rivers.

Rural Mail Carrier Retires After Thirty Years.....1932

A.J. Pendell, 63 retired from the delivering mail in the summer of 1932. He started in July of 1902 at a time when good roads were unheard of and automobiles were rare. He first carried mail on Route 12, which became Route 11, and still later Route 7. This route covered that section east of Mt. Vernon and in the vicinity of West Franklin. The carrier of Route 1 took the mail to Mr. Pendell, who met him at what is known as the Derrington corner on the township line, from which place the mail was then distributed to his patrons. He recalled many hardships experienced in the early days of his work forced to carry mail over dirt roads with a horse and wagon. Once a heavy rain caused the highway leading to Crunk's settlement to be overflowed for a distance of half a mile. The water froze but Pendell with his team attempted to break through the ice. After covering half the distance the ice became thicker and it was necessary for the horses to paw hard with their fore feet in order to break the ice, but the mail was carried through, although it was under great difficulty.

Woodstock or Occupy Washington D.C.? No Bonus Army.....1932

In May of 1932 tens of thousands of World War 1 veterans marched on Washington demanding bonus money promised them by congress in 1924 to be paid in 1945. Because of the deep depression a movement started to demand their bonus money NOW! Things remained quite calm during much of the protest that lasted three months. The House of Representatives decided to allow the protesters the money they wanted. However, the Senate denied the passage 62-18 which didn't go over well in "Hooverville." The veterans decided to stay and for a month they did until General Douglas McArthur was ordered to move them out of the tent city they had erected. Tear gas was pumped into the camp, bricks were thrown back, warning shots were fired and everything was torched by the invading Army from the 3rd Cavalry, the 12th infantry, and the 1st tank regiment. This was the largest group of soldiers in Washington D.C. since the Civil War. The Mt. Vernon Western Star newspaper showed several photos of the skirmish. The vets during the newly formed Roosevelt term finally received their benefits 9 years before they were scheduled to get them.

Underpriviledged Children Guests of Kiwanis Club See Zoo.....1932

Approximately 100 underprivileged local children made the trip to Evansville to see Mesker Park and the zoo guests of the Mt. Vernon Kiwanis Club according to President C.C. Maurer. Automobiles left Mt. Vernon around 1 P.M. and would return about 7.

Reading the Ads.....1932

Looks like there is an attractive bargain being offered by Boyce & Williams in their advertisement on page six of the Western Star newspaper. They are offering a Gem razor for a dollar, five blades and a 35 cent tube of Palmolive or Colgate shaving cream for 35 cents. Might as well stock up fellas. I always wanted to use one of those shaving cups with a horse on it. That cool brush the barber made suds with while giving you a shave with a straight razor. Never had one, do barbers still give shaves? I haven't been to a barber since the mid-sixties? PJ gave me my haircuts in recent years and now my niece Missy. Sometimes they trim my mustache, ear hair and eyebrows, but nobody offers to shave me. LOL.

Thanksgiving.....1931

No meal at the jail this year for the prisoners...why?...because it was empty for the first time in over a year. Merchants were thankful, I guess as they had their sales the next day..."Black Friday?" No record of pushing and shoving to get into Stinson's Bros. Dry Goods despite nice sales in ladies coats trimmed in fur for the nice price of $5. Rosenbaum's did a good trade too selling famous Osh Kosh B'Gosh overalls for men at $1.39 each.

Blimp Akron Passes Over Posey County.....October 1931

The giant dirigible Akron, then largest in the world, passed over northern Posey County in a trial flight. Motorists from Mt. Vernon motored to a point east of New Harmony to view the large airship. It later crashed in New Jersey in 1933 killing 73 people in a weather related accident.

Local Children's Wishes from Santa During the Depression.....1930

Usually, each year the newspapers run a few letters from elementary students as to what they would like for Christmas. There are always a few heartwarming stories of children who ask for a father to come back from the war, to remember the poor, or a sibling. Looking at depression era letters one is struck by the simplicity of their requests. Children ask for a simple Christmas tree, a wagon, a ball, nuts, apples, oranges, socks, handkerchiefs, dolls, and candy. They want something for their mother like a pair of gloves or a dress. They want something for the baby of the house or a grandparent to get well. It really is the little things that matter isn't it?

Horse's Kick Fatal to Batteryman.....August 1930

Private John Hutchinson of Point Township, 18, of Battery E, 139th Field Artillery died at Camp Knox, Kentucky, being the result of injuries received when he was kicked by a horse while performing his duties with the guard unit while training at the military camp. An autopsy discovered a blood clot on the brain as the cause of death. The young private had only been in the guard one week. His remains were laid to rest at the Greathouse Church cemetery with military rites.

Wrestling at the Coliseum......The 1930's

Back in those days the Coliseum was used for all types of purposes. We had educational meetings, instructional meetings, union meetings, a place to sometimes watch a movie, swimming, basketball, political rallies, concerts, minstrel tours, and even a circus or two. In the thirties we also had wrestling and boxing matches. The Bennett Bros. Athletic Club including later mayor James Bennett would put on many thrills for the sporting public. We had Golden Glove boxers and "freak" fighting which was a boxer versus a wrestler. Opportunities for black men at this time were limited, but in the ring they excelled and could make a few bucks. Locally we had the likes of "Slick" Anderson, Hez Cox, Charles Wilkerson, "Knockout Hobby", and "Terrible Stewart" to name but a few. Merle Weisinger was often the referee and the announcer many times was George Green.

Undertaker A.W. Neumann.....1843-1930's

This gentleman lived into his 90's and came from Saxton, Germany where he was born in 1843. He came to the United States in 1850 with his parents on a sailing ship taking five weeks to cross the ocean. It took another three weeks by steamboat from New Orleans to get to Evansville. The river was full of floating ice at the time and his family was forced to stay in Cairo, Illinois for a week because of it. His father was named John and he was a carpenter and he helped build the old St. Matthew's church. The family moved from Evansville to Mt. Vernon in 1856 with their goods being sent here by a lumber raft. A.W. and his mother came here overland in a horse and buggy. A.W. had 9 siblings, but they all died while young. His first work in Mt. Vernon was as a bartender in the saloon operated in connection with a hotel of Daniel Leffel, father of John C. Leffel, founder of the Western Star newspaper. The hotel was located on Third and College. Later he was employed as a clerk in the Schafer drug store which was located on Main Street in the building later occupied by the Western Union Telegraph company. Following this work he was employed in the cabinet factory operated by the father of T.B. Brown, which located in the alley in the rear of the present site of St. Matthew's church. In 1859 he started to learn the undertaking business working for Carl Schiela. After mastering this profession he entered business for himself in 1872 on West Fourth Street, between Main and College Avenue, having always been located in the same place. He retired at age 84. He did the first case of embalming in Posey County and for several years made his own coffins, using walnut and yellow poplar lumber. He also purchased the first factory made coffin in Posey County. He accumulated considerable property in Mt. Vernon, among which were the buildings located in the quarter block of the southeast corner of Fourth Street and College Avenue. Twice he lost his buildings by fire and each time he rebuilt them on the same site. When he first came to Mt. Vernon the city extended east only as far as Canal Street and west only to Mill Creek. North the city extended only to Ninth Street, that section north being a commons. There were no railroads, the only means of transportation being overland or by steamboat. The city lighted by gas lights. Building west of Mill Street was started after the railroad boom. Mr. Neumann was a member of the Trinity Evangelical church. During his early years h served the church as Sunday School superintendent, trustee, and secretary-treasurer. As trustee of the church he took a prominent part in the building of the present edifice. In 1869 he married Katherina Kaufmann residents of Bufkin. They had ten children. He was a lifelong democrat and a member of the Odd Fellows lodge and the German Aid Society.

Downtown view.....1930s

Odd Fellows Building.....1930

1930's

New Harmony Bridge.....1930

New Harmony Bridge.....1930

New Harmony Bridge.....1930

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1920's

Commissioner's Meeting Gleanings from 1821-1829

The tax rate for 1821 looks odd from today's perspective: Each male over twenty years of age $1.50; each work oxen charged 25 cents each; each silver watch 25 cents each; a gold watch would cost you 50cents each; a four wheeled pleasure carriage were a $1.25; a two wheel carriage a buck; each horse, mare, mule or ass over three years old would cost you 37 and a half cents each; and a bound servant over 12 years of age would ring you up $2. In 1821 a new township was created and called Daniel. In 1826 we had rules laid down for the commissioner meetings. No member could be absent more than five minutes at a time without permission. No member could be interrupted when speaking or speak more than twice on anyone subject without permission. Profound silence shall be observed except for the member speaking. There would be not spirits drank while the courthouse is in session. If you screw up it will cost you 50 cents. In 1825, Jesse Welborn was called on to start a collection for the building of a court house in Mt. Vernon. In 1829 we had James McFadden licensed to retail foreign and domestic spirits within the town. Thomas Duckaut was allowed $1 for killing a wolf and James Phillip was allowed $3 for killing six wolves under six months of age. W. J. Lowry was allowed $4.50 for making a coffin for Polly Smith a poor woman. Legroo Bennett was released from paying taxes by having served in the Revolutionary War.

New Harmony Ferry.....1929

School Wagons.....1928

Was talking to Beverly Tucker in the antique shop on Fourth Street recently, you know the place where Toler's and Lutterman's Markets once were. She had some nice items to look at like old calendars of local establishments, coins, books, pictures, etc. Some I have shown in the past, some new ones I will show as time goes on. I looked at a little booklet on the school system of 1928. Here we have listings of teachers, administrators, principals, etc. The usual things you may imagine that would be there. What struck me though were wagon drivers in the school system. Somehow I envisioned that children walked to schools in the old days. You know five miles to and fro in blizzards all up hill. You have heard the stories. Well evidently, we had in some areas wagons and horse driven buggys to pick children up. That is surprising to me, and yet by 1928 cars were around too. Just a little odd to me....you never know what you are gonna find when you are looking for something else. What treasures are out there still be found!

Locally Built Boat Launched.....June 1927

A new boat was launched into the Ohio River by owner, William Inthoff of East Water Street. The craft is 23 feet and eight inches in length with a six foot beam, and is driven by a 4 cylinder Cadillac engine. In the bow of the boat is a seat for at least three persons and just aft of this seat is the engine. The motor steering wheel of the automobile engine is used for the boat, which has a wind shield directly in front of the pilot's seat. Fifteen persons could easily be accommodated on this craft which is capable of making a speed of between 17 and 20 miles per hour. The cabin portion has a removable canopy top, which will furnish protection from the sun's rays or from storms. The boat was constructed by Richard Floyd of Mt. Vernon an experienced boat builder and one of the best workmen locally.

Poem in The Democrat.....1927

A woman who owned a big Lincoln, Thought she could drive without think'in. While she drove she would talk; but she drove off the Main Street dock ; Now the ferrymen think she is still a sink'in..

Griffin Dog Hunts For His Mistress.....March 1925

During the great tragedy of the Griffin tornado came a human interest story of the love of an animal for his owner. The dog was the family pet of the Majors family. In the tornado, Ruben and Charles Majors were killed and Mrs. Majors was taken to the gymnasium at New Harmony where the wounded were put on cots. Mrs. Majors was delirious, and unconscious of the faithful friend that stayed constantly by her cot. Somehow it found her and made his way into the building. It stayed beneath the cot and refused to be removed and out of pity for it was allowed to stay. Finally, Mrs. Majors was removed to the Evansville hospital and the dog was put in the care of Mrs. Dr. Schultz of Mt. Vernon. She managed to keep the dog over night, but the next morning it escaped and was last seen running towards New Harmony. Later, the dog arrived in New Harmony and was seen still hunting for its owner. Poor thing...I hope it finally got reunited. Back in 1965, my family lost our home in a fire. While a new home was being constructed, we rented a home on West Eighth Street. Our beagle dog, Rusty, who may have saved our lives the day of the fire by alarming us of the blaze, would not stay at the temporary home. He would run back to Emmick Street and sit on the old stoop. Each time we would bring him back, he would run home. Finally, we let him stay that spring and summer and fed him at the old homestead.

Letters from Posey Settlers 1819-1825

These letters were written by Barnabas and Ruth Mooon Annable Baranabas was a very religious man and after his mother died in 1818 he moved from New York to Mt. Vernon. They started out overland then took flatboats down the Alleghany and Ohio rivers to Indiana. Barnabas lived into the 1830's and Ruth passed in 1827. The letters were long so I will use some of the highlights I feel are interesting. The trip here had its troubles as the current was swift and their boat hit upon a root of a tree on a sandbar giving everyone a great shock. They became sea sick and couldn't eat much as their stomach was weak for about ten days. They were robbed on the boat of yarn, stockings, a frock, a shirt, pair of pillows, and a loose gown. They landed in Mt. Vernon on the 22nd of April. For a while they suffered for provisions, as they could not get anything but hoecake. Meat was very scarce, by reason that it was being sent by the boatloads to New Orleans, so people did not save enough for themselves. Sometimes the family did without meat for three weeks at a time. They purchased a couple of cows for milk. "The people of this place care for nothing but to raise corn and hogs. They raise a few beans, which they call snaps." The writer was impressed by the wheat harvest. "I think I never saw so much hay come off so small a piece of ground in my life." Barnabas sowed 13 acres of wheat, some small turnips, cabbage and some 300 pumpkins along with corn. The farm soon grew to two cows, four calves, one five year old mare, seven yearling hogs and eight shoats. "People here do not seem natural. We have not received a visit from any woman since we have been here." They liked their farm, well watered from two springs, and plenty of fencing timber. The house was constructed with a nice cellar under it and a corn house, 17 feet square, set on blocks. The pleasant rain showers afforded them enough water to wash. Ruth said her time was limited and that she had no spinning wheel as of yet. She was always busy baking bread by the fire and had little time to do anything but get but get "victuals." She complained that the people of Mt. Vernon were very ignorant of house wifery. She liked the fruit orchards and said, "The longer I stay here the better I like this place. The blackberries were plentiful and the people shared their peaches and they had watermelons in abundance with a nursery of 2000 apple trees. "There are Methodist and Baptist preachers in this place, but the people are not as fond of attending as I wish they were." A year after they were in Mt. Vernon, Barnabas was of the opinion that the Good Lord made this land as good of any ever made. Their orchard continued to grow with pears, cherry and plum trees. Grapes too. He grew Irish potatoes, over a hundred bushel and a good crop of sweet potatoes. The steamboat business was increasing and trade was good. The Annables lived in Black Township in a cabin about four miles from Mt. Vernon.

Dedication of Mt. Vernon General Baptist Church May 6, 1923

Organized in 1873 at a meeting held at the Presbyterian Church. In 1890 they worshiped on the 800 block of Walnut

Back When We Were A Show Town.....July 1922

On a Monday night the floating theatre "Water Queen" docked at the foot of College Avenue and performed a performance presenting Norman Thom, prominent and popular actor in a four act comedy drama, "For Another's Crime" with real vaudeville between the acts. They also presented animal acts and admission to the boat was a quarter. The next week a big tent show was set up on the vacant lot of the corner of Third and College for several days to view a repertoire of the very latest plays with a cast of 27 people and a fine orchestra. Each afternoon for a week there were free band concerts at 4 and 7:30 P.M. Okay people....Fourth and Main is empty now...let's have a shindig!

Lash's Bitters Declared Illegal.....April 1922

When Prohibition Agent, Walker France came to Mt. Vernon and he looked around. He didn't like what he saw evidently and raided a couple of business establishments that were selling Lash's Bitters over the bar in small quantities and by the drink. The State of Indiana vs. Charles Orr was decided for the state by Judge Herdis Clements in the Posey circuit court and the defendant was assessed a fine of $100 and costs for selling and possessing to sell intoxicating liquor. Got to find your kidney medicine somewhere else guys.

Some Highlights of 1922

In April we had two ex-postmasters of Griffin arrested by U.S. officials and charged with embezzlement and violating postal laws and ground was broken on a nine acre tract in Mt. Vernon which would become Athletic Park. Paul Short made news by purchasing property on Main Street between Fifth and Sixth Street to erect a funeral home. In May, a mail pouch was stolen from the L&N depot and later the contents were found to be used as target practice. In June, pioneer businessman, Henry Brinkman, 97, passed away. He was known for many things from plows to the tile factory. In September, the General Baptist Church started construction of their new home at Seventh and College Avenue; just recently has it been razed. Also that month the Whitmore Handle Factory was destroyed by fire at a loss of $25,000. In October, the Hageman property on lower Main Street was acquired and here an armory would rise for Battery E. As the year closed, a local animal trainer Frank Smith started training some of the zebroids of Dr. Hasting.

Future Governor of Indiana and KKK member speaks here.....1922

Ed Jackson served parts of two terms in Indiana as Secretary of State and was elected Governor of our state in 1925. He was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and his term was filled with scandals. He left office in disgrace and died in 1954.

Early 1920's

The building on Locust is a hotel and is where the post office will be erected in the thirties. Court house on left.

And then a train came...and then, and then?.....1922

And then along came, several boys who pulled Chris Patterson off the tracks who had thrown himself in front of a moving train in an attempt to commit suicide. I guess his day wasn't bad enough, so Mayor Alfred Larken fined him $1 and costs for drunkenness. "Honey, I'm home and I've had a bad day."

"Owoooooo! Who's That I See Walk'in In These Woods?".....1921

In February a large gray wolf that had been seen frequently for at least six months and had killed many farm animals was killed on Big Creek near Savah by a number of hunters and a pack of hounds.

The Dope Bag.....1920's

I know it sounds strange today as words change or expand their meanings over generations and time. Years ago when basketball in Indiana was played on stages of auditoriums, old opera houses, church basements, furniture stores the game was very different. Scoreboards could be chalk boards, dressing rooms could be behind the chalk boards, potbellied stoves and poles could be on the court, rims may not have a net, but leather strips hanging down. Rivalries none the less were strong and vocal. Posey County besides Mt. Vernon had teams like the Poseyville Posies, Cynthiana Annas, Stewartsville Owls, Wadesville Red Devils, New Harmony Rappities, and the Griffin Tornados. Game scores were low in the early days; it wasn't until 1943 that Mt. Vernon was scoring on the average over 40 points a game. In many seasons the average score was in the teens. The "dope bag" as I understand it was a black bag similar to what a doctor would carry back when doctors made house calls. The bag was like a traveling trophy. The bag would be brought out to the game and paraded around like a wrestling belt to rile up the crowd. The bag would not be on the line each game, but select games like Mt. Vernon vs. New Harmony or New Harmony vs. Poseyville. In the bag I think were the scores of the games it was used and who won. The winner would take the bag and maybe put it in their trophy case as long as they remained victorious and when they lost they gave it to the winner to do likewise. I can imagine our own little "Hoosier' moments of a Mt. Vernon player taking the ball out of bounds on the sideline in New Harmony and a fan pulling the leg hair of a local player, or a Wildcat player riding a Posie into the wall or vice versa. I would love to have seen some of those early games in those "band box" gyms where feather beds were tied around posts, dead and uneven spots on the floor, school songs on the piano, and a game that probably looks quite strange shooting set shots through low ceiling steel beams. We Hoosiers love our basketball!

Some MV Fireman.....1920's

Encounter With Bambino.....1920's

I came across this story in a book recently published about the Muller family. Bill Muller lived on a farm in Point township and Bill would sell his white ash tree lumber to the local Whitmore Handle Factory in Mt. Vernon. Ruth frequently chose the best ash trees himself for his bats. According to the story, one day a car pulled up in the front yard and several men got out and The Babe himself introduced himself. Ruth said he had heard that Mr. Muller had some nice trees and he would like to look at them. He selected a few trees and Bill cut them up into 3 1/2 foot lengths and put them into the trunk of the automobile. Ruth paid for the timber and off they went. The great home run king and Posey County lumber.

Fireman's Park .... 1920

In Pop Fessenden's book, "The Old Timer" he used one of the two pictures that belonged to Harry Wilson, a fire department driver in the 1920's. To show something different, I chose the second one. Again my thanks to Pat McCarty who is a relative of Harry Wilson who in his day did just about everything in this town from fireman to Sesquicentennial General Chairman to heading up the first CD festival. Harry and Edgar Puff thought up the idea of the Fireman's Park. Pop says it was erected in 1918, but on the back of the picture Harry lists it being built in 1919 and given to the city in 1923. Eventually trees that were planted were cut down as the fire department expanded. It was finally abandoned and kids moved on to the new College Avenue Park, just a few blocks away.

The Rapp Doctrine of New Harmony.....1820

1.) He believed in the doctrine of future punishments and rewards. 2.) He did not teach everlasting punishment. 3.) He taught that the world would soon end and could not be later than 1837. 4.) He believed that there should be no carnal intercourse between married or unmarried. 5.) He thought only those who had abstained from intercourse could occupy the highest places. 6.) He believed in the literal coming of Christ. In the infirmary of George Rapp, Frederick Rapp whose real name was Frederick Reichert, and George's business manager officiated at worship and before George's death he was duly installed as the spiritual head. Rapp was their priest and King. The only authority needed was, "Father Rapp said it." Although sex was discouraged it was not compelled. The punishment was usually verbal reproof and withholding social graces. They discouraged the learning of the English language and there was little fun or conversation. This information was taken from an article in a New Harmony paper of the 19th century from which it said it was taken from The History of Posey County.

Post Office.....1920

Thanks to Linda Young for picture and information that this post office picture later became Burlison's . Pool Hall and Gambling place in 1934.

Strawboard Company.....1920

This is probably in the 1920's when it employed over 120 people on Mt. Vernon's westside. Construction began in 1903.

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1910's

Brrrr.......19 Below.....January 12, 1918

A big blizzard hit on the eleventh and the next day the thermometer hit minus 19! The day before, it snowed all day with a driving wind packing drifts like concrete. Icy whiteness swirled down the streets and through the alleys. All traffic stopped and passenger trains quit running as well. Rural mail delivery was stopped and being a Saturday when farmers usually came to town this time they didn't. Near New Harmony, fishing was good however. On the following Monday, at the Fox river which emptied into the Wabash it was not frozen entirely and still had running water. All types of fish run up into the Fox and hundreds were taken by farmers armed with pitchforks! The freezing men stood near the break in the ice and as the fish appeared they would gig them. Frank Hyatt brought to town and sold 40 pounds of fish....Hmm, you would think we were in Minnesota. The following week also had an out of town driver cross the ice of the Wabash River in his car. The driver when he came to the frozen river took to the ice and slid all the way across in his Ford pulling a trailer. The river was said to have been frozen to the depth of ten inches. One way not to pay ferry prices. Without a bridge I guess he couldn't wait for the ice to melt.

The Sinking of the Cotton Blossom and Jewel.....January 1918

The winter of 1917-1918 was a tough one. The first snow came on October 23rd and over 20 snowfalls came before the season ended with close to 40 inches in total. In October, the showboat Cotton Blossom, along with the steamer, Jewel were docked side by side at the Mt. Vernon wharf. The river began to freeze and neither boat was able to move. The Ohio River completely froze over Sidewalks in town had piles over eight feet high. Wagons pulled by mules crossed the river and large bunches of hogs were driven across daily. On December 10th the river was solid and remained that way until ice gorges formed the first week of February. Farmers from Kentucky walked across the river and shopped in Mt. Vernon. A goat belonging to Dave Culley got loose and took off across the river. It stayed on the ice for four to five hours and was retrieved with a reward was offered for someone adventuresome enough to go get it. An employee of the Cotton Blossom in fact walked out and saved the goat. Traffic on all railroad and interurban lines into Mt. Vernon were stopped due to large drifts, mail delivery was sometimes not possible in rural areas and drivers sometimes left the roads to drive in the fields. Anyway, the steamer Jewel and the Cotton Blossom both owned by Captain Otto Hittner of Parkersburg West Virginia sank on a reef just west of the water works plant. The Blossom was broken in two, with her nose touching the bank and the Jewel lying lengthwise at the stern of the Cotton Blossom. Also a dismantled steamer Clyde was wrecked. Much of the contents of the showboat were removed before the sinking. I have heard a rumor that the History Channel has this boat on its list as someday being looked for as a documentary. The youngsters did their sledding back then at the hill of the corner of 9th street and Mill. With a good start they could coast all the way down to Eighth. The Walnut Street hills were also places of amusement at that time. On February 7 the ice broke and ran a few minutes then it again blocked. The next day the temperature reached about 50 degrees and people crowded the riverfront to see the come down fast as it piled ice ten and fifteen feet high along the banks for over a hundred yards. During the movement of the ice the remnants of the Jewel and Cotton Blossom were carried away to near the Strawboard factory. The Belle V. Flesher which had been at the foot of Store Street was also moved along. By the 21st of February, the gorge carried down in front of Mt. Vernon river craft of every description. Barges, house boats, gasoline boats all ruined were seen in the ice flows.

Open House For Voters.....January 1918

As has been the custom in Posey County for many years, when newly elected officers take the oath of office, they serve a free spread consisting of cider, ginger-cakes, apples and cigars in the main corridor of the court house and all who visit the temple of justice on that day are invited to partake of the refreshments. So, forget the appreciative letters and thanks for our patronage ads in the "Democrat", I'll be up there for my cigar.

"Which Way Did He Go? Which Way Did He Go?".....January 1918

A prisoner under conviction for intoxication dug bricks out from the New Harmony fortress and crawled out to freedom on the day the convict was to be transferred to Mt. Vernon for a month.

"Bacon...I Like Bacon...Bacon, Bacon, Bacon".....1918

George Raber of Wadesville and his neighbor Jacob Scherer were out killing their hogs. Yuk...city boy like me gets very skittish around rabbit skinning, turtle cutting, chicken beheadings and deer dressing debauchery. No wonder I am a pacifist. Well, these men evidently aren't like me so they had this one monster hog. It was two years old Big Type Poland that weighed 602 pounds dressed. From this hog he rendered forty five gallons of lard which he sold at 28 cents a pound, getting $90.80. I tried being a vegetarian for seven years and ended with a heart attack anyway. I like meat, but I sure don't like knowing where it comes from! Maybe one day I'll revisit my meatless days when I can once again think of a body of a dead cow as just that and not a "side of beef" or a body of pig and not call it "ham or pork." Sometimes the language is interesting to make the food more appealing. Went to the market the other day and there was a sign proclaiming their chickens were "fresh." And all along, I had thought they were selling "dead" chickens. Maybe they should change the sign to read "freshly killed." Just a thought.

Was "Jack Spratt" a Slacker?.....1918

A slacker was what was called in WWI like a draft dodger in Vietnam. I guess war mania sometimes wasn't always reserved to humans. One day in February, Gene Dawson and some other "sitters" were sitting around a cozy stove at Solitude and were puzzled over the disappearance of "Jack Spratt," the big yellow store cat. Maybe, they should have looked in the meat tray; ha ha, well anyway, the crowd was discussing the war department's call for felines to be sent to the trenches in France to control rats. They had noticed the day before that the topaz eyes of Jack were fixed interesting on the speaker the day before when they heard of the draft notice. Someone asked Jack if he would like to go to war and help win the fight and giving a yawn lazily stretching himself he seemed reluctant to leave his warm perch on the coffee box. A few minutes later he climbed down and left the store and was never seen again except for a member of a train crew who said he was seen getting on the evening train. Canada?

She Shall Be Called Woman, Because She Was Taken Out Of Man.....1918

The ladies of the Eastern Star had a "Crazy Tea" and from all indications it was quite entertaining. Amusement also came when it came to ordering their supper from a printed menu. One of the items was...."What Does A Man Need the Most?" Col. Ransom, a bachelor, was one of the guests that ordered this dish, under the impression that it meant brains, but what was instead placed on his plate was a rib...."the bone of my bones and the flesh of my flesh."

Aliens Are Amongst Us.....1918

All the aliens in the county and city came forward and cheerfully complied with the law it was reported. No, not the little green men or the grays or the ones with antennas that eat rats, but the ones not born in the United States and of German descent. You know our neighbors like the Wehrs, Newmans, Rieckens, Baslers, Loehrs, Schaefers, Bestes, Dietz, Statz, Graf, Zuzpann, Maier, Hironimus, Fieldler, Jarodzki, Wolfs, Kreie, Richter, Hoenert, Roehr, Papenmeier, and Kueblers. The law is the law I guess....we know where you live so be a good American. Sorry about the racial profiling, but "war is hell."

St. Matthew Church float in Mt. Vernon parade.....1918

Five New Harmony Sons in Military at Same Time....WW1 Era

Pat McCarty of Mt. Vernon showed me a scrapbook and in it were many items of interest. First thing that caught my eye was these five young men all of one family of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Wade of New Harmony. Mrs. Wade was Pat's great grandmother. At the time of this picture we have L to R: Captain John Wade, Captain Chaunsey Wade, Frederick Wade, Sergeant Harry Wade, and Walter Wade. They represent Army, Navy, and Marines. All served in war time. A special flag had to be ordered by the federal with 5 stars on it for them to display. No greater number of stars on a flag are in the United States. Lieut. Fred Wade died at home during a ten day leave after serving 13 months at sea on the destroyer Wainwright in European waters. He died of influenza from which pneumonia developed. "His constitution had been devastated by months of service aboard the destroyer." Their mother Kate died one year later at age 59 giving birth to 13 children and her proudest ornament was a service pin of five stars with one gold. On January 14, 1920 the New Harmony American Legion Post No.228 was organized at the city hall and was named after Fred Wade. The father of these young men was J.S. Wade who was a straw buyer at the Mt. Vernon Strawboard Company.

Christmas Boxes for the Doughboys.....1918

Mrs. Homer Fauntleroy reported that in New Harmony 34 boxes were sent overseas to the soldiers. Boxes containing food, razors, books, letters, etc. were packed and inspected at the Red Cross rooms for transfer to the military.

Rappite Wolf Fights Like a Wildcat.....1918

A she wolf (no I am not talking about a Shakira video), owned by a New Harmony man was sold to a Mt. Vernon man, The big bad wolf gave birth to a litter of pups and soon after attacked her owner so viciously that she had to be killed. The animal before being killed ran her owner completely out of his own house into a snow storm and he remained there several hours afraid to enter. In New Harmony she was as gentle as a dog. "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature."

Head down to Keck's and purchase a new Ford.....1917

Taken in front of city hall.

Robbery at Telegraph Office.....1917

A tramp came into the Western Union Telegraph Office and the only one in the building was a messenger boy. The man demanded money and all the boy had was a 25 cent piece of silver and because he wanted more, he slugged the young man in the head. Dr. Hardwick was called after the boy was found unconscious on the floor and the tramp was never found.

The Home Front 1917-1918

With America entering the "War to End All Wars," confusion set in and people were willing to sacrifice, but didn't know what the government wanted them to do. Confusion set in and like most great wars, people went to extremes. German citizens in the United States were required to carry a card around with them at all times, were watched of their every behavior, and some were detained. There was de-emphasis of hyphenated names like German-American. Names were Anglicized like Karl to Charles, which is what happened in my family. The government told us what to grow and to eat and we did it making "Victory Gardens." A so-called coal shortage in December of 1917, caused industries to shut down at times to three day weeks for nonessential goods not related to the war effort to save energy. The fact is there was no coal shortage, but that train bottlenecks were occurring in the east. The federal government essentially nationalized for a time the coal industry and the railroads to supply the raw materials for the war effort. People were thrown off their mental balance by the suddenness of the federal order to shut down and close industries. There was also fuel saving Mondays and driving was voluntarily curtailed except for necessity. Citizens responded patriotically to these appeals and no complaints were uttered. Usually on fuel saving Mondays, the local stores shut down with the exception of those dealing in exempted articles and then selling only those articles on those days.

Let's just kick back and burn one.....1916

Parade.....1916

J.W. Pearson & Son was a furniture store down town. That's a great float. Pop Fessenden in his book and column the "Old Timer" speaks of an Independence Day Celebration around this time. This may be that or the Centennial Parade. Pearson's had a float in it as well as many other local merchants groups. Other floats were: Eagles Lodge, American Legion, Loyal Neighbors Lodge, Whitmore Handle factory, Jaroedszki Company, a cigar store, Fischer Meat Market, Hurley's, Red Jacket Pumps, Rosenbam Bros, C.L. Lawrence Company, Fred Duty Grocery and several decorated autos. That evening at Sherburne Park a dog and pony show entertained all and then the traditional fireworks were followed by a street dance.

W.S. Blue Furniture 105 Main Street.....1916. I can see stoves inside.

That location in the early 1960's would have been Stag's Pool Room.

Mt. Vernon Water Pageant.....1916

Mt. Vernon Water Pagent.....1916

How the New Year was Rung In a Hundred Years Ago.....1910-1920

Many years ago Mt. Vernon's industries were run by steam power. Steam whistles existed at the Whitmore Handle Factory, Keck-Gonnerman Company and the Water Works to name just a few. These whistles would start the day, end for lunch, start after lunch and end the day. On New Years Eve one steam whistle in particular was a highlight. Come midnight, people would drift out of their homes, and bars to look for fireworks and to use their noisemakers. The steam whistles throughout the west side of town would herald the New Year along with any steam locomotive that might be at the depot. When it quieted down just a bit, Jupiter Payne would play Auld Lang Syne on the water works whistle. Have a safe New Years celebration everyone.

New Harmony Fairgrounds

Melons Being Loaded in New Harmony... Pre-1920.

1914 Postcard...NH 100th Anniversary

A sticker in a old scrapbook.....1914

Former President Taft was present for this 100 yr. celebration.

New Harmony postcard.....1914

Robert Dale Owen is interred at Maple Hill Cemetery outside New Harmony. Originally laid to rest at Lake George, New York where he died in 1877. He is buried beside many of his family and several other Owen relatives attended the reburial.

Poem of New Harmony Centennial.....1914

?"Come back to old New Harmony, Our latch string, long and stout, Is once more waiting for you----Do you see it hanging out? Come back and see the old folks whose hearts are beating true, There's a hearty welcome waiting, There's a latch string out for you." Written by Hattie Phillips

Hey, How About Some Rest Rooms?.....August 1913

You ever go into Lowe's or McDonald's and head to the rest room and don't buy anything? What's a person to do? Back in the summer of 1913 woman and children sort of had this minority status...men ruled the day. The Western Star thought they needed a break. He wrote to the public, "What have we done about facilities in our town?" "Don't we realize how much such a resting place means to our wives and womenfolk? He realized that not only did we need bathroom facilities but a meeting place for the family waiting on their husbands and fathers to get out of the hardware store and probably the saloons too. "People of other communities come into our town to do their trading, and we have nowhere else to wait for their husbands unless they hang around the stores where they really are not welcome after their money is spent." I guess back in that day they didn't say, "No thank you, I am just looking." Many women I imagine would have rather stayed at home than face fatigue of a day in town with the little ones. Not proper back in those days for a woman to sit on the court house square I figure. I guess nothing ever came about of it...maybe they could have put up some of those WPA outhouses with some air fresheners along the walks and maybe a tent for the women to get out of the sun and knit. Just thinking.

Movies At The Park.....1913

In May of 1913 Sherburne Park was dedicated and soon thereafter Jacob Cronbach completed arrangements where moving pictures were shown on a screen at the park. Over 300 different views and a machine to show them were brought in. The views which seem like slides to me were Biblical and educational pictures as well as pictures of larger cities and wonders of the world. Cronbach was congratulated by the paper for this innovation as there are some of our citizens who had never had the pleasure of enjoying an evening at the movies.

We Got Spirit, How 'bout You?.....1913

A party of "Holy Rollers," consisting of two men, four women and one little girl attracted considerable attention outside our public saloons...some men came out and joined the fun. Each was armed with some sort of instrument while singing their religious songs and dancing an old fashion quadrille. Editor Leffel was almost moved to join them, but he said he didn't have a suitable lady partner.

1913 Flood.....notice the ferry

Lost Love and Now Lost Tombstones.....about 1913

In 1938 a story was reported of a man who returned to Mt. Vernon after living in California for almost 50 years. Long ago the man, Dr. Clem Weiss and Miss Anna Liza Ham had a quarrel. Their love affair was broken up and he went out west and became a physician. Old residents in town barely remembered the girl and knew not if she ever married. In old age the doctor came back with a mission...to know the whereabouts of his long lost sweetheart. He consulted older citizens and learned she was dead. It was said she was buried somewhere upon the Old North Cemetery in an unkempt burial ground. He hired someone to try and find out where she had been buried. When a location was agreed on he ordered two blank stones with no inscriptions to be erected as a gesture of his love for her. The stones were placed on a hill and although flaking and weathered they were still there in 1938. Today sadly, like many others, these two monuments of long ago love are gone.

Reminds Me of Silent Movie Comedy.....October 1912

Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Duley were caught in their folding bed which for some unaccountable reason closed up on them. Here they were calling for help and eventually they were heard by their daughter in the adjoining room. Thankfully, her assistance kept them from suffocating as neither one of them was able to free them. By the way, the Duley's are now determined to sell the "killer bed."

Old Landmark Gone.....October 1912

The old Farmer's Hotel on the corner of Second and Mill Streets was torn down and the lot was put up for sale. This was one of the oldest houses in the city at that time being erected by Mr. Lowry in 1823 and had always been used as a hotel or cheap boarding house. Eventually, it became an "eyesore" to our town and had to go.

The Young Buffalo Wild West Show Here.....September 1912

This was a show of Col Cummins Far East. There was also a Far West Show and at that time they had Annie Oakley in their exhibition. This one came in on the 10th of September and included many tribes of Indians in large numbers to reproduce in a historically correct manner (white man's perspective) Indian wars. The first American tour of Australians Billy and Marion Waite appeared. They were bullwhip performers doing remarkable feats with giant whips, the lashes of which measured 85 feet in length. At the full distance of the lash they broke glass balls thrown high in the air, broke clay pigeons thrown from a trap, and flicked ashes off a cigarette held between the lips of a assistant. There were also Ray Thompson's twenty high school horses, headed by Joe Bailey the wonder horse, and Prince the reinless wonder. Those two horses were a feature with the Buffalo Bill Cody Show when he toured Europe.

The Western Star Moves Its Office And Adds Machinery.....1912

The local Western Star newspaper was very proud of its new home at 128 and 130 East Second Street. It also purchased a new modern Mergenthaler Linotype Model 10, type setting machine. This I am sure provided less labor than setting type by hand. In 1876, in February, Mr. Leffel turned out the first issue of the Star in a little 15X15 room on lower Main Street, a place that in the early 20th century was occupied by Phil Hagemann's sales stables. He used then an old Washington hand press, a second hand $15 job press, and a lot of worn out type used earlier by a Mt. Vernon editor Tom Prosser. In 1912 they moved into a 30X90 foot room and nearly 3000 square feet with new machinery like a newspaper folder, a large paper cutter, perforator and stapling machine. The Mergenthaler Linotype is the only successful one man composing machine in the world. It cost them almost $2800 complete with motor power. The assembling mechanism is the only part of the Linotype where the human mind is applied to the working of the machine. It is necessary for the eye to read the copy, and the mind through the medium of the fingers, to translate the copy into assembled lines of matrices, after which the machine acts automatically. This machine was another first for Mt. Vernon as was the Star the first have the first job press operated by steam and the first to put in a newspaper folder.

Welcome to the New Democrat.....1912

On a Thursday night train heading east between the Wabash Bridge and Mt. Vernon, a lady passenger gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. The conductor helped deliver the baby and because he did all he could under the circumstances was given the right to name the child. The youngster with the consent of the mother was named Grover Cleveland. That a boy!

John W. Krug Saloon sometime after 1912

Our Desert Highways.....1912

Unlike my friend Leonard, I do like trees. I like them in the parks, and really liked them in my youth when they edged the streets of Fourth and of Main. Even at the court house! A hundred years ago, Editor Leffel of the Western Star was concerned about the lack of trees along "our public highways." Highways sound strange for that time, but that is what they were. He was surprised that when one journeyed the roads throughout Indiana there were few trees planted along the highway. Generally the few trees he found were volunteers. Today these trees would probably be a hazard to traffic as we have given up beauty for safety and speed. Back then though the editor felt the reason the rural roadsides were destitute was of people climbing on them and people using them as hitching posts and having the animals lunch on them. He felt especially the nut bearing trees were dying because people would tear off branches and club the tree with it to shake down nuts. He said that one objection to having trees lining roads was that trees prevented the dirt roads from drying up more quickly after rain, but he felt that was more than balanced out by the beauty and the grateful shade. He called on farmers in enhance the appearance of their properties by planting trees and that laws should be passed to protect the trees. Leffel was pretty smart man. Today I feel he would call for green technology.

Keck Motor Company Starts Selling Fords.....1912

John Keck was President of Keck-Gonnerman Company, starting his business career in 1877 when he purchased half interest in the foundry owned by his brother in law, John C. Woody. Thus, the firm Woody & Keck operated until 1883 when the Keck-Gonnerman Company began the manufacturing of engines, threshers and portable saw mills. Grover Keck one of John's two sons started the automobile agency as a division of the Keck-Gonnerman Company in 1907. That dealership was one of the first in southwest Indiana and handled many makes including Oakland, General, Packard, Studebaker, E.M.F., and Cadillac. On October of 1912, they started selling Fords as well as the other cars until 1916 when it went exclusively Ford. The business expanded and they built a modern two story garage at Sixth and Main Street which was destroyed by fire in July of 1982. In 1924 Grover bought out the auto division from Keck-Gonnerman and the company was now Keck Motor Company. In 1939 the Mercury franchise was added. Grover's sons John and William took over the agency in 1948 and they ran it for 33 more years. In 1980 Richard Keck, son of William joined the firm. After the fire the company moved out to Highway 62 on the west side of town until the business was sold. It was then the oldest Ford dealership in the state and the 23rd oldest in the nation

Get Your Motor Running.....1912

Mt. Vernon once had fairgrounds east of town where the old airport stood. Horse races were held there as well as carnivals and sporting events. I have found that they even had motorcycle races from time to time. I can visualize the Black Hawks, Hendersons, and early Harley Davidsons running around a track. Six hundred spectators if was said watched the races of five mile, ten mile and 15 minutes races. Fred Kiechle took a hard fall in the fifteen minute race, coming out uninjured but damaging his bike slightly. Richard Spain won two of the races and Clarence Mesker the other

Tough Way To Make A Living.....1912

Jimmy Carter, employed to clear the land of stumps on the Zerglebel farm, two miles west of Mt. Vernon was seriously burned by the premature discharge of the dynamite.

Union Doctor From Carmi Tells Story of Runaway Slave.....1912

There once was a newspaper in nearby Carmi, Illinois called the White County Democrat. Dr. Daniel Berry wrote a series of articles on his experiences during the Civil War with his unit operating in the bayou of Louisiana. One day a runaway slave came riding in bareback on a gray pony. He wanted help in reaching freedom. I don't know if he was assisted or not, but he showed them his frightful scars of having been chased down previously by dogs and whipped by his "massa". He said he had no name, but was called "Number 13" on the plantation.

Illinois Automobile Law.....July 1911

It says here that you got to have good brakes, a suitable horn or bell, at least two front lights that shine 200 feet and a rear light to illuminate the license plate. You can't drive over 15 mph in residential areas and no more than 25 within one quarter mile of a town. Also if you scare a horse, you must stop. Of course racing is banned and in some areas you can't drive into a cemetery; "I don't know why, perhaps you'll die."

Unknown Mt. Vernon school.....April 24, 1911

The building looks to be in good shape so I am guessing that this would be the second Central school which was built in 1910.

Rosenbaum's.....1911

New Harmony Lady Married by Blackfeet Indians.....about 1911

Sorry about the date on some of these articles as they were included in a series of scrapbooks loaned to me by Pat McCarty whose great grandmother recorded for posterity several interesting items. The ones I have looked at are from the 1890's to around 1920. Unfortunately, the dates were not included so I have to go by guessing and what I know of the times. This particular story comes from Associated Press dispatches of a fall wedding in St. Paul, Minnesota involving New Harmony lass named Helen Corbin. Her new husband was the Washington correspondent of Leslie's Weekly and they were married by Chief Three Bears and took their honeymoon in Glacier National Park. The unusual ceremony was witnessed by 100 tourists. Thirty Indians, mostly "grass dancers", took part in the ceremony which was part of the adoption of the two into the Blackfoot tribe. In the tribe's history only about ten white people had ever been adopted by the tribe. They were given the Indian names meaning Black Eagle and Small Woman.

Some People You Just Don't Know - Halloweening.....1910

While out with a party of girls on Halloween, a 16 year old miss was shot in the face by a neighbor who said he did not know the gun was loaded. He said the girls had been "tricking" him by throwing corn at his house. The shot took effect on the side of the girl's face blowing away her nose. Although it was not life threatening, that will leave her deformed.

New Harmony Baseball team between 1900-1910

Nothing but Mini-Pearls.....1910

Long ago a Posey County man around 1910 or so would stand in the Wabash River to his armpits and look for mussels with hopes to find a pearl as large as a marble. I guess that never happened. He tried though every summer it seems raking in the mussels with a garden rake and carrying his treasure home with him under his arm in a basket. He kept at it with consistency just knowing that big one was out there. I don't think he ever found it. Finally, he moved to Carmi and was employed by the Hotel Wolfe. Maybe the mussels were better on the Illinois side.

"Poseyland", a Poem by former County Clerk Barton around 1910

Much fun they've poked at Posey: and the various products raised; such as Yaps, Hoop-poles and Pumpkins- Things surely to be praised. But to those who love dame nature and their fellowmen as well; will find that dear old Posey, Is a splendid place to dwell. To those who've read Sir Edward and believe his gospel true; will hunt in vain the "School-master," likewise the "mean sex" too. The natives of old Posey are not without their faults; but as to being "Greenhorns," tis time to call a halt. It's true we've lots of farmers, the noblest in the land, who till the soil from morn 'till night; this strong and sturdy hand. We've men and women of culture and girls, good looking, too; We've furnished scientists and statesmen, and other soldiers all were true. We've no room for "Molly-Coddles," No fanatics of any type; we're just plain Americans who love the stars and stripes. So friend, if you should doubt us and prefer that stale old joke, just take a trip to Poseyland, you'll find some clever folks.

New Harmony Man Works in Mines of Montana.....circa 1910

A New Harmony native by the name of Cooper was working near Butte, Montana in a group of mines called the Anaconda Copper Mining Company and he was working 1400 feet underground. He reported that they had a strong union and he was making $3.50 per day and paying $30 for lodging a month in the prosperous town of about 50,000 residents. He said there were over fifty mines in the city and that his mine alone employed 2,000. He was working at an elevation near 6000 feet and they had had a mild winter. He said however, that it had even snowed there in July in August. He said, "A heavy chest and a still tongue" were the most essential features of success in the mines.

To Top

1900's

A Western Union Cable from July 1909

The message is to a lady in New Harmony of a birth of 8 pound boy. Mother and child doing fine. Message is from Pittsburgh, PA.

Collapses At Dedication to Soldier and Sailor Monument.....July 1908

Around 2:45 PM, Uncle Billy Lupton was prostrated by the intense heat of the late July sun. He had marched in line with his old comrades and had assisted them in dedicating the handsome monument that had been erected in the memory of old veterans like him. In the sun since before noon, he went into the court house to get out of the heat. Barely making it inside he said, "there is something wrong with me," as he started to fall. Mr. R.E. Barter standing next to him caught him and carried him to a seat. His family physician came at once and rendered medical aid. I never found out how this ended, but a day later he was said to be in "serious condition." One other lady was said to have fainted in the sun and had to be removed from the crowd. Okay, I found where Billy died in 1912 and was a veteran of the Civil War of the 25th Indiana Infantry of the command of Captain R. Larkin. He died at age 76 and buried at the Thielman Cemetery, west of Mt. Vernon.

Hay Rides.....Much Milder in 1908

I went on a few of these in the early 1970's, full of hippies drinking wine, throwing hay, and smoking.....well anyway, you know. Always some fella who would fall off the wagon...literally. Well, in 1908 most of these were pretty mild I guess. More children friendly I would presume. This particular hay ride took place about three miles northwest of Mt. Vernon where on a pleasant evening they took a little horsey ride through the back roads then went to the hospitable home of S.L. Thomas where "refreshments" were served and jugs passed looking at a autumn camp fire. I can see someone breaking out a juice harp and a fiddle. I imagine everyone enjoyed themselves immensely and returned at a late hour.

Fish'n and Swim'n.....1908

A jolly fishing party met on the Wabash River early one summer morning and the members of the "fish tribe" were rudely extricated from their watery homes by the hooks of the eager fisherman. One or two followed Indiana tradition it seems by falling into the brink in their desire to get close to the action by getting too close to the slimy mud bank and another on a frail log. "Kerplunk." So the party of McFadden's, Flesher, Curtis, Jones, Alexander, Aldrich, and Record really enjoyed themselves over a good dinner of catchings prepared by their sweet ladies as the men "kicked back" with a smoke and exchanged fishing stories and lies.

Postcard of May 6, 1908. Taken from 500 block of West Water

Daughter of Laura Ingalls of "Little House on Prairie " Fame Worked Here.....1908

Rose Wilder Lane was the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder who wrote a series of books that became the wonderful television series for many years. Rose worked for several years as a telegrapher in the Midwest and one of her stops was right here in Mt. Vernon. I was shown a book that says that in 1908 Rose was manager of the local Western Union office which would have been on West Second Street. In her book she says, "I was also telegraph operator, clerk cashier, janitress, and stern though frequently baffled chief of staff." She said her position was one of "dignity, leisure, and affluence." She only had to work a ten hour day, for only six days a week and brought home $50 a month. Out of that she said she saved $25. She remembered eating huge sizzling fried fresh fish caught in the Ohio River and delivered on buttered buns for only a nickel.

"Don't Try This At Home!"......About 1908

Sherman Hawkins was shot in the forehead one night by a 45 caliber revolver. The accidental shooting was done by Dakota Max. The bullet tore Sherman's hat to pieces, but only made a slight bruise on his forehead. Max was twirling the pistol on his hand when the cartridge exploded. The fact that the shell was loaded with soap saved Sherman's life. Okay, I get it but why do you put soap in a shell? Okay, that's a bad story, but here is another one from the county of the same year. Emmett Tucker was shot in the eye with an air gun in the hands of another youngster learning to shoot for the first time. The boy said he didn't think the gun was loaded and aimed the rifle at Tucker's head hitting him with large sized shot. A doctor was called to dress the wound and there was a good chance his sight can be saved.

New Harmony Man Remembers Slave Days.....1908

An 80 something year old man named Hardy in New Harmony grew up on a plantation in Arkansas before the Civil War. He said the Negro quarters there were on both sides of a lane a half a mile long. The slaves were fed by cooking huge kettles of meat and vegetables and baking immense slabs of cornbread. Each slave would appear at the cook house, secure his portion and retire to his own cabin to eat. The children of the slaves were confined to a fenced enclosure, all naked, and when eating time came for them, "they would flock around their mistress like a bevy of black birds." Hardy said he was impressed with the grief shown by the slaves when they were separated from their families. He saw slaves sent off to Texas, leaving their wives and children behind and mourning them as if they were dead. To think it took a war to stop the evil of slavery of people who thought of themselves as Christian is beyond me.

The Hawesville Ky "Doomsday Egg"....about 1908 or there abouts

Again hard to date these items I have found in the Pat McCarty scrap book from the turn of the 20th century. This story was in the Evansville Courier of that time period. A man named Brown had an egg that he says his chicken laid. On the egg is the word, "Death." Brown took the hen and segregated her to make sure he collected all the eggs laid by her. People in Hawesville were coming out in masse to see the wonder egg. While in town, he received a telephone call that the hen had laid another egg an on it was, "The end is near." The shell of each egg is white and the letters are of a brownish hue and are raised somewhat similar to embossed letters. People were beginning to think the chicken is a prophet and that the eggs foretell that the end of the world in near.

Poor Things.....July 4, 1907

During an electrical storm, lightning struck a cherry tree under which a flock of sheep had taken refuge on the Louis Fitzgerard farm near Poseyville, killing nine sheep and eleven lambs.

"Smoke On the Water".....June 1907

The steamer Annie L., owned by Captain I.N. Flesher of Mt. Vernon and used as a towboat, was discovered on fire at 3 in the morning at the foot of Chestnut Street, where she had been tied to a fleet of barges. The flames spread so rapidly nothing could be done to save the boat and in order to save the barges she was cut loose and drifted down stream, sinking in deep water five miles below Mt. Vernon in the channel about midway of Slim Island. A crew of five men and one woman were asleep on the boat at the time and made their escape in their night clothing. Mrs. Sallie Hall, the cook, was painfully burned about the back and her hair badly singed. The origin of the fire was unknown, but thought it might have been caused by an explosion of the signal lamp on the stern.

Runs Amuck.....Around 1907

I found in a scrap book from Pat McCarty an article from the New Harmony Times or Register about an automobile accident when cars were new to most people and so were clutches. Tommy Hindman on a Sunday morning in New Harmony had taken the job of cleaning the machine of Julius Miller at the rear of the Gipsy Girl's Stable. That would make a good name for a bordello or strip club don't you think? Anyway, Tommy finished his chore, and having extreme confidence in himself he elected to deliver the vehicle himself to the owner. He succeeded in getting the contraption out of the barn, but when he left the sawdust floor and got on solid ground the car gave a leap forward. Tommy said later he got "a little excited" and the car took off at a rapid pace and Tommy jumped out! Buck Alsop, he probably had caught many runaways in his day was nearby and he jumped into action. Buck sprung into the seat and turned the wheel away from the city building it was heading towards and took out several water pumps, fences and outhouses. Don't you think this story is just made for Charlie Chaplin? Finally, I guess in all that mess the vehicle got hung up. It seems no one thought of using the brakes. The fenders were badly twisted and the front axle bent. People who witnessed the occurrence reacted in horror and surprise that no one was killed, then they had to start laughing....except Tommy.

Klein & Wasem.....1906

In June of 1906 an oil lamp exploded in the rear of the Klein & Wasem Grocery on Main Street and the building went up in flames. Loss of building and contents was said to have reached $65,000. Even before this in the 1880's a rumor existed that the butcher here A.C. Wasem was butchering hogs that had been bitten by mad dogs and sold in his grocery. That was untrue, probably started by a rival shop, but an article by the newspaper had to be printed to quiet our residents fears. I guess the grocery was rebuilt after the fire and as its location, I believe it to be where Tresslar's once had a store on the 400 block of Main Street.

We Won't Need It That Long.....January 1905

At the city council meeting the Evansville and Mt. Vernon Traction Company was granted the franchise for a term of fifty years, to lay their tracks and run their cars within the city limits, entering Third street in the eastern part of the city, thence running west down Third to Mill Creek, thence north on Mill to Fourth; thence east on Fourth to Store; thence south on Store to the main line on Third street. In other business the clerk was to notify the superintendent of the Water Works to put in a telephone, a committee of five appointed to inspect all the public halls and buildings to see if they are supplied with the proper fire-escapes and the wharf master said receipts for December were $11.40

From a postcard around 1900-1910

Charles Rhein Grocery at 211 Main Street.....1905

Other firms that had that address would be Quaker Maid in 1925; Gambles in 1963; Keith's Pest Control in 1978 and Team Incorporated in 1991 to name a few. Back around 1915 when the Rhein was still there it sat right across the street from our Post Office.

MV Riverfront around 1905

Local Boy a Jockey in New Orleans.....1905

During the winter of 1904-05, Clev Fisher of Mt. Vernon was down in New Orleans with his father and his horse Equalize trying to become a professional jockey. Not quite yet 17 and weighing less than 80 pounds, Cleve was admitted as a member of The Western Jockey Club. Ever since a young child he has been on a horse, mounting many a "green horse" and has many admirers here in Posey. He took his horse for a work out in a three-eighths of a mile and brought him under the wire in 39. Witnessed by leading turf men, he was offered $2000 per annum, a horse for his own use, and $20 per week for his own expenses. His father Val refused to sign the contract, knowing better offers are to come. I tried to find more on young Clev, but have yet to know what became of him.

"Gimmie dat ding, gimmie dat, gimmie, gimmie dat".....1905

A little after darkness fell on a January evening, Miss Tillie Bischoff did some shopping in town, and passing the alley just west of Scholey's laundry (now near American Legion), on Second Street, a medium-sized white man wearing a light brown overcoat, sprang out of the alley..."and then, and then?" And then there was tussle and after a lot of pushing and pulling and biting and scratching the purse was finally pulled from her hands and the bad man ran up the alley. Although Miss Tillie was badly frightened she resisted and all during this time she cried for help. "And then, and then?" And then "along came" assistance and a search was held and the purse with all its contents were found including $5.85 where the thief dropped it in flight. Several suspicious parties were "profiled" but not enough sufficient evidence was found to hold any of them.

The New Harmony Times Lion.....1905

Clarence Wolfe was the editor of the Times back then and he had been hounded by local poets for publication in his newspaper. He had joked that he needed a lion to keep them at bay. Well, a circus came to town in 1905 and they had a lion that had been injured when a cage blew over in a terrible storm. They couldn't take it with them so Mr. Wolfe bought it for a song. The cat was down in the back and the local doctor, Dr. Snyder got a large box to hold the only partially grown lion. It was placed at Snyder's animal hospital and was treated for about a month like a baby. Wolfe couldn't wait to bring the cat to work. The lion's name was Queen and she was always cross because she didn't feel well. On several occasions she almost caused serious injury to Dr. Snyder. He began to realize that when she got well the cage he had constructed would not hold her and the price of one strong enough would cost as much as a small house. He shuddered what would happen if she got loose in the neighborhood. The lion finally died just weeks after the purchase to some relief to the editor and the doctor. The news of the lion in New Harmony was the subject of cartoons and copied by many metropolitan dailies including the New York Herald. The Herald reported on the death of Queen saying that since the purchase of the lion no rural poets and deluged Editor Wolfe with their compositions since and delinquent subscribers of the Times had been paying their money by mail. "He is in the market for another lion."

"And it Tastes Good Too".....1905

Come on down to Fogas' drug store and get a supply of Bee's Laxative Honey and Tar...new and improved, better than all other cough, lung, and bronchial remedies. Just right for the kiddies. You see it acts on the bowels and drives that cold right out of the system. Yes it does! It takes down that nasty hack and wards off pneumonia and strengthens your lungs for a healthy long life. Remember that's Bee's Laxative Honey and Tar...Get some soon.

Hey Dummy.....May 1904

Another street fake roped in the suckers of Mt. Vernon on a Saturday evening when the crowds were the largest. It was the same old story of a smooth talker and a lot of "damn fools" who always want something for nothing. "This class of people should be inhibited from marrying and perhaps their stock will eventually die out."

The Lena is Launched.....May 1904

The little gasoline boat that could, The Lena, owned and built by Captain Fred Hironimus, after lying on the wharf all winter beyond the reach of the ice was launched. Instead of the usual breaking a bottle over the bow sort of thing, the boys met at Krug's Saloon, pulled the corks out of a dozen or so and marched to the river. They sent her "aft-end" into the Ohio after a test run decided to take her maiden voyage to Evansville the following Sunday. Good luck men!

News at Hovey Lake.....1904

In February, Col. Bob Short of Point township, who has been in charge of Hovey's Lake for many years closed a contract with Louis Wassem for a lease on 1000 acres of land there, ten miles west of Mt. Vernon of which the land will be drained. The lake contains 4000 acres and just for an experiment the Colonel in 1903 drained one acre, put it in onions, and claims he raised 3700 bushels off that piece of land. Neighbors dispute this and say he was counting onions and not bushels. Wassem, "who although not a comrade in the bloody days of the 60's," has known the Colonel from childhood and will back him in this undertaking. Together they will be onion people! Bob said he will also raise some celery and they will share in the proceeds half and half. The Colonel says the soil is so good that 1000 men working both day and night will be needed to pull them out of the ground and a number of teams to pull them to the canning factory. We will see. In the meantime, Short informs the paper that thousands upon thousands of pounds of game fish have been killed in the lake this past winter. When the lake first froze over in December the fish made for the willows along the banks, and were caught in the ice, which rapidly formed and crushed them to death. Now that the ice has melted, "millions of dead fish line the banks of the lake."

Mt. Vernon High School Basketball...The Beginning.....1904

Basketball was invented in 1891 and 13 years later it made its first appearance in Mt. Vernon in an intra-school game. On February 16, 1904 the old Opera House was converted into a playing court with mattresses and blankets wound around iron posts on the court. The Western Star newspaper was there, but they didn't know what to make of it. "In the first game the Blues defeated the Black & Whites, and to witness the midgets play in the second round was well worth the price of admission," they wrote. The teams were composed of boys 12-15 years of age, "and after a hard fought battle the umpire declared it to be a tie 3 to 3." A week or so later another game was played in front of a large audience. It was not until 1912 that Mt. Vernon played its first ever game. Not sure of the location, home or away, but on February 9, 1912, Mt. Vernon defeated Carmi in their fifth ever game by the score of 52-26. Mt. Vernon went 4-1 that first season losing to Evansville High School, which later became Central. Mt. Vernon continued to play at the Opera House until 1920.

Local Man In New York Writes Letter After Seeing Presidential Candidate.....1904

R.G. "Rube" Maas living in New York City in 1904 wrote to his old friend Leffel of the Western Star newspaper here in town about seeing William Jennings Bryon, the dominant force in the Democratic party back in the day and three time loser in the Presidential elections. Bryon known as the "Great Commoner" later would be known as the attorney opposing Darwinism at the Scopes Trial. At this time he was more concerned about the silver in coins, prohibition, and American Imperialism. "While I was standing near his carriage I could see him throw small change among the newsboys, for which he received great applause from the people," Maas said. Maas also heard Bourke Cochrane (D) speak and he said, "His speech cannot be beaten as far as political speaking is concerned." Maas must have been a political junkie because he thought that someday the President of the United States would be William Randolph Hearst. Of course, that did not happen, but Hearst did win two terms in the House of Representatives and was narrowly beaten for Mayor of New York City and Governor of New York. He became this mighty newspaper man during the Depression and was a strong spokesman for The New Deal of FDR.

Mt. Vernon Western Star Union Label.....1904

Revolting Act in Harrisburg, Illinois.....1904

I am going to expand my ramblings this time to include a story I found in Harrisburg, Illinois. It seems a poor unfortunate chap by the name of Fred Hall had his hand amputated by doctors Ballance and Thompson. The dismembered hand was then packed in cotton and wrapped with towels and placed in a shoe box. The local sexton, a fellow by the great name of "Sod" Feazel was called and told to bury the hand. Well, what he did was drop the package in the well of the rear of the Union Saloon and it was drawn out six days later by the bakery nearby. To say there were some angry people would be putting it mildly. Immediately all the bread, cakes they had on hand was thrown out. "Sod" was arrested, spent the night in jail and was sentenced to six months in jail and fined $200 for malicious mischief

John Keck and three companions on trip to Louisville.....1903

Central School And Its New Bell.....January 1902

Besides Hedges Central there were two Central schools in Mt. Vernon history. The bell in question was the first Central school which was torn down for the construction of a new Central in 1910. That building was destroyed by fire in 1945. This bell rang for the first time the first week of January following the Christmas break of the students. It must have been mighty loud because it was reported to have been heard as far away as seven miles!

New Harmony Times Editor Forsees Griffin Tornado?.....1902

In 1925 a twister destroyed the small community of Griffin in Posey County with over 40 lives lost...did an earlier newspaper editor believe this could happen? "New Harmony is the center of a tornado path which covers territory for several miles extending as far on one side as Carmi and Mt. Vernon and Evansville on the other. Griffin is directly in the whirlwind pathway without the protective range of hills that envelope New Harmony throwing a sheltering arm between the storms which descend on us from the southwest. It is not unreasonable to believe, granting the truth of the principle that storms follow regular paths, that Griffin will sometimes feel a storm of great severity that the town will be endangered. It is directly along the electrical strip that seems to offer attraction to the tornado and the hurricane. Fortunately our prosperous little neighbor has so far escaped unscathed."

Main Street School.....circa 1900

The old Main Street School was torn down in the fall of 1965 to make way for an office building and warehouse for the Exylin Company which made raincoats and umbrellas. This was built in 1887 and the school was used at one time for black students. It was later converted into a high school. A Mrs. Henry Kiltz in 1965 said she graduated from there in 1893 and her husband walked five miles each morning and evening to attend on a dirt road. George Ashworth said the school was later switched to elementary grades as he attended the fifth grade there. It was first called the Grammar School and I guess the 3R's were taught quite well here.

Everything looking good.....1900

4th and Main Streets. No traffic signs...walk right down the middle of the street. Odd Fellows Building is less than two years old. That was a big building which became People's Bank. I think around that time it also held a dentist office, an insurance company, and an abstracts person. I can see it now ....get up in the morning living on Mulberry Street walk to work maybe at the Stinson Bros. Dry Goods Store, and at noon, turn your sign around saying you are out to lunch be back in an hour and head to the Mt. Vernon National Bank and make some deposits. After which head over to Dawson drugs and gets some cough medicine for the misses. Finally you get to lunch at the Mecca Cafe. It's a slow day so you close early head to the post office and mail a letter. Klondike's is nearby so you have a snort before picking up some cigars at Krug's and some cookies at confectioner shop. After supper tonight you head out with the wife to visit some relatives, smoke those stogies and open up a bottle of hooch. Life is good.

Main Street 100 and 200 blocks looking north.....1900

Hageman Stables about 1900

Long Ago Post Office , late 1890's or early 1900's

We had many post offices before the federal building that has sat on Walnut Street for eighty years. There was one on College; I believe one on Water and at least one on Main Street. I have five of the six names of the people in this photo; but I don't know which name goes with each individual. The names are J.A. Hass, Royal Kemper, Ethel McGregor, L. B. Holleman, Ray Mackey, and Lola Beste.

Western Union Telegraph early 1900's

109 West Second in 1915 City Directory

Maybe I Should Find Another Line of Work.....1900 or so

Posey County product Thomas Hilldman drifted back home from another world. You see Tommy was a human target! Can you imagine? He toured with Chief Prairie Dog who shot bullets at him. You got to really be hurting for a job I would say. Old Chief he dazzled the village folk here in southern Illinois recently at Cairo, Carmi, Crossville, etc. Don't they call that "Little Egypt?' "The Chief's skill as a shooter caused the people to marvel and their attention was divided towards Tommy who stood unblinking while the atmosphere around him was being riddled with bullets that played upon him like hail stones." Night after night the Chief would shoot cigarettes from Tommy's mouth, apples off his head and buttons from his coat. Going a little bit too far for me to believe that he shot peanuts out of his nose, but I only report what I read, unless like now I am doing the commentary. haha. Well, being close to home and old Praire Dog wanting to catch a train to Memphis....Tommy decided to retire from the business. Good choice!

New Harmony Reflections of the 19th Century.....1900

In this scrapbook of a former New Harmony resident are scores of obituaries of prominent people of that time. The dates of deaths vary from the late 1890's to 1910. Just to highlight a few are a Mr. David Schnee who came from Pennsylvania to New Harmony in 1827. As a boy he actually saw La Fayette in Pennsylvania. Coming to New Harmony as a lad he arrived at the end of the Robert Owen utopia society. He had a active life and was Justice of the Peace for many years and enjoyed law and order. There was an Ester French whose memory ran back in time to when Posey County was a wilderness. She enjoyed the pleasures of life and endured the hardships. She remembered how the wolves howled at night about her father's home and their flocks were put in enclosures at night to protect them from the hungry beasts. There was a Adam Wilmoth who died in 1861 while prospecting for gold at Pike's Peak. A man named of Thomas Goad died who lived through a great cyclone that came through our area in the 1850's. His home was directly in its path but the home was spared. The trees around the home had fell in such a way to create a pen around his home as if the Lord did it to protect them, When rescuers reached their cabin expecting all to have perished they were surprised that all occupants were unharmed. There is a newspaper clipping of the death of Co. J.D. Owen, the son of Dale and Mary Jane Owen. He was born in New Harmony in 1837 and with exceptions of living abroad when his father was minister to Naples and during the Civil War he lived his life as a farmer in New Harmony. He was a regimental commander in the Civil War of the First Cavalry. He fought at Frederickstown, Helena, Pine Bluff, Little Rock and numerous smaller skirmishes. At first he was associated with many commercial interests in New Harmony, but soon enjoyed a quieter farm life.

Card handed out to people on street asking for help.....circa 1900

Old St. Matthew's Grade School, built in 1900

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1890's

Smith's Sawmill Torn Down.....October 1898

One of the oldest buildings in Mt. Vernon at the time, Smith's sawmill was now a thing of the past. Mr. Schieber, the owner, tore it down leaving nothing but a huge brick smokestack. Many of the citizens of town in their 60's remembered spending many days in their youth at the mill riding back and forth or the log carriage. The building of late had been used as a tenement house for both black and white citizens.

Local Soldiers Come Home from Spanish American War.....1898

The local soldiers came home of Company B, 161st Indiana Volunteers and they did not have to fight thankfully, but they spent a year in camps, exposed to disease. They said, "It wasn't our fault that the Spanish gave up so easily." Company B had 4 married men and 108 singles. All were American born but one private. The average weight was 144 pounds and the average height was 5' 6 1/4". There were 47 farmers, 4 clerks, 16 common laborers, 26 skilled laborers, 8 professional men, 3 merchants, and 8 students.

Evansville Teacher, Ashamed, Takes Own Life.....1898

Ellis Cody, school teacher in Evansville committed suicide by jumping into a cistern. Her suicide is the ultimate consequence at being ashamed by being arrested and tried for whipping a two year old boy. The teacher lived with her mother and upon return from shopping the mother could not find her daughter anywhere. A search was held and the cistern top was found to be opened. The young teacher had tied smoothing irons to her neck and arms making it hard for her body to be recovered.

Skating on the Ohio River ice gorge in Evansville.....1897

Former Resident Then a Cop Kills Another Cop.....1897

Midnight policeman Bishop shot and killed another policeman in Terre Haute, Indiana. Bishop was raised in Mt. Vernon and was on the Terre Haute police force for 15 years. An argument arose as they were eating lunch in the engine house and they took their fight outside into the streets. Both pulled their pistols. Roth hit Bishop with his shot to his finger of his opposite gun hand. Bishop fired and killed Roth. Bishop denied knowing what he was accused of doing or saying that Roth was upset about. It was the most sensational occurrence in the history of the Terre Haute police force.

Mt. Vernon Residents Hang Spanish Governor in Effigy on Main Street....1897

Back in those days, Mt. Vernonities were always filled with enthusiasm for a good mob demonstration. Pent up feelings for freedom for the Cuban people was the printed reason; but you never know. The country was in charge of a former general, Valeriano Weyler, or as our residents were calling him, "Weyler, the Butcher." A carefully made and life like effigy of the general was swung to the breezes, with a rope around his neck, on the telephone pole in front of Fogas' Drug Store. Sympathizers of the belligerents danced around for about an hour assaulting the dummy with tin cans, rotten eggs, old vegetables, rocks, bricks, tobacco spit and anything else they could find. A good time was had by all I guess. He was finally pronounced dead and taken down. An inquest was held over the remains and they feared the spirit of the Governor might do some sort of voodoo damage so they bound the dummy in chains and consigned him to a rock pile. The next day Officer Reagin found it and burned it. There you go...take that you rat!

Reunion of 24th Indiana Meets in Mt. Vernon.....1897

Over 500 soldiers took place in grand review. The Harrow Post led a parade and all visitors participated in an imposing sight. Col. R.F. Barter, who had his right hand shot to pieces while charging with his company's colors, was a prominent figure at the reunion. Reunion badges were for sale at Myer Rosenbaum's, Fogas', Lownhaupt's, Stinsons, Ike Rosenbaum's, Rosenbaum & Bros, and D & H Rosenbaum's. Col. Julian Owen of New Harmony mingled with old comrades and was one of Posey's more gallant fighting boys. Senator David Turpie gave an address. Turpie a lawyer had served in the State Senate and the United States Senate. In his address Turpie eloquently reviewed the wars of the nineteenth century, not only here but in Europe! That must have lasted a long while...you think? He said, "If the Confederate armies had prevailed we should have had a southern republic for a neighbor, with slavery its chief corner stone. The new republic would undoubtedly have subdued Mexico and Cuba, and perhaps by means of foreign alliances, tried to have wrested from its Northern neighbor more territory. By the victories of our armies, the union was restored and the nation now stands invincible. The war was for the preservation of the Union rather than the abolition of slavery." The old democrat went on: "Indiana furnished 100,000 men to the union, and Posey County did her part, and made great sacrifices to preserve the government of our fathers." He approved of a liberal pension to the old veterans, not as pay for their services, but as a vote of thanks. During the day, horses were run in buggy trots, running, and pacing racing. The celebration formally ended with fireworks on Captain Hockman's hand ferry in the middle of the Ohio River.

No....It Can't Be!.....November 1896

?"Every laboring man must remember on election day that the Mt. Vernon Sun, the Republican organ of Posey County, defends the scoundrels who have attempted to coerce their employees against organized labor. They have no right to dictate how you must vote!" Mt. Vernon Democrat

Charity Work Committee Reaches Out to Community.....Late 1896

Economic times were bad, so bad that one of the prisoners in a local chain gang went on strike and refused to work. "There are so many poor people in Mt. Vernon, who need work, and I don't propose to beat any of them out of a job," he said. The Mt. Vernon Charity Committee informed The Democrat that eight or more families in one section of town were suffering from want of food and other necessities of life. They were afflicted with sickness and were absolutely destitute. The committee furnished them with coal, but they were still in need of wholesome food, and none of them were able to cook. As the needs increased the Charity Committee became busier and donations came in from the public schools of clothing, potatoes, toilet soap, coffee, tea, nuts and canned fruit. Citizens names appeared in the paper with donations of items like blankets, clothing, books, caps, mittens, dry goods, toys for Christmas, jelly, pies and cakes, medicine, loaves of bread, apples, popcorn and from the Hempfling butcher....meat. A charity concert provided $38, Stinson's donated clothing and hosiery, and the Elk's Lodge gave 200 bushels of coal. Baskets and packages were delivered to those in need and church groups visited the sick and aided them in their spiritual needs.

Mt. Vernon.....1895

Plenty of shady parking

Lichtenberger Harness and Saddle Shop.....1894

It started in October of 1894 by William Lichtenberger in a frame building at 110 West Second Street. His son soon thereafter graduated from high school and associated himself with the business and took complete control once his father died in 1913. With the automobile came opportunities for Lichtenberger and he formed a corporation for the sale of automobiles and accessories which he opened in 1916 at a site at 132 East Second. In 1924, Lichtenberger disposed of his harness and saddle shop in order to better manage his garage which was successful for many years in a large brick building that once stood at the corner of Second and Walnut. It was here you could get a new tire, a battery or car repairs.

Whiskey For My Men, Beer For My Horses.....January 1893

Mormon and Collins opened up a new saloon in Mt. Vernon near the Tente Grocery on West Second Street. That makes 26 saloons in our fair city. Got to have that "which invigorates the inner man."

What 2 Sides Do You Want With That?.....January 1893

Sam Stallings is the crack wing shot in Mt. Vernon. He was supposed to have a kennel of the finest bird dogs in the state, and during the season just closed succeeded in bringing down 1000 quail, which he sold to the restaurants in Mt. Vernon for ten cents each.

Rat Man.....1893

As a "ratter" Charles Dieterle cannot be excelled it seems. On a Friday night he caught 67 rats in two traps and the following morning fed them to his two terriers, "Tootsie" and "Smiler."

No Harm, No Foul....Go Back To Work.....1893

Gus Laugel, engineer on the branch of the E. & T.H. railroad, and his fireman, Al Culley, became engaged in a quarrel upon their arrival into Mt. Vernon. Culley picked up a pick-axe, while Gus drew his revolver. Fortunately, neither weapon did any damage, the revolver failing to fire although it was snapped twice. Both were summoned before the proper officials in Evansville and neither lost their jobs but will be separated as an ill feeling has existed between them for over a year. I am sure that in this time of "no tolerance zones" that would not happen today and before you get fired, please pee in the bottle.

The Brick For the City Hall.....1893

Ole Henry Brinkman had his hand in a lot of early Mt. Vernon. He had many business interests in our town and should not be forgotten. Even the brick for the city hall was furnished by Henry. His name pops up a lot in 19th century Mt. Vernon from plows to tiles. That was another cold winter when construction was starting. People were again by the hundreds crossing the Ohio River on the ice. A grave dug at Bellefontaine by sexton Lintz in January found the ground frozen to a depth of 26 inches. Brrrr! All those poor horseflesh pulling them wagons. I don't like winter now; I never would have survived back then.

Stinky, Smelly, Husky.....1893

Death came to the billy-goat "Husky" owned by E.E. Thomas who for years had been furnishing the perfume for horses in the barn at the coal yard. This goat was respected by all those who had the misfortunate of forming his acquaintance and hundreds of ladies crossed the street rather than pass him and he always had sole charge of the pavement.

Skeleton of Giant Found Near Griffin.....June 1892

Reported in the Grayville, Illinois Mercury that J.L. McClure and John Harris dug into a mound on the Heady farm a mile and a half north of Griffin, an unearthed a human skeleton of remarkable size. The bone from the hip to knee measured 3 1/2 feet, from knee to ankle 3 feet. The backbone and ribs crumbled as soon as it was exposed to air, but enough of the skull was saved to show that it was 12 inches through. The lower jaw will easily slip over one's head and the teeth are in sections-3 to 9 to a section. The skeleton was in a sitting position, and was that of a man fully 12 or 13 feet in height. This story was also in the New Harmony Register.

....And This Just In from Poseyville.....1892

The Poseyville News says: John Kinchelo brought into town a pig that was of interest to many. "Its head very much resembles that of an ape in shape, being quite large with a flat face, almost human mouth, but no nose or eyes. Where the eyes should be are large depressions. Its ears are large and shaped much like those of a hound dog. Instead of toes, it has on each leg four claw-shaped projections. It has no tail and is devoid of hair, the skin being of a very dark brown color. It was given to Dr. Dailey, who has it preserved in alcohol and may be seen by anyone whose curiosity is excited to see this particular freak of nature. "

The Last Moments of Governor Alvin Hovey.....1891

At 1:30 on the afternoon of November 23, 1891, Alvin P. Hovey, Governor of Indiana passed peacefully away. For ten days he had been very ill, his lungs were congested and pneumonia seemed to have taken upon him. His relatives were sent to his bedside. He continued to sink. He had traveled from Mexico to Indiana and had been ill during the trip north. His messenger, Otto Pfaflin, his old civil war bugler, who was with him through the war was his most faithful watcher. The devoted old veteran sat by his bedside and fanned him for hours at a time and dampened fresh wash cloths to place on his head to comfort his friend. During his waking hours the governor persisted in talking about old battles and the loss of so many men under his command. In Mt. Vernon, the mayor, Enoch Thomas requested that during the three hour funeral all business houses in Mt. Vernon be closed in mourning in honor of the dead statesman, lawyer, general and hero.

Deadly Drink For the Dead, Makes You Dead.....1891

The local soldiers came home of Company B, 161st Indiana Volunteers and they did not have to fight thankfully, but they spent a year in camps, exposed to disease. They said, "It wasn't our fault that the Spanish gave up so easily." Company B had 4 married men and 108 singles. All were American born but one private. The average weight was 144 pounds and the average height was 5' 6 1/4". There were 47 farmers, 4 clerks, 16 common laborers, 26 skilled laborers, 8 professional men, 3 merchants, and 8 students. Teacher or as they said 'back in the day', professor Richard Owen, living in New Harmony and Scottish born went to the store of A. H. Fretageot in New Harmony for a visit with his friend. Fretageot had just received a package by express labeled "Medicated Water". They thought it was some type of mineral water sent by a friend and each drank a small quantity. They noticed a small acid taste, accompanied by a burning sensation, followed by nausea and vomiting. A doctor was summoned but all efforts to stop the poison were futile. Prof Owen, 81 years old, was a captain in the Mexican War had lived in New Harmony for over 60 years. He was an educated Christian man and for several years after the war he was connected with Indiana University in Bloomington. In retirement he dedicated his time to scientific study and writing. Fretageot survived as he took less of the drink and started vomiting freely much earlier. He is well known in the community for his business connections, as a general merchandizing and grain buyer. He is of French origin and is aged 49. He is a democrat and a friend of the late Thomas Hendricks, who became Vice-President of the United States. He was summoned to Washington and was offered by Hendricks a ministry job but he declined. No word seems to have been forthcoming of who sent the package or whether it was an accident or intentional.

Local Daredevil.....1890's

A tall curly headed kid from the west side of Mt. Vernon years ago named Cecil Alldredge liked the limelight. He would hang around the Old Opera House and help with the scenery and carry in the baggage for the vaudeville shows that would play there. He was blessed with a great personality and he liked thrills. His first stunt was to climb the old water tower in town, known as the "stand pipe", and stand on the edge, and then hang from his knees from the top. One day a State Meet was held in Mt. Vernon and they looked for some type of entertainment. Cecil was hired to do a stunt. What did he do? Well, the kid walked a wire suspended from the top of the St. Nicholas Hotel across Main Street to the top of the Leonard Building. He then rode a bicycle on its rims back across to the other side with No, I mean No net underneath him. He then took up making parachute jumps from hot air balloons at the county fairs. Cecil finally settled down, married and moved to St. Louis. Many years later he paid a visit to his old home town and was asked if he still jumped out of balloons. He laughed and replied, "I am almost afraid to ride the elevators in the large buildings in St. Louis." Glad he came to his senses, the darn fool!"

Turned Down the Cubs to Stay in Mt. Vernon.....1890's

Harry Smith, 78, died in 1952. He was a gentle man, loved flowers, children, the court house, baseball, and Mt. Vernon. As a young man he was quite a catcher forming a battery with "Billy" Bell a long ago Mt. Vernon curve ball pitcher of local fame. He also caught some other local talents like "Piggy" Miney, Costell, Haley, and Wassman. He was offered contracts by the St. Louis Browns and the Chicago Cubs, but he was reluctant to live anywhere else. The money wasn't all that in those days and he stayed where he was comfortable. As a matter of fact he stayed in the same Smith family home at 328 East Ninth Street for 73 years! His goals in life were two-fold. He wanted a beautiful garden to distribute their glory to friends and children and to have the cleanest court house in the state. You see, Harry was the custodian for 38 years of the Posey County courthouse. He took great care to give a warning to folks that dropped burnt matches, cigarette butts and paper scraps on the floor. He always had a pocket full of candy for any child he might meet. "Few men ever asked so little and gave so much." "Smitty" was a fine citizen and worked right up to the night he died. He always said, "I want to wear out and not rust away." It seems Mr. Smith succeeded in all his endeavors.

Believe to be 1890's

The clock would be Rosenbaum's Jewelry. The building to the left in 1915 was a bakery. Not sure exactly when photo was taken.

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1880's

Marriage License.....January, 1889

Marriage license issued in January 1889 in Mt. Vernon to William Wagnon and Pocahontas Smith...hmn, nice.

Judge Pitcher in his Nineties Stumps for Hovey.....July 4, 1888

The great Judge Thomas Pitcher of Mt. Vernon, friend of Abraham Lincoln and General Alvin Peterson Hovey climbed the platform along with the General here in Mt. Vernon at Black's Grove on Independence Day and delivered an address. Here is part of it: "My children, I call you my children for the reason that I am old enough to be the grandfather of two thirds of this great concentrate of people, and great-grandfather to this half. I am almost as old as this republic whose birthday you are celebrating today. I have watched this great Republic grow from 15 stars to 38 stars and 10 territories, to see the population grow from 3 million to 80 million. I have lived to see the experiment of a republican form of government tested, and have the result, I'm feel secured of its stability and perpetuity. I have traveled down the stream of life, passing its shoals, its cataracts, and its eddies and soon will throw off the bow line and launch out upon that boundless ocean. But before I go, I commit to your keeping the grandest of all Republics. Will you maintain it? There is danger my children, on every hand that you must guard against. The Old World had relented, and is transporting to our shores, her shiftless, vicious population, criminals and paupers, until congress has recently passed a law, compelling them to return in the very ship in which they came, without being allowed a landing. That dangerous, destructive element, the anarchist and communist are in our midst. They have gained a foothold in our land, and we know by their threats and efforts to save the neck of a few of their clan now under sentence of death at Chicago. My children, it is not parties, but you the people who must guard with care the life of the Republic. Do not ask, "Is he a Democrat" Is he a Republican", but remember the old Jeffersonian doctrine "Is he capable" "Is he honest." My children, I have two boys of whom I am justly and truly proud. One is Tom, the other is Alvin. I started them out in the world right and foremost. They have never departed or varied from that line, they are right and foremost today. I love them both. You honor them then because they are Hoosier and Posey boys. I have answered thee with a free will offering...my boys.

An example of the banner of the Posey County Weekly Sun.....1888

Temporary School....1887

School is starting in Mt. Vernon that fall and the new Main Street School on north Main which will be known as the Grammar School is not quite finished. Until then city children have been taught their three R's at the old Damron House Hotel on the corner of Water and Store streets. Brinkman wagons I believe were used to pick up some of the youngsters.

Slim Pickens For a Lot of Work.....1885

A bold burglary was perpetrated in Solitude one November morning when the store of Mr. McConnell, also used as the post office was entered, the safe blown open and robbed, and the premises ransacked. The booty secured was not all that much considering the effort put into it and the risk involved. Lost was about $30 in dollars and $8 in coin and quite a few postage stamps. Also taken were two revolvers and a pair of men's boots. All the enveloped packages in the post office were torn open in search of valuables. The evil men left their tools behind of a brace and bit, a chisel, and about 50 foot of rope. No clue to the "scamps."

Fire Visits Downtown Again.....1885

The New Year came and in the second week the warehouse in the rear of Wm. Geiss confectionery on Main Street was discovered to be on fire by the watchman at a local mill who gave the alarm. The winds were blowing a gale from the west and thankfully the fire department did an excellent job. The roofs of the buildings were covered with snow and prevented many buildings from igniting. The block was one of the handsomest in the city being rebuilt after the great fire of 1880. Among the buildings destroyed was that of A.J. Clark, the jeweler, who occupied the second floor of the family residence. They lost everything except what was locked up in their large iron safe. His loss was set at $3000 and was partly insured. The confectionary was totally destroyed. Ike Wolf's meat shop was at loss of $900. The millinery establishment of Miss Tischendorf was a total loss. An agent of Singer Sewing Machine Company occupied a part of this place and lost 22 machines. I.W. Jones and family, occupying rooms over the Geiss' establishment, lost everything they possessed, including a fine piano and one of the best art galleries in the state. Mrs. Jones was overcome by the dense smoke and had to be dragged out of the burning building. The room occupied by the W.U. Telegraph Company was also destroyed. Leonard's Row, in the rear of the Clark's jewelry store, was also gutted. The fire that began in the confectionery is supposed to have been the work of an incendiary. Postmaster Brown and Henry Schiela were also overcome by the smoke. Many of the members of the fire department, owing to the extremely cold night, had their ears and fingers frozen before they were aware of the fact. All the plate glass in the St. Nicholas Hotel, opposite the burning buildings were cracked by the heat and the cornice of the hotel took fire but was rapidly extinguished. Gene Brydan, John Niederst and Ike Kahn threw their doors open to the fireman and whiskey flowed as free as water from the Vernon's Pride. Thieves were out in force, and as fast as articles were carried out of buildings, they were stolen.

Jewish Synagogue began construction 1885 on Main between Sixth and Seventh Streets.

"Go back home, where you belong".....1885

Little Lucy, a 17 year old attractive girl living near Carmi, came to Mt. Vernon and shortly upon her arrival was escorted by a young married man to the house of ill fame on First Street, kept by Maud Davis. Lucy is an orphan, and a few days later her uncle came a looking for her and with assistance of Marshall Spilman, succeeded in persuading the wayward young woman to return home. Her uncle says this was her first intimation in the "fast life", and Lucy says she will return one day.

The Doctor is In.....1885

Dr. A.B. Baker the "eminent occultist and surest," of Cincinnati, stayed at the Bettner Hotel on Third and Store (College) Street and according to the Democrat he was performing some wonderful cures to the eyes and the ears. He operated on 28 cross eyed patients and 7 patients he removed cataracts. It was said he did his work with much ease and rapidly went about his work. The paper watched him remove two cataracts of a Point township man who could not read a line of print for over twenty years, but left the hotel able to read.

Bicycle Race New Feature at New Harmony Independence Day Celebration.....1884

Lots of things going on during the Fourth of July celebration at the New Harmony fairgrounds that year of baseball, music, horse races, fireworks and something new...bike races. Those big funny 2 wheel ones! Very novel...I think we should find some of these and include them in our River Days party....really! Dan's Competition there's a plug. In this feature 'way back when,' Harry Ford took first place over Dr. Hale of Mt. Vernon by about 12 feet. The race was a half mile dash with seven participants in a time of 1:50. In baseball, Poseyville lost 15-12 to New Harmony. That would be a tough game bare handed. Like to see one of those too! There was a 300 yard race between a horse and a pony with the horse winning easily. There were two successful balloon ascensions in town at night which attracted hundreds of people. There was a band marching down Main Street and a good display of fireworks. A ball was then given and people danced to 2 a.m. In 1872 they also had the usual trotting and pacing rings for horse races and showings. And the balloon ascensions were also there, but they were not too impressed. The New Harmony Register said, " The ascensions attracted a number of visitors and gave general satisfaction, although the serial navigator did not make lofty or distant flights-on the first occasion barely clearing the limits of the fairgrounds, and on the second alighting amidst the wagons and buggies in the southern end of the grounds, creating a stampede among the horses and a general upsetting of vehicles."

Chicago Tribune Weighs In On Early New Harmony.....June 1884

A correspondent of the Tribune said: "There are many strange stories told of the early inhabitants of Indiana towns, but those of the settlers of New Harmony are the most interesting." The Rappites, he wrote were followers of George Rapp who gathered about him a collection of people of his belief and came to America and settled in Butler County, Pa. The colony was small and held property in common engaging in agricultural and manufacturing pursuits. After a few years a son of the founder of the colony came to Posey County where he purchased 30,000 acres of land. In 1815 the colony followed and at once established the village of New Harmony. The land was some of the richest in the state and well adapted for farming. The colony maintained a pure life, simple diet, and plain dress. "It was a community of brothers, whose individual desires, was to be sacrificed for the common good." The leader held the belief that he could purge the inhabitants of sin, and when the time came for Christ to return "he would walk with his people on the streets of New Harmony." After a few years they ceased by mutual consent to live together in marriage. No new marriages were contracted, and most of the old members dissolved the matrimonial relations they had already formed. They remained in New Harmony for ten years, during which they cleared several thousand acres of land, engaged extensively in farming and stock raising, and planted many vineyards. They built a summer house and surrounded it with walks arranged into a maze and took delight in watching people trying to get to the house. They grew cotton and lived in dwellings all alike with no doors or windows except in the back. The Rappities built four brick houses which served as community boarding houses. By 1884 one was completely gone and another was used as a store room, printing office and agricultural hall. One was being used by the Odd Fellows or Masons. On the south wall of it was a sun dial. A description was written in this building in German which translated says, "On the 24th day of May, 1824, we have departed Lord, in thy great power and goodness protect us." Somewhere around the 1860's, the Economyite Society, the offspring of the Rappites, sent an agent in New Harmony, and with brick from one of their old buildings constructed a wall around their old graveyard of which there are no tombstones to mark the dead.

"Roll Out the Barrel".....February 1884

A tramp burglarized the Western Brewery ice house in Mt. Vernon and took 15 kegs of beer. The next month he was captured and gave his name as Buckley, pled guilty, and received three years in prison at Jeffersonville.

Sheriff Hayes Speaks On the Coming Hanging of Murderers.....1884

Sheriff Hayes of Mt. Vernon was in Evansville in January 1884 and was interviewed by the Evansville Journal newspaper on the scheduled hanging of Anderson-Snyder on the 25th. Hayes was asked if he expected a respite from the governor. He responded, "No, I do not. Anderson wrote to Gov. Porter direct, requesting a commutation of his sentence. The governor then wrote Prosecutor Frey regarding the circumstances and after receiving the facts in the case refused to interfere with the verdict of the jury and the rulings of the court." The reporter asked how the prisoners were taking it? Hayes said, "Both were baptized in the M.E. Church recently and profess belief in the Christian religion. They are penitent, Snyder especially. He believes he is going on a bee-line to paradise. Anderson, however, is more skeptical, and his profanity by no means pushes his points for paradise." Hayes then was asked regarding the feeling in Mt. Vernon, to which he replied that it was perfectly peaceable. "Two mobs were organized on different nights, to lynch the boys, but they lacked leaders with nerve, knowing that I was prepared and determined to resist them." He went on to say, "The law has taken its course, the death sentence passed, and no respite is possible. In the event of gubernatorial clemency, I would not be answerable for the action of the people. The crime of Snyder and Anderson was of such a horrible character that forbearance was out of the question. Besides, the condemned men belonged to a gang of law breakers and desperadoes who must be taught a lesson-if at the end of a rope."

You Got To Fight For Your Right To....Party!!.....1884

The Mt. Vernon Sun says: "During the pelting rain a young man, in a weaving way was seen on top of the Masonic Hall with a pint flask in his hand, staggering to and fro and incurring great risk of falling to the ground, a distance at 40 to 50 feet."

Help, Help Robbery, Murder.....1884

On a Monday evening saloon owner Ben Kahn was awakened from his peaceful slumbers by the cries of "Murder" emanating from some female. Upon getting up and going to his door Ben found that the voice was from a girl employed by Jesse Gregory, living just south of his residence. He saw two men in the alley and commenced shooting at them. One slowly walked away, but the other remained. The noise of the pistol brought "Uncle Joe" to the front door, who slowly crept around the side of the house and upon seeing the supposed burglar fired several shots at him. I guess these guys were pretty bad shots. The burglar refused to move and Uncle Joe went up to him and found out it was Nat Monroe, who was so drunk he could not walk and was holding himself up by the window sill of the house. He was just trying to get home with another drunk.

Let's Revisit the Hanging of 1884

I wrote of this in Volume 1 of Ray's Ramblings; but I have some more information of the hanging of the young men Anderson and Snyder who cut the throat of young man of around the age of 18 for around $20 of savings he withdrew in August of 1883. The New Harmony Register says over twelve hundred persons visited the jail to see the two murderers before their execution. Both men were said to have had suicidal tendencies and were watched carefully after Anderson a few days before the hanging swallowed a quantity of liniment. On the day of the execution the prisoners were brought from their cells, attended by a Methodist minister. They were led out the front door into a 24X24 pen which was the scaffold. Crowd control was by 16 special police armed with shotguns. The prisoners sang a hymn and at the conclusion, Rev. Asbury requested that the prisoners pray. Snyder was first, praying loudly for around six minutes with pleas of mercy and hope for heaven and was met by jeers from the crowd outside the pen. Snyder clapped his hands "convulsively" to emphasize his words. Anderson prayed around three minutes with less tone and was very deliberate. The Register said, "The language of both prayers betrayed the fact that both the young murderers were illiterate and ignorant." The deputy sheriffs then pinned the arms of the doomed men across the elbows and the legs around the knees and ankles using leather straps and buckles. When asked if they had anything left to say both responded in a rambling, praying sort of way. The minister said that the young men had intended to say to the audience that their hanging with bad company in Mt. Vernon had brought them to ruin and they hoped the example would be a lesson and a warning to others. Snyder said, "That is true." They then shook hands with their executioners, and said goodbye. The black hoods were drawn down over them, they stepped onto the traps and the ropes put around their necks. Sheriff Ed Hayes did not flinch in his duty as the fatal lever was pulled. There were no convulsions or contortion of either body. The physicians say Anderson breathed two or three times after the drop, but Snyder showed no sign of life. The beam to which the rope was hung was fourteen feet and the rope was manufactured in Ohio. The bodies dropped six feet. The bodies were taken down and placed in coffins and taken to Weisinger Funeral Home where they were viewed. They were then taken to the homes of their parents in Belleville. (Eastern Mt. Vernon). Burial I have been told was in the old Leonard Cemetery. The ropes for many years were displayed at the old jail on the third floor over a post nailed to a beam. It wasn't long after the execution that an Illinois man approached Sheriff Hayes and wanted to buy nine feet of the rope. He stated that his daughter was subject to fits, and he had been told that if he would get a part of the rope, after the hanging, and tie it around her body, a certain cure would be affected. The rope, however, was not for sale.

Hanging Passes.....1884

This came from a Mt. Vernon Democrat article sometime in the 1970's. In that article it mentioned that in the County Recorder's office safe is a small package of a note and a pen explained by these words: "It is with this pen that the judgments to sentencing Jack Snyder and John Anderson to be hung on January 25, 1884 were written. Judgments rendered September 1883. Then it listed signatures and a quote" "Keep me for the good I have done." The above passes were given or maybe even sold to those witnessing the execution. Surrounding the pen in front of the jail was a high fence making it impossible for those without this ticket to see. The sounds however were audible and a large crowd gathered outside the pen.

The History of the Fate of Dan Harris Cleared Up.....1884

Dan Harris was the one Negro that was not hung during the mob action of 1878. Controversy surrounded the lynching and the whereabouts of Dan Harris. Of course, the people of Mt. Vernon were mum about the entire episode as they did not want anyone to find out the names of those who participated in the disturbance and the murders. To this day no names have surfaced and no one was brought to justice. The Evansville Journal still had questions 6 years after and in 1884 they interviewed Sheriff Ed Hayes, who was then deputy at the time of the killings. Rumors had surfaced that Harris had escaped to friends at Evansville, and his wounds were dressed by a prominent physician. Another story had surfaced of him dying in Evansville and was buried in Potter's field; his remains dug up and dissected at the medical college. Sheriff Hayes denied both of those stories. Hayes said he defended the jail as best he could, but without avail and the mob entered. Dan Harris was missing however, and was the object of a search. He had escaped through a window. Hayes says he shot at him as he leaped the fence beyond the jail, although it was stated he did not believe he hit him. Sheriff Hayes is certain Harris never left Posey County alive. While the lynching was going on there was a hack standing by the Negro seminary, or school house, with a masked man in the seat. He was one of the two who approached the hackman and demanded that he should give up his team to them and asking no questions, in an hour he would find it at the place mentioned above. An engine from Carmi was on the track about one hundred and fifty yards from where the hack stood, and the vehicle was seen to come away from the engine after depositing a passenger. The reporter asked Hayes if he thought it was Harris? "Yes." "Where do you think they took him?" "I don't think they took him anywhere." "What do you mean?" "I think he was thrown into the engine furnace, and he was thrown in there alive, too. You'll never hear of Dan Harris again.-mark my words."

Oh Girls Just Wanna Have Fuuuun.....1884

The Mt. Vernon Sun newspaper reported that the latest fashionable craze among our young ladies is the dying of their hair to a beautiful auburn color. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah...I still like blondes!

Hangman Sheriff Hayes.....1884

The responsibility of pulling the lever to hang Zach Snyder and John Anderson for the murder of James VanWeyer fell upon Sheriff E. Hayes. "He has the heart as soft and sensitive as any woman; yet he is as brave as a lion," read the Evansville Journal. Hayes showed some emotion as he read the death sentence with shaky hands, but "he did better than one man in a thousand." The paper went on to say, "There is not a doubt but he would have given years of his life to have been spared that one act." His face was said to be as white as death and when the men dropped he did not look at them, his eyes being downcast as he pulled the lever. Afterwards he glanced down through the trap to ascertain if the work was effective. He then subsequently aided in the cutting down of the two prisoners. Both boys twitched slightly after the drop. Snyder endeavored to raise his hands, and Anderson swung around several times, caused by the twist of the rope, and "spasmodically drew up his legs for only an instant and it was over."

Doc says.....1883

A local physician recommends young girls who are desirous of securing physical beauty, to eat meat once a day, pickles once a week, and sweet meat once a year, also take a cold bath and a five mile walk every day. Pretty sensible advice I would say, and after you get all prettied up come see me and I will tell you what little to wear.

Snowfall 1853-1883

Gary McCarty of Mt. Vernon has tables showing the snow days of each season during that 30 year period. The largest one day snowfall is 14 inches on January 19, 1867 and the winter season with the most snow days would be 1880-1881 winter when there were 46 days of snow. The lowest number of days snowing would have been 1865-66 with just 6 days of recorded snow falls. In 1893 there was a 12 inch snow fall in February and in January of 1886 we had a 14 inch snow fall with ten foot high wind blown drifts. On that January 14th day the thermometer fell to 14 below. For the entire snow season of 1866-1867 we had a snow total of 42 inches. In 1858 the month of February brought us 17.1 inches of white snow.

Sauerkraut "Out your ears!".....November 1882

A week before Thanksgiving a large carload of cabbage arrived into New Harmony by rail. It seems there was an overabundance of the vegetable up north so they sent it down here and sold it at bargain prices. It was reported that almost every household in the town took advantage of the sale and it was being turned into sauerkraut by the barrels. That should help the coopers in Mt. Vernon happy and the beer makers too. "Roll out the Barrels; We'll have a barrel of fun."

I'm a Little Dry.....June 1882

In a year of turmoil in the city filled with drunken arrests and mob activity, we hear of a man hit by a train and rendered unconscious. For over a week he laid in a coma, despite having received medical attention. A Western Star reporter visited the man hoping to learn his identity and of his problem. Questions and probing could not break his condition until as the newspaper man was leaving he said, "You want a drink?" Immediately, the patient rose up and said, "Have you got one?"

Strike Ends...Workers Win.....February 1882

The Hominy Mill coopers struck for an increase of 2 cents on the barrel and were successful as the company allowed the advance.

The Good Ole Days! Really?.....1882

?"Yeah sonny, back in the day, crime was unheard of. We kept our doors unlocked." Lets just look at one month of 1882 shall we? November is a good month. Lots to be thankful for. The Circuit Court returned an indictment against a prominent citizen for fornication. Wow...tough on crime! In one week there were cases presented for, larceny, robbery, four cases of carrying a concealed weapon, three cases of disturbing religious meetings, a case of rape, three matters of provocation, six cases of assault and battery, ten cases of prostitution, and 18 cases of selling liquor on election day and on Sunday. If that wasn't bad enough a local man was being held in Cincinnati who nearly beat to death two inmates, tore up the cell furniture into toothpicks, tore all his clothing off until he was stark naked and sat in the dark corners of his cell demanding that his tormentors leave him alone. The hospital wouldn't take him because he was violent and the asylum seems to not want him either. Sheriff Crunk is out of town for a few days taking three prisoners to the penitentiary and bringing back a woman from the asylum pronounced cured. "Home Sweet Home."

Note for School.....1882

Education was not so good for the masses back in the late 1800's. A high school diploma was not that common for many rural areas until basically the "boomer" generation. Came across a note from a citizen in the 1880's to local school teacher....It is funny, but also sad. "Mr. Teacher dot poy of mind was absent the odurday thea he was out. He only mit much drouble all de vile. Pleasue don't give him some banishment yes he vas late in de morning. He voult got there soon in time every day but heis not himself to blame, heish got no mudder. She was ded ten years ago. I am this poys barent by his mudder before she vas ded." More than likely by the use of the word vas, the parent was of German descent. The assimilation was a difficult one I am sure.

Be Glad It Was Just An Ear!.....1880

One day early in April, Mrs. Bobbit, no, that was not her name, I'll leave it out....believed that her husband was evil incarnate and that she must rid the world of his presence. While her husband was sleeping off the effects of a stomach full of rot gut, she sliced off his ear with a butcher knife. I bet that taught him not to come home with an attitude! No charges were filed, the man lived and he promised no more whiskey. So my friends remember, "Whenever you are confronted with evil, conquer him with LOVE!"

Masonic Hall Sold.....January 1880

The Masonic Hall on West Second Street just after hosting a large city Christmas Eve celebration was sold at a public auction to M. Harlem who bought the building for $5260. He then went on a remodeling spree and turned the hall into a proper theater. Henceforth, the building would be called the Mt. Vernon Opera House. In that month the J.G. Stutz Comedy Company came in and played over a week to sellout audiences. This historic building has been the scene of the first movie in Mt. Vernon, the first basketball game in town, hosted vaudeville and school commencement programs. The Opera House was on the second floor of the now long time tenant, Alles Brothers Furniture Store. Sometime, stop along West Second and look up at the building. You will notice stone letters across the side of the impressive building spelling MASONIC.

"Retired Rube" Turns Farmer.....1880's

John Williams wrote a column in the 30's under the pen name. "Retired Rube." He was brought up on a farm until he was 22 years old and then he taught school for decades in something like eleven school houses. He knew farm people and their problems. He recalled that when he was a boy, about ten, they had two milk cows, Cherry and Red, both being red, however. One day, he took his pap's musket shot gun and went down to that there briar patch and shot himself two rabbits. He then swapped them for a quart tin cup which his ma used for milking. Old Cherry gave about three fourths of a quart and old Red just a little more than half a quart. Milking he said was the light job at his home. The family always kept about 70 laying hens. "Of course there were a lot of old roosters, but roosters didn't lay in them old times." One day he actually gathered up 19 eggs and my how the neighbors talked about it. But when poor Uncle Jimmy Ruppert, the neighborhood drunkard heerd tail of it, he bet that there little tow-headed Williams brat lied about it. "I should have boxed him on the snoot." "We raised razor back hogs in Old Testament agricultural times. Their backs were sharp and bowed upward." He had an old Aunt Bettie Watts who said, "I bet the sun draws them thar hogges backs up, just like it draws water up into those rain clouds." And old Jesse said, "Jack, I can jist naturally read the Bible through that old sow of mine when the sun shine on to their side of her." But finally farmers began to improve their stock and their methods of farming. For a long time they had no competent leaders. Things were learned by trial and error which was often costly. Rube finished by saying, "but in these latter days, the goddess of agriculture, taking pity on the farmers, and the rest of us they feed, sent her son, the county agent, to redeem the farmers from their old fashioned methods and help them make farming pay

"Lady Marmalade".....1880

Oh Ray, surely you are not gonna talk about prostitution are you? Yep,"rotten radical Ray" is going to say a little about the Bad Girls of Mt. Vernon in the 19th century. If you have read Judge Redwine's book, "Judge Lynch" we learn that there were two bordellos in town at the time (1878) and that it is very possible the black men that were hung on the court house square by a vigilante mob were set up by an alliance of one house of ill repute against the other in the midst of a closely contested sheriff election. Looking up the 1880 Federal Census for Mt. Vernon I found what quite possibly is the two establishments that worked the "night shift." I will not use their last names, but let me tell you what is in this census. The first one has a 28 year old male listed as the bordello owner and a 25 year old "mistress' who is also listed as a "PROS" or prostitute. Now this lady, first name Maude comes up from time to time in court news. You know get picked up, plead guilty, pay a dollar or so and go back to work. The other three "honky-tonk women" are Ida, Jessie and Mollie aged 23, 29, and 24. The locations of the two bawdry houses is not listed, but from what I have read these usually were near the river and the saloons to catch all the river men away from home and looking for some action. The second house of "soiled doves" contained a husband and wife dealership so to speak. Harry and Libby aged 40 and 38. Their 8 year old son was living with them as well as two servants. In this stable we have Jeannie 37, Lena 18, Minnie "the moocher" 20, Maggie 19, Minerva 19, and Daisey 16 years old. You know back then women really didn't wear makeup or lipstick, own property, drink in public, travel alone, or hold a job outside of the home much, but prostitutes did and were some of the more wealthy ladies of that time, especially in the west. So there you go a PG version of the thong song.

Hagemann Stable at. 120 Main , later Site of Armory.....1880

Frederick Hageman came here from Germany in 1858 and in 1880 accumulated quite a large farm covering over 400 acres as he built a beautiful Queen Anne home that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. He also owned around 600 acres in Henderson County Kentucky. He was the father of nine children one of which was Fred O. who continued the farming and had a specialty of China hogs and cattle both short horned and registered Herefords.

To Top

1870's

Fence for the Court House Bid.....1879

In October, the contract for the putting up of an iron fence around the Court House Square was let to Haugh & Company of Indianapolis at $2375, their bid being "the lowest and the best." The fence was removed in 1903. Next were bids to go out for gravel for walks about the grounds of the square.

Brothel Fights.....1879

A year before a mob killing occurred in our town that began in a fuss at two local brothels and escalated in one police officer being killed and four black men being murdered. In June of 1879 it seems brothels were still an item of news. One establishment accused another of "wrongly enticing her employees" to the other house. A fight broke out among two 'johns' visiting the houses on lower Main Street. One madam threatened to sue the other in city court. This surely would have been a nice story for an aspiring journalist of the time who was said to be researching for a book to be titled, "The Secrets of Mt. Vernon." Not certain if he ever finished the book or if he lived! haha.

Man and his Bottle.....1879

I could just pick just about any year of any century and find these, but let's just look at a few from 1879, shall we? How about January the first?

  • We can start the year with a man making a fast exit out of the Cox Hotel jumped out a second story window. Suffered severe wounds while being intoxicated and was carried away.
  • Residents upset with tramps, hobos, and Evansville residents thinking our town is a nice place to steal and get drunk meet to discuss arming themselves in vigilante form to protect themselves in May.
  • In June a large fight erupted at Kahn's Saloon, after order was restored only one window in the entire establishment remained unbroken.
  • Several sharpshooters were hired to rid the city of pigeons who were contaminating our cisterns and when the shooting began, several drunks decided to help out which didn't go over very well.
  • In October, the editor of the Wochenblatt, J. C. Leffell was riding down Water Street with his wife when a "tipsy" man pointed a revolver at him and pulled the trigger. The bullet missed its mark and because of the intoxicated condition of the assailant, the editor did not press charges although the man did stay in jail a few days.
  • Things were getting so out of hand that the local Temperance Union observed a full day of fasting and prayer.
  • Also that month, a man named "The Wild Wabasher," was refused service at the Kahn Saloon and he started a huge fight but was finally "flattened by a fist" and jailed.
  • In New Harmony one of their residents got all fired up on the "devil's water" and sat down on the railroad tracks. So loaded was he that he did not hear the whistle and miraculously was thrown clear by the force of the train and suffered only minor injuries from landing in a ditch. He wobbled home shaking his head.
  • How many of the horse thieves, counterfeiters, swindlers, river pirates, and wife beaters had "liquid courage" is undetermined.

Mt. Vernon Gets Telephones Three Years After Invention.....1879

In the spring of 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made the first conversation on the telephone...by 1879 our community was one of the first communities in the state to get telephone service. We had a population then of 3500 and John B. Gardiner had just become Mayor. Our first city telephone exchange sat at 221 1/2 Main Street and we had all of 50 telephones. I don't know how many we have today, but by 1926 we had 763 and the state of Indiana over a half a million. Looking at advertisements locally of the 1920's I find telephone numbers in the single and double digits. A.A. Schenk Grocery at the Corner of Water and Locust had phone number 6. I can imagine calling ahead telling him to send the delivery boy to my house with a pound of Santos, Bogota, Guatemala, or Mexican....coffee that is at 45 cents a pound. Those are real blends and they had them. Dawson Drug Store in 1913 could be reached too. "Number Please"..."Yes Myrtle , get me number 150." "One Moment Please."" Hello Mr. Dawson, please set aside a bottle of the Cloud's Coridial for me. Yes the one with the phosphorus for the nerves and the mandrake for the bowls. Okay sending my son to pick up...bye."

Baseball Poem from Western Star.....1876

?"What is the matter with your finger?" "Struck with a ball and drove up, but it's a noble game,' was the reply. "Precisely; and your thumb, too, is useless, is it not?" "Yes-struck with a ball, and broken." "That finger joint?" "Ball struck it. No better game to improve a man's physical condition-it strengthens one's sinews." "You walk lame, that foot, isn't it?" "No, it's the-the-well, a bat flew out of the player's hand and hit me on the knee-pad. We had the innings." "One of your teeth is gone?" "Knocked out by a ball-an accident." "Your right hand and nose have been peeled-how's that?" "Slipped down on the second base-only a mere scratch." "And you like this sort of fun? "Glory in it sir. It is the healthiest game in the world!"

Dit Dit Dit; Dah Dah Dah; Dit Dit Dit.....December 1874

All the supplies are in place to build a telegraph line from Mt. Vernon to New Harmony and should be up in about twelve days so expect some insults between newspaper editors of the two towns by a new medium real soon. In the meantime insults fly..."you are a fourth rate paper," countered by, "I never heard so much foolishness from a blower in all my live long days."

New Harmony Register Endorses Democrat; Scorns Republican.....1874

New Harmony like much of southern Indiana after the Civil War still held bigoted ideals. Our congressional seat in the House of Representatives that year was between Benoi Fuller(D), and William Heilman (R). Heilman, born in Germany and living in Evansville came to the Posey County Fair that summer and was said to have been setting up the lager beer as he met voters in "a drinking line." Fuller according to the paper was, "running on his merits as a gentleman." Then the editor had his squawk: "If the people of Indiana desire continual disturbance in the South, and eventually a war of races, they can accomplish that purpose by voting for the congressional candidates on the Republican ticket. This will encourage the Negroes of the South to continue their demand for the Civil Rights or social equality bill, which measure is endorsed in the Republican State platform, and which is at the bottom of all the troubles that now disturb the peace of the South." Fuller of Boonville won that election and served two terms. Later on Heilman won the seat. Heilman was the great grandfather of future legislator and Nurrenberg Trial participant, Charles LaFollette.

And the Music Was Soothing and Everybody was Groov'n.....1874

Way back in time old Mr. Heinrich was having a big day at his barber shop down town. I guess he was a little behind and the shop was filling up with patrons. As they sat in waiting chairs, spitting and reading the Democrat they heard faintly beautiful piano music up the stairs. Several of the men climbed the stairs and found Heinrich's son playing away. Well they pulled up some rockers and sit right there in the parlor enjoying the concert. Finally, the old barber came upstairs and found these men in his residence and chased them all out with a broom and the toes of his boots. "What's wrong with you yahoos... this is my home!" The men tried to no avail that they thought the concert was just part of a high class barber shop.

A Race Dying Out?.....April 1873

The New Harmony Register said that with so much talk about Indian matters in Congress the average American would assume the United States had upon its hands a "copper-colored" population of at least a half a million. The paper said that sitting aside the so-called, "civilized" tribes; there were less than 20,000 Indians within the limits of the entire country. In 1860 the number of "uncivilized" was set down at 44,021. In 1873, the Commissioner's report that there was but 18,500. "Should that ratio of decrease continue, the beginning of the next century will see this portion of the aboriginal race of North America swept from the face of the earth." The "uncivilized" tribes which made up the figures quoted in the paper include parts of the Shawnee, Delaware, Wyandotte, Seneca, Comanche, Saxs and Foxes, Pottawatomie, Miami, Kaws and Osages, with a few New Mexico Apaches. There was reported an extraordinary rate of mortality. "It cannot be referred to the change in the mode of living, for the mortality is greatest among that portion which has refused to adopt the manners and customs of civilization. One thing is plainly evident, and that is, the race is doomed, and that nothing can save it from early extinction." Manifest Destiny....something to be proud of isn't it?

Rebecca McFadin Passes In Her Sleep.....February, 1873

Mrs. Rebecca McFadden, aged 87 was the widow of Andrew McFaddin, from whom "McFaddin's Bluff", the present site of Mt. Vernon is named. She was found in her bed on a Tuesday morning with her Bible and hymnal on her breast. Andy found the site of our town on a hunting trip from Kentucky in 1795. A decade later he returned and built his first log cabin on the rocks of the riverfront. A year later in 1806 he moved to the bluff. Here despite the dangerous life of living in the wilderness, they enjoyed looking at the river, game was plentiful and the soil rich. Many relatives came later from Kentucky and soon settled. Many of the pioneer families lived to a ripe age. One of these was a relative on my wife's side, Mrs. Cornelius Bradley who on the journey here was scalped by Indians and her first family wiped out. She survived and still raised a new large family. Her husband was a Revolutionary War soldier serving in the battle of Monmouth.

The End Times.....1873

At least twice this year I have heard predictions about the end of the world. This has been going on for a long time it seems. Just the other day I was listening to Hal Lindsey, who wrote, "The Late Great Planet Earth." Biblical prophecy has its place...but doesn't it say somewhere..."no one will know the time or the place?" Everything seems to be lining up for the second coming, but what do I know. Back in 1873 there was some Seventh Day Adventist group founded by Millerites who predicted our demise. The editor of the New Harmony Register remarked, "The people are fast losing faith in the prophets who set the day for the final smash up of this wicked world." He said, "the Millerites claim we would be knocked into smithereens and the good people furnished with wings to soar aloft-and yet we are still here." Well Radical Ray is still here too...not yet raptured.

New Harmony Editor Fueds With Mt. Vernon Republican Editor.....1872-1873

As I have spoken about many times there was no love lost between rival county paper editors. After the Civil War Republicans and Democrats were pretty much at each other's throats, regularly. You know...sort of like today without TV. Starting in early 1872 I started reading about the editor in Mt. Vernon calling the New Harmony editor a "liar" and other not so nice pet names. In retaliation, New Harmony said, "I desire to have nothing to do with an editor who is incapable of demeaning himself as a gentleman, and will have nothing to do with one who safeguards the black. The lowest, meanest, dirtiest and most unscrupulous sheet published anywhere within our knowledge is the Mt. Vernon Indiana Republican." Wow...didn't like him much did he? So when the next election came around the New Harmony Register ran a story that the Rev. John Mason, local editor of the Republican was carrying around a jug filled with whisky to the polls in Bethel Township assisting in the voting process. The following spring Mason showed up in New Harmony and the paper said of him...."the Rev. Mason was in town yesterday with a clean shirt and behaved himself." Such were the times.

Mammoth Store Opens in Mt. Vernon.....Spring 1873

Opposite the Public Square, a mammoth dry goods house of Rosenbaum & Brothers has risen. This extensive building, the finest and largest business house in the county has been thronged with purchasers as the twelve to fifteen salesmen have been almost insufficient to attend to all the customers in waiting. Rosenbaum has just returned from New York purchasing items for his store like dress goods, shawls, bleached and brown muslins, calicos, laces, edgings, and embroideries in endless variety. Also in stock were lace collars, ladies neckties, kid gloves, and everything pertaining to a first class goods house.

Fire...Bad.....1873

Once again Mt. Vernon was visited with fire and still our community failed to be warned sufficiently to induce them to purchase a fire engine. It would not be until after the Great Fire of 1880 that almost destroyed one end of Main Street that we would do so. This time flames consumed the large distillery of George Wolflin, estimated at around $20,000. Thankfully, it was partly insured. Two previous distilleries at the same location also met similar fates in the 19th century. It was a four story building located on the riverfront just south of the L&N Depot and west of the Fuhrer Ford Milling Company. Back in the 1860's the distillery was owned by Herman Munchoff and George Wolflin. Today two streets are named after these businessmen on the west side of town just blocks from where they worked. In September of 1872 it was reported that George Woflin announced in the Evansville Journal newspaper that due to "recent circumstances" he found it convenient to accept the Republican nomination for Representative of Vanderburgh County which he had previously declined. The New Harmony Register wondered if the "recent circumstance" he was referring to was a "well deserved mauling the burly George received in the Charley Wasam saloon in Mt. Vernon a week earlier.

Mt. Vernon vs the County.....1873

It could be the building of the court house or the coliseum in Mt. Vernon that could set off bad feelings of other communities in Posey County who didn't like taxes going up to support another town even if it is the county seat. Especially, in "horse and buggy days" people didn't leave their rural communities much and saw these expenditures as something they wouldn't benefit from much. Back in 1873, before our coliseum and our present court house, the controversy raged over the railroad. Of course, my favorite editor of the Mt. Vernon Democrat, Thomas Collins engaged the community from his editorial chair calling his New Harmony counterpart a liar and worse. A strong voice for Democrats and a "homer", he pushed hard for a vote on the railroad going through our city. Newspaper articles from other county papers urged a no vote. The vote came and passed and Collins when victory was apparent lit a cigar. The New Harmony Register made claims that a certain black precinct of Mt. Vernon was filled with illegal voters from Kentucky and they were paid with cigars and liquor to vote for the appropriation of the railroad. Later New Harmony urged the County Commissioners to spend the $80,000 they got from the railroad on building a gravel road from Mt. Vernon to New Harmony. "The amount of trade that passes over this road, when it is in condition to be traveled is of sufficient magnitude to astonish anyone who has not given the matter thoughtful consideration." Still bitter about the railroad, the Register said, "If we are to have no railroads, and past experience teaches us that blessed are those who expect nothing, no better method of expending any surplus monies in our county treasury can be devised than that of improving our principal highways." Later that year---this from New Harmony: "Since Mt. Vernon flaxed out the rest of Posey County on the vote for the railroad, some of the more ambitious citizens at the county seat want a new court house and swear they will have it too. They should remember that when the vote is taken on the question, it is likely the Ohio River will not be frozen over so as to allow Kentucky Negroes the privilege of voting. Go slow, Mt. Vernon."

High Stakes Poker.....1873

Cholera was a terrible killer in the tri-state in the 19th century and especially in the 1870's. Mt. Vernon lost around 80 citizens to the disease, panic sat in and hundreds of people left the town in 1873. One survivor of that time C.C. Bundy was living in the South at that particular time and he picked that particular era to come north by the river route. He said that death was seen daily and people became accustomed to the disease. Every boat north carried wooden coffins for their own use and each day the dead were boxed and labeled each morning. Bundy said he awoke one morning and found the boat's barber shaving a man in his berth below him. The thing is the man had died during the night. The coffins in their boxes were piled alongside the deck and made admirable card tables for those who had become so hardened to the sight of death daily. Bundy said it was not unusual to find men straddling a coffin box whiling away time with a game of poker. No thought was given of germs that might be leeching upward from the box and no complaints were heard.

Evansville Courier Reacts to Death of Mt. Vernon's General Wm. Harrow.....October 1872

In an earlier volume I wrote of the tragic accident that took the life of General Harrow on his way to New Albany to deliver a political speak. When about twelve miles from his destination and accident occurred and he was thrown from the door of the caboose and the car fell on him. His remains were taken charge of by the Masons and taken to Mt. Vernon were a funeral took place, attended by the Societies of Odd Fellows and Masons and citizens of the tri-state. The Evansville Courier had this to say about the deceased: "General Harrow was in many respects a most remarkable man. He was possessed of fine natural ability, quick perception, a warm heart and generous impulses. He had the social qualities that attracted sincere friendships. Few men had more sincere friends than he. He was a naturally fluent speaker and being a fine scholar and a good lawyer, he ranked high in his profession. Southern Indiana, in his death, has lost one of her brightest ornaments." Just two months prior, the general gave a speech in New Harmony at the Union Hall and it was packed from floor to gallery with Republicans. The New Harmony Register made mention many times of his drinking reputation, but after his death extended sympathies to his wife and three children without any harsh words as was appropriate.

I Call...Shotgun.....1872

In August 1872, Henry Hayden ran a hack daily between New Harmony and Mt. Vernon. Now this is top of the line transportation. Just "walk right in, sit right, baby let your mind roll on." Kick back with a smoke, share a snort, let your long hair fly in the summer breeze, take in the sites as you relax in this great accommodation to the traveling public. When you get to the 'big city' he will drop you off at the hotel of your choice and then you can sit down by the river and watch the steamboats as you enjoy some take out from a local restaurant and read the newspaper. Spend the night, over 20 taverns to serve you. Bound to be some entertainment come night fall....enjoy!

An Example of Muckraking.....1872

Henry Wilson was the Republican candidate for Vice President and is reported to have said the following sentiments as reported in newspapers across the country including the New Harmony Register: "In the heart of the foreigner beats not a single impulse, not one single throb of patriotism! He is so brutal and degraded that he has no sympathy for anything but cabbage and lager beer, potatoes and buttermilk, or some other outlandish dish, fit only for the hogs of the street or pen. All the oaths in the world cannot bind them. Some tell me that many foreigners are intelligent; yes, intelligent! How in the name of the Almighty God can they say it? Look at the Dutchman smoking his pipe, and if you see a ray of intelligence in that dirty, idiotic face of his, show it to me. We must change the laws of the land and prevent these ignorant, degraded paupers here from voting and holding office. They are a set of unprincipled villains and ruffians who congregate in and around our villages and large cities, and live by stealing and begging from Americans. So they have the right to live under our laws and till the soil and do as we bid! They are inferior in intellect and intelligence to the American, and shall be put down and kept down if it has to be done at the point of the bayonet and with powder and lead. Again, you see a wide mouthed, lop eared, mullet headed Dutchman coming up, just from some hut in the land of kraut, with the foam of beer still sticking in his horsehair whiskers, and his breath smelling of garlic and onions strong enough to kill a white man at three hundred yards, and before he can say anything in the world but Dimikrat! He must vote, and his vote counts as much as yours or mine. These foreigners have no more right to vote than the brutes of the fields, and have not half the sense of a good Newfoundland dog, and God knows that I would tell these paupers and vagabonds, these vile, filthy, degraded, idiotic foreigners, I don't want your votes, and if I am ever a candidate I hope I never will get them."

Judge Pitcher Put Down In New Harmony.....1872

Union Hall was packed in New Harmony on the occasion of the second appearance of Judge Pitcher, alias "Reformer" in his new role of "The Great Denouncer." "Reformer" opened with a speech of one hour which according to the New Harmony Register was a "bag of bulletins" published by the Mt. Vernon Republican and tirade of bitter and vindictive abuse. The paper felt that the esteemed Mt. Vernon judge was entirely without weight or effect, "only in so far as to create pity in the minds of some to see the piteous display of weakness and bitterness in an old man who has outlived his power for good or ill to his fellow man." Hey, tough crowd...it seems politics is a blood sport don't it? After Pitcher's speech, Joseph Showers, County Treasurer, addressed the audience, refuting the judge. According to New Harmony he was "vociferously applauded throughout, and there could be no mistaking the sentiment of the audience as to the complete overthrow of the reformer." The judge followed for fifteen minutes and "barely earned his $50 speaking fee." A week later the Register said of Pitcher's appearance in New Harmony: "We have never, to our knowledge, tried to injure Judge Pitcher, and hoped to escape his abuse. But the old man, so brilliant in years long gone by, must, from his impotent ravings, now be in his dotage and should receive the pity, not the contempt, of those whom he vainly endeavored to traduce, last Wednesday evening at the Union Hall."

Come On...Do I Have Stupid Written All Over My Face?.....1872

Andrew Williams...poor Andy, aged 14, stepson of Eratus Damon, living a few miles north of Mt. Vernon, endeavored to ascertain if a rifle was loaded. Now how did he do this? Hmn....He blew into the muzzle while holding back the hammer of the lock back with his foot! Well, that didn't work so well and it cost the lad his life. You know me..."Guns don't die....people do."

Senator, General, Ambassador, Future Secretary of Interior In Mt. Vernon.....1872

In August a large and enthusiastic crowd came to hear Senator Carl Schultz (R) from Missouri. Born in Germany and a revolutionary he immigrated to the United States and became the first German born senator in the country. He campaigned for Abraham Lincoln during the Lincoln-Douglas debates giving many speeches in his native tongue. Lincoln later named him Ambassador to Spain and promoted him to Brig. General during the Civil War. Schultz is known for the quotation, "My country right or wrong." It was said as many as 2500 people came to hear him speak. He spoke on the Civil War and coming together. He was not abusive, but logical and convincing to those in attendance. Here is part of his speech: 'My fellow citizens, I have been in the army, and I know that those who have gone through the school of the war have learned something. The Confederate soldier knows that something has happened, that something has been decided, he knows that decision cannot be reversed. In other words, the Confederate soldier knows that there has been a war; that war had bad results. He knows that when even by his heroic struggles he could not prevent those results from being achieved, that it would take struggles ten times more heroic, far beyond the capacity of his people to reverse what has been accomplished. In him there is consciousness of what has been going on. I therefore proclaim openly that I have the greatest, the sincerest confidence in the good sense, in the growing patriotism of the Confederate soldiers of the South and I can assure you that those who, as you stood with arms in your hands on one side, stood with arms in their hands on the other, are at this moment with full hearts ready to clasp hands with you across the bloody chasm."

Christmas Time in New Harmony.....1872

A cold snap hit hard dropping temps to -8 degrees and the Wabash took on a "pearly" look covered in ice up to seven inches. Nice for those dealers in ice and for skaters. The editor of the New Harmony Register manufactured his own news by victimizing himself by falling upon the pavement, spraining his wrist and fracturing a bone in his left hand. Christmas in New Harmony was duly honored in the usual manner. Young men burned up their usual supply of gunpowder and turkeys were consumed by many. The town was rather quiet it was reported and those in need of a "heavy burden of benzene" were confined to just a few individuals. The Christmas tree at the Methodist Church, on Christmas Eve, was well attended and the balls at Union Hall on two separate nights were enjoyable affairs.

More Feuding Between County Newspapers.....1872

?"If the government paid editor of the Mt. Vernon Republican thinks he can disturb us by calling us 'liar' and similar pet names he is egregiously mistaken. We desire to have nothing to do with an editor who is incapable of demeaning himself as a gentleman. For the lowest, meanest, dirtiest and most unscrupulous sheet published anywhere within our knowledge , the Mt. Vernon, Indiana Republican, upheld by office holders, is entitled to the first premium."

Marshall Replaced.....March 1870

Edward Hayes was appointed marshal of Mt. Vernon replacing former marshal Jacob Piper, who is being held in Indianapolis on a charge of passing counterfeit money. Both marshals missed out yesterday though when during a card game on the steamer, Quickstep a quarrel ensued between Alex Gumbert of Mt. Vernon and a man named McSherry. When Mr. McSherry insulted Alex with foul obscene language, Gumbert drew his revolver and shot and killed the bad name caller. Gumbert was restrained and taken to a Morganfield, Kentucky jail.

What a Way To Go!.....March 1870

Mary Kittle, age 74, of Farmersville was burned to death when she fell in an open fireplace. A rather large lady and a "cripple", it was thought that while in the act of lighting her pipe she lost her balance and fell into the burning embers. When family found her it was too late.

Double Vision....March 1870

What's going on here? During the past four weeks, seven pairs of twins were born in Mt. Vernon!

How Wonderful Thou Art.....1870's

A local man as he rode in a hearse to his burial had a mourner carry a pole in the procession with a sign showing how much life insurance he left his widow so everyone would know he left behind a rich widow. I guess that would "jump start" her prospects for a new husband, now wouldn't it?

19th Century Circus.....pre 1870

Long ago the circus would come to town. They would arrive mainly by train and would draw a large crowd. A big parade would herald their arrival and it was a big show just watching them unload the wagons. Recently I heard that circus shows also came by river transport. They would unload at the wharf, nearest College Avenue and elephants would pull the animal cages up the steep bank and they would parade themselves down Water Street to the fairgrounds located east of town. I can just imagine the excitement of seeing such a spectacle from your front porch. Steamboats, a circus, buggy runaways...life was hard but not dull in town.

Resident Reminiscences of Nineteeth Century Mt. Vernon.....1859-1870

In 1859 Mrs. Mary Spencer came to Mt. Vernon from Pittsburgh down the Ohio River on a steamboat. She transferred to the steamer, the Great Southern in Louisville and debarked here in our fair city. She first stayed at the Nelson House for about three weeks, then the finest hotel in town. Eventually, she rented a cottage on East Water Street and Locust. She explained that where the Water Works building stands was a warehouse, owned by Judge Wilber and it was known as "Noah's Ark." It got its name when a stranger in passing stopped and looked into the place and said, "This must be Noah's Ark" to which the judge said, "It is, we have everything here but a Jack Ass, we need you, come on in." West of this was a large frame house belonging to Betty McFaddin one of the few relics of the namesake which founded our town. Where the City Hall stood, built in 1893 and the old library was a vacant lot and play ground. In the 1860's the schools consisted of a large two story brick building on the corner of Sixth and Main and the Seminary on outer Main Street. During the Civil War wounded men were brought to our town and put into vacant rooms and used for make shift hospitals. A humorous story came from the war. It was rumored that a confederate gunship was coming down the river and was to bombard the town. Excitement was stirred and the Home Guard was called out and stationed along lower Second Street. One local father worried about his son out in the cold. He went and purchased the very best whiskey in town to take to his son to keep him warm. As he walked towards the river, he sang, "My son, Billy, is out with the boys, he never drank a drop of whiskey in his life, and he shall have some tonight to keep him warm. Yes, Billy is gonna kill those Rebels, he shall have a drink tonight." Well, the Rebs never did come, but by daylight it was determined that young Billy and a few companions had become "too warm."

Get a Job; Sha na na na.....1870's

Editor wondered how some men can hang around on the corner for eighteen hours out of every twenty four, shooting tobacco juice at a mark, and fumbling over the contents of their pockets, yet manage to pay house rent and keep their families from suffering.

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1860's

1869 Auction

Interesting how it was in English and German.

Smith Lumber Mill, Later Mt. Vernon Lumber Company Origin.....1868

Charles Smith Jr. was the founder of the Mt. Vernon firm that has existed for over 100 years. Smith was in the Civil War for three years and then began working for a grocery in Mt. Vernon. Around 1868 he formed with his father, the firm of Charles Smith & Son, which engaged in the manufacture of lumber at the corner of Sycamore and Saw Mill streets. In 1886 this business was destroyed by fire and two years later the business was moved to the location of West Second Street. Here they had access to the Ohio River and logs were rafted down the river for lumber. Many stories are told of people using this area because of the log rafts for swimming. Of course over the years the mill made changes in machinery and continued to supply building materials and a line of rough and dressed lumber. Here is a Posey Pickings from March of 1884: My earlier comment said the fire was in 1886 but this article from 1884 says different. "About 11 o'clock last Friday night, the Smith saw mill at Mt. Vernon was seen to be on fire. The fire department responded promptly to the alarm, but was too late to save the building. The losses and damage was about $3000. No insurance."

New Harmony Girl Remembers "Tiff" Over Politics in Sunday School.....1868

A New Harmony lady remembered a young girl who sat next to her as a youngster who had not been on "speaking terms" with for some time over a song. She had interrupted the girl who was singing...."U.S. Grant is the Man" sung to the tune of Champagne Charlie by harrahing for Seymour and Blair. "Catch Grant by the hair and pull till he yells for Seymour and Blair!" As they sat in the pew it was close to Christmas time and the spirit filled them. I said, 'Emma are you mad yet?" "Not much," she answered. They took each others hand and answering pressure told each other that politics so far as they were concerned were forgotten. That don't happen to "Rotten Radical Ray" much.

Mt. Vernon Incorporated not 1816, but 1865

We celebrate 1816 as our birthday, though settlers were here as early as either 1795 or 1805, pick a date. The Native Americans of course were around for much longer than that. Incorporation however came on December 7, 1865. The city clerk in 1927, Lloyd Dixon made that announcement after perusing through dusty records in our city archives. On that date in 1865, in response to a petition signed by 200 local residents presented to the town board on November 22, Mt. Vernon held an election in which our community adopted the city form of government and elected the first city officials of the Posey County capital. The first elected city officials then became Mayor-William Nettleton; Clerk-William Whitworth; Assessor-William Steihl; Treasurer-Adam Lichtenberger; Marshal-Edward Hayes; Attorney-William Harrow; Councilman First Ward-William McArthur and Antone Haas; Second Ward-J. Gregory and John Pfeffer; Third Ward-Edward Brown and Henry Groveland; and Engineer-Adam Baker. One of the first moves of our new city was to establish a free school term of four months a year at a cost of $1500. The old Central School was then erected in 1868 at a cost of $17,269. (Editor's note: What do you suppose the most popular man's name was at the time?)

The Weather of New Years Day.....1864

I know weather information that long ago may not be all that reliable; yet, it was reported that within a space of twenty-four hours the readings on the thermometer declined about 75 degrees to a reading of 24 degrees below zero. A number of people in the area froze to death and suffered frostbite to feet, ears, fingers and hands. A second collaboration comes from a diary kept by a lady in West Franklin who kept detailed notes of happenings during the Civil War. She wrote on that day: "The coldest day that has been experienced for years. A day that fire wood comes in great demand-almost impossible to keep comfortable. I have remained close to the fire today. No person here during the day. Mr. Thomas came to spend the night. The only human I have seen today. Where are our brave soldiers this cold day? I fear many are suffering with cold. Oh, grant that they may be comfortably situated." Two days later she wrote: "Cold, dark, dreary. No person stirring. Dreary without, sickness within.....Oh, God help me to bear all meekly."

Lawyer Joseph Moore as he looked during the Civil War

Joseph Moore's picture and business card I ran across recently. He had an office on Fourth Street, as he says just 4 doors down east of Main. He promised and I hope he delivered to give "all legal business, affidavits, acknowledgements, conveyances, abstracting, and depositions for all states and courts." I am sure he served the public proud as a lawyer and notary public.

New Harmony corner of Church and Main.....1862

Casualty at the Riverfront....1862

On January 8, 1862 here in Mt. Vernon, the town was celebrating the 50th anniversary of General Andrew Jackson's victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans which ended the War of 1812. Charles Hovey, the brother of General Alvin Hovey was killed accidentally by a discharge of a six pound gun. The accident was said to have occurred to the failure of the "thumber" to keep his thumb upon the touch-hole while Mr. Hovey was engaged in ramming the charge into the piece, but the act was excused when found that the thumb was severely burned. The ramrod entered the side of Hovey and he died the following day.

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1850's

Posey Tornado.....1852

On April 30, 1852 when the farmers were in the fields planting corn for the new season a terrible storm came from the southwest first hitting the earth at Goleonda, Illinois on the Ohio River tearing up cabins and myriads of forest trees. Five miles north of New Harmony, Mr. Stitt saw the storm approaching and described it as like a "burning bush that is rolled over and over." One farmer looked out of his house towards the north and saw the trees "falling like soldiers in a hail of bullets." The medley of sounds was such that you could not distinguish one from another. In New Harmony you could hear a constant roar of thunder and the rain came down hard as well as hail. Hail measured eight inches in circumference and weighed a fourth of a pound. Almost every window facing the west was broken. Mt. Vernon remained untouched by the storm. For many years the path of the tornado was a tangled mess of debris. Here animals hid from hunters in the large trees that had fallen. In Posey, the storm left a mark about a mile wide and ten miles long and was remembered for a long time, but eventually eclipsed by the great Griffin tornado of the 1920's.

Richard Ford....Commercial Dealer.....1840-1860

Richard Ford died in New Harmony in 1900 at the age of eighty. Born in England in 1820, he arrived in the United States in 1829 and in New Harmony in 1834. For a while he assisted at the County clerk's office in Mt. Vernon. He returned to New Harmony and became a prominent figure in transactions of commerce. He was very active; he just didn't sit behind a desk. He was a dealer in grain, pork and other provisions and he would ride the flatboats down to New Orleans to a port to be sold and then board a steamer for home. The next month he would go again. One year he made nine trips to New Orleans until the Civil War broke out. When the pork business was big in New Harmony, he packed as many as 5000 hogs in a single season.

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1840's

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1830's

Tragedy of December Cold Wave.....1836

On the 15th of December, a Monday the ground was covered with heavy snow, but it was softening due to above freezing temperatures. Tuesday it began to rain and the ground became flooded with water and snow and all the streams were overflowing A fearful cloud appeared in the northwest producing a rumbling noise. The next day all the streams were frozen and did not melt until March. A Mr. Gilbert and his employee were driving hogs on the prairie. As the cloud approached the hogs refused to go farther and began to pile themselves up in one vast heap for protection and warmth. During the night as the temperatures dropped, those hogs on the outside were frozen and had to be cut loose to enable the others to get out. Many more hogs froze to death before getting to their destination. Gilbert and the other man rode ahead five miles to find a place to stay having frozen toes, fingers, and ears. Two other riders caught in the open had to kill a horse, roll his back to the wind, cut out his entrails and thrust in their hands and feet to keep them from freezing. Both men eventually died from exposure. Many cattle, hogs and fowls died the next few days in the area before help would come.

New Harmony Citizens Protect Their Town From Boaters.....1830's

Back in 1884 an article appeared in the New Harmony Register about an incident almost like what happened in Mt. Vernon with the Hoop Pole Incident. It was the fall of the year sometime in the 1830's when a number of boat men met at New Harmony, and the crews, compromising maybe thirty or forty men, got on a big spree and concluded to take the town. They tied red shirts to their spike poles and made banners marching into town, blowing tin horns and beating tin pans. They yelled loudly with vulgar language and declared they would thrash the men and carry off their women. This must have been after the pacifist utopian settlers of the Rapps because New Harmony had a military volunteer company. It was promptly called out by Captain Richard Owen, and the citizens gathered up what arms they could, joined the soldiers and marched to defend their homes and families. In the meantime, the boat men were in the saloons regaling themselves of their easy victory. When they saw the citizens were preparing to make an attack, they contemplated meeting them as they gathered in the street with their spiked poles waiting for the "charge" moment. The boat men had a formidable appearance as they "looked Herculean in stature." At that moment the soldiers came down the street at double quick, with bright muskets and fixed bayonets gleaming in the sun, followed by a crowd of citizens armed with rifles and shot-guns. Courage failed and they broke and ran for the boats, closely followed by the soldiers who ordered them to throw down their poles and surrender. It was something over a quarter of a mile to where the boats laid and by the time they reached the levee they were overhauled. Before they would yield, George White, who lived in Shawneetown, but happened to be in New Harmony this day, ran his bayonet through the arm of one of the most defiant and abusive boatmen. The rest, seeing that the soldiers and citizens meant business, laid down their poles and were marched back to the magistrate's office and heavily fined for disturbing the peace. New Harmony never received any insults from the drunken men, but they set fire to White's sawmill in Shawneetown, burning it to the ground. White's father was a captain under General Harrison, and was killed at the Battle of Tippecanoe.

Early Portrait of Judge John Pitcher.....1830

Born in Conn. in 1794, he received his bar in 1815 and moved to Rockport, Indiana to start his practice with a young wife. In 1830 he moved to Mt. Vernon and built a home on Store Street, now College Avenue. He was a friend of Abraham Lincoln. According to Indiana Magazine History, Vol . 17, page 147 "there is strong circumstantial evidence that the influences on Lincoln following the Missouri Com0promise were powerfully influenced by Pitcher." Pitcher turned down an appointment to the United States Supreme Court during the Grant Administration because he did not want to leave Mt. Vernon. At his death at age 98 the members of the Mt. Vernon Bar adopted a resolution tendering their deepest sympathies to the family and they all attended his funeral.

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1820's

James Dunn House, Built in 1828

This building was constructed by James Dunn in 1828, next to a home built three years earlier. It was known to be the first brick house in Mt. Vernon and was used by Dunn as a general store until 1836. Located on Water Street it was here that Henry Pratten, a taxidermist and one time state geologist of Illinois, stuffed birds shot by John James Audubon and here too his collection was kept. Feldon Chamberlain, who claimed to have been in the storming party at Vicksburg on May 22, 1863, made his home here also. In recent times it was owned as a residence to Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Vail.

New Harmony Theatre - The Beginning.....1827

To this day New Harmony still has a thriving theatre following. I came across something in the 1870's that mentioned that the first movement towards a formation of Thespians occurred in 1827. Prominent among them was a Mrs. Alex Drake, then a recognized star of drama and an actress of much ability. There were two influential groups at that time, one the "Stockholders of the New Harmony Theatre," the other as "The New Harmony Thespian Society." The first was composed of a number of then leading citizens of the town and its purpose was to procure and suitably fit up a building for theatrical purposes. There were 20 of these stockholders with familiar New Harmony names like John Craddock, Robert Dale Owen, John Wheatcroft, and F.W. Fauntleroy. The building selected was what would be known as the "Town Hall, later called the "Old Hall." It was a very exclusive building, maybe one of the best in the state at the time having exclusive of the east and west wings, an inside measurement of 125 by 40 feet with a 28 foot ceiling. The stage proper had a width of 22 feet by 40 feet in depth and 20 feet high. From the entrance on Church Street to the stage was a distance of 85 feet, a large portion of this space being occupied by raised seats. The scenery was worked on rollers, "flats" being at that time unknown to the theatrical world. Many were painted by the eminent French artist Mr. Lessieur, then a New Harmony citizen. A specimen of his work remained in the Switzerland mountain scene on the interior southern wall of the building, which was painted for the play, "William Tell" in 1835. The proscenium was ornamented with figures representing Comedy and Tragedy, and over the curtain a large scroll contained the motto "All the World's a Stage." The Thespian Society was composed of ladies and gentleman of recognized talent and merit. Its object was stated to be "to muse and instruct, and for mutual improvement." These pioneer Thespians played in front of crowded houses and liberal applause it seems. The first performance came on a Saturday evening, February 23, 1828 with the comedy, "The Poor Gentleman," and it was very successful. The New Harmony Gazette said, "The pieces were supported throughout in a manner to excite interest and to give satisfaction."

Price of Dying has gone Up.....1826

In the court house is a receipt from an Aaron Bacon for "tow dollars and fifty cents," for making a coffin for Samuel Kennedy who died on the 25th of February, 1826. I did not misspell two, he did. In 1846, a price of a coffin was up to $6. On the subject of death, there was a murder trial in 1877 and each jurist got 75 cents, the coroner got $5 and the clerk a dollar. I wonder what the hangman was paid in 1884?

Local Earthquakes in the 1800's

Gary McCarthy of Mt. Vernon put together a painstaking research of Posey County weather in the 19th century and published it in a book in 1992. I was given a copy and looking through it I can appreciate the hours of microfilm research put in to find this material. Some gaps will appear only because the papers no longer exist; but, what is there is amazing to me. I'll write a few segments on this in the next few days to consider what I find to be the most captivating. At least ten earthquakes are recorded in his book, the first being July 5, 1827 with citizens being awaken in the early morning by a rumbling noise, then a violent shaking of the earth for a full minute. Two aftershocks of shorter durations followed. The next month on August 7, 1827 vibrations were felt for several minutes with the movement being from SW to NE. On October 8, 1857 at 3:40 am an earthquake was felt but no damage was recorded. The next one occurred on July 27, 1869 at three in the afternoon. One more happened in September of 1884 and then another that decade on September 8.1886 which was in the early morning resulting in no damage. At noon on December 14, 1893 we had another one. At 5:30 am on October 31, 1895 severe shocks were felt lasting a minute or more with the vibrations going west to east. City chimneys were toppled over. The final one of the century was April 25, 1897 followed by two aftershocks each lasting about ten seconds

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1810's

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1800's

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Ray Kessler - Unplugged Volume 1
Ray Kessler - Unplugged Volume 2
Ray Kessler - Unplugged Volume 4
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