Thursday, December 10, 2015

Logansport Cass County Public Library

Libraries, in one form or another, have existed in Logansport since the establishment of the first in 1837. The first, according to available records was a collection of a few standard works "kept in a log building on the north side of Market Street just east of the site of the Barnett Hotel". This was operated by Chauncey Carter.

In 2015, that would be in the general area where China Lane now stands.

Below is a picture of the building that, in 1894, would become the first Logansport public library, as we tend to think of it, and it stood on the same piece of real estate as it does today, 616 E. Broadway:

Opened in 1894 - Originally A Home Until 1893

The above was the home of Judge William Z. Stuart, 616 E. Broadway. After the Judge passed away, the home was rented out. On November 1, 1894, the library was opened. Miss Elizabeth McCullough was librarian and Mrs. Mary Stevens was assistant. The collection numbered 1450 volumes.

Andrew Carnegie was establishing libraries all over the nation in his name and the school trustees started a project that resulted in a $35,000 gift from Mr. Carnegie for a building. The board at that time consisted of James McNitt, J. T. Elliott and Quincy Myers.

The John E. Barnes company of Logansport was awarded the contract to construct the stone building and the formal opening of the new Logansport Carnegie library was held September 24, 1904.

Floor Plans

Rural and City

By 1918 the local library had become a county library serving the city of Logansport plus twelve of the fourteen townships of the county. Boone and Tipton townships each had their own Carnegie libraries.

There were two divisions of the library, rural and city. The entrance to the city was on the main floor and the entrance for the rural library was on the basement floor. Library trucks made regular runs and substations were used to aid in extending service to rural readers.

Above: Logansport High School in the Roosevelt building stood at the corner of 7th and E. Broadway, next door to the Library. Circa 1904.


Remodeled At Various Times
The Library was remodeled at various times over the years before a fire broke out in the early morning hours of March 17, 1941.
Before the 1941 fire. (above)
After the fire 1941 (above)

Estimated loss was as high as $50,000, but exact loss couldn't be determined because a number of the books lost were priceless! Most of the books in the basement were not damaged and it appeared that more than two thirds of the 81,000 books could be salvaged.
Fire photo 1941 note the broken windows.

Plans to Rebuild and the "Friends and Patrons of the Library"
The first steps were taken to establish a new public library on April 1, 1941 by a group of 130 city and county residents.
An organization "Friends and Patrons of the Library" was formed and Robert J. Arthur was named chairman.
On May 9, 1941, Ferd Burgman, treasurer, reported that the building, as proposed, would cost $82,000 with $29,000 from insurance and the balance from a bond issue.
A. J. Wolf Construction made the low offer of 3 bidders at $45,713.

Increase Bond Issue
On February 3, 1942, the city school board approved an additional $20,000 bond issue.
Eight hundred people attended the dedication program for the new $105,000 structure.

New Library Interior
Book Mobile
Addition 1963

Framed images in the Museum include photos and library cards.
Before adding on to the front of the building and completely remodeling
the interior in the 2000s.
Today the Logansport Cass County Public Library, 616 E. Broadway, offers all of the modern technology, conveniences and amenities, including Wi-Fi, computers and a first-rate community meeting room.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sea Scouts of Logansport/Cass County Indiana

From 1931 to 1964

   Logansport Sea Scouts got their start in 1931 and their ship in 1936. All of these boys were required to be between the ages of 14 and 18 and to be good swimmers. Most of them took Red Cross life-saving courses and all were trained in work with boats.  
   Local business men purchased uniforms for the boys. The organization wasn’t a pre-navy training unit and didn’t encourage its members to become regular navy men, rather it served as an organization for older boys who continue their Boy Scout training and principals.
   The boys aided in rescue work during Logansport’s flood seasons and several times they were called upon to perform special water work service. Once the group was engaged by a Miami county company to dive to the bottom of a gravel pit and aid in retrieving valuable machinery that had dropped to the bottom of the pit. Three of the members, Max Waite, Franklin Rittenhouse and Harry Neal Smith served regularly as appointed life guards at the local swimming places.

 By 1936 the organization, led by Skipper Gardner P. Capen, reported an enrollment of thirty-six active members, a complete ship’s crew as recognized by the Sea Scout organization nationally. This included four charter members; John Kihm, chief mate of the "ship”, Robert Emerson, Harry Neal Smith and Robert Shaver.

On July 11 of that year the group dedicated their new “ship”, the SSS Corsair. Erected under the sponsorship of the local Kiwanis Club, the ship was moored permanently at 804 Michigan Avenue.


July 11, 1936 Logansport Pharos Tribune, page 1:
Sea Scouts Will Dedicate New “Ship” Tuesday Night
…"The Sea Scouts now have an enrollment of thirty-six active members, a complete ship’s crew as recognized by the Sea Scout organization nationally, and three inactive members. Of the present list four were in that small group of charter members. One of those five, John Kihm, is now chief mate of the "ship". The other three are Robert Emerson, Harry Neal Smith and Robert Shaver. Others on the present roster are Roger Briggs, Charles Bryan, Robert Campbell, George Cart, John Chogas, Salvatore Corso, Carl Daniels, Gilbert Dodson, Robert Dyer, Robert Eagan, James Eagau, Charles Gerlach, Kenneth Gibson, George Gilsinger, Barman Graham, John Grubbs. George Gust, Eldon Helmuth, Harold Hipskind, Richard Jackson, Earl Kantzer,  Leroy Luflin, Robert Lumbert, John Marshall, Melvin Meyers, Francis Moore, James Pursh, John Priestoff, Jack Reed, Franklin Rittenhouse, D. A. .Shaver, Robert Safford, Phillip Saunders,Carl Slifer, Max Waite, Willard Walsh and Richard Raber. …
The new ship will not only serve as the boys headquarters for all their regular and special meetings but will also be used as a site for special social programs planned by the leaders and sponsors of the Sea Scouts. Skipper Capen explains that the organization is not a pre-navy training unit and does not encourage its members to become regular navy men- It serves as an organization for older boys who continue their Boy Scout training and principals."

Above: Eel River, Logansport, IN - an arrow points to the "ship".
Other activities for the group included sales of Christmas trees, Red Cross First Aid courses, hosting Christmas parties for underprivileged children, and assisting at the Elks Halloween Parade. In 1959 the Red Cross presented the ship's crew certificates for helping with the flood.
November 30, 1939, Logansport Pharos Tribune:

Santa Aided By Sea Scouts
Begin Annual Task of Repairing Toys for Distribution on Christmas
"Logansport Sea Scouts have begun their annual task of repairing and painting discarded toys for distribution to the needy children of the city, according to Skipper Gardner P. Capen.
R. J. Migely, Chicago insurance broker, who visited the Sea Scout ship last year while the toys were being repaired; yesterday kept a promise which he made at that time, arriving here with the rear of his car loaded with toys for the Sea Scouts to repair and distribute.
Children of several hundred families In Logansport have been able to retain their faith in Santa Clause each year as the result of the work of the Sea Scout ship Corsair.
Since the city health office is a so repairing and painting toys to distribution to needy children this year, Skipper Capen announced that the Sea Scouts will take the toys to the city health office after they are repaired. In this way there will be no possibility of  duplication when they are distributed. Sea Scouts will also aid the health office in the distribution of the toys."

The Logansport ship was the oldest in Region 7 with a continuous registration. But, in February of 1964 the charter ran out and was not renewed.

November 16, 1964 Logansport Pharos Tribune:

"The SSS Corsair is moored permanently at 804 Michigan Ave., but even an immobile ship needs a crew. And the Boy Scout office is presently looking for such a crew.
All boys between the ages of 14 and I8 who would like to become a sea scout and serve aboard the Corsair are invited to a free dinner meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the ship."

On March 5, 1969 the local fire department set the 125-foot long ship ablaze after it was determined it was too costly to refurbish the Eel River landmark.


Above: Looking toward the southwest and 6th Street Bridge.
Marching in front of the Logansport Public Library.

Photo dated Feb. 10, 1951


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Logansport's Famous Brewery

We get questioned often about the brewery which stood on High Street in Logansport. Bottles from both the Columbia brand and the K G Schmidt brand of beer come through the museum doors. We average 3 to 4 bottles per year. Bottles which were unearthed or found between the walls or maybe under the porch of a home being renovated...once in a while someone will present a bottle, usually K G Schmidt brand, that is still sealed, with product inside. The museum has a large collection of both brands, both empty and with product. We only accept them if the owner intends to dispose of them in the waste or recycle bin. Fortunately most people end up keeping them.

The brewery on High Street. The Bottling House was closest to the photographer.
This would be on the west side of the brewery looking east up High Street.

CITY BREWERY John Mutschler, German immigrant - a brew master - started the first brewery in that location. There had been other, smaller operations in Logansport, at other locations. The High Street location is the best known and lasted the longest.

LOGANSPORT BREWING COMPANY President and manager Eugene Prager. The address 418-420-422 High Street. Employees included Adolph Mutschler.

Logansport Journal, May 30, 1889, page 3
There will be a general meeting at J. Mutchler's city brewery, for the purpose of organizing a stock company to purchase and operate the above brewery. All saloonkeepers and business men in general are most earnestly requested to attend.

Logansport Journal, Feb. 27, 1890, page 3
Medland & Gleitz  have secured the contract for building the addition to the city brewery, in which will be placed the artificial ice machine.

Logansport Pharos Tribune, January 16, 1891, page 4
A little over a year ago Eugene Prager and August Binz with several Chicago parties purchased the city brewery of the late John Mutchler and at once set to work remodeling and otherwise improving it, expanding about $65,000 in making needed changes. (omissions) It is such enterprises that make a thriving city. Mr. Prager has just returned from Chicago and while there succeeded in purchasing the interests in the brewery owned by Chicago parties and hereafter he and August Binz will be sole owners.

COLUMBIA BREWERY General Managers - 1895, Harry Brookmeyer Jr.; 1897, John G. Keip; 1920 Frank V. Albert. By 1915 Jacob Maier was the brew master.

Logansport Pharos Tribune, Oct. 23, 1895, page 4
Robert Boerger,one of the proprietors of the Columbia brewery is in the city. His visit means the erection of a $20,000 addition to the brewery, an expenditure made necessary by the rapid increase in business since the present management took hold of it. Accompanying Mr. Boerger is Mr. Lewis Leahle, an architect, who has made the construction of breweries a study. He has prepared plans for many of the largest breweries of the country.
The new addition shall be constructed just west of the new building. In dimensions it will be 35 feet front by 100 feet deep, two stories high and will have a cellar capacity of 30,000 barrels. It will be built of stone, brick and iron, and the estimated cost complete is $20.000.

It should be noted here that Prohibition put a halt to production of beer, however the Columbia company can still be found in the City Directory under "soft drinks".


Logansport Daily Tribune, November 16, 1919, page 3

Many thirsty souls of Logansport would undoubtedly have taken a swim in the chilly waters of the Eel River last week if they had only known what occurred near the Columbia Brewery. A large quantity of' 8 per cent beer which had been held at the brewery in the hopes that prohibition would be defeated, was poured into the river. A hose attached to the vat in which the beer was contained and throughout the week, a continual stream of the liquor was poured into the river. The plant will now be closed down until the quantity of  dry beer which is now on hand is disposed of.
The Bottling House - the west end of the brewery aka "beer plant".
This building was torn down in the 1950s or 60s.
The brewery looking toward the bottling house on the west end on High Street.

The clear Columbia bottles are the most common found. The dark
bottles are a little less common.
As Prohibition was in effect - by 1921 the building housed “People’s Garage” in the west half of the building and the rest of the building was vacant. The building housed other various businesses including “Wide Awake Transfer” which was a buy, sell, trade business for large items such as stoves, ranges and furniture; John McCormick’s Feed Store; and Cass Co. Farm Products.

K. G. SCHMIDT BREWERY operated in the building from 1935 to 1951. President of the company was George K. Schmidt, Ernest Schmidt was Vice President and George K. Schmidt Jr. served as secretary-treasurer. The name K. G. Schmidt came from George Sr.’ deceased son, Kasper.
George Schmidt

March 31, 1934, Logansport Pharos Tribune, page 2

Two shifts of Wolf Construction worked every day and sometimes, when the nature of the work permitted it, gangs of men were kept on the job all night, too. The new buildings literally sprang up from the ground.
Day by day, the plant progressed closer and closer to the day when the test batch of beer could be made and the federal government notified to send their exacting inspector, a step necessary before a federal license can be issued.

Mr. Schmidt, patient but anxious to get into production, encountered some delays during the building and equipping days. It was hard to get orders filled promptly. The supply houses were swamped with business from all parts of the country. But he elected to wait when necessary rather than accept inferior equipment which might have been obtained on shorter notice.

The refrigeration equipment was built by Westerlln & Campbell. The Brew-House includes, copper brew kettle, Baudelot coolers by Atlas Copper & Brass Manufacturing Co., of Chicago, and Olsen & Tilgner Mash Tun and mill, both of which companies have for years been specialists in this line. The filtration process is taken care of by the famous Keifer filters which today are the standard of excellence, as during the many years before prohibition. The bottle plant consists of a complete Meyer Unit with a capacity of 120 bottles per minute, this includes the Meyer Dumore bottle cleaner, filler and crowner and the automatic pasteurizer. The George Meyer Manufacturing Co., of Wisconsin, who have pioneered this machinery, is known the world over. The racking room is equipped with an Atlas Copper & Brass racker. We have a deep well which gives high grade pure water for brewing.

I was told a couple of stories by a Logansport native named Bob Kendall. One was how Bob recalled, as a young boy, watching men go to a "spigot" at the brewery "plant" to fill their buckets with beer. Another time Bob told of how Schmidt could be found behind the building on hot summer days, sitting under a make shift tent, cooling at the Eel River, enjoying a breeze to cool himself. Because, as he reminded me, there was no air conditioning in the building nor in Schmidt's office area.


Famous actor Greg Kinnear’s maternal grandfather, Logansport businessman Richard G. Buck, of Buck-Hilkert, Inc. bought the building that housed the old brewery—twice.
The K. G. Schmidt brewery was sold for a second time this morning—this time at auction. Standing on the steps of the brewery with a paper in his hand in the midst of the interested crowd was Colonel Roland C. Poland, of Noblesville who conducted the sale.
The brewery was auctioned to Richard Buck and associates for $75,000. Originally Buck bought the brewery at a receiver's sale in July for $39,250. The sale was later set aside by Judge Clifford Wild in a legal contest.
The resale of the brewery was ordered by Judge Clifford O. Wild after Dewey Schmidt, one of the creditors, filed a petition, to reopen the sale and he and Fred and Lucille Drompp filed a bond guaranteeing to bid at least 10 percent more than the $39,250 for which it had been sold to Buck. Also filed in behalf of the resale was a petition by George K. Schmidt Jr., to intervene, alleging the original sale price was far too low. Buck's associates are said to be interested in obtaining the personal property, the most valuable item of which is 1,200 stainless steel beer kegs. Buck said he was still unable to say to what use the real estate would be put, but that it definitely would no longer be used as a brewery. He indicated that he intended to start a manufacturing establishment in the building.