Friday, December 21, 2018

Teddy Roosevelt Visits Logansport, Indiana 1902

He visited Logansport, Indiana to present a speech that was supposed to change the position of the presidency on national issues.

President Theodore Roosevelt found himself in a difficult position in 1902 when Iowa and the Midwest were challenging the Republican Party on their position with tariffs, monopolistic practices and isolationism. It was suggested that he make a tour of the Midwest - an eighteen-day trip with major speeches.

Logansport was to be the third whistle-stop.

The Roosevelt entourage had been touring the eastern states. They had arrived in Pittsfield, Massachusetts for a speech on a beautiful September day. Teddy decided to take a carriage ride through the town. A carriage was prepared for Teddy and his secretary. An FBI agent was to drive the team of horses. 

The carriage was driving beside a trolley track which ran through the center of the street. The trolleys had been ordered not to run hat morning.

Yet, as the carriage proceeded down the hill, they could hear a screeching noise behind them. A trolley came wildly down the hill and slammed into the carriage. The president and his secretary were thrown onto the grass at the side of the street. The FBI agent was crushed to death by the wheels of the streetcar. Teddy’s face was
bloodied and his leg injured, but he was able to get up and continue his planned trip. If the trolley had hit the carriage two inches further to the right the president and his secretary would also have been crushed to death.
The driver of the trolley was sent to jail for six months.

Post card image of the Roosevelt car crash.

The president was able to make his speaking engagements for the next few days, shaking hands with as many as fifty-two people per minute for three hours at a time. But, his leg was beginning to cause him great pain.

The train left New York on September 20. He arrived in Cincinnati for his first major address. He managed to make his speech but standing was becoming difficult. The president went to bed immediately upon arriving in Detroit and complained that his leg was throbbing with pain.


Meanwhile, Logansport had prepared for President Roosevelt’s major address by erecting a large platform at the corner of Seventh and Broadway in front of the High School (later named the Roosevelt Building). 

The Roosevelt building on the corner of 7th and E. Broadway (razed).

The train arrived on schedule during a pouring rain. The Elks Band was waiting to lead the procession. Carriages for all of the dignitaries were lined up. The parade moved up Market Street to Ninth Street.

Above: The Elks Band of the time, pictures here marching on another day, on E. Market at 6th Street.

Henry Wiler had decorated the skating rink, as an alternate (dry) place for the president to speak. This is where the city government building stands today. But President Roosevelt insisted that he could speak in the rain.

Cheers rose from the more that 5000 people waiting to hear the speech. Teddy looked out across the sea of
umbrellas and announced that he could speak in the rain if the crowd could put their umbrellas down and
listen to him. The umbrellas all came down and Teddy presented his twenty-seven minute major address
to the issues that were troubling his administration.
Every available policeman of the community was visible surrounding the stage and watching the crowd.

Immediately after the speech, President Roosevelt was assisted down from the stage and down into the street He was having great difficulty walking. 

Above: The Pennsylvania Depot built 1882 - razed 1962. Telegrams sent from here to notify Indianapolis surgeons to be prepared for President Roosevelt's arrival.

Telegrams were sent from the Pennsylvania Station to the Columbia Club on the Circle in Indianapolis that the
president was ill. 


Four surgeons were waiting and checked the president before he attended a reception for the Indianapolis crowd. He made a few comments to the large crowd and was hurried out to a carriage that rushed him to St. Vincent’s Hospital.

The president refused to have an anesthetic for the operation on his infected leg.

It has been said that Roosevelt didn’t feel that his Vice-president, John Hay, was physically strong enough to carry out the job of president if he, Roosevelt, should die during the operation. 

The doctors had to open the large swollen area and drain the collected fluids. He was carried out of the hospital on a stretcher and placed on the Presidential Train for Washington.

The rest of his trip was cancelled. He had a further operation that actually opened the infected area and had the bone scraped to remove the infection.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Frank Kienly and Kienly Island


It was similar to what we consider a "vacation spot" or "weekend getaway" today. 

This is the island which occupies a space in the middle of the Wabash River – east of the 18th Street Bridge in Logansport, Indiana. It was named for Frank Kienly, who purchased the island in 1905.

1910 Post Card Image


Frank G. Kienly, pictured,  was born in LaPorte, Indiana in 1869 and came to Logansport around 1890. On November 23, 1898 he married Mary M. Gleitz. The couple had one son and two daughters: Francis, Florence and Alice.

Frank on his island with family.


Frank owned a service station on W. Market and Front Streets in Logansport and a saloon on W. Market near the bridge. He also worked at the wine importing company of Kreuzberger in a four-story building that stood on the SW corner of 3rd and E. Market in those days.


Frank was also a well-known musician and composer. He was the director of the local Elks Band and the Citizens Band. He wrote two march tunes, one titled “Selective Service March” and the other titled “Bagpipe March”. Both were published. The “Selective Service March” was performed by the Legion and the High School bands. (Pictured below - The Elks Band)

Above: Frank in his band uniform


Logansport matured from an Indian trading post center and railroading town to a cosmopolitan area with culture, opera, art, formal parties with dancing and political gatherings.

Frank Kienly dreamed of a summer place where a family could escape from the hustle and bustle to spend an entire weekend enjoying nature, relaxing and picnicking.

He purchased the island in 1905 with the idea to have a park with a beer garden, but he decided against any kind of liquor sales. Instead he discussed plans for a bath house, making the island a “bathing resort”.

Above left to right: Frank, Florence C. Kienly (child), Mary M. Kienly and Mary's sister 
Emma Gleitz Wolf

Frank, in white shirt, and Charles A. Smith, standing near a cabin on the island.

By 1910 “a few” summer cottages had been built on the island to meet a demand by a very interested public.

Above: Far left is Frank. Far right - Mary M. Kienly holding Francis G. Kienly, Emma Wolf holding Alice Kienly, Florence Kienly sitting on chair. This was taken on the island. The identity of the people around the table are unknown.


In 1908 local newspapers announced that Kienly was building a big motor boat. The “Coletta”, as the boat was named, would transport visitors across from the river bank. People could take the interurban street cars to the junction just east of the island and be ferried over. During the island days he was affectionately referred to as “Admiral” Kienly. Even before the island days he was known for boating both the Wabash and the Eel Rivers, and mentioned in the local newspapers for boating as early as 1898.

Above is a rather poor photo, but it is an actual photo taken on the Coletta early 1900s. 

Kienly house on the island

Same photo as above - not cropped

A couple of boys having fun on the island.


Frank Kienly served on the selective service board in 1940, when it was formed. He was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, the Notre Dame Retreat Club and an active member of the L’Anguille Valley Memorial Association as well as the Elks. He was also secretary of the St. Vincent Cemetery Association for many years. He died of a sudden heart attack in 1945.

At left - Frank plays tuba with some band members at the Pennsylvania depot, Logansport.


At some point after Kienly's death the island came to belong to Charles Smith and family. Judge Leland Smith willed the property to his son, who owns the island at the time of this blogging update. I am told no one visits the island these days unless the son, who lives out of the area, happens to come to Logansport.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Major Thomas Searle Dunn

Information, that piece of the puzzle that we search for and cannot seem to find always seems to turn up on its own if a historian waits long enough. As in the case of one Thomas S. Dunn. Thomas B. Helm’s 1886 "History Of Cass County Indiana" contains Dunn’s name.

We know Dunn was a soldier from info in Cass County Historical Society's files. We know he fought in the Mexican War under Spier (pronounced Spear) Spencer Tipton. And we also know that he actively recruited soldiers for a three month tour of duty to serve in the Civil War, along side Capt. Dudley Chase, here in Cass County. It was after that war that we—we meaning “the CCHS files” lose track of the man.

Recently a break through to obtain the rest of the story popped up in an e mail to the Cass County Historical Society Director.

T. S. Dunn was born in September of 1822 into a prominent Hanover, Indiana family. He attended Hanover College. At some point he came to Cass County, Indiana where he signed on to served as a private in the Mexican War. (Helm history pages 331-334) When the Civil War began, Dunn and Capt. Dudley Chase organized a company, which became part of the 9th Indiana Infantry Regiment. On April 24, 1861, he was promoted to the rank of captain. In July of 1861, Dunn was mustered out and became a captain in the 12th US Infantry. Later he served with the 21st US Infantry. At the Battle of the Wilderness, Dunn received breveted to ranks of major and lieutenant colonel for "gallant & meritorious" service. After the war Dunn remained in the regular Army.

Maj. Thomas S. Dunn
In February 1873 he was promoted to major, while serving with the 8th US Infantry. Later Dunn was stationed in Oregon, Wyoming and Arizona, including Tucson and Ft Yuma.

Dunn was the commander of Ft. Yuma in 1877 at the time of construction of a railroad bridge across the Colorado River at Yuma.This was a controversial project with the Southern Pacific Railroad Company facing off against the U.S. Army.

On June 29, 1878 Dunn retired from the army.

During the last 16 years of his life, Dunn resided in Santa Monica, California with two daughters. He died 11-13-1895 at his residence following an appendectomy surgery. His brother, Williamson McKee Dunn, served as a congressman and later the Judge Advocate General of the Army.


Mexican War, May 11, 1846, President of US by proclamation announced that a state of war existed between this country and Mexico. The news reached Logansport without delay and Capt. Spier S. Tipton immediately began enlisting volunteers including T. S. Dunn, (a private) The group headed to Indianapolis, then on to New Albany, the rendezvous place for the Indiana soldiers. 

Civil War, (President proclamation April 15, 1861) Capt. D. H. Chase of the Zouave Guards whose military fervor had long before induced him to organize a company of boys which he armed and uniformed at his own expense and drilled them until they were disciplined, was the first (in Logansport/Cass Co., IN) to tender the services of his company. Together with Capt. Thomas S. Dunn he opened a recruiting office at Market and Fourth Streets. By April 17th the pair had enrolled 125 men. Good work for less than 3 days. Capt. Dunn’s company left Logansport on the 22nd of April and was accepted by the proper authorities at Indianapolis the following day.

Capt. Dudley Chase, Logansport Indiana

At three months end ( that was the amount of time required at the time of enlistment —a service of three months) Capt. Thomas S. Dunn and his men returned to Logansport to a huge welcome home celebration. “After breakfast, A. M. Flory. esq., in behalf of Company D, presented Capt. T. S. Dunn with a handsome sword, as a testimonial of their regard for him.” – History of Cass County, Indiana by Thomas B. Helm 1886.
Recruiting continued steadily at the quarters of Capt. T. S. Dunn, who used every exertion to fill up his company as fast as possible. These recruits were for service in the Twelfth United States Infantry.
Thomas Searle Dunn is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Santa Monica, Los Angeles County California, next to his son, Lt . John Tipton Dunn.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Masonic Temple Logansport Indiana


Tipton Lodge No. 33 was the first secret order established in Logansport and Cass County, Indiana. General John Tipton, for whom the lodge was named, was the prime motivator in this enterprise. At the time was past grand master of Masons in the state of Indiana.

On June 28, 1828, when Logansport was only two years old, a dispensation was issued by the grand master, Elihu Stout, authorizing the formation of a lodge. There were twelve members and the meeting was held in an upper room of the Gillis McBean log tavern that stood on the southwest corner of 3rd and Market Streets.

The lodge met at different places until a brick building was constructed in 1837 on the northwest corner of 4th and North Streets. 

This building was dedicated in August of 1837 by General Tipton and his son, Spier (pronounced “Spear”) S. Tipton. This building was used until 1896, when it was replaced by the building which still stands today, in 2018.


1894, Dec. 17 Logansport Pharos Tribune, page 4:

The question, so long agitated, of erecting a Masonic temple on the Tipton lodge property, corner of North and Fourth streets, is now thought to be something more than talk.

The matter has been earnestly considered by the various Masonic bodies and it is now in the hands of a committee.

It is proposed to sell stock to member of Masonic bodies only and erect a four story brown stone building, 90 by 163 feet, fronting on North Street, at a cost of 340,000 to 360,000. It will be provided with an elevator and supplied with everything necessary to a first-class business and office building.

It is also stated that a leading business firm has agreed to lease the first and second floors, and no trouble will be experienced in letting all the office rooms on the third floor. The fourth floor will be arranged into lodge rooms for all of the Masonic bodies. If the plans are perfected, and the

Pharos feels confident that they will be, work will be begun in the spring.

It will be a grand improvement, and one that will meet the hearty endorsement of all interested in the prosperity of the city.

This stone and brick structure (above) was built at a cost of about $500,000. The corner stone was laid on February 15, 1896 and the dedication took place on May 19, 1897

The Masonic Temple Dedication - May 19, 1897 – Program notes
Architect - Joseph E. Crain (designed many buildings and homes in
General Contractor - Allen Lewis, 210 Burlington Ave.
Brick and Stone - John Medland & Sons (locals)
Structural Iron - Logansport Construction Co.
Lumber - Stevens Bros. (locals)
Plumbing, heating, electric and Gas fixtures - Stevens & Bedwards (local)
Slate roof, cornice, iron work - Max Jennings (local)
Boiler for steam heat - Atlas Engine Works - Indianapolis
Interior, carpets, windows treatments, etc. - H. Wiler & Co. (local)
Painting and Decorating - John C. Beatty (local)
Furniture - J. W. Henderson & Sons, Mfr. (local)

Before the new Cass County Jail was built North Street was a "through" street between 3rd and 4th Streets. The photo above shows the view standing on the northeast corner of 3rd and North, looking east toward the Masonic Lodge building in the late 1960s early 1970s.

Above: This photo also shows when North Street went through between 3rd and 4th. Galen McVay Insurance stood on the corner, which is no longer a "corner".

The photo above shows a portion of the "new jail" and the courthouse clock tower.

In 1999 the building was made into apartments. 

Aug. 25, 1999, Page 1, Logansport Pharos Tribune:

Globes emblazoned with the names of Masonic lodges and the Order of the Eastern Star will still be on their old home front at Fourth and North streets even though the people inside the building will not belong to either organization.
That will be one of the first signs of the opening of Kechel Tower, the renovated Masonic Temple building, that will provide housing for clients of Four County Counseling Center.
On Thursday, the building will be dedicated to the late Dan Kechel, a pastor and substance abuse counselor who died of cancer in 1997.
The Masons, who agreed to a 12-year lease to utilize the third floor of the century-old limestone landmark, will retain use of the ceremonial area of the building.
Four County Executive Director Larry Ulrich says the ceremony marks the culmination, of a three-year effort to renovate the building into 23 apartments for Four County's independent and semi-independent living clients.
"Our clients are just absolutely thrilled," Ulrich says, "In fact our biggest problem now is that we have more people who want to live there than we have apartments available. Somebody is going to have to be told no."

The apartments in the basement and on the first and second floors are heated and air-conditioned.
Handicap access has been provided at the rear of the building, and the. $1 million renovation has been completed under budget, which should allow enough money for a new roof.
While the building's exterior has been renovated, Ulrich says there are certain areas of the structure that could not be completely renovated to look as the building did when it was built in 1894. Energy-efficient windows have replaced large wood sash frames, but many of the former window openings will not be replaced for structural, reasons.

The exterior will be power washed but not sandblasted, which could damage the surface.
New sidewalks and steps have been installed. Interior improvements have preserved many of the natural characteristics of the building, including four fireplaces.
While residents will not be able to use the fireplaces, much of the interior architecture has been preserved. Ulrich says the Masons have done their part to provide for the residents. They recently donated a pool table that will be recovered and used in a recreational common area. The apartments each have one bedroom, but the space in the apartments varies.

"It's not a group home," Ulrich says. "The people who will be living there are for the most part already living independently or semi-independently in other areas of the city." Ulrich says Four County has no current plans for developing the third floor once its lease with the Masons expires, but there is a buyout clause that could allow the area to be developed if a need arises before  the end of the agreement. Mike Meagher, executive director of the Area Five Agency on Aging and Community Services that facilitated the grant and tax credit process that funded the project, said the credit for the project does not belong to his agency.

"We are really happy. We were glad to be involved and it's good that Four County has found a use for the building. The clients of Four County and Four County win because they get a great place to live. The community wins because we saved a historic structure downtown. But the one thing I would like to do is praise the work of Phil Saunders. Without Phil, who was on the

Masonic Temple board, it never would have happened. I never saw anyone work so tirelessly to save a building. He worked for years to find a solution to that building problem."

-        Dave Kitchell

Friday, August 17, 2018

Tailor Shop Became The Brass Rail Tavern


Casper Granby was a tailor. He married a young lady named Margaret J. Fisher in Cass County, Indiana in March of 1887. She was his second wife. His first wife and six children lived in Three Rivers, Michigan. The couple opened a shop at 525 Twelfth Street, Logansport, Indiana and Casper began his own tailoring business. His shop is listed in the 1887 Logansport City Directory under “Merchant Tailors” and he and his wife lived in an apartment above the shop. The couple had one daughter together.

Casper got into the grocery business by 1895. We’ll never know what made him change his line of work, possibly job security, as everyone has to eat, but not everyone could afford new suits. His new found occupation didn’t last long, however. Casper died in May of 1897 while visiting his children in Three Rivers. He was buried in Burr Oak, Michigan alongside his first wife.

Margaret Gamby maintained the grocery at 525 Twelfth until about 1914. By 1915 William and Fannie Hildebran were operating the grocery.

The Hildebrans pose for a photograph in front of their grocery about 1914.
The owner of this original photo is Dorothy Dunkin Vernon, a great great granddaughter.

Five years later, in 1920, the grocery had become just one of the locations for the J. T. Ruch & Co. “chain” of stores in Logansport. Rich was in business with one of the men in the Drompp family, whose name we haven’t located, yet. The manager of Ruch’s 12th Street location, Virgil Morgan, resigned in January of 1922 to take a position with a “five and dime” store in Marshall, Michigan.

By 1924 the property at 525 12th Street was cleared of its groceries and was renamed “Ruch and Drompp Thrift Store”. They did business until 1928, and then the building sat vacant for a year.

Between 1931 and 1935 John Perrone operated “Perrone’s Tavern” opened here. An article in an issue of the Logansport paper announced that John Perrone, who believed in buying local and was known as an “early bird” waited around for Schmidt Brewery to open and purchased the first keg of beer from them. (Logansport Pharos Tribune, March 31, 1934)

Due to gaps in the city directories and other documentation and materials available for research, there is no definite year for when the property was reoccupied. When it was reoccupied it was by Walter Purcell. Walter Purcell started up a nice tavern and restaurant and did business there until he moved in 1939. At that time Mr. Purcell moved his operation to a new building, built by Wolfe Construction, at the west end of Linden Avenue. He ran a nice ad in the Logansport newspapers and from all indications he did very well at that new location.

Above: Logansport Press, September 1, 1939
Meanwhile the property at 525 12th Street was getting a new tenant, Joseph Ricciardi, and a new name – The Brass Rail. The Brass Rail offered authentic, homemade Italian food. It was well received and did a good business for many years. Dinner specials were often advertised in the local newspapers, boasting of the best spaghetti and meatballs and clean tablecloths on the tables.

 1947 Ad

1950 Ad

The Brass Rail changed owners in the early 1950s when Nicholas Mittica took over. His residence was listed in the Logansport City Directory as “525 ½” which placed him living in the second floor apartment, as the original couple Casper and Margaret Gamby’s, had done before him.

Later photo of The Brass Rail

In 1970 Nicholas Mittica was arrested for serving alcohol to six minors. The juveniles, one age 16 and 5 age 17 were arrested for illegal possession. Two of them were from Logansport and four were from Monticello.

June 17, 1970 Logansport Pharos Tribune

The business seemed to diminish from that time on.
April 2, 1981 Logansport Pharos Tribune Ad

The Brass Rail name was lost in 1981 when a new owner came to town. His vision for the place focused more on drinks and entertainment and less on food service. He put in a pool table, played loud music and renamed the place “Piggy’s”. After a short shut down, this owner reopened as “Piggy’s II Lounge”. But by 1984 the business was closed.

In 1984 Mary Ricci opened a ceramic shop at the address.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Nelson Theater aka Roxy Theater

Before it was the Roxy, it was the “Nelson”, and the Nelson name  remained on the building, etched in stone, behind the “Roxy” signage.

Built in 1907 by Judge John C. Nelson, there were numbered dressing rooms and pianos on the 3rd floor. Behind the stage were scenery props and an intricate switchboard used for the lighting system, which required a back stage crew of ten men; usually five carpenters, two electricians and three prop men.

In the basement there were another seven dressing rooms equipped for washing and costume changes. There was also a sign explaining rules, warning actors of fines ranging up to $25 for use of bad language.

In its hey day the theater had four boxes, in the best opera style, with a background of red velvet curtains, golden (actually brass) railings, and gold decorative effects. Their setting matched the red velvet curtains on stage. Those boxes were removed sometime during the 1920s.

Handbill advertising for January and February, 1918, coming attractions, begins with the heading New At Nelson Theater, then goes on to list the schedule: the January 27th production of the play “The Copperhead” from a story written by Logansport’s Frederick Landis and starring Lionel Barrymore. This play co-starred Milt Shanks and was consideredhis finest performance, as a Northerner suspected of Southern sympathies during the Civil War” quoted from wikipedia on Barrymore.

November 29, 1918, Logansport Pharos Tribune, page 6

Also listed on the handbill are coming attractions: February 1st, a matinee “Odds and Ends”, coming to us after a successful run in Chicago, February 6,  “Parlor Bed Room and Bath” was to be presented, on the 12th “Pollyanna” and on February 14th “Stop, Look and Listen”, Irving Berlin’s big musical success.

Fourteen hundred persons could be accommodated with the use of the balcony and the 3rd floor gallery.
Many companies “broke a jump”, meaning they’d stop in Logansport for a one night stand before going on to Chicago, using our local audiences as a testing ground.

The actor, John Drew, famous uncle of the equally famed Barrymore’s, made several appearances in Logansport.
Shows that played here include Wizard of Qz, Babes in Toyland, The Red Mill and Shakespearean dramas.

The Nelson Theater became The Luna Theater in 1921 and did business by that name until it became the Roxy in 1934.

Logansport Pharos Tribune September 14, 1934 article tells of Roxy opening.


From Logansport Press, September 18, 1949 Page 3:
Big Names of Broadway Once Played the Nelson
Still Behind Curtains At The Present Roxy Theatre - Unused pianos, numbered dressing rooms, third floor gallery with a stained glass window in the dome, these are the mute reminders in the Roxy theater of the days of stage shows in Logansport. The Nelson building, erected in 1907 by the late Judge John C, Nelson, for years was the Nelson Theatre where lovers of the drama went. There it was they heard Harry Lauder sing, and Lionel Barrymore declaim the lines of "The Copperhead written by Logansport's late Fred Landis. On the stage where hundreds now watch Hollywood horses speeding across western plains, actual horses competed in the chariot race from "Ben Hur." The effect was achieved by putting the horses on a treadmill and shifting the scenery. Live bloodhounds ran after the escaping Eliza as "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was presented. And "Little Eva" of the same show, went sailing upwards to heaven, with, the aid of the men behind the scenes. On the back of the huge stage, many of the old scenery props still stand. There's the intricate switchboard used for the lighting system, and the "star's" No. 1 dressing room. Also back stage are two other dressing rooms. Dozens of ropes, pulleys and sandbags are in place. Missing now are the boxes. There were four of them, in the best opera style, with a background of red velvet curtains, golden (actually brass) railings, and gold decorative effects. Their setting matched the narrow catwalk where the stage hands raised and lowered red velvet curtains.....

February 26, 1955 Ad

In July of 1972 the building came down.

I don't usually include my personal thoughts and opinions on this blog, but I must say that these photos make me a little sad. I have a short stack of papers - memories shared with me about this theater and others that were in Logansport, all doing business at the same time. The memories are very interesting in that some will remember a place with fondness, while others will remember how clean or how dirty and grimy the same place was. Most can tell you the price of a ticket, the times of the shows and which movies they watched in what theater. But, while it's sad to see a building - which by the way was allowed to become very deteriorated - razed, it is those memories made within the structure that are important to keep...and my opinion more important to keep and hand down rather than the structure its self. As I say - just my opinion. You are all welcome to your own.