Tuesday, June 2, 2020

RIVERVIEW APARTMENTS

There has been a renewed interest in a building that stood on the southeast corner of Linden and Third Streets next to the Third Street Bridge over the Eel River in Logansport, Indiana. It happens that I did a story for the Cass County Historical Society newsletter back in 2007 when the building was being torn down.

I am including images of the two-page story here:




 The structure housed other businesses in the little building just in front of - practically attached to - it. Gas station, a dry cleaner I am told and, at one time, in the 1970s, my own father in-law operated a used car lot, using the small building as an office at this location.


Above: The building pictured on the cover of a Logansport city promotional publication.




Notice the small building painted green, white and red in the photo above. The building lacked the attention and money that was required to maintain it. So, it gradually started to deteriorate.



Demolition of the building began in August of 2007. (Photos from page 5, Logansport Pharos Tribune, August 21, 2007 issue.)


The reporter for the Pharos Tribune states above that the building "dates to the 1870s" however my own research places the construction of the building in the 1919 range.


What follows is an editorial from the Pharos Tribune, August 22, 2007, page 5.


After the demolition of the big old building the owner, Jeff Benish (now deceased), repaired and made improvements to the small building that remained. He made it look quite presentable. After a time Mr. Benish opened a sort of ice cream and sandwich shop there. He envisioned outside tables where one could enjoy the view of the river while having a snack or a small meal. I am reporting on this vision as it was told to me, personally, by Jeff Benish. 

Eventually he decided to offer a form of entertainment and he built another structure, more of a storage unit, and attached a small stage to it for karaoke singing on the weekend evenings.

As I enter this information into this blog, June 2020, the property is for sale.



Thursday, April 30, 2020

RAILROAD STRIKE! 1922

On July 1, 1922 four-hundred-thousand (400,000) members of six Shopcraft Unions walked off the job at 10:00 a.m. shutting down construction, maintenance and repair on rolling stock on virtually every major railroad in the country.

Having 12,200 miles of tracks and employing 55,000 shop-men, the Pennsylvania Railroad was the largest railroad company. By July 2nd, twelve thousand (12,000) deputies and U.S. Marshals had been appointed and the National Guard troops were on duty in 7 states.





 Railroad map 1918




 A group of Logansport Panhandle Shop workers pose for a photo.

The powerful Federal Labor Relations Board was mostly backing the strikers and the Pennsylvania Railroad executives refused to recognize the Labor Relation Board. Logansport attorney Albert Jenkines represented the employees of the Federated Crafts Shop Union in Logansport during the strike. The local shops employed 1221 and were part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system.


 Train engine, in Logansport, 1923.

 Passengers and others wait outside Pennsylvania Depot, before the strike in 1922.


Penn Station aka Pennsylvania Depot circa 1920.

STRIKE TURNS UGLY

The striking employees paraded through the streets. Porches were blown off houses, houses burned and shots were fired. The entire town was in an uproar. The Pennsylvania Railroad Company obtained an injunction from the Federal Court banning the strikers from railroad property.


 Logansport Pharos Tribune, 1922.

Two thousand rioters and sympathizers surrounded the Pennsylvania (aka Panhandle) Shops. Superintendent Judson called Jenkines and advised him of the situation.


Jenkines went down to the area where he saw the crowd and witnessed several officers being threatened. He urged the crowd to go home. Eighty-one of the strikers were cited for the disturbance and contempt of the court order.


Wooden Coaches

Strikers 1922

Bombing incident, August 1922 clipping.

There were 97 railroad guards on duty in Logansport carrying clubs, pistols and shotguns all furnished by the Pennsylvania Railroad.

 "Local policeman William VanMeter, working at the corner of 17th and Erie Avenue, was disarmed of his night stick and revolver in a scuffle with a crowd of men gathered in front of the soft drink parlor at this corner. VanMeter had ordered the group to move on and when he attempted to remove the men a scuffle took place." Logansport Pharos Tribune, 1922

 A large number of men were sworn in to patrol the streets by local Sheriff, John H. Miller. Although a number of shots were fired no one was killed or seriously injured.

Jenkines went to Indianapolis and met with railroad Vice-President Rogers, He then met with the strikers of Logansport and explained the conditions that Rogers had presented. The local strikers were in favor of accepting those conditions.

Jenkines met with Pennsylvania Railroad executives in Chicago who refused to consider ANY deal that didn't have to do with the entire railroad system.

Railroad Vice-President Rogers died suddenly and that ended all negotiations.

US President Warren G. Harding

Ultimately United States President Warren G. Harding stepped in with a Federal Injunction. That effectively ended the strike on September 1, 1922.


Thursday, April 23, 2020

May 1943 Flood

   Unlike the more famous flood of 1913, early forecasts concerning the 1943 version didn't have Logansport residents too concerned. Then the forecasts started including warnings that this may turn catastrophic. Eventually the '43 flood landed somewhere in between.

   Heavy rain fell on May 11. Local weather observer Frank Elmlinger reported that the Wabash River was near flood stage. This prompted the closure or South River Road. 

   The next few days weather conditions remained dry. The river waters began to lower - river roads were reopened on the 13th.

   The forecasts were thrown out the window on Sunday May 16th as heavy rain began to fall once again across Indiana. Unlike on the 11th, the rain continued.

   The flood officially began on May 17 and waters would remain above flood stage until May 20th. The flood level in Logansport is 15.05 feet; Wabash River approached 17 feet on May 17th.

   True to form - the first place to flood was the low lying area around Goose Creek on the city's south side. Washington elementary school was closed.

More than 500 homes within the city had water either inside their home or standing around it outside. A good portion of the downtown was also affected.

Personal Story:
Ray Hitchens - His family lived on the south side. He said that he and his family began loading everything onto a flat bed truck. When they began the ground was dry. By the time they had finished they had to wade out.




Conditions continued to deteriorate on the 18th. The local headlines read "Flood Rivaling 1913 Sweeps Thru Streets of Logansport", which prompted hundreds of families to flee their homes.

Late in the day of the 18th the rivers were hovering around 21 feet with the crest expected sometime around midnight, bringing 4 and 1/2 to 5 feet more water with it. IF that had happened this would've surpassed the 1913 flood by about a half foot. Instead the river stabilized at 21 feet, cresting at 21.4 on the 19th.

Personal Story: 
One of Ray Hitchen's friends owned a model T which sat higher off the ground than newer cars. They drove the streets of the south side during the flood catching carp from the running boards. The two had to steer clear of the open manholes.

 North Street looking west toward the Firestone Tire building on 3rd. This was a through street then.

 Looking west on E. Broadway toward Eel River Avenue.
The Firestone Tire Building on 3rd Street.

 On Biddle's Island. The Biddle home in the background. (torn down in the 1960s)

The viaduct on S. 3rd Street, where 3rd becomes Burlington Avenue.


Personal Story:
Fred Harnasch worked at Todd's Appliances (see photo above)  At the time Todd's was located in a narrow building three doors east of 3rd Street; west of the State Theater. He recalled hauling the new merchandise from the flooded basement. A large amount of radios and parts, including invaluable tubes never made it out of storage. Those were held in high value during WWII because they weren't available to the public.

Personal Story:
Dan Wagner told of frantically removing his grandmother from her State Street home. Every flat bottomed boat was put to use in rescue and recovery of property. (note the boat in photo above - looking south on 3rd Street)

In 1913 the Culver Military Academy came to Logansport's aid. In 1943 Bunker Hill Naval Air Station served in much the same capacity. Three hundred sixty-two men served as traffic cops, rescuers and Red Cross workers.




The Pennsylvania Depot at the south end of 4th Street.
Pharos tribune Shared Story:
At the end of the flood a certain WWII Army soldier passed through town via the railroad, wearing a helmet and carrying a duffel bag. When greeted by a pedestrian with a "Hi soldier" he replied "Hello and good bye. I'm getting out of your town right now."

Personal Story:
Kenny Smith lived on W. Melbourne Avenue. His family home sat up higher than most, however they had a basement full of water. All of the family's canned goods were lost. Kenny also talked about what a difficult job clean up was. The first step was to find a pump, a difficult item to secure. After that the mud was removed by wheelbarrow loads! Mops with Lysol were then brought in to clean every inch of floor and baseboard. And after all of that, the odor remained. The Smith family didn't return to their home for ten days, mainly due to the smell. 

It was on May 20, 1943 that the Pharos Tribune declared "Flood Damage Passed" and business "Open" signs started popping up on places such as Kraut and Baldini Groceries and Greensfelders men clothing store. Upper floor downtown apartment dwellers were able to move about the city for the first time in two days.

Thanks to Bryan Looker (former CCHS Curator), Enid Hunt, Fred Harnasch, Dan Wagner, Ray Hitchens and Kenny Smith - some of whom are no longer with us - for this account of the 1943 flood. All photos used here belong within the collection of the CCHS, donated by members over the years.





Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Logansport, IN's Flatiron Building


Logansport, Indiana's "flatiron" building stood on a triangle of property bordered by E. Market, Fifth Street and Erie Avenue. The address was listed in the city directories as 505 E. Market Street.

It was built in 1889 by John Barnes and son James I. Barnes. Barnes' offices were on the ground floor. Apartments and other offices occupied space above. 

Almost all of the clubs in town met there, including Knights of Pythias. In fact, the Knights of Pythias bought the building in 1908. They paid $18,500.00 for it. This money was raised by a sale of stock among the K of P members. They kept the apartments and rented some office space, but they used most of the building for themselves.

Pool and billiard rooms and lodge rooms were "fitted out" according to the newspaper article in the day.

Some tenants over time included Dr. David Delzell's office, Bridge City Piano Company, Holland Furnace Company and apartment dwellers Lena Hooley, who was a milliner and Alice Kennedy who was a nurse.

Flatiron building can be seen, flags flying, left side of picture, Photo date 1919.


1952 Photo

In the 1950's to the 1970s AFL_CIO owned and occupied the building along with Hershberger Heating Company.


In the 1970s a young couple named Gary and Cindy Elvers rented the ground floor, front area, for their business, "Elvie's Records". 

Above: Erie Avenue (or south side) of the building.




October 27, 1976 Fire


Overloaded electric lines was determined to be the cause of the fire on October 27, 1976, which caused over $200,000 worth of damage. Soon after the building was condemned and considered to be dangerous according to city officials and construction crew men.

The building was razed in 1977 by Wolf Construction Company. A Spokesperson for the labor union was quoted in the newspaper report indicating that there were no immediate plans for rebuilding on the property.





Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Charles D. Chase & Chase Building


CHARLES D. CHASE (1881-1939)



At the time of his death on October 28, 1939 the local newspaper described Charles D. Chase as a “prominent mortician, businessman, and leading citizen of Logansport”. He suffered a stroke at his farm home, north of town, and was transported to the hospital, but passed away. He was 58.



To hundreds of young men he was respected and endeared for the years of hard work and effort he gave to the growth and development of the Boy Scout movement in Logansport and the creation of the Logansport Boy Choir, which later became known as the Chase Boys’ Choir.



He was the son of distinguished pioneers. Judge Dudley Chase was his father, and like his father, Charles etched his name deeply into the community history by his deeds and accomplishments. He was born at the Chase homestead, 829 North Street, on September 27, 1881, to Dudley and Grace M. (Corey) Chase. He married Goldie Davis on November 16, 1919.

Dudley Chase, father of Charles D. Chase


He was attracted to the work of the fire department and worked with the department under Rex Livingston.



Charles had a great love of horses. His first business venture was in the livery stable and feed business at a location on North Street in about the 500 block, on the north side of that street. The Star Laundry would operate from that location later.



Charles entered an Indianapolis embalming school, graduating from there in 1906. He worked at the Kroeger and Strain Funeral Home, which was located at 615 E. Broadway in those days. In 1910 he founded the Chase funeral home. His first undertaking business was located on Pearl Street. By 1923 business had grown and he purchased the Sutton Building at 527 E. Broadway. The first floor was for his business. The upper floor offered apartments. Merrill D. Miller became an associate. Miller was only 17 years old when he began work there. By 1931 Miller had become financially involved and on January 1, 1935 the company name was officially changed to Chase and Miller Funeral Home.

Chase building - Chase-Miller Funeral Home and Apartments


It was in 1915 that Charles became a scout master for the first Boy Scout troop in Logansport. By the end of 1919 there were over 400 registered and active Boy Scouts in the city of Logansport.



In 1916 he organized the first all boy choir. Charter members included Robert Porter, Julius Mattes, Joe Gremelspacher, Richard Lynas, Alfred Gust, Clyde Byers, Glen Vance, Fred Herrell, Fred Lewellyn, Don Powlen, Tom Maiben, Norman Six, Lynus Olson and W. H. Duncan. The choir became known nationally. They toured the Midwest and appeared in the largest theaters in some of the largest cities of the area.
Chase Boys Choir

He was a 32nd degree Mason, a member of the Knights of Pythias, he was a Shriner, a member of Elks and I. O. O. F., and more.  His interest in Civil War veterans was manifested all through his life and he personally knew all members of the G.A.R. during the last forty years.



He bought the Thomas Spry farm northeast of the city where he built up one of the outstanding dairy herds in this part of the state. His stables housed horses and ponies, selected personally.



He was active in his church, in fraternal circles, and civic and industrial life until the final days of his own life.

He added a chapel to the east side of his business. The upper floors were apartments, which remained rented until close to demolition time in 1970, when the building was purchased by Logansport Newspapers.





The above photos: Chase added a chapel to the east side of his funeral home. 


In January of 1970 the Chase Building was torn down.