The Starke County Historical Society’s Ice Cream Social event is approaching and the society is gearing up to host hundreds of people searching for a relaxing time to enjoy ice cream and look at a number of outside exhibits including old cars, tractors, arrowhead collections and a variety of other exhibits.
News Tagged ‘Jim Shilling’
I have mentioned the Grand Kankakee Marsh before. My father was born north of Hamlet in 1893 on an “island”. Any little sand knoll or rise out of the water of the marsh was called an “island”. All of the islands were named. There was Crab Island, Coon Ridge, White Woman’s Island and on and on. These names are often mentioned in the old history books, but very seldom identified as to where they are.
Before 1900, the only way my father and his family could get to Hamlet (the nearest trading area) was by boat. Or perhaps in a real dry season, by horseback. Or walking in the winter time on top of the ice. Grandma didn’t really like this type of pioneer living, so eventually she and Grandpa sold the land and moved to Knox in 1897. Grandma liked a little more social life. Remember, no cell phones, not even a land phone, no TV’s, no radios, no mail service out in this location. They were on their own.
That was before the area was drained.
A new documentary has just been produced about this marsh, which included much of Starke County. It is called Everglades of the North – the story of the Grand Kankakee Marsh. A promo of this great video can be seen at – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lh6RWgyDnJw&feature=player_detailpage.
The full one-hour program has just been released and can be viewed:
Monday, November 5 on WYIN, Lakeshore Public Television in Merrillville, IN – 8 p.m. CST.
Thursday, November 8 on WNIT Public Television in South Bend at 8 p.m. EST (7 p.m. CST).
Former Starke County Historian, Marvin Allen, was interviewed at our museum by the production crew, and will appear in the film. This story is part of Starke County history. I hope you enjoy it.
Starke County Historical Society
I received the following note from Marty Lucas the other day about a composer of music with connections to Starke County. He said, “Just learned a tidbit of Starke Co. history I’d never heard before. And it’s pretty cool, in my opinion…it requires some explanation, so bear with me..”.
You’re no doubt familiar with the American Songbook classic “Georgia On My Mind”. Everybody knows Ray Charles’ 1960 rendition, and probably lots of people assume he wrote the song. But no, the music was composed by Hoagy Carmichael (who also wrote Stardust, Buttermilk Sky, Heart and Soul, the list goes on), well suffice it to say he was one of America’s greatest songwriters of the first half of the 20th century.
Carmichael was a native of Bloomington, received his undergraduate degree from IU in 1925 and his law degree there too, in 1926. At a party in Bloomington in 1930, Carmichael came up with a melody, and then stayed up all night with his friend Stuart Gorrell, working on it.
Stuart ended up writing the lyrics for the song, which became ‘Georgia on My Mind’. Here’s the local connection. According to Wikipedia, Stuart Gorrell was born in Knox, Indiana, in 1901. [Ed Hasnerl says that Stuart's father, Samuel M. Gorrell was the publisher of North Judson and Knox newspapers. The Knox paper was later sold to Henry F. Schricker.] He (Stuart Gorrell) went on to become a banker and never wrote another song lyric.
Stuart said the lyric was about Hoagy’s sister, Georgia Carmichael. Nevertheless, it’s the Georgia state song.
Actually, the song was a mostly forgotten oldie when Ray Charles recorded it. I’ve heard his producer didn’t want to do some tired old song from 30 years earlier, but Ray Charles generally did what he wanted to do. And he did it well.”
Some of you may not have heard of the song writer, Leo Friedman. He was born in Elgin, Illinois in 1869 and died in Chicago in 1927. I would say that his and your age difference would be a reason for not knowing him. However, you might have heard of some of his songs. He is best remembered for composing and publishing the sentimental waltz, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”, with lyrics by Beth Slater Whitson in 1910. Another one of his popular compositions was “Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland.”
The local connection of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”, is where is was composed. It was composed on the east side of Bass Lake at the Center View Hotel, (see the attachment) which is now the home of Bill and Nancy Sonnemaker, and they are proud to tell the story about Leo Friedman.
Another song writer that I am sure you haven’t heard about is Alice Prettyman Shilling. Prettyman Street in Knox is named after her father. She wrote the words to “Yellow River” with music by Leo Friedman. Yes, it is our Yellow River in Starke County. And yes, it is the same Leo Friedman. And yes, she was my great aunt. You can access this song by clicking on our website — http://www.scpl.lib.in.us/historical/yellow_river/yellow_river.pdf
If you know of other Starke County composers, let me know.
Starke County Historical Society
Whoa — what is velocipede? Generally it was an old term for a bicycle or a vehicle on wheels propelled by a human being. It also describes a vehicle used by the railroad industry for rail inspectors – see attachment. It was a light enough vehicle that the operator could easily pull it off the tracks if a train approached him.
In his book, McCormick’s Guide to Starke County (1902), Chester McCormick talks about the different factories in Starke County. North Judson had two pickle factories, an artificial stone factory, a wholesale frog and turtle industry, a cigar manufacturer. Knox also had two pickle factories, a handle factory, a lumber mill, two grain elevators, a tomb stone factory and a velocipede factory. His little book is online and you can read about some of these items on pages 18. The attachment can be found here.
A velocipede factory ????? You know factories and other businesses come and go. One sees this all of the time on the Radio, TV or in the newspaper. Well, apparently, Marion McCormick’s Velocipede factory came and went, also. I can’t find any reference to a velocipede factory in any of the the other history books. So, what does one do when looking for a velocipede factory in Starke County? You Google it, of course. And finally, there it was – the U.S. Government patent for Mr. McCormick’s Velocipede. What he was making was a kit that you could put on your bicycle to be able to travel the railroads. Think about this. Some of the towns in the county had stone roads – some may have had brick streets in the downtown area. But most of the county didn’t have solid roads – most country roads were still sand roads. Did you ever try to peddle a bicycle through loose sand? So, if you had Mr. McCormick’s bicycle attachment and wanted to go from North Judson to Knox, you could hop on the railroad track and start peddling. Ah, a nice, smooth ride. But, watch out for trains!
In finding his patent, we also now have all of the other government patents in our files for Starke County. See attachment for the velocipede patent’s front page.
Starke County Historical Society
This week on “Ted Hayes Remembers”, Ted will talk with Jim Shilling.
Jim and Melba Shilling have been in the forefront of collecting and maintaining a history of Starke County for decades. Jim has shown the Starke County Courthouse to hundreds of people, and taken hundreds more on tours of the Starke County Museum.
Ted asked Jim to talk about historical events over the past 50 or so years that have impressed him.
The Five Star store in the Knox Mall is going to house 40 to 50 four by six foot pictures depicting Starke County’s history. The first picture went up yesterday and Jim Shilling was there to describe the scene.
“We’re putting up the first picture above some of the produce on the northeast corner of the store,” said Shilling. “It’s a picture of the Charles Windisch store that was in Starke County about 100 years ago. If you look closely to the left, that’s Charles Windisch and if you look in the back, you’ll see the cooler. That’s not a cooler like you think of now. That storage above it is filled with two or three hundred pounds of ice and that’s the cooler. He butchered his own meat, it was always fresh and it was quite a grocery store. On the bottom right, you can almost pick out a Red Delicious apple.”