Buena Vista Furnace

Background

Buena Vista Furnace was used in iron making, which was an important industry in Pennsylvania. However, before the making of iron could commence, land needed to prospected for ore, limestone, and timber. Also needed was a stream located nearby for power. Once all the necessary elements were located the “iron master” began to construct the furnace and put it into operation.

These furnaces were located near hillsides, so the ore, charcoal, and limestone could be dumped into the top of the furnace by workers called “fillers.” A bellows provided air to raise the temperature to the point when smelting occurred.

When enough iron was melted, the furnace was tapped and iron ran into channels located in the sand floor of the casting house located in front of the furnace. The main stream of molten iron was called “sow,” and the side channels called “pigs,” henceforth the product which was produced was known as “pig iron.”

Before the pig iron could be used it had to be further refined before it could be used. The iron bars from the furnaces were hauled by wagon to the Pennsylvania Canal and further transported to a forge in Pittsburgh. It was in Pittsburgh where the iron was turned into products such as utensils, stoves and other items.

The Workers

The lives of those who worked at the iron furnaces, did not live easy lives; and their lives varied by skill, responsibility, and social status. The things which the workers needed, ranging from clothing to food to housing was provided by the furnace owner. Workers pay was “in-kind” rather than in cash. The workers included fillers, guttermen, moulders, colliers, miners, laborers, teamsters, and woodcutters. All of their work was supervised by the iron master.

The iron master was considered a capitalist, technician, market analyst, personnel director, bill collector, purchasing agent, and transportation expert.  This means that in order to be a successful iron master one needed to have a combination of numerous qualities including: wealth, respect and pride in producing a good quality product.

The Buena Vista Furnace

Buena Vista Furnace located in Brush Valley Township, located along Black Lick Creek, half a mile downstream of the Route 56 Bridge. The Furnace was erected in 1847 by Henry T. McClelland, Stephen Alexander Johnston and Elias B. McClelland, it has also been known as McClelland’s Furnace.

The story begins on April 29, 1847 when the partners obtained a deed to a tract of about 90 acres for the sum of $300. By December, the partnership acquired additional land so that they had 421 acres.  The Buena Vista Day Books contain entries of purchases of food, supplies and equipment with entries beginning May 7, 1847 and ending in 1849.

If you know about American history, Buena Vista will be familiar to you as a battle in the Mexican War. This battle occurred on February 22-23, 1847 when Santa Ana’s 14,000 Mexican troops met Zachary Taylor’s 5,000-man army near the small hacienda of Buena Vista, Mexico. Taylor’s troops were mostly inexperienced and badly outnumbers, but the two armies fought to a draw. Thanks to Taylor’s efforts at Buena Vista he won fame and later contributed to his presidential victory in the 1848 election. This battle is the namesake for the furnace.

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Buena Vista Furnace

The furnace began operating in 1848 with about 61 men and boys and 30 mules were employed at the furnace. A summary from an 1850 Sheriff’s Sale, the site contained a store, three houses, seven log cabins (called furnace houses), a blacksmith shop, two log barns, and a saw mill.

There was speculation in 1848 that the Pennsylvania Railroad would construct a line through the Blacklick Valley, which is the likely reason why the site was chosen for the furnace. However, the railroad was not constructed in this area until 1903, and by that time the Buena Vista Furnace was already out of business.

The furnace was 30-foot tall cold blast furnace, and used local iron ore, limestone and charcoal to produce about 400 tons of pig iron in 1848, but the furnace went out of blast in 1849.

In 1850, the Indiana County Sheriff seized the 822-acre property and sold at it at Sheriff’s sale. The Sheriff’s deed was made to Dr. Alexander Johnston, father of Stephen Johnston. The property consisted of 822 acres which included the furnace, a saw mill, “seven small frame and log dwelling houses, called furnace houses” and various other houses, barns, etc.  It was reported that the Furnace produced 560 tons of iron out of shell and bog ore in 1854. The furnace finally closed in 1856, ending a very short business life of less than 10 years.

Another change in ownership came in 1900, when Stephen Johnston sold a 67-acre parcel which included the Buena Vista Furnace to Judge A.V. Barker for $20,000. Barker then sold it and other properties to the Lackawanna Iron and Steel Company in 1902. The property passed again in 1917, this time to the Vinton Colliery Company.

There was a rumor in the 1930s that Henry Ford had an interest in purchasing the Buena Vista Furnace and planned to transport it to Greenfield Village in Michigan via rail. The proximity of the furnace to the railroad would have made dismantling and loading it relatively easy. However, there was then a movement to acquire the furnace and keep it in the local area, this movement may have been sparked by Ford’s interest.

In 1930, the Buena Vista Park Association was organized, with the purpose of preventing the furnace from being moved. There was a hope that the state would acquire the property and turn the property into a historical landmark or public park. As with most projects during the Great Depression, the establishment of the park was stalled.

The Historical Society purchased the furnace in 1957 from the Delano Coal Company. Through the efforts of Clarence Stephenson, county historian, improvements to the site began in the mid-1960s. Then in the summer of 1965 and continuing through 1966-67, a work-training project, through the Indiana County Public Assistance Office, completed site improvements.

The Failure of the charcoal iron furnaces

There are various reasons for the failure of the charcoal iron furnaces. One of those reason was the change of the anticipated railroad route thru the Conemaugh valley instead of the valley of Black Lick Creek. This change negatively affected Buena Vista Furnace. Another reason is the low grade and sometimes unreliable supply of carbonate iron ore. Third was the outmoding within a few years of the charcoal cold-blast method of iron making. Finally, were economic reasons, there was a lack of protection from cheaper foreign iron afforded by the low tariff o 1846. The average price of a ton of iron fell from $53.75 in 1815 to $24.50 in 1849.

The situation was so bad that by around 1850, most or all of the local furnaces were forced to close, some for good. There was an upsurge in the price of iron within a year or two. By 1856, two furnaces were operating in Indiana County, probably the Black Lick Furnace and the Indiana Iron Works, together producing about 2455 tons of iron.

Today the remains of the Buena Vista Furnace are what remains of this once thriving industry.

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Welcome 2019!!

Happy New Year!! Just last week we rang in 2019, and this new year is looking to be very exciting for the Indiana County Historical Society. The first event we have coming up in the new year is our second annual trivia night. If you or someone you know is a history buff and you think you can answer any question about Indiana County’s past then you should join us on Friday, February 15, 2019 from 6pm to 8pm to test your knowledge. Tickets are $15 and will be available in advance starting on January 15, 2019. Prizes will be awarded to the most knowledgeable players. Please call the Society at 724-463-9600 for more information and to purchase tickets. We hope you can join us for this wonderful event; rumor has it that this makes for a wonderful Valentine’s Day outing for couples.

We also have some exciting news regarding our blog. Over the next months we will be introducing our Board of Directors; these introductions will give you a chance to get to know those in charge at the Historical Society.  Stay tuned for further events at the Society so you can be involved in all the exciting events that are about to occur over the next year.  We hope you come and visit us this year, whether that is to see the exhibits in the museum, do some family research, or just some research regarding Indiana County.

A programming note for 2019 is our annual closings:

April: Closed Friday the 19th and Saturday the 20th

May: The Society will be open from 10 am to 12 pm on Memorial Day

July: Closed Thursday July 4th

November: Closed Thursday the 26th through Saturday the 30th, reopen December 3rd

December: Closed Saturday the 21st through Monday the 31st, reopen January 2nd

Annual Christmas Open House

Last week was a busy week at the Historical Society as the holiday season is in full swing.  On Wednesday afternoon the public was invited to join the Historical Society to view recent interviews of long-time residents of Indiana County conducted by students from IUP’s history department. It was a great afternoon as we got to experience what life was like during the first half of the 20th Century through individual stories.  These stories ranged from life in the coal towns, to time at the University, and military service. We would like to thank everyone who came out and shared the afternoon with us along with the students from IUP’s History Department who completed the interviews, and of course the residents of Indiana County who shared their memories.

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IUP Community Choir

Then on Friday evening the Historical Society welcomed the community to celebrate the Christmas Season.  The weather was perfect, as the rain held off for most of the evening. The community came together to tour the festively decorated Clark House while enjoying holiday refreshments and to tour the museum. There were even gifts in the gift shop for people to do some holiday shopping for family and friends.  Our guests enjoyed holiday music provided by the IUP Community Choir, afterwards guests made their way to the Clark House for a holiday sing along around the piano in the parlor. If you were lucky you got to have a conversation with some historical figures, including Harry and Anna White who were in the Clark House. Thanks to all who came out to celebrate the season with us and to the Evergreen Garden Club for decorating the Clark House for the holiday season.

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Harry and Anna White

As a reminder the Historical Society will be closed from December 22, 2018 through January 1, 2019. We will reopen on January 2, 2019. We are excited to see what the new year holds in store, stay tuned for future events such as programs and fundraisers, or just come in to visit the museum or do some family research in our library. Whatever the reason for your visit we can’t wait to see you at the Society. We wish everyone a happy holiday season and a happy new year.

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Clark House

CCC Camp at Kintersburg

Located throughout the United States are Civilian Conservation Corps Camps, also known as CCC camps. The beginning of these camps starts with the stock market crash in October 1929, which caused the United States to go into the Great Depression. Upon being elected into office, President Roosevelt proposed numerous government programs which were designed to lift the country out of the depression. The priority of the programs was to get people into sustainable work.

The first of these programs was the Emergency Conservation Work, later renamed the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The program was first opened to unmarried, unemployed men ages 18-25. The young men came into the camps hungry and poorly clothed. As part of the program they were issued uniforms and given three meals a day. Further they earned $30 a month, most of which was sent home to their families – they were allowed to keep $5 for their personal needs.

Although the camps were run by the U.S. Army, foresters, carpenters and other people directed the work.  Some of the main projects completed by the CCC was: fighting forest fires; planting trees; building roads, buildings, picnic areas, campgrounds, and creating many of the state parks. When the men were not working they socialized and had an opportunity to learn crafts and skills. The effects of the CCC camps can still be seen and enjoyed today.

One of these camps was located in Kintersburg and was known as Company 1301. The Company was formed on May 20, 1933 at Fort George G. Meade with Captain L.E. MacGregor in command. The Company began its work on May 21 headed for Pocatello, Idaho, and on May 27, camp was established at Greys River, Wyoming, where normal camp and work duties were performed for five months.

In October 1933, the company was transferred to Broughton, PA, and on October 24, 1933, Captain William G. Wharry assumed command. Wharry and his associates created a camp in South Park, Pittsburgh that was famous in CCC developments, and the high morale that existed among the men helped them overcome the hardships they encountered when they moved on April 24, 1935. It was on this date that they arrived at a tent site near Home, PA for Camp SCS No. 1, the first soil conservation camp (SCS) in the state. The site was on a 20-acre piece of ground owned by Andrew Robert Kinter, known as the Kinter farm off Tanoma Road.

A permanent camp was delayed due to an unusually heavy rainy season, but preparation for the permanent camp finally began on July 27, 1935 with Captain Peter Van der Lugt in command. It did not take long for the camp to become a presentable sight and the work carried on by Captain Van der Lugt was recognized and on June 25, 1935, he was promoted to Commander of Sub-District No. 9.

Kintersburg CCC Camp
Marker, located on the Kinter Farm near Home, PA, marks the site of the CCC camp

The camp consisted of five long barracks, which housed 40 men each. The recreation hall had a post office, writing tables, wrestling mats, pool table and a library. The roster of the Kintersburg Camp was comprised mainly of enrollees from throughout Pennsylvania including: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Altoona, and other major cities.

A major duty of this unit was to plant evergreens to halt soil erosion in the area because the land had been farmed and the rain destroyed the soil. The seedlings were started along a creek that ran through the land. The trees were planted throughout the farm; many of the rows can still be seen today.

On that date, Captain James P. Maloney took command, and it was under his command that the camp improvement continued rapidly.  The company also carried out other work as well, it can be categorized into two distinct types of work: forestry projects including nursery work, tree planting, and fence construction; the second type of work was engineering work which included rip-rap paving, temporary and permanent check dam construction, and bank sloping. Much of the work in the area of Kintersburg and Shelocta was with the Crooked Creek watershed.

In the spring of 1936, the company was actively engaged in flood relief work. The majority being assigned to road building duty at Saltsburg, PA, in order to get supplies to the water filtration plant. The company received individual comments and letters, and official recognition which demonstrated the appreciation of the people for the services provided by the company.

Camp life was comparable to life in the military. The day began with morning revelry, followed by breakfast and then the crews headed out to the work sites. The evenings were devoted to time for studies, athletics, movies and other forms of recreation.

Further the creation of a camp school room and reading room to be used for educational purposes greatly aided in establishing a successful program. A CCC Nigh School in Indiana, PA was made possible through a joint effort between the Indiana State Teachers College (ISTC), Works Progress Administration (WPA), and National Youth Association, in which commercial subjects and advanced art were stressed.

The Indiana Evening Gazette, periodically reviewed the camp’s activities written by Jiggs & Jerry, two members of the camp. The articles noted many of the camp’s accomplishments and camp events including baseball games which were played against teams from local communities.

Slater, Mary Ann, CCC set up camp at Kinter farm in 1935. Indiana Gazette, June 13, 2000 pg. M-3. Patterson, Ed, The Insider’s Guide to Indiana County Parks & Trails.

“The Tire With a Mission”* 

At the corner of Ninth and Church Streets in Indiana, is the beautiful townhome of Harry McCreary, the house is currently the home of the Law Office of Myron Tomb and the Law Offices of Thomas A. Kauffman. Mr. McCreary is most notably known for his role as the Owner of McCreary Tire and Rubber Company; however, he was also a pioneer in the development of the coal and coke operations in Indiana County.

Harry McCreary was born on October 30, 1863 in Leechburg to Hiram and Ruey (Orris) McCreary. As with most children of that time, Harry was educated in the public school and then later completed the course in the Utica, New York, Business College. He was later employed as an instructor at the Business College until the spring of 1883, at which time he was employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company at Huffs Scales, near Greensburg. After a few months with the Pennsylvania Railroad, McCreary entered the employment of J.W. Moore, of Greensburg, an extensive coal operator in the Connellsville coke region, who was at that time engaged in the manufacture of coke at the Redstone Coke Works, Brownfield station, near Uniontown. After the plant near Uniontown was sold, McCreary built two large coke plants for Moore, near Mount Pleasant. Again, these plants were sold, and once again two more plants were built at Graceton, it was here that McCreary developed a process for washing coal and its success was one of the chief reasons for the prompt purchasing of coal in that whole section of the country.

Mr. McCreary disposed of his various industrial interests in Indiana County and moved to California and Nevada for a period of four years from 1902 until 1906. Upon his return to Indiana County, he again became involved in the coal business until 1914.

Ground Breaking and Commencement of Production at McCreary Tire and Rubber

It was in June of 1914 that ground was broken for the McCreary Tire and Rubber Company just southwest of Indiana. Construction of the plant moved rapidly, and the plant was quickly in operation.

Those present at the ground-breaking ceremony were Mr. and Mrs. McCreary and their two sons. The ground-breaking began around 6:30 in the morning; Mrs. McCreary read the First Psalm and Mr. McCreary gave a short prayer in which he asked the blessing of God on the new enterprise. Following, Mrs. McCreary swung the first pick into the ground and then Mr. McCreary shovel the first dirt, followed by their sons doing the same.

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McCreary Tire and Rubber Co. Plant in Indiana, PA

Mr. McCreary stated three reasons why they were embarking on this new venture, and he listed them in order of importance. First, was for the glory of God and furthering His Kingdom through the profits earned by the new industry. Second, that honorable work with good wages and working conditions be provided for citizens of Indiana and the vicinity; and then he would be kept busy in a worthwhile project for the remainder of his life. Finally, that his two sons would be busily employed after he passed on and not dissipate any inheritance that he would leave.

It was in May 1915 that the first tires were produced, which were probably experimental and test operations as actual production of products for sale didn’t begin until the middle of June. At the time of the plant’s opening there were only twelve employees, including Mr. McCreary, a sales person and a secretary. The original building was 48 x 215 feet, with power provided by a huge 250-horsepower steam engine with an 18-tone flywheel.

The production at the plant tended to be seasonal, with a falling off during the fall and winter months. That seasonal production continued until McCreary’s death. Throughout the summer, the employee numbers increased to 27, but declined to only 3 by November, those three included the salesperson, secretary, and a watchman. That first year, 1915, production was 500 tires, with a guarantee for 2,000 miles and sometimes the tires did not last that long.

Mr. McCreary devoted much of his time to the development and operation of his company. His sons, Ralph W. and Harry C. McCreary were associated with their father in the operation of the business and continued in the leadership role of the company. McCreary Tire and Rubber was eventually sold, becoming Specialty Tire of America.

Apart from his business ventures, Mr. McCreary was also active in civic affairs, and was the most liberal subscriber to the erection of the YMCA building in Indiana in 1912, and he served as president of the “Y” Board of Directors. Further, he was a member or Zion Lutheran Church, and taught men’s Bible Class for many years and was secretary of the church council.

Mr. McCreary was united in marriage on May 16, 1894 to Lizetta M. Work, of East Mahoning Township. Mrs. McCreary died in March 24, 1923. Mr. McCreary continued working in his business up to his death on August 16, 1930.

The McCreary Home

At the time that Mr. McCreary had the home on the corner lot, Indiana was split between the East and the West, so the home was located on First and Church streets (today it is Ninth Street). At the time, the visitor would notice the unique front porch that, at the time, extended all along the front of the house. There was also an artistic and spacious porch along the rear of the house.

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The McCreary Home

Inside the home was as eloquent as the outside. The house contained a reception hall, with a fancy stair case finished in oiled hard wood. Located on the first floor, beside the hall, were a parlor, library, dining room and kitchen. There was a back stairway leading from the dining room to the second floor. Adjoining the kitchen was a pantry and connected to the dining room was a china closet. The second floor contained four bedrooms, a bathroom, closets and a linen room. The third floor was finished, containing one room that was used for storage.

The next time you go by this eloquent home, remember the innovator who once lived in the home. Mr. McCreary was an important member of society and the industry that he created is still a staple in the Indiana community.

*Title comes for the company slogan. 

Harry C. and Ralph W. McCreary remembers ground breaking printed in the Indiana Evening Gazette, Nov. 1952.

 

Labor Leader: William H. Sylvis

William H. Sylvis, future labor leader, was born in the town of Armagh on November 28, 1828, to Nicholas Sylvis, a wagon maker, and Maria Mott. The Sylvis family moved to Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe, PA), his father worked for a boatbuilding relative and then moved to White Deer Valley, where he began his own wagon shop in 1835.

A faltering economy forced William Sylvis, 11-years old at the time, into indentured service on the land of a wealthy farmer and state legislator from the Philadelphia area. His father’s wagon-making business began to grow again, and his father wished that young William would work for him when he turned 16, but William went to work for the Forest Iron Works instead.

During this time, the common practice for businesses was to pay their employees only enough to survive from week to week, and the remainder of the wages would be paid at the end of the year. Sylvis worked for nearly a year, but before he received the bulk of his pay, the company went out of business.

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William Sylvis

From Philadelphia, Sylvis moved to Curwensville, Clearfield County to work as a foundry apprentice. He also taught Sunday school in Hollidaysburg and worked in Johnstown for a short time before he married. In 1851, he married 15-year old Amelia A. Thomas; the following year the newlyweds along with their infant son moved back to Philadelphia in 1852 and worked in the Cresson, Stuart and Peterson Foundry. Sylvis soon learned the hardships of a low paid worker, as he struggled to provide for a second son born in 1854.

In 1854, tragedy struck in a work-related accident at the Cresson Foundry. Sylvis was working as an iron molder among fellow workers who were casting molds in sand. Another molder was carrying a long ladle of melted iron, stumbled, and the ladle spilled into one of Sylvis’ boots. Sylvis became crippled in that leg. This was before disability benefits, so Sylvis knew that such an injury would likely lead to begging on the street or selling pencils, just to survive.

Despite his injury, a year later, Sylvis returned to work at the foundry. During the Panic of 1857, the company wanted huge wage concessions, and a fledgling union struck; although Sylvis was not a member of the union, he picketed with the members. Sylvis soon became secretary of the union and probably its most active member. Two years later, Sylvis founded the Iron Molders Union and became the president of the National Labor Union (NLU) (a predecessor of both the Knights of Labor and the American Federation of Labor). As president of the National Labor Union, Sylvis supported the right of women to vote (this was 54 years before women had the right to vote in the United States).

During this time, Sylvis not only worked his regular 10-hour shift at the foundry, but also the workload of writing union reports. He also started to deliver speeches to his fellow laborers. But with the quick rise to influence and his sharp tongue, there were enemies. Those enemies were behind charges that Sylvis embezzled union funds. Sylvis provided a full accounting but was still voted out at the 1861 convention.

The Civil War caused a boom in production and there was no shortage of jobs in molding or other trades, but the unions’ power declined because of their members joining the ranks of draft dodgers fleeing to Canada. Sylvis opposed war because he realized that a division of the nation would undermine labor’s progress, because of this Sylvis favored a compromise that would divide the west into a northern free area and a southern slave zone. Sylvis did serve briefly as an orderly sergeant in the fall of 1862 by leading a group of men in pursuit of Lee as he withdrew from Antietam.

The Molders were revived in Pittsburgh and added the tag “International” in recognition of Canadian locals. Sylvis was exonerated from the charges and was elected president. The only issue was that the union did not have money and few members, so Sylvis embarked on three organizing tours to the west, and his work paid off. Two years later, the International Union boasted 122 locals with a membership nearing 7,000.

In 1865, tragedy struck the Sylvis family; typhoid fever claimed his wife in October. Sylvis swifty wooed and wed Florrie Hunter, whose family he had befriended in Hollidaysburg. The following year, there was a fifth child added to the Sylvis family.

Sylvis also founded the International Journal, a union periodical; it was through this periodical that he helped start “Reading Rooms” for the general public. He also helped obtain an eight-hour work day law for federal employees.

Sylvis was ahead of his time in his calling for social reforms and the extension of union benefits to women and African-Americans. In fact, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was accepted as a delegate at the 1868 NLU convention. It should be noted that Sylvis had a continued prejudice against African-Americans; however, he wanted them included in organized labor to prevent their use as strikebreakers.

Sylvis dedicated his life to labor, at the expense of his health; and on July 22, 1869 he was stricken by inflamed bowels and five days later he died, at the young age of 41. He left behind his wife and five children with less than $100. The NLU appropriated money to cover his funeral, and there was a 10 cent tax collected from all members to help the family. After his death, the NLU severed its ties to the women’s movement, and in three years disappeared altogether.

*Sojak, Frank, Indiana County labor group works to honor Armagh native, Johnstown Tribune-Democrat. May 20, 1990.; William H. Sylvis Pioneer of American Labor.; William Sylvis: A forgotten hero of labor. Himler, Jeff, Marker Pays Tribute To Armagh Labor Leader, Blairsville Dispatch, June 7, 1990.

Memorial Park: So Small but Full of History

Located directly behind the Historical Society is a unique little park that has a lot of history behind it. Memorial Park is the smallest of the Indiana County Parks. The site was originally surveyed in 1774 and was the site of a church cemetery. If you visit the park today, many of those graves are still located in the park. Some of the notable people buried in the park: John Lydick (Revolutionary War soldier and pioneer), Dr. Jonathan French (first resident doctor in Indiana), and Daniel Stanard (Indiana’s first resident attorney). The deceased continued to be interred in Memorial Park until 1875, at which time the Indiana Borough Council passed an ordinance prohibiting further burials at the graveyard.

During the 1850s and 1860s, the cemetery fell into disrepair, tombstones had fallen over and the site served as a stop on the Underground Railroad in which runaway slaves would hade among the overgrowth and tombstones.

In 1845, there were three fugitive slaves that came to Indiana. They rested all day in the old graveyard, hiding among the tombstones, brush, and without anything to eat. The three fugitives were Charlie Brown, Anthony Hollingsworth and Jared or Garrett Harris. (See another blog post outlining the trial of Anthony Hollingsworth).

By 1877, the cemetery was noted as a cow pasture and was known by residents as Skeleton Park.

In the center of the park is one of the most noteworthy objects in the park (besides the graves) and that is the doughboy statue. The statue was erected and dedicated on Memorial Day 1925. The story behind the erection of the statue is a unique one and filled with conflict.

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Doughboy Statute in Memorial Park

The history of the statue began in 1923 when the American Legion committee was organized, which included Alex Stewart (father of James Stewart), Steele Ober, A.F. Blessing, Samuel Wolfe, Harry Campbell, George K. Clark, Edgar Walker, and Richard Watson.

The original plan for the land, owned by the Lutheran church, was to sell the trees to help finance the building of a church on another part of the property. The local veterans however, opposed the idea of selling the land and building the church on the rest, so they mounted a campaign to erect a memorial on the property. Alex Stewart was the driving force behind this campaign. In 1922 the Farmers’ Bank donated the tall pedestal to the Mothers of Democracy and an individual made a gift of the Doughboy sculpture.

The Mothers of Democracy along with the American Legion and Alex Stewart (the monument committee chairman) became involved to erect the monument. Alex, his son Jimmy, and a group of Stewart’s interested associates began digging a hole for the pedestal’s foundation. A group from the church, concerned that the erection of the memorial would reduce the price they could get for the land, filled in the hole. So, the next day, the committee group once again dug the hole, followed by the church group filling it back in again. This time, the church group erected a fence along with a “NO TRESPASSING” sign around the property. This did not discourage Stewart and his group, Stewart invited both groups to the site and when all were assembled, cut the fence, crossed the area and defied anyone to do anything about it. The stories differ as to whether Alex spent time in jail, and if so, how much. The story has a happy ending, that Indiana bought the land the Doughboy was erected where Stewart and his associates had wanted it to be placed.

The purpose of doughboy statues was to honor veterans from World War I. The official title of the statue of the statue is the “Spirit of the American Doughboy” because the local committee wanted to honor all veterans of previous wars, choosing the more general name.