By M. O. Mentzer,
Secretary Mentone Chamber of Commerce
I have been asked by a number of people to write a history
of Mentone, and having lived in this community for over 80 years,
I shall endeavor to tell the most interesting happenings as I
remember them. There are no doubt a number of people living here
as long or longer than I who will remember things that I have
no knowledge of, and if they will get in touch with me I plan
to give their version of past history.
In the year about 1880 there began to be talk of a railroad to be built through this territory. No doubt surveying had been done before this time but the general public was not aware of what was going on. In a short time actual surveying and probable locations were the talk of the community. At one time the road was to come through Sevastopol, then another time about half way between there and the present location; however the present location was definitely decided and work was started.
At this time there was no settlement in the present location of Mentone. There was a schoolhouse and a church located at the intersection of roads 25 & 19. The schoolhouse stood on the lot now occupied by the American Legion building; the church, know as Lee's Chapel, was diagonally across just west of the place where Utter's Service Station now stands.
With the building of the railroad it was necessary to move the church to a new location. This was done by securing the land where the Methodist Church now stands. The members decided to build a new church which as I remember was done quite shortly after this time. This church was so badly damaged by a tornado in the early 1880's that it was torn down and rebuilt about 1891 or '92.
At the time of the coming of the railroad there were a number of small settlements near; Sevastopol on the south, Palestine, east, Bloomingsburg West of Tippecanoetown on the river one mile north of present Tippecanoe, Big Foot southwest. Post offices were located in various places, One mile east where Abe Whetstone now lives was Oak Ridge, one mile west where Truman Long now lives was Yellowcreek. This was quite a settlement. A store on the corner of the Truman Long place belonged to Allen Blue, directly west across the road was a church, (this was called the Methodist Protestant), a drug store was operated by a Dr. Chandler in the house now occupied by Fred Swick and my father had a saw mill on the ground west of Truman Long's place. Our house stood back from the road just a little west and south of the Burden house. William Hyers had a blacksmith shop just west of the Fred Swick house and Mr. Garrison did shoe repairing in a little shop on the spot where Eugene Sarber now lives. The post office was in Allen Blues store, until Mentone was made a regular post office. This also eliminated the office at Oak Ridge.
As a very busy young boy, I can remember Mr. Garrison bringing the mail from Oak Ridge to Yellowcreek. I think it was carried from Warsaw to Palestine, from there to the various small postoffices such as Oak Ridge, Sevastopol, Beaver Dam and Yellowcreek.
Mentone was platted and lots made available to purchasers by James Blue & Albert Tucker. Later Mr. Tucker brought into partnership with him Myers and Hackerdorn who platted the portion north of the Baptist church. This is known as the Tucker, Myers and Hackerdorn addition.
From the start Mentone was an up and coming town. The men who were interested in making it go and grow were young men filled with get up and go. I can well remember how fast new homes were built. Almost before you knew it there would be a new home or business going up and Mentone was on its way.
There was no little squabble about where the business district on Main Street would be located. Allen Blue put his store on wheels and the building was moved on the lot where Kenneth Riner now lives. Later it was moved on the lot west of the Methodist parsonage and occupied by David Lewis' store. The post office was moved on the lot where Mrs Yocum now lives. This building also contained a drug store. The railroad built its depot at the present site so that pulled the weight of the business east and the main business section was settled in this way.
The Methodist Protestant Church followed by moving their building on the lot now owned by Mrs. Ray Rush and occupied by her son Paul. This building was later bought by L. P. Jefferies and moved on the lot where Raymond Lewis now occupies. This building was wrecked just a little over a year ago. [end of 1st article]
My father, after sawing out the bridge timbers and switch ties for the railroad decided that as the timber was about gone (They did not use anything but the best in those days) entered into partnership with Art Manwaring, moved his engine and boiler to Mentone and they built the first roller grist mill in miles of this place. There were a number of water powered burr mills. This mill ran day and night for several years and people came for mile to get the more refined flour. Later Albert Tucker became a partner in the business and they shipped flour and feed over the new railroad as far east as Cleveland, Ohio.
George Jefferies had a saw mill and novelty works just south of the grist mill. The finishing touches were just being completed in 1884 when Jefferies' mill caught fire and burned. It happened in threshing time a number of outfits were working near and by hauling water from the creek with their tanks saved the grist mill.
It will be necessary in the history of Mentone to devote quite a lot of time to the fires that we have had. This I will do later.
After it was definitely decided that the business section would be where it now is, a rush was made to get on the bandwagon. A hotel was built on the southwest corner, a two-story frame building with dining room, office and a number of sleeping rooms. A wood stove in the hall heated the bedrooms and you can imagine how cozy it was on a zero night of which we seemed to have plenty. However, people were more rugged then, and a little cold did not bother them.
Art & Loren Manwaring built a store building on the southeast corner of the square. I think this was one of the first store buildings built uptown. The J. W. Sellers built a building next to Manwarings. This was used as a drug store. I have a very vivid recollection of this drug store. We had a July 4th celebration, the Sevastopol band was playing when two men, Poulson, (Harve Poulson's father) and another man were badly burned by the explosion of an anvil. They took them to the drug store and as I saw them, their breasts were bare and badly burned. I was scared everytime the band played all that summer. Mack M. Forrest had a store in Sevastopol. He thought that Mentone would be an up and coming town so he built the building now occupied by the drug store and tavern. I cannot remember who built the next building but arrangements were made with the town authorities that no building should be built in this block that was not fire proof. This was known as Banner Block.
All the other buildings on Main street were of wood construction and were a fire hazard with no fire protection. The Opera House was built by William Mollenhour. This was the place of meetings where the community interests where discussed and let me tell you everyone turned out to find out what was going on. Today we have to call people and pleas with them to come to a meeting that is of interest to all. [end of 2nd article]
I have been informed that Mentone was named for a town in France -- Menton. This I am told is a very beautiful summer resort town. I have had post cards from friends who have visited this town nd they say we will have a difficult time to live up to our name. The post cards testify to this truth.
Mentone was organized about 1882, but was not incorporated until about 1886. In the meantime things were moving--new industries were coming to town, new homes being built, our streets were gravel and sidewalks were oak plank. The boards in these walks would get loose and many a fall resulted from the flipping of a plank, not always accidental.
We who lived out of town walked or drove a horse to do our shopping or visiting. My folks did not move to town until after the election in 1884 so it was necessary for me to walk to school. I quite well remember that one morning after my mother had started me to school I decided I did not like the teacher, so I tossed my dinner pail in the fence corner and went home. Mother asked me what the trouble was and when I informed her of my decision, she had other plans. There was a small peach tree standing near our house. She pulled off a limb and escorted me to school. As we neared the school I told her she did not need to go any farther and that I would go on by myself. She failed to co-operate and took me in to the teacher. Needless to say I have always liked school since that time.
When they were building the railroad it was quite a sight for children who knew no means of travel except walk or horse or oxen drawn vehicles. When the work train finally arrived near the schoolhouse you may imagine how excited we were. After they had built a mile or so out of town they took the teacher and all the children a ride, which perhaps was the most exciting time in our lives.
The school house was used a short while but the town was growing so fast and so many new people were bringing more children to town that it was necessary to build a larger building. I think this was not done until the town was incorporated. The ground where the library, Reed's home and Dr. Wilson's office now are was provided by Mrs Tucker as a gift and a two story two room frame building was erected. Later a partition was made in each room so we had four rooms. Eventually we had a two-year high school and the first class graduated in 1892. C. M. Sloan was principal.
In the year 1893 there was felt the necessity for a larger building and a new six- room building was built on this site. This was of brick construction and was a very nice school and a three-year high school was made part of the plan, but on account of the lack of high school students it was 1896 before the first class was graduated. O. H. Bowman was principal of the school at that time. Mr Bowman was a fine teacher and a good organizer, and he made the students feel that this was their school and that any infraction of the rules was reflected on them. He had this feeling so well instilled in them that he could leave the room for hours at a time and there would be perfect order. It took about two years of very hard work and instruction before this was possible. The school was made a four-year high school about 1908. (B. Miner note: This is a little off as there was a graduation class in 1904 of eleven pupils from that four-year high school). [end of 3rd article]
In the years following, it soon became apparent that our school had outgrown the building and it became necessary to rent a vacant store building down town to take care of some of the classes and a temporary building was built on the north side of the lot. The children called this "The Sheep Shed" but it took care of the situation at that time. Our basketball team played in old store buildings, and the old grist mill, but it was felt that this was unfair to the pupils, but the township trustee did not feel that he would be justified in building a building to house these activities. A number of parents felt that it would be possible to build one ourselves, so an organization was formed, stock was sold and the old gym was built. It made available to both Harrison and Franklin Township schools. (B. Miner note: This building was located across from our big brick home on Harrison Street in the northeast part of Mentone and was directly across from the new school.)
The land for this gym was donated by Mrs. Susan Forst, and work was started at once. I think this was about 1926. I well remember that we were promised the county tournament if the building could be completed in time. The weatherman co-operated beautifully with nice mild temperature all through December. We had many man hours of donated labor and were able to have the tournament in January. After a short time Franklin Twp. build a gym at Beaver Dam so they used the facilities there. Mentone continued to use the gym for several years until the new addition was built. A short time after Beaver Dam discontinued the use of the gym, the stockholders signed their stock over to Harrison Twp. and maintenance and care was furnished by the township.
During the term of office of George Myers, as trustee of Harrison Twp., the present school building was started in 1930. There was some opposition to the building of this school, especially from the east part of the township. An injunction was brought to prevent the sale of bonds and construction of the school. The objectors lost and the school building was finally finished after standing partially completed through the winter. The story is that the general contractor and plumbing and heating contractor went broke on the job. They had troubles enough at least.
Royse Tucker was elected trustee following George Myers and during his second term in office, started the new building and gym at the east section of the school building. Mr Tucker died before the completion of the building and his wife, Mrs. Opal Tucker was appointed to fill the vacancy. The building was completed during her term of office.
Earl Boggs was the next trustee elected and re-elected for the second term. Mr. Boggs has plans to make our school a better and more efficient place to train young minds. We will leave the school situation for future history.
As the town continued to grow it soon became apparent that it would be necessary to incorporate in order to have an orderly community, and as in most cases there was objection to this form of government as it was felt that taxes would be increased, (they were) but the objectors lost and the Town of Mentone was incorporated in January 1886. The first reading in the books of the new organized town read as follows: "The Judges of said incorporated town of Mentone, gave notice of the election of officers for the said Town corporation to be held at W. C. Wilkinson's office in Ward No. 2, January 6th 1886" The reading continues with the nominations which were held in Mollenhour's Hall (Opera House). Apparently there were no party nominees and all agreed that the officers should be the following: Councilman first ward, John Yantis; second ward, R. E. Railsback, third ward, Solomon Arnsberger; Clerk, S. A. Boggess; Marshall, Soloman Zentz; Treasurer, Loren Manwaring. The election judges were: John D. Heighway, C. E. Dowane and John F. Johnson. Mentone was now in business. I have before me the minutes of the meetings and they make most interesting reading. I am sure the town authorities would be willing that our citizens be able to see and read these and I would also like to call attention to the beautiful writing on the part of the town clerk, S. A. Boggs.
Some of the highlights of the early meetings follows: On March 8th 1886 the following were appointed as members of the school board: A. C. Manwaring, J. F. Johnson and S. Martin who declined the office and Lewis Clayton was appointed to serve in his place. On March 23, 1886, the board being aware of fire danger passed a hook and ladder ordinance and organized our first fire fighting company. Also saw the need for keeping law and order and ordered a calaboose built on lot No. 226, size 10 by 14 feet and 9 feet high to be completed on or before the 10th of April. (This building was later used by George Craft in perfecting Craft's Distemper Cure.) Possibly you did not know that this is still on the market.
At a meeting of the board November 1, 1887, I read as follows: A donation of the money for the first saloon license paid into the treasury, June, 1887 was given to defray the expenses of one month of school to be taught after the three months of winter term expires. Solomon Zentz resigned as marshall and E. M. Crall was appointed to fill the vacancy.
February 7th, 1887 the board passed an ordinance prohibiting trains from running through the Incorporated town of Mentone faster than 12 miles per hour.
May 6th, 1887 the new board met and organized as follows; (Town elections were held in the spring then.) S. S. Mentzer, President; O. J. McGee, Clerk; A resolution was made to build a structure 20 by 30 ft. 10 ft high to house fire fighting equipment.
June 6, 1887 the following taxes were levied: Corporation 75 cents on each $100 valuation, 25 cents street and 25 cents poll tax. The marshal's salary was fixed at $60.00 per year and should he resign before the end of his term he was to receive only half his salary.
July 5, 1888 the board met and agreed to all go to Warsaw and inspect a fire engine they wished to sell; also to have it tested. (During this time the board had built fire cisterns at different points over the town.)
October 2, 1888 an ordinance was passed for the issuing of bonds in the amount of $1000 bearing 7 percent interest payable semi-annually. The proceeds to be used for the purchase of fire apparatus.
January 1st, 1889 the board ordered the marshal to place a bell on the firehouse so that citizens could be notified in case of fire.
Commenting on the fire engine, it was one of these old type pumpers operated by manpower. A number of men on each side would work the pumps. It was a very satisfactory piece of equipment and saved several buildings in the time it was used. Water was supplied from the large tanks placed at places where it was most likely they would be needed.
As in most cases there was objection to the purchase of this equipment. One man in particular was a very bitter opponent. He made considerable noise and of course was able to get a following, however the board went ahead and bought the equipment, a fire company was organized and they were ready for business.
A fire started in the workshop of a man by the name of Jessy Newman, the alarm was sounded and the fire company arrived. The cistern was located at the corner near Linus Bornton's home on road 19. They soon had the fire under control, but the funny thing about it was the man who had raised the objection to the purchase of the equipment owned a barn across the alley. If there had been no fire protection, his barn would have burned--he made no further objections.
July 3rd 1889 the board passed the cow ordinance. This had to do with cows running at large. Previously the citizens, most of whom had a cow, allowed her to run at large as there were a number of vacant lots and this was one way to keep the weeds down, but they were supposed to keep (sic) pick them up at night or they would be placed in the stocks yard and locked up and it would take a dollar to get your cow back. A very amusing thing happened one night. There were several cows and one calf taken by the marshal and locked up. Early the next morning a man by the name of Bill Hutz came after his cow. He asked the marshal if he might take his cow home and milk her and said when he came after the calf he would pay for both. The marshal gave him this privilege. He took his cow and left the calf which belonged to another man. We had a lot of fun kidding the marshal.
Dec 3rd 1889 the board allowed a bill to William Sterling for three and one half days work building sidewalks, $4.37.
Jan 15th 1890 the board allowed a bill to Lyman Borton for 8 cords of wood, $10.00.
Feb 5th 1890 a bill was allowed to D. A. Hatch for repair of town pump $4.50. This well served as a town source of drinking water until the present water system was installed in 1913. The well is located just north of Frank's Mfg. Co. office door. I think the cap there still would be easily located. At one time this well was operated by a windmill. [end of 4th article]
I have reported the activities of the town board up to 1890. I will now go back to the beginning of the organization and the make up of the men who were active in the business of the town.
In every community there are certain men who stand out, those who are interested in the activities aside form their own business. If it was made my responsibility to pick such a man I would have to say that A. C. (Art) Manwaring was the spark plug in the beginning of the town. There were a number of other men, to be sure, who assisted but they joined in after A. C. worked up the enthusiasm. He was the tuype of man who would neglect his own business if he could do something for the benefit of the community. He was one of the first, together with his brother, Loren, to get the merchantile business rolling. Their store was on the corner where the bank is now located; east was Sellers Drug Store, next Warney Kimes grocery, Hayden Ray harness shop (Don Van Gilder's dentist office), D. W. Lewis general store.
On the north side of the street was MC. M. Forst general store (Denton's and Lake Trail), Salinger Bros. General Store, McCormack drug store next, (Coopers) lots vacant at this time. Later the building was erected by Manwaring Bros. and their store was moved over there. At about the same time D. W. Lewis built the building across the alley (Ward's). The space between Lewis' store and the corner was occupied by the Morgan house. This was the home of John Morgan who owned the land between Franklin and Morgan streets and north of Main street. If any of you have an abstract for this part of town you will be able to identify this. The house was moved across the street by Albert Tucker and a family by the name of Hammond lived there. This left 3 or 4 vacant lots until the building on the corner (Dr. Davison) was built by S. A. Guy and A. G. Wertenberger in 1888.
In a previous article I have stated that the men who organized and promoted Mentone were young and active. They were out for business but they enjoyed a little fun as they went along. At this time the creek that flows at the south of town was not dredged and in the spring it would overflow its banks and look like a river. After the water would recede the fish would come up the creek to spawn. I have seen thousands of suckers in the creek after the spring rains.
There were deep holes and drifts which made an ideal place for the fish to gather. At this time it was legal to spear fish and as a boy I did my share. It was illegal to dynamite fish but there were always those who would do it. There was a blacksmith named Bob Lambert who was a very large man and was not very fleet of foot. Some of the men thought it would be a lot of fun to take Bob fishing. They took a corn cob, wrapped it like a stick of dynamite, put in a fuse and went to Bob's shop and asked him if he did not wish to go fishing. He said, "Not that way." They said no danger--no officers around and waving the stick of imitation dynamite, touched a red hot iron and the fuse started to sputter. They threw it down and ran. Bob out-ran all of them. They then proceeded to the Nickel Plate station where Nelson Clay was agent (Nina Manwaring's father). There was a man helping him who picked up the stick and withdrew the fuse. He was badly burned and this stopped that kind of fun.
Then there was a man who had visions. He knew where gold was buried. He would tell about seeing places up the railroad where the gold was, so they organized a crowd to go help him dig. They had a hole started when "something" appeared on the edge of the place and said in a very shrill voice, "What is going on here?" There was not question about where they were going--the man who had visions was the first one home. I guess this ended his visions.
I will have to tell about the Mock Trial of Lem (Shorty) Latimer. After the town was organized and the election held, the fellows thought it would be fun to fool the marshall, Solomon Zentz. He drove the first dray wagon in Mentone and had bells on his horses. The fellows nicknamed him "Yankee Doodle," shortened to Yank.
They conceived the idea of having Shorty arrested for illegal voting. He lived with his mother, Mrs Susan Sarber on the farm now owned by the Lackeys.
They prepared an affidavit accusing Shorty of illegal voting (he didn't vote). The marshal went to the hardware located on the corner of the alley east of Joe Baker's place, read the warrant to Shorty. He said "Wait until I get my hat" He went to the back of the store to get this hat and went out the back door, the marshal after him. After running up and down alleys for a while he allowed him to catch him, taking him before the J.P., Watt Wilkinson, a very dignified individual who wore a Van Dyke beard and looked like a stern judge. Shorty pleaded not guilty. Art Manwaring acted as Shorty's attorney. Melvin Summe, who later was elected prosecuting attorney of Kosciusko County, was the town attorney. As the trial progressed two men in the crowd got into an argument, the judge called on the marshal to restore order and while he was settling this argument, Shorty ran away again. The marshal after him going through the streets and alleys, finally overtaking him and bringing him back in court. In order to keep him safely the marshal put handcuffs on him. His hands were very small so he had no trouble to shake them off while a man was asking the marshal a question and getting his attention, Shorty ran off again. Yankee called for help this time and soon recaptured him. The prisoner was wearing a cutaway coat, one having a long tail, so the marshal brought him in and sat on his coat tail. Again the marshal's attention was distracted by a disturbance, but he would not leave his prisoner, but as his attention was drawn, Shorty slipped out of his coat and ran off again. Again he was captured. The judge was very much displeased and informed him that he was evidently guilty or he would not have tried to escape so often, so he pronounced judgment on him.
He informed the marshal that he was now responsible for the prisoner and would have to take him to Warsaw to jail or keep him in his home until morning. He also asked him to come forward and sign the commitment papers, which he did. The judge then informed him that he should never sign a paper until he had read and understood it thoroughly. He then read the paper which was as follows: "O. A. Bachller, please furnish a box of your best cigars to the crowd and charge to my expense. Signed S. S. Zentz."
I was about 9 years old when this happened. I well remember my father coming home and going to bed. Every little while he would break out laughing. I guess it was funny to everyone but the marshal.
With all the fun there was a lot of serious thinking. Business was booming. With the grist mill, two saw mills, a heading mill and with the building of new homes there was work for carpenters, masons, etc. Most of the brick in the buildings was made near Mentone. Mr Hammond had a brick and tile mill about where the underpass of the old electric interurban railroad went under the Nickle Plate railroad. There was also a brick and tile mill one mile east of town just north of the place where Charles Manwaring now lives. This was operated by my uncle, Peter Mentzer and John Sellers. The brick for the American Legion Home was made at this place. Others I do no remember. [end of 5th article]
My folks did not move to Mentone until November, 1884, after
the election of Grove Cleveland. I was then 7 years old, and how
well I remember that campaign. It seemed to me that it lasted
all summer and that something was doing all the time. A rally
at Rochester or Warsaw would mean teams and wagons with young
women dressed in white with cut out stars on their dresses, flags
flying, bands playing, and it was very impressive to a seven year
old country boy.
After election in which the Democrats were victors for the first time since the civil war, there was a jollification held here in Mentone. Great hollow logs were brought in, a big parade was held and logs set up at several places in town, bon fires were made and hats burned--a wonderful time to be boy.
I think the last celebration of this kind held here was in 1900.
Previously I mentioned Salinger Bros. store. Their father, whose name was Levi, had operated a peddling wagon through the country and he had made quite a little money, so his sons came here and opened a general store. Being Jews, they carried a stock of men's and boy's clothing. After they had operated their store here a few years the father quit his peddling and stayed around the store. He was always quite interested in seeing someone come from another store to find out what they had bought.
A man by the name of Shields, who was interested in a clothing store in Warsaw, thought this might be a good place to open a branch store. This he did in the building now Dr. Davison's office.
Some of the devilish young men decided to have a little fun with Levi. They talked it over with Mr. Shields and he was willing, so they went to the livery barn, got a lot of horse blankets, took them to the Shields store and had them wrapped like a suit or overcoat. Levi was always standing out seeing everything, and when on came along,"Vot you got?" "Oh, I just bought a new suit at Shields'". "Vhy didn't you come here?" "Oh, they gave me a big bargain." This went on for some time and it almost made Levi sick to think they were losing all that business.
I well remember the first safe I ever saw. Manwarings had just bought a new one and had it installed in the back of the store. At that time there was no bank here and it was necessary to keep quite a bit of cash on hands as all business was by cash, at least in the country.
My mother had sent me to the store for a jug of molasses, and in those days it came in barrels and was drawn out by a spigot. As I took my jug in and asked for a gallon of molasses, Loren took my jug and started to the back of the room to the barrel in which it was kept. In the meantime, like most kids, I was looking around to see what was new. Someone wanted in the safe and Loren handed my jug to one of the clerks to get the syrup while he opened the safe. I saw him working the combination and then my attention was called to something else. In the meantime he had opened the safe and the clerk brought the jug to him and he gave it to me. When I got home I told my mother that Manwarings had bought a new tank in which to keep the molasses. All they had to do was to turn some dials and fill the jug. My father informed me that this was a place in which to keep valuables, not molasses. My education was progressing.
While on the subject of molasses you young people who find everything in cans and packages, it was not always so. As stated before, the molasses was drawn from a barrel holding around 50 gallons. You have heard the expression, "Slow as molasses in the winter time." This was true and many a merchant went to the cellar to draw a gallon of the slow moving stuff, went upstairs while his jug was filling, forgot about it and when he remembered he found syrup all over the floor. [end of 6th article]
In the winter of 1888, we had good sledding from November until March, or that is the way I remember it. Great loads of logs were hauled into the mills, and made beautiful timber. Some of the homes here are made out of this kind of material, most of it covered by paint.
This winter of which I speak we would see the log haulers, as they were called, pull into town with their loads. I have seen as many as 25-30 teams pulling loads into the mills. This was one of the ways a lot of farmers made winter money. The mills would pile the logs in great heaps and saw out the lumber the following summer. The teamsters would start early in the morning and try to be home by 4 to 5 o'clock. If they were exceptionally nice logs they would have a race to see who could get there first and get the pick of the logs.
I have rambled around a lot writing my first impressions of Mentone, but have tried to tell the story as I saw it or as has been told to me. I think perhaps the younger generation will get an idea of Mentone in the early days.
The first bank here was owned by the Tabor Bros. They had a bank in Argos and one of the brothers, John Tabor, moved here and opened the bank. I think it was called the Citizens Bank. It was located back of the drug store on the alley next to the Church of Christ. This was the only bank until 1892 when Elmer Eddinger, Loren and Art Manwaring and some others whose names I do not have, felt that the bank here should be owned by local people, so they organized the Farmers Bank. This was located in the old hotel building next to the office of the hotel and continued to operate there until some time a few years later when they purchased the Citizens Bank and moved in (to) the room now occupied. After the fire which destroyed the corner now occupied by the Farmers State Bank they built the present building and moved in there about 1905.
Beginning at the old hotel corner westbound there was a room occupied by Oliver Sears who sold candy, tobacco and some fruit. His price on bananas was 1 cent each or 15 cents a dozen. We kids bought them by the piece. Next was Daman meat market or saloon. He would be out of one business awhile then the other. I think he was in the saloon business most of the time. The next room was sometimes a saloon and part time empty. The saloon was operated by Sandy Feiser. Next was a restaurant and bakery. It must have been about 70 years ago as they were taking the census at this time. A man by the name of Heitzner was operating the place, the census taker started asking him questions of how many children, he started to count and name them and then called his wife. "Mother, come here. I can't answer all these questions." They had quite a large family so I guess he just could not remember all their names.
The next building on the alley was originally owned by Nash and Lem Latimer. They had a hardware store there and later moved in the brick building now Lemlers. Across the alley was John Miller's saloon, next was a restaurant, but I am unable to remember who build this building (Joe Bakers) but W. L. Fish operated the restaurant at one time, sold out to D. W. Styles; next building was the opera house and there were some store rooms below. I thing one was a saloon, the other I am not sure. We had a laundry here once and that may have been there. [end of 7th article]
The opera house was the scene of much activity in the early days. The first show was "Uncle Tom's Cabin," a home talent play. I can remember some of the players. Lem Latimer was "I am a lawyer and my name is Marks." I believe Newt Hamlet was "Uncle Tom," Art Manwaring was "Dr. Someone," Lide Stockberger was "Eliza," a girl by the name of Crall was "Little Eva." There are a number of other people who were in this play whose names I am unable to remember. Perhaps have some of the above wrong.
The next building was a livery stable. It changed hands quite frequently as the one across the street seemed to have most of the business. Next building was Bob Lambert's blacksmith shop. This was a very exciting place at times. When we would have a hard freeze and the sledding was good, everyone wanted his horse rough shod, much like you want snow tires today. I have seen twenty or more horses waiting to get new shoes in winters of which I speak.
On the north side of the main square was Dunlap's Corner Grocery, next Ed Wilson's grocery, then a barber shop, a meat market at this time operated by Ed Tiggart, next Robinson's drug store. He also was a doctor (more about our early Doctors later). Next Railsback's furniture and Undertaking, across the alley was Love's meat market. I am unable to recall the next business but later in the 90's Homer Rockhill ran a grocery store at this place, next a man by the name of Reed had a monument work. He made the Summerland monument in the Mentone cemetery.
Next was a small building back from the sidewalk about 40 feet. This was used by Frank Fieser as a buggy sales room. Buggies sold for from $50.00 up. Next was the Livery barn which was build by Clark Ernsberger and James Cox. and was one of the most profitable businesses for a long time. The young fellows would hire a rig to take their best girls riding on Sunday afternoons at $1.00 per afternoon, traveling salesmen would hire a team and driver to take them to the other towns surrounding Mentone, then there were farmers who stabled their horses while in town--25 cents if you furnished your own feed.
At this time most of the stores had rooms above in which families lived. The town pump was the source of water supple and water had to be pumped and carried upstairs for all purposes; cooking, washing, bath, (how many were taken?). At the town pump a tin cup was chained. This was our sanitary drinking fountain! Before a well was driven at the schoolhouse it was necessary to carry the water from the town well. "Teachers Pets" always got to go for and pass the water. A dipper with a long handle was placed in the pail and someone would pass the water. You had to drink all you took as you dared not pour it back in the pail--quite sanitary! I know it is very difficult for our younger generation to realize that it was not always possible to turn a faucet and get water. [end of 8th article]
I have often been asked "What did you do for recreation and entertainment?" It will seem that we did not lack on either of these. In the summer we young folks played ball, swam in the creek, worked at odd jobs. Our parents usually had something for us to do. Most people burned wood and we kids had to split and cord the wood and get things ready for winter.
During the summer there was a tent show in town about once
a month. These were usually set up on the lot where the town hall
now stands. If money was scarce we would find work around the
tent for a free pass. There would always be some kid sent to the
boss for the key to the center pole, a left handed monkey wrench
or some other fake.
You who have watched television in the past few years you seen the kind of a show we saw 50 years ago. A medicine show, "so called," would come to town and usually had a platform attached to their wagon on which a few show was given. After the attention of the crowd was attained the "doctor" would go into his pitch and let me tell you they could out do Jack Berry in extolling the merits of their remedies. After his talk his assistants would go thru the crowd and sell the product always "guaranteed to cure all manner of diseases" When business got a little slow they would put on an act to stir up the crowd and start selling again. We had one outfit that came to town which had several acrobats who did all kinds of stunts. They sold a very special kind of liniment that loosened your muscles and was good for arthritis, rhematism, corns, bunions, you name it they had it. One of the stunts was to have one of the boy bend over backward until hands were flat on the floor, that he would swing his head until his neck looked about a foot long, then he would collapse. Using this liniment on him he was soon brought to life and able to perform again. This was good for quite a few sales. One of the funny things about this stunt, people would get excited and a few women fainted and they came back the next night and fainted again. This was sure good for business. Some of these shows would stay for two or three weeks.
I remember expecially one show that came to town. This was
a one man show, one night only. He called himself Apache Charlie.
He set up his wagon south of the main square, got out his banjo
and played a few tunes, sang a few songs, then told the story
of his life of how he was taken as a small boy by the Indians
and raised as their own. He was very active with a gun, showed
how he could shoot, throw knives, etc. The Indians had given him
the secret of their mysterious cures. He said his firm was not
spending money by newspaper advertising, but by direct benefit
to the patrons. He then asked that the crowd pick an honest man
to sit on the platform with him. An elderly man was selected,
he then says "I will now show you how we advertise"
Opening his trunk he held out boxes of corn salve, which he sold
for 25 cents each. For every box sold he would take that quarter,
reach in his pocket and get another, put both in the hat. After
he hod sold a dozen or so boxes of this salve he asked everyone
who had purchased a box to come to the wagon and show their box.
He then gave them back two quarters. This he said is the cheapest
way to advertise. All were quite well pleased.
He then offered Apache Charlie Herbs of Life. These were sold at one dollar per package. All money at this time was silver (dollars I am talking about). When he sold a package of this medicine he would take the dollar received, take one from his pocket, place them both in the hat. Finally business got a little slow so he would take two dollars from his pocket placing them with the one from the patron, first marking the package with a special mark. I had come to town with my friend, Ben Sell. His mother had sent him for groceries but he needed some of Apache Charlies Herbs of Life. Charlie asked him if this was his money. He said "yes". Are you sure this is your money? Again Ben said yes and after some further questioning he finally sold him a package at the same time telling that this would be the best purchase he would make. After he had sold all he could he asked everyone to come to the wagon and hold up their purchase. He then said "Gentlemen this money is mine. If I wish to give it to you that is my privilege is it not?" They all said yes. He then said "If I wish to give it to an orphans home it is also my privilege, is it so?" Again they said yes. He then said, "If I wish to keep it myself it is also my privilege is it so? He then said "That is what I am going to do" He had mixed up some of the medicine before, so he asked them all to step up and take a dose of the wonderful medicine. Some had already had a bitter enough dose but a few did try it. Ben among them. When he came to Ben he said "young man was this your money?" Ben said "no, mother had sent me for groceries." Very well young man, as I told you in the start, this would be the best medicine you have ever had. Now take a fool's advise and don't bet on another Many times the man was correct. It was a good lesson. I didn't buy any of his medicine because I had no money but I profited by the mistakes of others. [end of 9th article]
These were only a few of this type of shows we had. It seems
strange that these stunts could be pulled off every little while
and people would not learn. People are no smarter today when you
think of the misinformation on so many so-called bargains.
In the winter there was skating on the creek and a number of ponds. At this time the creek had not been dredged and there were a lot of fine places to skate, then there was a big pond north of the present school house. This was also a fine meeting place and usually the skating was good. We had some very fine skaters at this time. There was usually a log fire where we could warm ourselves and burn our shoes at the same time. If leather gets wet and is held close to the fire it will get brittle then the man who sold the shoes is blamed for selling poor leather.
It seems to me that we had more snow then, possibly because we shoveled it into the road instead of out. This made fine sledding. We could always find some place to go for an oyster supper or a party. Filling the sled with straw and piling on blankets away we would go, young and full of fun, we wouldn't get cold.
In the spring of the year there would be traveling shows come to the opera house and the admission was usually a quarter. When we knew a show was coming we would save our money for it. If it looked like a good show we would go (it usually looked like it would be good).
There was a home show quite frequently and those who took part in these would have a wonderful time practicing. When the final night came and all was ready we would find quite a few who would forget their lines. We always had a prompter in the wings who was to give the que. I remember one night when the man forgot his name was Fred Beagle. Charles Meredith was the prompter. Fred forgot, Charles gave him his lines and it seemed he couldn't get them and kept edging closer to the winds, finally said "UH" it brought the house down.
In playing ball or other games we had to furnish our own equipment.
No collection was taken, the balls and bats were home made, we
used a stone or a block of wood for bases. George Ralton's father
was a carpenter and George usually had the best ball bat.We liked
to play when he did so we could use his bat.
About this time in the history of Mentone the Manwaring brothers, Art, Loren, and John decided to build a factory. It would be a factory making things out of wood of which we had plenty. On the lots west of Esther Harley's home they built a two story cement block L-shaped factory. I think they made the blocks on the site and when they were ready, erected the building. It seemed like a large building to me as a small boy. I well remember the chimney which stood several years after the building burned. I remember Frank Manwaring in later years kidding his father about the factory. He said they wanted to do something for the town in which they had prospered, so they built a factory, but didn't know what they were going to make. They did make a quarter round and other mouldings and finally made some little toy wagons. They tried several things but finally conceived the idea of making farm egg cases. These were made to carry twelve dozen eggs to market. This prevented breakage. Previous to this time farmers would bring the eggs to market in baskets or tubs filled with cut straw or oats. The merchant (all eggs were bartered at the stores then) would have to dig them out and it took lots of time. If they were not packed this way the breadage would be very bad.
These egg cases were sold to merchants who presented their customers with a card and with each purchase the amount would be punched out, then the farmer would be presented with one of these egg cases. This business was so profitable that they retired from the manufacturing business in about 1895 or 96. John Manwaring was the salesman, and he called on merchants thru Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. I have heard him tell how he would go from town to town selling these egg cases. Sometimes he would get a horse and buggy and drive all day from one place to another, then again he would use the railroad, but he kept on the go. He must have been a good salesman as he would send in the orders here and they would load out car loads of these egg cases. These cases held 12 dozen each which was about the weekly amount each farmer would have out. If he was a very large producer he would get two of these cases. It was quite a convenience for the farmer to be able to pack his eggs this way.
If it was possible for those who have passed on to see the
way eggs are marketed now it would surely be a surprise. [end
of 10th article]
OUR FIRST NEWSPAPER
Our first newspaper was published by C. M. Smith in 1885. Mr Smith was small energetic man he and his family did all the work, at least in the beginning of the publication. It must have been quite an undertaking to publish a newspaper in the small town depending on advertising and subscriptions for income, but Mr Smith did a very fine job. The Bell Memorial Library has copies of this paper from the first to the last publication. It was called the Mentone Gazette and later the name was changed to Tri-County Gazette. During this period we had no telephones with party lines so the newspaper was our source of information.
There were several doctors here in the early history of Mentone. I no doubt will miss some of them, but these I remember; Dr.Chandler, Dr. J. W. Heffley, Dr. E. Stockberger, Dr Robinson, and I think there was a Dr. Surguy here for a short time. This of course was in the horse and buggy days and it was a trying time for the doctors to make their rounds, especially in the spring of the year when the roads were very bad. The doctor and his faithful horse as always got there but was sometimes a heroic effort on their part. Dr. M. G. Yocum came in the early 1890's. Most of you will remember him as he was a younger man and lived here longer than some of the others. Dr Yocum did most of his calling after supper and I well remember his team. He always had good horses and took good care of them. Later Maurice Dudley came and stayed with Dr. & Mrs Yocum. He would do the driving and was always ready to go when a call came. Dr Yocum perhaps was best known of any of our doctors. He kept an office open with Mrs Yocum in charge. We did not make appointments in those days, but would come in and wait. The waiting room was well named as it took a long time to see the doctor at times. Dr. T. J. Clutter (1877-1950) came to Mentone about the turn of the century, was here a short time and moved to Atwood. They had typhoid fever in that locality and he was successful in treating most of the cases and enjoyed a good practice while there. After several years at this place he returned to Mentone and opened an office here. He was successful in his practice here and stayed on the job even after he was a sick man and he had a host of good friends in Mentone and community. There was a Dr. Casebeer here for a short time. His wife was a niece of Dr. Heffley. He moved to Angola after a short stay in Mentone.
How much we are in debt to our early doctors. They had to work under most unsatisfactory conditions at times and they had none of the miracle medicines now in use, but found it neccessary to improvise many times. The closest hospital was Ft. Wayne; at least it was more convenient to go there as we could go by train. I well remember one case; Mr. John Vandermark, great grandfather of Barney and Ellery Nellans. He got a piece of gristle in his throat and it would go neither up or down. Dr. Yocum had just purchased his first automobile, but a trip to Ft.Wayne then by auto, was some trip on account of the roads. Dr. Yocum had made arrangements for the fast train to stop and take Mr. Vandermark to Ft Wayne for treatment. They started for Mentone but the roads being what they were they missed the train so they started for Ft. Wayne by auto. Near South Whitley they struck a chuck hole, Mr Vandermark bounced up and struck the top of the car and down went the gristle. He said, "Doctor its gone". Dr Yocum said, " Well I guess we need go no further" so they turned around and came home cured.
Broken bones and minor surgery were performed in the doctor's office and it is remarkable the fine work that was done. Babies were born at home, the mothers depended on the doctor and usually a motherly woman in the neighborhood took care of things. The price was usually $5.00. This money was hard to come by in those days and quite often the doctor was paid nothing. I remember Dr. Clutter talking with me one day when a fellow drove by with a new car. Dr. Clutter said, "there goes one I never got paid for". I feel sure that doctors are better paid now and we get better care than in the old days.
In the early 1890's a family by the name of Casad moved to Mentone. The father was a music teacher, a very dignified looking man always dressed like a gentleman of leisure. They had several boys (I think there were 6) and they were trained in music and dancing, quite a theatrical family. One of the boys, Charles, made the businessmen a proposition. If they would furnish him with a balloon he would make an ascension for his pay. The merchants thought this would be a fine way to publicize Mentone so they agreed. Mr. Casad agreed to supervise the making of the balloon. There was but one place they could make it and that was the opera house, so they bought the canvas and a number of women and girls about the town took their sewing machines to the opera house and started to work. Mr. Casad cut the material and shaped it and the women folks did the sewing; We kids would go upstairs and watch them at work on the balloon. We were thrilled just to think of the idea of a man going up in a balloon. Finally the finishing touches were put on the balloon and everything was in readiness. Mr Casad said he wanted to make a trial flight before the day of the big event so the took the balloon down by the creek back of (Cullum's?) made a furnace and inflated the balloon. Although we had no telephones the word got out about the trial flight and a large crowd was on hand. The time was early in the evening, a beautiful time of day, very little wind. When everything was in readines, Casad took hold of the bar and yelled "Let her go Gallager" and up she went sailing over town in a northeasterly direction and came down near where Barney Nellans now lives. Balloonists in those days did not use a parachute but rode the balloon down. Needless to say this was a grand success. Arrangements were then made to have a public ascension. Advertising it all around we had one of the largest crowds ever in Mentone as this was something new. Very few people had ever seen such a sight. This event also went off very satisfactorily and the merchants felt that hey had spent their money well.
A short time after this the Casad family moved to Knox, but we had one of the boys back for balloon ascensions several times after that. [end of 11th article]
When I was in high school it was a custom when taking examinations to allow the student to leave after he had finished his work. A boy named Tom McCall got through early and came down town. A short time later I was on my way and near the place where the Church of Christ now stands I heard a crash and saw smoke and dust coming from Kilmers drug store located on the bank corner. I assumed there had been an explosion of chemicals so I stayed back awhile, finnally mustered up courage and went over to see what had happened. There was a soda fountain in the front of the store with shelving along the east wall, a hammock was fastened to the shelving and a hook in the ceiling. McCall was drinking a glass of soda water, reached up, took hold of the hammock and put a little weight on it and down came the shelving. In those days druggists had bottles and bottles of drugs of one kind and another. There were glass show cases in front of the shelving and such a mess you could not imagine, terrible smells, etc. There was no insurance for this kind of an accident. McCall could not pay and Kilmer was ruined. The next day a number of the merchants got together and raised money to re-establish the drug store. One thing did not break, the prescription case and you will find it in Denton's store. We had a painter who painted most of the signs, always adding at the bottom; E. M. Bash, painter". This you will find on Denton's prescription case.
About this time Val Brown and son of Churubusco moved their sawmill to Mentone, We had a sawmill before, but this was a band sawmill, a very large operation. They also had a veneer mill using the finer grade of logs for veneer. With the mill came a number of families. The population increased about a hundred with the moving of this mill. The mill stood at about the place now occupied by Red Comb Mills and the lumber was stacked between there and Main street. This mill furnished employment for a large number of men and business was good in Mentone. The son, William, always had a good driving team, nice buggy and horses were swift. One time our baseball team was playing at Warsaw. Elmer Eddinger and William Brown drove over for the game, they got there just before the game started. I remember Eddinger taking out his watch when they arrived and said, "Just an hour and one minute." You could tell that they had not tarried on the road by looks of the horses, so you can see Warsaw was an hour away then by fast horses, by most horses two hours. The road and weather had to be ideal to make it in that time. Now I think the same people make it in ten minutes.
A. T. MOLLENHOUR
One of the pioneers in the mill business was Amos Mollenhour. He had a sawmill and stavemill. He furnished work for lots of small boys and also employed quite a few men. Some of we boys (who) were high school age would work after school jointing staves. These were cut from timber which had been steamed, usually all night, then taken to a cutting machine where they were shaved from the piece of bolt as they were called, curved for staves. The staves were then stacked and dried. After drying the edges were trimmed, making them wide in the middle and narrow at each end. This was called jointing. A good jointer could make $1.50 per day, boys who put them in bunches made about 75 cents per day and tadders, the boys who tied up the cuttings called listings and brought staves to the jointer usually received 35 to50 cents per day. Days then were ten hours. Mr. Mollenhour was active in town affairs and was a member of the town board at one time or another for several years. I think he was president of the board when the sewer was installed. He was a good man to work for and everyone liked to work for him.
Mr. Tucker was one of the organizers of the town. He was active in business, in the early days of the town, built and operated the elevator now Valentines, was an early partner in the grist mill, later purchased the partners and operated the mill himself. Alvin Rockhill was his right hand man when he was operating the grist mill. Mr. Tucker left everything to him and he made good.
There are many other men whose names I should mention as being active in the early days of Mentone, however time and space will not permit.
[.B. Miner note: Well lucky for this writer I can now insert a short story about my Grandfather Calvin Shinn. Lucky for the people of Mentone, small butcher shops provided meat for those people who were in business and relied on the shops for their daily supply of meat and poultry. Cal operated a butcher shop in Etna Green in 1888 and moved to Mentone about 1891 where he opened a butcher shop in 1895 with Frank Hammond, which he bought from Teel & Doran. He soon bought Frank out and in 1895 the place was referred to as the City Meat Market, where he bought chickens, ducks, and geese every day of the week except Sunday. Highest cash price paid. 1899 he bought and shipped potatoes by rail, paid highest market price in cash for butter, mentioned beef roast for 8 cents per lb. In April the item in the paper reads Good steaks, 10 cents , boiling beef 6 cents, sugar cured bacon, 12 cents., Cheese dried Beef, Cooked Ham. On Feb 6th 1902 ( a more detailed account of the fire is given by Mr. Mentzer later on ) eleven business rooms and two dwellings were reduced to ashes in a few hours. Among those businesses were the building occupied by Cal Shinn's meat market below, while his family lived upstairs. Some of his fresh meat upon the hooks was carried out but all his salt meats, fish and canned goods were lost, also his books and accounts.]
About this time in world affairs there were the usual number
of men who tried to live off the labor of others. A crew of salesman,
so called, came to town and were said to be selling pianos. They
would call on people, alway someone who was prosperous, and try
to sell them a piano. If unable to sell, and usually they could
not sell as the price was ridiculously high they would ask if
they might leave one in the home for a few days, usually 30 days.
If they were granted permission they asked the farmer to sign
a receipt showing they had left the instrument there. The receipt
was made out in such a manner that by tearing off one end they
had a promissory note for the amount they asked for the piano.
They had left one such at the home of Macy Garwood, father of
Joshua Garwood . They came with the note to collect the money
and of course a different man came. Mr Garwood said he had signed
no such note. They showed it to him, there was his signature,
he did not know what to do so he asked them to return the next
day. In the meantime he had contacted Austin "Squire"
Milburn. Mr. Milburn was there when they came to collect. It was
cool and they had a fire in the stove. He asked Mr Garwood if
that was his signature, and he said "yes". He asked
the man if he could look at the note. He handed it to Mr Milburn
who had his apple peelings ready and threw them both in the stove.
The man said you can't do that. Mr. Milburn said I have already
done so and you had better get your piano out before we start
charging you storage. You got taken at your game, get out of here.
There were those who sold lightning rods, Boheminiam Oats and other Fakes so the fast buck boys were working away back at that time.
Then as now, Mentone was trying to get industries to locate here in order to furnish more employment. Mr. Joseph Bowman purchased the land from the Sarber heirs. This lays east of Morgan Street and north of Main Street. I think this was about 1896 or 1897. A short time before the U. S. Government had opened the Cherokee Strip in Oklahoma to settlers, so this addition to Mentone was known as Oklahoma for a number of years.
Mr Bowman made a proposition that they would plat and sell all of the lots in this addition for $100.00 each. Those who bought lots were to draw a number out of the hat that would be his lot. If all the lots were sold Mr. Bowman would place part of the selling price ( I think the amount was $6,000.00 ) in a fund to be used to attract factories to Mentone. This was quite a selling job but everyone was anxious to get this factory fund so almost everyone was a salesman. They finally got the lots sold and the fund was ready for use. I think the first factory to take advantage of this was Fitzgibbons and Company. They made boat oars. Them moved here from a place in Ohio (I am unable to remember the name.) They brought a number of workmen with them as it took skilled men to shape these boat oars which were made of white ash timber. This company operated here some time but finally moved away. Eli Turnbull then bought the mill and converted it into a sawmill and also made boat oars.
Manwaring Brothers having suspended operations with their egg case factory offered it to the business men at a very low price. This was used to entice a box factory to locate in the buildings. This factory made wood boxes for shipping small articles. The main business was called the Hardy Box. This was made for the mailing of eyeglases by the firm of Hardy and Co. of Chicago. They had just got going good when a fire broke out one night and destroyed the factory. This, as far as I know, ended the giving of subsidies to acquite factories. [end of 12th article]
In the early 1890's George Jefferies and his brother Levi P., were operating the saw mill and novelty works. L. P. as we all knew him, sold his interest in the mill to his brother and purchased the Railsback furniture and undertaking business. He operated this business until his death. George Jefferies continued the business and a short time later conceived the idea of establishing a light plant for the town and citizens. The town board felt that they could not raise the tax rate for street lights so a committee was appointed to solicit funds to pay for the street lights. I remember very well when the lights were first turned on. The street lights were made by taking two pieces of carbon about 1/2" in thickness and perhaps a foot long, placing the points so that they almost touched and electricity would flow from to the other making an "Arc." This made a very brilliant light and we felt that we were one of the best lighted towns in the country. However, once in a while these carbons would get together and there would be no light. It was then neceessary for someone to lower the lamps and replace the carbons.
All homes were lighted with the old style enclosed lamps. a great improvement over kerosene lamps but if you were to see one of them now it would remind you of a red hot wire. Nevertheless we were pleased to have this plant. I don not think that Mr Jefferies ever made any money out of his plant as there was too much overhead with a small income. The only advantage he had was that his fuel cost him very little as he used the waste material for the saw mill. He was also able to use the boiler and engine used in the mill. The light would be turned on in the evening at dark and operated until 10 p.m., which was bed time in our time.
There were no motors or any other appliances so the plant was operated only to produce light. At the death of Mr. Jefferies the town purchased the plant and built the building just east of Utter's service station and moved it there. I neglected to say that after a short time the town officials took over the cost for operating the street lights.
At this time there were no meters and you paid by the number of lamps you had in your home or place of business. This was not a very satisfactory way to operate a plant but was the only way possible at that time.
It is now the year 1896, McKinley had just been elected president, we had been thru a financial panic, jobs were scarce and wages if any were low, however things began to brighten up a bit, a few factories were operating and business was reviving. I remember that I had a job at Lesh and Summerlands heading mill. My pay was 2 1/2 cents per hour, we worked 10 hours each day so you see I had $1.50 per week if I did not lose any time. Men who operated the machinery got as much as 10 cents per hour, so you can see we had few luxuries but we lived thru it and perhaps it was a lesson in economy for us. Farmers received as much as 3 to 4 cents for hogs and cattle were 4 to 5 cents per pound. They did not buy any $3,000.00 pieces of equipment but were satisfied with a few horse drawn pieces of equipment.
We had our first graduation class from the new school in the spring of 1896. The graduates gave the commencement addresses by preparing a talk on some subject that had been approved by the principal. My class graduated in 1897 and I can remember my subject was "The Effects of Foreign Immigration on the United States." I suppose our parents thought it wonderful but can imagine others not so enthusiastic.
Store clerks were considered the tops in those days. Anyone who had a store job was one of the top employees, although it meant long hours--12 thru the week and 15 on Saturdays, sweeping, washing windows, waiting on custormers, these were the jobs sought after. I remember after graduating from high school I was employed by Homer Rockhill in his grocery store. I received 50 cents per day, worked about a year there, went to Valparaiso to business college for ten weeks.
College life at this time was far different than now. When I left home I had $60.00. I paid my car fare to Valparaiso, my tuition, room rent, board, took one girl out for ice cream (5 cents per dish), paid my way back home and had a little money left.
Our classes started at 6 a.m. and continued thru the day. You could take as many subjects as you wished, but you had to have your lessons. [end of 13th article]
About time in our history a new doctor came to town, Dr. H. E. Bennett, one of the doctors I failed to mention in my account of the doctors, perhaps I have missed others. Dr Bennett purchased the drug store on the bank corner. He with his wife and a nephew Chauncy Stevenson operated the store and he entered into the practice of medicine, they continued the store at this location until after the corner (Post Office) burned in 1902 they then moved to this corner and continued until about 1904 when Shafer and Goodwin purchased the business until his death. He was considered a very fine physician and enjoyed a good practice.
About this time we who were living at that time witnessed one of the few times that leap years were 8 years apart, there being no leap in the year 1900. About this time we began to get the fever for an oil well, some were quite sure that we were sitting over a pool of oil if we could just tap the reservoir, the more it was talked the greater grew the fever so a company was organized to explore, shares were sold at $10.00 each, mass meetings were held in the old opera house, everyone was very much excited.
At this time Alonzo Blue was driving a well for water at his place now occupied by Cullums. Lon as he was called was always one for a good joke, he had a man working for him by the name of George Hyers. They put a cap on this well and poured gasoline in and would light the vapor that came from the well. This proved to be the best seller of oil well stock as folks were sure we were just a little way from the goal. Finally enough stock was sold to begin the drilling, you may be sure this was watched with great interest, finally required depth was reached and we were all waiting breathlessly for the verdict, the day was appointed when the well would be shot, a great crowd gathered and the Go Devil as it was called was let loose by Flavia Myers. Awaiting breathlessly we saw the water and mud fly to the top of the derrick than settle down to nothing, needless to say we were deflated. This well was located just east of the cemetery near where the old interurban tracks were about 22 yards south of the Nickle Plate R.R.
This ended our quest for oil but now almost 60 years later and from a thousand miles away we have natural gas, many of our people are availing themselves of the use and we appreciate the convenience.
On the evening of Feb. 2nd 1902 fire broke out in the Robinson drug store, this was located about where the Peterson dining room now stands, the weather was 10 below zero and about a foot of snow was on the ground, the fire engine was frozen so all we could do was save the contents of the buildings, the entire block from the Post Office corner to a point just east of the old livery barn was burned. Later in this history I plan to copy a story as it appeared in the Mentone Gazette describing this fire and at the same time have a chapter on all the major fires that have occurred. I think without doubt this was the most disastrous fire we have ever had and I know there were more people intoxicated that night than we have ever had in the history of Mentone.
Rebuilding started as soon as weather permitted and the first building completed was the Boggess building now Post Office corner, then Ed Turner built the restaurant, now Vinson Goodmans, others followed in time and the block was finally completed. The fire was quite tragic for a number of people as they lost almost everything they owned, however it seems that it becomes necessary sometimes for disaster to strike in order to improve a town. [end of 14th article]
FROM MENTONE GAZETTE 1902 - FEB. 6
A HOT TIME IN THE OLD TOWN
(Eleven Business Rooms and Two Dwellings Reduced to Ashes in a Few Hours.)
LOSS ESTIMATED AT $10,000
The mercury at 8 degrees below zero and the fire engine frozen.
About 10 o'clock last Sunday evening when most people of the town were in bed the cry of fire was given. One glance in the direction of Whiteside's pool-room, in Mrs Robinson's building, revealed the red-tongued flames leaping high from the back portion of the structure. One look was sufficient to decide the fate of the wooden row on the north side of Main Street. A rush to the engine house revealed the interesting fact that the fire engine had been left full of water and was frozen solid. The next hope was in the Hook and Ladder outfit which was put into use. The fire bell could not be used because the rope was frozen fast. The electric light plant gave the alarm by vigorous screeches which awoke a part of the people of the town who responded to the call and did everything possible to save property. The Robinson building was occupied on the lower floors by the pool-room and Al Leslie's barber shop while the second floors were occupied as living rooms by the families of Mr. Leslie and Mrs Robinson who owned the building. The adjoining building on the east was occupied Cal Shinn's meat market below, while his family lived upstairs. These two buildings were so quickly enveloped in flames and filled with smoke that the occupants barely had time to make their escape and were only able to save a small part of their clothing. In the rooms below, Whiteside lost his three pool tables; Leslie saved his barber outfit, but Mr. Shinn lost the greater part of his tools and stock of meats. Some of his fresh meat upon hooks were carried out but all his salt meats, fish, and canned goods were lost, also his books and accounts. The next three rooms were Auginbaugh's harness shop. Mills & Poulson's barber shop and Mentzer's grocery. From these the goods were mostly removed. Charles Hubler's lived over the harness shop and only saved a part of their goods. Uncle John Richmond's who lived over the corner grocery lost most of their kitchen furniture including their stoves, carpets, canned goods, etc.
West of the Robinson building was Jefferies' furniture store.
The upper and lower floors were crowded with goods. Only the stock
on the first floor was removed. C. E. Turner's restaurant across
the alley was next in line. Their goods below were mostly removed
and a few of their household goods upstairs. The Hamlet building,
vacant below but occupied by Harvey Kessler on second floor, His
goods were mostly saved. His stock consisted of wet goods and
would not burn but the building went up in smoke just the same.
John Kind who lived upstairs saved his goods. The building belonged
to J. M. Reed who now lives at North Judson. By hard work the
fire stopped here and the Harris livery barn which came next was
saved. This finished the business rooms on the north side of Main
street but on Broadway north from Mentzer's grocery the Boggess
residence occupied by George Warren was burned. Then next was
Mrs.C. A. Stoner's residence and millinery store. A hard fight
was made to save the building but to no avail.The goods were removed
but the house went down. E. M. Eddinger's brick residence came
next and here the fire was checked. Several barns, wood-houses
and other out buildings were included in the conflagration.
Levi Jefferies was perhaps the heaviest loser. He estimates his loss at $4,000 with $1,000 insurance. Mrs Rose Boggess, who owned the corner grocery building and a small residence north of it, had no insurance. S. S. Mentzer & Son had their stock sufficiently insured to cover their loss. Mrs Stoner had $1,000 of insurance. This, we are informed is the full extent of the insurance carried. Reed's, Hamlet's, Rockhill's, Robinsons's and the Taggart building were a total loss as were the household goods on the upper floors.
The prevailing winds carried pieces of burning shingles more than a mile from town.
Somebody said it kept two men busy shoveling snow on Dr. Yocum to keep him cool while he worked
The young fellow who made the quickest time to the fire left his girl's side so suddenly that he forgot to kiss her goodby.
The heavy snow which fell the night before saved the livery barn and probably many other buildings to the east in the path of the flying fire-brands.
The intense heat broke many of the glass in the front of the buildings across the street south of the fire, not a whole glass was left in the Post Office.
One advantage of having a fire on Sunday night is, that so many young fellows are sitting up with their girls and have nothing to do but jump and run. This accounts for the many sleighs that came jingling to town about 12 o'clock. It's hard on the girls tho'.
The sentiment in favor of pool-rooms is not at a premium just now.
The north side of the Central House looks as if it had the chicken-pox.
The carpets displayed on Elmer Edinger's residence reminds one of the times when campaign bunting was in style.
Rev Walters wasted a lot of good water in attempting to carry two big buckets-full over an icy sidewalk.
Plans are already under contemplation for covering the burnt district with fine brick structures the coming summer.
One pathetic scene was a little boy standing shivering in the cold holding his pet rabbit in his arms, while his home was burning up.
Somebody said Esta Fox fell through the front window of the harness shop and began looking around for his nose which he thought he had lost.
M. M. Forst, at Los Angeles, California, noticing the exaggerated reports of the fire in the Associated Press dispatches, telegraphed his brother, Will, to learn the truth of the matter.
The carcasses of dogs and cats were quite numerously mixed up with the smoking ruins after the fire. Mrs Robinson's big pet dog, Frank, met his death bravely at his post.
Nothing will cool a fellow's ardor quicker that to have a bucket of ice water emptied down the back of his neck when the mercury is below zero. Several persons can testify to such an experience Sunday night.
John Auginbaugh desires to express his thanks to friends who took the trouble to remove his goods from the burning building while he was at home sleeping so sweetly. He came in time to help the next man.
Harve Kessler was the luckiest fellow of all the fire victims. His mother and four of his brothers each gave him $10, and his father gave him $50. Harve, like the Hebrew children, came through without even the smell of fire on his garments.
Ten families were compelled to change their place of residence on account of the fire. Following are their names; Mrs Stoner, Mrs Robinson, George Warren, John King, Harvey Kessler, Charles Hubler, John Richmond, Cal Shinn, Al Leslie and Ed Turner.
Nash Latimer's good intentions were proven by the fact that he stuck his legs through two sets of bed springs and tried to walk off. His predicament became so complicated that it took several men to help him out. He was very thankful that he made his escape before the fire reached him.
Albert Tucker had a narrow escape from being seriously burned. In his efforts to assist in removing goods from Turner's building he became cut off from escape by the burning wall, across the alley, falling upon the stairway. He had to rush through the intense heat, thus burning his face considerably.
Yes, it was a big fire, as everyone knows who saw it, but not as big as those who did not see it were led to suppose by reading telegraph liars' report of it. The estimate of $10,000 is not far out of the way. It must be remembered that all the buildings were wood, and the main part of the business rooms were those which sprang up quickly in the mushroom stage of Mentone's growth. They had about stood their lifetime, and they will now, no doubt, be replaced by substantial brick buildings. The fire limit ordinance will prevent any wooden structures going up in the district.
Some of the reports of the fire sent to the city dailies were so ridiculously absurd as to be real amusing. Two reporters from Warsaw tried hard to convey the impression that the town was annihilated. They put the loss at from fifty to sixty thousand dollars. Some say half the town is burned up.
Tucker Brothers were sleeping quietly until the fire was at its height, when wakened suddenly by the noise and looking out of the windows to the east they saw the sky full of flying fire-brands and the red-hot cinders rolling from the roof of their own building, they thought the day of judgment had come and began to look up their past record. Their ability to think and act calmly under such conditions may be better imagined than described.
WHAT WILL THEY DO
S. S. Mentzer will occupy the Kime building, where they now have their goods stored awaiting the coming of the insurance adjuster.
L. P. Jefferies is similarly situated in the room recently vacated by Shafer's drugstore. He will open up business there, as soon as possible.
John Auginbaugh is comfortably located in the old Rea harness shop one door west of the Gazette office. He is ready for business.
Mills & Poulson and Al Leslie have combined their barber shops and opened up a three chair establishment in the Central House room.
Ed Turner has stored his restaurant and household goods in the Mentone House near the depot where they will remain until he secures a suitable location. They are at the present staying with his parents.
Cal Shinn has gathered up the few remnants of his home and added a few more and settled with his family in Alva Owen's property on North Broadway. He will open up his meat market again soon ... don't know just where yet.
We have not learned what Dowell will do with his stock. Perhaps he will apply for license to open up again when he can secure a room. Neither have we succeeded in locating Whiteside, of the pool-room. He has perhaps gone "Where the Whangdoodle mourneth," etc.
Harve Kessler will move into Mr Beeson's property on North Broadway. Mrs Stoner has moved her family and millinery goods into John Dunlap's property, on Morgan street. Mrs. Robinson has moved in with her daughter, Mrs. C. A. Lewis. Mr. Richmond moved into the Storms property in the same neighborhood. Charles Hubler moves into Tucker's building in the northwest part of town, and John King goes into L. P. Hudson's house in the west part of town. [end of 15th article]
During the latter part of the 1890's the Anti-Saloon League was successful in getting the Local Option Law passed. This law made it possible for any community to secure more than half the signatures of the voters in that community who were opposed to the licensing of a saloon to prevent the sale of intoxicationg liquors in this particular area.
At this time we had 2 saloons in Mentone and a petition was circulated and the required number of voters signed so the saloons were prevented from securing a license to operate. This was tough on those who were thirsty so they formed a club known as the Owl Club where members could slake their thirst.
In a short time those who were not members but were thirsty were able to get their drinks, this was of course unlawful and the operator of the club was arrested and fined and given a suspended jail sentence; this was the end of the Owls Club. It operated for several months before it was finally closed.
The thirsty were then compelled to drive to other communities wher it was legal to operate saloons, During this period in our times there were no locally owned automobiles so the traffic in that direction was not very heavy, however those who liked their beer packed in pint bottles in barrels of straw and marked glassware. The Nickle Plate agent at Mentone used to say there was an unusual lot of glassware coming to Mentone.
The above conditions prevailed for some time, it seemed that there was someone out with a petition for or against saloons about all the time but finally the local option law was repealed, we were then back where we started, saloons again were operating and the thirsty were happy.
There would be rough house now and then--there were quite a few traveling salesmen who stayed overnight here, after supper having nothing to do they would assemble at one of the saloons for a few drinks. The story is told that one evening there were several salesmen in town, gathered at one of the places and had steak and onions with their beer, got into a scuffle, one cut his finger on a glass, there was blood all over the place. They knocked down the stove pipe and soot mingled with the blood was all over. The bartender just locked up and went home. There was a one legged man who cleaned up and served the early drinkers, he came to work that morning, opened up and took one look, backed into the sidewalk and called someone and said, "There must have been a murder here last night, come and see." I guess to him it must have looked that way.
After the turn of the century we began to hear about those
horseless carriages that were being built in several places mostly
in Detroit. The first one I saw was in 1900 in Chicago. The Hub
clothing store had the body made in shape of a wagon hub, of course
they had their name on them too. They would drive down the street
a block and people would stop and look. I think they created quite
a lot of comment and no doubt were successful advertising.
Strauss Bros. a real estate firm who dealt in farm property from Ligonier, Indiana were perhaps the first to drive an automobile in Mentone. They would take an option on a farm and bring in people from Illinois where land was much higher priced that in this vicinity. One would get a prospect in his car and take him out to see the farm, while he was there the other from another direction with another prospect. The first would say I have already priced this farm to this man and he has first chance. Usually the prospect would sign up before it was too late. Many a sale was made because of fear that someone else would get the bargain.
Carlin Myers, one of our town boosters of this time, began to feel the need of an automobile. He went to Toledo, Ohio where he purchased a one cylinder Cadillac. He started home and someplace in Ohio wired Mrs. Myers that he would be home later that evening. A crowd of we young fellows stayed up waiting for him to come in over Lackey's hill. Every little while someone would hear it coming but it was another noise, so finally about midnight we went home. He got in the next day as he had stayed all night in Fort Wayne. This was the first locally owned auto in Mentone. Carl, as most people called him, said when ever he had trouble with the thing he got out and tightened everything that was loose and loosened everything was tight and the darn thing would run.
I almost forgot that we had bicycles before the advent of the automobile, there were quite a few in the early 90's. I well remember Charles Lewis had one of the first, it was what is now called a museum piece. A very large wheel in front and a small wheel in the rear, you could get very little speed out of them and sometimes you would go over the handlebars in a spill. This type cycle soon gave way to the present type with both wheels the same size, pedals in the center and geared so that you could really get quite a bit of speed. This type bicycle was quite popular and quite a few were sold. I think they were priced at around $100.00. I believe that Charles Meredith had a agency here back of Kilmers drug store.
We had several races, the track was starting at the north side of the main square north two blocks, south two blocks, east made five trips around this route, Omer Montgomery of Talma was one of the winners, I think the prize was a gold watch.
We also had a wonderful base ball team, and were successful in winning from about all the surrounding towns, we really thought we were in high class, Bowmans, Manwarings, Tiptons and Dorans had moved to Chicago on the south side where they had a very good ball team known as Auburn Park Giants, Elery Bowman, Frank Manwaring and Roscoe Doran persuaded Mr. Shorling the manger, that this country team was hot stuff and booked a game for us with his team.
The Nickel Plate R.R. was running excursions to Chicago at this time, $1.00 for the round trip on Sunday, this game was booked for a Sunday in August. Quite a crowd of boosters went along, we started in the morning on the train leaving around 4 o'clock. Some of the base ball boys never went to bed and when we got to Chicago the saloons were open so they had a few beers. When game time came they were in a beautiful park something they had never seen before. A grandstand filled with home rooters, who started kidding the country boys, well the score was 30 to 1. I will give you one guess as to which team won. It could as well been 100 to 1, if the opposition had not got tired of running. This about finished this particular ball team and it was several years before we had another of whom we could be proud.
Of these Nickel Plate excursions of which I speak, they were quite popular, on Sunday morning there would be a large crowd taking advantage of this bargain, and folks who had friends in the city and wished to stay a week, someone would always bring them a ticket or perhaps this person would wish to stay a week, the other person would use his portion of the ticket for the return trip. It was a long day from 4 o'clock in the morning until around 2 o'clock the next morning. I can tell you, you did not feel like working on Monday. [end of 16th article]
On Wednesday evening during the summer would have band concerts, a dentist, Frank Lane was the director, a bank stand was erected on the south west corner of the main square. We had a very fine band at this time (we had many bands before in fact our first band called the Sevastopol band moved here in the early history). They all filled a place in our lives and made it a more interesting place to live; however, the Lane band as it was called, held these concerts and it was like a fair on Wednesday evenings. This was horse and buggy days, however, a few autos were beginning to appear, but the merchants had no idea that the auto would be very popular and that there would be an average of 1 1/2 cars per family, so they persuaded the town board to build concrete aprons with concrete hitch posts for the visiting farmers, these proved quite popular. A farmer could drive up to the hitch rack, tie his horse and get into the stores without wading mud. These remained until main street was paved. A few were still standing in the late 1920's, in fact you can see one of these aprons was built on the east side of the post office, this was built by the property owner and was considered so good that it was not torn up. The pavement was laid up to this.
We began to feel that it was time to consider the drainage problem. There was a small drain from the point back of Lemlers store to the creek. It was not large enough to carry the water so when we had much rain we would have cellars flooded. There used to be a pond in the low spot north of Valentines elevator. This was like a lake after a big rain. Boys will always find a raft or sometimes we found an old mortar box. This made an excellent boat until it was overloaded then there would be a spill. Everyone got wet but what did we care, we were having fun. Amos I. Mollenhour was president of the town board at this time, he felt as did others that a ditch large enough to drain and take care of septic tanks, be constructed. This, as usually happens, met with opposition, however, the board went ahead, hired a surveyor and started the work. This sewer starts at the creek southwest of Peter Blue's home and this ditch takes care of most of the west section and a drain north supplies the need in that section, then there is a sewer taking the water from the east passing though the sub-way across Mrs. McClanes property, this covers the drainage and sewer problem.
When the first sewer was constructed, Ed Mollenhour was marshall, the town purchased the equipment to build concrete tile, the marshall assisted by Ed Hickman would make several tile and let them cure. While the tile would harden they would be digging the ditch, this work was all pick and shovel. There was no modern machinery and the work was hard, some places the sewer is quite deep and it was necessary to curb the sides to keep it from caving. For their work these men were paid $1.25 per day. Mr. Mollenhour also received a small salary from the town as marshall. We owe these men for the very fine job they did under difficult conditions, in fact quite a few men in the early part of Mentone did work for which we now benefit.
We began to hear talk of railroad to be called the Goldspike. It was supposed to start at Detroit and go to St. Louis. It would come near Mentone, so of course we were interested, a few surveys were made but the project was dropped. Now the Interurbans using electric motors were beginning to spread out over the country. There had been a line connecting South Bend and Elkhart for some time. Now there was talk of extending the line south, possible this line went to Goshen at this time but no farther. The Winona Interurban R. R. was formed, each township which it passed through was asked to grant a subsidy to assist in the building, the line between Warsaw and Goshen was built first and was in operation quite a while. Then the question of a subsidy was voted on in Harrison and Franklin townships, the vote was favorable in Franklin township, but lost in Harrison. I think there was some few individuals who made contributions in Harrison so it was decided to build. Work was started about 1908, the grading was done by wheelbarrows, mules and horses. It took a long time just to build the grade. The contractors were Butterfield on the north end and Lidgard on the south, finally the grade was finished and track was laid to Mentone. The first car came as far as Claude Barkmans. We then had trolley service to Warsaw, cars run every hour and were well patronized, now the effort was made to connect the lines south. There was a lot of difficulty in getting through under the Nickel Plate R.R. the ground was springy there and the work trains being quite heavy would get off the track, but they finally got through. An old railroad know as the Eel River from Peru to Chile was purchased and cars were soon running between Peru and Chili. Now to connect the two ends. Finally in 1910 this was accomplished and we had interurban service as far south as Louisville Kentucky. [end of 17th article]
(B. Miner note: I might add my appreciation for the contributions of some of the people of Mentone for the completion of the Winona Lake Interuban. My dad (Earl Shinn) while he was serving in WW 1, started writing to a school teacher in Chili (my mother) Dad was originally from Mentone and upon his discharge for the service, went back home to Mentone but still kept up his correspondance with mom. Their entire courtship was the result of the Interurban running from Mentone to Chili. Dad would go down on Saturday and come back on Sunday. Dad was discharged in December of 1918 and they were married in June 1920. Mom used to say their entire courtship was under the watchful eye of her parents and 3 younger sisters and her brother.)
ANOTHER WOODEN ROW DOWN AND OUT
Five buildings including the Fair Store on the Corner of Main and Broadway, Eeast to Ellsworths Shoe-Shop in Ashes
INCIDENTS OF THE FIRE
Next summer will see the burnt district covered with new buildings.
The Gazette was printed a few hours too soon last week to contain
the most exciting event of the week. Last Thursday morning about
5:15 the editor of this paper was awakened by the smell of smoke,
and immediately began an investigation. Not finding the cause
about the printing establishment, we prepared to make an outdoor
search, but before leaving our rooms we observed from our west
window a tongue of fire and smoke making its escape from the top
of the Kime building, occupied by Ben Sell's meat market, four
doors west of us. In passing the building on our way to the engine
house to turn on the fire alarm, we observed no fire in the front,
but as we returned a few minutes later the entire front was out
and the whole two stories were a mass of flames. It is evident
that the smoldering fire had been a long time burning and so completely
filled the building with dense smoke and hot air that an explosion
from this cause occurred. All departments of the fire company
were soon on hand and as effective work as could be expected under
such condition were done. The people turned their attention to
removing the goods from the adjourning buildings. Nothing was
saved from the meat market, and but little from Mr. Lewis' branch
store on the east. Most of the goods in Auginbaugh's harness shop,
Jenkin's fair store, Doddridge's jewelry store and Byer Brothers'
packing rooms, were carried out and scattered about the streets.
Only a part of the goods were taken from David Ellsworth's shop.
L. D. Manwaring lost considerable amount of his household goods
which were stored in the rooms over the harness shop. Isaac Sarber,
the tailor over the Fair Store, lost considerable in the way of
stock and fixtures. Miss Alice Jennings and Miss Lash who had
rooms in the same buildings had considerable of their furnishings
burned. The following is perhaps as fair a general estimate of
the losses as can be made:
L. D. Manwaring, building, stored goods, $2.500; W. W. Kime, building, $1,000; W. D. Garrison, building, $400; Ben Sell, outfit and stock, $650; F.M. Jenkins, damages, $1,500, J. W. Auginbaugh, stock, $30; D. W. Lewis & Son, stock, $600; D. Ellsworth, tools and goods, $30; I. H. Sarber, stock, $40; Misses Jennings and Lash $35; total $6,815.00.
The only insurance carried was $1,000 by Mr. Jenkins and $500 by Ben Sell. The fire leveled everything from Broadway east on the south side of Main street to the alleys west of the Gazette office and north of J. A. Wilson's except Mrs Mollenour's millinery store, Harve Kesler's residence, an old ice house and the little shop on the south end of Manwaring's lot. The Gazette office was warmed up some but was well fortified against the devouring element.
Several persons who felt their appreciation of the kindness and help of their neighbors and friends wanted to publish 'cards of thanks' to that effect, but we persuaded them that it was not necessary. Everybody knows they were thankful. Besides those who did their duty by as they would wish and expect rendering assistance acted only others to do for them if condition should be reversed.
As the people were taking down the goods in the Fair Store, a section of the shelving fell and several persons narrowly escaped serious injury. As it was, Mrs. Sheffield received some bad bruises about her head and face. Del Hall tried to carry out one woman whom he thought was killed, but she got away from him and he couldn't catch her again.
Just because somebody failed to get Central when an effort was being made to answer seventeen calls at once, the story was started that the telephone building was burned and the 'hello' girl with singed locks made a heroic escape, carrying the switch-board under her arm across the street where she set it down in new quarters and preceded with business immediately.
The following from the Peru Journal last Thursday is a sample of what was sent out from Warsaw all over the country:
"The business portion of Mentone, this county, was destroyed this morning by fire. At last report the fire was beyond control."
Strange how people see things differently. Some people heard an explosion which sent the flames and a section of the roof of the Kime building 150 feet into the air. Others standing by heard no sound but the frying of fat in the meat market.
It is acknowledged now that the story that a charge of dynamite under the floor in the harness shop blew Abe Mollenhour up through the ceiling and that he came down without a scratch, was slightly exaggerated. He never got through the ceiling.
The cause of that explosion has been attributed to every conceivable source from the leaking of a gas main in the basement to the bursting of one of Ben's bologna sausages.
Mrs. Mollenhour's millenary goods were moved out, also the household goods from Harvey residences, then moved back when danger was over.
The wires out of town were the hottest on account of the red hot stories that went over them in all directions.
David Ellsworth moved his repair shop into the room formerly occupied by the telephone office, south of the burnt corner.
The Goshen News in its report of the fire includes Mrs. Jennings fine residence, two harness shops and one large shoe store.
The Gazette office and Methodist church were burned by the hot writeups of some of the young 'American' reporters.
Lewis Foor moved the Byer Brother's produce repository into
the rear part of the building now ocuppied by Jenkins.
There is but little doubt but that at least two substantial buildings will go up on the burnt district in the early spring.
The old maxum of it being 'cheaper' to move that to pay rent, doesn't apply in this case.
A purse of $18.00 was made up for David Ellsworth, for which he is especially appreciative.
Miss R. C. Cretcher and her niece, Miss Lizzie Bodey, have taken rooms in the Forst Building.
W. B. Doddridge, with his jewelry store, will be found in the post office.
I. H. Sarber moved his tailor shop up the west stairway in the Banner building.
Several parties were seen laying in a supply from the goods piled upon the streets. Some of them were known.
The school girls secured rooms at Dr. Heffley's residence on Franklin street.
W. B. Doddridge claims that his loss by fire was practically nothing.
The ruins are still smoking.
This was taken from The Tri County Gazette Thursday Feb. 8th 1906 [end of 18th article]
After completion of the main part of the sewer system there began to be a move and sentiment for a water system. As in most cases, it resolved itself into a controversy. However, in the summer of 1912 a meeting was called and the citizens responded with a very large group. As a result of this meeting a committee was appointed to investigate the possibilities, cost and all things that might be of interest to the community.
This committee went to several towns near Mentone, Etna Green, Bourbon, Culver and Plymouth to name a few. On their return the report was favorable. It was felt that a system such as Etna Green had, could be installed here with a minimum expense, that would supply our needs for years.
The National Company of South Bend found out through the brother of Mr. J. F. Cole, the president of the company, that we were interested in installing a water system. He came to Mentone and met with the town board and explained the method of operation. A survey was first made by the National Co. engineers who were employed by the town board for a fee of $50. After this survey, the costs were estimated at $12,000. However, under the laws of Indiana at that time, Mentone could bond itself for only $7,000, thus short $5,000.
Mr. Cole informed the board that under a law; the town could purchase stock in a company organized for the purpose of supplying the town with water.
The town board at that time was made up of the following citizens; Irvin Snyder, Bert VanGilder and James Giffin, who notified the citizens of the plan. A meeting was again held and it was decided to go ahead and organize a corporation to be know as the Mentone Water Co.
Charles Shafer, William Clark and Mahlon Mentzer were selected as organizers of the Mentone Water Co. Each having purchased one share of common stock at $50 per share in order to qualify as directors. The town of Mentone purchased $7,000 of common stock and an issue of $5,000 preferred stock was ordered. We were able to sell $4,700 of preferred stock (at 6% interest). In order for the town to purchase $7,000 of common stock it was necessary to issue bonds which bore a small rate of interest. (I think these were 4 1/2 % bonds) With this money we were then able to go ahead. We now had $11,900 with which to build a water plant. We now are in the process of remodeling our plant and I understand that the paper work before anything can be done, will cost more than the original plant. This will give you an idea of the difference in costs then and now.
The board of directors of the Mentone Water Co., elected Charles Shafer, president, M. O. Mentzer, vice president and William Clark, secretary-treasurer. We entered into a contract with the National Co. to supervise the construction of the system on a cost plus basis. They received 10% for their fees.
Work started in the fall of 1912 and materials were purchased and began arriving.
A crew of men were working on the cement base, made for the tank which had to be installed before the brick work could be finished.
About this time a distention arose. A whispering compaign started rumors of tall tales about graft, misspent money, etc. Always there are those who will listen to the bad things that are told, and quite often a few people follow the leader, who under other circumstances would not have been believed.
A law suit was brought, trying to set aside the purchase of the $7,000 of common stock that the town board had purchased. This suit was held in Warsaw. Those who were opposed objected to our county judge and asked for a change of judges. This was granted and a judge from Whitley Co. presided at the trial. When the evidence was in, the judge ruled that the town board had not exceeded their authority and that the law gave them the privilege of purchasing the stock, and found for the defendants throwing the costs to the plaintiffs. This ended the legal effort to stop the construction of the water plant, but it did not stop vicious tales about those who were spending their time and effort to provide this plant for our citizens. Since I was in this from the first, I wish to say that to my knowledge and belief, there was not one cent misspent. The members of the town board and members of the water company were all out of pocket, but we felt that it was for a good cause and cheerfully made the sacrifice.
In order that the Water Company would have income to pay for the operating expense and interest, in the preferred stock, the town board passed an ordinance appropriating funds of the hydrant rental. This called for $55 per year per hydrant. The company was also given a franchise for the sale of water to consumers at 25 cents per 1000 gallons, with minimum charge of $2.20 for six months.
The law suit caused a little delay in completing the plant and winter was here before we were ready. However, the mains were laid and the construction of the building was almost completed. I remember we had nice weather about Christmas time and with a few bricks to lay, the masons were asked if they would please work on Christmas day in order to finish. I told them they could have groundhog day off. They worked and finished the brick work on Christmas. ( I received a post card from one of the men, a Mr. Hammond, telling me he was taking groundhog day off.) The roof was put on and we had water in the mains January 1st, 1913.
After the completion of the plant, the insurance company adjusted the rates and it was found that in most cases the saving in insurance more than paid the taxes for this improvement.
The opponents of the water plant were not through. At the next town election their group nominated men who said that if elected, they would refuse to make appropriation for funds with which to pay the interest on the bonds. The other side nominated men who were the opposite. We had one of the hottest town elections that was ever held in Mentone. I don't think there was a voter who did not vote. The opponents were defeated and that finished the water fight. It was a good fight while it lasted.
I was in the fight from start to finish, and I'm proud to have had a part in the work of making Mentone a better town in which to live. If the opportunity should present itself again, where I can serve my town and community in any way, though it may be a sacrifice on my part, I shall be pleased to have a part in the betterment of the town and community in which I live. [end of 19th article]
Previous to the installing of the water system, each summer would see a number of typhoid fever cases. A number of deaths occurred as a result of this terible disease. Many open wells and out-door privies were part of the cause of this sickness; however in a a short time, after many people had installed bath rooms and discarded the open wells we began to have less of this disease and now a case of typhoid fever is a rare thing and we should all be thankful.
About this time Billy Sunday the noted evangelist, was holding meetings in some of the large cities [B. Miner note: must have been some generous people in the congregations, was noted in the Mentone paper, that on Sunday's last night in Winona Lake after two weeks meetings , he took back to his home state over $3,000] and was instrumental in bringing a number of people into the church fellowship. The smaller towns were also having revivals and a man by the name Stephens who had been holding such a meeting (at) Berrien Springs, Michigan was contacted by the combined officials of the Baptist and Methodist church here and arrangements were made to hold an evangelistic meeting in Mentone. A tabernacle building was constructed on the lots then vacant west of the Frank Mfg. building, now occupied by Peterson's restaurant and Griffis recreation. Mr. Stephens had a song leader and a number of personal workers. They were well organized and the meetings were quite successful and over one thousand people were persuaded to walk down the saw-dust trail. All churches in the community, although they assumed no responsibility for the success of the meetings, were benefitted. It makes one wonder now almost 50 years later why there isn't more cooperation with church organizations.
We had been taking the dust from gravel streets for years and now began a movement for paving Main street from the west edge of town to the east line. This was about 1916, as near as I can remember. As usual there was controversy on whether or not the benefits would exceed the cost but finally it was decided to pave. Now the question arose should we use cement or brick. This was booted around--first brick would seemingly be the favorite material then it would be cement. Finally it was decided to use cement and the work was started in the summer. Knodle and Miller were the successful bidders and I feel sure they attempted to build according to specifications because when it is necessary to cut through the pavement now you will find it well constructed. In fact I am told that this contract lost the builders money and they were compelled to quit business.
Before the pavement was constructed Mahlon Jefferies had a sprinkling wagon back of Boganwright's Cafe which furnished plenty of water. This was certainly a big improvement but there were a few short sighted people who wouldn't pay for the sprinklings. The town officials paid for the crossings and the merchants for the frontage. As always those who would not pay only made it necessary for others to pay more than their share. I am sure Mr. Jefferies never was overpaid for his time and investment.
World War I was now in the making--rumblings across the sea were being heard in U. S. Finally the Germans sank a steamship and we were in war.
Most of you know the history and outcome of this and following wars. We have so far been successful in our conflicts; may we always be.
In writing the history of Mentone, as I remember it, I have enjoyed going back in memory. No doubt I have left out some things that some remember quite distinctly and I am sure I have missed some amusing and historical points. I have brought this history up to around 1920 and from this time on many of you know the important things as well or perhaps better than I do.
I would like to call you attention to the copies of the Mentone Gazette and other publications that are on file at the Bell Memorial Library. They contain wealth of interesting things that have happened over the years.
I wish also to thank Mr. Cullum for giving me the opportunity of expressing my observations and to thank those of you who have expressed by word or letter their appreciation for this condensed history. Now I am going fishing
M. O Mentzer [end of 20th article]
[B. Miner Notes]
While Mahlon was in business I cut from an early paper, the prices he was running on that week's groceries.
And have your goods delivered free.
We wish to call your attention to our very fine and complete line of Groceries and also the Low Price we are quoting on them this week
25ct Box Gold Dust 18ct
5c Box Gold Dust free with above
1 lb Box soda 8c
8 cakes Lenox soap 10c
2 lb pkg rolled oats 8c
The best 10c coffee in town
Fox's best crackers per pound 5c
Good Prunes per lb 5c
Best Tomatoes per can 12c
Very fine sweet corn per can 8c, others sell at 10c
Very fine apples per bushel $1.20
Very fine potatoes per bushel $1.00
Prosit Fine cut tobacco per pound 20c
Horse shoe 1 plug 40c
Compare these prices with what others ask you and see if you cannot save for 10 to 25 per cent on all the above goods
Yours for business
S. S. Mentzer and son ( it might be noted Samuel S. Mentzer was Mahlon's dad.)
July 30, 1947
OLD HOTEL BUILDING BEING TORN DOWN HERE
This week workman started tearing down one of Mentone's oldest building-the old hotel.
The building is being torn down to make way for a new factory building being constructed by the Frank Seamann interest.
In an effort to secure a little of Mentone's old history, we were directed to Clark Ensberger, who was a young man when Mentone was beginning to appear back in 1882. He lived on a farm three miles from the present city and helped in the building construction, logging and sawmill work.Clark said he got his start at 12 1/2 cents an hour-$7.50 a week with $3.50 going for board.
The first business building was one at the present site of the Farmers State Bank where A. C. Manwaring opened a store in about September 1882.
The hotel building was built in 1883 by George Reed, and some of the lumber came from a sawmill where Mr. Ernsberger worked. Mr. Reed's son, who was a painter, fell 55 feet off the present Mayer Grain Company mill and broke his back. He recovered and lived for a number of years after which it passed into the hands of a Mr. Hatch of Argos, a Mrs. Clap, Mrs. McCall, Jack Burgh, Phil Bowman Frank Bowman, Emanuel Mentzer and possible others. Frank Warren purchased the structure and made a restaurant out of a part of the lower floor, Charles Madeford owned the restraurant for some time and after its purchase by Miner Mollenhour the room turned into a card and pool room. Charles Madeford again come into possession of the building and operated the card room until it was sold to Noble Shaffer.
The west addition to the hotel was built later, with rooms on the second story and a cigar store in the main floor. Men by the names of Sears and Zentz had it until it fell into the hands of "Doc" Thompson who operated it for years.
The part of the structure, occupied by Wade Whetstone's tailor shop for 34 years was built next and it housed the post office for eight or ten years.
After Don Thompson in the cigar store came Marshall Goodman and then John Secrist, who eventually moved across the street near the telephone building where Cooper's store is now located. The next occupant was the experiment unit of the Miracle Arm plant owed by Mr. Saemann.
The building recently occupied by Pete's Store and also slated for destruction to make way for industry, was built by Henry Damon for a butcher shop. This was in '84 or '85 but Mr. Damon shortly discontinued the butcher business and opened a saloon. On to the west George Kimes built another frame restaurant building and next to it "Medy" Creager gave Mentone its first saloon. When business demanded larger quarters Mr. Creager built a larger building around it, never closing "shop" for a minute until the new building was ready, when they moved the old one out the back. That way it wasn't necessary for him to get a new liquor license, etc.
At the present site of the Lake City Machine shop, recently known as the old Ford garage building, Lew Clayton and Clarence Doane built the first hardware store. This business changed hands many times, eventually ending with Robert Reed and his father. A part of the owners were; Bill Leonard, Frank Sarber, N. N. Latimer, Latimer & Bybee.
Many an event has been missed in this brief historical sketch, and possibly the chronological order of ownership, etc, may not be perfect, it is enough to denote that much activity has taken place in and near the old hotel building. after it's departure, a new and modern building will take its place and go on making history for Mentone citizens of the future.
As for the material from the present building, we understand they are destined to go into a lake skating rink.
The Northern Indiana Co-Op News
(Earl Shinn recently persuaded C. L.Teel to write a history of Mentone, and we are indeed grateful for the following excellent response.)
The wrecking of the old Hotel building takes us back to memory to the time when Mentone was born, when the largest thing in the place was large wooden windmill derrick that stood in the corner of a field just where this old hotel building in now being razed. As the writer recalls it, the well beneath this derrick became the town well.
It might be well at his point to mention the naming of the town. "Tucker" was the first name suggested for our town. The name of Mentone, I'm told was suggested by a small girl named Flavia Underhill, later the wife of Carlin Myers and was taken from Mentone, France. In asmuch as Carlin Myers' father, together with Albert Myers Sr., and a Mr. Hackerdorn were instrumental in getting the town located here and due to Carl's regard for this lady the name she suggested was chosen and our town became Mentone. This is the story of the naming as told to the writer.
The first business building was erected by the Manwarings on the present site of the Farmers State Bank building. The hotel building followed soon after. From this time on, buildings sprang up so fast it is hard to recall at this time the succession in which they came. There was a row of frame business buildings extending from the Ellsworth shoe shop north to the corner and west to Byron Linn's repair shop. Included in this row was the Old Opera House built by Wm. Mollenhour. The W. W. Kimes building occupied for many years by Warren Kimes' store. Up and down and in and out in this row, for many years the town's saloons thrived and failed. This row was also the chief home of the restaurant business. Probably more meat has been sold in the rooms of this row of buildings than any place in town. The Farmers State Bank had it origin in one of the buildings now being wrecked. South on Broadway was the Kintzel boarding house later occupied as a home by the Aurelius Vandermark family.
[ B. Miner Notes: William L. Kintzel, the pioneer settler of Mentone was a native of Pennsylvania born in Millersburg, the date of his birth being Aug 25, 1829. In 1882 when the new town of Mentone was surveyed he came to this place and erected its first residence, which he used as a boarding house, in which business he has since been engaged. The family of Mr. Kintzel consisting of his wife and two children, Charles and Clara, and a grandson William B. Shaffer, was the first to locate in Mentone, and at that time the prospect was very forlorn and uninviting but they have witnessed the many changes which have occurred in the past few years, changing the wilderness into a thriving village of wonderful growth.) I'm not sure where this came from but thought it was interesting enough to include in this article.]
Crossing Main Street there was also a row of wooden business rooms extending from Broadway on the east to the alley on the west. This half block was occupied at various times by grocery stores, meat markets, etc. L P Jefferies had a furniture store in the building next to the alley in what was known as Robinson Building. This half block of wooden structures was destroyed by fire February 2, 1902. At the west of this block facing Main and along Tucker street stood the old livery barn, the present site of the Sinclair station. In it's time this old barn was the sight of a thriving business. Hundreds of the country's best horses were taken into this barn later to be shipped to the large city trucking centers. To the east of the old hotel and facing Main street and extending to the alley at the old Gazette office, now occupied by Mentone Produce Co., was a row of wooden structures occupied at one time or another Manwarings general store, the Tipton Harness shop, the Teel and Miller butcher shop, the Belle Mollenhour Milliner store, all of which buildings except the room now occupied by VanGilder Dentistry were destroyed by the fire Feb 2, 1906. Just to the south of the present Farmers State Bank building was a small frame structure, still standing the first home of telephone exchange. Through the efforts of about hundred men, some rope and wrecking hooks, this building was saved from the fire which destroyed the building in this half block.
Crossing Main street north, we have what was the first really permanent business building of the town. Known as the Banner Block extending to part from Broadway on the west to Morgan street on the east. Among the first occupants of these business rooms was the Forst General store, now occupied as a drug store. The Forst store was the first store in town to be lighted by electricity. These lights were produced by electrical fusing of two carbon sticks. Next to this room, now a cafe, was a skating rink. Next was the N. N. Latimer hardware store, now occupied by Hill and Lemler grocery. The writer is uncertain as to the earlier occupancy of the next three rooms but L. P. Jefferies Furniture Store, The Big Drug Store and the Milbern hardware were some of the earlier occupants. The room which is now the Cooper Store was the First National Bank for a number of years.
Crossing the alley and now occupied by our telephone exchange an the barber shop was the D. W. Lewis dry goods and grocery store. Father along on the corner was the old Creamery building now the dental parlors and the home of Dr. F.B. Davison. At the rear of the Forst building was a room, now a doctor's office, which at one time was occupied by the John Tabor Bank, later merged with the Farmers State of Mentone and operated by L. D. Manwaring and Elmer M. Eddinger.
Leaving the center part of town we will try to call to mind some of the outstanding features of the old town. One of the first to mention was the George Jefferies sawmill which got a great majority of the lumber that went into the building of the residences in the earlier part of the life of the town. The mill housed the first dynamo that furnished the first electric lights in Mentone. The lights were turned on at dusk and turned off a ten or eleven at night. This mill stood on the present site of the Smith Grocery in the south west part of the town. Just north of this was the old grist mill whose first miller was E. M. Eddinger, later the banker. Then there was the Lash stave mill, the Mollenhour and Moon sawmill, the Fitzgibbons boat oar factory and the grain elevators, all of these being located in the block south and west of the depot. Next to mention was the large band saw mill of Val Brown and Son, located just north of the present Mollenhour sawmill. Next to the northwest part of town to the Manwaring box factory where the first egg case that the writer ever saw was built. This factory was destroyed by fire some years later.
Other places of interest were the old M. P. Church which stood where Ray Rush now lives. The building was removed by L. P. Jefferies to its present location and is now Stanford's garage. The first Baptist church building now replaced by the beautiful new structure stood on the site of the present building. The Mc. M. Forst building (called Mery-Go-Round from the nature of its structure) was moved to the its present location, the Dana Starr residence on Main Street and the Church of Christ building was erected in 1909. The old M. E. church building has taken its place, too, in giving Mentone three fine church edifices. There was the old wooden school house that stood where the old brick structure stood which recently was destroyed by fire. The electric light plant which preceded the present lighting system was housed in the old portion of what is now the town hall and fire department. The only automobile ever built in Mentone was built in the A. T. Mollenhour Machine Shop by Amos Mollenhour and his son Clark. The building, later the home of the Ernsberger Lumber Co. is now operated by Elmore Fenstermaker in the production of eggs. But the sweetest place in town was the I. K. Smith sorghum mill at the extreme north end of Franklin street.
The first store to be opened in Mentone was the Manwaring store, where the bank now stands. Probably the next was the Allen Blue store which stood just east of where the present stockyards are located. The building was one which was moved from what was formerly called Chicago, just one mile west of Mentone and which accounts for several homes at that point. Mc. M.Forst was another of the first liners.
Now coming to the more prominent personages of the early life of our town, it is fitting to mention the following; C. L. Ernsberger is perhaps the only living man today who has seen the town grow from its origin to its present state and has been in business nearly the entire existence of the town. There was D. L. Lewis, Dry goods and groceries; Hayden Ray, harness; John Dunlap, groceries; L.. P. Jefferies, furniture; Wm Huff, blacksmith; Henry Daman, butcher; Cal. Shinn; butcher; A. L. Ketterman, mason; James Cox and Elmer Leiter, horse dealers; W. Kimes grocery; Phillip Bowman, hotel prop.; John Johnson, lawyer; Mace Wertenberger, hardware; Melvin and Allen Milbern, hardware; Nash N. Latimer, hardware; H. D. Pontius, monuments; Philetus Leiter, carriage maker; John Welch, livery; Henry Mills, barber; Louis Salinger, clothing; Riley Ralston, carpenter; Loyd Dunlap, carpenter; David Dillingham, carpenter; Roland Ferry, electrician; Charles Casad, acrobat; John Lee, laborer; John Sellers, drugs; W. B. Doddridge, drugs; R. Railsback , undertaker; Will Clark general store; C. L. Ernsberger, drayman and lumber dealer; S. S. Mentzer, general store; Socrates Martin, retired farmer; C. M Smith, publisher; Jack Tipton, harness; John Clark, mason's helper; Frank Bowman, lawyer; Ernsberger and Mills alone surviving this group.
Who lives now that can recall the old mud streets, the town sprinkler to keep the dust down in dry weather, the cisterns in the street intersections as a water supply to fight fire, the old pump to fight fires pumped by teams of men on either side of the pump, the arched street lighting system, and before that the carbon lights at street intersections, the open toilets and swarms of accompanying flies, the hitchracks, the people now dead that came into town in the buggy or the wagon to visit or do shopping, the old wooden seats in front of all the business places where the people sat and enjoyed the scenery or fought flies or missed the curb with their tobacco? Who can now recall when we all rushed down to the depot to see the train come in? Who still remembers the staggering drunk and the stench that came from the drinking places There were the street brawls and "cooler" where they got a chance to think things over. And who remembers the oil well located just east of the cemetery where the writer has fifty dollars worth of post holes still for sale. And best of all, who living today does not recall when we got the city water system and streets paved and the Winona railroad which has now been abandoned.
In fancy the writer looks back and sees all these people and business pass and fade away as the morning fog before the rising sun and a new day is ushered in. So has the fog been taken from our town and a new era ushered in, making our town not only a good place to which to live but a place where every citizen should be proud to say MENTONE -MY HOME TOWN.
C. L. Teel
Mentone Co Op News
June 30, 1948
Early history of Mentone & Community
(The following records are based on the Mentone Gazette, Feb.5, 1885. information given by Clark Ernsberger, Mrs Charles Biddleman, Mrs. Flavia Tinkey, and Mrs. John Underhill.)
EARLY HISTORY OF HARRISON TOWNSHIP
Harrison Township in which a part of Mentone lies, was organized on March 8, 1838. The two first settlers were James Wooden and Andrew Sell, who built their log cabins in the township in the spring of 1834. In 1836 eight more families came into the township: Christian Sarber, Isham Summy, William Blue, Joseph Shively, Thomas Reed, John and Daniel Underhill and Thomas Romine.
The first school house in Harrison township was erected in 1838 with Henry Bradley as teacher. The first postoffice was established in 1836 at the home of James Wooden. In 1849 an M. E. church was organized at the home of J. W. Dunnuck and in 1851 a log church was erected on Section 31.
EARLY HISTORY OF FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP
Franklin Township which is also occupied by a part of Mentone was organized in March, 1838 at which time eight white families were residents of the territory. Benjamin Blue was the first white man to locate within the township and what was later to be the corporate limits of Mentone. Mr Blue moved his family to a home built in bark that had been built by the Indians, and fires had to be kept burning at night to keep the hungry wolves from the door.
In 1838 Dr. I. H. Jenning, Benjamin West, Jesse Myers, Richard A. Lee, James Garwin, John Dunnuck and Prosper Nichols became residents of the township.
Prosper Nichols brought the first wagon to the township and his daughter, Anna, was married to Hugh Bryant in 1840, the first wedding in the township.
BEGINNING AND EARLY HISTORY OF MENTONE
The land now occupied by most of Mentone was part of the 80 acres purchased from the government by William Blue. It was next owned by Benjamin Blue, then by John Vantresse and later was purchased by John Morgan.
Albert Tucker purchased this land from John Morgan's widow. He also purchased 15 acres from Samuel Lee. About that time the Nickle Plate railroad was built and there was considerable agitation about the building of a new town and choice of suitable location. Some wished to build it farther west that Mr. Tucker's land and some wished it to be built farther east.
In May 1882, Albert Tucker founder of Mentone surveyed the plat where Mentone is now located and laid out the town as far east as Morgan street, and west to Etna Street, with the exception of the northwest corner of the town. This corner was owned and laid out by Jim Blue and was known as the Blue addition) Later Phil Bowman bought land of the Chris Sarber heirs and laid out the Bowman addition.
The first building was erected in the new town was begun on September 5, 1882. William Kintzel was the first pioneer to erect a residence on the new town plat. His house was finished and occupied on November 5, 1882. It was located on South Broadway, south of the Farmers State Bank.
However, Mr. Kintzel was not the first person to live in the new town. There were already one dwelling house in Mentone when the town was laid out. (The old Morgan house which is now owned by Rev DeWitt) [B. Miner note: I believe this to be the old parsonage just west of the Methodist church] The first woman to live in Mentone was Mrs. Charles Biddleman of Sevastopol. Mr and Mrs. Biddleman moved into the Morgan house and Mrs. Biddleman cooked for all the men engaged in building the new town.
The honor of being the first child born in Mentone is claimed by Charles Dillingham, son of David and Sarah Kintzel Dillingham. [B. Miner note: Charles was born Oct. 1883 died June 28, 1955]
Northern Indiana CO-OP News
July 7, 1948
Mr. Albert Tucker was the original founder of Mentone, but he later deeded one third interest to each, William H Hackerdorn, and George W. Myers, of Findlay Ohio. It was Mrs. George Myers (mother of Carl Myers ) who gave Mentone its name.
The first business building in Mentone was erected by Mr. Artemus Manwaring (1857-1920) .As soon as completed it was stocked with a large stock of general merchandise. Messrs C. E. Doane and L. S. Clayton erected the second business building and opened a hardware store on December 25, 1882.
Jan 1, 1883 the postoffice was moved form Oak Ridge to Mentone with John Johnston as postmaster.
Northern Indiana CO-OP News
June 16, 1948 excerpts
OakRidge postoffice, first located east of Mentone on what is now the Abe Whetstone farm, was established in 1870's. In 1882 the postmaster was Mr. John Johnston ( an uncle of Levi Jefferies who also operated a store at Oak Ridge). Dec 6, 1882, Mr. Johnston moved his store and the postoffice to Mentone and located where Mrs. Yocum now lives.
Another postoffice was established near Mentone in the 1870's. It was named Yellow Creek and was located on the land which is now occupied by the homes of Mrs. Fred Swick and Mr. Truman Long (who live just west of Mentone) . Yellow Creek postoffice was a part of the small village called Little Chicago. There was in the village a M. P. Church, a drug store, Billy Hyer's blacksmith shop, two sawmills, three dwellings and a general store operated by Mr. Allen Blue. When Mentone was built the business buildings at Yellow Creek were moved to Mentone.
The M. P. Church was also moved to Mentone and occupied the site now owned by Mr. Ray Rush. Later it was abandoned and sold. It was moved across the Nickle Plate railroad and is now occupied by Tommy Stanford's garage. In the 1860s a Star Route was created and operated by horses and a hack between Warsaw, Palestine and Oakridge, Sevastopol and Beaver Dam. This hack carried both mail and passengers. From Oakridge postoffice the mail was carried to the Yellow Creek post office by a man on foot. The Star Route was abandoned with the building of the Nickle Plate RR and founding of Mentone and Burket.
RECORD OF MENTONE POSTOFFICE
(Listed first is the name of the postoffices, then the date of appointment, and the probable location of the office at that time.)
John Johnston, Dec 6, 1882 where Mrs. Yocum lives
A. C. Manwaring, Oct 24, 1883, where Farmers State Bank is now located.
C. E. Doane, April 8, 1884, same location
Lewis S. Clayton , Sept 1, 1885 Dr. Urschel's building.
W. C. Wilkinson May 18, 1889 where Wade Whetstone operated his tailor shop for many years.
Unie Clark, June 22, 1893, same location
John G. Owen, Aug 27, 1896, same location
Austin Milburn, Aug 2, 1897 site of the new Lake City building
John Frank Bowman, Feb 14, 1907 same location
Lloyd Dunlap, Aug. 30, 1913, east of the present location of telephone office
Earl R. Shinn, March 23, 1922 where the print shop is now located
Lloyd Rickel June 16, 1934 corner of Main and Broadway.
Early History of Mentone continued from above
Northern Indiana CO-OP News
July 7, 1948
Samuel Garrison the fourth man to engage in business in Mentone opened with a large stock of boots and shoes in the spring of 1883. As soon as the town of Mentone was platted, Mr. Mac Forst of Sevastopol picked out a lot. On October 8, 1882 work was started on a store building located on the present site of the Mentone Drug Store and on February 1, 1883, Mr. Forst moved his general store form Sevastopol to Mentone.
In 1884 a flour mill was opened for business by a. C. Manwaring and Samuel Mentzer.
The first schoolhouse in Mentone, a two story, wood building was erected in 1883 on Broadway with Frank Crutcher as the first teacher.
Dr Joseph A Chandler was the first physician to locate in Mentone. He left Mentone in 1886 and Dr. John Heffly, the first physician to locate in Burket, moved to Mentone.
A four page newspaper with the two center pages stock printed, and only two pages, the front and back containing local news and advertising, was the set-up of the first newspaper ever published in Mentone. It was published on February 5, 1885.
W. C. Wilkson was the editor. Several local news items taken
from Mentone's first paper, follow:
"The Mollenhour Opera House foundation has been laid. The Opera House is 84 feet long and 42 feet wide, and will be two stories high. It will be one of the finest entertaining centers of this section.
"Married at the residence of and by Rev. David Foley: Mr. Noah Ailer and Miss Mahala Baker on Jan. 20.
"Hudson and Whetstone have leased the Bisel barn, and are now prepared to accommodate the traveling public and home trade with teams, buggies, etc..
Early History of Mentone
Northern Indiana CO-OP News
July 14, 1948
The growth of Mentone was rapid. The population increased in three years from one family of four persons, to more than 600 inhabitants. In the Mentone Gazette of Nov 14, 1885, C. C. Smith editor, we find a map of Mentone showing 193 dwellings and business buildings. This Nov. 14, 1885 Gazette and all the issues of the Mentone papers which followed it down to the present time are on file at the Mentone Library and can be examined at any time.
However the papers of the period, Feb. 5, 1885, W. C. Wilkson, editor, to Nov. 14, 1885, C. M. Smith, editor, are not on file. If anyone in the community has copies of the Mentone Gazette for that period, Feb. 5 to Nov. 14, 1885, we would appreciate very much the permission to file them in the library for the use of future generations.
In 1885 there were two teachers in the Mentone school, Prof. Boggess and Miss Kilkenson, and 100 pupils were enrolled.
In December 1885 the County Board of Commissioners acted favorably upon a petition of incorporation and Mentone became an incorporated town. On Jan 6, 1886, an incorporation election was held to elect town officers. The following officials were elected; Richard C. Railsbach, Solomon Arnsberger, and John Yantiss, members of the town board; Stephen Boggess, clerk; Loren Manwaring, treasurer; S. S. Zentz, marshall.
On Dec 12, 1885 the William Raber post of the Grand Army of the Republic was organized in Mentone with 13 members.
The same month J. W. Sellers sold his drug store to Mr. J. B. Doddridge of Galvia, Illinois.
On Jan 16, 1886, two more attorneys were admitted to the Mentone bar, bringing the number of lawyers in Mentone to a total of 13.
In March, 1886, a third teacher was hired for the Mentone school and the lower room was divided into two departments.
Feb 20, 1886, John Bond, T. J. Colbert and John Brubaker, the parties owning the invention known as the Bond fanning mill, made arrangements with the Mentone Machine and Novelty Mill to manufacture and sell their new and revolutionary fanning mill. They expected to employ between two and three hundred workmen.
In March of 1886, a ladder ordinance was passed requiring all building owners to keep a ladder in their buildings for fire protection. In April, 1886, the Mentone Hook and Ladder Co. was organized and met to order hook and ladder equipment for fire fighting in Mentone.
The Mentone Normal School opened on July 19, 1886 for an initiatory term of ten weeks, under the superintendency of Profs. Boggess and Sellers, and with an enrollment of 69. The plan of this new boarding school was similar to that of Valparaiso Norman school.
Early History of Mentone
Northern Indiana CO-OP News
August 4, 1948
At the beginning of the year 1888, Mentone was at the height of its prosperity. Its population was estimated at 1,000. During that year a new newspaper the Enterprise was started, and the other newspaper, the Mentone Gazette became a daily newspaper with it own telegraph line to the outside world in its Dispatch room and its own engraving department.
Among the industries, offices and business places located in Mentone were the following:
Three drygoods stores, groceries, a hardware store, three drug stores, two jewelry stores, a shoe store, two millinery stores, a furniture store, a harness shop, a meat market, a bakery, a restaurant, two hotels, a saloon, a livery barn, two grain elevators, two barbershops, a creamery, a poultry dressing plant, a sewing machine office, two blacksmiths, teamsters, draymen, three physicians, an undertaker, a photographer, thirteen lawyers, three well drivers, two masons, a piano and organ instructor, a bank, a building and loan association, a planing mill, a wheelbarrow factory, a novelty works, wagon makers, manufacturer of tin ware, two sawmills, a flour mill, a brass and iron foundry, etc.
The following items were copies from issues of the Mentone Gazette during the year of 1888:
"A circle fox hunt will take place today, centering on Rudolf Hires' farm near Sevastopol. The lines will form at ten o'clock as follows: beginning at the Burket and following the railroad to Mentone for the north line, then south to Samuel Cook's corners, forming the west line, thence east to M. M. Alexander's schoolhouse, forming the south line; thence north to Burket forming the east line. All are invited to join in the sport. No fire arms are allowed."
"The citizens will do well to keep their eyes open for the new $5 counterfeit silver certificates. Logansport has been flooded with them and they are liable to come here at any time. One peculiarity in the bill is the thread mark running the length of it. In the genuine there are two threads. It is a dangerous counterfeit, one calculated to deceive anybody that is not posted in regard to it."
The members of the Horse Thief and Detective Association will meet at Mentone on April 24 to transact important business."
The Free Masons now have a organization of their order at this pace perfected. Following are the names of the officers: Dr. Stockberger, W.M.; W. H. Eiler, S.W., William Thompson, J.W.; Rev Reeves, S.D.; L.L. Latimer. J.D.; A. E. Batrchelor, S.S.; John Dunlap, J.S.; Pierce Arnsbarger, T.W; C. Wilkinson, Sec.; William Fifer , Treas."
The new town house is nearing completion. It will be quite a creditable building, furnishing ample protection for the fire engine, hose cart, hook and ladder wagon and other town property. There are also two cells for the safe confinement of persons who may need special care."
Mr. G. W. Turner who now resides at Jasper, Missouri, has invented and has patented an egg case for the use of farmers, and within the last few months has sold territory to the amount of $10,000. His brother Allen and C. E. Deane, of this place have undertaken to supply Indiana with the articles, and they are considering the practicability of establishing a factory for making them here.
Mrs. Lydia Rynearson, who moved to Mentone in 1887, tells that she can well remember sitting on her porch in the summer of 1888 and listening to the wonderful singing in the Negro camp meeting which was held in a grove along the creek west of the present Artley Cullum home. Mrs. Rhynearson has lived in Mentone continuously since 1887. Can anyone beat that record? She and her husband Frank built and lived in four new houses in Mentone during that time.
Early History of Mentone
Northern Indiana CO-OP News
August 11, 1948
During the year 1889, several new industries started up in Mentone including a carriage factory, a new tile factory, a new wagon shop, a feather renovator, a broom making shop, and Manwaring Brothes new brick factory building which housed a factory for the manufacture of wooden novelties.
In noting sure marks of business prosperity in Mentone, the editor of the Mentone Gazette remarked that he counted 52 teams at one time on the streets of Mentone of a Saturday afternoon and that one of the seven egg buyers in Mentone took in 300 dozen eggs on a Saturday and shipped 35 barrels of eggs a week.
The Mentone Gazette became an eight page weekly and discontinued the daily feature. The Enterprise was also a weekly paper published in Mentone.
A new church was built at Cooks Chapel at a cost of $3,900 and dedicated Feb, 10, 1889.
The school enrollment at Mentone included 107 in the elementary grades and 73 in the high school. Warsaw advertised a prosperous new business college.
A. C. Manwaring was elected state representative from Kosciusko county and was soon recognized as an able legislator and appointed as a member of four different committees during his first year in the house, an unusual honor for so new and young a member.
Warsaw, still drilling for gas passed through a two foot strata of bituminous coal.
Work on a new Methodist Episcopal parsonage was begun. It was located on the lot west of the church and was to be a frame building costing between $700 and $800.
Dr Melvin Yocum completed his studies at the Electric Medical Institute of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Frequent newspaper mention is made of organization of White Caps in various towns surrounding Mentone including the following item copied from the Mentone Gazette: "White Caps performed an outrage in Rochester last Thursday night. They took a Mrs. Platt out of her house and whipped her severely."
Numerous horse runaways and buggies smashups are recorded in the Mentone Gazette, including the following; " A lively runaway and smash up at the east edge of town last Sunday. Ellias Smith and Harvey Anderson attempted to pass a buggy in front of them when the buggy was upset and badly broken. The horse continued running with shafts and front wheels attached and when finally stopped, it was considerably hurt."
OTHER NEWSPAPER ARTICLES:
Jan 16, 1907
The northside meat market changed hands this week, Cal Shinn having purchased the interests of Messrs. Rickel, Meredith and Igo. Mr Shinn has had considerable experience in the business having run a shop in Mentone on former occasions. His son Earl will assist him in the business.
Mar 8, 1923
About 75 citizens of Mentone and vicinity met at the town hall last Sunday afternoon to listen to a lecture of the Ku Klux Klan given by a member of the organization. His talk was very interesting and a number of questions were discussed during the afternoon, but no organization was formed that afternoon.
A very interesting and enthusiastic meeting of the Commercial Club was held at the Library Monday evening. A Community Building was again the principle topic discussed. Our County Agent, Mr. Parker told of the experiences other Communities were having with this proposition and gave a number of helpful suggestions in securing the Community Building for Mentone. Plans are now being rapidly formed to do something more than 'discuss' this question. A committee consisting of A. I. Nelson, M. O. Mentzer, L. P. Jefferies, O. N. Igo and Charles Kern was appointed to form plans for a canvas of the community for funds and other details pertaining to a permanent organization. A miniature Community Building is already on display at the Farmer State Bank and is attracting a lot of attention.
May, 1897 Memorial Day
A partial list of the soldiers who enlisted in the vicinity of Mentone, now dead and most of them buried in unknown graves.
Charles Dewel, killed at Nashville Tenn. He lived a few days after he was wounded. His leg was amputated and he never recovered from the shock.
William Raber, was very sick at Nashville, Washington Bybee went after him and brought him home and cared for him till he died. He only lived a short time, as his life was almost gone when he got home. He enlisted a strong healthy young man weighing 150 pounds. When he got home he was so emaciated he only weighed 80 pounds.
John Raber, brother of William died at Nashville.
Levi Bybee was killed at the battle of Chicamauga. He rests among the unknown dead doing his duty.
Adoniga Smart was killed at Chicamaunga.
Newton Hoke was killed at the battle of Resacka, Georgia
Jesse Herron was killed on the skirmish line. He was brave almost to rashness.
David Wallace died at Gallatin Tenn.
Jacob Hartman died at Gallatin, Tenn
Thomas Hartman was killed at the battle of the Wilderness in Virginia. Andrew Messersmith died in the hospital at Gallatin, Tenn.
Henry Smith a relative of the Mentzers, was killed in a charge near Nashville.
Nathan Albertson died at home while on furlough
Samuel Winters was killed in some battle near Chattanooga, Tenn
Thomas B Hoskins lived till the was closed and the surgeons thought best to leave him in the hospital till he got strength enough to stand the trip home, but he died and his wife and two little boys never saw him. Only a small bundle of blue clothing was all they ever knew of him.
Levi Myers died on a boat on the way from New York to Washington City, the boat was crowded and he had to lie on the floor on a pile of coal. He was brought home and buried.
Charles Washam was killed at the battle of Richmond, Ky. His company went into battle before some of them had drawn their guns. Washam was advised not to go with the company as he had no gun, but he went and was killed in the first fire.
J. Beeson was also killed at Richmond Ky. He was a half brother of William Beeson.
Jacob Andreick who was wounded at Chickamauga died at Ringold, Georgia
Following is the list of soldiers buried in the cemetery at Mentone
Co L, 74th Regt Ind, Vol, Inf.
Horace H Wharton Co B. 19th
Moses Herron Co K 74th
Joseph Nelson Co E 17th
Samuel W. Dille Co C 100th
John Maggart Co C 66th Ohio
Benjamin Smith Co F 87th Ind
William B Wharton Co A 26th
John I Cox Co I 47th
D. N. Brown Co B 74th
Philip McNeal Co L 10th Ohio Vol Cav
William L Kintzel Co L 10th Ohio Vol Cav
Mentone's first basketball-Little Giants 1903-1904- consisted
of Coach Clark Mollenhour, Mack Turner, Homer Mentzer, Earl Baker,
Herbert Bennett, Emmett Dunlap [B. Miner notes: there is a picture.]
D. C. Heffley
Apr 30, 1903
Like all other organizations our public schools have a history. Up till 1883 the school building of this immediate vicinity was located on the present site of Marion Heighway's residence. In appearance the building resembled the rural district school house of that time. As far as I am able to learn Miss Dora Gochenour and Mary Uplinger were the last teachers of that school.
In the spring of' '83, since Mentone had increased in population, the old building was no longer large enough to accomodate the pupils. So after some discussion, Mr.Richel and Mrs Everly, the trustee, decided to build a larger building where the school house now stands.
The construction was soon begun and in the fall was finished. It was a large frame building, heated by stoves, and unlike our present building, it was surrounded on the north and east by woods and a rail fence.
Frank Cretcher, assisted by Miss Anne Melick, taught the first term in the new building. Following these were: O. A. Harding, Miss Effie Brindley, Mr Boggess, Mr. Porter, Mr Gunder, Mrs Poffenberger and Mr Sloan. The high school was first established by Mrs Gunder and more thoroughly organized by Sloan, the last teacher in the old frame building. The history would not be complete, if I did not mention one peculiarity of Mr. Sloan. He was not satisfied with the diligence of the teacher of the lower rooms, in observing the discipline of the school and consequently holes were bored in the doors of the different rooms. Through these holes the gentleman often took a birdeye's view of the rooms and many times the unruly youngsters were surprised by the appearence of the professor with a hickory paddle. You know what followed.
In 1893 our present school building was built by the architect A. L. Kramer, under the superivision of the Trustees, A.G. Wertenberger, L. P. Jefferies, and C. E. Doran. It consists of six rooms, well lighted, heated and ventilated. It also has all the latest improvement for the comfort of the pupils.
The instructors of the schools since the construction of the new building are as follows; O. H. Bowman, Miss Belden, Miss Esther Martin, W. L. Fish, Miss Mary Otis, Miss Leona Blue, O. E. Goshert, C. K. Hudson, I. A. Meredith, Miss Alice Jennings, Miss R. C. Cretcher and W. H. Davis our present principal.
While the public has always been back of the school, as a matter of course, the officials to whom have been entrusted the administration of affairs, are largely responsible for the growth or decay of any system of schools.
Among the persons who have served on the Board of Education and have very materially assisted in the progress of the schools, are the following; C. E.Doane, A.G. Wertenberger, L. P. Jefferies, J. W. Dunlay, Dr E. Stockberger, M. Heighway, Dr. J. W. Heffley. W. A. Forst, Dr.W.Lewis and E. M Eddinger.
As a whole we are very much indebted to the teachers and officers names above, for our schools at the present time are in an excellent condition, a condition, that indicates growth in the past and a bright outlook for the future.
Our schools as such, insure good instruction. santiary surroundings, and all that is inviting to persons in pursuit of learning. It is thought that in the near future, another year will be added to the high school and then our officials will present you with a registered diploma on the completion of the course. With this improvement our's would certainly became a model of public school.