In the spring of 2015, I took a trip to Marshall County with a few friends to trace the route of the former Vandalia Railroad, also known as the Eel River Railroad. We also ventured into neighboring Fulton County and that’s where I took this photo of the concrete bridge abutments for the old Vandalia Railroad. This is the Tippecanoe River and you can also see part of County Road 900 West in the photo. It is more specifically in Aubbeenaubbee Township (that’s right) near the small community of DeLong. The Vandalia Railroad was formed in 1905 as the result of a merger. It was later part of the Pennsylvania Railroad. I could go into more detail, but the history of railroad mergers and buyouts is sometimes complicated. I’ve taken photos of remnants of this railroad elsewhere, for one example in South Whitley, and posted on this blog. Bridge abutments are so obvious because of their size and stand out because there is no longer a bridge above.
Bridge abutments in Fulton County.
Here’s a building with quite a long history in Goshen. According to the Elkhart County property records, the building located in the 100 block of West Jefferson Street, west of Main Street, was built in 1925. Originally it may have been an automobile dealer. I do know the 1941 Goshen City Directory shows Clyde C. Werner owned a Chrysler dealership at this address. By 1945, though, the city directory showed it was known as Smith Auto Works & Supply Co. A friend told me he bought auto parts there in the 1960s. It was still under the Smith name at that time. Currently it appears as though the building serves as a garage and also an auto parts dealer. It certainly has the look and feel of a much older building. I could picture an automobile dealership being located here at one time. I also know there were several more dealerships located in town than there are presently. After World War II, cars were coming off the assembly lines in huge numbers and the demand was greater. Things have obviously changed since then. Fewer people buy new cars now.
Old automobile service building in Goshen.
Mills producing various kinds of flour are becoming a thing of the past. Truthfully, most of these mills have been closed and torn down. As you could imagine, there isn’t much of a market for this when flour and bread can be obtained elsewhere quicker. In the past, though, a mill was one of the most important things and the need was great because bread was a staple of the human diet. People would travel several miles to get to a mill. Shown in the photo is a remnant of the old mill off Dixie Drive, north of Backwater Road in Tippecanoe Township just outside of North Webster. It was originally known as Boydston’s Mill. There were different owners of it through the years and it was burned and rebuilt more than once. Eventually it was renamed the North Webster Roller Mill. At one time it produced three different brands of flour and also corn meal. But times changed and the mill became less vital to the local economy, though the mill dam was the key to the existence of a nearby lake. The mill burned to the ground in 1949 when it was owned by the Long brothers and was never rebuilt. All that remains today is part of the concrete foundation, part of which is shown in the photo.
Remnant of old roller mill near North Webster.
I guess I’m on a roll with former gas station buildings the last few weeks, so I’ll continue this week. Shown is a former Sinclair gas station in Syracuse on Huntington Street, also State Road 13, in Syracuse, Kosciusko County. According to county property records, the building was built in 1937. A man named E.A. Gast purchased the property at about that time and had the Sinclair station built. There were multiple owners of the station through the years including Theldon “Bud” Kline. It may have been known as Lyle’s Service Station at one time. Bud Kline owned it from 1948 to 1955 and then entered the excavating business. Although he probably had some help at times, he was essentially a one-man show when he owned the station. He pumped gas, washed windshields, checked fluids and tire pressure, checked belts and hoses and did oil changes and other mechanical work. In 1968, a thrift shop opened for business the building and it is still a thrift shop today. Obviously this building hasn’t changed a whole lot since it served as a gas station.
Former Sinclair gas station in Syracuse.
Here’s another building in Goshen that once served as a gas station. It’s on the southwest corner of Madison (US 33) and Seventh streets. I’m not sure what type of business is there now, but I’m told it was once a real estate office. This is an example of a building that is not so obvious at first glance it was a gas station at one time. I checked some old Goshen city directories and found a Miller’s Super Service listed in the 1948 directory at this address. By 1957 it was known as Miller’s Gulf Service. It’s possible Elmer Miller may have been the owner of the gas station. There may have been a connection between this Gulf station and the one I featured last week on the west side of town. Elmer Miller may have owned both stations at the same time. An ad in the 1957 directory noted Miller’s Gulf Service would pick up and deliver your car while you were at work. In addition to lube jobs, tires, batteries and accessories, car washes were also done at the station. That was pretty common for gas stations in that era. I’m guessing now it’s probably hard to find many car servicing businesses willing to pick up and deliver cars to one’s place of employment.
Former Gulf gas station in Goshen.
Just before Christmas last year, I stopped at a friend’s house on CR 800 South, east of State Road 5 and near South Whitley in Cleveland Township, Whitley County. She had told me earlier about finding part of what appears to be a cornerstone for a cemetery. I noticed on the 1916 township plat map a cemetery was shown in this location. At that time, Orville Ulrey owned 159.5 acres of land where the cemetery was located. But there hasn’t been a cemetery there for many years, and I’m not really sure when it was abandoned. Supposedly the graves were dug up and transferred to another cemetery though my friend is not sure that is what really happened. There may be graves still there and no longer marked because the tombstones were plowed over. The Whitley County Genealogical Society web page shows the cemetery was known as the Kreider Cemetery, though it may have actually been the Keiser Cemetery. There is not much information listed on that web page other than the graves were supposedly relocated to somewhere near Tunker. There is really no visible evidence remaining a cemetery once existed there.
Remnant of abandoned cemetery cornerstone in Whitley County.
Sometimes it is fairly easy to tell if an existing building was once a gas station. Other times, you have to look closer to really catch it. I would say this building is fairly easy to come to the conclusion it was a gas station at one time. It is located on U.S. 33, also known as Pike Street, in Goshen across from Pletcher Auto Sales. I’m not for sure as to the exact year it was originally a gas station, but 1957 is the first year I saw it listed in a Goshen city directory. It could be found in directories up through the year 1971 when it was known as Ted’s Westside Gulf. At that time, there was also an East Side Gulf Service station. In 1957, I should say, it was known as Miller’s Gulf Service. By 1960 it had become Westside Gulf Service. It is believed Pep Auto Sales moved into the building in about 1972 and it remains Pep Auto Sales. If you drive around Goshen you will notice quite a few buildings which once were gas stations. Prior to the embargo in the 1970s, there were many more gas stations. In fact, it was not an exaggeration to say there was one on every corner in some towns. Of course that was a different time and not so convenience oriented as we see today.
Former Gulf station in Goshen.
A couple of years ago, I talked with a man who travels around the Midwest restoring grave markers in cemeteries. In northern Indiana, he’s often paid by township trustees to do the work. At the time I met him, he was restoring a cemetery next to what is now the Pleasant View Bible Church in Prairie Township of Kosciusko County, along County Road 200 North near Fox Farm Road. The church was originally built in 1884, replacing a frame structure built in 1859. At the time it was the Methodist Episcopal denomination. In 1928 the church actually closed for a few years due to declining attendance and remained closed until the summer of 1932. Then in 1936 the church was renamed Pleasant View Community Church since only a few Methodists were still attending. I should also note the present sanctuary used by the church today was moved from a Baptist church in Indianapolis in 1977. The educational wing was added in 1988-89. I believe the old building built in 1884 is still used today, but I’m not sure for what. The name of the church was changed to Pleasant View Bible Church in 1983.
Pleasant View Bible Church in Kosciusko County.
I have to be careful when I see what I think could be an old road alignment or remnant. I wondered about this driveway on County Road 21, just south of County Road 142 in Jackson Township, Elkhart County. I saw on the 1874 Elkhart County Atlas what is now CR 142 had a different alignment at that time. It jogged to the south then back to the north. Then recently I came across a blog where someone had done very extensive genealogy research on the Miller family who originally owned the land and homesteaded it in the 1830s. In the blog it was noted the old house on the property was facing sideways and they wondered why until they saw what I had seen, too, on the 1874 plat map. The road originally went around the south end of the house. Now CR 142 goes pretty much straight east and west. Part of that old road alignment now serves as a driveway for the old house. I think it’s interesting an old road remnant survives to this day. Often old roads are completely bypassed and cut off, never to be seen again, but this is one exception.
Old alignment of CR 142 near New Paris in Elkhart County.
Thousands of cars drive by this old church building in North Webster. It’s on a state highway, State Road 13, across the street from the NewMarket grocery store. Of course it has the look of an older church building. Originally the church was built for the Evangelical Association on Main Street (which is SR 13 in North Webster) in 1913. It replaced an Evangelical church located elsewhere in North Webster. Then in 1922, the church and property belonging to the Evangelical denomination was purchased by the Brethren denomination. There was a church known as the Tippecanoe Church of the Brethren located in a rural area about 2.5 miles north of North Webster. It had been built in 1861, but was struggling for existence due to declining numbers. By the 1920s, the automobile had made people more independent and they could go farther to attend church. In 1929, the name of the church was changed to North Webster Church of the Brethren. It was renovated in 1967 and by 1980 membership had increased to nearly 90. But the church was not handicap accessible, had stairways the elderly found difficult to use and there was limited parking available. A new church was built west of town in the early 1990s. Today the old Brethren church building is privately owned and may be used as a residence.
Former Brethren church in North Webster.