Dairy near Lake Wawasee was well known

Some may remember a time when milk was still delivered door to door and placed in a crate on the porch. Today, of course, we go to a grocery store or somewhere else to get milk out of a cooler. In 1920, Willmet A. Jones started a dairy on a farm he had purchased in 1919 east of Lake Wawasee on what is now County Road 775E in Kosciusko County. Although it is probably more common for dairy cows to be raised on a dairy farm, Jones only had a few cows on his property. Instead, most of the milk was obtained from nearby farmers and placed in cans. It was then processed, pasteurized, bottled and capped at W.A. Jones & Sons Dairy. Bottles were then loaded on trucks and delivered to residences around the lake and also into Syracuse and Cromwell. Deliveries were also made to hotels, grocery stores and other sites on the weekends. Other products besides milk were produced including whipping cream, coffee cream, butter, cottage cheese, chocolate milk and an orange drink. Warsaw-based Crystal Dairy purchased the dairy in 1952 and moved the operations to Warsaw, thereby ending a 32 year run of a well known local dairy. Now the property is a ranch for boarding horses and a few remnants of the old dairy remain including the original barn, a well, a garage and the house.


Original barn on the former W.A. Jones & Sons Dairy.

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Building in Syracuse has a long history

Revolving Closet, a consignment store, occupies a building in Syracuse with a long history. The building is on North Huntington Street (also State Road 13), south of Main Street in the downtown area. Many may remember the building as Love Furniture and also Stucky Furniture. It served as a furniture store from the late 1940s until about 2006. This building has a history dating to 1840 when Syracuse was still in its infancy. Ron Sharp, a noted local historian who passed away a few years ago, wrote a series of history books about Syracuse that contain a wealth of valuable historical information. In one of the books, it was noted the building was a livery at one time when horse and buggies were being replaced by automobiles. Through the years the building also served as a grocery store, pool room, print shop and American Legion hall among other uses. For a while the building was vacant after Love Furniture was closed. Don’t be fooled by the outer appearance of the building. It has obviously been remodeled.


Historical building on North Huntington Street in Syracuse.

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House was once a nursing home in Milford

What is now a house in Milford used to be the site of a nursing home. Orn Nursing Home was located on the southwest corner of Main and Syracuse streets in Milford. Mary Orn started taking care of an elderly woman in her home in the early 1940s. Eventually she was caring for several patients. A doctor in town suggested to Orn she should open a nursing home, which eventually she decided to do. So her house was converted into a nursing home and was eventually licensed by the state in 1960. A few expansions of the home were needed to accommodate the patients. The nursing home grew and there were enough residents to require three shifts of workers, or 12 total employees. Orn Nursing Home operated as a licensed facility for roughly 18 years and was closed in 1978 when the state fire marshal required a sprinkler system for all three floors of the facility in order for the license to be renewed. The administration could not afford to install a sprinkler system, so it was decided to close the nursing home. Certainly much has changed since then and today it would likely be very difficult, if not impossible, to open a nursing home in a residential area.


Former nursing home in Milford.

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Old gym still hangs on in Silver Lake

I show this photo of the old Silver Lake High School gym in Kosciusko County and, quite honestly, I don’t know if the gym will even be around much longer. A friend sent me this photo of part of the gym floor. The school was built in about 1930 and until 1966 housed all 12 grades. The high school was consolidated and became a part of the Warsaw school system. Consolidation was a big deal in the late 1960s especially. A lot of the smaller high schools were closed at that time. The school building in Silver Lake was still used as a school until 2004 when the elementary school was closed and students were then bused to Warsaw. The school building still stands, but perilously. It was ordered demolished by the town but staved off, at least temporarily. A group is still trying to save the building and a public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26th, in the old school on Sycamore Street. Admittedly, this is a neat old gym and maybe someone can figure out a way to save it and the building.


Former Silver Lake High School gym.

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Canal system came through town of Lagro

Prior to railroads being built, the Wabash-Erie Canal played a major role in the development of Indiana and also Wabash County. Built during a roughly 20-year span beginning in the 1830s, the canal system came through Wabash County and when it was finished it was the largest of its kind ever built in the United States. The canal was a major form of transportation in an era when roads were impassable especially in certain times of the year. Shown in the photo is a remnant of the Wabash-Erie Canal in the small town of Lagro, Wabash County. There was the Kerr Lock built in Lagro and it is still visible today. A lock system consisted of gates opened by hand and it helped control the water level of the canal system. Locks were only wide enough for one boat to pass through at a time, so if two boats met along the canal, the westbound boat would stop. Ironically, the canal system transported iron used to create the railroad system that was the major reason for its demise. Canals were abandoned by about the 1870s and the faster railroad system took over.

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Remnant of Wabash-Erie Canal in Lagro.

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John Swihart house built in the 1920s

This house on Front Street in South Whitley, Whitley County, near the intersection with Calhoun Street, is nearly 100 years old. According to the Indiana Landmarks inventory of historic structures for Whitley County, this Bungalow style house was built in 1920 by John Swihart. It is part of the South Whitley Historic District. Swihart served as the president of Farmers State Bank in South Whitley for several years. He lived on a farm for a while also that was likely located along both sides of what is now State Road 14 in Washington Township near the line with Cleveland Township. The 1916 Whitley County plat map shows he owned property on Front Street where the house is located. The Swihart house may have been the first one on the property. Swihart was doing bank business when he was involved in an automobile accident that eventually led to his death in 1926. He must have been a fairly wealthy man because he was one of the few people in the county to own an automobile in the very early 1900s. Note I’m talking about the house to the left in the photo.


Swihart house in South Whitley.

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Whitehead Cemetery is near New Paris

In the 1830s, across from what is now Maple Grove Church, the Whitehead Cemetery began. It is located west of New Paris on County Road 46 in Jackson Township, Elkhart County. The earliest known grave marker is that of Elizabeth Cart, who died July 11, 1838. The Whitehead family later donated the land for the church in the 1850s. Many of the family are buried in the cemetery including Adam Whitehead, one of nine adult Whitehead sons or daughters who settled in Elkhart County with their father, Valentine, who was buried in 1851. It is a fairly big cemetery covering a little more than 6 acres in size. Having a cemetery near a church was quite common at one time. Church members often took care of a cemetery and recognized it as a sacred place to bury the deceased. Today it is much more common for rural cemeteries to be under the care of the township trustee. This cemetery is also known as Maple Grove.

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Whitehead Cemetery near New Paris.

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Used car lot was once a service station

Throughout the city of Goshen in Elkhart County there are still several buildings that once served as gas stations. Some of them are not so recognizable, but others, like this one pictured, are. Now the Meadowlark Cars used car lot on Middlebury Street, very near Main Street, this building was once a Mobil gas station. According to the 1960 Goshen city directory, it was known as the North Side Mobil Service. Main and Middlebury would have been in a key location in Goshen even more so in the past when much more traffic flowed on both Main and Middlebury streets prior to the overpass being built across the railroad tracks. The Mobil station was owned by the Abshire Oil Company I’m told and was one of several gas stations owned by the company. Prior to it becoming a gas station it was apparently used for selling coal and coke (the mineral, not the soda pop). The 1939 directory shows it as the Wohlford & Neff Co., a coal and coke dealer. Don Neff was one of the operators. It was still listed as a coal dealer into the 1950s. The 1925 Goshen directory shows R & K Auto Supply at this location and operated by D.L. Rinehart and W.R. Kelly. I’m not sure how old the current building is but it could possibly have been built in the 1920s. Sometime in the 1960s it became a car detailing shop. Also note it has four bays, two of which point toward Main Street and the other two toward Middlebury Street.


Former Mobil gas station in Goshen.

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Former interurban railway in Michigan

About a year and a half ago, I visited the Lost Railway Museum in Grass Lake, Michigan, with a friend. I’m glad I went because it proved to be an interesting trip. It’s the only railway museum I’m aware of in this part of the country focusing only on interurban railways. Once we were at the museum we were told the route of one of the interurban lines that came through Grass Lake. On the way back we were able to see part of the route of the Detroit United Railway as it headed west from Grass Lake. It essentially paralleled the Michigan Central Railroad for quite a stretch. Note the poles in the photo. The interurban railway followed the poles. There are also places where the right of way can be seen besides this one. According to the book “When Eastern Michigan Rode the Rails,” the interurban line from Grass Lake to Jackson opened in 1901. By 1930, this line had been totally abandoned.

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Route of former interurban railway near Grass Lake, Michigan.

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Photo is full of the history of Goshen

While visiting the Old Bag Factory in Goshen about a year ago, I took some photos of the history displays just inside the main entrance of where you go to visit all the shops. Shown is a very interesting photo packed full of local history. As the description below the photo indicates, it shows the county commissioners standing on a new iron bridge crossing the Elkhart River near the Old Bag Factory. The bridge was built in the late 1890s and still stands today, carrying Indiana Avenue automobile traffic across the river. Also note the trolley tracks in the photo and in the background it appears there is one of the trolley cars getting ready to cross the bridge. An electric railway system that opened in the 1890s served the factory and surrounding area. It stretched all the way down to Kercher Road on the south end of Goshen. And of course the Old Bag Factory is in the background of the photo. It appears, then, the photographer was facing to the south and the photo was taken in the late 1890s.

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Historic photo displayed in the Old Bag Factory.

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