Sunday, February 4, 2024
ABOVE: Morristown Girl Scouts Troop #340 sells cookies at Boba Cafe on Public Square yesterday. (L to R, front) Bayley Willey and Lillian Chapella and (back) Presley Rodenhuis and Lucy Long show off their selection. Not shown is troop leader Megan Ramsey. | photos by JACK BOYCE
Early Shelby County Residents Decided to Cross That Bridge Later
With a major debt coming off the books, Shelby County officials in 1861 thought they had found the perfect time to build the county’s first bridges. They overestimated the people’s ability to think ahead.
At the time, county residents paid 30 cents per $100 of taxable property, which covered all county expenses and the construction of public buildings. With the construction loans paid, the tax was set to be reduced to 20 cents per $100 in 1862.
But something needed to be done about getting over rivers, as many points were often “out of ford,” meaning they could not be traversed, and a growing sandbar in the Big Blue River at its crossing point (the site of the current North Harrison Street bridge) was a concern.
County officials talked to bridge builders and devised a plan: if the tax rate remained at 30 cents for two more years, four bridges could be built: over Big Blue north of Public Square, over Big Blue at an undetermined point between Shelbyville and Marion, one over Flat Rock River and one over Sugar Creek. Rock for abutments could be brought in from St. Paul, reducing costs.
A vote was organized, and county officials laid out the plan in bland terms. It didn’t work, The Shelbyville Volunteer newspaper fumed the following week, April 4, 1861.
“It is now a settled fact that we are to have no bridges by the consent of the people, they, in their superior wisdom and lack of adequate public enterprise and liberality, having voted the proposition down on Monday last by quite three to one.”
The paper acknowledged that paying taxes was undesirable, but argued bridges were “an actual necessity” and claimed county officials had not presented a well-prepared argument.
“The will of the people is said to be omnipotent, which we have no disposition to question, but after all we believe, nay we know, that bridges are needed, and we are quite as sanguine that it is the duty of the county to build them,” The Volunteer said.
The paper added that Shelby County was the most “destitute” county in the state when it came to bridges.
Six years later, with the Michigan Road turnpike complete, the people were convinced to act. A wrought iron bridge was built over the Big Blue River in Shelbyville.
“These improvements open a large section of country to the trade of Shelbyville at all seasons of the year, and our businessmen will alone be to blame if they do not secure it,” The Volunteer said in November 1867.
The only question left was who would get the honor of crossing it first. Local man Lees Amsden was selected. “The preference cost him $2,” the paper said.
Shelby County Commissioners meet at 8 a.m. tomorrow. Among other items, they will receive bids for the demolition of 2327 S. Tucker Road, Shelbyville.
In recognition of Black History Month, here are a couple of local history connections from David Craig’s files. Melinda Motley, who died in 1929 and is buried in an unmarked grave in Forest Hill Cemetery, was a direct descendant of Richard Stanhope (Stanup), who was chief of George Washington’s slaves at Mt. Vernon. Martha Washington freed Stanhope as a stipulation of George Washington’s will, and Stanhope settled in Ohio. Motley was survived by her husband, Stokes Motley, and two sons, Leroy Martin and Charles Martin, and a brother, William Adams. Also of historical note, Jan. 28, 1902, marked the first time an all-Black jury was assembled in Shelbyville. The case involved a Black man who had burglarized two Black residents, Robert Smith and George Vaughn, who lived on the Amos Pike about two miles from Shelbyville. Vaughn had caught the suspect as he came out of the house through a window after throwing a rocking chair through it to clear the way. The men on the jury were Orange Dennis, Alexander Grissum, Joseph Hill, William Hines, Richard Loving, George Montgomery, Abe Russell, Curtis Gunn, Tellis Carter, Frank Stafford, John Marshall and James Harper. They found the suspect guilty, and he was sentenced to two years in jail.
HOOSIER NEWS: Beautification and restoration efforts are underway in Gary, Ind., but it’s an uphill battle. More than 10,000 buildings sit abandoned, and the population of 180,000 in the 1960s has dropped by more than half. U.S. Steel’s presence in Gary is greatly diminished. Gary Works, U.S. Steel’s largest plant, employs around 3,700 people, down from more than 30,000 at its peak. But local businesses still rely on the economic activity generated by the plant, which remains one of the city’s top employers. (New York Times)
NATIONAL NEWS: As if sticker shock in grocery stores hasn’t been enough, inflation has hit another consumer favorite: Girl Scout cookies. When Girl Scouts in New York start their annual cookie sales this week, customers will be paying $7 a box for favorites like Thin Mints, Samoas, and Tagalongs, up from $5 last year. (New York Times)
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This Day in Shelby County History
2014: The sons of Morris Hogue, Bill and John, returned the first Paul Cross Award to Shelbyville High School’s athletic department. Morris Hogue was the inaugural recipient of the medal in 1920. It would be placed in a permanent display in a trophy case in the hallway outside William L. Garrett Gymnasium. The award was created in 1920 to honor Paul Cross, who was killed in battle on June 5, 1918, in France, and the medal is bestowed annually to a member of the SHS boys basketball team that best displays loyalty, sportsmanship and ability. The inaugural award would join the first J.M. McKeand medal on display in the trophy case.
2004: City officials worked to determine who was responsible for hiring a new animal shelter coordinator. Steve Richeson, Animal Control Coordinator since 1998, had resigned soon after the new city administration came into office. Interviews for the position had been set up with the chief of police, but were canceled when discussion was raised over who should be part of the hiring process.
1994: Loper Orange won the city elementary school boys basketball tournament. Players were Eric Thurston, Jake Runnebohm, Bill Watkins, Philip Wells, Brad Miller, Adam Joseph, Chris Gooding, Ben Heighway, Greg Turner, Jeremy Workman, Josh Carr, Ryan Thomas and Seth Pettit. Doug Heighway was coach and Charles Thurston, assistant coach. Cheerleaders were Christina Jones, Ashley Wilson, Heather Salow, Ashley Itce, Aimee Elliott, Mandy Burnside, Courtney Long, Andrea Zimny, Erika Tatlock, Chelsea Helbert, Linday Smith, Jessica Tucker and Katie Carpenter. Jennie Reynolds was cheer coach.
Custom Machining and Diamond Tool Inc. was building a 22,500-square-foot building on Hale Road, eliminating the need for their previous set-up, which included offices in one building and shops at two different sites around town. The company, owned by Darrell Mollenkopf, had locations at 1106 Miller Ave., 621 Doran Ave. and 819 Jackson St.
1984: Kathy Wilson was crowned Waldron High School Homecoming queen. Greg Larrison was her escort.
Three Shelbyville High School students - Stacey Barrett, Andy Simpson and Greg Soller - were named to compete in the Indiana State School Music Association’s contest at Butler University. David King was the school’s band director.
A local lady who was assistant manager for Service Merchandise in Indianapolis reported she had to break up a fight between two women over Cabbage Patch dolls. “The only ones we had in stock were the bald baby boys with pacifiers, and no one wants those,” she told The Shelbyville News. “We only had one of the little girl dolls with pigtails, so they started fighting over that.”
W.S. Major Hospital administrator Frank Learned organized smoking cessation classes for employees and himself. A few employees had kicked the habit. Learned, who said he wasn’t sure he could quit, volunteered to try acupuncture to relieve his nicotine addiction, The Shelbyville News reported.
1974: Burglars raided the Kolkmeier Grain and Feed plant on County Road 350 S near E. Michigan Road and Bob Newbold’s Sunoco Service Station on State Road 244 off I-74. Between the two incidents, hundreds of dollars in cash and merchandise were stolen and vending machines damaged.
1964: Brand Inlow, 10, was named WSVL’s “Voice of SCUFFY.”
The U.S. Corps of Engineers once again began a study of a potential multi-purpose reservoir site on Flat Rock River near Geneva. Officials said the previous Creek Watershed project would not be revived due to “lack of local interest.”
Cleo Hook, Geneva area resident, said he may have seen Ranger-6 hit the moon. He was using a 30-power scope on the clear night. Near the announced time, he saw a “brilliant object off below and to the left side of the moon,” Hook later told the News. His further observations led him to believe it was Ranger-6.
1954: The Shelbyville Fire Department tested the station’s two new pumpers at Kennedy Park. The trucks parked on the Little Blue River ford and drew water for the test from the stream. One of the trucks would operate from headquarters on W. Broadway and the other from the new station at the corner of Jackson and Vine Streets.
Plans for the upcoming GOP Lincoln Day dinner were finalized, with Lt. Gov. Harold Handley set to deliver his first public address in Shelbyville. The program would include a 10-minute film of President Eisenhower’s inaugural address.
1944: The local knitting and sewing group announced they had made 300 sweaters for the Army in 1943.
The Rotary Club was treated to a puppet show at the Strand Alcazar. It was led by students and a faculty member of Western College in Ohio. The following week’s program would include a speech from Dr. William Gear Spencer, president of Franklin College.
1934: Chemical fire extinguishers and a bucket brigade formed by neighbors were effectively used to halt a farm house fire in Shelby Township. The home was owned by James Sandefur and rented by William Hilt.
The Republican reported that Clifford Reese, biology teacher at Boggstown High School, had taught students that, “If a person is drowning and fighting at the same time, the only thing to do is to hit him on the head, grab him by the hair and bring him in.” The Republican asked, “Yeah, but I wonder what you’re supposed to do if he’s bald headed.”
1924: The Flat Rock Hydro-Electric Company, controlled by Clarence Shipp, of Indianapolis and formerly of Shelbyville, closed a deal with Jesse Smith, of Washington Township, Shelby County Sheriff, for the water rights on Flat Rock River, along with the Smith farm. The company also bought 40 acres on the west side of the Smith farm. Reese said plans for the building of the hydro-electric plant on Flat Rock were progressing.
1914: Long-distance phone calling was restored to Shelbyville after a sleet and hail storm damaged lines on the Bell Telephone exchange.
Mayor Schoelch told city council that his salary should be $1,200 (approximately $36,000 in today’s money) instead of the $700 (approximately $22,000 in today’s money) he was receiving. The council rejected his demands. The council did approve the Eagles Booster Club to use the east side of Public Square for a week-long carnival. The Eagles promised to keep the streets in good condition and to run “a clean, moral show at all time,” The Republican reported.
Lora "Jane" Richardson, 95, of Shelbyville, passed away on Friday, February 2, 2024 surrounded by her loving family. She was born in Shelbyville on September 30, 1928 to Frank Cherry and Lora Bernice (Boger) Cherry. On August 29, 1948, she married John Albert Richardson Jr., who preceded her in death on June 1, 2012.
Jane was a faithful follower of Christ and a 70-plus year member of Lewis Creek Baptist Church, where she was a member of the Missionary Society and the Agape Sunday School class. In her youth, Jane was actively involved in 4-H, becoming a 10-year member before becoming a 4-H leader in adulthood.
As the wife of a fireman, Jane was a founding member of the Women's Fireman Auxiliary. In her professional life, Jane was a Title 1 Aid for 23 years at Pearson Elementary School before becoming a substitute teacher who worked throughout the county. Most notably, Jane utilized her expert sewing capabilities as a professional seamstress for decades, sewing gowns for prom, May Fest and weddings for women across the county and countless items for her beloved children and grandchildren.
Jane's mother passed at a very young age, at which time her older sister, Eloise, filled the role of mother, sister and best friend. Eloise taught her how to sew at a young age and she passed this valuable skill down to her children and grandchildren.
Surviving loved ones include her children, Steve Richardson (Jane), Bev Carson (Kevin), Mary Lou Hilderbrand (Jay), Tom Richardson (Michelle), and son-in-law, Scott Newkirk. She also leaves behind her grandchildren, Michael Richardson, Carrie Johnson (Roger), Jill Coen (Keith), Christa Weaver (Jeremy), Andrew Newkirk (Natasha), Sarah Newkirk, Whitney Mahin (Brett), Jacob Richardson, Bradley Hilderbrand, Adam Richardson, 10 great-grandchildren, and her beloved cat, Willy. Jane was preceded in death by her parents, brothers Francis, Jesse, and Wray, sister Eloise Tucker, husband John, daughter Margaret Newkirk, and two infant sons, David and James.
She will be remembered by her family for her steadfast devotion to her faith, her family, and her community.
A visitation will be held at Glenn E. George & Son Funeral Home, 437 Amos Road, in Shelbyville, on Tuesday, February 6, 2024 from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. The funeral service will be held at Lewis Creek Baptist Church, 1400 E. 600 S. Waldron, at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, February 7, 2024 with a viewing from 9 a.m. until the time of service. Graveside services will follow. Rev. Harvey Taylor will officiate. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Lewis Creek Baptist Church, or a charity of your choice. Online condolences may be shared at glennegeorgeandson.com.