Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Charles W. Miner, Fort Wayne Photographer

(Fort Wayne Monthly “Along the Heritage Trail with Tom Castaldi” - Apr 2012, closes. Feb 2012, No. 88)

Who was Charles Miner the early 1900s Fort Wayne photographer? He was known to be a diligent professional that led to his success and in turn was held in high esteem by his contemporaries.  Miner’s work was extensive with his photography found in the collections of the Allen County Fort Wayne Historical Society as well as the Indiana Historical Society in Indianapolis. Inside the University of Saint Francis’ “Brookside” a 4 feet wide by 3 feet high photo mural of John Bass at his desk graces a second floor hallway wall. A 1906 The Beautiful City of Fort Wayne booklet with its 30 full-page photos begins with one of the Allen County Court House carrying the imprimatur of “C.W. Miner.”  In the stacks of the Allen County Public Library copies of the 1911 Fort Wayne with Might and Main feature the work of Charles Miner that include over 200 of his photos.  
Charles became known for excellence in his work whether it be fine portraits, enlargements or color work.  His quality exterior and interior views were attractive to businesses for their catalogs and other commercial purposes be they machinery, furniture or rail cars.  Miner specialized in cameras and lenses for a variety of assignments, large or small, with the reputation for careful attention to detail and skillful execution.
Today, anyone with a cell phone is likely equipped with a digital camera feature.  Professional photography involves a sense of composition, lighting, chemistry, equipment technology among other talents. Back in the late 1800s the profession was in its early stages and took a lot of dedication not to mention physical endurance, to ply the art of photo making with its, bulky box cameras, glass plates, and explosive powders for lighting.  Now we click away, delete the undesirable, revise the reality of the shot with digital editing, and post the flattering ones online in hopes that friends will take notice. It is one of those professions in which art and science meet.  Photography was different 135 years ago. Professional photography demands are poles apart commanding a mixed discipline of artist, technician, problem solver, and people handler.  
Charles Winslow Miner was born on January 26, 1866 to Simon P. and Melissa Miner both originally from Ohio who had moved to Columbia City in the mid 1800s. At an early age, Charles became interested in photography. To learn the photographic art, young Charles served an apprenticeship under Levi Monroe “Roe” Jones whose studio was in the 200 block of East Van Buren Street in Columbia City. Roe Jones was especially known for his large size portraits.  Here Charles learned how clients were handled from waiting room to dressing room, and then schooled in the toning, developing, enlarging, printing and framing all a part of the process.
After completing his early education and by 1887, Miner moved to Fort Wayne where he secured a position with the photography studio of Felix Schanz at 112 Calhoun Street. Later, about 1902 when the “Cartesian” street building address numbering system was made sensible, the number was changed to 922.  
Charles was employed as a “photographer” for “F. Schanz” and is listed as such in the 1891-1892 Fort Wayne City Directory. Schanz at age 26 had moved from New York to Fort Wayne in 1881, and by 1886 had opened the studio on Calhoun Street. Five or so years older than Miner, Schanz who went on to an illustrious career in his own right, just as Roe Jones had done, served as an important mentor during the critical years of Miner’s formation.
Residing in a boarding house, Charles Miner lived at 62 Douglas Avenue from 1891 to 1896.  In 1897, he opened his own studio in the 700 block of Calhoun Street over the Rurode Dry Goods store.  Then in 1898, as his business increased he moved to 23 West Wayne now 121 West Wayne. The studio name was listed as “Miner & Law” photography studio according to city directories of the day.  Active in the community for several years, Miner was a member of the Fort Wayne Elks Lodge 155 as well as the local lodge of the Knights of Pythias.
It took him a while, about age 39, before he met and married Fort Wayne resident Mary S. Criswell on November 28, 1905. Dates are not certain but the couple had a daughter Sarah M. Miner who was born about 1908 followed by a second daughter Mildred born around 1912.  The 1910 and 1911 city directories shows Miner’s Studio, Charles W. Miner proprietor, was located at 121 West Wayne, which was the same location as but changed when the city’s street number system was adjusted.
Charles suffered a sever attack of asthma in November 1911 and for six months his health gradually declined.  Lying on a cot in his home, after he rose to sit upright in a chair a few moments later he expired. According to the Journal Gazette, Charles was 46 years of old when he died on May 22, 1912, at 9:00 a.m. in his 1030 East Wayne Street home.  The business was left to be managed by Mary Miner.  The next year 1913 the studio was managed by Estella Miner and during the same month one year after Charles’ death, Mary, suffering from tuberculosis, died on May 3, 1913.  
Allen County Historian Tom Castaldi © is author of the Wabash & Erie Canal Notebook series; hosts “On the Heritage Trail” which is broadcast Mondays on 89.1 fm WBOI; and “Historia Nostra” heard on Redeemer Radio106.3 fm. Enjoy his previously published columns on the History Center’s blog “Our Stories” at historycenterfw.blogspot.com.

Note: You can see a photo of Charles Miner’s studio at present day 121 W. Wayne street in the Indiana Historical Society’s digital photography collection.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hamilton the Hair Buyer

(Fort Wayne Monthly “Along the Heritage Trail with Tom Castaldi” – Feb.  2012 closes Dec.. 1, 2011, No. 87)

On being named Lieutenant Governor of Detroit, Henry Hamilton arrived at his new position in November 1775 after a risky journey through American rebel lines while the city of Montreal was under siege. He was the first to hold that position as a result of the Quebec Act of 1774 which had reorganized the governance of the region.  All of Quebec, including the newly added Northwest, was under military control. Even though Detroit reported to Montreal, the outbreak of the American Revolution changed strategies. As a result, Hamilton became a very powerful personage in the old Northwest.
Hamilton has come down through American history books as a villain.  However, historian William A. Evans writing of the Lieutenant Governor in 1978 stated, “He was vigorous and authoritative, qualities generally lacking in important British commanders during the Revolution.  He actively encouraged the Indians within his area of control to pursue a policy of continual attack upon the frontier. The Indian attacks inflamed the frontier and enraged the Americans.”  Even though the Indians carried on a war no different than in previous decades, the victims needed a villain. Hamilton became the villain of the American frontiersmen becoming known as “Hamilton the Hair Buyer.”
Departing Detroit in 1778, Hamilton traveled down the Detroit River to Lake Erie and came up the Maumee to present day Fort Wayne.  Using interesting and clever means, Henry Hamilton crossed a drought-stricken portage to move his army westward to the Wabash River near present-day Huntington, Indiana. Along the route he meant to attract the native people to his cause, eventually mustering a force of 600 men of which 550 were native warriors. One record preserved on the river expedition in a journal kept by an officer in the party was a speech he gave to a gathering of chiefs from various tribes.  “Whenever the Enemy of the King entered their ground…he would com (sic) and assist them and drive the enemy out of their Country” Hamilton told them. Now the King heard that the American rebels had come and as promised, he the King, was determined to drive them out.   Hamilton could not resist demeaning the Americans saying, “the English, French and Spaniards was all Senceable (sic) – But that the long knives were fools.” Hamilton showed a great deal of military ability as well as wilderness savvy. He took the precaution of sending out his warriors ranging in front and on his flanks thereby exposing virtually all of his enemy’s scouts.  Once the British  approached Vincennes, the American commander Captain Leonard Helm was taken by surprise with no notion what was about to descend on him.
After the December 1778 attack at Vincennes the French inhabitants who had recently shifted their allegiance to the Americans now shifted back to the British. Helm had renamed the site Fort Patrick Henry but after the surrender the name became Fort Sackville under the British flag.  
Long periods of dry weather turned to drought, making Hamilton’s river sortie down the Wabash difficult.  Weather conditions then changed to rain followed by a deluge that flooded the entire region of Vincennes. At this point, Hamilton felt his position secure against an American counter attack. Sending his Indian allies home, Hamilton ordered the Detroit militia back to their base leaving the Vincennes garrison with about eighty men.
Of course, that opened the way for the famous George Rogers Clark’s surprise operation marching his less than two hundred men over two hundred miles across a frozen swamp oftentimes in waist-deep water. Eighteen days later Clark and his men retook Vincennes from Hamilton and his British troops. Once again the French inhabitants returned their allegiance to the Americans.
Allen County Historian Tom Castaldi © is author of the Wabash & Erie Canal Notebook series; hosts “On the Heritage Trail” which is broadcast Mondays on 89.1 fm WBOI; and “Historia Nostra” heard on Redeemer Radio106.3 fm. Enjoy his previously published columns on the History Center’s blog “Our Stories” at historycenterfw.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Curling Back

(Fort Wayne Monthly “Along the Heritage Trail with Tom Castaldi” - Feb 2012, closes. Dec 1, 2011, No. 86)

At the beginning of the new year of 1887, on January 3rd, members of the Fort Wayne Curling Club gathered on the ice-crusted lake at the estate of businessman John H. Bass’ beautiful “Brookside” home to compete for a “point medal.”  Contestants that day included James K. Mann, Thomas Kavanaugh, John Kidd, Fred A. Hull, R. Craik, W. Miller, and James Gillie. John Kidd won that curling match by one point over an impressive performance by Thomas Kavanaugh.  

Years later in 1891, a “bonspiel” or curling exhibition was staged on that same lake which is part of the present-day campus of the University of Saint Francis. In her book, John Henry Bass and his Brookside, Grace Leslie Dickerson wrote about her Grandfather Bass and his fondness for Galloway and Black Angus cattle imported from Scotland. With the prized animals came Scottish herdsmen, “bringing with them their bagpipes and Collie dogs. Several of these men stayed on at Bass Farm, and in the winter they enjoyed playing their native game of curling on the ice of Bass Lake.”  

Sixty-two years later on Sunday, January 18, 1953, the Journal Gazette announced that memories of that exposition would be recalled at the Memorial Coliseum in an upcoming highlight during the Komets-Grand Rapids hockey game on the next Tuesday evening January 20th.  According to the newspaper, curling was a popular activity in the Fort Wayne area in the early part of the nineteenth century with regular matches played at Brookside and at the old Caledonia Curling Rink located at State Street and Spy Run Avenue.  Now, expositions like the one to be played before the upcoming hockey game had once again created a lot of interest among winter sports fans.

So the sport of curling, which dates back several centuries, has some fairly deep roots here in Northeastern Indiana.  Most of us are familiar with this on-ice sport while watching the Winter Olympic matches with a contestant ever so carefully sliding a large teakettle-like object on an icy surface and whose teammates eagerly sweep away at the ice helping influence the stone object as it comes to rest at a distant down-course target.

It’s an old Scottish game played as a match between two teams of four players each who slide a total of eight “stones” down the lane into the “house” with its coveted bulls-eye target. The idea is to see which team can get their stones closest to the center spot of the circle. But not just any old stone was used.  These are highly polished granite complete with a gleaming brass handle and weigh over forty pounds. Knocking away the opponents’ stones to clear the way for a teammate shooting later makes for an exciting chess-like strategy with shuffleboard-like contest-on-steroids event.

Under the current leadership of Craig Fischer, president, together with co-founders Greg Eigner, Jerri Mead and Dan McCoy of the “Fort Wayne Curling Club,” a revitalization of this exhilarating team game is being reconstituted.  An active organization, the Fort Wayne Curling Club has been hosting a renewal of the ancient sport with its annual Fort Wayne Summerspiel.  It has been held at the Lutheran Health SportsCenter played on an ice surface that is about one-hundred-forty feet long and fourteen feet wide. Circular stones measuring approximately twelve inches in diameter and weighing about forty-two pounds are once again seen sliding carefully across an icy playing surface. At each end of the course is the "house" a circle twelve feet in diameter with a target called the “button.” Sliding a stone across the ice so it stops inside the circle closest to the center is the object that competing teams of four players seek. Each team has a captain called a “skip” who directs the teammates’ actions to knock an opponent’s stone out of position or to set up a guard stone to obstruct an opponent’s efforts. The other team members position themselves along the course with brooms to sweep.  This action reduces the friction between the traveling stone and the ice, allowing the stone to travel farther and/or curl less.  A stone must be touching any part of the circle to be considered for scoring, which is accomplished by counting the number of stones of like color extending out from the button until encountering the closest opposing team’s stone. Teams come to compete in the Fort Wayne Summerspiel from all over the U.S. and Canada, some with Olympic experience.

Curling is a sport that takes a short time to learn and a lifetime to master. The curling club has monthly “Learn to Curl” sessions and after a single session participants are making shots and having a grand time and qualify to join one of the club’s two leagues.  (For more information, log on to www. fortwaynecurling.com.) 

Curling continues to be celebrated here in Fort Wayne. The 125th anniversary of the 1887 exposition played on Bass Lake at the University of Saint Francis, weather permitting, is to be recreated this January to commemorate that team of old skipped by Kavanaugh and Kidd who defeated the team headed by Gillie and McKay by a score of thirty-five to eighteen.  Curling is Back!
Allen County Historian Tom Castaldi © is author of the Wabash & Erie Canal Notebook series; hosts “On the Heritage Trail” which is broadcast Mondays on 89.1 fm WBOI; and “Historia Nostra” heard on Redeemer Radio106.3 fm. Enjoy his previously published columns on the History Center’s blog “Our Stories” at historycenterfw.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

An Early Road: Fort Wayne to Tiptonsport

(Fort Wayne Monthly “Along the Heritage Trail with Tom Castaldi” - December 2011, No. 85)

John Tipton moved the Indian Agency from Fort Wayne to Logansport, Indiana, in 1828 and set up his office in Alexander Chamberlain’s large log house on the south side of the Wabash River across from the mouth of the Eel River. Chamberlain is remembered as having erected the structure to accommodate travelers along a trail that extended all the way from Terre Haute to the junction of the Little Wabash River at Huntington then on to Fort Wayne and down the Maumee to Lake Erie.
Benjamin Stuart a twentieth century Wabash Valley historian noted in a book he published 1924, that a line of stagecoaches was making regularly scheduled trips around the year 1828 between Fort Wayne and Terre Haute. A glance at our Indiana maps of the 1830s makes it clear that this route connected the National or Cumberland Road at Terre Haute giving it national significance.
Roads such as this one might better be described as “openings” which enabled the traveler to keep the track and not get lost. The roads were meant to serve the immediate necessities of the times, improved by bridges which may be nothing more than several logs, sometimes halved, set in a creek dedicating a larger hollowed-out log set in the center allowing water to pass through as a culvert.
H. S. Tanner produced an 1833 map of Indiana for the New Universal Atlas and likewise S. A. Mitchell prepared his in 1834 which was reproduced in Logan Esarey’s History of Indiana. Both indicate a road connection between Fort Wayne and Terre Haute was made through the wooded landscape that was Indiana. The two maps show the road following the north bank of the Wabash River from Fort Wayne to Logansport where it intersected with the Michigan Road.  Here the road crossed to the south bank. During the early years, the crossing was made by fording the river between the present-day bridges now designated as Indiana Highway 29 and Indiana 25. Between Logansport and Lafayette the road continued west through a town named “Tiptonsport.”  A promising river valley village, it was named for John Tipton who had served under William Henry Harrison at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.  Tipton rose to the rank of major in 1812 and by 1822 became a Major General.  During 1820, while serving in the State legislature, he was appointed to the committee that located Indianapolis as Indiana’s capital, and he went on to represent Indiana in 1821 helping to set the Indiana’s boundary with Illinois.

Obviously, Tipton has had a lasting influence on much of Indiana and especially on Allen County when it was formed in December 1823. Bert Griswold wrote in his 1917 history, “the name of Allen was suggested by General John Tipton who was an admirer of Colonel John Allen, the gallant Kentuckian who, after the relief of Fort Wayne in 1812 lost his life at the battle of the River Raisin, in Michigan south of Detroit.”
As noted, Tipton was the Indian Agent in Fort Wayne first assigned to the position in 1823 serving in that capacity until 1828 later moving the agency’s location. Soon he was being eyed for higher office in Washington DC.  During the years 1832 to 1839 Tipton served as a U.S. Senator advocating for a harbor at the mouth of Trail Creek but lost to those in favor of it at the mouth of the Chicago River.  Had Tipton won his point, Chicago today might be in Indiana near the site of present-day Michigan City.

Several sites have been named for John Tipton in Indiana, a township in Cass County, Tipton County and its county seat as well.  One forgotten village named Tiptonsport was where the early road from Fort Wayne to Terre Haute passed.  As a town, Tiptonsport succeeded for a time and was in competition to become the county seat of Carroll County before Delphi won the designation. However promising, the community of Tiptonsport vanished from the map. During the 1840s the Wabash & Erie Canal route followed the Wabash River valley ignoring the town located on the south side of the river.  
By selecting a new route across the river on the north side, a new village emerged along the canal at a lock site. It took the name New Franklin. Once platted, it populated quickly and mostly by the businesses from nearby Tiptonsport.  However, when the canal went out of business in the 1870s, New Franklin went out of business too and no longer exists.  For community developers it is a strong reminder that a place name usually takes a backseat to transportation access. When Tipton surveyed the Indiana Illinois line in 1821 he described the village of Chicago consisting of about nine or ten houses.  A port on Lake Michigan, Illinois & Michigan Canal and railroads certainly has had an affect on the growth of that-then Tiptonsport-sized settlement of the 1820s.


Allen County Historian Tom Castaldi© is author of the Wabash & Erie Canal Notebook series; hosts “On the Heritage Trail” which is broadcast Mondays on 89.1 fm WBOI; and “Historia Nostra” heard on Redeemer Radio 106.3 fm.  Enjoy his previously published columns on the History Center’s blog “Our Stories” at historycenterfw.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Red Coats through Fort Wayne

(Fort Wayne Monthly “Along the Heritage Trail with Tom Castaldi” - November 2011, No. 84)

Fort Wayne was once described as that “Glorious Gate” by the Miami War Chief Little Turtle who noted that here was the place where his people’s words moved in all directions of the compass. Those words did not fall on deaf ears when the French and British came to our Three Rivers region. The newcomers found that this land, which later became Allen County was a crossroads of important rivers and trails.  To the west was a route known as the “Carrying Place” or “Portage.” It was described as a nine-mile land barrier over the continental divide separating the Maumee and Wabash river systems and the most direct all-water way from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.  More specifically the land barrier joined the navigable portions of the St. Mary’s and the Little Wabash rivers. It should be noted that the distance across the portage may be lessened during times of heavy rains or advancing flood waters.

The 1763 Treaty of Paris ended the hostilities of the French and Indian War ceding all of Canada and French holdings in the Ohio Valley to the British.  The English did not pay much attention to the new territory which we know today makes up much of the Middle West.  However, it did not take the British long, to engage in a war of revolution against the American colonies beginning in 1775.

In August 1778, it came as a surprise to the British leader Lieutenant-Governor Henry Hamilton at Detroit when he learned from a messenger the news of an attack on British-held Kaskaskia on the Mississippi by the Americans with the French inhabitants offering no resistance. Hamilton sent an officer to Vincennes with instructions to disable its fort’s cannon. Meanwhile, in September Hamilton began preparations to lead a flotilla from Detroit to the fort at Vincennes made up of British Red Coat Regulars, with some French militia, and civilians as well as several Indians from various tribes.

During the autumn of 1778, Hamilton led his troops down the Detroit River to Lake Erie.  He then steered up the Maumee River over the present-day site of Fort Wayne heading for the Wabash River directing his boats downstream to take possession of Post Vincennes.

When the English army came to what is now southwestern Allen County on October 29th they faced a serious obstacle. Hamilton wrote, “we arrived at one of the sources of the Oubache (Wabash)…the waters were so uncommonly low that we should not have been able to have passed but that at the distance of four miles from the landing place the beavers had made a dam which kept up the water.”  There was enough space for only one boat at a time and the way was encumbered with logs and stumps that his men were obliged to remove. Once debris was cleared it took as many as twenty-two men to move just one of their thirty-two feet long boats over the tight spots.

When water levels were low between the rivers, boat passengers broke open the beaver dams to raise the water level that made it possible for boats to pass.  Hamilton said that it would have been impossible were it not for several beaver dams which created deep slack-water reservoirs. He ordered the boats to be gathered above the dams before breaking them open. By breaching a dam the impounded water was released with boatmen acting quickly to maneuver their crafts through on the crest of the small floods caused by breaking the dams.

It sounds as if those early travelers were being unusually rough on the industrious beaver community.  However, there was a payback. To show their gratitude for aiding in the flotation over the summit a tradition emerged that held the beaver in high esteem and neither the Indian people nor the White traders would molest or hunt them.

Hamilton’s expedition reached Vincennes on December 17, 1778, finding Captain Leonard Helm in command of a handful of Americans.  No shots were fired and Captain Helm secured favorable terms before surrendering the fort to the overwhelming force.  Taking possession of the fort and town, Hamilton sat back waiting for milder weather before moving his army to Kaskaska where Colonel George Rogers Clark was preparing his rag-tag army. Two months later Clark who had received authority from the state of Virginia to lead a counter-offensive moved to take back Vincennes. The surprise action halted the British aggression and a captured Hamilton was sent back to Virginia as a prisoner.  

Five years later in 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed officially ending the Revolutionary War.  It established independence for the United States as well as set the boundaries between Canada and the U.S.  


Allen County Historian Tom Castaldi© is author of the Wabash & Erie Canal Notebook series; hosts “On the Heritage Trail” which is broadcast Mondays on 89.1 fm WBOI; and “Historia Nostra” heard on Redeemer Radio 106.3 fm.  Enjoy his previously published columns on the History Center’s blog “Our Stories” at historycenterfw.blogspot.com.