Wayne Street UMC and found we were in their contemporary service. Not our cup of tea. However, we did hear an excellent sermon and were so glad the young families were hearing this parenting message related to scripture.
We moved to Ft Wayne, IN in time to drive further north to Auburn, Dee Stroope's home, where we “Stepped back in time to an era when the Auburn Automobile Co was on the cutting edge of the most significant and influential invention of the 20th century.” We stood in the
historically rich old showroom, now their museum, where in 1920 their products were displayed. As we walked along the showroom floor we saw
the longest wheel base (157 inches/metallic blue) automobile.
Neither of us are car buffs, so when we arrived about one hour before closing we thought an hour would be enough. It wasn’t, but we made it work. These cars are works of art. They are beautiful. Their beauty is mesmerizing. We could spend the day here and be happy doing so.
One visitor summed up our feelings. Well, our feelings aren’t nearly as strong as his! He approached Fred and told of his dilemma. He knew the museum and gift shop both closed at five and he wanted to buy some things at the gift shop, but if he did, he would miss time at the exhibits area. His misting eyes confirmed his sincerity. We guessed he arrived about the time we did so we asked him when he got here. He answered 10 am that morning! He had been there over 6 hours and couldn’t bear to leave. We were powerless to give him an answer.
Fred enjoyed looking at all the many cars in the museum but three really stood out. This
white with red trim Cord was a great example of America’s first mass produced front wheel drive auto. It’s L-29’s stance was eleven inches lower than the average car of its day. It was a very sleek looking vehicle. The custom paint only cost an additional $20.
Another white car was the Auburn Boat Tail Speedster which was their most famous product and was introduced in 1928.
This red 1931 Duesenberg Model J with its modified Lycoming straight eight, featuring dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder, with a displacement of 420 cubic inches the engine was advertised to produce 265 horsepower. The Model J chassis alone cost $8,500.The most famous variation of the Murphy Convertible Coupe body was the “disappearing top” which was a feature on this vehicle. When the top is down, it is stowed under the deck lid so that none of the fabric or folding mechanism is visible.
Any of the cars could have been purchased for about $10,000 or less when new. None of the museum cars are for sale. Today, even the lesser one, if you could find one for sale would be priced at over one million.
Five of the most significant technical innovations used in Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg automobiles are still in production in today’s automobiles.
Unit body construction
Front wheel drive
Hydraulic Brakes and
In addition to the cars, there were panels about the features of many of the cars as well as the driving forces behind their production. It was very interesting and definitely worth a visit.
In the gift shop we asked if Clive Cussler had been there or did they know of him. Sure enough he was there for the book signing of Artic Drift. During the fund raising event he auctioned off the opportunity to be a character in his next book. For those of you not familiar with Clive Cussler, he is an American adventure novelist and marine archaeologist, and his books feature character Dirk Pitt, who just happens to have a collection of Duesenberg automobiles.
Monday, May 17 we moved again. This time west to Lafayette, IN. Olivia came here in 1960 with four other teens representing the Waxahachie District Methodist Church . For those who may know them Pat Shipley and Jack Robinson were two others. They caught a train in Ft Worth that had half the cars full of Methodist youth starting from California every stop adding more teens. Along the way she saw the sunrise over the Mississippi as the train followed it into St Louis, where the train joined one from the Pacific Northwest and the combined train traveled to Lafayette and the Purdue University. For the next week they attended the National Convocation of the Methodist Youth Fellowship with 6,000 other MYF youth. Memories include walking across the huge campus, attending classes on Methodism and Christianity as well as issues of the world. Several mornings they attended an early morning jazz service. Guess that was the start of our “Contemporary” services? One night in their huge auditorium they heard Eleanor Roosevelt. It was certainly a lifetime experience.
Several weeks ago when we were following the Mississippi south of St Louis, Olivia remembered that train ride and saw the tracks she had traveled. Now she was going back to see Purdue again.
We set up camp in Prophetstown State Park at the edge of a tall grass prairie with the small, open oak woodlands dotting the prairie landscape, that greeted Native Americans and European settlers who first lived in what is now northwestern Indiana. The open woodlands are often called savannahs.
Within five years, Indiana became a state and the settlers arrived and found that Tecumseh and his brother the Prophet established the headquarters for their confederation at Prophetstown to try and preserve the Native American way of life. This led to the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.
Prophet’s Town had been established as a seat of diplomacy and a warrior training center. The Native American army attacked the US army camp around 4:00 am on a cold rainy morning of Nov 7. Three hours later, the Battle of Tippecanoe was over, ending forever Tecumseh’s great dream of a confederation of Native American nations, and establishing equal rights with those of the white settlers.
Do you remember who the USA General was in this battle? And his later slogan when he ran for president?
We ventured into the town of Lafayette and arrived at the train station like Olivia did back in 1960. It still looked the same, very similar to those in Waxahachie. It is now a well used Amtrak station for students from Chicago. We met a darling student at the information center for Purdue and she walked us over the old campus for about an hour. Olivia was thinking she might recognize the older buildings, but Mr Purdue didn’t want distractions so all the buildings were to be of the common red brick.
We started by visiting a fountain and seeing Elliott Hall where Olivia thinks she heard Eleanor Roosevelt. We saw the old Memorial Hall and in the trees was John Purdue’s grave as we walked down the “Hello Walk” memorializing a century-old tradition of smiling and saying hello to everyone you meet.
In Stewart Center we viewed the“Spirit of the Land-Grant College” mural where Lincoln was signing the 1862 Morrill Act, providing public lands to any state that would use the proceeds to establish and maintain a college that would teach the “agricultural and mechanic arts.” Texas A&M also falls under that Act.
In the Purdue Memorial Union, which really looked familiar to Olivia as she thinks they ate in the cafeteria. It is the social center and contains a hotel, visitor center, twin ballrooms, an art gallery, 10-lane bowling alley, billiard room, gift shop and dining facilities.
We saw a scale model of the 2,552 acre campus. We only walked around a very small portion of this campus. They have closed off most of it from cars, so foot and bikes are the method of transportation for the students. Graduation was last week so we didn’t have any problem with crowds.
Neil Armstrong was one of 22 USA astronauts to graduate from Purdue. There is a new
Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering which houses the School of Aeronautics and Astronautic, the School of Materials Engineering and the first school of Engineering Education in the country. Notice the wording in the sidewalk.
Several times we saw a black fence and our guide told us this campus was once tobacco free and the students would lean across the fence at the edge of the campus to smoke.
Wednesday, May 19 was another moving day. This time to the Bloomington area where Olivia’s ancestors James and Nancy Mitchell lived. They came here in 1811 but the Indians were too hostile so they returned to Kentucky until 1816. James and his oldest son came back to Monroe County Indiana and cleared land for a cabin in Clear Creek Township on the southern edge of present day Bloomington.
In the spring of 1818 the family moved to Monroe County where Joseph received a grant of land in 1823 from President Monroe, on which he erected a brick house about 1835. From Olivia’s genealogy book the house was in good condition in 1942.
Our challenge was to find that house, and their graves. The two were not far apart, but hidden. The cemetery was on the top of a hill behind a forest,
but through the trees we could see stones. Sure enough after wading though the woods, there was a clearing, fenced off and mowed. Many of the stones were broken and scattered. Just as Olivia was giving up, Fred said, “Are these Mitchells yours?” and sure enough there were
James Mitchell. The house was another story. We found where it should be, but it is now a residential area and none of the homes looked like they were over 50 years old. The forest surrounded most so it was very hard to tell.
Friday, May 21, Back at the trailer Olivia followed a web site the librarian had told us about and we found in 1975 the home was owned by a music professor at Indiana University. Googling the last name she found an address on the correct road! We drove back to the road and found the mailbox and tried to call, with no one at home.
The Mitchell name is all over this area. A street and an area town are both named Mitchell. Their descendants must have done well like their brother did in Texas. David Mitchell was the first postmaster in Ellis County.
BUT WAIT! After we went to bed the phone rang and it was Nelda Christ, the owner of the property. She invited us to her home to see the Mitchell land and home.
Saturday, May 22 As we entered the property we were met by a 200 year old tree that definitely knew Olivia’s ancestors. We drove to Nelda’shome where it was explained to be the old barn, taken apart, each part labeled, then reassembled to a better location with sun room additions on each side. The brick house was built by James Mitchell and son Joseph in 1835. The red wood was added when the Christ’s reclaimed it in 1980. The house was of “house and parlor” design, with four chimneys. The girls room access was from the outside. They had to go on the porch, no longer attached, to gain entrance to the interior. The cellar on the right end is still used.
From the rear we could see the two additional chimneys and the patio made of scraps of large stone and loose bricks. The bricks for the house had been made from the clay from near the creek below the house and fired in a local kiln. The pattern of the brick had a row of burned brick turned on end every fifth row.
James’s son David Mitchell went to Texas about the time of his father’s death and became the first postmaster in Ellis County, near Red Oak. This Indiana homestead belonged to Olivia’s great, great, great, great grandparents.
In the story about James Mitchell coming to this land, he and his son cleared the land then went back to Kentucky for their family. Nelda told us about needing to keep clearing each year because the ground was so fertile greenery was profuse. She also told us about there being a Sugar House to make syrup from the maples, but to her knowledge there are no sugar maples on the land today. Who cut them down?
Back at the trailer we realized the Tulip Poplar trees were blooming as one blossom had been knocked from a tree by the rain. These trees are very tall and fully leafed out, therefore hard to see the beautiful flowers.
We hooked up and headed toward Cincinnati. We drove to the Ohio River, down a bluff and followed the river
for about fifty miles. Most of the way we could see the river, through the trees and over cultivated fields.
We arrived at Campshore campground and met
Carol (Brown) and Bill Weir at their weekend retreat. They keep their fifth wheel trailer here all summer and get away each weekend from their unique business in Hamilton, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati.
This campground was previously the original summer workout camp for Cincinnati Reds. At that time it had a large hotel and a speakeasy during prohibition.
The local story is that Al Capone liked to visit this place during prohibition. They have picture in the office to prove it. It’s not hard to imagine illegal booze being ferried from Kentucky across the Ohio River to this remote area. From there its not too far to Chicago.
Now it is a lazy flat space with large trees just waiting for campers. We enjoyed supper on their deck right on the Ohio!
Carol and Olivia enjoyed talking Waxahachie and all our friends.
Sunday May 23, Carol went with us to attend the Rising Sun United Methodist Church, on the Ohio River. This church was built in 1865 and they had a
huge organ. The sermon, from the sermon on the mount, was on adultery, a tricky subject, but their preacher handled it very well.
They were so friendly they gave us a sack of goodies including a 4” loaf of banana bread.
Monday, May 24 we did our laundry then later in the day we went with the Wicks for a quick tour of Cincinnati. A quick stop at their home in Hamilton then on to see their shop. Bill has patented several inventions.
Both include engineering and laser beams to help paper and steel companiesto monitor thickness of their product.
He and Carol are extremely busy and travel a lot with their very successful company. It was truly a blessing to have them show us around and for them to have the excuse to “relax” at their weekend camp.
We drove through a lot of industrial areas, to downtown and across the river to Covington, KY, where we saw beautiful homes right on the Ohio River,
where Licking River enters the Ohio. All our history lessons and reading came to life at this point. The great Miami War Chief fought to protect the Indian Hunting grounds of Kentucky and the villages of southern Ohio from American settlers. Little Turtle twice led a confederation of Miami, Shawnee and Delaware Indians in victory against American Armies. We wrote of this in our last blog when we visited Ft Recovery. When he signed the Treaty of Greene Ville after his defeat at Fallen Timbers in 1794 he declared, “I am the last to sign it and will be the last to break it.”
He kept his word. Until he scalped Fred.
The Wick’ favorite restaurant on the river overlooking downtown Cincinnati was our stop and we watched the sun set and the lights come on across the river. There was a baseball game in the Red’s field, seen below the “Big Mac” bridge.
Cincinnati is a special town. It’s a beautiful town filled with a rich history.
Tuesday, May 25 we prepared to close up the trailer and fly to Corpus Christi for a week. Granddaughter Blaire will be graduating May 28 and we will join the family and friends to give her best wishes.
We enjoyed another day and evening with the Wicks and thanked them for their hospitality this week.
The US General who led the troops at Tippecanoe was William Henry Harrison, later successfully ran for President with Tyler as VP. There was a campaign slogan, “Tippecanoe and Tyler too!”
As always, please let us know what is happening in your life and send comments to:
Olivia@bobheck.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
The laptop will be with us and we will be back next week to start another blog letter on Michigan.