Yesterday, I added a new page to the blog. I call it The Cast. There are so many people that my grandparents mention in their letters, especially my grandmother. Soon it will be hard to keep track of them all. Besides the people of Kentland, I think it might be a good idea to talk about the town itself.
Kentland is located in Newton County, Indiana. Newton County is located in the northwest corner of the state. It was originally founded in 1860 and was named after the settler Alexander Kent who bought the marshy land and developed it into a town. It has always been a small town. On the 2010 census, a total of 1,748 people, 695 households, and 450 families resided there. Now, imagine the town 70 years ago. There were even fewer people then. Demographically, the town is currently 95% white. This is another statistic that probably hasn’t changed much either in the last 70 years. Kentland is half a country away from where I live and half a world away as well.
I have never been to Kentland. By the time I was born my grandparents had moved to West Lafayette. My grandparents were not natives of Kentland but they spent the majority of their adult lives there. They did not have roots there and none of their family remains. However, my family’s story has become intertwined with this little town in the middle of nowhere Indiana. And I don’t say this to be insulting. Kentland is a small town, like so many other small towns across our country.
One famous son of Kentland is George Ade. Ade was a writer, mainly a playwright and a humorist. He attended Purdue University and lived in Chicago for many years before returning to Newton County. He is buried at the Fairlawn Cemetery in Kentland. This is the same cemetery where my grandparents are buried. Another famous Kentlander was Jethro A. Hatch, the town’s first doctor. He served as an Indiana Congressman during the 1890s. He, too, is buried at Fairlawn Cemetery. Two of Kentland’s finest medical practitioners have remained to keep a watchful eye on their patients.
As I read my grandparents’ letters I find myself wanting to know more about this sleepy little hoosier hamlet. I troll the internet looking for pictures as I keep trying to make a connection to my family’s past. I found the above picture this evening for Boone’s pharmacy. Boonie has been mentioned a few times already for mailing cigarettes and candy to my grandfather. In addition, I have been scrolling through census pages to learn more about the people. I keep trying to recapture part of my family’s past as well as our country’s. I am slowly putting some of the pieces of the puzzle together.
Another Thurs. and the local papers didn’t make it. Not much mail this morning. John rec’d a card from Grandma Foster and a 10 cent piece dated 1892-Also Mark got one dated 1897. John was explaining to him it was not to be spent but to be a keepsake. Mark seemed not to understand-that is he didn’t want to because 10¢ would buy another model. Mark and I were doing a little cleaning in the basement last night and he found John’s tool box (empty) but he soon remedied that. I think he
(page 2) has it full now. Tried to get the hammer in it but was too large. I told him I would get him a small one to fit and a small saw. I believe if he had a place to work and the tools he would be able to carve things. He has done a pretty good job on several of the solid models he has turned out. I think I’ll fix him a place either in the basement or garage.
I finally got the water bills paid yesterday. Fred came to read the meter so while he was here had him total all the bills and it came to $22.40-but we hadn’t paid any since before you left. Now I will try to keep them paid as they come so it won’t get so high.
(page 3) Joe is coming out this afternoon to do a little work around the yard the boys can’t take care of. Since this is Thurs he has the afternoon off-then next Thurs he will start to school. –and won’t be able to get much done after that-except on Sat.-Won’t need much done until time to put the storm windows on and I don’t know whether he can handle the upstairs windows or not.
Mrs. R called me last night. Said Joe is leaving soon. Wanted to know if I had had any word. Said they rec’d a card from you that it come while Joe was still home, so you will probably get a letter from him.
(page 4) Haven’t heard from Ruth + Floyd so don’t know where they are now. The last letter they were in Bluffton, but with the season advancing I would think he would have to stay in Flora.
I have been looking over the accounts again. This month has been a poor one for collections-quite a drop from last month. I will send out some more statements and try to get some result. Thelma P. said she wanted to work out their acc’t and since I need someone that will be satisfactory. She will come once a week and do what is needed to be done.
We had a late breakfast this morning-and it is 12:30 now and not a sound about lunch. Usually they want to eat when the noon whistle blows.
Love Mother John + Mark