Turn of the Century in Madison

By Mabel Lanham Wallace Schaler
From Historical Files, Madison History-“Personal Account of Early Childhood of Mabel Lanhan Wallace Schaler”

When I was a very young child my family left the farm at Poplar Ridge, Shelby Township, Jefferson County and moved to Madison. Our first residence was on the west side of Jefferson Street, between Main and Third Streets and was known as the Foster property. It was a large double and on the other side of the double lived my father’s niece, Mrs. Emerson Lemon (Lemen), Mr. Lemon (Lemen), and their family. The family consisted of four children, Emma she later married the honorable Joseph Cooper, Eugene, Harry and Mary. Mary was known at that time as “little Mary” for her mother’s name was Mary. She eventually became Mrs. Clyde Stillhammer.

Eugene was handicapped and made his way around in a wheel chair. He was an exceptionally bright young man and patient. I was very fond of him and spent much time beside his wheel chair. He taught me to pronounce words correctly and to speak distinctly. I think his early training gave me the incentive to speak well and in later life my Master’s Degree thesis was “Speech Correction in the Public Schools.”

Other near neighbors were Mr. and Mrs. Fred Bach and daughter, Molly. I was very fond of them and have cherished a beautiful blue plate, cup and saucer which were a gift from Mrs. Bach. As a four year old I loved our neighbors.

For a brief period of time my sister Edna and I attended the Grace M. E. Church at 217 E. Third St. My father would take us to the Sunday School and then he would attend the Christian Church at 514 W. Main St. The Grace M. E. Church was small but devout in their worship. I remember Mr. Edward Kampe who was fervent in his support of the church.

At 425 Jefferson Street lived the Owen (Edwin O.) Bears and their daughters were Edna and Nettie. Mr. Owen Bear was one of my father’s best friends for they were both men of high ideals. I remember Mrs. Bear as a pretty little woman and always very pleasant.

When the house 315 E. Third Street was available my parents moved to that address. It was a smaller home than our first residence but suited our needs. This house was light and cheerful for while it too adjoined another house we had the advantage of having light on three sides due to the fact it was on the corner of the alley between Jefferson and Walnut Streets. I remember Mrs. Carlyle who owned the property for she was a friend of my parents as well as their landlady.

I well remember Mr. James Demaree’s livery stable which was across from our home on Third Street. I fondly recall the large picnic wagon which usually stood in front of our home when not in use. It was fun to climb up into it and play and Mr. Demaree never objected. He and his family lived across the alley from our family and were good neighbors and friends.

My parents, John Charles Lanham and Clara Stewart Lanham, were members of the Salem Christian Church, Jefferson County, and on moving to Madison transferred their membership to the Madison Christian Church and that became our church home. I well remember when Homer Rodeheaver, a well known musician of his day, assisted in a revival meeting at the church.

Sunday School picnics were big events in the early nineteen hundreds. Mr. William Barber was an elder in the Christian Church and the Sunday School superintendent. He was a man devoted to his church and its congregation. Every summer he arranged a Sunday School picnic at Neaville’s beautiful grove just a few miles north and west of Madison.

Mr. Demaree’s big picnic wagon drawn by two large horses always took the smaller children and parents to the grove. Those in their teens rode a hay wagon. What a feast we had at noon! All adults brought large baskets of food. The afternoon was spent in races and games.

Once every year as long as my grandmother Nancy Danner Lanham lived, my father would rent in May, on her birthday, a surrey drawn by two horses and would go to her home twenty miles from Madison which was in N. E. Shelby Township, Jefferson County, near the settlement of Hicks to celebrate her birthday. We would leave Madison shortly after six o’clock in the morning in order to spend as much time as possible with grandmother, my Aunt Julia Lanham and Uncle George Lanham who took loving care of her. She passed away at the age of ninety three on November 19, 1912. I fondly remember this dear little grandmother. My grandfather, Charles N. Lanham, died at the age of 91 when I was three months old. He was a teacher and preacher during his lifetime and a remarkable man for his time.

My father always planned to leave grandmother’s home by three o’clock in the afternoon for it was a long drive back to Madison. There were no paved roads and no bridges over the creeks we had to cross, so he wanted to be in Madison before dark.

During the first years in Madison my father had a grocery store at the southwest corner of Third and Jefferson Streets. I was not of school age so on occasions I would be allowed to play near the store. I would be terrified when Dr. Everett Fewell who owned one of the first automobiles in Madison would drive by. I was sure it would blow up. There was one person I always looked forward to seeing. It was Mr. Jimmy O’Donnell who had a handcart and peddled samples. I was always the recipient of one of his sweet smelling perfumes. He was a well known character during the early nineteen hundreds. Shabby, not too clean in person, but friendly and harmless. He had no family or close friends, but everyone in the east end of Madison knew Jimmy and liked him.

My three older sisters were of school age and attended the Upper Seminary. After the Eggleston School was built the Upper Seminary became the Grammar School where seventh and eighth grade pupils attended.

The east end of Madison prior to the building of the Eggleston School had three grade schools, namely-The Walnut Street School, Fulton School (extreme east end of Madison) and the Upper Seminary. The Walnut Street School and Fulton School were abandoned after the completion of the new school.

I was six years old in September the year the Eggleston School was completed. I remember vividly my first school day for it was one of joy and anticipation. My teacher was Miss Lulu Dietz and to this day she remains in my mind the one perfect primary teacher. I think she inspired me to become a primary teacher when I chose the teaching profession. I was very fond of all the teachers I had at the Eggleston School and after these many years they have remained in my mind as exceptional teachers. They were Miss Jennie Duncan who was the principal and teachers were Miss Anna Reed, Miss Fay Merritt, Miss Etta Hoffstadt, Miss Kate Schneider, Miss Lenora Schwab and Miss Jennie Dillon.

We grew fond of the neighborhood at 315 E. Third Street. My sisters enjoyed the companionship of girls their age. Some of them were Edna and Nettie Bear, Georgia Chilton, Ada Robbins and Nettie Bodem. Two about my age were Charlotte Schwab and Mary Kampe.

Mr. and Mrs. Fred Kalb lived near us and at that time had two small boys, Fred and Bernard. I would go to Mrs. Kalb’s to play with these two small children. One Saturday afternoon Mrs. Kalb invited me to stay for supper. I remember the delicious apple sauce and hot biscuits.

Mrs. Millie Walker and daughters Emma and Matilda (Tillie) lived in the second house west of us. Mrs. Walker sewed for her brothers, the Geiles, who were tailors. When I was about eight years old I delivered her sewing to the Geile Tailors at 108 E. Main Street and took back to her sewing to be done. I would receive five cent a week for the trips I made.

The Bodems had a barbershop on the southwest corner of Third and Walnut Street and Mr. George Kampe a grocery store on the northwest corner. I remember the good potato chips Mrs. Kampe made every Saturday morning.

Mr. Philip Kahn had a meat store (butcher shop as called in the early 1900s) at 513 Walnut Street, just around the corner from where we lived. My mother would send me at age five with a note and money for the meat she wanted. A one story building which had been called the Silver Club was very near the meat store and housed pupils while the Eggleston School was being built. One day I mistook the Club House for Mr. Kahn’s meat store. Imagine my surprise when I opened the door and saw a room full of students. I scurried out as fast as I could and headed in the right direction.

I well remember Mr. Wahlman’s milk wagon which stopped at our home, and my mother taking a pitcher out to be filled. There were no milk bottles or cartons at this time and no pasteurized milk. The milk was rich with cream which my mother would skim off when she needed to use cream in her cooking.

When I was about six years old a Miss Louisa Huber came to live with us. She had come to Madison from Philadelphia to care for an ailing niece who passed away soon after Miss Huber’s arrival. She wished to remain in Madison and my parents offered her a home with us until she could establish her own abode. The only requisite was that she give my three sisters and me music lessons. Miss Huber was a very talented and well educated musician having received her musical education in Philadelphia. She was the pipe organist at the Lutheran Church in Madison for many years. She was of German origin and spoke German as well as English and was an asset to the Lutheran Church which held services in German as well as English. Miss Huber delighted us with her stories of early life in Philadelphia. She would at times show us the beautiful horse hair jewelry she had made in her younger years.

My sisters and I were pleased with our life at 315 East Third Street. My two older sisters, Frances and Beatrice, made friends with the girls their own age and were very happy.

These early years bring to my mind the rags and old iron man who sang as he came along his way paying a few pennies for the rags and iron he bought. Gypsies would come to town and the town people would be wary of them.

Gas light illuminated Main Street at night and a night watchman checked to stores as he walked up and down the street rattling the doors as he went along. There were horse drinking troughs and hitching posts, and oh yes, the street cleaner with broom and pan cleaning up after the horses. Freight articles and moving of furniture were done by dray men.

Life at this time seemed so simple and easy. During the school year we would assemble around our dining room table after supper and my father would assist us in our school work. Some of the neighborhood children would come in to be helped. Although my father had spent the entire day in a school room he never refused to help with our studies.

In 1910 my father, having sold the grocery store, decided to buy the house at 819 North Walnut Street. Before we moved into it, a large new kitchen was built, a porch upstairs enclosed to make and extra bedroom, and a new stairway was installed. It was made into a comfortable home but my two older sisters were unhappy with the move for it meant moving away from their close friends. They also went to different schools and church than neighboring girls their age so they did not have a great deal in common with them, thus increasing their unhappiness in our new home. Sister Edna and I were younger and it didn’t make much difference to us. There were more children our age in this neighborhood, but most of them attended the Catholic Schools, so for nine months out of the year we seldom got together.

Edna and I enjoyed taking off to the hill just east of our home. I remember the spring we discovered and the Indian artifacts we found.

Our nearest neighbors on Walnut Street were good Irish and Catholic families and had lived in their homes many years. Some were the Jacobs, Brientenbachs, Kellers, Schmitts, Cassidys and Roeders. These families all lived in the north 300 block of Walnut.

We now lived on a street car line and it was fun to watch the car go by, but better still when we could ride it. Five cents would give you a good ride to Main Street and on down through the town, or you could get off at Main and Walnut Streets and board a car which would take you up Second Street.

Farmers would drive herds of cattle south on Walnut Street to the Pearl Packing House at 710-14 West Street. Children would scurry inside their homes as the cattle passed.

The No. 4 Engine House was just a short distance from our house. When a fire alarm would sound the volunteer firemen were soon there. I remember the big beautiful horses which pulled the engines. They ran as fast as the run away horses which frequently ran down Walnut Street. This was still the horse and buggy era in Madison for there were very few automobiles.

In the summer time the ice cream man came with his cart selling ice cream cones and a frozen ice cream called hokey pokey. This was my favorite. These delicacies were probably made by the confectioner, Mr. Frederick Glass, who had an ice cream parlor at 126 East Main Street. He had a delightful room filled with the dainty ice cream chairs and tables common to the turn of the century era. He also made the beautiful and delicious small fish candy which sold all over the world. I think the secret of the making of this candy was never disclosed, for no candy maker has ever produced its kind. It was a very special occasion as a little girl to be taken to Mr. Glass’ Ice Cream Parlor.

Another summer activity for children was watching for the ice wagon and enjoying the chips of ice given to them by the genial iceman. A card would be hung in a window telling how much ice would be wanted on that delivery.

On summer evenings the neighborhood children gathered and played games of that period, such as Hop Scotch, Hide and Seek, and a singing game beginning with the words, “King William was King Henry’s son,” and London Bridge, etc.

For summer holidays we made colorful lanterns out of shoe boxes. Designs were cut in the shoe box such as moon and stars and then these cutouts had colored tissue paper pasted over them. A candle was secured inside the box, the candle lighted and the lid secured by a string by which I carried it. I never knew of a casualty because of the lighted candle. Parents supervised these lighted candle boxes which the children paraded.

As a young girl my happiest recollections are playing on the surrounding hills and Crooked Creek. The old Walnut Street School was till standing and the creek below it was an ideal place to play. At that time the water was not deep unless there had been a big rain and wading was a delight on a hot summer day.

My sister, Edna, in the early spring of the first year we lived on Walnut Street developed
Typhoid Fever. She was critically ill and needed a registered nurse. The services of a very pretty, capable young nurse was secured. She was Miss Rhinda Fitzler who later was Mrs. Rhinda Rains and years later was head supervisor of the King’s Daughters Hospital. Edna’s doctor was D. E. C. Cook who had come to Madison as a young man to practice medicine. Madison city water at that time came from the Ohio River and was contaminated. My parents shared a very large cistern with our neighbors and Andrew Jacobs and this cistern was filled with muddy Ohio River water.

After a couple of years living on North Walnut Street I think my parents felt it was not to our advantage to be living there. We girls were a long distance to the schools we attended, the Christian Church we were affiliated with and the public library. My sister, Edna, and I were attending the grammar school and my sisters, Frances and Beatrice, were in high school. Our friends now were classmates from both east and west Madison.

During the years we lived on Walnut Street we attended the Chautauqua in the summer. As it was held at the far west end of Madison we would ride the street car to the Chautauqua grounds. The Elks Band conducted by Mr. Frank Vail always played several numbers before the evening performance. The best entertainers came to Madison to perform during the ten days of Chautauqua. As we would ride the street car west on Main Street, my mother saw the one house she would love to live in. It was a large red brick at the corner of Main and Mill Streets. She must have confided her longing to my father for when the house was for sale in 1912 my father purchased it and made my mother’s dream come true. This was to be her home as long as she lived. I remember the beautiful flowers my mother had in our yard in the summer, and when we sat on the big porch in the evening we enjoyed the sweet fragrance. Thus the period of my life in the east end of Madison had closed and a new, happy period began in the west part of Madison.

As I bring these memoirs of my life in the east end of Madison to a close I would like to mention a few outstanding remembrances of the east end. Uncle Levi Danner owned the Red Front Grocery at the southeast corner of Main and Walnut Streets. He always had a candy treat for this little girl when she visited his store. It was a delight to go with my mother when she was shopping in the N. Horuff and Sons Dry Goods Store at the southwest corner of Main and Jefferson Streets. Across the street on the northwest corner was the J. E. C. F. Harper and Co. Drug Store, which we patronized. Our shoe store was the Lotz Brothers, better known as “Hen and Ben”, located at 216 East Main. These are the stores I remember best. They were very appealing to a little girl.

The east end of Madison held many attractions and the fond memories will always remain with me