Peoples’ Cooperative Telephone Company


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I have come across many independent telephone systems in rural parts of Indiana incorporated during the early 1900s. The Peoples’ Cooperative Telephone Company, headquartered in the village of Bowers, Montgomery County, Indiana, was incorporated on January 8, 1902, and reincorporated on November 10, 1922. This is an unusual example because the company stayed in existence to 1945. Most of the independent telephone companies lasted maybe ten to twenty years. Also, many of their incorporation papers would have dozens of subscribers’ signatures, whereas this document was signed only by the five directors and did not include the rest of the subscribers to the telephone system. Also note that this incorporation document was very primitive; I doubt if a lawyer was ever consulted.

“The said Corporation proposes to establish, maintain, and operate Telephone lines and Exchanges in the counties of Montgomery and Boone in the state of Indiana, with exchange at Bowers, Indiana. [ Bowers was a railroad stop and was also named Bowers Station.]The amount of capital stock of this company is $600.00, and is divided into 150 shares.” The 1922 reincorporation explained that each share cost $4.00. Also, the 1908 corporation report stated that the use of the system for each subscriber was raised to 10 cents. I wonder if that meant 10 cents per call?

The original directors of the Company were Martin L. Clouser – a farmer who lived in Thorntown, Montgomery County, and was the manager of the Company through 1940 when he was 70 years of age. His wife Goldie was the Company’s bookkeeper. John H. Hutchison – in 1903 he was listed as the Postmaster of Bowers with an annual salary of $138.95. He later moved to Morgan County, Indiana, where he worked as a farmer. Lewis Kirk – he was a farmer and machinist who owned several thrashing machines, and also an oil drilling business. George W. Deck and Marshel Hampton were farmers in Bowers.


Horse Thief Detective Agencies

Stringtown Detective Association No. 97. Stringtown, Boone County, Indiana. January 28, 1908. “The object of this corporation shall be for the purpose of detecting and apprehending horse thieves and other felons, and for mutual protection and indemnity against the acts of thieves and felons.” This was a “fill in the blanks” form letter that also described the organization of the Company into a captain, lieutenants, and constables. There were ten signatures on this document, which I believe was the minimum membership for a company.

According to the Biennial Report of the Secretary of State of Indiana for companies incorporated in Indiana there were 123 of these vigilante companies formed between November 1, 1906 and September 30, 1908. In comparison there were nine new Detective Association companies in 1918, according to the Journal of the Fifty-Eighth Annual Session of the National Horse Thief Detective Association held in Richmond, Indiana of October 1-2, 1918. This Journal also claimed there were 8,810 members of the Association at that date, and that 5  horses, 14 autos, 18 sheep, and 1 robe [?] had been recovered that year. Some of the Companies had descriptive names such as the Good Intent Horse Thief Detective Association No. 159, the Invincible Detective Association  of Koscuisco County, Ind. No. 29, and the Young America Detective Association.

The Association’s 1918 Annual Journal also included a patriotic speech and an appreciation of participation in the meeting by a twelve-year old girl. With a membership of 8,810 and only 38 recoveries made by them in 1918, one wonders if the Association wasn’t more of a social get-together than a detection and apprehension organization.

There is discussion about whether and when this Association, formed in Indiana in the decade before the Civil War, morphed into a white supremacy group.  When the KKK became dominant in Indiana politics in the 1920s, they infiltrated the NHTDA. An Indiana state law allowed members of the Association to travel across state lines to chase and apprehend felons, including “nomadic band[s] of gypsies” and those who “live in idleness, having no visible or known means of earning a fair, honest and reputable livelihood”. This phrase could be broadly interpreted and I can see why the KKK would want to participate in this organization.



Hack & Simon Brewery, Vincennes, Indiana


Hack & Simon Brewery Company, Vincennes, Indiana, June 20,1916 to 1940, located on Indianapolis Ave. between North 3rd and North 4th Streets. “The objects and purposes of the corporation are the manufacture, sale, bottling, and disposition of beer, the carrying on, owning and operation of a brewery.” The original 1916 directors were Julius M. Hack, Dorothea Hack, Louis J. Hack, Anton Simon, and Frank W. Bloom. E. W. Determan became a director in 1919.

According to the National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form for the Hack & Simon Office Building in Vincennes, Indiana, John Ebner opened the Eagle Brewery in 1859. Ebner was born on June 8, 1817 in Alsace, France where he learned the miller and bakers’ trades. He served in the French Army for 5 years in Africa as a baker. He then immigrated to the United States in 1846 and eventually ended up in Vincennes, Indiana in 1849 where he started a bakery, grocery store, and an ice making company. He opened the Eagle Brewery in Vincennes in 1859-1860 until 1870 when he began to lease the buildings to different brewers. The 1880 Federal Census showed Ebner as a saloon keeper, and he also continued to operate his ice company. John Ebner died on January 26, 1889.




Eugene Hack was born in Wurtenberg, Germany in 1842 and immigrated to the United States in 1867. He was a grocery store clerk in Vincennes before he and Anton Simon bought the Eagle Brewery. Anton Simon was born in Chamonix, France in 1850 and arrived in the United States in 1868. They purchased the Eagle Brewery in 1876, rebuilt the plant, and reopened it as the Hack & Simon Eagle Brewery. They increased the brewery’s capacity to more than 25,000 barrels a year and employed over 25 people, selling to an extensive region around Vincennes, Indiana. They built the Hack & Simon Office Building in 1885, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Of the 1916 directors of the brewing company, Julius M. Hack was the son of Eugene Hack and was born in 1876. In the 1910 Federal Census he is listed as a clerk in the brewery, and in 1920 as secretary of the brewery. Dorthea Hack was his mother. I’m not sure how Louis J. Hack was related to the family, but he did not live in Vincennes. Frank W. Bloom was the company’s bookkeeper.

E.(Ernest) W. Determan was born in Hanover, Germany in 1862. In 1900 and 1910 he is listed as traveling collector for the brewing company, and in 1920 he was a traveling salesman of “soft drinks”. A July 29, 1919 amendment to their incorporation statement stated they changed “changed from operation of brewery to Industrial Distillers”, “the doing of all such acts as may be appropriate or necessary for the successful and economic conduct of business.”  The term “industrial brewing” usually meant to make the brewing process more efficient and increase output. This amendment was a reaction to the Wartime Prohibition Act that took effect a month earlier on June 30, 1919 prohibiting the brewing of alcohol content greater than 1.28%. The National Prohibition Act went into effect on January 17, 1920 which prohibited the selling of alcoholic content above .5 %.

The company’s 1928 Corporation Report stated “Our plant closed down on January 1, 1928”, but they continued to send in Corporation Reports through 1940. The 1940 directors were Julius M. Hack – President, Otto Hack – Vice-President, and Marie C. Simon Secretary-Treasurer. The Brewery reopened in 1934 after the Prohibition amendment was repealed on December 5, 1933. I’m not sure how long the brewery stayed open then, but its office building was sold to Vincennes University in the early 1950s, and the brewery’s plant has been demolished.







Depauw College

In 1852 the Indiana Methodist Conference founded the Indiana Asbury Female Seminary in New Albany, Indiana. During the Civil War the school suffered financially and lost its property in 1866. The organization of Indiana Methodists then started a fund-raising campaign to buy the property back. A local wealthy businessman, Washington C. Depauw, then contributed an ample amount of money to repurchase and to rebuild the Seminary; In 1867 the Indiana Methodist Conference renamed the school the Depauw College for Young Women in the benefactor’s honor. Its interesting that the Indiana Asbury University in Greencastle, Indiana, also began to admit women to their school in 1867. Indiana Asbury also changed its name in 1884 to Depauw University when he donated a large amount of money to the school.

“At the 36th annual session of the Indiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, begun and held at Welsey Chapel in the city of Indianapolis, County of Marion, State of Indiana, Wednesday September 11, A.D. 1867, … The following among other proceedings were made…On motion of the Revd Kiger it was unanimously Resolved, That the Indiana Conference of the Methodist Church make the following statement and declaration….

First. That it is the intention and immediate determination of said Conference to establish in the City of New Albany Floyd County Indiana an institution of learning for females (for some reason “for females” is crossed out) in the higher walks of literature … Second. That the name and style of said Institution shall be the Depauw College (several words were erased before the new name of the college). Third. That the endowment of said college shall be such as the Conference can provide, or the friends of said College may from time to time donate thereto, not to exceed One Hundred thousand dollars. Fourth. That said endowment when provided shall be so administered as the principal thereof shall remain a perpetual fund alone shall be currently used for the purposes of said college and for the advancement and encouragement of female (“female” crossed out) education. Fifth. That the real estate and College Buildings now owned by said Conference and situated in said city and purchased with funds donated for the purpose, by friends of said institution, is now north about the sum of Forty thousand Dollars.

In testimony whereof the President and Secretary of said Conference hereto submit their names, done at said city on the day of first aforesaid,

F.A. Morris, Bishop of the M.E. Church and President of said Conference

Stephen Bowers, secretary of said Conference”

The church where this conference was held in 1867 was Welsey Chapel, situated on the southwest corner of the Circle, Indianapolis, Indiana. The College was located at East 9th & Main street in New Albany, Floyd County, Indiana. After the College was financially saved it became known as the Depauw College for Young Ladies.  It later became known as the Depauw College for Young Men and Women. Maybe that is the reason for the words “for females” and “female” being later crossed out in the incorporation papers. This College closed in the early 1900s.

Gene Stratton-Porter’s Company

Kendallville Broom and Brush Company, incorporated from 1914 to 1926.

The object of this company was to manufacture brooms and brushes in the town of Kendallville, Indiana. This company was started by Gene Stratton-Porter. There are copies of the incorporation papers, amendment papers and annual reports for the company in this file. The first papers are the Articles of Incorporation filed on May 14, 1914. It is interesting that her husband, Charles D. Porter, did not sign on as a director as he did in the subsequent years.

There are various annual reports signed by the directors from 1914 to 1926. Besides the Porters the directors were Gertrude Lay Sumption and her husband Rinaldo Sumption, Wells S. Murphy, and John E. Jellison. Rinaldo Sumption was listed in the 1910 Federal Census as a General Merchant and Gertrude had no listed occupation. Wells S. Murphy was listed in the 1910 Federal Census as a Railroad Yard Marker in Cadillac, Michigan, and was listed as a manufacturer of brooms in Kendallville in the copy of his WWI registration. He was also the company’s secretary. John E. Jellison was listed as a laborer in the 1910 Federal Census, and was listed as manager of the broom company in 1920. Gene was listed as a writer of fiction in the 1920 Federal Census, and her husband as a bank manager in Rome City.

The Amendment papers for the company on January 20, 1921 increased its Capital Stock fro $15,000 to $100,000. By that time the Porters had moved to California, where these papers were signed. Its interesting that all of the company’s directors had also moved to California by then. Gene was involved in producing films of her novels while in California, but was killed in an auto accident in December of 1924.

The last set of papers in this file is the Corporation Report of 1926. It looks like some investors from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania had bought the broom and brush company by then. Arthur A. Auer of Kendallville, Indiana is listed as the Vice-President of the company. Auer’s occupation listed on his death certificate was as a manufacurer of brooms and brushes in Kendallville, so maybe the company started by Gene Stratton-Porter stayed in business in Kendallville for many years after she died.

Jungle Park Racing Company, Inc.

Jungle Park Racing Company was incorporated on July 22, 1929, and its last annual report was sent to the Secretary of State of Indiana in 1938. This sprint car race track, which was within the Jungle Park Resort, was located in Parke County, Indiana, near Bloomingdale, Indiana, and ten miles north of Rockville, Indiana. It was close to Sugar Creek and Turkey Run State Park.

Some short documentaries and descriptions of the Jungle Park race track can be found on the internet, and they state that its founder and owner was Albert Padgett. He was listed on the Federal Census as an electrical engineer. But, there are some differences between the online descriptions and what was stated on the Jungle Park Raceway incorporation papers.

One of the most entertaining differences is the description of the object of the race track’s incorporation. Remember, this track was a sprint car race track, with midget race cars speeding around it. “The purpose or purposes for which it is formed are as follows: [to operate] a racing track and/or tracks, racing plant and/or plants and/or racing establishment and/or establishments, including concessions, fields, grandstands, bleachers and/or other seating facilities for spectators adjacent to and/or in connection Continue reading

Syracuse Electric Tablet Company, 1907-1926

The Syracuse Electric Tablet Company was incorporated from 1907 to 1926, in Syracuse, Kosciusco County, Indiana. The stated object of the company was “to buy and sell retail and wholesale medical preparations and other merchandise.” The company’s directors were John W. Rothenberger (president), and E. Mae Tish, both of Syracuse; William H.H. Angel of Cromwell, Indiana; George H. Lehman of Kendallville, Indiana; and Eli Schlotterback of Ligonier, Indiana.

Rothenberger, Tish, Angel and Lehman were all born in the early 1880s. According to the Federal Census Rothenberger began as a furniture dealer in 1900, and undertaker in 1910 and 1920, and a real estate salesman in 1930 and 1940. The Syracuse-Wawasee Museum contains a footstool, a rocking chair, and a Victrola cabinet made by him. Mae Tish was Rothenberger’s bookkeeper when he was an undertaker. Angel’s occupation was usually listed as a farmer, but in 1910 he listed as a dynamo engineer (electrical engines?), and as a carpenter in 1930. Lehman sold tombstones in Ohio in 1910, but became a poultry farmer in Indiana. Schlotterback was born in the early 1840s and served in the 30th Regiment Indiana Infantry during the Civil War. This Regiment’s first battle was at Shiloh, and continued fighting in major battles through 1865. He then worked as a physician in Ligonier, Indiana until he died in 1912.

The name of this early 20th Century company, the Syracuse Electric Tablet Company, is startlingly modern, but apparently is connected to the medical profession. The best guess is that this was an electrical device that made tablets (pills). The probable connection between the investors was that Schlotterback, being a physician, and Angel a sometime electrical engineer, probably came up with idea for this pill-making electrical device; and Rothenberger, Tish and Lehman, being remotely connected in the undertaking business to the health business, probably provided early investment money. Wouldn’t they be surprised about the future meaning of “electric tablets”?