Jungle Park Racing Company, Inc.

Jungle Park Racing Company was incorporated on July 22, 1929, and its last annual junglepark1report 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 in the middle of the woods, 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 with said track and/or tracks, plant and/or plants and/or establishment and/or establishments, for automobile, aeroplane, horse, mule, dog and/or human and any and all kinds, types and/or forms of racing and do and perform any and all other acts and things necessary, convenient or expedient thereto.” Well, that just about covers it doesn’t it, but for a sprint car track in the middle of the woods?

According to the online descriptions of the track, it opened in 1926. But the the original incorporation was in 1929. Maybe the Jungle Park Resort was planned and the buildings were built in it starting in 1926. And then, the original incorporator of Jungle Park Racing was not Walter Padgett. The names and signatures on the 1929 incorporation papers and the 1930 incorporation report were Moad Copner (President), Emma Copner (Vice-President), Harrison Holaday and Opal Holaday (Secretary and Treasurer). Who were these two married couples? According to the Federal Census Moad Copner had been a farmer laborer and did odd jobs; Harrison Holaday had been a farmer and coal mine operator; their wives had no stated employment. Maybe these two couples were employed at the Jungle Park Resort, but I don’t think they would have had the financial means to build the race track. Were they “ghost directors”, and why?

Albert E. Padgett showed up on the 1931 the company’s corporate annual report as its President and treasurer, his wife Bertha A. Padgett as Vice-President, and his son Charles K. Padgett (also an electrician) as secretary. Also, Frank Punk, who had supervised the building of the Jungle Park quarter-mile race track, signed as a director. Frank Punk was the owner and promoter of the Winchester  sprint car race track, as well as other sprint car tracks, and later was voted a member of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. The company’s 1932 directors stayed the same, except Mr. Funk was not a director.

No corporate annual reports for the company were filed in 1933 and 1934. According to a letter written by the legal firm of McFaddin & McFaddin of Rockville, Indiana, to the state’s Secretary of State, on March 25, 1935, “for the past few years no races had been held there”. Six months earlier Bertha filed for divorce from Albert and took the corporate records with her.  The attorneys wrote another letter to the Secretary of State on May 21, 1935, advising that Bertha still had not given up the records. There must have been some sort of agreement made by the divorce proceedings on June 11, 1935, for Albert, Charles, and Bertha were listed as the company’s directors on the company’s annual reports of 1935 and 1936. Bertha was dropped as a director in 1937 and Ellen C. Padgett (a cousin?) was added. The company’s last annual report in 1938 showed that the Jungle Park Raceway was now “not operating”.

I related the history of the company’s different directors to show that the rocky relationship and marriage between Albert and Bertha Padgett was possibly a reason for the use of the “shadow directors” of the Copners and Holadays. Maybe Albert just did not trust the strength of his marriage?

According to the descriptions of the Jungle Park Raceway (or Speedway), the straightaways were paved, but the curves were gravel. This made the track particularly dangerous, for the track was literally bounded by woods and the nearby Sugar Creek on the back straightaway causing many crashes and some deaths. But, despite these hazards, or maybe because of risks, well-known drivers such as Mauri Rose, Wilbur Shaw, Bill Holland, Tony Bettenhausen and many others raced there as young men.

According to a video documentary, the track closed in 1941, reopened in 1945, and stayed in operation till 1955 when it was closed down due to a death of a fan. It was reopened for just one year in 1960. Also a historical marker in front of the remains of the park states that Ralph Jordan and Lawrence reopened the park in 1945, and that the Sentman family bought the rundown property in 1971 and are preserving what is left of the bleachers and track. There is now an annual get-together of enthusiasts of restored sprint cars at the old Jungle Park Raceway.



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, a very popular novelist and naturalist from northern Indiana in the early 20th century. 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 at the inception of the company 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 from $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 in 1967 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.

Apperson Brothers Automobile Company

The Apperson Brothers Automobile Company was incorporated in Kokomo, Indiana on November 9, 1908, and its paperwork extended to 1925. Its original directors were Elmer Apperson, Edgar L. Apperson, Alton G. Siberling and C. H. Felske

The object of this corporation was “to manufacture automobiles, motor cycles, all self-propelled conveyances, and all accessories thereto and machinery connected therewith.” The name of the company was changed to the Pioneer Automobile Company on October 13, 1924.

Elmer Apperson was born in 1861 and his brother Edgar in 1870. Elmer opened a machine shop in Kokomo, Howard County, Indiana in 1888 and his younger brother later joined him.  Elwood Haynes, a Kokomo inventor, got the idea of attaching a gasoline fueled marine motor to a carriage and asked Edgar to help him with the project, which they finished and tried out successfully on July 4, 1894. Edgar continued to work on the idea, and together Haynes and the Apperson brothers formed the Haynes-Apperson Company, slowly producing some of the first automobile models in the United States.

The partnership split in 1901, though Haynes did not drop the Apperson name until 1905. The Apperson factory, which was located near Wildcat Creek in Kokomo, burned down and a new plant was built in 1906 on Kokomo’s South Main Street.  A bigger plant was built on Washington Street in 1916. They incorporated their company as the Apperson Brothers Automobile Company in 1908. Besides the Appersons, an original director was Alton G. Seiberling, an investor who became the company’s secretary and treasurer till 1912 when he joined the Haynes Automobile Company. Also, Charles H. Felske, a local factory manager, was an original director.

Instead of delivering their purchased autos by train, they would drive the autos to the purchasers and personally show them how to drive and maintain the auto. One delivery to Brooklyn, N.Y. took 21 days! They also would participate in various kinds of races around the country to publicize their product. In 1907 they introduced their Jackrabbit model which became their most popular auto.

2017-01-16_20-04-47_edited-2Elmer died in 1920 and Edgar sold his stock in the company and retired from the business in 1924 when the company was in financial trouble. It went bankrupt in 1926. Though, according to the corporate papers, Edgar was a director in the newly formed Pioneer Automobile Company, but it was not successful. It is interesting that the treasurer of the Apperson company, A. G. Dawson, and the company’s Vice President, B.C. Buxton, hung in as directors of the Pioneer Company, along with E. B. Barnes, a local lawyer, and three out-of-town investors. The company must have had too much debt.

Edgar Apperson retired to Arizona to become a farmer, and his hobbies were hunting and fishing. He died in 1959.





Champion Drivers, Inc.

20180605_162021.jpgChampion Drivers, Inc. was a company incorporated by Wilbur Shaw, Peter DePaolo, Fred Frame, Al Gordon, Louis Meyer, Lou Moore, and Elbert Babe Stapp on June 7, 1935. They all were Indianapolis 500 Mile Race drivers, and they all claimed Indianapolis as their place of residence.

“The purpose or purposes for which it is formed are as follows: To engage in automobile racing, including the owning of racing automobiles, promoting automobile races and contracting for the same; also contracting for the services of drivers and mechanics for the operation of racing automobiles.”

Wilbur Shaw was a legendary race car driver who first participated in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 1927 and won it in 1936, 1939 and 1940. He helped to save the race track grounds from housing development after WWII and became the track’s president. There are several informative sites about Shaw on the internet.

Peter DePaolo, whose uncle Ralph DePalma won the Indianapolis 500 in 1915, competed in seven of these races, and won in 1925. After suffering from a coma from a race crash in 1934, he owned and managed the winning car in the Indianapolis 500 in 1935. Its interesting that he signed the paperwork for the Champion Drivers company about seven days later. He later became a very successful sprint car owner.

Fred Frame began his career as a dirt track racer, and participated in eight Indianapolis 500 races, winning it in 1932. Al Gordon raced in the 500 in 1932, 1934 and 1935, but was killed in a race crash in 1936.

Louis Meyer, another racing legend who began the tradition of drinking milk from a milk bottle after winning the Indianapolis 500, won the race in 1928, 1933 and 1936. Lou Moore, also a racer, was more successful as a car owner winning five Indianapolis 500 races. Elbert “Babe” Stapp raced in twelve Indianapolis 500 races, and later became more famous as sprint car racer.

There were no more annual reports sent to the State after 1935 by Champion Drivers, Inc., so they probably didn’t continue this association. But this attempt at financial cooperation between these very successful race car drivers is intriguing, and probably unprecedented.

An Early Weight Reducing Machine

c100_2015_mch_002_0000Gardner Weight Reducing Company, June 22, 1916, South Bend, Indiana

“The objects of this association shall be the purchasing, selling, leasing and operating Body Massage of Reducing Machines.”

The directors of this company were Richard O.Morgan, Katherine Morgan, James A. Judie, and Margaret Judie. Mr. Morgan was a credit man [accountant?] at the Oliver Chilled Plow Works, one of South Bend’s largest factories, and Katherine was his wife. Mr. Morgan was a real estate agent, and Margaret was his wife.

The Gardner Weight Reducing Machine was one of the first mechanical massage machines, using the theory that massaging the body will increase the body’s circulation which will cause fatty tissue to burn off. Similar to later fat-reduction vibration machines, the Gardner machine used roller-pin shaped rollers to massage the patient’s midwaist. A picture of the machine shows a crank on the right side, so maybe an attendant had to crank it to make it work. “Instead of rolling on the floor”!?

James P. Gardner and his son Paul E. Gardner manufactured this weight-reducing contraption. James was a very wealthy fifty-seven year old manufacturer of machines who lived with his family and several servants on Greenwood Avenue in Chicago. Paul was about twenty-five years old and worked as a stocks and bonds broker. Apparently the machines began to be used in Chicago and several other cities in the U.S. early in 1914, and men and women used them in separate rooms.

The elder Gardner was also a co-founder of the Olympia Field Country Club in Chicago, which boasts the largest clubhouse in the United States. I bet the Gardner Weight Reducing Machine had a prominent place in it’s gymnasium!


Peoples’ Cooperative Telephone Company


20180607_164044 (1)

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

20180722_1435371237340536.jpgSeymour Detective Association No. 320. Seymour, Jackson County, Indiana. June 18, 1923. “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 the second page of 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.