Anderson Amusement Corporation, owner of the Anderson, Indiana Paramount Theatre




Anderson Amusement Corporation owned the Anderson Paramount Theatre located at 1129 Meridian Street, Anderson, Indiana; Anderson Amusement was incorporated from September 15, 1933 to 1946. The directors were Isaac R. Holycross, Claribelle Holycross, Neil M. McCullough, and Harry W. VanNoy.



Isaac R. Holycross had been a printing press manager and an oil salesman before he got into the real estate  and theatre businesses; Claribelle was his wife. Harry W. VanNoy was a messenger and then the manager of the Western Union Telegraph office in New Castle, Indiana. He also got into the real estate business and then became the manager and part owner of the Anderson Paramount Theatre. Neil M. McCullough was the president of the Citizens Bank in Anderson, and was also an owner of the Riviera Theatre across the street from the Paramount.

The Anderson Paramount Theatre was originally owned by the Publix chain of theaters, a division of Paramount Pictures. It was designed by architect John Eberson, a famous designer of impressive theaters across the United States. According to the Wikipedia article about the Anderson Paramount Theatre, it “is an atmospheric theatre (an architectural style that gave the appearance of an open star-filled sky) and is one of the twelve atmospheric theatres left standing in the United States and Canada. The auditorium was decorated in the style of a Spanish village.” The theatre opened on August 29, 1929, but closed on June 1, 1930 due to the Depression. Anderson Amusement Corporation probably bought the theatre from Publix and reopened it on December 27, 1931.

Anderson Amusement gave up ownership of the theatre in 1946, after which different owners let the structure slowly deteriorate. The Anderson Paramount Theatre was beautifully restored by community interests and reopened in 1995.

by Robert F. Gilyeat, an Indiana State Archives volunteer








The Starr Piano Company, Oriental Branch (a Gennett Record connection)


The Starr Piano Company, located in Richmond, Indiana, was incorporated in 1893. Henry Gennett invested in the Company in 1893 and by 1903 the Gennett family controlled it. They produced high-quality pianos that sold world-wide.

On December 3, 1919, the Gennett family incorporated the Starr Piano Company – Oriental Branch. I believe the purpose of this company was to sell their products to middle eastern countries. The directors were Mardiros Nigohossian, Haig Varvarian, Clarence Gennett, Fred Gennett and William A. Klein. Clarence and Fred were sons of Henry Gennett. Annual Corporation Reports were submitted to the Indiana Secretary of State through 1934, but the corporation never did any business.


On each report was written “no stock was ever issued – no books opened – no directors chosen – no officers elected – no stockholders meeting held.”

According to ship passenger lists, Mardiros Nigohossian was of Turkish nationality and resided in Greece, and Haig Varvarian was a subject of Persia. Clarence Gennett was treasurer of the Starr Piano Company, and Fred Gennett was its secretary. On the 1920 Federal Census William A. Klein was listed as the Starr Piano Company’s “foreign manager”.

In 1915 Starr’s board of directors voted to produce phonographs and recordings to keep up with this new form of home entertainment. Fred Gennett was put in charge of the endeavor, and production of the phonographs began in Richmond, Indiana in 1916; recordings began with the Gannett label in 1917. Fred was successful in choosing artists that were known nationally and the Starr phonographs were popular. In 1919 Fred decided to make Gennett Record recordings using a popular procedure that was patented by Victor Records. Victor sued Gennett in response, and Gennett won the court battle in 1923.


Then in 1923 Gennett Record sales increased dramatically when they recorded Chicago-based jazz bands at the suggestion of Fred D. Wiggins, the company’s Chicago branch manager. Wiggins was thus promoted in 1924 to head Gennett’s recording department, and he actively searched for and recruited new, regional recording artists like Louis Armstrong, Hoagy Carmichael, and Bix Beiderbecke. As a central, mid-western studio located in Richmond, Indiana, Gennett Records’ reputation flourished.

The book “Gennett Records and Starr Piano”, published by Arcadia Publishing, stated “Gennett discovered a vibrant and underrecorded group of groundbreaking jazz, blues, country, sacred and ethnic musicians who changed the face of American music and culture.”

Gennett Record sales dropped drastically during the Depression and they stopped recording in 1934. The defunct Starr Piano – Oriental Branch also stopped sending in its Annual Corporation Report the same year.

by Robert F. Gilyeat, an Indiana State Archives volunteer





Victrolas & Spies


The Victor Talking Machine Company, which produced Victrola phonographs and Victor records, was incorporated in 1901 with its headquarters in Camden, New Jersey. This company was sold to a banking firm in 1926, which sold it to RCA in 1929. Many music-related stores started selling the Victrolas in the early 1900s, including department stores as well as Victrola stores.

The Circle Talking Machine Shop incorporated in 1920 and was located on 35 Monument Circle, Indianapolis, Indiana. This was a prime location for a retail store in the center of the city, it was very near the popular Circle Theater, but it had heavy competition, including the Indianapolis Talking Machine Store. The Shop closed its doors in 1924.20180902_0957411173217575.jpg


The Directors of the Circle Talking Machine Shop were Ward Hackelman, Fred Appel, H. T. Griffith, Wallace O. Lee, Harry E. Whitman, and Jean R. Whitman. The Whitmans were married and were the operators of the store. Harry had been a salesman for the Pearson Piano Store and Jean had run a typewriter supply store in the Hume-Mansur building. Ward Hackleman and Fred Appel were both insurance company executives. Howard T. Griffith worked for the Udell Works, a furniture manufacturer in Indianapolis that made cabinets for the table model Victrolas.

Wallace O. Lee was the Vice-President of the Indianpolis Heat & Light Company, which was the predecessor of the Indianapolis Power & Light Company. Lee’s office was also on the Monument Circle. He and his wife were very active in Indianapolis civic and charitable activities. And, during WWI Wallace was a member of a controversial secret patriotic society called the American Protective League.20180909_0534301101986329.jpg20180909_0556461862963414.jpg

The American Protective League  (APL) was founded on March 22, 1917, shortly before Congress declared war on Germany. A Chicago businessman had suggested to the Department of Justice, Bureau of Investigation, that a volunteer organization should be set up to monitor treasonable activities within war-related factories and within American communities. A national network was set up and they claimed that up to 250,000 “operatives” were involved in almost 600 cities in the United States. Most of members were in the big cities like Chicago and New York City, but Henry Ford claimed he had 400 APL members working in his Michigan factory which employed 30, 000. The APL was particularly interested in the activities of German immigrants, and the organization claimed that up to 3,000,000 investigations were conducted for the U. S. Government. The APL was dissolved in early 1919, but the FBI later used the organization’s records to conduct some of its own investigations.

My brother told me about a similar situation during WWII. A German immigrant family moved into the neighborhood where he grew up, in what is now called South Broad Ripple, in Indianapolis. In 1941 the family moved into a house in the 5500 block of Rosslyn Ave. They spoke German, as well as English, and they kept mostly to themselves. They had two little girls who also did not play with the neighborhood children. The husband rode a bicycle to work every day, and he eventually motorized the bike. Their neighbors were naturally suspicious of them, since we were at war with Germany. The German family moved away after the war, in 1946.

So, I researched this German family on the internet. They immigrated from Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. In 1940 they lived in Chicago, and the husband was a salesman for the Stein Sewing Machine Company. Their first daughter was born in 1940. They moved to Indianapolis in 1941 where the husband managed a sewing machine sales and repair shop at 644 E. 52nd street, a few miles from where they lived. The brick building is still there, around the corner from the Aristocrat Restaurant, one of our favorite places to eat. The wife became a naturalized citizen in 1943. When they left Indianapolis they moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they lived the rest of their lives. I can see why neighbors would be suspicious of them, but I bet these German immigrants felt they were very  lucky and thankful to have escaped Nazi Germany before WWII started.

by Robert F. Gilyeat, an Indiana State Archives volunteer







Santa Claus, Indiana

20180820_210817689198255.jpgWhen I was a boy in the 1950s my parents drove from Indianapolis, Indiana to southern Indiana to visit a village named Santa Claus where stood a huge Santa Claus statue. There I rode in a small train to view elf-like statues and visit the real Santa Claus. Many years later my wife and I took our kids to Santa Claus, Indiana to visit the expanded Holiday World and ride the roller coaster, a water log ride, and several kiddie rides. Also, to visit a very authentic-looking Santa Claus in a room filled with colorful Christmas decorations.

According to Holiday World history, Evansville industrialist Louis J. Koch visited Santa Claus, Indiana with his kids during WWII and was disappointed to find only a post office, a general store, a few houses and no Santa Claus. Actually, I bet he was really excited to find an opportunity where other entrepreneurs had failed. During the 1930s other businessmen tried their best to attract tourists to the Christmas-themed village, but eventually failed. During the late 1930s thousands of tourists visited Santa Claus Town, but tourism and sponsorship dried up during WWII, and a rivalry between two local opportunists didn’t help either.



I came across five different Santa Claus-themed companies incorporated during the 1930s in Santa Claus, Indiana. The first was the “Santa Claus Industries of Indiana”, incorporated by Stanley C. Hill, Laura B. Wylie, and William D. Fitzpatrick on October 2, 1931. Stanley C. Hill was a 44-year old Indianapolis salesman, Laura B. Wylie – a 44-year old widow from Elwood, Indiana who owned the Elwood Lumber Company, and William D. Fitzpatrick – a 43-year old Indianapolis attorney. I think this might have been a general store in the village that probably sold toys, but it didn’t last very long.


Santa Claus, Service Inc., incorporated on November 18, 1933. These incorporation papers were written with catch-all phrases that would include just about everything that could be sold in a Santa Claus-themed store. The incorporators were Eugene C. Wharf, Thomas M. Shircliff, and Charles R. Shircliff, all from nearby Vincennes, Indiana. Eugene C. Wharf was a 55-year old district agent for a life insurance company. Thomas M. Shircliff  and his younger brother Charles M. were involved in the furniture sales business. Later, in 1935, they, started Shircliff Industries to manufacture furniture in Vincennes, as well as opening a Pepsi-Cola bottling plant there. Again, their enterprise in Santa Claus didn’t seem to last very long.


The first entrepreneur to be commercially successful in Santa Claus, Indiana was Milton Harris, a lawyer from nearby Vincennes, Indiana. For years thousands of letters and packages had been sent to and remailed from Santa Claus, Indiana to children as a Christmas surprise. In the early 1930s the village’s postmaster, James Martin, and Harris conceived the idea of opening there a Santa Claus-themed brick castle named the Candy House. In 1934 Harris incorporated the plan as “Santa Claus of Santa Claus, Indiana”, along with Cincinnati road building contractor Lester R. Geiler. I imagine Geiler provided some funds for the project, and maybe had something to do with the building of the Candy House.


Strategically, they also leased many acres of land around the village for further development of their Santa Claus Town. Gilbert Fahr, a farmer from Santa Claus, Indiana, later signed on as a director of this corporation. Maybe he was the farmer from whom Harris leased the land.

Milton Harris opened his Candy House, sponsored by Curtis Candy Company, during the 1935 season and it had a booming business. But, a competitor unveiled a huge “granite” Santa Claus  on Christmas on a nearby knoll, and had bought the Santa Claus Inn in the village.20180831_232812345984838.jpg

This competitor was Carl A. Barrett, President of the Illinois Automobile Club. Barnett claimed that he had also bought property around Santa Claus, Indiana, and that he intended to build a Santa Claus Park on this property, which was also Harris’s idea,. The trouble was that the property he bought had already been leased for 25 years to Harris. So, they went to court and Harris won a temporary injunction against Barrett in 1936. The enthusiastic Harris then built onto his Santa Claus Town, with other pavilions sponsored by companies like Daisy Air Rifles and Lionel Trains.

According to a 1938 newspaper article about the situation, “Barrett then asked a higher court to review the evidence.” The matter went to the Indiana Supreme Court to decide, and Harris eventually won his case. Barrett could not develop his Park, but he still owned the 40-ton Santa Claus (a crack revealed that it was not made of granite, but of concrete), and his Santa Claus Hotel and Restaurant.20180816_165030372990507.jpg20180816_165219128396066.jpg

According to a U.P. newspaper article dated December 21, 1938, “Last Sunday more than 10,000 persons walked through the streets (of Santa Claus, Indiana) … and the toy village contains miniature replicas  of story book houses built by Milton Harris.”

Unfortunately, WWII interrupted the dream of Harris to build upon his Christmas-themed business. Sponsorship and tourism dried up during the war years, and when Louis J. Koch and his family visited Santa Claus Land, only the general store and post office were open. Koch opened his fantasyland train ride and exhibits successfully in 1946. Harris died in 1950, and his Christmas-themed park closed.

The Koch family have very successfully developed their modest Christmas-themed enterprise into the award-winning Holiday World & Splashin Safari. Also, an enthusiastic, Christmas-loving entrepreneur named Kevin Klosowski has recently  renovated and reopened Santa’s Castle. And, even though the foundations of the little “story book houses” are still barely visible, he hopes to continue the legacy of Milton Harris.


by Robert F. Gilyeat, an Indiana State Archives volunteer







Dubois County Soldiers and Sailors Monumental Association


“The object of this Association shall be to build and maintain a monument on the Public Square at the Town of Jasper, Dubois County, Indiana, in commemoration of the Soldiers and Sailors of said Dubois County, who served in the Union Army and Navy during the war of the Rebellion.”


The following men donated to the construction of the monument:                                             20180816_202511-114160367451354578138.jpg 20180816_2047451229282384.jpg These were a diverse group of veterans and non-veterans who donated their time and money for commemoration of a cause they felt was the most important event of their lives, and they wanted the sacrifices made by the soldiers of the union cause should not be forgotten. This list of men included Dubois County leaders, attorneys, physicians, merchants, and a farmer who was a Medal of Honor winner.

There were five donators named to be the directors for the first year of the corporation: John S. Barnett, Conrad Eckert, Winfield S. Hunter, John P. Salb, and William A. Taylor. John S. Barnett, b. 1830, was a teamster who was mustered in the Army of the Shenandoah on March 9, 1865 with duty at Charleston, Winchester, Stevenson’s Depot, Jordan’s Springs and Summit Point. He was mustered out on August 31, 1865. Conrad Eckert, b. 1842, was a German immigrant who was a flour miller and farmer.  He enlisted on 12 September 1861 as a musician in the Co. K, 27th Regiment, Indiana Infantry, and after participating in a few battles he was wounded on 9 August 1862 at Cedar Mountain, Virginia, and discharged on October, 1862 due to his wounds.

Winfield S. Hunter, b. 1849, must have lied about his age when he enlisted on 15 December 1863, because he declared he was 18 years of age when he joined. He enlisted in Co. L,131st Regiment, 13th Indiana Cavalry as a private, saw action at Newmarket, Alabama and Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and was discharged as a saddler on 18 November, 1865. John P. Salb, b.1854 in Germany, was not a veteran, but must have doctored many of the veterans as their physician. William A. Taylor, b. 1843, enlisted in Co. K., 13th Indiana Cavalry on 12 March 1864 as a private, and was discharged on 30 April 1865 as a saddler. He became a lawyer after the War.

John Gramelspacher, b. 1846 in Jasper, joined Co. E., 15th U.S. Infantry, 2nd Battalion and was discharged on Christmas Day, 1862. Its interesting that he used the alias “John Greaner” when he enlisted; maybe he thought his name would be too hard to pronounce or too German? It also looks like he lied about his age, for his discharge record shows that he was 21 years of age in 1862, but he was only 16. He probably participated in the Battle of Shiloh on April 7, 1862. His family was prominent in Jasper and after the War he became a druggist, a lumber dealer, and a manager of a desk manufactory. His father’s house, built in 1848 in Jasper., is on the National Historic Register.

George Mehringer, b. 1843, enlisted on 12 September 1861 in Co. K., 27th Indiana Infantry, engaged at Antietam and was wounded at Chancellorville. He was discharged as a Sergeant on 01 September 1864. Britian Leming, b. 1844 in Ohio,  joined Co. D., 56th Ohio Infantry which was organized at Portsmouth, Ohio in October, 1861. He participated in the Battle of Shiloh and the siege of Vicksburg. His post-war occupation was as a printer.  Herman Eckert, b. 1865, was not a vet, but was a lawyer in Jasper. Joseph Friedman, b. 1832 in Pennsylvania, worked as a merchant in civilian life. He joined the Co. H. 22 Veteran Reserve Corps in Washington D.C. from April 1863 to the end of the Civil War. This Corps gave light duty to partially disabled or otherwise infirm soldiers or former soldiers.

Trusten K. Dougherty, b. 1859, was not a veteran, but worked as a school teacher, hotel owner, and drug store owner in Jasper. Jacob Burger, Jr., b. 1853, was a banker in Jasper and not a veteran. Possibly his older brother, William, was a veteran. William A. Wilson, b.1866, was an insurance agent in Jasper and not a veteran, but possibly his father had enlisted in the Civil War.


William W. Kendall, b. 1839 and was a farmer in Dubois County, Indiana. He joined the Co. A, 49th Indiana Infantry, and was a Medal of Honor winner. Here is his story as published in 1901 in “Deeds of Valor, How American Heroes Won the Medal of Honor”:20180817_0341451694251351.jpg20180817_0355092055775998.jpg

William E. Cox, b.1862, lawyer and congressman, was not a veteran. Frank Joseph, b. 1841 in Bavaria, banker, not a veteran. Frank Troxler, b. 1843, a saddler and harness maker, enlisted in Co. E, 43rd Indiana Infantry Regiment, on 17 February 1865 and mustured out on 17 October 1865 in Nashville, Tennessee. George P. Wagner, b. 1867, merchant, not a veteran. Dr. E.J. Kempf, b. 1858, not a veteran; a physician in Jasper. Joseph F. Friedman, b. 1861 in Jasper, worked as a manager of a venere factory. His father, George Friedman, b. 1838, enlisted in the Company Band, 27th Indiana Infantry Regiment, and was in Co. E., 143rd Indiana Infantry from February to November 1865.

The soldier at the top of the monument leans back a little, and is at parade rest. The Civil War veterans of Dubois, County, Indiana did not want us to forget what they did for the Union as young soldiers.

by Robert F. Gilyeat, an Indiana State Archives volunteer

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 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.

by Robert F. Gilyeat, an Indiana State Archives volunteer