Pendleton Historical Museum

Pendleton Historical Museum Located in Falls Park in Pendleton, IN, the Pendleton Historical Museum is proud to preserve the history of the South Madison area. The museum operates via donations and volunteers but is FREE TO VISIT.
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Donation boxes can be found at the museum. The Museum is open May through October on Saturdays and Sundays, from 1PM to 5PM.

Operating as usual

Picture taken from an old yearbook.  The photo was taken on the fire escape located in the back of the Pendleton High Sc...
11/16/2020

Picture taken from an old yearbook. The photo was taken on the fire escape located in the back of the Pendleton High School. Hope you recognize a few names.

Willow Branch saw mill 1889
11/07/2020

Willow Branch saw mill 1889

As part of Pendleton's tree planting today, October 24, a tree was planted along Fall Creek in memory of Rex Mercer.
10/24/2020

As part of Pendleton's tree planting today, October 24, a tree was planted along Fall Creek in memory of Rex Mercer.

The Museum is closed this season but that doesn't mean things aren't happening.  The log section of the Museum was re-ch...
09/07/2020

The Museum is closed this season but that doesn't mean things aren't happening. The log section of the Museum was re-chinked and stained last year. This year the remaining portions of the Museum have been power washed and painted or stained. It's been quite an undertaking. We hope you enjoy the new look. When you visit next year you will find new displays and visit some of your favorite ones. We hope you will continue to support the Museum during this uncertain time. Please take a moment to support the Museum with a donation. Donations may be sent to the Pendleton Historical Museum, P.O. Box 345, Pendleton, IN 46064.

06/29/2020
October 3, 2011 Part 1

An interview with Mr. & Mrs. Ray Rittman, Mrs. Betty Harshman, Mrs. Leona Anderson, Mr. & Mrs. Fred Wolf, Mr. & Mrs. Reese Rogers

Mary Ahrens (1894-1985), a native Hoosier, resided in Pendleton for 46 years.  During those years, 1953-1972, she was we...
06/22/2020

Mary Ahrens (1894-1985), a native Hoosier, resided in Pendleton for 46 years. During those years, 1953-1972, she was well known as the librarian for the Pendleton-Fall Creek Library. During that time Mrs. Ahrens started a summer reading program for children and the “Story Hour” for young readers. Both programs are still part of the Pendleton Community Library.
Additionally, Mrs. Ahrens was a member of the Pendleton Art League, Saturday Club, Literary Society, First United Methodist Church and a supporter of the Pendleton Symphony Orchestra. She often wrote articles for the Pendleton Times. Mrs. Ahrens was quiet, artistic and always promoting the library. Many in the community remember the paintings Mary did of the local area.
To those old enough to have visited the Pendleton Library when it was in the Carnegie Building you probably remember the name Mary Ahrens. These pictures are intended to bring back fond memories, maybe you will recognize some of the places in her paintings.

The Museum lost a dedicated board member. RIP Rex.
06/15/2020

The Museum lost a dedicated board member. RIP Rex.

Pendleton Reformatory—Making Men; That’s the JobSeptember 13, 1923 The Pendleton Times front page was the all about the ...
06/15/2020

Pendleton Reformatory—Making Men; That’s the Job

September 13, 1923 The Pendleton Times front page was the all about the construction of the new Indiana Reformatory being constructed in Pendleton. The structure was built on a 1,000 acre farm—the idea being that the inmates could not only feed themselves but supply food to the state institutions in Indianapolis.

Indiana opened its first state prison in 1821 in Jeffersonville, followed in 1861 by one in Michigan City. Both prisons housed all offenders—regardless of age, sex, crime or sentence. In 1873 the Indiana Women’s Prison opened in Indianapolis for women and girls. This set in motion the thinking that young men and first-time offenders should not be housed with repeat offenders. In 1897 the Jeffersonville State Prison became the Indiana Reformatory; it was to specifically house those young men and first-time offenders between the ages of 16 and 30, with the exception of those convicted of murder or sentenced to life terms. In 1918 a fire at the Jeffersonville Reformatory destroyed many of the structures.

Governor Warren T. McCray formed a commission to determine the location of the reformatory—rebuild at Jeffersonville or find a new location. Eventually Pendleton was chosen as the location. Construction was started on the Pendleton Reformatory in 1922. A board of trustees was in charge of the work; the primary responsibility of the trustees was to build an institution with an “economy in maintenance, operation and at all times safe confinement.” The trustees kept costs down; partially because much work was done by the reformatory prisoners, numbering around 150. The bricks used were manufactured at the farm. Construction was not without its difficulties. At one point there was a strike by the plumbers requesting 10 hours’ pay for 8 hours work. (Their demand was not met.) So many buildings were being constructed that there was always a shortage of bricklayers. All workmen were checked four times a day by the state to see that each worker went to work on time and did not quit ahead of time.

Using an on site 60-acre gravel pit, two large gravel washers were erected to aid in construction. It was planned that they would be a permanent part of the reformatory; built to aid in construction but would also provide gravel for the building of state highways in the future.

During the time of the construction, 20 buildings were erected and a wall 30 feet high and a mile in length surrounding the buildings. The wall was built almost exclusively by the prisoners. The wall forms a square around the reformatory occupying 30 acres. There were two cell houses, each 300 feet long, forming most of the front wall. Behind these were the workshops and other buildings. The administration building was constructed in front.

Not all construction was completed by September of that year. Two industrial buildings were used to temporarily house the 500 prisoners being transferred from Jeffersonville to join the 150 already at work there. Those prisoners not needed for construction provided labor for the workshops making shirts, chairs, etc.

The Legislature in 1923 provided $2,000,000 to complete the reformatory. The trustees reported that $1.88 of each $100 collected in taxes that year, 1923, was spent to complete the reformatory. The total cost to build the reformatory was over three million dollars.

G. A. H. Shideler, first superintendent of the Indiana State Reformatory in Pendleton, made “Making Men; that’s the Job” his motto upon the opening of the Pendleton Reformatory. The function of this new reformatory was to make men from young, first-time offenders. Superintendent Shideler stated the offenders worked through the week, “and then on Sunday morning, having had a shower bath, clean suit of underwear, hair combed, teeth cleaned and a breakfast of plain wholesome food, they are at Chapel and it’s an inspiration to hear a thousand boys singing: “Tell Mother I’ll be There.” (September 13, 1923, issue of The Pendleton Times)

Original windows from the reformatory along with other memorabilia are at the Pendleton Historical Museum

Idlewold through the YearsA farm located on the banks of Fall Creek and adjoining the grounds of the Indiana Reformatory...
06/08/2020

Idlewold through the Years

A farm located on the banks of Fall Creek and adjoining the grounds of the Indiana Reformatory became the home of Charles E. and Florence McCarty and their children, Glen and Greeta, in 1913. The farm had previously belonged to Peter Mingle and was later named Idlewold. Like family farms of the time there were other buildings including a smokehouse, a large barn, and an outhouse as well as several other structures. A well and hand pump were also outside the house along with a cistern. The family soon set about creating a recreational area out of the farm.

A dam was built across Fall Creek, just below the pump house. The lake formed by the dam was used for boating and canoeing. Two rowboats and 22 canoes were initially purchased and the charge was 25¢ an hour to paddle up and down Fall Creek.

Another dam was built above the first dam forming a swimming pool. Five cottages, a log cabin, and bathhouse were built for summer vacationers and bathing suits could be rented. By 1917 there were 23 cottages; soon the bathhouse was demolished. Additionally, Swan Boat rides were available for 10¢. A man called “Uncle Sam” Mettle ran the boat on a bicycle-type mechanism that he peddled.

The nine-hole golf course was built and ready for play by 1920; it was later expanded into an 18-hole course. By 1921 a dining room and kitchen were built. Teddy Jones was the first to run the dining hall, and eventually siblings Glen and Greeta took over the work at the dining hall. The specialty was chicken dinners, with many of the chickens being raised by the family. An artesian well was located northeast of the kitchen. It was advertised that there were four kinds of mineral water for drinking. Many considered the water medicinal and people came many miles to drink and carry water home in jugs.

Idlewold hosted 4-H campouts and many groups from Anderson and Indianapolis visited. There were trails along Fall Creek, horseshoe courts, swings, and slides. July 4th celebrations began with a bell ringing at 4:00 AM. During the day there were baseball games, horseshoes, tennis and greased pig contests. For a brief time a miniature golf course was operated just south of the clubhouse.

By 1944 the depression and gas rationing meant that people did not travel as much. The cottages were empty. The McCarty family decided to sell, and Idlewold was purchased by Dr. Joe Shirley for $19,000 in 1944/45. In 1946 a corporation was formed to purchase the facility and at that time it became known as Idlewold Golf and Country Club Inc. It was then that a new clubhouse was built. In December 1952 this clubhouse burned down. The current clubhouse was built in 1960; the swimming pool was added in 1965, and the pro shop was built in 1970.

Idlewold changed hands again in 2009 when the town of Pendleton purchased the golf course, changing the name to Fall Creek Golf Club.

Stephenson “Daddy” Hair and the Whistling DickStephenson Hair was born in October of 1841; died in July of 1923 and is b...
06/01/2020

Stephenson “Daddy” Hair and the Whistling Dick

Stephenson Hair was born in October of 1841; died in July of 1923 and is buried in Grove Lawn Cemetery. He made his home at 211 S. West Street in Pendleton. In peacetime he drove a one-horse dray making deliveries, anything from a churn to a pot belly stove.

Hair was a Civil War veteran who fought as an artillerist with the 18th Indiana Battery. The 18th Independent Battery Indiana Light Artillery also known as Lilly's Hoosier Battery and Lilly's Battery, was a Civil War regiment formed in Indiana during the American Civil War. The regiment was formed at the end of 1860 by 22-year-old Eli Lilly, an Indianapolis pharmacist.

The Whistling Dick was a muzzle loader cannon. The gun gained fame because of a whistling sound the weapon caused the shells to make in flight. Whistling Dick was not a large cannon. There have been many theories on why the shells made a whistling sound after the gun was fired, but no one is sure what caused this phenomenon.

Hair owned a Whistling Dick. As a dyed-in-the-wool Republican and jokester, Hair used the cannon to celebrate Republican election victories. After an election victory, friends would meet in Teague’s Tailor Shop in Pendleton and make cartridges for the cannon. “Daddy” Hair was the only one allowed to fire the cannon. When Benjamin Harrison was elected in 1888 Whistling Dick was worked overtime. It is said the sound could be heard three miles out of town. At that time it was on a regular gun carriage and was usually wheeled to the stone quarry where Falls Park is today.

The date was May 25, 1916, Homecoming Day.  On that day in Pendleton began a three-day celebration of the Centennial of ...
05/25/2020

The date was May 25, 1916, Homecoming Day.
On that day in Pendleton began a three-day celebration of the Centennial of the state of Indiana at Idlewold Park; this celebration represented Pendleton, Fall Creek Township and Madison County. The celebration started on a Friday morning at 5:30 AM with a 21-gun salute and Stephenson Hair fired the “Whistling Dick”. (Hair and the cannon are a story for another time.) By afternoon it was estimated that attendance was between 2,500 to 3,000 on that first day of celebration, with the public bringing picnic baskets of food to enjoy in the evening along the banks of Fall Creek.
At that time there were cottages at Idlewold. Those cottages were rented out to civic organizations of the day: Franchise League, Grand Army of the Republic, League of Madison County, Pendleton Public Library, Literary Coterie, the Curio Committee. The Red Cross had a tent to treat those overcome by the heat or injury.
The schools organized groups of students who provided entertainment from the day of the settlers such as the Pendleton Boys Band, May Pole Dance, Club and Wand Drills, Virginia Reel. There were many speakers and the program lasted well into the evening.
According to the records at the Museum and pictures kept of the event young ladies of the area dressed in costume to represent a Quaker, an Indian and a Dunkard girl and clothing of the decades 1830, 1850, 1860, 1890 and 1916.
Our records do not tell what transpired the remaining two days. However, being only 100 years from the start of the state of Indiana and the town there would be many residents who could share stories and the history of the days not too long after their start.

Remembering PHHS first graduating class 50 years ago.  The classrooms might look a little different today.
05/20/2020

Remembering PHHS first graduating class 50 years ago. The classrooms might look a little different today.

1894 - The Saturday ClubIt was 1894.  Grover Cleveland was President of the United States.  Coca-Cola was sold in bottle...
05/18/2020

1894 - The Saturday Club
It was 1894. Grover Cleveland was President of the United States. Coca-Cola was sold in bottles for the first time. Karl Benz received a US patent for a gasoline-driven auto. Helena became the capital of Montana. Milton Hersey founded Hershey Foods in Pennsylvania. Louis Comfort Tiffany made his first lamps. Dr. John H. Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan filed for a patent for “flaked cereals and [the] process of preparing same.” St. John’s Hospital in Anderson was founded.
In 1894 Pendleton had no library and no women’s clubs. Very few women graduated from high school and outside of the church there were very few social outlets available to women. There was, however, a desire for fellowship and a desire to learn.
A small group of seven women met on October 5, 1894, to discuss organizing a club to promote literary advancement and social culture. They named this group “The Saturday Club of Pendleton.”
The members prepared a “yearbook” detailing the theme and who would be responsible for each meeting for the upcoming year. They followed Roberts Rules of Order. During roll call the member was to respond with a current event or a quotation on the subject of the day, to not do so resulted in a fine of one cent.
The goal of the club was to learn social graces and acquire cultural knowledge. They would read and share what they learned with each other. The first year they studied the United States. The members of the club honored mothers beginning in 1901, well before the day was officially recognized in 1914. In 1909 a debate was held on women’s suffrage. In October of 1917 the club voted to dispense with spending money on social affairs and instead bought a Liberty Bond. During WWI members of the Saturday Club helped organize the Fall Creek Township Red Cross unit.
Their motto “We Seek for Light, to Bless with Light” was expanded from the self-seeking of culture and learning for the individual to also include the community. They published booklets distributed to high schools; sponsored art exhibitions and spelling bees for students; and sponsored philanthropic activities.
The club still holds quarterly meetings with approximately ten members still attending. The Museum has a display and artifacts on the history of the Saturday Club which includes the punch bowl and cups they used at their meetings; when the Museum reopens take the time to look through the materials and see the many things the club has done throughout the years.

Remembering PHHS first graduating class 50 years ago.
05/13/2020

Remembering PHHS first graduating class 50 years ago.

This is the way we washed our clothes. . . .In the ‘good old days’ water had to be hauled in eight to ten times each day...
05/11/2020

This is the way we washed our clothes. . . .
In the ‘good old days’ water had to be hauled in eight to ten times each day, in frigid or steaming hot weather. Water used for cooking, dishwashing, bathing, laundry, and housekeeping that after it was used had to be carried back outside and dumped. One woman estimated that her water supply was sixty yards from her house. At minimum she walked to it six times a day or 720 yards in one year amounting to 148 miles per year carrying water.

A water guzzling household chore was doing the laundry. It was the most dreaded household chore of the nineteenth-century. It took all day, usually Monday, because most people changed their clothes on Sunday and dirt was easier to remove if it was not allowed to harden in the cloth.

The first washing machines were wood and hand paddled. They worked like a washboard with a paddle taking the place of the hands and fingers to rub the fabric. One wash, one boiling, and one rinse used about fifty gallons of water or four hundred pounds of water that had to be moved from pump or well to the stove and then the tub, in buckets and wash boilers that might weigh as much as forty or fifty pounds.

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Falls Park
Pendleton, IN
46064

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The Museum is currently closed for the season. We will let you know when we reopen. The Museum is open May through October on Saturdays and Sundays, from 1PM to 5PM. The museum operates via donations and volunteers but is FREE TO VISIT. Donation boxes can be found at the museum.

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One more museum picture
Lots of yearbooks to look through
A small part of our memorabelia from our school days.
Fun showing everyone our museum.
Sweater was donated by Debbie (Kelly) Sisson
Class of 1967 touring the museum before our 50 year class reunion.