This past weekend my mother and I found some pleasant diversions in Winslow, an auction and a reunion.
We spent the morning hours at an estate sale on Porter Street. One of my Grandma’s former neighbors, Eva McCord, recently passed away. Her home was on an immense hill next to the grade school. When we were children and played Red Rover on that slope, she would come outside and yell at us to get off of her property. She was quite eccentric and regularly dug through the school’s trash dumpsters.
I, the lover of old paper that I am, found a few things to drag home that I think Miss McCord had drug home from a trash bin somewhere. In fact, I am sure that the old Bibles I purchased were a dump rescue because Miss McCord had written a note and placed it inside of them, “I found these Bibles at the dump when there was open dump & they are Grandma and Grandpa McCord’s bibles. Writen by Eva McCord”. I remember open dump on Cato Road in the 60s. People placed the good stuff on the edges and others could take it. I don’t know what I will do with the Bibles, try to return them to some family members, or put them on Ebay to see if I can find the family members. There was family at the auction, but they obviously didn’t want such a fantastic treasure. I would give anything to be reunited an old family bible from one of my ancestors, but that is just me.
There is also an old book, which she had covered the pages of in scrapbook fashion with clippings and articles all related to Prohibition. She cared deeply about the Temperance Movement. There are also little radio talk show books by Sam Morris, “The Voice of Temperance”. I am especially fond of “The Female Bar Fly”. The really sad part of that sexist story is that it is a tad bit prophetic.
Later in the afternoon, we attended the Muren reunion held at the Winslow Community Center. There were a number of Sharps, Barretts, Bolins, McCandless, Youngs, Reeds, Brewsters and other in attendance that grew up in Muren. My mother had a fine time visiting with everyone, some of whom she hadn’t seen for probably close to 50 years. There was good food, old pictures and congenial company.
I don’t believe there was an inch of Muren that we did not explore as kids growing up there. We picked wild asparagus in the spring and cracked black walnuts from Grandma’s trees in the fall.
We learned to swim in Muren Pit. I can still remember the anticipation of driving down that old dirt road with the sandstone highwalls, walking down that narrow washout path, and my mother warning us not to go out too far because of the drop offs. My dad would hover at the drop off point so none of us could drown. For those of you not growing up swimming in the strip pits, the drop off is where the shovel dug deeper, it gets deep very fast and is nearly bottomless.
J.C. Muren was the man that Muren was named after. In the late 1800′s Muren was called Carbon,named after the Carbon Coal Mine operating in the area. In 1890, Carbon had it’s first post office. Being that there was already a town and post office in Indiana named Carbon, the village had to choose a new name and became known as Sophia. Sophia was the wife of Alex Wiggs and the postmistress. Her husband also ran the company store where the post office was located. In the early 1900s it became Muren, named after the underground mine operating in the village from 1904 to 1921. The post office was replaced by a mail carrier early on. The first mail carrier was George Pirkle. In the summers he drove a buggy with one horse, but during winter and rainy season he used two horses. When the roads became impassable, he unhitched the wagon and rode horseback. By 1900, Muren had many stores, a hotel, a school, a church and a train depot.
By 1900, there were 50 or more houses in the town. Company houses were built from tile and Portland Cement after David Ingle built the large Ingle dairy barn on Ayrshire Road, one of seven on his property. It was durable and inexpensive. The row of Company mine houses were on the Muren Road, or Orchard Hill Road as it used to be called. There is only one left standing in the area, and maybe another one covered in siding. You rented the houses from the mine owner and shopped at the company store with mine tokens you were paid.
Most of our ancestors from the area were coal miners or made a living associated with the mines. My family, the Dixons and the Bolins, migrated here from Perry county to work the coal mines. We still have family in the mines and can point out the remnants of the old mines in the area. There were several injuries and deaths in the coal mines. March 25, 1906 Elisha Copeland was killed by falling slate at the Muren Mine. His wife was pregnant with their 5th child. March 7, 1915 Alex Wiggs was killed by falling slate. His wife Sophia, was the one the town had been named after.
Muren Church of God, where my parents were married nearly 50 years ago, has now moved out to Highway 64 where Kirby’s Drive Inn used to be. Kirby’s Drive Inn was the place to be in the summer during the 60s. The local boys played music on the bandstand. We’d have a mug of root beer delivered to our car on a tray that hung on the window. If we had the money, dad would buy a gallon in a glass jug to take home.
Two passenger trains passed through Muren daily. The train was also used to ship livestock. The old depot stood in between the railroad tracks. There was a church on the corner of the Ayrshire Muren Road that was dilapidated when my dad was a kid. They used to go in there and play the old piano that had crashed through the rotten floor. The creosote plant purchased the land and it is now torn down. The creosote plant owns all of that land now.
Muren holds many memories for me. I drive through there every now and again. I will attend the next reunion and hope to see everyone there.