Halloween Tragedy 1937

Whenever I talk with folks who “remember when”, this tragedy always come up.  Back in the days when most people walked to town for socializing, two Muren women were tragically killed and others injured while walking home in 1937 from the Winslow Halloween party.

From the Dispatch, Friday, November 5, 1937:


Mrs Josephine Lang and Mrs. Luella McCandless Meet Instant Death When Hit by Automobile

Mrs. Josephine Lang, widow of the late William Lang, and Mrs. Luella McCandless, widow of the late Curtis McCandless, were both instantly killed Friday night at 8:30 when hit by an automobile driven by Paul Maxey, 21, of near Oakland City.  The accident happened on state highway 61 a few feet south of the bridge on lower Main Street.  The women were returning to their homes in Muren after attending the Halloween Party in Winslow.

There were six in the party of women walking south along the highway, the two who were instantly killed, Mrs. Frona Auburn, her daughter, Evelyn Stewart, 19, her sister Oma Talbert and Betty Whitney, 12, of Petersburg, a granddaughter of Mrs. Lang.  The ladies were walking south, the little Whitney girl holding hands with her grandmother with whom she intended to spend the weekend.  A truck, driven by Joel Evans was passing them going in the same direction.  Maxey caught up with the truck and turned out to pass it when he hit the women.  The two women were killed outright and both bodies were thrown clear of the concrete, great pools of blood made where the bodies lay.  They had evidently been thrown up on the Ford V-8 car as the windshield showed it had met with some sort of impact and the left front fender was badly bent.

Others seeing the wreck went at once and put in a call for ambulances and Dr. George Detar who went at once to the scene.  It was seen that both Mrs. Lang and Mrs. McCandless had been instantly killed and at first it was thought Mrs. Frona Auburn was dead.  They were removed to the Miller Hospital where Mrs. Auburn revived.  The bodies of the dead women were sent to the morgues, Mrs. Lang to the Crecelius and Mrs. McCandless to the Brenton & Company place.  Mrs. Auburn was given treatment at once.  She is still in the hospital suffering a concussion of the brain, a large cut place on her head and internal injuries.

Marshal Claude Smith arrested the driver and locked him in the town jail.  He was afterward removed to Petersburg to the county jail.  As soon as the accident happened he stopped as quickly as he could and came back to town where he was arrested.

Both Evelyn Stewart and Betty Whitney were shocked and bruised some but neither of a serious nature.  The Steward woman received a cut on her left knee.  The shock was almost unbearable for these youngsters.  They were taken to the hospital but were soon discharged.

Dr. D.W. Bell, county coroner, was notified at once as was Sheriff Goodman.  Dr. Bell did not complete his inquest until Monday when he rendered a verdict that “Luella McCandless came to her death by an avoidable accident, being struck by an automobile, driven by one Paul Maxey, Oakland City, Indiana.  The preponderance of evidence tends to show that the Ford V-8 automobile, driven by Paul Maxey, Oakland City, Ind., was traveling at a high rate of speed, and struck the deceased, Luella McCandless while she was walking on  the left shoulder of the road, and I highly recommend that criminal action be taken against one Paul Maxey, Oakland City, Ind.”

The verdict of the coroner on Mrs. Lang was in substance the same as for Mrs. McCandless.

In the car with Maxey were Lennis Gentry son of Mr. and Mrs. Isom Gentry, and Paul Roberts.  The boys were held pending the coroner’s inquest but were released as they were questioned.

Maxey was not drunk, as he was given a thorough test by Dr. Detar, although it was said he admitted to drinking two bottles of beer.  He was held in the county jail for sometime but later released after no charges were filed against him.  Maxey is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Maxey and lives at home with his parents east of Oakland City.

The ladies all lived in Muren, Mrs. Lang and Mrs. McCandless being near neighbors.  Mrs. Auburn was Frona Talbert, later married a man by the name of Stewart and after his death married Auburn.

Josephine Lang was Josephine Faiss.  She was born December 3, 1884 and was 52 years, 10 months and 26 days old at the time of her death.  She was a daughter of George and Temperance Hurt Faiss.  In 1902 she was married to James May with whom she lived until his death in 1904.  One child by this marriage survives, Mrs. Edith Heacock of Ontario, California.   In 1905 she was married to William T. Lang, a Spanish American war veteran and they lived together until his death June 5, 1935.  Surviving are the following children:  Mrs. Scott Norrington of Winslow, Mrs. Bessie Whitman of Indianapolis, Jodie Lang of Texas, Wilbur and Garnett Lang who lived at home with the mother.

Surviving also are six grandchildren, one great grandchild and a brother, John Faiss, of Centralia, Illinois.

Mrs. Lang was a member of the Muren General Baptist Church and was a Christian lady and a good neighbor who had the respect and esteem of all who knew her.

After the body was prepared for burial at the Crecelius Funeral Home it was taken to the home of her daughter, Mrs. Scott Norrington in the East End where it remained until Monday morning when the funeral service was held at the Muren G.B. church.  Rev. G.A. Hopper, pastor of the Winslow Church, conducted the service.  Burial was in the Williams Cemetery.

Mrs. McCandless was Luella Hopkins, a daughter of John P. and Hannah A. Hopkins.  She was born in Pike County March 8, 1898 and had reached the age of 39 years, 7 months and 21 days.  She lived in Patoka Township and grew to womanhood here and on January 30, 1919 she was united in marriage to Curtis McCandless.  They lived together until his death a few years ago.  The one child, Clifford, born to them survives.  Surviving also are three step-children , the mother, two sisters, Mrs. Bessie Johnson and Mrs. Pearl Mann of Evansville and one brother, Samp Hopkins of Muren.

Mrs. McCandless was a member of the General Baptist church and was a Christian lady who was known throughout this section as such.

After the body had been prepared at the Brenton & Company funeral home it was removed to the home of her brother, Samp Hopkins in Muren where it remained until Sunday afternoon when the funeral services were held at the Muren church with the Rev. Edgar Curry in charge.  Burial was in the Williams Cemetery.


Angel in Williams Cemetery.







I Grew Tomatoes

I have suffered from a fairly common blogger malady lately.  Bloggers tend to catch it after blogging for so long….its called “not blogging”.  I  don’t think you would say we ignore our blogs because I am always thinking about it and feel guilty for not being here.  I don’t forget about it.  I have a few binders full of stories yet to share.  So what have I been up to….

Growing things, harvesting and drying wild plants, canning things.  I have dried wild strawberry leaves for teas, dried echinacea and yarrow, dried mint.  I’ve made strawberry jam and blackberry jelly.  I’ve canned dill pickles, amish cucumber relish and vegetable relish.  Tomorrow I am canning salsa.  And I’m not done.  There are still peaches, pumpkins and apples yet to come.  I haven’t done this for 30 years and love doing it again.

I did manage to grow tomatoes.  I tended those things.  I pruned and checked them everyday.  We had plenty of rain and they looked very fine.  Then the storm came and layed them over.  They became a tangled up heap and it looks like one giant tomato plant out there.  I rolled a cage under the north side of them to keep them  off the ground.


Now it’s like a treasure hunt.  You really have to look for the red tomatoes in that jungle.  But they are there.


One of the joys of summer…standing at the kitchen sink eating a fresh picked sun warmed tomato as the juice drips down your arm.

Tomatoes: Part One

I have not had much luck growing tomatoes the past several years.  I have moved them here and there, even on the other side of the house one summer.  I grew nothing, except for just a few to show for all of the work.

A guy was talking about them at work the other night, how his grandpa grew the best tomatoes.  His grandpa used his grandmother’s seeds, saving them every year.  He wished he had some of those seeds for the 5th generation.

Everyone has their own way of growing them.  This year I am bound and determined they will grow for me.

I traded for some good Winslow area horse poop from my friend Amber to put in the dirt.  I turned that dirt.

I went to Pike Central to the Ag Department Greenhouse and bought some gorgeous healthy plants those Pike County kids raised.  Just six plants, Better Boys.  That is enough for me.

I am going to mulch them with the Pike County Dispatch.

I am going to water them with rainwater coming off of my roof.

I am going to have tomatoes!

tomato3 tomato

Ayrshire Schools

This is the story of the condemnation of the Ayrshire Schools taken from the 1910 Annual Report of the State Board of Health. The books are full of schools being condemned.  I think they had to be condemned in order to get the money from the state to rebuild or remodel?  

 Also I have included a few photos shared by Jackie Willis Houchins of early Ayrshire Schools in the 1930s.   These are in the “new” brick building that is still standing in Ayrshire as a home.  I wrote the information down somewhere that Jackie had given me of a few names in the pictures, but I am too organized and cannot find it :)  Maybe Jackie, her brother and others will read this and add a comment of who some of the kids are.  

New Note:  I am so organized I actually had the names listed on the jpeg :)  So I will add those and any other names as people let me know.

Annual Report of the Indiana State Board of Health 1910  Pg 62

Petition:  Ayrshire, Ind., September 16, 1908

This is to certify that we, the undersigned patrons of schools at Ayrshire, Pike County, Ind., do hereby request that the State Board of Health investigate the sanitary conditions of our schoolhouse.

Signed as follows:  A.J. Hedges, H.S. Hughes, U.G. Wiley, George Pickle, Alfred Adams, George Vanlaningham, James A. Spyers, F.B. Browder, Gus Harier, A. Sermerskeim, Samuel Tisdol, F.O. Woodrey,  Edward E. Woolsey, Geo. Benedict, I.H. Eanes, A. Lanzo Dean, John Barlow, Isaac Coffa (these are the spellings in the book)

Report of inspection of Ayrshire Schools, Pike County, January 5, 1909 by John Owens:

Buildings:  Three one room, frame:  two shingle roof, one iron, the latter the colored school.  Two of the buildings, the white schools, occupy the same lot, one half-acre, high, dry, clay soil.  Building in which upper grades are held, should be condemned outright.  The other white school building could be repainted and enlarged to accommodate the upper grades and the colored school should be repainted.  The whole town is dirty and derelict.  Mining is the industry.

White Schools:

Grades 1,2, and 3:  Seats single and double, all sizes:  badly scarred.  Ceiling and walls wood, unpainted.  Pupils face south; blackboard on south; Nine foot ceiling.  Vestibule 10 x 8 feet.  Forty five pupils in room.  Each pupil has 13 feet of floor space.  Light space one-ninth of floor space.  Open well, typhoid fever in schools a year ago.  Blackboards on north and south sides.

Grades 4,5,6,7, and 8:  Pupils:  30; face north.  Seats double, bad.  Ceiled with wood, not painted.  Floor bad.  Flue smoky.  Buildings one to two feet from ground, no foundations.  Outhouses bad.  All doors 3 x 7 feet.  Each pupil has 20 square feet of floor space.  Light area one-ninth of floor area.  General conditions bad.

Colored Schools, Ayrshire:

Pupils, 15.  Face west.  Board on west.  Tin roof.  No foundation; props; two feet from ground.  No well.  Closets bad.  Ceiling and walls plain boards, unpainted.  Each pupil has 24 square feet floor space.   Light area one-fifth of floor area.  Seats all sizes, single and double, badly scarred.

These buildings are in keeping with the town.

Proclamation of Condemnation

Whereas, it has been shown to satisfaction of the State Board of Health, that the schoolhouse at Ayrshire, Pike County, Indiana, is unsanitary and consequently threatens the health and life of the pupils, and also interferes with their efficiency, therefore, it is ordered that said schoolhouse at Ayrshire, Pike county, Indiana is condemned for school purposes and shall not be used for said school purposes after June 1, 1909 and if any school trustee, or trustees, any teacher or any person uses said schoolhouse for school purposes, or teaches therein, after the date above mentioned, he or she or they shall be prosecuted.  Any person mutilating or tearing down this proclamation shall be prosecuted.


1937 – 38 Ayrshire Grade School.  2nd Row:  third girl, Jackie Willis.  3rd Row:  last boy, Fred Willis.

Ayrshire School 1937-38 Upper Classes

Ayrshire School 1937-38 Upper Classes


Ayrshire Grade School Early 1930s.  The teacher is Lucille Amos Donham.  2nd Row:  5th girl, dark hair, Jackie Willis, boy on end Fred Willis.

boydies boydrowns

Under the Bed on Your Birthday

While researching the peculiar custom of being put under the bed on your birthday, I have found just a few google hits mentioning it. My Pappaw John was big on it.  It was supposed to bring you good luck for the following year. I remember reading in a book somewhere that it was an old English custom.

It wasn’t one of those quirky made up things that only my family partook in.  I mentioned it in an earlier post and on Facebook.  Several folks around here were thrust under the bed with the dust bunnies and whatever else lived under there.  My aunt sent me a dvd with some old family videos on it from the early 60s.  Lo and behold, there is my cousin being put under his crib on his birthday.

Sweet little picture of me, my brother and my Pappaw John.  Probably around 1964.  I seem to be doubting something, probably a story Pappaw was telling :)

Sweet little picture of me, my brother Jimmy, and my Pappaw John. Probably around 1964. I seem to be doubting something, probably a story Pappaw was telling :)

I can’t even remember what happened after I went under the bed due to the trauma of laying down there where the monsters lived.  I think they all cheerfully sat on the edge of the bed and counted my years or sang happy birthday.

I did find some rather intriguing things that go on under the bed while on my hunt for the reason why you would terrify a child as part of the birthday bash.

In an ancient Middle Eastern custom used to protect a new mother and infant from evil spirits – in particular Broshah, the female demon who steals newborn children – sweetmeats were placed under the bed to keep the evil spirits occupied eating them. 

Ten million children can’t be wrong,  monsters do  live under there!

French peasants believed that if the ashes from the Christmas Yule Log were kept under the bed, they would protect the house against thunder and lightning.

In China, a bride will present her in-laws and groom with new shoes according to their wedding customs.  In the wedding chamber, the gate-crashers will snatch the grooms new wedding shoes and throw them deep under the bridal bed.  This forces the groom to humble himself when he bends to retrieve his shoes, ensuring a harmonious marriage. 

A knife under the bed will dull the pain of childbirth.

A Victorian Superstition is that a dog howling at night when someone in the house is sick is a bad omen. It can be reversed by reaching under the bed and turning over a shoe.

If someone is ill or hurt and bleeding, place an ax under their bed to stop the bleeding.

If you want to have a baby girl, put a wooden spoon and a pair of scissors under the bed and a pink bow under the pillow. 

There seem to be a lot of things going on under the bed.

Birthday girls should not be one of them.

Was it a custom in your house when you were growing up?

The Coal Miner’s Cry Book

Normally I would not post anything for sale on here, but it is so rare to find one of these books of our coal mining history for sale on Ebay.  Or anywhere for that matter.  I have one and if you are interested in Pike County Coal Mining History and do not have one, now’s your chance.  The students at Pike Central High School put it together and published it in 1999.  I highly recommend it.


The Coal Miner's Cry

The Coal Miner’s Cry