Peabody Singing Tower

 North Manchester, Indiana

Recipient of Indiana Historical Society's Awards--"2013 Outstanding Project Award" &
"2009 Outstanding Historical Organization".  Welcome to our web site!  Enjoy using this Portal to Our Past!

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Source: NMHS Newsletter, August 2018

Collections and Exhibits

Since moving into the Center for History in 2000, the museum’s collection of artifacts has grown from 2,200 items to almost 30,000. About 1/3 of the items are three dimensional, 1/3 are photographs, and 1/3 are other documents.

 Some of the interesting items we have recently acquired from donors are:

            · Civil War Era clothing: dresses and three mourning hats

            · Photos from the Oppenheim hosiery sale, 1945

            · Bronze plaque commemorating the death of Old Order Elder James Quinter at the church’s annual conference in North Manchester in 1888

            · 1932 wooden Mickey Mouse doll

            · 26 Story Book Dolls with original polka dot boxes

            · Score board from North Manchester Central High School

            · Replica horse-head hitching post, originally located in front of Oppenheim Store

            · Lutheran pastor and author Hugh Wells scrapbook

            · Kroger “Top Value” stamp books with stamps

            · Chairs (4) from the Hamilton Opera House, c. 1880

            · Civil War sword and bayonet

            · Mounted head of white-tail deer, 11 points

Source: NMHS Newsletter, August 2013

Recent Center for History Accessions

By Joyce Joy

 Some of the acquisitions we’ve received this year (2012-2013) include:

 >  A Ledger belonging to Maurice Place, when he lived in Richmond, Ind., later moving here where he operated a Quaker school and was a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

 > We have journals from William Comstock, John’s son, who became a Methodist minister, after going to the Seminary in Lima, New York.

 > A hand painted hinged wooden box found in the Ulrey Building

 > An album full of photo postcards of North Manchester Buildings and scenes.

 > A Western Auto Catalog from the 1950s.

 > Dr. C. E. Cook’s hat and gun holster from World War II

 > Several albums of school children who were taught by Helen and Ray Hardman

 > A laundry bag, compliments of C. E. Brady Clothing, for Manchester College

 > Dresses from the late 1800s

 > Two books of James Whitcomb Riley’s poems and seven books by Gene Stratton Porter

 > A very large collection of children’s toys, doll cradle and bed, rocking horse, child’s wicker cradle, dolls, dollhouse, service station, and much more from Ed & Martha Miller, some of which will be on display in the window.

Source: NMHS Newsletter, August 2012

Recent Acquisitions at the Center for History. 
By Joyce Joy

 Among the more important and interesting acquisitions we received this year, were from Dave Tranter and his three separate collections.  One was the Knights of Pythias memorabilia, which included the K of  P rose colored silk robe, several ritual booklets, lodge badges,  ribbons, and photos.

 We also received Ace Hardware items from Dave, which included a portrait of Ivan Little, owner of Little’s Ace Hardware.  We also received a horn seeder made by Cyclone Seeder from Urbana, a 48 star flag, a wooden Hardware sign and several small items. The largest part of the donation was The Print Shop.  It included antique printing machines, presses, two Forgery Proof check writers, a lead slug cutter, a chase, quoins and quoin keys, used to hold print in a chase.  We were also given a book stapler, desk press, almost 200 print blocks along with many pieces of metal type.  There were wooden and metal spacers used in setting up type.  Also antique typewriters, desktop calculators, a Comptometer (hand operated adding machine), several Lino Type books, several wooden Print Shop signs and photos.

 Another interesting acquisition we received are three advertising posters from the “pink house” at 508 Miami Street, where Ferne Baldwin lived, and which she still owns.  The posters are advertising “Seiberling Rubber Heels”, with a fashionable young lady on two of them.  The other is advertising “Cat’s Paw Rubber Heels”.  This is where Noah Baker had his shoe repair shop in the late 1920s. While remodeling the house recently, these posters were found in the wall, and retrieved.

Source: North Manchester News-Journal, Jan 27, 2010

By Bill Eberly

No, that is not a religious question. It is about historical items, called artifacts. Many of you have old objects in your attics, trunks, basements, garages, anywhere, that represent life as it was in some earlier time. If we don’t save these objects, how will our children and future generations know what life was like when grandma was a girl (or something like that). Will you save them?

More specifically, will you save them for the Center for History, the museum of the North Manchester Historical Society? We already have more than 19,000 things (artifacts) accessioned in our collection and many more waiting to be accessioned. Joyce Joy and her helpers (Bea Knarr and JoAnn Schall) have done a marvelous job of accessioning, storing, filing, and otherwise keeping track of these many objects. But we are always getting new items.

For example, not long ago we received the family Bible of Rev. Bryant Fannin, a pioneer preacher of North Manchester and northern Wabash County. Mr. Fannin bought the first tract of land in the new Chester Township on October 1, 1833, a little three cornered piece north of the Second street bridge on the east side of the river. Of course, the town of North Manchester was not there then.

He later bought four more tracts near North Manchester. One source says he moved his family here in 1836 to his property on the east side of Singer Road very close to town. Rev. Fannin probably preached the first sermon in North Manchester in 1835 at the house of Peter Ogan. Fannin was also reputed to be one of four conductors for the Underground Railroad at North Manchester.

Not long ago we were given the large registration ledgers for the Sheller Hotel, back to 1892 when it was known as the Grimes House. This is an invaluable record of visitors to North Manchester, where they lived, how long they stayed, etc.

We have a very complete ledger from the Liberty Mills Flour Mill in the early years of the 20th century. The Rittenhouse family also manufactured a shoulder carried seed sower at this location. The ledger records everyone who worked at the factory, when they worked, how long they worked, what they were paid, and how many sowers were produced and where the sowers were sold.

We have objects and letters and a diary from Henry Lantz, one of the earliest hotel owners in North Manchester. In the 1850s, he went to California hoping to find some gold. These letters to his wife back in North Manchester record his experiences during this great adventure. Included in this collection is a marvelously well-preserved Melodeon, a rare musical instrument which looks like a mixture of a piano and a pump organ.

Space does not permit listing all the wonderful artifacts we have received recently. But there are many more items out there that could be saved in the Museum. Sometimes these objects are simply destroyed, thrown away, dumped, whatever. We heard recently of an old building in a nearby town that was being razed to make room for a new building. In the upstairs of this old structure were a number of record books, ledgers, etc. of the community school dating back more than a hundred years. These books were simply placed in a dumpster and taken to a dump somewhere. Such a loss!

This is a call reminding people again that the Center for History is anxious to receive and save a variety of items relating to North Manchester and the surrounding area. What kind of things should be saved? These include:

Photographs of people, places and events of this area (the older the better).

Letters to and from local residents (again, the older the better).

Printed material, including business receipts, advertising ephemera, from local businesses.

Any Items actually manufactured in North Manchester and the area.

Home and farm objects used by local residents or like those that could have been used locally.

Old clothes, especially late 1800s and early 1900s.

Land abstracts. These are very useful. If you do not want to give these to the Museum, perhaps we could copy them and return the originals to you.

Anything related to churches and schools of Chester and Pleasant townships.

Because of the unique location of North Manchester, our home territory also includes Lake and Jackson townships in Kosciusko County, Cleveland township in Whitley County, and Warren township in Huntington County.

If you have anything you think might be of interest to us, please contact the Museum and describe your items. Call Joyce Joy at 982-0672, or Nancy Reed at 982-2858, or Bill Eberly at 982-6527.

Help us save the history of our area.

by Joyce Joy, Archivist
May 5, 2009

 Our collections date from 1984 when we first started collecting items. We now have over 17,500 items, including display and archival objects, books and photos.

Among some of these items is Mary K. Peabody’s sterling silver nine-piece dresser set with her initial on each piece. We have wedding gowns, children’s ladies and men’s clothing, some dating from the late 1800s to the 1990s, sports uniforms and many other clothing items.

Our archives consist of abstracts, diplomas, report cards, genealogy and many other manuscripts.

Our library has old school books, such as McGuffey Readers, old geography and arithmetic, medical and music books, family Bibles, school and college yearbooks, literature, genealogy, cemetery records, booklets about North Manchester history, ledgers from old businesses, including one recent donation dating from 1848-1852 (Jacob Simonton’s Ledger, Liberty Mills), and William Comstock’s diaries from 1853-1855, and many other interesting books.

Our largest and most recent and significant donation was from the Harold/Ellis Miller family, with four generations of items, including what was in their “Barn Museum.” It consists of farm equipment and toys, crocks, a sellers cabinet, tools and much more from the barn. Items from the house include a wedding dress belonging to Ellis Miller’s first wife, Anna Metzger, children’s dresses, family photos, letters from family including letters from a World War One soldier, Jake Albright. The total items from the Miller’s will number over one thousand.

In our photo and postcard collection, we have many wonderful photos of our downtown area, one dating back to 1876. We have photos of many prominent local persons including business people.