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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To read the press releases of NMHS activities, click here.

Source: NMHS Newsletter, August 2018

by Mary Chrastil
President, North Manchester Historical Society

 Center for History Offers Free Admission

In an effort to provide even better service to our community, the Board of Trustees of the North Manchester Historical Society voted last winter to provide free admission to the Center for History, the museum it operates. Although the admission charge was minimal, the board felt it might keep some of our friends from visiting us, especially those with large families.

To help offset the loss of admission income, business supporters of the Center have agreed to underwrite free admission for one month. The first corporate sponsor featured in June was Poet Biorefining, followed by Wabash Electric in July and Manchester University in August. Batteries + Bulbs, Visit Wabash County!, the Ford Meter Box Foundation and Midwest Poultry round out the list of sponsors. We are very grateful to these community-oriented organizations for making free admission workable. A special thank you to Manchester University, who designed and produced the attractive signs acknowledging this support, and to Jack Schuler who made the lovely custom-made frames for them.

The Center is grateful to its corporate supporters for helping the Center pay its bills, keep the doors open, offer educational programs and provide research assistance. Free admission also helps promote businesses and tourism in our town, something good for everyone.

Center for History staff have noticed that people are sometimes intrigued by the museum’s window displays and want to learn more, but don’t have the time for more than a quick visit and don’t want to pay for such a brief stay. Sometimes visitors want to pop in for a few minutes just to see a new exhibit or check us out, then realize there is much more they want to see. Then they plan return when they have more time.


The Center would also like to encourage school children who visit us with their classes each year to return with their siblings, parents and grandparents. Many already do! The kids love to show their families what they learned at the Center for History.

 Admission has always been free for Historical Society members. It’s still free for them, but they now generously share the benefit with others. Members often bring out-of-town family and friends to see the Center. The members visited for free, but the visitors had to pay. Members have told the NMHS that they are pleased that their visitors can now visit for free, too.

 The Center for History has become a trusted institution in North Manchester, one that loves telling the story of our town, why we are here, and how we got to be who we are. With free admission we can now tell our story even more effectively.

Center for History Repeats Grant Success

In 2017, the Center for History gratefully received a $50,000 Heritage Support Grant (HSG) from the Indiana Historical Society for new LED lights throughout the museum. The lights protect our artifacts from harmful UV rays, reduce our electric bills and transform us into a more professional-looking space. We also received $4,545 from HSG for a double-insulated replacement roof over our leaky barn room. This work will help protect our building and artifacts from water damage and also save on heating costs. Both were highly competitive grants.

We were lucky enough to repeat our success this year. The Center has just been notified that it has been awarded a $45,700 HSG to increase museum security and artifact safety by:

            · Providing security cameras that will help us deter theft and damage.

            · Installing a fire alarm system that will send alarms if smoke or fire occurs, especially helpful when the building is unoccupied.

            · Replacing defective fans to control heat and humidity. Our HVAC systems have been upgraded and we monitor heat and humidity levels frequently, but we still need to have proper air circulation to bring heat and humidity into acceptable ranges for artifact preservation.

            · Installing a new furnace and air conditioner in the Thomas Marshall House museum.

 The Center for History also received a $5,000 mini-grant to repair a crumbling wall in our foundation. The deterioration was discovered when paneling in the oldest part of the building was removed for routine repairs.

 We are very grateful for this support, especially because funding for infrastructure is rare. The Historical Society must raise a 15% match for the grants, but is happy to do so for such a generous gift. The work funded was not possible without support beyond our normal operating budget.

Ogan’s Landing

This year, the NM Historical Society campaigned to name North Manchester’s new kayak and canoe launch Ogan’s Landing. The Parks and Recreation Department asked residents to suggest a name for the site, and Historical Society members responded!

Brothers Peter and John Ogan bought land in Wabash County in 1835, and soon showed the ambition and entrepreneurial skills that have marked our town from the beginning. Peter is regarded as the founder of North Manchester. He is not the first non-Native American settler or the first to purchase land here. But he was the first to build a cabin and the first to hold church services here in his home.

Most importantly, Peter purchased land where North Manchester now stands. He platted the town, having it surveyed and laying out the grid of streets and building lots. The most remarkable thing he did was plat the major streets to be 100 feet wide. Very few towns have lovely avenues like our Main Street, Mill Street and Market Street, a lasting legacy from Peter Ogan.

 Records show about half a dozen others helped build Peter’s cabin in spring, 1836, which was on the banks of the Eel river at 125 E. Main Street. Records show that at that time, the river was 130 feet wide. Other early families here were the Helveys, Harters (Harter’s Grove), Weybrights and Swanks.

 Most early settlers built mills the first thing. Otherwise they had to travel for miles to get flour. Peter built a flour (grist) mill just north of today’s canoe launch.. Peter also built a saw mill nearby, another early priority. An 1837 map shows the location of the mills along a mill race that was dug to power the mills that were at the foot of the current Mill Street (hence the name Mill Street).

 Early settlers often came to exploit the natural resources of an area, which meant lumber. They also purchased the land to speculate, selling it fairly soon and making a large profit. They often moved on fairly quickly. So did Peter, who moved on to White and then Tippecanoe Counties. His family never entered into marriages with other early settlers. But his legacy remains in the streets we still use today.

 John Ogan did stay around. He, too, built a cabin and a mill, this one a “cracker” mill that ground corn into a coarse consistency. His mill was on the south side of the river where Pony Creek empties into the Eel. For many years, Pony Creek was known as Ogan’s Creek. John Ogan family members continue to live in North Manchester. Some of them are the Joe and Mary Vogel family, their son Jim, his wife Erica and grandson Jacob.

Traveling Exhibits

 As it does every year, the Center for History has continued to take advantage of interesting and informative traveling exhibits offered by the Indiana Historical Society. The Center is recognized as the local site where these professionally-designed exhibits are available on a regular basis. You don’t have to go all the way to Indianapolis to see them!

 We are currently exhibiting “Indiana through the Mapmaker’s Eye”, which will be here through September 14. The exhibit is drawn from IHS’s collection of about 1,700 maps and atlases of Indiana and the Midwest dating from the 16th century to the present. It examines ways people have used maps through the years: as documentation, as tools, as political images and as art.

 From September 14 through October 16, the Center will host “Who Is a Hoosier?” The exhibit uses maps and informational graphics to highlight the statistical impact of changing ethnic groups over time. It shows how newcomers to the state, through immigration or migration, have created the Indiana we know today—and will continue to shape its future.


The NMHS arranges tours each year in conjunction with the NM Shepherd’s Center. Board Member Bernie Ferringer is in charge of the tours. In June, 2017, tour participants visited Stratford, Ontario to enjoy four plays presented by the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. In December, we traveled to the Purdue Christmas Show. In June, 2018, travelers enjoyed a trip to Milwaukee and Door County, Wisconsin.

 Coming up in April, 2019 is a visit to Williamsburg, Virginia and Lancaster and Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

Contact Bernie Ferringer for information if you would like to join our next trip: Bernie Ferringer, Tour Coordinator, 314 Sunset Drive, North Manchester, In. 46962. Phone 260 982-8734.

 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


Historical Society Honors Volunteers

Approximately seventy-five volunteers to the North Manchester Historical Society and North Manchester Center for History are honored in April every year to celebrate National Volunteer Month. The volunteers serve as docents, researchers, exhibit planners, exhibit fabricators, artists, Thomas Marshall House docents, board members, program planners, school day volunteers, administrators, and in many other capacities. NMHS is a virtually all-volunteer run organization, so it is deeply grateful for volunteer support.

 Volunteers provide the equivalent service of 3 to 5 Full Time Employees each year. Total volunteer hours since the Center opened are 78,833. Using the guidelines provided by The Independent Sector volunteer website, the 78,833 hours translate into volunteer services valued at $1,857,305. In other words, Historical Society volunteers have donated 1.86 million dollars of service since the Society began keeping records in 2000.

 Volunteers who have accumulated 100 hours of service received a polo shirt with the North Manchester Center for History logo. Those achieving this milestone in 2017 were Kay Barnett, Kathy Prater, Jack Schuler and David Waas. Joyce Mills and Mary Ann Swihart reached the milestone in 2018.

 Volunteer of the Year awards are also given annually. The Volunteer of the Year awards were given to Nancy Schuler and Jack Schuler in 2017 for Nancy’s work as a docent, volunteer data base manager, and bookkeeper and Jack’s service on the Center’s Building and Maintenance Committee and his hands-on repair and carpentry projects. In 2018, Volunteer of the Year awards were given to Joe Vogel and Joan Fahs. Joe has been on the board of trustees of the Center for History since the group was organized. He is currently on the Center’s accessions, planning and job search committees and has helped with scores of projects through the years. Joan has been one of the Center’s most faithful volunteers. She is a docent, maintains our file on obituaries and “always says yes” when a volunteer is needed.

Travel Tales


Bernie Ferringer

The North Manchester Historical Society/Shepherd’s Center travel group recently traveled to Racine, Milwaukee and Door County Wisconsin.  We left N. Manchester Wednesday June 20th for five  days and four nights in Wisconsin.  First, we made a surprise stop at the Albanese Candy Factory near Merrillville IN.  We were not able to take a tour but everyone found their favorite candy to take on the trip or to share when they got home.  There were 52 travelers leaving only two empty seats, a really great mix of people that have traveled with us before and first-time travelers. 

I don’t think anyone went hungry during our trip, our evening meal on Wednesday was at the Hob Nob Supper Club.  One of the choices was a 14oz. pork chop that I don’t think anyone finished.  On Thursday our first stop was at Lehmann’s Bakery for a demonstration on making Kringles.  Very informative and we all enjoyed the samples and fresh baked cookies in our honor.  Many boxes of Kringles went home with us on the bus.  Latter that morning we had a step on guide for a tour of Racine.  After lunch on our own in downtown Racine we went to the S.C. Johnson complex for a tour of two buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, very interesting.  That evening we traveled to Ft. Atkinson, WI for a great buffet at Fireside Dinner Theatre followed by a hilarious production of “A Second Helping”.

On Friday we traveled to Milwaukee to meet our step on guide who did a great job of showing and telling us about Milwaukee.  Following the tour, we went to the Harley Davidson Museum for a history lesson and tour about Harley motorcycles.  This was followed by lunch on our own at the Harley restaurant.

We then traveled to Ellison Bay in Door County for a two-night stay at Rowelys Bay Resort.  This is a very nice resort hotel on Lake Michigan.  Our first night we were treated to the traditional Fish Boil with the history of the area and what a fish boil is by the resort chef and a local historian.

On Saturday we had breakfast at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant, known for the grass roof with live goats walking around and feeding on the roof.  Breakfast was Swedish Pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee, all very good and tasty.   We then boarded a ferry to Washington Island for a tour of the island on the Cherry Train, followed by a sit down lunch on the island.  After arriving back in Ellison Bay, we had free time to wander Main Street to check out the shops or sit on benches at the harbor and watch the boats coming and going. That evening we were back to the resort for a wonderful buffet meal.

Sunday morning we checked out of the resort and traveled to Fish Creek.  In Fish Creek harbor we boarded a boat for a tour of Fish Creek.  Our docent on board did a great job and told us a lot about the history of the area.  We then boarded our bus to start our return trip to N. Manchester. Another unplanned stop was at Renard’s Cheese shop.  We had a great time looking at all the different cheeses as well as tasting several.   Many shopping bags found their way onto the bus as we were leaving.

Thank you to everyone that joined us on this trip. It was great to see the veteran travelers make the first timers feel welcome and a part of the traveling family.  Everyone was on time and didn’t complain about our fast-paced schedule. 

Source: NMHS Newsletter February 2018

North Manchester Historical Society
Activities in 2017

By Mary Chrastil, President

 Hidden Highlights

 Every year, I try to relate key events of the past year to our members and friends. 2017 was a memorable year. The main new accomplishments this year were in areas that people may not notice.

 New Museum Lighting System. The biggest accomplishment for the Historical Society this year was replacing the lighting system throughout the Center for History. We replaced fluorescent lights that give off damaging UV rays with LED lighting. UV rays cause any organic materials—wood, cloth, paper, etc.—to deteriorate slowly but surely. We were fortunate to receive a $50,000 Heritage Support Grant from the Indiana Historical Society through a program funded by the Lilly Foundation. It required a $7,500 match, which the Community Foundation of Wabash County graciously provided. Wabash Electric Supply, Inc. helped tremendously with a $5,000 pledge. Wabash Electric also applied for over $5,300 in rebates for us from the Duke Energy Smart Saver Rebate Program that encourages the purchase and installation of high-efficiency lighting. With all this support and with some careful planning, we completed the project at no additional cost to the Historical Society.

When we got the grant, we knew we’d help preserve our artifacts better and that we’d save on electricity. But what surprised us was how the new lighting absolutely transformed our museum. Rather than relying on general lighting that treated all areas equally, we’ve been able to focus attention on important displays that had sometimes been overlooked in the past. Areas that had been in shadow are now easy to see, with labels that are easy to read. The “traffic flow” pattern in the museum has improved. Safety has been enhanced. Staff and volunteers have been inspired to update and improve exhibits.

Additional thanks go to Wabash Electric Supply for designing the systems and handling all the orders and deliveries, to Riverbridge Electric for installing the new lighting, and to SRKM Architects who helped with the initial planning. Center for History staff Paula Dee and Joyce Joy were heavily involved at all stages of the project. Mary Chrastil secured the funding. And super volunteer Jeanne Andersen oversaw the project for the Historical Society. She did everything—from planning, making sure that the work was done correctly, and even climbing on very tall ladders to position spotlights and floodlights for the greatest effect.

Everyone notices the change. One enthusiastic visitor told us we look so much more professional now, “like a real museum.” If you haven’t visited the Center for History since last summer, please come and see the new lighting system, and enjoy new and enhanced exhibits. The project turned out even better than we had imagined it would.

Roof Repairs. Besides the new lighting system, we completed several projects that are even less noticeable but are crucial to our functioning as a museum. We were able to repair a leaking roof over our barn exhibit area, again with the help of grants from Indiana Historical Society and the Community Foundation of Wabash County. As part of the roof repair, we added thick layers of new insulation, which we expect to result in significant energy savings.

Environmental Monitoring. Heat and humidity fluctuations are key causes of harm to artifacts, along with ultraviolet light rays. As part of our mission to collect and manage artifacts reflecting local history, we need to ensure that artifacts are held within a specific range of heat and humidity. To help us create an optimal environment, we purchased 15 heat and humidity monitors that were placed throughout the building in areas where artifacts are displayed and stored. We take readings several times each week. Based on this monitoring, we expect to improve our heat/humidity environment even more in 2018.

Administrative Reorganization. When an organization moves from a startup mode to a more established operation, different skills are needed to thrive. This is most important in an organization like the Historical Society, which relies mostly on volunteer involvement. To expand our skill set and develop our human resources, we have been strengthening several existing committees and creating new ones.

This year, we strengthened committees on Programming, Nominating and Building Maintenance. Thank you to members of the Programming Committee that plan and implement the monthly programs at Timbercrest: Barb Amiss, Tom Brown, Mary Chrastil, RuthAnn Angle, Joyce Mills and David Waas. Thank you to Jack Schuler, Al Schlitt, Dave Randall, Tim Taylor, Bernie Ferringer and Joe Vogel who volunteer on the Building Maintenance Committee, and Tim Taylor, Tom Brown and Mary Chrastil on the Nominating Committee.

We also established committees on Finance and on Planning. Thank you to Matt Mize, Nancy Schuler, and Tim Taylor on the Finance Committee, who are reviewing and documenting our financial procedures, and Tom Brown, Debbie Chinworth, Paula Dee, Jim Myer, Kathy Prater and Joe Vogel on the Planning Committee. In the coming year we expect to establish an Audit Committee and a Communications Committee.

Finances. 2017 has been a challenging year as we re-established our financial reporting system, disrupted by the loss of treasurer Ralph Naragon, who handled our finances for about 25 years. New treasurer Matt Mize has filled that position admirably, working with President Mary Chrastil to rebuild and streamline our financial reports. We ended the year on solid financial footing, making up some of the shortfall caused by the façade restoration last year. We sold the house we owned on behalf of the Historic Homes Preservation Group and dissolved that relationship. With the help of our loyal members and donors, we feel confident that we will replenish our reserve funds over the next several years.

The grants mentioned earlier helped our bottom line, along with being one of the recipients of the Wabash Cannon Ball Chili for Charity Cookout. Grants, memberships, our annual fund donor response, and careful management of expenses allowed us to make considerable improvements in our building while still fulfilling our core activities.

North Manchester Documentary and Oral History Archive

The title of the video is A Sense of Place, taken from the name of an important local history written by Ladoska Bunker in 2000. The project began as an update to See Yourself in the Movies, the movie documentary on North Manchester created in 1938. Besides updating the earlier documentary, A Sense of Place explores how the town has been represented in visual media in the past. It also has an expanded section on early North Manchester history so it can be used as a teaching tool for Indiana History students.

More than 30 town residents were interviewed over a period of several years for the documentary. The interviews provided much more material than could be used in one video. The Historical Society is delighted that the full interviews will be added to its collection to provide a contemporary oral history of North Manchester. For years to come, scholars will be able to tap this valuable resource to learn about the strengths and challenges of our town.

The film was shown at the Historical Society’s Annual Meeting in January, 2018, and will have a “Premier Party” later this spring. Thank you to James R.C. Adams, who recorded the interviews, culled through hours of tape to distill the most appropriate selections, edited the copy, and contributed to the script; to Charles Boebel who researched and wrote the script and led the interviews; to Joyce Joy who contributed to the research; and to Mary Chrastil, who organized the project and participated in the interviews.

On-Going Projects

 Museum Operations. In 2017, the Historical Society and the Center for History continued with activities that we perform every year. We operated the Thomas Marshall House Museum, with visiting hours on the first Saturday of the month from March through November and on special occasions like Funfest and Harvest Festival. We also extended free admission to both museums and planned special activities during town festivals, to the delight of hundreds of visitors from near and far. Besides our regular Center for History hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, we participated in several special Saturday openings to support Manchester Main Street and Chamber of Commerce promotions.

 School Programs. We continue to host second and third grade students from the Manchester Community Schools. We get high marks from teachers and parent chaperones for our school programs. Students had fun and learn a bit about their town as they rotated through learning stations throughout the Center. Many later bring in their parents and grandparents to show them what they learned.

 Collections. Our collection of local history artifacts continued to grow, reaching over 29,000 items. We receive about 1,000 artifacts each year. About one third are photographs, one third documents, and one third three dimensional.  All artifacts are managed using the professional museum standards.

 Educational Programs. Our public programs are held at Timbercrest Retirement Community on the second Monday of each month and continue to attract an average of 100 people every month. Programs  in 2017 ranged from an interpreter appearing as Thomas Lincoln, to the stories of Liberty Mills founder John Comstock, early pioneer women of Huntington County, a trio of lesser known First Ladies, and Indiana pioneer diaries written during their emigration to California in the 19th century. Programs also featured the work of the Indiana Landmarks organization, the Indiana War Memorial in Indianapolis, the history of the Indiana Dunes, the Potawatomi Trail of Death, and the history of Manchester University’s interactions with the town of North Manchester.

Community Outreach. The historical society continued its quarterly newsletter with scholarly articles and news of coming events. We also have a robust presence on Facebook and frequent visitors to our website. We continue to make our presence known in the community with speaking engagements; this year we hosted a Trolley Tour of North Manchester arranged by Visit Wabash County! The Historical Society participates in the Manchester Main Street Preservation and Design Committee, and works collaboratively with community organizations like the North Manchester Public Library, Chamber of Commerce, Visit Wabash County!, Shepherd’s Center, Manchester University and the Manchester Community Schools.

Excursions. This year, the Historical Society organized two trips in partnership with Manchester Shepherd’s Center. In June, the group traveled to Stratford, Ontario, to attend the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, enjoying four Festival plays and a dinner theater production. Shopping and visiting local attractions during Canada’s 150th Anniversary celebration completed the tour.

In December we led a tour to the Purdue Christmas Show, a trip we arrange every other year, and ended the evening with dinner in Kokomo. In June, 2018, a tour to Door County, Wisconsin, is planned. At this writing, a very limited number of spaces is available if you wish to join this trip.

Thank you to Bernie Ferringer for leading the trips and to Vicki for helping out!

Source: NMHS Newsletter, August 2013

Nancy Reed Resigns;
Search Underway for Museum Director

By Mary Chrastil, President

 After 6 years of service, Nancy Reed has resigned as Director of the NM Center for History.  Nancy joined the museum staff in 2007.  However, she has given many past years of service to the NM Historical Society, serving as past president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.  Nancy was deeply involved in helping purchase the Thomas Marshall House and moving it to its present location. 

 At the Center for History, Nancy has been responsible for securing, training and assisting docents, staffing the front desk when volunteers are not available, creating exhibits, creating popular displays in our front windows, managing our gift shop, arranging programs for elementary school students, and managing the NM Center for History building.  She has presented programs for the Historical Society and the Peabody Retirement Home anniversary and assisted numerous individuals with historical research. 

 Nancy has been involved in all museum planning and operations during her time on the job, including public programs and tours.  As Director, she was an ex officio member of the NM Historical Society Board and the Facilities Committee.  Her knowledge of North Manchester history and her knowledge of the community were great assets in making the Center for History a success.  She has been a dedicated and enthusiastic part of the NM Center for History.  Nancy indicates that she is willing to serve as a volunteer docent and work on research and other projects, and we are so grateful that she will continue to be involved.

 Debbie Stolzfus assumed some of Nancy’s responsibilities in the interim during the month of August.  Many of our readers know Debbie through her previous position as Administrative Assistant in the Manchester University Alumni Office.  In accepting yet a different position at Manchester University, Debbie ended her responsibilities at the Center at the end of August.

 Thank you and best wishes, Nancy and Debbie. A new search is now underway for a museum director to replace Nancy and Debbie.

 Traveling Exhibits  By Mary Chrastil

  As it does every year, the Center for History has continued to take advantage of the wonderful traveling historical exhibits program offered by the Indiana Historical Society.

  This year we are featuring exhibits tied to the Civil War, which is in the middle of its 150th anniversary, and American freedoms.  In April and May, 2013, we hosted Faces of the Civil War, the story of many Hoosiers whose lives were touched by the Civil War.  The exhibit was originally created as part of the Indiana History Train. 

 From July 24 through August 29, coinciding with FunFest, The Faces of Lincoln was on display.  This exhibit tracked early images of Lincoln, how his public image developed, and how Lincoln was idealized after this death.  Our final traveling exhibit of the year is October 16 through November 19.  Freedom, a History of the United States includes reproductions of The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, and manuscripts and letters from George Washington through FDR and Martin Luther King, Jr.   This exhibit toured nationally in 2003 and was underwritten by the GE corporation.

 Last year the Center for History brought to North Manchester exhibits on Who Do You Think You Are?, a history of immigration in Indiana; Indiana Cartoons and Cartoonists; and Endangered Heritage, which highlighted the challenges faced by museums as they try to preserve objects and documents for future generation.

  The IHS gives not-for-profits the opportunity to display exhibits on topics of interest in Indiana History.  We would like the community to recognize the Center for History as the place where these professionally mounted exhibits are available to them on a regular basis.  You don’t have to travel to Indianapolis to see them!

 “See Yourself in the Movies, 2013”  By Mary Chrastil

 Many of you have seen the movie filmed in 1938 called See Yourself in the Movies.  This silent film featured scores of North Manchester residents at work, shopping, at play, and during town gatherings.  The film was a novelty back in 1938; now it is an important resource showing what life was like then.  The North Manchester Historical Society has spent many years identifying people, places and events that were filmed, information that was not gathered then but which is important now.  Jim Adams is especially to be thanked for several remasterings of the film (from film to tape to Dvd and Blu-ray), cleaning up the pacing and making the best print possible.  Charles Boebel wrote and recorded several versions of a narrative to accompany the movie.  Thank you, too, to the many volunteers who viewed the movie and identified people.

The NM Historical Society decided to celebrate the 75th anniversary of that movie by creating an updated version.  In March, we received a grant of $2,000, the maximum amount, from Indiana Humanities, one of 12 awarded in Indiana this year.  Indiana Humanities’ mission is to “support nonprofits that are creating enriching, humanities-based programs in order to create a stronger, more vibrant and more engaged state.”  Tentatively titled A Sense of Place, the 2013 film has two parts.  The first is a depiction of early North Manchester history.  Early history video information has been specifically requested by elementary school teachers so it can be used in their classrooms when they teach Indiana history.  The second part will document today’s events, concerns and distinctive qualities, at times referencing 1938 counterparts.

 Jim Adams and Charles Boebel are again heading the project.  You may see them as they film public events later this year and early next year.  You may be asked to participate in interviews about key town features.  We hope you will join us if asked. The completed film is scheduled to be completed in August, 2014.  It will be shown in several public viewings at that time.  It will also be on sale at the Center for History, along with copies of the 1938 movie.

Historic Homes Preservation Update By Mary Chrastil

 The North Manchester Historic Homes Preservation Group (HHPG) has had a productive year.  The group sold restored houses in July 2012, February 2013, and has a closing scheduled for September, 2013.  The HHPG has been active in North Manchester for over 6 years.  In that time, it has rescued six properties from being demolished or made into rental units, including the historic Cigar Factory and houses on Grant, Mill, and South Streets.  HHPG purchases endangered houses, uses its capital to restore the properties, transforms them into tax-paying community assets, and then sells them to cover expenses.  Every property has been sold after renovation.  The group is delighted that several of the properties have been purchased by first-time homeowners who had not thought it possible to own their own homes. 

 The latest property to be restored is a home at 512 W. Third Street.  Work being done is all new HVAC; new kitchen, bathrooms and flooring; new roof, removal of insulbrick siding and restoration of exterior wood siding; window repairs; exterior painting; insulation.   The restoration of this house was assisted by a $40,000 loan from Indiana Landmarks.  Once the house sale is completed, the loan will be repaid. 

 Groups Tour the Center for History By Mary Chrastil

 The Center for History and Thomas Marshall House became the focus of several group tours recently.  On July 20, twenty members of the Indiana Covered Bridge Society visited both the Center for History and the Thomas Marshall House.  After lunch downtown, the group visited our covered bridge (they were not at all deterred by the fact that the bridge is currently being renovated), the Roann covered bridge, and Stockdale Mill.  Group members were very complimentary about both the Center for History and Marshall House.

 On August 28, a group from the Wabash First United Methodist Church toured the Center and Marshall House; approximately 15 people were expected.  On September 26, 25 residents of Peabody Retirement Community will tour the Center for History.

 The NMHS is happy to arrange group tours during regular museum hours or by special arrangement on weekends, evenings, or during our winter hiatus.  Call the Center for History at 260-982-0672 for more information.

 Making a Name for the Center By Mary Chrastil

 The NMHS was asked recently to participate in a pilot program run by the Indiana Historical Society.  We agreed to help them develop surveys that can be taken at special events so that museums and other organizations can be systematic in learning how to serve our communities better by determining what the public wants, needs, and would like to have from our organizations.  To date we have administered the survey at our annual preservation month program, at one of our monthly dinner/lecture programs, and at Funfest.

 Based on our participation in the pilot program, Stacy Klingler of the Local History Services staff of IHS asked Mary Chrastil to participate in a webinar hosted by the Association of State and Local History, a national historical organization, on August 22.  The webinar was “attended” by 29 individuals from all over the United States and Canada.  Mary joined Stacy, Connie Graft of Connie Graft Research and Evaluation, and Matt Schuld of the Elkhart County Museum in relating how we administered and adapted the survey, questions that were most and least helpful, and what surprised us in the results.  Stacy was particularly keen on my telling how we recruited a high school volunteer to compile the survey results.  Thank you to Hanna Thomas for working on the surveys for us!

 On September 9, Mary will again join a panel on the survey at the Association of Indiana Museums convention in Indianapolis.  The presentation and questions will be similar to those in the webinar.  Panelists include Stacy, Mary, and representatives of the Brown County Historical Society, Johnson County Museum, and the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum.

 In all, the NM Historical Society has been building its reputation state-wide and nationally.  Besides the AASLH and AIM programs, in the past year we have received a nationally competitive Collections Assessment Program (CAP) Grant, a $40,000 loan from Indiana Landmarks for the Historic Homes Preservation Group, and an Indiana Humanities grant for our North Manchester movie documentary.

Our Volunteers are the Best! By Mary Chrastil

 Sixty volunteers to the North Manchester Historical Society and North Manchester Center for History were honored at the reception at the Center for History on April 23, 2013.  The volunteers have served as docents, researchers, program committee members, board members, and in many other capacities.  Those present were honored for their work in 2012.

 The Volunteer of the Year award was given to Steve Batzka.  He is the chief person responsible for furnishings and wall treatments for the Thomas Marshall Birth House on Market Street.  The house was constructed in the early 1850s, and has been restored to its original condition.  Batzka also serves as a docent there. Special recognition was also given to Ferne Baldwin, Evelyn Niswander, and Karl Merritt. Each received recognition for Lifetime Volunteer Service to the Historical Society.  Merritt has arranged excursions twice a year for Historical Society and Shepherd Center members for approximately 20 years.  Baldwin served as President of the Society for many years, edited its newsletter for 11 years, and continues to serve on its board.  She and Niswander have arranged the monthly dinner meetings of the Society for decades; Niswander also served on the Board and as Secretary.  Mary Chrastil, current Historical Society President, thanked them all for laying the foundation for what the Society has become today.

 Volunteers who have accumulated 100 hours of service received a polo shirt with the North Manchester Center for History logo.  Those achieving this milestone this year were:  Gladys Airgood, Eloise Eberly, Joan Fahs, David Hippensteel, Mike McKee, Loree Pritchard, Dave Randall, Carolyn Reed, Nancy Schuler, and Sally Welborn.

 Chrastil, noted that in 2012 the volunteer hours increased to 8,894, more than double the previous year.  One reason for the increase is that the Center for History increased its open hours in 2012 from eight per week to thirty-three hours per week.  Another increase in volunteer hours has been from the opening of the Thomas Marshall House. 

 Chrastil quoted figures from the Independent Sector, an organization that tracks volunteerism nationally.  Using their guidelines for the value of volunteer hours, she noted that volunteers gave the equivalent of $88,000 to help the Historical Society in 2011; in 2012 that value translated into $194,000.  Without volunteers, the North Manchester Historical Society would simply not exist.  We have interesting and worthwhile ways you can help—research, exhibits, serving at the front desk, transcribing documents, construction, genealogy, planning our dinner programs, working with school children, even light cleaning!  If you can give a few hours each month, or if you would be interested in a one-time project, call Mary or Joyce at the Center for History, 260-982-0672, to become part of our family and part of an organization that is well regarded as a top community asset.  

 The following articles and updates were submitted by Nancy Reed:


The Thomas Marshall birthplace house is once again open to the public  on a regular basis.  Stop by to visit on the first Saturday of each month, between the hours of 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.   This living history museum is open from April 1st through December 7th.   

 In 2012, the N. Manchester Historical Society completed a 17 year endeavor to restore this home to the 1850s era. Thomas Marshall was born here in 1854 to Dr. Daniel and Martha (Patterson) Marshall. The Daniel Marshall family moved to Illinois in 1856 and later to Missouri when Tom was still a youngster. In 1860, on the eve of the Civil War, the Marshall family returned once again to Indiana, settling in Pierceton and later in Columbia City.

 The Marshall home, originally built right on Main Street in the center of town, has been moved three times before reaching its current location  just north of the Manchester Public Library on Market Street.  The  last move was documented on video, including a documentary of how the home was restored to its original look by a professional restorationist and many volunteers. 

 A fee of $1.00 will be charged as admission and you will be guided through the home by knowledgeable staff who can tell you the stories of the time period when the Marshalls resided there.  Special group tours may be arranged by calling the N. Manchester Center for History at 260-982-0672.


During the last weeks of school, 150 second and third grade students and their teachers and escorts, participated in their annual tour of the Center for History.  This year the second graders learned about the history of our covered bridge, the State seal and symbols while coloring the State flag, Manchester College while making a pennant, early industries and how they helped the pioneer families to settle here.  They did a word/object match of farm equipment  in the Miller barn room, tried a word search while learning about our pioneer families, identified styles of lodgings while learning about the Potawatomi and Miami Indians, and took back to the classroom a large coloring book with the story of an early farming family and how they lived.

 Third graders did a more complicated word search while learning about our pioneer families. They also received pioneer paper dolls to color and take home.  As a part of studying our first industries, they received a small model of the covered bridge and Cigar Factory to color, cut and assemble later.  This group also studied the Indiana seal and symbols and learned about symbols in reading maps. They also got to learn to play marbles.  In the Miller barn they were busy trying to identify items with a game of “What is it?” What was the most popular exhibit for these students?  Answer: The eel (in a jar) from the Eel River.  Our students hear about what they got to see and do at the museum from their older siblings and are always enthused to get their turn.  They leave with excitement and promise to come back and bring their families; and they do! 


If you’ve been to N. Manchester, Indiana, recently, you can’t help but notice that the downtown has been spruced up a bit with new sidewalks, street lamps, stop lights, trees, banners and planters.  Begun in 2012 and completed in the spring of 2013, this work has rejuvenated the environment of the downtown shopping district.

It was during the excavation of the old coal cellars, storage rooms, manual elevators and below-level  business rooms  that were located under the sidewalks, that  many interesting artifacts were discovered.  Some of us still remember when barber shops, shoe repair businesses, etc.  were once accessible by way of stairways going into the basements of a few buildings.  No longer used or needed, these rooms became  catch-alls for the debris that no one wanted any more.   The Town Council decided to fill these spaces in with cement and to brick up the spaces where they opened into each building to make the replaced sidewalks more stable. 

As you can imagine, many interesting items were unearthed while in the process of closing up these underground rooms.  Several items were brought to the Center of History museum and are now on display.  There are interesting old bottles, advertisements for a Chautauqua appearance, sections of pilasters that were once on the Marshall Theater building,  old phone and electric wires, oil cloth sample books,  and business receipts.  Also on display are a scrapbook of pictures of this whole project from start to finish.  The biggest find is a double-sided, early electrical sign from the Burdge Building at the corner of Main and Walnut.  This building was later the home of Wible’s Shoe Store, and now AT&T.  


Peter Ogan -- It’s a name that should be remembered by those of us who have lived in North Manchester.  Peter Ogan was one of the first pioneers to this area of Indiana and Chester Township.  It was Peter Ogan who founded Manchester in 1836-7.

 In the years since the Center for History museum began, we have had the privilege of conducting annual elementary classes through our building and we’ve arranged for them to participate in special projects that are age appropriate and that meet the state standards for Indiana history.  Teachers asked us to co-ordinate our tours to help them meet state guidelines  in learning more about the history of their community, county, and state.  One of their requests was to know more about the original pioneers of this area.

 It was with that in mind that the Pioneer Families Exhibit was prepared.  This display contains an overview of the early pioneers and land investors, and how this area came to be developed after the Indian treaties.  Maps of the “original plat” of the town show the lots purchased by Peter Ogan, Jacob Neff, Joseph Harter and Allen Halderman in N. Manchester;  John Comstock, George Abbott, and Bryant Fannin in Liberty Mills; Jacob Neff in Laketon; and Israel Harter, John & Henry Aughinbaugh, and  Asa Brown  in Servia.

 We find that this is often the first time that our grade school children are learning about our Indian and Pioneer history.  They’ve never heard the word “Kenapocomoco,”  and don’t know that it is an Indian word for our Eel River.   Educators and keepers of past history; that’s what we’re all about. 


 In preparing to replace and update the Administration Building in the middle of campus, an auction was held at Manchester College, now Manchester University, to get rid of a lot of outdated furniture and equipment.  Three floors of desks, chairs, audio-visual equipment, filing cabinets,  computers, cameras, office supplies, and much, much more was auctioned off at extremely low prices and the building was rapidly cleaned out when satisfied buyers took home their purchases. 

Nancy Reed attended this auction on behalf of the N. Manchester Center for History and was able to procure some much-needed equipment, including a large movie screen and 2 projectors, 4 filing cabinets, an AV cart, and 4 computers, among other items helpful in operating the office.  Since that time the computers have been put on-line with our other 4 computers so that volunteers no longer have to wait for computer time.  Since the auction, the University has given us a couple more computers  that they were updating after the auction was over.  All of them have been programmed with our museum software, making it possible for anyone to have a computer to work on. 

 In the near future it is hoped that we can use some of them for our displays, making them more interactive with the public.  Also it is hoped that at least one screen might be used so that everyone can  view upcoming events and newsworthy items that we want to announce to the public.  We are also working to provide a computer  for public access and research of our collection. This equipment had been discussed and placed on our “WISH LIST” recently.  Never did we dream that it would  be acquired this quickly.  Volunteers and staff are so thankful for this windfall and now the services provided by  the Center for History can grow and become reality.  


 Another of N. Manchester’s much beloved citizens will be taking over where Karl Merritt left off.  Bernie Ferringer will be arranging and leading the tours on behalf of the Shepherd’s Center and the North Manchester Historical Society.  Bernie had been working with Karl  in anticipation of Karl’s retirement, and has already sold out the next trip which will be to the Purdue University Christmas show.   He is presently working on trips for next year, so watch our web site, or our Facebook page for announcements of future trips.  The Shepherd’s Center newsletter will also print details. 

 A first-timer for these tours does not have to be a member, but thereafter it is requested that they join either of the two organizations to be given priority.  Notices go out to an extensive mailing list and the local News-Journal frequently prints an article if the trip is not already booked full.  These trips usually fill up quite fast, so join now or call the Historical Society at 260-982-0672 to be placed on list.  

 Editor: Did you know that the NMHS has been publishing this newsletter for thirty consecutive years? A comprehensive Index to the Newsletter articles has now been uploaded to the website at  At the homepage, select “Newsletters”, then select “Name-Topic Index”. Thanks to Allan White and Gladys Airgood for this very large and useful compilation!

 Source: NMHS Newsletter, August 2012

“Year of the Opera Curtain” at the Center for History
By Mary Chrastil, President

 When the North Manchester Center for History decided to explore whether we could restore a rare c. 1910 opera curtain in its collection, little did we suspect that the project would turn into a year-long celebration involving lectures, programs, community groups and commissioning an original artwork.  We are grateful for the many groups, businesses and organizations that made the “Year of the Opera Curtain” possible.  Special thank-yous go to major sponsors Beacon Credit Union, Manchester University, Poet Biorefining and Shepherd Chevrolet, as well as JP and Michelle Freeman and the Community Foundation of Wabash County.

 Restoring the 1910 Curtain. The curtain in question was given to the NM Historical Society in 1985 by J. P. Freeman and his mother Minnie Freeman.  It was found in the attic of their business, the Main View Tavern, and featured advertising from businesses active in North Manchester around 1910.  It is large – approximately 16 feet by 13 feet.  Some areas of the curtain were severely damaged.  As we contacted professional conservators in the state, we found that opera curtains such as ours are quite rare.  They did not survive fires, being rolled up, and being subject to mold and mildew.  There are only two opera curtains that we know of in Indiana.  Curtains often depict a romantic landscape; those with advertising on them are even rarer. 

 Conservator Jennifer Hein of Indianapolis was hired for the project.  We arranged for her to pick up the curtain and do a preliminary assessment.  Remember when the Smithsonian restored the Star Spangled Banner originally created in 1813?  The public was able to watch the painstaking process.  We wanted to allow community members to see and understand our project, which is similar.  For two days, we invited the public, as well as college and high school art and history classes, to see the curtain and hear the conservator talk about how she planned to approach the project.  Ms. Hein has extensive experience in textile restoration, and she provided a wealth of information about dyes, fabrics, cleaning procedures and solvents.  At this time we asked that the curtain not only be stabilized, but that it be brought back to its original “look” to the extent possible.  This decision was made because, while the curtain might be less valuable because the provenance was altered, we felt it was of primary value mainly to North Manchester and the restoration would be more appropriate for us than a stabilization.

Restored ca 1910 Opera Curtain with Advertising, North Manchester

 The final results were spectacular.  The restored curtain was unveiled in April and now hangs at the Center for History.  By the way, as rare as this curtain is, we have a second opera curtain from the same era in our collection!

Programs Inspired by the Restoration.
  Restoring the 1910 opera curtain lent itself to a number of interesting programs.  Two of our monthly dinner programs were dedicated to the opera curtain project.  In March, conservator Jennifer Hein explained the conservation process for our curtain.  In April, Manchester College professor Katherine Tinsley presented a program on the importance of opera houses in small towns in America.  She used research provided (thank you, Allan White) about actual programs and events held in our opera house, and broadened the context to include the general experience in America. 

 On May 13, we unveiled the restored curtain.  Manchester College opera workshop students under the supervision of Dr. Debra Lynn presented a one-act comic opera in English to the guests who came for the unveiling.  On June 6, we unveiled the contemporary opera curtain we commissioned  and held a thank you reception for the businesses that supported the project and the Manchester High School students who produced the contemporary curtain.  A short program compared the businesses on the 1910 curtain to their equivalents in 2012.

 The February issue of this newsletter included a reprinted interview with local historian Dr. L. Z Bunker from 1982 concerning the opera house and its curtain.   The rest of the issue was dedicated to excerpts from the North Manchester Journal of October 15, 1885, which described a devastating fire that destroyed the opera house and several other downtown businesses.  The opera house was rebuilt and opened the next year.

 Contemporary Opera Curtain Commissioned.  As we restored the curtain, we realized that it had originally served as an advertising piece, but now, 100 years later, it serves more as an historic record of the businesses that were active in North Manchester at the time.  None are operating today, but the curtain provides a unique record of the products and services that defined the town long ago. 

 We decided to commission a contemporary opera curtain and invite current businesses and organizations to be part of it.  The NMHS provided the materials and approached businesses for sponsorship and advertising.  We pointed out that the contemporary curtain will hang for many years in the Center for History, next to the restored curtain.  It will document current businesses and organizations 100 years from now, just as the 1910 curtain does. 

 We approached local businesses which had a business or function similar to the ones on the 1910 curtain.  Major sponsors for the “Year of the Opera Curtain” Beacon Credit Union, Manchester University, Poet Biorefining and Shepherd Chevrolet are featured prominently on the contemporary curtain.  Also appearing are the Fine Arts Club, Peabody Retirement Community, Timbercrest Senior Living Community, McKee Mortuary, Harting Furniture, and Riverbridge Electric.  Rounding out the advertisers are KenapocoMocha Coffee House, Fahs Brown Plumbing (representing the Manchester Early Learning Center on the curtain), First Financial Bank, Newmarket, Creative Stitch Quilt Shop, One World Handcrafts, the Main View Restaurant and the Firehouse Theater.

 Debra Kern, art teacher at Manchester High School, agreed to take on the project.  The curtain is big and heavy, a canvas square 14 feet by 14 feet, which made it a challenge to design and paint.  The colorful curtain reflects the modern use of logos and brighter colors, while still retaining the feel of the 1910 curtain.  Logos were projected on the curtain and transferred and painted by students.  The central medallion shows a scene of early 20th century people arriving at the opera house, with a casually dressed contemporary couple just outside the frame, watching the action but “with their feet in the future.” 

 Students who helped paint the curtain are Katie Durden, Hannah Lochner, Tawni Kincaid, Paige Blocher, Krisy Mize, Evan Wilcox, Treya Paquera, Katie Floor, Madison Isbell, Brittani Weimann, Marret Metzger, Bradley Miller, Mariah Mobley, Claire McLaughlin, Mick Avery, D.J. Norwood, Allissa Isley, Myra Long and Samantha Hall.

 The Firehouse Follies.  On June 17, the NMHS and the Firehouse Theater presented the Firehouse Follies.  The NMHS approached this civic theater group about presenting a review of local talent performing acts that are similar to those that once appeared at the North Manchester Opera House.  The contemporary opera curtain served as a backdrop in the performance space. The Firehouse Theater folks invited community members to perform in the spirit of 1910. 

 Allan White provided extensive information about opera house events based on the local newspapers of the era.  For example, a Mandolin Chorus met at the Opera House once; we had a ukulele chorus.  We know that Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a very popular touring play that performed several times at the Opera House.  These troupes had elaborate scenery and even brought in live bloodhounds to help chase the character Eliza when she tries to escape.  Our offering was to have a dog act—four service dogs performed simple tricks and stole the hearts of the audience. 

 David Lawrenz served as emcee, introducing the acts and providing jokes and information to keep the show moving.  He worked in information about how important the opera houses were before the days of telephone, radio, movies, television or the internet.  The opera house was the biggest room in town, and provided a space for entertainment, educational lectures, graduation ceremonies, and even roller skating and basketball games.

 The evening started with an hour-long concert by the Manchester Community Band.  Jim Smith followed with a stirring rendition of Casey at the Bat, followed by the Canine Companion Tricksters:  Annabelle the Scottish Terrier under the command of Marilyn Mason, Dkyler the Boarder Collie with Deana Davis, Breeze the Labradoodle with Susan Sharp and Chloe the French Bulldog with Debbie Bryant.  David Moan performed songs from the Civil War, Marching through Georgia and Just Before the Battle, Mother, followed by Toby Tobias as Victorian wrestler Ed “Strangler” Lewis (you had to see it to believe it).  The Kruschwitz Ukulele Choir performed several numbers, highlighted by LuAnn Harley leading the audience in a simple hula to Aloha Oe’. 

 After a brief intermission, the Eel River Choral Society sang My Life Flows on in Endless Song and A Wonderful Savior is Jesus.  Local storyteller Mac McKinley read two James Whitcomb Riley poems (Riley appeared at the NM Opera House several times), followed by fiddle tunes from the Fiddling Kruschwitzes, Brian and sons Harley and Owen.

 The evening closed with the performance of an original melodrama written for the NMHS by Charles and Dagny Boebel, Dolly’s Dilemma, or Who Will Pay the Money for the Mortgage on the Farm?  Sarah Hawkins Moan, David Moan and Andrew Chinworth played the sobbing heroine, dastardly villain and hero (in all white costume) in this drama with contemporary twists.  Kathy Hawkins cued the audience to participate with posters urging them to boo, hiss, cheer and applaud.

 A wonderful time was had by all.  Audience members asked if we could do this again next year! Please watch the newspaper for more programs this fall that are associated with the NMHS Year of the Opera Curtain. 

 Traveling Exhibits.  This year the Center for History has continued to take advantage of a wonderful program offered by the Indiana Historical Society, traveling historical exhibits.  In May and June, 2012, we hosted Who Do You Think You Are? an excellent exhibit on immigration in Indiana.  The North Manchester area is fairly homogeneous in the origins of its population, but Indiana as a whole has a very diverse population.  The exhibit was accompanied by photos, documents and maps outlining this complexity.

 During the late summer, coinciding with FunFest, we are presenting Indiana Cartoons and Cartoonists, a subject that should be appealing to all ages.  It is available for viewing July 31 through September 4.   Our final traveling exhibit of the year is October 11 through November 14.  Endangered Heritage is an unusual exhibit because its display will be scattered throughout the Center for History.  The exhibit highlights challenges faced by museums about how to preserve for future generations the objects and documents that are part of our heritage.  The common dangers to collected materials are critical issues right here, right now.  Examples from our own holdings will complement the exhibit.

 Last year the Center for History brought to North Manchester exhibits on The Care and Identification of Family Photographs, Indiana Through the Map-Maker’s Eyes and a collection of World War II photographs, enhanced by NMCH window displays saluting local veterans.   In the past we have also hosted exhibits on Post Office Murals and on The Auto in Indiana.  Next year watch for exhibits on Lincoln and the Civil War as we commemorate the 150th anniversary of that conflict.

 The IHS gives not-for-profits the opportunity to display exhibits on topics of interest in Indiana History.  Their list of exhibits includes over 20 different choices which can be booked for approximately one month.  Three exhibits can be displayed every year for free, and the Center for History is scheduling the maximum.  We would like the community to recognize the Center for History as the place where these excellent exhibits are available to them on a regular basis.  You don’t have to travel to Indianapolis to see them. 

 Center for History Awarded National CAP Grant.  This winter, the North Manchester Historical Society applied for and received a national grant that will provide us with a wealth of information about how to better care for the artifacts entrusted to us, and how to utilize our building better.  The Conservation Assessment Program (CAP) Grant is a competitive program that is run by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Heritage Preservation, The National Institute for Conservation.

 Heritage Preservation will provide funds to bring professional conservation and building preservation specialists to the Center for History, who will identify the conservation needs of our collection and buildings and recommend ways to correctly improve collection and building conditions.  Their report will help us evaluate our current collections care policies, procedures and environmental conditions.  It will help us make immediate, mid-range and long-range plans for improvement.  Some granting agencies require a CAP assessment before an organization can be considered for funding.  The reports findings will be suggestions for planning purposes, and will not be requirements.

 We are thrilled that our conservation assessor will be Ramona Duncan-Huse, Senior Director of Conservation and Preservation Imaging for the Indiana Historical Society, and our building assessor will be Mary Ellen Rudisel-Jordan, Warsaw architect with the firm Scearce-Rudisel.  Both have considerable CAP assessment experience and extensive experience in historic preservation issues.  The assessments will take place in October, with a final report early next year.

 Since 1990, 2,700 museums have participated in CAP, including museums in all 50 states.  In 2012, the Center for History is one of two organizations in Indiana receiving CAP grants.

 More News from the Center
Submitted by Nancy Reed, Director of the Center for History:

 New Office.  While the Center was closed over the winter months, we set up a permanent office downstairs so that the CFH could be open more.  With the addition of two desks, a computer, printer and high-speed internet, at the front door, we are now able to be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday afternoons 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  We increased our open hours from 8 per week to 33 per week, an increase of over 400%.  Now that docents have computer and internet access, including access to our museum records, they can help with a variety of projects that help the Center for History manage its collection better.  The response from visitors has been phenomenal.

  Thomas Marshall House Opening.  After many years of preparation, the birthplace home of Thomas Riley Marshall is now open.  Dressed in the period style of the 1850’s the home educates visitors on what it was like to live during that period.  The home also features the doctor’s office of Tom’s father, Daniel, and the kitchen of his mother, Martha.  Steve Batzka looked high and low for just the right period pieces to furnish this small house.  A donation from Evelyn Niswander, a long-time member of the project, helped us purchase furniture.  You won’t want to miss viewing it when we open it during Fun Fest.  The hours will be published.

Marshall House, North Manchester


We thank all of those who worked on making this house museum become a reality and would especially like to recognize the Community Foundation of Wabash County for the grant we received to help furnish it.  The America In Bloom Committee made and installed the fence and plantings, the Manchester Garden Club planted the herb garden, and Ryan Baker at Manchester Greenhouse supplied planting materials.  Last year, the Rotary Club, capably led by Deb Brauneller, gave a fresh coat of paint to the house and shutters.  Jim Mishler and Steve Batzka also had a big role to play in these endeavors.

Marshall House Historical Marker, Side One

Marshall House Historical Marker, Side Two


The North Manchester Historical Society anticipates having this historic home open monthly if several more volunteers can be found to guide visitors through while telling its rich history.  Please call 260-982-0672 or stop by the Center for History if you are interested in being a Thomas Marshall docent.

  Gift Shop.  Our American Gift Shoppe has grown.  We now have a larger dedicated space at the front of the Center for History with new items for sale.  Many more historic books are available including Gladys Airgood’s popular book of Servia’s history. New items include a model DeWitt automobile (just $15), and wooden toys crafted locally at Silver Lake, Indiana, and reminiscent of the toys from yesterday.  A variety of new postcards are available, sold only at this museum gift shop.  Most of the souvenirs with which you have become familiar, are still available.  Our past Newsletters are also on display for sale.

 There is a fee to tour the Center for History at $3.00 per person (free for NMHS members) since we believe that we have a quality product to show you which is ever changing, and we need to try to cover some of our expenses.  However, visiting the Americana Shoppe is free, so stop by anytime to find that special gift you might like to give to your visitors, past N. Manchester alumni, or for weddings, at Christmas time, etc.

  Christmas Windows and Cookie Exchange.  Plans are under way to make this holiday season special on Main Street.  Your local merchants, the Chamber of Commerce and N. Manchester Main Street are already hard at work planning our holiday activities for your enjoyment.

 The North Manchester Historical Society and Center for History have a new plan for making our windows look just right for the Christmas season.  And instead of holding our annual bake sale during Fun Fest, we are switching things just a bit and plan to hold a cookie exchange and bake sale some time around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  Plan to participate in the cookie exchange to increase the variety of sweets to offer your holiday guests.

 Antiques Appraisal. We look forward to offering an annual antiques appraisal here at the Center for History.  Professional appraisers are now being contacted so that arrangements can be finalized for this program to be held during the Harvest Festival.  If this is something you might be interested in attending, please give us some feedback.  Suggestions for appraisers are also welcome.

 Volunteer Recognition.  The month of April was National Volunteer Recognition month and the Center for History was delighted to honor volunteers of 2010 and 2011.  Sixty volunteers were invited to a beautiful reception in their honor to thank them for the over 7,637 volunteer hours they gave us in 2010 and 2011.  This year we recognized service to both the N. Manchester Center for History and the Historical Society in general.  Individuals with more than 100 hours accumulated were given monogrammed polo shirts with the Center for History logo in appreciation for their dedication and service.  The NMHS also recognized Volunteers of the Year 2010—JoAnn Schall and John & Bea Knarr, and—for 2011 Volunteer of the Year, Ralph Naragon.

 We wish to thank the reception committee, Darlene Bucher, Eloise Eberly, Jeanette Lahman and Dorothy Weldy, for their help in making the evening especially lovely and tasty. 

 We at the Center are especially proud of the fine work all of our volunteers do. If you think you’d like to become a volunteer, please contact us immediately.  We welcome and need more people to become involved.  You don’t need to know anything about N. Manchester’s history in order to be helpful to us.  Call today!  260-982-0672.

 Peabody Mansion DVD Available.  A film titled “Journey’s End:  The Building of the Peabody Mansion” has just been released by the N. Manchester Historical Society and is sold only in our gift shop.  This film was shot in the 1930’s by Tom Peabody himself, as the home we fondly call the Peabody Mansion was being built.  This 60 minutes movie shows the craftsmen of that time period doing what they were so skilled at.

Former Peabody Residence, 7th St., North Manchester

 While Mr. Peabody was initially concerned about going ahead with the building of his home during the Depression era, townspeople urged him to proceed because it would provide jobs for local tradesmen.  You won’t want to miss seeing the framers, brick layers, road paving machines, landscapers, and many more as they helped to build this outstanding home.

 The cost of this DVD is $15 and may be ordered by calling 260-982-0672, by emailing us at , or by stopping by the Center for History at 124 E. Main Street during office hours. 

NOTE:  Another DVD, “See Yourself in the Movies”, made in 1938 of the entire town and its citizens, is also for sale at the same price.

Source: NMHS Newsletter, November 2011

North Manchester Historical Society
Highlights of 2011


Celebrated 10 years on Main Street

Burned mortgage, we own building completely

Established facilities management committee

New track lights in front windows

New furnace/air conditioner on first floor

New air conditioning unit in office area

Cleaned out two back rooms for exhibit space

Removed wire and pipes for scrap sale

Painted back middle room, removed wallpaper and structures

Painted exterior back and side doors and interior bathroom doors

Water cooler and toilet leaks repaired

Installed light in garage stairway

Held 3 work days to clean and paint – M College students, board, First Brethren Church

 Exhibits and Collection

Developed and displayed exhibit on family photographs

Developed and displayed exhibit on Oppenheim family and store

Hosted 3 traveling exhibits:  family photos, maps and mapmakers, WWII photographer

Window displays on Peabody construction and fair grounds, Oppenheim family artifacts,

                local maps, NMHS photographs and cameras, veterans, Christmas

Constructed four display modules

Constructed additional free-standing display walls

Re-painted and reinforced shabby divider screens

Constructed 16 gender-neutral mannequins for use in exhibits and displays

Constructed carts for tables and folding chairs

Recorded 98 accessions (960 individual items)

                Have 550 additional items not yet processed

Installed movie screen

Constructed case for tree ring display

In process of restoring rare opera curtain

Improved labeling on some permanent exhibits

 Thomas Marshall House

NM Rotary painted exterior

America in Bloom installed landscaping and fence

Installed water service

Updated furniture acquisition list, applied for grant to purchase furniture


Community Foundation/Wabash County grant awarded for construction of display cubicles

CFWC grant received for restoration of opera curtain

Grant and loan received for furnace and air conditioning upgrades

Grant application for furnace replacement in process

Final reports turned in for CFWC grants on fire extinguishers & exhibit display cubicles

Collection Assessment Program grant application in process

Indiana Humanities Council grant application for opera curtain programs in process


Functioned well during about 6 months of staff absences due to health concerns

Obtained new copier with lower overall costs

Participated in Indiana Historical Society (IHS) pilot museum assessment program

Participated in Funfest and Fall Harvest Festival

Reviewed dinner reservation procedures

Loaned items and traveling exhibit to Peabody Home for anniversary celebration

Attended IHS graphics design workshop

Attended regional IHS meetings for local historical organizations

Visited sister organizations in Columbia City, Warsaw, Rochester, Huntington,

Anderson, Delphi, Shelbyville (pioneer days) and James Whitcomb Riley house

New volunteers have been cultivated for projects such as programs and exhibits

Presentations made to Peabody for anniversary celebration, and to Rotary, Kiwanis and Shepherd’s Center

Met with Wabash County Museum staff to foster collaborative ventures

Hosted fabric conservator, reviewed collection management with her

Hosted meetings for Community Foundation of Wabash County (twice) and Rotary

Conducted tours for family and reunion groups


Another year of outstanding and varied dinner programs

Programs were well attended, with range of 82 to 150 attendees each month

Presented first annual Historic Preservation Month program with tours

Created “Behind the Scenes” Tour of Center for History

Developed program for visiting 2nd graders with MC elementary ed students

In process of revamping programs for visiting 3rd and 4th graders

In process of developing 10 to 12 programs in conjunction with opera curtain restoration

1938 film reviewed to increase identification of participants; in process of updating

Preliminary opera curtain work of conservator opened to public, HS and college students


Two more outstanding trips, to Mississippi River and Detroit

Trips full, feedback excellent

 Newsletter and Website

4 attractive newsletters mailed on time

About 20,000 hits averaged to web site each month

Web activity recorded virtually every hour from all over the world

All newsletters to date are posted at web site (

Initiated Facebook and Twitter presence


Increased publicity in newspapers significantly this year

Revived weekly photo identification program in News Journal

Press releases for all dinner meetings, and posters for most

Press releases for special activities such as traveling exhibits and other programs

Developing a MC student internship in public relations for Center for History


Increased membership contributions by $2,675, added about 30 new members

Initiated reciprocal benefits program with local history museums

Joined national Time Travelers program

 Fund Raising

Meeting last year’s annual fund amount as of this date

Collected $548 at dinners from collection basket and meal surcharge to cover

complimentary speaker dinners and stipends/mileage

Bake sale ($724) a little less than last year, but with fewer hours and baked items

Toy DeWitt car being created for purchase in gift shop

Commissioned copies of 1938 film:  sold about 13 copies

Oppenheim Exhibit at Center for History

By Mary Chrastil, President
August 2011

 A major exhibition on the Oppenheim family and store opened at the Center for History on August 12 as part of the Center’s Fun Fest offerings.  The Oppenheim Legacy:  A Perfect Fit for North Manchester for 125 Years is based on over 600 artifacts and photographs provided in 2010 by Rick Eisenstein, nephew of Phil and Pat Oppenheim, the last owners of the Oppenheim Department Store in North Manchester.  When the store closed in 2000, it was the oldest family-owned department store in Indiana.  For the exhibit, additional items were added from the North Manchester Historical Society collection.   

 Mounting this exhibit was a growth experience for the Center for History staff and other volunteers.  We tried to do more than just put stuff on display, but instead to tell the story of this influential family and their long time involvement in the community.  Scores of photographs were mounted and hung; hundreds of labels were researched, prepared and placed.  “Infrastructure” items like display cubicles and screens were built.  Three-dimensional items were cleaned and attractively arranged, and over two dozen narratives were researched and written.  The following narrative gives a sampling of the variety and amount of work that went into this exhibit.   

One section of the exhibit presents the Oppenheim Store and its employees, including photographs of the various times the store was remodeled over its lifetime.  This part also includes photos of a 1905 baby contest, and ladies lined up around the block waiting to purchase nylon stockings after World War II shortages ended.  Biographies of the owners Jacob, Ben, Isaac, Jean, Phil and Pat Oppenheim are incorporated, as well as artifacts from the store when it closed. 

 Another section displays family artifacts and photographs, including children’s furniture, clothing and toys, dining room settings and linens, travel trunks and clothing, family entertainment, and family community service, including military service.  On view are items from Phil’s run for Congress in 1978 (including radio campaign jingles you can play!) and photographs of the various homes where the family lived in North Manchester, courtesy of Dave Randall and Werking Studios and Kyle and Stacy Trick.

 Throughout the exhibit are narratives about the family and their interests and community involvement, as well as reminiscences about working and shopping at Oppenheims. 

 A grant from the Community Foundation of Wabash County enabled us to build large display cubicles that created “rooms” within the larger exhibit space.  The cubicles can be moved and used for future exhibits, for example building a display “room” within one of the larger Center for History exhibition areas.  Jim Garman, Owen Sommers, and Richard and Althea Miller designed, built and painted the cubicles.  Assistance from Terri Michaelis and the Eel River Watershed Project helped us produce the oversize photo prints that add so much to the exhibit.  Carole Miller-Patrick helped pick the items to be displayed, and plan and construct the display areas. 

 The photography exhibit previously in the display area was moved and remounted by Chaz Bellman, Alex Day, Dalton Day, Hannah Thomas and Sabine Thomas.  Hannah and Sabine also painted display walls and researched and produced exhibit labels.  Alex, Dalton and Levi Richardson helped move artifacts from the collection area to the exhibit area   Jeri Kornegay helped us name the exhibit, and Beth Anderson helped prepare displays and, with Owen Sommers, design and build mannequins to display clothing.  Steve Lambert assembled the pedal car used by Phil Oppenheim as a child; it’s something special, and is currently displayed in our front windows.

 Also making contributions were James R.C. Adams, Steve Batzka, John Knarr and Allan White.  Mary Chrastil headed the project.  Mary, Joyce Joy and Nancy Reed were involved in every aspect of mounting the exhibit and were the key authors of its success.

 The Oppenheim Exhibit will be on display through 2012.  After that, a major portion of it will become part of the Center for History’s permanent displays. 

  Tenth Anniversary and Mortgage Burning

 On March 26, the North Manchester Historical Society celebrated two happy events.  First, we celebrated our ten-year anniversary at the former Oppenheim Department Store building.  The Oppenheim store closed in October, 2000.  The building was purchased by the Historical Society in December, 2000.  The Society had been exploring various options for relocating its collection from the Town Life Center (former Thomas Marshall School) when the building became available.  The collection was moved to this site in the spring of 2001.

 The new location was of great benefit to the Society and to the community.  Rather than having three empty store fronts downtown, interesting and attractive window displays appear three or four times an year.  The community has used the building for receptions, reunions, and special events, and the Historical Society happily participates in community events such as Fun Fest, Harvest Festival, and the Bunny Hop. 

 It was a leap of faith to purchase the structure.  Many wondered if the building was too large, thinking that we would never fill it.  At that time, the Historical Society had approximately 2,200 items in its collection.  Today, the collection boasts of over 23,000 items!  During Fun Fest this summer, we were hard pressed to find space for our special exhibits, traveling exhibit, movie screening, entertainers and bake sale on the main floor.  Collection storage and administrative space take up the upstairs, and we are starting to explore the lower level for additional gallery space.  We have had no problems filling the building!  And we are very pleased that the community trusts us to conserve, interpret and exhibit their treasures from the past.  Special thank you to the Harold and Eleanor Miller family for their donation of 1,200 farm-related artifacts in 2009, and the family of Phil and Pat Oppenheim for the donation of over 600 artifacts from the family and store in 2010.

 The second thing we celebrated was burning our mortgage on the Oppenheim Building.  Our final mortgage payment was made in January, 2011.  President Mary Chrastil noted that she had often heard of mortgage burnings, but had not experienced such a ceremony personally.  She then lit up a copy of the paid up mortgage for all to enjoy.  The NM Historical Society now owns the building free and clear, in only ten years and one month.  Thank you to all who have contributed to our efforts, with a special thank you to the Paul Speicher Foundation.

 Opera Curtain to Be Restored

 The North Manchester Historical Society is very pleased to announce that we have received a grant of $2,000 from the Community Foundation of Wabash County to help with the restoration of a rare Painted Theatrical Backdrop in our collection.  We commonly refer to such backdrops as opera curtains. 

 The curtain was donated by J. P. Freeman.  We contacted the Indiana Historical Society for information, and they referred us to textile conservator Jennifer Hein to get an estimate for the restoration.  She told us something very interesting.  Painted theatrical backdrops are very rare!  Because they are painted on fabric and because they were often folded up or rolled up, they were prone to cracking, rot, mildew and mold.  She told us she knew of only one other organization in Indiana that had a backdrop; we have since learned of two others.  Based on photographs, she thought ours was an excellent example based on the quality of its artwork and the brightness of its colors.

 The grant will cover a portion of the $6,500 cost to stabilize and restore the backdrop.  We have also received a private donation of $1,000 toward the project.  We hope to bring Jennifer Hein to North Manchester this fall to begin the project.

 Since we have this unexpected treasure in our museum, we decided to make it the centerpiece of our programming for the coming months.  Ms. Hein has agreed to allow the general public and high school and college art and history students to observe her work on a limited basis.  Watch for announcements on when the observations are scheduled.

 Next spring, when the opera curtain restoration is completed, we plan on a series of programs centered around it.  Sample programs may include performances by historical interpreters and opera students, lectures on the businesses listed on the opera curtain, and lectures on the North Manchester Opera House and performances held there, and a lecture on the Chautauqua Movement in the 19th and 20th century. 

 By the way, as rare as the opera curtain is, we have the good fortune to have TWO of them in our collection!  You have no doubt seen the one on display, which could use some conservation work, but which is in good condition overall.  Charles Boebel wrote an informative article on this curtain published in local newspapers last fall.  Who knew that the opera curtains were so rare, and who would have believed that we have not one, but two, of them!

 Traveling Exhibits

 The Center for History is taking advantage of a wonderful program offered by the Indiana Historical Society.  The IHS gives not-for-profits the opportunity to display exhibits on topics of interest in Indiana History.  Their list of exhibits includes over 20 different choices.  Three exhibits can be displayed every year for free, and the Center for History is scheduling the maximum.  The exhibits can be booked for approximately one month.

 Our first exhibit was displayed in March, and featured The Care and Identification of Family Photographs.  Because the exhibit was a two-dimensional display, we decided to enhance it with items we have in our own collection.  We found 160 photographs, cameras, stereopticons, and other items!  We have tintypes, daguerreotypes, and a rare ambrotype.  We didn’t know what cartes de visite and cabinet cards were until we hosted the exhibit; but we found we had some in our collection!  In fact, we had an example of every item mentioned in the exhibit.  The exhibit that we added worked so well that we decided to keep it on display.  You can see The Care and Identification of Family Photographs at the Center for History through the end of the year.

 We just finished our second traveling exhibit of the year, Indiana Through the Map-Maker’s Eyes.  To enhance the 20-panel display, we exhibited maps and globes from the NM Historical Society collection.  Although the traveling exhibit is gone, the maps and globes are on display in our front windows through October.  They include some interesting Sanborn maps of North Manchester, originally made for insurance purposes but now a treasure trove of information for historical research.

 This year’s final traveling exhibit will be on display from October 17 through November 18, and will feature the World War II photographs of Indianapolis resident John Bushemi.  Our windows will display a salute to local veterans.

 The Center for History has brought IHS traveling exhibits to the community before.  Some years ago we hosted exhibits on Post Office Murals and on The Auto in Indiana. 

 We would like the community to recognize the Center for History as the place where these excellent exhibits are available to them on a regular basis.  You don’t have to travel to Indianapolis to see them.  Expect more traveling exhibits next year.

 Thomas Marshall House News

 This spring, the North Manchester Rotary decided to paint the Thomas Marshall House as its community project.  It had not been painted in several years, and chipping and flaking were becoming more and more apparent.

 Rotary members and a group of Historical Society representatives met and decided that the logistics of using all-volunteer painters was just too complicated, as it would involve constructing scaffolding and taking it up and down over a period of several weeks while volunteers painted.  The most cost effective and simple way to proceed was to do some volunteer work on the house, but hire a professional painter to do the painting.  The total cost was a bit over what the Rotary had budgeted, but the job was accomplished with contributions from the Historical Society, a little extra from Rotary, and a great price from the painter, Historical Society Member Jim Mishler.  It looks great!

 Some of the work was done by volunteers.  Rotary arranged to have the house power washed.  North Manchester Historical Society member Steven Batzka was in charge of scraping and painting the shutters, which are too delicate to withstand a power wash.  Deb and Brad Bauneller from Rotary (and also Historical Society Members) put the shutters back up.  We’re all set for many more years.

 Another Thomas Marshall House project will be taking shape this fall.  America in Bloom plans to plant a garden of old-fashioned plants around the house, such as day lilies, peonies, and hydrangeas.  An herb garden is also being considered.  Watch for fall plantings and spring blossoms next April.

 Thank you to Rotary and America in Bloom for adopting the Thomas Marshall House and improving the property.  The Historical Society plans to open the house with regular visiting hours in spring, 2012.  Our main concerns now are additional furnishings, creating a small exhibit on Thomas Marshall for the house, and securing docents who can provide tours and information during open hours.  Your help with any of these areas would be welcome!  Call Nancy at 982-0672.

Spruce Up, Clean Up

By Nancy Reed, Director
August 2011

 The opening on March 19, 2011, was preceded and followed by many volunteer hours of cleaning, painting, carpenter work to get new areas ready, moving of showcases and just good old elbow grease.  A group of Manchester College students helped us to remove wallpaper and paint the north room.  They also assisted in removing the displays in the front windows and removing the tape adhered to those windows.

Mary and Joyce carried most of the load on organizing and supervising this one and several that followed.  I was in and out of the hospital with tests and broken wrists (one in November and one in May).  [Just so you’ll know, I’m all well again and back to work.]

Next came a town-wide clean up day when many of the churches volunteer during Sunday morning services to go about town cleaning up.  In our case, a group from the First Brethren Church picked us to help and we divided them among our 3 floors and got a lot done to organize and clean things out.  Some washed our display windows, inside and out.  Some helped us clean out the garage, and there was much carrying of heavy items to the basement.  Another group swept cobwebs, replaced light bulbs and handled the dirty work of sprucing up the basement storage area.  A couple of brave ladies attacked the archival storage shelves on the second floor with dusters and a shop vac.  We didn’t get everything done (as we hoped might be accomplished), but enough that we felt it was a grand success.  It might be compared to the olden days when your aunts, uncles, and grandparents did spring and fall house cleaning.  Do any of you still do this?  As for the rest of it, it will have to wait for another day.  Any volunteers?

Activities continue and we’re busy planning so much for the rest of the year and for 2012.  You would be amazed at what our small staff accomplishes.  Stop by to see for yourself.  [And bring some friends or family with you!]

  Big Bake Sale

 2011 was our third year for holding a bake sale as a fund-raiser for the North Manchester Center for History.  With so much to do in preparing the Oppenheim exhibits, we found just the team of volunteers to take over the organizational part of putting on a bake sale.  Judy Glasgow, Nancy Schuler, Carolyn Reed, Loree Pritchard, Jeanette Lahman, and Bonnie Merritt capably did the phone calling for baked items,  getting workers for the sale, and working at the sale itself.

As for the baked items, and I say this every year, they were better than ever!  Seriously, the talent for baking has not been lost over the years.  The pies were numerous and scrumptious.  The cookies, fudge and brownies were hits with the children.  Lots of people purchased the snack mixes in individual baggies as they walked by our outdoor table during the Friday night “Cruise-In”.  Breads, yeast rolls, Danish pastry, muffins and cakes were grabbed up in no time at all. 

We started out overflowing three long tables and the top of a long showcase with baked items.  By the end of day one, we were down to two tables and by closing time on Saturday, everything was sold.  Total profit for the Center for History was nearly $725.   All of it will go into our annual fund budget to offset costs of running the Center for History. 

            Thank you workers:  Bea Knarr, Mary Miller, Phyllis Pettit, B.J. Grube, JoAnn Schall, Sally Welborn, Betty Hamlin, Peggy Gilbert, Cass Amiss, Loree Pritchard, Julia Hoover, Arlene Deardorf, Karen Hewitt.  Thank you bake sale committee, thank you Barb Amiss, Nancy Tiger and Nancy Schuler for putting in extra hours, and thank you Fun Fest attendees for buying from us.  We’ll be back next year.

 “See Yourself in the Movies” Project

             Many of you have seen the 1938 Tri-Kappa movie “See Yourself in the Movies”.  In case you haven’t heard of it, it was film shot by a professional photographer in 1938.  The Tri-Kappa group in cooperation with the Business and Professional Women, arranged for movies to be shot on specific days in North Manchester.  It was advertised in the local newspaper and the community was urged to turn out and be ready for the photographer to come to their workplace, church, school or business locations. 

A few years ago, Jim Adams and Charles Boebel did a voice-over to the originally silent film, by identifying as many of the people as they could.  The Historical Society is now undertaking a project to identify even more people in the film and then Jim and Charles will revise the script and add many more individuals. 

We held the first of those screenings at the Center during Fun Fest and many turned out to watch the movie and help us with identification.  A hundred or more names have already been added.

            We plan to meet at Peabody and Timbercrest and with other individuals so some long-time North Manchester residents can help us identify even more folks.  If you believe that you could help us, or if you’ve seen the film and recognized anyone, won’t you please call the Center for History at 982-0672 or Nancy Reed at 982-2858 and we will be grateful for your input.

            The revised 1938 movie will be sold on DVD, but probably not until next year.  Meanwhile, if you haven’t seen the movie, but would like to, copies are available for $15.00 by contacting the Center for History.  Group showings might be scheduled if you call to arrange it.  Do so quickly, because our deadline to cut off the identification process is November 1.

 A VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU to Owen Sommers who volunteers his extremely gifted talent of carpentry for so many numerous projects for the North Manchester Center for History.  He always comes when we need him.  He always has a solution to our dilemmas.  He frequently saves us money by making it work with what we have.  He is dedicated and gets the tasks done immediately.  He wants to help others in his retirement years and he is always happy and gracious. We couldn’t do the projects without you, Owen.  Thanks! 


 Someone to clean and wax our tile floors with a professional machine.  This is heavy duty work.  We will supply the products if you will supply the manpower.

Used overhead cabinets (3 or 4) for our small kitchenette.

Volunteer docents for one Wednesday or Saturday each month, between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for the Center for History.  We will teach you what you need to know.  If we had more docents, we could open more days and hours.  We like for docents to work in pairs, so bring a friend or we will match you up with another volunteer.

Volunteer docents and interpreters for the Thomas Marshall house.  We will need to teach you about the Marshalls and the times around 1850.  You will need to be available at least once a month to give guided tours and tell the stories of Thomas Marshall and North Manchester. 

Add your name to a list of people we might call to help us:  painters, carpenters, those willing to move heavy objects, cleaners, decorators for window and museum displays. We also need someone with excellent computer skills to assist with accessioning artifacts, keeping track of income and expense items on spreadsheets, working with a membership data base, fundraising mailings, and much more.  Just call the Center for History to have your name added to our list.  This is part-time, irregular work at your convenience.

Volunteer to set up a facebook page for us and maintain it.

We are searching for anyone interested in serving on a committee regarding historic house signs.  The current signs are in disrepair and we want to update and replace them.  Many more homes deserve to receive a sign and this will need to be researched.  Also, the covenants for receiving and keeping a history house sign need to be revised.  To volunteer, call the Center.       

To volunteer call the Center for History at 260-982-0672 or Nancy Reed at 260-982-2858.

 North Manchester Historical Society to Participate in Pilot Program

 The staff and board of directors will be participating in a piloting assessment for the Indiana Historical Society this fall.  We were one of a few museums to be matched up with one other similar museum around the state to assess one another.  North Manchester has been matched with the Madison County Museum at Anderson, IN.  They will be critiquing and learning from us and vice versa.  If all goes well, this is a project that will be offered around the state.  We feel lucky to have been selected.

 News Notes  

 December – See our special Christmas windows, always grand and colorful.  We hope to do a display of dolls from various eras.  If you have a collection that you would be willing to loan, please contact Nancy Reed at 982-2858 or the Center at 982-0672.

 Tours – we have group tours being booked throughout the year.  Would your church group, graduating class, social club, family reunion, anniversary party, or friends and relatives like to see and hear about our exhibits?  Ask us about our special rates for group parties.  Then call to book a tour with us.  We’ll be glad to tailor your tour for whatever your time limit allows.  It takes a minimum of one-half hour to see everything—fast.  An hour is better and 1-1/2 hours will be filled with historic facts and stories that we’re certain you will enjoy.  Touring the Center for History is a very nostalgic trip.  Another part of your tour can be to visit the second floor to see how we archive and store our over 23,000 items and know where they are when we need to retrieve them.

 At the request of Manchester College we have added their African Art collection to our storage area.  We anticipate getting a grant that will help us restore and stabilize this collection and hope to build a special humidity controlled area in our basement to display these valuable items.  We expect the process to take more than a year to complete, so stand by for more details of our progress.

 Watch for the release of a new hand-made, DeWitt model car.  It is made of wood, is very durable and just right for giving to a child.  They may be available for Christmas.

 New projects pop up daily.  We never know what opportunity is going to present itself, but we look forward to them.  They make our museum ever-changing and always interesting.


This month (March 2011) the North Manchester Center for History will be celebrating its 10th year in the former Oppenheim building. We are proud to announce that during this 10-year period our collection has increased from 2,200 items to nearly 23,000 documents, artifacts and local historical treasures. This article highlights the humble beginnings of the collection and some of the people that made it possible.

As early as the late 1960s, articles of historic worth were stored on the third floor of the city hall building. Though not organized in a formal display, these items were available for public viewing on a limited basis. At some point the items needed to be moved and were stored above the Wible Shoe Store (Burge Building) on Main Street, site of the current AT&T wireless store. By 1972, the North Manchester Historical Society organized under the able leadership of Max and Sally Allen. Items of historical interest continued to be collected by this group and by the sesquicentennial year collections were very active and publicly solicited. In 1984, with the growing number of items, an organized method of logging accessions was adopted. In 1990, two former classrooms in the Town Life Center (formerly Thomas Marshall School) were rented by the Historical Society to once again display and store the artifacts. Max and Grace Kester supervised the creation of attractive educational displays. Rosemary Manifold and Catherin Smith were in charge of accessions for many years, and the collection continued to grow with the addition of donations from the general public. This are of the Town Life Center was given the name, North Manchester Historical Society Museum. Phil Orpurt became quite active as curator of this museum and spent many long hours collecting, recording, displaying an preserving items for future generations to enjoy.

With a need to vacate to Town Life Center classrooms and the growing pains of available space, an advisory committee of the historical society was formed consisting of David Grandstaff, Emerson Niswander, Jim Adams, Steve Batzka, Shirley Mishler, Dick Miller, Mary Chrastil, Steve Hammer, Ferne Baldwin and Ralph Naragon. This committee focused on finding a new home for the museum. While their meetings and fact-finding progressed, the Oppenheim Store came up for sale. The Oppenheim Store, a staple in North Manchester for 125 years, began in 1875 with Jacob Oppenheim opening the Oppenheim New York Cheap Store.

In 2000, negotiations began and progressed to the purchase of the site in December 2000; the collection was moved in 2001. Emerson Niswander helped secure Oppenheim store artifacts for the collection during the auction when the store was liquidated. Countless volunteer hours and hired contractors began to prepare the Oppenheim building for housing the 2200 items that had been collected. A specially chosen Museum Committee consisting of former advisory committee members, Mary Chrastil, Steve Hammer, David Grandstaff, Ralph Naragon, and with the addition of Arthur Gilbert, Phil Orpurt, Bonnie Ingraham, Tim Taylor and Robin Lahman began to steer the museum into the 21st century.

Jeanne Andersen served as Director as collection information was transferred to professional museum software and labeled using standard museum techniques. Key volunteers were Bernice Ford, Eunice Butterbaugh, Joyce Joy, Debbie Chinworth, Carolyn Leffel, Ann Curtis, Evelyn Niswander and Ferne Baldwin. Window displays were established, several special temporary exhibits were presented, and planning was done for permanent exhibits. Under the leadership of Bill Eberly, in 2007 the Center for History established regular hours when the public could view exhibits. At that time, Nancy Reed became Director. The full circle had been made, as Nancy had been instrumental in storing and exhibiting the small collection housed in the City Hall building so many years before.

Several "mini" collections have been key additions to the overall collection. Ferne Baldwin and Bill Eberly were influential in obtaining items that had been stored at Manchester College or were in the College Museum. The Harold and Eleanor Miller family donated over 1,200 farm related artifacts collected over four generations. And the family of Pat and Phil Oppenheim recently donated over 600 items from that family.

Today, in 2011 we celebrate the goal of paying off the mortgage on the museum. On March 26, the Historical Society will host a reception, behind-the-scenes tours of our building and extensive collection, and a mortgage burning. The Board of Directors of the North Manchester Historical Society feel the museum is an attractive new asset for Main Street and an important step for the society and the town of North Manchester. We are pleased that the community trusts that the Historical Society will take good care of its memories and artifacts, as demonstrated in the rapid growth of our collection.

To donate items for consideration, contact Joyce Joy, curator, at 982-0672. You can also visit us at 120 E. Main St., North Manchester; or at

Submitted by Mary Chrastil, President (2011), North Manchester Historical Society.
Source: The Paper, March 9, 2011

North Manchester Historical Society
By William R. Eberly, January 28, 2010

The North Manchester Historical Society began in 1972 with twelve members.  In just two years the membership had grown to a hundred and twenty-five.  The first major project was to have a rededication of the covered bridge in North Manchester, which was built in 1872. This is one of the most northerly covered bridges in Indiana left in its original location that is still usable.  .
The Society began publishing a quarterly Newsletter in 1984, which continues to this day.  Each issue is sixteen pages and is usually illustrated with pertinent photographs.  The latest issue is dated November 2009 and represents Volume XXVI Number 4.  That’s more than 1600 pages of mostly original articles and notes. 
Thomas R. Marshall, Governor of Indiana 1909-1913 and Vice-President of the United States under Wilson 1913-1921, was born in North Manchester in 1854.  The house still survives even though Marshall does not!  The house was moved three times.  About 1992 the last private owners decided to either sell or raze the house.  The Historical Society bought it and moved it in 1994 to a fourth location on town property adjacent to the Public Library.  Efforts were made to restore the house to its original 1850 condition and to locate some furnishings of the 1850s.  It was dedicated August 12, 2005.  A historical marker from the Indiana Historical Bureau was installed and dedicated August 10, 2007.
In 1909 a small factory along the railroad at the west end of town began manufacturing an automobile, the DeWitt.  It was a high-wheel buggy type of car.  Various labor problems and a major fire closed the factory in 1910.  It was never rebuilt.  Two young men in North Manchester built a replica of the DeWitt that would actually run on the open road. Their car was presented to the Historical Society in 1973.  These same two men produced about fifteen additional replicas, many of which were sold to theme parks, theater groups, etc.  A few models were battery-powered for use indoors.  There is only one original, unrestored DeWitt in the world, and we hope to have it on display at our museum, some time.  We want to promote the DeWitt as one of the key icons of North Manchester.
The Society began collecting artifacts relating to North Manchester and early pioneer life in the area.  We had never had a very good location to display this collection.  Finally, in 2001, we bought the old Oppenheim store building on Main Street to develop as a museum.  This was one of the best known stores in Northern Indiana for a century or more.  There is a display area on the first floor of ca. 11,000 sq. ft., plus additional space on the top floor and basement of 18,000 sq. ft. 
When we moved into the “new” old building, we had about 2,000 catalogued artifacts.  Much work on the infrastructure of the building was needed.  Implementing a system for accessioning and storing artifacts delayed the development of the public viewing space on the main floor.  After we had a grand opening of the museum display hall in 2007, we began to receive many more items.  Just recently our Office Manager said we now have nearly 20,000 accessioned items.   We have many items yet to be processed. 
We are now in the process of setting up a web site for the Historical Society.  It can be accessed through .   We publish a short historical essay every month or so in the local News Journal.  About fifteen such articles have appeared so far.
From the beginning the Historical Society had monthly dinner meetings followed by a program.   After a number of years interest and attendance dropped to a few dozen or so. For the past two years, there has been a significant increase in numbers attending our programs.  We are averaging now about 80-100 at our programs; once we had about 220 and another time 140 in attendance.  Many people come to hear the program who do not share in the dinner. 
The museum is closed for about three months during the winter, though when there are requests we gladly open it to special groups and other visitors.  At the official reopening, usually in March, we have been having a special program event for children.  It was called a Bunny Hop or Hop Into Spring.  Co-sponsored with the Tourism Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, there are live animals present for the children to pet (chickens, ducks, rabbits, lambs), art contests with prizes, a photographer to take pictures of the children with a giant bunny rabbit (in costume), planting seeds to take home, etc. 
We are fortunate in having the elementary school (representing two townships) close, even within walking distance.  We have scheduled several kinds of events and activities with the children.  This year the fourth grade students came by classes (there were five classes of 4th graders) and were given special tours of the museum.  Docents led small groups (6-7 students) through the exhibits. 
Also this year, in cooperation with a planning committee of teachers, we provided a series of interactive work stations (about 15 or so stations) for the third grade students.  These centers featured historical and practical activities, such as paper modeling (origami), how to set a table, how to sew on a button, how to pound nails and drill holes (carpentering), playing marbles and jacks, etc.  Each student worked out a ticket to get involved in five activities, so at any one time there were only two to five or six at one place.  They would spend about five to ten minutes at a station.  Surprisingly, this event was a great success with these third graders.  Though they did not come to see the museum exhibits, they did look around.  More importantly, they did have a real good time “at the museum” and enthusiastically expressed interest in returning.  We also hosted the second graders to some special activities in the museum.  Often the children return with their parents to see the museum.
In 2007, fourth grade students around the state were challenged to study a significant building in their community and construct a model of that building, which would then be entered into competition with other student projects.  One of our local fourth grade teachers picked up on that idea.  His class studied the history of the Thomas Marshall birth house, already mentioned above.  Various members of the Historical Society assisted them in that study.  The class then picked a committee of five students who constructed an actual model of the Marshall house.  In the state competition at Indianapolis, their exhibit placed third.  They gave their exhibit to the Museum (where it is now on display) and also donated their prize money to the support of the Museum.
In 1938, the Tri-Kappa Sorority sponsored a film production titled “See Yourself in the Movies”.  It was taken at various places about town, showing many people, businesses and random footage during special town events.  Several Society members are planning to repeat this kind of filming now about 70 years later.  Both of the two films will then be recorded on a DVD for sale by the Society.
An affiliate of the Historical Society, the Manchester Historic Homes Preservation Group, has purchased several significant historic houses that were in danger of destruction and has restored them with the help of Historic Landmarks.  They are now proposing to work on a third building in North Manchester downtown, the very visible Cigar Factory.
The Manchester College Art Department has agreed to provide an intern who will spend about 15 hours a week assisting in a variety of tasks at the museum.   These students will be taking a course in museum management of which the internship is a vital part.  The student will be exposed to all facets of museum work.   The work is monitored by the Art  Professor and the student is supervised directly by the staff at the museum.  We had one intern in the fall semester of 2008 and another in the spring of 2009.   They made valuable contributions to our museum program.
We are also cooperating with another program at Manchester College.  A biology professor has received a large grant ($1,000,000) to study erosion and pollution of the Eel River as it flows through and near North Manchester.  Our part is to serve as an educational center for various aspects of the study.  The first part of the museum display will be a 3-dimensional model of the entire Eel River Valley.  In real life, the Eel River is about 100 miles long and drains about 815 sq. mi.  The model is 8 feet long and the carving of the valley is taken directly from USGS topo-graphic maps.  This project is being carried out by the Art Professor mentioned in the above paragraph.  A wheeled cabinet or base for this display was delivered on December 23, 2009.
We have been assisted by a number of local merchants and businesses.  One special gift should be noted.  The local bindery and book conservator (originally the Heckman Bindery and now owned by the HFGroup) set aside $5,000 for our use of their services over a five year period.  We now have an extremely rare map of Wabash County being restored by their experts.
We cooperate with a number of civic and service organizations in town.  We are especially close to the Chamber of Commerce.  Each year the Chamber sponsors a great festival, called the FunFest.  This year the theme was “Under the Big Top”.  We invited Mr. Tom Dunwoody, the Executive Director of the International Circus Hall of Fame at Peru, Indiana, to speak before our regular meeting on July 13, 2009.  Our display windows at the Museum were filled with Circus models and memorabilia.  We had a Big Bake Sale.  We had two DeWitt replicas on display, one a two-seater, four passenger electric model.  And, of course, we had the museum open during the entire festival. 
A local committee (including some Historical Society members) helped prepare North Manchester for participation in the America in Bloom competition in 2008.  We were entered in the 5,000 to 10,000 population category.  North Manchester was awarded first place (in the nation, among those towns that entered the competition).  We were awarded a plaque and trophy for this honor. 
North Manchester received a “Special Recognition” for its Historic Preservation. Out of a total of 125 points in this section, we received a score of 115.  To quote the local News Journal, the Judge said “that the heritage of North Manchester is one of its strongest areas.  She applauded the hard work of the Historical Society in the creation of its museum.  She commented on the well-maintained collection of historical archives and beautifully constructed displays in the museum.  She also extolled the efforts of the ongoing Thomas Marshall Birthplace Home project, citing it as an ‘important piece of history worthy of its ongoing preservation efforts’. 
“National AIB spokesperson Laura Kunkle explained further why Manchester was given special recognition for its Historical preservation:  “Few towns of this size can boast a 29,000 sq. ft. museum with more than 16,000 artifacts.  The Historical Society uses state-of-the-art techniques to document and preserve this town’s rich heritage.  Displays and vignettes have been created by volunteers and feature excellent interpretation.” 
We were more than pleased by these glowing commendations from a national organization.
Most recently, in fact the first of October, the Indiana Historical Society announced that they had selected the North Manchester Historical Society to receive the 2009 Outstanding Historical Organization Award.  This award is made annually to a local or county historical society, organization, or site in Indiana which has demonstrated remarkable public services and programs to its community.  The award was presented at the Founders Day Dinner at Indianapolis on Monday, December 7, 2009.  This is quite an honor for our Society and our Town.
On January 28, 2010, the North Manchester Chamber of Commerce honored us with the 2009 Community Spirit Award.  It was given based on “your innovation, your commitment, and your contributions, which have greatly impacted the character of our community.”  Again, this recognition from our own community is much appreciated.
As mentioned before, all of our work is done by unpaid volunteers except for the recent addition of a worker supported by the National Able Network SCSEP program.  Two of our volunteer workers must be named.  Nancy Reed serves as the Director of the Museum and is in charge of the exhibits and program. She spends countless hours each week in this role.  Joyce Joy is the Office Manager and takes care of receiving, cleaning, accessioning and storing all artifacts as they come to the Museum.  In addition, there are several dozen volunteers who help in a multitude of ways.  Some help in the office, some serve as docents during the open hours, some do carpentry and other physical tasks. 
A museum committee was established in 2001 to plan for the development of the Center for History.  The committee included Mary Chrastil, chair; Art Gilbert; David Grandstaff; Steven Hammer;  Bonnie Ingraham;  Ralph Naragon;  Phil Orpurt;  Tim Taylor;  David Tranter;  and Robin Lahman.  Jeanne Andersen was employed as project manager, later Director of the Center.  She served in this capacity until 2007.  The Board also employed Bill Firstenberger of Winona Lake, Indiana, a professional museum planner, as a consultant.  Prior to the move to the Oppenheim building, Phil Orpurt had served as curator of the collection for a number of years.
From the beginning, the following have served as president of the Historical Society:  Max and Sally Allen;  Al and Ruth Anne Schlitt;  Steve Batzka;  Robert Nelson;  Gene Graham;  Duane Martin;  Keith Ross;  Ramona Miller;  Max Kester;  Nancy Reed;  Ferne Baldwin; and Bill Eberly.
We have a Board of twelve elected members plus three ad hoc members.  The present Board of Directors includes Bob Amiss; A. Ferne Baldwin, v.president;  Darlene Bucher;  Mary Chrastil;  Bill Eberly, president;  Art Gilbert;  John Knarr;  Mike McKee;  Karl Merritt, secretary;  Viv Simmons;  Tim Taylor;  Joe Vogel;  Nancy Reed, director;  Joyce Joy, office manager and custodian of artifacts; Ralph Naragon, treasurer.  Many volunteers work at various tasks in creating and building displays, hosting visitors, and planning and leading program events.
William R. Eberly
January 28. 2010