Title: Harry C. Ostheimer
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Title: Harry C. Ostheimer
Series Title: Harry C. Ostheimer
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Walash Carnegie Public Library Page 1
Oral History Program
SHarry C. Ostheimer
at his home in Wabash, IN
Nov. 1, 1972

D: When were you born?

0: I was born on Jan. 30, 1880.
D: That makes you how old?

0: 92 last January.

D: Where were you born?

0: I was born on a farm near Westport in a log house.

D: Who were your parents? What was your father's name and your mother's maiden name?

0: My father was Peter and my mother's name was Nancy Jane Luce Ostheimer.

D: Can you give me some of the early recollections of life in this log cabin?

0: There was three of us boys at home at the time I can remember and we slept upstairs

in the loft and the roof was a what they called clapboard shingles and the snow

would come in the wintertime and you would have to sweep the snow off your bed and things

so you could get down to the fireplace so you could have some heat. Then after I got
old enough to go to school, my first year in school I wore a dress and had long 1~JiW

My first school teacher was Miss Bundy.

D: What town or school district was this?

0: It was the old Beech Grove school house a country school. After that we moved to

another place and there's a picture of my father and my sister and us three boys as they


D: What did your father do for a living?

0: He was a farmer until the last few years. We went to my brother-in-law and bought

a meat market in Westport and that's where we moved from the farm. This was after my

mother died. They ran that meat market until I went away to the war.

D: Going back, do you remember your grandparents on either your father's side or your

mother's side?

0: I never saw my grandparents on my father's side. They came to this country from

Germany and located around Cincinnati and they died there during a cholera epidemic.

Oral History Program

I don't remember the year or anything. My mother's father had died and my grandmother

remarried a man named Updike and he was always Grandpa to me. I knew them until they

both passed away.

D: Did Grandma or Grandpa on your mother's side ever tell you any stories of their
early life?
0: No, Never did. I was too young, I guess,.to remember. My Grandad used to walk
with a cane and when we lived in that log cabin house we would walk down to Westport

and I was bare footed in the summertime and he would rap me on the shins with that cane

and he would just laugh like a fool and it didn't feel good either.
D: What was life like in the log cabin? How did your mother cook and what did you eat


0: OH, we always had plenty to eat, I can remember that. She had a range in the kitchen

- a wood burner outfit, no gas in those days. Coal oil lamps and she'd have mush and

milk for supper alot of times and we'd have bacon and eggs for breakfast and potatoes

and cabbage and kraut.. We'd make kraut by the barrel in the summertime. We grew

sorghum and then make a barrel of sorghum molasses. She grew all of that stuff.

D: What was your means of transportation when you wanted to go someplace?

0: Horseback or horse and wagon. We had a spring wagon that had three seats in it.
D: Did your parents have horses other than the ones they used on the wagon?

0: No, the horses were just the ones we had there on the farm. Work horses. And we

had cows, hogs, and things like that. Chickens. I know one time, a friend of ours

lived a mile or two away and they had two boys. I used to go down there and play with

them. There was a spring that they got their water from and I thought that was the best

water I ever tasted. But I got sick one time and I wanted a drink of water. They got

me a drink of water and I said, "It doesn't taste good, I want a drink of water from
Steven's spring". That was too far. But a sister of my rfffg husband said, "I'll go

down there and get him a jug of that spring water". She was gone an hour or so and

came in with a jug of water and I found out afterwards it was just the water they pumped

out of the well. (laughter)

Mr. Harry Ostheimer

Page 2

Oral History Program Mr. Harry Ostheimer Page 3

D: Going to school, was this a one room school?

0: One room, with everything from class to the eighth grade. We had one

or two students that went to nineth and tenth grades. If you wanted to get a high

school education you had to go to where the Franklin College is now. They called it the
Franklin Normal School at that time.

D: How long did you stay in this one room school house? Did you finish there?

0: No. I left when we moved to Westport. I think it was around the fourth or fifth
grade and I finished the eighth grade at Westport. I never had anything higher than that.

D: At Westport, did you also go to a one room school house?

0: No, they had two rooms. A big building with fifth and sixth grade on the lower floor

and the seventh and eighth upstairs. They had another little building out back that was

the classes under fifth grade.

D: You're finishing school now. Has anything happened of interest up until the time

you finish school? Your mother had died in this time?

0: She died and one brother died.

D: What reason?

0: Well, they had an epidemic. I had two brothers down with typhoid fever at the

same time. One of those brothers died and my sister's husband lost a father and mother
and one son, all from this typhoid fever. All around that neighborhood.

D: Did your mother have the typhoid fever?

0: No, she had something else. It's a lung condition consumption, Tuberulosis or

something like that. It just showed up when the spring came and she had a big washing.
She hung it out on the line and then the sleet came. She took that down to dry it in-

the house and she got a terrible cold and she never recovered.

D: How old were you then when your mother died?

0: Around 10 I think it was.
D: Did your father remarry?

0: No, sir.

D: How was it there, growing up in a home with a sister and two brothers?

Oral History Program

0: The older brothers were working away from home. They would come there and maybe

stay two or three days at a time and I lived with my sister and she was almost like a

mother to me. She took care of me. I stayed there with them until I enlisted in the


D: From the time you left school, what did you do until the time you went to the Army?

0: I worked in a stone quarry first job I had. I wasn't very big. I carried water

to give to the workers and made 25t a day. Then, the next season they promoted me to

running a power hoist. I was in a building and they had three hoists out around the

grounds where these quarry men worked. I'd raise the stones up, they would push them

around with the derricks and then I'd set them down where they wanted them. A fellow

would signal to show me how to go up or down or hold.

D: Where was this quarry?

0: It was near Westport about a mile and a half. Had to walk out there to go to


D: How much did they pay you a day?

0: I got 50t working in this with these hoists. The next summer I got 75t a day

working on a pike. It was a pike they called it then and built out of crushed stone.

I would go down and help the blacksmith; he was in the same building. I'd hold his

irons and maybe do things like that I got the idea how to sharpen drills, the hand

drills they used to drill a hole in the rocks. Well, they had a quarry where they got

old rock and they had a crusher in there and some of the rocks were to big to get in

there and they were trying to blast them with dynamite to bust them up. I said to the

foreman there, "Why don't you drill some holes in there and put the dynamite in those

holes?" He asked where you get a drill and I said, "There's a blacksmith shop right

there and there's some of those old drills in there I saw them". He said, "Who are

you going to get to sharpen them?" I said, "I can sharpen them". So he took me in the

Blacksmith Shop and I sharpened the drills and showed them how to drill to make the holes

in the rocks and they put the dynamite in there and busted them up and he was tickled


____________:__________**----- -- --f'

Mr. Harry Ostheimer

Page 4

Oral History Program

D: This pike you talked about was a road?

0: Yes.

D: What towns did it run from?

0: From south of Westport clear into Greensburg.

D: I presume that's still the road today?

0: That's Highway 3 now. Of course, it's all paved.

D: What happened after you finished on this road job?

0: I think that was the summer the Spanish War started April, 1898. My oldest

brother and I was going to enlist in the company in Greenburg. They came there to

Westport looking for volunteers. My oldest brother, Charlie and I decided we would

go We had this meeting in a hotel run by an old lady whose name was Ross. When this

man says to me, "How old are you?" I said, "18". She said, "No, you're not; you're

the same age as my Bertie and he's not 18 yet.".

D: How old were you?

0: I was around 17, I guess.

D: What happened then; did they allow you to enlist?

0: No, and my brother wouldn't go because I couldn't go. So, I went that fall when the

trouble started over in the Philipines. So I went to Indianapolis and enlisted in the

regular Army. I had to get a permit from my dad to go and he signed the paper for me

and said, "Well, if that's what you want to do, I'll sign it to get you in there but

I'm not -- don't come to me to sign one to get you out". So that's the way it started.

D: So, you enlisted in the regular Army.

0: Yes. And I was sent from Indianapolis to St. Augustine, Florida and they told me

they were recruiting that down there to send to the islands. There were

five of us that enlisted from different parts. They told us when we got to St. Augustine
that\the outfit had left for Frisco or someplace out there, you go to headquarters there

and tell them who you are and show them your papers and they'll send you on to Frisco.

When we got there they told us this outfit had been held there so we were stuck there

Mr. Harry Ostheimer

Page 5

Oral History Program

and we took Captain Murray and a 1st Lieutenant by the name of Smith they took them

and made Smith a Captain and Murray a Colonel of this regiment.

D: Which company, or which battery were you assigned to?

0: "A" Battery of the 1st heavy artillery,, the coast artillery,

D: Didn't they train you before you left Indianapolis?

0: Oh, yes. We didn't train at Indianapolis.- We got recruits and they had sargeants

who drilled us and taught us. Then, they taught us about light artillery.

D: Where were you stationed in St. Augustine?

0: The barracks were an old monastery building. There was one great big home the

officers used that and then there were quarters to use and a big mess hall and some extra

building around. That's where we trained, slept, and ate and had guard house there.

Then old Fort Marion there in St. Augustine, there was 124 general prisoners in

an old fort.

D: I was looking at the map today and let's see, that's Mantansas would that be the

old Spanish Fort there?

0: That was on an island across the bay from St. Augustine. I've not been there but it's

not in use anymore. The Spaniards built it when they---

D: You're speaking of Fort Marion?
0: Yes.

D: It's right in town there?

0: Yes. And it's still there. When one of the boys was down there, I told him about it.

I told him I carved my nieces initials in a tower up there. He.said he looked but it
was all boarded up and he couldn't find it. But I think he couldn't get up in there.
D: On this Fort Mariom, what did you do there?

0: We guarded those prisoners. Every day they would change the guard from the barracks

and march down down this street to the old fort there and relieve the ones on post there.

They had four posts that would be eight men besides the Sargeant and the Corporal.

D: How many prisoners were you guarding?

0: They were all there in that building there.
D: Cuban prisoners?

Mr. Harry Ostheimer

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Oral History Program

"0: No, they were American soldiers. Some for desertion; they had a bunch of them in

there for stealing; one colored guy in there for murder; and they had a bunch of

mutineers in there for mutiny someplace.

D: This was an army stockade or prison?

0: This was an army prison.

D: Long term or short term?

0: Both. Some in there that colored guy was in for life; and then there was another

one for 20 years. He had been some kind of quarter master sergeant and he had sold alot

of government clothes and stuff. He got 20 years out of that.
D: How much did the Army pay you as a private?

0: 01 The whole sum of $15.60 a month. Then they took out a quarter every other month
for paying our way into the old soldiers home, when we got old and wanted to go to the


D: How long did you stay down there at Fort Marion in St. Augustine?

0: I think we stayed there all that winter of '98 and all next summer and then the next

fall we still decided to send us to the Philipines. They loaded the stuff on a car

and then they countermanded that order and sent us to Key, Fort Dade, Florida.

That was just a new fort being put up out on that island in the channels. It sat right

in the middle of two channels that came into TAmpa. We went down there and there wasn't

anything there except a building they had put up and we mounted four eight inch disappearir
rifles 0i0/ at one end of the island and then four rapid I six inch rifles at the south

end of the island and then had another big howetzer batter on the side that didn't have

much of a fort there. Pretty close range, you know. And then across the channel on
[Mullet Key they built a border battery. There were four mortars in there. They were

just to throw the mortar shells you know, and were for close range. They would carry

aobut a mile I suppose.

D: By this time, had difficulties with Cuba and Spain had ended?

0: Oh, yes. Spain and our country had made their settlement. There was trouble over

in the islands still and they were afraid there might be some more trouble someplace. That

was the reason we had to protect the city of Tampa and St. Petersburg they had these

Mr. Harry Ostheimer

Page 7

Oral History Program

They had these forts put up.

D: Did you have any precautions against malaria?

0: None that I know of; they didn't say anything about it. We were all vaccinated

two or three times for smallpox or whatever you call it. As soon as I got out, I got

some fellow to give me a chew of tobacco and I'd slap that on there to kill that. I've

seen fellows practically lose their arm with those darn things.

D: Smallpox?

0: No, from the vaccine.

D: From the vaccination?
0: Yes.

D: And you would take a chew of tobacco and put it on there--

0: Slap it on there to kill that stuff and mine never took very hard; it just a left

a little scar, not too much.

D': Did you think. Florida would be the tourist haven 70 years later that there was then?

0: No. 'I got acquainted with the pilots crew, they called it, stationed on that island.

They would meet these ships. They would send out a pilot and they would pilot these

ships into the town of Tampa and I got acquainted with this old man and then with his

daughter. We visited quite often. Every time I'd go on a leave of absence for a couple

of days I'd go over there and see the family and got acquainted with that family and had
a real nice visit. I guess the old man thought it was serious and he insisted I buy

some land there in St. Petersburg. He said that's going to outdo Tampa sure as the

world. I could have bought fifty foot lots right in the main stem of town between the

docks and the 4 or 5 blocks vacant in there. You could have bought it then for 25 -

a lot or $25 a lot, I mean.He just begged me to buy some of them. I didn't want land

there. I thought when I got out of the Army I was leaving this part of the country. I

went down there where we were stationed and it was nothing but palmetto trees and swamps
and mosquitoes my God!, I never saw anything like it they were as big as elephants

or felt like it. They couldn't keep a horse on the island;. a short haired dog, we got

some of them in there and those lousy mosquitoes would just kill them.

Mr. Harry Ostheimer

Page 8

Oral History Program

D: Did you have mosquito nets or anything on your beds?

0: The beds we had cots, you know at the foot, they had a rod that came up like a "T"

and the same way at the top and then they had nets built over that and all the way down

to the floor. And I've had my knees and elbows where they would get up against that

thing while I was asleep and they would just be like a piece of beef steak almost.

D: Did some of the older enlisted men, sargeants, and so forth, the officers; were any

of the officers veterans of any of the Indian wars or Civil War?

0: No, no. I think there was one sergeant that had been in the Indian territory out

there. He had been in twenty some years when he came south.

D: Anything else you remember about Florida and your military experience there?

Outstanding or otherwise?

0: Yes, another thing was this island was a mile and a half long and about three

quarters of a mile wide and if you can remember I don't know what the dates are but

Galveston had a terrible flood down there. You've heard of it, I suppose. Well, of

course, that raised the water in our outfit and we had to go from the quarters to the

dining room, we waded in water nearly knee deep. They didn't know what was coming;

they were about half scared, you know. They got word that this terrible cyclone or tidal

wave or v# whatever they call them, was coming in and they thought maybe it might come

there. And if it did it would just wash us all away.

D: How did you get back and forth from the island to the mainland?

0: They ran a boat twice of three times a week and brought our mail and supplies. Every-

thing they ate, they brought in from the main land.

D; Where did your next tour of duty take you?

0: That was the end of it. I finished my duty right there on that island.

D: You and I were looking at some papers the other day but you were in South Carolina

at one time also weren't you?

0: Well, that was the regimental headquarters in South Carolina.

D; And that's the reason that your papers promoting you--

0: Yes, it had to come through general headquarters regimental headquarters

Mr. Harry Ostheimer

Page 9

Oral History Program

D: Well, your three years were up and you didn't feel like re-enlisting.

0: I wanted to get out of there so quick. I was telling you about those mosquitoes.

Summer months 0000 was when they were so bad. You could reach up in the corner of those

squad rooms and get them by the hand full. Just like bees swarmed up in there. All

the drinking water that we had was on top of the ground well they called them cisterns--

they were just like one of these big old sitbs like they had on the farm. Great big
wooden tubs I suppose they were ten feet across and fifteen feet high and they g the

water off the roofs of buildings and that's the water we had to drink.

D: Harry, what was the date you were discharged?
0: $00t. 17, 1901.

D: Did that make a full three years?

0: Full three years. I enlisted on the 18th and they let you get out a day earlier

-- so good to you.

D: What turn did your career take then?

0: I went back home to Westport and stayed with my sister and brother-in-law that

winter and I helped cut ice and store it to keep the meats cold. Had to cut your ice

from a big pond there, when it got six to eight inches thick and store that in this big

out building. I think it was on Valentine's Day, I was called to Indianapolis to go to

work $ in the state hospital mental hospital was what it was. I worked there for

--until the next spring and then I had a cousin that ran an electrical store in

Indianapolis and he got me a job in an electrical factory in Indianapolis. I worked

there until I got kinda tired ot that and a fellow came along one day and said, "Come

along and go to Logansport. I've got a job up there and we'll get you one". So I just

packed my turkey and took off for Logansport. Then, while working there I met Gracie

Farmer that happened to be my wife.

D: Gracie Farmer. How old were you then, Harry?

0: 23.

D: And she was from Logansport? How did you meet her?

0: She worked there at the hospital.


Mr. Harry Ostheimer

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Oral History Program

D; At Logansport?

0: Yes. Isn't that a fine looking gal?
D; She's a lovely looking woman.
D: That was your wedding picture?

0: No, she gave me that picture Christmas before we were married in May.

D: Well, here you are. You're a married man and you're 23 years old and where do you


0: To work on the Pennsylvania Railroad.
D: At Logansport.

0: At Logansport switching. Stayed there until 1911. The railroad in those days

didn't pay very much. It was less than $3 a day and you worked for twelve hours. I
worked with a fellow there that $ had a brother out in Kansas for the 0p10 Pacific and

they were switching out there and getting 45t an hour and the brakeman on the road made

similar. So I went quit there and we took off and went out to Kansas and hired us right

on the spot. I wanted yard work and I worked there the panic came along about that

time--got short of silver or something and had a money panic. We would get our pay by

check and take that up to the bank or someplace and they would give you $3 or $4 and due

bills for the rest of it. Those due bills were good to pay your rent or grocery bills

and the meat market would just take it as money. So, my wife was never satisfied out

there. We had one child. When we left Logansport, we had Joseph and then Florence was

born in Kansas, #Jd i^ /KWpl%/ Hoisington, Kansas. That was in 1907 and then in

1909 we had a pair of twin boys, Charlie and Clinton.

D: Where were you working then?

0: On the Missouri Pacific; still living in this town in Kansas.
D: Well you kept working on the railroad and then--

0: It was so windy the wash tubs would be blowing down across the alley. Grace got

disgusted out there and I wasn't too happy and we came back. We were visiting my sister

there in Westport and she had a daughter that was married to a conductor on the Big Four

and they were out there one day and asked, "What are you going to do?" I A$ said I
was looking for a job. He asked if I'd like to go to work on the Big Four. And I said,

"I suppose so, I don't know. What's it like?" He said, "It's a good job". He said

Mr. Harry Ostheimer

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Oral History Program

he would send a message to the train master up there. They said "Send him to Wabash on

the next train". So that's how I got to work on the Big Four I worked there until the

fall of the year and then it was the rottenest thing I ever had. You had to have a

meal ticket a half a dozen different places and when pay day came you didn't have anything

except all those meal tickets. So I took off one day and went 0/MIJJ#W0/ and got a

job up in Milwaukee on a Chicago Milwaukee and'St. Paul. It was like it was in the west--

alot more pay up there. On the 18th of June, 1912 I went to get on a cutter car and the

stirrup broke off and I fell under it and it rolled over my left foot and ankle so that

done me in for the railroad.

D: You mean your right foot?

0: Yes.

D: This was in 1912 and you were working for--

0; Chicago-Milwaukee and St. Paul. I was in the hospital up there for--

D: Was your family still in Wabash?

0: Yes, they were still in Wabash. I was in the hospital for a month or six weeks and

then they let me go home. They said it was going to be alright. The doctor patched up

that foot and I came home and had to get shoes from Carl Schwaab and it never healed.

It wasn't much bigger than a match head it would come out and break up and seepand seep.

Then finally I got a job first job I had after I got this foot taken off and could

get around old Sam Bolby gave me a job working for him. He had a button factory

and made buttons down there on South Wabash Street. They would take these mussel shells

out of the river and cut buttons out of them.

D: By this time your foot was off or your leg was off?

0: My foot was off and I got an artificial leg.

D: The railroad compensate you or anything?

0: To a certain extent. I settled with them before I lost the foot before the foot

came off and that's where I lost money.

D: Had you known later what was going to happen.

D: Well, I can tell you who you worked with at the button factory. I interviewed


Page 12

Mr. Harry Ostheimer

Oral History Program

them the other day. It was Howard Smith.

0: I worked there when Howard worked there.

D: That was good money at the button factory.

0: Oh, yes. Of course when I first went there I didn't know anything about it never

saw one before and Sam said, "You can work an hour and go sit down and rest ahile or

whatever you want to do". It was piece work. So, I went along and the first pay day I

think got $3 for working all week. Sam says, "you're getting better all the time".,"You

cut a nice bunch of buttons". Well, when I quit there I was making $18 a week. I went

back over to the Cabinet Company then and I got $3 a day there. I was working piece

work but they let you make $3.

D: What did you do there?

0: I was in finishing and polishing.

D: Was your leg still bothering you?

0: I was wearing an artificial leg then. It was bothering me then. The first leg I

got didn't fit me and I suffered with it.

D: Where did you go from the Cardinel then?

0: That was the Wabash Cabinet Company then. Then, I went to work for Cardinel. In this

time we bought a little place out on the Yankee Read, a little two acre patch out there

and lived out there until 1919 and we lived right down here on the corner of Vernon and

Chestnut Street, right across from that factory there the Cardinel it was then. My wife

says, "If we can buy that place there, we can have some boarders and I can make some

money that way". So, that's what we did. She worked like a horse down there. But we got

along alright I guess.

D: Then you took in boarders?

0: Yes, we gave them their meals, you know.

D: That was right close to the working factory.

0: Right across the street there catercorner.

D: Was W.C. Mills near there he should have been living right around there about that


0: He lived on Adams Street there somewhere.

Mr. Harry Ostheimer

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Oral History Program

-D: What happened after this?

0: Nobody ever refused me a job. I could always go back and go to work for them again.

I worked for Honeywell for awhile.

D: Where were they located then?

0: On Canal Street.

D: The old flour mill?

0: East of that.

D: Corner of Canal and Miami.

0: Yes. Then I worked there a while and a fellow at Wabash Filing Supplies was going

to quit and wanted me to take his job so I didn't know anything about it. The old man

who ran the place, Mr. called me and wanted to know if I'd take that so

I went down and he taught me what he knew about the job. All piece work.

D: What did you do at Wabash Filing Supply?

0: Did the celluloid work made the celluloid tatS on the filing cards, you know. I

put those on there had a machine for that.

D: Then you retired? What age were you when you retired?

0: 65.

D; What have you done since your retirement?

0: Painted mostly. I worked for Loren Kinerk and before I went with him I worked for

Miller and Alexander.

D: Joe Miller and Darwin Alexander or Raymond? For a man with one leg you took up some

pretty hazardous occupations, didn't you?

0: A lot of people wonder how I did that. I was with Kinerk and we were painting that

church up in Lagro. We had a big tall scaffold up in the middle of that church and I

was painting the ceiling of that church up there and the minister came in one day and I

was sitting on the step outside to eat. The minister came up to me and says, "How's come,

with you crippled up the way you are that you are put up on that high place there?" I

said, "What's the matter with that?" "It's just like walking on the floor down here".

He said, "Didn't look to me like it". I said, "The only trouble I had was getting up

there". There was a railing up there and after you got up. there it was just like working

Mr. Harry Ostheimer

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Oral History Program

on the floor.

D: Anything else that you want to add to your career? Florence, do you think there's

anything that he's left out? We're going to go back here abit and ask you your reaction

to some things. How about the depression of 1929?

0: Well, I didn't make very much money. I was still working at the Cabinet Co. at that

time but they cut us down alot.

D: Did you work on WPA?

0: No, sir, I did not:

D: Harry, would you say through the years you lean more toward Democrat or Republican?

0: More Republican but I've voted both ways.

D: But you haven't been straight party man down through the years?

0: No. I voted for the one I thought would be the best man. I voted for Roosevelt when

he went in there and I was all sorry I voted for him. He took my pension away from me.

D: What about Prohibition?

0: I never had anything to do with that.

D: Do you remember the days of Prohibition around Wabash?

0: Yes, I lost my first automobile during that time.
D: How was that?

0: Nervous condition of some kind and I went over to the Eagles Theatre building to

a Dr. Warrington, a chiropractor. I went up there for treatment and I had a new Ford

touring car parked down there beside the telephone office beside$ the Eagles Building;

came out and it was gone. That was my experience with prohibition and hard times.

(showing the tabs and cards that Mr. 0. made at Wabash Filing)

D: I wonder if they still make these?

0: Oh yes.

D: Was that glued on (speaking of the celluloid tabe)

0: No, it was put on with heat and pressure.

(long pause in tape. When tape continues they are W$J$ talking about a Spanish-
merican War Veteran's reunion.)

Mr. Harry Ostheimer

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Oral History Program

D; When was the first reunion? What year?

0: The first one was 1927 we had a national convention in Detroit. Some fellow up

there asked me if I ever met any of my old buddies. I said, oh, one or two of them".

He said, "why don't you write to your congressman and get their addresses and have a

reunion"? I thought that would be a wise idea. So, after I came home fat from that

convention in Detroit, Albert Hall was the Congressman of this district at the time and

lived over in Marion. So I wrote him a letter and asked him if he could do that. 'I got

a letter f0 / from him and he said, "I'll try". I sent him a bunch of names; I could

remember practically all their names. He came back with a letter and said, "I took this

up with the department of Interior (I believe he said) and in place of picking out this

few, why not take all the Spanish War veterans that served in that outfit during that

time"?. I said, "That's better still". He came back and he had a sheet of many names

-- made a form letter and sent all of them out.

D: What year was this?

0: 1928.

D: Then you had them all come to Wabash?

0: In '29

Florence: We had them all over and most of them slept in the yard in pup tents.

D: These men would have been in their early fifties or late forties by then?
0: Yes.

D: What was the last contact or reunion you had?

0: '30 I guess over in Springfield, Illinois and then that was when the panic came

along and none could go to the next one so it brobe ranks again. But I've kept----

D: Do you ever hear from anyone looking for some background or history in this period
at all?

0: No.

D: How about the KuKlux Klan?

0: I was a member at one time. I went into it like a fool; they had me into it before

I knew it.

D: How did this come about?

Mr. Harry Ostheimer

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Mr. Harry Ostheimer

0: Well, there was a fellow that worked in a drugstore down here on a corner and he

talked to me one day0 about an organization that was working in politics to --

these candidates come up and they would investigate to see who was the best candidate.

So, I thought that was a good idea. He took me up there first thing I knew I belonged
to the Ku Klux Klan.

D: Was this in the upstairs on Market Street in a building?

0: In there someplace.

D: Did you pay your own dues?

0: Yes, I never paid more than one set of dues after I found out they were the Ku

Klux Klan. I didn't want any part of it.

D: You never went back?

0: I went to a couple of their meetings and found out some of the things I didn't like

and I didn't go any more.

D: Did you remeiaber, during this period of time the initiation that they had out at the

air fi&ld on North Cass ST -the parade or--

0: Oh, yes. I went to two or three of the parades. Then they had one out there at

the park and one out by the sale barn someplace.

D: The name that seems to come up frequently riding a black horse with a sheet and

hood and everything is the name of Jess Price.

0: (Florence) He had a tire shop.
D: I'll bet that tire shop was on Market St., wasn't it?

0: Yes, it was.

D; That's makes a connection now. Anything else you remember during that period? This

is your chance to get even with History right now. Do you remember seeing the first


0: I remember seeing the first automobile in Tampa, Florida.

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Oral History Program

0: On a vacation I was walking down the street and I saw the darndest

thing setting by the curb. I stopped and looked at it. It looked like

an old sleigh with that curved body. There was a fellow with me and

I said, What in the world do you suppose that is?" He said, "I don t

know.' We sat there and ? ? ? a little while and pretty soon some

fellow came up, reached under the seat, took a crank out, and shoved

it under the seat in the side and began winding it up. Pretty soon

it started going, Chug, Chug, Chug. He talked to us after he got it

started and said it was an Oldsmobile.

D: Do you remember the first airplane you saw?

0: No, I don't remember that.

D: How about the first telephone?

0: The first telephone I had was when I was working for that stone

quarry down there around West 4Z I had one of 7f-Fold oneryou rang

on the side and then would tell the operator who you wanted and she

would get them for you.

D: Do you remember when the radios came in?

0: Yes, I can remembert3ea, Our kids had one. It had earphones and

a piece of wire that ran along the side ? ? ? ? Our kid" would spt

upstairs and listen to that for the longest time. They would take

turns listening to it.

D: Can you think of anything we missed you would like to talk about?

Has it been a happy life?

0: I have had a very nice life, Of course, I lost my wife and two

sons. I lost one of the twins...He got killed while working on the

police force here. A fellow shot him and was given a life sentence.

He escaped from the penieent/ary and is running loose today. My

oldest son was killed in an automobile accident around South Bend,;

At Bremen.I believe.

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Mr. Harry Ostheimer

Oral History Program Mr. Harry Ostheimer Page 19

D: Have you had good health other than the fact you had ????

0: Yes, I have been in pretty good shape. I don't think I have had

anything serious. In 1959 and 1960 I was in the hospital a couple of

times with a kidney infection. Otherwise, I have been in pretty good


D: Here you are 92 years old, have you smoked all of your life?

0: Since I was about 16 years old.

D: Well, that is living proof that tobacco doesn't kill you.

0: I get a little coughing spell now and then. That may be the cause

of it.

D: I think you are in remarkably good health and you look good. You

could pass for a man about 30 years younger.

0: Thank you.

D: Do you still eat good?

0: I don't eat like I use to because I don't need it. Florence takes

good care of me in the way of food. I haven't got any complaints on

that line - I eat more than she does.

D: I noticed that artwork on your hand. Is that a carry over from

Army days?

0: Yes. From the prisoners in the old fort.

D: He did that?

0: Yes, and I have some more on my arm.

D: He did that too, and didn t charge you for it?

0: No, I gave him a little tobacco.

D: Didn't the army prisoners do it?

0: Yes, the old fort man there.

D: Did he have a regular ostriat? (SPelling?)

Oral History Program

0: No, just something he made.

D: You are lucky he-didn t kill you.

0: HR MAi Everybody in that prison had a mark of some kind. He did

some pretty good work.

D: He did everything in blue though?

0: No he used red too.

Florence: Did he put it on with a needle?

0: Yes.

D: But he didn't have an electric needle did he?

0: No. They were all ones he had made himself. He had a little stick

with about four or five needles fixed in there. ??????

D: He didn t charge you for this work?

0: Oh, no. This was all graticy /sp.? We would get him a package of

tobacco. Bull Time(?) or something like that and a package of cig-

arette.papers and he was happy.

D: You don't have to open your shirt.

0: I started this now, and I m going to whip it.

Florence: Isn t that beautiful?

D: What was that supposed to be?

0: Can you read it?

D: What is that?

0: %In Memory of Mother.'- XKXXI~X

D: I see that was done in different colors.

0: Yes, there are flowers there in red. He did some beautiful work.

this fellow did. He didn't get this one finished though. There is

supposed to be a weeping willow tree.

D: How long has you father lived with you? (To Florence)

Florence: We have lived together for a long time.

Mr. Harry Ostheim~er

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Mr. Harry Ostheimer

Florence: Jay was just a little tyke at that time. Dad stayed with

Jay all night ??????????? There was a real blizzard that night.

0: It was the 19th of January in 1943.

D: Do you have many visitors now at our age?

0: Not very many people come to see me. I don't know whether they

donUt like me or what.

D: You have had three this afternoon.

0: Well that is fine.

Florence: Dad was never one to go and and I say he can't expect

people to and people are so busy they don't have time.

0: I used to when I lived over town. I went down to the Legion

almost every day. I used to help them cook down there when they put

on the feeds. When I was in the hospital they told me that was all I

a was go around and cook.

D* At Florida?

0: Yes.

D: Do you draw a Spanish war pension?

0: Yes.

Florence: That's what he said. Roosevelt took it away from him.

D: Was that in 32 or 33 that they took it away. They restored it in

1936 didn't they?

0: Little over a year2 it was gone. The only ones that took it away

were Democrats. Grover Cleveland took it away during the Civil War.

D: Do you remember the Civil War veterans when you were a kid?

0: Yes, I can remember. My dad and I went to Greensburg. They had

what they used to call, shambattles. I thought that was one of the

grandest things I ever saw. The old soldiers in their uniforms and

with their muskets fighting their can away.

D: These are all Civil War veterans?

0: Yes. There were a lot of them there at that time. My oldest sis-

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0: ter was born in 1863 so the war was still going on at that time.

It ended in 1865.

D: Are all of your brothers and sisters gone now?

O I am the last of the breed.

D: Did they all live to a ripe old age?

0: Two died in infancy. They were younger than me.

D: How many grandchildren do you have now?

0: Seven grandsons and one granddaughter.

D: Just one little girl?

0: One little girl. She is married and
16 great-grandchildren.

D: Any great-great-grandchildren?

0: No, not yet.

They are now passing pictures around of the family, (Harry s sons and


D: Do you think Wabash has changed much?

0: Oh yes. I would say it has. Bonbrook has been built up since I

came here and so has Harrison Avenue. A golf course was there at one

time. It has built up south since I came here too.

D: I don't think the town population has grown much has it?

0: I can t remember what the population was then.

D: Anything else you would like to say?

0: I don t know what.

D: I think this has been a great interview. I appreciate your time.

I did Ross Miller) you know.

0: Did Ross have anything I didn't' have?

D: He was mad at a couple of people he got mad at in 1901 or something

like that. It was over money. We have a great visit.

0: I always liked Ross. We have had a lot of good visits together.

When we lived on the Yankee/ Road he had a butcher shop and we used to
go out there and get meat. END

Mr. Harry Ostheimer

Page 22

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