Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 24, 2010

Playing Catch-Up With Tidbits Of History

Pat Smith

It’s way past time for a catch-up column and in the weeks ahead there will be more.

For a contrast in then and now look at these next two stories: Marc Haston sent a picture and story about the grave of Nancy Kerlin Barnett that’s called the Grave in the Middle of the Road. It’s south of Franklin, a mile east of Highway 31 on County Road 400S. The historical marker states, “Daniel G. Doty, 1846-1934 protected his grandmother’s grave by staying here with his gun while the county relocated this cemetery in order to build a road. A concrete slab was placed over the grave to protect the marker Aug. 8, 1912.”

It’s still on a little hill in the middle of the road with a historical marker. Each end of the hill is marked by a highway sign for a divided road (a picture of a median), and each has a cross in the center of it. Nancy’s husband William Barnett drowned in the Ohio River. It has been recorded that William was the great great great grandson of Pocahontas.

Today things are handled in a different manner. Russell Wilhoit sent news of a cemetery near Chicago that must abide by a judge’s ruling that the city can buy the 6.3-acre St. Johannes Cemetery. It’s in the way of a new O’Hare Airport runway. With the eminent domain law, the 900 “known graves” will now be relocated. It’s that “known graves,” that bothers me although I wouldn’t want someone holding a gun on any workers. I suppose when they find old unmarked graves they will also move them.

And speaking of Lou, Marc Haston found a photo of a GED certificate that Lou’s dad earned. “Lou’s dad attended public schools in Osgood during the teens and early 1920s and then went to St. Meinrad Seminary in southern Indiana to study for the Roman Catholic priesthood. He had trouble with Latin and subsequently dropped out.

“He claimed that when he returned home the local school system was controlled by the Ku Klux Klan, which hated Jews, Catholics, blacks and others. He described some of the teachers as ‘old Kluxers’ and claimed they would not let Catholic kids graduate. Because of this he dropped out of school and got his GED.”

He was not quite 16 years old when he earned his GED certificate. The Klan’s alleged involvement doesn’t surprise me. I once wrote about the KKK in Decatur County during that time. D.C. Stephenson, the grand dragon, was trying to maneuver a run for Governor of Indiana. He got arrested for murder instead.

Bill Richardson of Westport read the columns about Lou Alexander with interest. He wrote, “You recently mentioned Walter Lowe, Hubert Stuhrenburg, and George DeMoss in your column about Lou Alexander. I was employed by the Daily News after my discharge from the US Air Force. I worked in the advertising department prior to my departure to Purdue University to earn a teaching degree in elementary education. Murray Gordon was my supervisor. Gordon as well as Stuhrenburg, DeMoss and Lowe were definitely men of honor and integrity. I’ll always have fond memories of employment at the Daily News.” I agree with Bill. Those men were indeed gentlemen of the highest order.

Paul Kennedy, from near Evansville commented on the column about old almanacs: “Black Tongue: If you Google that phrase you’ll get more about that condition than you ever wanted to know.” (He was right. I’ll leave black tongue to the veterinarians.) Paul sent this history about the phrase, “Always drink upstream from the herd,” that John Tumilty shared. “Back in the time before doctors knew what caused cholera, people drank water directly from the same stream that their livestock, neighbors, and probably themselves had used for a bathroom. Polluted water was the cause of cholera and many deaths because no one knew what caused it. My great great great grandfather died from it in Bourbon County, Ky., in 1832.”

Paul grew up in Moores Hill and his wife in Milan. They still have plenty of family living in the area, including his 96-year-old mother in Lawrenceburg.

Here’s an uplifting story. When Washington DC was shut down during the snow storm this year John Tumilty sent pictures of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They could hardly be seen through the blowing snow but they were faithfully keeping watch over the tomb.

As is obvious from this column I love hearing from readers and save your correspondence. I am seldom at the Daily News office. Please feel free to email me at or mail to 122 W. Sheridan, Greensburg, IN 47240.