Smith col

Ben Richardson (right) is pictured with his grandmother.

It’s a treasure if we have family stories written down so we better understand how they lived. Ben Richardson is a great story teller, and thank goodness he writes family stories down. Thank you, Ben!

Grandmother (Florence Estelle Low Richardson) bought a new piano when she was a teenager. Mom and Pop (my great-grandparents) were living on the farm of 80 acres in a small house southwest of town (Westport, Indiana) on Iron Mine Road. She ordered it through a catalog and it came by train to the depot in either Westport or Sardinia. Pop went to the depot with the team and wagon to get it

Grandmother didn’t know how to play a piano but knew that a book came with it. Being a little talented, very bright and very determined, she began teaching herself. She learned fast. Then she made it known in the neighborhood that she would be giving piano lessons. That’s how she made the money to make the payments on the piano (The piano now belongs to my nephew Brian (Richardson), her great-grandson). Dad said the piano is a Monarch Upright Grand.

This was around 1905. They soon moved to town (Westport) to begin the hotel business. It was a family business, but Mom was the main operator. Pop ran a livery business. He kept his horses, buggies and wagons in a livery stable behind the hotel. Few people had even seen a car. Most everyone came to town by walking, by horse or mule, by wagon or by train.

Anybody who was in the livery business would often meet the train at either of the two depots in town. There were lots of trains coming to town then. Anyone getting off the train that needed their luggage, merchandise, furniture or whatever hauled had a ready team and wagon with driver to hire. Many also needed hotel accommodations.

A few men who lived a long way off, like in Greensburg, worked at the big stone quarry east of town or one of the several smaller stone quarries in the area. They came by train and stayed at Mom and Pop’s hotel through the week. Some hotel guests boarded their horse at Pop’s livery stable. In those days, commuting such a distance was out of the question. Services at the hotel included breakfast with a lunch for the workers to take with them, and supper. Mom was a fabulous cook, as that is how Grandmother learned to be a fabulous cook.

Everybody called great-grandmother Low “Mom” and everybody called great-grandfather Low “Doc” or mostly “Pop” – whether or not they were related. Mom was almost 6 foot tall, and very strong. Pop was small for a man, about 5’6” or 5’7” and would fight a buzz saw if the buzz saw challenged him.

The piano is the only stick of furniture that was saved from the hotel when it and surrounding buildings burned to the ground in 1911. It still bears witness to the fire by the wrinkled finish due to the heat. The piano was saved and whatever clothes that the family could put on in time to get out of the burning house. Grandmother put on the new dress she had gotten for graduation from Westport High School just a few weeks before.

Trending Video

Recommended for you