Return to CUTPL Home Page
The Culver-Union Township Public Library makes no representation regarding the accuracy of the information contained within these pages.
"EIGHTEEN NINETY-FOUR to NINETEEN NINETY-FOUR LAKE MAXINKUCKEE SUMMERS"
By Catherine Matilda Glossbrenner Rasmussen
-Written for "Indianapolis Womens Club (an essay to be read aloud), 1980
It is always summer there. Who can imagine iceboats on the sparkling waters of Lake Maxinkuckee, snow toboggans sliding a whitened hillside or a strange, Winter Star-map for that deep-deep lavender night sky?
Most of us have some PLACE wherein our hearts "come home". I found this expressed perfectly in an article by Uncle Clemmie Mueller, and in a small book by (of all people) Eli Lilly which was published in 1967 through our excellent Indiana Historical Society. This was entitled "Early Wawasee Days". To quote (page 53): "For the young fry, the journey from Indianapolis to the Junction was plain torture", and Mr. Lilly lists twenty-one train stops including Fortville, Ingalls, Pendleton, Anderson, etc. until (and I quote), "Tension mounted with each atop, relieved somewhat by fitful attempts at reading. After the lengthy wait at Milford Junction, at long, long last came the boarding of the B.& 0. for the remaining ten miles to the Lake. Then as the train slowed down, came the ecstatic thrill for the youngsters - every bit as good as Christmas morning - of catching from the car windows a blessed glimpse of the back of the cottage, across the cornfields, almost hidden in its grove of trees, with the glittering Lake beyond."
Yes, it IS "coming home".
In a second book "Sketches of Lake Wawasee" a native son named Scott A. Edgell embellishes Mr. Lilly's narrative and adds special insights about that beautiful lake. I fell in love with Mr. Edgell immediately upon reading his works, and, although I'm sure he has long since "passed to his reward", he has inspired this effort. Well, to produce this thirty-minute essay for Our Club I have assembled enough material for five books and twenty-nine articles. After all, there will soon enough be a Centennial Party for our Family Cottage, built in 1$94p Condensing this research into three main sections I give you - Number One: Eighty-six years of transportation to Culver. Number Two: Thoughts on the Ownership of Private Property; and Three: Beloved Ghosts and Memories.
|SECTION NUMBER ONE - Eighty-six years of transportation to Culver.|
Summers at the lake.......those were the long, peaceful days when school was over before the end of May. Three and a half months of delicious Summertime stretched ahead. Family pilgrimages began to lakeside cottages.
A pattern of FAMILY LIFE in these United States developed during the late Nineteenth Century centered upon "the summer cottage". Better forms of transportation became less expensive involving the extension of railroad lines with "excursion tours". The large, steam-driven motor-launch also promoted the development of lake resort properties previously inaccessible to The Urban Family Unit. This often included three or four generations. Fifty years earlier the land in Northern Indiana had belonged to Pottawatomi Indians. Confiscated by the U.S. Government it was sold to pioneering farmers, and to development corporations such as the soon defunct Wabash & Erie Canal Company.
The Victorian Middle-class moved out of sweltering, ornate townhouses to non--insulated, woodenframe cottages with unplastered walls, open-ceiling bedrooms, screened-in porches, separate laundry buildings where a cook--maid could sleep. They stayed ALL summer. "Woodbank" is such a place; significant to one Family through six generations.
Many Indianapolis families cherish their ties with big, old cottages on our beautiful Indiana lakes: Wawasee, Tippicanoe, Maxinkuckee, Lake James, Freeman, Schaefer, Winona, etc.. That same construction of buildings and lifestyle was consistent in cottages on Lake Michigan, Cape Cod, Chesapeake Bay, Even moderately successful merchants and businessmen of the previous century established their Families in a "Summer Home" with specific purpose. Their social, business, and religious pressures were lightened, and the Children grew healthy, confident, and resourceful. Their little Souls expanded. They learned to sail, canoe, swim, sein for minnows, fish, and row marvelous, leaky, olde row-boats. With the limited knowledge of medicines it was important to survive the heat, especially if little ones were frail.
There were no weekend visits in those days; beginning about 1885. Housewives worked for weeks to close winter homes; rolling up rugs, spreading dust-covers over upholstered furniture, and packing trunk-loads of possessions to be shipped up via the Vandalia Railroad from Indianapolis. The "drayman" came early in the morning to cart I trunks and boxes to The Union Station with his horse-drawn wagon, Pets were made to travel in the baggage car and many a Bird (in its brass cage from Chas. Mayer & Co.) was hand carried to Culver and back every summer along with the dolls and turtles.
In the light of looming gas-rationing and our "energy-crisis" we might consider what was done by our ancestors. The civilized forms of travel used by one Indianapolis Family to reach their summer home on Lake Maxinkuckee during the past eighty-six years are shown in the accompanying photographs.
Picture #1 of "Woodbank Cottage" was taken at about the turn of the century. When it was built in 1894 one rode from Indianapolis by train to Marmont, Indiana (previously named Union; later named Culver). There was a wait at the long pier near the train depot at The Northshore while one of three large, steam-powered motor-launches filled up with enough passengers. Then, off across The Lake to one of four public piers, used if The Cottagerta own pier was not long enough or not "put-in" yet. Sometimes sections had blown away in bad storms. After that the patient cottage owner, and/or summer guests walked in a long skirt or hot suit, with hand luggage, to the house and there relaxed on the screened-porch. Picture #2 shows cottagers William J. Wood and his wife about 1900.
The public launches were named for the Pottawatomi Indian Chieftains all too recently removed to Missouri from their reservation lands which once bordered Lake Maxinkuckee: "The Aubeenaubee" and "The Nees-waugee". Then, too, there was "The Peerless" plying the waters of The Northeast Shore; see Picture #3. Later on private steam launches were owned by a few cottagers. Picture #4 presents "The Duchess" well filled with aunts and cousins and all flags flying in front of "Woodbank" near The Norris Pier. It would seem that those Victorians had a fine sense of drama besides a penchant for Order, Reason, and Charity. The Duchess now flies her flags in a Marine Museum in Ohio.
As for entertaining the children, they were dressed-up and taken for Hayrides; certainly a far different kind of outing than our modern-day "field-trip" in crowded station wagons; note Picture #5. Of course, horses were used to deliver all those trunks, the inevitable piano, ICE (cut from the Wintertime Lake), new lumber to add another room for the newest babies, and the abundant farm-produee sold at the kitchen doors of all the cottages. Rural Free Delivery Mail was being brought around on bicycles by Nineteen Ought Two. Really proper commuting, however, was done by water, and all the cottagers' frontdoors were lakeside. This is difficult for children to understand these days as one now arrives by frantic, hustlebustle at the back-door. This after a boring, two hour interlude from Indianapolis playing the Alphabet Sign game, squeezing the cat or punching with elbows when possible.
When the automobile finally was invented the summer pilgrimage was taken in magnificent Touring Cars. Picture #6 shows The Wood Family's auto circa 1915. This probably was a Lexington, and required many stops for water and pumping-up tires before arriving at Culver after an all day journey from Indianapolis.
At last, in the 1920s came a little dream-car known as "A Chummy Roadster" -Picture #7, and, finally, in 1933 a real masterpiece: "The Marmon Sixteen". This was a Convertible Coupe with "rumble seat". Picture #8 is identified as the last car sold by The Marmon Motorcar Company. Still in the Indianapolis area this car has been restored by another owner, and often is on-show in classic car displays. "Woodbank Cottage" was placed in 197$ on the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures, and nominated for The National Register.
|SECTION NUMBER TWO - Thoughts on the Ownership of Private Property.|
There was a time when only those men who owned land were allowed to vote in government elections. Ownership of property in The Private Sector as opposed to governmental or institutional ownership has an interesting history; but there again is another whole essay. In 1973 as my husband and I took over full responsibility for "Woodbank", we became aware of a much larger perspective and new insights into the concepts of land distribution as organized by our forefathers. Our application for The National Register required a Description which we listed as follows:
Site: unaltered - hillside acre of wooded, farm-land fifty feet above Lake Maxinkuekee: East Shore.
Building: two story, frame dwelling with screened porch along West end; also, a Laundry-workshop building, Boathouse, original "Outhouse" with grapearbored cement walk from main building.
Altered: built in 1$94, the kitchen was remodeled - 1952; bathroom installed inside - 1955; Boathouse (metal, section & wood frame) demolished and replaced with cement-block - 1958. (Really, I sometimes think ours is the beat documented Outhouse in the United States ).
Our small platte of land has been owned by so few men that it brings us into direct confrontation with The Indiansl We look at military maps made by The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of the Eighteen-Thirties and note Indian Reservations all along the East Shore of Lake Maxinkuckee. Digging into historical records we discover how briefly removed we are from the Great American Wilderness. There are small unexcavated mounds near Lake Maxinkuckee, and other storybook names as Menominee, Winamac Pokagan, Kewanna. There is an Indian status set as a memorial to those vanquished people along side a country road near Plymouth, Indiana, This is almost all that remains of Our Indian Heritage. In my childhood years at Culver one sensed a freedom of Soul in that vanished way of life.. canoes and wigwams and an emotional dependence upon the response to changing Seasons. We children felt very, close to them, I think, paddling about in The Inlet or hiking in the Bird Sanctuary at The Academy. However, this idealized concept has tarnished somewhat in discovery of, and reading of, historical records through the years. In fact, my cousin, Jack Raush, once disillusioned me completely by asserting that Indiana had been very dirty and sick a lot.
A March 1950 edition of The Indiana Magazine of History contains an article by Leon Gordon for part of his master's thesis at Indiana University. It is titled "The Red Man's Retreat From Northern Indiana". The following quotations will suffice to offset the overdramatized Trail-0f-Death concept presented by the letters of Benjamin Marie Petit, the Jesuit priest who "illuminated this phase of pioneer times with almost brutal clarity". Those were published by The Indiana Historical Society in 1941.
Mr. Gordon wrote: "Following the defeat of The Prophet and Tecumseh's forces at the mouth of The Tippecanoe River on November 7, 1811, scattered bands from the Wabash area fled to northern Indiana in large numbers. By 1830 white settlers thus found groups of Pottawatomi and Miami scattered over the area in villages of varying size...Although the red men were neighbors of the whites for many years, reactions to their presence were generally not hostile. There was an undercurrent of hope, however, that the tribes would soon be removed. Until that day arrived comments on the Indians' peculiar way of life were common.., ...at Logansport annual (Government) payments to the Miami and Potawatomi occupied from two to four weeks each. In 1833, a session about two months long took place over negotiations for the rest of the Indian lands. Sellers, collectors, and hopeful contractors for Indian supplies flocked to the place, already crowded by a motley group of idlers, jockeys, gamblers, debauchees, and liquor dispensers, who exhibited "total depravity" and wreaked havoc on the oommunity's morals ..... the Potawatomii usually camped on the west side of Eel River .... The background of the government's policy looking toward the creation of an Indian territory west of the Mississippi River is too complex to be told here, but in 1830 the President was given power to set aside districts in government land west of the river for those Indiana who might (quote) choose to exchange the lands where they now reside and to remove there. Government assistance for such removal was also promised.
Provision for extinguishment of the Potawatomi title to land in Indiana was the next step....once the cession of October 1832, had been obtained, settlers grew increasingly anxious for abolition of the reserves which treaties had granted. Those in Marshall County, for example, covered most of its total area. Chief Aubenaubee's village of forty-six sections in the southern part of the county was the largest. Menominee's, southwest of Plymouth, contained twenty-two sections; Chief Benack had eight; Chief Quashqua, three; and there were numerous smaller ones. As a result of increasing pressure, William Marshall was appointed commissioner in 1834 and purchased about half the land involved for fifty cents an acre....Impatient settlers moved steadily onto the disputed reserves, and within two years Congress took cognizance of their uncertain status by granting pre-emption rights for a quarter section at one dollar and twenty-five cents an acre for every head of a family or male over twenty-one with four months' residence at the time of the act's passage...By July 26,1838, it was apparent that the Indians' Washington mission (arranged by the priest, Benjamin Petit) had collapsed .... William Polke had assembled four hundred.....Potawatomi near Plymouth .....On September 1st, seven hundred and fourteen were enrolled for the journey, and the following day was spent in loading half of the twenty-six wagons with baggage ....
Eyewitnesses in the main felt sympathetic toward those who formed the sad sight. The Indians were disarmed and a soldier placed over every group of thirty or forty. Available government wagons apparently frightened the natives, and most of them preferred to walk...the caravan began to move at 9:30 A.M., September 4th, leaving some behind because of illness...one teamster remembering the trek after a mellowing interval of thirty years, considered the Indians well treated, not suffering from lack of food or water,.. ....the main party made an imposing sight to James H. Stewart, an old settler of Delphi; the Indians were strung out for three miles beside the river ....... the journal attributed to Polke while mentioning the heat, dust, and not too adequate provisions, merely mentions ten deaths, mostly those of children, which occured before the Illinois line was reached ...... Whenever white men came into contact with Indian settlements, exploitation of the natives followed; a process which continued until the Indians presence became a hindrance and danger to extension of white settlement...there was never serious doubt which of the two groups would emerge victorious."
The William Polke of Knox County was a member of the 1816 Constitutional Convention and a state senator......later became commissioner for the Michigan Road and registrar of the Fort Wayne land office.
Last August I read with dismay in the Indiana History Bulletin that the Indians were coming back! After all these years someone was bringing (quote), "A group of Potawatomi Indians from Shawnee, Oaklahama...will attend the Trail of Courage Rendezvous at Rochester, September 15-16 on the Tippecanoe River and U.S. 31 North of Rochester. The Rendezvous consists of a tipi village, pioneer crafts and foods, and Indian dances. There will be muzzle loading shooting matches, a canoe landing by trappers, and a story teller with tales from Indian lore......for information write the Fulton County Historical Society."
And so the land was open and along The Michigan Road the pioneering farmers came. Among those to leave Germany was our venerated ancestor, Jacob Schramm. He came to Indiana because of The Land. He cleared and drained farm land in Hancock County. I don't know if he ever made it to Lake Maxinkuckee on what is now Route #421, but his children and grandchildren certainly did (unto the fifth and sixth generations.). His grand-daughter, Emma Schnull Vonnegut translated his letters for the Historical Society about a hundred years after his venture to own land in the American wilderness. Mr. Gordon quotes her work in a second article which he wrote; this one about She Michigan Road. (Quote) "In November, 1835, Jacob Schramm a German Immigrant, rode from Hancock County over the road, "not the best", which he described as forty German miles long with a twenty-four foot ditch on either aide. Lack of stones made it only slightly resemble improved German roads. He underestimated his countrymen's hardihood by asserting that sparse population along the road accounted for primitive conditions which few Germans would tolerate. On his return trip lack of inns forced him to take refuge in a vacant, doorless cabin where he nearly froze." - unquote, Jacob came to drain a swamp and hack down trees and freeze in a cabin because of The Land.
Then, Gordon's article explains: "Need for easier routes of migration into northern Indiana, argument of military necessity, desire to expedite the removal of Indians, and longing for greater accessibility to markets were all advanced in the late 1820's by politicians, military men and merchants as irrefutable reasons for the construction of a great north-south highway connecting the Ohio River and Lake Michigan by way of Indiana's new capital at Indianapolis. As the vision of what became the Michigan Road grew, however, sectional and town jealousies endangered attainment of the goal.....As late as the fall of 1851 a stagecoach trip from South Bend to Indianapolis on the Michigan Road required five days over a particularly rough stretch between South Bend and Plymouth. From there to Logansport muddy swamps and log bridges marked the way."
"This Land Of Ours: The Acquisition and Disposition of the Public Domain". This is a small volume of papers presented at an Indiana American Revolution Bicentennial Symposium". A professor of History from the University of Iowa wrote: "The State of Indiana contained 21,637,760 acres of public domain. The national government in the person of the Congress of the United States parcelled out this great estate in various ways at various times in the territory's and, later in the state's history. To the state it returned lands for common schools, saline lands, swamp lands, lands for support of the state university, lands to construct the Wabash and Erie Canal and the Michigan Road, lands for a capital site ..... to the Canadian volunteers of the War of 1812...Agriculture had become the economic base of the Anglo-American colonists, and it was to continue so for the citizens of the new, independent American Republic. Land also lay at the foundation of political life in the New World. It was the basis of political participation in colonial America . It was the foundation of a political system that emphasized the independence of the freeholder, in a political as well as economic sense. A SINGLE ACT THAT GAVE REALITY TO THIS VISION WAS THE ORDINANCE OF 1785, the socalled Land Ordinance. It was one of the most significant and lasting pieces of legislation in the history of the American nation."
So how should this affect us today? Are we moving as a state into Socialism? So here we are in 1980, and condominiums are blooming in every farmer's field and around every gravel-pit. Who wants to mess with lawns and fuel bills and maintenance????? Prop up the baby in front of the T.V., and let the Government run the nursery schools after it with-holds up to Fifty Percent of our paychecks.
A column by Alice Widener in The Indianapolis Star last July reminded us: (quote) "As we were celebrating Independence Day, 1979, there was being auctioned off in London for more than $45,000 an original copy of the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engeld. It was first published in I848. All literate Americana know by heart the first few lines of our Declaration of Independence, asserting our individual un-alienable rights under our Creator to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Few of us are familiar with the basic tenets of the Communist Manifesto, though more than a billion people are forced to live under them. You must confess,' says the Manifesto to all non-communists, 'that by "individual" you mean no other person than the bourgeois, than the middle-class owner of property. This person must, indeed, be swept out of the way and made impossible."
Our Family has two very good sources for history on the farming families around Lake Maxinklckee who came in the 1830s. One is the writings of The Hon. Daniel McDonald who came in covered wagons as a babe-in-arms. He wrote and served his community and his country; was in the State Legislature. The second source is "The Norris Papers" given to us by the family who owned the marsh area and rich farmland south of us.
|SECTION NUMBER THREE - Beloved Ghosts & Memories.|
When I was in my late twenties I sat on the porch of Aunt Ella's Cottage at Culver with Mrs. Fesaler. She was almost sightless then and held my hand as she remenisced about her childhood; especially her memories of sailing out and around a buoy with her two marvelous brothers who began The Marmon Motorcar Company, so long ago. I nearly feared to breath or call her back from the reality of her happiest of times. (For many years my father was associated with the international Marmon-Herrington Corporation).
Memories of summer cottages are a precious gift. In December of 1977 our cousin, Kurt Vonnegut, wrote: "Dearest Catey and Jim..... that is good that you two are keeping the Maxinkuckee dream alive. That will always be an enchanted body of water to me, my Agean Sea, perfect in every dimension. When I was twelve or so, I swam its width, as had my father and my brother and my cousin Richard - - and I became a man. Much love - - as always...K."
And, there Is a 1940s period Letter-to-the-Editor of The Culver Citizen by Clemens 0. Mueller: (to quote in part) "I have been coming up here for lo these many years. It is my second home: I love the lake, the surrounding country, its people, so many of whom are my friends. In fact I like Northern Indiana. This tale I must write, and I don't believe anything of the sort has been written before..... .....all was excitement. We slept fitfully and were up early. The train left at 7 a.m., a baggage car, smoker and family coach via The Big Four Railroad. At Colfax we debarked and waited for the Vandalia (Pennsylvania to you). If by any chance there had not been a wreck below Colfax we made fairly good connections.
Again a three coach train speeding north through Frankfort, Bringhurst, Sedalia, Camden, Flora, Woodville, and Logansport. The magazine and candy butcher of the Union News Co. was George Nearpass, of local fame. At Logansport the train paused for ten minutes for dinner. Of course we carried our own box lunches. One important feature of the whole journey was to see who could first get a glimpse of the lake north of Delong.
At last after four and one half hour's journey we arrived at Marmont (Culver to you). The din of passengers alighting, others entraining for Plymouth and South Bend, the friends who always met you at the station, it was noisy and colorful.... fond recollections indeed; the fondest of my early life."
Last summer Aunt Raye Vonnegut gave us The Journal of Alex Vonnegut with his very own observations of the world in Nineteen Ought Two, He fourteen years old, living at Thirteenth and Broadway (then named "Home Avenue" for Ovid Butler's "Forest Home") on what we now designate as the Historic District of The Olde Northside in Indianapolis. Here is a peek into his life on July second: "The fact that we were going to Maxinkuckee today caused me to arise at four o'clock. The sun had not yet risen, hardly a soul was to be seen on the streets. Carlo (this was his small black dog) and I were the only ones to be seen. I went to C.O.M. (this was his cousin Clemens 0. Mueller quoted above). He, too, had risen at four. I took Carlo to Buschmann's grocery where I weighed him. To my surprise he weighed forty pounds. I went to Schortenmeirer where I purchased a few articles for mama. William, the colored man at grandma ('s) came for us at about 6:45. At 7:20 our train left Indianapolis. Everything was flooded Fields were under water. Carlo whom I had given to the care of the baggage master was obliged to stay in the baggage car the whole of the way.
Arriving at Culver we went on Peerless. The pier was covered with about an half inch of water. Aunt Emma stood on our pier waving to Jonas he understood her. Our pier was covered with water so we landed at Ketchem'e.
Our cottage was in very good order. Mrs. Kutz came up before we did and cleaned and put everything in perfect order. We ate at Aunt Emma ('s). Naturally we had a fine dinner, Aunt Mama however complained that we did not have Maxinkuckee appetites yet.
Sadly to say Carlo does not like Monk (Anton's dog) Monk would like to make friends but Carlo will groul fiercely at him.
Carlo delights to go in the water after sticks.
It was to cold to go bathing so the afternoon may be said to have been passed by doing nothing worth mentioning. The high dive which rocked back and forth caused Anton to go in the water to see after it. The lake was very rough and Threatened to tear our pier away. Soon, about four oclock, it became quiet but stormed clouds were forming. Suddenly the lake became as green as a plain of grass though quiet. "Sudden the lightening flashed Sudden the thunder crashed "and alas! Anton was on the high dive. He managed to get to shore however after struggling with the waves. The storm now ranged fiercely but Tony was on the pier with his sailboat.
In about an half hour the storm ceased but alas! Our pier was in ruin. About twenty feet from the beginning were blown away to the shore. Half of Uncle Frank's pier met its fate the same way likewise Ketchams.
After a good supper at Aunt Emma's we were on the platform a while. The lake was quiet. We could not go rowing however because Anton had pulled the boats on shore to save them from the hands of the storm.
People who have been here for some time say it has rained the last two weeks. The lake is two feet higher than it usually is.
I am writing all this in the dining room of our cottage. Mama is writing to Kurt and C.O.M. who has finished writing in his diary is writing to his mother who will come next week and Aunt Emma will then go (to) the Grandma. The next week mama will go. It is not probable that we shall go bathing tomorrow for it is too cold."
No article about Lake Maxinkuckee is complete without mention of "The 'Cademy". Since the first class graduated in 1907 Culver Military Academy has had a major influence on all phases of lifestyle at The Lake; perhaps there is less commercialism because of this. Last summer my cousin, Richard Clennmens Vonnegut, Sr. gave me a copy of "One Township's Yesterdays", a bi-centennial project for Union Township produced by The Culver Citizen and Culver Tri-Kappa. It contains the most delightful resume of The Academy events of the first quarter of this century.
Those children of "The Victorians" (the sons, of course) were to be schooled in the "Grande Manner", and Culver Military Academy became world re-known. The little girls attended the dances and were sort of Scarlet O'Haras before The Deluge. Memories of our Aunt, Irma Vonnegut LIndener, have delighted us. She was enrolled at May Wright Sewalls Classical School for Young Ladies in Indianapolis during the winter months.....a truly advanced education from that fabulous person. Mrs. Sewall was a friend and co-worker with Susan B, Anthony. Mrs. Sewall's beliefs on Spiritism and fasting and electromagnetic vibrations are only now beginning to be explored through scientific inquiry. At any rate one of Aunt Irma's vivid accounts s involves meeting Madam Schuman-Heink (the operatic soprano) whose son went to the Academy while she stayed at The B. Vonnegut Cottage. The force of her vibrant personality nearly withered little Irma who had been fasting for days. Also, Will Fleet, son of the Commander at Culver Academy became a regular visitor at their cottage (perhaps a "beau") and Marjorie Potts was her especially dear friend who played tennis on the brand-new court at "Hilarity Hill". Wherever she has lived .... along the canals of Hamburg, Germany for those many years, or visiting in California or wherever the sounds of waves are lapping at a shoreline, it is always Lake Maxinkuckee to her, she has said.
|******This is the end of the article read aloud to Indianapolis Woman's Club**** (Janurary 1980)|
|*****EPILOGUE FOR THE FAMILY******|
In the Eighteen Eighties James Wood Rasmussen's grandfather, William Jacob Wood, was an Insurance investigator for fidelity Phoenix Fire Insurance Company located in Indianapolis. Sometimes he stayed at the Norris or Edwards farmhouses on the East Shore of Lake Maxinkuckee where boarders were served meals, and used the farmers' row-boats to fish and relax. As Mr. Wood traveled extensively checking on fire claims he found Maxinkuckee an ideal location for his summertime "office"; besides a refreshing spot for his family to be removed from the city's heat at Twenty-third and Broadway in Indianapolis, He purchased a cottage "site" on a hill from Mr. Edward's farm.
Each spring thereafter his wife in floor-length skirts, and in haughty procession with two daughters carrying birdcages and dolls, two maidenlady sistersin-law, AND his Mother-in-law traveled on the "Hoot-n-nanny" (Vandalia Railroad) to the sparkling waters; thence, by a public motor-launch across The Lake to The Norris Pier. There they had winter shutters removed, and set-up housekeeping until schools began in September, They instructed Chester Edwards to hand-scythe the grass; a Mr. Welcome Miller to tune the piano; ordered ice delivered from town, and bought produce from farmwagons at the back gate. Everyone had a garden, chickens, apple and cherry trees. They ate fish, played Crokinole, Archarina, and Parcheesi, sang around the piano, went rowing with parasols and big hats, baked lots of pies and bread, bathed decorously at water's edge, used an outhouse at the end of a Grape Arbor, and went on Hayrides when not pulling taffy or reading Tennyson, Poe, Dickens, Hawthorn, Ruskin, Emerson and James Whitcomb Riley. Mr. Wood visited as time allowed, and a business minded sister-in-law typed his fire inspection reports at his Wooten Desk in his specifically built office-room. (One of the earliest typewriters, sewing machines and box cameras are there.)
Victorian cottage housekeeping was no small project even though special dispensations of proprieties could be allowed. For instance: upstairs walls were never plastered, even ceilings were left unfinished to give a casual life-style impression. Lots of wicker furniture of inventive design relieved the pressures of ironing antimacassars and whisk brooming off heavily upholstered furniture. There was always a ceiling-hung, wicker porch-swing (sometimes two as at Gloasbrenn ner's), and striped, vertical canvas "awnings" which had to be raised and lowered, sometimes in the middle of the night, protecting screened porches as shower's and storms came and went.
Cottages had no bathtubs to clean as one bathed in The Lake, a springfed gift of geological formation. The shallow wells with red, hand-pumps filled drinkingwater, enamelware buckets which were kept in every kitchen (with a dipper nearby). Or there might be a mossy, iron-stained trough with tincup, and a water-melon cooling in the ever-flowing artesian wells. Lake water sometimes was pumped up hills into cottage storage tanks for "washing-up" or for fire precautions. Windmills filled the tanks.
Willow-ware pattern and plain white, English bone china replaced the delicate Haviland and Meissen of the townhouse while short, white starched curtains, linoleum and oil cloth helped to minimize the housework. The City-life pretense of natural gas fixtures or the new electric lighting was dismissed in favor of soft glowing oil lamps with hurricane chimnies while plain chamber-pots replaced the ornate ones in bedroom "washstand seta". The re-published 1902 Sears & Roebuck catalogue contains many pages of items -- toys, tools, books, bells - still lingering in the old frame house at Culver. No One dug basements, not even foundations; sometimes just big rocks were used. Woodbank is unusual in that its base rocks were split with the soft colors of the field atones made more evident. On the south-side a good four foot section is visable and mortar was used. We have not found this type of construction elsewhere on the lake, nor can we imagine how they split those big boulders so evenly. A separate "laundry building" with The Rasmussen Cottage still has wash-boilers and a (terrifying) gasoline "Quick-meal" stove.
My children and their cousins all are sure kindly ghosts lurk here. We work to keep it that way for The Family - a special, picturesquely mysterious place. There is a wind-up Victrola and no T.V., but sun-tanned faces around the big dining-room table or sun-drenched picnics on the pier. I really don't feel it is our cottage.....we seem just to be trustees for the next generations.
It's terrific the way modern conveniences make it possible for us to handle two homes and enjoy both!
However, two refrigerator-freezers at The Cottage are a must, and a Pier-Putting-In-Party every Spring really helps.
Another relative, great-grandfather Henry Schnull, had established his three daughters - Emma, Nannie, and Julia, in cottages on the East Shore which became famous for their tennis court about 1904. Called "Hilarity Hill", eleven little Vonnegut - Mueller - Schnull cousins grew-up there. Then, too, The Glossbrenner Family bought "The Wigwam" about 1905, developed the golfcourse, and printed a small history of The Maxinkuckee Association which includes Indian Legends. My Grandmother Glossbrenner had Indian rugs and pictures in their cottage. How we wept, my three sisters - even my brother, when that cottage was sold about 1936 at Grandfather A.M. Glossbrenner's death. Maybe that's one reason why this cottage means so much - we can still help The Children catch turtles in the Marina channels which M2 COUSINS and I used to call "Turtle Bay". We can still wake up to the early morning calls of Blue-jays with a whole long, delicious summerday ahead or drift off to sleep hearing the lapping of waves along the ice-ridges at the shore. The Children may use flashlights instead of kerosene lanterns to hunt nightcrawlers on misty summer evenings, but it is still exciting. They learn to swim, canoe and sail from parents, big brothers and sisters or elder cousins. Our Family Cottage guards a cultural Victorian Heritage.
How pleased we were to have a copy of Jane Howard's book "FAMILIES". It has been condensed in The Reader's Digest; and my niece, Mrs. Hugh Lynch of Washington D.C. sent a copy at Christmas of 1978. Therein are listed the FIVE EARMARKS OF GOOD FAMILIES:
1 - ".....a chief, or a heroine, or a founder - someone around whom others cluster, ..,...whose example spurs them on to like feats. Some blood dynasties produce such figures regularly; others languish for as many as five generations between demigods, wondering with each new pregnancy whether this, at last, might be the messianic baby who will redeem us. Look is there not something gubernatorial about her footsteps, or musical about the way he bangs with his spoon on his cup?.......
2 - Good Families have a switchboard operator - someone like ...my own mother ....who plays Houston Mission Control to everyone else's Apollo. This role, like the foregoing one, is assumed rather than assigned. Someone always volunteers for it. That person often also has the instincts of an archivist, and feels driven to keep scrapbooks and photograph albums up to date, so that the clan can see proof of its own continuity.
3 - ....Good families are fortresses with many windows and doors to the outer world, The blood clans I feel most drawn to were founded by parents who are nearly as devoted to whatever it is they do outside as they are to each other and their children. Their curiosity and passion are contagious. Everybody, where they live, is busy. Paint is spattered on eyeglasses. Mud lurks under fingernails. Personto-person calls come in the middle of the night from Tokyo and Brussels. Catcher's mitts, ballet slippers, overdue library books and other signs of extrafamilial concerns are everywhere.
4 - Good families are hospitable. Knowing that hosts need guests as much as guests need hosts, they are generous with honorary memberships for friends, wham they urge to come early and often and to stay late. Such clans exude a vivid sense of surrounding rings of relatives, neighbors, teachers, students and godparents, any of whom at any time might break or slide into the inner circle. Inside that circle a wholesome, tacit emotional feudalism develops: you give me protection, I'11 give you feality. Such treaties begin with, but soon go far beyond, the jolly exchange of pie at Thanksgiving for cake on birthdays. It means you can ask me to supervise your children for the fortnight you will be in the hospital, and that however in-convenient this might be for me, I shall manage to. It means I can phone you on what for me is a dreary, wretched Sunday afternoon and for you is the eve of a deadline, knowing you will tell me to come right over, if only to watch me type. IT MEANS WE NEED NOT DISSEMBLE. ('To yield to seeming," as Buber wrote, "is man's essential cowardice, to o resist it is his essential courage...one must at times pay dearly for life lived from being, but it is never too dear.')
5 - Good families deal squarely with direness...."
It is a miracle. Somewhere along the years I have changed from being that little Third Daughter at "Rainbow Farm" into being a Family Institution. My most favorite treasures now are cards, notes, and (sometimes grubby) letters beginning: "Dear Aunt Catey...."; and so, last summer we began painting The Cottage a lovely sort of antique green, and paid all those taxes, and repaired the pump, and had FIFTY-SIX signatures of relatives and friends in our Guest Book! ......not counting a nephew, Stan Diamond, more than once as he signed it every weekend when he "came-up" to help paint.