Filson Family Farm

Filson Family Farm

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Finding your history in Postcards

1908 Postcard -  Birdseye View of North Center Street in Plymouth Indiana  1

Historical postcards are a rich source for visualizing your ancestors in a historical time. During the early 1900s, postcards featured pictures of city views, court house, public buildings and business. Many counties have recreated and published a historical time capsule of these images. The Marshall County Historical Society has available The Plymouth Post Card Book which has 100 vintage postcards from Plymouth, Indiana.

If you have an interest in Culver, Indiana, check out the genealogical website for Lake Maxinkuckee. It has some wonderful local postcards of Culver.

To find postcards from all over the United States, visit America as it Was: A Tour of the US in Vintage Postcards. There you will find multiple links to additional resources, such as the Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society which has over 3000 images online.

Another great place to look for historical images is on Flickr. There you will find collections such as The Pie Shop’s Collection which has a wonderful photo sets from Indiana and other locations. My favorite is the A & W Root Beer restaurant in South Bend, Indiana. They also have a postcard of the old Plymouth Holiday Inn, which you are familiar with if you grew up in Plymouth, Indiana.

Also, check out Shook Photos where you can find postcards of Indiana Railroad Disasters and Indiana Tornado Disasters.

One of my favorites is the Flickr site for Hoosier Recollections'. You will see old postcards of Indiana Schools, Indiana Theatres & Opera Houses. I especially love the way the curator of the site provides detailed views of the postcards. He also cross-referenced the postcards with 1905 Sanborn Insurance maps to verify the exact location of the scene depicted on the postcard. So don’t just look at the picture, make sure to read the description under the picture for great historical content. They also have a set of postcards just for Marshall County and some wonderful Indiana Rural Scenes.

Do not forget to check out the Indiana Historical Society postcard collection, the site states:

“Indianapolis resident Jay Small collected real photo and printed postcards. The images depict locations across Indiana, individuals, interurban and railway stations, bandstands, celebrations, and examples of advertising. Featured here are views and street scenes in towns and cities. The images date from circa 1907 to the 1920s.”

But the ultimate surprise would be to find one of these postcards was actually written by your family member and has somehow made its way to the Internet. I am still looking for that treasure.

Note: To view any of these sites just click on the blue highlighted word above and your browser will take you there.

 1) Filson family Private collection


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Great Grandpa and Grandma (Filson/Manuwal lineage)

Catherine Manuwal Filson and John Thomas Filson 1940s   1
My Great Grandfather John Thomas Filson was born to Taylor Silver Filson and Amanda Hunter on February 24, 1872. He grew up on the Filson family, 120 acre farm, northeast of Inwood and attended school through the 8th grade at a country school west of his house.

1881 Map of Small Schools in Marshall County, Indiana  2
At the time many people believed educating their children would rob them of much needed farm hands. John was fortunate to get an education through the 8th grade. Here is an example of a one room school house in Indiana. This one shows District 13 over the door but Great Grandpa went to District 3.

Photo by Kevin Chodzinski  3
After finishing school John continued to work on the farm alongside his father, Taylor and brother, William.  He lived his life as a farmer and a stockman and these trades he passed onto his sons Russell and Robert.
In 1896, at the age of 24, he married Catherine Lavinia Manuwal who was 18 at the time, she was also fortunate to have received an 8th grade education.

Marriage License  4

Census records are a very important source to tracking your family in history. Below is the 1920 census for John, Catherine and their three children. On the document, we see their names and relationship to each other. We can see they lived on a farm that they owned and they owed a mortgage on it at the time. We can see their approximate ages and their education. It shows what state they were born in and where their parents were born.
1920 Census Records  5
In 1934 John and Catherine moved from the farm to a little white house situated next to the Inwood Methodist Church. It was remembered by some that John Thomas Filson, as well as many men of his time, did not give much thought to the women in his world. He felt they had their place and pretty much just got in the way. His family members recall John Thomas was very tight with his pocketbook. I am sure he viewed himself as responsible, but eventually his need to control his money ended up killing him. He injured his leg on a piece of farming equipment and he would not go to the doctor because it would cost him. Gangrene set in and by the time he took himself to the doctor he was too far gone. He suffered greatly and ultimately passed away. For his funeral his wife Catherine choose the most expensive casket she could. She obviously was going to start spending the money her way.
Obituary   6

Catherine Lavinia Manuwal was born on March 2, 1879 to Christian Manuwal and Elizabeth Zimmerman Manuwal in Marshall County,  Indiana.
I remember Great Grandma Catherine as a petit, boney lady who made wonderful sugar cookies, possibly the same sugar cookie recipe passed onto my Grandma that I wrote about in a previous post. She would love to invite the neighborhood kids over to eat them. She was also known for her bad coffee, as she would leave the old grinds in the kettle and add new ones, making her coffee taste like tar. Probably, because she had to save money and did not know when she would be able to buy fresh coffee. I do keep in mind these are people that lived through the depression, so while it may seem cheap to us, it was survival to them.

Catherine loved to grow African violets and filled her house with them. She was a devoted member of the Inwood Methodist Church and the Women's Society of Christian Service.
Woman of Inwood Methodist Church 1960s, Catherine is in the front row, second from the right   7

Catherine lived to the age of 90 and died on January 22, 1969. I lived in Texas at the time and we were unable to go to her funeral, but we did end up inheriting her antique sofa made of burgundy velvet fabric. I will always think of Catherine sitting on that sofa eating sugar cookies as I watched her drink her coffee.
I was thrilled to get glimpse of her while I was recently going through some old family photos. The picture captured her looking out the window as we all gathered on the lawn for a family photo in 1957. I wonder why she was not outside to join us.

Grandma Catherine Manuwal Filson 1958   8
I found a video you might find interesting called “Feeding the World - 1930's Farming Documentary Film”. It gives us a glimpse into the same time period when John and Catherine were raising their children on a 1930s farm. You will see cow’s being milked and farm animals being feed. You will see cars, appliances and farm equipment of the time. You can view it by clicking here.


1) Filson Family private photography collection

2) Historical Map Works

3) Flickr

4) Marriage License

5) 1920 Census Document

6) Newspaper

7) Marshall County Historical Society photography collection

8) Filson Family private photography collection

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A little more about little Pearsonville / Ironwood / Inwood, Indiana (Filson lineage)

Little information can be found on the Internet about the little town of Inwood, Indiana so I am happy to find little trinkets of it's history to share. I have learned the town was originally named Pearsonville as I wrote about in my Dec 3, 2012 post. If you would like to read my previous post about Inwood you can find it by clicking here.

Inwood was also at one time called Ironwood. You can find this information in the book entitled History of Indiana: Containing a History of Indiana, Volume 2, written by Fuller Brant in 1890 on pages 46 and 47. You can access this book by clicking here

Pearsonville now Ironwood - On the 29th day of December 1854 Ezra G Pearson platted the village of Pearsonville and acknowledged the execution of the same.  Accompanying said plat was the following description of the location of said village:
“This indenture witnesseth [witnessed] that Ezra G. Pearson being desirous to lay off a town, has got the same surveyed, laid off and does give the same the name of Pearsonville, bounded as follows: Commencing at the north edge of the Fort Wayne and Chicago railroad, at the north and south open line, 32 rods, 19 links south of the half mile stake on the north side of section number seventeen (17) in township number thirty-three (33), north of range number three (3) east,  thence north on said open line 297 feet, thence north 72 degrees, 23 minutes west, 135 feet, thence south I7 degrees, 37 minutes, 60 feet, thence north 72 degrees, 23 minutes west, 132 feet, thence south I7 degrees, 37 minutes west, 110 feet, thence north 72 degrees, 23 minutes west, 182 feet, thence north 17 degrees, 37 minutes east, 170 feet, thence north 72 degrees, 23 minutes west, 169 feet, thence south 297 feet, thence south 72 degrees, 23 minutes east, on the north line of said railroad 618 feet, to the place of beginning, situated in the county of Marshall and state of Indiana”
In the year 1859 the name of the village was changed to Ironwood. There have been eleven additions laid out and platted, but they are so small that space cannot be given them in detail here. The village used to be quite a lively one, especially in the lumbering business, but now that the lumber has nearly all been cut off, it is quite quiet and it is evident that it has seen its best days, yet it will continue to always be a convenient trading place in the center of one of the best farming districts in the county. There are now two good dry goods, grocery and notion stores, a good grist-mill, a post office, a drug store and other conveniences for country trade.

The town was named Ironwood because of the abundance of Ironwood trees in the area. This tree is a small tree and the hardness of the wood made it suitable for the pioneers to use it for making tools.
According to the Indiana State Gazetteer and Shippers' Guide for 1866-67, Volume 1, Ironwood was renamed Inwood by 1866 and had a population of 200. It steadily grew to a population of 500 as we can see in this 1882 business directory.
1882-83 Polk's Indiana State Gazeteer and Business Directory    1
Inwood is a thrifty village of 500 inhabitants located on the P. Ft.W. & C R'y [Pittsburg, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railway] in Centre Township, Marshall County, 6 miles east of Plymouth, the county seat and banking town. It contains a Methodist Church, graded school, several substantial business houses and 1 hotel. In the town and vicinity there are located three saw mills, a flour mill, 1 planning mill, 2 pump factories and a basket factory. The principal exports are lumber, grain and baskets.
Ex., Adams. Tel.,
W.U.W.H.H. Stover, Postmaster
Adams Ambrose, pump manufacturer, 1 mile southeast.
Apple Christian, blacksmith.
Austis Joseph, harness manufacturer.
Barlow Isaac J, pump manufacturer, 1 mile south.
Bell Frederick, druggist.
Bell John F, physician.
Blashinghan Francis M agt P. Ft.W. & C
Clemens William, blacksmith.
Cooper Joseph B, general store.
Cruzan H B, physician, 3 mile south.
Davidson Joseph, blacksmith.
Downing Austin, live stock, 2 miles northeast.
Fisher Christian, general store.
Gerrard George N, saloon.
Gibbons O C, live stock.
Graham W B Rev (Methodist).
Grosvenor Isaac, wagonmaker.
Helmer Pluto, Basket Manufacturer for the Chicago Trade.
Hull David, blacksmith.
Inwood Flouring Mills, Frank Kelsey, Propr; John McAdams, Miller.
Jackson Stephen W, shoemaker.
Kelsey Frank, Propr of Inwood Flouring Mill.
Klingel Rev. (Methodist)
Kotterman Theodore, furniture.
McAdams John, Miller; Frank Kelsey, 50 years milling experience.
McMaster Frank A& Bro general store.
Morris Courtland L, notary public.
Rainer Charles T, physician.
Ritzler Joseph, saloon.
Schafer, Morris & Schafer, Dealers in Dry Goods, Clothing, Boots, Shoes, etc.
Schafer & Morris, Saw and Planing Mills (see adv)
Shively D C, saw mill, 4 1/2 miles north.
Shreve Charles, barber.
Stevens Solomon, wagonmaker and justice.
Stover W.H.H. postmaster and grocer.
Sweitzer Fred L, saloon.
York, William R, Saw Mill and Lumber Dealer, 3 miles south.

 In this 1922 Map of Inwood we can see that housing divisions were set out by Pearson as well as Lee & Dickson, Croup & Coars and Hendricks.
1922 Map of Inwood Indiana   2
In this picture you can see the Inwood Depot to the right for the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railway . You can see the signal post and two buildings. Across the railroad tracks is the C.M.Wilkins saw mill.
Inwood Indiana Train Depot   3
For those of you interested in learning more about the people that lived in Inwood and Plymouth in the 1800s, a good place to do research is Google Books. Take a look at A Twentieth Century History of Marshall County, Indiana. It comes in two volumes and you can search on names such as Inwood and find little tidbits. This book was written as part of the centennial celebration in the late 1800s. All counties put together a history of their county with biographies of many of their citizens. You would have to pay a small fee to be featured in the book, it was like a modern day Who’s Who in America. Many in the farming community were not interested, so I did not find much on my family.
History of Indiana: Containing a History of Indiana    4
You may also find it interesting to see old photos of historical train stations in Indiana. Visit the web site for Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum.


1) County History Preservation Society

2) Historical Map Works

3) Marshall County Museum Historic Crossroads Center - photography collection

4) Google Books