Filson Family Farm

Filson Family Farm

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tiny Bloomimgsburg aka Talma, Indiana (Coplen lineage)

My grandmother Grace Coplen Filson was born in 1905 to Elmer R. Coplen and Frances A. Rodabough in the little country town of Talma, Indiana. Situated on the Tippecanoe River, Talma is in Newcastle Township, Fulton County, Indiana. It is so small you would be hard pressed to find documentation of the population.

Talma was originally named Bloomingsburg by my third great granduncle, Asa Coplen. When Asa was asked why he named the area Bloomingsburg, he replied, "Because it is the most bloom-ingest place I’ve ever seen."

Asa was born to Richard Copeland and Euphamine Henderson in Coshocton, Ohio in 1805 and traveled to Fulton County, Indiana in 1840. Many other Coplen family members followed him, including my 2nd great grandfather Martin Van Buren Coplen. Asa bought land from the federal government for $1.25 an acre and soon had four farms. He married Lucretia Abbott in 1830 and they had a family of seven children.

He surveyed the land and by 1854 he was selling lots. The 1854 map of Bloomingsburg below shows the lots southwest of the original town. Make note of the Grist Mill next to the river, which would one day be owned by my 2nd great grandfather Martin Van Buren Coplen.

In 1858 Asa grew restless, sold three farms and headed west. But financial misfortune came upon him and his family, he grew tired of the windy country and he lost his beloved wife Lucretia in 1859 and laid her to rest in Kansas. Before she died she made Asa promise to return to Indiana with the children. He kept his promise and by 1860 he had returned to his farm in Bloomingsburg. In 1869, he married Minerva Jane Fisher and had two additional daughters. 1

Asa and Mirerva Coplen 1875  4

When the civil war came along he was eager to offer his service but was told he was too old. He proudly sent his three sons Lyman, James and Chauncey off to war. Fortunantly all returned.

In 1888 Asa and Minerva moved to Joliet, IL where they lived until 1896 when he was laid to rest at the age of 91.

Uncle Asa, as many people called him, was an honest man and a good friend. He was always willing to help someone who was down on their luck and his motto was The Golden Rule. He was very active with Fulton County Democratic party.

In 1896 the United States Post Office wanted to rename the tiny town of Bloomingsburg, claiming the name was too long. They ran a contest in the local paper and the winner was William R. Kubley. Kubley was a resident of Talma at the time and had a reputation as a puzzle wizard and avid contestant. His obituary states in one year he won 12 cars, also that he found the word Talma in a crossword puzzle. 3

In 1976 a historical marker was placed in Talma honoring both Asa and William for their roles in the naming of Bloomimgsburg and Talma.  2

THE HISTORICAL MARKER DATABASE photo taken by By Alice Mathews, July 12, 2011 5


1) Fulton County  Historical Society, Talma The Blooming Burg, Shirley Willard, Fulton Co Folks,Vol. 2

2) Roch Sen oct 4 1976

3) News-Sentinel, Friday, February 5, 1954

4) Fulton County Historical Society Collection

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The tornado that took my history away (Coplen/Severns lineage)

"The forecast for Wednesday April 3, 1974 was for showers on the East coast and for thunderstorms across the Midwest. In the heavens, a storm of an overwhelming magnitude was forming. Children went to school, people went to work and lives went on as normal until the second worst storm of the 1900's struck. Tornadoes broke across the heartland with such an intensity and frequency never seen before in the United States. Homes and schools destroyed. Loved ones lost..... 315 people who lost their lives in this storm and to the over 5,000 people who were injured."  - Scott Koerner.  1

I remember the day vividly. I was anxiously staring out of the Filson family farm window, watching a massive tornado cut across the Indiana cornfields. I didn't know at the time where the tornado had come from or where it was going. I was just glad it was passing the farm instead of heading towards it. What I didn't realize at the time was the significance the event would have on my genealogical research today. It wasn't until recently I realized the tornado was heading for my ancestral town. In a few minutes the tiny town of Talma, Indiana would be hit. Talma lies in New Castle Township in Fulton County, Indiana. This is the birthplace of my grandmother Grace Coplen and my great grandfather Elmer Coplen, and the home of my great grandfather Martin Van Buren Coplen.
The tornado that hit Talma was known as the “Monticello, Indiana Tornado”. Along with Talma, the nearby community of Rochester, Indiana was also devastated. The News Sentinel Newspaper of Thursday April 4, 1974 stated, “17 people were killed in the Rochester area, and law enforcement officers said the town of Talma was virtually wiped out.”
The F4 Tornado path as it passes Talma and Inwood, Indiana  2

I don’t remember Grandma Grace ever mentioning Talma to me. Most likely I never asked. I was too busy as a teenager to even care of such things. By the 1930s all my immediate family had left Talma and it was just another piece of land.
Talma school after the 1974 tornado  3
Arial photograph of the tornado destruction of Talma  3
Over the next few posting I will be writing about Talma, Indiana and the little community that is all but gone, but alive with my family’s history.

To read more about the “Super Outbreak” check out Wikipedia or the website for The National Weather Service. They have a page of photos published in the Rochester Sentinel of the destruction that hit Talma and Rochester in Fulton County.

Scott Koerner has put together an amazing site dedicated to the April 1974 event. He has a whole page of links that will lead you to videos of that day.

For a recap of the day, checkout this video about the weather from Accuweather

1) Scott Koerner
3) The Rochester Sentinel, April 4, 1974, via The National Weather Service