What a gift!

In a previous post about Notre Dame football, I used an image of a football poster. I was contacted by Dick Hughes, a Phi Delt from the class of 1965 and living in Muncie Indiana. Dick had an original copy of this poster. Was the Archives interested he asked – as interested as can be was my answer!!

Dick drove the poster over one beautiful day and told me the story of both his poster and the image that I had used for the previous post. As I mentioned before, Dick lives in Muncie where a Ball Department Store was closing. In their cafeteria they had a number of pieces of memorabilia, including this fabulous poster. Dick was to be out of town on the day of the auction, so he sent a friend to buy this piece. The winning bid was $75 and Dick was the new owner of a true treasure. King Lumpkin, a Phi Delt from the class of 1988 took a really good picture of Dick’s poster and a copy of that photo was reproduced in poster size. This was the image that I had used in the earlier blog posting.

The poster is now on display in the Archives and is really just wonderful. A great bonus of this poster is the letter written by a Notre Dame student to his parents on the back. Dated Nov. 17th 1894 the letter talks about Thursday’s game against Wabash and how our team was much larger than the ND team. The final score was 30-0 in Notre Dame’s favor with part of the second half unfinished due to darkness. We lost and lost big, but the poster is still just a delightful piece to have for our collection and many thanks to Dick for spotting it and securing it all those years ago.

Here is a picture of Dick’s treasure – now in the Archives…

This poster is another great example of Wabash men preserving their history. Thanks Dick for saving this treasure and a huge thank you for personally bringing it to the Archives!!

Beth Swift
Wabash College

Race photo

Back home again in Indiana…

Race day has come and gone again. Each year as I hear Jim Nabors sing that song, it always stirs something inside of me…”the gleaming candlelight still burning bright”…I always enjoy the Indy 500 race at home via my radio. I found this picture in our files earlier this year and thought that this would be a good image to have for a post this month.

Little is known about this picture…it is in the pits at the Indianapolis 500. That truck is a road service truck from the Crawfordsville Firestone store and the name on the door is John A. McCabe.  I should also point out that there is a rope tied to the car. Whether it was being towed into the pits or if that was part of the start, I don’t  know. But I do know that I love this image!

Beth Swift

The birth of football at Wabash

One thing all Wabash men have in common is their love of a football game on a sunny autumn day. This passion was born at the very beginning of the football program at Wabash. These images record that birth and also show that football and fanatic have always been linked at Old Wabash.

These scans were all made from a great scrapbook compiled by Caleb Mills’ grandson, Blackford Condit [W1892]. If you are quick on the draw with the math, you will note that there is a six year gap between this game and his graduation as he was a first year preparatory school student in a full collegiate course that took six years

As you can see from the results listed in their first game, Wabash played Franklin to a tie. This was followed two weeks later by another game which Wabash won. It was decided that Wabash needed a yell and a school color…the color heliotrope (a pinkish red) was suggested when a full throated student shouted, “Heliotrope Hell! We want blood!!” and scarlet was selected instead.

This next image is of a piece of the first scarlet ribbon ever worn by a Wabash athlete. It is in great shape and what a delight it was to see it in that scrapbook.

Next we have the State Champions of 1886. Look at the ball, it is distinctly different from the footballs of today. Hanging on the wall to the left of the photo below is the State Championship banner won by this team.

Long since lost, the banner hung for years in the reading room of the Yandes Library. In the image below there are four banners in the upper part of this image.

Here are some excerpts from an article in the Wabash magazine, “The final game of Foot-ball for the State Championship and field medal was played at Indianapolis…The result was a glorious victory for Wabash, which gives us the State Championship…Our team meant business from the word go. And improved with each game, and the last one they played like professionals. Hanover had a strong and well-drilled team, which had been shown by her former victories, but when she met Wabash, she was out-run, out-kicked and out-schemed, and as a result and “official” score of 23 to 4…The day was fine, and about seventy-five students and several of the Professors accompanied to encourage and cheer the boys and enjoy the game…In the evening our team was banqueted at the Bates Hotel by the admirers, which was a very enjoyable event; and after attending the opera, they returned on the midnight train, and were met at the depot by the students en masse with brass band. They were marched down to the College, and after serenading the Faculty and having a general jubilee, they disbanded.”

As we can see this was a rousing start to a long and passionate tradition at Wabash…an unbridled love of the game of football.

Beth Swift
Wabash College

Elston Homestead

ca. 1925

Commencement is a time of many special rituals, among these is the senior reception at the Elston Homestead. With that in mind I’d thought I would share a couple of pictures of the house and tell a little of its history.

The Homestead was built in 1834 by Major Isaac Elston. It was the first brick home in Crawfordsville and was a mark of Elston’s wealth. The Major came to Crawfordsville early in its history and was at first a shopkeeper and the postmaster, a handy sideline for a merchant.

It wasn’t long before Major Elston was lending money – this was a land office town and  folks came here for the large land auctions. The rate or “cost” of the money lent was 50%! The major gave up shopkeeping and opened his own bank. Elston also engaged in land speculation and owned large parts of what became Lafayette and Michigan City. His 40 acre parcel here in town – now the historic district Elston Woods – includes the DAR house, the Lew Wallace Study and the Lane Place. I mention these places in particular as they are all homes of the Major’s children and built on land he gave them.

The Major’s only surviving son was also an Isaac, but known as the Colonel from his Civil War service.  The Colonel’s son was also an Isaac Elston, known in our history as “Ike” Elston. Yet Ike did not inherit the Homestead. Instead the home passed to Henry Lane Wallace, the only child of Lew and Susan Elston Wallace. The photo above is from the time of Wallace’s ownership.

Ike made a great deal of money in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and wanted to purchase the house back from the Wallace side of the family. He succeeded and early in the 1930’s as the owner of the Homestead he set about refurbishing it. Ike was a trustee of the College for decades and the house was a place for many of the social events connected to Wabash. When Ike died in the mid-sixties, his will gave the Homestead to the College for use as the President’s house.

The photo below is from the 1960’s.

One last bit of information about this house…The side we see in both of these photos is actually the back of the house. This house was built to face Main Street with a long front yard. However, two building lots which front Main Street were sold off early in the 20th century. This switch is best shown by the position of the staircase in the house. Visitors enter from Pike Street and walk in under the staircase. The view of the sweeping staircase is now seen only as one leaves the kitchen headed for the front door.

The Elston Homestead has been a lovely residence for our presidents for over four decades. Yet the Elston Homestead is also very closely linked with the story of our town…if only walls could talk.

Beth Swift
Wabash College