Exploring Elkharts Roots

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This PowerPoint presentation was developed for Elkhart Community Schools. The target audience is third grade, but it can be used by a wide range of ages, including adults.

This PowerPoint presentation was developed for Elkhart Community Schools. The target audience is third grade, but it can be used by a wide range of ages, including adults.

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  • Photograph is one of the earliest known pictures taken of downtown Elkhart. Taken from south of the corner of Franklin Street looking north on Main Street in 1884. Point out the unpaved streets, the horse drawn carriages, barefoot children, and the few power lines.


  • 1. Exploring Elkhart’s Roots with Ruthmere
  • 2.
    • A collaborative project between
    • The Ruthmere Foundation, Inc.
    • and
    • Elkhart Community Schools
    • This project has been funded, in part, through an Historic Preservation Education Grant from the Indiana Humanities Council and Historic Landmarks of Indiana
  • 3. Project Team:
    • Darlene Adkins, Ed. D., Educational Consultant and former owner of the Havilah Beardsley house
    • Laurel Spencer Forsythe, Ruthmere Executive Director
    • Rusty Heckaman, Ruthmere Docent
    • Larry Huneryager, Retired educator
    • Artha Juntunen, Eastwood Elementary 3 rd grade teacher
    • Michelle McClintic, Osolo Elementary 3 rd grade teacher
    • Bradley Sheppard, Curriculum Development Director, Elkhart Community Schools
    • Kathy Sponseller, Ruthmere Docent and Volunteer Coordinator
    • Jill Szyarto, Riverview Elementary 3 rd grade teacher
    • Ron Wolschlager, Ruthmere Building and Grounds Director and retired Osolo teacher
  • 4.
    • The area we now call Elkhart was first inhabited by Native Americans of the Pottawatomi tribe.
    • This mural, painted by Robert Grafton in the 1930s, may be seen at Ruthmere.
  • 5.
    • In the early 1800s, the area now called Elkhart was inhabited by Native Americans led by Chief Pierre Moran.
    • In 1829 Pulaski became the first settlement to be established in the area right across the river from Chief Moran’s land.
  • 6.
    • Composite of Potawatomi Chiefs,
    • by George Winter
    • Chief Moran would later sell his land to pioneer Dr. Havilah Beardsley, who would play a prominent role in the city’s development.
    • From descriptions of Pierre Moran it is understood that he would often dress in a European style similar to some of the chiefs shown here.
  • 7. Dr. Havilah Beardsley April 1, 1795 – May 23, 1856
            • City Founder
            • Doctor
            • Businessman
            • Farmer
  • 8.
    • Havilah married Rachel Calhoun in 1823 in Ohio before traveling to Indiana. Together they had five sons and two daughters. Four sons and one daughter survived.
  • 9.
    • In 1830 Havilah, Rachel and three sons moved into Elkhart.
    • A year later, in 1831, Havilah purchased land from Chief Pierre Moran of the Pottawatomi Indian tribe.
    • Havilah had this land platted and named the new settlement after the river, Elkhart.
    • Elkhart Today
  • 10.
    • Here you can see images of some of Havilah’s flour, carding and sawmills that promoted the growth of the town.
    From 1831-1856 Havilah Beardsley played an important role in Elkhart’s early expansion and development.
  • 11.
    • This picture of approximately the same location along the St. Joseph river shows where the mills would have been.
  • 12.
    • Havilah built mill races that used the power of Elkhart’s waterways so that his mills could grind corn and wheat, as well as cut lumber.
    • He also built a paper mill, an oil mill, and a woolen mill.
  • 13.
    • Today Bonneyville Mill serves as an example of the mills used in our early history, including those of Havilah Beardsley.
  • 14.
    • Early dams were also built to harness the power of Elkhart’s waterways. The first dam across the St. Joseph river was built between 1867 and 1868. James R. Beardsley, son of Havilah, was one of nine men involved in the funding of this project.
  • 15.
    • Construction of the present Johnson St. dam was begun in 1911 and was completed in 1912.
  • 16.
    • Today the dam still serves the city of Elkhart.
  • 17. While Elkhart’s rivers were of great importance to early pioneers, they also create a natural obstacle. They made travel difficult and also obstructed access to the mills. There was no bridge across the St. Joseph River, so people and goods had to cross by ferry. This mural, painted by Robert Grafton in the 1930s, may be seen at Ruthmere.
  • 18.
    • Early crossings of the St. Joseph River were made on a rope ferry owned by Dr. Havilah Beardsley. By 1837 wooden bridges, such as the one pictured here in front of Dr. Beardsley’s house, made crossings easier.
  • 19.
    • In 1871 this arched iron bridge replaced the older wooden bridge. To the left and right of the bridge’s center pier are the Beardsley flour and paper mills.
  • 20.
    • The fourth bridge across Main St. was a steel truss bridge.
  • 21.
    • Today the only traffic over the bridge is automotive or pedestrian.
    The present concrete bridge began service in 1927, supporting the traffic of automobiles and electric streetcars.
  • 22.
    • In 1851 the first train made its way into Elkhart. Havilah played an important part in bringing the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana Railroad to Elkhart. This helped to ensure the village’s future growth by making it easier for goods and people to travel to and from Elkhart.
  • 23.
    • Elkhart’s first train depot was built by the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad. The New York Central Railroad depot pictured to the right replaced the original in 1900, and remains in use.
  • 24. As Elkhart continued to grow, newer and larger buildings were needed.
    • The original Clifton House as seen in 1863.
    • By 1973 the structure had been demolished and in its place the offices of Compass Wealth Advisors now stand.
    • In 1889 after renovations it was opened as the Hotel Bucklen.
  • 25.
    • The Bucklen Opera House was a center of social activity until its demolition in 1986.
  • 26.
    • The Bucklen Opera House seated 1,200 people who were once entertained by stars such as Houdini and Jenny Lind.
  • 27.
    • Another house of entertainment was the Lerner theater which opened in 1924; it eventually became the Elco and is still in use today.
  • 28.
    • Here you can see the present Beardsley Elementary School standing on the same lot as the original structure.
    • Schools were an important part of the Elkhart’s growth as well. This picture is of Beardsley Elementary School as it was in 1879.
  • 29.
    • An early Elkhart classroom
  • 30.
    • A better means of transportation also became necessary as Elkhart continued to grow.
    • A modern electric streetcar system was added in 1889, making Elkhart the second city in the world to have one.
  • 31.
    • These are two of Elkhart’s streetcars.
  • 32.
    • The current Interurban Trolleys are meant to resemble those of the early 20 th century.
  • 33. Beardsley Avenue Historic District: National Register of Historic Places
    • The area is designated as an historic district because of its historical and architectural significance. It consists of some of the land first purchased by city founder Havilah Beardsley.
  • 34.
    • Many of the most significant parts of Elkhart’s history can be traced to this district, such as:
      • Havilah’s mill race and location of early crossings of the St. Joseph River.
      • Elkhart’s first parks and recreational areas were established here.
      • Many of Elkhart’s most influential leaders established their homes in this area.
  • 35. The area outlined constitutes the Beardsley Avenue Historic District.
  • 36.
    • The historic district includes this mill race. Havilah Beardsley had the race dug to provide greater power for his mills.
  • 37.
    • The Main Street Memorial Bridge is the present and most recent of several methods of travel across the St. Joseph River. Within the history of this district one could once have found a ferry and a variety of bridges being used.
  • 38. Several key features can still be found in the park today, including a stone fountain and a pavilion.
    • Island Park is an important part of the Beardsley Avenue Historic District. It was established before most cities had public parks or recreation areas.
  • 39.
    • Island Park was donated to the city in 1887
    • by Havilah’s Beardsley’s surviving sons.
  • 40.
    • A portion of Island Park’s original pavilion still stands today.
  • 41. Beardsley Park
    • Beardsley Park was donated to the city of Elkhart in 1922 by Havilah’s great-nephew, Andrew Hubble Beardsley, and nephew, Albert R. Beardsley.
  • 42.
    • The intersection of Riverside and Beardsley Ave. is featured in this early postcard. In the center of the junction stands an early monument erected to honor Elkhart’s founding father, Dr. Havilah Beardsley.
  • 43.
    • The monument of Havilah Beardsley was designed by E. Hill Turnock and sculpted by Pietro Bazzanti, it was commissioned by Havilah’s nephew Albert Beardsley and was dedicated in 1914.
  • 44. National Register of Historic Places
    • Elkhart’s oldest existing dwelling is the two-story brick home Dr. Havilah Beardsley built in 1848.
  • 45.
    • Across Main St. stood the home of Benjamin and Sarah Davenport. Sarah was the daughter of Havilah Beardsley. Their home was later purchased by George Pratt, the founder of Elkhart Carriage and Buggy.
  • 46.
    • Elkhart Carriage and Buggy produced this automobile in 1912 and called it the Pratt 40.
    • This car is on display at Ruthmere Museum
  • 47.
    • This pleasant house was built in the early 1900s. It was the home of Charles Beardsley, brother of Andrew Hubble Beardsley and great-nephew of Havilah.
  • 48.
    • Havilah’s son, James Rufus Beardsley, had this cottage built in the early 1900s.
  • 49.
    • This home was built in 1906 and at one point was home of downtown developer Herbert Bucklen.
  • 50.
    • This home was built in 1910 to be the residence of Ed Ziesel. The Ziesel family was prominent in Elkhart. The Ziesel’s owned the Ziesel Brothers Dry Good Store in downtown.
  • 51.
    • E. Hill Turnock (1857-1926) was a prominent architect in the Elkhart area. His commissions included a number of public, religious, and domestic buildings. Ruthmere, home of Albert and Elizabeth Beardsley, was his most impressive residential project.
  • 52.
    • Built between 1910 and 1911, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church was another building designed by E. Hill Turnock.
  • 53.
    • Andrew Hubble Beardsley, who was Havilah’s great nephew, had this home built in 1908. The home, designed by E. Hill Turnock, was razed in 1964 to make way for the First Presbyterian Church parking lot.
  • 54.
    • Between 1908 and 1910 Albert and Elizabeth Beardsley commissioned architect E. Hill Turnock to design and build their home, Ruthmere.
    • Albert was the nephew of Havilah and uncle of Andrew Hubble and Charles Beardsley.
  • 55.
    • A.R. first moved to Elkhart in 1861 in order to help his widowed Aunt Rachel with the farm.
    • By 1878 A.R. had become an owner of one mill and was on his way to becoming a prominent business leader in the area.
    • With appreciation to Dave DuFour for this image
  • 56. Albert & Elizabeth Beardsley
    • Elizabeth and A.R. were married in 1872.
  • 57.
    • Elizabeth gave birth to their only child in 1880. They had a daughter they named Ruth. The baby died in infancy of hydrocephalus at age seven months.
  • 58.
    • 1891: A.R. became treasurer of Dr. Miles Medical Company. The Beardsley family would maintain leadership within the company for several generations.
  • 59.
    • Miles Medical Co. eventually became Miles Laboratories Inc. the producers of such prominent products as Alka-Seltzer, Flintstone Vitamins, Bactine, and others.
  • 60.
    • 1922: Elkhart’s first bookmobile was established as a result of the philanthropy of Elizabeth and
    • Stella (Mrs. A. L.) Beardsley.
  • 61.
    • 1924: Following Albert and Elizabeth’s deaths, the home was purchased by nephew Arthur Beardsley who lived in the house with his wife, Stella.
  • 62.
    • 1945: Upon Arthur’s death in 1944, Ruthmere was sold to the Deputy family, who moved in with their five sons, and soon had a sixth boy. They would reside at Ruthmere for 25 years. Here you can see Robert Deputy, one of the six deputy boys.
  • 63.
    • 1968: Ruthmere was acquired by the Beardsley Foundation. Under the leadership of Robert Beardsley, the great-nephew of Albert Beardsley, a five-year restoration project was begun.
  • 64.
    • 1973: upon the completion of Ruthmere’s restoration, the mansion was opened as an historic house museum. Its collections feature fine and decorative arts, antique autos, and a reference library.
  • 65. National Register of Historic Places
    • 1978: Ruthmere was placed on the National Register of Historic Places for the national significance of its architecture and art collections.
  • 66. Visiting Ruthmere
    • Students who visit Ruthmere on a field trip should be aware of a few “museum rules.”
      • Please show respect by not touching unless you are invited to
      • Walk
      • Stay with your group
      • Listen to your docent (museum teacher)
      • Raise your hand before asking questions
      • Thank you helping us to preserve history and art!