April 25, 2014 Today was the first day of the new walk for Alzheimer’s and for the Indiana Lincoln Highway. Carol walked with me all day and needed a nice Jacuzzi and a good Italian meal this evening. She is going for it again tomorrow…15 miles! We started out around 8:20 and walked a whole 5 minutes to our first stop… to the Dyer, Indiana Historical Museum. A wonderful place with great people taking good care of the exhibits…Kathy Powers and Nancy Speicher. They are great people, great friends. Dyer is the maiden name of the wife of the first settler here, Aaron Hart. The area was largely swamp land so there are a bunch of drainage ditches in the area. This whole day we are in an area that really is a suburb of Chicago these days but has a tremendous heritage in the 19th century.
From there we started heading west and were treated to an escort from the Dyer fire department…specifically, Ron Reichelt. Ron knows a ton of the local history as he has had relatives along the route, and has lived here a long, long time.
The other treat was having Judy and Ross Wood from Mishawaka join us for a part of the walk. They have been wonderful friends and long standing LH supporters and Judy is currently on our Board of Directors. They are going to try and catch up with us near Ohio in May when we finish up too!
Here they are sitting at the Ostermann Bench near Meyer Castle in Dyer and the area known as the Ideal Mile (first 4 lane, lighted, well paved highway used as an example for other towns and states back in the early 20′s).
As we entered Shereville, we had the good fortune of being invited to visit the St. John Township School dating to 1853. It has been remodeled and today they had a full day of classes and many of the kids came in costume. What a great idea. Here are a couple of pictures showing the one room school and the kids and volunteers. I even got to provide some insights regarding the Lincoln Highway for them. Can you imagine me pontificating? Don’t answer that. Really a blast!
As we headed toward downtown, Schereville we crossed a major railroad tracks…looks like
Further on is one of the great old bridges of the Lincoln Highway in Indiana.
Toward the end of the day we ended up in Merrillville which started out as Wiggins Point, a great old hotel for travelers. Later (after Wiggins passed on), they renamed it Centerville only to find out there already was a Centerville in Indiana so they couldn’t name it that! So two enterprising brothers named Merrill decided on the name…surprise, they called it Merrillville. Today we stopped at the Merrillville/Ross Township Museum and met with several local dignitaries, several museum volunteers, a local reporter, my good friend George Rogge (who bought us dinner last night!!!), and the manager Alice Smedsted. She even brought some snacks for us. Yum!
One more mile to the end of the line for today…at George’s insurance business and a home from 1876…on the Lincoln Highway nearly 40 years before the LH was named!
Great weather today and we seem to be doing ok. We are enjoying the walk so far, we feel your prayers and good thoughts, and we had several additional donations as we met folks! Tomorrow it’s 15 miles to Valparaiso.
April 14, 2011; Day 1 of the walk across Indiana.
Dan and Carol Miles of Warsaw and Tom Davis of North Webster joined me for the 11 mile walk from the OH/IN border to New Haven. We left the state line around 10:00 a.m. after some brief photo ops with good friend Jim Newcombe doing the honors. My wife Carol joined us for the last 5 miles after lunch, too.
We had not walked more than 1/2 mile when we were hailed by a woman from her window. So we walked back and met Beth Sorgen who had lived in the area for many years. Beth was such fun and shared a couple of stories about the rough and tumble good old days of the Lincoln Highway in eastern Indiana. She has my address so I hope to get a letter from her with even more stories.
A bit later we met the unofficial “mayors ” of both Townley and Zulu. Jerry Love of Townley told us about the tornados of the 1920′s that reduced the size of townley substantially. he recalls hearing stories of how the tornado knocked down the local school as if it was shuffling bricks!
Dick Wobbeking of Zulu was actually out of his jurisdicton, playing a little pinochle and having a touch of beer with the boys at the tavern over in Townley. Both of these men and several more we chatted up at the tavern were very friendly and helpful… real Hoosiers offering real Hoosier hospitality.
Afer a brief lunch we headed into Besancon, a community dating back 200+ years. We visited the St Louis Catholic Church with its foundation in the 1840′s and the next door Academy that dates to 1915. The principal of the Academy is Cheryl Whitaker and what a great find she was. She came to the door and let me in then took all of us on a tour introducing us to faculty and students everywhere! They have 69 students today but have educated up to 200 at times. Cheryl shared a story about old head stones in the cemetary falling down and some of the parishoners tossing them into a lake behind the church for years and years. Now the lake is filled in so there are likely dozens of headstones buried out in back forever!
We arrived at our hotel in New Haven around 3:30 p.m. and after a little clean up and rest, joined the Mayor, Terry McDonald for dinner. We had a great time hearing about his community service, his new race for re-election, some of the history of this portion of the state (The Black Swamp era), and more. We will meet Terry in the morning and walk through New Haven together.