Saturday, December 16, 2006

Generations of Yesterday

I have an insatiable curiosity about the generations before us. I want to know what it was like for them to travel across the country--to settle in a new place--and what their personalities were. I have worked on geneology for several years. It is a never-ending task because children grow up, marry, have children of their own, and the older generation dies.
In writing of the history of Peru, I talk to a lot of people about their grandparents and great grandparents to see if they were among the early settlers that helped form this community. I started with my classmates, the class of '59, to see how many settled in the early years of the town of Peru.
I have been quite surprised at what I am finding. James Sharp settled in Washington township in the 1840's --his descendent Becky Dawalt Powell. Samuel Phillabaum settled in Erie township. One of the early schools was built on his land--descendent Nancy Phillabaum McConnaughey. Michael Costin was known for his ability to move just about anything--his descendent Mary Costin. Della Donaldson McKee and Diana Donaldson's grandfather Fletcher was a blacksmith and their other grandfather Oscar Donaldson worked on one of the many railroads that came through Peru and also had a farm on 31 that no longer exists. My great-grandfather owned a flour mill that set on Bayless Street. I will keep searching !!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Washington Township

It would seem that the organizers of the township were very patriotic, giving the township the name of Washington.
From early records Thomas Hinton was the first white man to make permanent settlement in the township. He located in 1838, on what is now the Demuth farm. Hinton was a bold, energetic young man. He soon erected a rude log cabin, in which he lodged, drawing largely upon the wild game with which the forests abounded for his food. Some years later he resigned the life of bachelor and married. In 1839, immigration came to the township, bringing a number of stalwart fearless men. The first church in the township was built on the farm of Mr. Crider, in 1857, by the United Brethren and known as "Crider Chapel". Another was built about the same time by the Presbyterians on the White farm known as "New Hope Church". The first school of the township was taught in the small cabin that had been built for a dwelling on the land of John Allen in the winter of 1842-43. The fall of 1843, a small round log school house was built on the farm of Patrick Colgan. The same year, a small "buckeye"cabin for school purposes was built on the on the farm of Peter Wickler. The township has grown considerably since the early days of the pioneers.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Iliff Grocery

Another in our series of "mom & pop" grocery stores--Iliff Grocery was located at the corner of East 6th St.and Water St. The owner was Paul Iliff, of 267 East Eighth Street who became a Peru Policeman at the age of 30. In the late 1930's Paul bought a little pup for his daughter Patricia to play with. It nipped her while playing in the store, so she picked the pup up and gave him a good hard bite. He went yelping under the counter and hasn't tried biting her since. Wonder what the health department would think if they were to walk into a grocery now and see a little girl playing with a puppy.

Paul also maintained a delivery truck for his business. Pictured is his daughter, Patricia, on the running board of the delivery truck. I know older patrons would appreciate that service today-- order your groceries on the phone and have them delivered to your home. Modern technology is not always better. People like Paul believed in customer service.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Fletcher Blacksmithing

There is an art in everything and it is important in shoeing a horse that only those who are skilled in the art be employed. It is not only a matter of economy that this work should be well done but it is also necessary for the comfort and good condition of the animal. In Mr. John W. Fletcher we find a man who is expertly skilled in all the detail of the art and his new shop in a specially constructed brick building at 11 East Second street has everything in the way of tools and machinery necessary for successfully presenting his business of horse shoeing, general blacksmithing and wood working. This is a business which Mr. Fletcher thoroughy understands and it will pay anyone to inspect his shop, which is a model of mechanical appliances. Mr. Fletcher has procured the services of Mr. Souther, who is informed on all matters pertaining to a horse's foot and who has the reputation of being one of the best shoers in the state, and this department of Mr. Fletcher's business is constantly growing in populartiy.