by Curt Kovener
A hundred fifty years. A century and a half.
Just blip in the universal scheme but time and numbers which prompt a pause to note and to celebrate.
Actually, our town of Haysville was plotted by John Hamacher in March 1858, so we are 150 and six months old. But it would be difficult and chancy to try to have an outdoor celebration in southern Indiana in a month known for snow, rain and going in or out like a lion or lamb.
Hamacher chose the name Haysville because he thought the area was conducive for growing hay.
Many communities were formed along the then main transportation route: the railroad. Locally there is Retreat and the now extinct Jersey south of town.
While the date isn’t specifically noted, a railroad superintendent named Crothers made an offer to the leaders of the unincorporated community of Haysville. If they would change the name of the community to honor him, he would see to it that a depot would be built here allowing the community to become an area transportation hub for bringing in goods and shipping products. The Crothersville Depot stood until Aug. 30, 1958—ironically a little over a month after the town’s centennial—when a runaway passenger car derailed and smashed the building. It was never re-built.
In 1892 the community of Crothersville became a town, a unit of government with town board and clerk-treasurer.
There is no evidence that a 50-year celebration or even notation occurred in 1908, but a large centennial celebration was held in July 1958.
Here are some of my recollections of that celebration as a six-year-old: the men were required to grow beards or facial hair like that worn early in the town history. If they didn’t, local centennial constables could “arrest” them and place them in jail (a circular wire corn crib at the stoplight) until they paid a fine to get out. I remember competing in a hula-hoop contest and—because of my chronic lack of coordination—being eliminated in the first round. (I could barely walk and chew gum at the same time let alone walk while keeping a plastic hoop circumnavigating my waist.) I also recall riding my 20-inch bicycle decorated with red, white & blue crepe paper in the centennial parade and being envious of my younger brother who got to ride with our father atop a horse-drawn hearse.
Those kinds of memories are good for recalling to warm us in our maturing years and for humor of our youth.
A lot of changes have occurred in town over the years. Many probably think US 31 was always here. But it wasn’t built until the 1920’s. That opened the town to greater prosperity as the main north-south automotive artery from Indianapolis to Louisville. Local business prospered because of the new traffic patterns.
Fast forward to the early 1960’s with the construction of I-65, a move which made this community more safe from high volume of vehicles but traffic then began by-passing the town’s business district. As a result local business withered and died and long time residents lamented the good old days when the streets of Crothersville were packed with residents doing their weekend shopping. And area residents took advantage of the improved transportation to explore new shopping areas in nearby communities.
For the better part of the 20th century, the US Shoe Corporation was the main manufacturing employer. The majority of its employees commuted into work everyday from other communities. Fast forward to today and we have a more diverse manufacturing base including automotive parts, electric wire, cellulose insulation, telecommunication cable connectors, and plastic parts manufacturing. But, still, the majority of the employees commute from out of town into work each day.
For additional perspective, for a good number of years while out-of-town residents commuted here to work, a good number of our residents commuted to other communities like Austin, Symour and Columbus to work.
I guess we’re going to live where we like to live.
Some notable quotes on history:
“We must know where we’ve been to track our progress to the future.”
“Those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it.”
“Know your history but don’t live in it.”
Whether the town is celebrating a birthday or an anniversary, experience the Sesquicentennial events planned for the next four days. That way for the town’s Bicentennial in 2058 you can tell be about your memories of 50 years ago.