Monthly Archives: June 2016

Notes: a furnace manufacturer, a restaurant, a fence company, the E-Z Toon Radio Co., the Indiana Gas Company

L.C. Thiele & Co. Incorporated from March 30, 1909 to 1933, at 107 S. Meridian St., Indianapolis; “to manufacture furnaces, furnace supplies and sell the same”. This company is still in business. Its website states that the company began in 1883. The founder, Louis C. Thiele, died in 1908, and his family inherited the business: William O Thiele – brother, Sarah Thiele – Louis’ wife, Louisa McGrath – Louis’ sister.

English Corporation. Incorporated on June 14, 1933 at 142 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis; “to engage in the business of operating restaurants, lunch rooms, dining rooms, cafes, cafeterias”. I’m not sure if this business was somehow supposed to be part of the English Hotel located on the Circle. Incorporators were: Tellas D. Lee, b. 1898, a college graduate, an engraver in 1930 and later became a building materials engineer in Chicago; J. Otto Lee – b. 1886, a clerk at the State Printing Board; Edna F. Lee – b. 1896, Otto’s wife.

Enterprise Iron & Fence Co., incorporated in 1931, “to manufacture, sale and erection of iron & wire fences and ornamental iron work”. Incorporators were: Julian Bobbs – retired in 1929 as president of the Bobbs-Merrill Publishing Co., in 1935 he retired from the fence company to pursue other interests; Kurt F. Pantzer – lawyer; Samuel R. Harrell – Supt. of a flour mill.

E-Z Toon Radio Co., incorporated from December 3, 1924 to 1945; located at 3234 W. Washington St, Indianapolis; “the manufacture and sale of radio supplies and all accessories thereof”. The incorporators were: Charles Sparks – b. 1880, trained as an electrical engineer, lived in Fortville, IN, with his wife Lena; Charles R. Butler – b. 1877, started work as a machinist, he developed as a manufacturer of automobile components.

The Indiana Gas Company. (originally named the Electric Lighting, Gas Heating and Illuminating Company of Indianapolis). Incorporated from January 10, 1881 to 1946. “The object of the formation of the corporation is the manufacture and sale of electric light and illuminating and heating gases and their products.” Its name was shortened to The Indiana Gas Company in 1907. Apparently a New York organization took over the company in the early 1900s, but by 1920 it was again owned and operated by Indianapolis businessmen. The original 1887 directors were: George R. Root – owned the G.R. Root & Bro. Coal & Coke Company; E.(Elijah) B. Martindale – lawyer and real estate developer; Allen M. Fletcher – b. 1853, son of Stoughton A. Fletcher, Sr. who was the founder of the Fletcher National Bank, and nephew of pioneer lawyer Calvin Fletcher; by 1900 he was the president of the Indianapolis Gas, Light and Coke Co., later was V.P. of the Fletcher National Bank, then retired and moved back to Vermont, his family’s home state; N.S. Bryan – physician?; Francis Churchman – b. 1833, banker and associate with Stoughton A. Fletcher, Sr.; Frederick M. Ostermeyer – b. 1827 in Prussia, wholesale drygoods merchant;  John R. Elder – was the publisher of the Indiana State Sentinel, and in 1881 was the treasurer of a railroad; George F. Branham – b. 1848, coal and coke dealer.


Notes: magnetic healing, an African-American newspaper, a railroad car manufacturer

International College of Healing & the Alansing B. Melville Infirmary. Incorporated on October 11, 1900, at 330 N. Delaware St.;”the art of healing shall be taught , including magnetic and mental healing, in which shall be taught personal magnetism, hypnotism and the occult sciences”. Also, “the conducting of an infirmary and sanitarium. Alansing B. Melville, b. 1857; in 1881 Alansing and his brother, Americus, attorneys, were prosecuted by the U.S. Dept. of Interior and debarred in the State of New York. They had obtained the pension for a Civil War veteran, and then kept over half of the money for services rendered. Lansing was listed as “magnetic healer” in the 1900 Federal Census, as a general practioner physician in 1910, and as a osteopath physician in 1920. He died in Miami, Florida in 1929. Elizabeth Melville was his wife.

Indianapolis Tribune Publishing Co., July 27, 1927 to 1938. Its name was changed to the Indianapolis Crusade Publishing Co. in 1938. Its purpose was “to print, publish, and circulate a weekly newspaper”. The proprietors were Frank R. Beckwith – December 11, 1904 to August 24, 1965; he was a prominent African-American attorney in Indianapolis and a civil rights activist; he ran for President of the U.S. in 1960 as a Republican. E. Louis Moore – 1879 to 1966, an Indianapolis African-American attorney. Albert F. Moton – 1896 to ?, secretary.

Inter-State Car and Foundry Co., November 6, 1925 – 1935, 3823 Massachusetts Ave (Massachusetts Ave & Sherman Dr.); “to make metal castings and other work relating to the foundry business, and repair of railroad cars”. The Interstate Castings Co. is still located at that location. According to the company’s website: “Founded in 1883, Interstate Castings began by manufacturing complete railroad cars. Since that time we have evolved into a high quality supplier of gray and ductile iron castings.” I found the Inter-State Car Co. listed in the 1904 Indianapolis City Directory as located at W. Morris St. & the Belt R.R.; also there are a few pre-1925 listings on the internet for orders to manufacture railroad cars by the Inter-State Car Co. The “Railroad Car Builders of North America” website states “at this time [1925]  the Inter-State Car and Foundry Co. was primarily doing rebuilding of [railroad] cars.” The incorporators were Louis R. Meyer – foundry supt. who worked with this company till he retired; Frank B. Stout – manager, he formerly was in the real estate business; George J, Diver – manager; James Rocap – attorney.




Notes: Lilly Hardware Co., Indiana Centennial pictures, African-American investors

Lilly & Stalnaker Hardware Company, (Later, in 1917, changed to Lilly Hardware Co.) Incorporated on July 26, 1897, with their location at 114 E. Washington St. About a year later Clemens Vonnegut and his family opened their  hardware store in a new building situated at 120 E. Washington St., practically next door to Lilly & Stalnaker’s. Vonnegut’s had been in the hardware business in Indianapolis since 1852 at various locations on E. Washington St., and Lilly & Stalnaker had run their store at 64 E. Washington St., since 1888. Surely Lilly & Stalnaker knew the Vonnegut’s were planning a site next to where they planned to move. So, why would they move their business next door to their more established competition? Good question! Per a letter written by Franklin Vonnegut, Vonnegut’s “absorbed” the Lilly store in 1925, after the owner died. (This Lilly family was not related to Col. Eli Lilly’s.)  Proprietors were James W. Lilly – b. 1863 in Indianapolis. He was the nephew of John O. A. Lilly who was the founder of a very successful varnish manufacturing business. Maybe James specialized in his uncle’s products, a retail outlet for his uncle’s varnish?  Frank D.Stalnaker – an accountant who later became a bank president. Augustus B. Kern – a salesman and later V.P. of the business. George Lilly – older brother of James, and a salesman. George Stebel – a clerk and later a buyer for the business. James D Jacobs – a salesman.

Interstate Historical Pictures Corp. Incorporated on January 27, 1916, “to produce and exhibit motion pictures and to make historical and educational pictures to be shown in connection with the State Centennial Celebrations”. These young men did shoot motion pictures of Indiana’s Centennial Celebrations but, sadly, they have been lost.   William H. Fryer – electrician; Alfred H. Smock – electrician; Henry H. James – bookkeeper at a printing company.

Inter-City Finance Corporation of Indianapolis, October 20, 1928, “for the purpose of buying and selling securities”. The incorporators were: Henry J. Richardson, Jr., 206 Walker Building – in 1928 Richardson had just received an L.L.B. from the Indiana Law School in Indianapolis, and began a long and distinguished career as a civil rights advocate in Indianapolis. Marcus C. Stewart, 518 Indiana Ave., 24 years old – his father, George P. Stewart , the founder of an African-American newspaper, the Indianapolis Recorder, died in 1924 and his mother continued the newspaper as its publisher. Marcus attended Butler University in 1927-1928, but quit to become the editor of his family’s newspaper. The Indianapolis Recorder has continued to this day as an important voice for the Indianapolis African-American community. Lucas B. Willis, 512 N. West St. – a prominent African-American funeral director. He was born in 1877 in Frankfort, KY, graduated from the Massachusetts College of Embalming in 1898, and moved to Indianapolis in 1900. In 1928 his undertaking business was located at 510 N. West St. Orlando W. Rodman, 525 Minerva St. – an Indianapolis Postal Clerk, born in Frankfort, KY, in 1891. Martin Morgan, 942 Burdsal Parkway – born about 1889 in Ohio; he owned Morgan’s Hardware Store at 1359 Senate Ave. This document is a “who’s who” of Indianapolis African-American history.