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.


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