Open Hours at the Society's Meeting House -- 6510 S. Franklin Road, from 1 to 4 p.m., on the first Saturdays, and the third Sundays of March through October -- are almost always an interesting time. All members are invited to share the afternoons, greet visitors, and perhaps help answer their questions.
We never know what a visitor may ask for -- information on his family -- the history of an old house he may be remodeling -- the photo of a great-grandparent who may have attended one of the district schools. We have a variety of places to look: abstracts, files of photographs, our own publications, scrapbooks and family histories. Sometimes we can help, sometimes not, but we never fail to try.
When township resident Stanley Wise came on our first Open Hours of the season, he said, "My father, Donald Wise, who died a few years ago, told me you had a picture of the old house -- a log cabin -- that once stood on Maze Road where the house my parents, Don and Iona Wise, later lived, and where I now live. The old house, my father thought, had a dug well in front, and another in the back, with a few outbuildings."
Several of us looked through our Area Old Houses book, our 2009 Calendar of historic homes, and through our collection of old photographs. Nothing. And then I heard Stanley say, "Yes, that's it." Dave Ostheimer had found what we were looking for -- but in a form that I, at least, had not thought of. It was a small framed watercolor, one of three given to the Society by Leroy Compton many years ago, on display in one of our cases.
The paintings were done by a relative of Leroy's, Dale Hendrickson, who with his wife liked to come "from the city" and visit his wife's sister, Leroy's grandmother, Edith Rabourn Maze at their farm home on Knapp Road. Dale sometimes brought his paints along. The other two watercolors are also country scenes -- a house on Knapp Road, and a log barn.
A card taped to the bottom edge of the frame identified the scene. "This log house was located where the Donald Wise family now live at 9540 Maze Road. Leroy Compton commented: 'My grandfather, Roy Maze, had a brother, Erasmus, who returned to Indiana from one of the Dakotas where the had homesteaded. Erasmus moved into the house where the Chamberlains now live, down a lane by the west side of the house in the picture. In the 1930s Erasmus built a new house on the site of the log house. My folks tell me that they remember the last occupant of the log house, an elderly single fellow who did odd jobs and lived from his garden, which occupied most of his summer time. My mother thinks the man's name was Nixon. Before the house was torn down, my grandfather stored farm implements in it.'"