East Shore Lane Memories
"EIGHTEEN NINETY-FOUR to NINETEEN NINETY-FOUR LAKE MAXINKUCKEE SUMMERS"
By Catherine Matilda Glossbrenner Rasmussen
- Written for "Indianapolis Women's Club"
(an essay to be read aloud), 1980
It is always summer there. Who can imagine iceboats on the sparkling waters of Lake Maxinkuckee, snow toboggans sliding a whitened
hillside or a strange, Winter Star-map for that deep-deep lavender night sky?
Most of us have some PLACE wherein our hearts "come home". I found this expressed perfectly in an article by Uncle Clemmie Mueller,
and in a small book by (of all people) Eli Lilly which was published in 1967 through our excellent Indiana Historical Society. This
was entitled "Early Wawasee Days". To quote (page 53): "For the young fry, the journey from Indianapolis to the Junction was plain
torture", and Mr. Lilly lists twenty-one train stops including Fortville, Ingalls, Pendleton, Anderson, etc. until (and I quote),
"Tension mounted with each atop, relieved somewhat by fitf ul attempts at reading. After the lengthy wait at Milford Junction, at
long, long last came the boarding of the B.& 0. for the remaining ten miles to the Lake. Then as the train slowed down, came the
ecstatic thrill for the youngsters - every bit as good as Christmas morning - of catching from the car windows a blessed glimpse of
the back of the cottage, across the cornfields, almost hidden in its grove of trees, with the glittering Lake beyond."
Yes, it IS "coming home".
In a second book "Sketches of Lake Wawasee" a native son named Scott A. Edgell embellishes Mr. Lilly's narrative and adds special
insights about that beautif ul lake. I fell in love with Mr. Edgell immediately upon reading his works, and, although I'm sure he
has long since "passed to his reward", he has inspired this effort. Well, to produce this thirty-minute essay for Our Club I have
assembled enough material for five books and twenty-nine articles. After all, there will soon enough be a Centennial Party for our
Family Cottage, built in 1$94p  Condensing this research into three main sections I give you - Number One: Eighty-six years of
transportation to Culver . Number Two: Thoughts on the Ownership of Private Property; and Three: Beloved Ghosts and Memories.
NUMBER ONE -
Eighty-six years of transportation to Culver .
Summers at the lake...those were the long, peacef ul days when school was over before the end of May. Three and a half months of
delicious Summertime stretched ahead. Family pilgrimages began to lakeside cottages.
A pattern of FAMILY LIFE in these United States developed during the late Nineteenth Century centered upon "the summer cottage".
Better forms of transportation became less expensive involving the extension of railroad lines with "excursion tours". The large,
steam-driven motor-launch also promoted the development of lake resort properties previously inaccessible to The Urban Family Unit.
This often included three or four generations. Fifty years earlier the land in Northern Indiana had belonged to Pottawatomi Indians.
Confiscated by the U.S. Government it was sold to pioneering farmers, and to development corporations such as the soon defunct
Wabash & Erie Canal Company.
The Victorian Middle-class moved out of sweltering, ornate townhouses to non--ins ulated, wooden frame cottages with unplastered
walls, open-ceiling bedrooms, screened-in porches, separate laundry buildings where a cook--maid co uld sleep. They stayed ALL
" is such a place; significant to one Family through six generations.
Many Indianapolis families cherish their ties with big, old cottages on our beautif ul Indiana lakes: Wawasee, Tippicanoe,
Maxinkuckee, Lake James, Freeman, Schaefer, Winona, etc. That same construction of buildings and lifestyle was consistent in
cottages on Lake Michigan, Cape Cod, Chesapeake Bay, Even moderately successf ul merchants and businessmen of the previous century
established their Families in a "Summer Home" with specific purpose. Their social, business, and religious pressures were lightened,
and the Children grew healthy, confident, and resourcef ul. Their little So uls expanded. They learned to sail, canoe, swim, sein for
minnows, fish, and row marvelous, leaky, olde [old] row-boats. With the limited knowledge of medicines it was important to survive
the heat, especially if little ones were frail.
There were no weekend visits in those days; beginning about 1885. Housewives worked for weeks to close winter homes; rolling up
rugs, spreading dust-covers over upholstered furniture, and packing trunk-loads of possessions to be shipped up via the
from Indianapolis. The "drayman" came early in the morning to
cart I trunks and boxes to The Union Station with his horse-drawn wagon, Pets were made to travel in the baggage car and many a
Bird (in its brass cage from Chas. Mayer & Co.) was hand carried to Culver and back every summer along with the dolls and turtles.
In the light of looming gas-rationing and our "energy-crisis" we might consider what was done by our ancestors. The civilized forms
of travel used by one Indianapolis Family to reach their summer home on Lake Maxinkuckee during the past eighty-six years are shown
in the accompanying photographs.
||Picture #1 of "Woodbank Cottage" was taken at about the turn of the century.|
When it was built in 1894 one rode from Indianapolis
by train to Marmont, Indiana (previously named Union; later named Culver ). There was a wait at the long pier near the train depot
at The North shore while one of three large, steam-powered motor-launches filled up with enough passengers. Then, off across The
Lake to one of four public piers, used if The Cottagerta [cottagers] own pier was not long enough or not "put-in" yet. Sometimes
sections had blown away in bad storms. After that the patient cottage owner, and/or summer guests walked in a long skirt or hot
suit, with hand luggage, to the house and there relaxed on the screened-porch. Picture #2 shows cottagers William J. Wood and his
wife about 1900.
|Picture #2 shows cottagers William J. Wood and his wife (Anna L. Douglas)about 1900.
The public launches were named for the Pottawatomi Indian Chieftains all too recently removed to Missouri from their reservation
lands which once bordered Lake Maxinkuckee: "The Aubeenaubee
". Then, too, there was
" plying the waters of The Northeast Shore; see Picture #3. Later
on private steam launches were owned by a few cottagers.
|Picture #4 presents "The Duchess" well filled with aunts and cousins and all flags flying in
front of "Woodbank" near The Norris Pier.
It wo uld seem that those Victorians had a fine sense of drama besides a penchant
for Order, Reason, and Charity. The Duchess now flies her flags in a Marine Museum in Ohio.
| As for entertaining the children, they were dressed-up and taken for
Hayrides; certainly a far different kind of outing than our modern-day "field-trip" in crowded station wagons; note
Of course, horses were used to deliver all those trunks, the
inevitable piano, ICE (cut from the Wintertime Lake), new lumber to add another room for the newest babies, and the abundant
farm-produce sold at the kitchen doors of all the cottages. Rural Free Delivery Mail was being brought around on bicycles by
Nineteen Ought Two. Really proper commuting, however, was done by water, and all the cottagers' front doors were lakeside. This is
diffic ult for children to understand these days as one now arrives by frantic, hustlebustle at the back-door. This after a boring,
two hour interlude from Indianapolis playing the Alphabet Sign game, squeezing the cat or punching with elbows when possible.
When the automobile finally was invented the summer pilgrimage was taken in magnificent Touring Cars. Picture #6 shows The Wood
Family's auto circa 1915. This probably was a Lexington, and required many stops for water and pumping-up tires before arriving at
Culver after an all day journey from Indianapolis.
||At last, in the 1920s came a little dream-car known as "A Chummy Roadster" -Picture #7,
and, finally, in 1933 a real masterpiece: "The Marmon Sixteen".
|This was a Convertible Coupe with "rumble seat". Picture #8 is identified as the last car sold by The
Marmon Motorcar Company.
Still in the Indianapolis area this
car has been restored by another owner, and often is on-show in classic car displays. "Woodbank Cottage" was placed in 1977 on
the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures, and nominated for The National Register.
SECTION NUMBER TWO -
Thoughts on the Ownership of Private Property.
There was a time when only those men who owned land were allowed to vote in government elections. Ownership of property in The
Private Sector as opposed to governmental or institutional ownership has an interesting history; but there again is another whole
essay. In 1973 as my husband and I took over f ull responsibility for "Woodbank", we became aware of a much larger perspective and
new insights into the concepts of land distribution as organized by our forefathers. Our application for The National Register
required a Description which we listed as follows:
- Site: unaltered - hillside acre of wooded, farm-land fifty feet above Lake Maxinkuekee: East Shore.
- Building: two story, frame dwelling with screened porch along West end; also, a Laundry-workshop building, Boathouse,
original "Outhouse" with grapearbored cement walk from main building.
- Altered: built in 1894, the kitchen was remodeled - 1952; bathroom installed inside - 1955; Boathouse (metal, section & wood
frame) demolished and replaced with cement-block - 1958.
(Really, I sometimes think ours is the beat documented Outhouse in the United States).
Our small plate [plat] of land has been owned by so few men that it brings us into direct confrontation with The Indians We look at
military maps made by The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of the Eighteen-Thirties and note Indian Reservations all along the East
Shore of Lake Maxinkuckee. Digging into historical records we discover how briefly removed we are from the Great American
Wilderness. There are small unexcavated mounds near Lake Maxinkuckee, and other storybook names as Menominee, Winamac Pokagan,
Kewanna. There is an Indian statue set as a memorial to those vanquished people along side a country road near Plymouth, Indiana,
This is almost all that remains of Our Indian Heritage. In my childhood years at Culver one sensed a freedom of So ul in that
vanished way of life..., canoes and wigwams and an emotional dependence upon the response to changing Seasons. We children felt
very, close to them, I think, paddling about in The Inlet or hiking in the Bird Sanctuary at The Academy. However, this idealized
concept has tarnished somewhat in discovery of, and reading of, historical records through the years. In fact, my cousin, Jack
Raush, once disillusioned me completely by asserting that Indiana had been very dirty and sick a lot.
A March 1950 edition of The Indiana Magazine of History contains an article by Leon Gordon for part of his master's thesis at
Indiana University. It is titled "The Red Man's Retreat From Northern Indiana". The following quotations will suffice to offset the
over dramatized Trail-0f-Death concept presented by the letters of Benjamin Marie Petit, the Jesuit priest who "illuminated this
phase of pioneer times with almost brutal clarity". The Indiana Historical Society published those in 1941.
Mr. Gordon wrote: "Following the defeat of The Prophet and Tecumseh's forces at the mouth of The Tippecanoe River on November 7,
1811, scattered bands from the Wabash area fled to northern Indiana in large numbers. By 1830 white settlers thus found groups of
Pottawatomi and Miami scattered over the area in villages of varying size...Although the red men were neighbors of the whites for
many years, reactions to their presence were generally not hostile. There was an undercurrent of hope, however, that the tribes
wo uld soon be removed. Until that day arrived comments on the Indians' pec uliar way of life were common.., ...at Logansport annual
(Government) payments to the Miami and Potawatomi occupied from two to four weeks each. In 1833, a session about two months long
took place over negotiations for the rest of the Indian lands. Sellers, collectors, and hopef ul contractors for Indian supplies
flocked to the place, already crowded by a motley group of idlers, jockeys, gamblers, debauchees, and liquor dispensers, who
exhibited "total depravity" and wreaked havoc on the community's morals.... the Potawatomii usually camped on the west side of Eel
River.... The background of the government's policy looking toward the creation of an Indian territory west of the Mississippi
River is too complex to be told here, but in 1830 the President was given power to set aside districts in government land west of
the river for those Indiana who might (quote) choose to exchange the lands where they now reside and to remove there. Government
assistance for such removal was also promised.
Provision for extinguishment of the Potawatomi title to land in Indiana was the next step...once the cession of October 1832, had
been obtained, settlers grew increasingly anxious for abolition of the reserves which treaties had granted. Those in Marshall
County, for example, covered most of its total area. Chief Aubenaubee's village of forty-six sections in the southern part of the
county was the largest. Menominee's, southwest of Plymouth, contained twenty-two sections; Chief Benack had eight; Chief Quashqua,
three; and there were numerous smaller ones. As a res ult of increasing pressure, William Marshall was appointed commissioner in
1834 and purchased about half the land involved for fifty cents an acre...Impatient settlers moved steadily onto the disputed
reserves, and within two years Congress took cognizance of their uncertain status by granting pre-emption rights for a quarter
section at one dollar and twenty-five cents an acre for every head of a family or male over twenty-one with four months' residence
at the time of the act's passage...By J uly 26,1838, it was apparent that the Indians' Washington mission (arranged by the priest,
Benjamin Petit) had collapsed... William Polke had assembled four hundred....Potawatomi near Plymouth....On September 1st, seven
hundred and fourteen were enrolled for the journey, and the following day was spent in loading half of the twenty-six wagons with
Eyewitnesses in the main felt sympathetic toward those who formed the sad sight. The Indians were disarmed and a soldier placed
over every group of thirty or forty. Available government wagons apparently frightened the natives, and most of them preferred to
walk...the caravan began to move at 9:30 A.M., September 4th, leaving some behind because of illness...one teamster remembering
the trek after a mellowing interval of thirty years, considered the Indians well treated, not suffering from lack of food or
water... ...the main party made an imposing sight to James H. Stewart, an old settler of Delphi; the Indians were strung out for
three miles beside the river... the journal attributed to Polke while mentioning the heat, dust, and not too adequate provisions,
merely mentions ten deaths, mostly those of children, which occurred before the Illinois line was reached... Whenever white men
came into contact with Indian settlements, exploitation of the natives followed; a process which continued until the Indians
presence became a hindrance and danger to extension of white settlement...there was never serious doubt which of the two groups
wo uld emerge victorious."
The William Polke of Knox County was a member of the 1816 Constitutional Convention and a state senator...later became commissioner
for the Michigan Road and registrar of the Fort Wayne land office.
Last August I read with dismay in the Indiana History B ulletin that the Indians were coming back! After all these years someone was
bringing (quote), "A group of Potawatomi Indians from Shawnee, Oaklahama...will attend the Trail of Courage Rendezvous at
Rochester, September 15-16 on the Tippecanoe River and U.S. 31 North of Rochester. The Rendezvous consists of a tipi village,
pioneer crafts and foods, and Indian dances. There will be muzzle loading shooting matches, a canoe landing by trappers, and a
story teller with tales from Indian lore...for information write the F ulton County Historical Society."
And so the land was open and along The Michigan Road the pioneering farmers came. Among those to leave Germany was our venerated
ancestor, Jacob Schramm. He came to Indiana because of The Land. He cleared and drained farm land in Hancock County. I don't know
if he ever made it to Lake Maxinkuckee on what is now Route #421, but his children and grandchildren certainly did (unto the fifth
and sixth generations). His grand-daughter, Emma Schn ull Vonnegut translated his letters for the Historical Society about a hundred
years after his venture to own land in the American wilderness. Mr. Gordon quotes her work in a second article which he wrote; this
one about The Michigan Road. (Quote) "In November, 1835, Jacob Schramm a German Immigrant, rode from Hancock County over the road,
"not the best", which he described as forty German miles long with a twenty-four foot ditch on either aide. Lack of stones made it
only slightly resemble improved German roads. He underestimated his countrymen's hardihood by asserting that sparse pop ulation
along the road accounted for primitive conditions which few Germans wo uld tolerate. On his return trip lack of inns forced him to
take refuge in a vacant, doorless cabin where he nearly froze." - unquote, Jacob came to drain a swamp and hack down trees and
freeze in a cabin because of The Land.
Then, Gordon's article explains: "Need for easier routes of migration into northern Indiana, argument of military necessity, desire
to expedite the removal of Indians, and longing for greater accessibility to markets were all advanced in the late 1820's by
politicians, military men and merchants as irrefutable reasons for the construction of a great north-south highway connecting the
Ohio River and Lake Michigan by way of Indiana's new capital at Indianapolis. As the vision of what became the Michigan Road grew,
however, sectional and town jealousies endangered attainment of the goal...As late as the fall of 1851 a stagecoach trip from South
Bend to Indianapolis on the Michigan Road required five days over a partic ularly rough stretch between South Bend and Plymouth.
From there to Logansport muddy swamps and log bridges marked the way."
"This Land Of Ours: The Acquisition and Disposition of the Public Domain". This is a small volume of papers presented at an Indiana
American Revolution Bicentennial Symposium". A professor of History from the University of Iowa wrote: "The State of Indiana
contained 21,637,760 acres of public domain. The national government in the person of the Congress of the United States parceled
out this great estate in various ways at various times in the territory's and, later in the state's history. To the state it
returned lands for common schools, saline lands, swamp lands, lands for support of the state university, lands to construct the
Wabash and Erie Canal and the Michigan Road, lands for a capital site... to the Canadian volunteers of the War of 1812...Agric ulture
had become the economic base of the Anglo-American colonists, and it was to continue so for the citizens of the new, independent
American Republic. Land also lay at the foundation of political life in the New World. It was the basis of political
participation in colonial America. It was the foundation of a political system that emphasized the independence of the freeholder,
in a political as well as economic sense. A SINGLE ACT THAT GAVE REALITY TO THIS VISION WAS THE ORDINANCE OF 1785, the socalled
Land Ordinance. It was one of the most significant and lasting pieces of legislation in the history of the American nation."
So how sho uld this affect us today? Are we moving as a state into Socialism? So here we are in 1980, and condominiums are blooming
in every farmer's field and around every gravel-pit. Who wants to mess with lawns and fuel bills and maintenance????? Prop up the
baby in front of the T.V., and let the Government run the nursery schools after it with-holds up to Fifty Percent of our paychecks.
A column by Alice Widener in The Indianapolis Star last J uly reminded us: (quote) "As we were celebrating Independence Day, 1979,
there was being auctioned off in London for more than $45,000 an original copy of the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick
Engeld. It was first published in I848. All literate Americana know by heart the first few lines of our Declaration of Independence,
asserting our individual un-alienable rights under our Creator to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Few of us are familiar
with the basic tenets of the Communist Manifesto, though more than a billion people are forced to live under them. You must confess,'
says the Manifesto to all non-communists, 'that by "individual" you mean no other person than the bourgeois, than the middle-class
owner of property. This person must, indeed, be swept out of the way and made impossible."
Our Family has two very good sources for history on the farming families around Lake Maxinkuckee who came in the 1830s. One is the
writings of The Hon. Daniel McDonald
who came in covered wagons as
a babe-in-arms. He wrote and served his community and his country; was in the State Legislature. The second source is "The Norris
Papers" given to us by the family who owned the marsh area and rich farmland south of us.
SECTION NUMBER THREE -
Beloved Ghosts & Memories.
When I was in my late twenties I sat on the porch of Aunt Ella's Cottage at Culver with
[Fesler]. She was almost sightless then and held my
hand as she reminisced about her childhood; especially her memories of sailing out and around a buoy with her two marvelous
brothers who began The Marmon Motorcar Company, so long ago. I nearly feared to breath or call her back from the reality of her
happiest of times. (For many years my father was associated with the international Marmon-Herrington Corporation).
Memories of summer cottages are a precious gift. In December of 1977 our cousin,
, wrote: "Dearest Catey and Jim..... that is good that you two are
keeping the Maxinkuckee dream alive. That will always be an enchanted body of water to me, my Agean Sea, perfect in every
dimension. When I was twelve or so, I swam its width, as had my father and my brother and my cousin Richard - - and I became a man.
Much love - - as always...K."
And, there Is a 1940s period Letter-to-the-Editor of The Culver Citizen by Clemens 0. Mueller: (to quote in part) "I have been
coming up here for lo these many years. It is my second home: I love the lake, the surrounding country, its people, so many of whom
are my friends. In fact I like Northern Indiana. This tale I must write, and I don't believe anything of the sort has been written
before... ...all was excitement. We slept fitf ully and were up early. The train left at 7 a.m., a baggage car, smoker and family
coach via The Big Four Railroad. At Colfax we debarked and waited for the Vandalia (Pennsylvania to you). If by any chance there
had not been a wreck below Colfax we made fairly good connections.
Again a three coach train speeding north through Frankfort, Bringhurst, Sedalia, Camden, Flora, Woodville, and Logansport. The
magazine and candy butcher of the Union News Co. was George Nearpass, of local fame. At Logansport the train paused for ten minutes
for dinner. Of course we carried our own box lunches. One important feature of the whole journey was to see who co uld first get a
glimpse of the lake north of Delong.
At last after four and one half hour's journey we arrived at Marmont (Culver to you). The din of passengers alighting, others
entraining for Plymouth and South Bend, the friends who always met you at the station, it was noisy and colorf ul... fond
recollections indeed; the fondest of my early life."
Last summer Aunt Raye Vonnegut gave us The Journal of Alex Vonnegut with his very own observations of the world in Nineteen Ought
Two, He fourteen years old, living at Thirteenth and Broadway (then named "Home Avenue" for Ovid Butler's "Forest Home") on what
we now designate as the Historic District of The Olde Northside in Indianapolis. Here is a peek into his life on J uly second:
"The fact that we were going to Maxinkuckee today caused me to arise at four o'clock. The sun had not yet risen, hardly a so ul was
to be seen on the streets. Carlo (this was his small black dog) and I were the only ones to be seen. I went to C.O.M. (this was his
cousin Clemens 0. Mueller quoted above). He, too, had risen at four. I took Carlo to Buschmann's grocery where I weighed him. To
my surprise he weighed forty pounds. I went to Schortenmeirer where I purchased a few articles for mama. William, the colored man
at grandma ('s) came for us at about 6:45. At 7:20 our train left Indianapolis. Everything was flooded Fields were under water.
Carlo whom I had given to the care of the baggage master was obliged to stay in the baggage car the whole of the way.
Arriving at Culver we went on Peerless. The pier was covered with about an half inch of water. Aunt Emma stood on our pier waving
to Jonas he understood her. Our pier was covered with water so we landed at Ketchem'e [Ketchem's].
Our cottage was in very good order. Mrs. Kutz came up before we did and cleaned and put everything in perfect order. We ate at Aunt
Emma ('s). Naturally we had a fine dinner, Aunt Mama however complained that we did not have Maxinkuckee appetites yet. Sadly to
say Carlo does not like Monk (Anton's dog) Monk wo uld like to make friends but Carlo will gro ul fiercely at him. Carlo delights to
go in the water after sticks.
It was to cold to go bathing so the afternoon may be said to have been passed by doing nothing worth mentioning. The high dive
which rocked back and forth caused Anton to go in the water to see after it. The lake was very rough and Threatened to tear our
pier away. Soon, about four oclock, it became quiet but stormed clouds were forming. Suddenly the lake became as green as a plain
of grass though quiet. "Sudden the lightening flashed Sudden the thunder crashed "and alas! Anton was on the high dive. He managed
to get to shore however after struggling with the waves. The storm now ranged fiercely but Tony was on the pier with his sailboat.
In about an half hour the storm ceased but alas! our pier was in ruin. About twenty feet from the beginning were blown away to
the shore. Half of Uncle Frank's pier met its fate the same way likewise Ketchams.
After a good supper at Aunt Emma's we were on the platform a while. The lake was quiet. We co uld not go rowing however because
Anton had p ulled the boats on shore to save them from the hands of the storm.
People who have been here for some time say it has rained the last two weeks. The lake is two feet higher than it usually is.
I am writing all this in the dining room of our cottage. Mama is writing to Kurt and C.O.M. who has finished writing in his diary
is writing to his mother who will come next week and Aunt Emma will then go (to) the Grandma. The next week mama will go. It is
not probable that we shall go bathing tomorrow for it is too cold."
No article about Lake Maxinkuckee is complete without mention of "The 'Cademy". Since the first class graduated in 1907 Culver Military
Academy has had a major influence on all phases of lifestyle at The Lake; perhaps there is less commercialism because of
this. Last summer my cousin, Richard Clennmens Vonnegut, Sr. gave me a copy of "One Township's Yesterdays", a bi-centennial project
for Union Township produced by The Culver Citizen and Culver Tri-Kappa. It contains the most delightf ul resume of The Academy
events of the first quarter of this century.
Those children of "The Victorians" (the sons, of course) were to be schooled in the "Grande Manner", and Culver Military Academy
became world re-known. The little girls attended the dances and were sort of Scarlet O'Haras before The Deluge. Memories of our
Aunt, Irma Vonnegut Lindener, have delighted us. She was enrolled at May Wright Sewall's Classical School for Young Ladies in
Indianapolis during the winter months...a tr uly advanced education from that fab ulous person. Mrs. Sewall was a friend and
co-worker with Susan B. Anthony. Mrs. Sewall's beliefs on Spiritism and fasting and electromagnetic vibrations are only now
beginning to be explored through scientific inquiry. At any rate one of Aunt Irma's vivid accounts s involves meeting
(the operatic soprano) whose son went to the Academy while
she stayed at The B. Vonnegut Cottage.
The force of her vibrant personality nearly withered little Irma who had been fasting for days. Also, Will Fleet, son of the
Commander at Culver Academy became a reg ular visitor at their cottage (perhaps a "beau") and Marjorie Potts was her especially
dear friend who played tennis on the brand-new court at "Hilarity Hill
Wherever she has lived.... along the canals of Hamburg, Germany for those many years, or visiting in California or wherever
the sounds of waves are lapping at a shoreline, it is always Lake Maxinkuckee to her, she has said.
******This is the end of the article read aloud to Indianapolis Woman's Club**** (January 1980)
*****EPILOGUE FOR THE FAMILY******
In the Eighteen Eighties James Wood Rasmussen's grandfather, William Jacob Wood, was an Insurance investigator for fidelity Phoenix
Fire Insurance Company located in Indianapolis. Sometimes he stayed at the Norris or Edwards farmhouses on the East Shore of Lake
Maxinkuckee where boarders were served meals, and used the farmers' row-boats to fish and relax. As Mr. Wood traveled extensively
checking on fire claims he found Maxinkuckee an ideal location for his summertime "office"; besides a refreshing spot for his
family to be removed from the city's heat at Twenty-third and Broadway in Indianapolis, He purchased a cottage "site" on a hill
from Mr. Edward's farm.
Each spring thereafter his wife in floor-length skirts, and in haughty procession with two daughters carrying birdcages and dolls,
two maiden lady sistersin-law, AND his Mother-in-law traveled on the "Hoot-n-nanny" (Vandalia Railroad) to the sparkling waters;
thence, by a public motor-launch across The Lake to The Norris Pier. There they had winter shutters removed, and set-up
housekeeping until schools began in September, They instructed Chester Edwards to hand-scythe the grass; a Mr. Welcome Miller to
tune the piano; ordered ice delivered from town, and bought produce from farm wagons at the back gate. Everyone had a garden,
chickens, apple and cherry trees. They ate fish, played Crokinole, Archarina, and Parcheesi, sang around the piano, went rowing
with parasols and big hats, baked lots of pies and bread, bathed decorously at water's edge, used an outhouse at the end of a
Grape Arbor, and went on Hayrides when not p ulling taffy or reading Tennyson, Poe, Dickens, Hawthorn, Ruskin, Emerson and James
Whitcomb Riley. Mr. Wood visited as time allowed, and a business minded sister-in-law typed his fire inspection reports at his
Wooten Desk in his specifically built office-room. (One of the earliest typewriters, sewing machines and box cameras are there.)
Victorian cottage housekeeping was no small project even though special dispensations of proprieties co uld be allowed. For
instance: upstairs walls were never plastered, even ceilings were left unfinished to give a casual life-style impression. Lots of
wicker furniture of inventive design relieved the pressures of ironing antimacassars and whisk brooming off heavily upholstered
furniture. There was always a ceiling-hung, wicker porch-swing (sometimes two as at
), and striped, vertical canvas "awnings" which had to
be raised and lowered, sometimes in the middle of the night, protecting screened porches as shower's and storms came and went.
Cottages had no bathtubs to clean as one bathed in The Lake, a spring fed gift of geological formation. The shallow wells with red,
hand-pumps filled drinking water, enamelware buckets which were kept in every kitchen (with a dipper nearby). Or there might be a
mossy, iron-stained trough with tin cup, and a water-melon cooling in the ever-flowing artesian wells. Lake water sometimes was
pumped up hills into cottage storage tanks for "washing-up" or for fire precautions. Windmills filled the tanks.
Willow-ware pattern and plain white, English bone china replaced the delicate Haviland and Meissen of the townhouse while short,
white starched curtains, linoleum and oil cloth helped to minimize the housework. The City-life pretense of natural gas fixtures or
the new electric lighting was dismissed in favor of soft glowing oil lamps with hurricane chimneys while plain chamber-pots
replaced the ornate ones in bedroom "washstand seta". The re-published 1902 Sears & Roebuck catalogue contains many pages of
items -- toys, tools, books, bells - still lingering in the old frame house at Culver . No One dug basements, not even foundations;
sometimes just big rocks were used. Woodbank is unusual in that its base rocks were split with the soft colors of the field atones
made more evident. On the south-side a good four foot section is visible and mortar was used. We have not found this type of
construction elsewhere on the lake, nor can we imagine how they split those big bo ulders so evenly. A separate "laundry building"
with The Rasmussen Cottage still has wash-boilers and a (terrifying) gasoline "Quick-meal" stove.
My children and their cousins all are sure kindly ghosts lurk here. We work to keep it that way for The Family - a special,
picturesquely mysterious place. There is a wind-up Victrola and no T.V., but sun-tanned faces around the big dining-room table or
sun-drenched picnics on the pier. I really don't feel it is our cottage...we seem just to be trustees for the next generations.
It's terrific the way modern conveniences make it possible for us to handle two homes and enjoy both!
However, two refrigerator-freezers at The Cottage are a must, and a Pier-Putting-In-Party every Spring really helps.
Another relative, great-grandfather Henry Schn ull, had established his three daughters - Emma, Nannie, and J ulia, in cottages on the
East Shore which became famous for their tennis court about 1904. Called "Hilarity Hill", eleven little Vonnegut - Mueller - Schn ull
cousins grew-up there. Then, too, The Glossbrenner Family bought "The Wigwam" about 1905, developed the golf course, and printed a
small history of The Maxinkuckee Association which includes Indian Legends. My Grandmother Glossbrenner had Indian rugs and
pictures in their cottage. How we wept, my three sisters - even my brother, when that cottage was sold about 1936 at Grandfather
death. Maybe that's one reason why this
cottage means so much - we can still help The Children catch turtles in the Marina channels which My cousins and I used to call
"Turtle Bay". We can still wake up to the early morning calls of Blue-jays with a whole long, delicious summer day ahead or drift
off to sleep hearing the lapping of waves along the ice-ridges at the shore. The Children may use flashlights instead of kerosene
lanterns to hunt nightcrawlers on misty summer evenings, but it is still exciting. They learn to swim, canoe and sail from parents,
big brothers and sisters or elder cousins. Our Family Cottage guards a c ultural Victorian Heritage.
How pleased we were to have a copy of Jane Howard's book "FAMILIES". It has been condensed in The Reader's Digest; and my niece,
Mrs. Hugh Lynch of Washington D.C. sent a copy at Christmas of 1978. Therein are listed the FIVE EARMARKS OF GOOD FAMILIES:
- 1 - "...a chief, or a heroine, or a founder - someone around whom others cluster, ...whose example spurs them on to like feats.
Some blood dynasties produce such figures reg ularly; others languish for as many as five generations between demigods, wondering
with each new pregnancy whether this, at last, might be the messianic baby who will redeem us. Look is there not something
gubernatorial about her footsteps, or musical about the way he bangs with his spoon on his cup?...
- 2 - Good Families have a switchboard operator - someone like ...my own mother ...who plays Houston Mission Control to everyone
else's Apollo. This role, like the foregoing one, is assumed rather than assigned. Someone always volunteers for it. That person
often also has the instincts of an archivist, and feels driven to keep scrapbooks and photograph albums up to date, so that the
clan can see proof of its own continuity.
- 3 - ...Good families are fortresses with many windows and doors to the outer world, The blood clans I feel most drawn to were
founded by parents who are nearly as devoted to whatever it is they do outside as they are to each other and their children. Their
curiosity and passion are contagious. Everybody, where they live, is busy. Paint is spattered on eyeglasses. Mud lurks under
fingernails. Personto-person calls come in the middle of the night from Tokyo and Brussels. Catcher's mitts, ballet slippers,
overdue library books and other signs of extra familial concerns are everywhere.
- 4 - Good families are hospitable. Knowing that hosts need guests as much as guests need hosts, they are generous with honorary
memberships for friends, wham they urge to come early and often and to stay late. Such clans exude a vivid sense of surrounding
rings of relatives, neighbors, teachers, students and godparents, any of whom at any time might break or slide into the inner
circle. Inside that circle a wholesome, tacit emotional feudalism develops: you give me protection, I'11 give you feality. Such
treaties begin with, but soon go far beyond, the jolly exchange of pie at Thanksgiving for cake on birthdays. It means you can ask
me to supervise your children for the fortnight you will be in the hospital, and that however inconvenient this might be for me,
I shall manage to. It means I can phone you on what for me is a dreary, wretched Sunday afternoon and for you is the eve of a
deadline, knowing you will tell me to come right over, if only to watch me type. IT MEANS WE NEED NOT DISSEMBLE. ('To yield to
seeming," as Buber wrote, "is man's essential cowardice, to o resist it is his essential courage...one must at times pay dearly
for life lived from being, but it is never too dear.')
- 5 - Good families deal squarely with direness..." It is a miracle. Somewhere along the years I have changed from being that
little Third Daughter at "Rainbow Farm" into being a Family Institution. My most favorite treasures now are cards, notes, and
(sometimes grubby) letters beginning: "Dear Aunt Catey.."; and so, last summer we began painting The Cottage a lovely sort of
antique green, and paid all those taxes, and repaired the pump, and had FIFTY-SIX signatures of relatives and friends in our Guest
Book! ...not counting a nephew, Stan Diamond, more than once as he signed it every weekend when he "came-up" to help paint.