Lake Maxinkuckee and its Cottages, 1936
1 Aug 1936 Indianapolis StarHilarity Hill!
26 Aug 1936 Culver Citizen
Indianapolis Paper Reviews Early Daus at Maxinkuckee
The early days of Lake Maxinkuckee, when Hilarity Hill was famous as a rendavous
for Indianaplis Fisherman long before the advent of summer homes, autos, and
spped boats, were reviewed in the Saturday, August 1, issue of the Indianappolis
News in a festure article written by Mabel Wheeler Shideler.
A picture of Hilarity Hill with the vacationers in 1888 toggery offered a contrast
to pictures of present day cottagers.
As the artice contains much of interest to all readers of the Citizen, it is reprented
Few are the Lake Maxinkuckee settlers who remember the day when that name signififed the
rendezvous of Indianapolis fisherman
a number of descendants of those old-time anglers recall tales that have been told of the
grand and glorious times when the highest point on the east side, now the site of the
Clemens Mueller summer home, was know as "Hilarity Hill".
It was before the advent of the motor car, the speed boat, the paved road, even before the
birth of Culver Military Academy, when Mr. Mueller's grandfather
Kiefer boys, Otto Stechen
and other fisherings addicts used to take the train to Argos,
then ride in a two-horse hack across to the lake for several days of real sport.
No summer homes decorated the banks of the lake not a smart sailboat ornamented the
shining waters but fish were plentiful and the Vonnegut shack was the scene of many
fish dinners and rare merry-making in those days of real sport
Rare old Picture -
One of the prized possissions of Mr Mueller is an old picture of the lodge and group of
guests which hangs on the wall of his cottage at the lake. The cottage and the sports
clothes of the persons on the porch are a far cry from the modern houses and costumes
Mr. Vonnegut wears a mustache which was the height of fashion in the late eighties and
the blazer of Charlie Kiefer was no doubt the last word in lake toggery. The picture was
made in 1888. Just how long the shack had been in existence is not certain but it dated
some years before that time.
As a visitor at Lake Maxinkuckee gazes at the array of beautiful homes with their well-kept
grounds their piers, motor boats and sailing vessels it seems hard to believe that only
fifty years ago, most of those shore places were farmlands that along the lower levels now
lined with cottages marshlands where mosquitoes as 'big as butterflies', according to an
old-timer, were thick.
Today Hilarity Hill is still there, but few know it by its original name. It is a part of
the colony which might be called 'Little Indianapolis', for it is just a community from
home which changes its location as summer starts its torrid advance on the city. Many of
the Maxinkuckeeites are living on sites which were bought by their fathers or grandfathers
in earlier days.
The Walker Winslows, the Vonneguts, the Perrys, and many others have built new home on old
sites. Mrs. Clemens Vonnegut, who is shown on the porch in the old-time picture, is so
enamoured of the lake with all its wealth of seniment and historical signifcance, that she
built an all-year-around home and settled there to enjoy both winter and summer on the
Newcomers, of course, have drifted in, building smart houses, boat-houses, and piers, one of
the latest being the Harold Wests
whose handsome white home was completed last summer. The sensation of this summer, however, is the new
which is being erected by Chicago
residents. It is fireproof with concrete floors and steel window and door frames. The
insulation has been ingeniously designed to keep the house delightfully cool in hot weather.
It is of the new ultra-modern architecture and is equipped with many gadgets which would have
made the old-timers open their eyes in amazement.
The Mueller home is delightfully airy cottage with a wide screened-in porch and shaded by great
forest trees, it gay summer furnishing and its comfortable modern equipment showing the rapid
advances time and man have made since the eighties.
Another home which has a historical background is that of
, for his father lived
there before him. The big house of today is the outgrowth of a small weather-boarded cabin of
forty years ago. According to Mr. Walker, the present dinning room and part of the north bedroom
adjoining it formed the ground floor of the original structure.
The latest addition to the Winslow home is a wing marked by its interesting "New England arches"
which are shown in on of the pictures. The basement has a new recreation room and boathouse which
is a delight to the mechanical minded for it has automatic doors, and very "slick" contrivances
for launching boats down the hill and for nringing them in again snugly.
Mrs. George Home, who has been going to Lake Maxinkuckee since she was a child, was a wealth of the
happy memories of days spent of the shores of the shining waters. She was an Ogle before her marriage
and her father was one of the early settlers. In reminiscing of tales her father told her of the development
of the colony, she said that the east shore, as the Indianapolis community is now called, was formerly
known as the "Indianaplois Bank". The McQuats were among the first to buy land, she said, and the
Burfords were also pioneers.
Oldest on the Lake.
The oldest cottage on the lake according to all reports is the
Robert L. McQuat cottage
which was built in
1875 on ground that was part of the old Van Schoiack farm. According to Mr. McQuat, who is spending his
fifty-seventh summer at the lake, Levi Van Shoiack, who was from Richmond, went to Lake Maxinkuckee on
horseback in 1830 and later settled on the land. Many of the present residences are built on ground originally
owned by him. The old farmhouse
owned by Stuart Dean, whose family also pioneered in the territory.
Mr. McQuat's father Robert L. McQuat
started his lake career in 1879, and his shack was also a fishing haven.
The building has a loft-like upstairs which was equipped with sleeping bunks built in for the men. The women slept
downstairs. His uncle George McQuat, went to the lake four years earlier than his father. He recalls early days
when he took part in the fishing juants as a youngster. Only a few shacks were on the shore and fishing was the
home, in the old days was
the rendezvous of the Halcyon Club, another fishing group, he said. The
Bay View camp
was another "lake frontier" group made
up of Peru residents who camped in tents the name being obtained from the location whcih was on a small bay.
Origin of Name
Just when or why the name Lake Maxinkuckee was derived is vague but the name is said to be Indian. Legend has
it that the lakeshore in early time was the site of an Indiana village, the Pottowatamie tribe. Some have translated
the name as meanig 'diamond lake' or 'clear water'. Various signs that the Indians did dwell. there by the shining I
Indiana "big eas water" have been found. No doubt birch back canoes made their way lightly over the rolling waves
in those vague days of yesterday.
Today however, canoeing is dimmed by the favorite sport of sailing. The theme song of the colony might be 'White
Sails in the Sunshine' for boat races are greatly in vogue. Each Sunday the sailors do their "Stuff" trying to win laurels
in thrilling and picturesque contesdts when the lake forms a gleaming background for he graceful riggedboats. Sailing
reached such a high point in fact that a Maxinkuckee Yacht Club
was formed this year Frederick Holliday is the
The academy also enters into the sailing sport and the cadets frequently carry off honors in the races. Many
Indianapolis bous are attending the school this summer and are adding zest to the lives of some of the sub-debs.
Start of Academy
It is interesting to note that the acaemy was not opened until 1896, according to record.
H. H. Culver
, a St. Louis
manufacturer of stoves, was the founder and it was from him that the little town of Culver got its name.
He bought several hundred acres of the shore land with the idea of establishing a sort of chautauqua and after putting
up som buildings engaged entertainers to presnet programs
Howerve in some way it developed into a summer school which is not the famous Culver Academy. The same year the
school opened, a Military Academy at Mexicom Mo., lost it buildings by fire. After various conferneces its commader
Colonel A. F. Fleet
, consolidated his institution with Culver
Lake Maxinkuckee is commonly known as a summer resort but its attractions are not limited to warm weather. Indeed
winter week-ends were extremly popular last season with ice-boating supplanting sailing. Skating and sailing also came
in for a share of attention and larhe groups of the commer colonoist spent gay winter days on the lake with the same
delight theat the experienced in summer.