Lake Maxinkuckee Its Intrigue History & Genealogy Culver, Marshall, Indiana

Lake Maxinkuckee and its Cottages, 1936  



1 Aug 1936 Indianapolis Star
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 below:

Hilarity Hill!

Few are the Lake Maxinkuckee settlers who remember the day when that name signififed the rendezvous of Indianapolis fisherman but 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 Clemens Vonnegut, the 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 of today.

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.

Indianapolis Center


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 lakeshore.

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 "zinc" house 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.

Historical Background

Another home which has a historical background is that of Walker Winslow, 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 is now owned by Stuart Dean, whose family also pioneered in the territory.

Mr. McQuat's father Robert L. McQuat, also 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 sole attraction.

The Shaneberger 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 "admiral".

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.






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