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

History of the Ice Houses and Harvest Part 1  

The ice business of Lake Maxinkuckee started probably much earlier than 1882 but thus far this is the earliest mention of the ice harvesting or ice house of Lake Maxinkuckee -

    It is found that as early as 1882 by a Mr. Holt who built an Ice House on West Shore Drive just north of the outlet. Another says it that was Medbourn.

1883 - August 2 - A communication from Lake Maxinkuckee to an Indianapolis paper says ... Mr. McKeen's large ice houses loom up in another direction,... reminds us that our beloved once isloated Maxinkuckee,has been invaded by the outside world... - Logansport Journal Logansport Journal July 6, 1883 - St. Louis Globe-Democrat:.. Lake Maxinkuckee is three miles wide by five miles long, so clear that one can see pebbles at a depth of fifty feet.Last winter the Vandalia people put up 10,000 tons of ice from it, and one of the chunks of twenty-four inch now contains an eighteen inch black bass, for whose thawing, out Col. J Hill is impatiently waiting. Logansport Chronicle December 22, 1883 - Two large ice houses of the Vandalia, at Maxinkuckee, have been sold to a St. Louis firm. They contained about 13,000 tons of ice. The consideration was in the neighborhood of $15,000.

1885 - January 28 - The Vandalia people are cutting ice on Lake Maxenkuckee. Thousands of tons have been put up - Logansport Journal

1885 - Jan 28 - Indianapolis Sentinel: "The company that is cutting lce on Lake Maxinkuckee has orders for 400 car loads, which will be delivered at once over the Logansport division of the Vandalia. This is quite an item in the business of the Logan. - Logansport Weekly Pharos

' 1885 - February 18 - Logansport Weekly Pharos - The recent cold weather froze Lake Maxinkuckee to a depth of eighteen or twenty inches. This thickness to the greatest that has been atained during the winter. The moderating of the weather has allowed a large force of men to resume cutting ice. The high wind blew the snow off the ice, but in some places it is neces sary to clear It away. The T. H. A L. will continue to do a good business in its shipment. Twenty cars were loaded Friday and sent out the same night.

1887 - Aug 12 - Fifteen or twenty car loads of ice are being shipped from the lake, every day, to Indianapolis and the south. The proprietors say that Maxinkuckee ice is the best in the market - Logansport Pharos Tribune

1887 Dec 17 - Lake Maxinkuckee is not yet frozen over. The weather there has been quit cold for some time past but the wind have been so high that the lake has been unusually rough... - Logansport Pharos Tribune

Ices houses owned by Holt & Armstrong per a comment made by Peter Spangler in and interview in May 1930

It has been found that ice was shipped from Lake Maxinkuckee as early as 1888 and selling it in Evansville:


The Holt-Brandon Ice & Cold Storage Company originated with M. C. Brandon, who started in 1886 with three or four teams hauling coal from the Diamond coal mines and in 1888 he established an office on Main street in this city. During the summer of the same year he began shipping lake ice from Lake Maxincuckee, Indiana, and selling it in Evansville.

In 1891 he established an office at No. 414 North Eighth street, continuing until October, 1894, when ground was broken for the erection of a plant in this city for the manufacture of ice. A large and increasing business having been developed and the time for further extension having arrived, the Holt-Brandon Ice & Cold Storage Company was incorporated in 1895 with Sterling R. Holt, of Indianapodis, as president, and M. C. Brandon as secretary and treasurer. The company began the manufacture of ice and also entered upon a general cold storage business. The original ice machine had a capacity of twenty-five tons per day, but six or seven years ago the machine was increased to forty tons per day and the ice storage capacity to three thousand tons. Last year, owing to additional demands, on account of the growing population and the increasing popularity of the system, the ice storage capacity was brought up to four thousand tons and another ice machine was installed by which the output is more than doubled and the company is now able to meet all calls from whatever quarter.

In 1901 Mr. Holt sold his interest in the business to M. C. Brandon and Harry Loewenthal, Mr. Brandon becoming president and treasurer and Mr. Loewenthal secretary and manager of the company, in which positions they remained until the death of Mr. Brandon, March 11, 1909. Mr. Loewenthal is now the president and D. A. Jansen, who became associated with Mr. Brandon in the business in February, 1888, is secretary and treasurer. The principal object of the company is to supply the local trade and large shipments are also made to points in southern Indiana, northern Kentucky and southern Illinois. The company gives employment to forty-five or fifty persons, owns a complete outfit of wagons and teams and is thoroughly up-to-date in everything pertaining to the ice and cold storage business.

Mr. Jansen is a native of Evansville and was educated in the public schools. He is thoroughly acquainted with the business to which he has devoted more than twenty years and in which he has exhibited qualifications of a high order, winning the onfidence and respect of his business associates. In 1908 he was happily married with Miss Lillian Gleich- man and one child, Amy, is the result of the union.

Mr. Loewenthal was born at Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1863. He came to Evansville in 1880 and was for a number of years identified with the manufacture of clothing in this city. He became a member of the Holt- Brandon Ice & Cold Storage Compan in 1901 and has since devoted his attention with remarkable success to this business. He is a son of Loewenthal, for many years well known as a dry-goods merchant, who retired from active life three years before his death, which occurred December 8, 1908. In 1895, at Evansville, Harry Loewenthal was united in marriage to Miss Julia Bitterman. They have four children: Edwin, Jack, Philip and Arthur. Mr. Loewenthal occupies an honorable position in social and business circles and is an active member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the city. - pg. 258-9 A History of the City of Evansville and Vanderburg County, Indiana 1910 By Frank M. Gilbert

1888 Jan 17 - The Vandalia company got about ten car loads of ice at Lake Maxinkuckee Sunday, and the various ice houses along the line are being rapidly filled. The cutting was commenced Saturday morning, and is in charge of C. E. Fuller, master bridge builder. The company has ice houses in East St. Louis, Veva Park, Terre Haute and Indianapolis, those at Veva Park being the largest. The immense ice houses at Lake Maxiikuckee, now owned by the Maxinkuckee Ice company, were built by the Vandalia company, but were sold. They are huge structures, and hold enough ice to supply the company's trade at Indianapolis, Terre Haute, Lafayette and several other places. -- Logansport Pharos Tribune

1888 - Jan 23 - Ice men at Maxinkuckee report that the crop of ice this season is of unusually fine quality, and that a bounteous supply is being harvested; in fact, the harvest is nearly over. If it should prove so plentiful as to weaken the ice pool next summer, there will be cause for Giving thanks Logansport Pharos Tribune

1888 Jan 27 Twenty-five car loads of ice were shipped from Maxinkuckee to Indianapolis over the Vandalia road to-day - Logansport Pharos Tribune

1888 - Jan 30 - A large part of the ice harvested at Lake Maxinkuckee is shipped to southern cities. - Logansport Pharos Tribune

1889 - Feb 25 - A Boom for the Vanilalia Road - The freezing over of Lake Maxinkuckee has proven of great value to the Vandalia. The ice is now nearly a foot thick and the Maxinkuckee ice company is cutting and shipping about fifty car loads per day. Besides this the houses are now filled and the daily shipments will be increased. The company's immense houses at the lake have a, capacity of about 1,500 cars which will be shipped from time to time during the coming summer. This means sixty trains of ice at the rale of twenty-lfve cars to the train, or if it was all put into one train, would be ten miles long. By these figures it will bo easier 19 conceive how much this business amounts to. -- Logansport Pharos Tribune

1889 - Mar 7 - Ices houses at Lake Maxinkuckee contain about five thousand car loads of ice. Over six hundred cars have been shipped since the last hard freeze - Argos Reflector

1889 - Mar 9 - The Maxinkuckee ice company stopped cutting ice at the lake last Wednesday evening. Up to date they have shipped 832 car-loads of ice, or thirty train loads, besides filling their immense ice houses, which have a capacity of 5,000 cars -- Logansport Pharos Tribune

1890 - Mar 10 - The Maxinkuckee ice company had a large force of men at work all day yesterday cutting and packing ice. By 6 p. m. the ice had become too soft to be handled, and work was stopped. What they put up is fair quality, from four to five inches thick, but the amount secured is not known here. It is said that a novel sight was witnessed there last Thursday. The evening before there was a space of abou five acres in the center of the lake that was not frozen. To this spot all the ducks of the lake had congregated, and many thousand were frozen in the ice. It was fruit for sportsnu-B of the neighborhood. They secured a large number of the birds. -- Logansport Pharos Tribune

1891 - The Ice houses were built some time during this year or before - Armstrong, Sam Medbourn and Sterling Holt were the proprietors. Maxinkuckee Ice Company employs 25-200 for annual ice harvest.

In an interview with John Houghton, William Easterday recalled that his father was the one who had prepared the Holt Ice House site for construction of the ice houses using a horse drawn scraper to dig it out.

Tho not a comprehesive history of the ice company here is some vague information on the Holt Ice Company, how it originated -
Sterling R. Holt, came to Indianapolis in 1869. He was then but nineteen years of age...

Indianapolis Ice Company
Wholesale and Retail Ice
223 West Walnut St.

This company commenced operations in this city in 1876...The individual members of the company are: E. J. Armstrong, S. R. Holt, and J. W. Armstrong...

Sterling R. Holt...about 1873 he opened a drug store which was located at 164 West Washington street, the enterprise was conducted for the ensuieng seven years, during the last four years of which Mr. Holt was also engaged in the ice business. In 1880 he disposed of his interest in the drug store and became associated with others in the organization of the Indianapolis Ice Company. In 1888 was made a division of the business and he retained control of its wholesale department...He finally became interested in ice companies in various other cities and towns of the state, and his investments in this line are now extensive and important oder. The Indanapolis enterprise is conducted under his own name and is the largest of the kind in the city....

Sources: Manufacturing and mercantile resources of Indianapolis, Indiana : a review of its manufacturing, mercantile & general business interests, advantageous location, &c. : to which is added a historical and statistical sketch of its rise and progress . unknown: unknown, 1883, 630-1; Greater Indianapolis : the history, the industries, the institutions, and the people of a city of homes Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1910, Dunn, Jacob Piatt, pg. 1154-5; Indiana and Indianans : a history of aboriginal and territorial Indiana and the century of statehood Chicago: American Historical Society, 1919, pg. 2200

These were said to have come from a Culver estate auction of the Eckman/Saine family; they are from stereograph cards. Two of the cards show ice house scenes. Gathering ice from Lake Maxinkuckee was a large industry in Culver in the late 1800s to early 1900s. One card shows the conveyor belt carrying blocks of ice into the ice house. Another is a close up of the conveyor belt in the ice house.

1894 - feb 26 - Fully 300 carloads of ice have been housed at Lake Maxinkuckee this winter, which will, with its shipment, give the Vsndalia quits a spurt of business - Logansport Pharos Tribune

1895 - Col. H. B. Holt, Indianapolis, who has 9 Ice Houses, plans to build 12 more. Ice brings high price in Logansport, Indianapolis.

The Marmont Herald of 25 Jan 1895 was found these two articles:
    Ice for Millions

    Over Four Hundred Car Loads Cut Thus Far this Season

    An Not Half of the Ice Houses Filled Yet

    An Industry that is a God-send to the Laboring men in the winter

    One of the greatest industries in Marmont is the Ice Business, as thousand of car loads are taken from the lake during the winter months, and in the summer ice tansported to the larger cities. Col. S. R. Holt, of Indianapolis, the "ice king", has already nine large ice houses here and were are reliably informed, will erect a dozen or more during the summer.

    The Ice cut form Maxinkuckee Lake is of superior quality and brings a higher price in the market. During the harvesting of the ice from two to three hundred men are employed, that is when running a full force, and it is not only a bonanza for the laboring men in this place, but scores of famers have the oppertunity to easn a little extra "change" which comes in handy, especially at this time of the year, aside from the filling of the houses that belong to the company, there are a score or more private houses that are filled. Which employ a large force of men.

    The business of the Holt Ice Company at this time is managed by Sam Medbourn who throughly understands the manipulating everything to direct interest of the company. From $1.00 to $1.50 per day is paid to the men, and when we say about $15,000 is left here every year, the outside world can readily see the magnitude of this mamouth industry, and when the other houses are built, will greatly increase the above amount; and when the Nickle Plate spur is run to Marmont, giving a direct line from Chicago to New York other ice companies will surely locate here and carry on a tremendous business. .....

and the following one did not have a title to it - and is of a local resident:
    From Friday noon until 8 o'clock Saturday night, Mr. F. F. Cromley cut, loaded and hauled fifty-five loads of ice from Lake Maxinkuckee to the ice house and stored it snuggly away with the maintance of only eight men.

    Next - stand up!

    Teacher - "What did Mr. Cromley accomplish in such wonderfully short time that caused Marmont citizens to greatly marvel?

    Small boy - 'He done more juggling with hunks of ice in the same length of time, than was ever preformed on Lake Maxinkuckee. He can whack ice as lively as he can saw off beef bones, slice up steak or slash off first class roasts. That's all I know about it, Skule__."

1896 - Jan 1 Miss Bertha Parts, bookkeeper for the Maxinkuckee ice company, has resigned her position until the opening of the spring season - Logansport Pharos Tribune

1896 - AUg 24 - Culver City Herald: "For the first time in some years the Maxinkuckee Lake Ice Co. have exhausted their supply of ice before the season has finished. They have saved enough to supply Culver City for the rest of the season, but will now have to depend on their ice factories for foreign trade - Logansport Pharos Tribune

1896 - Dec. 11 - Edward Holt, who has been a resident of this city for the past six years, left for Indianapolis, where he will take a position with his brother, S. R. Holt. While here, by his gentlemanly manners and courteous treatment of all who had the honor of his acquaintance, he has won the confidence and esteem of the entire community, who wish him success

1896 - dec 18 - Monday, the Maxenkuckee Ice company transfered its horses from South Bend to Culver City. They are excellent horses and of the large draft variety. Tuesday morning the hostler repaired to the barn found one of the animals dead in his stall, probably casued by heart trouble

This is where Verl Shaffer "Verl the Barber" now lives on South Street.

This area was known as "Cob Hill"; according to David Burns - the name originated for the area because it was filled in with corn cobs.
The Holt Ice House, Samuel E. Medbourn was manager. This ice house was cut off from the lake by the Vandalia railroad. Thus when a trains went through the track had to be cleared of any activity and ice and work had to halted for a period of time. Eventually Samuel E. Medbourn purchased the Holt Ice House and in 1905 Charles Medbourn was manager.

In 1896 there were nine ice houses in existence on Lake Maxinkuckee.

Ices Houses Page 1 ;       Page 2;       Page 3

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