The Reminiscences of Al Cuffel
Written by Virginia Zuck
Al Cuffel's parents had moved to a house on the southwest corner of Sherman in center streets when he was in his 20's. Just across the way lived a pretty brunette with brown eyes whose name was Mary Carolyn Ireland. Everyone called her Molly. She was the daughter of Richard and Martha Ireland whose families had immigrated from Ireland to Maryland many years previously.
Allen and Molly were married in 1888 and went to housekeeping in a little home on South Scott street near the railroad track. The house they lived in is still standing. Later, as their family grew to two boys, Harry and Ray, and two daughters, Maye and Irene, they move to another home on East Market street.
Meanwhile, more and more people were coming to spend their vacations at Spring Fountain park. Some families, including many from Warsaw, bought land and built their own summer homes.
A whole summer, even
Others from a distance camped out for a week or the whole summer. They came in buggies and wagons, bringing the children and often the family dog. All lived happily in tents pitched in the grove near the auditorium not far from the base of the Indian mound. In some of Al Cuffel's old pictures the women's skirts trail in the grass, the men are wearing stiff high collars with their dark suits and the children's shoes are the high-buttoned kind.
During the 1880s and 1890s the Beyers acquired from several people tracts adjoining the original park area. One owner was Mrs. Furlong, a lady doctor, who once told Cuffel she did not think he would live very long. That was when he was about 22 years old, or 68 years ago. She was an excellent doctor, however, and had just pulled him through a series of illnesses. Cuffel was wiry and small and never particularly robust, but he managed to get in a lot of living in spite of the doctor's gloomy prophecy.
John and Myrtle Kelly also sold land to the Beyers. Cuffel said he could probably find the tree in which is embedded the hinge of the pasture gate of one of the old Kelly Farms. At least it used to be there.
Wilcox Tract Largest
The largest tract was the Wilcox farm originally. The Beyers bought it from Aunt Rosie (Rosalie) Wilcox, a spinster, who lived on the Wooster road, now Seventh street. The Wilcox barn was located about where the back of the Westminister hotel is now and the orchard was formerly where the Presbyterian Church stands. Many grown-ups recall playing there after school and helping themselves to the fine sheepnose apples.
Rosalie Wilcox's farmhouse was move to Tenth Street and is now "The Homestead" where Rosalie's father, Alford Wilcox had bought the farm in about 1852 from the estate of John Hamilton, who died in 1839. He is the man who is buried on top of Indian Mound.
Cuffel talked at length about John Hamilton who was, apparently one of the first white men to love the primitive stretch of land beside Eagle lake. Cuffel says John Hamilton was crippled and taught school during his short life here. Hamilton had come from Wayne county Ohio to Indiana in 1837 and bought 280 acres from Thomas and Jane Boydston, the original homesteaders. They had paid the usual price of $1.25 per acre to the government. Hamilton gave them $850, the price of one or two ordinary size lots in the same tract today.
Hamilton's purchase included the island, the area where the Kosciusko camp is, the Indian mound, and eastward up the hill. A good deal of the lower land was worthless for farming. John Hamilton like to climb the mound and sit and plan a happy future with his little son, Henry, and daughter, Maria.
Vincent Gaddis, of Winona lake, who has written a fine history of the town from its earliest days, knows a great deal about the Indian tribes who roamed this part of Indiana. He does not believe the Winona mound was built by the Indians, but is rather of glacier origin. Gattis states the Indians did not particularly favor Winona lake as a permanent campsite because so much of its surrounding land was swampy. His research has led him to conclude, also, that the real Indian mounds were always built beside rivers, not lakes.
We do know that John Hamilton lived at the home of Peter Warner, Wayne Township's first settler, who built to mill on Tippecanoe river and also served as a part-time preacher. In April, 1837, when Hamilton bought his land, Warsaw's business district consisted of the few crude buildings of frame, log, or tamarack poles. It is said that Hamilton planned to construct a textile mill and establish a home for his children, who were living than with his parents in Ohio.
In October, 1839 two and one half years later, John Hamilton became seriously ill. He requested that someone take down his will. After the document was written and witnessed by the attending physician, Dr. George Stacy, and a friend, John Rogers, Hamilton had it read to him and seemed satisfied with the provisions he had made. Although he kept hoping he would recover he died six days later, without ever signing the paper.
Carl Kratzsch, head of a local abstract company, showed a copy of the Hamilton will to the Times Union reporter. A poignant record of the dead man's dreams, it directs that part of the property be sold to pay for his children's education, and part be held until they were of age. He hoped the land would bring a good price and give them an excellent start in life.
He asked his friends to bury him "on the highest elevation at the head of Eagle lake and that my funeral be conducted in a manner corresponding with my estate and situation in life." When Hamilton's personal belongings were sold to pay expenses of his burial, it was found that the sum of 24 cents was still due the administrator, Peter Warner.
The land that is now so valuable, did not seem to offer many inducements to would-be purchasers. Although it had been hopefully appraised at 4 dollars an acre, the records show that Alfred Wilcox bought 128 acres for about $340 in 1852.
Al Cuffel remembers being told that Hamilton's son Henry came here as a young man to visit his father's grave. He found the plain stone marker mutilated by souvenir hunters and ordered a new one to take its place.
Pleasure of the Park
The Hamilton land near the lake became the site of a driving park, a parade grounds and a baseball diamond. People came by the hundreds to enjoy the pleasures that Spring Fountain Park offered.
Social, educational and religious organizations began to hold picnics, assemblies and conventions every summer. Some of the group's meeting regularly were the Grand Army of the Republic, the Knights of Pythias and the National Guard.
Large parties arrived on excursion trains. They would be met by the "Daisy," a little steamboat in charge of Capt. Baldwin, who took the vessel through the canal, (now East Smith street) nearly up to the Big Four depot. The Daisy was small, holding only a dozen passengers. There are many who remember her fondly.
Later the Beyers had a boat built by Ed Heath who brought in four men to help with the project. Cuffel says they were Danes, Swedes or Norwegians, maybe. They couldn't speak English, but they knew their trade well.
The large new boat was christened the "Welcome," by Miss May Beyer, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Beyer. Cuffel remembers he wasn't present for the launching which took place at the boathouse at the back of the present Winona post office. Cuffel was across the lake that day, working at the Yarnelle place. He rode the "Welcome" often, however, and when at last it was beached and abandoned just off the shore from Camp Kosciusko, Cuffel took one board from the boat he had helped to build. He keeps the wood to this day. Fred Beyer had Cuffel and another man dispose of the two big boilers of the "Welcome" which had gotten rusty and grim looking. It was like burying two elephants, Cuffel remembers. If someday a house foundation is dug not far from Kings Highway to the right of the driveway approach to the old cement block factory (where Jay Shue keeps his spraying equipment now) the workers may find the remains of the Welcome's steam boilers.
The "City of Warsaw", a double-decker, was the Welcome's successor. Much grander than either of the previous boats,the "Warsaw" could carry about 125 passengers. It left the pier at regular times for a half hour or 45-minute cruise clear around the lake. Some people remember that the "Warsaw" would get stuck sometimes while maneuvering around Little Eagle.
Guy Reynolds was Captain and Bill Hunter was fireman for a number of years, Cuffel said. Sometimes there were band concerts in the afternoon or on moonlight cruises, with George Roscoe directing the musicians.
Phil Laurien, who grew up in the town and has lived there most of his life, remembers, remembers a business project of his youth. Making a deal with Fred Heiny, the restaurant owner, for a tub of ice cream and a dipper, Phil sold ice cream cones on the boat at a profit of perhaps a half-cent each.
The "Warsaw" was finally beached off-shore from Camp Kosciusko. There during the years, the boys of the town found the old boat a wonderful place to play and fish. If anyone needed a board or two for a repair job, the boat supplied it. Some people claimed the wooden sidewalk fronting some of the cottages for many years was built from lumber from the "Warsaw."
The First Assembly
Al Cuffel as a program of the very first Sring Fountain Park Asembly among his keepsakes. The meetings were held in a building in the south park July 16-28, 1890.
The auditorium, no longer in existence, was described as unique in design, capable of seating 3000 people. An impressive list of teachers included the following from Warsaw: Rev. D. C. Woolpert, Rev. Brake, Prof. T. J. Sanders, Miss Ella Clark, Mary Cosgrove and Miss Hattie Long.
They offered normal school classes, philosophy courses, pedogogy, Bible, stenography and typewriting, crayon drawing, elocution and voice culture. One could arrange for private lessons for a nominal fee.
Concerts were presented by the Linden quartet, the Whiteland band and a mandolin orchestra. Miss Bertha Brown and Mrs. M. E. Moran, of Warsaw, were accompanists.
Assembly visitors were awakened at 5:30 a.m. with the first devotional service a half-hour later. In the evening a bell rang at 10 to warn all persons not lodging on the grounds to leave. Lights were out at 10:30.
Complimentary tickets for admission to the two-week session were issued preachers. Others paid $2.50. Adults' meals cost 50 cents and children were fed for a quarter. One could rent a room for 50 cents per night or a tent for five dollars for the entire session.
Woolpert was president and superintendent for that first Assembly, with the Honorable J. A. Funk, as vice president. Directors included: S. W. Oldfather, P. L. Runyan, Silas Chipman, William B. Funk and E. F. Yarnell. The three Beyer brothers were secretary, treasurer, and superintendent of the grounds.
The boys and girls were not neglected. Their mornings included calisthentics with wands and dumbells, "to develop easy manners and graceful movements, both desirable accomplishments for young people." Living pictures were also composed by the youngsters.
The adults heard Rev. C. H. Caton, billed as Colorado's greatest orator, discuss the question, "Is the World Growing Better?" Other lectures were on, "The Magic of Steam," "The Fast Young Man," "Japan and the Japanese," "A Model Husband," and "A Model Wife."
Probably Friday July 25, was the big day. Then just a little shaver, Charlie Hapner, who works for the Times Union remembers seeing the large convocation of Civil War veterans and the thrilling fireworks that depicted the engagement between the Monitor and the Merrimac.
Warsaw Times Union July 3, 1951
The Reminiscences of Al Cuffel
Written by Virginia Zuck
When Al Cuffel began his tenth year in the park it had just changed ownership. Rev. Solomon Dickey headed a group of Presbyterian ministers who bought the whole lake resort for a religious chautauqua grounds for the Presbyterian Church of Indiana. The name of Winona was given to both the lake and the park.
In Cuffel's reminiscence there was no mention of a difference in his duties. His employers, the Beyers, were greatly interested in the success of the new project. They gave generously to the Winona assembly and owned considerable stock in it. Since Fred Beyer had as his special province, the maintenance of the grounds, he continued planning new features to add to the beauty of the site and to give pleasure to the summer visitors. Al Cuffel continued to work under Beyer as usual in the park and elsewhere. One day while perched on a rafter in the big horse barn under construction at the Beyer home place on East Center Street, Cuffel carved his name and the year, 1898.
Cuffel's eyes twinkled as he revealed a secret about the famous tree spring, solemnly recorded in several historical accounts as a marvel of nature. Cuffel said that in the original park area there was only one sugar maple tree. Just above it on the hillside emerged a fine spring. The idea was conceived of piping the water from the spring down to the maple and up through a natural hollow in the trunk so that the spring seemed to flow out of the maple tree. Young and old were delighted with the novel fountain.
Cuffel was to wall in many springs during his years at Winona. Although they have been sealed for many years there are still a few places where Cuffel's masonry work identifies the site of the old fountains.
Where ever there was excess water to dispose of from the springs, Cuffel made ponds. The largest, of course, was the swan pond. A story has it that at first the large pond held carp, imported from Germany by Fred Beyer.
Those special carp are supposed to have been the ancestors of the thousands seined out in later years from nearby Winona Lake.
The graceful swans are, too many visitors, the most memorable of many pleasant features. Ben Philipson, Warsaw merchant, presented the first pair of swans to the Assembly about 35 years ago. They came from New Jersey and at first there was some difficulty getting them settled happily. They have thrived since then however, and through the years, many Winona swans have been sent to other parks in the country.
Cuffel remembers when Alexander McDonald brought the big dredge that dug the canal forming McDonald's Island. When the work was completed, Cuffel was the first to row a boat through the new passageway.
Dirt from the canal was scattered over the island where trees were planted and homes were built. Cuffel helped with the construction of Sol Dickey's Killarney castle. He says it was a custom of Dr. Dickey to keep a telescope in his study high in the tower. Since all visitors had to cross one of two bridges to the island, Dr. Dickey would know who was approaching before the caller reached the castle. If the party was someone he wished to see, Dr. Dickey buzzed a signal to his wife downstairs.
One of Cuffel's pictures shows the wide boardwalk that extended from the Inn as far as the grocery store. Underneath was the main sewer. In recent years when new storm sewers were installed, the workmen found many planks and piles of the old sewer system.
Down the Pipe
On the higher ground of what had been the Wilcox farm, were the buildings of the various colleges established at Winona Lake. The Academy, for students of about high school age, was quartered in the Westminister hotel. Many students came from a distance and there were even two from Cuba. Several local alumni like to recall certain escapades that began with sliding down the water pipe at the back of the building. When the evenings hi-jinks were over, the boys had to climb the pipe to the third floor in order to reach their rooms undetected. Probably most of them would shudder at the idea of trying the same reckless feat today. The academy's big football game was played on Thanksgiving day against Warsaw high school. There were always crowds of interested spectators, some of whom wagered substantial sums on the team they considered the best.
The Winona Aggies, whose home is now the Free Methodist Publishing House, had an even more illustrious record in sports, battling against Chicago, Michigan State, Wabash and other large schools. The Aggies athletic field has been converted into garden plots near the publishing house.
About that highway
It is claimed that Kings Highway was named by the students in jocular deference to the group of large homes built by several faculty families at the edge of town.
Among the several schools in existence during the years was a very strict one for girls. Their dormitory, Otterbein hall, was at Ninth and Chestnut streets, where the Free Methodist church stands today.
One of the important social events for the students was the Washington Birthday banquet at the Westminister. A young lady, dating a collegiate, would receive a bouquet of flowers, not a mere corsage, from her escort. For such a formal event as the banquet it was customary for him to engage a horse-drawn cab in which they arrived in style.
The feminine guests looked charming in pastel-colored chiffons or crepe de chines. Fair elegant white kid gloves reached almost to the shoulder.
During the summer normal school courses drew a large number of teachers, eager to earn credits toward advanced degrees and certificates. One of the favorite instructors was Arthur Konold, a Winona resident for 41 years, who lives on Third and Chestnut streets.
All through the years the students kept things during in the town. Everyone turned out to watch the annual tug-of-war between the juniors and seniors of the Agricultural college. Each team was supposed to match the other in weight.
The juniors would come down the hill toward the canal singing a taunting challenge to the tune of "Casey Jones". The words went something like this: "Come all you seniors, if you want to swim. Here comes the juniors to pull you in. You can wiggle and waggle as much as you please, but you're going through that water, if you have to freeze." Spectators crowded the canal banks and the bridges to cheer or groan as the contest ended with one team floundering in the ice-cold-water.
Probably some of the same students participated also in the annual tug-of-war staged every Fourth of July as part of the Assembly program, packed with other contests and entertainment features. J. W. Vandeventer, who had been an evangelistic singer in his earlier years, directed the holiday celebration. After the water battles, canoe races, bicycle races, parades and speeches came the lavish fireworks display out over the Lake.
Everybody looked forward to the Venetian night fete, held usually late in July or August under the direction of Capt. Time who had come from the Mardi Gras festival at New Orleans. During the summer Pine operated the excursion boat, "The City of Warsaw". During the winter and spring he was busy in a building near the canal contriving the elaborate floats used for Venetian night.
Many men who spent their boyhood at Winona Lake remember Pine's workshop. Out of papier mache he fashioned lions, elephants, pelicans, eagles and butterflies, all realistically molded. When Pine was ready to apply the gold leaf he rubbed a small brush in his hair to create static electricity, then lifted the gold leaf from a book and stuck it on the animal or bird he was decorating. It is estimated that he used hundreds of dollars of gold each year on the floats ordered by church groups and other organizations competing in the fete.
There were three prizes for the most beautiful, the funniest, and for the best commercial floats. In the third class might be a huge bottle of catsup, a mammoth pickle, advertising for the company of H. J. Heinz, who was active then in Winona affairs.
Most of the floats were truly beautiful. Each year the water pageant was based on a historical theme like "The Discovery of America", or some other great event. Costumes of the characters were elaborate and colorful. Spectators filled the bleachers seats lined along the lighted canal. The judges' stand at the west side, was about where the P. D. Parks home is today.
Besides the Venetian fete, Capt. Pine is remembered for the lovely music room he created for his daughter. In a tower of their house on the hillside terrace, the walls were painted in pastel shades with cherubim and floral garlands. People came from miles around to see the room which was later destroyed in the fire.
Capt. Pine left Winona Lake to take charge of pageant and programs at Culver Military Institute.
Warsaw Times Union July 12, 1951
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