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Volume 10, Issue 1

February 1, 2007


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Henry Frank Shigley

Father of Mishawaka

Search for out Ancestors

Family Favorites - Roasted Potatoes with Olives

Photos of the Past

Henry Frank



Henry was born in Minnesota on April 15, 1865 to John Shigley and Eleanor Chaffin. He spent his first 12 years of life in Minnesota before the family moved to Michigan where at the age of 19 he had a miraculous escape from death in a burning building. His lungs were damaged in the fire and a doctor advised that he should go south because his damaged lungs would not be able to endure the severe winters of Michigan.

Henry then came to Alabama with a Dr. Powers, who was both a minister and a prominent physician. Henry homesteaded 120 acres about a mile southeast of the present DeSoto Park on the East Side of the Little River. He built a log cabin and began a home with his bride, Melissa Keith, the daughter of John Keith and Leah Smelser.

Henry was a natural mechanic and easily found work as a carpenter, millwright and general construction man. He built a number of bridges at the time wood bridges were used in DeKalb County. Henry took an interest in the children and youth of the community and decided to start a Sunday School in the old Liberty School House near the present Alpine Lodge because there was only one preaching service a month and no Sunday School.

He was to serve for many years as a Sunday School superintendent and song director, often meeting at some home with young people for a Sunday night singing or holding a prayer service for some shut-in person.

The father of 14 children himself, Henry died in Mentone, Alabama on January 8, 1954.

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Father of Mishawaka
Alanson Hurd was born near Ballston, New York, twenty miles north of Albany, on January 9, 1804. At age 22, Hurd made his way, probably via the Erie Canal, to Detroit, Michigan, where he went into the iron business. His great-granddaughter, Bessie Celeste Hurd Foster, wrote that Hurd was “interested in Chemistry and Metallurgy ...great-grandfather joined a group of men going west to find a more durable iron ore to make into stoves that would not melt down with the use of hard coal.” In 1847 Hurd married Sarah Lefferts, a native of Mayfield, New York, near Ballston.

In 1832 Hurd noted reports of large bog iron deposits in the St. Joseph River Valley and hoped to construct a blast furnace in the area. A low-grade ore, bog iron can be melted and converted into pig iron, usable for manufacturing. Expecting the valley’s settlements to grow, the entrepreneurial Hurd saw large profit potential in developing the area’s iron resources. In June 1832 Hurd sent William Earl to scout out the best location to build an iron works. Earl found a large bog iron deposit at the “Twin Branches” 2-1/2 miles upriver from present-day downtown Mishawaka, as well as deposits elsewhere in the area.

Later that year, Hurd traveled to St. Joseph County to purchase ore and water rights to build a blast furnace in the Twin Branches. When Hurd saw the 2 foot 9 inch fall of the rapids at the site of the present-day dam near Central Park, he was convinced that location’s waterpower made it a better site for the iron works.

On January 1, 1833, Hurd purchased school section 16 (today much of central Mishawaka) for $1.25 an acre. The first building erected in Hurd’s settlement was a large frame structure that served first as workers’ quarters and later as a general store

A German constructed a dam to harness the power of the St. Joseph River. He also owned the car company American Simplex, later Amplex, which had two of its card race in the first Indianapolis 500; one crashed and it driver became the first Indianapolis fatality and the other finished eighth.

for A.M. Hurd and Company. By winter the blast furnace was built along with other buildings needed for the iron operation.

While the iron works was under construction, Hurd also directed his attention to the development of the adjacent town. He sold most of the land he had bought to developers eager to invest in a growing village. The town of St. Joseph Iron Works was laid out in the summer of 1833. A year later, Henry Yerrington, Hurd’s clerk and bookkeeper, suggested the town be named Mishawaka, when the government established a post office in the settlement.

The town grew quickly, and new settlers included Philo Hurd (Alanson’s father), cousins Orlando and Elliot Hurd, and grandfather Mead Hurd. Mead, a Revolutionary War veteran, died a few weeks after arriving in the settlement and is buried in Mishawaka’s City

Cemetery, along with Elliot, Philo, and other family members. In the summer of 1834, Alanson and Philo were among the first members of the new Presbyterian Church in Mishawaka. Alanson donated the lot for the church.

In 1834, the iron works began smelting iron ore into pig iron, and orders began coming in from as far north as the Grand River in Michigan and as far south as Indianapolis. Most of the iron was used for castings, such as stoves, kettles, plows, and gears for mills. The rest of the pig iron was shipped around the lakes back to Detroit or used by local blacksmiths. Expenses and court cases against Alanson Hurd in the following years may have been enough to force him out of business, and in 1836 he retired from the iron works. Sometime after 1840, Hurd moved to several cities, before settling in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, where he died in October 6, 1877. He and his wife—who died in 1888—are buried in Fort Atkinson’s Evergreen Cemetery.

Alanson Hurd transformed wilderness into a manufacturing center, but the mill town on the St. Joseph River eventually grew far beyond the vision of its founder

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Search for Ancestors
It was only a few decades ago that anyone searching for his roots had to travel to his ancestors’ homeland, or make the trek to Salt Lake City, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintains the world’s largest repository of ancestral records.

Now, many of those records are online. Ancestry.com just finished uploading the complete U.S. Census records for 1790-1930. You can search Ellis Island immigration lists from home. And more records are added every day.

But it’s a race, says Linda Bailey, who manages the Danville, California Family History Center, one of the Mormon church’s 4,000 branch genealogy libraries. Every time there’s a war records are lost.

“Russia opened it doors 10 years ago,” Bailey says “and we’re filming as fast as we can. China, too. Europe is pretty well microfilmed.”

Web sites such as the free FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com, which allow access to those digitized records, have taken off. Genealogy buffs use

computer software to build their family trees, link them to Ancestry.com data, and personalize the resulting family histories with news accounts, vintage photographs and music from the period.

And people who are truly, deeply into this, carry their 400 years of ancestral data around with them on a flash drive, dangling from a lanyard. The pinkie-size gizmo can be plugged into a computer USB port when they visit any one of the Family History Centers.

Access to the subscription-based Ancestry.com is free at the centers, and knowledgeable docents can offer search tips. That’s good, because there’s a steep learning curve for the beginning genealogist, even a tech-savvy one.

Like digitized time capsules, documents pop up on the computer screen, evoking a sense of the past. The 1840 Maine census is headlined “Free White Persons.” A 1930 Massachusetts census, covered in tiny spidery handwriting, asks if the head of household has a radio.

Buried in those census documents are other clues: occupation, age, the year your ancestors immigrated. That information and the port of arrival coaxes the immigration databases to unlock their treasures. And what began with a few dates is suddenly the irresistible image of, for example, a 24-year-old grandmother boarding a Cunard liner on New Year’s Eve 1925.

Search for the ship, the Franconia, using Google Images, and suddenly the majestic lines of the “world’s preeminent world-cruising ship” materialized on screen. The ship landed in Boston in early 1925, and in a matter of days, headed back out to sea, bound for the French Riviera, Cairo “at the heart of its social season,” and on to Ceylon and Java.

That’s what makes genealogy so entrancing. It’s not dates and names, it’s the glimpse into the past. It’s the stories. It’s bringing your ancestors alive and getting to know them.


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Family Favorites

Roasted Potatoes with Olives


2 Tbs. Oil, preferably olive, divided

1-1/2 tsp. Grated lemon zest

1/2 tap. Dried crushed rosemary

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. Salt

1-1/2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-1/2” pieces

3 Tbs. Chopped fresh parsley

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup pitted black olives, preferably kalamata, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Toss potatoes with 1 Tbs. Oil; spread potatoes in single layer on jellyroll pan. Roast, turning occasionally, until golden brown and tender, 30-35 minutes. Meanwhile, combine remaining oil with olives, parsley, lemon zest, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss potatoes with olive mixture


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Photos of the Past

The Andrew Keb Children in 1901

Standing from left:

Herman Nickolas b. Oct 19, 1890

in Bavaria, Germany

Frederick C. b. Aug 25, 1893

in South Bend, Indiana

Seated from left:

Peter Martin Andrew b. Jan 24, 1897

in South Bend, Indiana

Albert Theodore Richard b. Oct 8, 1902

in South Bend, Indiana

Anna Margarete b. Jul 1, 1889

in Bavaria, Germany

Adolph Henry b. Jan 23, 1899

in South Bend, Indiana



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