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A Valentine for My Hoosier Hometown

February 13, 2019


A Valentine for My Hoosier Hometown


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Several weeks ago, my aunt (who bravely lives on the Frozen Tundra of Minnesota) was going through a drawer of items of our family’s past.  Since Aunt Kathy knows of my keen interest in local history of our hometown area in Indiana, she told me of her “find” and sent me a copy of the following old flyer which I am happy to share with you in this WORDWALK post.  Although I had not remembered reading this flyer previously, later I discovered that my cousin Carole also has one of the 1913 flyers.  While I refer to the piece as a “flyer,” the advertisement may have also appeared in one or more of the area newspapers prior to June 29, 1913.


Regular readers of WORDWALK and of my holiday book know that I often mention my hometown as Blanford–the name it is more often called because the post office is in the area of our community which was named Blanford.  All of us who received mail at the post office had a Blanford address.  Nevertheless, the earlier settlement was Jacksonville; and the school which I attended from first through fifth grades was Jacksonville Grade School.  Thus, although approximately half of the students were from Blanford and half were from Jacksonville, I recall many times when we were called the “Jacksonville kids.”  During my years in Vermillion County, the two sides of town blended together and seemed as one–even though one continues to hear the use of both town names.


To give a little perspective to the date of this flyer, I will add that in the nearby rural town of Klondyke, my father was born less than two weeks after the dates on this flyer.

The next year, 1914, brought three important happenings:  Jacksonville Grade School opened its doors to area students, my mother was born, and my maternal grandfather (who, by 1913, had already owned and operated  the family’s grocery store and Italian bakery for approximately five years in Jacksonville) had built (initially as rental property) the home where I grew up.  (Before the four-classroom, two-story Jacksonville Grade School–children in the Jacksonville area attended a one-room schoolhouse which was located on the land that was east of our home, near the gob pile of a long-ago coal mine.)


Growing up in Blanford/Jacksonville during the 1950s and 1960s, I was blessed with an ideal childhood and am enormously appreciative to all the people and the place that made possible such a pleasant childhood.  My hometown–despite all of its changes through the years–still holds a very special place in my heart:  thus, I, by means of this WORDWALK post, give a Valentine to my hometown and give you a peek at its very early expansion period.  After you read the flyer, you will find my closing remarks about the flyer’s content.


* * *


Grand Opening Day

Of the New Town of Jacksonville


Seven miles west of Clinton, 16 miles north of Terre Haute,

Nine miles east of Paris, Ills.  First Lot Sale

Sunday, June 29, 1913


One of the most promising permanent Towns in Western Indiana.

Three Mines opening up and another to go down soon

tapping the Richest coal field in Indiana.


Town site just west of old Jacksonville

on the Main Line of the Chicago, Terre Haute & Southeastern R. R.

1 Depot site already established, building to begin soon.

5 acres platted By Chicago capitalists for business blocks.

Lumber yard already being established and Bank Site Selected.

Three mines already opened and others to follow

will furnish active employment for 1000 to 2000 men for 40 years to come.

Besides miners’ trains will be run to other mines along the South Eastern Railroad.

These facts assure a Permanent Town, and

added to The mines is the Rich Farming Community of Western Indiana and Easter Ills.


600 Lots Placed on Sale on the Opening Day.

All should be sold at once, insuring a rapid increase in value.

Easy Terms.  Discount for all Cash.


No lots held back.  All plated on the market.

Any one getting a card off the stake, after midnight of June 28,

will be entitled to purchase the lot chosen.


Get in on the ground floor.

This is not only the Biggest Boom proposition ever seen in Western Indiana, but is

the Beginning of a Permanent city that’s sure to have a great future.


* * *


While in the 1950s, my hometown included three grocery stores, two Italian restaurants, two taverns, one gas station, one park with a baseball diamond and foot bridges over a creek, one post office, one grade school, and numerous individual homes for the approximately four hundred residents–to my knowledge, a lumberyard and a bank were never parts of our community.  Of course, more than three mines were in the area.  The most well-known of these coal mines was the Black Diamond Mine, the tipple of which I photographed when I was much younger.  The flyer’s statement concerning mining work for the next forty years was not an exaggeration because the Black Diamond Mine was not closed until 1964.  Then, in the 1980s, another major mining company ran a surface-mining operation on the south edges of our little town.  Nevertheless, our small Hoosier town was much more than its identification with underground and surface coal mining.  This rural hometown was a kind and caring community, the memories of which still touches my heart today.


Was the town of Jacksonville really a “promising town”?  For many of us residents, our hometown truly was.


I hope your hometown is also Valentine-worthy and that you take precious time to preserve both your family history and hometown history.


With best wishes to you and yours for a very Happy Valentine’s Day,

Alice and my little Valentine–Leader Dog Willow


February 13, 2019, Wednesday



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  1. Carole permalink

    Thanks for sharing, Alice! The well-written announcement was quite encouraging for those times, and the photos of the day proved to be very true. We made many happy memories there with family and friends, so we were definitely fortunate to have spent our formative days and beyond in that little community.

    Sending hearts and hugs to you and Willow on this Valentine’s Day!
    The Morgans

    • Happy Valentine’s Day to The Morgans!  Thanks for adding your comments to this post about our hometown where we shared so many days and experiences.

      Take care, and be well–Alice and Willow

  2. Happy Valentine’s Day, Alice and Willow!
    On this special day, thank you for sharing memories of our hometown and insights into the aspirations for its development in the early 1900s. In a way, I’m rather happy that those early dreams did not come to fruition. We probably would have grown up having a very different experience from those we had in the small caring community that we knew so well. What fun for us to have our mother as the postmaster, our grandmother and uncle as owners of one of the grocery stores, and our aunt as the chef and owner of a renowned Italian restaurant! We were indeed very fortunate!
    Love to you both,

    • Happy Valentine’s Day!  Mary–Thanks for adding your comment on this hometown blog.

      Take care–Alice and Willow

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