Monday, May 16, 2011

Genealogy Takes You In Some Interesting Directions

Genealogy research can take you in some interesting directions.  Whether it is tromping through neglected cemeteries or researching in musty courthouses, research can quickly take you from facts and names to a study of any number of sidebars that help flesh out the "family history", no matter how inconsequential.

Yesterday, we needed to head to nearby Kokomo to pick up some items at Menard's from their sale ad in preparation for an upcoming graduation party.  Seizing an opportunity, I mentioned to Eileen that I wanted to see if I could locate the exact location of the South Kokomo Bank that my distant cousin Harry PIERPONT robbed in 1925.  Like the trooper she is, she agreed to indulge me in my quest.

To say I've become fascinated with the stories of Harry's early bank robberies and later association with the Dillinger gang would be an understatement.  I've enjoyed transcribing the newspaper articles and hope to share more of them with you over the next few weeks.  Though he was not a nice man, he's definitely a character in terms of family history.  I think that is what draws me to him.  That and the desire to see if it is possible to determine what exactly makes someone cross that line over to the criminal life.  A question that will probably never be answered.

Anyway, after completing our shopping we stopped at the location in Kokomo at the corner of Main and Markland where I believe the bank was located.  Today this area is a bit run down, and the building is empty.  I felt a little nervous leaving Eileen in the van while I stepped outside to investigate.  The building has been split into two businesses. The shop in the front is no longer in use, nor is the strip club in the back.   Though the photo does not show it, at the top of the building were the words "1916 - Plate Block" inscribed in the building.  I was hoping to find the words "bank" or something similar to confirm my suspicions.

Corner of Main & Markland, Kokomo, Indiana, 15 May 2011

The view of the building from the satellite shows the train tracks that dissect the northwest corner of the building.

View Larger Map

Alas, the library was closed on Sunday or I would have dragged Eileen over there to look in the city directories to confirm the location of the bank. The sad thing is that I did locate this information previously, but for some reason must not have photocopied the entry from the city directory.  Fortunately, Kokomo is not that far out of the way for me, and I'll be able to confirm later whether or not this was the sight of the South Kokomo Bank robber.

Until next time...


Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

Very fascinating line of research. Even though he's a "distant" cousin it's part of the whole picture of your family history. What fun!

Randy said...

What struck me was your comment about having some fear in a Kokomo neighborhood. Though I grew up in a nearby city I've not been back in many years. Have things deteriorated to such a point or was there some other reason for your concern?

Travis LeMaster said...

Randy - it wasn't so much fear as just concern with being in unfamiliar surroundings. There were several closed businesses and people mulling around. But, nothing worse than we would see on daily trips into Marion.