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Joy: Hello. I’m Joy Wilkison, oral historian from the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library. Today I’m sitting here in the real estate office of Mr. Hiram Lemen and I’ll let Hiram tell you why we’re here today.
Hiram: Well, this is kind of a second business with me, the picture house, and I’m semi-retired from the real estate business and decided to get a larger quarters where I can display the pictures my father had taken over a period of years and it has been very interesting and rewarding to be able to show his pictures.
Joy: And who was your father?
Hiram: My dad’s name was Harry Lemen and he was in the real estate business for years before I started with him.
Joy: And what kind of collection of your father’s is on display here?
Hiram: Well, I have about 250 enlargements on display and probably another 300 in folders to show people. And then I have an additional bunch of catalogs or albums with small snapshots in them. And of course I have all the negatives of all the pictures he took over a period of years.
Joy: Over what period of years did your father photograph the Madison area?
Hiram: Well he gave me this box Brownie, three dollar box Brownie, in 1924 and I had him take a picture of me at that time and in that year and the following year he started taking more pictures and finally just took over on the camera.
Joy: [Laughs] So he bought it for you but he ended up using it himself?
Hiram: That’s right. It was used very well and traveled many, many thousand miles.
Joy: And so he started using it in 1924 and it was until?
Hiram: The time he died.
Joy: Very good. How many negatives would you guess that you have on file here in the office?
Hiram: Well, I’d have to guess, but I would safely say at least 10,000 and probably 12,000 or 13,000 negatives.
Joy: That is truly amazing. And what are some of the different kinds of negatives, some of the different subjects that your father covered?
Hiram: Well, there’s so many of them I made a little list of them so that I wouldn’t forget too many of them. But, primarily, he took pictures of boats. That was his great love, the river and boats, and I have about, I’d say, 125 different boats in the collection. Some of them I have 50 or 60 pictures of it, like the Delta Queen, he took thousands…hundreds of those. And then have scenery, Clifty Park, throughout Clifty Park, and Hanover College, the old college buildings, down at Hanover Beach and all the people that camped down there. Pictures form Cedar Cliff and Moffett Cemetery across the river and from Cragmont, just about anyplace you could go take a picture, why he went and took it. And then there’s pictures of homes and businesses in Madison. A lot of them have been torn down and burnt down. He also took pictures of all the hilltop homes and all the different roads. I have them all cataloged that way…different highways and can find most of them most of the time. Then the 1937 flood. He took pictures from the river end of Madison and from every street down to the river. At the start of the flood and reached its peak in late January and its possible to…almost anybody can find out if the flood was in their home because I’ve got scenes up and down every street in Madison.
Joy: Oh, that’s amazing!
Hiram: In fact, I had one young real estate man talking about a house and I said, “Well, that’s awful high for a flood house.” He said, “No, that was never in the flood.” So, I came back and got a picture and show it to him later where it’s five foot deep in it and he said, “If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it.” And then before that time, why, they started building the bridge and I have a picture of driving the first stake in it and all during construction from the very start to the completion of and then of the parade they had when they had the dedication in 1929, December 20th, which, by the way, was a very cold day, down to about zero with a chill factor of about twenty below. As soon as the dedication was over on the bridge, the bridge emptied. The Elks band was out there to play and their instruments froze up and they couldn’t even play. And I’ve been told that the man was supposed to bring the ribbon to stretch a string across the bridge and cut the string instead of ribbon. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. Then there are also pictures of all the old schools up through the county and old one-room schoolhouses and churches. He loved old stone churches and log cabins. I think, in fact, every log cabin in the county, or those that were in existence during that time. Stone houses, farms throughout the country, and all kinds of transportation: horse-drawn, the old Model T Fords, early automobiles and then the trains and the early trains and then he [inaudible] people, he has two catalogs back there with…or two albums with I would say at least 700 pictures of people, different people, all the old town characters we had back in the 1920s and 1930s, and some of them were quite the characters. And then he also photographed events, parades, and dedications, like the Lanier Mansion, when they dedicated that in 1926…
[21 seconds missing of tape due to damage]
Joy: I think that’s tremendous! Well, why don’t we take a …
[7 seconds missing due to tape damage. Joy likely asked Hiram to speak about the photographs hanging in the gallery.]
Joy: …first of all, show us the picture of that unique looking couple there
Hiram: Yes. Well, this a picture of Darby Davis and his wife. She wore high top shoes and smoked a pipe. And he snapped that picture in the early 1930s. That was after the bridge was built in ’29 and before the wharf boat sank in ’36 in the ice. They didn’t know he was taking a picture, so they were very relaxed and everything.
Joy: Where did they live there?
Hiram: They lived in this shanty boat and this was taken a little bit later than this picture here, but he had several pictures of them on their shanty boat. And I would refer to that as a modern houseboat, it had a radio antenna and running water underneath it, made it very modern. Then at a later time, about fifteen years later, he hauled a log…had a log hauled down to the riverbank and hired him to posed with the Delta Queen . But in this picture, they’re stiff and don’t look natural, you can tell they were posed in that. With this one, they didn’t know he was taking it, so they were very relaxed and everything. Then these other pictures are various pictures that he took along the river. This is Major Bull’s Amateur Hour, when it was in Madison on a showboat and other showboats and then these are the various excursion boats that traveled up and down the river. Now this picture her, which had been a favorite, is one of the [unintelligible] that was at Jeffersonville/ Louisville ferry and after they built the bridge there, it went out to freight service and just hauled freight up and down the river. And these are some scenes taken down at Hanover beach, which…he had certain spots down there he like to snap pictures through the trees and everything. It’d give what I call an [unintelligible] rather than just a picture of a boat. And this is the old Idlewild in the 1920s and 1930s. Later on, it was the Avalon. It’s now the Belle of Louisville, stationed out of Louisville. And, of course, this is the Delta Queen. It is presently running. These two boats are about the only boats he had pictures of that are still running. This was the old steamer America that was famous in Madison for taking out the American Boy excursion to Fern Grove once every year.
Joy: Why don’t you tell us just a tiny bit about that American excursion. I thought that was an interesting story.
Hiram: Well, Marks & Benson, they were a clothing store. Any boy that bought a suit there during they year got the American Boy magazine free for a year. Then, he and his mother got to take a trip on that when they had the American Boy excursion. And it was a big saving because they’d charge fifty cents otherwise. But everybody packed their lunches for a whole day. Early in morning you got on the boat, made the trip to Fern Grove (which is about ten miles above Louisville now). They had a big grove there and picnic tables and everything. People would enjoy themselves riding on Fourteen Mile Creek and when they got ready to leave at about 5:00, they would load their baskets back up on the boat and then eat again out of the same baskets. In hot weather, I don’t know how they kept from getting killed from poisoning or something like that. We apparently lived through it.
Joy: [Laughs] People didn’t seem to worry about it so much back then.
Hiram: No. And this a very popular picture here of Pearl Linville (sp?) sitting on a log there at the river with the W. C. Mitchell going upriver with the black smoke pouring out. I don’t think some of the people would like that kind of smoke these days. A little bit too much.
Joy: Very good.
Hiram: This scene up here is one from Hanover College, and it’s been very popular. It was taken with the Gordon…(probably Greene)
[1 minute and 12 seconds missing due to tape damage]
Joy: …set up again. Well…well, now we are looking at some scenes of Madison life that go way back before the time that Harry Lemen actually started photographing Madison. Hiram, would you like to point some of these pictures out to us and describe their contents please?
Hiram: I’d be glad to do that, Joy. This is a scene here of the old Market house that stood on the corner of Walnut and Main Street and it was torn down around 1906 to build the Middleton monument there. And this was at a time, of course, when the streets were mud and they still had the streetcar tracks there. Now this picture here is one of the dike that ran out from the Kentucky shore. Prior to the time they built the dam at Louisville, water got so low in the summer that a lot of places you could ride across the river on a horse. This dam was built to throw the current in front of Madison so that it would keep the channel dredged out and the boats could travel better. After they built the dam, it raised the water over it and the Corps of Engineers came and dug it out. They claimed that at the end of that, there was an eddy that dug a hole about seventy feet deep. They dug that out and dumped it all in that hole. Now this picture here is one of the old Hitz mansion. They had the big Hitz orchard up on top of the hill where the state hospital is now. And this is the site of the Administration building at the present time. And this building here was built in 1831. That’s the old Wesley Chapel Methodist Church and in the 70s, they went in with two other churches to form Trinity Church. This building was purchased by somebody. I don’t know who. But they built a front on it and made it the Grand Opera House, which later became the Madison Theater. It’s been torn down since then by the city to build a parking lot. And this was right across the alley from it. That was Ray’s Livery Stable and it had a hall upstairs where they had a lot of meetings. Different clubs met at different times.
Joy: I heard that the Livery Stable made a very unusual claim for that period of time. What was their advertising slogan?
Hiram: Well, it wasn’t them. In the 1899 issue of the Democrat paper, Mr. Chapman wrote up that livery stable and he described it as a palatial livery stable and this is an old cracker mill. A lot of people didn’t know we had a cracker mill here, a cracker factory, and they also baked bread. In fact, they advertised bread. It’s called the Madison Steam Bakery that was in connection with the flourmill and cracker mill. And this is a picture of the Jefferson Co. Courthouse back in 1887 and that’s when the farmers came to town and brought their wagons to the livery stable and left them. Then they unloaded their merchandise that they had there and sold to the population.
And this is a picture that came out of that 1899 newspaper. Really, I guess it was the start of women’s lib in Madison because there are ladies there and they are all steam clerk conductors. Very unusual in those days, I would say.
And this has been a very popular picture. This is the Cincinnati Reds. They sent down a team to play Madison back in 1912. Johnny Collins picked them up on his old bus, probably the oldest bus. It was the first automotive bus in the city of Madison. He brought them up from the depot up to the Hotel Jefferson. Of course, the Hotel Jefferson has been torn down now and is the site of the Kroger Store on 2nd Street. And this is a picture of the old depot in 1904. This was apparently taken down shortly after that because it doesn’t even have the sign upon it yet, which showed later on.
And these are John McIntires’ bus lines which met the train and that took the traveling salesmen and passengers up to the hotels. This is Johnny Collins standing there. He is the fella driving this and I have a later one of him driving a REO Speed wagon. In 1927, he is still at the same job.
Joy: He kept up with the times though by changing his transportation forms.
Hiram: This is an old picture of the portion of the railroad cuts, and it is kind of hard to see from a distance, but you see these ladies with skirts clear down to their feet and big umbrella hats on. It was a common pastime, and even when I was young, to hike up the railroad cuts. You would go up there on Cragmont and come down Highway 7 and even go around Michigan Road. That was a nice Sunday where you’d see hundreds of people getting their exercise while making that trip. And this is around 1890. It is a scene down on West St. right down below the Bank. This building is still in existence, but these others have been take down and new ones built there that are the same height. This one is 3 stories high and this one is 3 stories high but later they made 16-foot ceilings and made them the same height with all the fancy metalwork on top.
Joy: What buildings would we see around that location now?
Hiram: Well, this is still here and this is Metzger’s Clothing Store. This is Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Store. These have all been changed and are part of the First National Bank. This is the old Round House that used to be up on the hill. They had, of course, in those days, an engine that brought the cars down from Indianapolis that couldn’t go up and down the hill. They had special engines here to do that, so they had to turn that engine around. So, they pulled it into the Round House, swing it around and head it toward Indianapolis. Back in 1868, this old Ruben Wells was built. It was the first engine that could take a car up the hill by itself. Prior to that time, they had to use mules to help them or cogs. And this, by the way, is on display in the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis and would be well worth anyone’s time to see it because that was one of our first engines. A short time later, even while this was running, the W. G. Bright was put into operation. It was a little heavier than the other, but it was just used entirely on the hill. It didn’t go any farther than the top of the hill and then they turned it around and came back down again. But these were both built by the Jeffersonville-Madison-Indianapolis Railroad. Then in the late 1800s and early 1900s, this was called the Big Hill Engine. That was specially built for the hill and that ran up until the 1910s, then they began to depend upon engines like this. This was taken in 1927, down at the depot. It is a little bit more modern engine. Of course, now they have the diesels which have no problem climbing the hill.
Joy: Oh! Very good! I think we all appreciate the fact that your father saved these pictures, even though he didn’t take them himself, so we can look at them today.
Hiram: There is a lot of interest in them.
Joy: Let’s go over and look at a really nice picture that was taken in Hanover.
Hiram: This is a scene that was taken up near the top of Hanover Hill. The present road is about ten feet lower than that, but, at that time, it wandered down and went in every valley and went in and out every valley. Presently, the road goes right through where that haywagon is and cut through the hill and, like I say, is about ten foot lower than that so they can get an even grade. That’s been a very popular picture. I think its very resting and relaxful. That spring, you can see the water still running down the hill there from where the water came out of the spring.
Joy: Very good! Why don’t we step into the next room and take a look at some of those flood pictures your father is so famous for taking.
Hiram: Okay. Up in the corner here, you will see a scene of the old Trowe’s Mill, which stood at the foot of Broadway and First Street, or Front Street as we used to call it. It’s now Vaughn Drive. And this building here was two stories high. You can see how deep the water was. That is now the present location of Sunrise Swimming Pool. This shot here is taken of the rear of the Shrewsberry Home. It shows water up to, just about the first floor. This was taken down on the riverfront. This part of this house here is the top of this one and the water came clear to the top of that building there. And this was the high school at the time, at the corner of First and Broadway. It is now Ivy Tech and this is the Brown Gym. And Dad rowed into the Brown Gym and took pictures from the inside.
And this down Vaughn Drive. It was called Front Street then. These two house sit still, but this one floated up and turned over and stayed on its lot. It didn’t stay in a very good position. This scene here shows the gatehouse at Clifty. It had water up around the chimney of the gatehouse. And this one is the scene of Highway 7 out of down by Irish Hollow. This is a shot taken from the river looking up Mulberry Street. This is First Street here and that is the old Hotel Madison. It shows water up to almost Second Street. This is looking back towards the river and this is First Street right in here. This is after the flood, shows the condition of this house here. This belonged to _________ Lockridge. This is the shot of the Lanier. Shows how the water got clear up around it and at this time, in 1937, First Street went clear through and on the other side was the
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First Street was open on the north side of Lanier and across the street was McKim-Cochran Furniture Company and later on it burnt, and I have a picture of it, and they made it into a park. The scene above here shows the freight depot with just the tip of it sticking out. This shows a picture of the freight depot after the flood with the roof all caved in. This marker here is the 1913 flood, so it gives you an idea of how much higher the 1937 flood was. And this scene is on First Street looking west toward Lanier that shows the old depot which is now local electric and this is the site of the Boys Club at the present time. And this is a scene of the house before the flood got up any higher. And this is a scene across the street from that one, showing the man moving out. He moved to the upstairs to avoid the water getting up there. The water is getting up there and he is moving his furniture out by rowboat. By the way, this is the house here, so it is a good thing that he did cause all that he is taking out ________________________________ [laughter overpowers his words]. And this is Meyer Manufacturing on the corner of First and Jefferson Street. It shows water around it. This is another scene looking at First Street. This wall here is the present Post Office. While ago, I said Sunrise swimming pool. That’s actually Crystal Beach swimming pool.
Joy: Very good. Now let’s move to the other wall and look at some of the scenes of the bridge.
Hiram: This is a scene from the Second Street looking towards the bridge on Harrison and you can see the cars and trucks there. They are lined up clear across the bridge down to the corner and down Second Street the way they are lining up now for the repair of the bridge. The problem here is that the other end of the bridge was underwater and out on the other side of the bridge, they hooked a cable from the end of the bridge over to Milton hill and hooked a barge onto it with pulleys to keep it from washing away. Lots of men up there pulled on this rope and it had a motorboat on it that moved it over to the bridge and they landed at this ramp and unloaded the 8 cars and loaded 8 back up and pulled them back across the river to the hill and they unloaded them over there. It shows them unloading some of the cars from that. This is another scene showing the cars on land waiting to cross. By just taking 8 across at a time and pulling it across, it took quite awhile. It took the biggest part of the day to get in line and get across it. Not much worse than it is at the present time. People are in a bigger hurry now than they were at that time.
Joy: And we just might remind everyone that, at the present time, one lane is closed on the bridge. So, we are waiting again just like people had to then, but only we don’t have to wait so long.
Hiram: No. This a shot from the river of the Lanier. It shows the water up to, just about, the porch. Almost to the level of first floor there.
Joy: Okay then. Why don’t we leave these scenes of the flood and move on over to another wall and look at some pictures of ferryboats and different kinds of horse drawn vehicles.
Hiram: This is a picture of the ferryboat that ran up in Vevay, the Martha Graham. Part of that was the Robert Grim that just recently quit operation since they built the new bridge at Markland. I understand they are attempting to keep it going as a tourist attraction, but I do not know what luck they are having. This is an old ferry that was taken back in 1927 that ran from Warsaw over to the Indiana shore. And this was the Ohio ferry boat that ran from Carrolton over to Lamb and later on, in 1948 this was damaged and they got a new boat called the Indiana. And this is a scene from over at Milton taken from up on the hill showing the ferry boat from Madison landing there with a boat load of cars. And it was pushed by the Margaret J. This barge that they are pushing was the Trimble, which ran from the late 1800s until 1927. And at that time they were just starting to build the bridge so they dismantled all the superstructure of it and took all the machinery out and it was a side-wheeler steam and cleaned it off and built a little house on it, cabin-like for people to sit in. They got another boat, a modern boat, to push it. And it ran until after the bridge was built and finally the bridge was too much competition and they had to quit running. And drooping down below there, we get into old transportation. This was the Southline Southland? bus line that ran from Cincinnati to Louisville and came through Madison and stopped at the Central Hotel. And this was the first White Star bus line that ran through Madison to Indianapolis. That was in 1927. That was Blink Lockridge’s (?) first bus. This is an old 1927 federal truck, log truck, at the corner of West and Third Street. This is Archie Lewis, who was one of our favorite characters, who was a real dumbo. He always hauled a bunch of little kids with him in his wagon.
Joy: I’ve heard a lot of other people tell about Archie. I think there’s a lot of stories.
Hiram: He was quite a character. He has a lot of stories about him, that’s for sure. And this is the American Express railway wagon. That’s F______ Jones. He was that driver of that in 1927. This old car here is one that was right across from our office here. That was Madison’s one and only electric car that I know of. And then a 1925 version of a speed car, racecar. That’s a trimmed down Model T and that’s being driven by Lloyd Critchlow. And this was a salesman. He rented a horse and buggy. In fact, I talked to a fella the other day that said he sold warm morning comfort stove of some type and John Cook up at the bank said his Dad and mother bought one from him and it was a real good stove.
This is a bunch of gypsies turning the corner at Jefferson Street in a covered van and with their horses tied on the back of them.
Joy: Did they come through regularly every year?
Hiram: They came through quite often and generally didn’t stay in town too long. They did a little begging once in a while and generally got ran off pretty quick.
Joy: Let’s look on over to the other wall now and take a look at some other old vehicles in Madison.
Hiram: Okay. These are city ash wagons in the 1920s. Earlier than that, people burned a lot of wood and had a lot of ashes so the city had these wagons like this one and this one to pick up the ashes out of the ash can. And by burning coal and wood they need coal oil to start their fires so Mr. Paul Meyers was one of the peddlers of coil oil around town. Everybody had two or three gallon cans to keep coal oil to get their first started of a morning. And this, by the way, he told us that this wagon in 1927 was 53 years old and he was the twentieth owner of it. And then this is a little bit later when they began to get all mechanized. And this is the old ice wagon and I’ve been on the tailgate of that many a time. They hauled 300 pound cakes of ice and they would chop them off into 25, 50, or 100 pound cakes- whatever you happened to want. You had a rectangular card and it had the amount of ice you wanted and you hung it in your window. They would chop off that much, bring it in, and put it in your icebox.
Joy: Where did the ice come from that they carried?
Hiram: They made it at Pearl Packing Co. It’s down at the foot of West Street. The cakes were about three foot high, twelve inches thick and about two feet wide. And they cut it up into smaller portions. Whatever you wanted. And this is the old grey. That’s Mike McLaughlin, he hauled and is moving somebody. That is on the corner of Third and Broadway. And this is a scene of him hauling merchandise that the packet steamers had left. The horse is pulling that up and he is delivering up to the merchants, whoever got freight. And this is one of the last coal wagons, the horse drawn coal wagons that was in Madison. Fred Saunders’ dad was the one that took care of the horses and drove the wagon. And the Madison Coal Company, who owns the plant, got real modern and got a Model T delivery truck. And this is an old hack that the Sutherlands ran from Hanover to Madison back in the early 1900s. Of course, before cars, and they hauled students into town who had shopping to do and they made a round trip every day. And this is another picture of Johnny Collins. You saw his earlier car, back in 1912. This was his REO Speedwagon that he used for a good many years and would meet all the trains and pick passengers up and salesman and take them up to their hotels and stores. This is a picture taken of Howard Moffett’s home in 1927 one Sunday while they were out at Creightonhurst (?) eating dinner. They came home and found it in flames. Dad happened to get there when it was burning pretty good and took pictures of it. This shows a little farther down and then this one shows what was left of it. They sent one of the fire companies up there but they had just about half a cistern of water and about all they could do was save the garage. They got some of the furniture out, but they lost a whole lot of antiques.
Joy: Was anyone home at the time that fire started?
Hiram: When they got home, they found the house ablaze and the janitor was down below in the basement firing the furnace. Let’s not start that rumor now. Ha. Ha.
These are a group of one room schoolhouses throughout the county. He loved to take pictures of those. I have about every school, I think, that was in the county that was existing in the 1920s and 1930s. And these are pictures of some of the Madison schools. This was the Upper Seminary and that was torn down in 1906. That was the site of the present Eggleston school on the corner of East and Third Street. This one here is the Lower Seminary. It was torn down in 1923 and that is the site of the Lydia Middleton school. This building here on the corner, by the way, was the No. 3 Fire Company. They built the new school and they had to build the building farther down on Main St. This, we mostly know it as the old high school, recently was the American Legion hall on Third. It has been torn down since then. But earlier it was the Central grade school and this was the high school catty-cornered across the street on the corner of Central and Second. They made this the high school and that the junior high school. This, of course, is the Broadway school, which has been torn down. And this is the old Walnut Street school that was part of the system back in the early 1900s. When they built Eggleston school, they discontinued using that and also the Fulton school. This, of course, is the Southwestern school that was built. I am not sure of the date, but it has since been torn down because of the tornado. This was taken just after it was built. And this is the old north Madison high school that has been torn down and that is the present site of the E.O. Muncie school. This is the old Canaan school and that was a grade school downstairs and a high school upstairs. That, of course, has been discontinued and torn down. That scene was taken in 1928. And this is 1927 view of the grade school at Hanover. It is about the size of their present fire company. But it was used for the grade school and the high school students went to building in the college until they built the school up here. These are pictures of some of the industries in that have since been torn down, burnt, or are just completely gone. These burned, by the way. This was the Union Brewery. It was built in the 1870s. And when Prohibition came, they quit business. It was ran by the Weber family. And then the Hampton Cracker Co. moved into it. A little later they moved to Louisville and Meese Incorporated moved in. And in 1939, it burned. You can see the name on the building. And since 1929, it is the site of West Becker’s Implement store. This is the old McKim-Conklin Furniture Company that filled an entire block north of the Lanier between Second and First Streets and Elm and Vine. And in 1937, it burned. Here you can see the ruins of it with the Lanier in the back. And in 1948, that land was purchased and First Street was closed and that was made into the beautiful park that is now an entrance to the Lanier.
Joy: Very good. I’ve really appreciated you sharing all these things with us, Hiram.
Joy: In addition to all these wonderful photographs on the walls, I understand that your father kept a collection of scrapbooks.
Hiram: Yes. He certainly did. I have over 50 scrapbooks back there. Most of them filled with snapshots and some enlargements. And then he collected a lot of articles that he pasted in scrapbooks. And this is one he was very proud of. It was a magazine back in the 1930s and 1940s called the Midweek Pictorial, published in New York. And he sent pictures in all the time and they had an amateur contest and they awarded $10.00 for first prize, $5.00 for second, and $3.00 for third. He’d actually rather have gotten one of those $10 prizes than selling his house for $500.00. He’d gotten a bigger kick out it, enjoying it more. But these are various ones. This one is a second prize, $5.00. This was first prize of $10.00. He sent them in by the dozens. Of course, a lot of these were just pictures that were published in Cincinnati papers in the round sections of those. He got a lot of enjoyment out of it and I think he saved just about everyone one of them in the scrapbooks.
Joy: It sounds like your father was very well-known during the 1930s and 1940s as a prize-winning photographer.
Hiram: I think a lot of people knew him and recognized his photographs and they had been very, very popular too. These same ones that won prizes are the ones that sold the best.
Joy: What about some of the different subjects we find in this scrapbook.
Hiram: This is a scrapbook that tells about the Chain Mill Falls about the time the mill was built back there in 1821. Originally, they hung a pole out over the Falls and started collecting all the bull’s horns they could and the water falling into those revolved the mill. And at a later date, they cut a hole through 15 feet of stone and built a mill over it. They diverted water into that hole and it filled the buckets and revolved and turned the mill. Later on, the water ran out and they had to move it. And also in ere, there are stories about George Shannon. Quite a few articles are in here about Christopher Harrison, who lived in Baltimore and was in love with his boss’ daughter and Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother beat his time. He was disillusioned and soured on the world. He came down the river and settled up on the hill near Hanover College. That was his home up there for a good many years.
Joy: When you say ‘articles’, did your father include written work as well as photographs?
Hiram: Yes. Photographs of buildings and stories about them. About Chain Mill Falls. About the history of George Shannon. This was copied out of the 1914 Courier , November 5, and just articles of interest and various type of things that he copied in all these. It also had the photographs that showed the existence of buildings.
Joy: So, this is really a photographic history, not just the photographs themselves, but also histories of what the photographs represent.
Hiram: This is the story of Jenny Lind when she sand in Madison in 1851. All about the story and also every song she sang. And in the back is a bunch of poems he collected. He liked a lot of poetry. He collected a lot of articles like that.
Joy: Wow. I think it is amazing that your father started out with a tiny camera like this. Something most of us wouldn’t even recognize and ended up with what we see today on the walls of this office.
Hiram: I’ve met a lot of people who’ve taken a lot of pictures but not a lot of them saved them.
Joy: Not the way that your father did.
Hiram: It also took me about two years to sort them into categories where I could located the negatives to make the prints and enlargements from.
Joy: I think you are to be congratulated and thanked for going to the trouble to make these photographs available to people who are interested. Just tell us, maybe, some of the orders you’ve filled recently that come from places around the country.
Hiram: About two weeks ago, a lady came in and said she got a letter from a lady in Champaign, IL and she wanted a picture of the Waterfield (?) school out near Canaan and wondered if anyone had one of the IMU (?) Church near Canaan. So the lady said if anybody had it, I would. So she came down and I had both of them for her. So I wrote a letter to the lady and told her that I had them for her and the price it would. She wrote back and said she would have these two and she inquired if I had a picture of a building at a certain address on West Street. She said her great-grandfather J. W. __________ had an implements store there and he also had a boarding house in another location she wanted. They have all been torn down, but I had photographs of all of them that I could send her.
Joy: That’s wonderful!
Hiram: I’m sure that she’ll appreciate them very much. I don’t think she is expecting to get them.
Joy: Well. I just find this fascinating. I want to thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us today and I’d like to invite all of you to find a few minutes and come in and visit Hiram Lemen at the Picture House. If you’re interested in looking or making a purchase yourself, I think you’ll find it worth the effort.
Hiram: Come in and browse around and look through the scrapbooks and read the articles.
Joy: Thank you so much for being with us.
Hiram: You’re welcome.
[END OF TAPE]
Hiram Lemen was a son of Harry Lemen a local real estate agent. Harry began taking pictures in the 1920s and through his photographs left a visual history of Madison. His collection is now held by the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library. No date was given for this interview but it likely took place in the 1970s.
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