New views: East Sixth Street in Jasper

Sourced from Dubois County Free Press

I am taking a look at some historical views of Dubois County and comparing them to how things look now in a new feature on the Dubois County Free Press.

Through the generosity of local historian Ron Flick and Dubois County Historian Arthur Nordhoff Jr. (and I am sure others in the future), I have been given access to some great insight into these historical images.

I reached out to Ron about the idea in April and he invited me to a Dropbox file that held so many scans and photos of the history of this county that it overcame my free membership to the site. I ponied up the $9 to subscribe and began to peruse through Ron’s collection which was fun but a bit hard on the bandwidth at my rural home.

Eventually, I did come upon this image in his collection. A drawing of Jasper’s East Sixth Street from around 1859 included in a collection of George Wilson’s notes. The notes created by Wilson, the noted Dubois County historian, as he researched “History of Dubois County from its Primitive Days to 1910.”

According to Wilson, the artist drew this reconstructed view of the north side of East Sixth Street from a description given by John Gramelspacher, who explained some of the colorful occurrences on Sixth Street in Jasper back in 1859. Those included the regular fights that occurred in front of the courthouse as indicated by the two gentlemen in the bottom right.

Wilson noted that the fights were typically between the Democrats and members of the Native American Party or Know-Nothing party of which President Millard Fillmore was a quiet member. The Know-Nothings were an anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant party that were  active briefly in the 1850s.

Besides the fighting and the early rendition of Jasper’s downtown, I was drawn to this image on the simple fact that there were multiple newspapers on the same block; Jasper Courier (which should have had some interesting material from sitting above Hurst’s Saloon) and Jasper Democrat. If you didn’t already know, modern Dubois County has a lot of local media as well as interest from regional media. At times — depending on the juicy stories brewing — up to seven media organizations can be found in council meetings in the various cities and towns in Dubois County.

Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner once joked with me that outside of Indianapolis, no county has more media coverage than Dubois County.

According to this image, there seems to be a historic precedence.

The Jasper Democrat was edited and published in Jasper by Esquire Thomas J. Langdon. Langdon was an attorney and started the Democrat in 1857. It was the first in the county since the two-year run of The American Eagle from 1846 to 1848.

The Jasper Courier came along in 1858 and Clement Doane was its publisher. It closed in 1922. (Some notes I read said this paper was the second in the county after The American Eagle. Wilson noted the dates in his notes and I based my observation on that.)

Also pictured is the Washington Hotel, a prominent building in its day that sat where the Jasper Post Office is now located.

The block changed to what most people are familiar with in 1917 when the Dubois County State Bank built the fireproof structure that stands on the corner of Sixth and Main now.

The bank had been located at the corner of Sixth and Jackson (basically, where the Baccarach Building is located in the drawing) until it moved into the new structure. They sold that building in 1922 but then repurchased it later in the century and used it as part of the newer building.

In 1991, the building was sold to the county and became the Dubois County Annex Building. Dubois County State Bank was renamed Dubois County Bank and eventually purchased by Old National Bank in 1999.

These days, the Dubois County Annex houses several county offices including the Dubois County Veterans Affairs Office, Small Claims, Weights and Measures, County Surveyor, Dubois County Emergency Management office, Dubois County Coroner’s office and the Dubois County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.

The second floor also contains the County Commissioner’s Meeting Room while the County Council holds meetings in their chambers located on the first floor.

Let us know what you think and if you have some interesting historic photos and stories about Dubois County, share them with me at editor@duboiscountyfreepress.com.