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Crawfordsville District Public Library
Library medallion 205 S. Washington Street
Crawfordsville, IN 47933
765-362-2242, 765-362-7986 (fax)
Mon-Thur: 9-9 | Fri-Sat: 9-5 | Sun 1-5

Local History Media: Local Residents

On this page we will place links to our oral interviews that we are digitizing from the original cassettes created by the Montgomery County Historical Society. These interviews will provide a glimpse into Montgomery County life from long ago.

Many of the cassette tapes are more than 30 years old and are sometimes in poor shape. If you encounter silent spots, just keep listening or move your player forward a bit. If a transcript for the interview was created, it will be made available.


Ball, Ernest

interviewed 21 March 1977
Ernest Ball (born 1902) lived in Montgomery County all his life. He started working at the Old State Bank (later Elston Bank) in his early 20s, earning $10.00 a week. He has many bank stories from all around the county, and seems to remember all the bank robberies, including the one where he was forced at gunpoint to gather some money ("Well, he had is gun in his right hand in my back and he said 'Get it all!'").

transcript Ball transcript (.pdf)

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Caster, Jess

interviewed 3 August 1977
Jess Caster (born 1884) was born on the same farm where his father was born, and he lived in the county all his life. He remembers the good and bad in Montgomery Country during the Depression, including the Klan ("They never done nothing but lots of people join them, you know. Of course, it was $10.00 to get in. I didn't pay much attention to them.")

transcript Caster transcript (.pdf)

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Combs, William "Bill"

interviewed 21 November 1974
Bill Combs (born 1900) was a lifelong mechanic and garage owner. He enjoys talking about automobiles, of course, and in this interview he remembers the Model T (from personal experience). Listen to him compare today's cars with those of yesteryear. And who else knows why a Model T would sometimes backfire when cranked?

transcript Combs transcript (.pdf)

Part 1


Detchon, Lee

interviewed 8 May 1987
Lee Detchon talks about his art as well as other artists he knew in Crawfordsville (Fritz Schlemmer, Mary Oda, etc.). He also remembers Lew Wallace and other historic people and places around town.

transcript Detchon transcript (.pdf)

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Dillman, Norman

interviewed 29 September 1977
Norman Dillman (born 1914) was a long-time resident of Waveland who speaks at length in this interview of his hometown during the 1930s when it was an important rail and logging town. He has especially vivid memories of the Waveland bank robbery in 1932 ("I was very impressed over one of the robber's markmanship because he stood in one place and shot all the street lights out").

transcript Dillman transcript (.pdf)

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Houlihan, William

interviewed 21 September 1979
William Houlihan (born 1891) lived in Crawfordsville all his life. In this interview, he talks about the events that preoccupied the city in the early part of the 20th century: paving the downtown streets, harvesting ice from Sugar Creek, the visit of the Ku Klux Klan, and more. His most interesting recollections, however, concern his employment with the interurban trains ("You could get a [base]ball excursion ticket for $1 round trip, go to Indianapolis, and get off next to the ballpark and see the ballgame.")

transcript Houlihan transcript (.pdf)

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Jones, Frieda and Marsh H., Jr. (Bud)

interviewed 24 October 1974
The Crawford Hotel was built in 1899, and opened its doors for business on New Year's Day, 1900. Mr. A.B. Jones ran the hotel when it opened. Frieda came to live at the hotel in 1922 with her husband, Marsh Jones (A.B. Jones's son). Frieda and her son, Bud, share stories about the hotel, its guests, and the town of Crawfordsville.

transcript Crawford Hotel transcript (.pdf)


Sommer, Howard

interviewed 16 July 1976
Judge Howard Sommer (born 1901) finished law school in 1922 and came to practice in Crawfordsville where he was judge of the Montgomery County Circuit Court for more than 30 years. He reminds us that anyone who worked at the courthouse back then got admitted to the bar ("They didn't have to have any particular qualifications!")

transcript Sommer transcript (.pdf)

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Simpson, Stanley and Groves, Aquilla (Bud)

interviewed 4 April 1999
Stanley Simpson (born 1906) was a lifetime resident of Crawfordsville, and Bud Groves (born 1910) spent most of his life in this area. Both reminisce during this interview about their experiences. Simpson remembers that he could always tell when woman in a vaudeville act was in town: she wore much more make up than local women (and he adds: "that's the first time I ever saw a woman smoke").

transcript Simpson transcript (.pdf)

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Spilman, Louis

interviewed 10 May 1980
Louis Spilman was born in Crawfordsville on January 7, 1899. He served with Company C, 2nd Indiana Infantry (National Guard), became a pilot in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He piloted the first plane to land in Crawfordsville on May 25, 1918. A journalist, he became the owner of the News-Virginian newspaper in Waynesboro, Virginia, where he died March 17, 1986.

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Turnipseed, Azel

interviewed 27 July 1977
Azel Turnipseed (born 1890), a long-time county resident, talks about the early days of the 20th century when horse-power was still common. He grew up on a farm, served in the Marines in World War I, and then returned to farming. He clearly recalls walking four miles to school as a child ("If you followed a spring-toothed harrow all day behind a walkin' plow, why four miles didn't mean much to you!")

transcript Turnipseed transcript (.pdf)

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