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This Changing World

The Columns of Will Ball

Bricklayers: Bauer family


During a conversation with Mr. and Mrs. John Bauer of Logansport, at a Purdue-Indiana football game, he told us his grandfather, Felix Bauer, Sr., came here from Shelbyville in 1885 to make brick for St. Joseph’s Church.  He followed that trade, being what might be called an itinerant bricklayer.  When he secured a sizable contract, he moved his family to the site of the job and settled there for the duration.  Moving was a major occupation for the Bauers, for there were 19 children in the family.  Four of the family are still living:  Frank in Logansport; Lina, in Lafayette; Clara (Mrs. Ditzenberger); and Nicholas in Indianapolis

 Mr. Bauer’s descendents of the third generation still occupy a prominent place in the affairs of Logansport.  Besides John, of the office staff of the Logansport Machine Co., there are:

Will, trust officer of the National Bank of Logansport

Herman E., former manager of Maiben’s Laundry, now a Washington Twp. farmer

Mamie, for many years chief accountant at Seybold’s

Mrs. Paul Spitynagle, and probably others of whom we have no knowledge or have overlooked.

 Mr. Bauer was a huge man, six feet two inches tall and weighing 360 pounds at the time of his death.  He had a buckboard in which he used to ride as he went about his business and when he got aboard it was fully occupied.

 He died before the completion of his contract with Father Henry Koehne, pastor of St. Joseph.  His casket was so large it would not pass through the door of the old church, which stood on the alley where the parish school now stands, facing Walnut Street, now Second.  His funeral was conducted in front of the church.

 Frank Bauer, son of Felix, tells interesting tales of those days.  His father had first met Father Koehne while the priest was assistant pastor of a church in Danville, Illinois and Bauer was working on the manufacture of brick for a job in that town.  Later, when Father Koehne wanted a brick maker for the job at his pastorate here, he remembered his friend and sent for him.

 Mr. Buaer found suitable clay for the purpose on the south bank of the Wabash, east of Standley Street now South Cicott.  It was owned by Mrs. Bridget Donahoe, widow of Michael.  She lived at the toll gate leading into what was then the Logansport and Western gravel road, now Cliff Drive.  The toll gate was strategically placed a few rods west of the south end of the Cicott Street bridge in order to prevent traffic on the gravel road from turning off the pike without paying the toll.

 After Mr. Donahoe’s death, the widow continued to look after the toll gate.  She had a son, James, married, who one morning started for work, carrying his lunch as usual, but was never seen or heard from after he left his home.  His son, Paul, unborn at the time, is now one of the operators of the State Theater.

 The site of the Bauer brickyard, was east of Cicott and south of the old toll gage and its buildings, between there and the Wabash Railroad.  There must have been quite a hole after clay for 650,000 bricks were dug, for, according to Frank Bauer, there are that many bricks in St. Joseph.  In addition to brick for that building, brick was made for the Loughry Mills at Monticello and shipped there and also for the Heppe Soap factory further down the pike.

 August Gleitz built the foundry for St. Joseph’s.  Medland and Barnes were the general contractors.  John Medland, father of Ed and grandfather of James and Thomas, was the senior partner; John E. Barnes, father of Ben and James, was the junior half.  After they dissolved partnership, both men had brickyards on the far north side.

Other brickyards that made brick by hand were one operated by Tom Barnes on College Hill; and the Johnson yard at the top of the hill on the Burlington Pike.  Dr. George occupies the remodeled house.  John E. Redmond, the original contractor for Long Cliff, set up a plant at which he made brick for some of the first buildings on that project.  This was also a hand operated plant.

 We apologize for an omission in last week’s story, we forgot to include William Medlin in our mention of local living descendents of the contractors on the construction of St. Joseph’s Church.



Logansport Press, March 11, March 18, March 25, March 31, April 7, and April 15, 1951


Transcribed by Christine Spencer, April, 2009

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