The town of Bob Doane now only a memory

-A A +A
By Linda Hanabarger

In 1941, the seventh-grade pupils of Beecher City School undertook a project to record the history of the once-flourishing village of Bob Doane, located in the southwest corner of Section 25 in Loudon Township.
To do this, they visited with some of the older residents, including, Arizona Lockard,  80; Julian Buzzard, 84; E.E. Wood, 71; D.B. Buzzard; Johnny Alsop and Rose Phillips.
The information garnered from these interviews was blended into an article that was subsequently published in The Beecher City Journal on May 15, 1941. Following is a portion of that article.
“Bob Doane slid into a decline around 1870 with the coming of the railroad. Many of the early settlers rest in the Bob Doane Cemetery, a large, well-kept cemetery located near the old town site.
“Across the road from where Greenland school now stands was once the flourishing little village of Bob Doane. There were between 18 and 24 buildings in the little town.
"The nine business buildings were the stores of Jimmy Wilson and Peter Sloan, two saloons (one run by Ruel Jennings), Peter Olinger’s blacksmith shop, a post office, Dr. John Wills’ office and the school.
“There was also a race track. When a horse race was held, people would come from miles around to see it. The track was made by turning an old iron kettle upside down, hitching a horse to it and dragging it over the area where they wanted the track laid out.
“The school house was the only meeting place in the community, and it was used for church services. J.V. Stevenson organized a singing class, and they, too, met there.
"Ransom Church was the first church built here, about 1854. It is remembered that Andrew Harding set out the hickory trees near the cemetery in 1858, and the church was already there. Daniel Buzzard was one of the first deacons, and remained so until his death.
"It was remembered that Buzzard provided Dr. Wills with horses for his rounds, and one of the steeds could walk about 6 mph. Later, some of his horses were sold to the Army.
"Ike Benson, Mr. Zeigler and J.V. Stevenson were mail carriers. The mail route was from Shelbyville to Bob Doane then to Hissong and on to St. Elmo. It was all carried on horseback, and came twice a week. The post office was established at Bob Doane in 1861, and later was called Greenland.
"Nearly all of the people in the surrounding community were farmers. Benjamin Mahon, a Hard Shell Baptist preacher, had monthly preachings in the community. He preached with his hat on, and memorized his sermons, speaking in a singsong voice.
“The houses in Bob Doane were mostly frame. They were made with homemade weatherboarding and puncheon floors.  Most houses had from three to five rooms, and possibly a low upstairs.
“There were no rugs or carpets on the floor, except at Dr. Wills’ home. He had a red wool rug on the floor in his best room. The children thought it a treat if they could peep in the door and see this rug.
“The plastering had hair in it.  Slaughtering houses would have the hair, wash it and sell it by the pound. Their light came from tallow candles. They made the candles themselves with a candle mold, which made six candles at a time. A wick would be placed in the mold and tallow poured over.
“Their beds were either cord or slat. The furniture was made by hand and put together with wooden pegs. They preserved their foods by drying them, including peaches, apples, pumpkins and tomatoes.
“Strings were suspended from the ceiling approximately one foot, with a pole placed in the loops of these strings.
“To preserve the pumpkins, they were first peeled and the insides taken out. Then they would be cut in rings and hung on the pole to dry. Later, they would be taken down and stewed and made into pies. Tomatoes were canned in gallon tin cans; they were placed on the mantle over the fireplaces and were looked on as ornaments.
“All the houses had fireplaces. An arched piece of iron over the fireplace had hooks on it from which to hang kettles. To bake bread, hot coals were raked out to set the oven in.  The bread was put in the oven and covered with a lid. The hot coals were placed on the lid. This baked the bread and caused it to brown evenly.
“When the people went to church, the men sat on one side; women and children on the other. Don McNelly made coffins,  but there was no undertaker; neighbors would come in to prepare the dead for burial.
“The clothing was simple and hand-made. The dresses had to come to your shoe tops. Calico was sometimes sold for five cents a yard. During the Civil War, the price rose to 25 and 30 cents a yard.
“The school teacher was required to pass exams on the subjects most commonly known. There were the three R’s – reading writing and arithmetic – and also spelling, grammar, history and geography.
“Every Friday was given to speaking, spelling and singing. Arizona Lockard held a night school where exams were given.
“Questions would be written on the blackboard, and parents would come and gaze in wonder that their children could answer them. The teachers were paid about $18 a month. One term, Mrs. Lockard was paid $39 to take a school where the teacher had been run out.
“When the railroad came through, many of the townspeople moved to Beecher City.”