Heroes, Goshen, Indiana

Day 422

     Where will you find the only comic book superhero museum in the country? If you said The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., you are wrong.

     It is in Goshen, Indiana. Run by Allen Stewart, whom we met today. Stewart is a 46 year old realtor who began collecting comic books as a youth. His collection became so large, he build a building behind his house to house these treasures.  The museum is designed to look like the Hall of Justice building featured in the 1970s cartoon, “Super Friends.”

     More than 65,000 superhero comic books and thousands of superhero action figures can be found, including the original Batman suit worn by Adam West in the TV series, above, and this original costume from the Greatest American Hero, worn by William Katt.

     Stewart, who graduated from Indiana University at South Bend with degrees in history and teaching, is one of the nation’s foremost historians of comic books.


Elkhart 4H Fairgrounds, Indiana

Day 421

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     Our RV, The Sphinx, is a Cedar Creek 5th Wheel, which is a division of Forest River, one of the largest makers of Recreational Vehicles in the United States. 

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     We are attending the fifth annual rally of the Forest River Owner’s Group, of which we are members, commonly called FROG.

     The Rally is being held in Elkhart, Indiana, at the Elkhart 4H Fairgrounds.

     The city of Elkhart sprung up at the conflux of the St. Joseph and Elkhart Rivers. It was originally part of the Northwest Territory, which, after the Revolutionary War, was territory northwest of the Ohio River. The Elkhart 4H Fairgrounds was formed in 1908 to host the annual 4H fair, which started in Elkhart in 1851. 

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     The fairgrounds hosted 800 RVs this year. We were placed in the infield of the harness racing track, along with 120 other Cedar Creek 5th wheels. There were over 20 different brands of Forest River products at the rally. 

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     This was the view from The Sphinx:

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Shipshewana, Indiana

Day 417

     Shipshewana was named after a local Potawatomi Indian. The Shipshewana post office was established in 1889. Shipshewana has a total area of only 1.18 square miles of land.

     The area became popular because of the Amish flea market.

     Flea market comes from the French marché aux puces, a name originally given to a market in Paris which specialized in shabby second-hand goods of the kind that might contain fleas.

      The Shipshewana Flea Market is in Indiana’s Amish Country with nearly 900 vendor spaces in an open-air market. 

Technical Stuff:

Wauseone, Ohio to Shipshewana, Indiana: 100.5 miles

2 hours 33 minutes

10.2 MPG

Diesel: $2.17


Toledo, Ohio

Day 416

     What is now Toledo, Ohio, has been inhabited by Indians for a thousand years, and then by Europeans after the American Revolution, from about 1795. It is located on rivers that access the great lakes. We came here to visit the Maritime Museum, which was OK, and the cargo ship Col. James M. Shoonmaker, which Barbara got to steer:

     But the most interesting thing we learned was about the Toledo War which took place 1835 to 1836, also known as the Michigan–Ohio War. It was a boundary dispute between the state of Ohio and the adjoining territory of Michigan. Toledo stood a chance of becoming a terminal for two railroads and the Wabash and Erie Canal. This is where part of the new Erie Canal would pass, and become an important point of access to Lake Michigan.

     When Michigan petitioned for statehood in 1835, it sought to include the disputed strip within its boundaries. Ohio’s congressional delegation was able to stall Michigan’s admission to the Union to prevent that from happening. This obviously upset Michigan, who claimed this disputed territory, and sent it’s militia to defend it. Ohio, countered by sending it’s militia.

     The militias were mobilized and sent to positions on opposite sides of the Maumee River near Toledo, but besides mutual taunting there was little interaction between the two forces.

     On April 26, 1835, the first skirmish of the Ohio-Michigan War took place when the Michigan militia collided with an Ohio surveying party. The militia opened fire. The Ohioans took to their heels. Nobody was hurt.

     Benjamin Franklin Stickney was  born  April  1, 1773. Stickney, one of Toledo’s founding fathers, had two sons, which he named One and Two (isn’t that cool?). They strongly advocated the contested land for Ohio. Two Stickney, born  April 16, 1810 is famous for his role in the Toledo War. On July 16, 1835, Joseph Wood, a deputy sheriff from Monroe County, Michigan, saw Benjamin Franklin Stickney and son Two in the swamps of the strip. A warrant had been issued for their arrest. Heeding the arrest orders, Wood tried to arrest them. As Wood placed the heavy hand of the law on Two Stickney`s shoulder, the youth drew his fearsome penknife and thrust it into Wood’s tender thigh, “non-fatally stabbing” the brave lawman,  it was the only blood shed during the 1835-36 territory battle between Ohio and Michigan.

     In December 1836, at the request of President Jackson, Congress finally stepped in to resolve the conflict–in Ohio’s favor. Congress offered Michigan a compromise—give up the Toledo Strip, but gain statehood and a large portion of the Upper Peninsula instead. And so ended the Michigan – Ohio War.

Archbold, Ohio

Day 414

     Erie J. Sauder, born August 6, 1904 here in Archbold, Ohio, was an American inventor and furniture-maker. Archbold was another of those towns formed around a railroad stop.

     In 1934, Erie Sauder began his woodworking business out of the barn at his home. He invented the ready-to-assemble table in 1951 that could be assembled by the average person with minimal skills. This turned into a multi-million dollar industry. More than likely you have one of his Sauder products in your home, a bookcase or desk. 

     We toured Sauder Village where his original workshop was located, and a local artisan was there explaining the process Sauder used with tools he made himself.

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     We also saw the first RV. Actually, it is a Hungarian migrant worker’s wagon, built in 1923, it was used by sugar beat workers, and their families, as a shelter while they harvested the beats.

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      Corduroy roads were the solution to crossing the miles of swampy land encountered  by the first settlers in Northwest Ohio. These roads were constructed by laying logs side-by-side across the swampy ground in a pattern that reminded people of the corduroy fabric. 

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Goshen, Indiana

Day 420

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     Goshen, Indiana, is home to many Amish families.

     Goshen was platted in 1831. It got it’s name from “The Land of Goshen” (Hebrew: אֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן) which is named in the Bible as the place in Egypt where the Jewish people lived, and from which they later exited Egypt.

     The Mennonites, Amish and Hutterites come from the Anabaptist movement that began during the Reformation in 16th century Europe. The word “Anabaptist” means “to rebaptize”. This name was attached to a group of believers who called for voluntary, adult baptisms at a time when the state allowed only infant baptism.

     The Anabaptist movement began in Zurich, Switzerland, on January 21, 1525, when a group of believers baptized adults who made a voluntary confession of faith.

     The Hutterites are the oldest of the Anabaptist groups. Named after Jacob Huttler, they organized in Moravia, (Czechoslovakia), in 1528

     The Mennonites got their name from Menno Simons, a Dutch priest who joined the movement in 1536 and became its most influential leader.

     The Amish, led by Jacob Ammann, began in 1693 with a group that split from the Mennonites, believing that the Mennonites were becoming too modern.

     On October 6, 1683 a group of Mennonites and Quakers from Krefeld, Germany, escaping from religious persecution, arrived in Penn Sylvania (Penn’s Woods) at the invitation of William Penn who offered them land and religious freedom. Their settlement was called Germantown. 

     On June 29, 1841, four Amish Families (24 people) arrive in Goshen, Indiana from Pennsylvania, seeking more fertile land, more separation from the world, and a home for their Church. Now, they’re everywhere. 

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Technical Stuff:

Shipshewana, Indiana to Goshen, Indiana: 17 miles

33 minutes

10.1 MPG

Diesel: $2.17