This week’s photo is not actually a photo, but a photocopy which was donated to the Mishawaka Penn Harris Public Library. Notice that the original had been cropped before donation cutting off the right side and leaving us to make an educated guess on the size of the original. It is most likely either a carte de visite or cabinet card, but we can’t be sure. What was the size and texture of the original photo? Were the corners square or if they had been trimmed? What, if anything, was recorded on the reverse?
The donor labeled the attached paper, but we cannot see the reverse so we do not know if the photo was labeled, or if the identification came from another source. The collection of donated photos were said to be related to Mishawaka families, so I will need to use the name to try to connect the implied location of Mishawaka and the known location of the photographer in Wheeling West Virginia.
The subject is a well-dressed young man with a prominently displayed pin that may indicate a school, fraternity or organization. Looking at school directories, C. P. Hendershot of Cleveland, Ohio is found in the 1876 catalogue of the American Literary Institute of Bethany College. He was entered as a regular member in 1874-75
Next we find Rev. Charles Parks Hendershot in an 1890 catalogue of members of the Beta Theta Pi, a social fraternity founded in 1839 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and still active at numerous colleges and universities today.
The Greek letter psi above indicates the chapter/college, the number is the year graduated.
According to the catalogue, published in 1890, Hendershot attended Bethany College, and had been a Pastor in Mishawaka, Indiana since graduation in 1877. Bethany College was affiliated with the Christian College (Disciples of Christ) and located in Bethany, West Virginia in the panhandle region near Wheeling, the location of the photographer. Could this be the graduation picture of Charles P Hendershot, taken in 1877, proudly wearing his fraternity pin?
In the 1880 U.S. census, we find Charles P. Hendershot in Mishawaka as 26 years old, single, lodger, born in Ohio and occupation minister. Hendershot was born in Ohio, as were both parents.
I have not yet directly connected C.P. Hendershot with the Christian Church in Mishawaka. Is the Christian Church marked on the photograph copy the same as the First Christian Church? A visit to the clipping file in the local History Room at the Mishawaka Library gives us an April 2, 1987 Mishawaka Enterprise article on the history of the First Christian Church. W.P. Hendricks was the minister in 1869, and Dr. S. E. Pearre became the pastor in 1888. According to the article, lay brothers acted as ministers for several years in the interim. So, although we have no definitive proof, this article at least confirms the possibility that C. P. Henderson, educated in West Virginia, was a pastor in Mishawaka.
A closer look at census and vital records available online gives us additional information on the life of Charles Parks Hendershot. Chas. P. Hendershot married Helen M. Eggleston 24 Nov 1880 in St Joseph County. Helen died in 1900 and was buried in Mishawaka City Cemetery. Charles and his children moved to Cleveland, Ohio where he was a teacher for the next 30 years. When he died in 1936, he was buried in Mishawaka City Cemetery.
This was a fun project looking into the possibilities of school and fraternity directories. Clipping files are another important source of local information, not always available on-line. It would have been better if we had the original photo, so this is also a reminder to always copy the entire picture, front and back. Cropping the picture to make it “pretty” is a temptation, but it’s far too easy to miss important information.
Submitted by Alice Clark, SBAGS President, firstname.lastname@example.org