HPS to host annual meeting

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Members of the Heritage Preservation Society (HPS) are finalizing plans to host the Historic Landmarks Foundation (HLF) Western Region movable feast that will be held in Greencastle on July 10.

The meeting is a progressive meal that takes place starting in the rotunda of the Putnam County Courthouse with appetizers from 6 to 7 p.m. Dinner will be served at St. Paul's Catholic Church from 7 to 8:15 p.m. followed by dessert at McKim Observatory from 8:30 to 9 p.m. Star gazing at the observatory follows dessert.

Treasures on the Square will cater the appetizers, and Almost Home will serve dinner and desserts.

HPS is hoping to dedicate two plaques on the county's Heritage Wall prior to the dinner. The plaques honor Handy's Dairy and Putnamville United Methodist Church, which is celebrating its 175th birthday on June 27.

According to HPS' Bob Matthews, the plaque for Handy's will relate the history of a thriving business that began with half a cow on east Anderson Street in 1916 and ended when it was sold to Prairie Farms in 2002.

"Grandma Edith Handy started milking a neighbor's cow for half the milk and was unaware she was opening a new business that would ultimately serve seven counties. Edith would milk the cow twice a day and her son Bernard delivered it in 'tin milk pails' to local customers. Eventually Edith bought a cow and as the business grew, a horse-pulled cart was required to assist in the delivery of the milk," wrote Matthews.

The herd increased to a dozen cows by 1921 and the family moved out of town on S.R. 43 to "the Old Peck Farm." The dairy was now providing milk to local grade schools.

"Handy's was the first dairy in the county to pasteurize milk. As demand grew, the dairy began purchasing milk from local farmers," said Matthews.

Two years later, Handy's moved their distribution business at 312 N. Vine Street, but the 35 head of cows were housed on Cemetery Road. Production was now over 150 gallons of milk a day.

After a fire struck the plant in 1925, Handy's was offered temporary space at the Gardner Brothers Ice Cream Plant. They operated from that location until 1926 when the facility was rebuilt on Vine St.

By 1930, the dairy was delivering its products in Stutz package trucks. Twenty years later they had refrigerated Divco trucks. In 1950, Handy's bought Gardners Ice Cream Company and added ice cream and a variety of novelty products to their line.

In May 1961, Bernard was killed in a car accident. His son Norman became plant manager and, along with his mother, continued to run the company. For over 40 years, Norman successfully operated the dairy. Handy's was sold to Prairie Farms in 2002 and no longer exists in Greencastle.

A plaque commemorating the Putnamville United Methodist Church also lists the history of the brick structure that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The church sits at the intersection of S.R. 243 and U.S. Hwy. 40. It has been used continuously as a church since it was erected. Land for the church was donated by James Townsend, the owner of the Townsend Inn.

Bricks were made locally and the foundation stones and large steps were from the well-known Putnamville limestone quarries. The hard maple trees that line the highway north of the church were planted by D.L. Mayle.

In 1849, the congregation split into the old and new school branches and the old school kept the building. It was sold to the Methodists in 1861 for $150.

Colored glass windows were added in the 1890's and are still encased in the wooden frames carved by pioneer carpenter, John Hendrix as he sat in his log cabin.

The church will celebrate its milestone birthday in June with church tours, musical entertainment, refreshments and a tour of the 1884 office of Dr. Amos Horn located near the church.

Cost to attend the HLF movable feast is $45, $30 per member of Historic Landmarks Foundation or Heritage Preservation Society. Reservations are required.

For more information about the dinner contact HLF's Western Regional office at 812-232-4534 or e-mail west@historicandmarks.org. More information about the dedication of the plaques for the Heritage Wall will be available as plans are finalized.

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