Throwback Thursday: Unexpected Finds in the John Martin Smith Collection

Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!

Working with the John Martin Smith Collection, we get a lot of glimpses into lives of ordinary people. As you’d expect, they leave behind lots of photographs, bills, letters, etc., but occasionally we run across something unexpected, something surprising that reminds us that no matter the decade (or century), people do weird, funny, and imaginative things. Here are a few of my favorites:

Basket Co.

This magnificent display was created by the Butler Basket Company, a business located on the west side of Butler. Unfortunately, their factory burned down in 1908, due to unknown circumstances.

Teddy Bear Postcard

The China Grocery in Ashley, Indiana, apparently had this postcard made for their store. The teddy bear in the photo is made out of potatoes, a clever way to advertise their edible wares.


A game of tug-of-war isn’t that unusual, but did you notice that instead of a rope, these men are playing with a pair of pants? Unfortunately, this photograph came without identifying information, so we couldn’t tell you who these gentlemen are.

Overland Wind Wagon

This Overland Wind Wagon, a vehicle entirely powered by an eight-foot plane propeller, could be equipped with either skates or wheels, and boasted speeds of 40+mph on ice.

Some other interesting or unusual things from the collection can be found here or here or here, or search “JMS” and keep your eyes peeled—you never know what you might find!

-By Genealogy Intern Chelsea


About Katy

Some of the books I've recently come to love include Signal To Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, The Just City by Jo Walton, Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead, and Bug In A Vacuum by Melanie Watt. I'm a firm believer in the power of the Oxford comma.
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One Response to Throwback Thursday: Unexpected Finds in the John Martin Smith Collection

  1. Pingback: Throwback Thursday: Sweet-Orr & Tug-of-War | Charlie Chat

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