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home : columnists : columnists August 21, 2017

7/14/2017 1:08:00 PM
The Joseph family's burglar

By Paula Dunn
From Time to Thyme

A few weeks ago when I wrote about Noblesville's early Jewish families, I didn't have room to get into too much detail about Louis N. Joseph and there's a good bit more to be said about him.

As I noted previously, he was one of the wealthiest men in Hamilton County in his day. Besides running the J. Joseph & Co. clothing store on the south side of the courthouse square (you can still see the "Joseph" at the top of the building,) he had a lot of other business interests in this county, as well as some in Shelbyville and Indianapolis.

According to his obituary, at the time of his death in 1930 he was a vice president of the Citizens State Bank and was one of the bank's largest stockholders. He was also a large stockholder and director in the Wainwright Trust Company. He'd been president of the Noblesville Water Company for many years and had once had holdings in the Northern Indiana Power Company.

He owned quite a bit of real estate, too. His downtown properties included the building which housed the J. C. Penney store (today it's Matteo's restaurant) and several rooms on the south side of the courthouse square.

He also owned and personally managed around 1,600 acres of farmland in this county.

Although I haven't yet found anything that comes right out and says it, I'm 99% sure he was the "Joseph" in "Joseph Field," the field on which Noblesville High School's football games were played during the first decades of the 20th century. A 1922 map shows "L. N. Joseph" owned the acreage in that area.

(Joseph Field was located at 17th and Conner, where Conner School used to be and where the new Boys & Girls Club building is currently being constructed.)

The Joseph family moved to Indianapolis sometime around 1917, but while they lived in Noblesville, they occupied the house on the southwest corner of 14th and Conner, directly across from the Conner Street high school.

There are a couple of funny anecdotes about Louis Joseph's son, Edgar, in John Foland's book, "Remembrances." Edgar, who was born around 1903, seems to have grown up to be a fine, upstanding man, but he must have been a holy terror as a child.

According to the Foland book, Edgar used to throw on one of his sister's dresses, climb out on their porch roof and perform an "oriental dance" while banging away on a drum - all for the benefit of the high school students across the street.

He became such a distraction to the students that the principal finally had to ask Mrs. Joseph to keep him corralled in the house.

On another occasion, Edgar convinced his father there was something in the basement he needed to see. As soon as Louis was down the stairs, Edgar locked him in and called the police.

Back then the fire department also responded to emergency calls, so the police, the fire department AND a large crowd of curious onlookers showed up at the Joseph house in response to Edgar's call.

Edgar met them in the front yard, yelling, "There's a burglar in the basement. Be careful, he sounds mean. I locked him in, but be careful."

After the police and firemen got into position, the police chief - armed with his double barrel shotgun - instructed one of his men to open the door.

Out shot Louis, roaring "Where's Edgar? I'll kill the. . . " (Use your worst imagination here.)

Edgar took off flying down the street with his father in hot pursuit.

I think we can guess what happened next.

Paula Dunn's From Time to Thyme column appears each Friday in The Times. Contact her at younggardenerfriend@gmail.com

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