Several weeks ago in my last reader column I passed along some information about the history of Durbin and Durbin School that was sent to me by Tom Heller, the principal of Durbin School from 1974 to 2002.
Tom stated that Durbin’s original school was located north of State Road 32.
Shortly after the column ran, I heard from Rosemary Harger. Rosemary disagreed with Tom, saying that the site of the old Durbin School was just north of the current school and SOUTH of State Road 32.
Rosemary added that her husband, Billie, was one of 20 eighth grade students who graduated from the school in 1941 and that Bill’s uncle, Bert Harger, was the janitor there.
Actually, both Tom and Rosemary are right — more or less.
When I contacted Tom, he agreed with Rosemary that the school prior to the present Durbin School had indeed been located south of State Road 32, near site of the current building. That school was erected in 1930 and was in use until a newer facility was built in the 1980s.
There were, however, schools in the Durbin area before the 1930 and 1980 schools.
Tom said he understood that a two-room schoolhouse had been located in that same general area south of State Road 32 prior to the construction of the 1930 school, and that an even earlier school had been situated north of State Road 32.
I believe he’s right about the earlier school. The 1866 Wayne Township map shows “School No. 5” just north of the future site of Durbin. That means it would have been north of State Road 32, had the highway existed then.
After reading about Tie Loy, the Chinese laundryman of the early 1900s, Nicole Kobrowski decided to take a stab at uncovering what happened to Tie Loy’s wife, Lydia.
Nicole didn’t have any more luck on that score than I did. However, she did make an interesting discovery — Tie Loy and Lydia had a third child in addition to Frank and Ethel. Nicole found a death certificate for a female child with the unlikely name of Arlow Edward.
Arlow was born in August of 1901 and died in January of 1902, during the time the family was living at the County Home/Farm. That means the child buried in Crownland Cemetery in 1902, whom I thought was Ethel, was actually Arlow.



That also means there’s yet another mystery attached to Tie Loy — what happened to Ethel? She definitely existed. Her arrival was noted in the January 27, 1899 Hamilton County Ledger and she appears in the 1900 census.
(As an interesting aside, Arlow’s death certificate was signed by Dr. E. E. Wishard. Dr. Wishard, who had an office in the Wild Opera House building for a few years in the very early 1900s, was a member of the Indianapolis Wishard family, for whom Wishard Hospital was named.)
The column on the Indiana Cemetery Works stirred up memories of the gravestones in Old Friends Cemetery Park for Larry Cloud. That cemetery, also known as Martha Doan Memorial Garden, Memorial Park Cemetery and Old Westfield Cemetery, was Westfield’s original cemetery.
Larry, a Westfield native now living in Tennessee, remembers seeing a number of Civil War era gravestones in the old cemetery. He remarked that one particularly memorable stone was inscribed “Died in Castle Thunder, a Rebel Prison.” (Castle Thunder was a notorious Confederate prison in Richmond, Virginia.)
The most memorable headstone I know belongs to one of my Conner Prairie friends, Betty Gerrard, AKA Betsy Birdwhistle. Although Betty is still very much with us, her stone is already inscribed. It reads: “I told you I was sick.”
(Did I mention Betty has a wicked sense of humor?)

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