Thursday, September 09, 2010

All in the Family: Pearl Brobst

Pearl Brobst was born December 26, 1885, in Kokomo, Indiana, the second son to David and Mary Ann Blakely Brobst. His older brother was William Ellsworth, who I think my mother referred to as Uncle Worth. His younger siblings were Audison, who was killed during WW I and buried in France, and Olen, who played the piano by ear and traveled across the country with his own dance band. 

Prior to Olen’s birth, the family lived in Kokomo, then moved to Elwood sometime between 1889 and 1902. I never knew much about Pearl’s early life, so anything here from those who are older that I am would certainly be appreciated.

According to Eugene and from his mother’s “Light of the World (Red) Bible, on October 10, 1906, Pearl and Winona took the Interurban Electric Railway from Elwood to the Madison Country Courthouse in Anderson to get their marriage license. While there, someone asked, "Do you want to get married right away?" Winona replied, "I guess so" and they were led to another room where they were married by William O. Lee, either a judge or justice of the peace. The marriage was witnessed by A.K. Deets.

Returning to Elwood and to her home, Winona bid Pearl goodnight at the door, as though on a date. Pearl made some comment about the tow of them now being married and that perhaps he could stay the night. Thinking about it, Winona guessed he probably could. This was the first her parents knew about the marriage.

Pearl and Winona were the parents of three sons: Loren Allen, Robert Ellsworth, and Ervin Eugene Brobst.s

Pearl adored Winona, who called him Pearlie, and wanted to give her a wonderful life. He bought the three story house at 1016 Roe Avenue as a showplace for her, and he helped with the housework, something men didn’t usually do during this era. He loved to garden. He planted vegetables, various berries, grapevines, and fruit and nut trees. He even let her travel the country and go to Lafayette to attend classes at Purdue University with her youngest son, Eugene.

Pearl held several interesting jobs during his lifetime. Before street lamps were electric, he had the job of going through town each night and lighting the natural gas that came from the lamps.

He worked for awhile at Leeson’s Grocery in Elwood on the main north-and-south street. It was in operation until the 1980's, when it was bought out and other business ventures have occupied the two story building since that time. The building is still in very good shape and has weathered the storms of time very well. Leeson’s also owned a large department store which stood where Cox’s Supermarket stands today. It had groceries, clothing, merchandise and all the items that were common in those days. An elevator  for customers was available for customers to reach the second floor. I’m not sure if Pearl also worked here, but it is possible once he moved to Alexandria.

For awhile, the entire Brobst family lived at the power plant sub-station at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue while Pearl worked there. My dad and Uncle Eugene used to tell me stories of the boys climbing the towers at the substation, something that is expressly marked today as being forbidden.

Pearl retired from Johns-Manville, maybe as late as 1960, where he was a foreman. He died at home on November 17, 1961, after an extended illness.

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