By ALEXANDRA NEWMAN
A. Henry Studebaker has not lived in Northwest Indiana for many years, but
the son of Naomi Chellberg and Alden Koch Studebaker, often visits the
former family farm, located on what is now the Indiana Dunes National
Henry and his brother Arthur recently shared stories at the Summer Festival
and plan to return for the Harvest Festival this fall.
“Probably the most vivid memory is shoveling manure from the barn,” Henry
said in a telephone interview with the Chesterton Tribune.
He and his brother lived with their parents in Dune Acres, but were dropped
off daily by the school bus at their grandparents’ farm. They helped with
chores until their dad picked them up to take them home. They also spent a
lot of weekends helping with harvests.
“We helped grandmother plant the garden in the spring and helped with the
harvest in the fall,” he recalled about his young years as an elementary
school student in the old Porter Grade school (1933-39).
As he got older, the jobs got bigger.
“We used to gather loose hay, no matter where it was cut. When it was dry
enough to rake, we tossed it on the trailer bed - first pulled by horses,
then later pulled by a tractor. We were lucky we had a fork into the
hay-mow, so we didn’t have to pitch it into the barn,” he said, adding that
neighbor Nelson’s barn didn’t have a fork, so they had to pitch the hay into
“Before there were combines, there were threshing machines. We’d bag the
wheat from the threshing machine into 2 1/2 bushel bags can carry them
upstairs one level. The bags weighed 150 pounds.
“In the winter, we gathered the sap from the trees to take to the sugar
shack. We always used either a team of horses or a single horse to pull the
sap sled - a skid on a pair of runners to plow through the snow or mud.
“It was a lot of work, but we had no choice. In those days we all did
chores,” he said with a chuckle.
“It was not a lot different when Mom grew up on the farm. She used to get up
at 4 a.m. to milk the dairy cows in the 1920s, when it was a commercial
dairy farm,” he recalled. The milk used to be shipped on the South Shore
train. The dairy farm ceased when the Hammond dairy went bankrupt.
Studebaker said his three children and seven grandchildren have frequented
the farm and during the 1950s-60s, before it became part of the national
lakeshore, they had regular Christmastime gatherings there.
His father was a developer of Dune Acres with William A. Wirt in the 1920s
and family members still live in the subdivision. There he enjoys riding in
his 1931 Ford. He also has a Model T Ford.
“My dad bought the pick-up chassis only for the ‘31 Ford. He didn’t want the
bed, so he made his own,” Studebaker recalled. He also enjoys his 1961
Studebaker that he purchased in California, where he once resided.
He was born Sept. 3 1927 in Dune Acres and lived primarily in Dune Acres
until 1967. He also served as Town of Dune Acres Clerk-Treasurer from
He graduated from Chesterton High School in 1945 and is married to Cynthia
(Elster) Studebaker, who was born in Hammond.
Studebaker, who moved back to the Midwest from California, now lives in
Michigan where continues to work as a civilian for the United States Navy.
Last year the Department of the Navy recognized him as the Engineer of the
Year for his expertise as a designated technical expert for shore based
central thermal energy and power generation plants since 1944. His manual is
now used by the Navy for all generation plants.
Studebaker earned an MBA in 1958 from the University of Chicago; BS in
Mechanical Engineering with a major in Thermodynamics/Fluid
Mechanics/Combustion at Purdue University Lafayette in 1954 and a degree in
Liberal Arts in 1949 from the University of Chicago.