Chesterton Tribune

Henry Studebaker remembers Chellberg Farm

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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 Lakeshore.

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 his barn.

“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 1960-63.

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.


Posted 7/11/2003