MET BY MISS
Last February after the funeral of my mother, Marilyn Enz McVay, I searched Washington Township’s Eberhard Cemetery for grave markers of my ancestors. My tour started near the old church with a marker for Reuben Long, my great-great-grand grandfather who — with his brother David — came to Whitley County and Washington Township in the 1830s from Ohio.
Indiana had been a state less than two decades. The two brothers came in a wagon pulled by oxen and bought farms near the Tunker Road.
Samuel Kaler’s 1907 illustrated “History of Whitley County” offers information about the Long family and states that
“The Indians were still roaming the country when the family arrived. All kinds of game were plentiful and easily procured and it is needless to state that Reuben Long experienced in full measure all the vicissitudes and hardships which fell to the lot of those who paved the way of civilization to the fertile lands and dense forests of northern Indiana.” (p. 554)
Reuben’s son Washington Long, a farmer in Washington Township and local Democratic pol, is buried with his wife under a large reddish stone monument halfway through Eberhard Cemetery. Wash Long was short in stature, but his tomb is large and imposing.
I continued my walk to the grave of Washington’s daughter, Anna Long Hoard, and her husband, Henry Kellis Hoard. They were my great-grandparent and farmed the Long family farm where their three daughters, Sarah Mae, Zoe Trucia and LeNore Alice were born.
Next to their stone is a small stone monument that lies flat against the earth.
It reads, Sarah Mae Hoard.
I pondered the small stone, and I couldn’t help but contrast the lives of Great Aunt Mae and her niece, my mother, Marilyn, whose life we had just celebrated in the Eberhard sanctuary.
My mother, who lived a month shy of her eightieth birthday, studied elementary education, taught at Washington Center school and others, married and had two children and two beloved grandsons.
Mae, also a teacher, lost her life in a tragic accident on Covington Road near Fort Wayne. Mae is frozen in time as a lovely 20-year-old with all of life’s pleasures and challenges ahead of her.
While going through family treasures, I found a yellowed newspaper clipping, most likely from the “South Whitley Tribune” that tells Mae’s story.
As a writer, I enjoy the tradition of overly descriptive language, both in Kaler’s history book (“vicissitudes and hardships”) and in the clipping below. The car is referred to as a “machine” and an “apparatus.” I’ve left the old style journalism as it was, complete with excessive commas, and that flowery language.
MR. AND MRS. KELLIS HOARD
KILLED WHEN AUTO TURNS TURTLE —
THOMAS McCOY WILL PROBABLY DIE —
OTHER OCCUPANTS ESCAPE
July 1922 — Miss Mae Hoard, 20 year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Kellis Hoard, of Washington township, is dead, and Thomas McCoy, who was with her when the Ford machine in which they were riding turned turtle, is lying unconscious, in the St. Joe hospital at Fort Wayne, with small hope held out for his recovery. Lawrence Schrader, who was driving, escaped with a slight scratch and Miss Esther Moyer, who was riding in the front seat with him, sustained severe bruises and some cuts from broken glass.
The tragedy occurred Sunday night about 8 o’clock at a point about 5 miles west of Fort Wayne, and was the direct result of a broken steering apparatus. The road was wide and level at the point where the car left it and went over the grade, and there is abundant proof that they were not going fast, because the machine simply turned turtle and remained in that position.
The embankment was not over three feet high, and the car just ran off the road at an angle that permitted it to turn over. Mae and Young McCoy were riding in the rear seat and the top was up, but they were both thrown clear of the car. The other two were pinned under it, yet they escaped practically without injury.
Rushed to Mae’s Side.
Miss Moyer was the first to get out from under the car. As it turned over, she was half pinned under the machine, but she was able to get out without help. She rushed to Mae’s prostrate form, seizing her hand and calling her name. The injured girl made no reply. By that time, Lawrence Schrader had managed to get out and he and Miss Moyer went to Thomas McCoy, who was also unconscious as he made no response to questions.
City Councilman Albert Bullerman, of Fort Wayne was a witness to the accident and he placed the injured members of the party in his car and they were on the way to the hospital in just a few moments. Mae Hoard died shortly before reaching the hospital, and Tom McCoy, was unconscious when they got there. About an hour later, he regained consciousness for just a brief interval, and then lapsed off again and has not since regained consciousness.
Steering Knuckle Broke.
Examination of the car clearly showed that the steering apparatus had broken. Mr. Schrader said at the hospital that he believed that such a thing had occurred. The fact that the road was level and straight would tend to bear this out. There was no gravel in which the car skidded, as stated in the early versions of the tragedy.
Taught School in County.
Miss Mae Hoard was one of the exceedingly popular and successful young teachers in the county. She taught at the Shaffer school, No. 2, in Washington township, with distinguished success during the past year and she was employed to teach in Washington Center during the coming school year. The tragedy of her death has shocked the people of this community as few accidents have, and the loss is felt alike in Washington township and Whitley county. The members of the family are heartbroken and the sympathy of all goes out to them in their hour of deepest grief.
The deceased was a bright young woman and her keen interest in her work was what aided her so greatly in making it a success. Her pupils adored her and her last day of school this year was one mingled with joy and sadness; joy that they were to have vacation, but sadness because it would end their happy relationship with their teacher. Had she lived until next Christmas day, she would have been 21 years old. Besides her parents she is survived by two sisters, Zoe, who is older, and Elnora (sic) who is younger.
Just Home from Summer School.
Miss Moyer is also a teacher in the county schools and she returned home with Mae Hoard just two weeks ago from Manchester College where they attended summer school. Miss Moyer is a daughter of Mrs. Ethel Moyer, of Washington township.
The article ends here.
My grandmother, LeNore Hoard Enz,(whose name is reported incorrectly as Elnora in the story) was a lifelong resident of Whitley County, and Mae’s younger sister. LeNore Enz graduated from nurses training at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne. She worked for a few years before marrying my grandfather, Carl Enz. In the mid 1930s, 100 years after her great-grandfather Long came to Tunker, LeNore and Carl Enz moved back to the farm to care for Anna Long Hoard and the farm after Kellis Hoard died.
Mae’s older sister Zoe also became a teacher, and eventually a school principal in the Mishawaka area. She married before World War II and moved to Denver where she lived a full life with her husband A. Everett Evans.
How unusual for the 1920s that all three of Kellis and Anna Hoard’s daughters received education beyond what they received at Washington Center school.
Until I read this obituary in July 2012, I did not know that Mae’s birthday was on Christmas day. Aunt Zoe nor my grandmother rarely spoke of their sister to me. My grandmother was fourteen when Mae died, and Zoe was 24. The family suffered an earlier tragedy six years before when their house on the family farm at Tunker burned to the ground.
One can never understand what the loss of a young person can do to a family.
As a child, I often accompanied my grandmother to Fort Wayne on shopping trips, primarily downtown to Wolf and Dessauer’s Department Store.
I am not sure if Highway 14 existed in 1922, but today it runs parallel to the highway in Aboite Township, Allen County. Aunt Mae’s accident was on Covington Road.
My grandmother, who often talked to herself under her breath, usually mumbled something about the Covington Road as soon as we crossed into Allen County. I don’t think Mae was ever far from her mind.
While the reporting of Mae’s death offers answers, it also solicits questions.
Why did Mae’s students love her so much? What happened to the others in the accident? Did they grieve Mae Hoard, and did they remember her long after she was gone as did her sisters? Did Thomas McCoy recover and marry and have a family of his own? What happened to Mr. Schrader and Miss Moyer, both surnames I recognize from my Whitley County childhood.
There is probably no one alive who remembers this young woman, who was so heralded in her obituary.
As a person who treasures family pictures and relics, I knew that telling Mae’s story was up to me. Her sisters are both gone now, also, but they had daughters and nieces who carry a legacy forward in stories and pictures and loving memories.
Rest in peace, Great Aunt Mae. You are remembered.
Published September 2012 in the “Whitley County (Indiana) Historical Society Bulletin.” This story is based on a newspaper clipping I found earlier that summer.