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Would have loved to visit “Benedict’s” on Monument Circle in the early 1900’s for a Neopolitan Ice Cream–probably owned by some 10th cousin 4 times removed

I firmly believe that if people don’t see how and where their personal connection is, they just won’t care. Whether it’s the team you root for, the church you attend, the neighborhood where you live or work…these all have meaning to you because they are part of your life today. However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that really, it and we are all connected, wherever you go.

Having brains so constantly overtaxed with the millions of bits of stimuli attacking you faster than the speed of sound, it’s understandable that seemingly obscure connections and deeper meanings take a level of concentration and calm few of us can muster. Quiet contemplation and inner reflection doesn’t seem a natural state anymore. (Maybe the pot smokers would take issue with this assertion?) This is why history is so easy to dismiss as irrelevant–it’s so large, overwhelming and detailed that it can overload your system. Before tv’s, radios, cars and computers people had plenty of time to contemplate their family tree, to read, write, to ponder–but not so much so today.

So here’s a simple exercise to help you connect to the past: look at old signs, old ads, old city directories, old photos, maps, street signs and the like and look for your surname. Chances are when you see your surname somewhere, you notice it anyway. When you do, do you wonder if you are related to the person who created what you are seeing?And how would that change the way you feel?

I take my own born surname as an example. As a Benedict who hails from a long line of Benedicts who lived in Indiana since the 1830’s, if I see that surname on an old advert, I think I must be related to them somehow, and hence, connected.

Finding these little connections create a stronger sense of grounding, place and security for me. I’d be interested to see if others feel the same way.

As a side note, there are often ‘vanity books,’ that have centuries of records on specific surnames which can help you verify/ determine whether or not you are related to someone from years long past.

Please leave your surname here, and I will keep my eyes peeled for your surname in future adverts from early Indianapolis!

9 responses to “Sunday Ads: Look for your name game”

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    Will follow this one…

  2. Tiffany Benedict Berkson says:

    I’m guessing it’s rare to see your surname, Basil? 😉

  3. Beverly Raffensperger Fauvre says:

    When I was doing research for my book about old Indianapolis, “Justly Proud: A German American
    Family in Indiana” I found many old ads related to my family’s businesses in Indianapolis dating
    back to the mid-late 19th C.

    The family names were Taylor, Branham, Bauer, and Raffensperger. My husband is also a native
    of Indianapolis and his family name Maus (changed to Fauvre in 1911) was also prominent in the business
    community. The original Maus to come to Indianapolis was a miller turned brewer.

  4. Aaron M. Rader says:

    I know that Rader Street, a north-south street, is a block or two west of MLK Jr. beginning at 30th, I believe. There aren’t many Raders in Indianapolis. I’m very curious to know if the street was named after one of my family members.

  5. Joan Hostetler says:

    A couple of my great-uncles (Hippensteel) were physicians in Indianapolis and Bloomington in the 1920s-50s. I would love to find their ads.

  6. Tiffany Benedict Berkson says:

    I have wondered on your behalf, Aaron!

  7. Tiffany Benedict Berkson says:

    I’ll keep my eyes peeled, Joan!

  8. Tom Davis says:

    I had grandparents, Chester and Bernice Davis, and great-aunts and great-uncles (Floyd and Ada Davis and Richard and Katye Wheeler), that had small neighborhood grocery stores in the 1930s and maybe early 1940s. I doubt if they did any advertising but I did find some of their addresses in city directories when I did a little research when I myself moved to town about 30 years ago. If I remember correctly, one was around 15th and Bellefontaine and another around 30th and Clifton. With a name like Davis, I tend not to assume any other Davis is related (e.g. there are 7 guys named Tom Davis buried at Crown Hill, none of them related), especially since my family ties to Indianapolis were limited to about 1925 to 1945 until I myself moved here in 1982.

  9. Tiffany Benedict Berkson says:

    Agreed, having a more popular surname adds to the adventure…I wonder–beyond Smith and Jones what are the most prolific last names?

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