Way Back Wednesday – J H Bales – Butter, Eggs, and Poultry Wagon

Way Back Wednesday - J H Bales Butter Eggs & Poultry - featured

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Way Back Wednesday: J H Bales – Butter, Eggs, & Poultry Wagon –

The following large group photo would have likely been taken somewhere near Bloomingport of Randolph County, Indiana around 1910. The photograph includes my great-grandfather, as well as his parents, grandparents, and siblings. There are additional friends and neighbors pictured too. Some I recognize, and some I do not.

We learned a bit about the history of Bloomingport (pronounced Bloomingsport), Indiana and the way its eventual fate was determined by the location of the train station at nearby Carlos (pronounced Carlus) in Way Back Wednesday: Bloomingport Livery Stable and Carlos City to Carlos Mystery Solved. In that post, you also met my great-great-great grandfather John Henry Bales who operated the livery in Bloomingport. Apparently, the livery was not his only business venture.

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Way Back Wednesday - J H Bales Butter Eggs & Poultry - featured

This is one of my favorite photos from my genealogy collection because printed on the side of the wagon are the words “J. H. Bales Butter, Eggs, and Poultry.” It seems John Henry may have been the original Schwan’s man going door to door to peddle food items. Are the Schwan’s frozen food trucks a thing everywhere, or is that just in Indiana?

Actually, my grandpa told me his grandfather, John Henry, didn’t just sell the food. My grandpa believed he also bought the food door to door. He was a food peddler, so he would go to one house and buy the surplus eggs, or butter, or chickens to sell to the next house or to sell to people in town who may not have those items.

Remember, how Ma Ingalls always had to walk into town to trade her eggs for goods at the general store? And there was always mean, old Nellie Olsen. Wouldn’t it have been so much more convenient for her to have John Henry dropping by every few days to buy those eggs? That’s the entrepreneurial spirit that makes America great!

 I just find that wagon so cool! I know it’s nerdy. You can see John Henry sitting in the chair in front of the wheel of another wagon. I’ve tried to label all the individuals I can confidently identify, and we can discuss a little more about each of them.

Way Back Wednesday - J H Bales Butter Eggs & Poultry - labeled



John Henry is, of course, my great-great-great-grandfather. Sitting to the side of him is my great-great-great-grandmother, Martha (Batchelor) Bales. Her mother was Sarah Chamness. Sarah Chamness first married William Batchelor, and he died fairly young, and she then married William Britt. My grandpa always had interesting stories about the cousins from Granny Martha’s side. We’ll eventually get to that when I share photos of the Britts and Heastons.

Oberander, Engle, and Oler

John Henry and Martha’s daughter Rosella ‘Zela’ (Bales) Oberander is standing behind John Henry. Her daughters Hazel and Hilda are also pictured. According to my grandpa and his sister, Zela had health issues for many years which eventually led to her death. John Henry and Martha mostly raised the two girls.

Hazel Oberander eventually married Elbried Engle. Elbried was the brother Prise/Price Engle who was the mail carrier at Carlos. He took the photo of Ozro Bales Driving a Buggy Fast. Hazel and Elbried had seven kids, and their daughters married Cox, Thompson, Hinshaw, and Devaney.

Hilda eventually married Arthur Floyd Oler. They also had seven kids. Their daughters married Hollingsworth, Starbuck, Polei, May, and Hyer. There are lots of descendants in the area from these lines.

John Henry’s daughter-in-law, Estella (Sharp) Bales is kneeling next to her son Ralph (my great-grandpa). Her other son Royce is the one with some kind of bag on his head. The boy between Ralph and Royce looks like a boy in another photo who is labeled “Fred Engle,” but it’s really too blurry to tell for sure.


Estella’s husband Ozro Bales is missing from this photo (maybe he had to take the photo), but he can be seen in Bales and Others at Carlos, Indiana, as well as in the photo of Ozro Bales Driving a Buggy Fast. Ozro and Estella’s daughter Ethel Blanche is seated on the left. Blanche eventually married Marshel (or Marshall) Sickels, and that is a line with a lot of descendants still residing in Randolph County, Indiana.


Jim and Faye ‘Ethel’ Isenbarger, I have been told, were the best friends of Oz and Stell. I have not been able to connect Jim Isenbarger’s line to the Bert Isenbarger who married a niece of John Henry and is pictured in the John and Nancy McMullen Bales Reunion 1896 photograph. However, I have a strong suspicion they are related. I also believe Faye ‘Ethel’ was a cousin to Ozro through his mother’s Chamness line.

The girl sitting between Blanche and Hilda closely resembles one of the Huber girls from another photo I have, but I’m not certain enough to label her.

Family Tree

Someone has an extensive family tree entered at Rootsweb if you would like to explore the John Henry Bales line further. As always, you can’t trust the accuracy of most of what you find online, but it’s fun to look around and quickly check on possible connections.

If you have connections to any of these lines, feel free to drop me a note in the comments. You may share these photos with other interested parties, but please leave the web address on the photo, so others can find their way back here.

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By InsomnoMom

Mom of Four. Faith, Family, Frugality, Fun, Freedom, & Food. Follow us @ TheHouseThatNeverSlumbers.com where the fun never rests!

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