During the 1890's, a creamery building was built on the site of the present home of Lowell American Legion Post #101. A frame building was there first, though it was not listed in the 1909 Directory of Lake County.
Dairy farmers brought milk to the plant in ten-gallon cans. The expensive cans were reused for many years, and were repaired at the local hardware store or blacksmith shop.
Milk was shipped to Chicago by train and was also used for making butter and ice cream.
A new, two-story masonry building replaced the old frame one by 1915, when new machinery was installed, including a Chandler and Taylor-Corliss engine to run the equipment to manufacture ice cream. The "Cedar Valley Creamery" advertised "Butter without a Fault."
The Old Timer remembers the empty milk cans rolling down a conveyor to the waiting farmer and his rig. Well-known Lowell businessman Lewis Shurte worked there for a time and was sent to Purdue University for a short course in buttermaking.
In the 1920's, the plant became a pick-up station for larger dairies to the north, when trucks were used for hauling milk. Ted Gerner of Lowell told us that he worked there in 1927 when it was a receiving station for the Borden Co. The milk was taken to the Borden plant in Hammond, where Gerner later worked for many years. Others working there were Clayton Davis, James Jensen, and Mr. Falkenstein. Borden also had a receiving station at Crown Point.
In 1923, the Milk Dealers Transportation Company was formed by Charles J. Pear and Robert Cullen, and trucks were first used to ship the milk. This firm was purchased in 1945 by Lloyd Fleming of Crown Point.
On Nov. 11, 1918, when early in the morning the news of the end of World War I came to Lowell, the bells were ringing, and the streets were filled with people shouting for joy! Singing and shouting around the bonfires proclaimed the good news throughout the day.
Soon the men were coming home from the war, and on March 13, 1919, about 30 veterans met at the Knights of Pythian Hall (above the present downtown radio station in 1986, on the northeast corner of Clark and Commercial)) to organize a soldiers' club.
Plans were made, and the following officers were elected to head the 'temporary' organization: President Dr. John Iddings, Vice President William Surprise, Treasurer Claude Craft, and Secretary Harold Strickland. This new organization, called the "Soldiers, Sailors and Marines Club," marched in uniform in the Decoration Day Parade, in May 1919, which was sponsored by the Civil War Veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic, Lowell Burnham Post #376.
American Legion Post #101 was organized at a meeting Sept. 18, 1919, and officers were elected. William Surprise was chosen commander, Harold Strickland, adjutant, and Joe Little, finance officer, while the members of the executive committee were Raymond Johnson, Cordie Kenney and Leon Bailey.
Their charter, dated October 20, 1919, included the following names: William Surprise, Harold Strickland, Joseph Little, Raymond Johnson, Cordie Kenney, Leon Bailey, Dr. John Iddings, Floyd Vinnedge, Harold Brownell, Edward Minninger, Fay Vandercar, Kenneth Sheets, Claude Craft, Chester Ruley, Herman Hass, Robert Edgerton, Fred Minninger, John Hepp, Delbert Hayden, Harry Petrie, George Hayden and Arthur Heiser. The majority were descendents of pioneer families from this area.
Soon after the organization of the post, local Civil War veterans, most in their 70's, and members of Burnham Post Grand Army of the Republic requested that the younger group take over the Decoration Day program and other patriotic plans.
In 1920, the first Labor Day Homecoming was planned, a tradition carried on to this day. The earlier Labor Day festivities consisted of a parade, followed by many automobiles lining up at Oakland Park for a day of picnics, ball games, a carnival, boxing and fireworks.
One sad story during a Labor Day celebration in the 1920's concerned a World War I airplane whose crew was dropping aerial bombs from the old bi-plane. One of the bombs became stuck and exploded, killing the crewman. The pilot, though shaken, was able to land the plane in a field west of Lowell and south of SR 2.
Post #101 held their meetings for many years in rooms above the stores in downtown Lowell, until a permanent home was planned.
Dr. Gerald Bardens, an early Legionnaire, served the Lowell community for over fifty years as a veterinarian. He came to Lowell from Hammond in 1918, after serving in the Veterinary Corps of the U.S. Army in World War I. He served a term as commander of the Post in 1931, and in 1937 used his own money to purchase the old creamery building for a Post Home. He later was repaid by the Post for his investment.
On February 19, 1938, the remodeled creamery building was dedicated as the home of Post 101, and a chaperoned dance was held to celebrate the event.
Ten years later, in 1948, an addition was added to the home, including a bowling alley with eight lanes and a large upstairs hall. This construction was partially funded by the Fay Lynch Estate. The new remodeling was designed by Architect Kenneth Vaugn, contracted by William Tatman, and engineered by Hugh Rieke. The commander then was Loyal Alyea, and his adjutant was Austin Cunningham.
A section of the old creamery building can still be seen, detected from the west side of the Legion building.
Post #101 has always given a helping hand to the community through the years since 1919, with many service projects and veteran's affairs programs. The present commander is Beverly McHugh, the first woman to hold the post in Lowell.
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