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Ogden Dunes in the 1940 United States Census

By Dick Meister

By federal law the individual census records are not open to the public until seventy years after the census was taken.  Thus, on April 2, 2012 the United States Census Bureau was able to release the 1940 Census.  This manuscript census contains the census interviewer’s handwritten responses to a set of standardized questions.  The 1940 Census is more extensive than earlier censuses.  It not only lists the name, age, sex, marital status and relationship to the head of the household, but also the value of the home, if owned, or the monthly rental.  It also records place of birth, the last grade in school completed, occupation by job and industry, how many months worked in the past year, amount earned in wages or the amount of income received, if more than $850.

From these individual responses, the historian and the genealogist can gain insight into the ordinary life of residents in the United States, as well as in a small, lake front community in Indiana.  Ancestry.com, an important source for genealogists and social historians, has been preparing for this public release.  Thus on April 2, it began to release some of the scanned pages from the census.  One of first states scanned was Indiana.  And in the Indiana Census, the census of the town of Ogden Dunes was among those that became available for viewing.     

What does a preliminary analysis tell us of life in the Indiana Dunes?  The 1930 Census, taken five years after Ogden Dunes was established, lists fourteen families and fifty individuals as full-time residents.  A copy of the information contained in this census is on display in the Hour Glass Museum.  The recently released census for 1940 contains considerably more information on the 154 individuals in the 43 households in Ogden Dunes.   At least two of these individuals are still living in Ogden Dunes today.   In 1940 Mary Kratz, who today is Mary Kratz Gasser, is eleven years old, living with her parents Ed and Marian Kratz and her sixteen year old sister Grace E.   They are living in a home valued at $18,000 on Shore Drive.  Further west on Shore Drive is Tom Tittle, the five-year old son of Walter and Neva.  He has a two year old brother, William.   Walter Tittle is a buyer for the family’s retail meat market.  Their home is valued at $6,200.  

Eighteen children attend elementary school and 8 are in high school.  The 3 sons of home builder Arthur L. and Dess Cash, Mitchell, Webster, and Arthur H., are the only ones listed as attending college.  Of the 97 adults listed, 50 had attended college, with 29 of these having at least a baccalaureate degree.   The community is far more educated than the average American community.  

Fifty men have occupations.  Thirty-five of these are in the professions, own their own businesses or have mid-to high level positions in large companies.  Eleven are skilled workers.  Four are either clerks or laborers.  Sixteen women have occupations outside the home, with 6 of these as live-in servants to families in the community.  Three of the remaining women have professions.  Mayme Logsdon of Cedar Trail is a professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago; Marian Swezey of Sunset Trail is a physiotherapist at the U.S. Steel hospital in Gary; Elsie Frederickson of Ski Hill Road is a school psychologist. 

Thirty-two of the families or households, approximately 75 percent, own their homes with a median value of $8,000.  Eleven families are renting, paying a median rent of $45 a month.    We know from other records that, at least, three of those renting will move into their own homes in the near future.   The Andrew Armstrong family did move into their Frank Lloyd Wright designed home on Cedar Trail; the Arthur Zimmerman family later purchased the Guy Burroughs home at 4 Cedar Trail, and contractor Arthur L. Cash moved into their own home on Ogden Road.  Seventeen of the heads of households owned their businesses or had an independent income greater than $850.  Twenty-six earned a wage or salary, which in the previous year ranged from $1,000 to $5,000 with a median salary of $3,000.  

Ten of the families listed in 1940 were also listed in 1930.  These included the Andersons (now three households), Harry and Gertrude Borg, James and Anita Cassidy, Edward and Lois Kidwell, Lewis and Mary Ann Norman, Ogden and Louis Nickerson, Nelson and Helen Reck, and Harold and Anna Whelpley.  Three of these families were associated with Ogden Dunes Realty, headed by Nelson and Helen Reck.  Harold Whelpley and his wife Anna L. worked for Nelson Reck and the town as a salesman and the town’s telephone operator.  Harry Borg was in charge of streets and served as Town Marshal.  He later was elected sheriff of Porter County.  In the 1930 Census, William J. Anderson, who is retired, and his wife Caroline lived in a home valued at $10,000.  Living at home with them are five adult sons, a daughter and daughter-in-law.  The sons were machinists, working as tool makers.  By 1940 the parents had both died.  Living in the home place on Shore Drive are three unmarried children, Mabel, a hair dresser, Herbert and William, both tool makers.  The home is valued at $12,000.  Two of the other brothers have their own families and homes on Locust.  Ralph’s home is valued at $9,000; Philip’s at $6,500.   They are also tool makers.   

Almost all of the remaining 33 families arrived in Ogden Dunes after 1935.  Sixteen listed Gary as their residence in 1935 and 8 listed Chicago.  Only the Ed Kratz family, whose home on Shore Drive was under construction in 1930, and Marian Swezey, who had built a home on Sunset Trail, moved into the community between 1930 and 1935. 

According to the records of Ogden Dunes Realty, in 1930 there were 32 houses or cottages of which only 14 were occupied by permanent residents.  In 1940 43 of the 132 houses/cottages were homes for the permanent residents.  That meant 89 cottages, or 2/3rds of the homes were used during the summers and/or weekends.  [See maps of Ogden Dunes Realty on display at the Hour Glass]

A copy of the 1940 Census for Ogden Dunes will be on display at the Memorial Day Open House.

                 Families/Households Listed in 1940 Census

Anderson, Mabel*                                           Logsdon, Mayme

Anderson, Philip and Dorothy*                           Mahoney, Joseph and Ella

Anderson, Ralph and Ethel*                              McKay, John and Jessie

Armstrong, Andrew and Florence                       McMaster, Frank and Mary

Atkinson, Walter                                           

Blodgett, Frank and Florence                            Nickerson, Ogden and Louise*

Borg, Harry and Gertrude*                               Norman, Lewis and Ada*

Brady, Ernest and Emily                                   Reck, Nelson and Helen*

Brown, J. Paul and Jean                                   Royer, Don and Violet

Burroughs, Guy and Mary E                              Shanklin, Andrew and Margaret 

Campbell, Charles and Elizabeth                        Snyder, Clark and Josephine   

Canaday, Oliver and Helen                               Steen, Sven and Martha

Cash, Arthur and Dess                                    Stevens, Nelson and Alene

Cassidy, James and Anita*                              Swezey, Marian     

Cox, George and Josephine                              Taylor, Richard and Marjorie

Dorman, Willard and Marjorie                            Thompson, Rea and Jane

Frederickson, Kay and Elsie                              Thorpe, Frank and Flora

Funkey, Charles and Helen                               Tittle, Walter and Neva

Jensen, Robert and Martha                              Whelpley, Harold and Anna*

Jones, Herbert and Helen                                 White, J. Thompson and Allene

Kidwell, Edward and Lois*                                Zimmerman, Arthur C. and Dorothy

Kratz, Ed and Marian

Kuhns, John C. and Mary


*Listed in 1930