TRAGIC HAPPENING ON SUGAR CREEK
What had promised to be a pleasant boat trip afloat the usually placid
waters of Sugar Creek down to the Wabash River, and then to drift south
on that stream to the Journey's end at Terre Haute, terminated
In tragic disaster for two Boone County men. Ivory C. Tolle, Lebanon
funeral director and county coroner, and his bachelor friend, Fred
Graves, of Thorntown, prosecuting attorney, about noon on the Saturday
morning of May 1, 1909. near Darlington.
Although the morning was cold and dismal with occasional snow flurries,
Tolle and Graves launched their small craft near Thorntown in the rain
swollen stream with all going well until they reached extremely fast
water. Just above the Stockwell road bridge, east of Darlington.
In spite of all their efforts to avert the mishap, the boat capsized,
and both men were thrown into the water. Both clung to the
overturned boat for a time as It floated along, but finally Craves let
go In an effort to reach the shore. He went under a short distance from
the bank, his badly decomposed body to be recovered some ten days later
further downstream near the old Thurston dam. Tolle hung on to the boat
until It went over the dam; then his grip loosened and be found himself
struggling in the water. By some miracle, be managed to lodge himself
In a clump of willows, all the while shouting for help. A young farmer,
John W. Mullen, who was ditching nearby, heard Tolle's cries, waded
neck-deep Into the swirling current, and managed to drag the now
unconscious man to the bank. With the help of a boy who had
appeared on the scene, the apparently drowned Tolle was carried to the
nearby home of Wilson Hunt, and a Darlington physician was summon
ec. The doctor worked for more than two hours before his
patient began showing signs of life and returning to consciousness.
Notified by telephone of her husband's misfortune, Mrs. Tolle.
accompanied by Dr. Hernia A. Beck, a Lebanon physician, was taken by
automobile driven by Elmer A. Brenton to Mr. Tolle's
bedside. The Tolle's two children, Larayne A., age nine,
and Mary, age eight, were left in the care of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel M.
Ralston, close friends of the TollesBy the following Tuesday. Mr. Tolle
was recovered to the extent that he and Mrs. Tolle were able to leave
Darlington to return to their Lebanon home, then in a large two-story
frame house located on the comer lot where the Montgomery Ward sure now
stands. It took Mr. Tolle months to get over the shock of his harrowing
ordeaL He spent most of the summer with a cousin, Victor Foreman,
on a farm near Zionsvllle, recuperating.
Mr. Mullen was widely praised for his heroism, and particularly, by
Lebanon's Boone Lodge #9, Free and Accepted Masons, of which lodge Mr.
Tolle was a Past Master. The grateful Tolle gave Mr. Mullen
a gold watch and a sizeable sum of money, with further recognition of
Mr. Mullen coming from other Masonic bodies. The unfortunate episode
and its aftermath created quite a stir throughout Boone County as both
men were widely known, professionally and politically. In particular.
Mr. Tolle was the Boone County coroner for the year 1909 and 1910. and
later was Center Township trustee for the years 1913 and
1919. He was president of the Indiana Funeral Directors'
Association In 1913, having served the previous three years as the
Association's secretary. He was Boone County's Chairman of Social
Service for the American Red Cross during World War I After retiring
from the undertaking business in 1921. Mr. Tolle became increasingly
active In Masonic lodge affairs. His entire Masonic history is an
interesting one as given in a memorial history issued by the Masonic
Supreme Council shortly after his death. Mr. Tolle was made a Master
Mason In Brownsburg Lodge No. 241 In 1900, and In June, 1905, he
affiliated with Boone Lodge No. 9. In Lebanon, serving as its
Worshipful Master in 1908 -1909. and secretary from 1910 to 1921
He held honoiary membership in more than a score of lodges throughout
the State of Indiana.
He was exalted a Royal Arch Mason in Lebanon Chapter No. 39, In 1911.
serving as its secretary from 1912 to 1921. He became a Royal and
Select Master in Boone Council No. 45 In 1312. served as Its
Illustrious Master In 1914, and as recorder from 1912 to 1921. He
was created a Knight Templar In Lebanon Commandery No. 43 In 1911,
serving as Eminent Commander In 1919, and recorder from 1912 to 1921.
He received the various grades of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in
the bodies of the Valley of Indianapolis In 1914, and March 20,
1927 at Boston, Mass., he was crowned a 33rd degree Honorary Member of
the Supreme Council. His outstanding record as a Mason was In the
position of Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge of Indiana for almost 29
years, a position be was still holding at the time of his death. Ivory
C Tolle was bom December 4, 1878, at Brownsburg. He married Martha
Arbuckle In Brownsburg In 1898, and a few years later came to Lebanon.
He and Mrs. Tolle were active members of the First Presbyterian Church
of Lebanon where he served as president of its Board of Trustees
for many years, and as a Deacon.
Mr. Tolle died In his home on East South Street, in Lebanon, on
December 18. 1950, after a few weeks Illness. Mrs. Tolle passed
away on July 14, 1963. They are burled In Lebanon's Oak Hill Cemetery.
Transcribed from a Boone County Bicentennial Magazine dated 1976
and Contributed for Genealogy Trails by Barb Z.