It is well known that the Churchward family brought the Blacksmith Shop to Waynedale. And without a blacksmith it is also likely that there would not have been a Waynedale. You see a village depended on its blacksmith.
As the iron industry evolved blacksmithing became an umbrella of several specialties. The blacksmith who made knives was a bladesmith. The blacksmith who made locks was a Locksmith. The blacksmith who made guns was a Gunsmith. The blacksmith who shod horses was a farrier. Generally, the blacksmith we remember, Charles Churchward, was a man who possessed all of these skills.
Making an axe or knife or fireplace crane or a set of door hinges or a handful of nails was what Charles Churchward did. Charles was born in Ireland in 1892 where his dad was stationed with the Coast Guard. The family left the country in 1913 for Canada. They moved to the United States and began farming. A blacksmith in Poe, Bill Rhodda, Charles’ brother-in-law, taught Charles the trade. Bill eventually moved to Ossian and Charles took over the shop. The Churchward family bought a farm in Uniondale, but when the depression hit they lost the farm. They moved to Waynedale in 1933 bringing the blacksmithing trade with them. Churchward and Sons Blacksmith Shop was “located north of what used to be Maloley’s Furniture Store, facing on what was Old Bluffton Road (now called Old Trail Road) and Lower Huntington Roads,” said Bill Churchward. “In the same area as Nobles Homestore, Sprandles, Stakers.”
When the family left Poe and moved to Waynedale, Charlie was 41 years of age. It was at that time that he gave up the horseshoeing portion of his trade, but not blacksmithing. The blacksmith shop moved west on Lower Huntington Road (currently Leeper’s Lawn Service) to an army barracks in 1941, where they continued to serve the area farmers, the local airport, and even The Waynedaler. “My dad would repair parts for The Waynedaler whenever the press went down. It would be a gentleman’s agreement between Arden McCoy and him,” said Jeep. “A trade for the ad that ran in the newspaper.”
“We lived at 7001 Elzey Street in 1934. There were 11 of us kids. 5 girls and 6 boys,” Bill said. “My brother Eugene “Jeep” and I worked for The Waynedaler.” On Thursday night the 2 paper boys would help with the printing, running type, and folding papers until 11pm. “On Friday, early in the morning, around 3:30am we would start delivering,” Jeep reminisced. “And then we’d have to hustle back home to milk the cows, then off to school.” The Churchward boys made 75cents every week. Bill said that he spent 25cents on the Elmhurst basketball game and 50cents for school lunch. They continued to deliver The Waynedaler until 1942.
Eight of the children are still living. Edna (Imel) Churchward was 90 years old on April 9th. Bill and his wife, Virginia will be celebrating their 60th anniversary on June 30th. Eugene “Jeep” is living in New Haven and Lorraine in Indianapolis. Page is 88 years old and lives here in Waynedale on Dale Drive. Paul lives in Churubusco, Rita and Susan in Fort Wayne.
We do need to appreciate the man who really built our modern world, the blacksmith. In peacetime and wartime, the blacksmith was called on to do many tasks. In “The Village Blacksmith,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow praises the blacksmith. “His brow is wet with honest sweat, He earns whate’er he can, And looks the whole world in the face, For he owes not any man.”
Such are the sentiments of an age gone by. Who today could qualify for Longfellow’s praise? I doubt we’ll ever hear such a romantic piece about lawyers, consultants, engineers, computer programmers, doctors, or for that matter, anyone else.