One of the mystery pictures that has bothered us for a while is one of our grandfather sitting in a car in front of an inn, the Ash Creek Inn run by Casper Schick. The photo can be seen below. While we knew who was in the photo, we wondered where it was taken and when. From what we knew of our grandfather, we figured the picture was taken in the 1910s. He was born in 1890 and we figured he could have been in his 20s in this picture. Beyond that, though, we were out of ideas. There was nothing written on the photo, and we knew nothing about Casper Schick or the Ash Creek Inn.
The first step, then, was to see what we could find on the Ash Creek Inn. Googling did not give us anything useful at the time, so we moved on to looking for Casper Schick.
It turns out that there were at least three Casper Schicks. One was in the carpenter’s union in Cincinnati, which did not seem likely for an innkeeper. I then found one that looked more promising, in Kingston, New York. He showed up in city directories for 1888, 1889, and 1892 and was a saloon keeper. While this was before our grandfather was born, we figured he might have still been in the business later on. I tried to find something on the Ash Creek Inn, or Ash Creek anything in Kingston but could not find anything. Still, the coincidence was pretty strong so I looked for the historical society there and then wrote to them. I got a very nice reply back saying that he was not in the 1916 city directory but was in the 1892 one. Kingston still was the only location that made sense, but we clearly had to start looking elsewhere.
Months passed and then we tried again this week. I did a fresh Google search for the Ash Creek Inn and this time got some hits, from NewspaperArchive.com. It turns out there was an Ash Creek Inn mentioned in the Bridgeport Telegram from Connecticut. I looked at the articles and found that in 1919 someone was selling a roadster there, and it was raided for selling liquor in 1920 and 1923. This is past the likely time of the picture, but we at least had a match for the name of the Inn.
The next step was to see if a Casper Schick lived in the area. A simple census search on Ancestry.com showed that one lived in Bridgeport in 1920 with his family. His occupation was “None”, so he hadn’t stood out as well as the one in Kingston. I also found that he lived in Bridgeport in 1908 when he filled out his passport application. I now suspected I had the answer, but needed to link Casper and the Inn together.
Ancestry.com has city directories for nearby Bridgeport, and my sister found that there was a section for Fairfield and Southport in the back in 1910. I went forward from there, year by year, seeing who the proprietor was. In 1914 the proprietor of the Ash Creek Hotel was Casper Schick, and he remained proprietor through the 1916 directory. Since the directory is an annual publication, he probably started running the business in 1913. This narrows the time frame of the picture down to 1913-16.
Later on after I got my NewspaperArchive subscription renewed, I checked for more stories on the Ash Creek Inn. The later proprietors were arrested several times in the early 1920′s for selling alcohol during Prohibition, and then the coverage ended. I was able to find, though, that the Inn was on the Boston Post Road between Bridgeport and Fairfield in an area named Grasmere. Grasmere Avenue is right near Ash Creek and is where Casper Schick lived. This would place the Inn near the intersection of the current Post Road and Grasmere Ave.
I went into Google Streetview to see if any buildings looked like the one in the picture but had no luck. It does not appear to be around anymore.
I did follow one more lead to try to find the exact location of the Inn. I found a web page for the present-day Ash Creek Saloon. It is no longer near Ash Creek, but on their page they say how the original location was in a building from the 19th century housing the Ash Creek Saloon in the 1920s or 30s. I then tried to find out where the Saloon had been. Googling, I found this article with pictures of new restaurants that describes a building at 93 Post Road that used to have the Ash Creek Saloon. Unfortunately it is a one story brick building, helping to confirm that the original building is long gone.
There is one other clue as to the time of the photo, and that is the car. We looked through some pictures of old cars, but have not come up with a clear match. Pictures of old cars are spread around the Internet and the only way to find a match is to go through them one by one, so this will be a future task.
As a wrap-up, Casper Schick died around 26 January 1961. He was listed as being a former restaurant and hotel owner living at 97 Grasmere Ave, right near the former Inn.
The big lesson I learned from this is to use NewspaperArchive for more than just name searches. I usually use it for name searches, and that is what is at the top of the search screen, but it can be used to look for anything.