CHAPTER ONE: A Dream Comes True

"It is situated about two miles from Corey Station on the Michigan Central Railroad, a hilly but beautiful road connecting. Corey Lake is a spring fed lake about two miles long and three quarters of a mile wide, with an excellent beach for bathing, composed of fine sand and sloping so gradual that swimming will be most safe. For fishing, no better spot could have been found." -- 1909 Camp Eberhart brochure
Future site of Camp Eberhart - Photo courtesy of YMCA Camp Eberhart archives
View looking towards the point (circa 1908).

They thought it would be a wonderful place for a camp. This was the opinion of four members of the South Bend YMCA Board of Directors when they first viewed Corey Lake in 1908. That summer the Y rented a small portion of land on the north side of the lake from local farmer George Knevels, and a small camp was held. Eight boys camped for one month, spending most of their time fishing. W.O. Davies, the father of camper George E. Davies, was in charge. Today, the outdoor kitchen is named in honor of W.O. Davies. George Davies and another camper, Charles Carlisle, Jr., traveled to camp in a pony cart while the other six boys came by train.

Harris H. EberhartThe summer of 1909 saw 20 boys camping at the site, among them Harris Hurlburt Eberhart. Harris, the only son of the well-to-do Eberharts of Mishawaka -- Everett Guy and Jeannie Lynn -- was a very religious boy. His father was vice president and general manager of Mishawaka Woolen Manufacturing Company. Born on April 7, 1892 in Mishawaka, Harris had just graduated with honors from a private prep school (high school) in Woodstock, Illinois, Todd Seminary. Todd, established in 1873 as a boy's school, was built on the highest point in the state and consisted of nine buildings. The school had 110 students with about 20 faculty. It was a Christian-based school, conservative in its discipline with a student body from throughout the country. Harris attended for four years, from 1905 through 1909 and had plans to attend a prestigious college on the East Coast.

The camp that summer was advertised with a small 6 page brochure announcing the season from July 1 - 29, as the first season of "Summer Camp" of the Boy's Department of the South Bend YMCA. Burnett B. Brady, Boy's Work Director at the Y, was in charge assisted by a corps of senior leaders and cook Pete Findley. Some interesting details of camp life are found in the brochure:

"The camp boy learns to love nature, the lake, woods and hills; he forms valuable friendships, takes long tramps, proves his athletic ability, swims, catches the biggest fish, works his camera overtime, eats his share, sleeps like a log, and goes home with a stronger body, wider sympathies, and a broader mind, better prepared for the year's work at school or business.

"Tents will be furnished, each provided with a fly. Each will accommodate seven boys and one man who acts as tent leader. Specially constructed double-decked cots will be used. A large tent will be used as the dining tent as well as assembly tent...the kitchen equipment will be complete. An abundance of fine drinking water is on the grounds. A fleet of safe boats will be at the disposal of the boys free of charge."

The program for the season included baseball, basketball, quoits, boating, swimming, fishing, hiking, practical talks, mock trials, shows, camp fires, celebration on Fourth of July and a Field Day (races and stunts). Each Friday night there was a bible study followed by religious services on Sunday. Thursdays were visiting days and a special event was held. Campers paid five dollars a week and were warned against bringing more than an extra 50 cents for spending money. Brown and green were the camp colors. "Each for All and All for Each" became the camp motto. Each camper received the Camp emblem and was welcomed to wear the uniform of khaki trousers (long or short), a khaki shirt, green neckties and tennis shoes.

The daily routine began at 6:30 with reveille and a dip in the lake followed by breakfast at 7:30. Photo courtesy of YMCA Camp Eberhart archivesCamp duties began at 8:30 with the balance of the morning open to recreation "as desired" after 9 a.m. Swimming was scheduled for 11 a.m., followed by tent inspection. Dinner was served at noon followed by a much needed rest period. The afternoon started at 2 p.m. with baseball and "other recreations." Swimming was offered again at 4:30 to close the afternoon. Supper was served promptly at 5:30. Vesper services were conducted each evening at 6:30 followed by a campfire or evening entertainment at 7 p.m. The boys turned in at 8:45 and a bugler sounded taps at 9 p.m. "Lights out for a good nine hours sleep," was the philosophy.

Camp officials called the 1909 season "successful beyond expectations" and by the end of the season, the Y decided to make the Corey Lake site the Camp's permanent home. Unfortunately, the end of the camping season was marred by the greatest of tragedies. On July 24, five days before the end of camp, seventeen year-old Harris Eberhartwas returning to Mishawaka after leaving camp early to visit Lake Forest, Illinois. Riding in the Eberhart Pierce-Arrow Touring Car, chauffeured by Mr. Arthur Carlson, were Harris, his father, and a school friend from Todd Seminary named Richard Flagg.

Shortly before 7 a.m., they approached the railroad crossing of the Monon Line in Munster, Indiana. High banks, bushes and trees prevented Arthur Carlson or Everett Eberhart from seeing the Louisville Flyer speeding towards them, a s the boys slept in the back seat. Seconds before the collision, Everett jumped from the car. Arthur either jumped or was thrown from the vehicle. Both men sustained only minor injuries. The train hit the rear ofthe auto, dragging it several hundred feet and killing Richard Flagg instantly. Harris was found 50 feet from where the auto finally came to a halt. Unconscious, suffering from head and other injuries, Harris was placed on hand car and a crew from the Louisville Flyer rushed him to St. Margaret's Hospital in Hammond, Indiana where he died a few hours later.

The accident made page one news in both South Bend newspapers, the Mishawaka paper and Woodstock, Illinois, newspaper. The Mishawaka Enterprise published these remarks:

"Never has Mishawaka experienced a greater shock than when on Saturday morning last the news arrived telling of the terrible accident which snuffed out the lives of two bright and promising youths and cast a shadow of gloom over their bereaved families and hosts of friends...

"Harris was a clean, manly, refined and intelligent youth, mature in intellect for one of his age, and no young man ever had a brighter or more promising career in view. His untimely taking off is a calamity almost unbearable to his parents who idolized him as an only son and in whose sad fate their fondest hopes were rudely shattered. The entire community joins in the most sincere sympathy in their great bereavement."

Harris left behind, however, his plan for a permanent camp at Corey Lake. His diary was discovered after his death, which may have been the document containing his plan for camp. The diary was mentioned in an article about Harris published in the American Patriot and is also referred to in a memorial book printed by the Eberharts. Of course, thousands of camp alumni have heard this account from George Cooper's campfire stories told from Dave's House: "They unpacked his trunk and found a little drawing of camp as he would like to see it here at this place. He had the Mess Hall on the hill (now Obenchain)...a little stucco building down here for a dressing area and six rowboats and ten canoes. His father took that map, or that plan, and came out here at camp and bought 17 acres of land from Mr. Knevels and duplicated that plan just as his son had dreamed it. So, this camp, after all, is a boy's dream."

The donation had not been entirely spontaneous, however, as there had been a plan for an Eberhart family donation to the Y for the camp prior to Harris' death. While the brochure for the 1909 season has the words "Summer Camp" on the front and "YMCA Boy's Summer Camp" at the top of each page, the words "Camp Eberhart" appear once in the body of the brochure. About two weeks before the fatal accident, members of the Y Board of Directors met with Everett Eberhart, accompanied by Harris, at camp discussing the gift. Therefore, in anticipation of this gift, the Y was already referring to the Camp as "Eberhart" while Harris was a camper there in 1909 -- which explains why he had been so meticulous in drawing up a blueprint for a permanent camp site. The death of Harris no doubt accelerated and possibly increased the amount of giving by the Everett and Jeannie Eberhart.

Having a letter prepared on Mishawaka Woolen Manufacturing letterhead, dated September 30, 1909, Everett wrote to L. D. Hardy, president of the South Bend Y:

"I have been in touch with Mr. Goodwin regarding a proposition to set aside a certain amount for the purpose of establishing a permanent camp at Corey Lake for boys, under the ownership and direction of the South Bend YMCA, and Mrs. Eberhart and I hereby tender to your Board of Trustees the sum estimated by Mr. Goodwin to be needed to purchase ten acres and equip a complete camp as outlined by him to me in a communication of recent date -- namely, seven thousand, five hundred dollars; the money to be paid by us as needed for purchase of land, construction, and equipment. It is understood of course that boys from Mishawaka and other territories to be determined upon will have access to privileges of the camp.

"This is done in the memory of our son who was so tragically taken from us, in the hope that Camp Eberhart will have a special significance to every boy who goes there because it is in memory of a boy who loved boys, who was a boy among boys, and whose memory, and messages left in his own writing will appeal to them as messages really worth while, direct to them, from a real boy."

The Eberhart's lived at 402 Lincoln Way East in Mishawaka. In addition to Harris, the Eberhart's had a daughter, Myra Lynn. They were members of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Mishawaka and were active throughout the community. Everett served on the board of directors of two banks and was a founder of another bank; was a director on the board of the YMCA; a trustee for DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana; head of the International Sunday School Association; an original committee member of the Men and Religion Forward Movement; and was an instructor for a men's Bible class. Harris' grandfather (Everett's father) helped establish Mishawaka Woolen and the family had prospered. Everett worked his way up through the company eventually becoming chairman of the board. The family was religious and Harris had been brought up in that tradition, regularly writing scriptures in his diary (unfortunately, the whereabouts of his diary are unknown). A year after Harris died, the Eberhart family, including Everett's two brothers and sister, pledged $100,000 for the construction of a new gothic church in memory of their parents.

Everett never recovered from the death of Harris. He and Jeannie visited their son's grave at Mishawaka's Fairview Cemetery several times a week, sometimes for hours at a time, and kept the grave adorned with flowers. Everett brooded constantly over the loss and in 1915 Everett's brother James and a cousin both passed away. On August 17, 1915, Everett neatly arranged his watch, keys, and several addressed letters and packages on his desk in his office at the Woolen Manufacturing Company. The 46-year-old executive drove to one of his banks to make a deposit and proceeded to Fairview Cemetery. Within an hour, Everett had lain down on Harris' grave, placed a handkerchief over his face and shot himself through the heart. A note was left behind, along with a shocked community. A message written by Everett, which may be the one he left at Harris' grave, appeared in a memorial booklet prepared by the family: "Please think of me as in the other room, not as dead."

The newspaper accounts were emotional. "He was the last man in the community of whom it could have been thought possible that such a deed would even have been dreamed of," read one story. "No possible motive could be imagined." Those who knew him, however, knew that it was Harris' death that he could not live with. The funeral was held at the Eberhart home and "was one of the largest ever held in this city," according to one newspaper account.

The memorial booklet prepared by the family at the time of Everett's death included a chapter about Harris, including references to Camp Eberhart, "presented as a gift to the YMCA of South Bend, Indiana, a Boy's Playground as a memorial to their son." Harris is pictured in the booklet with three photos of Camp Eberhart, the lake, the Lodge and the beach.

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