426 W Vermont
426 W Vermont was a two-story house on the corner of Vermont and Toledo Streets across from Bethel A.M.E. Church. First appearing in the 1874 Indianapolis City Directory, this house stood for over a hundred years. During its lifespan, this simple structure was home to dozens of individuals and families who created memories and histories in this home and the surrounding community.
The Browns were the first family to live in this house for an extended period of time, as this home previously had only housed short-term renters. Josephus Brown bought the house in 1894. He lived in the house with his wife, Jemima Brown, their daughter, Nora Lawson, as well as numerous boarders that changed frequently throughout the years.
The Browns were not Indiana natives, and made their way into Indianapolis sometime in the mid 1870s to early 1880s. Josephus Brown was born in Virginia in 1844. Jemima and Nora were both born in Kentucky in 1845 and 1862 respectively. Josephus and Jemima met in Indianapolis and were married on April 6th, 1882.
Newspaper articles show that Jemima was a very active and generous member of the Bethel AME church congregation, helping to raise funds and host reverends while she lived here.
Josephus Brown passed away in 1909 leaving behind his widow, Jemima, and their daughter, Nora. The circumstances behind his death are a bit peculiar as he died in a poor asylum. During this time, poor asylums were places where adults were sent when they could not make ends meet. The reasons of how and why he ended up in a poor asyulum are unknown. Additionally, the fact that his wife was able to keep their property after he was admitted to the asyulum raises a few questions. After Josephus' death, Jemima and Nora continued living in their home until 1917.
George Stovall purchased 426 W Vermont in 1949 and owned the house until 1977. He and his wife Alice lived in this home for nearly 26 years. Neither George nor Alice were Indiana natives. Alice was born in Kentucky and George was born in Illinois. The reasons and motives behind George's move into Indianapolis are unclear; however, it could be attributed to the family ties he had in Indianapolis. Meanwhile, Alice seemed to have moved to Indianapolis due to a previous marriage.
George and Alice met and married later in life. Alice was 58, while George was 60 at the time of their marriage. They both had adult children and had been previously married.
Alice was an outgoing and well-liked individual among her community. She often hosted many guests for parties or social events both before and during her marriage to George. She had a wide social network as she had friends and family all through the Midwest and east coast.
After 27 years of marriage, on December 1971, Alice passed away. Various memorials and obituaries were published in the local newspapers. The obituaries highlighted her involvement in her church, Bethel AME, and the wider African American community.
As time went on, George coped with her death by writing yearly, heartfelt death anniversary notes to Alice in the newspaper. He continued to live at 426 W Vermont Street until his death in 1977. His niece sold the home in 1978.
426 W Vermont Street Today
A few years later, around 1981, 426 W Vermont Street disappears from the city directory. Today a parking lot sits in place of the house.
Written by Katia Avila Vasquez
Edited by Hannah Ryker, June 4, 2020