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Jonathan Marion Hinkle Claimed by an Icy Death

Winfred Hinkle established Hinkle’s Hamburgers at Tenth and Grant in 1930.  After his death in 1947, his two brothers, Max and Leon, took over the management and, eventually, the ownership of the business.  The three brothers were sons of Charles Hinkle and grandsons of Jonathan Marion “Marion” Hinkle.  Meat seemed to course through the blood of all three generations.

Marion was one of 13 children born to Jonathan Hinkle who, by 1856, owned a substantial portion of Section 22 in Bloomington Township.  While quite young he began buying and selling livestock.  After living on his father’s farm for a while, he moved into the city where he opened a prosperous meat market on the square.


From the Frank M. Hohenberger Photograph Collection, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

On a wintry day in February 1899, at the age of 48, he met a tragic death as he set out from the store and headed home on foot.  His lengthy obituary was published on page one of the Bloomington Telephone, February 14, 1899.  It read as follows:

“Marion Hinkle, twice sheriff of Monroe County and once its auditor, is dead.  Alone and in the dead of the night, during the blizzard of Wednesday, he fell while on his way home northeast of the city and perished of cold.  He was last seen in the city at his meat market on the east side of the square about 5 o’clock when he closed his place of business and started on the fatal journey.

“Robert Alexander, who had been chopping wood east of town met Mr. Hinkle at the Fee farm about a mile distant from the city just as he was entering the gate, his intention being to take a ‘short cut’ across several farms to his home, the old Hinkle homestead some three miles from Bloomington.  When he reached the Headley farm it would have been necessary for him to cross a hedge fence, and pedestrians who usually followed a foot path through the fields were in the habit of passing through a small gap in the hedge fence.  It had evidently grown quite dark when Mr. Hinkle reached the fence as he lost his bearings and passed the opening or gap in the fence.  He must have wandered aimlessly up and down the row of hedge until he fell, exhausted, and perished a victim of the extreme cold.

“Mr. Hinkle roomed over his meat market and only occasionally went home at night. Unfortunately, he chose the coldest night of the year to make the trip which he always did afoot.

“His friends became alarmed at his continued absence yesterday and instituted a search.  The door of the meat market which had been closed since Wednesday was forced open and a search of the interior of the building made but with no result.  His body was found about 4:30 yesterday evening by his son, Charley, where it had fallen, and Coroner Dr. C. E. Harris notified.  That official left for the scene shortly after 6 o’clock and held an inquest at the Headley school house where the remains had been taken.

“The uneasiness for Mr. Hinkle was abated by the supposition that he was at home while at his home it was supposed he was in town.  The search did not begin until yesterday morning when a number of friends not only made inquiry but looked about the city.  The last seen of him in town was Wednesday evening and when this fact became established, the friends were fearful as to his safety.  The son Charley had become alarmed and started towards town to join in the search when the sad discovery was made.

“After viewing the remains of Mr. Hinkle, coroner Harris turned them over to C. C. Turner who removed them to his undertaking rooms and prepared them for burial.

“The face and hands were somewhat discolored, the latter being considerably swollen. His hands were scratched, showing he had made an effort to get through the hedge.  Many friends of the deceased called at the undertaking establishment today and viewed the remains which were taken later to the home of Mrs. Headley, northeast of the city.  There will be no funeral service at the house, the remains being taken direct to the Bethel Cemetery in the morning at 10 o’clock for interment.

“Jonathan M. Hinkle, or Marion as he was familiarly called, was one of the best known men in Monroe County.  For a number of years he was a leading stock dealer and was extensively engaged in the butcher and pork packing business.  He was a leading Democrat, politically, and to demonstrate his popularity he was elected sheriff of Monroe County in 1884 and re-elected in 1888 receiving the largest majority ever given a candidate.  He carried Bloomington Township, known as the Republican stronghold of the county, a political feat no other Democrat was ever known to do up to that period.  In 1892 he was elected auditor of the county and served four years.  At the expiration of his term of office he retired from politics and engaged in the meat business which he has alternately conducted since.

“Of Marion Hinkle it can be truthfully said that no man in the county had a better friend than he.  Once your friend, always your friend was his motto.  His friendship was wrongfully abused and his generosity, coupled with politics, was the cause of his financial ruin.  He did much to build up the city in years past.  The brick business block on Kirkwood Avenue, adjoining the Troutman & DeMoss building, was erected by him.  He met with reverses and his property passed into other hands.  Much was lost to him by his willingness to loan his name as surety for others.

“Marion Hinkle was 48 years of age, a native of this county, and was born and reared on the old Hinkle homestead 3 miles northeast of town.  He was one of a family of 13 children and was the second son of Jonathan Hinkle, deceased, who was one of the early pioneer settlers of the county.  His early life was spent on the farm, and he received a common school education.  When quite young he began trading and stock buying, and was unusually successful as he gained experience.  For many years he bought and shipped stock, and it was a common saying among the many farmers with whom he did business that “Marion Hinkle always pays the highest price for stock.”  His integrity and honesty was a household word and this, with his unusual generosity made him one of the most popular men in the community.

“In 1877 he was married to Mary O. Headley and for a time resided on his father’s farm.  Shortly afterward he moved to the city and continued his trading and also engaged in the meat market business.  Success crowned every effort and he invested in real estate, and at one time was the owner of a number of good farms and considerable business property in Bloomington.

“He was the father of 12 children, nine of whom are living: Mrs. Raymond Rogers, Grace, Samuel, Charles, Harvey, George, Thomas, Omer and Fern Hinkle.”


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