A tale of three Fannies

La Porte County Historian Fern Eddy Schultz

By Fern Eddy Schultz, La Porte County (IN) Historian

“Behind every great man there’s a great woman” has a straightforward, literal meaning. The implication behind the saying is that the great woman is often ignored or taken for granted.

The Fox family mausoleum in Pine Lake Cemetery.

Fannie Laib married Samuel Fox in La Porte on November 26, 1869. She was the daughter of Solomon and Sarah (Lang) Laib. Solomon was a liquor dealer and his business was Laib & Son, located at 188 South Main. He had been in the tavern business in Philadelphia. At the time of Samuel and Fannie’s wedding, La Porte had a Jewish Synagogue of the B’ne Zion Congregation of La Porte. The temple was located on the northwest corner of Indiana Avenue and First Street (now location of Family Express). This was where they were married.

Fannie was the mother of six sons: Maurice, Herbert W., Arthur Bernard, Robert Charles, Norman J., and Walter S., all born in La Porte.

Fannie was one of the charter members of the Emerson Society. This was a group that banded together to study literature.

Fannie Laib Fox died at French Lick Springs, IN, on Tuesday, 26 October 1909. Her death was sudden and the physician who was called immediately pronounced it was due to a heart attack. She was initially buried in the B’ne Jewish Cemetery. Her son, Arthur Bernard Fox, died at the age of 23, October 14, 1900, and was also buried here.

In 1924, lots were purchased by the Fox brothers in Pine Lake Cemetery where they had a mausoleum constructed. Fannie, along with Samuel and Arthur, were moved to the mausoleum. Since that time, all Fox family members, at time of death, have been placed in the mausoleum—the last being Hallie Carr Fox Alvary in 2003.

A young Fanny Scott, later Fanny Scott Rumely. (Courtesy Geni)

Fanny Scott was born November 8, 1877, the daughter of Emmet Hoyt and Mary Relief (Niles) Scott. Emmet had served as Mayor of La Porte from 1890-1894. Fanny graduated from La Porte High School in 1895 and from Smith College in 1900. She returned to La Porte to become a teacher at Interlaken School, which was founded by her future husband. On April 02, 1910, she married Edward Aloysius Rumely, the oldest grandson of Meinrad and Theresa (Fierstos) Rumely.

Fanny was an active member of the O.N.T. Club (Our Night Together). This organization might be considered the predecessor of today’s La Porte Little Theatre group. Many roles were attempted as confidence grew. Fanny was considered an outstanding participant. She framed the constitution and by-laws of the Amateur Music Club. Scott Field was a donation of Fanny and her father to the school city for a children’s playground as a memorial to their parents. They thought that “in an open field there would be no danger from autos harming the little ones.”

Fanny Scott Rumely died Wednesday, March 07, 1979 and is buried in Pine Lake Cemetery in the Maple Hill Section.

A partial clip about the murder of Fannie Sommerfield. (Newspapers.com)

Fannie B. Higgins was born in La Porte, October 26, 1868, to William C. and Harriet June (Place) Higgins. She attended school in La Porte and was married in La Porte, October 1897, to Abram Sommerfield. He operated a livery business in La Porte. Fannie’s father was one of the early teachers and later for many years practiced law. One of Fannie’s many charities was the Red Cross. She was a life member of the board at the Ruth Sabin Home and an original member of the board of the Civic Auditorium. She assisted in creating the Women’s Organization, which operated the Bay Tree Inn for years. During World War I, she directed production work, including surgical dressings for the local Red Cross. She helped established a hospital at Hudson Lake when the flu epidemic spread. She continued her Red Cross work through World War II.

Fannie met a tragic death at the hands of a would-be burglar on January 14, 1961, in her home at 716 Teegarden Street. It was reported that the primary suspect in the case never served time, due to a number of “unfortunate circumstances.” She is buried beside Abram in Pine Lake Cemetery in the Maple Hill Section.

This is just a sampling of the attributes of these three Fannies. They are just examples as La Porte County had many more to offer.

4 Responses to “A tale of three Fannies”

  1. Lynn Lisarelli

    Dec 01. 2019

    Utterly FASCINATING!! Thank you again, Fern, for a delightful treat to more of La Porte’s history.

    Reply to this comment
  2. lawman

    Dec 01. 2019

    I was 11 at the time of the Summerville murder. I remember not feeling as safe anymore. things do happen-even in LaPorte.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Jim Meyers

    Dec 01. 2019

    Excellent info; as usual. Thank You!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Larry Lufkin

    Feb 25. 2020

    My family and I lived in this house in the 70s. I had forgot all about this. There is always rumors of what happened. I’m curious what were the Unfortunate circumstances that the suspect never served any time and what was his name

    Reply to this comment

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