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One Token and a Historical Deep Dive

By: Nathan M.


Shortly after I got back into metal detecting, I was at a permission where an over one hundred year old house had burned down. One of my first visits, I found some horse tac and a couple of coins, a wheat penny and a mercury dime. I also found a scalloped round token that I initially thought was an old dog tag. When I inspected it later, I observed that it reads, "James E. Trost. Good for 5c at bar." I started researching online and through a local historical society and discovered that James Trost had immigrated here in the third quarter of the 1800s with his family and was a saloon keeper. Trost, who was a half owner of a bar (Trost and Perrine) between approx 1890 and 1900, later became a Hammond Police officer and court bailiff. The bar was located very close to the original Hammond meat market, which was a significant source of Hammond's growth in its early days. I believe that the trade tokens were minted primarily to target the meat plant workers, and I have not found any other tokens like it, leading me to believe that this is probably the only known example. Trost, a member of the Elks and a candidate in at least two democratic primaries in the early 1900s, was one of the original 3 certified chauffeurs for Hammond's first patrol car in 1910 and was a very popular figure in Hammond's newspapers until his death in 1929. I have found much more information than just that summary, and all of it has been intriguing. One simple token led me to the rediscovery of a lot of long forgotten history and to some insight of a person who had faded into forgotten memory.

Image of Token with Scallopped Edges REading James Trost Good for 5c in Trade at Bar Historical Article chronicling James Trost's Life Historical Article chronicling James Trost's Life Historical Article chronicling James Trost's Life