From time to time it has been reported that when Oscar Charleston was born his family was living at 1636 Bundy Place (then called Guffin Street) in Indianapolis, or even that he “grew up” at that address. That is not the case. Newspaper announcements of Charleston’s birth make clear that the Charlestons were living on the 200 block of Yandes Street when he was born. This address was on the northeast side of the city in the Martindale neighborhood. The Charlestons then went on to live in no fewer than 12 separate houses before Oscar joined the Army. Oscar grew up first in the Martindale neighborhood, and later in the Indiana Avenue neighborhood.
Today, what was in 1896 the 200 block of Yandes is, I am fairly certain, the 1200 block of Yandes. Here is what that street looks like now.
Where the trailer is sitting is where the street was. Obviously this is no longer really a street, and all the houses are long gone. The street sign is still there, though, although no one is delivering any pizzas down here.
For context, here is 1287 Yandes located on a Google map.
Virtually no one lives in the immediate vicinity today, although a quarter-mile or so up the street one finds a few residences. Needless to say, there is no mention of Charleston anywhere. I’d like to say that Indianapolis ought to erect a plaque of some kind, but no one except semi-truck drivers and folks up to no good would ever see it.
Charleston’s birth on October 14, 1896, provided the first occasion for mention of his family in the papers. In the October 21 issue of the Indianapolis News, under “Birth Returns,” it was reported that to Thomas and Mary Charleston, 287 Yandes, had been born a boy. No name was reported, but Thomas and Mary let it be known where their sympathies in the forthcoming election by giving Oscar the middle name of McKinley.
The address given for the Charlestons by the News, 287 Yandes, is different from the one given by the Indianapolis Journal on the same date, which was 299 Yandes. And both are different from the address given for Thomas Charleston in the 1897 Indianapolis city directory, which was 289 Yandes.
To further the confusion, an 1895 city ordinance ordered some of Indianapolis’s streets to be renumbered, but the address of 287 (or 289, or 299) Yandes seems to have been given under the old system, as the north-south Yandes then had its southern terminus right about where the east-west 2nd street would have come through had it been extended from the west. This same part of Yandes appears to be numbered 1200–1299 today.
By the way, the 1600 block of Bundy Place (old Guffin Street) is an alley today. The only home that remains on the alley that might have stood when the Charlestons lived there is this one:
The home where the Charlestons lived appears to be completely gone, as does every other house he lived in before joining the military.