Garry’s Story

Short Overview of Skiles Test and The House of Blue Lights By Garry Ledbetter – Former Employeeskilestest

Skiles Test – The man.

Born Oct. 19, 1889. He grew up at 795 Middle Drive, Woodruff Place on the east side of Indianapolis. He graduated from Manual High School in June, 1908. He married Josephine Madelyn Benges July 11, 1913. Skiles purchased the “House” property after the wedding and he and Josephine moved into what was thentesthouse the caretaker’s house. Notice the blue lights across the top of the house.


Skiles continued to add property during the years between the two world wars and eventually held over 700 acres of land in the surrounding area. After over 20 years of marriage Skiles and Josephine split and eventually divorced. Skiles 2nd wife was Elsa Pantzer. After their breakup he married Ellen Louise Saxon.

From this marriage there was a child born. Her name was Louellen Jane Test. Here is a family picture and a later picture of Louellen and a friend (Vivian Fleming) in 1960.




Mr. Test was a gentle person, kind and caring. He not only cared about people but loved taking care of animals. His friend Vivian Fleming (pictured above) and he spent numerous hours each week walking the dogs and taking care of the cats. From the late 50’s until his death in 1964 he had 5 to 7 Saint Bernard dogs and between 150 and 200 cats. The animals were fed twice daily. The diet for the cats consisted of fresh boiled fish, cottage cheese, and chicken. Skiles maintained a “cat lot”. This was a fenced off area across from his house. There was a large room, a large pond, and several individual houses for the cats. In the back of these houses were small areas heated in the winter. Some of the cats were named and became favorites of Vivian’s. When these passed away we would create headstones for them and using small creosote covered wooden boxes we would bury them in the “Cat Cemetery”.
cattombstoneSkiles also was an inventor. On the back door of his house was an electric bug zapper. This was similar to the ones you can purchase today. Skiles also liked model motor boats. He had a couple of them that he would race in the swimming pool. He also liked fresh vegetables and fresh flowers. He had a flower garden near the house and a large vegetable garden just off Johnson Road near Fall Creek. I remember picking peas and beans out of the garden and I especially remember each morning picking fresh Gladiolas for his table.

The Farm

Skiles was a business man who owned several Motels and parking garages. He was also a farmer. He actually didn’t do any of the farming; he had several employees that worked for him. He raised dairy cattle, pigs, as well as crops. His farming employees lived in “tenant” houses scattered around the property. Here is a picture of one of those houses.  Listed below are some of the many workers employed by Skiles during my time there. At the bottom of the list I have added a few more names with pictures. I hope to obtain more pictures in the future, so please check back.


Not Pictured –  Ed Brinkman – Farm Worker Vernon Brinkman-Foreman and Farm Worker Dave Brinkman-Farm worker Mary Brinkman- Cook Frank Wiley – Paymaster Warren Hogan – Foreman and Electrician Zenia- House keeper, and she did all the ironing Lois Brogan – Secretary Bob Brogan – Grain Elevator operator Clarence (Professor) Springfield-Farm Worker James (Buck) Lockhart-Animal and House Caretaker
John Ledbetjohnledbetter56ter 1956 and 1995 – Farmjohnledbetter95 Worker
garryledbetter07garryledbetter65Garry Ledbetter 2005 and 1965 – House and Farm Worker

Clayton Oakley 1955 – Farm Worker


Charles Lockhart 1965 – House and Farm Worker


Allen Hefley 1965 – House and Farm Worker

Tom Brinkman

Tom Brinkman 1956 – House and Farm Worker

truckcowBeing a farm there were lots of equipment. Hay bailers, combines, tractors etc. He also had several pickup trucks. One is pictured here.  These trucks were used on a daily basis to haul feed to the dairy cows. The cows were kept in 2 different pastures. The dairy cows were kept close to the dairy barn. They were milked twice daily and became so familiar with the daily walk to the milk barn you didn’t have to lead them at all. One of the cows was named hoedown. She was everyone’s favorite and I heard she could be ridden although I never witnessed that. Here is a picture of her.  Mr. Test passed away in March, 1964. There was a huge auction held in the cow pasture on the east side of the North Drive. This auction drew thousands and consisted of all types of things. There were old magazines, equipment, furniture, odds and ends, and just about anything you could imagine.
auctionHere is a picture of the auction.  The “house” is no longer there. The area is now the Skiles Test Nature Park.