John Collyn Saidla, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of John Collyn Saidla


John Collyn Saidla was born in Darlington, Ind., Sept. 28, 1901 to Byrd Saidla and Leota Hiatt Saidla. He married Mildred L. Easley July 12, 1922. She was born in New Market, Ind., to Charles W. Easley and Nancy Evelyn Buser Easley, April 5, 1905.

They went to LaPorte, Ind., two weeks after their wedding. There their three children were born, Collyn Jr. in 1923, Ila Joan in 1928 and Charles Byrdell in 1932.

John and Mildred started their machine shop about 1935 in LaPorte but it soon outgrew its building, so in July 1939 they bought the old China factory building in Chesterton. For 18 years the $140,000 China Factory stood idle before it was purchased by them. The main floor of the principal building was converted to their machine shop (Atlas Manufacturing Co). They employed 30 persons. Mildred worked along with John as a screw machine operator and delivery man.

The plant specialized in the manufacture of intricate metal parts that required the work of highly skilled machinists. Every other day they shipped 6,000 small metal pins to a Detroit auto plant for use in starters. They also produced an oil filter which was used on the engine of the Queen Mary. They also manufactured tripods and attachments for the manufacture of photographers' supplies.

Always interested in the advancement of youth, they built a roller skating rink (Atlas Roller Rink) on the upper floor.

In 1942 they installed their own diesel electric plant and 24 hours a day they engaged in defense work that turned out many screw products for construction of battleships, submarines, tanks and airplanes.

The front west end of the building was made into their 8 room apartment.

John and son, Collyn Jr., were flying members of the Civil Air Patrol. Jr. crashed in their plane in a corn field in Liberty Township and was killed Oct. 3, 1942. That same month John and Mildred sold the factory and building and moved their family to 130 Lincoln Ave.

Their next rink, from 1943 to 1946, was in what is now the west side of the Ben Franklin Store. There John started his Photography Studio.

In 1946 they built their new Atlas Roller Rink at 880 Indiana Ave. with the large Studio and the 12 unit apartments along 9th St., finishing the apartments in 1947.

On Oct. 18, 1947 Ila Joan, known as Jo, married Dallas B. Summers, known as Jonny. They have two children, Collyn Burtus and Julie K. Collyn B. married Justina Catherine Styonavich, they have a son, Steven Michael Wayne. Julie married E. Edward Esgate, they have a daughter, Sara Dawn.

Charles B. went into the Air Force in 1949. While stationed in California he married Bernardine Sieple, they had 3 children, Judy Ann, 1953, Donald Jay, 1955, and Sharan Marie, 1956. Charles divorced Bernardine and later remarried. He now lives in Los Angeles, Calif., with his wife, Rita D. Flandora, and son John Charles, 1965.

In the years between 1946 to 1964 John and Mildred operated their studio and rink. They sold and serviced Hallicrafter TVs and appliances. The studio also housed John's ham radio station W9NHA. He had worked in ham radio for over 50 years. He belonged to the radio clubs in LaPorte, Chesterton, and Valparaiso.

In 1959 John attended the John Herron Art School, Indianapolis, Ind. He became a noted ceramist and had a large hobby and craft shop in with the photographic studio where he taught many people who came from all over the United States and Canada. He held many different kinds of arts and crafts classes for local youth and surrounding cities. John belonged to the Knights of Pythias Lodge in LaPorte, later moved his membership to the Chesterton Lodge.

In 1956 John and Mildred moved into the No. 1 apartment, as the house on Lincoln Ave. was just too large for just the two of them. About 1944 they bought a cottage in Monticello, Ind. Mildred still owns it.

On Sept. 11, 1964, John died of cancer. In 1965 Mildred sold the rink and in 1973 she sold the apartments. The studio had been sold at John's death. Mildred still lives in apartment No.1, 127 So. 9th St., Chesterton, Ind.

Submitted by Mrs. Mildred L. Saidla

Source: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County. 1976. A Biographical History of Porter County, Indiana. Valparaiso, Indiana: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County, Inc. 180 p.
Page(s) in Source: 153-154

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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