Friday, December 16, 2011

Doctor Daniel Berger

Doctor Daniel Berger was an esteemed clergy member of the United Brethren Church and an experienced editor of their religious materials.

He was born the son of Daniel and Esther Boda Berger on February 14, 1832 near Reading, Pennsylvania.

The Berger family moved to near Springfield, Ohio in 1838. They bought a farm with an existing log cabin and settled in. Two years later they moved into a brick house their father had built on the property.

At 18 years of age Berger entered the Ohio Methodist Conference high school which he attended for two years.

After completing his education he taught for three years at the Linden Hill Academy in New Carlisle.

Berger then became Principal of one of the two Springfield high schools and served there for one year.

He married May Frances Merry on July 28, 1853. She had grown up in England and had come to Cincinnati planning only to visit.

After teaching, Berger decided to enter the Christian ministry. He was licensed to preach by the Miami conference of the United Brethren Church in 1854 and ordained in 1858. He also obtained an honorary degree, a master of arts, from Ohio University the same year.

In 1863 Dr. Berger came to Dayton as pastor of the First United Brethren Church on Sixth Street. Fifty six men from his congregation joined the Union Army in the Civil War. One of those men was the editor of “The Religious Telescope”, a publication of the United Brethren Church.

Dr. Berger became the editor of the “Religious Telescope” in 1865 filling in for the absent editor.

In 1869 the Publishing House trustees appointed Dr. Berger editor of the Sunday-school literature for the church. He remained in this job for twenty-six years and developed several new periodicals. The “Religious Telescope” of October 2, 1920 said Dr. Berger was “both architect and builder of our Sunday-school Bible lesson helps”.

He also rewrote and brought up to date a two volume history of the United Brethren Church which had originally been written by John Lawrence. It is still used today. The same “Religious Telescope” issue mentioned earlier praised his “keen research and lucid expression” when producing this history.

Dr. Berger had a unique relationship with the gypsies of the area. He conducted the funeral services for several individuals of the Stanley clan.

A love for plants and flowers induced Dr. Berger to become a member of the Montgomery County Horticultural Society. He served as Secretary of the organization from 1901-1916.

His wife died on February 10, 1915. He remained in his home and Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Higgins lived with him to provide for his care.

Dr. Berger died on September 15, 1920. He was buried beside his wife at Woodland Cemetery.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mary Ingles

July 8, 1755 began as an ordinary day for Mary Draper Ingles, frontier wife and mother. Her husband, William, was toiling in a faraway field while she worked in the cabin. Their dwelling, one of a small group of log houses in Draper’s Meadows, was west of the Allegheny divide in the mountains of Virginia.

The peaceful morning was shattered by warring Shawnee. Many in the settlement were killed. Mary, her two young sons; Tommy and Georgie, her sister in law Bettie Draper and a neighbor; Henry Lenard were taken captive.

The Indians headed west with these prisoners. Mary, unfamiliar with the country they were traveling through, memorized landmarks. She realized that most of the journey followed rivers.

A month later the group arrived at a Shawnee village on the banks of the Ohio and Scioto Rivers, the location of Portsmouth, Ohio today. A few weeks after their arrival the captives were split up. Tommy and Georgie were sent to Shawnee villages deeper into the Ohio country while Mary was purchased by two French traders. Bettie Draper was adopted by a middle aged chief who had recently lost his daughter. She was taken to the region of Chillicothe. It is unclear what happened to Henry Lenard.

Mary was shattered when separated from her children but strengthened in her resolve to return home.

About the middle of September the French traders took Mary and another captive, the “Old Dutch Woman”, to Big Bone Salt Lick to make salt. It is near present day Cincinnati.

The women conspired to escape, slipped away from the camp, and headed home. They followed the Ohio, the Kanawha, and the New Rivers. The journey took forty three days and by its completion they had walked over 800 miles. They arrived weak and skeletal.

Some of the history of Mary’s ordeal is hazy and lost to time. Two primary accounts were written about it. One was written by her great-grandson, John P. Hale. It says that Mary was nine months pregnant when captured and gave birth a few days afterward. The other account, written by Mary’s grandson, John Ingles, Sr., makes no mention of a baby.

Little is known of the “Old Dutch Woman”. Her given name is even unknown. She returned to Pennsylvania after the incident.

Bettie Draper was ransomed from the Shawnee in 1761 and lived the rest of her days with her husband at Draper’s Meadows.

Georgie died in Indian captivity but Thomas was bought back at the age of 17. He had a difficult adjustment, however and preferred to live on the edge of the frontier. Ironically, his own family was attacked by Indians. Two of his children were killed and his wife severely wounded.

William and Mary had four children; three daughters and one son, in the years following her return. William died in 1782 at the age of 53. Mary died in 1815 at 83.

Alexander Thom wrote a best-selling novel, Follow the River, about Mary’s experience.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sugar Camp

Sugar Camp was a National Cash Register (NCR) sales training camp that was used by the U.S. Navy during WWII to develop a secret project.

In 1884 John H. Patterson founded NCR. Ten years later he started a teaching camp, held in the summers, for company salesmen. He believed excellent salesmen could be developed through training.

The school was first held in a little cottage on the Patterson farm on Brown St.

Nine years later, in 1903, Patterson realized the school needed to be moved because men were suffering from the heat in the little house. He chose a breezy hillside covered with maple trees on West Schantz Ave.which had been used by the Patterson family to produce maple syrup. In two days Patterson set up wooden floored tents to accommodate his school. He named it Sugar Camp but it was often referred to as the “University Under Canvass”. Up to 275 salesmen from all over the country attended per session. In the training classes they practiced their sales pitches.

In 1934 Colonel Edward A. Deeds, the third Chairman of the Board of NCR, improved Sugar Camp by replacing the tents with 60 four person cabins. The cabins were 14 by 35 foot wood frame buildings.

Deeds, in1938, hired Joseph Desch, an electrical engineer, to be the head of NCR’s Electrical Research Laboratory. In 1940 the National Defense Research Committee asked NCR to develop electronic defense equipment. This drew the attention of the U.S. Navy. In 1943 hundreds of Waves (Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service) were sent to stay at Sugar Camp and work on a secret WWII research project in NCR’s Building 26 located at the corner of Stewart St. and Patterson Blvd.

The Germans had a code machine called the Enigma used to send cryptic messages to their submarines. The British developed a device called the Bombe which had limited success breaking the Enigma code. The Germans refined the Enigma and the British machines no longer worked.

Years after the war, it was revealed that the NCR project involved the Waves building an improved Bombe. The American model was six times faster than the British one. When completely assembled it was seven feet tall, ten feet wide, and two feet deep and weighed 5000 lbs.

The Waves wore uniforms consisting of navy shirts and jackets with a white blouse and marched in formation one mile from Sugar Camp to Building 26. Marine guards were stationed at every door and floor in the building. The women put together parts six days a week working in 3 shifts. The work was so secret they didn’t know what they were making.

After the war Sugar Camp reverted back to an NCR training site. Around 1970 the facility was again remodeled and was used year round. Decades later Sugar Camp was permanently closed and the land used for other purposes. Carillon Historical Park received Cabin #22, the last remaining cabin, in 2004.

Much information for this article was taken from the Carillon Park’s volunteer training manual

Friday, September 30, 2011

Jeremiah Stansell

Jeremiah Stansell was four months old in 1802 when his parents, Henry and Elizabeth Allen Stansell, moved from Kentucky to present day Washington Township in Montgomery County.

Their new residence was a log house, constructed the year before by Henry. The floor joists were four inches thick and floorboards fourteen inches wide. All were hand hewn. The cellar had a brick floor and a spring which ran through the basement. A channel around the edge of the brick floor directed the water flow out through a hole in the basement wall to a springhouse. The stone springhouse was south of the house. These structures, located on what is now Sheehan Road, were recently demolished to make way for a housing plat.

Jeremiah married Nancy Gregg in 1823. They had twelve children, six reached adulthood.

Nancy’s brother, Samuel H. Gregg, Jr., was Jeremiah’s business partner. They operated a large business in Springboro called Stansell and Gregg, established about 1833. The Stansel’s house was located on the north east corner of Main and Factory Streets. The general store was north of the residence. Their major competitor was Mahlon and Josiah Wright’s firm, M & J Wright.

Stansell and Gregg also exported products produced in the area. They owned large warehouses in both Springboro and Cincinnati. The company hauled man made merchandise; leather, tanned hides, and homespun material as well as natural produce; grain, maple syrup, feathers, beeswax, dried apples, jars of butter, barrels of pork and beef, by wagon to Cincinnati. At busy times of the year the wagon trains south were a quarter of a mile long. From Cincinnati the products were shipped by steam boat to far away markets, among them New Orleans and the West Indies.

Dr. Aron Wright has been quoted as saying Samuel Gregg Jr. was the greatest financier ever born in the Springboro country. Unfortunately, many of the Gregg family died in a typhoid fever epidemic in 1844. Samuel was among them.

Stansell’s son, Hiram Gregg then joined his father in the business.

Besides being a business man, Jeremiah served the community as a Postmaster, a Justice of the Peace, and Treasurer of the school-land funds.

He also owned Washington Hall, a hotel built about 1837 at forty South Main Street. When he sold it, in 1852, it was renamed “The Morton House”. It was a stage coach stop for travelers from Cincinnati to Dayton. Alcohol could be served there because it was just north of the Springboro village limits. Jonathan Wright had forbidden alcoholic beverages within the village.

Jeremiah died in 1868 and Nancy in 1875. They are buried in the Springboro Cemetery.

Note: I discovered an alternate spelling for Jeremiah, Jerimiah, on a large stained glass window pane in the “Old Stone Church”, the former Universalist church building at 300 South Main in Springboro. His business competitor, Mahlon Wright, has his name on another window of the same size.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bullskin Trace

The Bullskin Trace was one of the most significant roads in the Northwest Territory and most of it is still in use today.

The trail was first created by migrating buffalo and other animals on their way to the salt licks in Kentucky. The Trace then followed a progression of development through the years. It became an Indian trail, and then a pioneer route, was an Underground Railroad conduit, and finally became a part of modern highway systems. The path provided access from the Ohio River north to Detroit Michigan.

As an Indian trail The Bullskin Trace was used by such famous people as Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, and Tecumseh. From a British Fort in Detroit the British and Indians followed it south to attack the Kentucky settlements.

Later it became a pioneer route. Roads were important to the settlers because rivers in the area were difficult to maneuver with anything larger than a canoe. Going upstream against the current was almost impossible for flatboats.

However, flatboats coming down the Ohio River could pull off at a wide valley where Bullskin Creek emptied into the Ohio River. There pioneers would unload in a protected, easily accessible area, and continue traveling overland on the Bullskin Trace.

On February 4, 1807 part of The Trace became one of the first Ohio public highways. It was then named Xenia State Road. It was widened to 20 feet and had a right-of-way of about 60 feet. Marshy spots were covered with halved logs laid side by side producing a corduroy road. The state paid $700.00 for these improvements with money obtained by the sale of public lands.

During the War of 1812 the road was used to get supplies and troops from the Ohio River to the Great Lakes. On one occasion a group of fifteen supply wagons bumped up its rough surface.

The trail was used by run away slaves on the Underground Railroad. Some Xenia and other Greene County residents ran stations on this clandestine route.

Looking at a modern day road atlas one can see the route the Bullskin Trace followed. It began in Clermont County at the Ohio River near Chilo and headed north, following what is now Ohio 133. It passed through Warren County, where near Clarksville it jogged on to old Ohio 380 and followed it into Xenia. The Bullskin Trace continued on through Old Chillicothe, a former Shawnee village which is now called Oldtown. From Xenia to Detroit it followed the path of US 68, then Ohio 25, and finally US 24.

How the Trace got its name has various explanations. M. A. Broadstone in his History of Greene County Ohio says, “It was given its name because of the fact that it started from an Indian village of this name on the Ohio River.” While the book, Greene County 1803-1908 says, “It. extended from a village and ferry on the Ohio River called Bullskin, from which the road took its name…”

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Miami Powder Company

Near the village of Goes Station in Greene County, along the banks of the Little Miami River there once was a thriving gun powder plant. It provided good paying but dangerous jobs.

A dam and millrace on the Little Miami were constructed for a scythe factory about 1825 by the Chapman brothers. It supplied water power to the industry.

A few years later the Little Miami Railroad was built. This provided the site with convenient transportation.

The scythe factory was purchased about 1846 by Alvin and Lorenzo Austin and Benjamin Carlton. They founded the Austin & Carlton Powder Company.

Joseph W. King bought an interest in the company in1852. Then, in 1855, he purchased full rights. King renamed it the Miami Powder Company. He bought new machinery and built more buildings

During Miami Powder Company’s first year 4364 kegs of rifle powder and 1303 kegs of blasting powder were produced. In 1864, during the Civil War, the factory supplied black powder to the Union Army. The total production was 10,000 kegs of rifle powder a year, and 3,800 kegs of blasting powder.

After the war, the demand for rifle powder remained about the same and the output of blasting powder increased.

In 1871 steam power was installed in the factory.

About 1877 J. W. King left the company and founded King’s Mills in Warren County.

Through the years the powder company was safety conscious. They constructed separate structures for different phases of the production process. Only a few employees worked in each building. Horse drawn trams were used to move product from one building to the next.

Workers were paid high wages but knew it involved great risk. They were instructed to wear shoes without metal nails and not to carry pocket knives. Wooden tools were used in the production process.

In spite of the precautions, several fatal explosions did occur at the plant. One of the largest explosions happened on March 1, 1886 about 10 in the morning. A dry house containing around 50,000 pounds of black powder blew up. Three men were killed in the blast which was heard over 100 miles away. In Xenia buildings shuddered and there were many broken windows. People ran outside and saw a huge white cloud of smoke north of the city.

At the explosion site there was a fifteen foot deep hole in the ground where the dry house had stood, debris in the river, and a damaged bridge.

The building was rebuilt and work continued at the site. The factory went through several different name changes through the years as it was bought and sold. Two men were killed in a 1920 blast. Then, following a major explosion in 1925, which destroyed most of the structures, the business was closed.

Today two buildings near the bike path are all that remain of the once thriving business.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Maple Sugar Production

One hundred years ago Josiah Morrow, a history columnist for the Western Star, a Cox newspaper, wrote, in April 7, 1910, about the importance of sugar maple trees. The trees provided a ready and cheap source of sweetener.

According to Morrow, the Indians made maple sugar long before white settlers came to the area. There were many such trees in Wayne Township on both sides of the Little Miami River. Morrow says an old Indian sugar camp was found in the area in 1787. He quotes George T. O’Neall as saying the Indians were still making yearly trips there as late as 1804 or 1805.

In 1922 Elmer Keever wrote memories from his youth, included were details of making sugar on his family farm near the village of Lytle in Warren County. The farm had 175 sugar maples. They had a sugar house where maple sap was boiled down into syrup or cooked until it became thick and granulated and made a light yellow colored sugar.

He explained the process started “after the old frost of winter was mostly out of the ground” and that this could be any time from January to early April. His family prepared throughout the fall by collecting and storing fire wood in a shed near the sugar house.

Foot long spikes called spiles were made from the stalk of the elderberry tree. A 5/8 inch auger hole was drilled into the south side of a maple tree, about 1 ½ ft. above the ground. A hatchet or mallet was used to drive the spiles into the holes. Earthenware crocks were placed under the spiles to catch the sap.

The sap was gathered, placed in barrels, and transported on sleds to the sugar house. The fresh sap was first placed in a large cistern or reservoir near the sugar furnace, a long covered limestone lined trench. Large logs were shoved in the mouth of the furnace and then it was closed by a sheet iron door.

A sheet iron pan was over the top of the furnace and went back to a chimney. Near the chimney were two large iron kettles.

Sap was poured from the cistern to the pan of the furnace where it was heated. After some evaporation occurred, the fluid was dipped into the forward kettle. Following more evaporation the liquid was moved into the rear kettle and cooked until it became syrup or sugar.

The labor involved was intensive but the settlers knew how to make it enjoyable. Irvina Dearth wrote in her “History of Red Lion Warren County, Ohio” that there were large groves of sugar maples in the area of Red Lion and she remarks “The young folks delighted in the sugar parties which took place during this season. A cup of syrup right from the kettle to the snow to cool and harden was a real treat and taffy pullings were a favorite pastime.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Captain William Hoel, Part 2

            Captain William Hoel led an exciting life.  He also died a violent death.
            Hoel married Elizabeth Hunt on February 11, 1869.  She was beautiful and eighteen years his junior.  They had two children: Sarah born in December of 1869 and Rion born two years later. 
            The family lived at “Kildere”, a 100 acre farm located on
Clarksville Road
near the village of Corwin in Warren County.
            The couple was active in St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Waynesville. A stained glass memorial window in the sanctuary has an anchor inside a circle with the inscription “In Memory of a noble Man, William Rion Hoel, one of the founders of this Church, Died May 23, 1879.”
            His death was recounted in many newspapers.  One article, in the May 29, 1879 issue of the “Western Star” was titled “Tragic Death of Captain W.R. Hoel”.  It told the following story:
            Captain Hoel was jealous of his wife and suspected she was having an affair with Dr. Hough, a Waynesville physician.  The Captain told everyone, including the doctor, he was taking an early morning train to Cincinnati.  Instead, he hid somewhere on his property.  Dr. Hough came to the house and he and Elizabeth Hoel went into the parlor.  Captain Hoel rushed into the room with a pistol.            
            Dr. Hough afterward said he and Mrs. Hoel were seated on chairs when the Captain burst into the room with a pistol, fired a shot which missed, and then holding the long muzzle of the navy Colt began to club him about the head.  The doctor said the gun discharged and the ball entered the Captain’s chest.  Captain Hoel fell saying, “I am shot.” Death quickly followed.
            The reporter stated that the doctor’s face was swollen and cut.  His left cheek had a gash and two teeth were knocked out. 
            An inquest was held by Squire Mannington. 
            Dr. Hough explained there was no cause for jealousy.  Mrs. Hoel suffered a chronic ailment, thus his visits.  He said she “is a woman of spotless character”.
            Eleanor Allen, a girl working for the Hoel’s said, she looked into the parlor before Captain Hoel entered and she saw Dr. Hough sitting in a chair with Mrs. Hoel on his lap.  She said Captain Hoel shot at the doctor and then began to beat him three or four times about the head.  The pistol went off again and shot the Captain.
            Mrs. Hoel said she had left the room after the first shot and did not know what happened.  
            No legal action was taken for months.  Dr. Hough finally printed a letter in several newspapers explaining what happened and proclaiming his innocence.  He was eventually exonerated.
            Hoel is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.   Elizabeth Hoel continued to live at Kildere with her children.  At her death she was buried in Miami Cemetery in Corwin. It is unclear what happened to Dr. Hough.

Friday, June 10, 2011

William Hoel

William Hoel had an adventurous life with multiple exciting episodes.

He was born on March 7, 1824 in Sharon (Sharonville), Ohio to Edmund and Emiline Hoel. His father was a steamboat pilot on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

At age sixteen Hoel left school to train with his father. Over the next three years he worked on several different side wheelers and eventually also became a pilot.

Hoel married Mary Riley of Cincinnati on August 1, 1849.

When riverboat pilot examinations were required in 1853, Hoel easily passed the test. In March of 1853, while he was on a river trip, Mary died shortly after giving birth to a son. Their son died in August of the same year. Both were buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.

An adventure was advertised in the “Cincinnati Gazette” on October 1, 1855. Monsieur Godard was offering a balloon voyage. It cost $50 for a ticket to fly on the America, described as an “immense balloon,” and an “elegant and gigantic craft”. It said, “This aerial ship contains 95,000 cubic feet of city gas! which is more than the consumption of the city for three days and will carry with it, for the first time in America, having just been received from Paris, an elegant three story frame house known as Godard’s Hotel and eight ladies and gentlemen…will take their seats in the reception room on the second story.” A table was also on the second floor and a dinner was to be served to the passengers at “12,000 feet high at 6 o’clock precisely”.

Hoel bought a ticket. There were four other male passengers, not the “eight ladies and gentlemen” mentioned in the ad.

The trip did not proceed as planned. Instead, at 6:00, while over Lebanon, Ohio, the balloon was hit by a severe thunderstorm. The house and ballast were dropped in an attempt to escape the downpour.

In spite of these efforts, the America crashed in Warren County near the village of Corwin. All five of the balloon occupants were injured. Hoel had broken ribs and bruises. He spent several days in a nearby farm house recovering.

In 1858 his father, Edmund Hoel bought a 100 acre farm near where the balloon accident had happened. The farm was named Kildere.

Hoel’s next adventure was serving in The Civil War. He worked on gunboats on the Mississippi River and was active in the Memphis and Vicksburg campaigns.

Following the war, Hoel took another adventurous but more peaceful trip. He sailed on The Quaker City on June 8, 1867. It visited several Europe ports and Palestine; included in the trip was attendance at the Great Paris Exposition.

Hoel’s father died in 1868 and he inherited the farm, Kildere.

On February 11, 1869 Hoel married Elizabeth Hunt. She was 18 years his junior. The newly married couple moved to Kildere.

More about Hoel’s life will be included in my next blog.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Reverend Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth

On October 6, 1895 eighty-four year old Reverend Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth, widely known as the Father of American Beekeeping, died in the pulpit of the Wayne Avenue Presbyterian Church in Dayton. He was retired from the ministry but was assisting with a communion service. He had just started to speak about the love of God when he was stricken with a stroke.

Langstroth was born on Dec. 25, 1810 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a child he enjoyed studying insects. Once he was punished because of holes in his pants’ knees from kneeling and observing ants.

He attended Yale University and graduated with high honors in 1831. From 1834 to1835 Langstroth was a tutor at Yale and studied the ministry.

Next Langstroth was a pastor at several Massachusetts Congregational churches.

He married Anne Tucker and they had three children: James, Anna, and Harriet.

Langstroth became the principal of a young ladies’ school in Philadelphia in 1848. During this time he suffered with depression and took up beekeeping as a hobby to distract himself.

He used his knowledge about “bee space”, crawl space needed by a bee to go from one area to another, to develop a top opened hive. It made the frames of a hive easily removable without upsetting the bees.

Langstroth was given a patent for the movable frame beehive in 1852. He gained no royalties over the years though because his patent was widely violated.

His discoveries led to modern beekeeping and helped it become more cost effective.

Langstroth wrote “The Hive and the Honey-Bee” in 1853. It is the definitive text on beekeeping, there having been more than 40 editions printed. The memorial epitaph at his grave says, “in memory of …his…literary ability shown in the first scientific and popular book on the subject of beekeeping in the United States.”

In 1858 he and his family moved to Oxford, Ohio to a ten acre farm which Langstroth devoted to beekeeping.

He planted Linden trees, apple trees, buckwheat and clover for the bees to use.

Langstroth imported Italian bees in 1863, then researched, bred, raised and sold them.

His wife, Anne Langstroth, died in 1873.

Their former house is called Langstroth Cottage, and has been declared a National Historic Landmark. It is now Miami University’s Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching and is located on Patterson Avenue on Miami’s Western campus.

Langstroth moved to Dayton in 1887 and lived with his daughter Mrs. Anna Cowan at 120 South Ford Street. His death occurred eight years later.

He is buried at Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hallie Quinn Brown

Hallie Quinn Brown was a noted educator, lecturer, and elocutionist. She also was an author and social and political activist.

Besides the five year lecture tour mentioned in my earlier post Brown made two other trips to Europe. Frederick Douglass sent a letter with Brown to introduce her to his “British friends”. She was a very successful fundraiser. In addition to other support she obtained a one time gift of $15,000 from Julia Emery, a British philanthropist. This money was used to build Emery Hall at Wilberforce University. The building still stands today and is scheduled for restoration and renovation.

Brown was an organizer and crusader for several civil rights movements. She was active in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. When she saw a need for a national organization to support black women in America she helped establish the Colored Woman’s League of Washington, D.C. in 1894. This later became the National Association of Colored Women for which she served as president from 1920 to 1924. During her presidency the organization worked to preserve the Frederick Douglas Home in Washington, D.C. and set up a scholarship fund for women. She was also president of the Ohio Federation of Colored Women.

Her interest in clubs for women carried over to Europe. She was a member of the British Women’s Temperance Association, was given membership to the Royal Geographical Society of Scotland, and was elected a member of the International Council of Women. She helped establish, in 1895, the first British Chautauqua in North Wales.

In addition to being active in clubs Brown was very involved at Wilberforce University. She was a professor of elocution there and on the board of trustees. A member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Brown taught Sunday School classes on the Wilberforce campus.

Brown was a passionate Republican and envisioned elocution as a way to participate in politics. She spoke at the 1920 Republican convention in support of Warren Harding for the United States presidency. Harding ran a “front porch campaign’ from his Victorian house in Marion, Ohio. People came from all over to hear him. Brown was the first woman to speak from his famous front porch. In 1932 she actively campaigned for Herbert Hoover’s presidential campaign.

Brown authored eight books among them were: Bits and Odds: A choice Selection of Recitations, First Lessons in Public Speaking, Tales My Father Told, and Other Stories, and Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction.

She lived to be almost 100 years old but died on September 16, 1949 and is buried in the family plot in Massie’s Creek Cemetery.

The Hallie Q. Brown Memorial Library at Central State University was named in her honor.

LaVerne C. Kenon Sci, Historic Site Manager of the Paul Lawrence Dunbar House State Memorial, frequently does a re-enactment of Hallie Q. Brown. “I decided to interpret her because she was an ordinary person who achieved extraordinary heights during her lifetime of 99 years, six months, and six days,” said Sci. “She became an advocate for the disenfranchised in our society.”

WHAT: Paul Lawrence Dunbar House State Memorial

WHERE: 219 North P.L. Dunbar St., Dayton, OH

WHEN: weekly Wed.-Sun.

TIME: Wed.-Sat. 9am-5pm, Sun. noon-5pm

COST: adults $6, Seniors $5, students $3, children 5 and under free

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Davy Crockett, the famous frontiersman, never lived in Warren County, but it's believed his relatives did. Andrew Crockett moved to Warren County in 1810. When Davy Crockett became famous with a young generation of baby-boomers through the Walt Disney movies, the Middletown Journal interviewed Clearcreek Township resident and Andrew's great-grandson, Chester Crockett (1889-1969) who assured readers his family was related to the famous frontiersman. However, descendants still living in the Springboro area have not found the source information confirming this relationship. Still, Chester lived closer in time to the legend of Davy Crockett. Chester's grandfather would have been Davy's first cousin. Certainly, Chester's parents and grandparents would have known of the relationship, and such a fact would make a strong impression on a young boy. No matter what their heritage or famous relatives, the local Crocketts played a large role in Warren County’s settlement. Before Andrew came to Warren County he had lived an eventful life. He was a bound boy, obligated to work for a period of time to pay for training or for a debt. In 1810, at about age 44, Andrew moved to Warren County. Andrew’s first wife had died in New Jersey. In November of 1812 he married Sarah Mullen of Warren County. Andrew and Sarah had three children. Sarah died in 1817. Two years later he married Margaret Freeman. They had one child, Susannah Sarah Ann. A few years of successful farming allowed Andrew to purchase some military lands in Clark County, perhaps as an investment. He ran into controversy over land titles and had to pay a second claimant for the land. When a third claimant came forward, he gave up the land. “The balance of his life was lived in limited circumstances” according to The History of Warren County, Ohio by Beers. In 1849, Andrew died. Marmaduke Crockett was the middle son of Andrew and Sarah’s children. He was a talented industrious young man. At the age of sixteen Marmaduke built a sturdy wagon. It was used to carry a heavy load of produce to Cincinnati and to bring back a load of merchandise. He worked as a farmer and freight hauler until he was 25 years old. As a freight hauler he may have noticed the opportunity for milling. For eight years Marmaduke worked in the milling trade in Springboro, Waynesville, and Mount Holly. He then returned to farming and was able to purchase a good farm on Lytle-Five Points Rd. Marmaduke married Jane S. Mullin in 1837. They had eleven children. Two died in infancy...., some married locally and some moved on. The eldest, Mary, married David Hare who was Postmaster of Springboro for a time. With Marmaduke's help, Mordecai set about raising cotton in Texas. The youngest, Elmer, practiced law in Cincinnati. Marmaduke was a leader in the community, a very caring man, and respected for his character and integrity. When he died in 1867 at the age of fifty-two, the book Memoirs of the Miami Valley reported his was “the largest attended funeral in the history of Springboro”.

Friday, March 4, 2011


This is the tale of two cities, Fairfield and Osborn, which merged their communities and their names.
Fairfield was the older of the two cities. The first log house was built in the area in 1799. Seventeen years later, in 1816, William Cozad, his brother Samuel Cozad, and Joseph Tatman laid out the village on the stage coach road between Dayton and Springfield. The highway is present day Ohio 4. Some say the community was named after a town in England while others claim it was named after an Indian Chief looked at the settlement and said: “Yonder lies a Fair Field”.
The town grew until the railroad went one mile west of the village. Growth diminished for many years. The village began to expand again soon after the Wright brothers began their experiments with aircraft, five miles west of Fairfield. In 1916 the United States War Department bought 25,000 acres west of Fairfield for an Air Base. It was first called Patterson Field and later Fairfield Air Depot.
The other city, Osborn, sprang up near the railroad which had by passed Fairfield. This town was laid out in 1850 by John Cox and Samuel Stafford and named for the superintendent of the railroad. It was recorded on May 20, 1851 and incorporated in 1867.
The community grew and seemed to have a bright future until the Dayton flood of 1913. Although Osborn was not flooded, its future was affected by this natural event.
To prevent future floods, Huffman Dam on the Mad River was built. Its construction meant that, when it was necessary to prevent flooding, water would be backed up onto the site of Osborn.
As a result, the whole town of Osborn had to be moved to higher ground. The village annexed two hundred and sixty-five acres east of Fairfield and the Osborn Removal Company was formed. The moving began on June 1, 1922. Two hundred forty-three houses and businesses were relocated. The buildings were placed upon timbers and pulled by a caterpillar tractor to their new site. “They moved the houses bag and baggage,” said Johnny Miller in a 1936 Dayton Daily News article. “…and the house was on its way with many instances the family remaining at home and riding all the way into the new town.” It took two years to move everything. A movie called “Movin’ Day for Osborn, Ohio” was made about the event.
The two communities, Fairfield and Osborn, remained close neighbors for twenty-eight years. They were referred to as the twin cities and each had its own governments and services.
On November 2, 1948 voters in both cities approved a merger of the two cities and to combine the names into Fairborn. The vote in Osborn was 1,227 for and 333 against while in Fairfield it was 607 for and 577 against. The merger was effective on January 1, 1950.
A large sign at the Fairborn Theater was the first business to display the new city name.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Benjamin Whiteman was a man of influence and he used that power for the good of Greene County.

Born in Philadelphia on March 12, 1769 Whiteman, at about 13 years of age, moved to Kentucky with his parents. As a young man he served in three frontier war expeditions. These journeys caused him to be interested in settling in the Miami Valley.

In 1799 Whiteman moved with his wife, Catherine, and her parents, Owen and Latitia Davis, to the mouth of Beaver creek. His father-in-law opened a mill. Broadstone in his 1918 book, History of Greene County, Ohio, says, "Members of the "Dutch Settlement," in Montgomery county, thirty miles away, would bring their corn to the Davis mill, and after they had ground their meal, they would camp out there that night and depart for home early the next morning."

Whiteman built a house near the mill and sold it to his father-in-law. It was later used as a temporary meeting place for Greene county courts.

When Greene County was organized in 1803, Whiteman was appointed one of three associate judges. He was also hired to change a block house near the courts so it could be used as a jail.

Among his first cases as a judge was one which involved Owen Davis, his father-in-law. Davis had a fist fight with a man from Warren County he believed had stolen some hogs. After winning the struggle, Davis went into the court room and said to Whiteman, "Well, Ben, I've whipped that hog thief; what's the damage?" After paying an eight dollar fine he shook his fist and said, "Yes, Ben, if you'd steal a hog, I'd whip you, too."

The Whiteman and Davis families sold their property in Beavercreek Township in 1805 and moved to the vicinity of Clifton. Whiteman built a large stone house called "The Stone Pile". He also had a woolen mill at Clifton Gorge.

Whiteman was a General in the War of 1812 and led a brigade of soldiers. It has been reported that cloth for their uniforms was supplied by Whiteman's mill.

Several pioneers were invited to name the city chosen to be the seat of government of Greene County. Whiteman and the Davis' were among those asked. A stranger, later identified as Rev. Robert Armstrong, suggested Xenia, a Greek word meaning hospitality. After several votes Xenia was chosen.

When the boundary between Greene and Clark Counties was laid out, Whiteman's "Stone Pile" fell on the Clark side of the line. Whiteman pressed the Legislature to change the line so that he could be a resident of Greene County. And so in 1819 they did.

Whiteman died in July of 1852 at the age of 84 and was buried in Clifton Cemetery.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Croll mansion

and by Bob Croll

Around 1872 Levi Croll, a wealthy Franklin, Ohio business man began to build a Victorian mansion on 129 acres he had purchased from the Barkalow farm. The house is located at 843 Dayton-Oxford Road in Franklin in Warren County.

Croll made his fortune as a miller during the Civil War.

Born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania on September 24, 1830 he was seven years old when his family moved to Clark County, Ohio. He later relocated to Warren County, Ohio and resided there until his death in 1885.

Croll married Hannah Vanderver in March 1852. They had three children. He later married Eleanor Chamberlain. They had six children. One of their great grandsons is Bob Croll who now lives in Moreno Valley, California.

Although Bob and I have never personally met, we have communicated via e-mail for several years. We have a shared interest in history and genealogy.

The following information was written by Bob.

"The mansion was one of the first in the Ohio Territory to have indoor plumbing, air conditioning, and a walk in cooler. Levi let the foundation "settle" for two years before he allowed construction to continue. The building is now 138 years old, and shows no signs of faulty construction. It should be noted it was one of the few structures to survive the 1913 flood without damage.

INDOOR PLUMBING: All rain water was caught from the roofs and stored in a large lead lined cistern, located in the attic, until needed. (In 1918 the lead was donated to the war effort to make bullets) Each bedroom had a marble topped vanity, which was filled by gravity, and no pump or electricity was required. There was also a full sized tin bathtub in the downstairs bathroom with cold and hot running water. (cold in the winter & hot in the summer). Flush toilets came later.

AIR CONDITIONING: The brick walls were hollow, and cool air entered in basement level louvers, pushing the rising hot air out of vents located under the eaves. All doors had transoms to let air circulate when the doors were closed, and all windows were equipped with full length indoor shutters, which were closed to keep hot air out during the summer days, and opened in the evenings to let cool air in. Additionally there was a 3 story open circular stairwell that naturally let hot air rise to the attic, inside the house.

WALK IN COOLER: The kitchen pantry was built over a large basement room, filled with river ice during the winter, and covered with sawdust for insulation. The pantry was air tight, except for the air vents that allowed the cold air to enter the pantry from the ice storage room below.

HEATING: Each room was independently heated by a French import fireplace, with common ash dumps in the basement.

My Grandfather, George Croll used to paint the roof during the World Series. Sometimes he forgot the paint, but he NEVER forgot his radio."