Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sam Tobias

            Sam Tobias was a Greene County blacksmith and farmer who became a nationally known gunsmith.  He was an early specialist in the science of ballistics and was often called to be an expert witness in court cases.

            Tobias had legendary skills but was a humble man and did not desire fame or fortune.

            He was born on March 12, 1864 on a Greene County farm on Kemp Road.  His parents were Andrew Jackson and Sarah Harshman Tobias.

            Tobias showed an early interest in guns.  He whittled a wooden gun at the age of four. As an 18 year old he made a muzzle loader.  Tobias was still working at gun making at his death at age 63.  His unfinished project was a special order for Henry Ford. 

            Tobias’ 45 year career of gun making and repairing began in his mother’s kitchen and later moved to a shop on the farm.  This was located one mile north of the village of Zimmerman, half way between Xenia and Dayton. 

            His gun shop was cluttered and appeared disorganized yet Tobias knew where everything was.  He could go to a jumbled stack of guns and pick up the very one that his customer needed.  He charged modest fees.

            People from around the world made the trip to his shop. It is said that Annie Oakley and Wild Bill Hickock were among his customers.

            Tobias produced a little over 100 guns in his lifetime and marked them S.E. Tobias.  Guns made by him are now considered rare collectables. Some are in the Henry Ford Museum.  Tobias used Model T Ford parts to make some of his gun parts.  He considered it the best metal with which to work. 

            He was consulted by the great gun makers: Remington, Winchester, and Colt and developed guns for them.  According to an article in the book Beavercreek Chronicles published by the Beavercreek Historical Society, When told he should apply for a patent his stock answer was,”H---, I don’t want no d—patent; you take it and patent it yourself.” and when asked if he didn’t want to be rich, Sam would reply, “H---, no. Money is the root of all evil.”

            During WW I Tobias worked at McCook Field, now Wright Patterson Air Force Base, and developed a way to mount a machine gun on a biplane so the bullets would go between the propellers of the airplane rather than hitting the propellers.

            Tobias married Jennie Bell Bates.  They raised six of their children: Tom, Elmer, Blanche, Elsie, Winifred and Edythe.  Two others died at birth.

            Death claimed Tobias on November 11, 1927 after he developed an infection following the removal of some teeth.

            Most of the facts in this column were gathered from articles and books based on information provided by Gail Tobias Dorsey a great-granddaughter of Sam Tobias.  She has written a book titled Sam Tobias the Gunsmith.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dr. George Anderson

            Dr. George Anderson was a physician in Greene County for over 50 years.

            He was born on June 20, 1867 in Cadiz, Ohio.

            Anderson graduated from Franklin College in New Athens, Ohio and then went to the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Baltimore, Maryland.

            On December 24, 1891 Dr. Anderson married Winnifred Barrett of Columbus, Ohio.  They first lived in Lumberton, Ohio where he practiced medicine.

            The Andersons moved to Alpha in Greene County in 1893.  They purchased the house and practice of Dr. McClure.  The buildings were located on the corner of Alpha Road and the Old Dayton-Xenia Pike which is now called Whitey Marshall Drive.

            Dr. Anderson used different modes of transportation to reach his patients through the years.  In the beginning he used a horse and buggy to make his calls day or night. Sometimes roads were so muddy he had to go on foot. In the winter he replaced the buggy with a sleigh.  In later years he drove a Model-T coupe and then a 1918 Buick Sedan. 

            Andersons’ grand daughter, Nancy Rhodehamel, recalled in “Beavercreek Chronicles” produced by the Beavercreek Historical Society an accident he had with the Buick.  He didn’t clear the traction tracks in time and the back of the Buick was sheared off.  She says, “Nonplused, my Grandpa climbed out of his car (which was now in two sections), straightened his glasses, donned his trademark hat, grabbed his black bag and proceeded on to see his patient.”

            The doctor had no office staff and patients did not make appointments.  People wishing to see him in his office went there and waited for his return.  Rhodehamel, recalled,  “…neighbors on the “party” line would relay the Doctor’s location and progress to those waiting in his office.”

            The office had floor to ceiling shelves that were lined with brown jars of powdered drugs and syrups.   Dr. Anderson mixed his own medicines. Powders were poured into small folded paper packets which were dispensed to patients.  The doctor used a closet as a laboratory and had a small alcohol lamp to sterilize solutions. A huge sterilizer was used to sanitize his equipment.

.           For home visits Rhodehamel wrote he “packed his saddle bags with gauze rolls, bandages, coal-tar ointment, surgical instruments and even anesthesia (ether).”

            Dr. Anderson did all types of surgery, sometimes in his office, but often on the kitchen table in a patient’s house.  He also delivered babies in the patients’ homes. 

            Most doctor calls, office or home, cost $1 and medicine was about 35cents per dose.  However, rich people were charged more.  Some patients paid in produce.  No bills were sent and everyone paid when they could.

            The Anderson’s had three children: Harold who died at age nine, Horace, and Winifred. 

            Dr. Anderson retired after over 50 years in medicine. He bought several farms in Beavercreek with his son, Harold and raised champion swine. 

            Dr. Anderson died October 19, 1945. He is buried in Beavercreek Township Cemetery

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thomas Miller

Thomas Miller was a Quaker minister and Indian agent who lived a long life of service.

He was born on Aug, 12, 1812 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.

On May 14, 1834 Miller married Eliza Curl at the New Hope Meeting House in Greene County, Ohio. Eliza was 24 years old having been born on June 16, 1810.

The new couple moved to Springboro in Warren County, Ohio about 1838. They purchased 65 acres of land from Powel and Irene Crosley at $54 an acre. According to the deed, a two story brick farm house was built in August of 1848. Elmer K. Miller in his Gayen Miller an Irish Quaker and His American Descendents, 1675-1993 states the family may have lived in a log cabin, on the property, until the house was built. The brick residence still stands today at 45 Homestead Court in Springboro.

The Millers had five children: Ruth, Susan, Solomon, Rhoda, and Samuel

As a young man Miller received a calling to be a minister. He had gone to Cincinnati with his brother, a merchant in Springboro, to buy goods for his store. They stayed overnight at a hotel. Miller woke in the night and heard a voice saying, “Four years from now thou shalt lose they companion and be called to the ministry.” He prayed that his wife be spared and promised to faithfully serve. His prayer was answered and Thomas worked as a Quaker minister for 60 years.

U. S. President Ulysses S. Grant took an innovative action when he decided to relocated the Plains Indians. In his December 6, 1869 message to Congress he described his decision, “The Society of Friends is well known as having succeeded in living in peace with the Indians-for their opposition to all strife, and for their strict integrity and fair dealings. These considerations induced me to give the management of a few reservations of Indians to them and to throw the burden of the selection of agents upon the society itself.” Quaker clergy were recruited as Indian agents. Miller was one of the first selected.

In 1869 he was sent to Lawrence, Kansas to help move 700 members of the Sac and Fox American Indian tribes 300 miles south to near Stroud, Oklahoma. Copies of his official papers and letters home during this period have been preserved by family members. After two years Miller returned to Springboro and continued with his ministry. He was very busy. For example, at the age of 90 he traveled over 1,700 miles and visited in 200 homes.

Miller’s wife died at Wilmington, Ohio on Feb, 6, 1893.

He lived with his granddaughter, Elizabeth Hare Binford, in Rush County Indiana when he was no longer able to continue his work.

Miller died in Indiana on Feb.13, 1906. Both he and his wife are buried in the Springfield Friends Cemetery in Clinton County. The grave is marked by a redwood historic marker which says “Indian Agent”.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Women Pilots from Dayton Ohio

Five women from Dayton Ohio with a common interest in being airplane pilots formed the Dayton Women Pilots’ Club in November of 1931. They met monthly.

Three of the women, Iona Coppedge, Jo Garrigus, and Betty Hanauer had private pilot’s licenses. The other two members, Rosetta Zimmerman and Sue Malone were working toward certification

A photograph of the five women and an accompanying article about them was in the October 23, 1932 “Dayton Journal”. It was the first year anniversary of their club. The following information about the adventurous women was gleaned from the article and is presented in order as they are pictured from left to right.

Coppedge worked as a field secretary in the legal branch at Wright Field. Her flight training was done through the Johnson flying service at the Dayton airport. She had 50 hours of flying time at the time of the article, 40 of them solo. She got her license in February of 1932.

Garrigus got her license on September 30, 1931 and was the first licensed woman pilot in Dayton. Her husband was S. W. Garrigus. He was also a licensed pilot although he only had one arm. Jo had about 60 flying hours at the time of the article and about 50 of those were solo. She flew a Waco airplane owned by her husband.

Zimmerman had not flown solo but was a student of the Johnson flying service and was soon to be allowed to do so. She had been the only woman game warden in the country.

Hanauer got her private pilot’s license in May 1932. She had 30 flying hours with 20 of those being solo. She trained at the East Dayton flying service at the East Dayton airport. The airport was operated by her husband, Joe Hanauer, also a pilot. The East Dayton airport was situated where the Airway Shopping Center is now located. The Hanauers co-founded it on her mother’s farm. The air field was closed during WW II.

Malone was also a student at the East Dayton Flying service. She was expected to soon fly solo.

Other undated articles give evidence that the women were recognized nationally. Both Garrigus and Hanauer were invited to apply to be the co-pilot on an American Nurses’ Aviation Service flight. The project was to be a non-stop flight from New York to Rome with a male pilot and a female co-pilot. The transatlantic flight was to obtain medical information about the strain of long-distance flights on aviators, both male and female. The Dayton women did not participate. The planned flight left New York on September 13, 1932. Though sighted by a freighter about 400 miles from its expected destination, the plane never arrived. Its fate remains a mystery.

Coppedge and Hanauer were honored by being appointed members of the Women’s International Aerial Police. Following that appointment they were made honorary members of the Dayton police department.