Images of America: Hamilton’s Industrial Heritage, a new book by Butler County Historical Society board member Richard N. Piland, pays tribute to Hamilton’s industrial history.
Since its founding in 1791, Hamilton has nearly always been an important center of activity in the region. After Ohio became a state in 1803, the city became an agricultural hub and county seat. The town’s location on the Great Miami River attracted a variety of millers who powered their businesses with the river’s current and by the late 1830s, dozens of mills dotted the landscape.
Things picked up in 1845, when the Hamilton and Rossville Hydraulic Company diverted the river’s flow through town and developed a system that supplied cheap water power to area mills. The hydraulic generated enough horsepower to attract mills that produced paper, flour, cotton, wool, and machine shops. Other early businesses included sawmills that cut lumber for constructing homes and businesses, planning mills that made flooring and weather boards, cotton mills that made yarn and fabrics, grinding mills that broke stone, and foundries that melted iron for castings.
By the 1860s, Hamilton was a leading producer of farm implements such as reapers, hay rakes, harvesters, and plows. The advent of steam engines brought a shift in production, and the population of skilled artisans and workingmen in the community brought new factories to the city. By 1900, Hamilton was “the greatest manufacturing city of its size in the world” and produced a staggering variety and diversity of products for the world’s markets.
Hamilton’s factories became the preeminent leaders in their business segments and the standard by which their competitors were judged. In the 1940s, Hamilton was home to several of the world’s largest industries. The Champion Paper Company was the world’s largest coated paper mill. More than half of the world’s safes and vaults were made by the Mosler and Herring-Hall-Marvin safe companies, giving the city its reputation as the “Safe Capital of the World.” Niles Tool Works was one of the largest machine tool manufacturers, Hooven-Owens-Rentschler was one of the largest Corliss engine builders, and Estate Stove was one of the largest stove makers in the world.
Images of America: Hamilton’s Industrial Heritage, Piland’s fourth book for Arcadia Publishing, is scheduled to be released May 4, includes more than 200 vintage photographs and highlights many of the companies that manufactured paper, safes and vaults, engines and vehicles, machine tools, foundries and many other products.
Piland will have a book signing from noon to 4:00 pm on Saturday, May 9, at the Butler County Historical Society, 327 North 2nd Street, Hamilton, 45011.
He is a 35-year resident of the Hamilton area and former college professor and owner of a local community survey research firm.
By Richard N. Piland
It was surprising to learn recently that there was an earlier Butler County Historical Society. On June 14, 1901, a call was issued to people interested in forming a historical society to attend a June 18 meeting held at the county courthouse. At that first meeting officers and directors were elected and several committees were formed to develop a constitution, secure meeting space and lobby for the support of county commissioners.
Officers elected to serve through January 1, 1902 included Constantine Markt, president; Alston Ellis, 1st vice president; Dan Millikin, 2nd vice-president; William C. Miller, treasurer; Bert S. Bartlow, recording secretary; and Stephen D. Cone, historian and corresponding secretary. The nine directors elected were Allen Andrews, Homer Gard, Richard Brown, Herbert E. Twitchell, W. H. Harr, W. L. Tobey, L. E. Grennan, R. W. McFarland and Riley Shepherd. At the next meeting on July 3, the group voted to adopt the constitution and by-laws as prepared by Riley Shepherd, Bert Bartlow and Allen Andrews.
The six men who signed the Articles of Incorporation for the society on July 6 were Alston Ellis, Samuel L. Rose, Stephen D. Cone, Bert S. Bartlow, William C. Miller, and Constantine Markt. Herbert E. Twitchell also signed the documents, but his name was crossed off for some unknown reason. The six incorporators appeared before H. H. Haines, a Butler County notary public, to affirm their signatures. John L. Hoffman Jr., Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, witnessed the documents on October 15, 1901, and the articles were filed with the Ohio Secretary of State on November 26, 1902.
The Articles of Incorporation stated the following as the purpose of the organization: This society is formed for the purpose of promoting a knowledge of history, archeology, and kindred subjects of Butler County by establishing and maintaining a library of books, manuscripts, maps, charts, etc., properly pertaining thereto; a museum of prehistoric and pioneer relics and natural or other curiosities or specimens of art or nature promotive of the object of the association. Said library and museum to be open to the public at stated periods under the direction of the society, by courses of lectures and publication of papers and documents touching the subject so specified with power to receive and hold gifts and donations for the benefit of such society.
Unfortunately, the only other meeting of the society found during my research was a short session held on July 27, 1901 during an excessive heat wave with temperatures as high as 107˚. The group indicated there would be a program of historical papers presented at the society’s next meeting, however my reading of the Daily Republican News, the Daily Democrat, and the weekly Hamilton Telegraph papers published from June 1, 1901 through March 1, 1902, did not locate when or even if the meeting took place. There are no other records about the organization, when, if ever, it held other meetings or what, if anything, it accomplished. The only record relating to this first Butler County Historical Society held by the Ohio Secretary of State notes that the organization was canceled for lack of a statement of continued existence on March 31, 1963, some 29 years after our current society began meeting in 1934 (our date of incorporation was December 22, 1948).
The six men who formed the first Butler County Historical Society were community leaders of such stature that it is surprising the organization was not continued. Here is a brief portrait of each of the initial founders of that first BCHS.
Alston Ellis (1847-1920) was born in Covington, Kentucky. He taught for a year before moving to Ohio to attend Miami University. Ellis served as superintendent of the Hamilton public schools for 13 years during two terms, from 1871 to 1879 and again from 1887 to 1892. Between his two appointments in Hamilton, he headed the Sandusky, Ohio public schools. He left his Hamilton position in 1892 to become president of Colorado State Agricultural College in Fort Collins, serving there until 1899. He returned to Ohio and assumed the presidency of Ohio University in Athens from 1901 until his death in 1920. Ellis earned bachelor’s (1867) and master’s (1872) degrees at Miami University, and doctor of philosophy degrees from the College of Wooster (1879) and Ohio State University (1888), as well as a doctor of laws degree from Ohio State (1890).
Samuel L. Rose (1865-1903), seen at the left, was another academically- oriented man. He was born in Union Township and graduated from Lebanon Normal University. Prior to serving as principal of Hamilton’s Fourth Ward School from 1889 to 1894, Rose had worked as a teacher at the Oak Hill School, was appointed deputy treasurer for the Butler County clerk of courts, and served one year as the principal of the Venice (Ross) School. He resigned his position in the Hamilton schools in 1894 to become editor and business manager of the Hamilton Daily Democrat newspaper but returned to the district to serve as district superintendent from 1895 until his death in 1903 from what the doctor called “brain exhaustion.” Rose was credited with creating a better high school curriculum that allowed students to take either a classical or scientific business course of study.
Stephen D. Cone (1840-1922) attended the Nathan Furman School at Third and Dayton streets and then the Hamilton public schools. He started a career in journalism by becoming an apprentice at the Hamilton Intelligencer newspaper in 1859. After serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, Cone became the business manager of the Butler County Democrat in 1876 and wrote a series of 17 articles for the paper on “The Early Condition of This Valley.” He operated a printing office in Hamilton from 1879 to 1884. From 1885 to 1891 he was editor of the Oxford Citizen and during 1886 to 1889 served on the Oxford Board of Education. Cone also served a two year term from 1889 to 1891 on the Oxford Town Council. He was one of the primary organizers of the Butler County Centennial held in 1903. Cone wrote the two-volume History of Hamilton (1791-1902) and was one of the editors and writers of the Centennial History of Butler County (1905).
Bert S. Bartlow (1869-1919) was born in Franklin County, Indiana. In 1888 he entered Miami University where he edited and served as the business manager of the Miami Student newspaper from 1891 to 1893. Bartlow earned a Bachelor or Arts degree in Political Science in 1894. He was a clerk of the Deputy State Supervisors of Elections for 1894 to 1898 and represented Butler County in the Ohio Legislature during 18981901. While in Columbus, he worked successfully to get the general assembly to enact the creation of the Hamilton Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument Committee in 1898. Bartlow was an editor of the Butler County Press and the Hamilton Evening Sun and worked to organize the Butler County Centennial of 1903. He was also one of the editors and writers of the Centennial History of Butler County (1905).
Constantine Markt (1832-1909) was born in the Kingdom of Württemberg, Germany. He graduated from the Eclectic Medical College in Cincinnati in 1858 and immediately established a practice in Hamilton. He was a successful physician who served as president of the Ohio Medical Association and was an active member of the Butler County Medical Society. His medical practice was so consuming that he decided to purchase a drugstore on Third Street in 1869 and maintained his city practice but curtailed his service to rural areas. He served on the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers’ Monument Committee in 1897 and worked to organize the Butler County Centennial celebration of 1903. He served ten years as secretary for the Lane Free Library Board of Trustees. His wife, Josephine Carpenter Markt, was a founder and charter member of the Children’s Home for many years. His daughter Addie was the wife of Edward Sohngen, a popular Hamilton merchant.
William C. Miller (1847-1905) was also born in the Kingdom of Württemberg, Germany. He attended Hamilton’s public schools and graduated from the Miami Medical College in Cincinnati in 1877. Miller returned to Hamilton in 1879 and purchased a drugstore on the southwest corner of Main and B streets from Barton S. James. He was a member of the Butler County Medical Society and a trustee of the Lane Free Library Board from 1892 to 1899. Miller was one of the first to suggest having a centennial celebration for Hamilton in 1891. He also worked to organize the Butler County Centennial of 1903. Miller’s first wife was Erin A. Corwin, daughter of pioneer Jesse Corwin , and his second wife was Mary Symmes Hunter, a niece of President William Henry Harrison and a granddaughter of Celadon Symmes, who was a nephew of John Cleves Symmes, the man who made the “Miami Purchase.”
Join local historian Jim Blount on Tuesday, April 14, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the Hamilton Lane Library for a conversation about The Civil War’s Impact on Hamilton: A 150-Year Perspective.
No registration required. For details, call 894-7158. The Hamilton Lane Library is located at 300 N. Third St.
For more information about this and other programs at the Lane Libraries, please call
894-6557 or visit the Lane website at http://www.lanepl.org.
In celebration of Children’s Book Week 2015, the The Lane Libraries will host a “Robert McCloskey Walk and Literary Landmark Dedication,” 10 a.m. Saturday May 9.
Walk in the footsteps of Robert McCloskey, Hamilton’s famous children’s author. Meet at the Hamilton Lane Library, (Children’s Department on the 5th Floor) and parade your way to the Robert McCloskey Museum, touring McCloskey landmarks along the way.
The Walking Tour is led by Brandon Soale, curator of the McCloskey Museum. He will end the tour at 11:30 and participants will have time to return to their cars for the dedication at the Hamilton Lane Library at noon.
Dedication of United for Libraries Children’s Book Week 2015 Literary Landmark will follow at noon.
After the dedication, there will be a tour of the Hamilton Lane Library and you can view our painting of McCloskey, “Man with a Harmonica” by Jane White Cooke, and check out books by McCloskey.
The plaque will read: “Two-Time Caldecott Award winner Robert McCloskey (1914-2003) walked through the doors of this library many times as a child. McCloskey was born in Hamilton and his first book, Lentil, featured several Hamilton scenes including this library. Published by Viking in 1940, it told the story of a boy much like himself who played the harmonica,” and will contain the names of contributors Heritage Hall, the Lane Libraries, the Ohio Educational Library Media Association and Penguin Young Readers, an imprint of Viking.
Presenters will include Gratia Banta, Youth Services Manager, the Lane Libraries; Nancy Follmer, President, Heritage Hall; OELMA Representatives; Mike Dinkeldein, architect; Carol Bowling, Branch Manager, Hamilton Lane Library; and Peter Roop, author, who will read Lentil.
For more information, call 513-785-2703.
In the spirit and fun of college basketball’s March Madness, the Ohio History Connection and Smith Library of Regional History invite you to participate in Ohio Memory Madness – a bracket of sixty-four historical events from across the state all competing for the unique distinction of being named the 2015 Ohio Memory Madness Champion. Since the historical events featured in the bracket are unable to play tournament style basketball, the winner of Ohio Memory Madness will be determined by public online voting at www.ohiohistoryhost.org/madness/.
The Ohio Memory Madness bracket features images of a variety of historical events pulled from Ohio
Memory, the collaborative digital library project of the Ohio History Connection and the State Library of Ohio, with digital collections from 360 cultural heritage institutions representing all of Ohio’s 88 counties.
Smith History Library is proud to have Freedom Summer represent Oxford in this statewide competition.
The photo shown is of Fannie Lou Hamer visiting Civil Rights workers training at Western College for Women during Freedom Summer in 1964. The photograph was taken by George R. Hoxie.
Event images will go head to head beginning March 17, and the voting is scheduled as follows:
First round: March 17–20
Round of 32: March 21-25
Sweet 16: March 26-27
Elite 8: March 28-30
Final 4: April 2-4
Championship: April 5-6
The public can vote throughout the tournament to be sure their favorite event image makes it to the championship – they can also enter to win a prize pack from the Ohio History Connection including tickets to the Ohio History Center in Columbus, a Retro Ohio t-shirt, and an assortment of Ohio munchies to enjoy while watching that other sport.
The Smith Library, a division of Lane Public Libraries, collects information on the history of Oxford, Butler County, and southwestern Ohio.
The Miami University Special Collections will celebrate its spring exhibit with a reception on Tuesday, March 17, from 4 to 6 p.m. on the third floor of King Library. The public is invited to attend.
The spring exhibit, on view until May 15, is The Ready Ones: American Children, World War II, and Propaganda, guest curated by Katherine Wills-Wright, a Miami University history graduate student. The exhibit includes materials in Special Collections, quotes and items from several local interviewees, as well as items loaned by the Butler County Historical Society and the Smith Library of Regional History.
During a short program Katie will discuss her project and her research. Light refreshments will be served.
The BCHS will be opening two new exhibits this spring by June 1.
Beckett, More Than a Business: A family will be featured in the story of the Beckett Paper Company and the people that made it special. Employees were considered as family and this clearly seen through the many pictures that have survived from employee events. The exhibit will focus on this aspect of Beckett, along with the story of the mill in Hamilton and the Beckett Family. This exhibit will be located in the Emma Ritchie Auditorium and throughout the research facility and the enclosed porch of the house. This exhibit is being developed by David Belew and his intern from Miami University Hamilton, Mike Dobais.
Reality and Fantasy: Butler County Weddings 1830-1960 will tell the story of how weddings were celebrated, starting with the oldest dress in the BCHS collection that dates to the 1830s through the post-WW II era. Through artifacts including wedding dresses, wedding trousseaus, pictures and written records, you will meet many of the brides and learn how these special days have been celebrated for over 150 years. This exhibit is being developed by Dr. Sara Butler and Marcus Gray, her intern from Miami University.
The Hueston Woods State Park, in partnership with the Oxford Museum Associatino, will hold the annual Maple Syrup Festival on March 7, 8, 14 and 15.
Maple Syrup Tours: Noon to 4 p.m. each day. Begin with a hay ride at the Pioneer Farm (6924 Brown Road, Oxford). No dogs or other pets. Then enjoy a hike through “the Big Woods,” a designated State Nature Preserve, and learn the art of maple syrup production as well as teh cultural and natural history of the area. Food, beverages and maple syrup will be on sale throughout the day.
Visit the Nature Center, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tour the indoor/outdoor exhibits of reptiles, birds of prey and the park’s resident cougar.
Pancake Breakfast at the Lodge. 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. $6 adults, $5 children 10 and under.
For information, call 513-524-4250.