The Butler County Historical Society has opened a new exhibition showcasing how local workers manufactured brooms, one of the early items made in the county as early as the 1830s.
Using natural stiff grasses such as broomcorn made from the sorghum plant, local artisans fashioned brooms in many locations throughout Butler County during the 1800s and 1900s.
The exhibit, located in the display hallway connecting the research center and the Benninghofen House Museum at 327 North 2nd Street, Hamilton, will run through the end of the year and is free to the public. It is open Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Free parking is provided at the society.
Butler County was a leading producer of broomcorn in Ohio for several years including being ranked among the top 3 counties from 1883 to 1893 and the top 10 producers during earlier and subsequent years. Several broom-makers, including members of the area’s White Water Shaker group of the United Society of Believers, had businesses in Hamilton, Middletown and nearby townships.
The exhibit was developed and organized by Ed Crieghton, long time historical society volunteer and former executive director of the Oxford Museum Association. On display are samples of the materials used to create brooms and the machines required to make them. Actual broomcorn cutting trimmers, broom assembly equipment and flax wheels for making linens are included in the exhibit. Also featured in the display are products made from other parts of the broomcorn plant and selected grains such as barley and hops. Visitors can also see the continuing exhibit that features the historical society’s comprehensive collection of Indian artifacts, some of which are 10,000 years old. The collection of more than 2,500 items is on display in the society’s lower exhibit area
The Butler County Historical Society is a private non-profit formed in 1934 to preserve and interpret the county’s rich heritage. It owns and operates the Benninghofen House, a high-Italian style home filled with the furnishings of a wealthy family during the Victorian Era. Group tours of the society’s exhibits and the Benninghofen House Museum can be arranged by calling 896-9930.