Read all about BCHS’s recent findings below.
BCHS Names New Officers and Board Members for 2020
The Butler County Historical Society will begin 2020 with a new slate of officers when the Board of Trustees meets on Thursday, January 16. Brian Smith will return for a third year as the board’s president. He is a Ross School District English teacher and is entering his sixth year as a board member. Sara Butler, Miami University Art Department Professor Emeritus, will be the new vice-president. Butler rejoined the BCHS board in 2019 and previously served as a trustee from 2011 to 2017.
Greg Young, retired superintendent of the Ross School District, will serve as board treasurer for a second year. Young served as board president for three years when he was on the board from 2007 through 2012. Patty Fawns will be the board’s secretary for a second consecutive year. She previously served as a board trustee for six years.
Returning board members are Liesl Bauer, B. Gayle Niehaus, Joanne Williamson and Katie Wright. Kathy Creighton remains the society’s Executive Director, a position she has occupied since 2010. Christina Beckett, administrative assistant, and Butch Frederick, curator of the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument, will continue in those positions.
New members of the board of trustees will be Hamilton residents Linda Benninghofen and Josh Braun, Doug Fraits of Millville and Hanover Township resident Ted Hunter. All four new members of the board are beginning their first year as trustees. Leaving the board after serving as trustees for six years are Jack Armstrong, Chris Carroll and Richard Piland.
The society’s Board of Trustees oversees the BCHS programs, exhibits, operations, and efforts to preserve and interpret Butler County’s rich heritage. During 2019, more than 10,000 people visited the society to conduct research, tour the Benninghofen House museum, attend a lecture series program, visit an exhibit, or attended a Speaker’s Bureau presentation. As a non-profit organization with no routine government support of any kind, the BCHS relies on generous volunteer and community support and financial gifts to help it continue the society’s increasingly important civic contributions to increase public awareness of the county’s past.
Member-Only Christmas Celebration
Butler County Historical Society members are invited to attend a traditional holiday Christmas celebration to be held on Friday evening, December 6, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event will be held throughout the society’s complex at 327 N. Second Street, Hamilton and include a variety of typical holiday refreshments, cookies, and beverages. Non-members who wish to attend the event can join the society during the evening. People planning to attend are requested to RSVP.
The Benninghofen House will be decked out in traditional Victorian holiday attire and several Christmas trees decorated by the society’s Master Gardeners will be located in the house and the Emma Ritchie Auditorium. Homemade Christmas cookies, mulled wine and apple cider will be available during the evening beginning at 6 p.m. Kathy Creighton, BCHS Executive Director, will present an entertaining biography of Santa Claus and tell the history of the holiday classic cartoon “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at 7 p.m.
Members will also have the opportunity to enjoy an ongoing mini-display of antique toys and Christmas Cards in the Emma Ritchie Auditorium. Also on view is an alpine winter scene including several ski slopes, 10 porcelain lighted buildings, more than 100 trees and nearly 100 skiers, skaters and snowboarders, all in small scale. The entire village is part of a collection of porcelain buildings owned by BCHS board member Richard Piland.
John Kiesewetter to be Featured Speaker During the BCHS Annual Meeting
TV and media reporter John Kiesewetter will be the featured speaker during the 85th Annual Meeting of the Butler County Historical Society. The meeting will be held in the Fitton Center for Creative Arts Carruthers Signature Ballroom, 101 S. Monument Avenue, Hamilton on Thursday, November 7. A cash bar will be available beginning at 5:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:15 p.m. A brief business meeting after the dinner will feature a report of the society’s activities during 2019 and the election of the society’s new board members and slate of officers for 2020.
John Kiesewetter was a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter for 40 years and the newspaper’s TV columnist for 30 years before taking his current position in 2015 with Cincinnati Public Radio station WVXU-FM. He is a Butler County native, born in Middletown and a 1971 Fenwick High School graduate. John lives in Fairfield with his wife, former Journal-News reporter Sue Kiesewetter.
Kiesewetter will speak on “Remembering Cincinnati’s Biggest TV Stars.” He will tell his favorite stories about Cincinnati TV stars including Bonnie Lou, Bob Braun, Nick Clooney, Paul Dixon and Al Schottelkotte. He will also tell tales about George Clooney, Woody Harrelson and others he covered in the Los Angeles and New York TV markets. Kiesewetter’s talk will be a fun-filled and nostalgic remembrance of the people that helped create the golden age of Cincinnati television.
The dinner and meeting are open to all historical society members and the public. Tickets are $45 for individuals and $85 for couples. People interested in attending should make reservations for the event no later than October 31st by calling the society at 896-9930.
BCHS Exhibit Presents Victorian Funeral Traditions
The Butler County Historical Society will open a new exhibit presenting many of the traditions of Victorian era funerals next week. The exhibit is free to the public and will open in the society’s Benninghofen House, 327 North 3rd Street, Hamilton, on Tuesday, October 1 and run for six weeks until November 9.
An authentic Victorian “laying out table” holding a coffin provided by the Charles C. Young Funeral Home is the central feature of the exhibit on display in the museum’s parlor. Several traditional floral arrangements, a wide collection of period funeral invitations and memorial cards can also be examined. Women’s mourning clothes worn during the Civil War and early 20th century, a funeral urn and a home embalming kit are also on display. The exhibit tells the story of “The Empty Chair” and explains the original meaning of the phrase “saved by the bell.”
BCHS Holds Old Fashioned Ice Cream Socials, Presents Butler County, 1919 and Games Played in the 1800s
The Butler County Historical Society will host a special member-only event on Friday evening, September 13, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Emma Ritchie Auditorium of the society’s complex at 327 N. Second Street, Hamilton. The evening begins with an old-fashioned ice cream social at 6 p.m. followed by a presentation about daily life in Butler County 100 years ago. Non-members who wish to attend the event can join the society during the evening.
Sara Butler, Miami University Art Department Professor Emeritus and BCHS Board Member, will present “Butler County, 1919.” Her talk will present local reactions to the tumultuous events surrounding the end of World War I, prohibition, women’s suffrage, the Spanish Flu, and the World Series scandal. Scenes from the county, stories from local newspapers and artifacts from the historical society’s collection will highlight the presentation.
On Saturday, September 14, the society’s final summer multi-generational program for children and their parents will be presented. The program, including an ice cream social, will be held in the front yard of the society’s Benninghofen House at 327 North Second Street and begin at 9:30 a.m. and end around 2 p.m. The program will focus on common games children played during the 1800s including shuttle cock, graces, and Jacob’s ladder. Youngsters can make a ring and stick game they can take home. All activities are designed as hands-on experiences and people can join the event anytime between 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. In the case of poor weather, activities will be moved inside to the Emma Ritchie Auditorium. This program is free and open to the public, thanks to a generous grant from the W. E. Smith Family Trust of Oxford.
For both ice cream socials we plan to make chocolate and vanilla ice cream, some by hand cranking small makers and some through the power of an antique “hit and miss” engine attached to a five gallon ice cream maker. Kathy Creighton, executive director of the historical society, said “this is our fourth annual ice cream social. During earlier socials we made more than six gallons of chocolate and vanilla ice cream and the youngsters really enjoyed watching the old engine churn away. We also will have all the toppings, sprinkles and cherries for everyone to make their ice cream a special treat.”
Butler County Historical Society Presents “All in a Day’s Work – In the Home”
The Butler County Historical Society will present on Saturday, August 10, the third of its summer multi-generational programs designed for children and their parents or grandparents. It will be held in the front yard of the society’s Benninghofen House museum at 327 North Second Street, Hamilton, and begin at 9:30 a.m. and end around 2 p.m. The program is free and open to the public, thanks to a generous grant from the W. E. Smith Family Trust of Oxford.
“All in a Day’s Work – In the Home” will focus on the common chores that were typical of daily life on a Butler County farm during the 1800s. During this session we will be making butter, doing laundry and probably getting wet. We’ll shell and grind corn to make cornbread and taste what we make. We will also explore how pioneers used sorghum to sweeten their food, make flour, popcorn and even brooms to clean their homes. There will be a special scavenger hunt for the kids and their parents where they will seek several key artifacts and items in the society’s current exhibits. All activities are designed as hands-on experiences with no set program. People can join the event anytime between 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. In the case of poor weather, activities will be moved inside to the Emma Ritchie Auditorium.
Kathy Creighton, executive director of the historical society, said she thinks the children and their family members will have a good time during the program again this year. “Last year, everyone had great fun and really enjoyed themselves and the kids especially liked getting wet when they did laundry the way pioneer families did. We’ve created scavenger hunts for all of our summer programs this year and the kids really like winning a small prize when they find the items. We think this session will be an excellent hands-on experience for kids and a real treat for all.”