Read all about BCHS’s recent findings below.
BCHS Names New Curator for Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument
The Butler County Historical Society has selected Butch Frederick to serve as the new curator of the historic Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument on Front Street, Hamilton. Frederick will be responsible for the military uniforms, records and artifacts in the extensive collection housed within the monument. The Butler County Historical Society will be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the facility and develop exhibits and programs for monument visitors through a cooperative agreement with the Butler County Commissioners.
Frederick and a team of historical society board members and volunteers headed by Jack Armstrong and Brian Smith are preparing the monument for a Memorial Day opening on May 28th when visitors can see the names of soldiers engraved on the walls and the beautiful stained glass windows. When the monument re-opens, with regular hours on Thursdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., it will initially appear as when it first opened in 1906. Exhibits will be added and frequently changed to honor Butler County pioneers and veterans.
The new curator was born and raised in Hamilton and is a graduate of Garfield High School, Class of 1965. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served four years as an Intercept Intel Analyst, achieving the rank of Sergeant. Frederick retired from Champion International after a career of thirty years. He is the current commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1069. He and his wife have two grown sons and live in Fairfield.
BCHS Welcomes New Staff and Volunteers to the Museum
The Butler County Historical Society is delighted to introduce Christina Beckett as a new Administrative Assistant in the museum. She will be responsible for maintaining the society’s membership records as well as managing social media and working with the inventory of the museum’s collection.
Beckett is a lifelong resident of Butler County and a graduate of Hamilton High School. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Miami University. Christina and her husband Charles, together with their five children, are the sixth generation to live on the Beckett Family Farm in Hanover Township. She is the head softball coach at the Miami University Regionals campus in Middletown and frequently serves as a substitute social studies teacher.
Four new volunteers have also taken on significant responsibilities at the museum complex. Mary Royer, Carol Brandenburg, Sandy Rice and Rae Jean Kodel are working on a variety of research projects including doing research for a book on Butler County during World War I. Other duties include serving as tour guides for the Benninghofen House Museum.
George Vascik Talk Keynotes Final Phase of World War I Exhibit
Dr. George S. Vascik, Miami University Associate Professor of History and Humanities, will present “The Great Destruction” as the final program in the Butler County Historical Society’s exhibit and year-long series of programs focusing on America’s participation in World War I. Vascik will discuss the legacy of the war and highlight some of the unresolved factors of the “Great War.” The presentation will be in the Emma Ritchie Auditorium at the society’s facility at 327 North 2nd Street, Hamilton at 1 p.m., Saturday, April 14. The talk is free to the public and free parking will be provided.
A special meeting of historical society members will be held after the presentation to consider the proposed changes in the society’s Code of Regulations recommended by the Board of Trustees. The suggested changes were published in the Winter 2018 issue of The Benninghofen Newsletter.
The first phase of “Over There, Over Here: Butler County Stories of World War I,” the historical society’s current exhibit, opened last April 22nd when Vascik gave a presentation of the European origins of the war and how the United States became involved. The second phase of the exhibit opened on September 30th with another entertaining and enjoyable presentation by Dr. Vascik. That speech featured stories of soldiers and nurses from the Butler County area. The third and final phase of the exhibit will officially open with Vascik’s talk and the complete exhibit can be visited before or after the presentation.
Next BCHSociety Program Features Clothing and Fashion During World War I
Sara Butler, Miami University Art Department Professor Emeritus, will present “Clothing During the Great War: 1914-1918”, 1 p.m. March 24, 2018 in the Emma Ritchie Auditorium at the Butler County Historical Society, 327 North 2nd Street, Hamilton. Her talk will describe the uniforms and clothing worn by men serving in the U.S. military as well as people on the home front during World War I. The program is free to the public.
Butler, a former board member of the historical society, will explain the unique characteristics of the uniforms of American soldiers and how the county’s residents worked to supply equipment and garments for the military effort. She will report how local retail stores worked to support the war effort and present the contributions of women during the wartime years. Several aspects of how the war influenced the fashions of the day will be illustrated with advertisements from local newspapers and by actual uniforms and women’s clothing in the historical society’s collection.
Dr. Butler was one of the coordinators of the society’s ongoing exhibit, “Over There, Over Here: Butler County Stories of World War I,” that focuses on the story of World War I in Butler County. The exhibit can be visited before or after her presentation.
BCHS Presents Charles Campbell Gard and World War I
A reader’s theater production and slide program telling the story of Charles Campbell Gard’s military service during World War I will be staged at 1 p.m., February 17, in the Emma Ritchie Auditorium at the Butler County Historical Society, 327 North 2nd Street, Hamilton. Gard, a 1913 graduate of Hamilton High School, was the only son of Lutie and Homer Gard, owner and publisher of the Hamilton Evening News which evolved to become the Journal News. He served in the military from July 1917 until May 1919.
The script for the 70-minute program was written by Richard Piland and is based on more than seventy-five letters Gard wrote to his family and the wartime diary he kept while on the Western Front in France. Piland also researched and created the pictorial slide show that illustrates Gard’s career and service during the war. The cast of four actors that performs the script includes Marcy Piland, Tom Redman, Brian Smith and Greg Young. The program is free to the public.
Gard served in the Ohio National Guard, Battery E, Third Field Artillery before earning a commission as a Second Lieutenant at the Officers’ Training Camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison on August 27, 1917. He was first stationed at Camp Funston at Fort Riley, Kansas, and then at Camp Jackson near Columbia, South Carolina, before volunteering for the newly formed air service. Gard was trained to be an observer-gunner during flight school at Fort Sill, Lawton, Oklahoma, and received advanced training at Selfridge Field at Mt. Clemens, Michigan. After earning his Aviator’s Badge on September 10, 1918, he sailed for France and the Western Front where he served until returning to the states on April 20, 1919.
“Campbell had a wide variety of experiences during his tour of duty in France,” Piland said. “Many of them were very special like the time he flew in formation over the throngs of Parisians celebrating the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918, and dropping flowers over President and Mrs. Wilson as they reviewed American soldiers at Langre on Christmas Day. He also was thrilled to have close encounters with General John J. Pershing; Edward, Prince of Wales; King Albert and Queen Elizabeth of Belgium.”
Piland also indicated that Campbell also had some very unfortunate experiences during his service. “During Lt. Gard’s Atlantic crossing in October 1918, he witnessed the collision of the Otranto and Kashmir troop ships and the loss of more than 400 soldiers. He also survived more than six separate plane crashes with only minor injuries.”
When Gard returned to civilian life in May 1919, he resumed working at the Evening News. On October 25, 1921, Campbell collapsed at his desk at the newspaper and died at the age of 26. The cause of death was myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. In 1926, Campbell’s parents revealed their plans to donate to the Hamilton Y.M.C.A. a fully equipped camp as a living memorial to their son. Camp Campbell Gard was dedicated on July 1, 1927 and is still in operation.
The historical society has published Campbell Gard’s wartime diary and will have copies of the 36-page book for sale at the program for $5.
Ohio Statehouse Showcases Butler County in Special Exhibit
The Butler County Historical Society was invited to create a special exhibit to highlight the county’s history and attractions for the Thomas Worthington Center at the Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus. The exhibit, which opened in January, presents the story of the industrial and agricultural history of Butler County and showcases many of the county’s popular historical organizations, museums and attractions in the county. Also on display are several Indian artifacts, Shaker boxes and brooms, Skotch coolers, two “Best Children’s Picture Book” Caldecott Medals awarded to writer Robert McCloskey, and items manufactured by the Mosler Safe Company, Estate Stove, Hamilton Tile, Beckett Paper, Fred J. Meyers Manufacturing Company, Armco Steel, and others.
The exhibit was created by Kathy Creighton, Butler County Historical Society Executive Director, and veteran volunteer Ed Creighton. Thousands of visitors to the Ohio capitol building will have the opportunity to learn about the county until the exhibit is removed on July 9, 2018. Chris Matheney, Ohio Statehouse Historic Site Manager for the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, thought the exhibit would be a very successful one. “I think there will be a lot of nose prints on the glass in front of the display,” he said, “and the more nose prints there are, the more successful is the exhibit.”
Featured in the exhibit are several descriptions of the county’s rich agricultural history including prominent farm equipment manufacturers such as Long and Allstatter; H.P. Deuscher; and Hooven, Owens and Rentschler. The area’s position as a lead producer of broom corn and other crops and a leader in developing the Poland China hog is also presented.
The county’s industrial heritage as the “Safe Capital of the World,” when almost half of the world’s safes were manufactured by Hamilton’s Mosler Safe Company and Herring-Hall-Marvin Safe Company, is explained. Other major manufacturing concerns highlighted in the exhibit include Beckett Paper, Champion Coated Paper, Sorg Paper, Niles Tool Works, Black-Clauson, Hooven-Owens-Rentschler, Fred J. Meyers Manufacturing, Armco Steel, Estate Stove Company, Hamilton Tile Works, Krauth and Benninghofen, Columbia Carriage and Aeronca.
Several museums and popular attractions located in Oxford, Middletown, Hamilton, Fairfield, Monroe, Trenton, Reily, Okeana, Harrison, West Chester, Madison Township and Morgan Township are briefly described in the exhibit.
Kathy Creighton, BCHS Executive Director, said she was delighted with the opportunity to present the story of Butler County in the Ohio Statehouse. “We are honored by being invited to put together an exhibit for visitors to the capitol to see. I think we covered most of the county’s finest attributes and believe people will enjoy the exhibit and learn a lot while seeing it.”
The Butler County Historical Society, located at 327 North Second Street, Hamilton, Ohio, is a private non-profit formed in 1934 to preserve and promote the history of Butler County through the collection and conservation of artifacts and the sharing of knowledge through education and community engagement. It owns and operates the Benninghofen House museum, a high-Italian style home built in 1863 that is filled with the furnishings of a wealthy family during the Victorian Era. It is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. Group tours of the Benninghofen House Museum can be arranged by calling 513-896-9930.