Read all about BCHS’s recent findings below.
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.”
Butler County Historical Society Guest Speaker To Talk About the History of Hamilton’s Ford Plant
Join the Butler County Historical Society as guest speaker B. J. Miller presents the history of the Henry Ford and Son Fordson tractor and wheel manufacturing plant that operated in Hamilton from 1920 through 1951. Miller’s presentation will be at 7 p.m. on August 2nd in the Emma Ritchie Auditorium at the Butler County Historical Society, 327 North 2nd Street, Hamilton. The program is free to the public.
Miller, co-owner of Ron’s Auto Body Shop in Shandon with Casey Miller since 2010, is known nationally for his work restoring antique engines. He has been involved with antique autos for many years, dating back to his youth. His father, Ron Miller built a “salt flat car” with his friend Mark Radke that set world records in 2007, 2009 and 2012 at the Bonneville Salt Flats using a vintage Model A Ford-powered sprint car they built. The family’s collection of top-notch Model T and Model A Fords are in the Salty Dog Museum, adjacent to Ron’s Auto Shop in Shandon.
The Ford plant originally opened in 1920 to build gas-powered Fordson tractors. Shortly after opening, however, the factory shifted to manufacture more than 12 million wheels for the Ford Model T between 1920 and 1927. After the plant was retooled, more than 22 million wheels for Ford’s Model A automobile were made from 1927 to 1937. During World War II the plant built parts for bomber engines. Between 1951 and 1962, the Bendix Aviation Corporation operated at the plant. The Ward Manufacturing Company made camping trailers at the facility until the Chem-Dyne Corporation opened a chemical-waste storage site on the property in 1975.
Butler County Historical Society Returns to the Roaring 20’s with its Little Chicago Shindig
John Dillinger and Al Capone. Prohibition-era speakeasies and bootlegging operations. Gangsters and casinos. The Butler County Historical Society is harkening back to the golden age of rum-runners, gambling, flappers and jazz for a fund-raising gala at the historic Benninghofen House in Hamilton’s German Village on August 17, 2019.
The Hamilton of the 1920’s was a booming center of industry, and the success of paper mills and machine tool manufacturers brought wealth and a seedy underworld to our city. Many Chicago gangsters had second homes in Hamilton, which was a convenient stop along the illegal liquor routes during prohibition, earning the city the nickname “Little Chicago.” Local history buffs love to regale you with tales of John Dillinger’s hide-out on second street, local bootleggers and scandalous gangster wars. But, on August 17, toast the past with a glass of giggle juice, listen to some jazz and enjoy the ritzy side of our Little Chicago.
For their evening fund-raiser, the Historical Society invites you into their 1900’s era mansion on Second Street in the German Village. Your ticket purchase will get you the secret knock for entry, along with some drinks, hors d’oeuvres and chips for casino games. Flapper dresses, feathers and pearls, and pinstripes are encouraged, but not mandatory (dressy casual or cocktail attire are all the glad rags you need). Outside the home, plan to snap some selfies with a small but stunning collection of vintage cars – there’s an aces insta filter to help your photo be period-perfect!
Inside the Benninghofen House, you’ll be transported back in time to our Little Chicago speakeasy. Our gin mill (or bar, as they say today) will be stocked with beer, wine, a few prohibition-inspired cocktails and a limited-edition batch from our local brewery Municipal Brew Works. A three piece jazz ensemble will play live music throughout the evening. And, of course, no speakeasy would be complete without some gambling. Enjoy roulette, craps and blackjack, but make sure you bring some extra clams in case the coppers try to bust up the joint!
In addition to the casino games and music, there will be a silent auction with gift baskets from local vendors and shops, as well as a split the pot raffle. The party goes from 7 to 11 PM at 327 N. Second Street in Hamilton. Tickets can be purchased through the BCHS facebook event page or eventbrite, or by contacting the Historical Society directly at (513) 896-9930. Tickets are $50 apiece and the ticket price includes 2 drink tickets and a pre-set amount of chips for casino games. All of the proceeds for this event go toward the Butler County Historical Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to the education, support and preservation of Butler County’s rich heritage.