(page 369) In the story of its development from a cornfield set in a forest to a snug little city famed for its beauty and its industries, the capital of Shelby county derives no greater pride than that which comes from the contemplation of its public schools.
As an older historian said, the first schools were "rude and feeble." Education at the beginning of settlement was regarded (page 370) as a luxury rather than as a necessity. The settlers had little time to indulge in luxury in any form, and necessity demanded the expenditure of nearly all their energy in other directions than that of learning. None the less, there were schools here, from the very earliest days. Charles Starrett, the original owner of the town plat of Sidney, had provided a half acre for the purpose of building a schoolhouse, and, prior to the opening of the newer town, a small log schoolhouse had been built at Hardin.
The first schools were not free schools, although the schoolhouses were generally erected by public subscription, and a part of the expense of operating them was provided by public moneys or by private benevolences, the remainder being met by tuition fees from the pupils who attended. As stated in a very able sketch, written some years ago by Mrs. Jane Cummins Arbuckle, "the educational spirit was manifest among the citizens, and the object of the teacher was the diffusion of sound literary and moral instruction ;" yet "there was no concerted effort toward popular education for two decades after the establishment of the town of Sidney" Up to 1840 there were no free schools in the town, tough private schools had come and gone, and were still flourishing or languishing, if that be nearer the truth.
The earliest school of all had been conducted in the little courthouse on the west side of Ohio avenue, opposite the public square, being taught by Mr. J. C. Calhoun. (Occasionally spelled in earlier works "Cahoon.")
Mr. Shephard had taught an early school in the first little Methodist church, which stood on the southeast corner of Miami and North streets, where the Baptists reared their edifice in later years. On the northeast corner of the same streets, in the old Presbyterian church, Judge N. R. Wyman taught a school for a number of years, extending well into the forties, possibly longer. In a small frame building on South Main avenue, separated from the O. J. Taylor home site, by the alley on the north, Rev. and Mrs. Samuel Cleland, assisted by Mr. Armstrong, taught a school during six months each year. The home of the Business Girls' association occupies the same site, at present (1919). Also, in 1840, a school for girls was taught by Mrs. Dr. Johnson, in a building three doors above the northeast corner of Main and Poplar streets. Mr. Alexander Green taught a school on the second floor of the same building, and both teachers were noted for thoroughness in the matters of teaching and discipline. The next year, 1841, four free schools were established in the village, Alexander Green, Abraham Fulton, Mrs. McKinley and Elijah Lynch being retained as teachers at the modest salary of $75 each, per quarter, a public fund having been raised for the amount.
At an earlier date, judge Patrick Goode had taught in the Buckeye schoolhouse, which stood on the lot given by Mr. Starrett for school purposes. Rev. Maltbie also taught school, in a frame house situated one door west of the Sidney house of recent years, from 1843 to 1845.
The Sidney male and female academy was established about (page 371) 1843 by Rev. William McGookin,* in a brick house on Poplar street, the place serving the McGookins as a residence as well as schoolhouse. The building was afterward remodeled into a hotel the Union house-and is now the Hotel Metropole, operated by William Shine. The instructors in the academy were Mr. and Mrs. McGookin, Miss D. E. Bankroft, Miss M. R. Crowell, Miss M. A. Abbott, Mr. J. M. Lippincott and Mr. John Neal-the latter a teacher of vocal music. The young men's department provided an extended course of study where students might prepare to enter the junior year of any of the best colleges. The tuition was not exorbitant, and many pupils were enrolled, the figure of one hundred and fifty-four students being recorded in all departments, in 1849-50. This school, especially in its higher department, undoubtedly served an admirable purpose in the years that intervened between its establishment and the opening of the Sidney union school in 1857. We find no mention of the date of its close, however, and conclude that its patronage fell away when the high school privileges were made free; while several of its teachers had left it, previous to that event. Mrs. McGookin taught the primary classes in the institution, and was reputed to be severe to the point of cruelty in the discipline of young children; notwithstanding which, the McGookin academy had its defenders to the last, among its pupils. (This name is remembered also as McGoogan.)
The Starrett school lot was "the east half of lot 105," and was destroyed or removed when the new Union school building was erected, the new and larger structure requiring the entire lot and also the contiguous lot on the north. The Buckeye school, as it had been called, was a free school, although some pupils paid tuition fees there. No child was refused admittance, and it was only because of insufficient school funds that tuition was accepted. During the period of building, from late in 1855 to January, 1857, the pupils formerly accommodated there were taken to the township school, which stood at the right of road near the point where Ohio avenue comes out on the Wapakoneta pike. The teachers there were Miss Crowell and Ben LeFevre-the latter very young, not more than seventeen. Mr. Hamlin Blake, who attended this school until the Union school was completed, remembers among his schoolmates there, Mary Nutt and Ed. Newton and H. John Nutt; the John Johnston children, the Allen Wells children, the Doering children, and, in fact, most of the town's children. Mr. Blake had previously attended a very select private school taught by Miss Jennie Murray, at the Murray family home on Miami avenue, at the north side of the alley, near the Presbyterian manse. The school was on the second floor of Miss Jennie's father's wood-turning plant, and though Miss Jennie sometimes had to go down and lubricate the machinery of the lathe to stop the creaking, the school was an excellent one, where not only the "three R's," but good morals and fine deportment were imparted. The Misses Murray were accomplished ladies, closely related to Gen. James Murray, one of Sidney's most talented sons.
(page 372) Another school contemporary with the academy, though of later establishment, was taught at the corner of Ohio and North streets, in a brick building which is still in use as a coal office, the north end accommodating the Kraft blacksmith shop. Two rooms in the second story were fitted up, for school purposes, by Mr. Paumpelle,* a native of Paris, France, who taught in one room, while Miss Crowell, formerly connected with the McGookin academy, presided in the other. The first floor of the building was devoted to the manufacture of plows, t an industry which must have had quiet moments, else the sessions of the school were conducted under difficulties. Mr. Paumpelle was a cripple, as the result of injuries received in childhood, but was, nevertheless, a polished scholar and linguist, well trained in English, and an accomplished penman-also a very good teacher. Miss Crowell spent a long life as a local instructor, and is still remembered by the elder citizens of Sidney. There was great rivalry between the pupils of this school and those of the McGookin academy, and there are stories of oldtime contests between the factions, which were fought out after school distance settled.
At the corner where the postoffice building was erected 1917-18, a stove foundry stood in that old day of the two schools, in which the youngsters found much entertainment, and where, doubtless, some of the Sidney boys imbibed a working knowledge of and a liking for metal manufacture.
Dingmansburg and East Sidney maintained schools of their own until after the establishment of the Union school system in 1857. A small brick house at the foot of Orbison hill accommodated one of these, taught in 1848by Albert Wilson (afterward Dr. Wilson), and later by Martha Crowell, until the opening of the Union school. Miss Emma Kelsey, being a teacher there, also. Miss Cromwell became Mrs. George Burgess, of Troy, Ohio, and Miss Kelsey married John Fry, of Bellfontaine.
The Catholic church parish opened a school in 1855, and have maintained a parochial school ever since, developing, as the times demanded, into a regularly organized graded school which conforms to public educational standards.
A state law passed in 1853 provided for the establishment of schools for colored children; but no separate school was built for them until 1878, and that was abandoned in 1895, as the "Black Laws" had been repealed in 1887.
It will be seen that only partial data concerning any of the early schools has been preserved, but enough is told to establish the fact that they were practical, if primitive, and that a general and reasonably steady progress was made toward the standards of the present. Philanthropic encouragement to public education was given from time to time, beginning with the Starrett school lot reservation. William Covil, who came to Sidney from England, dying in (page 373) 1842, bequeathed to the common schools of the village a piece of land, which, being leased for ninety-nine years, has ever since augmented the public funds for the maintenance of schools. Gideon Wright, who died in 1860, also bequeathed $500, to be invested for educational ends, a condition of the bequest being the grant of "one perpetual scholarship in the schools of the district, to the descendants of the said Wright." This will must have been framed a number of years previous to the death of the testator, who could not have realized when he wrote it, that the day of universal educational privilege was so near at hand. For, after the passage of the school law of 1849, the graded free school system began to be agitated; and the first board of education, with six elected members, had built and opened the first Union school building while Mr. Wright was still living.
All this did not become a fact in a day, however. Public opinion in Sidney was by no means united, and even after the election of the board, stormy sessions were experienced by that body before all was decided upon in connection with the radical new move. Not all at once could the standards of the older days be changed. We can only conjecture the corner store eloquence that supplemented the battles of the first board, and the arguments exchanged between self-elected leaders of public thought ; or imagine that the discussion pierced the locked doors of the lodges, and penetrated the gentle privacy of the ladies' sewing society meetings-while it is almost certain that it raged within the faculty of the academy, to whom the public high school spelled fnis.
It meant, practically, the end of the era when little people learned the rudiments at mother's knee to escape the rigors of school discipline, and the relegation of the old sledge-hammer methods, of forcing knowledge into young and tender brains, to the rubbish heaps of the past, along with the antiquated text-books which were chosen by parents and teachers according to their own tastes or prejudices, or were forced upon them by the exigencies of pioneer bookstores. In the system decided upon by the board of education, primary learning, it is true, still began with the alphabet, the most abstruse entrance possible to select ; but McGuffey's Series was a long cry from the gloomy shades of the "New England Primer," which had been a popular wedge into the realm of literature in earlier days. A mute relic of the pioneer infant's rocky road to learning has been preserved in a copy of the old book, edition of 1825. Surviving the difficulties of the alphabet and the dark valley of the "a, b, c's," the little student emerged into the half light of the old classic,
"In Adam's Fall
We sinned, All;"
"A Dog will Bite
A Thief at night,"
"The idle Fool
Is whipt at School."
(page 374) On through the pages the tiny thumb-nail woodcuts endeavored to beguile the infant with the assurance that
"My Book and Heart
Shall never part,"
until the final fact,
Did climb a Tree
His Lord to see."
was mastered. After which was reached the well-earned diversion of the Westminster shorter catechism, the night of which is ameliorated by the insertion, on the final page, of Dr. Isaac Watts' cradle hymn. Poor babes ! Without that touch of human kindness at the end, what a dreary path it was up the Parnassus slope, even if the gentle hand of a mother guided the halting footsteps. The little thumbed and yellowed copy in question bears the inscription, in faded ink, "Eleanor I. Willson, Book bought in Xenia" ; and little Eleanor Isabel has added her own printed signature to the fly leaf. Her book and heart shall never part, indeed, for the fluttering, tender, time-stained leaves are still telling the story of little hands that turned them, and innocent eyes that conned their sober pages -long ago closed when the student grew old and tired in life's long school, and went home to rest in God's acre.
What a great day it was in the village when the Union school, which had taken a full year to build, was finished at last, and dedicated to "the noblest service of the young." At a date when compulsory education had not been dreamed of, it spoke loudly for the esteem in which popular education was held by the majority, that a pioneer town should have been able to throw of the shackles of every-day drudgery necessary to make a town out of a wilderness, shake itself loose from prejudice, and plan and build a structure which then was far in advance of other towns of its size, and accounted one of the best in the state. There was equal eloquence in the fact that under these circumstances five hundred and twenty-nine pupils were on hand, eager to seize the enlarged educational advantages offered.
The old building is still in constant use, filled to capacity with the grandchildren of the little lads and lasses of 1857, but showing small traces of the passage of seventy-two years. It seems likely to stand at the old familiar corner, Miami and Poplar, until it reaches the century mark, and is today an upright, strong and creditable building.
There was not at first a regularly organized high school course, but advanced studies were introduced and taught as rapidly as students called for them, a four years' course being arranged within a few years.
The school opened early in January, 1857, with seven working departments,* Rev. Joseph Shaw occupying the position of first (page 375) superintendent, at a salary of $800 a year. (An ambitious student had the opportunity for more advanced study then than now, particularly in the classics. History, Latin and English were pursued much further than in the present high school course.) The assisting teachers were : J. W. Driscoll, teacher of mathematics; Harriet H. Chapin, teacher of grammar department; Louise L. Knox, fifth department; Mary A. Nettleton, fourth department; Hettie W. Paxon, third department ; Mattie R. Crowell, second department ; Minerva F. Arnett, first department; M. Eva Shaw, teacher of music. Prof. Shaw served only two years, his unexpired time being filled by Ira W. Allen. W. H. Schuyler followed, being assisted by Mrs. Schuyler as teacher of Latin and German. The records of the school show that Jennie K. Cummins and John B. McPherson completed the schedule of advanced studies in 1862, and Prof. Schuyler suggested a form of diploma, and appealed to the board for a recognition of these pupils, but from a lack, either of funds or enthusiasm, no diplomas were provided, and as a consequence the first graduates of Sidney high school were turned out into the world minus credentials. Several succeeding classes met the same treatment. In 1863, Miss Clara Conklin and W. Judkins Conklin closed a creditable four years' record ; and close upon them in the next five or six years came Lucinda Frazier (Mrs. Lu Horr), Byron W. Joslin, Hamlin Blake, B. F. Martin, Mr. Turner, Mr. Fielding, Mary Elizabeth Clauson (Mrs. Rebstock), Mr. Hutton and others, none of whom received diplomas, yet who finished the course, attended college, took degrees and honors, and filled, with or without sheepskins, positions of honor and responsibility all their lives. Miss Cummins herself became a member of the board of education in after years, and had a part in conferring diplomas no more deserved than those denied to the first classes. Judge John McPherson's reputation has for many a year shed honor on his native town from his high position in Philadelphia. Clara Conklin graduated from Delaware university, taught in Cornell college, Iowa, in Detroit high school, and lastly in her own alma mater, Delaware, where she occupied the chair of English for years preceding her death. Mrs. Horr (Lucinda Frazier) became a college graduate, and afterward taught, as did also Hamlin Blake, and others of the same class, being granted certificates upon examination shortly after leaving school in 1864.
B. S. McFarland had become superintendent in 1863, S. S. Taylor succeeding him for the ensuing two years, after which N. L. Hanson, an able instructor and executive, served until 1868. W. L. Catlin next filled the position for one year, being followed by a succession of trials, among whom were J. M. Allen, H. T. Wheeler and J. D. Critchfeld, of Mt. Vernon, A. S. Moore at last completing the year. Following this, Prof. Harper, George Turner and R. E. Page each served one year ; A. B. Cole, four years ; Van Baker, three years ; J. N. Bearnes, three years ; P. W. Search, five years ; M. A. Yarnell, four years ; J. L. Orr, one year ; and E. S. Cox, three years or more. Prof. Hard followed, being succeeded in 1902-3by Herbert R. McVay.
Under Mr. Moore and Miss Clara Goldrick, in 1870, was graduated the first class sent out from Sidney high school with formal honors. A manuscript history, written in intimate fashion and read at the first reunion of the high school alumni society (page 376) held in Monumental hall in 1878, by Miss Florence Conklin, describes this notable event with vivid humor.
The class consisted of eight members, whose aspirations were expressed in the sentiment,
"Through the vistas hope is building
The path of life is seen."
The first number on the program was the class song, "Pulling hard against the stream," and the first heart to palpitate at being called to the ordeal of delivering a graduation essay was Miss Ella Carey (Mrs. John Henry, Indianapolis); the others being Miss Alice Conklin (Mrs. R. O. Bingham), Miss Anna Duncan (Mrs. John McCullough), Miss Kate Vogel (Mrs. Dr. Stipp), Edward A. Steeley (a practicing physician of Shelby county), and David Oldham, long known as one of the most astute lawyers of the Shelby county bar, and distinguished for his business sagacity. Mr. Oldham received the first diploma delivered by the president of the board. May 31, 1872, the high school graduated a rather remarkable class of twelve members, ten of whom became teachers within a very few years, and one of whom became a bride within a very few weeks. Several of them are still prominent members of Sidney society, and two or more are still counted among Sidney's best teachers. The commencement took place in Union hall, a large building similar to the Thompson building at the corner of Ohio and Poplar, which occupied the sites of the First National Exchange bank and the Deweese building, on the north side of the public square. The strength of the hall was so severely strained on the occasion that a second commencement was never held there. In 1873, under the superintendence of Prof. Page, the commencement exercises were held in the United Presbyterian church on the south side of the public square (an edifice afterward torn down to make way for the Daily News building.)
The class of '75 was the first to make use of the Opera house (in the O. J. Taylor building at the corner of Main and Poplar) for the graduation. Subsequent to 1875-6-7, the commencements were held in Monumental hall until that location was permanently rented to the Odd Fellows, about 1897; since which the churches have been the scene of graduations until the new high school auditorium provided a better and more suitable place. So many of the classes following the first are still familiar figures in society and business, that it is impossible and needless to recite them all ; and it is sufficient to say that the output of the Sidney high school has been singularly creditable to the institution and to themselves. Not all of the high aspirations uttered on the platform by the graduates and echoed in the hearts of waiting underclass students, have been realized ; but, successful or no, the lives of them all have been better for the glowing hopes they cherished. The world's criterion of success is, for that matter, not final ; in the Higher Tribunal aspirations will be weighed.
In 1880 was built the first of the ward schools, to relieve the over-crowded condition of the central building. The new school (page 377) house contained two rooms, which were first taught by Mrs. Lottie Throp and Miss Clara Epler (now Mrs. William A. Perry). The building, still in use, stands at the corner of South Main and Clay streets. In 1883 the increase of attendance called for additional teachers and the removal of the eleventh and twelfth grades from the Central school to rooms located respectively in the Piper building on the east side of the public square, and in the second floor of the Monumental building, where the east end was partitioned off from the apartments then devoted to the G. A. R. post. The building of the second and third ward schools relieved the conditions at the Central school after a few years, and the high school classes were again accommodated there for a term of years. The second ward school was first opened in a little white brick house, where Mrs. Lottie Throp taught for a year or two, moving temporarily to "the wigwam," a wooden shack thrown up to serve while a new building was erected on the site of the little white brick. Again the school system threatened to burst its jacket, and the fourth ward building, just completed, became for four or five years the headquarters of the Sidney high school, a temporary wooden structure, popularly called "the barn," being added to the accommodations.
It took some time to convince Sidney that a new high school building was imperatively needed, and the great street demonstration in which the entire school enrollment and their teachers took a part and which rather dramatically brought out the facts of the situation, should be a matter of historical record, for by that, as much as anything, all Sidney was awakened to a realization that it was growing up.
Growth, however, is not signified alone by figures, in regard to Sidney schools, but to the development of modern educational methods and departments of study and division of courses in response to the general progress of education.
The new Sidney high school building, which stands on the site of the old Presbyterian burying ground, east of the church, is exponent of the most modern ideas in school construction. It is ample; it is substantial ; it is fire-proof. If the new temple of learning is thought too utilitarian to appeal to the art sense of many observers, it is undeniably well set, the site, overlooking the Miami river, beyond the bottom levels, and the fine hills across the stream, being sufficiently elevated to relieve the otherwise "squat" effect of its architecture.
There were many who objected to the use of this site, to which public attention was directed on account of the disuse of the cemetery and its contemplated removal to Graceland, upon the very reasonable ground that a high school should be placed away from the center of population of the town, and preferably far enough out to provide ample athletic fields and room for expansion of the building itself. However, these were overborne. The low river flats east of the cemetery, occupied up to a few years ago by a row of abject and depressing tenement houses, the old plow works, the long disused city gas reservoir, and the junk dump of Jacob Solomon, beckoned the school authorities with the promise of the athletic field without which critics could not be answered. There were the (page 378) usual difficulties in the way, but through the generosity of Mrs. Julia E. Lamb, the land whereon the tenements stood was purchased, her gift amounting to $7,500.00 in money, but also giving the impetus of hope and courage that raised enough more to complete the work, which has cost, to date, about fifteen thousand dollars. This additional money was raised in various ways-entertainments by the school children, penny offerings, public moneys to the extent of two thousand dollars, a gift of one thousand dollars from Mr. William E. Harmon, and several smaller gifts. It would be too much to expect that all this could be done without some criticism and some grumbling, and several pauses. But the object was accomplished at last, and has been performing its beneficent purpose for three or four years, each of which has seen some decided steps taken toward completion of the equipment of playground and athletic field. Two fine tennis courts are located at the rear of the building, as well as the ground especially allotted to the little people, which is equipped with all the attractive apparatus for children that can be accommodated, the spot furnishing an ideal place for safe amusement of children during the summer months, under the supervision of competent attendants.
The athletic field, upon which so much work has been expended, to clear it from the waste and dangerous debris accumulated through a half century of dumping, affords a cinder running track of one quarter mile extent, tennis courts, a football gridiron, and a baseball diamond. The terraced slope from the upper level to the field provides a natural amphitheatre which may some day be developed into a concrete stadium. The river bed opposite the building has been reclaimed for a swimming ground, and the sum of five hundred dollars has been expended in clearing and improving it to make it safe and available for a bathing beach. It has the advantage of water uncontaminated by any sewage. The school building, a model for its capacity and cost, has a fine auditorium seating about eight hundred people, and is in frequent requisition for all sorts of public occasions, and for entertainments. On the wall hangs a bronze medallion portrait of Mrs. Lamb, executed by a well-known New York sculptor at merely nominal cost to the children of the public schools, who voluntarily provided the sum as a testimonial to their benefactress.
The present superintendent, H. R. McVay, who has enthusiastically worked to perfect the playground, in addition to other strenuous duties, is about completing his seventeenth year in Sidney-by far the longest term of service ever given by one man. It has been, too, a period of sweeping changes, made in conformity to the modern educational trend. The junior high school was started in the Sidney schools in 1903, and was already in operation with only minor elaborations necessary, when, two years ago, it became the official order of the day in all the schools of Ohio. Manual training was inaugurated as a part of the school course down to and including the seventh grades, in 1907, domestic science for girls being adopted at the same time. A thorough business course is offered the boys and girls in the high school, of which many students take advantage. Including the class of 1917, the total number of Sidney high (page 379) school graduates, for its first sixty years, is 1,005, six hundred of whom have graduated since 1902. Forty-two per cent of all graduates prior to 1917 had entered colleges which grant degrees ; and of this 42 per cent, 51 per cent had graduated from such colleges. The Sidney high school is a member of the north central association of high schools, and, when they have properly selected their high school courses, its graduates may enter any western college and some eastern colleges, without examination. Lee A. Dollinger, the principal, entered upon his service in Sidney almost simultaneously with Mr. McVay, and shares the credit for the steady advance of the institution. The course includes advanced teaching in arithmetic and geography, and the usual high school branches, algebra and higher mathematics, chemistry, physics, history (United States and European), Latin, English, biology, music, dramatic art, domestic science and industrial art, manual training, modern languages, girls' athletics, gymnastics, and the commercial department. A corps of twenty teachers is employed.
Twice since the opening of the twentieth century a reunion of the pupils of the first decade has been arranged, each occasion being one of great interest and enjoyment. At the semi-centennial in 1907 a group of the "old children" gave a program of the school songs in vogue in their childhood, including "Come, come away," "Little Schoolboy," and "Scotland's Burning !" Some characteristic incidents of the olden days were also reproduced on the stage.
Copies of "Lucerna," a magazine published fitfully during Rev. Shaw's incumbency, were reprinted, calling to remembrance many amusing and some pathetic memories. An item in the first number remarks upon the crowded condition of the village, which even then was obliged to stow transient guests in the attics, and declares "the greatest need of Sidney is more houses"-which proves that "times don't change much, after all."
Against the five hundred and twenty-nine pupils enrolled in 1857, the records of 1919 exhibit 1,176 names in the grade schools, and 303 in the high school, while a class of 41 students will graduate in June.
Names are, perhaps, dry reading in themselves, but a glance at the list of presidents of the board of education may be interesting, as evidence that Sidney has always given of its best, for the guidance of its educational system: 1857-Rev. C. T. McCaughan. 1860-Joseph Cummins. 1863-Jason McVay. 1870-N. R. Wyman. 1874-W. P. Metcalf. 1875-Jason McVay. 1876-George Bush. 1877-E. E. Nutt. 1880-A. J. Robertson. 1881-Col. Harrison Wilson. 1884-E. E. Nutt. 1885-Charles McKee. 1887-Dr. B. M. Sharp. 1888-C. R. Benjamin. 1889-C. F. Hickok. 1890-G. A. Marshall. 1891-J. S. Laughlin. 1892-H. Gartley. 1893-G. A. Marshall. 1894-C. F. Hickok. 1895-W. S. Crozier. 1896-Dr. Edwin Lefevre. 1898-J. H. Taft. 1899-C. E. Johnson. (page 380) 1900-J. D. Geyer. 1901-W. J. Emmons. 1902-E. L. Hoskins. 1903-J. D. Geyer. 1904-R. O. Bingham. 1905-M. F. Hussey, M.D. 1910-Dr. B. M. Sharp. 1911-R. O. Bingham. 1912-Dr. J. F. Richeson. 1913-T. M. Miller. 1915-Dr. A. W. Reddish. 1916-Dr. J. F. Richeson. 1907-A. J. Hess.
The county system of schools differs in scarcely any respect from the ordinary method followed during the past seventy-five years. The territory is dotted all over with the regulation small one room brick school house, with one teacher, the only feature which is not universal over the state is the "special school district," which grants to certain sections of the county an independent Board of Education consisting of five members, who manage the educational affairs of the district in the same manner as a village board. Forty-five boards corresponding to as many districts, are now existent in the county. Only at Kirkwood, Montra and Maplewood is the one room school varied (these each supporting two teachers), except in the larger villages, in which the schools are in keeping with the population.
Six high schools are maintained in these village centers, two of them ranking in the first class, and the remaining four in the second. Consolidation of schools is making slow progress in Shelby county, the Special school districts acting, perhaps, as a deterrent. However, the leaven is working. Houston has the only real example of the modern consolidated country school, which is a model that will undoubtedly be followed. The various school boards are not all convinced yet, but it is reasonably certain that no more one room schools will be built, repaired nor replaced, in the future. The school at Houston district was erected in 1908, and was a decidedly forward step, considering the date. Greene township also has a high school built about the same time, which is centralized, pupils from all over the township attending its advanced classes. The building stands about a mile from Plattsville. Also, in Perry township a consolidation has been effected (but in an old building), to which all the children of the township, except in two districts, are transported in two motor trucks.
W. E. Partington, the present county superintendent of schools, gives the school census outside of Sidney, as about three thousand, four hundred and seventy-three, of which six hundred belong in villages ; however, many country children attend the village schools. Anna and Jackson Centre both have first grade high schools, while Botkins, Houston, and Greene and Perry townships are classed as second. The problem of educational progress in the rural districts must always wait upon good roads to some extent, and Shelby county still has roads to build. However, the natural centralization of population should to some extent control the development of highways, and the consolidated school, to be effective, ought to be located with respect to natural centers rather than conform to arbitrary township limits, which were originally fixed for the convenient polling of voters, and are often a mere complication in social or (page 381) community life. Shelby, like other progressive counties, must work out its own salvation in the consolidation of schools.
The year 1832 appears to have been popular all over the great northwest territory for the inauguration of provincial newspapers. It was, in fact, the seed-time of the great political parties, when the public mind, scattered over the new settlements of Ohio and Indiana, was struggling out of its net of slumber into a conscious view of things and the formation of opinions upon matters pertaining to the national welfare. Having hewn himself out of the woods, the pioneer was ready to receive instructions concerning what lay beyond the confines of his enlarging horizon, and to listen with open mind to leaders of thought from the eastern political centers, who came-or were sent-generally as the forerunners of a national or state campaign. The fact that so many of them remained fixtures in the settlements where they were established, is eloquent evidence of the quality of the editors who came to crystallize into definite shapes the chaos of new and but half-formed issues in which the country was at that time submerged.
The first Sidney editor was Thomas Smith, and his paper was the germ from which grew the Sidney journal-whether or no that title was the one first used by Mr. Smith. The pioneer editor is said by some authorities to have been an eccentric, who indulged in the whimsical practice of walking to Cincinnati for his paper supply, returning with the roll on his back. Milder tradition, however, discredits this extreme, admitting only that Mr. Smith may have performed this feat once, under the pressure of necessity; but that a man with the ability to establish a permanent publication, and to maintain it, single-handed, for nearly a decade, should have made a customary pilgrimage to Cincinnati when there was already a paper mill at Dayton, is deemed too absurd for credence. The gentleman lived on North Lane, about midway between Miami and Main avenues, in a little house which existed, in part, until a rather recent date. He also died there, a good many years after his retirement from the editorial desk and the type case-for he was his own type setter. He was a lonely soul, and latterly, quite a recluse. In August, 1839, the paper had passed out of his management into that of Henry D. Stout, editor and proprietor, who published it under the expansive and inclusive title, The Ohio Argus and Sidney Aurora-from which it might be inferred that the editor brought with him to Sidney the memory and perhaps some of the properties of a newspaper published in some former home. The change was undoubtedly made in the interest of the approaching presidential campaign, and the paper was avowedly "devoted to the interests of the Whig party," whose candidates it supported in the following year (1840).
At the head of the editorial column, in an old copy, dated March 24th, 1840, appears the motto: "The union of the Whigs for the sake of the Union"; and below it is the ticket, already in the field, (page 382) "For president, William Henry Harrison ; for vice-president, John Tyler; for governor, Thomas Corwin, of Warren county."
An editorial item quotes from the St. Louis Republican of contemporary date, news to the effect that a vagrant white man had been arrested in that city, and had been sold to a livery stable keeper for the sum of one dollar, under the authority of a law passed by the Missouri legislature when that body was in the control of the "Locofoco" party-the same party, the reader is called to note, which was at that moment attacking the candidacy of William Henry Harrison on the ground that, some twenty years before, in Ohio, Harrison had advocated the sale of criminals, as a penal measure, under certain economic conditions. Another item contains the news just received from London, of the marriage of the young queen Victoria, of England, to Prince Albert, of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, celebrated February the tenth, "with utmost magnificence."
The paper is well edited and carefully printed, typographical errs being quite undiscernible upon close scrutiny of the copy, which is newsy, dignified in editorial tone, and with nothing of the backwoods in its manner or appeal. It contains, perhaps, a larger proportion of patent medicine advertising than the average modern newspaper, but the phraseology used in them is not very different from that of today. Throughout the whole sheet, the absence of slang is, possibly, the most noticeable particular. Three large lotteries, the "Virginia State," the "Louisiana," and a Kentucky affair, are prominently spread upon the pages. Some local items are here transcribed which afford a glimpse of the life in Sidney at that date, not otherwise preserved.
Among the professional cards published are noted those of Dr. H. C. Mann, and attorneys J. S. Conklin and Patrick G. Goode. Hugh Wilson; dealer in drygoods, publishes an advertisement in which he not only sets forth the merits of his stock of goods, but replies, to a current report that he "is selling certain damaged goods," that the cases of goods in question "are insured separately, and that they are now in the hands of the insurance company's agents, three responsible business men of Sidney, Messrs. Hugh Thompson, Hugh McElroy and John Neal." A grist and sawmill situated on the Great Miami river three and one-half miles from Sidney is offered for sale by Jeremiah Evans of Port Jefferson. E. McGrew calls the attention of the local and traveling public to the fact that, having about completed his term of office as county treasurer, he will resume the personal conduct of his tavern, "The Sign of the Mail Coach, the large brick building at the northwest corner of the public square," and states that both his table and his bar will, as ever, have the interests of his patrons at heart. (Elisha McGrew is still remembered by the elder citizens of Sidney, a slight deformity of one limb, requiring the use of a cane, and a very thick boot sole, having rendered him a marked figure in their childhood.) He was associated in many business enterprises of his time. One more detail serves to impress, upon the mind of today, the youth of the pioneer citizens, who else might perhaps appear a galaxy of greybeards, in their top hats and frock coats. A prominent Sidney society woman recalls the circumstances that "Old Joel (page 383) Frankeburger" was the term used to designate that dignified gentleman, upon whose tombstone is inscribed "aged forty-two." Who today dares call "old" the man of forty-two?
Between the Harrison campaign (when the paper was printed "in the new brick building on North Main street, over Gen. Taylor's store,") and 1842, the publication appears to have changed names at least once, tradition claiming that The Bugle Blast of Freedom William Armstrong, editor, was one title. But The Aurora came into its own once more, in 1842, although in 1846 (Howe's Historical Collections, edition 1846) it is referred to as The Herald, "an excellent paper," published by Clinton Edwards.
Again, within a few years, it is referred to as The Sidney Banner. But in 1854, when Samuel Mathers came to Sidney from Pennsylvania, he purchased the establishment, and permanently renamed the sheet The Sidney Journal.
Mr. Mathers published the journal until 1861, when he sold out to P. A. Ogden, he, in turn, disposing of it to J. H. McElroy, from whom it passed to J. Dubois, and later to Bliss and Adgate. Mr. McElroy went to Washington, D. C., and engaged in journalism there.
In 1869, Messrs. Trego and Binkley purchased the paper from Bliss and Adgate, and thereafter for thirty-six years owned and controlled it, a period during which it was characterized by the ablest editing of any Sidney publication, and exerted a powerful influence for public betterment and uplift. Mr. Trego was the business head of the establishment, and Mr. Binkley the sole editor. Republican in politics, these gentlemen conducted their efforts, in behalf of the town they had chosen for a home, without regard to politics, and Sidney should hold them both in honor for the public benefits which they fearlessly championed and obtained. Public opinion will not always be led; it must sometimes be driven. It was necessary, often, to lash and sting the slumberous civic sentiment of old Sidney into wakefulness upon many a subject which would now be taken for granted; and it may be said with truth that there is not a single public utility or advantage originating between 1869 and 1905, which was not first trumpeted into the ears of the Sidney public by William Binkley, through the columns of the journal-oftener than not at the expense of personal popularity, even when it was not attended by the penalty of bitter animosity. Mr. Binkley was a thorough rhetorician and a virile writer, with abundant editorial initiative, and courage.
If assertion needs the backing of evidence, the annals of the village council show that the changes in Sidney prosperity and conditions began with the advent of Trego and Binkley in 1869, at which date there was no pretense of pavement in the town except the first crude rough stone deposited around the public square to keep the wagons from sinking in the mud, where the country teams were parked on market days ; sidewalks were of tanbark or cinders, except where the more well-to-do citizens indulged in the luxury of flagstone or brick in front of their properties ; water was still drawn entirely from wells in the door yards, or from the few surviving springs ; a bucket brigade was still the chief fire protection of (page 384) the village, and the only street lamp known to the entire community was the lantern which hung fitfully, as the weather permitted, from a hook in a post in front of the old Ackerly tavern at the Monumental corner. Verily, the times had changed by 1905! The headquarters of the journal were not a fixture, various situations being occupied from time to time. For several years following 1869, the establishment was located in the second story of the old building on the east side of the Carey or Thompson Block on the north side of the square. From there it was moved to Main avenue over Piper's grocery, thence to a building which stood on West Court street where now is a garage, opposite the Monumental building. In the journal office under Trego and Binkley was installed the first gas engine used in a printing office in Ohio outside of the city of Cleveland-the next office to follow being the Bellefontaine Republican.
In 1890 a stock company was formed by J. H. Williams and E. J. Griffs, and a second Republican paper was established under the title The Sidney Gazette, with Jesse L. Dickensheets as editor.
Not long after, a third Republican paper, this one called the Republican, was started by J. M. Leight, which became an incorporated company under the name the Republican Publishing company with David Oldham as the leading stockholder, and a daily edition was started, of which Mr. Light (or Leight) was the first editor.
In 1905 Trego and Binkley sold out the journal to Griffs and Williams, who continued for three years with the title of The Journal-Gazette. The following year, 1909, the Republican Publishing Company bought out the journal-Gazette and the daily became permanent, Mr. Light being the first editor, while Mr. Griffs edited the weekly. The name of The Sidney journal was about this time again established, and will probably be maintained for the future.
Mr. Binkley removed to New York and engaged in journalism there, for several years, but has returned to Sidney where he is now in mercantile business. Mr. Trego entered the banking business in Sidney, and is a director in the People's Savings and Loan association.
J. M. Light was succeeded in the editorship of the Daily Journal by Howard B. Sohn, and he by Harry M. Gill, a rather gifted writer, but an erratic and irresponsible youth who was retired after a few stormy years, and was followed by Claude C. Waltemeyer for a month or two, after which Harry W. Oldham undertook the editorship and is still at the head of the paper. A large job-printing business is done by the Oldham company.
Like the Whig organ started in the thirties, the first Democratic newspaper established in Sidney was destined to be permanent, although ten years elapsed after the first number was issued, in January, 1848, before the publication became stable. Its title was frank, and its appeal wide. The first editor of The Democratic Yeoman was William Ramsey, who was succeeded by S. A. Lecky. No one, however, remained long in the editorial chair (page 385) during the precarious childhood of the paper, the name of which was changed to 1851 to The Shelby County Democrat; and perhaps a dozen editors took a turn at piloting the little craft among the local shoals and whirlpools until 1860, when A. Kaga (of Tiffin, Ohio) came to Sidney and assumed the conduct of the enterprise for a year, leaving it in April, 1861, to organize a company with which he entered the war.
For a few months a "Democratic Committee" formed for the purpose, ran the publication, finally securing the services of Thomas K. Young as editor. Mr. Young was apparently unconvinced of the propriety or necessity of the Civil war, and presently astonished the town by publishing a violent anti-war editorial, leaving town simultaneously with the appearance of the sheet-to sojourn in Cincinnati, perhaps, until the storm should die down. But the storm aroused in Sidney by the editorial became so threatening that the editor decided it were wiser never to return, and the paper was once more abandoned to the Committee. Incidentally, the editor soon afterward experienced a change of mind (proving that the heart had not been misplaced after all), entered the army himself, and rising by meritorious service to the rank of brevet brigadiergeneral at the close of the war, afterward serving successively as member of the Ohio senate, and of the national congress, then as lieutenant-governor, and later, governor of Ohio.
In 1863, Joseph McGonigal was brought to the rescue of the Democrat Publishing Committee, editing and managing the paper with such ability that it presently became a self-supporting institution into which Mr. McGonigal took his son-in-law, Dr. Lewis, the firm of McGonigal & Lewis publishing until 1872, when Lewis sold out his interest to Hubbard Hume. The firm of McGonigal & Hume lasted until 1874, when they sold out to James Van Valkenburg, who became editor and manager until his death in December, 1875. James O. Amos, having purchased the establishment, then became its editor and proprietor, taking charge January 25, 1876. Six years later, in 1882, the Democrat was moved from its two-room headquarters in the little brick building next to the alley on North Ohio street (now occupied by James Way as a law office) to its own new home on South Ohio, adjacent to the People's Savings and Loan building (then the Robertson corner), where the Democrat was doubled in size; where the immense and profitable job printing business was developed, which has become so notable a feature in Sidney's industrial aspect; and where, in 1891, The Sidney Daily News, the first permanent daily paper to be established in the town, was inaugurated at the request of many citizens. In 1892, Mr. Amos purchased the old United Presbyterian church edifice on the south side of the public square, and tore it down, replacing it with a second business block to which the newspapers, weekly and daily, and the printing establishment were all removed in 1893, and where they are permanently located. Miss Delia Amos, now Mrs. Horace Holbrook, of Warren, Ohio, was managing editor of The Daily News from its inception in 1891 until November, 1905, at which date she, with her husband, left Sidney for Los Angeles, California, where they entered the (page 386) field of journalism for a time before settling in Warren. Mrs. Holbrook is now joint owner and manager of the Western Reserve Democrat in that city.
Mrs. Holbrook is a brilliant woman, much traveled and with wide experience in different fields of journalistic effort, for several years president of the Ohio Women's Press association, and a familiar figure on its convention platforms.
The whole Amos establishment was incorporated in 1903 as The Sidney Printing & Publishing company, with the personnel including James O. Amos ; his three sons, W. T., E. C. and Howard Amos; and his daughter, Miss Delia Amos. A younger daughter, Miss Kate Amos, a graduate of the Cincinnati School of Art and a thoroughly trained artist and teacher, succeeded to Mrs. Holbrook's post and duties upon the retirement of the latter from the office, and has sustained her reputation. She has become as extensively traveled as her sister, besides developing the same business and executive talent. The travel letters of both sisters have been a feature of prominence in the weekly and daily issues of the past, until the world war made much travel a difficulty.
James O. Amos died in the early part of 1919. He was a man of varied talent and abilities, beginning life as a farmer lad, and making his mark successively as school teacher, lawyer, prosecuting attorney (in Monroe county), school examiner, member of Ohio senate by election, and adjutant-general of Ohio by appointment, after the war-all before he came to Sidney in 1876. Mr. Amos' sons all have received thorough training for their life work, Col. W. T. Amos and E. C. Amos both graduating from Wooster university, while Howard Amos had the advantage of practical experience in the Sidney establishment, with subsequent training in the Chicago Legal News Record office.
A democratic paper was started in Sidney in 1880, by J. T. Hearn, which had for five or six years a very successful existence under the title "The Valley Sentinel." It was for the first three years a weekly, well received, and a wide-awake sheet. In 1883 a daily edition was begun, giving to this paper and its editor the honor of having published the first daily paper in Sidney. No copy of it is obtainable, but it is indistinctly remembered as having passed as "The City Sentinel," to distinguish it from the weekly. The date of discontinuance is unknown, but within a few years after the first issue of the daily, the paper was no more in Sidney.
About 1892, a German newspaper, The Anteater, was established in Sidney by Frank Severing of Botkins, and until the entry of the United States into the world war, the paper had a large circulation among the German settlements of Shelby county, also supporting a job printing department. It has now been abandoned. The Jackson Center News, independent, was first established in July, 1896, by C. N. Shook, now of Lima, Ohio. The publication was hampered by antiquated equipment, but exhibited vitality and ability, and had a steady growth of circulation from the outset, becoming quite popular. In 1905, A. J. Lush came to Jackson Center from Kansas, bought out the office, improved the equipment, and then in 1911, sold out the subscription list and goodwill to the (page 387) Carter brothers from Greenup, Illinois, transferring the improved plant to Oakfield, New York. The Carters printed the News for ten months, then sold their plant to the Socialists of St. Marys, Ohio, leaving Jackson Center bereft of its paper. At this juncture J. G. Saylor, then mayor of the village, came to the rescue and purchased the plant of the Quincy Inland Press, and re-established the News.
September, 1917, Mr. Saylor sold to the Yale Newspaper syndicate, of Waynesfield, and E. Benjamin Yale is now editor of this and other papers, while Mr. Saylor is its local editor.
Botkins also has a paper, The Herald, independent, started in 1899 by Adam Blakeley, who is remembered for newspaper work previously done in Sidney. After Mr. Blakely's death in 1911, his son, Lowell E. Blakeley, succeeded to the editorship, and the paper enjoys a good local circulation. The office is equipped with modern cylinder press and up-to-date apparatus.
The original Amos building on South Ohio avenue was put to various uses for about ten years after the removal of the Amos printing business to the Court street property, but in 1903 E. V. Moore opened a small printing establishment in part of it, which two years later was bought in by Charles Wrest, who has enlarged it until it has become second in importance to no institution of its kind in a large radius. It not only practically occupies the original three-story building, which is leased from the Amos estate, but fills an addition on the east from which leads a traffic entrance to the alley on the south, to facilitate its increasing business. Poster and folder work is done in immense quantities for manufacturers all over the state.
The Postoffice was established at Sidney soon after the adoption of the site as the county seat of justice, but no mention is to be found of the local mail service*previous to the transference of James Wells, the postmaster at Hardin, to Sidney, where, it is clear, the postoffice was accommodated in the little temporary courthouse.
It was a condition of his accommodation there, that the postmaster "not disturb the court in passing in and out." When the new courthouse was built, the postoffice was moved, temporarily, to West avenue, in the old building, which later became a blacksmith shop and plow works, occupied by several well remembered pioneers. The next home for the postoffice was found in a building which stood on Main avenue, east of the public square, at the site of the B. B. Amann jewelry store of the present. Subsequently it was moved to the location of the Springer grocery, in the block north of its second home. It probably remained here for a considerable period, for its next location, as far as may be readily ascertained, was in the old Carey bank building on North Ohio avenue, from which it was transferred to a building across the street in the rear of the Thompson building. (Carey's Hall.) (Dingmansburg was a station on the post road, and it is likely that Sidney received its mail from that point until the establishment of the postoffice in the courthouse.) After the completion of the Monumental building, the postoffice was quartered therein for a long term of years, moving from there to (page 388) the Hotel Metropole building on West Poplar street, after which was again transferred to the newer building one door west (now the headquarters of the Knitting Mills company), where it tarried until the completion of the Federal Postoffice building at the corner of North and Ohio streets, into which, after a century of wandering, it settled in 1918.
The new Federal building is up-to-date, fireproof, very simple in construction, but commodious and well lighted, and for the greater part, well arranged for efficient handling of the mails of the present day, and probably for some years to come. There are possibilities of enlargement, also, which will be necessary, if Sidney fulfills its present promise of growth. Much more attention, however, might and should, in justice to the city, have been given to architectural beauty and significance of the exterior, which conveys to a stranger no hint of its purpose, nor any idea of its actual substantiality of construction. In style it resembles the commonplace place city jail, and its outer walls, while undoubtedly strong, have so little salience as to appear almost flimsy, the fat simulated stone pillars against the front contributing to the same undesirable effect. The conduct of the postoffice, which is all that can be desired, is in the hands of Mr. Val Lee, postmaster, with Mr. Charles Neale, assistant, and Miss Emma Haslup, clerk.
The Orphans' Home. Nothing in the county speaks so notably of its citizenship-as well as of the board of directors-and of the superintendent-as does the Shelby county Orphans' Home. Situated on the finest hill in the rim of the river basin at this point, the windows of the Home command a complete view of the entire bowl of the valley in which Sidney lies, including the extensions of the city on the west and north. There is no view to equal this in all Shelby county.
The building itself is ideal in its "homeyness," its airy exposures to light and breeze,-wide porches, covered ways leading to the central Home, from the dormitory houses on either side, where the boys and girls are segregated for their special lines of training. These passages are wide, and glass sided, giving shelter in storm or cold weather, yet flooded with light and yielding on lovely outdoor prospects. In the main building are the dining rooms and kitchen departments, the storage rooms in the basement, and the cool room where the dairy products so essential to the health of the children are cared for. The boys and girls have their meals in the same dining room, also the little tots, who are seated at their own table, surrounded by attractive high chairs, and furnished with model tableware.
Reading room and library are on the first floor, also the visitors' reception room, and parlor, office, etc., the dining rooms and the chapel-which was formerly set up in the room directly above it, the first floor room being originally a school room. The Barkdull Memorial school, given by Mrs. L. C. Barkdull, and built in 1903, relieved this downstairs apartment for chapel purposes, and the room above is now utilized as a much needed sewing department. The schoolhouse stands back and to the north of the home, on (page 389) a slight knoll, and one teacher is retained for the entire class, which is not large, but of many grades, as children are here prepared for high school, if any remain so long in the institution. There is a well conducted manual training department in the building, in which the boys learn the art of handling wood-working tools, and the principles of cabinet making. A large number of attractive and well made articles are turned out by the youngsters every year, a great number being "spoken for" by visitors, and still more being sold at the annual exhibit at the fair grounds, where the display from the Orphans' home is always a chief attraction.
Laundry, root cellar and heating plant are all separated from the house, and each is a piece of exceptionally good equipment. The power is supplied by electric current from the city, and Sidney water is also provided. There is a farm of good size and rich soil, which is efficiently gardened, the boys being taught agriculture as far as their age and strength will permit. A fine hillside orchard is another feature of the outdoor aspect, which abounds in trees and shrubbery, green stretches of playground and lawn, where only the unusual number of youngsters at play compels the visitor to remember the domestic tragedies by which this home is peopled. The oldest boy at the home is not past fifteen, and the average is from twelve years down to babyhood. Seldom is a child left in the institution past the age of first helpfulness, and babies are the quickest to be taken for adoption. Superintendent Meighem says that the great and terrible need for little ones is parent love, an element that no amount of institutional kindness can make up for. Yet there is happiness among the children. There is not a child on the place that does not appreciate and covet the ready smile, the merry word, the approving pat of the superintendent or teachers, who must treat all with equality, and try to give a modicum of the needed love to the sixty homeless children sheltered there. Often would they gather them all in their arms and satisfy the heart hunger they feel but only express in wistful eyes, but among so many that would be merely subversive of the absolutely necessary discipline, and cannot be indulged in. There are many attractive little ones now at the institution, some of them, happily, hoping to return to homes of their own, but now and then a little face leaves an ache in the visitor's heart. There is little "Harry Irish"-nobody knows how old he is-born in a gipsy wagon and deserted somewhere along the course of his (possibly) six years. Every child in the institution has somebody to write to, somebody to inquire after him-but Harry has nobody. He only "loves Miss Brown" and waits for her to come back to the home.
As soon as a boy or girl leaves the institution, either for a home or to work, upon any of the plans by which they are permitted to leave before coming of age, a part of their wages, agreed upon, is remitted to the institution, which credits the amount to the boy or girl, and deposits it in the Shelby County Building and Loan association, where it accrues to their benefit, and is paid over to them at the age of twenty-one. "Indenture" money, inheritances or gifts are taken care of by the same method ; and to date, since this system was adopted, about $1,200.00 is already deposited in the names of (page 390) different ex-inmates of the home. One boy, just now of age, had his money, $360, invested in the Third Liberty Loan. A dairy of from fifteen to eighteen cows is maintained, with a well-equipped cement-floored stable and yard, the milk from an average of ten cows providing all the dairy product needed for the children, except, perhaps, in times like the influenza epidemic of 1918, when milk was so necessary that additional supplies had to be obtained from outside sources. The thorough sanitation which obtains everywhere throughout the premises is nowhere more to be appreciated than in the cooling plant and storage rooms in the basement, where all the products of the dairy, garden and orchard are cared for. It is a place of dainty cleanliness, appealing pleasantly to eye and nostril. The kitchen is well appointed, and here the children receive some instruction in domestic helpfulness, taking turns at assisting with the work. Many of the girls become quite expert cooks, and all enter into their appointed tasks with enthusiasm.
Under the supervision of kind and capable teachers, even the urchins are taught to darn stockings and sew buttons on their blouses and trousers, while the girls are given instruction in every sort of needle-work and knitting.
Epidemics cannot be prevented from attacking the home, although every precaution is taken. Only three deaths have occurred at the institution since 1912. A service flag with six stars hangs in the chapel, one of the stars to be changed to gold, in honor of the sixteen-year-old orphan boy who lost his life in France. He was but a short time out of the home, and enlisted in February, 1918, dying after reaching France, in April.
The farm at the home includes about 60 acres of tilled land, the rest of 137 acres being in orchard, grounds, pasturage and the gravel pit lying southwest, which is a possession of great value. It is now more than twenty-one years since the building and opening of the home in October, 1897, when the first children, up to then accommodated at the Logan county home, were transferred to Shelby. The first superintendent was Dr. W. H. Shaw of Shelby county, who resigned in April, 1898, being succeeded by J. H. McClung, who was in charge until April, 1906. J. H. Kemp became superintendent in 1906, remaining until March, 1912, when he was succeeded by Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Meighem, who are still in charge. The efficiency of the whole institution reflects great credit upon the county, especially upon the board of trustees, whose liberal provision, and discretion in the choice of superintendents cannot be too highly commended. The present membership of the board is : James E. Way (fifteen years) ; George Hagelberger, of Anna; Fired Ludwig, of Anna ; Peter O. Stockstill, of Sidney. The board is strictly non-partisan.
Auglaize county orphans are boarded at the home, as Auglaize has no home of its own, to date.
The original purchasing committee appointed by the court for the purpose of establishing a suitable home at a desirable location, was composed of S. J. Hatfield, A. J. Hess and S. L. Wicoff, and the first board of trustees were S. L. Wicof, R. D. Mede, William A. (page 391) Graham, and Jeremiah Miller, who after several years of service have been followed from time to time by J. N. Dill, S. D. Voress, R. H. Trego, B. T. Bulle, J. W. A. Fridley, and the present board.
The County Farm was established in 1866, by the purchase of the James Rollins farm of 158 acres, about three miles southwest of Sidney, at a cost of $8,500.00. The first board of infirmary directors was composed of Christian Kingseed, M. J. Winget and H. Guthrie, and the first superintendent of the farm was Jacob Lehman, who was very soon succeeded by Jesse B. Howe. The contracts for the building were let in February, 1869, and completed at a cost of about $54,000.
The Infirmary is still an ample building for the county needs, and the farm, well-cultivated, is an excellent one, with attractive grounds and beautiful shade trees, making a pleasant situation for the unfortunates of the county. There are now 24 inmates, including men and women. Many of them are able to help, and all of these are glad to be of use. Eleven are "hospital cases," the hospital wards being taken care of by Mr. and Mrs. Herring from Maplewood. Imbecility is the chief difficulty contended with.
Electric power is provided by a Delco plant, which, however, is scarcely adequate. Water is pumped into the building by a gasoline engine. A good dairy provides plenty of milk, and butter, also buttermilk, for the institution,-and sometimes more than is needed, the surplus being sold.
In the beginning the equipment of the establishment was considered far in advance of the times, and it undoubtedly was ; but the times have changed, and there are needed improvements now, which will without question receive the attention of the commissioners. Fifty years will wreak havoc on the best of buildings and equipment, as will be admitted, even when given the best of care, and the infirmary board have always retained the most efficient and reliable of superintendents and matrons. Superintendent Howe served until February, 1875, William Widener, Harvey Guthrie and son William, until 1899, Emanuel Needles until 1903, and Mr. and Mrs. Lawson Showers until January, 1919, when Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Miller succeeded them.
Cemeteries. The burial plots provided by Charles Starrett, in the original seventy-acre tract, were in use until 1867, the Catholic congregation having established separate burial grounds in East Sidney, making room in the smaller plots in the town plat for all the village dead up to the date mentioned. Following the Civil war, however, a general sentiment demanded a larger and more removed burial spot than the crowded little cemeteries of the village, and a tract of land lying south of Sidney was purchased by the town from the estate of Hardesty Walker, possessor from pioneer times. In 1867 the new cemetery was opened to the public, and lots sold, according to the usual plan of procedure, the business being in the hands of a cemetery board, which is now, since Sidney has become an incorporated city, identical with the City Civil Service commission. The village council, in 1867, passed an ordinance forbidding further burials to take place within the village limits. (page 392) This was a necessity, since the little plots were already crowded, and even at that date the necessity of extending streets to the southward was foreseen. The Starrett burying grounds were, however, not disturbed for many years following the establishment of the new cemetery, which was christened "Graceland," and is as beautiful a situation as could have been chosen anywhere within reach of the town, occupying the extremity of the spur of hill lands which undulates southward toward the bend of the Miami river, west of the valley in which Sidney lies.
Entering the cemetery from the Main avenue extension, south of the bridge, a handsome receiving vault stands at the right of the drive, and farther on, at the left, is situated the Goode family mausoleum. The natural grounds have been developed with judgment, and the native trees are supplemented with shrubbery and flowers ; and many beautiful monuments are to be seen, as well as many survivals of pioneer stone work. Additional land was secured a few years ago from the Hardesty Walker estate, on the south of the original tract, providing room for the separate grounds desired by the Catholic congregation of Holy Angels church, and for all the needs of many years to come. From the new section, the triple arch of the new Baltimore & Ohio railroad bridge forms a distant item of the very lovely view, and looking southward the hills are traversed by the Dixie highway (Sulphur Springs Hill road), winding out of sight between the heights.
The extensive street grading and paving which began in 1900 has so altered the appearance of the south end of the town that it may easily be forgotten that the old Starrett cemetery of that locality occupied a knoll of solid gravel which was left high above Main street on either side, when the grading was accomplished. The inevitable disturbance of many graves made the removal of all desirable, and the cemetery in which further burials had been forbidden in 1898, rapidly become a thing of the past. Those who had friends and relatives buried there, removed them to Graceland ; while those whose relatives had departed this life or at least Sidney, were removed by contract, the crowded condition of the grounds being evidenced by the fact that the Edgar brothers alone transferred five hundred and seventy-five graves to Graceland. (The transfer of graves from the Catholic cemeteries in East Sidney to Graceland is taking place more slowly, during the present year.) After the soil was vacated, the gravel deposit was found of great value to the city in the paving campaign which was already under way, and for twelve years these south end deposits furnished all the paving gravel used, excavation going so far as to make a great pit along the Miami river near the Orphans' home bridge, that filled with the overflow during high water. Systematic disposition of the city's ashes and general dumpage has, however, reclaimed the parts of the burial ground gravel banks thus robbed, and they have gradually been converted into pretty little plazas occupying the angles formed where the diagonal streets converge, in the vicinity of the bridge, and are a part of the park scheme which will include the river bank south of the city.
The little Starrett cemetery used so long by the Presbyterians, (page 393) was transferred much later to Graceland, not being disturbed until the land was needed as a site for the new high school.
The first superintendent of Graceland was Samuel Mathers, and the second W. P. Stowell, who after several years was succeeded by G. C. Anderson, who served for over forty years, only quitting when death called him to occupy his own long home in the cemetery he had guarded so many seasons. He was succeeded in the winter of 1918-19 by J. L. Dickensheets, The present Cemetery or Public Service board is R. H. Trego, president; E. W. Stowell, secretary; Oscar Stockstill.
The Monumental Building is an aggressive feature of the architecture surrounding the public square in Sidney. The corner stone of this structure was laid forty-four years ago, in June, 1875, with Masonic ceremonies, the Hon. J. Frank McKinney, of Piqua, delivering a Masonic address of dedication. Not to Masonic uses, however, was the building dedicated, but, as was generally understood, to the memory of Shelby county heroes of the Civil war, other purposes being recognized as hovering in the background. The building was the outgrowth of a fund started in Sidney immediately after the close of the war, by the surviving soldiers and their friends, among whom were some of the best of Sidney's good men. The community at that time was not the well-to-do population of today, and funds came in very slowly. The parties interested conceived a lottery scheme whereby the sum of $11,473.97 was amassed toward the purpose of buying a lot and erecting thereon a suitable and permanent monument to the county's fallen heroes. The lottery was conducted under the direction of three reliable citizens of the day, Messrs. Vandegrift, Carey and Frazier; and the fund realized was held by a board of trustees consisting of Levi Barkdull, Nathan R. Wyman, Hugh Thompson, H. S. Gillespie, Joseph C. Haines and R. R. Lytle. In May, 1873, the old Ackerly tavern corner was purchased by the trustees as a site for the proposed monument, the consideration being $4,500, which was drawn from the fund. About this times Messrs. Lytle and Gillespie removed from the county, and their places on the board of trustees were filled by A. J. Robertson and Col. Harrison Wilson. The old corner tavern was rented for one year to John Mather, for the sum of fifty dollars, pending consideration of the next move. During the following year, the then new idea was evolved, from some source, of erecting, not a monument, but a monumental building, a memorial which should, at the same time, be an honor to the dead and benefit to the living. It was a worthy idea. Public and legislative approval of it was immediate and cordial. Citizens of town and township submitted quite cheerfully to special tax levies for the necessary funds, and forty-one thousand dollars were added to the money held in trust by the board. In the meantime, the idea was discovered to have grown by added ideas, superimposed upon it by the multiple necessities of old Sidney, and combined with the most genuine good intent. A public library was a need that could not be gainsaid. A place of public entertainment was even more demanded. The library would need support, therefore part of the building must be arranged to pay the maintenance (page 394) of the rest. The town needed a fire department, a city hall, courtroom and offices.
But the grafting of many strange scions on one good parent stock, while it has been accomplished many times, is usually unsymmetrical if not freakish in result. Something of this nature must be felt by the close observer, new to Sidney, in the aspect of the Monumental Building as it was built and as it still stands after forty-five years of varying wear and tear.
The architect was Samuel Lane, of Cleveland. The building was erected honestly, without even the suspicion of graft. It is so substantial that, barring fire and earthquake, it may easily stand on its corner for a hundred years more. But it must be admitted, with regret, that it does not now represent the Great Idea with which the enthusiasm of the town and township was aroused so long ago. It is, in fact, now known frankly for what it was in reality from the first-a public utilities building, not devoid of glaring faults even in that capacity.
Viewed from the east, the stranger in Sidney may perhaps wonder what the building means. It suggests vaguely-or might in any other locality-a mammoth mausoleum, or possibly a cathedral whereon the apostolic figure has been replaced by a soldier of the Civil War, who rusts in his lonely niche far above the pavement. The stone masonry is of good craftsmanship, but clumsy in design and totally unconvincing. The court street elevation is heterogeneous in manner, but altogether commercial, a violent change from the front. The city hall and fire department are tacked on like afterthoughts. Unbeautiful as it is, we may not wholly blame the architect for all this, nor may we withhold forgiveness from the citizens of the older day, who stood by and held the hats of Art and. Architecture while the two disfigured one another. All were under the influence of a malign spirit of Utilitarianism that stalked the whole country for a few decades and held older, wiser and wealthier towns than little Sidney in its fell clutches. The economy of cutting its whole wardrobe from one short web of cloth, had led Sidney to require of the architect to plan under one roof all the utilities mentioned, and at the same time to honor its soldier dead as best he might. Hence the cumbrously imposing but funereal front, and the pathetic little rusting sentinel. Incidentally, the marble tablet set in the north wall of the public library, on the second floor of the building, is all that is left to mark the fact that the old soldiers, as represented by the Neal Post, G. A. R., were ever vouchsafed a headquarters within the memorial building, which they vacated, more than twenty years ago, to give the long awaited public library a habitation. And the "opera house" in the third floor was leased at the same time for the exclusive use of the I. O. O. F. The dark and cavernous business room on the ground floor front is occupied by a grocery, and the corer is leased to the Western Ohio Electric railway as a local depot. The basement, reached by a stairway let into the court street sidewalk after the abandoned practice of a bygone day, houses a shoe-repairing establishment, while the room once occupied by the postoffice now accommodates one of the express companies.
(page 395) The really efficient and up-to-date fire department does honor to its position at the west end of the structure, but the city hall has never been very popular as a public meeting place, and only the municipal offices are in active service on the second floor of the city division. Altogether, the building does not inspire the reverence and admiration its original purpose once called forth, and exterior neglect is permitting an appearance of deterioration. The Public Library. Sidney's first public library was not a municipal affair, nor maintained by public funds. It was organized in 1869, by a group of leading citizens whose names as far as may be learned were : W. P. Metcalf, N. R. Wyman, Harrison Wilson, W. P. Stowell, James Allen Wells, and others whose names are not obtainable.
A fund of $1500 was created for the purpose of books, and the library was opened for public patronage in 1870, in a little office building belonging to W. P. Stowell, which stood then in a space between the Mathers' residence and that of Dr. H. S. Conklin, on North Ohio avenue, and was dignified by the title of Lyceum. (The building may still be seen, having been moved to a lot in the rear of the original, which is now a part of the Federal property on which the new postoffice stands.)
In the diminutive Lyceum the library was maintained until 1879, when, growth being impossible, and the investment inevitably a losing one, to a private corporation, the property, books and franchise, were turned over to the board of trustees of the Monumental building, under a contract whereby the latter agreed to place the books in safety in the Monumental building, and, "as soon as the debt of the building should be paid, to maintain the same as a public library out of the rents derived from the building, devoting what was known as Memorial Hall to the purposes of a public library and reading room forever."
The books were, accordingly, stored until 1886, but, while safe, were not accessible to the public. In 1886 the village council made a small levy for library purposes, and with the consent of the Monumental board of trustees, maintained a librarian who distributed the books, to Sidney citizens only, from the smaller room at the left front of the present library floor, until 1897.
The bonded indebtedness of the Monumental building having been removed by 1897, and a surplus derived from rents accumulated to the amount of $2500, the trustees of the building (who are appointed for life), organized as a library association, and, beginning with the twelve hundred volumes still possible to catalogue, assumed the administration and responsibilities of the public library, and the establishment of modern methods and standards of efficiency. The immediate control of the library management is in the hands of a committee of three (or four), selected: one from the board of trustees of the Monumental building; one from the Sidney board of school trustees ; and one (or more, at discretion of the board), from the city at large. In 1899 Miss Emma Graham was chosen as librarian, succeeding Miss Belle Haines, village librarian since 1886; and the room thus far occupied by the members of Neat Post, (page 396) G. A. R., as a Memorial Hall, was converted to library purposes according to pre-arranged intention.
Under Miss Graham's capable direction all the new systems were set in running order and the efficacy of the library as an educational factor in the community has advanced steadily, year by year. A few figures, taken from the annual reports, show that from an average monthly issue of 343 books in 1897, the record for 1898 had risen to 1094; for 1899, to 1729; and for 1900, to 2635 volumes monthly. Also, in 1897 the books taken out were 857 fiction ; in 1898, 817o fiction; in 1899, only 727 fiction ; and this improvement may be seen from year to year, a late report showing practically 3000 volumes issued per month, to about 4000 card holders. The number of volumes in the library at this date (1919) is 13,550, exclusive of public documents and pamphlets. Between 85 and 100 periodicals (including subscriptions which are donated), are to be found on he reading tables and files. There are thousands of public documents in the stack room, of great value for reference and consultation, former congressman Ben. LeFevre having been instrumental in making the Sidney library a government depository for this congressional district.
Citizens of all parts of Shelby county are evincing a desire to benefit by the use of the library, and it is hoped to extend the field to include every township before long.
The board of trustees, under which the public library of today was established, was composed of : Judge Harrison Wilson, W. A. Graham, H. S. Ailes, J. K. Cummins, 0. S. Marshall, J. C. Haines and John Heiser; and the first library committee appointed was : S. L. Wicof, W. A. Graham and E. L. Hoskins. The library committee in 1919 is : S. L. Wicoff, W. A. Graham, J. F. Richeson, and W. D. -Snyder. Miss Emma Graham is still chief librarian, with Miss Miriam Ginn and Miss Zelma Virick, assistants. It must be admitted that, while the accommodation of a public library was a part of the original scheme of the Monumental building, the quarters devoted to the purpose on the second floor are not ideally planned for a library. However, the most and best has been made of it, and in it has been developed an institution which has become the intellectual center of a collegeless town. Here young and old, students and teachers, business men and persons of literary habit find pleasure and benefit. The future undoubtedly holds a more ideal housing for the public library than the Monumental building affords, but that history is yet to make. Hospitals in Sidney are almost a negligible quantity, but never quite so, as long as the little emergency hospital on East Court street holds the fort. The story of the useful institution is short but very pleasant. Six years ago in the spring of 1913, a project took shape in the minds of two young people of Sidney, members of the Blue Bird social club. Like many another happy thought, less useful, this one was carried to the club by its originators, Dr. and Mrs. Hugh Beebe, with the proposition that the club give a charity ball, the proceeds of which should be devoted to the establishment of an emergency hospital, where the victims of accidents, or the suddenly ill at hotels, or other cases of emergency nature (page 397) might be taken, and- lives saved that would be sacrificed by the delay of removal to Lima or other cities.
The Blue Birds took up the proposition with much ardor, and the ball was given with great success, a fund approaching $305 being raised, of which Mrs. Harry Rice was the enthusiastic custodian. Mrs. Rice alone sold 101 tickets, and Mr. W. R. Carothers disposed of 98. With this fund in hand the committee approached the City Council and asked for co-operation, which was granted to the extent of giving for the purpose the free use of the vacant room in the front part of the city heating plant, with free light and heat. This space, already floored with cement, was arranged and equipped in approved sanitary manner, two rooms with hospitals beds, an operating room, and bath room, being set off from the corridor. The operation of the hospital, which has many times in the last six years demonstrated the need of its presence in Sidney, is now supported by voluntary benevolence, the visiting nurse association bearing a part of the burden, and in return the visiting nurse-at present Miss Gertrude Williams-having her office in the building, where she may receive messages or calls for service, and where the mothers of the city bring their babies to be weighed, and ask for practical advice.
There is at last a prospect of a regulation hospital for Sidney, unless it fails to seize the offer made in the will of the late Mrs. Harriet Stephenson, of Logan county. Mrs. Stephenson, who, as Harriet Scoby, was born and reared in Sidney, bequeathed to her native city, in December, 1918, the sum of ten thousand dollars toward the building of a hospital, provided that the city of Sidney raise an equal amount within the period of two years after the date mentioned. With so splendid a beginning Sidney cannot, it seems, fail to meet the terms of the bequest, which are quite reasonable, while the hospital itself cannot fail to meet a long felt want of both physicians and public.
The Shelby County Agricultural Association. On the twenty-first day of August, 1839, immediately following the legislative act governing the formation of agricultural associations, for the holding of county fairs, the first attempt at organization of such an association in Shelby county, was made at the courthouse in Sidney, in response to a call sent out by William Murphy, then county auditor. Officers were elected and a constitution drafted and adopted. During the ensuing year financial matters were adjusted, and after the second annual election, a fair was arranged and held October 17, 1840. A second fair was held in September, 1841, but this seems to have been the last for ten years, when, after one or more attempts at re-organization, fairs were held successfully in the October of five consecutive years, the place of exhibition varying each year, as no permanent grounds had been purchased. The fair of 1853 was held on the Jordan land (then owned by Dr. H. S. Conklin), and lying west of the village of Sidney; in 1854, on the Maxwell grounds east of the Miami river, and in 1855, on the property of I. T. Fulton.
From October, 1860, the association and the annual fair became fixed institutions, and with the exception of one year, when (page 398) conditions were unusual, the fair has been an annual event of great importance in the county. The fairground now in use was purchased in 1860 from the William Thirkield estate, through W. P. Reed and J. L. Thirkield, and in twenty acres in extent, and finely situated, both in regard to topography and accessibility, the highways being excellent, and the electric railroad passing the entrance. The officers of the original agricultural society were, for the first year, Hugh Thompson, Luke Fish, William Fielding, M. D., W. A. Carey, John Shaw, with G. D. Lecky, William Fielding and J. S. UpDeGraff forming the constitutional committee. These were replaced the second year by Stephen Wilkin, James McLean, Samuel Mathers, Dr. H. S. Conklin, and Hugh Thompson. Under the reorganization of 1851, the officers were Irwin Nutt, H. Walker, J. P. Haggott and Thomas Stephenson ; Dr. Conklin, J. W. Carey, Hugh McElroy, William Thirkield, W. P. Stowell and others becoming prominent in ensuing years.
In 1860, the society was organized anew, with the name of the "Shelby County Agricultural Institute," and its first officers were: James A. Wells, Edmund Lytle, S. Alexander Lecky, and John Duncan. The trustees, to whom the deeds were made for the new fair ground property, were John H. Mathers, S. Alexander Lecky, James A. Wells, I. F. Fulton and J. C. Coe. The grounds to which six acres were added in 1880, are the property of the institute stock holders, and not of the county, and the losses as well as the receipts accrue to them-there being 222 original stockholders. Profits were turned to the improvement of grounds and buildings, which were kept in thorough repair and attractive condition, premiums and trophies being kept abreast of the times. The efficiency of the management, which has included from year to year the best ability of Sidney and the county, prevents deficit, while it makes no attempt at aggrandizement except in the expenditure for permanent improvement which benefits the public and the exhibitors. In 1881 and again in 1895 additional land was purchased to extend the ground, there being now about forty-three acres, all told. The 1895 purchase accommodates a fine racetrack, and a grandstand. The society incorporated in 1895, under the title of the Shelby county agricultural society.
The fairground of today presents the appearance of a summer assembly park, with its old forest trees carefully preserved, and maples planted wherever more shade is desirable, excellent buildings, and city water supply from Sidney. The annual fairs, the fifty-ninth of which will be held in 1919, are crowded with exhibitors as well as visitors, and competition and public interest are keen. The Shelby county fair is one of the most successful held in the state. The present officers of the society are: George Hagelberger, president; L. E. Steenrod, vice-president; S. J. Booher, treasurer; J. E. Russell, secretary.
Banks and Banking in Shelby County
Banking by that or any other name, began at a very indeterminate time in Shelby county, doubtless developing from the personal money-lending, with or without security, of early times, to a more (page 399) organized system, so gradually that the "bank" existed in the person of some prosperous pioneer citizen long before he or any outside financier formally announced himself a place of safe deposit or of secured loans. Mr. W. A. Graham, of the Citizens' National bank, admits that the local traditionists are misty on the subject of the first bank or banker, and with the exception of his own research, there is no written or printed word which throws light on the matter. Early in the 'S0s of the nineteenth century a gentleman from Urbana, Ohio, came to Sidney, and is believed to have opened a bank. Deposits are necessary to the existence of banks, usually, and perhaps the reason of Mr. Clark's bank having no history, was that the institution did not attract the Sidney dollars.
Yet with the activity of building during the '50s money must have been in plentiful circulation, and banks or places of safe deposit would appear to have been a necessity. John W. Carey, a noted builder and business man of the times, is the first man positively known to have conducted a bank in the town. The date of his beginning as a banker is not remembered nor recorded, except that he was established and well-known before 1854, at which time he built the Thompson building (then Carey's Hall), and about which time he erected his home (at present used as a tenement or boarding house), on North Ohio avenue, and on a lot south of it had the bank building, built after the same style of architecture, but smaller. The bank building was very substantially made, but without cellar, the front pillars being of stone, with bases and capping of the same. Unchanged except by paint-and the insertion of a wide window in the second story front, where the city engineer, Eugene Blake, has his office-the Carey bank building housed financial institutions until a comparatively recent date. The original "safe deposit" vault may be seen for the asking, the Swift cream depot being maintained there now. But in Mr. Carey's day banking was new, and little understood by the mass, an amusing incident having been preserved exhibiting the lay point of view at that date. A gentleman in need of a little money and not being able to collect moneys which were due him, applied to the bank for a $50 loan. He gave an acceptable note for the amount from which the interest was subtracted, and went his way. Not long after, having received the money that was owed him, the note-maker presented himself at the bank and expressed a wish to pay his note. The banker replied :
"It is not due."
"That makes no difference ; I want to pay it."
"But I can't return you any of the interest."
"I want my note, and I want to pay it !" was the very emphatic response. And "pay it" he did.
Some years later, it is believed, Hugh McElroy engaged in banking, his location being on the west side of the public square, in a room which has before and since housed many important institutions, but has now descended to use as a tea store. In this store, where O. J. Taylor was engaged in the hardware trade in the front, Mr. McElroy set up his banking outfit, the evidence of which is still to be seen, although it is not, like that of the Carey (page 400) bank, still in use. In fact the "safe," though built after the Carey vault, was much more primitive, and was practically a stout closet, with doors closed by a lock which was manipulated by means of an enormous iron key, the keyhole of the doors being concealed from view under a still more enormous iron latch that, being lifted, disclosed the lock. Whether this was Mr. McElroy's first or second bank location, or whether some previous bank was responsible for the "safe" cannot now be said.
Mr. McElroy's bank was succeeded in this location by the First National bank of Sidney, Ohio, chartered February 20, 1864, with J. F. Frazier, Judge Hugh Thompson, L. C. Barkdull, William P. Reed and William Lee among the incorporators. These men constituted the first board of directors, and with one exception, Mr. Lee, remained in office during the entire existence of the bank. Mr. Lee left Sidney, but remained a stockholder. Mr. John H. Mathers, father of judge Hugh T. Mathers, was chosen to succeed him. These men were well fitted to serve as directors, being old residents and enjoying the confidence of the community. Mr. Frazer was a successful business man, and a financier of unquestioned integrity, and had been "a walking bank" for years after the establishment of banks, accepting money on notes and safe-guarding the funds thus intrusted to him, both to his own profit and that of his depositors. Mr. Barkdull was a jeweler, upright in character and sound in judgment, sternly devoted to business. Judge Thompson was a lawyer, a man of keen foresight and business sagacity, tactful and diplomatic and of great personal popularity. Mr. Reed had been widely known for years as a shrewd note buyer, or "shaver," and had an intimate knowledge of the property and financial condition of a very large number of people. Mr. Lee was a railroad contractor and man of wealth. The first cashier of the bank was William Gibbs, succeeded after a year by William Murphey, ex-auditor of the county, who brought to his task many fine qualifications; but was handicapped in the performance of his work by the paralysis of his left arm. After three years was succeeded, in 1868, by Charles C. Weaver, of Butler county, Ohio. About 1869, John H. Wagner entered the bank as bookkeeper and general assistant. Mr. Wagner was an expert in the detection of counterfeit money, with which the country was annoyed at that time, and was much appreciated by the patrons of the bank. On June 9, 1872, William A. Graham, who after his second term of school teaching had engaged in shearing sheep in the country, was surprised with the offer of a position in the bank as collector and clerk. Nevertheless the "country boy without money or influence" accepted the offer, and received in the original national bank of Sidney the training for what has been a life work. Early in 1875 Mr. Weaver and Mr. Wagner resigned from the bank force, and Mr. W. R. Moore became cashier, remaining with the institution until 1877, when it went into liquidation.
Messrs. Weaver and Wagner organized the German-American bank and opened for business May 1, 1875. Associated with them in the new organization were B. W. Maxwell, Peter Wagner, Christian Kingseed, Judge Thompson, E. E. Nutt, D. W. Pampel, (page 401) H. W. Thompson, John E. Bush and others not now recalled. The bank enjoyed prosperity and popularity from the start, having the public confidence warranted by the character of the men who composed the board of directors. Its successive presidents were : B. W. Maxwell, Judge Thompson, and John H. Wagner; while the cashiers, in order, were John H. Wagner, D. R. Orbison and F. D. Reed. William A. Graham left the First National bank in December, 1875, and accepted a position in the German-American bank, where he remained until January, 1881, J. C. Cummins and D. R. Orbison entering the First National at this time (1875). The first board of directors of the German-American bank retired or died as time passed, and their places seem not to have been filled. The bank, enjoying apparent prosperity, suddenly failed in a tangle of circumstances impossible for anyone but a government expert to elucidate-and still a painful subject in Sidney-in 1904. The Citizens' bank had been organized in 1870, beginning business in July of that year. James A. Lamb and Louis E. Mathers were at the head of the enterprise, and their associates were John H. Mathers, Edmund Smith, William Johnston, Jacob Piper, sr., Samuel Rice, John Barkalow, C. T. Pomeroy, James Murray, George Hemm, William Alfele, Kendall and Conroy, and Nathan Moore. Mr. Lamb was the first president, and continued in the position until his death in 1898, after twenty-eight years of service. Louis Mathers was the first cashier but died in 1872, and was succeeded by his brother, O. O. Mathers. At his election to the county auditorship in 1875, Mr. Mathers was succeeded by W. E.
Kilborn, who served until 1881, when he retired to undertake the management of the American Steel Scraper company, in which he had become a partner, and was succeeded by W. A. Graham, who has now filled the responsible position for thirty-eight years. J. C. Cummins entered the Citizens' bank as assistant cashier in 1881, and continued there until 1906, when he resigned to become cashier of the First National Exchange bank of Sidney. The Citizens' bank was converted to a national bank in September, 1905. The newest bank in Sidney is the First National Exchange bank, organized in 1899, and opened for business in September of that year. This bank was the outgrowth of the law requiring savings and loan associations to deposit in banks ; and as there was not at that time a National bank in Sidney, Mr. Studevant, head of the People's Savings and Loan association, organized the First National Exchange bank to fill an imperative need. It was for several years accommodated in the quarters of the association in the Robertson building, but as the business of each organization increased, the bank was moved to the north side of the square, occupying the location vacated by the defunct German-American bank. W. H. Wagner was the first president of the bank, and Mr. Studevant its first cashier, the latter resigning about 1906, on account of his increasing responsibilities as secretary of the loan association. Mr. Studevant then became vice-president, and J. C. Cummins cashier.
In 1915 the Exchange bank underwent rebuilding, following the fire which destroyed wholly or partly, a number of buildings. (page 402) Its new home, on the old site, is a model of chaste beauty, of white marble both as to front and interior development, and thoroughly fire-proof. The edifice is small, but commands respect and admiration for its fitness, and quality.
The Citizens' National bank also has a home of admirable qualities. The building was erected in the eighties, and is an exceptionally good example of the best taste of that period of building. It occupies the site of what is believed to have been Sidney's first brick business building, at the northwest corner of Main and Poplar. The bank building was slightly injured in the conflagration of 1915, which destroyed several buildings west of it, but of which it shows no trace now, either outside or within. The bank's quarters on the first floor have been completely reconstructed, and are most agreeable and inviting, light, airy and commodious, and admirably simple.
The Shelby county building and loan association was incorporated December, 1895, with. an authorized capital stock of $2,000,000. The first board of directors, in which some incidental changes have occurred, chiefly from deaths, consisted of John H. Taft, W. A. Perry, Louis Kah, William Piper, John Loughlin, M. L. Heffelman and Louis Pfaadt. William Piper was first president, J. H. Taft, vice-president, D. R. Orbison, secretary, W. P. Metcalf, treasurer and David Oldham, attorney. The first home of the Shelby county association was in the Timeus block on the south side of the public square, but its growth demanded better quarters and in 1902 the present location was purchased of the Ferdinand Amann heirs and fitted up for banking purposes. In 1913, the place was entirely rebuilt, in substantial style, the banking headquarters being tiled and furnished in quartered oak, with new cement vault in which the safe is set. The institution has experienced constant and increasing prosperity, only second, if at all, to its predecessor, The People's Savings and Loan association, which was organized in 1886 by L. M. Studevant, on the then new "perpetual" plan. Previous associations had come and gone in Sidney, before this date, having served their purpose and "paid out." Chartered and ready for business, the People's Savings and Loan association opened for business in the office of Studevant and Way, October 23, 1886, on the second floor of the old building at the northwest corner of the public square, the room being across the hall from Dr. Orbison's dental office.
It was a small beginning, but the institution grew so rapidly that within a year it was necessary to move to larger quarters, which it found, temporarily, in the old Carevhnk building on North Ohio avenue, where they had the advantage of the little old safe vault. Here they developed to an uncomfortably tight ft within the next four years. A contract was then made with the A. J. Robertson estate to put up a building at the site of the old Robertson marble works, corner of South Ohio and Court streets, in which the ground floor was especially fitted up for the association in the conventional banking room style of the day (1891), and where for twenty-five years more of constantly increasing business the organization made its home. The establishment of the First (page 403) National Exchange bank, in the same quarters, first proved a little too much for the capacity of the building, and its removal to the north side of the square was a necessity, in order to give each institution room for growth. Another ten years passed and the necessity, as well as the propriety, of the institution having a permanent home of its own combined with the advisability of housing its valuable deposits in an absolutely fire-proof building, occasioned a building move which, except for public, city and county structures, has caused more comment than any other ever undertaken in Sidney. Where was the new bank to be located? Obviously, from its prominence as the wealthiest financial institution in the county, on one of the twelve corners pointing the public square. Not one of these corners, however, vacant or occupied, was purchasable at any price, even the ancient brick at the northwest corner, where the People's Savings and Loan had first come to life, having been sold, years before, to the Palmisano people. It was a radical and unprecedented action, apparently, to tear down the excellent Robertson building, which had been erected for them, but there was actually no other way to make room for the erection of the bank that was to be. Re-modeling was discussed, but found to be as expensive as building new. It was at last arranged to purchase the Robertson block, and face the criticism that was sure to come. The sale was made in November, 1916.
Mr. Studevant frankly admits that he had been "dreaming dreams about bank buildings for fifteen years," trying to ft those dreams to the Sidney situation in the meanwhile. And "somewhere, during the dreaming period, he had heard of a wonderfully original architect who, claiming that `form followed function' had never made two buildings alike." While in Europe in 1914, Mr. Studevant rather by accident stumbled upon information that led him directly to the architect he was seeking. Within a month after the purchase of the site by the association, Louis H. Sullivan came to Sidney and studied the bank's problem ; and the preliminary sketches were made and the palette of materials, from which the artist could draw to develop the building, was chosen. The wrecking of the old building was complete by the first of June, 1917, and the plans were ready to work from by that time. Mr. Studevant himself took charge of the purchase of the materials, and the work was done under a local builder. The association took up temporary quarters in the Palmisano building a half block east, on the south side of the square, and moved into the beautiful new "Thrift" building on the thirty-first of May, 1918, just a year from the completion of the plans.
On October 23, 1918 (exactly thirty-two years after the People's Savings and Loan association drew its first breath), the American Architect published an illustrated article by Thomas E. Tallmadge, A. I. A., devoted to a description and discussion of the new bank building, which should add somewhat to the pride which every Sidney citizen must feel who contemplates the gem of architecture given it by the brain of a Sullivan and the courage of a banker with convictions, who does not disdain to dream. Quoting with some freedom from Mr. Tallmadge's article: (page 404)
"I believe it was the late Montgomery Schuyler who said that a new building from the hand of Louis Sullivan was an event in architecture. Not only by us in the West, to whom, in our youth, the golden arch of the Transportation building was a bow of promise, and to whom the Getty tomb and the Auditorium are still sources of inspiration, but to the Brahmins in the East, where Classicism sits enthroned, the work of Mr. Sullivan is appreciated and admired. * * * One feels, on looking at this bank in Sidney, Ohio, that the architect had approached his problem with a clear mind and clean slate, * * * a small bank in an American city, to be convenient, comfortable and efficient. The materials, concrete, brick, terra cotta and steel, with glass mosaic, marble, plaswood ; an every-day problem and materials at the disposal of every specification writer. But it is Mr. Sullivan's enthusiasm and prophetic ability which exalt the humble problem to heights of great design ; and it is his sympathy for and deep understanding of commonplace materials that transform brick and terra cotta into the purple and fine linen of architecture. Mr. Sullivan's dispositions of the palette in the exterior,-the fenestration, expressing the functions of the building and the location of its internal units; * * * the range and harmony of the color,-give the little building a gemlike quality that glows afterward on the `inward eye' like a pigeon blood ruby * * * Nothing lovelier in terra cotta, it it seems to me, has been done. * * * Next, I like best the entrance door. Architrave and doorjambs are worthy of the closest study. This ornament is living ornament, * * * as much a part of the substance as the shell of a tortoise. Above, is the magnificent tympanum in glass mosaic, in turquoise blues, done by Louis J. Millet, with the single word `Thrift' inlaid in its surface, and held in place by a beautiful arch in terra cotta. The third outstanding feature of the exterior is the extraordinary range of windows, remarkable and unprecedented, full of vigorous modeling and rich in color, surmounted by the great panel in glass mosaic, in softly modulated emerald tones. * * * Huge, beautifully modeled `brooches' of terra cotta `pin' the great window to the fabric of the wall of `Indiana shale' brick, and parapet and belting of terra cotta in a dull orange meet and absorb the green and golden hues of the corbels and mullions." But it all must be seen to be appreciated, and unwise indeed is that critic who judges it only from afar. The inner system of construction and equipment is ideal. The lighting, by means of the great mullioned window on the west, and the beautiful roof light, is perfectly toned to relieve the eye of strain, and in no single corner of the banking department is there any shadow, nor any glare. Not by accident is this result attained, but by the applied science of the artist and architect. The artificial lighting is equally perfect and beautiful in visual effect. Simplicity is striking throughout the interior, but every surface is rich in softened beauty of tone and material. It is a bank in which nothing has been forgotten, or left out, that could contribute to the perfect efficiency of the institution it was made to enclose. The temperature is fixed; it is never hot or never cold. Only through the front entrance is there any direct admission of outside air. The ventilating system washes (page 405) and purifies every cubic foot of air that is breathed, and distributes it by the fan system. Except for the marble drinking fountains which distribute the city water, all the water used in the building is soft. From the perfectly appointed rooms and lockers to the private telephone system, there is nothing left for the most captious critic to desire. And in the central perspective the great circular door of the safe deposit vault, almost overpowering in its invincibility and strength, seems to set the seal of absolute completeness on the whole.
If so much space has been given to the little building that glows like a jewel on its much mooted corner, it is because it marks a departure from the day of mere utilitarianism and mistaken economy, which may and, it is to be hoped, will influence the future of Sidney. Already the question "Will it pay?" has been answered. Six, nearly seven times the cost of the building has been added to the deposits of the association, which passed the three million mark some time ago. It always pays to think new thoughts. Every step of advancement Sidney, or any other town, ever made was the result of new thoughts. The man with a vision in his head is a prophet.
The officers and directors of the People's Savings and Loan association are: W. H. Wagner, president; R. H. Trego, vice-president ; L. M. Studevant, secretary; William M. Kingseed, treasurer; Miss Leal Robertson, assistant secretary ; and A. J. Hess, attorney. Comparatively few, the financial institutions of Sidney are well balanced, and in healthy competitive fettle, presided over by men of pronounced financial sagacity and of unimpeachable business integrity.
Outside of Sidney, the first bank ever opened in Shelby county was a private institution, set up by Z. T. Lewis in 1894, at Anna, and wrecked one year later by the banker's speculations, the funds being so involved that the creditors received but a small per cent of their claims.
Jackson Center has had a thoroughly prosperous bank since 1895, when Dr. P. R. Clinehens and Shelby Baughman established the Farmers' and Merchants' bank, Mr. Baughman being president, and Dr. Clinehens cashier. The first account opened is said to have been that of the Jackson Center Elevator company, and the second that of John Johns. Dr. Clinehens, a thorough gentleman and capable cashier, died in 1897, and was succeeded by Frank Baughman, a son of the president. In 1905 Mr. F. M. Wildermuth entered the bank as assistant cashier, and succeeded Mr. Frank Baughman as cashier upon the resignation of the latter in 1909, previous to which, in 1907, the bank had been converted to the First National bank of Jackson Center, with an increase of stockholders and of capital. This is the first national bank to be organized in the county, outside of Sidney. Its prosperity has been steady and increasing from the start, and it is at present (1919) building a new home, which will be equipped with up-to-date vault and safe, and all modern fittings. The capital stock, surplus and undivided profits are $70,000, and its resources are close to $600,000. The (page 406) first building and loan association has just been organized and will operate in the same new building with the bank.
Botkins is the home of the Shelby County bank, the need of and opportunity for opening which was noted and seized by Philip Sheets, sr., in 1897. Mr. Sheets associated his sons, E. S. and H. E. Sheets with the business of the bank, into which enterprise he threw all of his own energy until stricken with paralysis, from which his death resulted in 1905. The sons continued the bank as a private institution until 1912, when it was re-organized and incorporated with H. E. Sheets, president; Philip Sheets, jr., vice-president; and E. S. Sheets, cashier. The Sheets brothers are concerned in large business interests outside the bank, which is a strong and prosperous institution, of great importance to the town and surrounding country. The capital stock is $25,000 and the surplus and undivided profits fully $30,000. A savings department has been established during the past year.
The Loramie Banking company was organized in 1904 by Michael Moorman and several associates. Mr. Moorman had for a number of years previous to this date carried on a successful money-lending business, and. gave to the new corporation a strong impetus. His interests were afterward transferred to others in the company, which includes B. J. Wuebker, Adolph Raterman and other solid citizens. The bank is an important factor in the business of Fort Loramie and the vicinity (which is somewhat hampered by the transportational isolation of that portion of Shelby county), and is counted among the solid institutions of the local commonwealth. The bank is now building a new home on the east side of the canal basin, which will be ready for occupancy in October or November, 1919. The new bank, which is costing upwards of $14,000, will be fire and burglar proof, not only as to safe and vault,-but the whole building, which though small will be very complete and handsome, with cut stone front and solid brick walls. The capital stock, surplus and undivided profits at this date are about thirty-three thousand dollars, with total resources close to three hundred thousand. A. F. Raterman is cashier. In 1907, the Farmers' and Merchants' bank was established at Anna, by Columbus capitalists, with R. D. Curtner as cashier. The bank was re-organized and incorporated in 1910 with new and local stockholders entering the institution, which has developed rapidly and is growing. The original incorporators were : Daniel Runkle, R. D. Curtner, William C. Henrich, George D. Fridley and E. M. Martin; the officers of the present being Daniel Runkle, president; R. D. Mede, vice-president; and A. W. Fridley, cashier. The bank owns its very substantial and comely little home, which was built about 1910. The capital stock is $25,000, surplus about $4,000 and the total resources of the bank amount to about $150,000. A building and loan association was established in connection with the bank in 1915.
A name always mentioned with pride in Sidney financial circles, is that of Milton E. Ailes, a Shelby county boy, graduated from the Sidney high school, who was employed, by recommendation of Congressman Ben LeFevre, in the United States treasury office, at (page 407) Washington. From this position young Ailes rose step by step by sheer ability, becoming finally assistant secretary of the treasury. Mr. Ailes is now at the head of the Riggs National bank, in Washington, D. C.
The Lesser Towns
Shelby may have been classed as a "one town county" by many ; and for many years the classification was pat enough, in respect of both population and manufacturing, Sidney being still so far in the lead as to preclude the possibility of competition. Nevertheless, a great deal of interest hovers about other villages, some on account of old memories and happier conditions, and some because they exhibit a growth that can be attributed only to some germ of genuine local spontaneity.
Shelby county has had many more villages "laid out" upon its map than ever materialized, although names have clung around some of these old plats, where never a lot was sold nor building erected more than the cross roads store or farm house of the town builder. Others have gained the estate of villages and then subsided into hamlets; while still others have maintained a slow development into valuable centres of rural commerce. The line of the canals, and later those of the railroads have determined the fate of nearly all, though some have seemed to prosper without favorable local conditions.
One drives into the little village of Pemberton almost unawares, so quiet and smokeless it lies save for the occasional puffing of trains or purr of automobiles. The looming presence of two big grain elevators at the side of the steel artery of traffic answers the question of what drew population to this spot. The country about is old, its first settler being judge David Henry, who came in 1814. Samuel and William Robinson followed in 1815, William Marrs in 1816, and George Childs, Charles Johnston, William Richardson, Charles Weeks and Benjamin Manning all settled hereabouts previous to the organization of the county. Mr. Henry built the first log and the first frame house, and Mr. Marrs erected the first frame barn-the lumber for which was sawed by Peter Musselman on Mosquito creek. The structure stood until near the close of the nineteenth century. A brick house was not known in the settlement until 1836, when Henry Line set the fashion. The first school in the district was taught by a member of the Cannon family. Charles Mason built the first flouring mill, which stood on Mosquito creek, the second being that of William Pepper. Peter Musselman built the first carding mill, about 1835. David and Sally Henry, twin babes of Mr. and Mrs. David Henry, divided the honor of the first white birth, in 1815. Pemberton was not laid out until 1852, on the line of the coming Bellefontaine & Indiana railway (Big Four).
The land belonged to Benjamin C. Wilkinson, John H. Elliott, Leonard T. Elliott and George R. Forsythe. Its name was given in honor of a Mr. Pemberton who was a civil engineer engaged in the survey of the railroad. It was never incorporated, though the population has stood at about one hundred and seventy-five, or more, for many years. Without exact figures in this regard, about (page 408) forty to fifty voters poll there. Two stores flourish in the village, and two neat churches lift aspiring belfries toward the clouds.
H. M. Faulkner owns a stockyard from which he ships about twenty-five carloads of livestock to market annually, chiefly of hogs, the corn country in the southeast part of the county being favorable to fattening. William Cottrell, a blacksmith, is manufacturing a practical self-feeder for hogs, which is his own invention, and this little industry is said to be growing.
Of the two elevators, the Simmons is the older by far, dating from the early days when it was merely a storehouse on the highway, which burned down and, after rebuilding, has passed through many hands-Forsythe and Ruddey, Michael Burke and others being mentioned. Mr. J. W. Simmons, now of Sidney, purchased it from Burke twenty-three years ago. The Shanely elevator was built about sixteen years ago, by L. G. Shanely and Mr. Harbour, Mr. Shanely purchasing the Harbour interest a year or so ago. The average annual output of grain from Pemberton warehouses is about 250,000 bushels, oats, corn and some wheat, the handling being quite evenly divided between the two firms, each of which handles the usual side lines of farmers' supplies. Pemberton has electric light.
Maplewood, postoffice for many years, is also center of a rich farming district, of which the famous model farm of Ex-congressman Ben Lefevre is a "talking point." The village once bore the name of Tileton, from a local industry near by, and came to life when the practice of tile-draining was new. When the D. T. & I. railroad came down from the north, a new lease of life came to the neighborhood, and the village as it now stands has been built almost wholly since 1892, scarcely a dwelling older than that being visible.
Two grain warehouses, owned by Stephenson brothers, built about 1892, and The Farmers' Grain company, successors to William Baker, who built about 1894, handle heavy shipments of oats, corn and wheat (wheat not heavy), and also rye and alsike in considerable quantity. Probably between 150,000 and 200,000 bushels annually, of all grains leave Shelby county at this point. Maplewood's population is three hundred or more, and the village is very much alive and growing, with two churches and the usual retail stores, garages, etc.
Jackson Center is the real center of a large and rich farming district occupying the northeast quarter of the county. Though opened for settlement so long after the southern half of Shelby county territory, the development of towns has been more than equal in the north, and the lands have assumed quite as settled an aspect. The first settlers came between 1831 and 1837, their names being Andrew Nogle, Thomas Cathcart, David Snyder, William Johnston, John W. Knight, Jephtha Davis, Dudley Hughes and William Babcock. About 1843, Christian, Peter and George Hawver came from Miami county.
The first mill was built in 1839 by Daniel Davis and was a horse mill, there being little or no access to water power in this part of the county. A stream sawmill was erected in 1849, at (page 409) Jack son Center. It was destroyed by fire in 1868, and rebuilt by the Babcock brothers, who operated it until 1875, when it was purchased by R. F. Buirley. McCord and Slusser built a sawmill in 1866, Mr. Slusser afterward selling out his interest to H. Munch, in 1881. The Deerbaugh sawmill and handle factory, built in Jackson Center in the seventies, has passed out of existence with the others, simply because their work is done in that locality. There is not now a manufactory of any description in the village, which has become purely a farming centre. In this capacity, it is a highly prosperous and lively community. Much building is in progress, and there is no trace left of the disastrous fire of several years ago. Retail business is excellent; sidewalks are good, and streets well piked through the town. A creditable newspaper is well-supported. Jackson Center has the only national bank in the county outside of Sidney. Of the churches, the Seventh Day Baptists was formerly the most numerous, but the Methodist, Christian and Lutheran denominations each have acquired nearly equal strength at this date. The first three have church edifices in the town. Jackson Center was platted in 1835, and experienced a slow but natural growth until the advent of the D. T. & I. railroad in 1892, by which event its growth received sudden impetus. It was incorporated in 1893, and has risen to actual commercial importance.
Its present population is about seven hundred. The town is now bonded for electric lighting, the contract is let, and light and power equipment will soon be available to the villagers.
G. A. Swickard, stock dealer, buys and sells all kinds of livestock, handling about $200,000 worth of stock each year. The stock shipped out is chiefly hogs, and a few sheep or cattle. Horses are shipped in but not out of Jackson Center.
A. L. Briggs is proprietor of the oldest of the two large warehouses. The Briggs elevator was built about forty years ago, but has since undergone remodeling and enlargement. From 150,000 to 200,000 bushels of grain are shipped from this warehouse annually, divided between corn, oats, wheat, rye and other grains, varying, somewhat, in proportion, with corn generally leading. The Buckland Milling company, owned by outside capital, is operated by S. H. Miller, and does an equal volume of business with the Briggs plant. Montra, once a promising little pioneer center of activity, promoted by the proximity of the Montra Tile yards a mile or so to the south, is now a hamlet of possibly seventy or eighty scattered population. There are two little stores, and the William Kors sawmill are the only touch of commerce left. Pyle's old sawmill and the ashery of real lumbering days disappeared long ago, and the future prospect is that of slow dissolution, for the railroad which helped Jackson Center was a deadly blow to the hopes of Montra. Once a postoffice, two rural routes now give the villagers better service. Montra has a claim to local immortality, however, which should not fail to be recorded, lest it be forgotten in these rushing times. Two young" men of the Korns family, affected by that same wave of invention that mysteriously set ideas afloat in places of unexpected isolation, began to experiment with the problem of aerial navigation before the Wright brothers were known outside of their (page 410) own premises, and, also before their rise to fame, had successfully produced an airplane, with which they made fights about the farm, and might have electrified the world and made little Montra famous, had not an unfortunate accident resulted in the death of one of the lads, who was struck by the careening plane while it was attempting a landing. The tragedy was a shock which, for the time, practically paralyzed the inventor's courage and enthusiasm for flying -and in the meantime the Wright brothers had secured the public attention.
Port Jefferson, platted as a village in 1836, incorporated in 1842, and for a number of years ambitious to rival Sidney in population and trade, is situated on land first owned by John Hathaway and a man named Gilbert, who were the first settlers to locate in this spot, the date being 1814. Charles Weeks is said to have settled and built a house as early as 1810 in the township of which Port Jefferson is the capital; and Daniel Dingman was also an early land owner, while the Jacksons, Kirtlands and Gobles all had come to the neighborhood previous to 1818, the year in which Adam Counts and Jacob LeMasters arrived. Others followed within a few years, and the district was well settled before the canal project began to affect settlement. The first schoolhouse was built on the land of Elisha Kirtland, the second on the property of William Skillen, and after the latter burned, a third was erected on William Roberts' farm. All were of the most primitive description, so familiar to readers of pioneer history as to need no new delineation. The three R's constituted the curriculum, and the implements appear to have been few but effective, among them the quill pen and the beech rod. The first teacher, Daniel Goble, appears to have been an expert in the use of the rod, if in nothing else. A later instructor,- of higher attainments, was Daniel G. Hull. William Skillen, long a county official, was a pupil in his school, and Jonathan Counts received the principal steps in his training as a civil engineer from Mr. Hull, who was a practical surveyor. During its first fifteen or twenty years of existence no town in the county had a brighter prospect than Port Jefferson. The situation was beautiful and advantageous, and as the highest point of traffic on the feeder canal, which begins at the bulkhead a half mile above the village on the Miami river, it attracted all the grain and lumber shipping from a large and rich district to the north and east of it. Warehouses to the number of five clustered along the canal front. Mills hummed busily by the docks. Blacksmiths did a rushing business. The taverns were full. Cooper shops kept the air alive with constant battering. Retail business was brisk. Mr. Wright, a prospector from the east, seeking a location, went on to Chicago before deciding where to settle, but returned to Port Jefferson as having a far more promising outlook than the settlement at Fort Dearborn. The building of the railroad in 1852 constituted the first reverse to the village prosperity; yet for many years after that the canal was still an important traffic avenue, of which Port Jefferson was the gate. As late as the eighties it maintained a comfortable trade in all lines, had its big grain warehouse, owned by the Honnells (now empty and staring from eyeless sockets (page 411) at the idle valley), the fine old Allinger mill (long since a prey to the fire fend), four busy blacksmiths,, the Eplers and Johnstons; the Cargill tannery ; a cooper shop and two taverns. The old George Gump stage line was then in its palmy days, and the village was still able to turn its empty tin cup up side down and play it was a drum. Then the D. T. & I. railroad stole down on the eastern plain and seized all that was left of Port Jefferson's hopes, emptying its shops and leaving its once busy street a prey to decadence. One hears no sound of hammer or wheel save when some automobile demands repairs. The postoffice, in the grocery of George Honnell, affords a congregating place for friendly chat or village gossip, and the two fraternal lodges preserve their weekly gathering of followers (for "the Port" was noted for its enthusiasm in regard to Masonry and Oddfellowship) ; but there is no tavern, and, save for the restaurant kept by Miss Pearl Rike, the wayfarer who hungers must go empty away.
Three pretty churches still attest a Sabbath activity in which the carriages and autos of the countryside line the shady side streets and the voice of praise and prayer ascends from the green hollow of the valley. For, though Port Jefferson's business portion is deserted, it is still a village of quiet, comely homes, which seclude themselves behind many beautiful trees and beyond stretches of green and well-trimmed lawn, and only on week days are wrapped in Sunday quiet. The visitor fancies-and gossip bears out the impression-that there are frequent Sunday gatherings, when relatives drop in and "stay to church" ; and there is a certainty that the closed front blinds are opened when John and David and the children come home to the Thanksgiving fast, and that the chimney breast at Grandma's house is lined with little stockings Christmas Eve, and young ears carry to bed with them many a tale of old canal days told round the holiday fire. The village is a retiring place for farmers folk who do not wish to be too far away from the old farm even if "some one else is working it now." And there are "homekeeping hearts" who would never be happy away from here. So the population stays at about two hundred and twenty-five, placid and happy people. Below the quiet village is another still more quiet, the population of which is now about three thousand, and which is growing every year. Cared for with scrupulous and loving system, the Village of the Dead is a pretty place, sheltered by the hills on the north, from which it is watered by a spring, and overlooking the river and valley on the south.
The canal, now entirely disused, has become a water lily pond for a half-mile section from village to the bulkhead, and a few tiny bungalows indicate a movement toward summer outings along the pretty banks.
Borings for natural gas resulted in two fine artesian wells with perpetual supply of water. Westward from Sidney, the Hardin highway leads through some of the oldest settled and richest farmlands of the county. Turtle creek valley is unsurpassed by any district east or west of it, though the basin of Loramie creek is the more picturesque. The earlier (page 412) settlers of the territory have already been mentioned in the opening sketch, and it need only be added that none who came to Shelby county were of higher character and worth. The first marriage in the neighborhood, which was entered in 1812, occurred in 1818, when Richard M. Cannon and Mary Broderick were married by Cephas Carey, Esquire. The village of Hardin was platted in 1816, and recorded in Miami county, to which this territory still belonged. The first schoolhouse was built in 1816, of round logs, and stood about one mile south of Hardin. In 1819 a second schoolhouse was erected at the village, standing near the bank of Turtle creek. Mr. Cahoon, who afterward taught a school in the courthouse at Sidney, was the first teacher in the Turtle creek schoolhouse, in which, May of the same year, the first court of Shelby county was ordered to convene, pending the establishment of a county seat. A third schoolhouse was built on Richard Cannon's land in 1824.
An Indian graveyard, accidentally discovered south of Hardin and partially exhumed, has given rise to much conjecture, but to no conclusive knowledge. From the peculiar and various dispositions of the skeletons found, hasty burial is indicated, and not the proximity of an Indian village, nor yet of anything so ancient as Mound Builders. Earthenware relics in some of the graves suggest an origin no farther back than early white traders, and mussel shells in others point the transitory character of the community, which was probably a summer camp at the most, since there are none of the usual evidences of a settled village in the county.
The village itself, situated at the point located as the spot where Col. Hardin was treacherously murdered by the Indians, has that touch of historic interest to enhance it. Also, the circumstance of the first court being convened there, as well as its priority of establishment as a village, have given to the community a certain local pride which is pardonable. Any hopes it may have cherished, however, of being chosen as the county seat must have failed in any event, since the situation had no other advantages, and the other offer was superior in every respect, as time has proved. The location of the courthouse at Hardin could not have made it a successful town. The canal alone would inevitably have drawn population and traffic away from it, and it was far-sighted wisdom which led the commissioners to accept the Starrett offer. The plat of Hardin consisted of thirty-six town lots, and a public square two town lots in extent, situated at the southwest angle of two intersecting streets. A lot was set apart for a church, and one for seminary purposes. The original proprietors of the land were Thomas McClish, Joseph Steinberger and James Lenox. Robert Aldrich and Aaron Harkness put up the first frame houses in the town, and Hezekiah Stout kept a tavern in a log building. A small community gathered. and it was a stopping place on the stage line in the old days. Many came to it, but few stayed ; and while it is an attractive little hamlet, with citizens-none finer to be found, it never reached the stage of legal incorporation as a village. William and Hugh Patten built a steam sawmill with a 16-horsepower engine, in 1854, which passed from hand to hand, was burned down, rebuilt and maintained as long as it was profitable. Ewing Brothers & Dinsmore (page 413) established a spoke and bent wood works there in 1880, but this also went its way. The Bellefontaine & Indiana railroad passed the village one mile to the south, by which the only hope of advancement was lost. The railroad station became a local shipping point, and at present a fine large elevator, built six years ago, and now owned by the Hardin Grain company, an association of farmers, ships annually about sixty thousand bushels of grain. There is a fairly good wheat belt through this region, and consequently a very good balance between corn, wheat and oats. L. C. Reece has a stockyard, and a large total of hogs is sent to market from this station, also some sheep and calves.
Southwest from Hardin the road winds with many a turn across the height of land between the basin of Turtle creek and the Loramie valley, and on to the little chain of settlements-Mount Jefferson, and North and South Houston, none of which is large enough to be named a village, though all together they indicate clearly the populous and prosperous condition of the section. "Bunker Hill" church is a point passed on the road, in the vicinity of the old canal ; and noticeable this season (1919) are the idle farms along the Loramie bottoms, purchased by the conservancy commission, and not yet resold on the new basis. (A movement in this direction is already setting in, however, and it is not likely that any of the rich lands yet available will be neglected another year.) A little apart from the highway is Green lake, a pretty sheet of water, spring fed, and surrounded by gracious slopes well shaded by fine trees. The lake is an incidental result of the canal embankment built so many years ago, a natural winding ravine, in which were many springs, being denied an outlet, gradually filling up and forming a pure fresh water lakelet which is being slowly converted into a very attractive rural summer resort. A well-appointed bathing house is under construction, and several cottages overlook the water. The high embankment of the railroad renders the existence of the lake permanent, even though the canal has become a thing of the past. The place was once known as Pampel's ice-pond, and a large ice-house stood by the canal, from which the ice was shipped to Cincinnati by canal boat. The river road along Loramie creek is the most picturesque drive the county affords.
Dawson station (once known as "Patrick" station), on the railroad, is now a postoffice, and a warehouse has been maintained here since 1881. The original building was torn down and the present capacious elevator, erected in 1908, is now owned by Snow & Ginn. Oats form the largest shipment from this point, amounting to 90,000 bushels annually. Corn is an equal crop, but much of it is fed out to stock, of which the output is large; so that the total shipment of all grain is about 125,000 bushels. Stock shipments are largely of hogs, but a good many calves also go to market, about four carloads being sent from Dawson last year, and seventy carloads from Houston ; Snow & Ginn aggregated a business of $400,000 last year in grain, stock and hay, the country in this locality being of "all around" productivity. From the railroad to Mount Jefferson is a stretch of fine pavement one mile long, which connects the settlements that together aggregate about one hundred and fifty inhabitants. South (page 414) Houston is the location of the Farmers' Elevator company, first built about fifty years ago, and since added to from all sides and above until nothing of the original building can be seen from the exterior. Among the past owners are mentioned William Aiken, Cruse & Delaet, and Charles Bowersox, from whom the Farmers' Elevator company bought it in January, 1905. Last year's shipments are stated as follows : wheat, 16,000 bushels; oats, 70,000 bushels ; corn, 10,000 bushels. Like all the elevators mentioned, all sorts of farmers' supplies and coal are handled at the elevator, including fencing, tiling, self-feeders, and seeds.
The Mount Jefferson Christian church was organized in 1846, and rebuilt in 1883. The settlement of the Houston district began in 1812. Robert Houston arrived in 1814, and the town was platted in 1838 for Harvey Houston, who lived in the log house built by his father, and which was utilized by himself as a tavern. Mrs. Houston was the first postmistress here. The settlement attracted population at first, but was depopulated during the cholera epidemic, and village settlement has been slow since then, although the country is thickly settled and well-farmed. Mount Jefferson was platted in 1838, for Samuel Farnum, and North Houston was laid out in 1855 on the property of Asa D. Young. A tile factory erected in 1877 gave some impetus to growth. The first warehouse was built by Flinn & Harnup.
Russia is the center of a French settlement on the line of the Big Four railroad. The site of the village was originally owned by a Mr. Febaux, but the first house in the plat was erected prior to the survey, in 1853, by Lewis Phillips. Notwithstanding the name "Russia," there are no Russians, Bolsheviki or imperialists in the little town, which, in spite of many names suggesting foreign nations, mainly French, is as thoroughly American as any community in Shelby county. It is a snugly organized parish of one church, of which Father Kreuzkomp is the priest, and had the distinction, in the winter of 1917-18, of returning a 100 per cent membership roll to the Red Cross chapter. Russia has a sawmill, and large lumber warehouse ; and a large blacksmithy, with thrifty shops and the appearance of a much larger population than its conservative claim of one hundred. The manufacture of lumber at Russia was established many years ago, and has been maintained more actively than at any other village outside of Sidney. The old-time warehouse was first built by the Didiers, Stephen and Frank, then passed to John Myers, and later to Hager & Harp. The elevator of the present was built by C. N. Adlard, who sold out to W. S. Snyder, who in turn disposed of a half interest to Groff & Simon, who are now the owners of the plant and business. Shipments of grain to the extent of 100,000 to 150,000 bushels annually, are reported here. All through this part of the country fields of tobacco are being cultivated -whether by experiment, or regularly, does not appear. The Versailles pike, leading northward from the vicinity of Russia, brings one past two or three small rural churches, the Catholic church at Newport, "Sts. Peter and Paul," the largest of them all. Newport is a pretty little hamlet, "graying about the temples," but still cozy and neighborly in appearance. 0. 0. Mathers of (page 415) Sidney had a temporary flax mill here in the '80s. It is a sort of church center for the country around. An old cemetery, well-filled and neatly kept, shows how long the population here has called it home. The old canal bed is crossed by the highway near Newport, and left far to the side for a few miles, when a turn of the stream brings the pretty Loramie near again, the entire road from south to north, in the Loramie valley, forming a trip of constant change and charm, ending in the village of Fort Loramie.
Here at the village, or rather a half mile above the village, is the really historic spot of Shelby county, about which whatever of romance has ever touched this territory clings. The destruction of the Peter Loramie trading store by Gen. Clarke's men was so complete that its site is merely guessed at, but the fort, which was subsequently built by Wayne's orders, was placed as near to it as possible, the whole life of the post throughout the uncertain years up to 1812-13, going far toward effacing any trace of the Indian village which huddled round the store. In later years, digging on the farm which occupies part of the ground, certain relics have been found, which doubtless date from the trading post days, and even are believed to support the theory that "Father" Loramie was a Jesuit priest at the outset of his strange career, a silver crucifix which probably belonged to him being one of the most valued relics found. Smaller religious emblems have been found in the earth, also, which may have been part of the stock of the store when it was burned. All are being carefully preserved by the priest of St. Michael's parish, and there has been some discussion of a project to erect a memorial to the friend and patron of the Shawanese, whose character does not appear so black to us today as it did to Gen. Clarke's soldiers. Gen. Wayne set the fashion for a memorial when he named the fort and creek after him.
The point had long been the location of the portage between the south and the St. Marys, and was the route taken by most of the forces during all the subsequent troubles, and of the settlers who followed the soldiers. It was, in fact, the gateway to the Northwest. From Lockington, where the highest level of the canal was found to be, to Fort Loramie, the waterway followed the course of the creek approximately, and the natural dip in the summit land above the Fort, discovered in the survey, caused the state dam to be located there, backing the water into the shallow basin of the valley, where it spreads out into Loramie reservoir, and furnishes a reserve of water with which the canal was fed when needed, the water being divertible in either direction from the point of contact with the short feeder. All being now abandoned, only parts of the canal are now flooded, one stretch passing through the village providing a small water surface, desirable in any town, which is thus far preserved, with some degree of attention to beauty, in the centre of the business square. Here the banks have been graded and sodded to the water's edge, the name, "Fort Loramie," outlined in small native boulders, and flower beds, ornament the sward ; and, at one side, a base of granite boulders and cut stone has been erected ready for the mounting of a cannon, a souvenir of the recent war. The whole is the work of the "Girl's Village Beautiful club," and the effort does them (page 416) great credit. Poplars grow along the east bank, and shrubbery adds to the good effect.
The Fort Loramie country was opened to settlement about 1832, and a postoffice established at the site of the fort, and named after it. No village was platted there, however, and in 1837 Jonathan Counts surveyed a plat on the land of William Prillaman, to be called Berlin, the significance of the name only understood when it is recalled that at one time in the history of the settlement of this district, the German immigration being very numerous, the idea was conceived to make the whole surroundings German and to keep out any but German settlers. The idea almost succeeded, and for many years "New Berlin" seemed likely to be realized. The industry of the German settler was most desirable, and the village grew and thrived. Almost wholly Catholic, the church was organized in June, 1838, with forty families registering at the same time. The first church was of logs, as were practically all of the dwellings, but in 1849 a brick church was commenced and dedicated soon after the subsidence of the cholera scourge. This church was enlarged in 1863, and a schoolhouse was built. In 1881, the Rev. Father William Bigot (a heroic chaplain of prisoners during the Franco-Prussian war, and decorated by both of the contending nations), who came to America about 1874, and settled in the new village, devoting his life thereafter to its welfare, crowned a labor of seven years in the consecration, clear of debt, of the splendid St. Michael's church, which replaced the plain old brick of more than thirty years' use. The new church, after nearly forty years use, is still the largest in the county, and probably the most costly single church structure, while the addition of a large school, and the building of a new spacious and modern rectory, still further enhances the value of the parish property, which is fronted by a massive parapet extending along two hundred feet of sidewalk.
Somewhere along the track of the last forty years, the extreme and un-American notion of a "new Germany" was dropped and forgotten, and "Fort Loramie" is now stamped on everything in the vicinity, a pride in the old Frenchman whose name they bear uniting with a new sense of kinship with American soil in their transformation from an insular to a patriotic community.
Fort Loramie is as prosperous as it ever was, perhaps more so. Manufactures here have been confined to brick and tile making, and a sawmill operated by August Wise, both at the outer edge of the town ; while the Fort Loramie Milling company and the Sherman Grain company handle the products of the district.
The Fort Loramie steam flouring mill was first built about fifty years ago, but has been enlarged and modernized, and is the largest mill in Shelby county. Grain shipping is a part of the business of the company, but the attention is given chiefly to milling, a capacity of seventy barrels a day being taxed for nearly all the working days of the year. All kinds of grinding is done, but the specialty is the "Daisy 0. K." flour. The machinery is of the most approved type, and the mill is kept in the prime of sanitary condition. A large corn crib of thirty-five hundred bushels capacity, and an elevator where the wheat is stored complete a milling plant of which the (page 417) equal is a long way from Fort Loramie in any direction. Shipping from the mill requires transfer by trucks to the tracks of the Western Ohio Electric, a spur of which is Fort Loramie's only connection with a steam railroad, by way of the L. E. & W. at Minster. A. W. Baxter is manager of the mill.
West of the canal, and next to the Western Ohio track, stands the great elevator of the Sherman Grain company, which handled last year 150,000 bushels of oats, 12,000 bushels of corn, 42,000 bushels of wheat, 100 carloads of coal, and all manner of farmers' supplies during the past year, and promises to outdo the record this year.
The claim of only six hundred inhabitants appears to be moderate for this wide-awake village.
Northeast of Fort Loramie village lies the reservoir, covering practically two thousand acres of Shelby county land, in the fertile creek valley. A necessity once, this sheet of water seems now to be of questionable value. It is not approachable as a pleasure resort, and has rather retarded than advanced settlement in that quarter of the county. However, above the reservoir the farming country is populous, although the villages platted, being out of the track of rail or water transportation, have not developed far beyond mere names. Kettlerville, the latest of a group of three or four, was platted in 1873, and has developed to the position of a farm centre, a large grain storage warehouse being built there for the convenience of farmers who cannot reach the railroads. The land belonged to Christopher Kettler. As late as ten years after the first seven lots were platted, only nine houses had been built, and progress has kept about that pace to date.
Rumley, the earliest attempt at town building in this vicinity, was laid out by Col. Evans on his own land, in 1837. The Cory and Mulholland families, Andrew McCullom and Elias Spray had settled in the neighborhood in 1832; and a group of colored families colonized not far distant. German settlement began here in 1834, and other families of English or colonial descent who afterward became prominent in the county, chose this upper Loramie valley as a home. But Rumley, in spite of Col. Evans' store and tavern, and the excellent brick and frame houses of Joel Goins and Adam Paul, and the grist mill of Mr. Goins and Mr. Spray, and the Elliott sawmill and all the industry of a pioneer district, never centralized into a village, and is today merely a name. McCartysville, close by, is reminiscent of a temporary flock of Irish settlers, who scattered and left nothing but the name. Pulaski is the name of another stillborn hamlet platted in 1837 for Joseph S. UpDeGraff and Joseph Cummins. The difficulty lay in the lack of transportational facilities. The oncoming railroads took routes farther to the east, and villages inevitably follow the railroads.
Botkins, platted in 1858 by Russell Botkins, took vigorous root beside the new railroad, and in 1881 had grown to proportions which warranted incorporation, which was effected, after some remonstrance, in January, 1882, the first mayor being P. W. Speaker, with a council composed of Dr. G. M. Tate, Dr. P. K. Clinehens, Alexander Botkin and J. B. Hemmert. The local industries at Botkins (page 418) were sawmills, the earliest of which was that of Silas D. Allen, started in 1849, afterward operated by Duff & Fogt; Davis & Linton built later, and Gray & Ailes, and A. Roth built in the eighties. Wagon making was prominent, and a tile-yard and kiln was established. The Immaculate Conception Catholic congregation had organized earlier than the village, and still worship in the same large old-fashioned but substantial church edifice, which bears the date 1857. The Lutherans have also a large church at Botkins, and the Methodist Episcopal adherents are at present building a new house of worship.
The sawmills of old time long ago melted into the Sheets Manufacturing company, which has of late been incorporated as the Ohio Spoke and Bending company, and maintains a large factory, and sawmills and warehouses which outstrip any industry of this nature in Shelby county at this date (1919). The Sheets Grain company have a large elevator from which they shipped, last year, between seventy and eighty carloads of oats, thirty-five to forty carloads of wheat, and ten carloads of corn, the latter grain being fed out to hogs in this country, and the third in volume as a local crop. At the Botkins Grain company elevator and mill, about 100,000 bushels of oats are handled annually, and 35,000 bushels of wheat. The mill produces daily twenty-five barrels of "Kitchen Queen" four, and all varieties of feed and farmers' supplies and implements are handled, including seeds, coal, salt, fence posts, feeders, and tankage. The elevator is of early date, started at least fifty years ago, and owned by Smith, Hastings and others, being at present in the hands of a stock company, of which L. F. Hemmert is manager. Earl Woodell buys live-stock for Ed. S. McClure and ships from this point at -least one carload weekly, the shipments being about evenly divided between cattle and hogs. Milk and poultry go to market in considerable quantities from Botkins over both steam and traction roads. The retail business of the town is brisk. Sidewalks are good, and the streets well piked and kept oiled. Electric lighting is obtained from the Western Ohio lines. The Shelby County bank is noted in another sketch-also the Botkins Herald. The population of Botkins is easily seven hundred, and growing.
Anna is situated almost centrally in the wide expanse of wealthy farming country which characterizes Shelby county north of the Miami gorge. Land was first entered in this north territory in 1831, but the first settlers who arrived to stay were George Turner, Joseph Green and John Munch, in 1832. David Taylor, his wife and eight children came in 1834, Alfired Staley in 1833, and immigration followed rapidly from that time forward. The first schoolhouse was built in 1836, and stood on the corner of what became "Loramie cemetery," between Botkins and Anna. Its first teacher was William D. Johnston, the second, Wesley Shorts, and the third, Jonathan Counts. This was in the greased-paper window epoch of the district ; but in 1840 a second building, while similar, was lighted with real glass. William Wilson and E. T. Mede were early teachers there. The Beck schoolhouse, James Beck, teacher, was put up in 1844, Hewed logs, instead of round, came into vogue by this time, and in 1854 the state law provided better schools at public expense.
(page 419) St. Lawrence Catholic church in this vicinity was established very early. Montra tileyards were established on the farm of William P. Davis, and were as near Anna as Montra. The town of Anna was platted by John L. Thirkield in 1867. Ten years later it was incorporated upon the petition of Abraham Clawson, F. S. Thirkield, Louis Kahl P. W. Young, J. D. Elliott and thirty-two others. The first mayor was L. Applegate. The old Tolland elevator here was built in 1867 by John Thirkield, Tolland being owner for the past thirty years. About 65,000 bushels of corn and oats are shipped out annually, these grains being the heaviest local crop, with some wheat. At the Anna Farmers' Exchange (or Co-operative company) elevator, the larger of the two, and built forty-five years ago, the shipment is somewhat larger, Anna being estimated as "a 125-car town."
The livestock shipments are important, H. Hemmert and Billings Brothers of Anna being engaged in the business. From July 1, 1918, to July 1, 1919, 79 carloads of hogs and 33 of cattle went to market from Anna station on the B. & O. railroad.
Burden, Cook & Co. have a large sawmill and lumber plant, and ship an important quantity of milled lumber.
Anna is the prettiest town in the county today. It is rather quiet, and the well-chosen home of many retired farmers, who make it difficult to find a neglected spot between the two railroads which practically bound it on the east and west. "The young people go away," one of the inhabitants remarks, regretfully. But there are many more young folks growing up there and it is evidently a good place to start from. Its two churches are both well-filled on Sundays. The Methodist, which is the older building of the two, holds open air service on the wide green sward south of the church on summer Sunday evenings. The Lutheran church, organized in 1832, has a beautiful edifice, built in 1907, with a seating capacity of one thousand, which is occasionally filled to the doors. The church surroundings are perfectly kept, and all the citizens take natural pride in its ornamental quality. Pretty homes and lovely lawns, shrubbery and flowers are characteristic of the village. The streets are neatly guttered and piked, and oil keeps down the dust. Paving is to begin in 1920. Electric lighting came with the traction railroad, and a good town hall and fire department are maintained. The population is five hundred.
Swanders is only a few houses in the vicinity of the crossing of the B. & O. railroad and the pike, but has taken on importance as a grain shipping station, and a large elevator is maintained there, which ships as high an average as any that have been mentioned. Of the villages projected in the west central portion of Shelby county, Northport and Cynthian never grew much farther than the paper plat, and are remembered chiefly because of the fine class of settlers in those parts, from which have risen a number of the county's most prominent citizens. William Mills bought, in 1825, the town plat of Cynthian-and it remained a farm. Basinburg was merely a light case of "plat" fever, which seemed to rage in the vicinity in 1839, only Newport surviving of them all. Churches are (page 420) the better evidence of the actual life that pertains in all these settlements. The Cynthian Christian church, organized in 1833, by the families of Samuel Penrod and his neighbors the Shorts, Manns, Butts, and others, met in a log schoolhouse, and built a church on "Panther run" in 1851, at the point now called Oran, a postoffice being stationed there. A small community centres there, but it is scarcely a hamlet. The German Baptist or Dunkard sect organized in 1848, meeting at private homes, or in the Christian church, until 1866, when they were numerous enough to build the Loramie German Baptist church. The Methodists built at Newport, in 1873, having organized the year before through the efforts of Dr. Reaner and Mrs. Henry Sweigart.
Lockington, situated about eight or nine miles southwest of Sidney, was platted on the land of David Mellinger in 1837, its position, at the junction of the feeder canal with the main waterway, giving fair promise of future prosperity. Here was the highest point of the canal between its two extremities, the water being transferred, through a series of six locks, to a level sixty-seven feet below, and crossing over Loramie creek in an aqueduct. The water power attracted mills, and the year 1830 saw the first flouring mill erected, on the Loramie, by a man named Steinberger. A sawmill had preceded it, at the same site, built by one Aldrich-a food carrying it away. It was rebuilt and run in connection with the four mill, and in 1837 John Brown added a woolen mill. Robert Ewing, a purchaser, built a new mill in 1844, after which the successive owners were D. K. Gillespie, John Johnston, John Fuller, and O. C. Horton. It was burned in 1872, but rebuilt by Rasor & Brother, and operated for a good many years, but it is now abandoned. In the town of Lockington a sawmill was erected by William Stephens in 1845. It afterward passed to Reed brothers, but was allowed to run down. Rasor & Brother bought the site in 1860 and built a new mill with feed milling attachment, but sold in 1873 to the Summit Paper Milling company, from whom it passed to the Baileys. It was operated by water power, with turbine wheels. It was devoted by the Baileys to lumber milling, and the business for a long term of years was a large and prosperous one. The abandonment of the canal has changed the conditions which once bid fair to make a city of Lockington. However, it has remained an incorporated village, where a large elevator built by D. K. Gillespie, and now owned by C. N. Adlard, makes a shipping point over the Western Ohio for the grain of the district, and where public attention is once more turned in connection with the Conservancy dam which is being built across Loramie basin at this point. Anent the speculation, which is rife, concerning a possible occult purpose in the Conservancy program, is it-or is it not?-of interest to quote from a historian of previous date, who wrote, forty years ago, "With the sixty-seven feet fall at this little town, water-power enough could be utilized almost to drive the industrial wheels of a world." A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but in the direction of truth.
Kirkwood, on the B. & O. railroad, at the east side of the Miami river, is another shipping point with a large grain elevator, which gives it local importance. It was platted under the name Pontiac, (page 421)for the Gillespie & Robinson brothers, in 1868-9, and consisted of only nine lots-and probably a dozen houses are all that have been built there since, though the country around is well populated. It is, in fact, one of the oldest settled districts in the county, the Cannons coming in 1806, and followed soon after by other familiar old names of Shelby county history. William Berry built the first frame house, and also the first flouring mill, the mill dating from before 1812, for it ground meal for Harrison's soldiers on their march to the northwest. A blockhouse stood near the mill for the protection of the settlers. Another stood near the home of Edward Jackson, who afterward built the first brick house of the district. Isaac, son of Thomas Young, who is credited with planting the first orchard, was the first white child born in this vicinity. The first schoolhouse was also built on his land. Preaching was heard as early as 1816, by missionaries of the United Brethren and the Methodist "persuasions," in private cabins, log schoolhouses and, finally, in churches of their own, the United Brethren building first in 1847, on the land of R. W. Valentine-James Fergus being the builder, with the superintendence of the preacher, George Warvel. The Methodists organized as early as 1832, but did not build a church until 1843, when a chapel was erected on the land of Israel Post. The society became known as "Orange chapel." Wesley chapel is the home of a Methodist society organized in 1833, who built a church of brick, close to the Miami county lines, the majority of the members belonging to Miami county. Spring Creek Baptist church was first known as Salem church, and dated from 1816. It was organized as an independent church in 1840, when their house of worship was still a log cabin on the bank of Spring creek. In 1842 a neat church was built on a lot loaned to the congregation, and in 1867 a more substantial one was built on a lot given to the church by John F. Hetzler, just north of the Miami county line. Kirkwood (as the village of Pontiac was renamed in 1879) was the second baptismal name of D. K. Gillespie, who bought the elevator there from its builder, G. W. Holley, and began buying grain in 1864. The elevator of the present day is owned by Adlard & Persinger, of Sidney, and is one of the most important in the county.
The southeastern part of Shelby county received its first settler in 1814, when Henry Sturm and family arrived and settled near where New Palestine was located later. With Mr. and Mrs. Sturm were their twelve children. Samuel Robinson, a son-in-law, followed in 1815, and the Medaris brothers, John R. and Abraham, came in 1817. Other very early names of this vicinity were Ellsworth, Princehouse, Tuttle and Richardson, Larue, Frazier, Kizer and Apple. John Platt, John Dickinsheets, Dr. John C. Leedom and many others came between 1830 and 1845. Dr. Pratt spent one year in the settlement, about 1820, and was followed by Dr. Little. John Medaris built the first brick house in 1824, near Plattsville, and also erected the first mill, a "corn cracker"; and William Ellsworth, Abraham Medaris, and Samuel Robinson all built sawmills on Leather-wood creek, which were operated by water-power. In 1854 the Hageman brothers' steam sawmill was built near Plattsville, and in 1865 John Sargent and John Neal built one on the Sturm farm (page 422) near Palestine. The Harbaugh portable sawmill, which made its advent in 1879, did an extensive business for years. Salem Methodist church was organized in 1825, and worshiped in a log church until 1840, when it disbanded, part of the members going to form the society of Charity Chapel Methodist Protestant church, which, after twenty-five years or so, also faded out of existence, part of the membership going into the Charity Chapel Christian church, and building a new church in 1878, near the old chapel. The Spring Creek Christian church was organized in 1851 by J. T. Hunt and James Skillen, with a membership of sixty-one, in which were included all the Sanders and many others, among whom the names of Hall, Henman, Cramer, Sherwood, Williams, Luseney and Wiles are preserved. Their first chapel was built in 1852, and a second, larger, in 1868. In New Palestine the present church of the "Christian" denomination was built in 1881, and is the dominating congregation of the district.
Plattsville, laid out on the Medaris land in 1844, and New Palestine, planned for Ephraim Davidson in 1832, are still too small to aspire to the title of village, but nevertheless are social centres of local population, with flourishing lodges ; and each of them also a church centre for the surrounding country. Plattsville has two churches, the Methodist Episcopal, once known as Antioch M. E. church, and the Universalist, which was organized in 1877. Ballou was never more than a name, and Tawawa was the now abandoned name of the postoffice, only, at Palestine. The southeastern corner of Shelby county experienced the same historic tornado recorded in Logan county about 1825, but the storm had not gathered its full intensity until farther east, and few settlers in Shelby were affected by it.
Pasco is the name of a rural settlement east of Sidney, where is located the Gold Coin flouring mills, and near which is a well kept cemetery, one of the oldest in Shelby county.
A point of interest in the natural features of Shelby is the great boulder which from time immemorial has stood, curiously isolated, in the heart of a pretty ravine about two miles east of Sidney. It is estimated to be the largest single boulder in Ohio.
"What's in a name?"
There are more than a score of Sidneys in the United States. The majority of them derive the name from the same source as Sidney, Ohio, but through different channels. Out of many thousands of English boys who have been christened Sidney at the baptismal font, many of them emigrated to America, bringing with them the traditional veneration, in which they had been trained, toward the great English poet, knight and statesman, Sir Philip Sidney, proclaimed "the father of English literary criticism" by the scholars of succeeding centuries. It was in Sir Philip's honor that his namesake, Charles Sidney Starrett, donor of the town plat, affixed the name of Sidney thereto.
If Sidney has grown up into a bustling manufacturing town instead of developing slowly into a lovely pastoral village, with libraries and a college-a seat of learning as well as of justice-it has done no more violence to the name of Sidney than many a George (page 423)Washington, or Thomas Jefferson, or Rose, or Lily, has done to those hopeful titles.
Sidney was not "carved out of the heart of a forest," as has been truly said of many frontier towns. The seventy acres were a thoroughly cleared and cultivated farm, said to have been first planted to corn in 1809 by William Stewart. No wolf or deer was ever shot in the public square. The original plat included fifteen blocks, the northern border of the town being North lane, and the southern boundary what is now Water street. West lane, now broadened into an avenue, marked the western limit, and Miami avenue and East lane that on the east. These narrow confines seemed the horizon line, apparently, at that date. The plat occupied the second rise of land in the bowl of the valley, well above the food line of the bottoms. But it long ago burst out of this little strait jacket in the hollow of the river's arm, where its infancy was spent, and, climbing the hills, spreads itself to north and west, as the future beckons it. Dingmansburg, on the east heights across the Miami river, was already a name and a mail route station between Chillicothe and the northwest, before Sidney was summoned into existence. It was the location of the numerous family whose name has clung to it for a century, the new name, East Sidney, never having effaced the identity of the older hamlet. It has maintained a separate existence for nearly a century, fed by accessions from the Sidney population ; but now, in 1919, its citizens have petitioned to be taken into the city, and given a share in the public utilities and the maintenance thereof.
The well advertised original sale of lots in the new county seat took place in the spring of 1820, attracting the attention, among many others, of John Blake, who was then a late arrival from England, having come with his wife and eight children to find a new home in the United States. En route to Sidney, the Blakes met Thomas English, also from England, who was persuaded to accompany them and undertake the building of a home, when a lot had been purchased. Mr. English, being a builder, accepted the proposition, and arriving at the sale himself invested in real estate and became a Sidney pioneer. Mr. Blake is credited with having been the first man to purchase a lot. If he was not that, he was, at all events, the first home builder of the newcomers. The Blakes moved into a small log house already standing, which may possibly have been the little block house of 1812, but this is not definitely known. Mr. English sawed the lumber for the new house, and with the assistance of Elisha Montaney erected the building, which stood immediately east of the alley on the north side of the public square. When finished, the big house was said to be "the finest house in half a day's travel." In it, September 11, 1820, was born William Bartholomew Blake, the first Blake and doubtless the first white child born in Sidney. In December of the same year, Mr. Blake secured a license "to vend merchandise" in Sidney, and until April, 1823, when Jesse Bryan was licensed, this was the only store in the settlement. Amos Evans also began "keeping store" at his house in October, 1823. But in the meantime, Mr. Blake had been licensed in September, 1821, to keep a tavern in his house. This was followed (page 424) by a similar license to Francis Kendall in November, 1822; after which no other tavern was licensed in Sidney until May, 1830, when Abraham Cannon secured a license to open his house for tavern purposes.
The growth of the town was rather slow. There does not appear at any time to have been a rush of settlers to the county seat, but rather a steady tide (among whose names are many already noted as pioneers) that gradually filled the town. Building was generally of wood, but not of logs. There is little or no tradition of log houses here. Brick was not used for several years after the town began, but when it appeared it met with popular favor. Brick structures of the '20s are still standing in Sidney.
Values in town lots seem to have varied greatly with the location. John Carey paid $125 for his lot facing the public square, in 1820. The lot on Miami avenue, where the Methodists built their first church, brought the town director only sixteen dollars ten years later,-but possibly the fact that it was for church purposes had to do with the low figure. Glances at the development of the community as shown in other sketches will show that whatever the difficulties of building and choosing sites had been, there was gathered before 1830 a fair sized community of citizens of character and steadfast purpose. The crudeness of 1820 and the ensuing few years was wearing off. It is not probable that the court records of 1830 show twelve cases of assault and battery out of thirty-six for the term, as in September, 1821. Since cases of disagreement had to be settled in court at last, more of them were taken there first. Civilizing influences of church and lodge were gaining the ascendancy.
John Blake, pioneer householder, tavern keeper and merchant, engaged in buying and selling horses soon after settling in Sidney, and in 1826, on his return from the south whither he had taken a herd of fifty horses, he was waylaid and murdered for the money which he carried, and the family, the eldest of whom were hardly grown, were left fatherless. However, they were a numerous flock, and the race survived, the name of Blake being still numerous in Sidney, while the daughters, who married well-known young pioneer citizens, have left many descendants of other surname. One became the wife of Sheriff Kennard, and their daughter, Mary Blake Kennard, was the only child ever born on the public square, notwithstanding the sheriffs of more than half a century had their homes in the official residence adjacent to the jail. (Miss Kennard became Mrs. Henderson.) Ann Blake married Dr. H. S. Conklin, and Elizabeth Blake, who was a native of Sidney, married Robert Fry, and was the mother of Mrs. John Edgar and Mrs. E. W. Bingham. Thomas Blake, who was only five years of age when the family came to Sidney, married Ruth Ann Robinson, daughter of a pioneer citizen. Their one surviving son is Hamlin B. Blake, who was born in a home two blacks from the northwest corner of the square and at his marriage moved to a home two blocks from the northeast corner of the square, where he has resided ever since. Two sons, W. R. and G. Thaleon Blake, are expert civil engineers, and a grandson, Eugene Blake, is at present city engineer of Sidney. Other (page 425) branches of the Blakes are still represented, Mr. O. Buck Blake, now aged eighty-seven, being the oldest living native of the city. The Blake family continued to operate the tavern until 1831, when it was purchased by John W. Carey, a son of Cephas Carey of Hardin. Mr. Carey enlarged the house and added a story, blazoned the name National Hotel across the front, and opened it to the traveling public. It attained some celebrity, and is shown in Howe's Historical Collections, the illustration being made in 1846,-when it was still the principal hotel in Sidney, notwithstanding it had several ambitious rivals. Of all the frame buildings on the square the old tavern was perhaps the only one to stand out its days on the lot where it was built, others being removed bodily to make room for brick construction which came on with the approach of the canal, when Sidney began to dream of being a city some day. The tavern, a tavern no longer, was torn down in 1882, to make way for the erection of the first Thedieck brothers' big store (burned in 1914 and rebuilt in the same place; now the finest commercial building in Shelby county). At this time, among other sentiments expressed, the Shelby County Democrat said : "The science of the beautiful declares the old building must go-though its timbers are dry and hard enough to withstand the elements for many years to come." All of which was true, but if the "science of the beautiful" is not asleep in some enchanted palace a long way from Sidney, the time is ripe for a similar declaration regarding a large number of the buildings still facing the public square in the Year of Grace, 1919. The old building at the northwest corner of the square, once heralded as "The Sign of the Stage Coach," though built of brick, and added to and upon during the thirties, is one of the survivals, which though substantial, is not ornamental. It is said, concerning this and other relics of the same era, that they were sought to be condemned as "unsafe" as early as the fifties ; but after sixty-five years all are "still going strong." The first three-story building in Sidney is that which at present houses the popular Voiretta cafeteria on the ground floor. It was erected in the thirties by Guy C. Kelsey, and has survived many shocks of time and attacks of public safety boards, being now owned by W. K. Sterline, and Harriet and Fernande Kelsey, descendants of the builder. Tradition says that people came from miles around to gaze upon the wonder of its towering height. It was somewhat dwarfed, however, when the Philip Montanus building went up on the east side of the square in 1839. From 1834 to 1840 was a period of growth and activity, owing to transportational facility afforded by the canal feeder. The building of the new courthouse also had given an impetus to the townspeople which encouraged better building about the square. There was little beauty in the external architecture of the day, although internal finishing, hand worked and simple, possessed a greater dignity than most modern ornamentation. The old Edgar home, on the south side of the square, built in 1837, had a far greater comeliness, externally, than others of its date, and is still preserved (occupied as office and business building by the Princehouse undertaking firm) in its quaint old-fashioned prettiness. Mr. John Edgar was born in this homestead in 1847. The Montanus (page 426) building was dwarfed in its turn by the Fry building at the corner of the square and east Poplar street, and successively by the Taylor building, and the Piper buildings, and many others, which peep between the newer structures and suggest the hoary locks of old age betraying the octogenarian behind a mask of youth. Sidney is so well groomed today that one must walk slowly, and look upward to realize the odd contrasts of the skyline in the business district. Yet, so little of Sidney's real history was written down in the earlier times, it is only through these relics we may read many of its pages, -and those but stumblingly. We must picture a public square devoid of any form of comeliness previous to the building of the first brick courthouse in 1833. We must remember that it was surrounded for a great part of the year with rivers of deep mud, and that sidewalks were only a desultory public improvement-at private expense. It is quite possible that the first sheriffs' pigs and chickens shared the public square with them. The taverns and the majority of the early stores were licensed to sell whiskey, and it is even whispered that this line of trade predominated; although, in this connection, it is well to reflect that "Men's evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water."
Up to the final removal of the Shawanese from their reservations north of the Greenville Treaty line, in 1831-2, the Indians were in almost constant visitation at Sidney. The wares in the stores attracted them, and the white population was a continuous source of mild curiosity. They brought their native products to market, to exchange for those of the white man. They also traded much of their native good quality for the white man's firewater. Altogether, they were not troublesome in the same degree with many of the settlers, whose peccadilloes are recorded in the criminal court archives,-although their trading propensity required constant watchfulness on the part of the villagers. The curiosity of the Indians concerning the whites included a fascination for their babies, whom they coveted as novelties. Mrs. David Hendershott temporarily lost her infant son, George Hendershott, in this way. A squaw, who saw and admired the white babe, offered to exchange her own pappoose for him. Mrs. Hendershott gently refused, and the squaw went her way, biding her time. Returning another day, she found the infant Hendershott asleep in a cradle on the Hendershott porch, made a quiet exchange of babes, and started for home with her prize. There was no evil intent in the act ; the squaw believed it a fair exchange. A hastily organized search party followed her and recovered little George unharmed. The squaw was admonished of the unlawfulness of her proceeding, but otherwise the incident was merely casual.
Where the venerable (but unvenerated) Wagner Hotel stands, a long one story tavern was built as early as 1830, passing by the title of the "Hailman House," after its owner. This one-story structure is incorporated in the present hotel, being the part that faces the courthouse square. It has been remodeled so long ago that it is not recognizable from any old picture, but upon it rest the two upper stories of the Ohio avenue elevation. Successive owners were numerous, David Carey being the proprietor for a long time, (page 427) when it was known as The Farmers' Hotel. David Carey was the father of Finley Carey, nicknamed "Tucker" Carey from the incident that as a little shaver, the tavern keeper's son used to entertain the guests of the tavern by singing "Old Dan Tucker," more than seventy-five years ago. Carey, pere, died during the cholera epidemic about 1849, and his family later removed to Iowa. In the fifties the tavern had become the Thorne hotel, from a later proprietor. There had been a time, also, when it was known as the Burnett House,-probably after the day of Mr. Thorne. It had, by the fifties, been extended toward the west on the Poplar street side, and in the sixties had fallen into the possession of the elder Amann, from whom it was purchased in the sixties by Mathias Wagner, for a merely nominal sum. Mr. Wagner made it a three story building, and twice since has extended the western wing, on Poplar street. Business houses occupy the major part of the ground floor. The hostelry, once advertised and conducted as a first-class hotel, has outlived its title to the claim, however, and occupies a strategic corner which should be graced with a hotel from which the transient stranger within the gates of Sidney need not flee to Piqua to spend the night. Recent repairs to the old building have brought to light the old ball-room in the third floor, where Sidney's gay young social life used to centre fifty and more years ago, when the grandmothers of today were blooming girls, and the solid pillars of local church and finance were spruce young beaux. Wooden partitions, (now ordered out by the board of public safety), had separated the ball-room into sleeping rooms, in some old day of emergency ; but of late years, cockroaches, inhabiting the cracks, had made them sleepless. Sidney is still clinging to hope that a long promised modern hotel will replace the old relic soon. The Metropole on west Poplar street is the new name of an old-time hotel, which has seen many vicissitudes, since the days when it housed the McGookin academy; after which epoch it flourished many years as a popular hotel, and is still as good as there is in Sidney. The property has been owned many years by William Shine. The Florentine was built after the railroads came, but was crowded out of popular favor by the encroachment of manufacturing interests. The Sidney House (now the Central) on West Court street, is of still later date. Smaller taverns kept by householders faded out of existence as the larger places came into being. The old Ackerly place, demolished to make place for the Monumental, was a late survival. Recently, several of the older homes of Sidney have been converted into rooming houses, in lieu of hotel accommodations, among them the fine old Nutt home on Walnut avenue hill, which is announced as a stag hotel, by the Sarver restaurant people.
The Charles Starrett homestead, facing the western terminus of South street, on Walnut, was a very early brick, the date not certain, as it was outside of the original town plat, but it probably was built in the twenties or earlier. It stands unchanged except for the external addition of porches on the front, put on by some more recent owner. The Dayton & Michigan railroad embankment encroached on the rear of the lot, in 1854, but that was after (page 428) the property had passed into the keeping of Amos Kennard. Where the Klipstine Lumber plant now is, the Starrett orchard used to bloom. At the south side of the lot "Starrett's run," cut of by the railroad, emerges by means of a culvert, and in a straitened channel at the side of Water street reaches the canal that was its first undoing.
The canal work brought to Shelby county a large influx of German laborers, who stayed to make homes in the town and farm country along the waterways. Their industry and thrift was valuable, and they developed into one of the country's strongest assets, while they changed the character of the population to a great extent. From being almost wholly English or of English descent with very slight admixture of other nationalities, Shelby county became a county at last half German or Alsatian French. The advent of the railroads in the fifties brought a new element which had hitherto scarcely touched Shelby county, the Irish immigrant. This same epoch had seen the movement northward of colonies of freed blacks, a part of the Randolph colony locating in this county in 1846. Most of these people came to work, and with them the rail and waterways brought men skilled to lead and direct construction, and others skilled in the art of metal working indispensable to construction. Moreover, the railroads brought prosperity or the means of achieving prosperity, to the doors of Sidney. Some individuals were wrecked by the good fortune of the town, but the fittest survived. The decade of the railroad building saw also the erection of several of Sidney's largest buildings,-the Fry building; Carey's Hall, on the northeast angle of Ohio avenue and Poplar street intersection ; another, similar in size and purpose, which perished-in the conflagration of 1914, and is replaced by the First National Exchange bank and the new DeWeese building; the large United Presbyterian church, which was torn down for the erection of the News-Democrat building; the Carey homestead on Ohio avenue ; the Carey bank; the Union School (1857) ; and others, nearly all of them built by John W. Carey, who had become a builder of considerable note, well known in Dayton. No more interesting era has Sidney ever passed through than this, nor one of more radical change from existing conditions, unless the paving upheaval be an exception. The Civil war was an interruption, and not until after the resumption of normal conditions and finances did the industrial trend of the population make itself a leading feature of Sidney.
Sidney, though the county seat, did not attain the dignity of corporate existence as a village until 1834, when the population of six hundred came under the government of mayor and village council, and public improvement began slowly and fumblingly to be brought about. A market house was established within a short time from incorporation, which was a feature of the town for a score of years. The public square, with the new courthouse and jail, was improved, and, somewhere in the decade, the surrounding streets were guttered and graveled, although we only know this from the occasional action of the village council toward their repair. Once in a while the railroad companies were notified by the (page 429) council that lights must be maintained at the stations and crossings, but there is no proof that the railroads complied, else, why the repeated demands? However, Sidney had no lights of any kind, and he who walked abroad at night, unless it were moonlight, must needs have carried a lantern in those days.
The first gas ordinance was passed by the village council June 11th, 1857, and signed by William Serviss, mayor, and James A. Irwin, recorder. However, Sidney still remained in prehistoric darkness, for all that. The old market house, which had stood so long in the way of traffic in Poplar street between Main and Miami, was ordered cleaned and repaired in the summer of 1859. Samuel Cowan received $1.70 for the labor of a day and a half,-including the brooms used. P. Crisman received still less for the labor of hauling the water for the scrubbing. Immediately after, the council followed this extravagant outlay of public money by a decision to abolish the market house altogether, as an obstruction to the street, which led to the school building; and it was accordingly sold for $150, to Samuel Frazier, who removed it.
In 1858 it is recorded that the village council ordered the town marshal to "have gravel hauled in and around the public square" to fill up the mud holes and "prevent hogs getting in the same."
D. B. Rinehart was mayor at this time.
In 1859 the village council received "a petition signed by neumoris citizens," for the restraint of Sabbath breaking, and the town marshal was ordered to enforce the state laws regarding the desecration of the Sabbath, especially against the saloons and groceries selling ardent spirits. The council at this time was composed of William McCullough, C. D. Meyer, J. C. Frankeburger, J. C. Cummins, S. H. Mathers and D. B. Rinehart, mayor. In 1862, fireworks of any description, for any purpose or upon any occasion whatever, were prohibited by village ordinance. (This was probably a Civil war measure.)
In 1867, further burials within the city limits were prohibited. This applied only to the burying ground east of the Presbyterian church ; the Starrett ground at the foot of Main avenue being outside the village limits was not forbidden until thirty years later. After 1869, street lighting was agitated in the newspapers, and in December, 1872, the village council passed a second "gas ordinance," which went into effect soon after, a private corporation being granted a franchise. The lights only surrounded the public square and one block in every direction therefrom-as far as the gas mains extended. The same agitation in the public prints had resulted in the passage, in November, 1872, of the first water-works ordinance, which was printed in the Sidney journal, and the bonds issued at once. M. C. Hale was then mayor, and John Knox, clerk. Concerning these two improvements : When the gas plant was established it stood where the Electric Light company's plant now is, between the canal and the Big Four railroad. The mains for artificial gas were never extended beyond the original limit. The first water works was installed on the Holley System. It was engineered by John Hill, who had a weir constructed conveying the water from supposedly inexhaustible sources. For a while it (page 430) answered the requirements, but the ditching and draining of the lands produced scarcity of water, and reinforcement by hand fire engines could not draw water from dry springs. Force and volume were both wanting. The city water works was then built, drawing water from the river and using mechanical filters. This also proved unsatisfactory, and the water is now drawn from several wells, situated between the river and the canal, east of Tilbury run, and the original engines at the pumping station are supplemented by an auxiliary electric engine for use in emergency. The first water works stood on the east side of the Miami. The stand pipe on the hill north of the city was built to supply the pressure needed for f ire fighting and general sanitation, sanitary plumbing of dwellings and buildings being impossible previous to the completion of water and sewer systems in 1901 to 1903. Typhoid epidemics were frequent in parts of the town previous to this date.
The paving ordinance of 1873 related only to graveling the streets, no real paving being done for many years after that date. A paving ordinance passed in 1877 affected only sidewalks and gutters. Sidewalks of stone were ordered on Ohio, Poplar and Court streets. John - G. Stephenson was then mayor.
Monumental Hall being just completed, a license was issued in May, 1878, authorizing its use as a place of public amusement. It became thereafter for some years, the nearest approach to a theatre Sidney has ever had, although Masonic hall in the O. J. Taylor building had served. Its situation, in the third floor of a building not fire-proof, removed it from eligibility after a term of years, and it has become, by lease, the home of the I. O. O. F. In 1880 Main avenue was extended further south, and night police authorized by the council. Various Sunday keeping ordinances-were passed from time to time. Sidney was divided into wards 1, 2, 3 and 4, in November, 1882. A tax levy for municipal purposes was passed June, 1883, the rate being ten mills on each dollar of assessed valuation. A public librarian was appointed by ordinance, 1886.
The erection of slaughter houses (new) within the city limits, or repair of those already standing was prohibited by ordinance of August, 1885. A natural gas ordinance for the Mercer Gas & Fuel company was passed December, 1887. (A move was made by the council to buy the company out. This was met with opposition in the press, and afterward realized to have been well-avoided. The Thomas syndicate owned the gas fields which supplied Sidney at first. The natural gas of the present  comes from the Coshocton fields.) The next change in lighting was about 1890, when the natural gas company secured possession of the local gas company, by purchase, and changed to electric lighting. Lighting in Sidney has never been by municipal ownership nor direction. It is now controlled by the New York company, and they buy the current from the Western Ohio Electric railroad.
The Sidney Light & Coke company was authorized by ordinance of July 9, 1888, to "erect, maintain, use and operate" electric light poles, with "the right of way of all ways" for the purpose, with certain restraining clauses not necessary to enumerate.
(page 431) Water street (the original basin of Starrett's run) was improved in 1889. The fire department, established in 1865 was improved several times, the more expensive improvements coming after the erection of the Monumental building. Special improvement was made in 1890. Wooden building within restricted limits forbidden after May, 1890.
Trouble occurred in connection with the natural gas supply in 1891, the price being regulated by ordinance in April, 1891, but suspended at the next meeting of the council, while the gas company was compelled to fulfill its contracts, at the same time. New natural gas regulations were made in June, 1898.
A village market was authorized and regulated May, 1892, but the ordinance was soon after repealed and changed. A new market ordinance was passed August, 1895, and a market master appointed. The Central Union Telephone company was authorized to erect poles for its service by ordinance passed August, 1892. The Ohio Telephone and Telegraph company was permitted to erect poles by ordinance of May, 1893. The artificial gas price was also regulated at this time, for five ensuing years. The Postal Telegraph company permit is dated 1894. In 1895, the price of natural gas was regulated, this time for the Miami Valley Gas and Fuel company. The fire department was again improved in this year, and water works trustees were authorized to draw salaries.
A contract was made by the council with the Sidney Electric Light company, July, 1896, to light public places, streets,' lanes and alleys for a period of five years. There was much grading of streets
and alleys in 1896 and following seasons, also new streets opened or extended through the additions lately annexed to the town. Further improvements were made in the fire department in 1897. Sidney became a city, 1897, by virtue of a new Ohio law declaring all towns above a certain population to be "cities by right of numbers," the next order below to be called "villages," the next "hamlets," and the lowest, "postoffices." C. W. Nessler was the first "city" mayor.
"Certain rights" were granted to the Inland Telegraph company in May, 1898. New natural gas regulations were enacted in June, 1898. In February, 1899, it was granted to the Sidney Telephone Company its successors and assignees, to re-erect * * * poles, wires, et cetera, fire alarms included (The same was signed to the Sidney Electric Light company, April, 1909.)
In May, 1901, by special election, Sidney decided to issue bonds for $50,000 for construction of a main sewer, two-thirds of the voters being in favor of the issue. Sewerway rights were "appropriated by the council for the city, in July, 1901, and necessary condemnation of certain private properties" authorized, said properties being paid for out of the sewer fund. Milton Bennett contracted with the city to build the sewer.
An ordinance "to improve certain streets by paving them" was passed June, 1903, said streets to be Main, Ohio, Court and Poplar. Systematic paving still going forward (1919) along same lines, as fast as streets can be regulated with regard to traffic. The waterworks buildings were reconstructed in 1903. In this year, also, was (page 432) re-created the board of health, first established in the village in 1882, when Dr. D. R. Silver, George C. Anderson, William C. Wyman, Harvey Guthrie, Dr. R. R. Hopkins, and W. P. Stowell formed the personnel.
A single track electric street railway was authorized in 1902, as subsequently built by the Western Ohio Electric railroad company, with franchise to operate for twenty-five years. Ordinances authorizing street railway routes through the city for the Bellefontaine & Sidney Electric railway were passed in February and April, 1903, but have not been acted upon.
The bonded indebtedness of the city of Sidney, published March, 1919, for the year ending December 31, 1918, was $482,250, a decrease of $30,400 from the previous year. The city government is efficiently administered, and thoroughly organized, the present official family being Harry K. Forsyth, mayor; Henry C. Shafer, auditor; Urban H. Doorley, solicitor; Grover C. Timeus, treasurer; council members : Clyde C. Carey, president; G. R. Loudenback, Hugh Toy, Henry Berger, James Hewitt, Ed Kaser, H. A. Morris, Harley Baker. Safety department: Dr. F. D. Clark, director; William O'Leary, chief of police; George Hume, chief of fire department. Service department : B. F. Martin, director ; W. L. Heiser, water works secretary; G. A. Hatfield, water works superintendent; J. L. Dickensheets, superintendent of cemetery ; B. F. Martin, street commissioner ; Eugene Blake, city engineer. Civil service commission : R. H. Trego, president ; E. W. Stowell, secretary ; O. Stockstill. Board of health : Harry K. Forsyth, president ex ofcio ; W. A. Graham, vice-president; Frank Schlagetter, health officer and clerk ; Henry C. Shafer, deputy registrar; E. J. Griffs, B. T. Buller, E. T. Custenborder and Dr. A. B. Gudenkauf. (The foregoing is a list of men impeccable, thorough and executive, and the only suggestion possible to make for the future is that a greater number of physicians be included in the board.)
The park commissioners are S. L. Wicoff and Roy Redinbo. The sinking fund trustees are C. F. Hickok, president; J. E. Russell, W. O. Amann, W. J. Emmons and Ed F. Mede (secretary), W. T. Amos and L. M. Studevant.
The fire department is thoroughly up to the times, with the most modern and efficient equipment for fire fighting.
The first addition to the original plat of Sidney was that lying north of North Lane, which was dense woods at the time of the founding of the village, but gave way to the approach of the canal. The part is still designated Dixon's Addition. North of it runs the Big Four railroad track, and the old feeder canal passes beyond it at an angle. At the left of the Main avenue canal bridge stands the little Fire House No. 1, vacant and smile-provoking in its smallness, where Sidney's first organized fire department had its headquarters, and where a little hand engine was kept, the main dependence of the town being a hook and ladder company and a bucket brigade which passed the buckets hand to hand along a line from the canal to any f ire that started. It is to be remarked that Sidney was never wiped from the map by any fire, however. John Edgar, who organized the first volunteer fire department, also organized the first paid fire (page 433) department, when, after the completion of the Monumental building,
Sidney first took on the character of a coming city. That old fire house also serves the purpose of marking the spot where the first railroad engine, a small pony affair, was taken from the canal boat that had brought it from Cincinnati, and pushed across to the track of the Bellefontaine & Indiana railroad. Dixon's Addition has long been one of the crowded factory districts of Sidney, lying convenient to traffic, yet removed by railroad and canal from the residential portions. Subsequent additions to the town number more than thirty-five, and are unnecessary to define. The town is twenty times as large as it was platted, at the least. Most of it is beautiful, and advantage has been taken of nearly all of its possibilities in the way of building. There are notable exceptions to this, but they are few. The lot at the southwest point opposite the public square is as guiltless of permanent building as it was one hundred years ago. Coveted many times for different purposes, it has been withheld from the real estate market, and at present is leased, a frame shack (housing the Spot restaurant) occupying the finest business situation in Sidney. It is now the property of Mrs. Vesta Nutt.
Perhaps the most pretentious and costly of Sidney's homes have been built north of the public square, and on the heights of Ohio and Walnut avenues, these magnificent situations attracting even the earliest settlers for home building, while the vicinity of the churches kept many on the levels of North Ohio, Main and Miami avenues. The south end, however, since the extension of the streets and the park improvements, has become equally favored, and is by many considered the most attractive portion of Sidney. The great places on the hills are impressive, and the newcomer sees them at once. Indeed they form a large part of that view which makes travelers on the railroads remember the conductor's call of "Sidney!" But, hidden among Sidney's elms and maples on South Main and Ohio avenues are roof trees quite as attractive in their way, and much easier to reach after a day's work at the office. One of the show places of the south side is The Chimneys, which was not built for a show place at all, but for a home for his mother, by Herman Tappe, jr., a Sidney youngster, who grew up amid poverty and hardship-at which he laughed and made faces-and developed, with his mother to encourage him, a unique talent as a designer of fashions that has made him famous as a costumer all over the United States. Herman Tappe's artistry extends farther than mere hats and costumes, however, and, while his success is great and enviable in his line, he might easily have succeeded in a more permanent line of art, had the advantages of early training been his. On the same lot where stood the modest little frame cottage into which the Tappe children were crowded by circumstance, stands now the artistic home upon which has been lavished much more than money thought, taste, humor, idealism and infinite patience and seeking. The quaint white gables and the chimneys, the roof with its life-like cats, the hedge and the parapet surrounding the compact grounds which extend to the south, from the deep porch, in the most charming of little formal gardens, with a fountain and statues hidden in recesses of the hedge-and the stiff old-fashioned bouquets that top (page 434) the gateway pillars are a lure to the inner recesses of the house, in which the penchant of Mr. Tappe for the antique has been carried out with utmost finesse in every apartment, the whole being as fascinating as a picture book-and most livable, beside! Nestling in a deep cushion in an ingle-nook in the living room, lies a royal Persian cat, with the soft yellow of its fur so velvety, its slumber so reposeful, that one is startled to find it porcelain. Porcelain cats ! Pour quoi? It is a Danish custom, and is derived from mythical times. In ancient days, a legend tells, the Royal Court desired to replenish the ranks of knighthood with the strongest youths of the nation. The contestants were put to severe trials of strength. One, young Harald, was requested, as a last test, to lift a sleeping cat from the floor. Pull as hard as he might, only one foot could he lift, and that was immediately relinquished by his failing hand. Yet the whole court had trembled when they saw even that one paw lifted, for the sleeping cat represented the power of the whole government, and, theoretically, the cosmic force of the universe ! Hence, the cat on the roof tree and in the ingle-nook, signifies the strength of the house or the power which preserves the sanctity of the home and fireside. Incidentally, the cats, which were unprocurable in America during the war, were designed by Mr. Tappe himself, and many a yellow Persian may be found in other homes than The Chimneys. Herman Tappe's headquarters are, of course, in New York, where his brothers and sisters have followed him, all now successful, yet unforgetful of Sidney days and faces.
Fraternal organizations in Sidney began at an unusually early date for so small a pioneer town. The Masons organized Temperance Lodge No. 73 in March, 1825, and were chartered at the petition of Dr. William Fielding, Robert Blakely, John Lenox, James Wells, Elisha Williams, John Blakely, James DePuy, John McCorkle, Abraham Kensinger, and Lemuel Loughry. From 1835 to 1845 the lodge was suspended, following the death of William Morgan-which was by some attributed to Masonic machinations. Summoned together again after a ten years lapse, by the worshipful master, Dr. Fielding, it has gone forward ever since on a full tide of popular favor. Masonry had a home in Sidney before any church owned one, the consecration of their first hall, in Hailman's first tavern on the north side of Poplar street, occurring in 1826, when the great and solemn occasion closed with a banquet at "Mr. Blake's hotel." Additional chapters have been chartered since then, and the fraternity numbers a great proportion of Sidney's foremost men.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Sidney Lodge No. 60, was established in 1846, upon petition of J. Hailman, W. M. Ross, T. M. Carey, E. Pretzman, A. G. Wilder, M. Thompson, and R. Rogers. The first year's elections included the names of Dr. H. S. Conklin, Thomas Blake, B. W. Carey, David Bulle, C. Starrett, Benjamin McClain, and Paul Mowry. The Patriarchal Circle was instituted in 1882. The Oddfellows have occupied the Monumental hall for the past twenty years.
The Knights of Pythias, Summit Lodge No. 50, was organized in 1873, the charter members being Tobe Weinstein, O. O. Mathers, H. H. Sprague, S. Alex Lecky, Robert Given, Henry Wagner, M. D., (page 435) A. J. Robertson, Daniel Toy, sr., B. F. Martin, J. A. Stipp, Harvey Guthrie, W. H. Goode, C. R. Joslin and W. W. Robertson. The B. P. O. E. also have an active organization in Sidney, and own a home on West Court street.
Neal Post No. 62, Grand Army of the Republic, was organized in 1871 with twenty-two charter members. The post was named in honor of Capt. William Neal, of the 20th O. V. I. who was killed at Kenesaw mountain.
Sidney's political life has been as vivid as any phase of its civic development. Town and county have had a fair share in the public life of the state and nation, and have experienced within themselves a tense condition of partisan activity and struggle, which on the surface may have seemed at times to divide households against themselves. Underneath, however, there are stronger bonds than those of political party, knitting society into one. The famous Vallandigham mob of 1864, when partisan blood rather boiled over and which gave to peaceful Sidney its nearest approach to a riot, has long been a source of quite non-partisan amusement, as old men are wont to laugh at the quarrels of their boyhood days. There is an amusing incident of the days when the Whig melting pot had finished its work, and the two great parties of the century had come out clearly distinguishable:
Two Sidney men, brothers-in-law, "Uncle" John Duncan and "Father" David Edgar, had found themselves, the one in the character of a simon-pure Jeffersonian Democrat and the other in that of a primordial Republican. Mr. Duncan appeared as a Democratic candidate for county treasurer. There was an immediate clash between them.
"But, of course, David, you'll vote for me?" ventured Mr. Duncan, hopefully.
"But, of course, John, I won't!" flashed Mr. Edgar. The brothers fought throughout the campaign. Mr. Duncan was elected.
The signing of his bond became necessity. With no hope at all, Mr. Duncan said, gloomily, "Of course, David, you won't sign my bond?"
"Of course I will, John !" returned Mr. Edgar, and they were one family again. It was a characteristic instance of the fact that there is no real dividing line in Sidney. Strongly Democratic at the polls, Sidney not infrequently drops party politics and acts for the public good alone, and the live and let live spirit is uppermost in every vital matter.
The Sidney that is, is good to look upon, and infinitely better than the Sidney that is past, in all the conditions of living. A little more public spirit, generally distributed; a little more thought for and about "the other fellow" ; a little more homogeneity in the mass, a willingness to follow a standard ; a little elevation of that standard, and a broadening of the civic vision-these are the things needed to make, of the Sidney that is coming, all that it ought to be.
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