Butler county's Financial Institutions
(page 460) The strength of a community is best shown by' the condition and stability of its financial institutions. Butler county has seventeen banks, all of which are strong financially and command the confidence of the public in general. Seventeen banks in the cities and (page 461) villages of the county are the storehouses of the financial wealth of the people of the several communities. These banks have a total capitalization of $1,275,000, a combined reserve fund of $1,494,349, while the combined resources of these banks reach a grand total of $21,586,465, according to their last statements as required by the federal and state banking departments. Few communities, rurally essentially agricultural, and with cities no larger than Hamilton and Middletown, can boast of financial institutions of such strength and possessing the universal confidence of the people. Earlier days, however, especially before the establishment of national banks, did not always display this confidence-a strong contrast between the present day and the early days of banking.
Nevertheless, there was never anything spectacular in the annals of Butler county's financial institutions. The bankers of the county have always been men of integrity and conservative judgment and today none of the financial agencies are in stronger or more conservative hands than are the banks and trust companies of Butler county.
Hamilton's first financial institution was the Bank of Hamilton, incorporated by an act of the Ohio legislature in 1817, with John Reily, James McBride, Jesse Corwin, William Blair, John Woods, Andrew McCleary and James Rossman as directors. The banking house was located in the Hittel property on High street, opposite the court house. This bank had a paid-up capital of $35,000, and its first officers were John Reily, president, and William Blair, cashier.
In 1818, unfortunately, this bank suspended specie payment and, owing to bad loans became so crippled that it had to close its doors. The organization, however, was maintained by the annual election of directors, so as not to surrender the charter, until 1835, when additional stock was subscribed, new directors chosen, and the bank again opened for business in the room on High street now occupied by Charles Diefenbach, the jeweler. Again financial reverses overtook the institution, and in February, 1842, it was again forced to close its doors.
A few years later, the Shepherd and Curtis bank was opened and continued in existence until 1882, when it finally liquidated its affairs and closed after a long and honorable career.
Dr. John P. P. Peck opened a private bank at South Third and Court streets in 1857, with John B. Cornell as cashier. The bank was quite successful until the outbreak of the Civil war. Dr. Peck was a war Democrat and also the publisher of The Telegraph. His attitude towards the war and other questions caused a run upon his bank which forced him to close its doors.
Hamilton's first financial institution under the national banking laws was the First National bank organized July 21, 1863, with a paid-up capital of $50,000, which was later increased to $100,000, and still later to $500,000, at which figure it still remains. The first officers of the First National bank were : Micajah Hughes, president; James Beatty, vice-president; John P. P. Peck, cashier; and John B. Cornell, assistant cashier. Within six months, however, Mr. Cornell was made the cashier and served in this capacity until his retirement thirty years later, when he was succeeded by Samuel (page 462) D. Fitton, the present president of the bank. Hamilton's First National bank was one of the very first banks of the country to avail itself of the privileges of the national banking laws and its advent into financial circles of the city at a time when such an institution was sorely needed was an event which marked the beginning of the great progress which Hamilton has since made. Ever since its organization, the First National bank has stood as a tower of strength and it has proven one of the most potential factors in the growth and industrial development not only of the city of Hamilton but of the entire county. Perhaps its most patriotic act was the acceptance of the bonds of the city of Hamilton for the erection of the municipal gas plant, when the Hamilton Gas Light and Coke company was waging a battle that was carried to the supreme court of the United States against such a venture. Men of integrity and the highest financial and moral standing have always composed the directorate of this bank. On August 14, 1914, the strength and scope of the First National bank was greatly extended when it took over the assets and business of the Miami Valley National bank. Today, with a capital of $500,000 and a surplus of $250,000, together with assets and liabilities according to its last statement of $6,256,357.64, the First National bank is in strong, competent hands. The present directors of the First National bank are Peter Benninghofen, Frank M. Hughes, James K. Cullen, Christian Benninghofen, James Fitton, Samuel D. Fitton and E. G. Ruder; the officers of the bank being S. D. Fitton, president; Peter Benninghofen and Charles E. Mason, vice-presidents; E. G. Ruder, cashier; and John M. Beeler, Don W. Fitton, Edward B. Hughes and Ernst M. Ruder, assistant cashiers.
The Second National bank of Hamilton was organized January 16, 1865, and was at first located in the old Hamilton house, on Second and High streets, later removing to the Beckett block, where it remained until 1875, when the building on High street which is now its home was erected. The Second. National bank has had a steady growth and has always had the confidence of the public. The management has always been liberal but conservative, a policy which makes for sound and successful banking. The present capital and reserve of the of the Second National bank is $493,574, while its resources and liabilities, according to its last statement, are $2,719,522.05. The directors of the Second National bank are Oakey V. Parrish, Charles Sohngen, John E. Heiser, George P. Sohngen, and Charles E. Heiser, with Charles E. Heiser, president; George P. Sohngen, vice-president ; Oakey V. Parrish, vice-president ; John E. Heiser, cashier ; and Clinton L. Gebhart, assistant cashier. One of Hamilton's newer but progressive banks which has won phenomenal success since its organization, April 8, 1897, is that of the Hamilton Dime Savings Bank company. It opened for business in a room in the Gordon building at the northwest corner of Main and A streets on July 1, of the year of its incorporation. From the first day the doors of this bank were opened, its success was assured. On March 14, 1904, business had so increased and opportunities for enlargement became so pronounced that the bank was removed to the west room of the Reily block on-High street, which (page 463) quarters it still occupies. On May 23, of the same year, the capital was increased from $50,000 to $100,000. Substantial merit has continued to bring to the Hamilton Dime Savings bank deserved success; and today it occupies a position of eminence in the banking world. The able hands in which the affairs of this bank have always been placed are among the most convincing reasons for its present standing. The directors of the Hamilton Dime Savings Bank company are : George P. Solingen, Charles E. Heiser, Clarence Murphy, Edward C. Sohngen, G. A. Rentschler, Charles Diefenbach, jr., and Charles Sohngen ; with George P. Sohngen, president ; Clarence Murphy, vice-president, and William J. Becker, cashier. Hamilton's newest and yet one of its most substantial banks is that operated by the Citizens' Savings Bank and Trust company in the Rentschler building on South Second street. This company was organized June 6, 1906, and has had a phenomenal growth of its banking business. This is shown by the fact that its present resources are $1,446,222; and is due to the fact that the affairs of the institution have always been most carefully managed in the hands of progressive but yet conservative business men. The company is capitalized for $125,000. One of its most attractive features is its Christmas Savings club, which has over fifteen thousand depositors who, just prior to Christmas of each year, are paid their savings together with interest. The directors of the Citizens' Savings Bank and Trust company are such well known men as Henry A. Rentschler, Allen Andrews, William L. 'Huber, George C. Bramlage, George Adam Rentschler, Dr. Charles N. Huston, Clark R. Brown, Charles I. Anderson, Louis A. C. Long and Judge John B. Connaughton. The officers are H. A. Rentschler, president ; Allen Andrews, vice-president; W. L. Huber, secretary; Charles I. Anderson, cashier; and E. B. Ferguson, assistant cashier. Hamilton has a clearing house, organized by its four banks. The officers of the Hamilton Clearing House association are : George P. Sohngen, president; Charles E. Heiser, vice-president; S. D. Fitton, treasurer ; and Charles I. Anderson, secretary. Like Hamilton, Middleton has banks which have proven the bulwark of the community. - Its financial institutions have been marked by careful management and have. always been in the hands of business men who understood the needs of the community and
yet used careful judgment in the handling of funds entrusted to their care. Middletown has five banks, three state banks and two national banks, although late in 1919 the First and Merchants' National banks were merged, making an exceptionally strong financial institution.
The First National bank of Middletown was organized in 1865, and since that time has enjoyed a continued and substantial growth. Its affairs have always been in the hands of men whom the community trusted to the utmost. With resources of $1,750,980, the strength of this bank is shown. Its present capital is $100,000, while its surplus is $110,000. The present directors of the First National bank of Middletown are Morris W. Rennick, Edward L. McCallay, Charles J. Brooks, George M. Verity, Charles R. Hook, W. H. Johnson and G. N. Clapp. The officers of the bank are M. W. Rennick, (page 464) president; E. L. McCallay, vice-president; and Charles J. Brooks, cashier.
The Merchants' National bank of Middletown has been in existence since 1872, when it was organized under the federal banking laws. Its career has been marked by a conservative progress that has placed it in the foremost of the banking institutions of the Great Miami valley. With resources of $1,526,656.73, a capital of $100,000 and a surplus of $120,000, the Merchants' National stands as a bulwark of security. The directors of the institution are L. C. Anderson, J. A. Aull, John W. Boyd, John Gibson, J. C. Holloway, C. B. Niederlander, C. J. Stahl and Anthony J. Walburg. The officers are J. W. Boyd, chairman of the board; C. B. Niederlander, president; W. H. Walburg, vice-president ; C. J. Stahl, cashier ; and F. E. Troutvine, assistant cashier.
Middletown's first state bank was the Oglesby and Barnitz company, which was established in 1850. This bank has always had the confidence of the people of Middletown and vicinity, which is shown by the fact that ever since its organization it had stood the test of every adverse condition and fully met every demand made upon it. The company is capitalized for $50,000, while the reserve fund is $100,000. The resources of the bank are in excess of $1,000,000. The directors of the company are William O. Barnitz, W. D. Oglesby, J. W. Shafor, C. Edward Sebald and Joseph M. Issenminger. The present officers are W. O. Barnitz, president; W. D. Oglesby, vice-president ; J. W. Shafor, cashier ; C. E. Sebald, assistant cashier.
The American Savings bank of Middletown was opened for business January 21, 1911, as a commercial and savings bank; but in 1916 the trust company feature was added and the name of the organization changed to the American Trust and Savings bank. Although a comparatively new institution, this bank has won and holds the confidence of the public and its career. has been a success even greater than had been anticipated by those responsible for its organization. The company now has a capital, surplus and undivided profits of $142,320 while its resources are scheduled at $1,527,285.92. The first officers of the institution were Paul A. Sorg, president; John W. Boyd, vice-president; C. B. Niederlander, secretary; at the present time (1919) the directors are C. B. Niederlander, A. H. Walburg, L. C. Anderson, J. C. Holloway, J. A. Aull, John Gibson, jr., C. J. Stahl and J. W. Boyd. The officers are C. B. Niederlander, president; A. H. Walburg, vice-president; Carleton Eldridge, cashier; and J. F. Mulligan, assistant cashier.
The First Savings bank is another of the financial institutions of Middletown. Morris W. Rennick is president ; C. J. Brooks, vice-president; and R. R. Wolverton, cashier.
In the villages outside of Hamilton and Middletown, Butler county also has several financial institutions which have had long and honorable careers, while in even the smaller communities in more recent years national banks have been organized to meet the immediate needs of these communities. Each holds a place of security in the confidence of the people and each has achieved success (page 465) according to the opportunities offered it in the community where it is located.
The Oxford National bank has been in existence since December 21, 1901, when its charter was granted to several of the successful and substantial business men of the village. The bank is capitalized at $50,000 and has a surplus and undivided profits of $35,000. The directors are W. F. Baughman, R. J. Brown, G. Burkhardt, R. Harvey Cook, G. C. Welliver, C. T. Jones and G. C. Munns, while the officers are G. C. Welliver, president; G. C. Munns, vice-president; C. A. Shera, cashier; W. M. Shera, C. A. Shera, jr., and Phillip D. Shera, assistant cashiers. The other financial institution of Oxford is the Farmers' State and Savings bank, of which Samuel E. Fye, is the president ; H. M. Moore, vice president ; J. G. Welsh, cashier; and A. L. Johnson, assistant cashier.
The Farmers' National bank of Seven Mile has been organized since October 1, 1909, when it came into existence to meet the needs of a prosperous community. Men of known integrity were interested in the project and gave to it their whole-hearted support. The bank has a capital of $25,000 with a surplus and undivided profits of $13,736. The directors of this bank are C. K. Jacoby, C. A. Kumler, E. L. Laughlin, A. B. Hunter, W. L. Shaefer, Jacob Stock and James E. Bell. Its present officers are C. K. Jacoby, president; C. A. Kumler, vice-president; James E. Bell, cashier, and Anna K. Bell, assistant cashier. According to the last statement of the Farmers' National bank of Seven Mile, its resources reached a total of $268,069.41.
Organized February 4, 1908, the Bank of Trenton has always met the needs of a community which prior to that time had been forced to do its banking either in Hamilton or Middletown. The people of the village and vicinity recognized the opportunity given them and gave this institution the support which it deserved. The bank has a capital of $25,000 with a surplus and undivided profits of $7,500, while its resources reach a total of $193,008.47. The directors of this bank are such well known men as R. J. Kennel, A. K. Augspurger, O. I. Ehresman, W. O. Dimmitt, F. H. Berk, John J. Kennel and T. H. Bell. These are organized with R. J. Kennel, president ; A. K. Augspurger, vice-president ; and T. H. Bell, cashier.
The Monroe National bank is another of Butler county's community banks, situated in the village of Monroe in the eastern part of the county. It was organized October 13, 1905, by Austin T. Smith, the present cashier, with a capital of $25,000. The success of this bank resultant from the confidence of the people of Monroe and vicinity, is shown by the fact that since its establishment it has accumulated a surplus of $21,000 besides paying dividends of eight per cent. Its present resources amount to $350,000. The directors of the Monroe National bank are W. H. Compton, W: M. Stewart, H. Q. Gallaher, Sam K. Hughes, Charles S. Longstreet, William P. Henderson and Austin T. Smith ; while its officers are W. H. Compton, president; W. M. Stewart, vice-president; H. Q. Gallaher, second vice-president; Austin T. Smith, cashier; and Beulah M. Boyd, assistant cashier.
(page 46) The Somerville National bank has a capital of $25,000. Men of the community direct its affairs and have by their influence and the faith of their neighbors in them brought success to the institution. The bank now has a surplus of $4,250 and undivided profits of $3,250, while its resources have reached a total of over $250,000. The directors of the Somerville National bank are W. T. Hancock, J. W. Cummings, Charles Kapp, Oliver Keller, Charles F. Finlay, George P. Swope, W. C. Huffman, Frank M. Crist, and John H. Lamm. This bank was organized May 24, 1915, and has as its present officers W. T. Hancock, president; J. W. Cummings, vice-president; Charles Kapp, second vice-president; W. B. Bell, cashier; and Bessie Brenan, assistant cashier.
The First National bank of Okeana was organized and opened for business on July 3, 1910. Men of high standing in the community were instrumental in the organization of the bank, which met a long-felt want as it was located in a community not of easy access to a city or village of any size where a banking' institution was located. At the present time the bank commands resources of $256,757.62, while it has a capital of $25,000 and a reserve of $13,292.47. When the bank was first organized Charles Wagner was president; F. W. Earnshaw, cashier; and J. A. Butterfeld, Edwin Heap, G. W. Jefferies, J. J. Boutcher and Frank George, directors. On January 9, 1919, F. W. Earnshaw, the cashier, died; and on May 13, 1919, Charles Wagner, the president, died. J. A. Butterfield was then elected president; R. E. Earnshaw, cashier; W. R. Wagner, assistant cashier ; and G. E. Jefferies, G. E. Handley, Fred Walthers, and Edwin Heap, directors.
The Farmers' State bank of College Corner is one of the strong financial institutions in the western section of Butler county. Organized October 1, 1895, with a capital of $50,000, it today, by careful methods but generous treatment of its patrons and the public in general, has accumulated a surplus of $51,000 and commands resources of over $750,000. The success of this bank is an example of what can be accomplished by men of a community in whom the people of that community have faith, and who are possessed of sound business judgment. The present directors of the Farmers' State bank of College Corner are H. L. Bake, Aaron Gardner, W. H. Hawley, I. S. Hart, Albert Ardery, A. F. Bell, Carey Toney and D. A. Dorrell. The officers are H. L. Bake, president; Aaron Gardner vice-president; J. D. Pultz, cashier; and W. R. Pultz, assistant cashier.
The College Corner Banking company's place of business is also located in College Corner. Its president is J. W. Cramer, while Charles Stout is cashier ; and L. B. Douglas is assistant cashier. The Miami Valley National bank was for a number of years one of Hamilton's financial institutions. It was organized March 10, 1888, but finally, on August 14, 1914, was taken over by the First National bank. The first president of the Miami Valley National bank was the late Peter Murphy, who was succeeded by Fletcher S. Heath, Frank W. Whitaker and Oliver Morton Bake. (page 467)
The Schools of Butler County
The first school in Butler county was established soon after Fort Hamilton was abandoned in 1795. The old powder magazine of the fort, which had also been used as a jail, was the first school building, so far as now known, in the entire county. It stood on what is now South Monument avenue, near the present site of the First United Presbyterian church. The education given the few children of the community at this time was rather meager, but gradually the demand became more insistent that a bigger and a better school be established. In answer to this demand, early in 1809 a school was established on Front street by a Mr. Richie, followed in 1810 by a school opened on Court street opposite the present site of the First United Presbyterian church, by the Rev. M. G. Wallace. The higher branches were taught in this school as well as the rudimentary branches. Benjamin H. Pardee, located in Hamilton in 1815 and taught school in a small building on North Second, near Heaton street. In the same year, Alexander Proudfit organized a new school located on the north side of Heaton street, between North Second and North Third streets. About the same time a Mr. Elder organized a school in Rossville.
The Hamilton Literary society, organized a few years previously, erected a building on the west side of North Third street, just south of Dayton street, in 1818. In the lower story of this building, the Rev. Thomas McMechan and Henry Becker established a school. Ellen A. McMechan, the first woman teacher in Butler county, established a school at North Third and Buckeye streets in 1819. Rev. Francis Monfort taught school in a frame building at Third and High streets in 1821; and from 1825 until 1830, Benjamin F. Raliegh engaged in educational work in Hamilton. The Hamilton and Rossville academy was opened in 1835, with Miss Maria Drummond as the first teacher. Later Nathan Furman, who was quite a noted educator in his day, took charge of the academy and practically all the young people of those years received their higher education under his personal direction. He later established a school at Furmandale, four miles south of Hamilton, planning to establish there a great educational center, but this venture did not prove a success. The buildings were finally used for manufacturing purposes, then as storehouses, and finally in 1899 were destroyed by fire.
It was finally on February 21, 1849, that the legislature passed the first law which has developed the present excellent public school system of the Buckeye state. This law provided that "cities and towns may be formed into one district to be governed by a board of six directors and three examiners." In April, 1851, at a special election, the people of Hamilton decided to take advantage of this law. On May 1, of the same year, the six directors and three examiners were chosen and on June 21 the first school levy of one and a half mills upon the taxable property of the town was made. In 1852 the work of establishing the graded school system was begun. F. N. Slack and J. Jenkins were appointed principals of the schools.
(page 468) When Hamilton and Rossville were consolidated in 1854, it was stipulated that a high school building be erected and perpetually remain on the west side of the river. A proposition by Thomas Rhea to donate two acres of land on Prospect hill, however, was rejected, and the building was erected at what is now South B street and Ross avenue, the site of the present Adams grade school. Eventually when the Fourth ward, now the Jefferson building, was built in 1878, it was made a branch of the high school and later, in 1882, the entire high school was transferred to this building. Here it remained until 1892, when the Central high school building at South Second and Ludlow streets, now the eighth grade or grammar school, was completed. The high school eventually outgrew even these commodious quarters and then in 1916 the present modern structure at North Sixth, Dayton and Butler streets was built at a cost of practically $300,000.
The progress of the public schools of Hamilton has been rapid. Every advantage for organization and improvement permitted by the state laws of Ohio or existing circumstances was promptly taken advantage of. The newest methods of instruction were adopted, until today the schools of Hamilton, with the advanced studies of the high school, manual training, domestic science and military training, stand second to none in the great state of Ohio. Able men have ever been chosen to the superintendency of the public schools of Hamilton. These men have been D. W. McClung, from 1857 until 1858; George E. Howe, 1858-1859; F. W. Hurt, 1859-1860; J. R. Chamberlain, 1860-1862; H. T. Wheeler, 1862-1863; John A. Shank, 1863-1864; John Edwards, 1864-1867; E. B. Bishop, 1867-1871; Alston Ellis, 1871-1879; L. D. Brown, 1879-1884; L. R. Klem, 1884-1887; Alston Ellis, 1887-1892; Charles C. Miller, 1892-1895; Samuel Lee Rose, 1895-1903; Darrell Joyce, 1903 until the present time.
From a teaching force of two men in 1851 the faculty of the public schools of Hamilton has grown until today it numbers one hundred and four instructors, eight supervisors, many special teachers and an office force of several women. Darrell Joyce has proven himself progressive in matters educational. Public spirited, vigorous, himself an able instructor, he has surrounded himself, through the approval of the board of education, with an able and efficient corps of assistants. So high is the standard of education in the public schools of Hamilton today that the graduates of the high school are admitted to most of the colleges of the United States without further preparation and without examination. Today fourteen modern buildings shelter the more than six thousand children in the public schools of Hamilton. The affairs of the schools of Hamilton are now in the hands of a board of education elected at large upon a non-partisan ticket. The board of 1919 consisted of Captain Robert M. Sohngen, president; Captain August W. Margedant, vice president; Dr. John A. Burnett, Edward B. Hughes and Dr. Charles N. Huston, with Charles F. Holdefer as clerk. The chief assistants to Superintendent Joyce are Miss Augusta Pfau, supervisor of domestic science ; Howard G. Carter, supervisor of manual training ; Will H. Lebo, supervisor of music; Josephine (page 469) Slater, supervisor of drawing, with William C. Musch superintendent of buildings and John W. Conboy truant officer. The twelve grade schools of Hamilton are named for the first twelve presidents of the United States.
Middletown's first school was a pay institution, established in 1805, in one of the rooms of the Vail mills at the west end of Third street and on the east bank of the Great Miami river. A Mr. Boers, who later located in Darke county, opened this school. In 1806 Marsha Wilson opened a pay school in a log cabin on what is now known as "The Smoothing Iron," a small tract of land at what is today the juncture of Yankee road and Main street. This building was used for some time for school purposes, the teachers being Ephraim Gray and Joseph Worth. Mr. Ward, Mr. Piper and Mr. Perry also conducted schools in a small building on the south side of Third street almost opposite the Vail mills.
It was in 1815 that Stephen Vail erected a brick building on his land to be used exclusively for school purposes. So far as known Jeremiah Marston was the first instructor to teach in this building.
He taught there from 1821 until 1824. In 1827 school district No. 3 was created so as to include Middletown and much of the adjacent country. Funds for the support of the schools were rather uncertain and at times those able to do so paid a tuition charge to aid in keeping the schools open.
The first free school in Middletown was established in 1837 with Joseph Gailbreath as the instructor. But financial troubles ensued and it again became necessary to depend upon private funds to keep the school in operation.
The smaller children of Middletown received their instruction prior to 1840 from Joseph Elliott, who taught in a one-story brick building on Third street, just west of where the Oglesby and Barnitz bank is now located. In this house also, Miss Josephine Anderson (later Mrs. James Mitchell) and Miss May Gibson taught the smaller children. These classes were eventually moved to "The Barracks," which then occupied the present site of the Odd Fellows' temple. The Misses Alice Ketcham, Virginia Howland and Susan McQuity were teachers also in this school.
The older pupils were taught during these years in a building known as "The Old Brick" by James Pennell, James C. Waldo, Zacariah N. Brown, John McClellan, William S. Young, William Barnaby, Isaac Robinson, George Goble and Josiah Bridge. In 1852 Middletown was separated from district No. 3 and became known as the Union school district, with W. B. Oglesby, S. E. Gifen, Edward Jones, Joseph Sutphin and W. W. Marshall as the members of its first board of education.
Finally, late in the '60s, through an enactment of the Ohio legislature, the board of education of Middletown was authorized to erect a building to meet the needs of the city's children. The board asked for $60,000, but twice the electors defeated the proposal. Finally, however, the necessary authority was granted and a tract of six acres of land, bounded by Main and Seventh streets and Yankee road, was purchased from the Arthur Leferson estate, and the present South school building of twelve rooms, with an (page 470) auditorium, was erected. It was first occupied in 1871. Eventually a building erected in 1854 had to be pressed into service until 1885, when the Central building and later in 1892 the North building were erected. Then in 1904 the East building on Sherman avenue was built. In 1919 Superintendent Solomon, after a careful study of the city's needs, submitted to the board of education a report showing the need of still more school room and suggesting a bond issue of $300,000 for the erection and equipment of new buildings.
In 1843, the school enumeration of Middletown showed 352 children of school age in the entire district, while today the enrollment in the schools passes the 3,500 mark. The schools of Middletown have always been in able hands and their progress has been fully commensurate with the needs of the city. The superintendents who have had charge of the public schools of Middletown since 1872 are A. G. Wilson, A. C. Tyler, F. J. Barnard, B. B. Harlan, James L. Orr, J. H. Rowland, J. W.- Mackinnon, J. E. McKean, C. H. Minnich, Arthur Powell, M. B. Wilson and the present superintendent, R. W. Solomon.
Educational institutions in other portions of Butler county, other than Hamilton and Middletown, sprang up early in the nineteenth century. Private academies were established at Monroe and Seven Mile which had rather stormy careers, while in 1807 Miami university, still recognized as one of the great factors in advanced education, was established at Oxford. But about 1820 and 1821 public education began to receive the attention of the people and also the legislature of Ohio, which began the passage of laws that would foster public education. Gradually school districts were created throughout the rural communities of the county, and as the population increased these schools multiplied in number and many separate school districts in the several townships were established, each with its own board of education. This was a complicated system and there was little uniformity in the schools, especially as to the methods of teaching and the courses of study. There was also quite a conflict in the terms of the schools, some operating six months, others seven and eight months in the year, depending upon the community in which the school might be located. Finally, after many attempted revisions of the school laws of Ohio, all of which failed to accomplish the desired results, the uniform centralized school law was placed upon the statute books and became operative in May, 1914. The schools of Butler county were immediately organized under this law, which provides for a county board of education which employs a county superintendent under whose direction and management all the public schools in Butler county, outside the cities of Hamilton and Middletown, were placed. With the exception of _ Dr. W. S. Alexander, the first president, who died in 1916, there has been no change in the county board of education since its creation on May 22, 1914. The board now consists of Charles Aufranc of West Chester, president; Edward Marts of West Middletown, vice president; J. A. Butterfeld of Okeana, secretary; Dr. Charles MacCredy of Monroe, and J. Gilbert Welsh of Oxford. The county superintendent is John Schwarz, a very able man, an excellent organizer and a man of deep learning.
(page 471) Aside from the public schools, parochial schools are conducted by the Roman Catholic and Lutheran congregations of Hamilton and Middletown. These were established in connection with the various congregations and usually co-jointly with the congregation. In Hamilton the higher branches are taught-in Notre Dame academy, conducted by the Roman Catholic Sisters of Notre Dame, and the Catholic high school conducted by the Brothers of Mary, both of which are well attended and privately supported. In Middletown parochial schools are conducted by the Roman Catholic parishes of Holy Trinity and St. John's churches. In Hamilton the Roman Catholic parishes of St. Ann, St. Joseph, St. Mary, St. Peter, St. Stephen and St. Veronica each has a parochial school, while Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran and Zion Evangelical Lutheran churches also conduct private schools. The teachers in these schools are all well qualified. The attendance in the parochial schools is under the direction of the truancy officer of the city, so that children of school age are usually found in either the public or the parochial schools of the city, thus assuring at least the rudiments of an education being instilled into them.
Agriculture in Butler County
Butler county, outside the cities of Hamilton and Middletown, is essentially an agricultural county. Its development along agricultural lines has been rapid, while its farmers have always been known for their progressiveness. When Butler county was organized in 1803, all its lands, including those in Hamilton and Middletown, together with the several villages of the county of more or less importance, were owned by only 374 persons. Today, outside the incorporated cities and villages, there are 2,809 farms, ranging in size from thirty to 1,200 acres each. There are now 218,356 acres of farm land in Butler county, and of these 157,024 acres are under cultivation, 39,148 in permanent pastures, 12,144 acres in timber and 718 acres of orchards.
The lands of the Great Miami valley, especially those of Butler county, have always been noted for their fertility an for many years this county was known as one of the greatest agricultural districts of the great state of Ohio. That this fertility is being maintained, and that the farmers of Butler county are determined to uphold their prestige for the production of crops, is shown by the fact that in the year 1919 they spent $22,490 for 1,698,950 pounds of commercial fertilizer with which to keep their lands from deteriorization.
The farms of Butler county are modernly equipped, conveniently arranged and located, easily reached by improved roads, in easy communication of each other and the cities and villages by telephone, while the farmers themselves are businesslike, progressive and successful and their homes are well kept and attractive. Butler county shows but a small proportion of what is called poor or waste land. In this class 10,000 acres only are reported, leaving approximately 188,500 acres in wood or pasture land, or as susceptible of tillage. There is a wide diversity in the fruitfulness of the different portions of the county. It has been found (page 472) by experiment that even the lands considered poor possess hidden elements of strength and some of the farms now considered the best were purchased originally at a low price because of their apparent poverty in production. These farms have been found to possess an inherent virtue which needed only artificial means to awaken it to great productiveness. The upland soil is usually a sandy loam, which at the highest points changes to a clay. In the bottom lands, where the Great Miami has made its deposits, the soil changes to a deep black. However, for certain crops, the fertility of the uplands equals that of the bottom lands. The uplands are best suited for wheat, while the lowlands are most productive of corn.
Butler county possesses perhaps more small streams than any other county in the state ; and its topography is such that the natural drainage has almost eliminated the necessity for the installation of artificial drainage. Its uplands abound in springs which, in season or drought, give out a constant supply of water. In many sections of the county underlying rock supports a sufficient depth of soil from deposits of verdure to insure richness and stability, while the underlying rock prevents too great an evaporation in drought. As in practically all agricultural districts, wheat and corn predominate in Butler county as the products of the soil. At one time Butler county was especially noted for its production of corn, especially on the lowlands along the Great Miami river. Even today more corn is grown in Butler county than any other cereal. For the crop of 1919 the farmers of Butler county planted 55,827 acres to corn, which ought, under normal conditions, to yield almost 2,000,000 bushels. Wheat came second with a sowing of 39,926 acres, which, under ordinary conditions in Butler county, ought to produce about 1,000,000 bushels of the grain. A conservative estimate made by a man who keeps close watch upon the markets and the productiveness of Butler county farms estimated that the 1919 crops of corn and wheat would net the farmers of Butler county more than $3,300,000.
The wide range of the productiveness of the land of Butler county is shown, however, by the fact that for the harvest of 1919 there were also planted 1,249 acres to rye ; 6,298 acres to oats ; 328 acres to barley ; 907 acres to ensilage corn ; 542 acres to sugar corn ; 1,439 acres to potatoes ; 157 acres to tomatoes ; while there was also produced upon the farms of Butler county, 4,000 bushels of peas, 10,800 tons of timothy hay, 4,600 tons of clover hay, and 6,700 tons of alfalfa hay.
Tobacco has in recent years become one of the chief products of the soil of Butler county, especially in the northern sections of the county. Eight thousand acres of land were planted in tobacco in 1919. This planting produced a total of 422,985 pounds of tobacco, which brought a revenue of over $140,000 to the producers. While the soil of Butler county is exceptionally fertile, its farmers have not confined themselves entirely to the production of the crop of the field. The milk industry is widespread throughout the county and there is not a community that has not several large dairy farms. Practically every farmer possessed of reasonably good (page 473) pasture land keeps a number of cows, especially since the daily collection of milk by truck by the large dairy concerns of Hamilton and Cincinnati assures a good income without much added labor from this source. According to official reports for 1919, Butler county has over thirty thousand cows valued at approximately $1,500,000. These cows for the year 1919 produced 2,400,000 gallons of milk; over 420,000 gallons of cream; more than 422,000 pounds of butter and approximately 4,000 pounds of cheese.
As in all communities close to a central market, practically all of the farmers of Butler county raise hogs for the market. Being a great corn growing center this county naturally became a great hog growing center. This is shown by the fact that in 1919, there were reported in Butler county, 33,688 hogs. In recent years, the epidemic of hog cholera which at one time had made the raising of hogs a great uncertainty has been eliminated by the use of serums and modern methods of care, making this branch of agricultural endeavor very profitable financially. It is estimated that- the annual production of hogs in Butler county reaches a value of $1,500,000. Poultry raising with most farmers is a matter of both pleasure and profit. In recent years there has been a great development of well-bred stock in Butler county, which has resulted in an increased production of eggs and poultry of high market value. In 1919, there were reported 87,800 hens which produced over 760,000 eggs, while approximately 13,000 fowls were offered for sale in the markets and to meat dealers. There were, however, but 459 turkeys and 336 ducks in the county, while the number of geese was almost negligible.
Hamilton, so far as known, was the first city in the State of Ohio, to establish a free market, where no charge was made for the space used. This has encouraged a number of farmers to do truck gardening, especially those of easy access to the Hamilton market.
Consequently many of those living rather close to Hamilton devote considerable of their ground and energy to the production of the vegetables with which the Hamilton market is supplied. Other products from the farms of Butler county in 1919 were 9,900 bushels of apples from 286 orchards ; 6,900 sheep which produced over 40,000 pounds of wool ; while approximately 1,500 acres of land were planted in potatoes.
These figures are but general ; they do not cover many of the minor farming operations in Butler county, but, taken all in all, Butler is one of the wealthiest in agricultural products in the state of Ohio.
One of the great aids and inspirations to the farmers of Butler county has been, especially in the earlier days, the great Butler county fair. This fair was one of the first in Ohio to award premiums for agricultural products. The first fair at Hamilton was held on Wednesday and Thursday, October 26 and 27, 1831. In those early days the farm implements employed were of the rudest character. The wooden mould-board plow was then the most highly perfected implement used upon the farm, while the hoe, grain cradle, scythe and sickle were the common instruments of production and harvest then in use. Consequently the early displays of products (page 474) from the farms of Butler county were as nothing compared with those of today.
Butler county's first fair was given by the Butler County Agricultural society of which A. F. Chittenden was president, under the management of a committee consisting of John Woods, Robert Herpes, Stephen Millikin, John Knox, C. K. Smith, Samuel Dick and Caleb DeCamp.
On April 4, 1832, the Butler County Agricultural society elected A. F. Chittenden, president ; William Bebb, later governor of Ohio, first vice-president ; Lewis West, second vice-president ; Stephen Millikin, treasurer; Charles K. Smith, recording secretary; and John M. Millikin, corresponding secretary. An argument immediately developed as the members from the western part of the county wanted the fair of 1832 held at Oxford, while the citizens of other sections of the county insisted upon the fair being held at Hamilton. Finally a reorganization of the society was forced and the fair of 1832 was held on the streets of Hamilton. This continued until 1843, when a lot at North Fourth and Dayton streets, belonging to Dr. Jacob Hittle, was utilized.
Finally at a meeting of citizens held in the courthouse on November 25, 1850, with Aaron Schenck, chairman ; and Richard McGee, secretary, a committee was named to prepare rules for the society. On January 1, 1851, the Butler County Agricultural society, as it now exists, was organized under the provisions of the state law and a fair was held October 2 and 3 of that year in the old oak grove lying between High street and the old Miami and Erie canal basin, and just east of South Fifth street. There were but few field crops displayed, but there was a fine showing of horses, cattle, swine and domestic articles.
In 1852, the fair was moved to Bigham's grove, now the east portion of Greenwood cemetery. The fair continued to grow in value and attendance until 1856, when it became necessary to seek still larger quarters and thirty-nine acres of land in Fairfield township, which became the nucleus of the present fair grounds, were secured by purchase. From this time on, the Butler county fair grew in interest, importance and success Premiums offered attracted farmers and producers of surrounding counties. On February 11, 1871, 13.86 acres of land were acquired from August Hutzelman for $5,000 and added to the fair grounds. By 1873, the Butler county fair, in interest, attendance and exhibits, rivaled the Ohio State fair at Columbus. In 1876, the Butler county commissioners leased sufficient land to the society for the establishment of the present race course. Each year now saw increased interest and attendance. In 1887, there were 33,338 entries which in 1888 increased to 4,117 while in 1889 the entries reached a total of 4,762. The fairs of 1894 and 1895 were the greatest in the history of the society, the attendance on Thursday of each of the fair weeks of these years passing the 50,000 mark. However, the fair had drifted in financial troubles, and on August 18, 1896, Robert M. Elliott was appointed receiver and under his direction the fair of that year was held. On April 5, 1897, the receivership was vacated and at a special election on February 25, 1899, the people of Butler county (page 475) voted to authorize a bond issue of $20,000 for the benefit of the fair. The Butler county fair, still a great success and always largely attended, has, like all other county fairs, enjoyed its most successful days.
Return to "Memoirs of the Miami Valley - Volume Two" Home Page