Samuel Robert Bailey (1847-1906) Around 145 years ago, Bailey was the first African-American teacher and principal in the public schools of Lebanon, Ohio. Born a slave in northern Alabama, in 1863 during of the Civil War, he left the war torn South as a teenager and went to Sandusky, Ohio. Although illiterate, he saved enough money working to enter Wilberforce University. Seven years later he graduated. In 1876, He was hired to teach in the “colored” school, or African Union School, as it was sometimes called, in Lebanon. Paid as much or more than most of the district’s 9 teachers, around 1879, he was designated “principal of the colored school” and overlooked a staff of one other Black teacher. In 1883, he became the principal of the Lincoln “colored” School in Kansas City, Missouri. When he left Lebanon, The Western Star newspaper proclaimed, “Mr. Bailey is an intelligent colored gentleman, fully competent, to discharge the duties to the high position to which he has ascended. He was a good citizen and we wish him success in his home in the West.”
- John Zimkus
Elizabeth Kimberlin (1917-1987) was a leader in community and statewide service programs as well as a local civil rights trailblazer. A graduate of Lebanon High School in 1935, she was denied the opportunity to apply for a college scholarship because of her race. Instead, she became a typist at the air force base in Dayton, and eventually working 21 years at Defense Electronic Supply Center (DESC) as provisioner traveling all over the U.S. visiting plants and purchasing of airplane parts, while at the same time overcoming prejudice against Blacks and women. Elizabeth was President of non-profit Lebanon Community Services, Coordinator of the Lebanon Food Pantry, and involved in many other organizations including being a trustee of the Ohio Division of the American Cancer Society, as it’s the only black member. In 1943, she organized the first Black Girl Scout Troop in Lebanon, and that year her troop became the first to integrate Girl Scout Camp Butterworth in Warren County. Elizabeth remembered, “Both colored and white girls were there together, and everything went fine. That was quite something for those days.”
- John Zimkus
Anna Middleton (1786-1861) On March 29, 1805, when she was 19-years-old, Anna Middleton became the first woman and the second person west of the Appalachian Mountains to become a Shaker. Anna was also a former enslaved African American. Anna was from Virginia and was freed by “her owner” shortly after coming to Ohio. Old Shaker records at the Union Village in Warren County called her, “honest and kind-hearted.” In 1805, because of her gender and race, the non-Shaker “world” would have treated Anna as a second-class citizen or lower. That was not the case at Union Village. Anna was a Shaker for 56 years. She died on April 10,1861; a month short of her turning 75. Two days after her death, on April 12, Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, South Carolina was attacked by Confederate troops beginning the Civil War. In 1895, 89-year-old Job Mullin from Springboro, a known member of the Underground Railroad, the secret network that helped enslaved individuals obtain freedom, wrote, “I can give but three names of [UGRR] stations- Shaker Village, Waynesville, and Springboro.”
- written by John Zimkus
Traditional artist, Kelly Murray Frigard, has long pursued her interest in weaving, knitting, spinning, and felting. After a residency as a visiting artist in Canada's Northwest Territories, she received the Fulbright Fellowship, allowing her to study, for two years, in Finland and Sweden. Frigard also works in mixed media, metalsmithing, and drawing. She is currently a Professor of Fine Art at the University of Cincinnati, Clermont College. Her exhibition, "Embroidered Tales" recreates antique lithographs, from children's books, in colored stitchery.
James Richard Mills (1932-2013) James Mills was Lebanon, Ohio’s first African-American mayor. He was born in Lebanon on August 8, 1932. A 1950 graduate of Lebanon High School, he served in the U.S. Army in Korea. He and his wife Loretta had three children. An avid musician, he was active in the Bethel AME Church, where he sang in the choir and acted as church treasurer. He was also a member of the Lebanon Kiwanis Club and the Lebanon Softball Association. For 39 years he worked for the Ohio Department of Transportation. After serving on the planning commission and community development committee, he was elected to the Lebanon City Council in 1993, and became Lebanon’s mayor in 1997, serving in that role until 2001. Mr. Mills died on October 12, 2013. James Mills once said, “Having been born and raised in this city, I have grown to really care about it and all the things that make it what it is today. . . I really want . . . to serve all the citizens of this lovely city.”
- written by John Zimkus
On this day, in 1815, the burned U.S. Library of Congress is re-established with Thomas Jefferson's personal collection of 6,500 volumes. The previous collection, then housed in the Capital building, had been burned on August 24, 1814 as part of an attack on Washington during the War of 1812. Invading British troops marched into Washington under order to lay waste to the unfinished Capitol and other public buildings. The resulting fires reduced all but one of Washington D.C.'s major public buildings to ruins, and only a severe thunderstorm saved the Capitol from being completely destroyed.
Unfortunately, a second fire, on Christmas Eve of 1851, burned the Library of Congress again, destroying nearly two thirds of Jefferson's original collection.
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
It is the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, where Nazis killed more than 1 million men, women and children. More than 6 million Jews (more than 25,000 times the population of Warren County) were deliberately murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators over the course of the Holocaust (they also murdered millions that Hitler felt were unfit for his vision of new Germany).
We must remember today, and learn from the events that led to such atrocities, so we never allow something so horrific to ever happen again.
Today, January 20th, is Inauguration Day. However, it wasn't always this way. The first Inauguration Day, in 1789, was on March 4th. This four month period was needed to count votes and relay numbers to Washington.
This lengthy Lame-Duck period created several problems throughout history. In the months following the 1860 election, as states succeeded from Union, Lincoln was unable to act and outgoing president, James Buchanan. chose to do nothing. The final straw was in 1933, when president-elect, Franklin D. Roosevelt, had to wait months to enact his New Deal plan in the midst of the Great Depression.
With the advancement of technology, such a long period was no longer needed. Congress ratified the 20th Amendment in 1933, changing Inauguration Day to January 20th, The first time a president was sworn in on this day was four years later, when Roosevelt was sworn in for a second term.
If you live in Kings, you may or may not know where your town's name came from.
Ahimaaz King founded the Great Western Powder Works in 1877. A wooden dam was constructed to divert water from the Little Miami River into a canal the powder mills used.
Kings built his employees homes, a general store, schools, a church, etc. Almost the entire village of Kings Mills was created to house the employees of King's mills, the first home being Ahimaaz's own. Built in 1885 and patterned after his uncle's located in Xenia, the King Mansion is still a local landmark.
In 1887, Gershom Moore Peters, an employee of Kings', a former Reverend and King's son-in-law, founded Peters Cartridge Company nearby. Peters had invented a machine which simplified and improved the process of manufacturing shotgun shells.
By the time the two companies merged, they were known nation-wide.
In July of 1890, a rail car accident at the station triggered an explosion killing twelve. The resulting fires would destroy many of the company's wooden framed buildings including the station, the freight house, two Peters office buildings, the shell factory, the cartridge loading plant, a warehouse and six employee homes.
As World War I approached, the company began receiving large ammunition orders. With the money, they were able to construct buildings out of brick and reinforce them with concrete, including the factory (that we all recognize) in 1916.
Remington Arms purchased the Peters Cartridge Company in 1934 and it would cease operations in 1944.
- written by Jeanne Doan, Assistant Director
The Warren County Historical Society began 2019 with lots of plans: a series of Lunch and Learn presentations, new programs, and traditional events. Then came Covid-19. No one predicted what a dramatic effect it would have. At the time of the shutdown, the Archaeology and Native American Artifact room, on the ground floor of the museum, had become a depository for overflow from other storage spaces.
During the shutdown, volunteer time was used effectively to clean and reorganize multiple storage spaces. The now clutter-free artifact room badly needed a make-over. Damp, dark, and outdated, the room cried out for help. Enter Mr. Doug Baird, a specialist in fossils and Native American artifacts.
After inspecting all the artifacts in the display cases and boxes in the vault, Mr. Baird informed us that WCHS has "the finest collection of fossils and Native American artifacts I have seen outside of the Smithsonian."
WCHS staff and volunteers have been working hard to clean, repaint, and rearrange. Display cases were resurrected from the basement of Glendower. Mr. Baird and his assistant sorted and relabeled the artifacts. The project was completed late November.
We want to extend our thanks to everyone who has been key to this transformation. The Harmon Museum looks forward to unveiling our new comprehensive display honoring our ancient Ohio beginnings.
December 18th saw the close of the exhibition of the work by the Cincinnati Brush and Pallett Painters Society (Oct 30 - Dec 18 2020). Established in 1963 as the Brushettes, The Brush and Palette Painters is "a group of women committed to creating art in a supportive environment, painting En Plein Air as conditions allow." These talented women created a showcase of their finest work, 135 pieces, for display at Harmon Museum. They also came to paint, on site, several times during their exhibition.
On this day, December 14th, in 1887, Wood, Harmon & Co began selling the properties in the first ever sub-division. William Elmer Harmon knew the American dream was to own land and had an idea to make that dream accessible to even low-wage earners. Sub-diving a large property. Harmon said of the plan, “It is simply the installment plan applied to real estate and I am sure it will work.” Harmon's younger brother, Clifford, and uncle, Charles Wood, agreed and pooled their money together ($3,000) to purchase land south of Loveland. There, they founded the first sub-division, Branch Hill. The 200 lots sold out in four days.
There's always something new to see at WCHS properties! We've been working hard to present our ever growing collection in new and exciting ways!
The foundation for the Beedle Log Cabin has been dug and concrete poured.
Currently, in progress at Harmon Museum, we're building and furnishing a Mid-Century Modern Apartment. Our Archeological exhibit received a face-lift and our pre-historic artifacts have been given new life with updated displays. The agricultural collection, in the Farm Heritage Gallery, has been thinned and organized to better showcase the items on display before rotating new items in from storage. And, we'll be able to welcome guests into it all through the Broadway entrance with newly redone front steps.
Glendower Historic Mansion may be closed for the season but the upper floor's wings have been opened up to show the Maid's Quarters and Wash Room to better convey the life of those that also lived in the home.
The newly renamed Armstrong Conference Center (the Old Post Office) has a wonderful sign along with the new Armstrong Gallery of Flight. This gallery is dedicated to the men and women, of Warren County, that made great strides in the frontier of the skies and above.
Carrie Nation: “Lebanon is The Vilest, Wickedest Town Of Its Size I Have Ever Been In.”
by John Zimkus, WCHS Historian/Education Director
Carrie Nation was a flamboyant temperance advocate, and one of the most famous women in America at the turn of the 20th century. She was colorful in her actions, almost always having a hatchet in one hand, and the Bible in the other. She was, however, not very colorful in dress, typically wearing stark black-and-white clothing. She was in many ways bigger than life. She stood 6 feet tall and weighed about 175 pounds.
She was born Carrie Moore in Garrard County, Kentucky in 1846. She got the last name of Nation in 1874 when she married David A. Nation. He was her second husband and 19 years her senior. David was an attorney, as well as a minister. (He first husband was a young physician, Charles Gloyd. She left him after a few months of marriage because of his alcoholism.)
Carrie Nation began her temperance work in Medicine Lodge, Kansas when she started a local branch of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. On June 5, 1900, she felt she had received a heavenly vision. Responding to the revelation, Nation gathered several rocks — "smashers," she called them — and proceeded to Dobson's Saloon. Announcing "Men, I have come to save you from a drunkard's fate," she began to smash the saloon's stock of liquor with her stones.
Carrie’s husband joked that she should use a hatchet next time for maximum damage. Nation replied, "That is the most sensible thing you have said since I married you.” The couple divorced in 1901. By that time, she was nationally known for her attacks on the “demon rum.”
Between 1900 and 1910, she was arrested some 30 times for her "hatchetations," as she called them. Nation paid her jail fines with the money she earned from lecture-tour fees, sales of souvenir hatchets and hatchet pins, and photographs of herself. The sale of souvenir hatchets, at times, earned her as much as $300 per week.
Carrie, because of her barroom destructive ways, was physically assaults numerous times. Many saloons across the country erected signs in their establishments with the slogan — "All Nations Welcome But Carrie.”
In the fall of 1904, The Warren County Fair Association announced that “Mrs. Carrie Nation” would be a “Special Attraction” at the Warren County Fair that year. She was scheduled to speak at 2 p.m., on Wednesday, September 21, 1904, the second day of the four day fair.
Lebanon’s Western Star newspaper, on September 22, reporting on her speech said that Carrie “at once grabbed a cigarette from the mouth of a youngster and proceeded into a short address in which she poured broadsides into the saloons.” It said the fairground crowd “jeered and hooted at her.”
After her talk, Carrie traveled the quarter mile or so south to the heart of Lebanon. She “made a round of the business houses and saloons,” the village’s highest concentration of bars was on E. Mulberry Street in 1904. As she visited the area, she proclaimed the Bible “was her hatchet” on that day. Carrie Nation remained in Lebanon for two more days, leaving on Friday, September 23, 1904.
According to The Western Star, “Carrie Nation’s opinion of Lebanon was not such as would give the town a good recommendation unless people will consider the source. She said, ‘Lebanon is the vilest, wickedest town of its size I have ever been in.’” The newspaper went on to say, “Carrie behaved so badly on the streets that the Marshal [Elmer E. Smith] finally ordered her out of town.” The paper then proclaimed, “She was voted not only a freak but a nuisance.”
Carrie Nation’s visit to Lebanon, Ohio did not turn out all bad for her. It was estimated that she sold $100 worth of souvenir hatchets at 25 cents each. One hundred dollars in 1904 would have a buying power of about $3,000 today.
Carrie Nation died in 1911, nine years before the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution went into effect on January 16, 1920. It prohibited the sale or manufacture of alcohol in the United States. Despite her campaign against the evils of liquor, some historians believe “the establishment of Prohibition was the efforts of more conventional reformers, who had been reluctant to support her.”
She was such a dynamic force 120 years ago, that if the question was put of US citizens back then, or even today, “Which individual did the most to bring on Prohibition?” — I am sure, the answer overwhelmingly would be Carrie Nation.
Nathaniel Grauwelman as well as various staff and volunteers.