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Civilian Conservation Corps

Civilian Conservation Corps Camp 3533. The CCC camp opened in August 1935 on the W. A. Shafor (or Shaffer) farm, about a mile and a half northeast of Hamilton on Middletown Pike (Ohio 4). Camp 3533 was one of 35 CCC camps in Ohio that year. Congress created the Civilian Conservation Corps in March 1933, as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Depression-fighting program. Unemployed young men were enlisted for six-month terms to increase, preserve and restore the nation's natural resources. They were paid $30 a month, $25 of which must be sent home. They also were provided food, clothing, shelter, transportation, education and medical care. The men could serve multiple terms, but were limited to a total of 15 months in 1935. When the CCC started in 1933, the screening of Butler County applicants was guided by Frank K. Vaughn, county welfare director. Butler County had a limit of 200 men for the first CCC contingent, sometimes called "the forest conservation army." The first 200 left May 18, 1933, assigned to work in California.

About 1,080 Butler County men, mostly from Hamilton, had served in the CCC through May 1935. The total topped 1,400 later that year. Local recruiting continued for at least four more years. Nationally, more than 2.9 million young men, including 133,551 Ohioans, were gathered in more than 2,600 CCC camps between 1933 and 1942. Work on the Hamilton camp began July 23, 1935, when 23 men arrived from a CCC camp nearly Ripley, Ohio. Dan Buskirk, of Cleveland, an employee of the Soil Conservation Service, directed the preparations. The first group, the Journal-News said, was expected to be "composed principally of war veterans, sent here from various parts of Ohio." They were to do "stream channel, forest and erosion work in Butler County for all owners of farms who desire this type of work done." CCC crews executed a Butler County Farm Bureau soil terracing program. It aimed at saving farm land that, without preservation measures, would eventually wash down hillsides into waterways. The newspaper said "no public work of any kind will be done by these men, all work being for the individual land owner," and would "be absolutely free and without conditions on the part of the farm owner." The CCC construction crew, composed of men ages 18 to 29, erected tents that served as barracks until wood structures were completed. The temporary facilities, according to 1935 reports, included "a cot, covered by netting, inside a khaki tent." A tent also housed the camp administration building, which was "equipped with a typewriter on a box. A lantern hangs on a nail overhead." The men worked, ate and slept on the site, but went to the Hamilton YMCA to bathe for several weeks. The Journal-News said "the camp when completed will consist of five weather-proof barracks built to withstand sub-zero temperatures, besides an administration building, mess hall, recreation hall, officers' quarters, wash house and bath house." Camp 3533 officially opened Tuesday, Aug. 5, 1935, with the arrival of 87 men from Youngstown, 19 from Canton and 12 from Butler County. Later, other arrivals, including 54 from Wheeling, W. Va., brought the total to 206. Still later, camp enrollment was listed as 191 men, indicating some dropouts. The CCC enlistees received their necessary shots at the Ohio National Guard Armory at North Fifth and Dayton streets. Their daily routine began 6:30 a.m. Lights were out at 10 p.m. The CCC followed a five-day week, plus Saturdays reserved for camp duties. They had frequent recreation breaks at the YMCA.

The camp was directed by U. S. Army officers; the work assignments by employees of the U. S. Department of Agriculture. In October 1935, to secure a better water supply, the camp was moved to the Rentschler Farm at Millikin and Morris roads in Fairfield Twp.

In Southwestern Ohio in 1935, other CCC camps were near Eaton, Lebanon, Xenia, Yellow Springs, Vandalia and Wilmington. The Hamilton CCC camp operated until 1937.

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