Journal-News, Sunday, April 2, 1989
It's a long way to the mall from John Sutherland store
By Jim Blount
What would John Sutherland say if he could see the new 1.7 million-square-foot Forest Fair Mall on Butler County's southern border?
John Sutherland — whose first customers included Indians — is regarded as Hamilton's first merchant by James McBride, the community's earliest historian.
McBride said Sutherland once was "undoubtedly the wealthiest man in Butler County, and among the most wealthy in the state" before his death here Sept. 9, 1834, at age 63.
Sutherland was born in 1771 in Scotland. In 1788, at 17, he came to the United States with his family, which settled in western Virginia.
He moved west to the Ohio frontier in 1793, joining Gen. Anthony Wayne's army as a captain of packhorses. He had charge of 40 horses and some men.
Sutherland's dangerous duty was to haul supplies from Fort Washington in Cincinnati to the army in the wilderness, including Fort Hamilton, Fort St. Clair and Fort Greenville.
When war with the Indians ended in 1795, Sutherland settled in Hamilton, where he operated a store.
The business was in a double log building, which, according to McBride, "stood south of the pickets of the garrison" which had been Fort Hamilton from 1791 until 1795. The Sutherland store site today would be in the vicinity of South Monument Avenue and Ludlow Street.
The majority of his business, including fur trading, was with Indians, who still were hunting and living in the unsettled region west of the Great Miami River.
McBride said as late as 1808 "a party of 80 to 100 Indians came in and encamped in the lower part of Rossville, where they remained several weeks trading with Mr. Sutherland."
Later, "when the Indians retired further west, he employed several persons, whom he supplied with goods, to go to their towns between the Mississnewa [River] and the headwaters of the Wabash River, and trade with them," explained McBride.
Among Sutherland employees, McBride said, were John McClellan, who lived in Hamilton, and David Conner, who lived in Rossville (now part of Hamilton's west side).
Later, Sutherland "traded largely in beef cattle, which he purchased in Kentucky and the Miami Valley, and drove them through the wilderness to Detroit, where he disposed of them principally to citizens of Canada," said McBride.
Sutherland operated his Hamilton store and later a second one in Dayton in a partnership with Henry Brown as Sutherland & Brown until 1810.
In March 1813 Sutherland paid $184 for lot 107 along High and North Front streets and lot 108 along North Front and Market streets, both measuring 100 by 100 feet. He purchased the land from the heirs of Isarel Ludiow, Hamilton's founder.
Sutherland built a house and new store on the southeast corner of High and Front streets — now part of the site of the Butler County Administration Center.
About the same time he formed a partnership with a brother-in-law, James P. Ramsey. The firm of Sutherland & Ramsey continued until 1820, when it was dissolved.
Sutherland — who also acquired real estate holdings in both Ohio and Indiana — was married three times.
His first wife was Mary Scott of Fayette County, Ky. She died a few years later. Their son, Alexander, died young.
His second wife, Mary Steele, also of Kentucky, died soon after their marriage. leaving no children.
In 1810 he married Nancy Ramsey of Ligonier Valley, Pa. She died at age 68 in Hamilton March 21, 1855, more than 20 years after her husband's death
They were the parents of eight children, two sons and six daughters. One of the daughters, Mary A., married Carter B. Harrison, a son of President William Henry Harnson.
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Journal-News, Sunday, April 9, 1989
1914 proved a taxing time; only about 200 paid new tax
By Jim Blount
When the federal income tax began 75 years ago, only about 200 people in Hamilton — then a city with more than 35,500 residents — earned enough money to pay the tax. The 1914 levy was the first of its kind in 42 years.
A federal income tax had been enacted in the early months of the Civil War as the government's war-related expenses soared. That Aug. 5, 1861, law taxed Americans at the rate of 3 percent on incomes topping $800 a year.
By the time that law expired in 1872, the federal government was collecting more money than it could spend.
Federal income continued to exceed expenses every year until 1894, when a new income tax law was passed. But that legislation was declared unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court the next year.
The 16th Amendment — which allowed Congress to impose an income tax — was adopted Feb. 25, 1913, a week before President William Howard Taft's term ended. Cincinnati-born Taft had announced support for such an amendment in July 1909, soon after occupying the White House.
The 30-word amendment says: "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on income, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration."
The next step was Congressional action, which began April 7, 1913, when the Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act was introduced. It was signed into law Oct. 3, 1913, by President Wilson.
Under that law, the first tax-payment deadline was March 2, not April 15.
In 1914 the tax rate was one percent on personal incomes of $3,000 or more, or joint incomes of $4,000 or more. The original system also included a surtax, but it only applied to incomes of $20,000 or more.
It was one percent for those in the $20,000-50,000 bracket, 2 percent for incomes in the $50,000-75,000 range, and up to 6 percent for those earning more than $500,000.
According to a 1914 newspaper report, only about 200 people in Hamilton had incomes exceeding $3,000 that year.
Excluded from taxation were salaries paid by state, county, township and city governments. But only one Hamiltonian would have paid income without the exclusion.
That was Mayor Fred A. Hinkel, whose $3,000-a-year salary would have qualified at the minimum.
Hamilton municipal employees received a pay raise shortly after the March 2 tax deadline — to $2.50 daily for eight hours of work.
The 1914 rules required that tax returns had to be "acknowledged before a notary public or other person legally authorized to administer oaths or affirmations."
There were the expected first-year difficulties.
A few days before the deadline, A. C. Gilligan, district collector of internal revenue in Cincinnati, said that "fully 60 percent of the income tax returns made by individuals and filed by mail are incorrect, while about 20 percent of those filed in person are not filled out properly."
The one percent tax rate lasted only two years.
In 1916 it was doubled to two percent and the next year — as the United States prepared to enter World War I — it was doubled again. The War Revenue Act of 1917 set the rate at four percent on all incomes of more than $1,000.
There have been numerous other changes during the 75-year history of the federal income tax.
One of the most dramatic alterations, from the taxpayers' standpoint, came during World War II, when the "pay-as-you-go" deduction system was introduced.
Before the 1943 change, wage earners paid their taxes in quarterly installments on income they had received the previous year — presumably with money they have saved from last year's paychecks.
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Journal-News, Sunday, April 16, 1989
'Months of toil and privation' faced Joseph Hough, pioneer city merchant
(This is the first of two columns on the business career of Joseph Hough.)
By Jim Blount
Retailing operations — now with the advantages of instant communication and overnight deliveries — have come a long way since the days of Joseph Hough, a pioneer Hamilton merchant.
Hough spent several months each year buying merchandise in the East, hauling it here and transporting local items taken in trade to New Orleans.
He described "the difficulties connected with the mercantile business of the early periods" in an 1852 letter requested by James McBride, a pioneer Hamilton historian.
This column (the first of two) recounts the first phase of Hough's business cycle — bringing goods from Philadelphia.
It was called "three months . . . of toil and privation, and of expense of every kind" by Hough, who came to Hamilton at age 23 and was in business here 19 years.
Joseph Hough — born Feb. 26, 1783, near Brownsville, Pa. — and a brother, Thomas, left Brownsville in June 1806 with goods bought in Philadelphia. Their boat reached Cincinnati after 25 days on the Monongahela and Ohio rivers.
In Cincinnati they hired wagons to take their merchandise to Lebanon. But, after starting north, they changed their minds and arrived July 1, 1806, in Hamilton, where they rented a log building on the west side of South Front Street near Court Street, recently the site of St. Mary Church.
Hough said there were only about 100 residents in the towns of Hamilton and Rossville (west of the Great Miami River), and only one other Hamilton store (operated by John Sutherland).
Thomas Hough died of fever Sept. 17, 1806, but Joseph Hough continued the business by accepting a series of partners. He built a house on the other side of the street and soon moved his stock of goods there, remaining in business until 1825.
"We were generally engaged three months in going east, in purchasing our stock of goods and getting them safely delivered at Hamilton," Hough recalled.
"We had to travel on horseback from Hamilton to Philadelphia a distance of 600 miles, to purchase our goods," Hough wrote. Then "we had to engage wagons to haul them to Pittsburgh, a distance, by the then roads, of 300 miles."
"Their transportation over the mountains occupied from 20 to 25 days, and cost from $6 to $10 per hundred."
He said at first "the road from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh was exceedingly bad. It was only graded and turnpiked to Lancaster. The residue of the road in many places was very steep and exceedingly rough."
"From 3,000 to 3,500 pounds were considered a good load for a good five-horse team," Hough said.
At Pittsburgh, "we usually bought flatboats, or keelboats, and hired hands to take our goods to Cincinnati, and we were able to have them hauled to Hamilton at from 50 to 75 cents per hundred," Hough explained.
Hough said "in one of my trips from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati, I was 39 days on a keelboat with six men besides myself to man the boat. The river was then as low as has ever been known" with some spots having "scarcely a foot of water."
"My boat drew one foot and a half after taking out all such articles as we could carry ... in a large canoe," Hough said. "We had to scrape out channels ... of sufficient width and depth to float our boat." Then "we reloaded our goods and proceeded to the next" low spot, "where the same labor had to be performed, and the same exposure endured."
Hough said "we were frequently detained three days at some of the worst ripples."
After this three-month ordeal, Hough had to sell or barter his goods in Hamilton and complete the cycle by selling his receipts in New Orleans. Next week's column will cover those phases of Hough's business year.
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Journal-News, Sunday, April 23, 1989
Merchant's was no easy life; flatboat trips part of job
(This is the second of two columns on the business career of Joseph Hough.)
By Jim Blount
Many transactions in early Hamilton involved bartering — trading goods and services for other goods and services — instead of exchanging money for goods.
This required merchants receiving agricultural goods "to take the farmers' produce and send or take it to New Orleans, the only market we cold reach," explained Joseph Hough, who started operating here in this manner in 1806.
Hough's business cycle began with a three-month round trip. He went to Philadelphia to buy goods, hauled them in wagons over the Appalachians to Pittsburgh, transported them via flatboats on the Ohio River to Cincinnati and carried them to Hamilton.
Hough said "our difficulties were by no means all overcome" when goods arrived at his Hamilton store.
"To sell them, we were compelled not only to do the ordinary duties of merchants, and to incur its ordinary responsibilities and risks, but we had to become the produce merchants of the country."
Hough — in an explanation to a Hamilton historian — said he had to pack pork, have barrels made, contract for converting wheat into flour and build flat-bottomed boats, and then "commit the whole to the dangers of the navigation of the Miami, Ohio and Mississippi rivers."
He made the trip to New Orleans 14 times on crude, one-way flatboats before two-way steamboats replaced them.
"The first time . . . I left Cincinnati in December 1808 with five flatboats, all loaded with produce," Hough recalled. "At that time there were but few settlers on the Ohio River below the present city of Louisville."
"The whole country bordering on the Mississippi, from the mouth of the Ohio to Natchez," was "an almost unbroken wilderness. The Indians seldom visited the banks, except at a few points where the river approached the high lands."
"The bands of robbers who had infested the lower part of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers had not been entirely dispersed, and were yet much dreaded by the merchant navigators of those rivers so that the men on the boats were well armed, and during the night, when lying at the shore of the wilderness country, a sentinel was kept on deck to prevent surprise, "Hough said.
The Hamilton merchant said "the difficulties of the trip were not overcome when we had safely arrived at New Orleans."
"In returning home we had either to travel 1,000 miles by land, 500 of which was through the Choctaw, Chicksaw and Cherokee nations of Indians, or else go by sea, either to Philadelphia or Baltimore, and thence home by land."
"I traveled home by land eight times, and we were usually about 30 days in making the trip," Hough said.
"The first two trips I made by land, there were neither ferries nor bridges over any water course from Bayou Pierre, at Port Gibson, in the Mississippi Territory, to George Colbert's Ferry over the Tennessee River near the Mississippi-Tennessee border, or about 300 miles.
"When we came . . . to a water course which would swim with our horses, we would throw our saddlebags and provisions over our shoulders and swim our horses over."
Hough said during those trips over the Natchez Trace "we were compelled to camp without tents, regardless of rain or any other unfavorable weather, and to pack provisions sufficient to last us through the Indian nations."
In the spring of 1816, Hough was in New Orleans when Captain Henry Shreve arrived with the steamboat Washington, which "was preparing for her trip to Louisville."
"The price for a cabin passage was $150 and for freight $5 per hundred pounds," said Hough, who "regarded the charge most exorbitant, and in preference, bought a horse and went home by land."
Hough — who married Jane Hunter in Hamilton Dec. 27, 1810 — ended his business here in 1825 and moved to Vicksburg, Miss., where he ran a store until 1828 and then speculated in land.
But he spent the warmer months at his Hamilton property and a farm south of the city. Hough, who died April 23, 1853, at age 70 in Vicksburg, is buried in Hamilton.
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Journal-News, Sunday, April 30, 1989
Columbia Carriage buggy business flourished
By Jim Blount
An expanding industry in Hamilton 100 years ago was the manufacture of horse-drawn vehicles, and the leading local producer was the Columbia Carriage Co.
Columbia built thousands of carriages annually for more than 20 years before the popularity of gas-powered automobiles brought an end to the horse-and-buggy era.
The factory was on the east side of Central Avenue, opposite what is now Knightsbridge Drive. Its address was listed as either 1210 or 1316 Central Avenue.
Before it was leased by Columbia, the building had been the Hamilton Distilling Co. In recent decades the complex has housed a can company and the Leshner Corp.
A city directory published the year before Columbia began building carriages is evidence that it was the era of the horse. The 1889 directory listed 15 blacksmiths, 11 livery stables, 10 wagon makers, five carriage manufacturers and one horse dealer, but only one veterinary surgeon.
The recently-formed Hamilton Buggy Co. reported it was producing about 8,000 buggies, surreys and phaetons a year.
When Columbia started in February 1890, it anticipated shipping about 1,500 carriages to dealers that year.
An 1891 report said owners aimed their vehicles for the market "between the medium and highest grades of carriage work "
Original company officers were listed as R. A. Davis, J. Edward Wright, Thomas L Curley and R. L. Hedges.
In 1898, R. L. Hedges sold his interest to Thomas L. Curley and his brother-in-law, J. Edward Wright. Other officers of the new company included Fletcher B. Heath, Clarence Murphy, Walter L. Tobey and Edward Curley.
Earlier in 1898, a newspaper report said the company was building a four-story, 7,400-square-foot addition to the plant to house a paint department and warehouse.
The expansion reflected a rapid increase in production: 1,683 carriages in 1890; 2,943 in 1891; 4,765 in 1892; 5,383 in 1893; 6,449 in 1894; 9,657 in 1895; 10,170 in 1896; 11,500 in 1897; and more than 13,000 in 1898.
While Columbia's output was increasing, the "horseless carriages" was still a novelty. In 1900 only 4,192 cars were built in the U. S. In 1910 production reached 187,000 and a total of 469,000 cars and trucks were reported in use.
In May 1911 Columbia began the receivership process and the plant was closed by the end of the year.
The 1912 city directory — which probably was compiled at least a year earlier — still listed the Columbia Carriage Co. and the Curleright Carriage Co. at the same location.
Also building carriages then in Hamilton was the John Schweizer shop at the northeast corner of North Fifth and High streets.
Thomas L. Curley. the president of Columbia, also was listed as vice president and treasurer of the Carriage Woodwork Co. that operated in a West Side factory built by the MacNeale & Urban Safe Co. The Carriage Woodwork Co. built wooden carriage bodies for other carriage companies and auto manufacturers
By the start of World War I (1917), the city directory still included several horse-related businesses, including two horse dealers, eight blacksmiths, eight livery stables and three veterinary surgeons, But it listed only one carriage dealer and no carriage manufacturers.
At the end of the war, there were no carriage dealers or manufacturers, six blacksmiths, one horse dealer, four livery stables and three veterinarians in Hamilton.
In that same directory (1919-1920), there were nine entries for automobile dealers and two for "automobile filling stations, Louis Schwartz at 648 Heaton Street and Frank T Young at 938 Heaton Street.
Nationally, there were 6.7 million cars registered in 1919. That was an average of one car for every 16 persons. By 1929 the ratio dropped to one car for every six Americans.
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