Journal-News, Sunday, Nov. 5, 1989
City's 17 PR counts long and complicated
By Jim Blount
Voters can expect to know the membership of the 1990-91 Hamilton City Council by late evening Tuesday or, at worst, during the early hours of Wednesday.
Counting council votes is entrusted to computers which tabulate the ballots. The seven with the highest totals win two-year terms. The candidate with the most votes is mayor.
It hasn't always been that simple. In fact, it was always complicated and often time-consuming in 17 city elections under proportional representation — commonly known as PR.
With PR, the election outcome wasn't known until Wednesday afternoon or evening, or as late as Thursday.
Councils chosen from 1927 through 1959 were selected by PR. Fourteen Hamilton Councils since 1961 have been elected by the simplified 7-x method.
With PR, a voter, if he wished, could vote for as few as one candidate or for all of them — even if there were 20 seeking the seven seats.
Under PR, voters expressed their preferences with numbers. The voter would place a "1" in front of the name of his first choice, a "2" for the second choice, etc., through No. 20, if desired.
Candidates were elected when they reached a vote quota, which was explained this way in the 1930s:
"The total valid ballots are divided by eight and the resulting figure, plus one, is the quota. If a fraction results, the next highest quotient is the quota."
In 1937, for example, the 14,309 valid ballots cast for city council divided by eight produced 1,788 5⁄8, or a quota of 1,789.
After the first-choice votes were counted, two transfers took place:
* 1. Votes of the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes were distributed to the second-place candidates on those ballots.
*2. Any surplus votes from the leader were transferred to second selections on those ballots.
This process continued until only seven persons remained.
In the 1937 example, only one candidate exceeded the 1,789 quota on first-choice votes. His total was 1,946 — a surplus of 157, or one in every 12.3 votes.
Election workers went through the pile of ballots for the elected candidate and extracted every 12th ballot, which then were credited to the voters' second choice.
In some years, candidates who were among the top seven in first-choice voters slipped to also-rans and elimination as the count progressed.
A candidate in 1939 was 10th in first-choice votes, but won one of the seven seats after 10 counts. In 1949, the person 12th in first-choice votes won a seat on the 12th of 22 counts. In 1959, the person who was fifth in first-choice votes failed to win election after 18 counts.
The 1928-29 council, the first elected under the charter and via PR, included Minor Beckett, August Biermann, Raymond H. Burke, Homer Ferguson, Dr. Mark Millikin, J. W. Myers and Leo J. Welsh, (Beckett died Dec. 4, 1928, and his term was completed by John M. Beeler.)
There were 30 candidates in that first PR contest in November 1927 and it took 26 counts to narrow it to seven.
The 1947 election with 27 contenders required 22 PR counts and in 1933 and 1945, when there were 24 and 25 candidates, there were 20 counts.
The fewest counts (10) was in 1939 when 16 sought office.
PR proponents said the system — a product of municipal reform after the turn of the century — made political control more difficult and encouraged the election of minorities.
Hamiltonians, after four earlier failures, killed PR Nov. 8,1960, when 56.2 percent (16,109-12,542) voted to replace it with the 7-x plan.
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Journal-News, Sunday, Nov. 12,1989
First Armistice Day in 1918 was a hoax
By Jim Blount
Until the last veteran of World War I dies, some Americans will argue that it is Armistice Day, not Veterans' Day, which should be observed each November. The holiday name was changed in 1954 to Veterans' Day to recognize the service of men and women in all American wars.
The first Armistice Day was Nov. 11, 1918, when the agreement ending World War I was signed. The holiday — honoring those who served in World War I — officially began in 1926.
Lost over the 71 years is the fact there were two armistice days in November 1918 — the first a hoax.
The premature celebration erupted Thursday afternoon, Nov. 7, 1918. It began here about 2 p.m. with the ringing of church bells, the sounding of locomotive whistles and the blowing of factory whistles.
A newspaper report said a big whistle at the Hooven, Owens & Rentschler factory "was started and let go until practically all the steam was out of the boilers, which necessitated the shutting down of the entire plant."
The HOR workers formed a spontaneous parade which was soon joined by employees from the nearby Niles Tool Works and the American Can Co.
Within a few minutes, workers from the Champion Coated Paper Co. swelled the procession, which headed toward downtown Hamilton, adding more celebrants along the way.
"One of the real attractive features of the parade was the war work girls . . . clad in their working bloomers," noted a reporter. "They attracted much attention and elicited many cheers from the crowds which soon assembled upon the uptown streets."
The parade fizzled as it reached Second and High streets, where revelers learned the armistice was a hoax.
The false report had been sent to the New York office of a news service by its correspondents in Paris. It reached this area via a Cincinnati newspaper.
Checking the story, a rival news service learned through the U. S. State Department that German and Allied leaders had not reached an agreement.
In fact, France's Field Marshall Ferdinand Foch and German representatives were to meet for the first time later that day (Nov. 7). Those sessions produced the armistice that was to be effective at 11 a.m., Paris time, Monday, Nov. 11, 1918.
The news reached Hamilton — then a city of about 40,000 — at 2:05 a.m., Nov. 11.
"Railroad whistles were blowing, but at that hour of the night It was thought inadvisable to awaken Hamilton as a day of rejoicing lay before the people," a newspaper reported.
The restraint ended at 5 a.m. when Henry B. Grevey, director of public safety, ordered the ringing of fire bells in Hamilton. The word also was spread by factory whistles.
As workers arrived at local factories at 7 a.m., another impromptu parade formed.
Ceremonies marking the end of the war — then involving more than 1,000 servicemen from the Hamilton area — began at 10 a.m. at the Butler County Courthouse.
Speakers included Mayor C. J Smith, U. S. Rep. Warren Gard and Judge Clarence Murphy.
An organized community parade was planned for 7 p.m., starting at the courthouse and marching west to Millville Avenue and then east via a circuitous route to 10th Street before ending at the courthouse.
More than 10,000 people were believed to have marched in the procession, which was estimated at between three and three and one-half miles In length. Later, a huge fire was built, and a coffin containing a dummy representing Kaiser Wilhelm II was thrown Into the flames.
"Pandemonium reigned in Hamilton today," said a news account, which claimed "never before had Hamilton such a celebration. There was no work, no business — no anything, but joy let loose."
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Journal-News, Sunday, Nov. 19, 1989
Robert E. Lee led 1835 mission through county
By Jim Blount
When Ohio and Michigan almost went to war, a 28-year-old lieutenant led a small federal force through Butler County on a peace-keeping mission.
Robert E. Lee — inconspicuous in the Toledo War in 1830s — would become a familiar name 26 years later as a Confederate commander during the bloody, four-year Civil War.
The Toledo War was an Ohio-Michigan boundary line dispute heated by a series of oversights, errors, contradictions and political maneuvers by surveyors, mapmakers and politicians.
In 1835, Lee led a detachment of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers on a northern march along the eastern edge of Butler County. His route, once known as the Dixie Highway and U. S. 25, is now Cincinnati-Dayton Road.
Along the road, just north of the Butler County line, a marker honors Lee's service during the Toledo War. The monument, dedicated Tuesday, Oct. 15, 1928, is in Warren County, south of Ohio 73, near Franklin.
A plaque there says the memorial was sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy "in loving memory of Robert E. Lee and to mark the route of the Dixie Highway."
In 1861, the West Point-trained Lee rejected a chance to command the Union army and instead accepted a commission in the Confederate force. A year later, he was given command of the main southern army in the Virginia theater and held that post until his April 1865 surrender to Ulysses S. Grant.
The Lee marker near Franklin was presented by Mrs. Albert Sidney Porter, president of the Ohio Division of the United Daughters of the confederacy.
The dedication address was by Fitzgerald Flourney, like Lee, a native of Virginia.
A newspaper said "the tablet upon the native boulder bears a medallion of General Lee seated on his charger, Traveler, with a fitting inscription commemorating his bravery in the Civil War as the Confederate leader."
In 1835, as Michigan Territory sought statehood, Lee was sent into the 520-square-mile area claimed by both Ohio and Michigan.
Gov. Robert Lucas of Ohio and Gov. Stevens T. Mason of Michigan Territory couldn't resolve their differences, and both called out militia to assert their conflicting claims by force if necessary.
Tempers heated when Michigan captured nine Ohio boundary commissioners in the disputed land which stretched from the mouth of the Maumee River at Lake Erie to the Indiana border.
President Andrew Jackson was thrust into the argument and ordered federal negotiators and soldiers to the troubled area around Toledo.
Lee's engineers were sent to survey the coveted strip, which measured seven miles north-to-south near Lake Erie and 11 miles wide at the Indiana line. The army's task took the entire summer of 1835.
A federal decision, fraught with political considerations on the eve of a presidential election, came the next year.
June 15, 1836, Jackson signed a congressional act which finally established Ohio's northern boundary and enabled Michigan to become a state. The act recognized the boundary claimed by Ohio.
To salve Michigan's wounds, Congress granted it the Upper Peninsula, then part of Wisconsin Territory.
Although it was much larger (16,538 square miles) than the Toledo tract (520 square miles), it was unappreciated compensation,
It would be a few years before Michigan, which became the 26th state Jan. 26, 1837, realized it had gained a bonanza in copper and iron ore and timber in acquiring the Upper Peninsula, which today represents about 29 percent of the state's area (56,954 square miles).
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Journal-News, Sunday, Nov. 26, 1989
Flu epidemic halted Hamilton in 1918
By Jim Blount
Business, industry and education halted, and social and religious activities were curtailed when a terrifying flu epidemic struck the Hamilton area in 1918.
The Spanish influenza threatened every person with a short illness and a sudden death. It claimed more lives here than the tragic Great Miami River flood of March 1913. About a fourth of the 65 Butler County servicemen who died during World War I were victims of the flu.
It caused local shortages of doctors, nurses, hospital attendants, hospital beds and grave diggers.
The Hamilton death toll was at least 247. In addition, about 100 died in Middletown and others succumbed in the rural parts of Butler County.
More than 548,000 deaths in the United States were attributed to the flu or to pneumonia, which usually followed the flu. It is considered the worst epidemic in U. S. history.
The flu spread across the nation in September, October and November 1918 — just as World War I was coming to an end.
In fact, many believed the plague was a desperate, last-chance action by Germany. A popular rumor was that the flu germs had been put ashore in the U. S. from a German submarine.
About 300,000 Germans also died of the same flu, which claimed 21 million lives around the world.
Dr. Henry Krone, a Hamilton health officer, reported 163 out of 205 deaths in the city in October were the result of the flu. In November, 53 of 75 local deaths were caused by the flu. Another 31 flu deaths were recorded in December 1918.
Among the victims were several people who had aided other flu sufferers. The death list included two firefighters, two nuns at Mercy Hospital and a hospital attendant.
There were 1,000 cases of flu in Hamilton when city leaders acted to prohibit "congregations of persons" for any reason. Mayor C. J. Smith issued a proclamation closing schools, churches and public buildings, effective Monday, Oct. 7.
Two days later, the Hamilton Board of Health ordered that funerals be limited to members of the family.
The first of five churchless Sundays was Oct. 13.
The next day Mercy Hospital — then the city's only hospital — erected three tents, each 20 by 30 feet, on vacant land behind the hospital for treatment of flu and pneumonia patients.
The tents expanded the hospital's strained capacity and was in line with the current medical belief that fresh air was the best treatment for epidemic victims.
Tuesday, Oct. 15, L. P. Clawson of Greenwood Cemetery said he didn't have enough men to dig graves for the dead. Sheriff Frank Pepper responded by sending prisoners from the county Jail to relieve the cemetery crisis,
This was during the deadliest period (Monday, Oct. 14, through Friday, Oct. 18) when 41 died of the flu.
Local doctors were said to be averaging 100 hours calls a day, plus seeing as many during their office hours.
Meanwhile, a variety of preventative measures were taken.
F. J. Sloat, director of public service, ordered the flushing of many Hamilton streets. Offices and factories were fumigated. City officials issued an ultimatum to interurban companies serving Hamilton: clean their electric-powered cars or face stoppage orders.
Relief came the last week of October, although the epidemic didn't end until Dec. 20, 1918.
City officials lifted the ban on meetings and normal business Monday, Nov. 4, just in time for the election the next day. However, the prohibition continued on the congregation of people at the board of elections for the vote count and at candidate parties later that night.
Churches were allowed to resume services Sunday, Nov. 10, the day before the armistice ended World War I.
But schools, closed since Friday, Oct. 4, didn't reopen until Monday, Nov. 18, Because of an increase in flu cases, they were closed again from Dec. 2 until Dec. 16.
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