Journal-News, Sunday, Aug. 5, 1990
H. P. Deuscher, foundry founder, energetic worker and leader
By Jim Blount
The shrinking foundry business has claimed another local victim, the H.nP. Deuscher Co., founded more than 110 years ago by a workaholic German immigrant.
Henry P. Deuscher was born May 24, 1829, in Wessingen in the state of Baden in Germany, the oldest of four children of Michael and Christina Scheurer Deuscher.
His father came to the United States in 1832, remaining in New York one year and in Lancaster County, Pa., for another year before locating in Madison Township in Butler County in 1834.
Henry P. Deuscher arrived in Butler County at age 7, was raised on a farm near Trenton and attended the German Lutheran Church in Trenton.
From 1847 through 1854, he was a butcher in a Trenton store before returning to farming from 1854-1864. Meanwhile, he was married Nov. 23, 1854, to Ellen Ball of Trenton. They would be the parents of seven children.
In August 1862, Capt. Deuscher raised Company G of the 83rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment and led the local unit for eight months.
After Civil War service, he returned to farming and also joined his brothers-in-law in operating stores in Trenton under the names of Deuscher & Wannenwetsch and Deuscher & Borger.
In 1863, Deuscher owned a distillery in Hamilton for three months before purchasing a distillery in Collinsville, which he operated until 1874.
That year he joined Israel Williams, owner of the property, in opening a malthouse at the corner of Front and Wood streets (now Pershing Avenue), a building that previously had housed a brewery and a distillery. It was called H. P. Deuscher & Co. and supplied malt to breweries in the area.
He moved his residence to Hamilton in 1878, but continued to operate a 481-acre farm south of Trenton along the Great Miami River. Deuscher also owned farm land in Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas.
The H. P. Deuscher Co. was created when he obtained the former Variety Iron Works from its Indianapolis owners. Deuscher took over the five-acre foundry complex at S. Seventh and Hanover streets in 1879
Capitalizing on his agriculture experience, Deuscher emphasized a variety of items to make farming easier, including corn planters, harrows, hay rakes, soil pulverizers, fence machines and churns.
One of the most successful items was the Hamilton Corn Planter. By 1891, more than 5,000 had been sold in 12 years.
According to an 1894 report, the company had a payroll of only about $45 a week when Deuscher acquired Variety. Fifteen years later it paid an average of about $1,500 a week.
The Deuscher foundry also produced castings for the Fashion School Desk with sales of 8,000 1891.
In the 1890s, the company expanded into heating and ventilating equipment, and Deuscher formed the Cincinnati Heating and Ventilating Co.
Deuscher also had interests in a variety of other businesses. He was president of the Miamisburg Brewing Co., Miamisburg; vice president of the Becker Brewing Co., Cincinnati; and had investments in at least two other Hamilton firms, the Martin Mason Brewery Co., and Berk, Klngery & Co., a gelatin manufacturer.
Deuscher, 74, died Tuesday Jan. 20, 1903, at his home at 330 Wood Street. His funeral service was conducted in two languages, English and German, by two, ministers in the German Lutheran Church in Trenton with burial also in Trenton.
Meanwhile, the H. P. Deuscher Co. continued making horse-drawn farm machinery until Aug. 10, 1910, when a fire destroyed the foundry.
A new $45,000 foundry was built on the same site. But when it opened in 1911, instead of consumer products, it switched to producing iron castings strictly for other manufacturers.
The business continued until July 1990 when new owners, operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, ended production.
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Journal-News, Sunday, Aug. 12, 1990
New High-Main bridge would be fifth one
By Jim Blount
The Ohio Department of Transportation has said it intends to replace the 75-year-old High-Main Street Bridge in the heart of Hamilton.
The ODOT plan — still only in the talking stage — could lead to construction of the fifth permanent bridge at that location, this one with as many as six traffic lanes.
The first was the 380-foot Miami Bridge, which opened Dec. 29, 1819. It was a supplant to ferries that connected the rival towns of Hamilton and Rossville on opposite sides of the Great Miami River.
Although authorized by the Ohio General Assembly, the Miami Bridge was a private venture capitalized by stockholders, mostly residents of Hamilton and Rossville.
The two-lane bridge was opened in 1819, despite an outbreak of malaria, which took the lives of some bridge workers and a stroke that claimed the life of Nathan Hunt, the contractor.
It cost $25,194.84, which was considerably more than the $17,000 in the original contract. It went down Sept. 20, 1866, in a flood.
In 1867, a suspension bridge replaced the fallen 46-year-old covered wood span. The second bridge, which had two impressive stone pillars at each end, cost $85,000.
It was razed in 1895 to make way for a $109,000 iron truss bridge which builders claimed was then the longest single span bridge in the nation. It was one of four bridges washed away March 25-26,1913, in Hamilton's greatest flood.
A ferry and pontoon bridges were temporary links for the divided city until a temporary piling bridge could be built between High Street on the east side of the river and Main Street on the west side.
A county emergency board formed in April 1913 authorized the issuance of bonds to build the fourth bridge. Board members were the three county commissioners, Frank J. Davis, James Harmon and Edward Hemann, plus George T. Reiss, Charles E. Mason and T. C. Simpson.
A $142,440.90 contract was awarded to the A. J. Yawger Co. of Indianapolis which built the span under the director of Fred M. Hammerle, county engineer.
Work began May 11, 1914, on the 576 by 66-foot bridge, and it was dedicated less than a year later.
Thursday, May 6, 1915, after a parade, County Prosecutor Ben A. Bickley presided over ceremonies at the bridge, which was christened with champagne by Miss Margaret Murphy, Miss Mary Francis Davis and Miss Norma Hemann of Hamilton, Miss Clara Van Ausdal of Oxford, and Miss Leotta Coddington of Middletown.
Speakers included Judge E. H. Jones of Hamilton, Judge Ben Harwitz of Middletown and Lou J. Beauchamp of Hamilton
When the bridge was dedicated, European nations had been involved in World War I for 10 months.
The neutral United States moved closer to involvement the day after the bridge ceremonies when a German submarine torpedoed and sank the Lusitania, a British liner with about 1,800 passengers aboard.
There were about 1,200 casualties, including 128 Americans, when the ship went down off the coast of Ireland on Friday, May 6, at 2:33 p.m., almost 24 hours to the minute after the start the bridge dedicated in Hamilton.
Nearly 30 years and another world war later, an accident led to improvements and expansion for the High-Main Street Bridge.
A section of the north sidewalk collapsed under a Hamilton woman at 7:20 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, 1945. After a 45-foot fall, she was rescued by Hamilton Patrolman Henry Teboe.
After that near tragedy, the county and state spent $87,000 to repair and widen the bridge to its present configuration. West and traffic patterns were improved in the 1960s when bridge lanes were connected to and from Park and Ross avenues.
According to recent studies, the bridge handles an average of more than 27,300 vehicles a day, including more than 2,630 during the peak hour.
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Journal-News, Sunday, Aug. 19, 1990
County hangings held privately outside jail
By Jim Blount
Two men were hanged in Butler County in the 19th century after murder convictions. But unlike other places, reports indicate the 1869 and 1885 executions here were not conducted as day-long carnivals in a public square.
Instead, witnesses were limited and the gallows were built in a relatively private area.
In both cases, temporary scaffolds were constructed in the southeast corner of the courtyard outside the old Butler County Jail (1848-1970) on Court Street in downtown Hamilton.
Today the site probably would be within the walls of the present jail.
John Griffin was hanged Thursday, July 29, 1869, at 2:05 p.m. under the direction of Sheriff Robert N. Andrews.
Griffin was indicted in the murder of Uzile Prickett, a wrestler who was in Hamilton for a match against Tim Walker, who unexpectedly won the June 12, 1868 contest.
That same night, Prickett was shot to death during a struggle which began as a fistfight at the Hole in the Wall, a Hamilton saloon.
Griffin's trial began Monday, Feb. 22, 1869, in Butler County Common Pleas Court. Five days later, after five hours of deliberation, a jury returned with a guilty verdict Saturday night, Feb. 27.
A writer of the 1882 history of Butler County suggests that Griffin may have been framed by gamblers who lost money on the wrestling match, that the favored Prickett apparently purposely lost.
Prickett was reported to have $800 to $900 on him before he was killed.
Nevertheless, Judge William J. Gilmore sentenced him to hang Thursday, May 27, 1969, but two Ohio Supreme Court justices ordered a delay until the case could be reviewed by the full court.
That hearing was June 30 in Columbus and the next day the state court set a new execution date, July 29. Gov. Rutherford B. Hayes was asked to commute the sentence, but he refused.
On the appointed day, a curious crowd gathered at the Butler County jail. But witnesses were limited to Griffin's friends, clergy, city officials and the press.
The 1882 Butler County history describes the gallows as "a very rude piece of workmanship," eight feet in length and five feet wide. There were eight steps to the 5x5 footplatform, which was five feet from the floor.
It was 15.5 feet from the floor to the beam to which the upper end of the hangman's rope was attached.
Moments before the trap door was sprung, the noose was adjusted around Griffin's neck and a white hood was placed over his head.
George Schneider - the second and last man hanged in the county -- died at 10:26 a.m. Friday, June 19, 1885, with Sheriff George W. St. Clair in charge.
Schneider, who resided near Millville, was convicted of murdering his mother Oct. 31, 1884.
Schneider was executed on a scaffold borrowed from Hamilton County.
The sheriff was besieged with requests from persons who wanted to witness the hanging. A newspaper said more than 200 persons were unable to obtain admission. Hundreds waited outside the jail to hear details of Schneider's death.
Twelve years later, the electric chair replaced hanging as the means of execution in Ohio.
A total of 315 persons were electrocuted in the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus between April 26, 1897, and March 15,1963.
The first of seven men sentenced from Butler County was electrocuted Aug. 19, 1904; the last July 2, 1948.
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Journal-News, Sunday, Aug. 26, 1990
Hopes of pro baseball team drowned in 1913
By Jim Blount
Professional baseball had its last gasp in Hamilton in 1913, a year remembered for a devastating flood, not for hits, runs and diamond victories.
The fourth minor league club to represent the city was called the Hamilton Browns. As in 1911, Hamilton was a member of the Ohio State League.
The 1913 OSL also included the Ironton Nailers, Portsmouth Cobblers and Chillicothe Babes in Ohio, the Huntington Blue Sox and Charleston Senators in West Virginia, and two Kentucky teams, the Lexington Colts and the Maysville Burley Cubs.
A Hamilton group agreed to buy the 1912 Lima franchise for $3,000. The group had $1,700 in February and raised the remainder in several ways, including a local variety show featuring a brother-sister boxing match.
The Hamilton corporation included John H. DeArmond, Don Hooven, Lynn Forbes, J. B. Connaughton, Charles Miller, Webb Cullen, Harry Page, W. C. Atherton, Scott Engle and L. D. McGinley.
The team also needed funds for building a ball park, buying uniforms and equipment, acquiring players and building a reserve for salaries, which were limited to a total of $1,200 a month by the league.
Franchise owners announced plans March 11 to build a new park in Peck's Addition, opposite the South Hamilton railroad crossing (Central and Pleasant Avenues), and awarded a $3,000 contract to Bender Brothers for a 700-seat grandstand.
But Hamilton's greatest disaster caused cancellation of those plans two weeks later.
The Browns were signing players Tuesday, March 25, 1913, when Hamilton — including the site of the Browns' proposed home field — was inundated by the Great Miami River. The flooded city remained under martial law until two days before the opening of the OSL season Thursday, May 8.
Instead of building a new park, the team moved its home games to Graeser's Park (later called Renner's), east of the Pennsylvania Railroad between Mosler, Lincoln and Alsace Avenues.
Managing the team was George Watson "Zeke" Wrigley, 40, who had managed OSL teams in 1911 and 1912, after a playing career which included 237 games in the major leagues. The infielder had a major league average of .258 with Washington, New York and Brooklyn in the National League from 1896 through 1899.
Wrigley tried 50 players during the season, including five others who appear in major league records. Two were sold to the Cincinnati Reds before the end of the 1913 season.
Infielder Lee Hobbs, a Hamiltonian, was with the Reds in 1913 and 1916 while Karl Daniel "Dutch" Meister, an outfielder from Marietta, was in four games for Cincinnati in 1913.
They were sold to the Reds for $2,500 and $2,000, which a local newspaper said was "probably the highest price the Reds have ever paid for bush league ball players."
Ralph Newton Shafer, an outfielder, and Shortstop Harry J. Daubert were with Pittsburgh in 1914 and 1915, respectively, and Arthur Rue Decatur pitched in 153 games (23-24 record) for the Dodgers and Phillies from 1922 through 1927.
The Browns' season followed the same scenario experienced by previous Hamilton minor league teams. They climbed to fifth in the eight-team OSL after a five-game win streak in early August, but the final month of the season was a disaster.
Wrigley asked for his release Sept. 6 after a disagreement with the management. Catcher Nick Francisco finished the season as manager.
In the last home game Sept. 11, Hamilton beat Portsmouth 5-2, and on the last regular-season date, Sept. 21, the Browns split a doubleheader at Ironton.
The last professional game was Monday. Sept. 22, 1913, when Hamilton lost an exhibition, 2-0, to the Cincinnati Reds, managed by-Joe Tinker, who as a player had been part of the fabled Tinkers-Evers-Chance double-play combination.
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