Journal-News, Sunday, Jan. 6,1991
Peter Schwab took local brewery from struggling to successful
By Jim Blount
Through perseverance and daring, Peter Schwab converted a struggling local brewery into a profitable operation with a national reputation by the turn of the century.
Schwab arrived in Hamilton in 1850 as a 12-year-old cooper's apprentice from Bavaria. By saving and through business partnerships, in 1874 he was able to buy an existing brewery at S. Front and Sycamore streets, along the railroad.
Its brewing capacity in 1874 was only 50 barrels a day, and in Schwab's first year of ownership, his sales were only 12,000 barrels. It took a few years to realize any profit.
By 1890, his successful marketing had required that the Cincinnati Brewing Company expand its capacity to 400 barrels per day and add an ice plant.
An advertisement in 1891 boasted of producing 78,695 barrels (or 40 million glasses) of beer between May 1, 1890, and May 1, 1891, a 50 percent increase over the previous year. Its list of agents included outlets in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Dayton and other cities.
Schwab advertised his Pure Gold brand as "the beer that made Milwaukee jealous" - a jab at his competitors in a city with a liking for German lager.
By 1903, Schwab's annual sales were up to 82,000 barrels and plant capacity was extended to a capacity of 120,000 barrels a year. The operation included malting, bottling and refrigerating departments.
In addition, a subsidiary, the Hamilton Artificial Ice Co., had a daily capacity of 85 tons of ice.
A new bottling building was built in the early 1900s. Instead of five men bottling only 10 barrels of beer a day, the company could then bottle 85 barrels a day -- or about 19,000 bottles in 10 hours.
The Cincinnati Brewing Company was periodically involved in "beer wars" with brewing combines in other cities.
For example, in June 1901, a representative of Indianapolis breweries was in Hamilton to challenge Schwab on his home turf in retaliation for Schwab's price cutting in Indianapolis. Indianapolis brewers were selling beer at $7 a barrel when Schwab announced he would chop his price to $4 and $5 per barrel. (At the same time, Schwab's price in Hamilton remained at $7.)
The Indianapolis breweries planned to offer their beer in Hamilton at $4 or $4.50 a barrel to undercut Schwab, a strategy which failed to increase their sales here.
Two months later, another beer pitted Schwab against brewers in Columbus and Milwaukee over the sale of beer to saloons in Cincinnati. The Hamilton brewer offered his beer in Cincinnati at $6.40 per barrel -- $1 less than the Columbus and Milwaukee price.
Schwab -- who usually prevailed in these beer wars -- directed the Hamilton brewery until his death in 1913.
His successors stopped beer production in 1920, after Prohibition had closed legitimate markets for alcoholic beverages.
For the next 49 years, the S. Front Street complex was used by the Valley Ice Company.
The buildings were demolished in 1969 and a Kroger store was built on the site.
But it closed in the mid 1970s and the land and structure were acquired by the city of Hamilton and converted to a police headquarters and municipal court.
Schwab directed his brewery, other businesses and civic ventures from his residence at the southeast corner of Court and S Front streets, now the site of the Hamilton Post Office.
He was married twice, first in 1659 to Caroline Young. They parented seven children before her death in July 1881. He was married a second time July 13, 1888, to Mary E. Schwenn.
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Journal News, Sunday. Jan. 13, 1991
Fog culprit in 1964 pileup on I-75
By Jim Blount
A recent interstate pileup in Tennessee resembled Butler County's worst traffic accident based on the number of vehicles and people involved. Both tragedies were on Interstate 75. As in Tennessee, fog was the fatal factor Saturday morning, Oct. 3, 1964, on I-75 in eastern Union and Liberty townships.
Two persons were killed and at least 22 injured in a series of crashes of crashes along a five-mile stretch of I-75 extending north from near the Tylersville Road exit.
Killed were a 24-year-old Ohio highway patrolman and a 29-year-old Franklin motorist.
The first of the chain-reaction collisions was at about 6:30 a.m. as heavy fog "blanketed the highway and cut visibility to a few yards," reported the Journal-News. "Visibility was only about 50 feet," reported an injured driver from Tennessee. "I don't know what happened to my car. Two cars hit me from behind."
An injured woman from Alabama said, "I didn't see anything. Ail at once we were stopped by a crash."
"We were in pockets of fog at times, and then it started to get worse," explained a woman from Germantown. "I was going about 55 and decided to slow down. I was going about 40 when I hit a car. Before we could get out, another car hit me."
High temperatures had been 80 and 79 degrees the two preceding days, Thursday and Friday, and the low that morning was 40 degrees after a rainfall of about a tenth of an inch. Officials said the difference between the air temperature and the moist ground produced the dense fog that caused the problem on the interstate.
The visibility and the confusion at the scene were so great that investigating officers couldn't be certain of the sequence of events or even the number of vehicles involved. Estimates were between 20 to 25 vehicles.
At least five ambulances and 17 tow trucks were sent to the area. A dozen highway patrolman and at least five Butler County deputies offered assistance or were involved in the investigation.
The Franklin driver was killed about 6:30 a.m. in what was believed to have been the first multiple-vehicle accident in the southbound lanes south of Tylersville Road. His car smashed into a tractor trailer and a guard rail after he veered away from two cars which had been involved in a rear-end pileup.
A series of rear-end collisions followed as other drivers tried to avoid the initial mishaps.
Patrolman Ernest E. Cole, a 1958 graduate of Fairfield High School, was killed an hour later and about five miles north of the original accident site. He was using a flashlight to attempt to stop traffic in the southbound lanes when he was struck by a car driven by a West Alexandria man.
Another five or six-car pileup followed as motorists tried to avoid the patrolman's body, which had been thrown 75 feet down the interstate.
The first group of seven injured persons from five cars arrived at Mercy Hospital in Hamilton shortly after 8 a.m. They were transported by Deputy Robert Heath, whose sheriff's cruiser was involved in a minor accident on Tylersville Road while on the way to the hospital.
Heath also was delayed several minutes by a freight train at the Fourth and High Streets crossing because there was no underpass in 1964.
The victims suffered a variety of skull, back and leg injuries in addition to face and body lacerations.
At least 10 persons were treated at Mercy Hospital and another 10 were admitted or treated at Middletown Hospital.
At the Mercy emergency room, the injured were met by a team of 20 doctors, nurses and other hospital employees that had been assembled when numerous calls for help indicated the scope of the pileup and the number of potential injuries.
The sheriff's office in Hamilton received its first call at 6:54 a.m. and handled more than 100 telephone calls and radio messages before the situation was under control.
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Journal News, Sunday, Jan. 20, 1991
Winter of 1917-18 coldest ever here
(This is the first of six columns on World War I and the winter of 1917-18.)
By Jim Blount
When winters are compared, the snow and cold of December and January 1917-1918 is the yardstick for the Hamilton area.
The low dropped below zero 11 of 31 days in December 1917 and snow totaled 16.5 inches in the 22 days between Dec. 6 and Dec. 28. (In Cincinnati weather records, six of the December 1917 days are the record lows for those dates.)
In January 1918, according to local reports, the low plunged below zero 14 days, including nine in a row, and snow measured at least 30.5 inches.
Many Hamiltonians also followed news of a massive ice jam that formed on the Ohio River between Warsaw, Ky., and Rising Sun, Ind. It continued for 58 days (Dec. 16-Feb. 12).
That winter was considered the harshest in 40 years and more than 20 years later it was still being called "the worst winter in a generation." It was the standard by which other frigid winters were measured into the mid 1970s.
It also was a war year. The United States had declared war on Germany in April 1917. There was limited U. S. participation in the fighting in Europe through the winter of 1917-1918.
But on the home front, many sacrifices were being made to arm and feed those men bound for World War I battle areas. Some of the war measures contributed to the extreme hardships and shortages that winter, especially in December and January.
The severe weather started Thursday, Dec. 6, when the temperature dipped to seven below zero with an inch of snow. Schools in Trenton closed for lack of coal and about 500 families were reported without fuel to heat their residences.
The situation worsened the next day with an additional eight inches of snow, bringing pedestrian, motor vehicle, streetcar and rail traffic to a standstill for several days.
The coldest morning, according to local news records, was Monday, Dec. 10, with a reading of 18 below. Scheduled passenger trains through Hamilton were four to six and a half hours late because of the combination of cold and snow.
It was 16 below the next day, Dec. 11, and newspapers called it Ohio's "coldest December weather in 40 years." (The all-time official low temperature in Cincinnati for any December day was 13 below Dec. 11,1917.)
That Tuesday, water pipes were frozen in many Hamilton homes, stores closed, churches canceled evening weekday services and street lighting was curtailed to conserve fuel.
Friday, Dec. 28, another two inches of snow brought the month's total to 16.5 inches and the next morning the low was 12 below. But the worst was still to come in January.
"The month of January 1918 will go down into meteorological history as one of the coldest months in the history of the latitude," noted the Journal Feb. 1, 1918, after 14 days with lows below zero and only four of 31 days with high temperatures above freezing.
Measurable snow was reported on at least seven days, including a six inch snowfall Jan. 2, eight inches Jan. 11, and the largest storm of the two frigid months on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Jan. 12-14, when 30-mile-an-hour winds brought an accumulation of 14 inches.
"For the second time in the history of the city since railroad trains started," Sept. 23, 1851, the Journal reported, "Hamilton was cut off from railroad service."
"There was never a period of complete interruption until March 25, 1913, when the flood stopped all traffic. The second complete stoppage . . . was Saturday, Jan. 12, 1918," noted the newspaper. The 12-hour railroad shutdown meant no mail moved in or out of Hamilton during that time.
That weekend blizzard was followed by nine straight days of below-zero lows. The sub-zero streak started Jan. 15 (-14) and ended Jan. 23 (-7). The coldest morning in that period was 20 below Saturday morning, Jan. 19.
The thaw began slowly in February 1918 as Hamilton was experiencing federally-ordered "Heatless Mondays."
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Journal News, Sunday, Jan. 27, 1991
Residents saluted brave with 'Taps' in 1918
(This is the second of six columns on World War I and the winter of 1917-18.)
By Jim Blount
A silent tribute to the men serving in World War I was observed each evening by residents in part of Hamilton after the mournful sounds of "Taps" drifted through the neighborhood. The spontaneous patriotic ritual on Hamilton's West Side was called a "silent meditation for the brave boys in khaki."
The daily salute was described in a Hamilton newspaper Oct. 10, 1918, amid reports of local casualties during the final European battles of the war.
Two Hamilton men -- identified in the news account as James P. Dick and Henry Georgenson -- initiated the tribute by playing "Taps," a familiar military bugle call.
"People of the West Side each night at 9 p.m. show their loyalty and their devotion to the boys 'over there' and also the boys in the various camps and cantonments," a newspaper noted. "This is done in a way that brings the war spirit closely home to the people of that section of the city."
"Several weeks ago James P. Dick began sounding 'Taps' at promptly 9 p.m. each evening at his home on Cleveland Avenue, in honor of the boys in his neighborhood, with the suggestion that at that hour the people stop on the streets or in their homes and for a few moments give their thoughts and prayers to the boys in khaki," the account continued".
"Another, Henry Georgenson, of Park Avenue, who has two brothers in the service, has now joined Dick and also each evening at 9 p.m. sounds Taps' on his cornet.
"He usually waits to hear Dick and when the sound of Taps' from Cleveland Avenue die away, Georgenson answers," the newspaper explained.
"The effect is electrifying -- as the spirit of the Great War is thus brought home to the people of the West Side, especially those living north of Main Street."
The article said "the people have come to await with expectancy the sounding of 'Taps,' and for the moment all conversation or amusement or work is stopped, and the people remain in silent meditation for the brave boys in khaki."
"The hour of 9 p.m. has become an hour of sacred meditation for the people of the West Side."
"Last night at 9 p.m.," the newspaper said, "a pathetic scene was witnessed at N, D Street and Park Avenue. A man and wife of middle-age were homeward bound at the first sound of Taps' by Georgenson. "They hesitated not an instant. Almost in the middle of the street they stopped.
"The man removed his hat and as 'Taps' were sounded, each stood with bowed head, no doubt in prayer, as they thought of the boys who have gone forth at their country's call to make the world safe to live in."
The newspaper said "it has been suggested that in other sections of the city this plan be taken up and each night at 9 p.m. 'Taps' be sounded in honor of the l,300 young men of Hamilton now in service."
A report after the war's end said more than 1,300 men from Hamilton entered the armed forces "while Butler County has added to this more than 1,100 making more than 2,400 young men from Butler County taking some part in the Great War."
"Taps" was composed by Daniel Butterfield (1831-1901) who rose from sergeant to major general during the Civil War.
The twice-wounded Congressional Medal of Honor winner -- who was superintendent of the eastern division of the American Express Company in New York before the Civil War -- originated the bugle call while directing troops in Virginia in 1862.
Butterfield reportedly was inspired to write "Taps" because he wanted a distinctive bugle call for lights out for his troops.
It also became a traditional salute at military funerals and would be heard in Hamilton after the armistice as some of the local war dead were returned for burial. Records indicate that at least 67 Hamilton men died in World War I.
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