Journal-News, Monday, Aug. 3, 1992
City of Hamilton in darkness during World War II air raid drill
By Jim Blount
Hamilton started preparing for the possibility of air raids in August 1942 by conducting a series of dim-outs that were supposed to deny enemy pilots a clear view of local targets.
Unknown to patriotic citizens in 1942, the drills were for psychological reasons because an air attack on the United States by German or Japanese planes was considered unlikely.
The World War II program was aimed at maintaining civilian support for the war and giving people at home a feeling that they were contributing to the war effort. More than 3,300 people were involved in civilian defense in Hamilton alone. Hundreds also volunteered in other Butler County communities
Blackouts and dimouts had been ordered on the West Coast in the uncertain weeks after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. They were implemented several weeks later on the East Coast and finally in the Midwest in the war's eighth month.
The first local dimout — involving only the West Side — began at 10 o'clock Sunday night, Aug. 2, 1942, and the 15-minute exercise was called "highly successful" by Alexander Thomson Jr., Hamilton's civilian defense commander.
Many local residents had placed blackout curtains at windows in preparation for the drill and Thomson said seven violations were reported, but only two were considered major.
Armondale (the neighborhood east of Fillmore School) was a problem area because strong and unfavorable winds prevented residents from hearing the plant whistle at Champion Paper and Fibre Co., which was used to signal the start of the dim-out.
A 15-mile-an-hour speed limit was imposed on drivers, and only one motorist received a warning during the first test.
A second dimout Sunday, Aug. 16, was signaled at 10 p.m. by blasts from factory whistles at the Ford Motor Co., the Estate Stove Co. and the Black-Clawson Co. That test — which covered the eastern and northern parts of Hamilton — was termed more successful than the first.
A third 15-minute exercise was held Sunday, Aug. 30, in Lindenwald, started at 10 p.m. by whistles at Economy Pump Inc. and Shuler & Benninghofen. In a simulation, a bomb fell at Corwin and Van Hook avenues to test the response of neighborhood and city civilian defense volunteers.
In one of three violations during a Sunday, Sept. 20, test, a house on Shuler Avenue remained lighted. Civil Defense leaders ordered a city utility crew to cut the electric line into the building when it was discovered that no one was in the house.
The reactions of CD workers and city police and fire were tested during a dimout Wednesday evening, Sept. 23. Simulations included a high-explosive bomb hitting the Champion mill on North B Street and an unexploded land mine falling in the intersection of Park and Cereal Avenues.
A critique determined that CD officials had erred by not ordering evacuation of the neighborhood around the unexploded mine. But a dimout four days later (Sept. 27) was considered a success. Also successful was the first city-wide dimout, Sunday, Oct. 4.
Monday evening, Oct. 12. it took only four minutes to darken the entire Champion mill. About 2,000 papermakers continued working in the dark during the drill directed by Gordon Faber. the plant's defense coordinator.
Also in October 1942, the program was extended into local schools. Hamilton public and parochial schools conducted surprise daylight air raid drills throughout the month.
Butler County was part of a 21-county blackout Thursday, April 8, 1943, in which 16 violations were noted in Hamilton, including a $50 fine, court costs and suspended 10-day jail term for a store owner who forgot to turn off display window lights.
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Journal-News, Monday, Aug. 10, 1992
Hamilton's founding linked to native of Scotland
By Jim Blount
Having a community in Scotland as Hamilton's first sister city is a natural connection because Hamilton, Ohio, owes its name and location to a native of Scotland, whose military and political careers in America spanned more than 60 years.
Arthur St. Clair was governor of the Northwest Territory and commander of the U. S. Army which built Fort Hamilton.
Historians agree that St. Clair — pronounced Sinclair — was born in the northern coastal town of Thurso in Scotland, but don't agree on the date — April 3, 1734, or March 23, 1736.
St. Clair studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh until his mother died. Then he accepted an ensign's commission May 23, 1757, in the British Army, joining the 60th or Royal American Regiment of Foot.
He came to the American colonies in 1757 with the 60th and fought in the French and Indian War until 1762. He served under British Generals Jeffery Amherst at Louisburg and James Wolfe at Quebec. He resigned his commission April 16, 1762, and resided in Boston where he had married Phoebe Bayard May 14, 1760.
In 1764, thanks to her inheritance, the couple bought land and settled in the Ligonier Valley in the colony of Pennsylvania where St. Clair held local government offices for 11 years.
He sided with the colonies in the American Revolution and entered the army as a colonel in July 1775. Within 13 months, he rose to brigadier general and by the war's end was a major general, serving under such distinguished leaders as Generals George Washington and Nathaniel Greene.
St. Clair represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress — then the only branch of the national government — from November 1785 through November 1787. He was its president in 1787 when the legislative body adopted the Northwest Ordinance.
St. Clair was appointed governor of the Northwest Territory in October 1787 and in July 1788 he moved to Marietta, the first permanent settlement in the territory.
After a frontier army was ambushed by Indians in 1790, President Washington named St. Clair, his former aide-decamp, as commander-in-chief of the frontier army March 4, 1791.
St. Clair's meager army was based at Fort Washington at Cincinnati on the Ohio River. Its objective was the Indian villages around the present site of Fort Wayne, Ind. The plan was to build a series of forts about 20 to 25 miles apart as the army made the 150-mile advance northwest from Cincinnati.
St. Clair ordered that the first log stockade be located on the Great Miami River and when it was finished Sept. 30, 1791, he named the supply post Fort Hamilton in honor of Alexander Hamilton, then Washington's secretary of the treasury.
Nov. 4, 1791, St. Clair's inexperienced, untrained army was defeated by the Indians, prompting the first congressional investigation. It exonerated St. Clair "from all blame in relation to everything before and during the action" and attributed it to administrative failures beyond his control.
St. Clair's 15 years as governor was ended by President Thomas Jefferson in November 1802 as an Ohio constitution was being written, paving the way for statehood in 1803. St. Clair returned to his home in Pennsylvania's Ligonier Valley where he died Aug. 31, 1818.
Recently, Hamilton, near Glasgow in his native Scotland, became the first sister city for the Ohio town which originated around St. Clair's Fort Hamilton.
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Journal-News, Monday, Aug. 17, 1992
Recycled cooking fats targeted for war effort
By Jim Blount
Commandos were being recruited in Hamilton during the summer of 1942, but not the tough British volunteer variety which had captured headlines early in world War II with daring raids into German-occupied territory. Instead, it was "Kitchen Commandos" who were being enlisted to save household fats and grease.
"It's out of your frying pan into gunfire when you send them off to war," said a "Kitchen Commando" promotion. "Your own kitchen fats can help avenge Pearl Harbor."
Public service advertisements said "don't throw away a single drop of used cooking fat, bacon grease, meat droppings, frying fats" or similar cooking byproducts.
The campaign — aimed at housewives — began in July 1942 with Mrs. William P. Watson named to chair the local effort.
Residents were instructed to first strain liquids to remove foreign matter then store it in a refrigerator or cool, dark place until at least a pound is collected. They would then take it to a meat dealer, whose store window displayed an "Official Fat Collecting Station" sign issued by the War Production Board.
Meat dealers paid four cents a pound to "Kitchen Commandos" while the government reimbursed the store five cents a pound for grease and fats.
Late in the war, the incentive was increased. In addition to the four-cent payment, fat and grease savers earned two red ration tokens for each pound salvaged.
But patriotism, not monetary reward, was the major emphasis in the home-front campaign, as evidenced by the following appeal published in July 1942: "Mrs. Hamilton, send your waste fats and grease through your meat dealer, on their way to the battle fronts to make explosives that sink enemy ships, smash their tanks and down their planes."
Two pounds of waste kitchen fats contain enough glycerin to fire five anti-tank gun shells, explained James K. Cullen, chairman of the Hamilton Salvage for Victory Committee.
"War in the Pacific has reduced imports of fats and oils from the Far East, and substitutes must be found," said a newspaper report.
Japanese conquest of the Philippines and Malaya earlier in 1942 had cut in half U. S. imports of fats and oils, reported government officials, who noted that 3,260 pounds of salvaged fats and grease would produce 326 pounds of glycerin.
Butler County's initial goal was to conserve 215,015 pounds of fat and grease annually, equivalent to 17 pounds per family per year.
A Hamilton record of 9,700 pounds was redeemed in December 1943, but the mark was topped a month later with collection of 12,765 pounds in the city.
Butler County ranked third in Ohio in January 1945, saving 18,000 pounds of fats and grease, including 13,000 returned to Hamilton meat markets.
Coincidentally, in July 1942, while Hamiltonians were being reminded of the relationship of their kitchen fats and grease to explosives, a blast rocked a nearby war plant.
The explosion was at the King Powder Company in Kings Mills, less than 20 miles east of Hamilton. Five persons, all residents of neighboring Warren County, were killed and 11 were injured in the production accident Thursday, July 30, 1942.
The unexplained blast — which was felt in Hamilton and most of Butler County — was investigated by the FBI, which was the custom when there was an accident at a factory involved in military production during the sabotage-conscious war years.
About 50 Hamiltonians were reported to be employed at two war plants in Kings Mills, the King Powder Company and the Peters Cartridge Company.
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Journal-News, Monday, Aug. 24, 1992
Dorsey, Sinatra, Rich helped Hamilton swing during sesquicentennial in 1941
By Jim Blount
Ask anyone who was in town for Hamilton's 150th birthday celebration in 1941 what was the most memorable event and there's a good chance the answer will be the six nights of big band music and dancing held at the Butler County Fairgrounds.
A "Garden Under the Stars" was created for the five-band event, which was headlined by the talents of Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, Connie Haines, Buddy Rich and Ziggy Elman — all in one night.
Dorsey, whose "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" earned him the sobriquet "the sentimental gentleman" was billed as "the greatest swing trombonist in the country" whose music would appeal to Hamilton-area "hep cats and jive enthusiasts." Vocalist Connie Haines was called "the sweetheart of swing."
The "Garden Under the Stars" featured a sheltered, hardwood dance floor measuring 149 by 30.5 feet which could accommodate more than 2,000 people and tables and chairs. A 10-foot high white picket fence surrounded the area.
"The entire garden and the floor are illuminated by myriads of gaily-colored electric lights and sesquicentennial banners and buntings in attractive decorative arrangements," noted Frances Eberling, a Journal-News reporter."
Fred M. Stitsinger was chairman of the big-band committee and, according to the newspaper, "the one who conceived the idea of a Garden Under the Stars."
The series started Monday night, Oct. 4, 1941, with the Raymond Scott band; followed Tuesday by Tommy Dorsey; Wednesday by Henry King; Thursday by Leighton Noble; and Friday and Saturday by Frankie Masters.
Dorsey was the top draw, attracting "more than 4,000 swing-conscious Butler Countians and their sesquicentennial celebration guests" for a four-hour show, reported Bill Moeller.
"Dorsey played under severe handicap," Moeller said, because "he suffered a sprained back Sunday while playing tennis in Pittsburgh and was advised by his doctor to take it easy for several days."
Instead, Dorsey was on the Hamilton bandstand Tuesday night "for three hours without a break until intermission" and "had to be assisted from the stand."
The most requested songs were "Quiet Please," featuring drummer Buddy Rich, "And the Angels Sing," starring trumpeter Ziggy Elman; "I'll Never Smile Again" with Frank Sinatra and the Pied Pipers; and "Marie" and "Song of India" by the band.
Dorsey's "I'll Never Smile Again" had been the top tune of 1940 and would rank in the top 10 for the 1940-1949 decade.
Sinatra — known for making teenage bobby-soxers scream and swoon — was 23 years old and in the final year of his three-year stint with the Dorsey band.
Of his Hamilton audience, Dorsey said "it is one of the most enthusiastic crowds I've ever seen and one of the largest packed into a place this size."
Bill Moeller wrote that "several times the crowd had to be warned against shoving" because "jam-fans in the distant rows sought to get a better look at the Dorsey musicians."
"Although the music was not scheduled to start until 9 o'clock, many jive devotees were at the garden as early as 7 o'clock. A line started to form around the band stand shortly before 8 o'clock and the early birds still were in their original positions when the music stopped at 1 o'clock, " Moeller reported.
Attendance for the six nights of big-band music was about 9,000, including Thursday night when rain and cold limited the dance crowd to about 300 and caused cancellation of some other sesquicentennial programs. Total attendance for all events was about 100,000, according to 1941 newspaper reports.
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Journal-News, Monday, Aug. 31, 1992
1911 document applauded Hamilton's progress
By Jim Blount
"Known in the World's Markets" boasted a 1911 city financial document which asserted "Hamilton is foremost among Ohio's manufacturing communities."
"It is Hamilton's claim that no other community in America has so large or so widely known a production in proportion to population," noted a four-page section in the 148-page annual report of Henry A. Grimmer, city auditor.
"In point of mere numbers it is surpassed by many communities, but in none, apart from the great world centers, is there a larger productiveness; nor is there any of its class in which so many articles of worldwide use are manufactured," said Grim-mer's report.
It reported 35,279 people living in the city covering 3,200 acres with 10,000 employed in 140 manufacturing plants producing more than 250 products. Their weekly payroll topped $135,000. Hamilton's annual industrial output was $25 million.
"The transportation and shipping facilities of the city are excellent," said the report, issued in an era when railroads dominated. The Miami-Erie Canal was in disuse and disrepair in 1911 and most streets and roads were unpaved. The report noted that 1,043 horses were licensed by the city in 1911.
"The railroads handle 35,000 freight cars a month" in Hamilton, and the report said each month 30,000 tons of freight originated here and 75,000 tons were hauled into the city.
Each day Hamilton was served by 64 passenger trains, 80 freight trains and 88 inter-urban electric trains over two railroads and two inter-urban lines.
The city had 18.5 miles of paved streets in 1911, up more than 50 percent since 1908 when 12 miles were paved.
"In situation, few towns are so signally blessed," the report explained. "Lying in the Great Miami Valley, one of the richest and most beautiful valleys in America, it combines charm of site with advantage of location from an industrial point of view."
"Near to the center of population, with all the principal markets of the country almost at her door, and the great bases of raw material at hand, Hamilton's development into an important manufacturing center was natural and almost inevitable."
Local industries also had adequate power. "Hamilton was the first among American municipalities to establish and conduct all its public utilities. The municipal water, gas and electric plants have been an unmixed blessing," the report said.
Here's how the 1911 report described major industries:
"The mills of the Champion Coated Paper Company, comprising 27 acres of floor space, are the largest in the world devoted to the manufacture of coated paper. All the postcards used by the United States government are made in this mill, as is the paper on which any of the best-known publications are printed.
"In addition to the Champion mills, Hamilton is the home of the Beckett and Sterling paper companies.
"The safe industry of Hamilton is in many respects the most remarkable of its manufacturing developments. The great plants of the Mosler and the Herring-Hall-Marvin safe companies produce more than 80 percent of all the safes that are used throughout the world.
"The Niles Tool Works Company is not only the largest, but the best known machine tool plant in the world. The conspicuously high standard of its product caused it to be adopted long ago as the standard of the United States government in all its contracts for machinery of that class.
"The Hooven Owens Rentschler Company conducts the largest exclusive Corliss Engine plant in the country, employing nearly 800 men.
"Other industries of the first magnitude," the report said, "are the Long & Allstatter Company, the Black-Clawson Company, the Estate Stove Company, the Hamilton Iron and Steel Company and the Columbia Carriage Company."
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