Journal-News, Monday, March 2,1992
Michael C. Ryan, attorney, left mark on area
By Jim Blount
Michael C. Ryan had many accomplishments during his 41 years of life. These included helping found a fraternity, the first of the Miami University triad; publishing a local newspaper; practicing law and serving five terms in Butler County offices.
He died in Hamilton as he was preparing to begin a new venture — commander of a Civil War infantry regiment.
Michael Clarkson Ryan was born in 1820, in Lancaster, Pa. He moved to Hamilton with his parents in 1832, and completed his education in private schools here before entering Miami University in Oxford in 1835.
The first fraternity at Miami — which started in the fall of 1835 with two initiates — was Alpha Delta Phi, which had been founded in the East.
Four years later, Ryan was one of eight Miami students who formed Beta Theta Pi, the first of three fraternities founded on the Oxford campus. Phi Delta Theta followed in 1848 and with Sigma Chi in 1855.
According to a centenary publication of the fraternity, Beta Theta Pi was founded at Old Main at Miami University Aug. 8,1839.
Besides Ryan, other founders of the society were John Reily Knox, Samuel Taylor Marshall, David Linton, James George Smith, Charles Henry Hardin, John Hold Duncan and Thomas Benton Gordon.
Ryan graduated from Miami in 1839, with the highest honors of his class, and obtained his law degree in 1842 from the Cincinnati Law School.
He began practicing law in Hamilton in partnership with his brother-in-law, John B. Weller, who represented the area in the United States Congress. (Weller later moved to California, becoming a U. S. senator and later the state's governor).
Ryan also became involved in local politics as a Democrat. From 1847 through 1849, Ryan was publisher and editor of the Hamilton Telegraph, a weekly newspaper which supported Democratic candidates.
In 1856, he served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Cincinnati, supporting the nomination of James Buchanan of Pennsylvania. Buchanan was elected 15th president of the United States.
Ryan was elected two terms as Butler County prosecuting attorney (1848-1852), and three times as county clerk of courts (1852-1858).
In 1854 — as Hamilton and Rossville considered a merger —Ryan helped to write the terms and conditions for combining the communities. He served on a merger committee with John Woods, Thomas Millikin, William Hunter, Samuel Snively and Alfred Thomas.
The union of the rival towns was approved by voters in an election in April 1854 and the unification was completed in February 1855.
In 1861, soon after the outbreak of the Civil War, Ryan was appointed colonel of the 50th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment by Gov. William Dennison, an 1835 graduate of Miami University.
But Ryan — known as a lover of knowledge and a collector of books — never saw a battlefield and never commanded the 50th. He died Oct. 23, 1861, at 41 years of age.
In 1845 Ryan had married 22-year-old Emma F. (Emily) Lefflar and before her death July 10, 1847 they became the parents of three children, a son and two daughters. She is buried in Greenwood Cemetery beside her husband.
A plaque on his grave notes that "he was a founder of Beta Theta Pi."
The efforts of Ryan and his seven colleagues were recognized Aug. 8, 1939, when the fraternity presented its centenary memorial bells — an Oxford landmark commonly known as the Beta bells — to Miami University.
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Journal-News, Monday, March 9, 1992
Millville man, Franklin Scobey, powered fledgling fraternity
By Jim Blount
Franklin Scobey, a multi-talented Butler County native, is credited with the perseverance and energy which helped establish and sustain a well-known fraternity.
Scobey — born May 27, 1837, in Millville — demonstrated admirable personal traits as a student at Miami University despite a steady loss of hearing and eyesight. He continued to show that resolve as a soldier in the Civil War, as a Hamilton newspaper editor and as an agriculturist in Butler County.
The son of Dr. W. H. Scobey and Abigail Hollowell Scobey, according to his obituary, he "was an unusually precocious young man" who graduated from Miami University in 1858, three years before the Civil War.
While at Miami, Scobey was one of the founders of Sigma Chi, the third fraternity founded there. Beta Theta Pi had been formed at Miami University in 1839 and Phi Delta Theta followed in 1852.
Sigma Chi was started Thursday, June 28, 1855, at Miami. The seven students credited with its founding are Thomas Cowan Bell, James Parks Caldwell, Daniel William Cooper, Isaac M. Jordan, William Lewis Lockwood, Benjamin Piatt Runkle and Scobey.
In 1861, Scobey entered the Civil War as a sergeant in the Third Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He was wounded in April 1862 during the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee.
In October 1867 he purchased an interest in the Hamilton Telegraph. A year later, he sold his share of the weekly newspaper, but remained as editor until March 1880.
Shortly before his departure, Scobey became the first editor of Hamilton's first daily newspaper. The weekly was sold in December 1879 to C. M. Campbell, who later that month started the Daily News, while continuing the Telegraph as a weekly.
In 13 years of journalism in Hamilton, according to an obituary, Scobey "become noted throughout the state as a most brilliant paragrapher." Increasing deafness and failing eyesight prompted his retirement from journalism.
Scobey moved to Kansas in 1880 and raised stock there until his 1882 return to Butler County. He resumed farming on the property of a brother-in-law near Woods Station on the rail line between Hamilton and Oxford. Scobey, a bachelor, died there July 22,1888.
A monument beside his grave in Greenwood Cemetery commemorates his efforts in founding Sigma Chi. When the fraternity observed its diamond jubilee in June 1930, the first event on the program was the dedication of the founder's monument at Scobey's grave.
During the Greenwood ceremonies, Grand Consul A. P. Thomson, accepted the monument for Sigma Chi. He said, "In college, Brother Scobey was the inspiration to his fellows. He inspired them to overcome the trials that beset them in college life and to succeed in their purpose to establish an organization upon friendship and justice."
Orville S. Brumback, past grand consul of the fraternity, said, "of all the seven founders, Frank Scobey has been described as the most preserving and unconquerable.
"When the others became discouraged and well nigh vanquished by the overwhelming obstacles they encountered, it was Scobey with his helpful assurance and encouraging words who held the little coterie together and caused them to continue their effort to make the White Cross a symbol of brotherhood in the college just as it was in the heroic days of the crusades."
Brumback said, "for to him is largely credited the great accomplishment of the Sigma Chi Fraternity, without whom the fraternity would have died in its infancy."
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Journal-News, Monday, March 16, 1992
Newspapers lauded Lou Beauchamp's stance on temperance issue
(This is the first of two columns on Lou J. Beauchamp)
By Jim Blount
The name Lou J. Beauchamp is not a familiar one in Hamilton today, but early in this century his fame and influence was spreading throughout the United States and in much of the world.
Beauchamp — known as "The Apostle of Sunshine" — claimed to have logged more than two million miles as an inspirational speaker and crusader for temperance.
Because of his message and oratorical skills. Beauchamp also was considered a presidential candidate by the Prohibition Party.
Beauchamp died June 4, 1920, in Milford, Iowa, while on a lecture tour. His death, said the Journal, ''silenced the lips that spoke only words of sunshine and cheer to listening thousands."
An editorial said "no man ever lived who carried the name of fame of Hamilton farther and oftener than Lou Beauchamp. He spoke of and about Hamilton from thousands of platforms and always a boost."
Lou J. Beauchamp was born Jan. 14, 1851, in Cincinnati. He moved to Hamilton as a boy with his parents and was educated in local public schools.
At age 14. he learned printing in the office of a Hamilton weekly newspaper. He also learned the news business and while still a young man became the telegraph and news editor of the Cincinnati Daily Star (later merged with the Cincinnati Times as the Cincinnati Times-Star, and later with the Cincinnati Post).
"For five years he was connected with several newspapers, out then an unfortunate episode in his life occurred — an episode which he never sought to conceal — he became the victim of liquor," recalled an obituary writer.
"But in the meantime, Colonel Beauchamp had married — Miss Mellie Gardner of Hamilton, becoming his wife — and through her devotion and faith he was won back to a life of usefulness. It was then that he entered upon his brilliant career," the obituary said.
"In his early life he had enlisted in the battle against the Demon Rum," wrote Fred High for Billboard, an entertainment industry publication.
"He was one of the greatest powers that the platform exerted. He was even talked of for president as a prohibition candidate. It was probably as an orator, organizer and leader of his moral force that he did his greatest work."
High said Beauchamp "had fallen to the lowest depth and had been lifted up by the care and kindness the love that knows no bounds — the love that only a real wife can devote to a man such as he was, and it was only such devotion that lifted him to the heights where he could touch the hearts of millions of his fellow wayfarers."
"He had pioneered in the temperance work, and had done the same in the present lyceum and Chautauqua field of endeavor," High wrote in Billboard.
High also said Beauchamp "was, even at the time of his death, a pioneer in the work of a better understanding in the commercial world and in the manufacturing and industrial life where there is so much bitterness and strife where there should be love and friendship."
For 19 years, Beauchamp lectured throughout the United States and abroad, including Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland, Ireland and Europe.
According to one account, Beauchamp was "always accompanied by his faithful wife, presenting the message of total abstinence."
Following a European tour, he wrote the book, 'What the Duchess and I Saw in Europe."
Meanwhile, he continued to reside in Hamilton and at the peak of his career, he came to the aid of his neighbors during their hour of greatest need. This will be explained in next week's column.
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Journal-News, Monday, March 23,1992
Beauchamp helped community after 1913 flood
(This is the second of two columns on Lou J. Beauchamp)
By Jim Blount
Lou J. Beauchamp brought inspiration and culture to many communities in the world, but he didn't ignore his Hamilton roots when tragedy struck the city in 1913.
According to his obituary, "Colonel Beauchamp became one of the pioneers of the Chautauqua in scope and influence, Colonel Beauchamp became a leading factor in its progress.
''The organization which sprang up in support of the Chautauqua movement elicited the earnest support of Colonel Beauchamp, and his counsel was often sought."
The Chautauqua movement — founded in 1874 in Chautauqua, N. Y. — brought learning and fun to many smaller communities.
In the years before radio, television and video players, the Chautauqua summer assembly series offered adult education, self improvement, fine arts and entertainment.
The Journal obituary said Beauchamp's "most famous lecture was 'Take the Sunny Side,' and by special request it was repeated year after year. It was a cheering message and it dealt with a wide scope of subjects."
"He touched upon the follies of society, upon the shortcomings of politics, the intricacies of modern business, and out of it all he brought a. wonderful message to young and old and held up to their vision the sunshine of life," said the enthusiastic obituary writer.
Although much in demand on the speaking circuit, the ''Apostle of Sunshine" interrupted his tour to return home when disaster struck Hamilton in March 1913.
"Prior to 1913 Colonel Beauchamp had traveled far and wide," the Journal recalled, "but when the flood came, he hastened home to find a city buried in mud, its business wrecked and its homes in mourning.
During the flood the Great Miami River rose to record depths and covered Hamilton stretching from what is now Erie Highway on the east to C and D streets on the west. On Easter, March 23, the river had three feet of water. Three days later it reached a depth of 34.6 feet in Hamilton.
Ninety-four Ohio towns reported flood damage and a death toll of 367 with Hamilton accounting for more than 200 deaths.
Hamilton losses also included more than 300 houses destroyed and another 2,000 so badly damaged that they had to be demolished, leaving more than 10,000 people homeless.
"Then it was that the spirit of Beauchamp became apparent," the newspaper noted.
"Following those dark days, he simply went about doing good. His great library, containing many rare and priceless books, had been swept away, his own home was a wreck, but the 'Apostle of Sunshine' took 'the sunny side' and went out among his friends and neighbors and with words of cheer, words of comfort, did a yeoman's work in bringing order out of chaos."
The newspaper said "he gave unstintingly of his time, of his talents, for Hamilton.
"It was through his personal efforts that the summer Chautauqua was established in Hamilton in 1913, and brought the people of Hamilton together for the first time after the great catastrophe of the flood had swept over their homes.
"This was a great homecoming, a great reunion of the people of Hamilton. And the Chautauqua grew in size and influence because Beauchamp added the weight of his influence not only to the Chautauqua itself, but to the securing for Hamilton the best that there was to be had."
The Journal said "Beauchamp was one of the greatest Chautauqua leaders in this country. He was foremost in the organization of the International Lyceum Association, was one of its organizers and its president."
Beauchamp died Friday evening, June 4, 1920, at Milford, Iowa, while on a lecture tour. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Hamilton.
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Journal-News, Monday, March 30, 1992
Local war effort included Victory Gardens
By Jim Blount
The uneasy early months of World War II raised concerns about the nation's food supplies and created a sense of urgency for the development of victory gardens in Hamilton.
There were no food shortages in Hamilton during the March of 1942, but it was considered a possibility as military demands increased and wartime restrictions complicated transportation and distribution.
A victory garden was promoted by the federal government as a patriotic endeavor. Major objectives included saving transportation space, conserving fuel, and compensating for shortages of farm labor. A garden was also suggested as a way to exercise, get people's minds off the horrors of the war and as a deterrent to juvenile delinquency.
Posters and advertisements urged civilians to "Garden for Victory" and "Grow Your Own, Can Your Own." Vegetable seed packages were labeled "Victory Seeds," not just seeds.
The government announced the National Victory Garden program Dec. 20, 1941. By the end of 1942, the agriculture department reported 10 million victory gardens in the U. S. Eventually, more than 20 million victory gardens would produce 40 percent of the nation's vegetable supply.
Victory Garden preparations began in earnest in Hamilton in March 1942 under the direction of Harvey N. Shollenbarger, chairman of the Victory Garden Committee of the Hamilton Civilian Defense Council.
Tracts were offered in Peck's Addition for a $2.25 fee which covered the cost of plowing. Most participants converted part of their backyards to gardens. A 30x60-foot plot was suggested as the average size for a garden to provide for an average family in the Hamilton area.
Meanwhile, Butler County farmers were urged by the government to convert additional acres to tomatoes because of military needs. On March 11, 1942, a Consumer Interest Committee was organized locally "to insure complete cooperation between consumers, retailers and producers." Co-chairing the CIC were Mrs. H. H. Slack and Donald L. Mitchell.
By March 1943, there was an added incentive for a victory garden. Rationing began that month for processed foods, meat, cheese, butter and cooking oils
Hamilton City Council approved ordinances penalizing persons convicted of violating gardens. Damaging or stealing from a garden carried a fine of $50, six months in jail or both.
Later in the year, the Butler County Fair added special competition for produce from local backyard gardeners.
In April 1943, the government recommended Victory Flocks to supplement Victory Gardens.
Gerald Huffman, Butler County agricultural extension agent, said eggs and poultry from backyard Victory Flocks could replace rationed meat and cheese on local tables.
An 8x6-foot area was enough space for 12-15 laying hens. Suggested locations were unused portions of two-car garages, or elevated platforms in one-car garages. Helping promote it newspapers printed advice columns for tending flocks and building chicken houses.
Hamilton City Council contributed to the war campaign by adopting tougher penalties for people convicted of damaging or stealing from chicken houses in the city.
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