378. Nov. 1, 1995 - Women began voting 75 years ago:
Journal-News, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 1995
Butler County women began voting for president in November 1920
By Jim Blount
Nov. 2, 1920, was a momentous day for women in Butler County. It was the first time they could fully exercise the right to vote, thanks to ratification in August that year of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
It decreed that "the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." That declaration culminated a women's suffrage campaign rooted in the Seneca Falls Convention in New York July 19-20, 1848.
The proposed amendment passed the U. S. Senate June 4, 1919, by a 56-25 margin, only two votes more than the two-thirds approval required to submit it to the states. Ohio was the fifth state to ratify it. The General Assembly voted favorably June 16, 1919. It became the 19th Amendment Aug. 8, 1920, when Tennessee became the 36th state to approve. Aug. 26 it was signed into law.
Several states already allowed women to vote, following the lead of Wyoming Territory which fully enfranchised women in 1869.
Ohio women had won limited voting rights in 1894. Starting that year, they could vote for and run for election to boards of education. But the male electorate was reluctant to grant full participation. In 1912, 1914 and 1917, Ohio men defeated women's suffrage measures.
One of the arguments against a female electorate was expressed by Archbishop Henry Moeller of Cincinnati. In a statement before the 1914 vote, the archbishop said the suffrage movement "does not appeal to us because we feel it will bring women into a sphere of activity that is not in accord with their retiring modesty, maidenly dignity and refinement."
Among the women registering in Hamilton's Fifth Ward in 1920 was Lucy Eiglesberger who said "I believe that the women have as much right as the men to say who will be our public officers, and I am glad that the opportunity has finally come to me."
The 95-year-old Grand Boulevard resident said "I believe in the League of Nations, as I understand it, and I will cast my first vote for Gov. James M. Cox of Ohio for president." Cox, the Democratic Party's presidential candidate, was a native of Butler County. His Republican opponent, also an Ohioan, was Warren G. Harding.
The League of Nations, an international organization established by the Treaty of Versailles after World War I, was a major issue in the 1920 campaign.
President Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat who was too ill to seek re-election, was the principal founder of the League and favored U. S. membership. Republicans opposed American participation and eventually prevailed in the U. S. Senate, which decided the matter.
In Hamilton, 6,020 women registered by the mid-October deadline. H. R. Reigart of the elections board reported 10,365 men on the voter rolls in the city. "Hence the strength of the women's vote this fall in Hamilton will be only 58.8 percent of the men," the Journal noted. "Hamilton never had as many men voters before in its history," the newspaper said. "Just what caused the women to hold back is not known, and perhaps never will be known."
In the Nov. 2 election, Cox carried Butler County by 1,437 votes, 16,435 to 14,998. He made his best showing in Hamilton where he topped Harding by 1,236 votes, 7,356 to 6,120. Because votes weren't counted by gender, it was impossible to assess the impact of females votes.
Circumstantial evidence indicates they voted like their male counterparts. In Hamilton and Butler County -- true to long-standing custom -- Democratic candidates won all county, state and national offices in 1920.
The 19th Amendment meant more than the right to vote for women. It also entitled them to serve on juries. In mid October, Butler County jury commissioners (Harry Walburg of Middletown and Gus Kumler of Seven Mile) placed the names of registered women in the jury wheel.
"When women begin serving on juries, there will have to be a number of changes in conditions," the Journal said, because "the conveniences at the courthouse have been arranged for men only."
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379. Nov. 8, 1995 - William Dean Howells recalled covered bridge:
Journal-News, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 1995
William Dean Howells recalled covered bridge of Hamilton boyhood
By Jim Blount
"The house where my boy first lived was not far from the river, and he must have seen it often before he noticed it. But he was not aware of it till he found it under the bridge," said William Dean Howells. "Without the river there could not have been a bridge," he admitted, "but the bridge is foremost in his mind."
In recounting pre-adolescent images of Butler County's first covered bridge, Howells depicted its timbers "of a hugeness to strike fear into the heart of the boldest little boy." Its western portal, he said, "is like a dim little doorway" from the perspective of a boy residing on the east side of the river.
"It is a long wooden tunnel, with two roadways and a footpath on either side of these; there is a tollhouse at each end, and from one to the other it is about as far as from the Earth to the planet Mars," said Howells, whose prolific writing career earned him recognition as "the dean of American letters."
Howells was describing the Miami Bridge, a 380-foot double-barrel covered bridge over the Great Miami River. It connected Hamilton and Rossville from 1819 until destroyed by a flood in 1866.
He pictured the structure -- which was longer than a football field -- from the perspective of a young man in A Boy's Town, an 1890 book reflecting his youth in Hamilton. Howells -- who was born March 1, 1837, in Martin's Ferry -- lived in Hamilton from 1840 through 1848, while his father edited a weekly newspaper. He called the setting Boy's Town, he said, "because I wish it to appear to the reader as a town appears to a boy from his third to his 11th year."
"It seems to me that my Boy's Town was a town peculiarly adapted for a boy to be a boy in," said Howells of Hamilton, one of several Ohio towns his family called home during his youth.
Howells said "the bridge has three piers, and at low water hardier adventurers than he wade out to the middle pier; some heroes even fish there, standing all day on the loose rocks about the base of the pier. He shudders to see them, and aches with wonder how they will get ashore."
"On the bridge he first saw the crazy man who belongs in every boy's town," said Howells. "The crazy man was often in the boy's dreams, the memories of which blend so with the memories of real occurrences." The Miami Bridge -- more than 20 years old by the time Howells moved to Hamilton -- often was the setting for those dreams and memories.
"He could not tell later whether he had once crossed the bridge when the footway had been partly taken up, and he had to walk on those girders, or whether he only dreamed of that awful passage. It was quite fearful enough to cross when the footway was all down, and he could see the blue gleam of the river far underneath through the cracks between the boards. It made his brain reel," Howells recalled.
He said "he felt that he took his life in his hand whenever he entered the bridge, even when he had grown old enough to be making an excursion with some of his playmates to the farm of an uncle of theirs who lived two miles up the river."
With 100 books to his credit, plus hundreds of poems, short stories and articles, Howells became a dominant figure in American literature.
Despite his stature, he paused in 1890 to recall humbler days in Hamilton, including the imposing Miami Bridge, in A Boy's Town, published by Harper & Brothers Publishers.
In 1817 there were no experienced bridge builders in the region to draw a plan for the Miami Bridge. The directors chose one of their own, James McBride, who had neither training as a civil engineer nor bridge-building experience. In 1817-1818, this unselfish man devoted most of his time to designing the Miami Bridge, which opened Dec. 29, 1819.
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380. Nov. 15, 1995 - Opera house was show business center:
Journal-News, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 1995
Globe Opera House Hamilton’s show business center for 38 years
By Jim Blount
The building at the southeast corner of High Street and Journal Square exemplifies the adage, often attributed to Aesop, that "appearances often are deceiving." It looks like a store, but it began in 1866 as Dixon’s Opera House.
It was named for Walter Dixon of Cincinnati. Its original owner and probable builder. Through much of its 38 show business years it was known as the Globe Opera House.
Later -- thanks to a theater disaster elsewhere -- it became a department store. For 57 years it was the popular Robinson-Schwenn Store. For much shorter periods it was Mabley and Carew , and the Dollar General Store.
"The theater was on the third floor and had a seating capacity, with the gallery, of approximately 1,200," said a writer in 1911 in recalling the Globe Theater. Various first floor occupants included stores, a saloon and a drug store.
"At the time this building was erected," said the 1911 report, "it was considered one of the most commodious theaters in the state, and was the pride of Hamilton. It practically equaled any thing then in Cincinnati."
The same writer said "for several years Hamilton enjoyed a distinction of being one of the best show towns in the Middle West," and the downtown opera house was a favorite stop for touring entertainers and theatrical companies.
Productions ranged from traveling singers, comedians, jugglers, acrobats, dancers and magicians to noted speakers, dramatic readings, band and orchestra concerts, operas and plays.
Important meetings, conventions and political rallies also were held there. For example, in a public meeting in June 1890, civic leaders outlined the incentives that enticed Mosler to move its safe and lock factories from the Cincinnati riverfront to the eastern edge of Hamilton.
In June 1889, Dixon sold the theater to William C. Frechtling, a Hamilton retailer. Frechtling in turn leased the theater, starting July 1, 1889, to a series of operators.
By 1900, the Globe was considered "inadequate to the demands of the traveling companies" with their "elaborate stage settings." City leaders -- seeking to keep Hamilton on the schedules of the road companies and top entertainers -- launched a campaign for a modern theater. It climaxed with the opening of the Jefferson Theater on South Second Street in March 1903.
But the Jefferson wasn’t the death knell for the opera house. The end came early in January 1904 because of a tragedy a few days earlier in Chicago.
The 1,600-seat Iroquois Theater in Chicago was advertised as "absolutely fireproof" when about 2,000 people squeezed into the five-week-old building to see a matinee performance of "Mr. Bluebeard," starring Eddie Foy.
During the show, a spark from a backstage map ignited canvas scenery. With a sprinkler system still incomplete, the flames spread out of control within minutes. Other safety features failed and some exits were locked when the audience and performers tried to escape.
Estimates of the Iroquois death toll ran as high as 600, causing a public outcry across the nation for stricter fire codes for public buildings, especially theaters and meeting halls.
In response, city officials inspected the Globe Theater the afternoon of Jan. 6, 1904, and immediately ordered it closed. A newspaper report said inspectors found it "insecure in case of a panic from fire, and that the exits from the theater would not near accommodate the audiences it had been accustomed to contain."
The owner quickly complied with the closing order, noting "that the public has been worked to a high fever of excitement over the terrible Chicago disaster."
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381. Nov. 22, 1995 - Robinson-Schwenn Store was downtown fixture:
Journal-News, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 1995
Robinson-Schwenn Store fixture in downtown for nearly 60 years
By Jim Blount
The Robinson-Schwenn Store was a fixture in retailing in downtown Hamilton for almost six decades. The store's founders, 42-year-old Philip J. Robinson and 37-year-old Ferdinand Schwenn, were veteran local retailers when the Hamilton natives incorporated the business at the southeast corner of High Street and Journal Square in March 1907.
Robinson went to work as a 13-year-old at the T. V. Howell Store, located at the southeast corner of Third and High streets and later at 232-234 High Street. He had worked his way up to general manager of the company when it was sold to the Mathes-Sohngen Company March 9, 1907.
Schwenn was secretary and treasurer of the Howell Company at the time. His work career also had started in his youth when he handled special deliveries at the Hamilton post office. He was employed at the Hamilton Autographic Register Company before joining the Howell staff. He soon became office manager of the dry goods store.
After David Howell's death, Robinson, Schwenn and other employees were unsuccessful in trying to buy the store. Within a few days, they formed the Robinson-Schwenn Company with Robinson as president and Schwenn as secretary.
They opened the store Sept. 1, 1907, in a portion of the former Globe Opera House, which had been closed since 1904 for safety reasons. A skating rink, offices and other businesses also were located in the building, which had been erected in 1866 as Dixon's Opera House. It has 72-foot frontage on High Street and extends 112 feet on Journal Square.
In 1913, Robinson-Schwenn expanded from two floors to four floors as it became a popular downtown shopping destination, specializing in clothing, millinery and rugs.
Downtown competitors in the dry goods business that year were the W. C. Frechtling Co., 202 High Street; Holbrock Brothers, 224 High Street; and the Mathes-Sohngen Company, 232 High Street; all on the north side of the street between Second and Third streets.
Robinson, a workaholic, headed the successful store until his death Oct. 22, 1922, at age 57. Schwenn, who sold his interest in 1927, died at age 88 Jan. 6, 1959. Its later owners included E. C. Denton Inc. and Allied Stores.
A major expansion, remodeling and modernization was completed in 1948. The $200,000 project had been delayed several years because building materials had been restricted by defense demands during World War II (1941-1945), and by housing priorities in the immediate post-war years. The 1948 expansion included installation of air conditioning and a new elevator.
A two-year improvement was completed in November 1954. It included a new street face for the 88-year-old structure. The makeover involved placement of aluminum louvers over the original exterior, and erection of a new marquee and new display windows.
In its final years, the operation covered 30,000 square feet of display and storage space and employed 100 people.
After nearly 57 years, Robinson-Schwenn closed at the end of February 1964 as new owners prepared to assume control of the downtown landmark.
Effective March 2, 1964, it became the Hamilton store of the Cincinnati-based Mabley and Carew Company, whose main store was then in the Carew Tower, facing Fountain Square. The company had been founded in 1877 by two friends, C. R. Mabley and Joseph Carew, who had stopped in Cincinnati while on a trip to Memphis, Tenn.
Mabley and Carew closed the High Street store in 1977. At about the same time, Harry Wilks acquired the building from the Frechtling family. In 1980, a portion of the property reopened as the Dollar General Store, part of a 23-state chain. That store closed in May 1992.
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382. Nov. 29, 1995 - Falconer House lodged Rossville visitors: (First located on south side of Main Street at the river; later at southwest corner of Main and South D streets.)
Journal-News, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 1995
Falconer House on Main Street was Rossville's first notable hotel
By Jim Blount
The first notable hotel in Rossville was the Falconer House. It was one of more than a score of inns, taverns and hotels that once offered overnight lodging to travelers on the west side of the Great Miami River.
The Falconer House was named for its owners, Isaac and Nancy Falconer, who moved their family from Pennsylvania to Ohio by flatboat in 1812.
They rented an existing hotel, built about 1805 or 1806, on the south side of Main Street beside the Great Miami River. Most of their guests arrived on horseback, in horse-drawn wagons or by flatboat on the river. Later, some came via stagecoach.
Until 1816, Falconer operated both the hotel -- described as "a tavern in a hewed-log house" -- and the lower river ferry, one of two connecting Rossville and Hamilton.
That year he built a new two-story frame Falconer House at the southwest corner of Main and South B streets. It also housed his family, which eventually included six children. Falconer operated the hotel on and off until he turned it over to a son in 1838, two years before the father's death at age 60.
The hotel was just one of Isaac Falconer's ventures. In addition to the ferry, he also briefly operated a saw mill, and for several years was a cabinetmaker, most of the time in partnership with Thomas Enyeart.
The 1882 county history said Falconer "was among the first to build flatboats on the Miami, and for many years carried on an extensive trade down the Ohio and Mississippi. He made several trips to New Orleans, the last one being in 1827, with a load of furniture of his own manufacture."
"Mr. Falconer's New Orleans business put him in a position to barter with his patrons," noted Mrs. Alta Harvey Heiser in Hamilton in the Making. "His ferry had not been run on a cash basis, and when he gave it up he wanted his money. He was willing to take corn or wheat -- if a price could be agreed upon," she said of Falconer.
He became one of the first stockholders in the Miami Bridge, which eventually replaced the ferry. That bridge stood on the approximate site of the present High-Main Street Bridge.
The native of Washington County, Pa., had been drafted in 1814 for military service against the British in the War of 1812. The war ended before he could become involved, and he returned home and was captain of a local military company.
One son, Cyrus Falconer, became a prominent Hamilton surgeon. A second son, John Hall Falconer, was a tailor and operated the Falconer House for several years and was involved in arranging the merger of Hamilton and Rossville before moving to Illinois. Louise, a daughter of Isaac Falconer, married John G. Deshler, a Columbus banker.
Regarding the hotel, historian Frederick Cone said Isaac Falconer "sold out to Antony Hummel," who was later succeeded by John Falconer. Mrs. Heiser wrote that "Humphrey Dillon kept the Falconer House, calling it the Franklin House, prior to 1836, when Mr. Falconer took back his former stand."
John Hall Falconer, the son of the hotel's founder, "was a large, portly man of jovial and genial disposition," said Dr. Henry Mallory. "He had a poetic nature, was a fine reader, could quote Shakespeare for hours, and was eminently fitted for the stage in either tragedy or comedy." Mallory said Falconer's hotel "was a resort for both old and young."
"The last one who used the building for hotel purposes was Captain F. E. Humbach," said Cone. "In the fifties, Wilson H. Doty opened a fine restaurant in the lower rooms, now (1896) occupied by Dr. W. H. Miller as a drug store, and Chris Kaefer as a barber shop," Cone said.
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