1996‎ > ‎


410. June 5, 1996 - Taverns essential to early travelers:
Journal-News, Wednesday, June 5, 1996
Butler County taverns essential to early travelers and residents
By Jim Blount
Taverns were numerous in Butler County in the early years of the 19th century. 1The businesses -- which provided food and lodging to both man and horse -- were essential to the earliest residents who had to travel.
The establishments also were communications centers. Tavern patrons traded news and gossip, including the latest reports on conditions on the roads just traveled. Local residents frequented taverns to exchange business and political information.
Ohio law required taverns to be licensed, the cost depending on location. In 1805, an annual license for taverns in the towns of Hamilton, Rossville and Middletown cost $12. 1For those operating elsewhere in the county, the cost was $6.
McClellan's Tavern is regarded as the first in Hamilton. William McClellan was a Pennsylvanian who came to the Northwest Territory in 1792 to serve in the army which depended on Fort Hamilton as a supply depot. He opened his tavern in about 1796, when the army abandoned the fort.
McClellan occupied one of the fort buildings. It had been known as the Garrison House, the office and residence of the commander. It also was called the Wilkinson House, for General James Wilkinson, a brief occupant.
It was a store as well as a tavern. After Butler County was formed in 1803, McClellan was the first elected sheriff. He operated that elective office for two terms from the tavern.
The Torrence Tavern also provided more than lodging in Hamilton. It was built by John Torrence, also an army veteran. He purchased two lots in 1798 at the southeast corner of Dayton Street and Monument Avenue. He built the tavern at the east landing for the Upper Ferry, which connected Hamilton and Rossville. Torrence also operated the ferry until about 1805 or 1806.
When Ohio became a state in March 1803, Torrence Tavern was chosen as the meeting place for Butler County's first court.
The History and Biographical Cyclopedia of Butler County, Ohio, published in 1882, included a description of the area's early log taverns, their operations and their fees:
"Something which is widely different from that found today was the multitude of innkeepers. Roadside taverns abounded everywhere," the book explained. "It was necessary for the traveler to stop overnight, and as he could only make from 10 to 20 miles per day," and he "was compelled to avail himself of their facilities."
"In the smaller kind there was only a lower room and a loft, into which the traveler mounted by a ladder. Here were three or four beds, and if there were women in the party, there was a curtain to divide their part of the garret from the other part, in which the men slept.
"In the larger there were two log-cabins, side by side, with, of course, additional accommodations.
"The landlord in those days gave plentiful fare, but not what would now be considered as the best quality. It was pork and potatoes, with cornbread. Chickens were afforded as often as possible, and always on gala-days; but beef and mutton were seldom seen, unless the former, salted, in wintertime."
The 1882 account said "there was game on the table when the landlord or his guests were fortunate enough to shoot any, or when he could make an exchange with a neighbor for some.
"Expenses were low. The York shilling, or 12.5 cents, was at that time considerably used in this neighborhood, and meals were generally charged for at that rate, sleeping from six to 19 cents, and the same for horse feed.
"The bar had an abundance of whisky and rum, sold at three cents a drink. No beer or ale was used, nor were there any fancy drinks. Water and sugar were the only things ever put in the glass to modify the taste, except occasionally a little mint," the 1882 history explained.
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411. June 12, 1996 - Indian trails were basis for area roads:
Journal-News, Wednesday, June 12, 1996
Indian trail was basis for area roads, starting with St. Clair's army in 1791
By Jim Blount
Butler County pioneers had the Indians to thank for development of some of the area's first roads. The Native Americans blazed narrow paths through the forested wilderness. Later, their primitive thoroughfares were followed by the region's first traders and settlers arriving on foot and horseback.
The United States Army opened a road that, in part, followed an old Indian trail. In 1791, General Arthur St. Clair was determined to stop Indian raids on the settlements of Columbia, Losantiville (Cincinnati) and North Bend along the Ohio River between the Little Miami and Great Miami rivers.
His military objective was Kekionga, a Miami village at present Fort Wayne, Indiana. His plan was to build a chain of forts in the 150-mile area between Fort Washington at Cincinnati and Kekionga. Fort Hamilton was the first link. It was completed Sept. 30, 1791.
St. Clair's route followed or closely paralleled the Wabash Trail, said Frank N. Wilcox in his 1933 book, Ohio Indian Trails.
"Little Turtle (a Miami chief) controlled the Wabash, and since that river rises" in western Ohio, "it was natural that a trail should lead out from Kentucky via the Licking River, and to the headwaters of the northern and western rivers," Wilcox noted.
"This trail led up the narrow valley of the Millcreek," he wrote, "and led northwest to Hamilton, crossing the Miami at that place." It continued north through Seven Mile, Eaton, Greenville and Fort Recovery to the source of the Wabash River before it entered Indiana.
The site for Fort Hamilton was chosen because of a ford then at the approximate site of the High-Main Street Bridge. That shallow crossing was believed to have been on the Indian trail which Wilcox named the Wabash Trail.
Road-building slowed the advance of St. Clair's poorly equipped, inexperienced and untrained army of about 2,300 men in 1791.
It took his soldiers three days to cut an 18-mile road through the wilderness from Ludlow Station (in northern Cincinnati) to Fort Hamilton. After leaving Fort Hamilton Oct. 4, 1791, the army moved only about 80 miles in 30 days.
The forest, according to a captain, included "white oaks from four to six feet through and from 50 to 70 or 80 feet high" and "white ash from two to four feet through and very tall." Other obstacles included thick underbrush, swampy low land and many streams and ravines.
After St. Clair's campaign failed, General Anthony Wayne took over command of the army in the Northwest Territory. Wayne's army used and enlarged Fort Hamilton.
His troops also established new roads. North of the fort, Wayne followed a course east of the Great Miami River through Seven Mile and considerably east of Collinsville and Somerville. A reminder is Wayne's Trace Road, which extends north through Wayne Township, starting on U. S. 127, just northwest of Seven Mile.
Wayne defeated the Indians in the summer of 1794 and negotiated the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. With peace, the military roads became trails for the packhorses and wagons of the people settling on the land secured from the Indians in the treaty.
In 1817 the former military road between Fort Washington and Fort Hamilton became the first state road between Cincinnati and Hamilton (now Ohio 4). It was called The New Hamilton Road, or Great Road.
Heading south from the center of Hamilton, it ran parallel to the river to about present
Knightsbridge Drive. There it turned east to Dixie Highway and then south to the present route of Ohio 4 through Hamilton and Fairfield. From Butler County, it followed the Millcreek Valley into Cincinnati.
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412. June 19, 1996 - Oxford's brick streets here to stay:
Journal-News, Wednesday, June 19, 1996
Oxford's brick streets are here to stay; roadway installed in World War I era
By Jim Blount
A remnant of motoring's early era -- brick streets -- not only survive in the City of Oxford, but may be expanded soon if City Manager James C. Collard has his way. "They are a favorite topic of mine and I am endeavoring to expand their number significantly," Collard explained.
"I intend to expand the amount of brick streets in the uptown area by approximately five blocks beginning next year," the city manager said.
High Street in the center of Oxford -- which carries the through traffic of U. S. 27 and Ohio 732 as well as local movement -- has been paved with bricks since the 1916-1920 period.
Raymond M. Hughes, president of Miami University from 1911 to 1927, joined other prominent Oxford residents in encouraging the village council to pave the street in April 1916. Hughes, an 1893 Miami graduate, and other advocates of the improvement agreed to contribute money for the project.
Council lost no time in acting. It issued $15,000 in revenue bonds in June 1916. It also hired a contractor to pave High Street for 3,233 feet -- or east as far as present Tallawanda Road. The bricks were set on a cement foundation. A photo in the Miami University archives shows the work in progress in October 1916.
According to village records, Miami was asked to share the cost of paving High Street from Tallawanda Road to Patterson Avenue, and Patterson Avenue to Chestnut Street. The state legislature allotted $22,000 for MU's portion of the project in June 1919.
As motorized vehicles increased, brick paving was popular in cities and villages into the 1920s. The vitrified product was better than the graded dirt or rough stone surfaces of the horse-and-buggy era.
Butler County towns followed the trend. Several Hamilton streets -- including High Street -- were formerly paved with bricks, as was Dixie Highway through what is now the cities of Fairfield and Hamilton.
Brick pavement gradually disappeared for several reasons. One was the high cost of labor in repairing or replacing segments. Concrete and asphalt surfaces were considered easier and cheaper to install. In some communities -- because of motorist complaints about noise, rough rides and slippery conditions -- bricks yielded to other paving materials.
Brick paving remains in Oxford on High Street from Poplar Street to College Avenue, and on College Avenue from High Street to Spring Street.
Oxford officials say their brick streets "require very little or no maintenance." Sarah E. Todd, special project coordinator, said "asphalt, on the other hand, is very high maintenance."
"Asphalt is laid by machines and these machines are not as wide as the street so it must be laid in strips," she explained recently.
"In between each strip, a sealant must be applied to help preserve the life of the asphalt. The sealant eventually deteriorates and allows water to seep into the asphalt, which deteriorates the asphalt. The water also freezes and expands, which breaks up the pavement."
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413. June 26, 1996 - College Road built before Miami:
Journal-News, Wednesday, June 26, 1996
College Road built into Oxford before Miami University opened
By Jim Blount
Legislators initiated a road to Miami University before the Ohio General Assembly created the institution and established Oxford.
In 1803, the year Ohio became a state, Congress provided federal aid for building roads. It mandated that 3 percent of the money from the sale of public lands go to the state for "laying out, opening and making roads within" Ohio "and to no other purpose whatever."
In 1804 Ohio lawmakers earmarked some of this money for 17 state roads, each to be 56 feet wide. State funds went to laying out the roads. Counties and townships were assigned the burden of building and maintaining the routes.
One of the earliest, if not the first state road extended from Chillicothe -- then the state capital -- to the college lands in Butler County. State funds were allocated in 1804 for the College Township Road, which followed a route similar to present Ohio 73.
From Lebanon in Warren County, the college road entered Butler County on present Greentree Road (at the southeast corner of Middletown). Oxford State Road and Trenton's State Street take their names from their origin. The road ended in western Butler County in an area then unofficially known as the College Township.
Standards for the College Township Road -- and other pioneer routes -- were minimal. The 1804 Ohio road law required that "all timber and brush shall be cut and cleaned off at least 20 feet wide, leaving the stumps not more than one foot in height."
The road work, including later repairs, was accomplished with meager labor costs. Farmers were expected to maintain the primitive roads running along or through their property.
A territorial law required every male citizen over age 16 to work on roads for up to 10 days a year. Failure to work resulted in a fine of 50 cents for each day missed. The work requirement was reduced in 1799 to two days a year and the minimum age to 21 years.
The road to the college was authorized five years before the Ohio General Assembly chartered Miami University Feb. 17, 1809. A college had been promised for the region in 1787 when John Cleves Symmes bought land north of the Ohio River between Little Miami and Great Miami rivers from Congress. Five years later, Symmes had not fulfilled the pledge.
May 5, 1792, President George Washington signed a bill directing Symmes and his business associates to reserve a full township, six miles square, for the "purpose of erecting and establishing therein an academy and other public schools and seminaries of learning, and endowing and supporting the same, and to and for no other use, intent or purpose whatever." Symmes -- who ran out of land and encountered financial problems -- didn't comply.
A March 3, 1803, act of Congress directed Ohio to choose land outside the Symmes purchase. That legislation followed petitions by residents of the Symmes tract. About six weeks later, April 15, 1803, the state appointed a commission to select a college site. An area in western Butler County was set aside in summer of 1803.
A year after Miami was founded, Ohio lawmakers created Oxford Feb. 6, 1810. The General Assembly ordered Miami trustees to lay out the town one mile square. The site was selected March 29, 1810, and the town was laid out by James Heaton. It was named Oxford for the British university town. The first lots were offered for sale in Hamilton May 22-23, 1810.
College Township became Oxford Township Aug. 5, 1811. On that date, Butler County commissioners created the new township with land taken from Milford Township.
Despite these official actions, other communities were trying to persuade legislators to relocate the campus. The list of suitors for Miami University included Hamilton, Cincinnati, Lebanon and Yellow Springs.
In 1818, a high school, or college preparatory academy, was built on the 56-acre site in Oxford. Six years later -- in November 1824 -- collegiate instruction began at Miami. By that date, Chillicothe -- at the eastern end of the college road -- was no longer the state capital. It had been moved to Zanesville 1810, back to Chillicothe in 1812 and to Columbus since Dec. 1, 1817.
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414. June 28, 1996 - Butler County pioneering new concept in highways: (For decades, a maze of state and federal regulations and procedures discouraged the building of new highways and improvement of existing roadways in Butler County. Three years ago, the situation changed for the southeastern portion of Butler County. Opinion page guest column on TID.)