1997‎ > ‎


441. Jan. 1, 1997 - Unique mansion called 'Lane's Folly:'
Journal-News, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 1997
Unique mansion, called 'Lane's Folly, completed by industrialist in 1863
By Jim Blount
By the start of the Civil War in 1861, Clark Lane was one of the most prosperous industrialists in Hamilton, and possibly the richest man in the town of more than 7,250 people. His business suffered because of the war, but not enough to stop him from building a mansion fitting his stature. 
Lane's residence -- now known as the Lane-Hooven House -- is a showpiece in Hamilton's German Village Historic District. Today, the former mansion at 319 North Third Street houses the offices of the Hamilton Community Foundation. 
It is "unquestionably the most unique structure in Hamilton from an architectural point of view," said James Schwartz in his 1986 book, Hamilton, Ohio: Its Architecture and History. It is described as a "rare and beautiful home" in Walking Tours of Historic Hamilton, a guide published in 1995 by the Greater Hamilton Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"The octagonal design is in the Gothic Revival style," according to the CVB guide. The guide said "a Tudor front door, Gothic arched windows and cast-iron tracery of the balconies and the jigsaw bargeboards decorating the eves add to the romantic character of the house."
Inside, a circular stairway leads to the octagonal tower. Interior features also include arched doorways and vaulted ceilings.
The octagonal house is on the National Register of Historic Places, which recognizes properties considered significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering and culture.
The recent glowing descriptions of the Lane-Hooven House would surprise those Hamiltonians who in 1863, when the mansion was completed, referred to it as "Lane's Folly" because of the unusual eight-sided design.
Clark Lane resided there for 12 years. In 1875, he sold the house to John L. Martin, president of the Second National Bank. Its succession of prominent owners and occupants included Alexander Gordon, C. Earle Hooven and Bertrand Kahn, who purchased it in 1943 shortly after Hooven's death. 
Bertrand Kahn acquired the Lane-Hooven House for the Lazard Kahn Memorial Fund, which honors the industrialist who established the Estate Stove Company in Hamilton in 1884.
Bertrand Kahn never resided in the house, but his father, Lazard Kahn, had lived in the house immediately north (now the offices of Butler County United Way) from 1885 until 1897.
The younger Kahn donated the Lane mansion to the community as a memorial to his father. The 1943 announcement referred to the building as the Community House. Bertrand Kahn specified that it be utilized by the Hamilton chapter of the American Red Cross for the remainder of World War II. Kahn also welcomed use by other civic and charitable groups.
Shortly after occupying the house on the west side of the street, Lane designed and supervised construction of the library. That building -- on the east side of the street, opposite the house --also incorporated the octagon design.
Lane said he would contribute $10,000 for a library if the community matched that sum. That didn't happen. Instead, Lane alone built the library on land he owned. 
Work started in April 1866. The library, which cost about $10,000, opened Oct. 20, 1866, as a public reference library. Opening ceremonies were held Nov. 29, 1866. An 1866 newspaper article described it as "a building of novel proportions, octagon shaped and surmounted by a cupola with stained glass windows."
Lane died Sept. 4, 1907, in Elkhart, Ind. Funeral services for the 84-year-old philanthropist were held Sept. 13, 1907, in the library he had designed and built. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.
The library wasn't the only example of Lane's generosity. Lane and a business partner, 
E. J. Dyer, contributed the money which started of the Children's Home in Hamilton, which opened in 1875. The institution, an orphanage for most of its 90 years, served "the poor and unfortunate children" of Hamilton and Butler County until 1985.
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442. Jan. 8, 1997 - Library donor challenged community: (Last of 4-part series.)
Journal-News, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 1997
Library donor challenged community
By Jim Blount
Clark Lane donated a library to Hamilton because he believed it "desirable to have a pleasant place or resort, where citizen and stranger alike, can have a cheap, comfortable and instructive evening's pastime." 
The industrialist -- who came to Hamilton as a blacksmith -- also expected library patrons to observe "cleanliness, genteel deportment, (and) a reasonable regard for property."
The $10,000 library opened Oct. 20, 1866, as a reference library. It started with an inventory of books valued at $3,000. Historian Stephen Cone, who knew the industrialist, said Lane selected "a collection of nearly 2,000 volumes of choice literature." 
"It is proper to say that fine binding and gilt edges were not sought" in buying books, Lane explained, "for the reason that I wished to obtain the largest amount of reading matter possible for the money I had to invest."
In November 1867, Lane offered to donate the library to the city -- on the condition that the city operate and support it. When he discovered Ohio law prevented such charity, Lane lobbied the Ohio General Assembly for special legislation which permitted cities to accept libraries as gifts.
The library question went before Hamilton voters in a special election and won community support. (446 for, 276 against). While legalities were being settled, Lane paid its operating costs, and Miss Emma Lane, a niece, managed the library.
Feb. 24, 1868, Lane conveyed the property, including books and fixtures, to the city "under certain conditions," including: (a) that it shall be "free to all classes of persons of proper age and demeanor," and (b) "that there shall be kept a liberal file of news, scientific and literary periodicals." 
In donating the building, Lane said "I now feel that much, very much, depends upon you (the citizens of Hamilton), in the future, as to the amount of good that shall come out of the" library, and its impact "upon our young and growing generation."
"In and about the building," Lane said in dedication remarks, "I have used nothing but the best of materials in order to secure permanence and durability."
"The large room is to be the reading room," he said, "and it will be expected that no loud or lengthy conversations will be had in it. In the North Wing is a pump, wash stand, coat and hat fixtures. 
"In the South room," Lane continued, "will be found a writing table, pen, ink and paper. Apprentice boys or young men having no better place may find it convenient when they want to write to parents or friends. The material will be furnished. I only ask that no unnecessary waste, improprieties, misuse or abuse of this privilege may occur."
In closing, Lane said "what I have done has been of my own free will and I cherish the hope that I shall never see the day to have cause for feelings of regret for the act." 
In 1892, Tom Millikin, a Hamilton lawyer and community leader, participated in a tribute to Lane held at the library. "Every dollar (invested in the library) is from the hard-earned money of the donor," Millikin noted. 
"Let the people remember that, not for display or personal glory was this noble gift bestowed, but for the young men and women, to educate themselves," Millikin said. "Here they may read what others have thought and wrote and thus learn that which they would otherwise never know."
Today, 130 years after it opened, Lane's remodeled gift is the nucleus of a library system that has branches in Hamilton, Fairfield and Oxford, plus bookmobiles and other services.
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443. Jan. 15, 1997 - Have you been to Coke Otto?
Journal-News, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 1997
Have you been to Coke Otto?
By Jim Blount
Have you been to Coke Otto? If not, could you find your way there? The community that formerly bore that name still exists, but use of that identification has faded in recent decades. 
Coke Otto -- also spelled Kokotto -- sometimes was shortened to Otto. The names originated with an industrial development at the turn of the century. Promoters also referred to it as "The Iron City of the Miami Valley." Railroaders labeled it New River. Earlier, part of the town had been known as Ohlinger, or Olinger, a familiar stop on the interurban line between Hamilton and Trenton. Ohlinger's Garden was a rural dance hall and entertainment center.
Today, the town of more than half a dozen names is New Miami, a village immediately north and east of Hamilton along U. S. 127. 
It has been New Miami since January 1929 when the village was incorporated with that name. A year later, the census counted 1,289 residents. Its population -- which peaked at 3,273 in 1970 -- was listed as 2,555 in 1990.
The town started in 1900 with development of the Hamilton Otto Coke Company. That plant manufactured gas for distribution in the City of Hamilton. New Miami expanded in 1908 with the opening of the Hamilton Iron and Steel Company.
In June 1936, the Hamilton Iron and Steel Company and the Hamilton Otto Coke Company, both located in New Miami, were acquired by Middletown-based American Rolling Mill Company (later Armco and now AK Steel). 
Armco's New Miami operations closed in December 1991 and its 100 employees were transferred to jobs in Middletown. The New Miami blast furnaces were demolished in March 1994.
The name Coke Otto was taken from the coke and gas process, identified as an Otto Hoffman coke and gas plant. The company town was built on both the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad. It also has been listed as New River Junction in railroad schedules.
Today, New River Junction remains a railroad junction north of the Great Miami River in New Miami. 
Until their tracks were combined at High Street during construction of the High Street Underpass in the early 1980s, the CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads shared only a short span of right-of-way north of Hamilton. 
For example, northbound trains on both railroads shared 1.6 miles of mainline track north from Old River Junction (milepost 31.5) to New River Junction (milepost 33.1) where the Norfolk Southern heads northwest to Eaton and Richmond, and the CSX mainline heads northeast to Dayton, Lima and Toledo.
References to New River and Old River originated about 46 years before the first railroad arrived in 1851. The names appeared after the Great Miami River changed course in March 1805. 
Stephen Cone, a newspaperman and local historian whose career started in the 19th century, explained it this way: "In the years 1803-04 James Smith and Arthur St. Clair, son of General St. Clair, erected a mill at a bend of Four Mile Creek, about a mile and a half above its mouth, and dug a race from the Miami River to bring the water to their mills, in order to supply an additional quantity when the supply from the creek failed."
In March 1805, Cone wrote, "an extraordinary flood occurred in the Miami River, which tore away the headgates of their race, forcing a channel through the same, and thence along the bed of Four Mile Creek. This flood entirely destroyed their mill property and carried away the works."
Cone said "from that time the channel thus formed continued to widen and deepen until, in a few years, at ordinary stages of the river, the whole of the new water passed through it and it acquired the name of New River." 
"The island formed between the new and old channels contained about 350 acres, and was known as Millikin's Island, now known as Campbell's Island," Cone said. "The reservoir of the Hamilton Hydraulic (was) formed by using the bed of Old River." 
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444. Jan. 22, 1997 - War of 1812 threatened Butler County:  (First of an eight-part series on War of 1812.)
Journal-News, Wednesday, Jam. 22, 1997
War of 1812 threatened Butler County; Indians, Canadians and British allied
By Jim Blount
The War of 1812 -- one of the nation's forgotten conflicts of the 19th century -- spread fear in Hamilton and throughout sparsely-populated Butler County. The war -- waged partially on the Midwest frontier -- pitted the United States against Great Britain and its North American allies, Indians and Canadians.
"Here, in Butler County, a success to Great Britain meant an army marching down to Cincinnati, and devastation by the Indians all through the western part of Ohio," said an anonymous writer in an 1882 county history.
In 1812, there weren't many people in Butler County or Ohio to stop that from happening. Ohio population's 1810 census totaled 230,750 (about equal to the number of people living in Butler County 160 years later). 
In 1810, Butler County had 11,500 residents, including 294 in Hamilton and 84 in Rossville (which merged with Hamilton in 1855).
Ohioans believed the 1795 Treaty of Greenville had ended the war that led to the building of Fort Hamilton in 1791. They also thought the peace pact had eliminated Indian aggression in the region. Within a few years, the Native Americans, with British encouragement, considered the 1795 treaty only a temporary truce.
In the years immediately preceding the War of 1812, Tecumseh -- a Shawnee born in Ohio about 1765 -- had assumed leadership of Indian resistance to land cessions and continuing settlement in the Old Northwest.
The Indian threat wasn't the only irritant which led to "The Second War for American Independence" or "Mr. Madison's war," so-called because James Madison was president. 
During its war with France, starting in 1793, Britain had blockaded European ports to restrict American merchant shipping with France. About 1807 the British increased impressment of American seamen into their navy. In retaliation, the U. S. passed the Embargo Act, banning exports and limiting American shipping to U. S. coastal trade. 
In 1810 some congressmen from the West became known as the War Hawks for their aggressive stand. They demanded that the U. S. defend itself against the British and the Indians on the Great Lakes frontier by invading Canada. 
Their motives weren't entirely defensive. By taking the offensive, they believed the U. S. could justify extending its northern borders into Canada. 
Kentucky's Henry Clay, then speaker of the House of Representatives, summarized the War Hawk position against Britain in justifying a declaration of war. "We have complete proof of her capture of our ships, in her exciting our frontier Indians to hostility, and in her sending an emissary to our cities to excite civil war, and that she will do anything to destroy us," Clay charged. 
Ohio's governor acted before Congress declared war. In April 1812, Gov. Return J. Meigs -- at the request of President Madison -- ordered mobilization of 1,200 Ohio men.
Men between 18 and 45 years of age were enlisted for five years, according to an 1812 newspaper advertisement. They were paid a $16 bounty upon enlisting. The men were promised an extra three months pay and 160 acres of land, payable at the end of their service. The state also accepted 18-month enlistments.
About 300 Butler Countians answered the call during the two-and-a-half-year war. The names of 272 men who served appear on the walls of the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument in Hamilton. 
Several of those who responded had been part of the Indian-fighting army of the 1790s. An example was Matthew Hueston. From 1793 to 1795 he had been a packhorse driver and later a commissary for Gen. Anthony Wayne's army. 
In 1812, the 41-year-old Hueston volunteered as a soldier, but because of his valuable experience was assigned to supply duties. Colonel Hueston purchased horses and provisions for the army until the end of the War of 1812.
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445. Jan. 29, 1997 - Local soldiers marched on Detroit:
Journal-News, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 1997
Local soldiers marched on Detroit during first year of the War of 1812
By Jim Blount
The United States planned to take the offensive against Great Britain in the War of 1812 even before Congress declared war June 18. The strategy was to cross the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River border at three points to invade Canada.
April 6, 1812, Gov. Return J. Meigs called 1,200 Ohioans to arms for "The Second War for American Independence." By the end of the month, at least two companies had formed in Butler County, which had numbered 11,500 inhabitants in the 1810 census.
Volunteers from Butler County were scheduled to be part of an Ohio regiment led by Colonel James Findlay, the state's first U. S. marshal and Cincinnati's first mayor. 
The regiment was to join a force gathering in Dayton under Brigadier-General William Hull, commander of the U. S. Army in the Northwest Territory. Hull, who had advanced from captain to lieutenant colonel during the American Revolution, had been governor of Michigan Territory since 1805. 
The 59-year-old Connecticut native -- who also was experienced in negotiating treaties with the Indians -- had arrived in Cincinnati April 22. Hull had established his headquarters there before gathering his army in Dayton about a month before the declaration of war.
Only one Butler County rifle company served under Hull. Captain John Robinson of Dick's Creek in Lemon Township headed the 61-man company which marched to Dayton April 28. They were part of Hull's army when it moved north from Dayton May 21.
The rapidly-formed contingent seldom advanced as much as 10 miles a day. The men were slowed by their inexperience. Their progress also was hampered by rain and the resultant mud, and the time-consuming task of chopping their way through the thick forests of western Ohio. Lack of discipline also was a problem during the tedious march. Serious offenders were branded on each cheek to encourage others to conform to military conduct.
The Ohioans reached the outskirts of Detroit July 5. There they learned that the U. S. had declared war on Great Britain almost three weeks earlier.
Despite some brief skirmishes with Indians and British, inactivity and boredom prevailed. Several daily entries in Captain Robinson's diary report "nothing particular was done."
Eventually, most of Hull's army advanced into Canada. He had the advantage of more troops and more supplies than the British as he moved toward an expected showdown with the Indians and British. 
Despite his apparent superiority, Hull never engaged the enemy. Instead of fighting, Hull retreated to Detroit and surrendered his 2,500-man army Aug. 16, 1812.
Because of his mysteriously actions, Hull was court-martialed on a treason charge. Although acquitted, he was stripped of rank and military honors.
Meanwhile, Captain Robinson and his Butler County volunteers were captives. But they weren't held as prisoners. Only army regulars were detained. The volunteers were sent on British ships across Lake Erie to Cleveland where they were released Sept. 2, 1812.
Robinson and his men suffered hardships during their brief detention, but their fate was better than the soldiers who had served at Fort Dearborn (later Chicago, Ill.).
The 66-man U. S. garrison at Fort Dearborn fell Aug. 15, 1812, a day earlier than Hull's surrender at Detroit. The captives were massacred by Indians.
When news of the Detroit and Fort Dearborn disasters reached this area, fears heightened that a combined British and Indian army would soon invade Dayton, Hamilton and Cincinnati.
Standing between the expected enemy advance and Butler County were scattered groups of untrained men enlisted during the previous five months. The defenders included a company of Butler County volunteers. They had the good fortune of being left behind by Hull's ill-fated army.
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