Journal-News, Wednesday, July 1, 1998
Hamilton native led Rough Riders in Cuba
(This column is the 10th of a series covering Hamilton and Butler County participation in the Spanish-American War of 1898.)
By Jim Blount
A Hamilton-born captain played a role in the legendary U. S. victory in the Battle of San Juan Hill, the climatic combat in Cuba in the Spanish-American War. Robert B. Huston commanded one of the two squadrons of the Rough Riders in the July 1, 1898, encounter.
The Rough Riders -- a collection of cowboys, expert horsemen, miners, lawmen and college students from the west -- have been described as "the most widely publicized single regiment in American military history."
Much of the regiment's fame was the work of its media-conscious organizer, Theodore Roosevelt. The future president of the United States was assistant secretary of the navy when the Spanish-American War started. He left that desk job to help raise the Rough Riders, officially the First U. S. Cavalry Volunteers.
Commander of the Rough Riders was Dr. Leonard Wood, a Roosevelt friend who had received his medical degree from Harvard in 1884 and entered the Army Medical Corps in 1885.
Because of transportation problems, the regiment had to leave its horses in Florida. That forced the Rough Riders to fight dismounted in the successful assault on San Juan Hill, the high ground overlooking the city of Santiago, Cuba.
Captain Robert B. Huston had succeeded to command of one of the two squadrons a few days earlier when a major leading the group was wounded.
The Rough Riders joined the Ninth and 10th U. S. Cavalry regiments (both black units) on the right flank in the scramble up San Juan Hill. At the same time, the Sixth and 16th U. S. Cavalry regiments advanced on the left and are credited with being the first Americans to reach the top of the hill 100 years ago today.
Five Hamilton men were in the Sixth U. S. Infantry Regiment, a regular army unit. They were Sergeant I. W. Green and Privates William Conlin, Michael P. Connaughton, Augustus Kienzle and Jacob Morton. Another Hamilton soldier in action that day was Charles Stillmacher, a member of the Seventh U. S. Infantry Regiment, fighting at El Caney, about two miles north of San Jaun Hill..
Among the U. S. dead was a Butler County native, Lt. W. A. Sater of the 13th Infantry. The 25-year-old West Point graduate had been born in Morgan Township before moving to Kansas with his parents
Captain Huston, born in 1865 in Hamilton, was educated in the local public schools before attending National Normal University in Lebanon, Ohio.
At the age of 18, Huston moved to Kansas where he taught school while attending college and studying law. Huston also joined the Kansas National Guard. He was admitted to the Kansas bar in 1892. That same year, he moved to Guthrie, Oklahoma, where he joined a brother, H. H. Huston, in a law practice for several years.
In 1894 he was appointed captain of Company A of the First Regiment, Oklahoma National Guard. In 1895 -- the year he married Viannia Rhodes of Worcester, New York -- Huston was promoted to lieutenant colonel. April 2, 1898, he was appointed colonel and commander of the Oklahoma regiment.
After the U. S. declared war on Spain, Oklahoma was asked to provide a company of expert horsemen to join the First Regiment, U. S. Volunteers. May 11, 1898, Huston was commissioned captain of the group that was sent to San Antonio, Texas, to become part of the Rough Riders.
After its service in Cuba, the unit was mustered out Sept. 15, 1898, but Huston remained in the army as a paymaster with a promotion to major. He served until July 29, 1899.
A few days later, Huston returned to the army when he was commissioned captain of Company I of the 47th U. S. Infantry Aug. 17, 1899. He was sent to the Philippines, where he died July 6, 1900, in a Manila hospital.
Huston's body was returned to Hamilton for burial Aug. 20, 1900, in Greenwood Cemetery.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, July 8, 1998
Have you been to Maustown or Jericho?
By Jim Blount
Have you been to Maustown, Bethany, Jericho, Clawson, Huntsville or Princeton? They're some of the communities that date back to the 19th century or earlier in fast-growing Liberty Township.
An earlier column toured two other towns in Liberty Township (Kyle or Kyles Station, and Hughes or Hughes Station) and three communities partially in the township (Flenner's Corner, Rockdale and Monroe).
Four of today's stops (Princeton, Clawson, Huntsville and Bethany) once had their own post offices -- something 1990s residents of the township are seeking.
Community leaders have asked postal officials to end confusion and boost pride and identity by according Liberty Township its own name and ZIP number instead of receiving mail via Hamilton, Middletown, Monroe, Lebanon and West Chester designations.
Maustown or Mausetown is at the intersection of Millikin Road and Princeton-Glendale Road (Ohio 747) in sections 2 and 3. The name derives from the Maus family, believed to have been the first to live there, starting with the Nicholas Maus family. The community name was misspelled as Mausetown briefly on state highway signs.
Pronunciation of the name has been disputed as either "Moss town" or "Mouse town." In the 1970s, some residents tried to change the name to North Princeton.
In the same area, Clawson formerly extended north of the intersection of Millikin Road and Princeton-Glendale Road in Section 3. It was laid out in 1812 by Samuel Enyart. A Clawson post office operated from Dec. 20, 1881, until May 19, 1900.
Princeton is at the intersection of Princeton Road (Ohio 129) and Princeton-Glendale Road (Ohio 747) in Sections 1 and 2. It was laid out in 1812 by Samuel Enyart. A Princeton post office opened Dec. 27, 1816, and moved Dec. 9, 1872 to Hughes Station. The name was changed to Clawson, 1881-1900, to avoid confusion with another Princeton in Ohio.
Huntsville is in Section 20 at the intersection of Princeton Road (the extension of Hamilton's High Street) and Yankee Road. It was founded about 1800 by Thomas Hunt, who died in 1814 at the age of 65.
Yankee Road reportedly got its name because members of the Hunt family were Yankees. Thomas Hunt and his sons, Ira, William and Nathan, built Yankee Road to Middletown in 1807. The sons constructed the Miami Bridge (on the present site of Hamilton's High-Main Bridge) between Hamilton and Rossville. The bridge opened in December 1819.
A Huntsville post office was established April 1, 1817, and moved June 24, 1844, to Bethany.
Bethany is a community in Section 14 on Cincinnati-Dayton Road (formerly U. S. 25) around the western terminus of Bethany Road. The first house there is believed to have been built in 1798 by David Williamson, who also had a tavern there. Bethany was formally laid out in 1822 by Samuel Lowery.
The Bethany post office, which was moved June 24, 1844, from Huntsville, closed in 1957. Bethany (or House of Dates) was a biblical village, mentioned in the New Testament, on the Mount of Olives in Jordan near Jerusalem.
Of Liberty Township's older communities, Bethany will be closest to Exit 23 at the eastern end of the Butler Regional Highway that is expected to be open within a couple of years.
Bethany Station wasn't a community. It was the original name for the Voice of America operation in neighboring Union Township. It was called that because of its proximity to the telephone exchange in nearby Bethany.
Jericho -- also Jerico, Jericho Corners and Jerico Corner -- is a biblical name found on opposite sides of Butler County, in Milford and Liberty townships.
There was a Jericho post office from May 8, 1852, until Dec. 28, 1855, in Liberty Township. The community is at the eastern end of Princeton Road at Cincinnati-Dayton Road, immediately north of Bethany and east of Huntsville.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, July 15, 1998
Moonshiner killed by federal agents
By Jim Blount
Arrest, fines and jail weren't the only risks faced by a moonshiner in the Little Chicago area. In 1922, a Mason Road resident became the first Butler County bootlegger to die while practicing his trade. Andrew Schaub, 30, was shot to death during a raid on stills in Morgan Township.
Six federal agents and a justice of the peace were looking for a still on a farm between Shandon and Okeana about 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, 1922. They spotted smoke and assumed it to be coming from a working still. As they approached, two men -- believed to have been lookouts -- appeared and quickly fled.
After a brief chase, Schaub was caught by Sylvester Davis, a Hamiltonian employed as a federal agent stationed in Cincinnati. Schaub tried to escape and a scuffle ensued. Other agents said Schaub was choking Davis. As they wrestled, Davis reached for his gun, which discharged, killing Schaub.
Other agents discovered two stills on the farm -- one of 50 and one of 100-gallon capacities -- and 100 pounds of brown sugar.
Schaub's 17-year-old companion later testified that they had been in the area trying to buy hogs. He denied they had an interest in the still. He couldn't explain why they ran when the six agents and Carl Teetor, a justice of the peace, approached them.
Authorities said Schaub's death was a reminder that bootlegging could be a dangerous business, but that didn't seem to deter others.
Liquor raids had become commonplace in the Little Chicago area by mid 1922. In fact, they were almost daily occurrences.
Federal and state prohibition agents -- usually working separately, not together -- regularly visited the area and arrested suspected violators. Bootleggers and rum runners also had to be alert for raids by constables, justices of the peace, city police and sheriff's deputies.
Most fines assessed violators represented only a small percentage of their potential income. But the penalties began to mean much to local treasuries.
Prohibition fines of almost $8,000 were levied by Morris Y. Shuler, Wayne Township justice of the peace, in less than a week in 1922. In one day, he hit two men with fines totaling $4,000.
Andrew Schaub was the first bootlegger to die during the prohibition years, but not the first related to the dry era.
Butler County's first violent death directly attributed to prohibition had been recorded eight months earlier. Leland Carl Catt had been shot to death Jan. 12, 1922, as he tried to stop a car between Hamilton and Coke Otto (now New Miami) in a bungled hijacking attempt.
Previously, there had been reports of several deaths blamed on drinking bad liquor, plus some fatal shootings that may have involved quarrels about home brew or moonshine whisky.
Beverages of more than one-half percent alcohol content had been illegal in Ohio since the stroke of midnight Monday, May 26, 1919. Federal law permitted the manufacture, sale and transportation of liquor only for medicinal and industrial purposes.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, July 22, 1998
"Yellow Kid" Weil swindled Hamiltonian
By Jim Blount
A Hamilton man was among the thousands of victims of Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil, regarded as the world's greatest swindler. The imaginative Chicago native said his numerous clients "wanted something for nothing" and "I gave them nothing for something."
In reporting his death in 1976, the Associated Press called him "a legendary con artist whose schemes netted him an estimated $8 million." During his career, that began about 1900, he concocted dozens of get-rich-quick stories to pry money from businessmen and bankers.
He swindled $38,000 in October 1924 from an executive of the Black-Clawson Company, a firm that manufactured paper mill machinery in its plant at North Second and Vine streets in Hamilton.
Weil said that "investment" was to be pooled with others, including German interests, in buying a paper mill in Wisconsin. He claimed to be a good friend of the president of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, who was represented as a major investor.
The Hamilton businessman -- who consulted a Cincinnati bank before becoming involved with Weil -- was impressed by several newspaper clippings and books which hailed the con man's philanthropic and business successes around the world. Doctoring articles from well-known publications was a favorite Weil trick.
The Hamiltonian accompanied Weil to Chicago to a brokerage firm on Michigan Avenue. Weil, using an assumed name, "appeared to be well and favorably known there," the victim recalled later. "He introduced me to the firm members, talked over the sale of the stock to Morgan & Co., and, finally, pulled the certificates out of his pocket. I saw him get $20,000 in cash in return."
A newspaper report said Weil suggested to his victims that "a fortune could be obtained by buying hidden stocks of big corporations at unusually low sums and reselling them to Morgan and other brokerage houses."
After paying Weil, the Hamilton man contacted acquaintances with the Standard Oil Company, where the con artist claimed to have business connections. When that proved false, the Hamilton victim reported the scam to authorities.
In his Hamilton dealings, Weil posed as a Dr. James Warrington. He was bearded then, but clean-shaven when identified in a Chicago court by the Hamilton victim.
In court, Weil claimed he had never seen the Hamilton businessman, but he accused him of lying about the amount, claiming it was $138,000, not $38,000.
The flim flam king was known for his lavish lifestyle. When arrested in a Chicago night spot, Weil was reported to have been wearing a tuxedo. During a court appearance, one of his two chauffeurs waited in a limousine outside the courthouse.
Some sources say the nickname "Yellow Kid" came from Weil's youthful addiction to an 1890s cartoon character of the same name. It also fit his adult appearance. He favored canary yellow suits, gloves and hats, yellow business cards and yellow cars to embellish his yellowish red hair and golden beard.
He was believed to have been jailed 41 times, including a 27-month term in the Atlanta federal prison. That stint, which ended in 1941, came after conviction on mail fraud in connection with Weil's sale of phony oil leases.
One of his many money-raising plots involved a proposal to establish a cemetery for jockeys in Paris, France.
"I didn't consider anything we did phony," Weil said on his 100th birthday in 1975. "It was imaginary." He said "the most gullible of all were bankers and lawyers" because "they felt so secure in their knowledge that they didn't think anyone would dare sell them a bill of goods."
Weil died penniless in a Chicago convalescent home in 1976.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, July 29, 1998
Oxford Twp. talked secession in 1901
By Jim Blount
Tax complaints led to a secession movement in the Oxford area in 1901. One of the irritants was county taxpayer money earmarked for the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument in Hamilton, the county seat.
"A petition is being circulated among the taxpayers of Oxford Township asking the trustees of Miami University to appoint a committee to cooperate with a like committee from the town and township to investigate the feasibility of organizing Oxford Township into a separate county," said an article in the Oxford News that was reprinted in the Hamilton Democrat March 2, 1901.
Advocates of withdrawal claimed secession would lower taxes for residents of the township. "It is a well known fact that our present rate of taxation is in advance of that of the great cities of the United States, including New York, Chicago, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and other large cities," the Oxford writer noted.
The Oxford News said supporters believe "the citizens of this special section (of the county) devoted to the cause of education should have the fixing of their taxes in their own hands."
"The original intention in setting apart the township for educational purposes was that the income from taxation should be used for the support of Miami University," the writer said. "At present, the county is being taxed for the erection of monuments and bridges in the City of Hamilton, for the payment of fair debts and other expenses for the direct benefit of the City of Hamilton."
The Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument had been proposed in 1897 by veterans of the Civil War. In a county-wide election in November 1899, voters in Hamilton favored the monument bond issue by a lopsided margin, 3,204 to 987. In the remainder of the county, vote was 2,652 in favor and 3,650 against. Overall, it won 55.3 percent approval (5,856 for and 4,637 against.
Only site preparation had started in 1901 when Oxford area secession erupted. The cornerstone ceremony was Nov. 27, 1902, and the monument wasn't dedicated until July 4, 1906.
The bond issue had provided $71,267.25 for the project. The actual cost was $71,266.73, leaving a balance of 52 cents in the fund when the monument was completed.
A newspaper reported 3,766 people in Oxford Township in the 1900 census, up only slightly from 3,689 a decade earlier. In the village of Oxford, the population had increased from 1,922 in 1890 to 2,009 in 1900.
Among the county's 13 townships in 1900, Oxford ranked second in population to Fairfield Township (4,018). Butler County had 58,870 inhabitants in that census, including 23,914 in Hamilton and 9,215 in Middletown.
"The creation of Oxford Township into a county would mean the erection of a fine courthouse and the election of a full set of county officials," said an editorial in a Hamilton newspaper. "Talk of high taxes now, why with a courthouse to build and equip," plus other expenses, the editorial said, "the sheriff of Butler County would soon be selling all of Oxford County for debts."
The secessionists obviously hadn't consulted the Ohio Constitution which says no new county shall "contain less than 20,000 inhabitants." It also states that "no new county shall contain less than 400 square miles of territory, nor shall any county be reduced below that amount." There are about 471 square miles in Butler County and each of its 13 townships once had about 36 square miles.
Talk of creating a new county eventually died in the Oxford area, but it wasn't the last secession threat. The idea of withdrawal and formation of a separate county was discussed in Middletown in the 1920s.
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