Journal-News, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 1998
'98 troop homecoming faced obstacles
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is the 12th and last of a series covering Hamilton and Butler County participation in the Spanish-American War of 1898.)
By Jim Blount
Company E didn't get a chance to fight in the Spanish-American War in 1898. It waited patiently in an uncomfortable Florida camp for combat orders that never came. Then it had to wait again as red tape and railroad complexities delayed its homecoming.
Company E, including about 75 men from the Hamilton area, had left Hamilton April 26, 1898, to join the First Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. After organizing in Columbus, the regiment spent most of the war camped in Florida.
Thursday, Sept. 1, Hamiltonians experienced a homecoming preview, and an example of the railroad problems hampering demobilization. The first of four sections of a train returning the 157th Indiana Infantry was expected in Hamilton at 4 p.m.
The Woman's War Auxiliary Committee prepared to offer the troops milk, lemonade, sandwiches and cigars during a brief stop at the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton depot. Other sections were scheduled to follow at about 30-minute intervals.
The first section arrived at 7 p.m., three hours late. Others followed at 2:30 a.m. and 3:20 a.m. The women waited patiently with their refreshments until the last train arrived at 4 a.m. Friday, Sept. 2. Later that day, an order was issued to muster out the 1,313-man First Ohio, but it would take 10 days to gather the needed rail cars and locomotives.
Company E was scheduled to leave Jacksonville Monday morning, Sept. 12, and due in Hamilton between 2 and 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. A welcome was planned by the Permanent War Committee and the Woman's War Auxiliary Committee.
A telegraph message would signal when the train reached Glendale. A cannon would fire three times to call citizens to its stop at Fourth and High streets. The train would be greeted by church and fire bells and whistles of local factories and locomotives. Then, via a circuitous route, the troops would march to the armory at Music Hall on South Second Street at Central Avenue (later Harrison Elementary School).
But plans had to be altered. Two railroad accidents in the South blocked the four sections of the First Ohio train, extending the trip to about 48 hours instead of half that time. Uncertainty caused Hamilton officials to cancel the parade through the city.
A rumor that the train would arrive at 6:30 p.m. brought a crowd of more than 5,000 people to the station, which, a newspaper said, "stood for several hours in the rain." A train transporting soldiers stopped at 6:30 p.m., but it wasn't bearing the First Ohio. It was the first of four sections taking the 12th Minnesota Cavalry home. A second section arrived at 7 p.m.
Planners were told the First Ohio would arrive at 10 p.m. When another train appeared about 10 p.m., the crowd was disappointed again. It was the third Minnesota section.
The waiting finally ended at 11:15 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15. A newspaper said "the streets were literally lined from the station to High Street, along this thoroughfare and down Second Street to Music Hall," reached by the tired soldiers at 11:45 p.m.
Later, newspapers reported some of the difficulties of the movement. In Jacksonville, the soldiers waited four hours for the arrival of coaches. Colonel C. B. Hunt warned railroad officials that if the cars weren't there in 30 minutes, "he would send a company of soldiers to get them and that he would run them up north himself." The trains were ready in about 15 minutes.
The train carrying Company E was commandeered by the soldiers. "Shortly after leaving Birmingham, Corporals Cook and (Charles) Letsche made their way to the engineers to let them show him how trains were operated in the North," a newspaper related.
Tuesday, Sept. 20, more than 10,000 people greeted the men of Company E at a public reception at the Butler County Courthouse. Two nights later, they were toasted at an invitation-only dinner at the YMCA. Within a few days, the men completed the paper work necessary to make them civilians again.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 1998
Tolls not new in Butler County
By Jim Blount
The Butler Regional Highway -- under construction between Ohio 4 in Hamilton and I-75 in Liberty Township -- has been mislabeled the county's first toll road. In fact, roads requiring payment were common in 19th century Butler County.
Tolls were collected from users to meet construction and maintenance costs. The system wasn't an American creation; it was borrowed from England, where the turnpikes were publicly owned and administered by trustees.
In the United States, the majority were built with private capital and operated by corporations for profit under state regulations. Outside New England, public funds were sometimes so invested.
After Ohio became a state in 1803, there was increasing public pressure for roads. Because it couldn't afford to build roads to satisfy every Ohio community, the state granted franchises to turnpike companies.
The private enterprises were given the right to erect tollgates and charge fees in exchange for promising to keep their roads in repair. According to available records, at least 20 turnpike companies were chartered to serve Butler County.
The Ohio General Assembly adopted a turnpike law in 1809 and passed major revisions in 1817 and 1836. One of the 1836 changes permitted the state to invest in the private road companies, a factor that spurred formation of new companies in the 1830s and 1840s.
"Where well built and kept in good repair, the turnpikes provided fine hard-surfaced roads, which were a great improvement over the usual public roads," said George Rogers Taylor in The Transportation Revolution, 1815-1860. "To travelers, whether by carriage or stagecoach, they were an unquestioned blessing."
"But for long freight hauls," Taylor said, "the value of turnpikes was sharply limited.
Even where tolls were very low or nonexistent, transportation by heavy wagons with four to eight-horse teams proved profitable only to a very limited extent."
In Ohio, Taylor said, the state owned much of the stock in some turnpike companies.
"For the year ending Nov. 15, 1848," he wrote, "only nine of these companies paid dividends on their stock. By far the best of these was the Colerain, Oxford and Brookville Turnpike Company, which brought the state about 9 percent on its investment," Taylor noted.
The Cincinnati, Oxford and Brookville Turnpike was incorporated in 1832. The 28-mile road was the ancestor of present U. S. 27. One branch ran from Venice (Ross) through Shandon and Okeana into Indiana; another from Venice to Millville and Oxford to Indiana.
Turnpike tolls were set by the state. In 1844, the costs for each 10-mile segment of an Ohio-chartered turnpike were:
* 5 cents for a horse and rider.
* 15 cents for a four-wheeled vehicle drawn by two horses or oxen, and five cents extra for each additional horse or ox.
* 15 cents for a four-wheeled pleasure carriage with one horse; 25 cents if two horses.
* 10 cents for a two-wheeled gig with one horse; 15 cents if two horses.
* 10 cents for cart driven by horse or ox.
* 10 cents for a two-horse sled or sleigh.
* 3 cents for each horse or mule over six months old, led or driven.
* One cent for each head of meat cattle.
* A half cent each for sheep and hogs.
Eventually the toll roads became county roads. Between 1882 and 1900, Butler County bought the right-of-way to 20 turnpikes, according to Pete Groh, a former county tax map supervisor.
Two future columns will report on specific turnpikes within Butler County.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 1998
Turnpikes preceded present routes
By Jim Blount
Butler County travelers in the mid 19th century were accustomed to paying tolls for the use of better roads. Stagecoach companies -- seeking reliable routes -- also relied on the turnpikes authorized by state government.
Shortly after gaining statehood in 1803, Ohio leaders were besieged with requests that the state finance and build roads. Because it couldn't afford to satisfy every Ohio community, state legislators granted franchises to turnpike companies. State laws enabled the private enterprises to erect tollgates and charge fees. The turnpike companies agreed to keep their roads in repair.
The state chartered at least 20 turnpike companies in Butler County. Only a few had been incorporated before 1836.
The Hamilton, Rossville, Summerville, Newcome and Eaton Turnpike was built in 1833-1834. Its route extended north from Rossville on the west side of the Great Miami River through Seven Mile and Collinsville.
Summerville is now spelled Somerville. Camden in Preble County formerly was known as Dover and then Newcome or Newcomb until 1835. Rossville was merged into Hamilton in 1855.
The Cincinnati and Hamilton Turnpike started in Hamilton at the southern end of Second Street and ran over Central Avenue (then Cincinnati Street) to Symmes Corner (now part of Fairfield). It became known as Mount Pleasant Pike because of the original name for Mount Healthy in Hamilton County. Although not the original road between the two cities, it eventually became the more popular one. It is now U. S. 127 through Hamilton and Fairfield.
The Hamilton, Rossville, Darrtown, Oxford and Fairhaven Turnpike is now Ohio 177, or Hamilton-Richmond Road. It was incorporated in 1830, but work was slow on the 20-mile project until 1838. After seven miles were built, the 1832 cholera epidemic caused an extended delay. Another holdup was debate over extending the road into Oxford.
Cincinnati, Oxford and Brookville Turnpike was incorporated in 1832. The 28-mile ancestor of present U. S. 27 was one of the most prosperous turnpikes in the county.
One section ran northwest from Venice (Ross) through Shandon and Okeana; another branch extended from Venice to Millville and Oxford.
Other turnpikes to and from Hamilton and Rossville included:
Hamilton, Springfield and Carthage Turnpike was built mostly over the Millcreek valley route cut by General Arthur St. Clair's army in 1791, or present Ohio 4. Springfield changed its name to Springdale after incorporation of the company.
Hamilton and Stillwell Turnpike was a branch of the Hamilton, Rossville, Darrtown, Oxford and Fairhaven company.
Hamilton and Princeton Turnpike extended east from the county seat.
Hamilton and New London Turnpike went west from Hamilton. New London is now known as Shandon. The former turnpike is now New London Road.
Hamilton and Tylersville Turnpike ran through Fairfield Township into Union Township.
Hamilton and Gregory Creek Turnpike ran north to the LeSourdsville area, generally along the route of present Hamilton-Middletown Road (Ohio 4).
Hamilton and Lebanon Turnpike was planned to connect the county seats of Butler and Warren counties.
Rossville and Millville Turnpike -- of which information is scarce -- apparently preceded the present Ohio 129 from about the Main-Millville-Eaton intersection west to Millville.
A future column will report on more Butler County turnpikes.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 1998
Pikers relied on turnpike exceptions
By Jim Blount
In the 19th century, when a Butler County road was called a turnpike, that meant travelers had to pay to use the thoroughfare. The name reflected part of the usual toll process.
Toll collectors lived in a house or were stationed in a hut beside the road. A long pole -- called a pike -- stretched across the road to block traffic. After the patron paid the toll, the collector turned the pike so the traveler could continue. Turned pike was shortened to turnpike.
Where there were turnpikes, there were shunpikes. They were free roads -- seldom built to the same high standard as state-chartered turnpikes -- which paralleled turnpikes.
Another form of shunpike was a short free road roughed out around a toll gate. In bypassing the toll collector, shunpikers avoided the five-cent charge for a man on horseback; 10 cents for a cart driven by horse or ox; and 25 cents for a four-wheeled pleasure carriage with two horses.
There also was the piker, a name bestowed on those who took advantage of some free passage provisions in turnpike charters. Exceptions to paying tolls included attending church, military duties, jury service and funerals.
A piker, for example, would show his Bible to a toll collector, who assumed the person or family was headed to church. Once the pike had been turned, the piker proceeded to his real destination -- which wasn't a church.
A piker also was a person who waited until darkness to pass a pike and avoid the toll. Many toll collectors worked only during daylight hours.
In most instances, whether a single rider, a drover (herdsman) or a wagon driver, the turnpike was worth the fee. Generally, a toll road was wider and smoother. Trees and brush had been cleared for a width of several feet. Overhanging branches were trimmed. The right-of-way had been dragged or graded, perhaps stabilized with gravel and crushed rocks, and possibly crowned to promote drainage.
Turnpike companies often exceeded a state standard, which said tree stumps could remain in the roadway as long as they weren't more than a foot high.
As noted in previous columns, there were at least 20 turnpike companies chartered in Butler County in the 1825-1885 era. Those operating to and from Hamilton and Rossville were reported in an earlier column.
Oxford also was a hub for several turnpikes, most notably the Cincinnati, Oxford and Brookville. The 28-mile Cincinnati, Oxford and Brookville Turnpike, incorporated in 1832, was the predecessor of present U. S. 27. One of the county's most prosperous turnpikes actually was two roads. One section ran northwest from Venice (Ross) through Shandon and Okeana; another branch extended from Venice to Millville and Oxford.
Other turnpikes radiating from Oxford included: Oxford and College Corner Turnpike; Oxford Western & Connersville; Oxford and Fairfield Turnpike, which extended from Oxford to the Indiana line; and Oxford, Mixerville and Brookville Turnpike, which also ran into Indiana.
Elsewhere in Butler County, other turnpikes not previously mentioned included:
Middletown and Chester Turnpike (West Chester).
Middletown and West Alexandria Turnpike, running northwest into Preble County.
Dayton, Germantown and Middletown Turnpike, incorporated in 1842, and the Hamilton, Middletown and Germantown Turnpike, chartered in 1846 and completed two years later.
New London and Millville Turnpike connected Millville and Shandon.
Millville and Scipio Turnpike, predecessor of present Ohio 129 to the Indiana line.
Glendale and Port Union Turnpike covered a portion of present Ohio 747 in Union Township.
Great Miami Turnpike ran from Cincinnati to Dayton via Sharonville and Monroe.
Butler County probably will have a modern toll road when the Butler Regional Highway is completed in a year or so. That 11-mile limited access road -- now under construction between Ohio 4 in Hamilton and I-75 in Liberty Township -- has been mistakenly called the county's first toll road by those unaware of the turnpikes that once operated in the county.
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