Journal-News , Sunday, Jan. 2, 1999 33 Butler Countians whose influence reached outside the area in the 1900s:
33 Butler Countians whose influence reached outside the area in the 1900s
By Jim Blount
Butler County during the 1900s had its share of influential citizens; men and women whose accomplishments and leadership spread beyond the southwestern corner of Ohio. The following alphabetical list highlights 33 people in various professions -- from literature, sports and entertainment to politics, medicine, science and several aspects of business and industry. They all share a Butler County association by birth, residence and business or profession.
Walter (Smokey) Alston -- Ross and Darrtown -- his Dodgers won seven pennants and four World Series during his 21-year managerial career, earning election to the Baseball Hall of Fall at Cooperstown, N. Y.
Lou J. Beauchamp -- Hamilton -- an inspirational speaker, known as "The Apostle of Sunshine" because of his world-wide tours promoting several causes, including temperance; Cincinnati native, also leader in the Chautauqua movement
Johnny Black -- Hamilton -- entertainer and songwriter whose hits included "Dardanella" and "Paper Doll," the latter the top tune during World War II.
James E. Campbell -- Middletown and Hamilton -- former governor and father of the secret ballot in Ohio; continued to serve the state in the 20th century in a variety of roles, including president of Ohio Historical Society and board of trustees of Ohio State University; power in state and national Democratic Party until his death in 1924.
James M. Cox -- Jacksonburg -- newspaper writer, editor and owner; three-term governor of Ohio (1913-15, 1917-21) and the Democrat candidate for president in 1920.
John Dolibois -- Oxford -- Miami graduate, who built the university's alumni association; vice president for development and alumni affairs; as a World War II officer assisted in the interrogation of Nazis before the Nuremberg war trials; later returned to native Luxembourg as U. S. ambassador.
Wilbur C. (Weeb) Ewbank -- Oxford -- Pro Football Hall of Fame coach and Miami graduate, whose coaching career included 13 years at McGuffey High School; native of Richmond and long-time Oxford resident led Baltimore Colts and New York Jets to professional football championships.
Dr. Edward Francis -- Shandon -- a distinguished researcher with U. S. Public Health Service who in 1921 identified the cause of rabbit fever (Tularamai Francis).
Dr. Mark Francis -- Shandon -- founder of the veterinary school at Texas A&M where he developed immunization against Texas fever, saving the Texas cattle industry. He was a brother of Dr. Edward Francis (above) and Dr. John Francis, a Hamilton physician.
William Dean Howells -- Hamilton -- a leading author and editor of international renown at the turn of the century; wrote the first biography of Abraham Lincoln; immortalized his Hamilton boyhood in "A Boy's Town.".
Fannie Hurst -- Hamilton -- regarded as the dean of American women writers of her era; her work included "Back Street" with a Cincinnati background.
Patrick J. Kessler -- Middletown -- representing thousands of Butler Countians who served in the armed forces during the 1900s; in 1944, the World War II private earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery in Italy. He was killed in action two days later.
Howard Jones -- Excello and Middletown -- played at Yale; coached at Syracuse, Yale, Ohio State, Iowa, Duke and Southern California, where he established the Trojans as a college football power; won five Rose Bowls and two national championships.
Kennesaw Mountain Landis -- Millville --a federal judge and the first commissioner of professional baseball; restored the integrity of the game; elected to Baseball Hall of Fame for 23 years (1921-44) of leadership.
Robert McCloskey -- Hamilton -- a highly-regarded children's writer and illustrator whose award-winning works include "Make Way for Ducklings;" also responsible for the exterior art work on the Hamilton Municipal Building.
Ezra Meeker -- Huntsville, Liberty Twp. -- moved west in a covered wagon, wrote of his varied experiences on the Oregon Trail and, as a senior citizen, waged nationwide campaign for a federal highway system.
John D. Millett -- Oxford -- author, teacher and Miami University's 16th president; first chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, overseeing expansion of Ohio public colleges from six campuses to 62. Indianapolis native also was president of Academy for Educational Development, Washington, D. C.
Eugene Millikin -- Hamilton -- lawyer and World War I army officer, served 16 years as U. S. senator from Colorado (1941-57) through World War II and the Korean War and the start of the space age.
Joe Nuxhall -- Hamilton and Fairfield -- youngest person (age 15) to perform in a major league baseball game, 1944; winner of 135 games as a major-league pitcher; popular Cincinnati Reds radio broadcaster since 1966.
Frederick Rentschler -- Hamilton -- instrumental in development of aircraft engines, propellers and helicopters during both world wars; a founder of United Airlines and Pratt & Whitney; a member of the Aviation Hall of Fame; recognized on a Time magazine cover as "Mr. Manpower." Brother of George A. Rentschler and Gordon Rentschler, listed below.
George A. Rentschler -- Hamilton -- industrialist and banker; German native whose management built Hamilton-based Hooven, Owens, Rentschler Co. and Niles Tool Co. (combined as General Machinery Corp.) into world-class foundry and machine tool complex.
Gordon Rentschler -- Hamilton -- industrialist and banker; after 1913 flood, promoted formation of the Miami Conservancy District, later a MCD board member; directed National City Bank of New York; and active in international trade agencies.
Charles F. Richter -- Overpeck -- a pioneer in seismological research in the 1930s who originated a scale (the Richter Scale) measuring the magnitude of earthquakes.
Reuben B. Robertson Jr. -- Hamilton -- Champion Papers executive; member of the federal Wage Stabilization Board; vice chairman of the Hoover Commission; and deputy secretary of defense, 1955-1957. A native of Asheville, N. C., and a grandson of Champion's founder, Peter G. Thomson.
Pat Schroeder -- Hamilton -- U. S. congresswoman from a Colorado's First District for 12 terms, including service on the House Judiciary and National Security committee; spent her junior high school years in Hamilton.
Donald V. Seibert -- Hamilton -- started with J. C. Penney Company in 1947 as a shoe salesman and worked his way to chief executive of the company in 1974.
Albert Shaw -- Shandon -- writer, editor and teacher; long-time editor of the Review of Reviews and the Literary Digest; vigorous campaigner for reforms in municipal government.
Phillip R. Shriver -- Oxford -- author, historian, administrator and, for more than 50 years, a teacher; popular 17th president of Miami University for 16 years, including the troubled era of the Vietnam War; Cleveland native often honored for his contributions to Ohio archeology and history.
Paul J. Sorg -- Middletown -- U. S. congressman; at start of 1900s, businessman and entrepreneur, including banking, paper, tobacco, railroads, street railways and agricultural machinery; a native of Wheeling, W. Va.
Peter Thomson -- Hamilton -- author, publisher and entrepreneur who founded and directed Champion Papers until his death in 1931; innovator in developing coated paper for improved photo reproduction for magazines and advertising; a Cincinnati native.
John B. Tytus -- Middletown -- using principles learned in the Middletown paper industry, developed the continuous steel rolling mill for American Rolling Mill Company (Armco, AK Steel).
George M. Verity -- Middletown -- industrial innovator and founder of the American Rolling Mill Co. (1901), later known as Armco and AK Steel. The native of Logan County was considered the "dean of American steelmakers."
C. William Verity -- Middletown -- Armco chief executive (1971-1986), president of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States and secretary of commerce in President Ronald Reagan's cabinet (1987-89). Grandson of Armco's founder, George M. Verity.
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608. Jan. 5, 2000 -- Fox Hwy. is Hamilton's belated interstate:
Journal-News, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2000
Fox Highway is Hamilton's belated interstate connection
By Jim Blount
The new Michael A. Fox Highway is at least four lanes, two in each direction, over most of its 10.7-mile course and the predominant speed limit is 65 miles an hour. Officially, the road connecting Hamilton and Fairfield and Liberty townships with I-75 is designated as Ohio 129. But to many people in the area -- despite the absence of an I number and red, white and blue signs -- it is a belated part of the interstate highway system.
When Congress created the national network in 1956, the legislation promised to connect every U. S. city with a population of 50,000 or more. That seemed to assure Hamilton's inclusion. The 1950 census reported 57,951 residents in the city. By 1960, when the first 12 miles of I-75 opened through Union and Liberty townships, Hamilton's population had climbed to 72,354.
For various reasons -- some explainable, some still mysterious -- it didn't happen. Butler County was surrounded by other interstate highways, but none passed through or connected the county seat to the system.
The Fox Highway -- first called the Hamilton Freeway and the Hamilton Connector -- was dedicated Dec. 10, 1999, and fully opened to traffic three days later. That was more than 43 years after the congressional assurance that the city could expect an interstate route, and more than 39 years after I-75 opened through the county.
June 8, 1958, ground was broken for the Butler County portion of the Cincinnati-Dayton Expressway, its official name before becoming I-75. The ceremony was on Hamilton-Mason Road, east of U. S. 25 (now Cincinnati-Dayton Road), about 10 miles east of Hamilton.
Thirty-two miles of the highway were opened Sunday afternoon, July 31, 1960.
Expenditures for the 12 miles of six-lane interstate within Butler County -- including 13 underpasses and overpasses at road and railroad intersections -- were $9.5 million.
By 1975, a completed I-75 spanned 211.5 miles in Ohio between Cincinnati and Toledo. Its total cost -- including the Butler County segment -- was reported as $403.1 million.
Here's a brief summary of other interstate highways in Southwestern Ohio:
x I-275 -- 55.4 miles in Ohio, plus 28.7 miles in Kentucky and 3.1 miles in Indiana -- totaled about $500 million for 84.16 miles in three states. Ohio's part cost about $145 million.
Construction began in September 1958 on the Cincinnati outer belt, known at first as the Circumferential Highway and quickly shortened to Circle Freeway. It was completed in December 1979. In 1982 it was named the Donald H. Rolf Highway in honor of a Hamilton County commissioner who in 1954 began promoting a four-lane loop around Hamilton County.
The first part of I-275 opened in August 1961 from Ohio 4 in Springdale -- just south of Fairfield -- east to I-75 and U. S. 42 in Sharonville, 4.4 miles in length.
In December 1977, traffic started on the western leg from U. S. 27 (Colerain Avenue) west to Indiana and over the Ohio River into Kentucky and the Northern Kentucky-Greater Cincinnati International Airport. Two years later, the last link opened, a bridge over the Ohio River near old Coney Island, east of Cincinnati.
x I-71 -- 244.6 miles in Ohio between Cincinnati, Cleveland and the Pennsylvania line -- cost $644.9 million. In Hamilton County, work on the first section, which started in 1962, was finished in March 1963. The final Cincinnati segment was completed in December 1974.
x I-74 -- 19.5 miles in Ohio from Cincinnati to the Indiana line -- cost $486 million. As planned, it included a 116-mile Cincinnati-Indianapolis connection. It partially opened in 1964, eventually extending west through Indiana and Illinois.
x I-70 -- 232 miles in Ohio between the West Virginia and Indiana borders, via Columbus -- cost $422.9 million, according to a 1975 report.
x I-675 -- about a 26-mile southeastern bypass around Dayton between I-75 south of the city and I-70 to the east -- was the area's last interstate segment. The first segment opened in October 1975.
By June 1975, Ohio had completed 92.8 percent of its projected 1,529 miles of interstate with 3.1 percent under construction and 4.1 percent waiting to be contracted. State officials estimated the total interstate cost in Ohio topped $4 billion.
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609. Jan. 12, 2000 -- Florida warmth enticed travelers:
Journal-News, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2000
Florida warmth enticed travelers to flee winter on passenger trains
By Jim Blount
"The new through train service from Chicago to Florida was inaugurated last night when the first of the sumptuous Florida limiteds, which save 109 miles over any of the old routes between this city and St. Augustine, passed through Hamilton on the CH&D." That's how a Hamilton newspaper described Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad service to Florida in mid-January 1901.
Until interstate highways and affordable airline fares drained the market in the late 1950s, Butler County residents wanting to escape winter could do so by railroad.
The 1901 account said "the train arrived in Hamilton from Indianapolis at 7:28 p.m., and at 8:30 o'clock tonight it will deliver its passengers in St. Augustine."
"No more beautifully appointed train has been placed at the disposal of Hamilton winter tourists. It carries no day coaches at all, but includes solid baggage cars, drawing room car and one or more standard Pullman sleepers, as business may demand." Additional cars, including diners, were added during the trip.
"The new train is the result of an arrangement between several roads," the newspaper explained. As many as five or seven railroads cooperated in whisking people from the snow and cold in the Midwest to sunny beaches in Florida. North of the Ohio River, the route varied through the week.
"On Mondays and Thursdays, it will run from Chicago and Cincinnati over the CH&D, passing through Hamilton at 7:28 p.m. On the return it passes over the CH&D on Wednesdays and Saturdays."
"On Tuesdays and Friday," the newspaper reported, "it will run south from Chicago to Cincinnati over the Panhandle (Pennsylvania), passing through this city and returning the same way on Thursdays and Sundays on the northbound trip. On the Panhandle runs, it will arrive in Hamilton at 6:50 p.m."
On two other days of the week, the Florida train "will run over the Big Four (New York Central), passing through Middletown, but not Hamilton," the newspaper noted.
"The route below Cincinnati will be uniform, and is over the Queen and Crescent and goes straight through, via Atlanta, Chattanooga and Macon, to Jacksonville and St. Augustine."
The Southland, one of the most popular Florida trains among Midwest travelers, started Nov. 21, 1915. It involved several railroads connecting North and South via Cincinnati and Louisville. Its starting point was listed as Chicago, but cars or sections also originated in Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis and other northern cities.
Through Butler County, the Southland operated over the Pennsylvania Railroad with stops in Hamilton.
South of the Ohio River, it ran over the tracks of the Louisville & Nashville, Central of Georgia, Atlantic Coast Line and Florida East Coast railroads. From Cincinnati, destinations included Knoxville, Atlanta, Jacksonville and Orlando, Lakeland and Tampa on Florida's west coast, and St. Augustine, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami on the east coast.
The Southland's fastest schedule -- 31 hours and 45 minutes, Chicago-Tampa -- was in the winter of 1942, a World War II year.
The Interstate Commerce Commission approved discontinuance of the last segment of the Southland June 29, 1959.
In the winter of 1946-47, a passenger could board a southbound New York Central train at 6:05 a.m. in Middletown and arrive in Miami at a minute before noon the next day. The Florida Sunbeam was a cooperative venture of the NYC, Southern and Seaboard Air Line railroads with "complete sleeping car, dining and lounge car service."
In the winter of 1952-53, a similar schedule was available to passengers boarding the Baltimore & Ohio in Hamilton. Departure time was 6 a.m. with arrival at 7:10 p.m. in Atlanta later that day, and in Tampa at 9:15 the next morning.
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610. Jan. 19, 2000 -- Hamilton gets rid of highway label:
Journal-News, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2000
Hamilton gets rid of unwanted highway label
By Jim Blount
"Hamilton -- the largest city in the nation not on an interstate highway" was a frequent lament of local officials before the Michael A. Fox Highway opened. The 10.7-mile interstate-type highway links Ohio 4 in Hamilton with I-75 in Union Township with interchanges at Bypass 4, Ohio 747 and Cincinnati-Dayton Road.
The "largest city" statement started in the early 1970s, when city and county officials stepped up efforts to link the county seat with the interstate highway system. The complaint was meant to dramatize Hamilton's isolation from the network and the economic benefits that improved transportation could bring to the city.
In 1956, when announced, the interstates were supposed to connect cities with populations of 50,000 or more. Hamilton had 57,951 residents in the 1950 census and 72,354 a decade later as I-75 opened through Union and Liberty townships.
Increasing use of the "largest city in the nation not on an interstate highway" slogan prompted this writer, then editor of the Journal-News, to check the accuracy of the statement. It was quoted as fact, but no one could pinpoint the source. The frustrating task required several months of intermittent research, starting in 1976.
Letters to government agencies concerned with highways produced nothing. We don't keep track of such things, they responded, usually suggesting other sources. The majority failed to respond. That led to a state-by-state check. Cities with 50,000 or more people in each state were found on state road maps. The overwhelming majority were on the interstate system.
Finally, the list was narrowed to 11 possibilities. Letters and calls determined that some of those communities were on state or U. S. routes that had been upgraded to interstate standards (two or more lanes each way, divided traffic, access at interchanges only, etc.). Contacts in those areas said the roads -- although without the I designation -- were considered adequate.
The final selections followed phone calls to editors and⁄or chambers of commerce of the apparently isolated cities.
When the results were published in February 1977, the largest U. S. city not on an interstate, or connected by a highway of interstate standard, was Columbus, Ga. (155,028 population in 1970), home of the army's Fort Benning. At that time, a 20-mile spur from I-85, designated I-185, was under construction, and Columbus soon yielded its No. 1 spot.
Second at that time was Green Bay, Wis. (87,809), then 90 miles from the nearest interstate in Milwaukee. "We are happy with out situation," an editor said, noting that U. S. 41 was of intestate condition for most of its route. Since then, I-43 has been built, connecting Green Bay, Sheboygan and Milwaukee.
No. 3 was another Georgia city. Albany (72,623 people in 1970) was about 40 miles west of I-75, according to an editor there. "We can get to the interstate two ways . . . and most of the roadway is two lane," he said. Those roads were later upgraded to four lanes.
Hamilton -- with a population dip to 67,865 in the 1970 census -- ranked fourth when the 1976-77 survey was completed.
At the start of that decade, a Hamilton link to the interstate seemed assured. In April 1970, Gov. James A. Rhodes announced that the state would build such a road. The 15.7-mile highway would run east from Hamilton to I-75 and I-71. It would be open within two and a half years, declared Rhodes, who at that time was campaigning for a seat in the U. S. Senate.
In April 1974, Rhodes was running for governor again. "We're for it," Rhodes said in a taped interview during that campaign. "If we get back in (the governor's office), we'll build it for you," he said of the road. Nothing happened during his second eight-year tenure.
Meanwhile, the estimated cost was going up. In 1970, the price tag was $24.8 million for the Hamilton to I-71 plan. The projections jumped to $34.7 million in 1972, to $52.1 million in 1976, and to $68 million in 1982.
The overall cost (land acquisition, construction, etc.) for the Fox Highway -- which ends at I-75, not I-71 -- has been reported as more than $150 million.
As of Dec. 13, 1999, when the highway opened, Hamilton was no longer "the largest city in the nation not on an interstate highway" or connected to the system by a roadway of the same qualities.
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611. Jan. 26, 2000 -- Middletown faced major change in 1900:
Journal-News, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2000
Middletown faced major change in 1900 as steel company relocated in community
By Jim Blount
Few Butler County residents in the winter of 1899-1900 sensed the impact of business transactions that were shaping the future of Middletown, already an industrial city of more than 20 plants, dominated by paper and tobacco companies.
A Cincinnati firm -- seeking relief from exposure to Ohio River floods -- narrowed its search for a new location to two Ohio cities, Zanesville and Middletown. While considering the move, it reorganized and was incorporated in December 1899.
The company found Middletown receptive. City leaders had formed an industrial commission to bolster and diversify its economy. Middletown's business base had been shaken, as in other towns, by a prolonged depression that had started almost seven years earlier (the Panic of 1893).
After a May 1900 meeting, the commission and the company reached an accord. The Cincinnati business pledged to employ 150 people with a monthly payroll of at least $25,000. The commission agreed to donate 12 acres on Curtis Street, and establish a $100,000 relocation fund to assist the company, which increased its capitalization from $200,000 to $500,000.
A factor in the decision was the Miami-Erie Canal, a system that had started in Middletown in 1825. It connected the Ohio River and Lake Erie, including Cincinnati, Hamilton, Dayton, Toledo and other communities along its 248-mile north-south course through western Ohio. The new plant could use the canal to import raw materials and ship finished products. Canal freight rates then were about a fourth of those charged by railroads.
Unfortunately, Ohio's canal system was in rapid decline, and the waterway was of limited use after 1900. Plans to widen and deepen channels to accommodate larger boats and heavier loads never materialized . The state officially abandoned the canal in 1929.
Despite that setback, in less than 10 years, the company employed 1,500 people, produced 4,500 tons of steel a month and had annual sales topping $3.6 million. It also expanded its Middletown facilities and acquired operations in other cities. In the 1911-1920 period, the company spent more than $10 million in enlarging its Middletown complex.
When based in Cincinnati, the business had been known first as the Sagendorf Iron Roofing and Corrugating Company, and later as the American Steel Roofing Company.
When it reorganized and moved to Middletown, it became the American Rolling Mill Company. Armco -- in unofficial use for years -- became the new corporate name in 1948.
Directing its 1900 transition was 35-year-old George M. Verity, whose influence in Middletown would go far beyond his 30-year direction of the city's major employer. (More on Verity and Armco in future columns.)
Verity -- later regarded as "the dean of American steelmakers" -- not only relocated the business, but expanded its operation. "The sheet metal business was chiefly by small concerns who purchased their sheets in one place, had them galvanized in another and then made into pipe, gutter and corrugated roofing and siding," a newspaper said later in explaining Verity's 1900 concept.
"The Armco idea brought together these various branches of the industry, taking the pig iron direct from the blast furnaces, and making it into the sheet metal products for the market," the report said.
Verity's new complex, the report said, "included an open hearth department which manufactured steel ingots; a bar mill department in which the ingots were reduced to billets or sheet bars; a sheet mill department for the conversion of the sheet bars into black iron or steel sheets ready for the market; a galvanizing department making galvanized iron and steel sheets of a certain percentage of the black sheets; and a factory department for the fabrication of sheet metal building materials of all kinds."
For decades Armco prospered, and Middletown with it, but a series of business changes in the 1980s saw the company move its headquarters out of Middletown and ally with the Kawasaki Steel Corp. of Japan.
In 1989, the Middletown steel facility became AK Steel, and in 1994 it went public with a stock offering. Two years later, Armco sold its shares in AK. In 1999, in a strange turn around, AK Steel and Armco Inc. merged with AK the surviving name.
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