Journal-News, Wednesday, May 3, 2000
Dr. Mark Francis, veterinary pioneer
By Jim Blount
The determined research of a Butler County native revitalized the cattle industry in the southern United States a century ago. Dr. Mark Francis, the first recipient of the doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Ohio State University, was a pioneer Texas veterinarian and responsible for establishing the college of veterinary medicine at Texas A&M University.
He was born March 19, 1863, in Shandon, one of eight children in a family that also produced two other doctors, Dr. John Francis, a general practitioner in Hamilton, and Dr. Edward Francis, an accomplished researcher with the U. S. Public Health Service.
After attending the Shandon School, Mark Francis chose a relatively new school of higher education. Ohio Agricultural & Mechanical College had been created in 1870 and opened in 1873. It was renamed Ohio State University in 1878, and seven years later added a veterinary school, only the third in the United States. Francis was its first and only graduate in 1887.
While at OSU, his thesis was a highly-praised original investigation of foot-rot in sheep. His research identified the cause of the problem. His findings on its bacterial origin were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Microscopists in Pittsburgh.
Instead of returning to his native Morgan Township, Dr. Francis accepted employment at Texas A&M where he introduced veterinary science at the 12-year-old institution. The Texas school had been created in 1876 under the same federal law (the Morrill Act of 1862) that enabled the establishment of Ohio State University.
He formally joined the Texas A&M faculty June 6, 1888, at first working without equipment and a laboratory. His initial efforts were limited to classroom lectures. While struggling to establish his academic program and secure funds, he paused Sept. 10, 1890, to marry Anna J. Scott, also of Shandon.
In 1908 Texas A&M opened a veterinary hospital, and in 1910 the VM program moved to a new building, Francis Hall. In September 1916, with 13 students, the college of veterinary medicine opened under Dean Francis. This made it possible to earn a degree in veterinary medicine in Texas. In 1920, the college produced its first four graduates.
In the intervening years, Dr. Francis had expanded his knowledge and shared his experiences through attendance at clinics in the United States and Europe. He also studied at the American Veterinary College in New York, the University of Michigan and at German institutions in Berlin and Munich.
Building a successful veterinary school and earning a worldwide reputation were major accomplishments. But the achievement that most endeared Dr. Francis to cattlemen in Texas and other southern states was his successful research into a long-standing problem that had plagued their milk and beef herds.
Shortly after arrival at Texas A&M -- and despite limited resources -- Dr. Francis began studying Texas fever, a blood disease found in southern cattle. As early as the late 1700s, because of the mysterious affliction, states began enacting laws that prohibited importation of southern cattle, especially Texas breeds.
In 1892, Dr. Francis published his first findings on the disease and suggested immunization to destroy the tick that caused it. Eventually, those inoculations were credited with reducing the mortality rate attributed to Texas fever from about 75 percent to 10 percent. It also led to removal of state barriers that had prevented the movement of cattle for breeding purposes.
Dr. Francis won many accolades as an educator, administrator, researcher and veterinary writer, including one accorded close to his birthplace. In 1929, he returned to Oxford in his native Butler County when Miami University honored him with the degree of doctor of laws.
He died June 29, 1936, in College Station, Texas, and is buried in Shandon. Dr. Francis remains one of the most distinguished practitioners in the history U. S. Veterinary medicine.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, May 10, 2000
Dr. Edward Francis explored diseases
By Jim Blount
Dr. Edward Francis was often his own patient during his medical career. Some of his comrades in research regarded him as a human guinea pig because he contracted some of the diseases he studied during 37 years with the U. S. Public Health Service. His vulnerability was because of determination to study afflictions in the field among victims, not just in a laboratory.
He was born March 27, 1872, in Morgan Township, one of eight children of Abraham and Martha Vaughan Francis
He was one of three Shandon-born brothers who entered medical professions. The oldest, Dr. John Francis (1862-1948), was a general practitioner in Hamilton for more than 50 years. The next oldest, Dr. Mark Francis (1863-1936), founder of the veterinary college at Texas A&M, won worldwide recognition for his research, especially the immunization he developed for Texas fever in cattle.
Edward Francis attended Shandon School before earning a bachelor degree in science at Ohio State University in 1894. He completed his medical studies at the University of Cincinnati in 1897 before entering an 18-month internship at Cincinnati General Hospital (now University Hospital).
In June 1900 Dr. Francis was first in a competitive examination for a commission in the U. S. Public Health Service, starting his service in an immigration branch at Ellis Island, N. Y.
His most notable public work was in disease research, earning Dr. Francis a chapter in Paul de Kruif’s 1928 book, Hunger Fighters. In the 33-page section, the author said Francis became "famous for his seven years' fight against tularemia."
It is described today as a "rare bacterial disease that people get from animals," including many household, farm and wild animals, but "most often transmitted to people from infected wild rabbits." It also can be passed by a tick, deer fly or mosquito, or through contaminated food and water.
De Kruif said "the plague-like disease" -- that could be fatal, usually within five days -- was named tularemia by Francis "because it came from the ground squirrels of Tulare County, Calif."
"His job was humble, having to do with a certain danger to housewives who cook for their hunter husbands," De Kruif explained. Dr. Francis, he said, traveled western states and "experimented with every kind of beast he could beg, buy, or borrow" to unravel the cause of the mysterious disease.
Later, the New York Times reported that Dr. Francis "contracted the disease from a patient and in his research was re-infected four times."
In 1921 he realized success in solving the riddle of the ailment, commonly known as rabbit fever. "His studies," the New York Times said, "led to better methods of the handling and refrigeration of rabbits for market."
In writing about his findings, Dr. Francis said if "cooks, market men, hunters, housewives and others who dress rabbits would wear rubber gloves when doing so, they would not contract tularemia. It should be remembered that thorough cooking destroys the infection in a rabbit, thus rendering an infected rabbit harmless for food."
His research earned Dr. Francis several awards, including the prestigious gold medal in 1928 from the American Medical Association. Academic plaudits included honorary degrees from the University of Cincinnati, Miami University and Ohio State University.
The Miami honor came in 1929 when he and a brother, Dr. Mark Francis, also was a recipient. They were among four Shandon natives recognized in Oxford that day. The others were Albert Shaw, a journalist, and Lowry F. Sater, a lawyer and Ohio political leader.
Dr. Edward Francis remained with the U. S. Public Health Service until retirement in 1937, the last seven years as medical director. After 37 distinguished years with that agency, Dr. Francis didn’t rest. He continued to conduct research and write on infectious diseases.
Dr. Francis, a bachelor, died April 14, 1957, in Washington, D. C. He is buried in Shandon Cemetery.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, May 17, 2000
Canals battled railroad competition
By Jim Blount
Not everyone welcomed the September 1851 opening of the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad that brought the first rail services to the latter two cities in its name. Those unhappy with the event included patrons and operators of the Miami-Erie Canal, a transportation system that had connected the same cities for more than 20 years.
The canal -- built by the state -- had carried passengers and freight between Cincinnati and Hamilton on a seven-hour schedule. The privately-financed CH&D did it in an hour or less.
Statewide, a canal report said, railroads in 1852 took advantage of a loophole in a new Ohio law, offering lower rates to shippers at places where the two competed. The statute mandated uniform railroad freight rates, but "no penalty is provided for the violation of its provisions," canal managers explained.
A canal official said the CH&D was determined "to monopolize the carrying trade between these points" (Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton).
"We deemed it our duty to do all in our power, not only to sustain those who had made large investments in warehouses and boats on the canal, but also to protect the revenues of the state," said a state report for 1852 operations.
Weather affected both systems, but in the first full year of head-to-head competition, the southern half of the 249-mile Miami-Erie Canal suffered the most.
Dec. 14, 1851, ice forced a 17-day closing of the frozen section between Cincinnati and St. Marys. The 95-mile Cincinnati-Piqua portion froze again Jan. 11, 1852, stopping traffic for 25 days.
There was a 10-day closure on the Cincinnati-St. Marys section after March 10, 1852, so repairs could be completed on that segment.
The canal was closed for seven days, starting April 14, because an embankment washed out after the unauthorized installation of a pipe in Cincinnati.
A breach in the levee at Camp Washington near Cincinnati June 14 resulted in a three-day interruption. A leak Sept. 7 at Cincinnati brought another closure.
On the southern half of the Miami-Erie, the report said, "navigation was suspended 10 days by breakage, by ice 42 days and by cleaning and repairing 10 days, in all 62 days. The mills and manufacturing establishments in the city of Cincinnati were deprived of water 20 days only during the entire year."
During some of the 1852 shutdowns, canal directors completed improvements.
"On the six-mile level north of the town of Hamilton," the report said, "was built an extensive waste gate and culvert combined. This culvert was erected for the purpose of passing the water of a small branch or run under the canal, which before passed into it, causing at every freshet a large amount of earth, gravel and stone to be deposited in the canal, greatly to the detriment of navigation."
Work also started that year on building a replacement dam north of Middletown.
Of the $215,078 spent that year to operate and maintain the canal's southern division, more than half, $128,244, went to repairs.
Statewide, the Board of Public Works reported canal revenues in 1852 totaled $688,775, a drop of $167,577 from 1851, the peak year. That amount represented a 19.6 percent setback.
On the entire length of the Miami-Erie Canal, income dipped from $357,494.25 to $329,529.24 -- a decrease of $27,965.01, or 7.8 percent.
Comparison of 1851 and 1852 canal collections by cities on the CH&D showed the following declines: Cincinnati from $71,504 to $51,596; Hamilton from $6,377 to $3,611; and Dayton from $37,671 to $34,964. Annual canal income the three cities went down $25,381, or 22 percent -- from $115,552 in 1851 to $90,171 a year later.
The canal continued in use for several decades, but it never regained the prosperity it achieved before the arrival of railroads in western Ohio.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, May 24, 2000
35th OVI composed of men of quality
By Jim Blount
More than 900 men volunteered for the 35th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment in two months in the summer of 1861. More significant than its numbers, according to contemporary observers, was the quality of the men who enlisted in the Civil War regiment formed in Hamilton. About 750 of its members were Butler Countians.
"They came not from the rabble, or the lawless, but were substantial men in every respect," wrote F. W. Keil, a regimental historian, of the members of the 35th OVI.
"They had, as a rule, held the standing of respectable citizens at home, before enlistment, and were not willing to compromise that standing while serving as soldiers in the national army," Keil observed.
Several men -- from privates to officers -- were community, business and political leaders when the war started. Many others would become the backbone of Butler County business, industry, professions, government and politics after 1865.
Space doesn't permit sketches of every man. Representative of the interesting men in the regiment are Ransford Smith and two brothers, George T. Earhart and John S. Earhart.
Smith -- a native of Oxford and an 1855 graduate of Miami University -- was a second lieutenant in the 35th in the summer of 1861, a relatively humble rank for a man who had been elected mayor of Hamilton in 1859 at age 25.
Smith, who later won promotion, returned after the war to practice law in Hamilton and Cincinnati before moving to Utah where he was active in politics.
George T. Earhart was one of two sons of Henry S. Earhart (sometimes spelled Earheart) who served in the 35th. The elder Earhart served six years as a Hamilton city councilman and is regarded as the father of Butler County's first railroad -- the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton.
George was born June 14, 1834, in Hamilton. He was the Hamilton agent for the CH&D for 36 years. He held that post in 1861 and his depot office became the recruiting center for the 35th regiment.
George had already served for three months. He had marched out of Hamilton in April as an orderly sergeant with the Hamilton Guards, who became Company F of the Third Ohio.
When his term ended, George Earhart came back to Hamilton to help recruit the 35th. By September 1861, he was a 27-year-old second lieutenant in the regiment.
His brother, John S. Earhart, was 10 years older when he abandoned a successful career as a civil engineer to accept command of Company C of the 35th.
He had been born in Jacksonburg March 10, 1824, two years before his parents moved to Hamilton. He was educated in Hamilton schools and at Farmers College in College Hill (now a suburb of Cincinnati) before joining his father in engineering turnpikes and other projects in Butler County and Southwestern Ohio.
Father and son designed and built the Hamilton Hydraulic in the early 1840s. That water power system was the basis for Hamilton industrialization.
The son, John, supervised the construction of the Junction Railway from Hamilton across the Great Miami River and through Oxford to the Indiana State line at College Corner.
That job, completed in 1859, included building a bridge over the river and erecting a connecting stone viaduct through the lowland of Hamilton's West Side. Earhart's viaduct -- which has been called "a masterpiece of engineering skill" -- still serves an active railroad (CSX).
Earhart's professional skills were soon recognized and he was promoted out of the 35th to become topographical engineer for the Army of the Cumberland.
As such, Earhart wasn't exposed to much fighting, but he didn't survive the war. His promising career ended Aug. 10, 1863, when he died of disease at Decherd, Tenn.
The 35th completed its three years of service within a few miles of Atlanta, Some men re-enlisted and participated in the capture of the Confederate railroad center in September 1864.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, May 31, 2000
McGonigle rail crash killed three in 1900
By Jim Blount
The track was straight and level, the weather clear in the early hours of Sunday, June 3, 1900. Earlier trains had experienced no trouble on runs on the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Indianapolis Railroad between College Corner and McGonigle in northwest Butler County.
Southeast bound freight No. 93, after taking on water at College Corner, highballed through Oxford at 25 miles an hour, heading downhill to Hamilton. Its smooth trip ended at 2:59 a.m., about 100 yards west of the McGonigle station where a siding joined the mainline between Hamilton and Indianapolis.
Five people died as the steam locomotive, its tender and 11 of 29 freight cars left the track. Two crew members in the caboose, although jarred, were uninjured. Engineer Samuel J. Clover of Hamilton suffered burned hands and bruises, but walked away from the overturned locomotive.
For Clover, it was the fifth wreck in his railroad career. Two other railroaders in the locomotive weren't as fortunate.
Killed in the pileup were Timothy E. Mahoney, 28, of Hamilton, the fireman, found under a freight car, and David Sharkey, 23, Rushville, Ind., head brakeman, crushed under the locomotive.
The three other dead men had stolen a ride on the train at Connersville, Ind. They were hiding in a stock car when the train crashed. They were a 17-year-old Hamilton resident, a teenager from Springport, Ind., and a 41-year-old Indianapolis man who had been born in St. Charles in Butler County.
The father of the Hamilton youth went to the scene as a spectator and recognized one of the dead as his son.
Other hobos further back in the train were pressed into service as rescue workers until assistance arrived from Oxford and Hamilton.
By 9 a.m. all bodies had been recovered and placed side by side near the track, covered by white burial robes taken from a wrecked boxcar that contained undertakers supplies.
Adding to the grisly scene were the carcasses of dead livestock and hogs that had been in five demolished stock cars. Surviving animals roamed the area until rounded up by McGonigle farmers.
Mahoney, the Hamilton fireman, had been employed by the railroad for six years, but he had been promoted to firemen only a month earlier. He had not been scheduled for the fatal trip. He was subbing for another fireman when he was killed.
Mahoney came from a railroading family. His father, John Mahoney, was a crossing watchman in Hamilton. Two brothers, Patrick and William, also were firemen.
Starkey, the brakeman, had been a railroad employee for only about eight months.
Fifty-five laborers cleared the wreckage and repaired the damaged right-of-way, permitting the mainline to reopen by 4 p.m., 13 hours after the mysterious crash.
Railroad officials theorized that the McGonigle derailment could have been caused by one of several possible defects. They included a poorly-aligned switch at the siding; a broken switch point; tracks that had spread; or a mechanical defect on the locomotive or a freight car.
It was the worst accident on the Butler County portion of the Indianapolis line. Two years later, three people died in a collision two miles south of Oxford. Four runaway freight cars coasted down hill into the path of the Chicago Night Express at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, 1902.
The victims included the engineer and two hobos, later identified as residents of Newport, Ky. Injured were the fireman, a mail clerk, the express manager and four passengers. Also killed were 54 of 84 hogs in one of the runaway cars.
The passenger locomotive and its tender derailed and caught fire. A baggage car and a coach also burned.
Many lives were saved, a newspaper said, because of the "solid construction of the cars," noting that "it is only within a very short time that railway coaches have been built with steel beams."
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