Journal-News, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2000
Hebe, High Street fountain, one of city’s oldest sculptures
By Jim Blount
The August unveiling of The Hamilton Gateway at One Renaissance Center signified the city’s official status as "The City of Sculpture." Less than a block away is one of the community’s oldest sculptures. It is the statue-topped fountain in front of the of the First National Bank of Southwestern Ohio, erected in 1890. It is 14 years older than Hamilton’s most prominent sculpture, the Civil War soldier that crowns the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument.
When installed in 1890, the downtown fountain provided drinking water for both people and animals. After 38 years of providing refreshment, it was removed in 1928 to make way for construction of a new First National Bank building. For the next 47 years, it stood in the yard of a private residence on Haldimand Avenue on Hamilton’s West Side.
It was acquired by the bank in mid 1970s in preparation for observance of the United States Bicentennial. In 1976, after restoration work at the Hamilton Foundry, the fountain and statue were placed on the north side of High Street, just east of Third Street.
The statue duplicates a notable creation of Denmark’s first internationally acclaimed artist, Bertel Thorvaldsen (1774-1844).
The female figure is Hebe (pronounced HEE bee), a goddess in Greek mythology who was the daughter of Zeus and Hera. The Hamilton piece is a replica of a fountain and statue in Copenhagen, Denmark. Thorvaldsen also created a statue of Hebe that is in The Louvre in Paris, France. It is considered one of his best known works.
Hebe’s role in Greek mythology has been described in various ways, including the nymph of streams and brooks, the goddess of beauty and the goddess of youth. In the latter role, she had the power to make old people young again.
Hercules married her after he was made a god. Hebe ended the long quarrel between Hercules and his stepmother, Hera.
Homer in The Iliad, Book IV, said: "The gods sat down for a conference with Zeus in the Hall of the Golden Floor. The lady Hebe, acting as their cupbearer, served them with nectar and they drank to each other’s health from tankards of gold as they looked at the city of Troy."
According to other sources, Hebe -- an attendant to Venus -- was the goddess of beauty.
Thorvaldsen (or Thorwaldsen) was born in Copenhagen in 1774, and educated in the city’s Royal Academy. In 1797 he went to Italy to study classical sculpture, living in Rome until 1844 and becoming a leading figure in the classical revival.
His most famous works are allegorical reliefs and statues of classical subjects, such as Cupid and Psyche (1807, Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen). He sculpted the Tomb of Pius VII (1824-31, Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome) and the celebrated outdoor Lion of Lucerne (1819-21, Lucerne, Switzerland). The Lucerne sculpture -- a reclining lion carved into a sandstone cliff -- honors the Swiss Guards who fell during the French Revolution. More than 700 Swiss officers and soldiers died while defending Tuileries Palace and King Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and their children in 1792 when a Paris mob stormed the stronghold.
The Alexander frieze of 1812 in the Palazzo del Quirinale, Rome, reportedly modeled in only three months in anticipation of a visit by Napoleon, has been described as "an example of the feverish energy with which he could at times work."
His religious sculptures include the series of statues of Christ and the Twelve Apostles (1821-27) in the Vor Frue Kirke in Copenhagen. He also sculpted numerous portrait busts of distinguished contemporaries.
His collection of antique sculpture and many of his own works are in the Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen, while a copy of his beloved Hebe graces downtown Hamilton.
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Journal-News, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2000
Knightsbridge employment center for 39 years
By Jim Blount
Knightsbridge, once the corporate headquarters of Champion Papers, has been a major Hamilton employer for 39 years. The International Paper Company decision to phase out operations in the office complex is the most dramatic of several changes in its history.
Champion, founded in Hamilton in 1893, had considered several sites in the region before settling on the location along Neilan Boulevard on the east bank of the Great Miami River in April 1958.
The corporate center was named Knightsbridge, the company announced, in recognition of the company's knight trademark and to give the building a distinctive address.
The tract's northern boundary was South Avenue, which the city renamed Knightsbridge Drive in appreciation of Champion's decision to locate the complex in Hamilton.
In August 1861, Champion's corporate headquarters moved into the new building, vacating what had been called the General Office Building on North B Street, opposite the Black Street Bridge.
The Knightsbridge opening set off a series of relocations in Hamilton. The "Stone House" on B Street -- formerly the corporate nerve center -- became the Ohio Division offices. Departments formerly in other mill locations were shifted into the office building that had opened in August 1925. Some of the vacated mill offices were converted to other uses.
Between April 1958 -- when Knightsbridge plans were announced -- and August 1961 -- when the building was occupied -- the corporation and its employees suffered two traumatic events.
March 13, 1960, Champion's popular president, Reuben B. Robertson Jr., was killed in a traffic accident in Cincinnati. He was succeeded two days later by Karl R. Bendetsen.
A little more than a year later, March 31, 1961, was "Black Friday" at the Hamilton mill when about a third of production employees were laid off.
Knightsbridge underwent a major functional change before it was six years old.
In 1966, Champion Papers and U. S. Plywood Corporation announced they would combine. The merger, effective Feb. 28, 1967, blended 31,000 employees and 130 manufacturing operations.
Headquarters of the new company -- at first known as U. S. Plywood-Champion Papers Inc. -- were established in New York City. That resulted in the transfer of corporate operations and people from Knightsbridge in Hamilton. Later, Champion International moved its headquarters to Stamford, Conn.
The Knightsbridge name survived, even though Champion dropped the knight as its company symbol in 1974. The trademark -- designed to represent strength, reliability and quality -- was first used in labeling paper products from the B Street mill in October 1925 and was registered in the U. S. Patent Office in March 1927.
Knightsbridge experienced $45 million in physical improvements between 1988 and 1991. The 182,000-square-foot expansion added offices, conference rooms and a new cafeteria. Improvements were made on the 68-acre campus, including the addition of a pond, hundreds of trees and establishment of a 16-acre prairie grass area.
Knightsbridge employment was reported as about 900 people six years ago as Champion observed its 100th anniversary. After a restructuring that started in 1997, the work force was down to about 560 when International Paper assumed control this year.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2000
Dr. John Shaw Billings pioneered cataloging medical knowledge
By Jim Blount
Dr. John Shaw Billings isn’t remembered for his bedside manner or medical discoveries. Instead, his major legacy is medical information, and making that knowledge readily available to physicians around the world. The one-time Oxford resident and Miami University graduate was a pioneer medical bibliographer. He also was a medical publisher, planner and organizer of a prestigious hospital, the highly-regarded first director of New York Public Library and head of the Carnegie Institution.
Billings was born April 12, 1838, in Allensville, north of Vevay, in Switzerland County, Ind. He was 15 when he entered Miami University in Oxford. Apparently his parents also relocated to Oxford as community histories note that James (Pap) Billings operated a bakery and ice cream parlor popular with both students and villagers.
In 1857, at age 19, Billings earned his Miami degree. Three years later, he completed his medical training at the Medical College of Ohio (now the University of Cincinnati).
The following year, in 1861, Dr. Billings joined the army as a surgeon. His Civil War service started with hospital assignments in Washington and Philadelphia. Then he served with the Army of the Potomac, including field surgeon duty during the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. He later described his war service as "a post-graduate course in surgery."
His frustration in gathering information for a thesis while in medical school had sparked an interest in cataloging medical knowledge. Billings recalled those difficulties when assigned as the first director of the library in the surgeon general’s office in 1864.
During his tenure, the library collection grew from about 600 to nearly 200,000 volumes. He also developed an index system that helped track medical research.
In 30 years on the job, Billings saw the agency attain recognition as the leading medical library in the world. Since 1956, it has been known as the National Library of Medicine.
In 1879, he published the first issue of Index Medicus, a comprehensive monthly medical bibliography with a subject and author index to articles printed in medical journals around the world. It enabled medical students, practitioners and researchers to keep abreast of the latest findings. In the same vein, with Dr. Robert Fletcher, he compiled the 16-volume Index-Catalog of the Library of the Surgeon General’s Office between 1880 and 1895.
In the 1870s, Billings wrote recommendations for changing the Marine Hospital Service, an organization known since 1912 as the U. S. Public Health Service.
In 1875, his plans were accepted for Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital. The Billings blueprint became the textbook for hospital planning and construction. Trustees also retained him to organize the hospital and select its staff. Billings is credited with establishing the high reputation of the Johns Hopkins University school of medicine. Later, he also planned the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston.
Upon retirement from the army in 1895, Billings moved to Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania where he had designed the first laboratory for research in clinical medicine, but it was a short tenure.
In 1896, he was appointed director of the New York Public Library. His task was to combine three separate collections into a single metropolitan library. He planned the building that became the central library and established 37 branches.
In 1902, Billings accepted another challenge -- director of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D. C. His association with Andrew Carnegie -- a steel entrepreneur and philanthropist -- began while Billings headed the New York library.
Billings, also a prolific writer, died March 11, 1913, a victim of pneumonia. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He is memorialized by the John Shaw Billings Award, an honor bestowed on young military medical officers for achievement in executive medicine.
"There is nothing really difficult if you only begin," said Billings in explaining the philosophy behind his many accomplishments. "Some people contemplate a task until it looms so big, it seems impossible, but I just begin and its gets done somehow."
During his professional career, Billings’ varied efforts had helped turn the emphasis in medicine from treatment to prevention.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2000
Have you been to Schencks or Muhlhauser?
By Jim Blount
Have you been to Muhlhauser, Jones Station, Stockton, Fairsmith, Smith’s Station and Schencks? If you reside in Fairfield, or have traveled through the city, you’ve probably been to all those places. They’re all in Fairfield. They’re all along the tracks of the CSX.
They were stations or flag stops within Fairfield Township on the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad that opened in September 1851. Later, the CH&D merged into the Baltimore & Ohio. Then the B&O became the Chessie System and now CSX. Gradually, rural passenger stations were closed as roads were paved and cars became more affordable.
Fairfield Township also experienced change, including creation of the village of Fairfield in 1954 and its evolution into the City of Fairfield Oct. 20, 1955.
From south to north within Fairfield, the former points on the railroad were Mulhauser, Stockton, Fairsmith and Schenck’s. Some places had more than one name, or changed names.
Muhlhauser or Muhlhauser Station was at the Muhlhauser Road crossing, just east of Ohio 4. It was 18.5 miles from Cincinnati and seven miles from the Hamilton depot.
The station was named for the Muhlhauser family, owners of a brewery in Cincinnati. The station was built on land owned by the Muhlhausers. The family had a house and farm near the station.
Gottlieb Muhlhauser and Henry Muhlhauser joined Conrad Windisch in forming the Windisch-Muhlhauser brewery in 1867. Fifteen years later, members of the same families incorporated the Lion Brewery on the Miami-Erie Canal between Liberty and Wade streets in Cincinnati. That plant, with a capacity of 300,000 barrels per year, operated until the start of Prohibition in 1919. In 1934, with Prohibition repealed, the brewery reopened under new owners and was known as the Burger Brewing Company until absorbed by the Hudepohl Brewing Company.
The next stop north was Stockton, which began as Jones or Jones Station at 19.2 miles from Cincinnati, and 6.3 miles from Hamilton.
It was platted in April 1883 by Oliver Treudly (a postmaster there), Thomas H. Kirk, Abram Seaman (or Seamen), Elizabeth Leather and H. L. Huls and recorded Sept. 1, 1885. It was west of Seward Road (then Cooper Road) and between the CH&D and Dixie Highway (Ohio 4).
The CH&D built a station at the Seward Road crossing on land owned by John D. Jones after the railroad opened in 1851. A post office opened April 25, 1856, as Jones Station, but changed Nov. 29, 1882, to Jones, and a few weeks later, Dec. 20, 1882, to Stockton. It reverted back to Jones June 4, 1883, and to Stockton again Oct. 24, 1883, until it was discontinued May 15, 1922.
The Stockton School was at the southeast corner of Ross Road and Dixie Highway (Ohio 4). That intersection was closed in 1995 to form a direct connection between Ohio 4 Bypass and Ross Road.
Continuing north, Fairsmith -- later known as Smith's Station -- was 21.2 miles north of Cincinnati, and 4.3 miles south of the Hamilton station.
The 1875 Butler County atlas places it at the present Port Union Road railroad underpass. It possibly was named for Amos Smith, a nearby property owner.
Schenck, Schencks or Schenck's Station was at the present site of the Dixie Highway (Ohio 4) railroad underpass, a few yards north of the St. Clair Avenue intersection at the Hamilton-Fairfield border. The station was 2.7 miles south of the Hamilton depot and 22.8 miles north of Cincinnati. It was named for a land owner, Aaron L. Schenck, who refused to sell the CH&D land for its right-of-way until the railroad promised to build a station there.
Schenck was considered one the deadliest crossings in the county. In December 1936 -- thanks to Depression work-relief funds -- the highway underpass opened to traffic.
Muhlhauser, Jones Station, Stockton, Fairsmith, Smith’s Station and Schencks are just a few of the place names that once dotted the landscape that is now the City of Fairfield.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2000
Is explosion source of bridge ghost?
By Jim Blount
Does the October 1909 explosion of a New York Central freight locomotive in Butler County have a connection with the legends of the screaming bridge? Two engineers on the northbound NYC freight were scalded to death 91 years ago when a locomotive exploded between West Chester and Gano.
A map check indicates there is no likely relationship. The accident was in West Chester Township (formerly Union Township). The screaming bridge is in Liberty Township.
Both spots are on the same rail line, known by several names through almost 130 years as the Short Line, Big Four, New York Central, Penn Central, Conrail and, since June 1, 1999, a part of Norfolk Southern.
Several explanations have been offered for the strange sounds and lights and periodic ghost sightings at the bridge on Maud-Hughes Road between Princeton and Millikin roads.
No one knows when it was first called the screaming bridge. The unofficial name may have become popular because it sounded like someone screaming when a vehicle passed over the original span, which had grooves in its floor.
Others say the screams are those of people who have died on or near the bridge. Some report that a person was murdered there decades ago.
That claim -- in various versions -- was repeated for years before the body of a murdered female was discovered nearby along Princeton Road in the 1970s. In the 1980s, a teenager was shot to death near the bridge.
Some older versions of the haunting relate that a mother threw her child or children off the bridge and they died on the tracks below. The bridge also has been the scene of some suicides and attempted suicides over the years. One of those unconfirmed incidents involved a young woman who jumped off the bridge after her father ordered her to stop seeing a boy friend.
Some visitors to the bridge -- especially when the area was less populated -- said they saw ghostly figures beside the road and glowing red balls of light off the roadway. Another undocumented explanation of the lights is that they are on the caboose of a phantom train.
After the 1909 NYC explosion, members of train crews passing the area and residents along the tracks reported seeing the ghost of one or more dead trainmen walking beside the railroad. They appeared to be warning of the dangers lurking on the line.
Still another tale is that the ghosts represent a young couple that sought privacy for their intimacy under the bridge. Their tryst ended in death when they were struck by a passing train.
As with other scary tales, the screaming bridge legends have more to do with imagination than history. The span has been a popular teenage hangout -- the kind of place where much fiction is meshed with only a smattering of facts.
The accident that may be the basis for one haunting account killed two engineers and injured three other railroad workers on a northbound Big Four freight Sunday morning, Oct. 24, 1909. One of the dead engineers was off duty, hitching a ride back home to Middletown.
While traveling about 40 miles an hour, a steam locomotive exploded. An investigation revealed that the tender had been loaded with plenty of water before it left Ivorydale in Cincinnati. Unknown to the crew, after a run of only about 11 to 12 miles, a leak had drained much of the water, causing the explosion.
The 1909 accident wasn't the only railroad fatality along that stretch of track. June 7, 1976 -- at the Princeton Road overpass in Liberty Township -- a Penn Central employee, a resident of West Chester, was killed when two rails protruding from a southbound work train penetrated the cab of a northbound Penn Central diesel locomotive.
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