Journal-News , Wednesday, May 1, 2002
Memorial honors county’s 20 fallen police officers
By Jim Blount
Twenty law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty will be honored with the dedication of the Butler County Peace Officer Memorial Wednesday, May 15, at 705 Hanover Street in Hamilton. The unveiling of the memorial wall is scheduled at 2 p.m. at the site of the new Butler County Jail. It includes a lifelike statue that will be an addition to the City of Sculpture attractions.
The project -- initiated by the Butler County sheriff’s department -- isn’t a reaction to the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Planning for the county memorial began more than a year before terrorist attacks on the U. S. sparked new appreciation for men and women in public safety roles.
Those honored died between 1913 and 1964. They include seven from the Middletown police department, six Hamilton officers, two prohibition agents from the Seven Mile mayor's court; and one each from Fairfield Township, the Ohio Highway Patrol, the village of New Miami, Hamilton merchant's patrol and the FBI .
The first 10 victims, in chronological order, were:
Police Officer Edgar (or Edward) Lewis Dye , 35, died March 21, 1913, of leg injuries suffered Dec. 4, 1912, while on duty with the Middletown Police Department. He had been hospitalized for two months after amputation of a leg. He was injured while pursuing a suspect. Dye served the Middletown department for 15 months.
Police Inspector Arthur M. Walke , 48, died July 3, 1916, of head injuries. The nine-year Hamilton police veteran had been unconscious since July 1. He was attacked in the police station while arresting a man on charges of intoxication and abusing his wife. As Walke fell, his head hit the cement floor.
Patrolman George A. Lentz, 52, died of a point-blank rifle wound Aug. 6, 1918. He had been shot July 21 on Shuler Avenue near the East Hamilton firehouse by a man believed to have been intoxicated. The 10-year veteran of the Hamilton police department had taken a four-pound hammer from the man a few minutes before the shooting.
Merchant Policeman Harry E. Baker , 36, died Dec. 15, 1919, while walking patrol in downtown Hamilton. He was shot at the northwest corner of South Fourth and Court streets. Nelson J. Barger was charged with the murder of the 14-year veteran. Barger, who was sentenced to be executed in the electric chair, died of tuberculosis while in prison.
Desk Sergeant Charles Stegemann , 38, was shot to death June 25, 1920, while responding to a call for help at a residence on North B Street. Hamilton police had been notified that a domestic argument was in progress. His assailant was shot to death by a detective who was standing behind Stegemann, a 10-year police veteran.
Emery Farmer , 26, a Fairfield Township speed patrolman, died Nov. 8, 1922, in Mercy Hospital, Hamilton. His body and motorcycle were found on Dixie Highway in Fairfield Township. Circumstances surrounding his death remain a mystery.
Agent Wilbur F. Jacobs , 43, a prohibition enforcement agent for the Seven Mile village mayor’s court, was the first prohibition officer killed in the line of duty in the county. He was shot to death June 20, 1925, by Milton Henson during a raid in Coke Otto (now known as New Miami). Henson was sentenced to life in prison.
Agent Robert Gary, 50, became the second Seven Mile prohibition agent to die on duty. He was gunned down Nov. 21, 1925, during a raid in Hamilton. He had been an agent only two months. No one was ever convicted of the crime.
Patrolman Charles A. Skeen , 39, died in a shoot-out April 10, 1926. The 14-month veteran of the Middletown police force was shot by Albert Conley outside a house in the 700 block of 17th Avenue in Middletown. Conley received a life sentence when the jury recommended mercy.
Patrolman George L. McChesney , 59, died July 18, 1928, of a gunshot wound suffered March 19, 1927. The 24-year veteran of the Middletown Police Department died from complications while in surgery. McChesney had returned to limited duty as a desk officer before being rushed to the hospital the day before his death. He had been shot while responding to a reported disturbance on Heffner Avenue.
Additional profiles of the men honored on the Butler County Peace Officer Memorial will be reported in this column next week.
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Journal-News , Wednesday, May 8, 2002
15 of county’s 20 fallen officers died in shootings
By Jim Blount
Law enforcement officers from five communities, plus the Ohio Highway Patrol and the FBI, are remembered in the Butler County Peace Officer Memorial scheduled for dedication at 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 15. The memorial is at 705 Hanover Street in Hamilton, site of the new Butler County Jail.
Fifteen of the 20 fallen officers died as the result of shootings. Three were victims of traffic crashes, including one of mysterious origin. Of the others, one died as the result of a fall during a scuffle and one of injuries suffered in a fall from a broken ladder. By location, eight fatalities were in Hamilton, seven in Middletown, two in New Miami and one each in Fairfield Township, Liberty Township and College Corner.
The first 10 officers to die on duty were reported in this column last week. The 10 most recent victims, in chronological order, were:
Patrolman Harold Roth, 23, and Patrolman Ebert Crout , 35, died as a result of a shooting May 5, 1928, at a gravel pit near the American Rolling Mill Co. on the outskirts of Middletown. Roth, in his 67th day on the job, died that night. Crout, a two-year veteran, died the next day. May 7, while in Middletown Hospital, the gunman, George McCuller tried to take a gun from his guard. During the melee, the guard shot McCuller, who died hours later.
Patrolman Daniel Sandlin , 28, was fatally wounded March 19, 1930, in a confrontation with suspected bootleggers on South Avenue, east of Crawford Street, in Middletown. He died three hours later (March 20). Sandlin had joined the Middletown department Sept. 22, 1928. One of the two men involved in the shooting was shot to death by another officer. The second man served a prison term after being convicted of manslaughter.
Sub-Patrolman Earl Grubb , 37, was shot to death Jan. 1, 1935, in a police vehicle while taking an intoxicated man to the police station. Grubb and another patrolman were in the back of the vehicle with Elmer Adams near the intersection of South Second and Ludlow streets in Hamilton. Grubb, a three-year veteran, had been on special duty at a New Year's Eve dance. Adams was shot to death by another officer in the vehicle.
FBI Agent Nelson B. Klein , 37, was shot to death by George W. Barrett Aug. 16, 1935, in College Corner, Ind. The Cincinnati-based agent, a four-year veteran, was shot near the state line and Butler County’s western border. Barrett, who had been tracked from Hamilton, was wounded in the shootout. After his release from Fort Hamilton Hospital, he was convicted of murder in a federal court and hanged, the first person to receive the death penalty under a congressional act that made it a capital offense to kill a special agent of the FBI.
Patrolman Arthur Sponsel , 36, was shot to death in a factory parking lot in the 500 block of North Third Street in Hamilton April 12, 1937. The six-year-veteran was killed by a single shot after spotting two suspicious men outside a restaurant. William Hobbs, identified as the gunman, was executed in the electric chair in the Ohio Penitentiary July 6, 1938.
Patrolman Aaron C. Laubach , 35, an eight-year veteran, was shot to death Jan. 27, 1938, in a gasoline station at Grand Boulevard and East Avenue, where he had been assigned because of a series of robberies. John W. Cline, who signed a confession to the shooting, was executed in the Ohio electric chair Feb. 1, 1939.
Marshal William Simpson , 58, of New Miami, died Jan. 17, 1939, of gunshot wounds suffered Jan. 13 as he and a deputy interrupted a break-in at a cafe on U. S. 127. John Frazee, identified as the triggerman, was sentenced to a life term in the penitentiary. Simpson had been constable of St. Clair Township and either deputy marshal or marshal of New Miami since 1913. He also had been mayor of New Miami.
Assistant Chief Henry (Heinie) Brinkmeyer, 64, died Oct. 29, 1939, as the result of a traffic accident while on duty in Middletown. A taxi driver had offered Brinkmeyer a ride to the police station. Their vehicle was struck by a driver who ran a stop sign on Clinton Street as he approached Central Avenue. The assistant chief died about 15 hours later. Brinkmeyer -- who would have been on the Middletown police force 40 years May 10, 1940 -- had been assistant chief under 13 chiefs.
Patrolman Ernest E. Cole , 24, was killed Oct. 3, 1964, on I-75. The Ohio highway patrolman was struck while directing traffic during a fog-related pileup on the interstate north of the Tylersville Road exit. Cole was one of two people killed and at least 22 injured in a series of crashes in heavy fog along a five-mile span of I-75 in Union and Liberty townships. Cole, a 1958 graduate of Fairfield High School, had graduated from the patrol academy Jan. 10, 1964.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, May 15, 2002
"Lucky" described Elias Jackson Baldwin
By Jim Blount
He was named Elias Jackson Baldwin when born April 3, 1828, on a farm on Reily-Millville Road, near Bunker Hill in Reily Township. But during most of his more than 80 years he was called Lucky Baldwin by business rivals and the press. His financial success and controversial dealings and social life attracted the attention of reporters for several decades.
Baldwin spent about six years in Butler County. From his log cabin birthplace in Reily Twp., his parents moved to a farm in Ross Township, near Millville, before relocating to northern Indiana. He resided in Indiana and Wisconsin until 1853, when gold lured him to California.
Besides lucky, he has been described as a California pioneer, miner, cattle rancher, fruit grower, vintner, brick maker, lumber dealer, horse breeder and trainer, land speculator, financier, hotel, casino and theater operator and persistent entrepreneur.
Baldwin’s wealth -- and questionable ways of acquiring and maintaining it -- earned the Butler County native his share of scorn and criticism in business circles and in the press. He also was the target of several law suits involving his transactions. He was called "Lucky" because of the wealth he accumulated -- often by luck, according to rivals. He had a knack of buying mining stocks low and selling them when they boomed.
Baldwin also had his share of bad luck. For example, a fire Nov. 23, 1898, destroyed his hotel and theater complex in San Francisco, a $2.5 million loss covered by only $135,000 worth of insurance. Later, he sold the prime property for $1.1 million.
At the age of 72, Baldwin bounced back from financial ruin. In 1900, he started his rebound by trying his luck in Alaska, again catering to gold seekers. Nine years later, he left a fortune estimated as anywhere from $10 million to $30 million.
He first earned the name "Lucky" because of his gambling success -- ranging from cards and horses to real estate, mining and the stock market. Baldwin, a big spender who hated his nickname, insisted his fortune wasn’t based on luck. "I’ve always worked hard for everything I’ve gotten in life," he insisted.
Baldwin also was lucky during the five-month trip west in 1853. At one point he became lost while tracking an antelope. Fortunately, he met a friendly Indian who helped Baldwin find his way back to the wagon train.
Another example was his Santa Anita ranch in the San Gabriel Valley, near Los Angeles. Baldwin bought it at a bargain price in the 1870s. A 1902 report said he had "transformed" the former dusty tract of at least 62,000 acres by installing an irrigation system, tapping into artesian wells and drawing from nearby mountain lakes. That year he had 7,000 acres in wheat and 3,000 acres in other grains, plus vineyards and orchards for his commercial winery, and other land devoted to his horse breeding operation and other businesses. Some of the land also had been developed for housing, including the town of Arcadia, incorporated in 1903.
Others claimed that luck spared Baldwin from serious harm or death from bullets fired at him, some involving numerous love affairs. He also escaped an 1893 courtroom shooting.
Baldwin -- at age 56 described by the Los Angeles Times as "the amorous millionaire" -- was married at least four times, and had close relationships with several other females, mostly younger. He acquired his fourth wife, a 16-year-old, when he was 65.
One story about his luck involved worthless mining stock stashed in his safe in San Francisco. As he prepared for an extensive foreign trip, he told a broker to sell the stock if its worth reached $800 a share. But Baldwin forgot to leave the key to the safe. While away, the stock exceeded the $800 level, but the broker couldn’t sell it without the key to the safe. When Baldwin returned, he sold the shares for $12,000 each. According to one report, the transaction netted him about $5 million.
Baldwin -- whose life was too complicated to capture in just one column -- died of pneumonia March 1, 1909, on his ranch at Arcadia, Calif., nearly 81 years old. He is buried in Cypress Park Cemetery in San Francisco beside Sarah, his first wife. They had married in Indiana in 1846 and divorced in California in 1862.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, May 22, 2002
Baldwin found gold without panning for metal
By Jim Blount
Elias Jackson Baldwin always had a soft spot in his heart for his native Butler County, although his dreams and fortunes were realized in the West. The man known as "Lucky," became a millionaire as a California mining investor, cattle rancher, fruit grower, vintner, lumber dealer, horse breeder and trainer, land speculator, financier, hotel, casino and theater operator and persistent entrepreneur.
As a young man, Baldwin established a business of buying and selling fine-blooded carriage horses in South Bend, Ind. Later, as he moved west, Baldwin made money by selling horses, mules and other necessities and luxuries to prospectors headed to California gold fields.
Unlike most of those who went west, he is said to have arrived after the five-month journey with at least $7,000 in cash. Instead of panning for gold in the California hills, Baldwin built his fortune by providing services to miners and others attracted to the area, and by shrewd investments in mining stocks, including silver in Nevada’s Comstock Lode in 1860.
San Francisco was the base for the Reily Township native for more than 20 years. In addition to real estate investments, his varied ventures there included brick making, and livery, hotel and theater operations. In 1877, he completed the lavish $3 million Baldwin Hotel at Market and Powell, a prime location. It was destroyed by fire in 1898.
In 1875, Baldwin went to the isolated San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles, to check on the possibility of gold in the area. He bought about 8,000 acres for $200,000, supposedly paying cash on the spot. He eventually acquired another 54,000 acres. The tract didn’t yield gold, but Baldwin prospered by improving and selling much of the land. He installed irrigation systems to bring water to the fertile, but dry region.
In another stroke of luck, his efforts were aided by a timely railroad fare war that caused a Southern California boom. Exceptionally low passenger rates on the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads encouraged easterners to relocate in the sunny region. Baldwin is reputed to have boasted that "we’re giving away the land; we’re selling the climate."
Baldwin retained some of the land as his Rancho Santa Anita. Much of it was farmed; some converted to orchards and vineyards. A portion was devoted to a winery. He also built a hotel (Oakwood) on his property, offering fine food and estate-produced wines and several forms of gambling. Patrons also could view his horse farm, home to about 500 head, including some of the nation’s fastest thoroughbred champions. To his delight, the first Santa Anita race track opened on Baldwin land in 1907.
When the town of Arcadia was incorporated in 1903, Baldwin was elected its first mayor and served until his death there March 1, 1909. Eventually, Baldwin’s Rancho Santa Anita also became all or parts of the communities of Baldwin Hills, Baldwin Park, Arcadia, Monrovia, Temple City, Sierra Madre, Angeles Mesa, El Monte, South El Monte, Bassett, Montebello, Monterey Park and South San Gabriel, among others, all east of Los Angeles.
In 1947, the state and county purchased part of Baldwin’s original Rancho Santa Anita and designated it the Arboretum of Los Angeles County, a horticultural and botanical center and bird sanctuary that has been used to shoot scenes for numerous movies and TV productions.
Its jungle-like atmosphere and Victorian buildings have been seen in such films and shows as Tarzan, African Queen, Daniel Boone, Roots, Mission Impossible, Road to Singapore, Lassie, Bionic Woman, Dallas, Fantasy Island and Love Boat. Products of its rose gardens have been visible in the annual Rose Bowl parade.
A recent AAA tour book describes the Arcadia arboretum as "127 acres of trees and shrubs arranged by continent of origin," and notes that "of special interest are the historic Queen Anne Cottage and coach barn, the Hugo Reid Adobe and the Santa Fe Railroad depot."
In 1880 in another part of California, Baldwin established his Tallac Resort -- two luxurious hotels and a casino on Lake Tahoe’s south shore, near the Nevada border. Although his profitable business served the wealthy, Baldwin’s motive for acquiring the scenic land was to preserve the surrounding trees. He bought several thousand acres to prevent it from being lumbered, already the fate of neighboring forests.
The complex was razed in 1916, seven years after his death. The property is now part of the Tallac Historic Site, a wooded lakefront property owned by the U. S. Forest Service, and includes a museum.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, May 29, 2002
Baldwin established horse racing in California
By Jim Blount
A Butler County native is regarded as the man who brought thoroughbred racing to California. Elias Jackson Baldwin had earned his nickname, "Lucky," with uncanny success in a variety of businesses and investments before venturing into breeding and racing horses 1as he approached the age of 50. Within a few years, he was not only one of the nation’s most successful horsemen, but one of the few to realize a profit in the sport.
Baldwin was born April 3, 1828, on a farm in Reily Township, and later resided with his parents on another farm in Ross Township, near Millville, before moving to Indiana. In 1853, gold attracted him to California.
For the next 20-plus years, he built a fortune, thanks to success in mining investments, ranching and farming, land speculation, other businesses and gambling. But his dream was to breed and race horses, and build a first-class race track in California.
Baldwin traced his love of horses to his Midwest boyhood. He recalled as an 18-year-old winning $200 in a bet he placed on his own horse.
In 1875, he bought 8,000 acres in the arid San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles. It was the nucleus of his Rancho Santa Anita, part of which became Baldwin’s stud farm and racing stable. For about 30 years, until his death in 1909, Baldwin bred, trained and raced some of the nation’s fastest horses.
Baldwin -- who built his West Coast stable with Kentucky and New York stallions and mares -- was regarded as one of the first breeders to emphasize speed over stamina.
His thoroughbreds won major stakes races under the black and red silks and Maltese cross symbol of Baldwin’s stable. His horses won the American Derby at Washington Park four times. Capturing what was then the most prestigious U. S. race for three-year-olds were Volante in 1885, Silver Cloud in 1886, Emperor of Norfolk in 1888 and Rey el Santa Anita in 1894.
Emperor of Norfolk, considered his finest horse, won 21 of 29 races and earned $72,400.
His California-bred horses competed at eastern tracks much of the year. His racing investment included two railroad cars to transport his horses and their equipment, and stables in Indiana. His horses raced at Chicago’s Washington Park, Saratoga in New York and Churchill Downs in Kentucky. In one season, for example, his entries won 15 of 25 starts at Saratoga.
Baldwin visited his native Butler County several times, some trips associated with his racing interest. An 1895 newspaper report noted his presence here while 28 of his horses were stabled in the Cincinnati area during a race meet at the Latonia track in Northern Kentucky.
The first Santa Anita race track -- Baldwin’s dream for many years -- opened Dec. 7, 1907. "I desire no other monument," Baldwin said at its opening. "This is the greatest thing I’ve done, and I am satisfied." His saddest day followed.
It was the death of Emperor of the North on his ranch, which caused a rare display of grief by Baldwin, then 79. A biographer, C. B. Glasscock, said "the man who made and lost millions, won and broken hearts, defied convention, shown the way for agriculture and real estate development in Southern California, and furnished more newspaper copy . . . than any private citizen of his time, was growing sentimental. It was almost his only sign of age."
Although successful, Santa Anita operated only two seasons, closing April 17, 1909, just over six weeks after Baldwin’s death. It was the victim of a national wave of anti-gambling sentiment that eventually banned horse racing in all states except Kentucky and New York. California repealed the racing ban 23 years later and a new Santa Anita Park opened on the site of Baldwin’s estate Dec. 25, 1934.
Santa Anita hasn’t forgotten Baldwin. Visitors to the track will find some of his finest horses buried near the paddock under a Maltese cross, the symbol of his stable. An annual feature race is the Baldwin Stakes, honoring the Butler County native who is considered the father of California thoroughbred racing.