Journal-News, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2003
Butler County native, Andrew Harris, served as Ohio’s 44th governor, 1906-1909
By Jim Blount
Butler County shares credit for Ohio's 44th governor with Preble County, its northern neighbor. Andrew Lintner Harris was born Nov. 17, 1835, in Butler County on a farm in Milford Township, north of Darrtown. When he was three years old, his parents moved to a 160-acre farm in Dixon Township in Preble County, but he returned to his native county to attend college.
Harris -- three times elected lieutenant governor and the last of 12 Civil War veterans to govern Ohio -- was one of 34 Miami University graduates in 1860, less than a year before the start of the Civil War. A cousin, Joseph Harris of Oxford, was a classmate.
After graduation, Harris worked on his father's farm and read law in an Eaton law office. He preferred the title of "gentleman farmer," a Hamilton newspaper noted when he succeeded to the governor’s office in 1906.
He entered the Union army April 17, 1861, five days after the war started. He served until Jan. 15, 1865, earning promotion from captain of a company to colonel, commanding a regiment. He was breveted brigadier general for "gallant and meritorious" service.
Because war wounds limited his ability to farm, Harris resumed his law studies. He was admitted to the bar in April 1865 and immediately started his practice in Eaton. Oct. 17, 1865, he was married to Caroline Conger. They became the parents of a son.
Voters in Preble and Montgomery counties selected Harris, a Republican, to the Ohio Senate for the 1866-67 term, and in 1875 and 1878 he was elected Preble County probate judge.
After the second judicial term, he planned to retire from public office and return to his farm. But in 1885 and 1887 he was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives, serving two terms, 1886-1890. In 1889, Gov. Joseph B. Foraker appointed Harris a trustee of the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans' Home.
In 1891 and 1893 he was elected lieutenant governor, serving under Gov. William McKinley, who moved from the Ohio Statehouse to the White House in 1896.
Harris challenged Paul J. Sorg, a Middletown Democrat, in 1894 for the seat in the U. S. House of Representatives for the district that included Butler, Preble and Montgomery counties. Harris lost by only 200 votes, an exceptional showing in a district dominated by Democrats. In 1895, he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination against Asa S. Bushnell, who won election to two terms.
When McKinley became president, he appointed Harris to the federal industrial commission on trusts and industrial combinations and named him chairman of the subcommission on agriculture and agricultural labor. Harris served from 1898 to 1902 before another attempt to retire to his Preble County farm.
But in 1905, he was nominated as the running mate for Gov. Myron T. Herrick, who was seeking re-election. In that era, the governor and lieutenant governor were elected separately. In 1905 voters unseated Herrick, but elected Harris and other Republicans.
Jan. 8, 1906, John M. Pattison, a Democrat, started a brief term as governor with Harris as his lieutenant governor. Pattison died June 18, 1906, and Harris became Ohio’s chief executive for an extended term. A 1905 constitutional amendment moved gubernatorial elections to even numbered years, starting in 1908. That meant the Pattison-Harris administration served three years, 1906-09, instead of two.
Key legislative measures enacted under Gov. Harris included a pure food and drug law; conservation laws; regulation and inspection of building and loan savings associations; limits on political contributions by corporations; and establishment of a bureau of vital statistics.
Harris was called "Uncle Andy" because of his prudence and visibility. The governor and his secretary, S. J. Flickinger of Hamilton, shared a room in a modest Columbus hotel. He shunned the use of an automobile. Instead, he usually walked or rode street cars for transport.
Harris won the GOP nomination in 1908, but lost the election to Judson Harmon, a Democrat. His defeat was attributed to opposition by the liquor industry. During his term, the Rose Law, a local option measure, was passed, permitting more than half of Ohio’s 88 counties to go dry. Harris had supported temperance measures as a legislator and governor.
Harris -- who had relatives throughout Butler County -- left the governor’s office Jan. 11, 1909. He retired to his farm, earning the respectful title of "farmer statesman." He died Sept. 13, 1915, in Eaton and is buried there in Mound Hill Cemetery.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2003
Hamilton graduate recognized as authority on British empire
By Jim Blount
John Semple Galbraith, a 1934 Hamilton High School graduate, won respect as an aggressive university administrator and an internationally recognized scholar on the history of the 19th century British empire. The native of Scotland, who moved to Hamilton as a nine-year-old, died earlier this year in San Diego where he is credited with establishing San Diego State University as an independent institution.
He was born Nov. 10, 1916, in Glasgow, Scotland, and in 1925 his family immigrated to the United States. He attended Madison Elementary School and Roosevelt Jr. High School. The former Journal-News carrier was valedictorian of the Hamilton High School class of 1934. The 1934 HHS yearbook described the president of the National Honor Society as "our tall, most intellectual senior boy."
Galbraith, who graduated from Miami University in 1938, earned his master degree in 1940 and doctorate in 1943 at the University of Iowa. From 1943 until 1946 he served as an Army historical officer.
Before entering the service, he had taught briefly at the University of Iowa and Osceola Junior College in Iowa, according to a Journal-News report. Galbraith resumed his teaching career in 1946 at Mount Union College, Alliance, Ohio, and taught at Ohio University, Athens, before moving to the history department at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1948. He chaired the UCLA department from 1954 to 1958.
He was appointed vice chancellor of the San Diego campus in the summer of 1964, and, after a resignation, advanced to chancellor later that year. Galbraith's "tenure as the second chancellor of the University of California San Diego branch in the 1960s secured its position as an equal member of the university's system," said the New York Times in reporting his death. He "exacted a pledge from Clark Kerr, president of the multi-campus university system, that San Diego would get a library and academic status worthy of a true university."
During his four-year stewardship enrollment jumped from 300 to 3,000 students. Another achievement, according to a university source, was that Galbraith and his wife, the former Laura Huddleston, promoted "better relations between the university and the city's political and social leaders."
Galbraith resigned as chancellor in 1968 to return to teaching and research, intending to rejoin the UCLA history faculty. Instead, he spent the 1968-69 academic year at Cambridge University in England, the first American to teach there under the Smuts Visiting Fellowship.
The fellowship honored Jan Christian Smuts (1870-1950, a British general during the Boer War and a World War I cabinet member who helped establish the Union of South Africa in 1910 and served as its prime minister (1919-24 and 1939-48).
The appointment recognized Galbraith's research and writing on South Africa when it was part of the British empire. "John's interest in the British empire and commonwealth was wide-ranging," said a professional colleague. "He has always said that one of the attractions of studying the British empire is that it takes you to all corners of the globe." His research destinations, besides the United Kingdom, included the Middle East, Egypt, Borneo, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
His books included The Hudson's Bay Company as an Imperial Factor, 1821-1869 (published in 1957); Reluctant Empire, British Policy on the South African Frontier, 1834-1854 (1963); Mackinnon and East Africa, 1878-1895 (1972); Crown and Charter, The Early Years of the South African Company (1974); and Little Emperor, Governor Simpson of the Hudson's Bay Company (1976).
Galbraith, who earned many professional honors, returned to UCLA in 1969 and taught history until retirement in 1984. He went back to San Diego State as professor emeritus, continuing his research and writing there until 1987.
At both UCLA and SDSU he promoted growth and improvements to the libraries. A San Diego State web site says Galbraith -- who died June 10, 2003 -- "expounded his theory of the 'shoe leather' school of scholarship, in which the scholar found important sources of information not only through catalogs or indexes, but also by walking the stacks of the library."
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Journal-News, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2003
Gas shortage overshadowed Wright brothers feat
(This column is part of a series on aviation in Butler County in observance of the Centennial of Flight in 2003, the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers flight.)
By Jim Blount
Hamiltonians had no knowledge Dec. 17, 1903, of what was happening on a windy beach in North Carolina. If they had known about the brief flights of the Wright brothers, it wouldn’t have caused much excitement. Instead, attention was on the frigid weather and the prospect that local homes and businesses would be without heat overnight, and perhaps longer.
A cold wave had hit the area a week earlier. As aviation history was made on North Carolina sand dunes, the temperature in Hamilton dipped to five degrees. The Great Miami River was frozen north and south of the High-Main Street Bridge.
A news report said horses had crossed the frozen Ohio River in Cincinnati, and an ice jam extended up river to Maysville, Ky. A steamboat was stuck in mid river opposite Ironton, forcing 40 passengers to walk across the ice to reach safety on the Ohio shore.
"No Gas for Tonight," a headline warned Hamilton residents. "The city gas plant cannot furnish gas to customers tonight," the article said. "The oil supply has given out, and gas cannot be made. Get your candles and lamps ready."
Hamilton’s gas supply ran out at 3:30 that Thursday afternoon, about five hours after completion of the brief first powered flight.
The gas crisis "meant that many business houses, in the midst of the holiday season, had to resort to lamps and candles, that private residences had to go back to first principles of lamps or candles, that residents using the city gas for cooking had to eat cold supper unless they were fortunate to have a coal stove in reserve," a newspaper explained.
City officials deflected blame for the gas problem to railroad confusion.
"The cause of all the disturbance and inconvenience," said R. N. Andrews, superintendent of the gas plant, "was the failure of the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad to get a car load of oil" to the proper siding in Hamilton.
The city had contracted with the Standard Oil Company to deliver one railroad tank car of oil every six days. A car was dispatched Dec. 12 from Lima, Ohio. Four days later, the car had advanced only 70 miles to a Dayton rail yard, and was expected in Hamilton the next day.
"We were informed by the local freight office on the morning of the 17th that the car was in the yards at South Hamilton and would be placed immediately," Andrews explained. "At noon we were told the car was on its way to the plant," but "when we got the car, it was only a load of tar, and not oil."
At 3:30 p.m., the railroad reported that the car with the oil was not in Hamilton. Later, that day, the missing car was found in Dayton.
A CH&D crew spotted the car at the Hamilton gas plant at 2 a.m. Friday, Dec. 18, completing its 105-mile journey more than five days after it had left Lima. It took several hours to send enough manufactured gas through the system to heat Hamilton homes and businesses.
While Hamiltonians were battling the cold and railroads officials were searching for a wayward car, the Wright brothers were making four successful powered flights at Kitty Hawk, N. C.
Wilbur Wright had won a coin toss and was at the controls for the first flight at about 10:35 a.m. They alternated on the following flights, with Orville Wright covering 859 feet in 59 seconds on the final flight.
Their accomplishment was dampened later that day when a gust of wind wrecked their flyer. Encouraged by their Dec. 17, 1903, success, the Wright brothers shipped the remains back to Dayton where they continued their quest to build a practical airplane.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2003
Hamiltonians anxious to see first local flight
(This column is part of a series on the history of flight in Butler County in observance of the Centennial of Flight in 2003.)
By Jim Blount
"Aeroplane flights will be made daily," declared advertising for the 1910 Butler County Fair. " This attraction alone is worth twice the price of admission." Fair patrons were promised "an opportunity to see the Bird Man in the most wonderful and thrilling attraction ever shown at a county fair." If the prospect of witnessing the first flight over Hamilton wasn't enough, the fair also featured "50 little people" in "the midget circus, the greatest European novelty act appearing before the American public."
It had been nearly seven years since the Wright brothers' first flights over North Carolina dunes Dec. 17, 1903. As the 1910 fair approached, there had been no flights over Hamilton.
Large crowds were anticipated because of the flight demonstrations. Railroad and interurban lines expected to bring a record number of visitors into the city for the October fair. Local merchants and restaurants prepared for a brisk increase in business.
Instead, the only records set were weather related. "Greatest rain in county for 42 years," a newspaper declared. After rain "off and on" Monday and Tuesday, more than seven inches drenched the area in the next 30 hours, topping the record of a little more than six inches in May 1886.
When the rain ended Thursday night, fair board members voted to extend the fair two days, despite a sea of mud at the fairgrounds. Conditions led to cancellation of the anticipated first flight in Hamilton.
The fair board tried again in 1911, advertising "aeroplane flight daily." On opening day, Oct. 4, the weather was cooperative and a newspaper said "incoming trains brought hundreds of people to the city" for the usual fair events and flights by "Strobel's world famous aeroplane."
Wednesday afternoon flights were canceled because it was "too windy."
"Thousands upon thousands of people were drawn to the fairground Thursday," said the Republican-News, but, "after the machine had skipped along the ground . . . several times, the flight was called off for the day." A headline declared the "aeroplane proves its ability to skip along on the ground, but isn't much of an aircraft."
"We've been trying to get an aeroplane flight in Hamilton for a long time," the newspaper said. "But the people are getting tired of this 'frost' [and] 'fizzle' thing. The Republican-News believes that the aeroplane feature, whatever it cost the fair board this year, has been a joke."
The newspaper complained that "admission was charged to see the aeroplane in its tent yesterday and a loud-mouthed fellow proclaimed the heroism of the aviator who had 'flewn' 3,000 times, he said."
"The feature of the fair yesterday was the crowd," the report said. "It seemed like the steady stream of people never would stop coming. All over the grounds, wherever one went, there were people, people, people."
The 61st annual fair set attendance and income records, the newspaper said, and "with the exception of the unsuccessful aeroplane flights, the fair was a grand success." Nearly 75,000 people were at the fairgrounds the three days that flights were scheduled.
After the fair, it was reported that officials had contracted to pay $1,000 to Charles Strobel of Toledo for six flights. "But Colonel Strobel had one man killed a week ago and since that time his other aviators quit, so he was forced to sell his contract to Ed Korn of Sandusky, who came here with a Curtiss machine and an aviator named Slaick, who was supposed to have made flights," the newspaper said.
One report said that fair board members had been informed two days before the fair started that the plane lacked an engine strong enough to lift it off the ground.
The week following the fair, the tangled matter continued in Butler County courts in several suits, including disputes among those owning the plane and Earl Slaick, the Indianapolis aviator. The plane in dispute ended up in the possession of Sheriff Andy Graf.
The Republican-News said fair "directors say they are through with aeroplane flights in the future and will never try again." Hamiltonians would have to rely on another organization to sponsor the first flight in Hamilton.