Friday, January 10, 2020

A Breed Apart: The 8th Kentucky Cavalry

John Van Meter

 The 8th Kentucky Cavalry was formed during the late summer of 1862 and mustered into Confederate service in September. The regiment became one of General John Hunt Morgan’s handpicked cavalry units.
In June 1863, Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan left his Tennessee camp on a raid with nearly 2,500 men, intending to divert the attention of the Union Army of the Ohio from southern forces. On July 8, 1863, Morgan crossed the Ohio River at Brandenburg, Kentucky and entered Indiana against orders. He raided, destroyed property, and stole food and horses.  After his victory at the Battle of Corydon, Morgan headed eastward into Ohio where he terrorized its citizens. Pursuing him, was Union Brigadier General James Shackelford.
Weary and with Union forces closing in, Morgan headed for the Ohio River, searching for a ford. Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes and his 23rd Ohio troops made a night march and boarded waiting steamers. He met Morgan’s men at Pomeroy, but when the cavalry raider realized he was facing Union soldiers rather than local militia, Morgan took flight. On July 19, 1863, Morgan attempted to cross the Ohio River into West Virginia at Buffington’s Island. Union forces of Brigadier General E. H. Hobson and Henry M. Judah captured between 800 and 1,200 of Morgan’s troops. Some three hundred escaped across the Ohio River.
Most of the men of the 8th Kentucky were among those captured  at Buffington’s Island on July 19, 1863. Pictured here are Privates Jesse Spencer and John Van Meter. Both had enlisted at Winchester, Kentucky in the fall of 1862 

After several days at Indiana’s Camp Morton, they, along with hundreds of Morgan’s Raiders, were imprisoned at Chicago’s Camp Douglas, one of the worst Union prison camps. Captives suffered from malnutrition, disease, torture, and exposure. The guards considered them to be “a breed apart.” Excellent organizers and possessed of leadership skills, they frequently attempted to escape by tunneling, scaling the walls, and disguising themselves as civilians.

Jesse Spencer

Spencer and Van Meter both were recaptured after escape attempts. They survived Camp Douglas and at war’s end were shipped to Point Lookout, Maryland and then south to City Point, Virginia. Still defiant, many of Morgan’s Raiders refused transportation and walked to their Kentucky homes.
Spencer and Van Meter’s photos are two of 25 taken by Camp Douglas photographer D. F. Brandon. They are part of an album originally owned by another 8th Kentucky prisoner, but today part of the Hayes Presidential Library and Museums' Local History Collection..
For a civilian account of the events of Morgan’s Raid near Glendale, Ohio, read 9-year-old Katie Huntington’s letter.on an Ohio's Yesterdays post. Click on the link below

Saturday, December 14, 2019

The Remarkable Career of Fremont Ross’ Bob Shaw

The Remarkable Career of Fremont Ross’ Bob Shaw

Bob Shaw at The Ohio State University
Courtesy of Sportsmen's Blog

Fremont Ross has always had a legacy of developing superb athletes. I learned more about one of the greats from Mike Gilbert at this fall’s History Roundtable. It was Bob Shaw! Born in 1921, Shaw was a natural, who enjoyed a remarkable career that began with the Little Giants. He was not only a player in high school, college, and the NFL, but also served as a coach at all levels.

At Ross, he lettered 3 times each in football, basketball, and track. He was First Team All-Ohio in football and basketball and won the shot put and discus at state. Six foot four and 270 pounds, he went on to play right end both on offense and defense for Ohio State. In 1942, Shaw, under the legendary Paul Brown, helped the Buckeyes win their first NCAA National Championship. He also played on the track team that won OSU’s first Western Conference crown. In 1990, he was inducted into the Ross Sports Hall of Fame and in 1996 the OSU Athletic Hall of Fame.

Shaw served in WWII, but before heading overseas, he married Mary Katherine Hawkins. He fought in Europe with the 104th Infantry Division where he earned a bronze star. Bob later completed his education at Otterbein University.

Bob Shaw’s NFL career began in 1945 when the Cleveland(Los Angeles) Rams drafted him. In his rookie year, the Rams won the championship. He later played for the Chicago Cardinals, becoming the NFL’s leader in receiving touchdowns with 12 in 1950. Bob Shaw was the first player to catch 5 touchdown passes in a single game. He was All-Pro and played in the NFL’s first Pro Bowl. He went on to play for the Calgary Stampeders and the Toronto Argonauts before retiring in 1953.   

Shaw served as a receivers coach with the Baltimore (Indiana) Colts, Chicago Bears, the 49ers, and Buffalo Bills. He was with the Baltimore Colts in 1958 when they beat the New York Giants to win the NFL championship, which many have called “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”  

Shaw appeared in Brian’s Song, the movie telling of the deep friendship between Hall of Famer Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo, who died from cancer in 1970. He was part of the first coaching staff of the New Orleans Saints. He was head coach of the New Mexico Military Institute. In the Canadian Football League, Shaw coached the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Toronto Argonauts, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats when in 1976 he was awarded Canadian Football Coach of the Year.

At the close of his professional career, Shaw and his wife and two children returned to Ohio’s Otterbein University, where he served as head coach from 1985 – 1987. He passed away in 2011 in Westerville, Ohio. Despite his extraordinary successes and many tributes, Shaw never lost sight of reality. He once said, “You know, you have to have a good sense of humor and you have to have humility in this business…”

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Plenty Coups Meets the "Great Father"

During the 19th century, tribal delegations traveled to Washington, D. C. to visit the president at the White House. The purpose of these visits was to negotiate new treaties and to impress tribes with the progress of America’s civilization. One of those who visited was respected warrior Plenty Coups, a representative of the Crow nation living in what is today Montana.  Because Plenty Coups could speak English, the tribe knew he could help them understand the negotiations. Later, Plenty Coups told about his visit in 1880 with President Hayes.

Plenty Coups wrote, “The President said that he had sent for us to talk concerning the future of our people. He said the he wanted us to send our children to school and that they would build a house and barn for each of us. He wanted us to learn to farm. He said they were going to build a railroad through the Yellowstone Valley, but that they wanted us to make peace with the other tribes in our part of the country.”

President Hayes asked Plenty Coups and his people to leave Montana and move to land in North Dakota.

Plenty Coups

“I refused because we did not wish to leave our country.  When the President asked my reasons, I said that in North Dakota the mountains are low and that I wanted to live where the mountains are high and where there are many springs of fresh water … I said that he had asked us to do many things, but that before we could give him our answer, we would like time to talk it over among ourselves.”

The Crow leaders felt they were being held hostage until they agreed to a “yes-treaty.”  While delayed, they visited Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home.

“I was one among many visitors at Mount Vernon that day, and yet there was no talking, no noise, because we were thinking of the great past and the unknown future. When people think deeply they are helped, and in the silence there I sent my thoughts to the Great White Chief in that other life. I spoke to him, and I believe he heard me. I said: “Great Chief, when you came into power the streams of your country’s affairs were muddy. Your heart was strong, and you led them through the war to the peace you loved … As you helped your people, help me now, an Absarokee chief, to lead my people to peace. I too, have a little country to save for my children.”

After two months, Plenty Coups went home. The Crow compromised and sold some land to the U. S. government, but refused to let the railroad or telegraph lines come through their hunting grounds. Plenty Coups visited Washington many times. Through his diplomacy and strong leadership, Plenty Coups preserved the Crow nation’s land.

This image (dated February 29, 1916) is courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery. Plenty Coups' headdress is being prepared for display at the Arlington National Cemetery's Memorial Amphitheater Display Room by Curator Roderick Gainer (left), and, Brent Orton (right), Chief Plenty Coups removed this war bonnet from his head and placed it on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on November, 11, 1921, in tribute to the Unknown.
Chief Plenty Coups was selected as the sole representative of Native Americans for the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He gave a short speech in his native tongue in honor of the soldier and the occasion. He placed his war-bonnet and coup stick upon the tomb. They are on display in a case there to this day.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Arrow: Lake Erie's Steam Passenger Vessel

Charles E. Frohman Collection

The “Arrow” was built in 1895 by the Detroit Dry Dock Co. of Wyandotte, Michigan. She was built for the Sandusky & Island Steamboat Co. of Cleveland, Ohio, who maintained ownership for nearly 30 years.

The steel passenger steamer was lighted with electricity and accommodated 900 passengers. She made trips to many locations on Lake Erie: Kelleys Island, Put-In-Bay, Lakeside, Sandusky, Middle and North Bass Islands, Marblehead, Cleveland, Detroit, Toledo, and Port Clinton.

Arrow, with full load of passengers
Charles E. Frohman Collection

Ownership transferred various times over her approximately fifty-year lifespan. In 1923, the North Shore Steamboat Co. of Chicago, Illinois took ownership and rebuilt the vessel. She burned on the Chicago River in April 1932, however the company maintained possession until 1934.

 Arrow's crew on Lake Erie
Charles E. Frohman Collection

Two years later Chester W. Armentrout of Monroe, Michigan purchased her.  He converted the "Arrow" to a barge in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 1936. Benjamin O. Colonna of Norfolk, Virginia bought her in 1938. For the next five years, she operated on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterways between Norfolk and Savannah, Georgia.

In the midst of World War II, H. G. Williams of Jacksonville, Florida, bought her and converted the "Arrow" into a cargo vessel. Her name was also changed to “H-165” in that same year. She served continuously during the war, carrying cargo and assisting the U.S. Maritime Commission in salvage operations.

Finally, McCormick Shipping Corporation of Panama bought her and used her as a cargo vessel in the banana trade. The "Arrow" met her demise on August 9, 1948 when she wrecked on the Barrier Reef near Hunting Cay Light, Honduras.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Jacob Souder Holtz: Seneca County Ohio Civil War Soldier

Letter by Jacob S. Holtz, 164th ONG to his Mother
22nd June, 1864
Jacob Souder Holtz, son of Jacob P. and Susannah (Huss) Holtz of Pleasant Twp. Seneca County, Ohio, attempted to enlist in a volunteer regiment for Civil War service. Due to a heart condition, he was rejected until May 2, 1864.

As General Ulysses S. Grant came east to command all of the Union armies, he strengthened his forces with the seasoned Union soldiers garrisoned at the forts defending Washington, D. C. 

Grant called up national guard units to serve as replacements at the forts. Holtz enlisted on May 2, 1864 in Company H of the 164th Ohio National Guard. He was mustered in May 11, 1864 at Camp Cleveland. The 164th was composed of the 49th Ohio National Guard from Seneca County, Ohio and the 54th  Battalion, Ohio National Guard from Summit County, On the 14th of May, Holtz was sent with the 164th to defend FtWoodbury, a part of the Arlington Line. The regiment arrived on the 17th of May. Others from the 164th defended Forts Smith, Strong, Bennett, and Haggerty

While stationed at Fort Woodbury, Holtz suffered from typhoid fever. He died July 1, 1864 in the hospital at Fort Strong, Virginia. His father brought his body home for burial in the family plot at Pleasant Ridge Cemetery, north of Tiffin, Ohio.

                                                                                              Fort Woodbury, VA June the 22 1864
                                                                                              Dear Mother

I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am grunting a little with a cold but it is getting better. I do not know how I got it for I am very careful what I do. I think I will be all right in a couple of days. We are getting along very well. It is very warm and dry. There is not much news here now. It is one thing every day but I am willing to stand it if they leave us here  till our time is out. It is half out. It does not seem a great while since we left home. If I keep as well the rest of the time as I did the time that is gone I will be satisfied. A fella being here will have some little spels that is shure but if a fella takes care of him self it will not last long. I hope you folks are getting along well with the work. when you write  I want you to write how you are getting along with the work. I thought I would get a letter to nigh but did not. I gues I will tomorrow. I have nothing more to write. Write soon.

                                                                                           From your Son
                                                                                                      J. S. Holtz
                                                                                           My Love to all J

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Atkins Papers: Proposals for Constructing the Bridge Across the Carrying River at Woodville, Ohio,

List of Bids Submitted for Constructing the Bridge across the Carrying River at Woodville, Ohio

The scanned documents are part of the Quintus F. Atkins Business Papers recently donated to Hayes by Mr. Harry Wilkins on behalf of the Tabor Historical Society of Tabor, Iowa.  They were preserved by Martha Atkins, who graduated from Oberlin College where she met her husband John Todd. Before moving to Tabor, Martha and John  were active in Oberlin’s anti-slavery and temperance movements.

Martha’s father, Quintus F. Atkins was appointed by the state of Ohio as Superintendent of the Maumee and Western Reserve Road that passed through the Black Swamp.  Having discovered the description of the Atkins Papers held by HPLM, Wilkins and the Tabor Historical Society believed that Tabor's Atkins Papers could be better utilized if it were merged with those located here at Hayes Presidential.

A portion of Tabor's Atkins Papers includes proposals sent to Atkins from Sandusky Countians, hoping to gain the contract to build a bridge across the Carrying River” (i.e. the Portage River) where the road passed through Woodville, Ohio.

Atkins listed the names of bidders, their sureties, amounts proposed, and expected dates of completion. The eleven proposals listed in the first document were written during the spring of 1825. Tabor's Atkins Papers include a total of 18 proposals. Below is that of Thomas Miller. Thomas and Harriet Miller owned a tavern at the site where the Portage River (Carrying) crossed the Maumee and Western Reserve Road (now Rte. 20) as early as 1825.

Proposal Submitted by Thomas Miller

Unfortunately, Tabor's Atkins Papers do not provide evidence of who was awarded the contract. A Sketchbook of Woodville, Ohio: Past – Present, written in 1986 for the village’s sesquicentennial, states on page 14 that the “first bridge over the Portage River in Woodville was a covered wooden bridge. It is not known just when it was built.” The latest date proposed by a bidder was August of 1826. The requirements stipulated that the bridge should be capable of withstanding ice, flooding, and driftwood for a period of three years. The wooden bridge did all that and much more; it was not razed until 1878 when it was replaced with an iron bridge. 

Bidders were:
John P. Rogers
James Birdseye
Josiah Rumery
Ezra Williams
S. B. Collins
James Justice
George J. Moore
Jacques Hulburd
Joseph Wood
Seth Doren
Jonathan H. Jerome

Friday, July 19, 2019

Founding of the Ames Dental Laboratory

During the late 19th century, dentistry was becoming a distinct profession. Rather than serving apprenticeships, future dentists were attending actual schools where they learned from educators, chemists, and physicians. Sandusky Countian William Van Bergen Ames was one of those, graduating with honors in 1880 from the Ohio Dental College in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dr. William V. B. Ames

It wasn’t long before Dr. Ames headed to Chicago where he researched, lectured, and patented new techniques at a time when dentistry was rapidly turning from extracting to saving decaying teeth. Eliminating the decay and filling the remaining cavity posed numerous problems. Dentists needed a substance that was at once both hard (to withstand chewing) yet pliable enough to be molded.
Dentists used resin, molten metal, mercury, zinc, and gold, but each had its drawbacks.

Through his research Dr. Ames developed a cement or composite that was hard, easily molded, and long lasting. Most importantly, it had no side effects for the patient. Dr. Ames lectured on numerous topics to young dentists and then helped found the school of dentistry at Northwestern University.

A short time later, he opened his own laboratory to produce what became known as Ames Dental Cement. His success with the new composite led to other products, including the development of gold inlays. Dentists throughout the United States used his cement and other products with great success. Eventually, dental supply houses from around the world purchased Ames Dental Products.

Storefront Displaying Ames Dental Products

Dr. Ames benefitted greatly and soon became a millionaire. With his new found wealth, he purchased Briar Ridge, a dairy farm near Libertyville, Illinois, that he and his wife dearly loved. Always generous, Dr. Ames also helped friends and family gain an education.

By 1906, his laboratory had outgrown the Chicago facility. It was then that Ames’ thoughts turned, once again, to Fremont and his two sisters, Jane and Nell. Still living in the family home on High Street, they helped their brother produce the composite on a small scale. Dr. Ames proposed converting the barn behind the residence into a modern laboratory. He placed his sisters in charge. The number of employees grew and other Ames products were manufactured at the laboratory. Eventually, the company found a new site at 137 Adams St. (see nearby photo) where it existed until as late as 1965!

137 Adams Street Fremont, Ohio

Dr. Ames and his wife began to look for a warmer place to spend their retirement years. South of Phoenix, they purchased land from the state of Arizona and began construction of what was described as one of the “oddest and most unique homes ever built in the west.” In reality, Ahwatukee, as it became known, was truly modern, convenient, and finely constructed. Still in existence, the house originally featured 17 rooms, seven bathrooms, and four fireplaces. The exterior utilized both Spanish and Hopi styles of architecture. There were quarters for servants and guests. The couple moved in during Thanksgiving of 1921. But there was little time for Dr. Ames to enjoyhis retirement home. In poor health, he passed away only three months later.                                                                                                                            .