Friday, December 7, 2012

Happy 210th Birthday Governor Bebb!

Bebb's Cabin birthplace built in 1799
near Okeana OH, restored here in 1959.
Never heard of Governor Bebb? Yeah me neither until I went geocaching in the park named after him.To be honest the official Ohio Historical Marker Marker #25-9 there is pretty boring. For some reason, they didn't include two very interesting tidbits about him that I found from other sources. One, he was an early proponent of Civil Rights and racial equality in mid 19th century Ohio. Two, he was once tried for manslaughter.

First the boring historical marker stuff. 
After the 1795 Treaty of Greenville, a flood of settlers came to the area to build homes. It was here in Butler County that future Ohio Governor William Bebb was born to Welsh immigrants December 8, 1802, the first white child born in Butler County OH west of the Great Miami River. I'm, not sure if that's true or not. It is likely something that was invented when he became involved in politics. Even back then people padded their résumés and it was probably a charming thing to include in order to capture the hearts of voters.
As an adult, Bebb was a teacher and a lawyer before he became active in politics. During the 1840 Presidential campaign, he stumped for fellow Whig William Henry Harrison. He narrowly became Ohio's 19th Governor in 1846 with the catchy slogan "Wm. Bebb and a Home Currency against David Tod and Pot Metal". I'd like to see that on a t-shirt.

Emily gets some frontier justice in front of Berridge Cabin,
built in the early 1800's near Hamilton and restored here in 1992
Now for the more interesting info not on the sign.
Slavery was not allowed in Ohio but Bebb was in favor of repealing the so-called and discriminatory Black Laws that specifically forbid African-Americans from among other things, owning property, legal recourse, the right to vote and access to public schooling. The Governor said this of slavery in his inaugural address, "I cannot forget that the Black Laws still disgrace our statute books. All I can do is earnestly to reiterate recommendation for their unqualified repeal". The Black Laws were finally repealed in 1849 and after serving one term Bebb retired from politics and moved to a farm in Rockford, Illinois.

In 1857, he was tried and ultimately acquitted of manslaughter for shooting and killing a rowdy man named Lemuel Clemens who had been part of a group celebrating Bebb's son's marriage with a "charivari".  Here is a link with some more details of this odd event in the life of Governor Bebb. I guess I can see why they didn't include this unfortunate event on the historical marker but the Civil Rights support was a pretty big deal.

William Bebb died on October 23, 1873, at his farm in Rockford IL at the age of 70. No source seems to say what he died of but age 70 was a pretty long life back then.
1850 - Covered Bridge, built in 1850 near Oxford OH,
restored here in 1969. One of two originals left in Butler County.
The site of his birthplace and cabin is now a Butler County Metro Park and Nature Preserve where a pioneer village has been re-created from several other period buildings around the area including an 1850 covered bridge. It is a pretty neat little historical site to see so many structures from that time period in one place and it's worth a visit if you are ever in the area. I'll be back for some new geocaches.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Seven Chimneys

Emily visits Grandpa's old house
Here is some local history that isn't on a sign or easily found in a book or even on a single web page. If you drove by this house you might say "look at that old house" and notice how it looks out of place surrounded by more modern homes and strip malls. Then you might never give it a second thought.

I first learned of the home I'd always known as Seven Chimneys from my Dad who lived in this area when he was a boy. In fact, he lived in this house from 1951-1956 when he was about my daughter Emily's age in the photo. I've stopped by here years ago and even went inside once but I had no idea of the history otherwise. I did a little bit of research and found some interesting information that even my Dad did not know.

Located on Cincinnati-Columbus Road in West Chester Township OH, Seven Chimney had other names throughout the years, such as Shenstone Eagle Tavern, James D. Conrey House, and the Colonial Farm Restaurant. It was originally built in 1839 in a U-shape and had 14 rooms each with its own fireplace. It once had a courtyard which is now enclosed. You can see the U shape and the enclosure in the aerial photo along with all "seven chimneys" for the 14 fireplaces. If you would like more information on the home's design, this website has a very detailed description of the interior and exterior of "Spread Eagle Tavern", the original name. (The link no longer works here is the Wikipedia entry for the home)

All seven chimneys, courtesy of Bing "birds eye" maps
The now private 4000 sq ft residence is believed to be the oldest standing building in West Chester Township and one of the only examples of Jeffersonian architecture in the area.
James D. Conrey, a Methodist minister who owned the house in the 1840s used the building as a stopover on the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves fleeing the South. It also happens to be the stagecoach stop mentioned in Chapter 9 of the 1852 anti-slavery novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

The structure was placed on the National Historical Register of Historic Places in 2003.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mad Anthony Stew

Recipe for Mad Anthony Stew:

You will need:
several gallons of fresh well water
1 large cauldron or kettle
1 butcher knife
1 boning knife
1 saw
1 shovel
1 13-year-old oak casket-aged, well-preserved corpse of General Mad Anthony Wayne
2 quarts of bourbon
serves one

  • Fill the cauldron with water and place over a fire. You want a nice rolling boil.
  • Drink all of the bourbon, you will need it to complete the next steps.
  • While the water is coming to a boil, dig up the corpse of Mad Anthony Wayne with your shovel.
  • Remove the uniform. You will want this later!
  • Next, remove the head using a saw to sever the spinal cord.
  • Divide the body into equal quarters with the butcher knife. 
  • Using the boning knife, separate and remove as much meat from the bone as possible and set aside.
  • Boil the bones in the cauldron until the clingy bits of tendon and meat fall off easily.
  • Cook down until it is a thick broth. About 30 minutes.The bones should be nearly clean by then.
  • Remove the boiled bones and pat dry. Place them into a large box and give to Issac Wayne.
  • Return the remaining broth, raw fillets of organ meat, uniform and utensils to the original grave. Pour the broth over this and reseal.
  • Enjoy!
  • Perhaps you would like a little background...

    General Mad Anthony Wayne, after Gen. Harmar and Gen. St. Clair failed, was the heroic frontier General who finally defeated the Indians in the Old Northwest Territory at the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers. The resulting 1795 Treaty of Greenville he negotiated ceded most of Ohio to the Americans and ended major hostilities in the region until Tecumseh came along and stirred things up again in the early 1800s.

    Fallen Timbers monument in Maumee OH
    Born January 1st, 1745 in Pennsylvania to Irish immigrant parents, Wayne served in the American Revolution and became a good friend of President Washington as a result. However, his legacy will always be his service in the Old Northwest Territory. Countless, cities, counties, townships, businesses, parks, roads and schools are named after him all across the US but predominantly in PA, OH, and IN. He essentially saved the US Army and the country from ruin at a pivotal time for our young country. Remember, most of the standing US Army had been wiped out at St Clair's Defeat just a few years earlier. Despite all this, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone that really knows anything about him these days. I suppose over time his status diminished giving way to new heroes.

    Mad Anthony was a nickname given to him for his strict disciplinary military methods. One time Wayne sentenced five Army deserters to death. He carried this out by having the hair and eyebrows shaved off of one of the deserters, had him lashed 100 times and a "D" branded on his forehead. Then he had this man execute the other four. Tough love. The Shawnee referred to him as "the chief who never sleeps" and nicknamed him Black Snake. Up until then, the Native Americans could usually predict the methods and patterns of their foes but this General even marched at night. It was these things that earned him fear and respect of friend and foe. A man of his stature would surely be given proper respect even in death. You would think.

    do NOT park in Wayne's spot. He will mess you up.
    Wayne died at the age of 51 in PA on December 15, 1796, unexpectedly after a painful gout attack which was a fairly common ailment in those days. This was just over a year after the events that made him a legend. He was buried in Erie PA near where he died. In 1809, his son Isaac claimed that his Father's wish was to be interred in the family plot in Radnor PA. He rode up on his horse and buggy, had the body exhumed and expected to only find bones. Everyone was surprised to find a fairly well-preserved body. No one at the time was really sure why the body was in good shape after 13 years in an oak casket but Issac wasn't prepared to take a whole body back. So they did what made sense. They got a bigger buggy, right? Not quite.

    They dismembered Wayne's body and boiled the flesh off in a big cauldron. Yes, you read that correctly. They cooked Mad Anthony's corpse, took the bones out, put them in a box and reburied in the original grave, the remaining flesh, his uniform and the instruments used to dismember the body.

    Issac then took the bones on a 400-mile journey back home. But the horror doesn't end there. Along the way, the box fell off the cart several times spilling the bones everywhere. In the process, many of the bones were lost along the way and were never recovered. What remained of the bones were reburied in Old Saint David Church Cemetery in Delaware County PA on July 4th, 1809. There is a legend that Wayne's ghost haunts Route 322 in search of his bones.

    The blockhouse that was constructed at the original grave in Erie PA burned down in the mid 19th century. The grave site was pretty much lost until 1878 when it was rediscovered. The blockhouse was then rebuilt and the items that were buried in 1809, his uniform and the dissection tools were buried once again. Maybe there is a little Mad Anthony Stew left there too.

    Weird US
    - Roadside America

    Friday, October 19, 2012

    The Eruv Has Been Approved

    I think it's the 3rd one from the bottom.
    ...I think.
    You may be surprised to know that there is a continuous unbroken wire that surrounds roughly a three square mile area around most of the Cincinnati community of Amberley Village and portions of Roselawn and Golf Manor. This wire is attached to utility poles but it does not carry electricity, voice or data of any kind. If at any time you were wondering if the wire has become severed, you can call a telephone hotline to check the status. This type of thing is not unique to Cincinnati. Most major cities have one. In fact, some cities have several. I just found out I drive by one, or through one really, nearly every day on my work commute.

    This cable enclosed section of town is called the Eruv District. It's pronounced Air-oov and it is part of the Jewish religion. Now I am not Jewish and I have never heard of such a thing. I first learned of this in a book called "Amberley Village, Its History And Its People" by Richard S. Kerstine.

    Orthodox Jews have strict laws they must follow including what they can and cannot do on the Sabbath Holy Day. One thing an Orthodox Jew can't do is carry things from one domain to another. Or in other terms, a private property to a public property. So, if you were living in Roselawn for example, it would be against Mosaic Law to drive to Kroger and pick up some kosher groceries and bring them home unless you did it within the territory of the established and approved eruv.
    In the very very long ago past, cities and neighborhoods had walls that grouped a community together and this constituted a private domain so this wasn't a problem as long as you stayed within the walls. As Orthodox Jewish communities settled in newer predominantly non-Jewish urban and suburban areas this made it hard for them to do pretty much anything on the Sabbath. The eruv concept came along to define the boundaries of a designated area within which Orthodox Jews can treat public spaces, shared by all the community, in the same way as private space at home. And it can just be a wire on utility poles. Apparently, the rules and exceptions as well the acceptance of the idea of the eruv itself is a bit complicated and not even accepted by all people of the Jewish faith. I won't go into all that here. If you want more details I would suggest this site it or perhaps read the Wikipedia article. Or call up a rabbi if you'd like. Your choice.

    since 1987, the Cincinnati Eruv District
    The concept of an eruv dates back 2000 years but in the late 1890s Orthodox Jews in St. Louis, Missouri, constructed the first documented Eruv in the United States. The Cincinnati Eruv District has been in effect since 1987 and cost private donors $5000. Natural barriers can form part of the border, such as a river or a lake. In the case of Cincinnati eruv, I-75 was considered acceptable as a natural barrier and is used as one part of the boundaries  It is important that the eruv stay intact so every Friday it is someone's job to check on the continuity of the wire. According to the Cincinnati Shuls website, it is "always to be presumed that the eruv is not up". To check, you can call their eruv hotline at 513-351-ERUV. I called and the eruv is up at the time of this writing. I've also learned that another eruv is under construction just north of the recently closed Blue Ash Airport property. Cincinnati will soon be a two eruv town!

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

    Daniel Boone was a man...with two graves

    Grave #1 in Missouri

    Daniel Boone died on this day September 26th, 1820 at the age of 85 in Missouri.
    Everyone knows who Daniel Boone was right? He was that big buckskin-clad, coonskin cap-wearing Indian killer, right?
    Not quite. Boone dressed like a regular 18th-century gentleman, he never wore a coonskin cap and was of an average build for his day. He also told his son he only knowingly killed three Indians and he felt bad about it too. Boone was an actual complicated human being, not some frontier superhero it turns out. So thank you very much TV and movies and bad biographers. While the TV series that ran from 1964-1970 reinforced many of the folktales, this wasn't solely a modern fable, it started when he was alive in hugely popular 1787 biography by John Filson. Boone once humbly stated later: "Many heroic actions and chivalrous adventures are related of me which exist only in the regions of fancy. With me the world has taken great liberties, and yet I have been but a common man." 

    Boone was, of course, a longtime resident of Kentucky. They named a lot of stuff after him in the state he left when it got "too crowded" as the legends say. In reality, while he was skilled frontiersman and hunter he was a very bad land surveyor and businessman. He was also nearly convicted of treason at one point. Most of his KY property was sold off to settle lawsuits and he left for MO on bad terms. He said he would never return to Kentucky. It turned out he did. Maybe. I can't go into his whole story here. If you want that I highly recommend the 2007 book, "Boone: A Biography" by Robert Morgan. This post is really about what happened to his body after he died. It turns out to be just as interesting and unique as his real-life story.

    Grave #2 in Kentucky
    Daniel Boone has two graves, not two monuments but two actual grave sites that claim to contain his body. Or parts of his body at least. There is one in MO and another in KY.
    It seems that 25 years after he died, the people of KY wanted their hero back so they had Boone exhumed from Marthasville MO and reburied in Frankfort KY. The problem is they didn't, at least not all of him...or maybe none of him. The whole issue was in great dispute for years. MO even claimed that KY dug up the wrong body because the grave was improperly marked (a common issue in those days). Meanwhile, KY said they had the right bones the whole time. This went on and on with different variances until 2010 when the Friends of Daniel Boone's Burial Site in Missouri conceded that only some of Boone's bones were removed. Now that wasn't very scientific and didn't really settle the issue. If you want to pay your respects, to be safe, just visit them both, it's only a 6.5-hour drive between the two.

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Congressman White Eyes from the State of Ohio has the floor...

    1950s Bonded Oil tumbler
    featuring Ohio Indian White Eyes

    The title of this blog post are words that could have been heard had history turned a different corner. Unlikely, but possible.

    On  September 17th, 1778, the first formal treaty with Native Americans was signed between the newly formed United States and the Delaware (Lenape) Indians in the Treaty of Fort Pitt in present-day Pittsburgh PA.

    Representing the Delaware was Chief White Eyes or Koquethagechton in Lenape. Thomas Lewis signed for the Americans.
    Instead of claiming land like most treaties we've come to know, the intention of this treaty was to secure safe passage and have the Delaware provide assistance if needed to American troops through the Ohio Country against the British in Detroit, thus becoming somewhat neutral allies with the US. This was supposed to also guarantee that they would not ally themselves with the British.

    Interestingly, there was a section in the treaty regarding the sovereignty of the Delaware and their territory in which they were encouraged to have other Indian tribes join. It stated, " form a state whereof the Delaware nation shall be the head, and have a representation in Congress" (Article VI). This meant an Indian led territory in most of present-day Ohio could have become the 14th US State after the original 13 colonies had ratified the new US Constitution. I'm sure they all had a good chuckle when they wrote that one. Of course this likely never would have happened for many reasons. Alliances and treaties were never observed long. Historians speculate that the US really had no intention of ever fulfilling this portion of the treaty since it was subject to such vague conditions just as the land grab treaties were. It didn't really matter anyway. Less than a year later in 1788, this new alliance fell apart after Chief White Eyes was murdered by American militia. Meanwhile, it was clear that the new American forts and settlers in the Ohio Valley were being used offensively and not defensively per the terms of the treaty. The Delaware and other tribes finally turned their allegiance to the British for the remainder of the war as their best hope for survival.

    Also noteworthy was the fact that the first US State was Delaware, however "Delaware" was just the English designated name for the Lenape people who once lived along the Delaware River. The name Delaware actually comes from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, an English nobleman and Virginia's first colonial governor. The 14th US State ended up being Vermont and most of the Ohio Valley became Ohio, the 17th US State in 1803.

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    Soy un perdedor, I'm a Leuser baby...

    The Miller-Leuser Log House is dated at being built in 1796 by Ichabod Benton Miller, one of the first settlers to what is now the Anderson Township area East of Cincinnati.  The way the deed is worded, the house may actually pre-date 1796 by a few years.
    The Miller's lived here for nearly 40 years. Ichabod also happened to be the son-in-law of Captain Aaron Mercer who founded the nearby town Mercerburgh OH, the first settlement in Anderson Township which is now called Newtown OH.

    The only log house remaining in its original location in Hamilton County OH is also the area's oldest continually occupied house at 170 years. Lawrence and Emma Leuser were the last residents who lived there for nearly 60 of those years until 1968. It's been added onto and modified to suit the needs of the various occupants and now has two additional rooms on the main floor so it's much more spacious than the original.

    Log homes back then generally had just a front door and a one window that could be barricaded to keep the owners safe from hostilities. This house was built shortly after the Treaty of Greenville ceded most of Ohio to the US so this was at a time when there were only about 5000 white settlers in Ohio. Even though some Indian tribes signed the treaty, not all bands of these tribes recognized their validity. The settlers were trespassers as far as they were concerned.

    In 1971 the Miller-Leuser Log House and the land surrounding it was purchased by the Anderson Township Historical Society (ATHS) who had it restored and furnished with period pieces. In 1974 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    2 seater outhouse on the right
    In June 2011 I was happy to see an Ohio Historical Marker was placed here which can be seen in the first photo along with my daughter on our visit one Sunday last October on one of the last tours for the year given by the ATHS.

    I learned a few new things on the tour. For one, I had been pronouncing "Leuser" as "Loser". The actual pronunciation is LOY-ser. Also, the difference between a log cabin and a log house is that a log cabin has one floor and a log home has two.
    The tour guides were very nice and made a special effort to engage the children that were on the tour. Besides the period furniture, there were also some nice pictures that showed what the house looked like over the years as well as some photos of its residents.

    What really makes this structure more unique is that not very many buildings from the 18th century are still standing in the Cincinnati area. In fact, I can only think of one other standing cabin that predates this one. The 1795 Dunn Cabin in Shawnee Lookout Park which has near it, a stone Spring House where the 1786 Treaty of Fort Finney was supposedly signed. However, both of these structures have been moved from their original nearby locations.

    Cincinnati is very lucky to have this well preserved and well-maintained exhibit of local history thanks to the efforts the Anderson Township Historical Society.

    The  Miller-Leuser log house is open for tours on the 1st and 3rd Sunday, June through October 1-4PM.

    For more information about the log house and the ATHS, please visit their website.

    Friday, August 10, 2012

    The red C and squiggly lines forever!

    I've lived in Cincinnati since 1979. Apparently, the Queen City has its own flag. Did you know that? I didn't.
    The design was selected in 1895 from a contest and then in traditional expeditious Cincinnati style, it was adopted officially 45 years later in 1940.
    Then everyone forgot about it.
    I never thought I'd stood in the presence of the Grand Old Flag of Cincinnati, but then I remembered something and found this photo from a visit to Yeatman's Cove. In the picture below, behind me and over my right shoulder it waves proudly next to the Ohio flag. I thought it was just some boat flag at the time since I was by the river.

    Basically the flag design is the city seal seal sans 1788 on a red C (say fast 5 times!) with blue squiggly lines in the background representing the Ohio River.1788 is the agreed upon year that the area that is now the city of Cincinnati was founded but no one called it "Cincinnati" until 1790 and it wasn't incorporated as a city until 1819. Confusing? Yeah, that's probably why they left it off.
    It looks like they added some Buckeye leaves at the top for decoration too. The Latin "Juncta Juvant" within the seal translates to something akin to "come for the goetta, stay for the cheese coneys!". Oh, I kid, it means "strength in unity". Sure.

    It's actually a pretty nice looking flag with the patriotic colors and all and the pleasant wavy lines. I'm kind of surprised it isn't used more often for civic events and such. Oh yeah, it's because this is Cincinnati. Most Cincinnati folks have never heard of the flag but I'll bet nearly all residents know this famous quote attributed to Mark Twain:
    “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always 20 years behind the times.”

    Please read my other flag related post when you have time. Thank you and "Juncta Juvant" to you!

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    Take The First Raid By Clark's Will*

    the first raid by Clark was right here at the
    confluence of the Licking and Ohio Rivers
    (Cincinnati in the background)

    *My apologies to The Monkees and the writers Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart for shameful use of the lyrics of Last Train To Clarksville in this blog post.

    ...Oh, no, no, no!...

    On this day in Ohio history August 1st 1780, while the Revolutionary War was raging in the East, formidable Indian fighter George Rogers Clark invaded the Indian homelands of Ohio at the confluence of the Licking and Ohio Rivers with his force of Kentucky Long Knives, the feared name given by the Indians to the American Rangers who patrolled the Ohio River Valley during the Revolution.
    Clark's force built military blockhouses as an outpost in present-day Cincinnati. This was the first white settlement in the region...'Cause I'm leavin' in the morning...This military invasion was revenge for raids on Kentucky settlements by Indian tribes such as the Shawnee, Delaware, and Wyandot who used Kentucky as hunting grounds and took a dim view to permanent white settlement there...I'm feelin' low. Oh, no, no, no! 
    Other Indian tribes and septs had signed treaties in previous years, such as the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals which allowed some settlement in KY but some of the settlers set up shop outside of treaty guidelines and was considered squatting even by European-American law....'Cause I made your reservation...The US Government really didn't do much to stop this. Furthermore, many Indians did not recognize these treaties in the first place and led successful raids on settlements, trying to unsettle them by general killing, and taking horses and prisoners...'Til the morning brings the raid...Famed frontiersman Simon Kenton was captured in Ohio by the Shawnee while on his own retaliatory raid on Indians. This revenge warfare situation caused much death, destruction, panic, fear, and chaos which Clark's team was sent to suppress. I'm feelin' low. Oh, no, no, no! 
    It also gave the US an excuse to pave the way through Ohio to attack British held Detroit as it was difficult to enlist enough men to make that dangerous journey deep into Indian territory...And I must go, oh, no, no, no!
    Clark's continuing raids met some losses but were mostly successful and forced the Shawnee to move their towns further north to present day Chillicothe and Piqua...We'll have time for coffee flavored kisses and a bit of conversation...This type of revenge warfare would continue in the area throughout the rest of the 18th century and into the early 19th century. And I don't know if I'm ever coming home...Take The Last Raid By Clark's Will...Take The Last Raid By Clark's Will

    In researching this event, I learned that an internment camp for Lochry's failed 1781 expedition was in Cleves OH. 64 captured militia were held in a British allied Indian camp. The ones who survived were taken to Canada. South of the junction of East Miami River Road and Jordan Road, Miami Township near Cleves. map 39.178547, -84.746475

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    The rise and fall of Little Turtle

    LT on the Ohio River
    Born of a Mahican mother and a Miami father, Michikinikwa (Me-she-kin-no-quah) or Little Turtle was born in Indiana around 1752. Not much is known of his early life until he fought against the Americans during Revolutionary War as a British ally. He could never be the principal Miami Chief because of his lineage but he led the Miami to several victories during that war and became the War Chief of the Miami. After the American win over the British in the Revolutionary War the Miami continued resisting American settlement in the Ohio Valley and Little Turtle emerged as one of their primary leaders.

    So what's with the name anyway? "LittleTurtle" does not sound like the name of a fierce warrior and brilliant military strategist. Little Turtle was not a small man either. In fact, he was six feet tall by all accounts. The name, per historical author J.P. Dunn, comes from a literal translation of his Miami name by English interpreters. His name in Miami, Michikinikwa, was the word for the painted terrapin which is a small colorful turtle. The turtle figured prominently in Algonquin symbolism and generally represented the Earth. The English interpreters had no word for this particular type of turtle so they just started referring to him as Little Turtle. You have to admit that Michikinikwa is a bit of a mouthful to say, especially for a bunch of white people who likely didn't finish 8th grade.

    LT on a piano
    In the years following the Revolutionary War, America was intent on expanding its borders into this ceded territory per the terms of Treaty of Paris with the British. The problem was, people lived there. Generally, Indians then allowed whites to hunt or occupy some of this land. But now Americans were building forts and permanent towns. Little Turtle and other leaders saw the permanent settlement as encroachment since there was no Indian treaty with the Americans to occupy this land. In fact, the series of battles we know as the Northwest Indian Wars from 1785-1795 was originally called Little Turtle's War. It was during this time period that Little Turtle led his own confederation of Miami, Shawnee, and Delaware to major wins over General Harmar in 1790 and General St Clair in 1791. These catastrophic American losses emboldened the Indians in the Ohio Valley and influenced a young Tecumseh in his more famous confederation during the early 19th century.

    This boosted morale was short-lived and Little Turtle knew that the odds were against his people as the wave of American settlers increased and direct British support waned. Outright extinction of his people was a real possibility. He grudgingly negotiated peace with the Americans. Some of the other tribes led by the Shawnee Blue Jacket went on to fight and lose at Fallen Timbers against General Wayne.  This battle resulted in the confederation of Indians signing the Treaty of Greenville in 1795 which gave most of Ohio to the Americans.

    The vanquished Little Turtle promised to remain peaceful and encouraged cooperation with the Americans and convinced some of the older war-weary tribal Chiefs to join him. However, this was far from over and a rising new star named Tecumseh was making waves. Ironically it was Little Turtle who kept most of the Miami from joining Tecumseh's confederation which infuriated the new young leader. Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa were building their own support and continued resistance. In fact, they were waging a fundamentalist religious war against these older placated leaders accusing them of witchcraft and holding executions. Chief Leatherlips of the Wyandot was a victim of one of these very witch hunts. There were many schisms within the various Nations and tribes at this time who were forced to choose sides.
    LT in a painting

    Little Turtle became a celebrity with European-Americans in his later years and traveled East where he met Presidents Washington, Jefferson, and Adams. It was his 1808 meeting with Jefferson, an expert in agriculture himself, where he was encouraged to introduce Western farming methods to his people. The famous lithograph of Little Turtle and only known likeness of him is based upon a lost portrait by Gilbert Stuart, at the request of President George Washington. The original was destroyed when the British burned Washington, D.C. in 1814 during the War of 1812.

    On the surface, these new developments sounded promising. However, Native Americans could change their religion, way of life and their style of clothing but they could not change their skin color or distinct features and were still Indian savages as far as most Americans were concerned. Little Turtle signed several more land treaties over these years that proved to be unpopular with the Miami and the neutrality of the Miami tribe still did not protect his tribespeople from American attacks. As a result of this his respect within his tribe diminished and in 1809 lost his status as war chief while Miami leadership went to others.

    early 19th-century lithograph of LT
    Little Turtle died on July 14th day 1812 near his place of birth in present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was staying at the home of his son-in-law William Wells, his daughter's white husband. Little Turtle was given full American military honors at his funeral.

    His grave location was neglected and lost to time until a home builder in the early 20th century discovered a bunch of skeletons along with some artifacts. Among the recovered artifacts was the very sword that was presented to Little Turtle by George Washington which is now in a museum.

    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    Gehio - The Travel Bug

    Today is a glorious day in geocaching and Ohio history!
    This one-year-old blog name "Gehio" comes from combining the words geocaching and Ohio Valley history. It seemed like time to really combine the two.

    I proudly present the first ever Gehio Travel Bug! Please hold your applause...

    On July 12th, 2012, I released the first trackable geocaching item bearing the name of Gehio.
    Crafted lovingly by combining a serial numbered dog tag known as a "travel bug" from and a wooden coin bearing the logo of the Ohio Historical Society and the Great Seal of the State of Ohio it shall traverse this nation and perhaps the world, from geocache to geocache....or maybe it will just get lost in a few days...but until then, gaze upon its buckeye beauty. Your thoughts will give it strength on its exciting adventures.

    For more about "trackables" please watch this fine video from the folks at

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    President Taylor expelled from orifice

    1968 Shell Oil Mr. President Coin Game piece #12
    I found on a river bank.
    This is probably what he felt like on 07/09/1850

    On this day in history July 9th, 1850, the 12th US President Zachary Taylor after 16 months in office died of bilious cholera. Folks, that's massive super flu-like diarrhea caused by the cholera disease that was sweeping the nation at that time. In fact, some of my German immigrant relatives died of cholera one month after arriving in the US in the 1850s. Fun times. As was common in those days the President was treated with the very latest medical technology which was bleeding, blistering and opiates. He died and was buried in the Taylor family plot in Louisville KY.
    In the 20th century, a conspiracy theory formed maintaining that Zachary was poisoned but this was disproved when they examined his corpse in the 1990s. Much to the embarrassment of the conspiracy theorists, the tests showed he did indeed eat contaminated food and died of cholera. Then they buried him again. I'm sure the treatment methods accelerated the cause of death somewhat as well.

    Prior to his Presidency, Zach Taylor, a Kentucky resident, and military man participated in many various Indian Wars up until the 1830s and successfully defended Fort Harrison in the Indiana Territory during the War of 1812 from an attack by Indians under the command of the Shawnee chief Tecumseh. Things like this really helped him get elected.

    Incidentally, Taylor was the just the second US president to die in office, the first being William Henry Harrison, the 9th President who died nine years earlier from pneumonia and pleurisy after one month in office. WHH was also mainly elected for his military victories against the Indians, specifically the battle at Tippecanoe IN against Tecumseh's Prophet brother Tenskwatawa, his defense against Tecumseh and the British at Ft Meigs in Toledo OH and the defeat of Tecumseh in Canada during the War of 1812. I don't know the full origin of the supposed curse leveled against the American Presidency by Tecumseh and/or his brother, but I would venture to guess that the 2nd President to die in office in less than 10 years would give birth to this especially since both Presidents were adversaries of  Tecumseh's Confederation.

    Thursday, June 21, 2012

    Fast Times at Big Mac Bridge

    want fries with that?
    The Daniel Carter Beard I-471 bridge built in the early 1970s crosses the Ohio River and connects Eastern Cincinnati with Newport KY. No one calls it by its official name. It has been called the “Big Mac Bridge” right from the start because the shape and yellow color reminded the people of OH and KY of the McDonald’s Golden Arches, one of the most iconic American symbols recognized worldwide. McDonald’s even planned to build a floating diabetes and heart attack center they call a “restaurant” at the base of the bridge in the 1980s but it never coagulated. In case you didn't know, Cincinnati is listed as one of the fattest cities in the US according to the Centers for Disease Control. One in three Cincinnatians are overweight. No wonder the bridge looks like wonderful fast food arches to its citizens.

    We all know what McDonald's is, but who the $%&# is Daniel Beard? 

    Uncle Daniel Carter Beard
    Beard founded the Sons of Daniel Boone in 1905, a precursor to the Boy Scouts. The club honored American frontiersman such as Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, Kit Carson, James Audubon, Johnny Appleseed, Davey Crocket and George Catlin. He started the boys club to teach city boys about pioneer living skills which encouraged the children to stay fit via outdoor recreation such as swimming, camping, hunting, and fishing. Uncle Dan's handbook even taught boys how to build their own gym. There were other activities in the book that simulated aspects of frontier life such as Running the Gauntlet and Defending a Snow Fort Against Indians. Not really practical skills but I suppose it was fun in 1905 to engage in mock torture and simulated encroachment rather than toil in a factory or a mine. This was a time in the US when child labor was a fact of life for the poor, and most kids never finished school beyond 8th grade. It was probably good for these kids to spend some time in the outdoors. Some things never change.

    Aloha. My name is Mr. Hand
    Beard, a ringer for History Teacher Mr. Hand in Fast Times at Ridgemont High if I ever saw one, was born in Cincinnati on this day on June 21st, 1850. He lived in Covington KY where his boyhood home is on the National Register of Historic Places. Dan was a land surveyor and also illustrated many books including Mark Twain's “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court”.
    Beard left the area in 1878 and moved to move to New York City where he lived out his days until the age of 90, an age that frequent eaters of Big Macs will likely never see.

    I don't think Beard would be "Lovin' It™" to learn that the bridge honoring his legacy derives its nickname from a company that is responsible for the fast food industry as we know it. An industry that peddles a steady diet of fat, corn syrup, and sodium to kids worldwide. However, I'll bet Beard WOULD approve of that stern Mr. Hand who did not allow Spicoli access to that pizza delivered to his classroom.

    In conclusion, read "Fast Food Nation" but skip the movie version.

    Tuesday, June 19, 2012

    Happy 246th Birthday Edward Tiffin*

    Ohio's First Governor
    Most Ohioans have no idea who Dr. Edward Tiffin is. I wouldn't either except that I visited Tiffin OH for one of my kids gymnastic meets and as usual I got to do a little geocaching and studied up on the history as well.

    The small NW Ohio college town of Tiffin was named after the English born man who served as the first Governor of the Buckeye State from 1803-1807 and was one of the biggest players in early Ohio politics. Ed also did something pretty important in the War of 1812 but not as a soldier. You wouldn't know any of this if you walked around Tiffin OH. I didn't see one statue of this man or anything informational about him at all. I did see a buttery looking statue of Josiah Hedges (below) who founded the town in 1820. Maybe they have a statue or a sign hidden somewhere for Edward Tiffin but I didn't see any. Don't get me wrong, Tiffin OH has some other nice history that is featured but I would have thought they would have honored their namesake a little more prominently.

    Edward Tiffin was born in England on June 19th, 1766. His family emigrated to Virginia in 1789 where he then married Mary Worthington, the sister of Thomas Worthington who another future Governor of OH and known as the Father of Ohio Statehood.

    I Can't Believe It's Not Tiffin!
    Tiffin's family eventually moved to the Northwest Territory in 1798 and settled in Chillicothe OH where Edward Tiffin, a trained medical doctor also became involved in the Democratic-Republican Party along with his brother-in-law Thomas Worthington.  The Democratic-Republican Party was at odds with the Federalist Party of whom Arthur St. Clair, the Governor of the NW Territory, was a member. St. Clair opposed Ohio Statehood on the grounds that his own party would lose power in the US Senate if this was allowed to occur. President Thomas Jefferson, another Democratic-Republican Party member dismissed St. Clair which cleared OH for Statehood thus tipping the balance of power. Tiffin was elected without opposition. He was later elected to the US Senate representing his adopted home state and also served in other various political positions for the State of Ohio. Tiffin was also responsible for removing important Federal records from Washington DC prior to it being burned and sacked by the British in 1814 during the War of 1812.

    Tiffin served out his final years as the US Surveyor General until his death in 1829 at the age of 63 never stepping foot in the town that bears his name.

    You may be wondering, why does Ohio's 6th Governor, Thomas Worthington a peer of Tiffin's, get to be known as "the Father of Ohio Statehood" and Tiffin gets squat?
    *Why is Tiffin just an asterisk in Ohio history?
    Location, location, location. It seems that Tiffin's home in Chillicothe no longer exists while Worthington's Adena Mansion stands to this day as an historic tourist attraction that happens to be where the first mound of a previously unknown culture of Native Americans was discovered in 1901. This 800 BC to AD 100 AD period was named the Adena Culture after the name of Worthington's estate. I guess if you are going to be remembered, have a nice house in a good part of town and name it something memorable. It will help if you build it on something undiscovered too.

    Monday, June 18, 2012

    The War to End All Indian Wars

    say hello to Kelsey's little friend at Ft Meigs
    The US officially declared war on Great Britain on this day in 1812 launching the two and half year War of 1812. I don't think many people understand the effect this war had on our nation's history. It generally gets only a brief mention in history class mainly for inspiring the lyrics to what would become the US National Anthem.
    But it wasn't just a conflict between two nations with a grudge. Tecumseh's Indian Confederacy allied itself with the British in this war and fought alongside British soldiers in battles such as the two 1813 sieges of Fort Meigs near Toledo OH. Tecumseh was even supposedly offered a commission as a Brigadier General in the British army which despite the alliance he refused. Tecumseh's death at the Battle of the Thames in 1813 effectively killed his demoralized coalition. The final US victory in early 1815 resulted in Native Americans without a foreign ally for the first time in over 200 years. There were Indian tribes such as the Cherokee that sided with the Americans in this conflict. For this, they were at first tolerated as landowners in Georgia but we know how that turned out.

    War of 1812 vet Pvt Sam Deneen in Reilly OH
    I couldn't possibly go into all the details of this forgotten war in a blog post. That would be silly. There are many great books on the subject such as this one.  If you want to watch a shockingly bad and misleading account of the War of 1812, watch the History Channel documentary which focuses a lot on the naval war with the British and hardly mentions the Native American involvement at all. However if you want to see a great account of the War of 1812, watch this great PBS documentary instead.

    Now of course, of course, d not "end all Indian Wars" any more than WWI ended further European conflicts. It just changed the game dramatically since the Native Americans were now on their own. The next 80 something years after the War of 1812 would see hundreds of smaller US-Indian conflicts. Rapid American expansion and land grabs beyond the Mississippi River aided by a policies of massacres, forced treaties, removal acts and the reservation system would continue, slowed only somewhat and briefly by the US Civil War. The last major confrontation between the US and American Indians in what be known as the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890 part of which was dramatized in HBO's great movie adaptation of the book Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    Happy Birthday to Harriet Beecher Stowe

    Happy 201st Birthday to Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) whose 1852 book Uncle Tom's Cabin was a catalyst for the anti-slavery movement in the US.
    President Lincoln met her in 1862 and supposedly greeted her with "so you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war?" 
    The Harriet Beecher Stowe House in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Walnut Hills was owned by her abolitionist Father and is where she lived from 1833-1836.
    The home is now a museum focusing on Harriet Beecher Stowe, the Underground Railroad, and African-American history.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012

    SOS or Plastic?

    not Charles Stilwell

    Grocery paper bags are not as popular these days as they once were. Most folks choose plastic or their own reusable sacks, but the next time you visit Kroger or "the Krogers" as we Ohioans say, and decide to choose paper over plastic you can thank a Buckeye for the modern paper bag. It would also be hard to imagine the Unknown Comic or crafty pre-school puppets without this great contribution from a Union Civil War veteran.

    On June 12, 1883, Charles Stilwell from Fremont OH was granted his patent for the Self-Opening Sack or SOS for short.

    also not Charles Stilwell
     This was a great leap forward in paper bag technology that had been stalled for over a century. Stilwell actually didn't invent the paper bag. Prior to the SOS, the paper bag was simply a paper tube sealed at one end to form a V shape which was unable to stand without some assistance. This inconvenience made folks very unhappy. Stilwell listened to the people and invented a folded, pleated sack that could easily be opened with one swooping motion and its hi-tech flat bottom placed steadily on the counter ready to be filled with items. The next time you go Krogering, remember Charles Stilwell. Or don't.

    Another great moment in Ohio history brought to you by Gehio.

    Wednesday, May 30, 2012

    Q: What is Cincinnati's smallest historic landmark?

    A: The 1858 Historic Landmark Flag Pole!

    This 50' cross-shaped wooden flagpole sits in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Carthage at 7011 Vine Street. It's been moved a few blocks from it's original location at Seymour and Vine where it stood in front of the Avenue House, a 19th-century hotel and tavern founded by a German immigrant named H.H. Lammers. I'm not sure if he was related to the Nazi War Criminal with the similar name and initials. The nearby plaque didn't say and Google wasn't any help.

    The pole sat there being a pole for over 100 years displaying all the different American flags in great fashion starting with the 32 star US flag until the Sun Oil Company wanted to put a gas station in the old hotel's spot. I know you are thinking "boo! bad oil company people! boo!" However, I am happy to report that the Sun Oil Company was a good sport and paid to have it moved up the street to its present location in 1970. The citizens of Carthage then celebrated their fantastic historic wooden flagpole with a big party on Flag Day. I'm sure it was a great celebration.
    Then in 1982, it was designated a Cincinnati Neighborhood Landmark, making it the city's smallest historic landmark!

    If anyone is working on creating "Trivial Pursuit: Cincinnatus Edition" this should definitely be included.

    In case you were wondering...nope, there is no geocache here. I was just driving by and saw the sign.

    Saturday, May 5, 2012

    The Great North Bend Train Robbery

    unrelated train car in North Bend w/ unrelated scoundrels
    If asked where the first US train robbery occurred you might think it was in the Old West right? Everyone knows that because of movies.
    Wrong. It happened in the Old Northwest, if you will, right outside Cincinnati OH on May 5, 1865, in North Bend, OH whose other claims to fame is being the home of two US Presidents named Harrison, as well as the resting place of John Cleves Symmes.

    Under cover of darkness, several men apparently removed one rail to stop the 8:00 PM Ohio & Mississippi train that had departed from Cincinnati bound for St Louis MO with over one hundred passengers.

    After the train was stopped from the derailment, twenty armed men "with the vilest oaths, demanded the money and valuables of the passengers." The scoundrels then blew open several safes that were said to contain over $30,000 in U.S. bonds.

    With no serious injuries to the passengers or the perpetrators, the robbers made off with the loot and fled across the Ohio River into Kentucky. Military troops were called and sent to hunt down the outlaws who were traced south through Verona, Ky., but were never captured.

    the Ohio River from North Bend looking toward KY
    Another Indiana train robbery a year later in 1866 is sometimes listed as the "first" but because this 1865 North Bend event occurred during the last months of the Civil War and the suspects, although wearing civilian clothes, were thought by some to be members of the Confederate Army, many historians consider this a military action rather than a civilian train robbery. Since no one was ever caught I suppose we will never really know. The infamous brothers Frank and Jesse James were even suspected as the orchestrators of what a Cincinnati newspaper described as “one of the boldest robberies that we have been called upon to chronicle.”

    Thursday, May 3, 2012

    Meet the Thunder-Skys

    The Thunder-Skys...left to right, 
    Michael, Chief Thunder-sky and Raymond

    The other day I was browsing an online database of famous people buried in Cincinnati. (Everyone does this right?) Mostly it was the familiar local athlete, businessman or politician. Many were surnames that a lot of Cincinnatians would recognize as streets or areas of town like Chase or Groesbeck, etc. As expected, almost all were buried in the beautiful and sprawling historic Spring Grove Cemetery

    Then an unusual name caught my eye...Chief Richard Brightfire Thunder-Sky.  That's just not the sort of name you expect to discover in Southwest OH. I had to know more of course and lucky for me, this gentleman's grave was just a couple of miles from my house. So I did some research before going for a visit.

    Born on St. Regis Mohawk Reservation in Upstate NY in 1911, Chief Richard Brightfire Thunder-Sky was apparently the "last full-blooded hereditary Sachem Chief of the Mohawk Nation". To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what that means. I know a sachem is basically the Chief of Chiefs although I'm not sure what duties he would have had in fulfilling that that role in the 20th century. It's still pretty cool and interesting since the Mohawk were not known to have ever lived in the Cincinnati area.
    Chief Thunder-Sky also played parts in several old Westerns such as Gene Autry's 1950 Indian Territory and Tyrone Power's 1952 Pony Soldier. Not bad gigs at a time when many Indian parts were being played by non-Natives such as Italian-Americans for their close physical resemblance or whites with make-up.


    In 1961 Thunder-Sky moved to Cincinnati OH with his wife Irene and two sons Michael and Raymond and helped organize the North American Indian Council which still operates in Mt Healthy OH. His wife of 49 years was Irene Dianna Szalatzky, the daughter of a Hungarian nobleman of the Habsburg Dynasty
    Richard died in 1989 and is buried at Arlington Memorial Gardens in Mt Healthy OH just outside of Cincinnati a couple miles from my house.
    Irene died in 1994 and is also buried at Arlington but I was unable to find her marker.

    Here is where the story gets a little more interesting...

    If you spent any time in Cincinnati OH in the 1980s and 90s as I did you may have seen a man going about his business wearing a clown suit, donning a construction hat and carrying a toolbox. I didn't know this back then, but the mysterious man was Raymond Hiawatha Thunder-Sky, the eldest son of  Chief Richard Brightfire Thunder-Sky. It turns out that Raymond was autistic and created hundreds of paintings over the years that he kept secret (he kept his art supplies in the toolbox) and revealed to his social worker in 1999 a few years prior to his death from cancer. When he died in 2004, Thunder-Sky, Inc. in Northside was founded to preserve Raymond's artistic legacy. 

    Unfortunately, it was difficult to find further information on Chief Richard Brightfire Thunder-Sky to fill in the gaps in his life. It seems the son eclipsed the father. I don't know what brought Richard to Cincinnati or why he quit the movie business. Or what happened to the younger brother Michael. Or how Irene lived out her final years. Even Richard's IMDB entries for his movies were hodgepodge and incomplete due to uncredited roles. However, much has been written about his son Raymond who not only was a half-blooded Mohawk, but also the descendant of Hungarian royalty on his Mother's side. I never would have guessed this as I saw him wandering around town back in the day known only to me as "the Construction Clown". 
    I won't delve any more into Raymond's history here. Many nice articles have already been written about this man. If you would like to read more about him, see some photos of him and his artwork, here is a great article from 2010 with further links to other websites. Update 2016: Original link is dead, try this instead.

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    A quick recap of April thus far...

    April 3rd, 1974

    An F5 Tornado hit Xenia OH killing 33, injuring thousands, leaving 10,000 homeless and removed half that city from the map. The very mention of this event strikes fear in most Southwestern Ohioans who were alive when this occurred.

    April 4th, 1841

    William Henry Harrison, an adopted Buckeye like myself, died one month after taking office as President. They said he was too old (68) and sickly. I guess they were right. It's too bad he is usually only remembered for this as he had an impressive resume and life.

    April 7th, 1788

    The first permanent US settlement is made in the Northwest Territory by General Rufus Putnam and 48 men who named their city "Marietta" after Queen Marie Antoinette of France in honor of that countries support during the Revolutionary War.
    By 1843, a little over a half-century later, no Indian tribes would remain in Ohio.

    April 7th, 1792

    Following his defeat at the hand of Indians in the Northwest Territory, Arthur St. Clair resigned from the United States Army. He would stay on as Governor and become one of my favorite follies.