Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Giving back at the CHM

In January I decided to become a volunteer at the Cincinnati History Museum at Union Terminal. I figured it would be nice to share my existing local history knowledge with interested folks as well as learn some new things myself.
I already went to the volunteer program orientation, got my badge, ordered a shirt and shadowed a few shifts. I also helped out with Ohio History Day on March 1st for high school students competing in the National History Day competition, which is basically like a Science Fair but for history. To be honest I never knew such a thing existed. I got to talk to a few very bright kids while escorting them to their interviews about papers they wrote.

I will mostly be working the AM shift on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month and will likely be in the Early Settlement and Regional Capital sections. They are also going to start up their guided tour program again and I may look into that but right now I'm just learning the ropes.
They are always looking for volunteers so check that out on the CHM website. If you happen to be there on a Sunday morning stop by and say "Hi!".

Friday, April 4, 2014


On this date, April 4th, 1841, William Henry Harrison, an adopted Buckeye like myself, died one month after taking office as President. At 68, his detractors said he was too old and sickly to be President. That IS pretty old by 1841 standards so I suppose they were right. It's too bad he is mostly only remembered for this event as he had an impressive resume and life.
I kind of hate how folks list him as a "worst President". He was consumed by office seekers lining up and looking for jobs in the new administration for the first three weeks and then the fourth week he was bedridden, filled with opium and brandy. He didn't even have a chance at a Presidential legacy.
The doctors said he died of "bilious pleurisy", an archaic term for pneumonia. Recently a new theory has emerged that he died of typhoid due to the poor Washington DC sanitation in those days. Who knows. Life was rough back then and medical treatment in the early 19th century sometimes killed you faster than if they just left you alone.

WHHs Cincinnati funeral was here
His death was officially at 12:30 AM on April 4, 1841, just 30 days, 12 hours, and 30 minutes after taking the oath of office.
On April 7th, an Episcopalian funeral service took place in the East Room of the White House. Lying on a table in the middle of the room was the glass-covered open casket of William Henry Harrison.
Other memorials and funerals took place across the country on the same day. One was at the Methodist Wesely Chapel on 5th Street between Broadway and Sycamore in Cincinnati OH where the P&G Garden Pavilion is now.

WHH's eternal view in North Bend OH
Following the White House funeral he was loaded up and the funeral procession, led by Whitey his riderless horse, took him down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol Building where he laid in state for mourners to see. WHH spent the Spring of 1841 in the public vault of the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Later in June 1841 after Winter had passed, a train carried him to North Bend, Ohio where he was laid to rest overlooking the Ohio River near Cincinnati.

Here are a few previous Gehio posts on William Henry Harrison:
Tippecanoe and Trivia too!
Straight Outta Tippecanoe

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pyromania pays

battling a fire in Cincinnati 1854 style
On April 1, 1853, Cincinnati, Ohio, established the first professional and fully paid fire department in the United States. The same year, Cincinnati was the first city in the world to use steam fire engines too.
You might think this was a swell gesture to properly compensate hard workers for a dangerous job well done. Nope. It was arson. Firefighters were paid on an as-needed basis. No fires meant no pay and only the first team of firefighters that arrived on the scene got paid. It seems fireman started setting fires to get work and on top of that rival fire companies were sabotaging each others equipment to be the first responders. And the professional US firefighter was born. Don't get me wrong, modern firefighters do a fantastic job but they certainly have come a long way since the mid 19th century.

Click here for more info on Cincinnati's firefighting history.