Historical Collections of Ohio pgs 802-812
Historical Collections of Ohio: Pages 802-812
| Hamilton County OhioHistorical Collections of Ohio index page |

~ pg. 802 ~


When in 1881 the VON STEUBENS came to America to unite in the centennial in the celebration of the Surrender at Yorktown, in which their ancestor, General VON STEUBEN, had taken such an illustrious part, they visited Cincinnati. Among them was Baron Richard VON STEUBEN,  the Royal Chief Forester of the German Empire.

In conversation with him some of the gentlemen of the city became so deeply interested on the subject of forestry, that they met in conference in January, 1882, to take measures to interest the people in the subject. They were Col. W. L. DE BECK, Rev. Dr. Max LILIENTHAN, the Hebrew rabbi; John B. PEASLEE, School Superintendent; Hon. John SIMPKINSON, the first President of the Asso-ciation; Col. A. E. JONES and Hon. Emil ROTHE.  Through a committee then organized, for the next three months the press of the country laid before the people the subject of forestry in its various important aspects. The continuous history of the subject we take from a pamphlet, “Trees and Tree Planning,” with exercises and directions for the celebration of Arbor Day, by John B. PEASLEE, Supt. Public Schools issued by the Ohio State Forestry Association, Cincinnati, 1884.

The work of the committee culminated in a three days’ meeting at Music Hall, April 25th, 26th and 27th, at which most of the distinguished foresters of this country and Canada were present and read papers before the scientific department.  The excellent programme for this meeting was principally made by Dr. John A. WARDER and Prof. Adolph LEUÉ. Governor FORSTER made the address of welcome.

The public schools were dismissed on the 26th and 27th, to enable the pupils and teachers to take part in the celebration of tree planting in the public parks. The 27th had been appointed as Arbor Day by proclamation of the Governor. Extensive preparations had been made for its appropriate celebration in Eden Park.

The city was in holiday attire. The soldiery  and organized companies of citizens formed an immense procession under command of Col. S. A. WHITFIELD, and marched to the park, where the command was turned over to Col. A. F. JONES, the officer in charge. The school-children were under the charge of Superintendent PEASLEE. Fifty thousand citizens covered the grassy slopes and crowning ridges, those assigned to the work of transplanting trees taking their respective places.

At the firing of the signal gun “Presidents’ Grove,” “Pioneers’ Grove,” “Battle Grove,” “Citizens’ Memorial Grove” and “Authors’ Grove” were planted and dedicated with loving hands and appropriated ceremonies.

Addresses were made by ex-Gov. NOYES, Dr. LORING, Cassius M. CLAY and Durbin WARD, and others. No sight more beautiful, no ceremonies more touch-ing had ever been witnessed in Cincinnati. An important lesson in forestry had indeed been brought home to the hearts of the people, and a crown of success was awarded the AMERICAN FORESTRY CONGRESS. This was the first Arbor


Day celebration in Ohio. And thus closed the first session of the American Forestry Congress, which embraces in its scope the United States and Canada.

In 1883 the Ohio State Forestry Association, the outgrowth of the American Forestry Congress was organized. The organizers were Dr. John A. WARDER, Prof. Adolph LEUÉ, Col. A. E. JONES, Hon. John SIMPKINSON, Supt. John B. PEASLEE, Gen. Durbin WARD, Hon. Emil ROTHE, Hon. Leopold BURCKHARDT, D. D. THOMPSON, Prof. N. B. WARDER, Prof. Adolph STRAUCH, Dr. A. D. BIRCHARD, Hon. Charles REEMELIN, Prof. W. H. VENABLE,  Dr. W. W. DAWSON, John H. MC MAKIN, Esq., and perhaps a few others. A convention was held in April.
By authority of a joint resolution adopted by both branches of our State Legislature, Governor FOSTER issued his proclamation, appointing the fourth Friday in April as Arbor Day, which was the last day of the convention. Accordingly, the association had made extensive preparations for its celebration in Eden Park by the citizens and by the public schools.

This second celebration of Arbor Day in Cincinnati was thus described at the time.

“The east ridge of the park was thronged with the associations planting tablets to the memories of the Presidents of the United States, the heroes of Valley Forge, and the pioneers of Cincinnati in their respective groves, while the northern projecting slope of the ridge was occupied by fully seventeen thousand school-children in honoring “Authors’ Grove. Viewed from the summit of the ridge immediately west, the sight was one of the most animating ever brought before the eyes of Cincinnatians.  The entire ridge, nearly a third of a mile in length, was occupied by those persons taking part in the first-named ceremonies, while the slope designated was occupied by a dense mass of gayly dressed children in active motion over a surface of about five acres, and whose voices, wafted across the deep hollow to the Western ridge, sounded like the chattering from a grove hill of happy birds. The eastern slope of the west ridge was occupied by three thousand or four thousand spectators, who, reclining on the green spring sod of the grassy slopes, quietly surveyed the scene from a distance. In all there were over twenty thousand persons present. Over in the centre of the east ridge was the speakers’ stand, with a tall staff bearing the national colors rising from the centre, while smaller flags marked the trees dedicated to each author. The grove to the honor of Cincinnati pioneers had been by the association and yesterday the tablet was laid to their memory. All the tablets were of uniform size and construction, each being of sandstone, twenty-four by thirty-six inches surface, and eleven inches depth. That for the Cincinnati pioneers contained at the upper centre a figure of the primitive log-cabin, and the following inscription, ‘Planted and Dedicated to the Memory of the Pioneers of Cincinnati by the Forestry Society.’ Below were cut the names of the pioneers.

“‘Presidents’ Grove’ bore a tablet with the following inscription ‘Presidents’ Grove, Planted and Dedicated to the memory of the Presidents of the United States, by the Forestry Society, 1882, Cincinnati, April 27th’ Then followed the names of all time twenty-one Presidents, down to President Arthur.

“‘Centennial Grove’ was planted in 1876 by Colonel A. B. JONES, from trees brought from Valley Forge. The tablet he had laid yesterday was dedicated to the heroes who served with Washington at Valley Forge. Following is the in-scription: Eagle bearing the scroll ‘Centennial Grove. Dedicated to the memory of 1776, and the patriots who suffered with Washington at  Valley Forge, brought from that historic ground and planted By A. B. JONES, April 27, 1876.’ Then followed the names WASHINTON, KNOX, LAFAYETTE, GREEN, HAMILTON, GATES, WAYNE, PUTNAM, H. LEE STUBEN, WELDIN, MUHLENBURG, SULLIVAN, STARK, WARREN, McINTOSH, POTTER, MAXWELL, WOODWARD, PATTERSON, ALLEN, DE KALB, KOSCIUSKO, MARION, C. LEE, GLOVER, POOR, LARNED, SCOTT, PULASKI, SUMTER, LINCOLN, MORGAN, SMALLWOOD, EBERHARDT.

“At eleven o’clock the school exercises commenced at ‘Authors’ Grove.’ The


trees having previously been planted, small granite tablets, about eight inches square, bearing the name of the author honored and the date of the ceremony, were sunk, in most cases uniformly with the surface of the sod, in the immediate vicinity of the tree.  Thus the exercises were dedicatory only.”

These were the first memorial groves ever planted in America; the first public planting of trees in honor of memory of authors, statesman, soldiers, pioneers and other distinguished citizens.

The credit for the inauguration of Arbor Day anywhere is given to Hon.  J. Sterling MORTON, who suggested the propriety of the day and was instrumental in effecting the first observance, while he was governor of Nebraska, in 1872.  Since that date it is stated that in Nebraska have been planted six hundred millions of trees.

The two following articles upon floods and riots were written for this work, by Mr. Harry M. MILLAR, of the editorial corps of the COMMERICAL GAZETTE.


The Ohio river, one of the greatest, national waterways, 950 miles in length, is formed at Pittsburg by the confluence of the Allegheny and Monogahela rivers, coming from opposite directions.  The Allegheny sources are numerous creeks in the mountains of New York, and is fed by hundreds of other tribu-taries that traverse Western Pennsylvania and parts of Ohio, draining an area of 13,000 square miles.  The sources of the Monogahela are not large streams but they are numerous, especially in Maryland and West Virginia.

The Cheat river, its largest tributary, drains much mountainous country, and its sudden fluctuations are a wonder to not only visitors but the inhabitants along its banks.  It is a frequent thing in the early spring or during the rainy season for this stream to rise over thirty feet within twenty-four hours.  The Youghiogheny is also an important feeder to the Monongahela.  The estimated drainage of the Youghiogheny and its tributaries is 2,110 square miles, the Monongahela and its tribu-taries 4,900 square miles, making the total watershed of the Monongahela 7,000 square miles, which, added to that of the Allegheny, gives a grand total area of 20,000 square miles drained by the sources of the Ohio river.  From the forking of these rivers in Pennsyl-vania to its mouth at Cairo there are tribu-taries innumerable, many of which are navigable and at a good boating stage the greater part of the year.

These geographical and topographical situations are important causes which led to the frequency of floods in the Ohio river.  The month of February in the Ohio valley along the course of the river in later years has been looked for with dread.  The highest stages of the river, the greatest floods and the most suffering, and great property losses within the past decade have occurred at that time of the year.  The melting of snows in the mountains, sudden thawing spells, added to which are the early spring rainfalls alter-nated with sleet, all combine to bring on these freshets.  The encroachments upon the bed or channel of the river have in a great measure caused a narrowing of the width of its bed.  So many large cities, towns and villages are strung out along its shores that the debris from sawmills, cinders and other material by being “dumped’’ over its banks have confined the rush of the waters to fastly filling-up canal bed.  In fact such has the Ohio river become within the past few years.  Great stone pier bridges have been erected in the river bed, dams have been built, and these things combined have had a tendency to yearly increase the danger to the lowlands along the valley.

The greatest floods in the Ohio river were on February 18, 1832; December 17, 1847; February 15, 1883; February 15, 1884, and March 26 1890.  In 1832 the highest stage reached was 64 feet 3 inches; 1847, 63 feet 7 inches; 1883, 66 feet 4 inches; 1884, 71 feet and  inch, and in 1890, 59 feet 2 inches.  These heights are measured from low-water mark, which is 2 feet and 6 inches above the bed of the channel.

The flood of 1884 exceeded all the others, and at the present writing stands on record as having attained the highest stage.  Beginning day of December, 1883, it con-tinued rising until noon of February 14th, a space of two months, during which time there was much suffering among the people, loss of life and property.  The meteorological causes began at the date mentioned, when the winter’s first snow fell throughout the Ohio valley—a fall of a fraction less than an inch, with the stage of water in the Ohio at 10 feet 7 inches at Cincinnati, a minimum to which it did not again decline for a period of over six months.

During the month of December the total fell of snow, sleet and rain, reduced to rain-fall, was 5.61 inches, while the highest stage of the river during the month was 49 feet on the 28th, after which it began to decline.

The first two weeks in January were cold, with frequent light snows, with a heavy two days’ fall on the 14th and 15th.  Cold weather then set in and the river alternately rose and


fell, varying from 15 feet 9 inches on the 29th to 31 feet 3 inches on the 31st, when the great flood of 1884 properly began.

At Cincinnati, at this time, the solidified snow previously fallen was from 18 inches to 4 feet deep, which was packed upon the hills, mountains and valleys of the Ohio river and its tributaries and the smaller streams trib-utary to the latter.  A depth of 10 inches of snow fall in January, and the rainfall of the month was 1 .23 inches.  From the 30th of January to the 13th of February a general thaw progressed with rain day after day, all combining to affect the river accordingly.

The Ohio river continued rising steadily and rapidly, and at Cincinnati on February 2d had reached a stage of 49 feet 11 inches, having entered the buildings at the foot of Broadway, Main and Walnut streets.  The same afternoon there was a heavy fall of rain that carried much of the solidified snow into the river and local tributaries, and a rise again set in that did not cease until noon of the 14th, when it culminated in the highest stage of water at the mouth of the Licking river that had ever been seen at that point by an enlightened people.  The total amount, of the rainfall on the 4th was 1.35 inches a dense fog came over the city and in the bottoms became so dense that artificial light was necessary in all buildings south of Third street.

The thermometer had crept up to 62o; there was a miasmatic feeling in the atmosphere that was stifling, and the general dark-ness prevailing cast great gloom among the populace.  At all river points above there was a heavy rainfall, while the Monongahela and Licking rivers had started on a second freshet and were rising several inches per hour.

Daylight the next day found all the build-ings fronting on the river between the Sus-pension Bridge and Main street, and Ludlow and Broadway, invaded by the water.  The Mill creek bottoms of Cincinnati, as well as the lowlands in Pendleton and Columbia, were submerged, and later in the day the alarming news came that Lawrenceburg and Aurora were partly submerged, the river steadily rising, and grave apprehensions were felt for the security of the levees in front of those cities.

All day on the 5th a steady downpour of rain fell, measuring 1.56 inches, and more rain had fallen in eight hours on the days of the 4th and 5th than fell in four days proceeding the same stage of water on February 8, 1883.  The river was 20 feet and 1 inch higher than at the same time of the previous year, and there had been but nine years in which the stage of the water exceeded that at midnight of the 5th.

The Kentucky river, when it pours into the Ohio, prevents the water of the latter from passing off freely, and is thus a factor in producing high water at Cincinnati.  At 1 o’clock of the morning of February 6th the levee at Lawrenceburg gave way and her cit-izens called upon the people of Cincinnati to come to their relief.  The Chamber of Commerce immediately called a meeting, and committees were appointed to adopt measures of relief.

At Cincinnati the water extended above Second street on Sycamore and Broadway, and was two feet deep at Third and Wood streets, while communication with the Sus-pension Bridge was cut off except by boats.  On the 8th the Cincinnati Gas Works became submerged, at noon, when the stage of the river had reached 62 feet 6 inches.  The next day, at 9 o’clock A. M., the stage of wa-ter was 63 feet 7 inches, the high-water mark of December 17, 1847, and by midnight  cov-ered the high-water mark of February 18, 1832, 64 feet 3 inches.

Heavy rains again set in at headwaters on the 10th, and all the streams again began rising.  Point Pleasant, Va., was entirely in-undated, there being four feet of water in parts of the town that had escaped the flood of 1883, while the back-water from the Ohio extended, up the Kanawha fifty miles, inundating farm houses and villages of the valley and entirely wrecking the track of the Ohio Central Railroad.  The width of the Kanawha varied from three to five miles.  Be-tween Ripley and Cincinnati, all houses on both banks of the river, that remained in their places, were invaded or entirely cov-ered by water, and some towns were nearly washed out of existence.  The Ohio back-water extended up the Little Miami to Milford, with the Little Miami also rising.

On the night of the 12th a wind-storm from the south rocked from their foundations many houses that had withstood the force and buoyancy of the current.  Dayton and Bellevue, Ky., were invaded and the greater part of the northwest, portion of Covington was covered.  There were 13,000 applicants for relief at Newport—half of the city being under water.

On the 13th a decided cold wave set in throughout the Ohio valley, and this gave assurance that its climax was near.  The temperature grew colder and colder at Cincinnati, lowering to 20o, and the great flood of 1884 reached its maximum at noon on the 14th of February, when the stage of water was 71 feet and ? of an inch.  The situation at Cincinnati at this time was that not a street in Pendleton was free from water, and the line extended up Deer creek valley to the foot of the Highland House Inclined Plane.  Up the Mill creek valley it had spread eastwardly until Lincoln Park was entirely covered, and reached Baymiller street or Clark.

The water first licked the streets north of Pearl on Race, Vine, Walnut, Main and Sycamore streets, and the first floors of buildings at the north side of Lower Market were cov-ered with water to Broadway.  The water from the Ohio river on the south, and from the Mill creek bottoms on the west, met and commingled at the southwest corner of Fourth and Mill streets.  It extended above Longworth street on Hoadley, and from the west


on Sixth covered the railroad tracks that lead out of the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad passenger depot.  On Eighth street the water extended eastwardly to Harriet.  South of Third street and west of Rose, ex-tending northwestwardly past Clark and Bay-miller streets, all avenues were navigated by skiffs and small boats.  Mill creek bottom was one bay of water so deep that the largest steamboat that navigates the Ohio river could have passed over.

The Licking and Ohio rivers met in New-port at the corner of Columbia and Madison streets; half of the city of Newport was under water, and part of the Newport and Covington Suspension Bridge that spans the Licking river was covered by water several feet deep.

The Ohio and Mississippi Railroad estab-lished boat communications, carrying their traffic to places between Cincinnati and Aurora.  There was not a railroad track en-tering Cincinnati which was not submerged, except that of the Cincinnati Northern or Toledo, Cincinnati and St. Louis Railroad.  Merchants in the bottoms had at great labor and expense removed their wares to places of safety, the various stock-yards ceased doing business, the river business for steamboats was entirely suspended , and the boatmen royally and heroically gave their time and labor to the saving of property and the rescue of people and live-stock.  Boats were char-tered by the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce Relief Committee, and carried clothing and provisions to the destitute and suffering at points above and below Cincinnati.

Cincinnati contributed $96,680.12 for the relief of flood sufferers, this amount being realized from private subscription.  The sum of $97,751.22 was contributed by persons not citizens of Cincinnati; all this money was applied, with the exception of $5,260 74 which was turned over to the Sinking Fund Commission of Cincinnati.

The fall of 1889 and the first three months of 1890 were remarkable for the steady and heavy rainfall.  This, of course, produced much water, and during February, 1890, it was feared that Cincinnati would experience an-other flood.  There had fallen but little snow in the mountains, and that was favorable; yet there were two good-sized freshets, and of such proportions as to cause much alarm and apprehension throughout the Ohio val-ley.  The greatest damage, however, this section of the country escaped; but the Mis-souri and Upper Mississippi rivers, rising to an unprecedented stage at the same time the Ohio and its tributaries were bank-full, caused the Lower Mississippi to reach the highest stage recorded in history, causing suffering, privation, loss of life and damage to homes all along the Mississippi valley from Cairo to New Orleans.  The highest stage reached by the Ohio river during the spring freshet in 1890 was on March 26th, when the marks at the city water works at Cincinnati indicated 59 feet 2 inches.

The Court-House Riot of 1884.

With the possible exception of the first bank riot that occurred in 1820 upon the suspension of the Miami Exporting Company, and on the occasion of the second suspension on the 10th of  January, 1842, of the same organization, Cincinnati has never witnessed such violations of law, defiance of authorities, and so much bloodshed as attended the great Hamilton County Court-House riot that began on the night of March 28, 1884, and continued several days, there being open conflict between the militia and police on one side, and an excitable, yet determined, lawless mob upon the other.

The circumstances that led to this most-unfortunate affair was the trial for murder of Wm. BERNER, who killed his employer, Wm. KIRK.

It was one of the most outrageous assaults upon society, and a dastardly, cold-blooded crime that unsteadied the nerves of the populace, causing excitement to run high, and incensed all law-abiding citizens when the case came to trial by the methods pursued by criminal lawyers, who sought to perjure witnesses, bribe juries, and resorted to openhanded means to have their client acquitted against all principle of law or justice.

The newspapers published the proceedings of the trial in detail.  The court-house was, during the examination, crowded to its capacity.  The methods resorted to by the lawyers was the subject of general conversation, and culminated in there being called at the great Music Hall on the evening of March 28, 1884, of a mass-meeting of citizens.  At this meeting speeches were made by Dr. Andrew C. KEMPER, Judge A.G. W. CARTER (now deceased), and General Andrew HICKENLOOPER, who denounced in strong terms the methods pursued in acquiring a verdict.  It was here asserted that the verdict was acquired by the cunning and adroitness of lawyers known for their legal talent.  Five hundred and four people had been called to form a jury of twelve.  It was a self-confessed murder, a murder committed deliberately for the sake of robbing a man of $285, the proceeds from the sale of a horse; and had been planned weeks beforehand and then coolly consummated.  The criminal lawyers were denounced as equally culpable of violation of law and order as the murderer.  The jury had only returned a verdict of manslaughter after hearing Berner’s self-confession, and it was openly alleged in the speeches at the mass-meeting that the criminal lawyers were instrumental in securing, by bribery and other nefarious methods, such a verdict.

Resolutions were adopted condemning the verdict.  Excitement ran high; but while the speeches were being made by three of the most honored and respected citizens, there

was death stillness.  Every word uttered was weighted.  Every sentiment expressed seemed to find endorsement from every person in that crowd of at least six thousand souls.

Immediately after the meeting, as the masses were surging out upon Elm street, someone in the crowd shouted, “Fall in!  Let’s [go] to the jail!” and a great mob from the meeting proceeded directly to the county jail in the court-house on the Sycamore street side, above Court street.

On the way the mob was increased by hundreds of others.  Upon reaching the jail it was surrounded by a howling angry crowd.  A piece of joist was procured, and with it the basement doors, at the foot of the stone steps, was battered down.  Bricks and stones were hurled by men in the street above at the windows.  Clubs, huge pieces of timber, crow-bars, and other weapons were quickly procured and passed down to the men who were at work upon the heavy outside entrance doors of the jail, and it at last yielded, the work being done speedily.  The crowd then poured into the jail office, and there found other obstructions in the matter of stone walls and heavy iron grated doors.

Morton L. HAWKINS, the county sheriff, and his few deputies faced the mob upon their entrance between the outer and inside doors.  They were powerless to stem the fierce human tide, and besides the sheriff had given orders to his officers not to use their weapons on the mob, believing, that such proceeding would only make bad worse.  The mob completely filled the interior of the jail, yelling and searching for the murderer they had come to hang.  They filled the corridors, and a force of men succeeded in so forcing the iron gated door that it at last gave way, and the mob ran up the winding stone stairway to the cell rooms, peering into each cell and demanding of other prisoners the whereabouts of the murderer whom they sought.

While this was going on within a squad of fifteen policemen arrived on the scene and began clearing the jail, meeting with but little success as they were set upon by the mob and hurled to one side as though they were not there.  At 9:55 P.M. the fire bells sounded the riot alarm.  This brought people to the scene from all sections of the city, and they turned in with the mob, the greater majority being in sympathy.  It called the police from their posts of duty and the various stations; and through good management they were formed above and below the jail in two sections, and headed by the patrol wagons, advanced upon the crowds assembled on Sycamore street, in proximity to the jail.  The crowd outside was estimated to be between nine and ten thousand.  The patrol and police advancing in two solid columns caused a stampede, the rioters escaping through side streets.  Ringleaders and some of those who had been active inside the jail were taken in the patrol wagons to the station houses.  The patrols were permitted to leave amid much jeering and denunciatory language, and after their passage the gap was closed up and another onslaught made upon the jail; the rioters in the meantime have armed themselves with axes, stones and bricks.

Two or three attacks were made upon the jail, and about midnight a hand-to-hand conflict between the police and the rioting mob occurred inside.  The police had succeeded in gaining an entrance to the jail through the court-house, going in on Main street.  By the same means the militia had been admitted, and were stationed on the platform at the head of the cell-room stairs.  Inside the mob had reached the gates separating the prisoners’ cells from the office.  They were broken down with sledge-hammers, and the mob had entered.  They were in hand-to-hand conflict with the police, and overpowered them making a grand rush up the stone stairway.  Just then the militia stationed on the platform fired into the crowd.  Two of the militia and four officers, were shot.  None of the mob were injured, but the latter retreated, giving the alarm to those on the outside.  Fires were then started in the jail-yard and around the court-house.  A barrel of petroleum was rolled into a cellarway where burning firebrands had been cast.  The mob again assaulted the jail, gaining admittance in reinforced numbers, and armed with every conceivable kind of weapon except firearms.

The militia again fired upon them, using blank cartridges, although this was not known to the mob, and, aided by a largely reinforced police force, again drove the mob to the street.  From the Court Street armory the militia were reinforced, gaining admittance to the jail through the court-house, the mob not up to this time making any attempt to effect an entrance to the jail by way of the court-house.

Upon their being repulsed, however, a great crowd rushed over toward Main street and down town.  Simultaneous attacks were made upon the entrances of several gun stores, and the places completely gutted of firearms, powder, cartridges and other ammunition.  In the meanwhile others of the mob had fired the jail and the court-house, in a score of places, coal oil and powder being liberally used, and neighboring stores and groceries being sacked for the purpose.  Affairs were assuming a serious and critical aspect.  The light of the fires illuminated the whole city, causing hundreds of other citizens upon the hilltops and in the suburbs, to hasten to the scene.

Immediately after the sentence had been pronounced that afternoon the murderer Berner had been hurried to Columbus, going in a buggy to Linwood, where the train was taken.  He was in custody of Dominick DEVOTS, a watchman or deputy sheriff, and through the latter’s negligence the prisoner managed to escape from him while the train was at Loveland.  All these things the rioters of course were ignorant of.  They had been told by Sheriff HAWKINS that the prisoner was not in jail upon the first attack, but this was looked

 upon as a subterfuge to cause them to cease their violence.  The fires around the jail and court-house had been put out, and towards early morning the mob, almost worn out with their labors, thinned out, but hundreds remained about the scene throughout the night, and as the hours approached the working hour their numbers were increased.

All day long Saturday, the militia and police were on duty, and the court-house and jail were surrounded by tired-out but determined men, and thousands of others drawn there by the excitement of the occasion.

There were no attempts at attack made during the day, but Saturday night for several blocks above and below to the east and the west of the jail and court-house the streets were chocked by rioters who had greatly increased their strength, and another attack on the jail was made.

This proved to be the most serous attack of all, and the most disastrous.  Admission was gained to the court-house.  The militia in the streets were held in a hollow square formed under the masterful leadership of some of their number.  Once inside the court-house, the work of demolition began.  The whole magnificent stone building seemed to become ignited at once.  The whole place was gutted and valuable records of three-quarters of a century’s accumulation were destroyed.

The building burned to the ground.  The governor of the State had called out the militia of the State, and they were arriving by every train.  Their appearance upon the scene seemed to more aggravate and incense the mob.  And being fired upon a bloody riot began in the streets, men being mowed down like grass under the keen sweep of a scythe.

Captain John J. DESMOND, of the militia, was shot and killed inside the burning court-house while leading an attack on the mob.  Many prominent citizens received wounds from stray shots of the militia.  Windows, doors and even walls of houses in the vicinity of the riot to this day bear evidence of that time of terror and bloodshed.

United States Secretary of War LINCOLN ordered to the scene the United States troops, and their appearance seemed to have the desired effect, as the rioters gradually dispersed.  The result was, however, that 45 persons were killed and 125 wounded.

Berner, the cause of all this terrible loss and destruction to life and property, was recaptured late on Saturday afternoon in an out-of-the-way house in the woods on a hillside near Loveland.  When captured by Cincinnati detectives, aided by the marshal of Loveland, he was coolly enjoying a game of cards, and was unaware of the riot and the attack upon the jail.  He was taken to Columbus and lodged in the State penitentiary under the sentence that had been passed upon him of the 26th day of March of confinement for twenty years.

The Jail Riot of 1848.—The most disastrous jail riot preceding that above related by Mr. Millar, in the history of the city, occurred in the summer of 1848, the details of which are given in the Reminiscences of Judge CARTER, who is alluded to in the preceding article.  Two returned volunteers (German) from the Mexican war, who were boarding in a German family consisting of a man and wife and daughter of eleven years of age, were arrested by the parents on the charge of having committed a horrible outrage upon their child.  At the examination at the old court-house, the bed-clothes and under-garment of the little girl were shown covered with blood, which with her testimony and that of the parents so frenzied the spectators that it was with difficulty that the sheriff, Thomas J. WEAVER, could lodge them in the jail, and then had to call in the services of the Cincinnati Gray’s and Citizens’ Guards to protect it from the mob.

That night the mob made an attack upon the jail.  The sheriff first tried expostulation but this was useless.  Then he ordered the military to fire with blank cartridges, which only the more enraged them.  Finally he repeated the order to fire, with ball, when eleven persons fell dead, some of them innocent bystanders, and the mob dispersed.

“But,” writes the judge, “the sequel, was the prosecuting attorney at the time, and I know of what I speak.  At the next term of court, a bill of indictment against these poor volunteer soldiers was unanimously ignored on the plain and simple ground of their entire innocence.  They had been the victims of these Germans, who, because they could not induce them to give up their land warrants entitling them each for honorable service to 160 acres of land, had conspired with their little daughter to get up and maintain this awful charge.  After their discharge there was a hunt after their guilty prosecutions to lynch them, when it was found that father, mother and daughter had disappeared and were never heard of after.”


Columbia, included in the city limits, and in its first ward, since 1873, was on the 4th of July, 1889, the scene of an eventful celebration.  This was the celebration of the centennial of the 4th of July since the first boatload of pioneers landed there in November, 1789.  On this occasion a monument was dedicated to their memory; and the first monument that has been erected over the graves of pioneers in the Northwest.


It stands on the beautiful knoll whereon stood the old Baptist church, the first Protestant church organized in the Northwest.

This knoll contains two acres of ground, deeded in 1804, by Benj. STITES, to the Baptists of Columbia township.  The gravestone slabs of the pioneers whiten the spot, and noble old elms bending over give it a pensive charm.  The monument is just five miles from Fountain Square, with a grand outlook up and down the Ohio valley, and up that of the Little Miami; just at that point where the railroad trains, whisking around a curve, bid farewell to the former and go up the varied windings of a stream, whose ever changing vistas bring forth admiring exclamations from hosts of travelers, who, though they should keep on to the uttermost parts of the earth, would never find a valley more sweet.

The monument was erected by the Columbia Monumental Association, George E.STEVENS, President; con-sisting of fifteen delegates from five Baptist churches now in the original bounds of Columbia township.  The present title of this body is the Mount Lookout Duck Creek Baptist church.

On one side of the freestone pedestal is engraved, “To the Pioneers Landing near this spot November 18, 1788.”

 One the obverse side—“To the first boat-load of pioneers landing near this spot—Major Benj. STITES, Mrs. Benj.  STITES,      Ben, 
                                                STITES, Jr., Rachel STITES, Ann W. STITES, Greenbright BAILEY, Mrs. Greenbright BAILEY, Jas. F. BAILEY, Reasom BAILEY, Abel COOK, Jacob MILLS, Jonathan STITES, Ephraim KIBBY, John S. GANO, Mrs. Mary S. GANO, Thos. C. WADE, Hezenkiah STITES, Elijah STITES, Edmund BUXTON, Daniel SHOEMAKER,----------HEMPSTEAD, Evan SHELBY, Allen WOODRUFF, Hampton WOODRUFF,  Joseph COX, Benjamin COX.”

 On the third side is—“The Baptist of Columbia Township in 1889 erected this pillar to commemorate the heroism and piety of the first Baptist pioneers of 1788-90.  The first church in the Northwest Territory was the Columbia Baptist Church, organized January 20, 1790, Constituent members, Benj. DAVIS, Mary DAVIS, John FERRIS, Elizabeth FERRIS, Isaac FERRIS (deacon), Joseph REYNOLDS, Amy REYNOLDS, John S. GANO, Thos. C. WADE.”

 On the fourth side—“The Columbia Baptist Church erected its first house of worship on this spot in 1792.  The lot contains two acres of ground purchased of Benj. STITES, was deeded to the Baptist of Columbia Township.”

The celebration consisted of a procession headed by the Newport Band, prayer, reading the Declaration of Independence, sing “America,” firing of cannon, and speak-ing under a huge tent, Rev. G. W. LASHER, presiding; Rev. Dr. Galusha ANDERSON, President of Dennison University, opened with a history and eulogy of the Baptist Church, wherein he proclaimed the Baptists had ever been peculiar, friends of religious liberty.  But he did not allude to their early persecutions did not speak of Roger Williams in Puritan New England, nor to their treatment in Episcopal Virginia, where, 140 years ago, over thirty Baptist ministers were thrown into dungeons, and outrageous mobs broke up their meetings; in one case tossing a snake and a hornets’ nest into their midst.

Gen. Sam’l F. CARY occupied an hour and a half with a rousing good speech, consist-ing of pioneer reminiscences, with humorous allusions and anecdotes.

After him, Judge Joseph COX spoke in-structively upon the Mound Builders and their works.

Henry HOWE, who was supposed to know something about Ohio, having been present by invitation, was called upon to make a few remarks.  He did not speak of Ohio at all, but alluded to a historical tour he made over New Jersey 47 years before, and of the ex-cellent qualities of Jerseymen, which espe-cially fitted them to make the best kind of pioneers and it was well that Columbia got


such, and as was proved a superior quality of Jerseymen.

The thought of one of the speakers of the occasion is a sad memory to all who knew him.  That is Surgeon-General A. F. JONES, of Walnut Hills, who a few months later was murdered by his negro servant.  It was that old historian of this region and patriotic man who inaugurated the planting of trees in Eden Park to the memory of the pioneers, now known as “Pioneer Grove.”  And to him does this very monument owe its origin, for years before he had suggested its building and made efforts in that direction.

The subject of “Progress” ended the ex-ercises in the form of a carefully written paper upon that topic read by Dr. M. C. LOCKWOOD.

The monument is a Corinthian pillar of Ohio freestone, with pedestal and base of granite; it is 43 feet in height and eventually is to be surmounted by the statue of a pioneer.

Oliver M. SPENCER, then a boy, was at Columbia as early as 1790.  He was in 1792 taken prisoner by the Indians.  In his “Reminiscences” he has left this description of the life of the first settlers:

It is, perhaps, unknown to many, that the broad and extensive plain stretching along the Ohio from the Crawfish to the mouth, and for three miles up the Little Miami, and now divided into farms, highly cultivated, was the ancient site of Columbia, a town laid out by Major Benjamin STITES, its original proprie-tor; and by him and others once expected to become a large city, the great capital of the West.  From Crawfish, the small creek forming its northwestern boundary, more than one mile up the Ohio and extending back about three-fourths of a mile, and half way up the high hill which formed a part of its eastern and northern limits, the ground was laid out into blocks, containing each eight lots of half an acre, bounded by streets intersected at right angles.  The residue of the plain was divided into lots of four and five acres, for the accommodation of the town.  Over this plain, on our arrival, we found scattered about fifty cabins, flanked by a small stockade nearly half a mile below the mouth of the Miami, together with a few block-houses for the protection of the inhabitants, at suitable distances along the bank of the Ohio.

Fresh in my remembrance is the rude log-house, the first humble sanctuary of the first settlers of Columbia, standing amidst the tall forest trees, on the beautiful knoll, where now (1834) is a grave-yard, and the ruins of a Baptist meeting-house of later years.  There, on the holy Sabbath, we were wont to assemble to hear the word of life; but our fathers met with their muskets and rifles, prepared for action, and ready to repel any attack of the enemy.  And while the watch-man on the walls of Zion was uttering his faithful and pathetic warning, the sentinels without, at a few rods distance, with measured step, were now pacing their walks, and now standing and with strained eyes endeavoring to pierce through the distance, care-fully scanning every object that secured to have life or motion.

The first clergyman I there heard preach was Mr. GANO, father of the late Gen. GANO, of this city, then a captain, and one of the earliest settlers of Columbia.  Never shall I forget that holy and venerable man, with locks white with years, as with a voice tremulous with age, he ably expounded the word of truth.

I well recollect, that in 1791, so scarce and dear was flour, that the little that could he afforded in families was laid by to be used only in sickness, or for the entertainment of friends, and although corn was then abun-dant, there was but one mill (WICKERHAM’S), a floating mill, on the Little Miami, near where TURPIN’S now (1834) stands; it was built in a small flat boat tied to the bank, its wheel turning slowly with the natural current running between the flat and a small pirogue running in the stream, and on which one end of its shaft rested; and having only one pair of small stones, it was at best barely sufficient to supply meal for the inhabitants of Columbia and the neighboring families and sometimes, from low water and other un-favorable circumstances, it was of little use, so that we were obliged to supply the deficiency from hand-mills, a most laborious mode of grinding.

Pleasant Rural Scenes—The winter of  1791—2 was followed by an early and delight-ful spring indeed, I have often thought that our first western winters were much milder, our springs earlier, and our autumns longer than they now are.  On the last of February some of the trees were putting forth their foliage; in March the red bud, the hawthorn and the dog-wood, in full bloom, checkered the hills, displaying their beautiful colors of rose and lily; and in April the ground was covered with May apple, bloodroot, ginseng, violets, and a great variety of herbs and flowers.  Flocks of parroquets were seen, decked in their rich plumage of green and gold.  Birds of various species, and of every line, were flitting from tree to tree, and the beautiful redbird, and the untaught songster of the west, made the woods vocal with their melody.  Now might be heard the plaintive wail of the dove, and the rumbling drum of the partridge, or the loud gobble of the turkey.  Here might be seen the clumsy bear, doggedly moving off, or urged by pur-suit into a laboring gallop, retreating to his citadel in the top of some lofty tree; or, ap-proached suddenly, raising himself erect in the attitude of defence, facing his enemy and waiting his approach; there the timid deer,


watchfully resting, or cautiously feeding, or, aroused from his thicket, gracefully bounding off, then stopping, erecting his stately head and for a moment grazing around or sniffing the air to ascertain his enemy, instantly springing off, clearing logs and bushes at a bound, and soon distancing his pursuers.  It seemed an earthly paradise; and but for ap-prehension of the wily copperhead, who lay silently coiled among the eaves, or beneath the plants, waiting to strike his victim the horrid rattle-snake, who more chivalrous however, with head erect amidst its ample folds, reared to dart upon his foe, generously with the loud noise of his rattle, ap-prised him of danger and the still more fearful and insidious savage, who, crawling upon the ground, or noiselessly approaching behind trees and thickets, sped the deadly shaft or fatal bullet, you might have fancied  you were in the confines of Eden or the borders of Elysium.

Turkey Bottom—At this delightful season the inhabitants of our village went forth to their labor, inclosing the fields, which the spring flood had opened, tilling their ground, and planting their corn for their next year’s sustenance.  I said, went forth, for their prin-cipal corn-field was distant from Columbia about one and a half miles east, and adjoining the extensive plain on which the town stood.  That large tract of alluvial ground, still known by the name of Turkey Bottom, and which, lying about fifteen feet below the adjoining plain, and annually overflowed, is yet very fertile, was laid off into lots of five acres each, and owned by the inhabitants of Columbia; some possessing one, and others two or more lots; and to save labor, was en-closed with one fence.  Here the men gen-erally worked in companies exchanging labor, or in adjoining fields, with their fire-arms near them, that in case of an attack they might be ready to unite for their common defence.  Here, their usual annual crop of corn from ground very ordinarily cultivated was eighty bushels per acre; and some lots, well tilled, produced a hundred, and in very favorable seasons, a hundred and ten bushels to the acre.  An inhabitant of New England, New Jersey, or some portions of Maryland, would scarcely think it credible, that in hills four feet apart, were four or five stalks, one and a half inches in diameter, and fifteen feet in height, hearing each two or three ears of corn, of which some were so far from the ground, that to pull them an ordinary man was obliged to stand on tiptoe.

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