Samuel Robert Bailey (1847-1906) Around 145 years ago, Bailey was the first African-American teacher and principal in the public schools of Lebanon, Ohio. Born a slave in northern Alabama, in 1863 during of the Civil War, he left the war torn South as a teenager and went to Sandusky, Ohio. Although illiterate, he saved enough money working to enter Wilberforce University. Seven years later he graduated. In 1876, He was hired to teach in the “colored” school, or African Union School, as it was sometimes called, in Lebanon. Paid as much or more than most of the district’s 9 teachers, around 1879, he was designated “principal of the colored school” and overlooked a staff of one other Black teacher. In 1883, he became the principal of the Lincoln “colored” School in Kansas City, Missouri. When he left Lebanon, The Western Star newspaper proclaimed, “Mr. Bailey is an intelligent colored gentleman, fully competent, to discharge the duties to the high position to which he has ascended. He was a good citizen and we wish him success in his home in the West.”
- John Zimkus
Elizabeth Kimberlin (1917-1987) was a leader in community and statewide service programs as well as a local civil rights trailblazer. A graduate of Lebanon High School in 1935, she was denied the opportunity to apply for a college scholarship because of her race. Instead, she became a typist at the air force base in Dayton, and eventually working 21 years at Defense Electronic Supply Center (DESC) as provisioner traveling all over the U.S. visiting plants and purchasing of airplane parts, while at the same time overcoming prejudice against Blacks and women. Elizabeth was President of non-profit Lebanon Community Services, Coordinator of the Lebanon Food Pantry, and involved in many other organizations including being a trustee of the Ohio Division of the American Cancer Society, as it’s the only black member. In 1943, she organized the first Black Girl Scout Troop in Lebanon, and that year her troop became the first to integrate Girl Scout Camp Butterworth in Warren County. Elizabeth remembered, “Both colored and white girls were there together, and everything went fine. That was quite something for those days.”
- John Zimkus
Anna Middleton (1786-1861) On March 29, 1805, when she was 19-years-old, Anna Middleton became the first woman and the second person west of the Appalachian Mountains to become a Shaker. Anna was also a former enslaved African American. Anna was from Virginia and was freed by “her owner” shortly after coming to Ohio. Old Shaker records at the Union Village in Warren County called her, “honest and kind-hearted.” In 1805, because of her gender and race, the non-Shaker “world” would have treated Anna as a second-class citizen or lower. That was not the case at Union Village. Anna was a Shaker for 56 years. She died on April 10,1861; a month short of her turning 75. Two days after her death, on April 12, Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, South Carolina was attacked by Confederate troops beginning the Civil War. In 1895, 89-year-old Job Mullin from Springboro, a known member of the Underground Railroad, the secret network that helped enslaved individuals obtain freedom, wrote, “I can give but three names of [UGRR] stations- Shaker Village, Waynesville, and Springboro.”
- written by John Zimkus
Traditional artist, Kelly Murray Frigard, has long pursued her interest in weaving, knitting, spinning, and felting. After a residency as a visiting artist in Canada's Northwest Territories, she received the Fulbright Fellowship, allowing her to study, for two years, in Finland and Sweden. Frigard also works in mixed media, metalsmithing, and drawing. She is currently a Professor of Fine Art at the University of Cincinnati, Clermont College. Her exhibition, "Embroidered Tales" recreates antique lithographs, from children's books, in colored stitchery.
James Richard Mills (1932-2013) James Mills was Lebanon, Ohio’s first African-American mayor. He was born in Lebanon on August 8, 1932. A 1950 graduate of Lebanon High School, he served in the U.S. Army in Korea. He and his wife Loretta had three children. An avid musician, he was active in the Bethel AME Church, where he sang in the choir and acted as church treasurer. He was also a member of the Lebanon Kiwanis Club and the Lebanon Softball Association. For 39 years he worked for the Ohio Department of Transportation. After serving on the planning commission and community development committee, he was elected to the Lebanon City Council in 1993, and became Lebanon’s mayor in 1997, serving in that role until 2001. Mr. Mills died on October 12, 2013. James Mills once said, “Having been born and raised in this city, I have grown to really care about it and all the things that make it what it is today. . . I really want . . . to serve all the citizens of this lovely city.”
- written by John Zimkus
Nathaniel Grauwelman as well as various staff and volunteers.