A Trailblazing Lebanon Educator
by John J. Zimkus, WCHS Historian and Education Director
Louisa Jurey Wright is known by many as the first and, as of this writing, the only female superintendent in the history of the Lebanon public schools. She is also known for having an elementary school in town named after her in 1960. (It has since been demolished.) For over 140 years, her name has appeared on the list of superintendents who have guided the tax supported schools of Lebanon, Ohio since the early 1850s.
During her lifetime Louisa Wright has been called "a woman of strong intellectual ability,” “a most excellent and highly educated lady,” and “a lady of superior culture and refinement and excellent Christian worth.” During the 1867-68 school year, however, when she was fulfilling the duties of the superintendent of schools in Lebanon, one thing she was never called was “superintendent.”
Louisa Jurey was born on July 18, 1842, in sparsely populated Tymochtee Township, Wyandot County, Ohio. It was in the same rustic farm house in which her mother, Anna Drake Jurey, was born in 1819, some 23 years earlier. It was also the same house in which her mother married a Virginia-born farmer named John Jurey.
Lou, as she was called by her family and friends, received her earliest education in a local country school. Like many successful students in the mid-1800s, once she reached the equivalent of an eighth grade education, she was hired to teach the younger children at her community school.
The young and attractive Lou Jurey was always said to be optimistic. “She could see the bright side in the development of the human race,” it was observed years later. This was, and still is, a desirable attribute for someone who aspires to be an educator. With that goal in mind, in 1861, she went off to receive a formal education in Lebanon, Ohio. The village was located about 130 miles southwest of her home.
The school she attended was the South-Western Normal School. It was founded only six years earlier in 1855 by Alfred Holbrook. In 1881, the school adopted the name by which it was best known, the National Normal University. By then it was the largest normal school, or teachers college, in Ohio.
Louisa graduated in 1863. The Eighth Annual Closing Exercises of the South-Western Normal School took place on Thursday, August 3, 1863. Although there were 304 pupils enrolled in the school that year, many of them in the preparatory department, only seven graduated — two men and five women. As part of that day’s program, each of the seven graduates delivered an oration before Alfred Holbrook conferred upon them their diplomas. Louisa’s topic was “The Utility of Mathematics.”
After graduation, she went off to teach in Paris, Illinois where her family had relocated. Paris is near the Indiana border, about 210 miles west of Lebanon, and about 12 miles north of the National Road, today’s US 40.
After one year of teaching in Illinois she returned to Ohio. Once here, she taught for two years at the one room school house in Genntown, about 2 1/2 miles northeast of the center of Lebanon on the Lebanon & Waynesville Pike.
In 1865, Louisa Jurey was hired to teach in the public schools of Lebanon Ohio. Besides her classroom duties, she was chosen to be the assistant to Lebanon School Superintendent Charles W. Kimball. She was paid $500 a year, which, adjusted for inflation, would be around $10,000 today.
It was at this time the Lebanon school board became concerned that the district had no “regular course” of study for the “advanced department,” those students in the higher grades, and the primary department. As The Western Star, Lebanon’s weekly newspaper, reported years later, “Miss Jurey was chosen by the board to prepare a course of study for every department. The system prepared by her was afterwards adopted, with some modifications.”
In the first decade of the 20th century, several letters from T. V. Blackman, from Pittsburg, Kansas, were published in The Western Star. He had worked at the newspaper almost 40 years earlier and was now a newspaperman in Kansas.
Blackman wrote about his fond recollections of growing up in Lebanon. In one he explained, "My parents named me Theodore and this they corrupted to the name of Thode. When my playmates and school fellows in the old days wanted to ‘start something,’ they called me ‘Toad.’”
In a letter published on May 7, 1908, he confessed that, while he was a student during the 1866-67 school year, he was one of a half dozen or so “young scoundrels [who] used to harass this good lady . . . Miss Lou Jurey.” In another letter published later that year, he exclaimed a “more mischievous gang never lived. I wonder if she has ever forgiven us for the many sorrows we caused her.”
As a student, T. V. Blackman may well have had a crush on his young Lebanon Union School teacher, Miss Lou Jurey. She was only eight years older than her admiring pupil. His fond feelings for her may have lingered for several decades after leaving her classroom, for he mentioned her in several of his letters to The Western Star.
Also in a 1908 published letter, Blackman recalled December 31, 1866, the day the county infirmary on S. East Street caught on fire. “I ran away from school to help haul the old side brake fire engine from the Washington Hall building to the scene,” he remembered. “We backed the engine down upon the pond by the ‘mad house’ and pumped water on the flames. The next morning I had to explain my absence to Miss Lou Jurey, my teacher.”
He also told how, at a school “assembling,” late in the school year, it was announced, “Miss Jurey was to marry Captain Lot Wright.” Blackman went on, “After dinner [school lunch] all of us were in our seats demurely studying our lessons. On the blackboard on the east side of the room, was the admonition, ‘Remember Lot’s Wife,’ and when Miss Jurey saw it she was somewhat startled, as might be surmised. An attempt was made to find who had written it, but nothing was ever proven.”
“Lot’s wife” is in reference to a passage in Genesis 19 of the Old Testament in the Bible. In it, Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back upon the destruction of the wicked city of Sodom after being warned by two angels not to do so. (The exact words, “Remember Lot’s wife” were spoken by Jesus in Luke 17:32 in the New Testament.)
Louisa Jurey, and her Lot, Captain Wright, were married in her mother’s home in Paris, Illinois on Wednesday evening, July 17, 1867.
Lot Wright was born on February 16, 1839, near the small town of New Garden, in Columbiana County, in eastern Ohio and was of Quaker heritage. He began his formal education in Alliance, Ohio. In 1860, he became a student in the South-Western Normal School. He helped pay his way through school by teaching two winters in neighboring counties, one year in Butler County, and the other in Clinton County. It was while attending school in Lebanon, that Lot Wright first met his future bride, the lovely and intelligent Lou Jurey.
In the summer of 1862, in the midst of the Civil War, 24-year-old Lot Wright enlisted as a private in Company I, 79th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. In December 1863 he was promoted to sergeant. On June 22, 1864, he was severely wounded in the right leg in the Battle of Kolb’s Farm near Atlanta, Georgia.
Six days later, on June 28, while still recovering in an Army hospital, he was promoted to the rank of captain and given the command of newly organized Company D, 100th Regiment, US Colored Troops. Because of his injuries, however, he was not able to join his unit until August.
He commanded his men in the Battle of Nashville, where, on December 16, 1864, he was wounded again. According to an August 20, 1868 newspaper article, “a considerable portion of his right hand was shot off." He was mustered out of the army in August 1865. For the rest of his life, even though he would hold many important positions, he was often referred to as “Captain Wright.”
During the summer of 1867, the public schools of Lebanon were showing some growing pains. A small article in the September 5, 1867 issue of The Western Star stated,
“BABIES TO BE KEPT AT HOME.
The primary department of the union school is so crowded that the board is compelled to refuse admission to all children under six years of age.”
Another problem was that the longest serving Lebanon superintendent of schools up to that point, Charles W. Kimball, was in poor health. He had held that position for nine of the last 13 years, but could no longer continue. The school board turned to his assistant, the newly married Mrs. Louisa Wright, to take up his duties.
She would be paid the identical amount per year that was given to Superintendent Kimball - $800. In today's money that would be about $16,000. She would now be in charge of the recently painted five-year-old Union School, located on what is now Pleasant Square Park; the separate school for Lebanon’s African American students, which was constructed in 1861 where New Street meets North Lane today; and all the students who attended the schools.
The one major issue facing Louisa Wright as the superintendent of the Lebanon Public Schools was that, in the fall of 1867, there was no such position in the district as superintendent!
How this was possible was explained in another brief article in that same September 5, 1867 issue of The Western Star. “Although the office of superintendent has been abolished Mrs. Lou Wright, principal of the high school, has general supervision over all the departments.”
The official reason for not calling her “the superintendent” is not known. It may very well be that the prevailing thought among the men who made up the school board was that a woman, in the mid-19th century, should not hold such a position of authority. It might be seen as unseemly. The solution then, to them, could have been to let her act as the superintendent; pay her as if she was the superintendent; but not actually call her “the superintendent.” That way the fact that she was a “female” superintendent of schools would not draw attention.
Whatever she was called, principal or superintendent, during the 1867-68 school year, Louisa Wright did have an achievement during her tenure in that role that no one had achieved before her. In 1868, under her guidance, Lebanon High School had its first three graduates, all female, - Ida Hardy, Ada Wood, and Minnie Van Harlingen. Lebanon High School would not have another graduate until 1872, four years later.
In a June 24, 1915 article in The Western Star entitled “Lebanon's School Past and Present,” the comment is made, “The fact that [Louisa Wright] was offered a reappointment by the Board for the second year [as principal/“superintendent”] speaks for her success, but ill health required her to decline.” This statement may not be totally accurate.
After going one year without technically having a superintendent, the Lebanon Board of Education decided it was time to have one once again. The Western Star on July 23, 1868 reported,
“SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS
The school board last week elected to the position of superintendent of the Lebanon Union School, for the ensuing year, W. H. Pabodie, for seven years Principal of one of these Cincinnati Public schools and more recently superintendent of the public schools of Peru, Ind. Mr. Pabodie is a graduate of Brown University. He was highly recommended to the board as a scholar and teacher and has had much experience in the management of graded schools. We commend the action of the board and securing for this position a classical scholar, as the superintendent will have charge of the High School, and all the branches necessary to fit a pupil for college can be pursued in that department.”
William H. Pabodie was paid almost twice as much as Louisa Wright, $1,500 a year. He served as the Lebanon superintendent of schools until the summer of 1870.
At almost the exact time in 1868 that Lebanon High School had its first graduates under Louisa Wright, Captain Lot Wright finished his education, and received a BA degree from the South-Western Normal School.
Also in 1868, Lot Wright, a Republican, began his long political career when he was elected Warren County treasurer. He was reelected in 1870. In 1876, the voters of Warren County selected him to be their county clerk of courts, and then reelected him twice. In 1883, he was appointed United States Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio and served over two years in that capacity. Finally, in 1894, and in 1896, he was elected probate judge of Warren County.
In the meantime in 1868, Louisa Jurey Wright, who left teaching after only five years in the classroom, turned her attentions to raising a family and supporting her husband. In a brief biography of “Judge Lot Wright” in the book History of the Republican Party in Ohio, published in 1898, it was said of Louisa Wright, “She has been to her husband a most able companion and helpmeet [a helpful partner] on life's journey, both in times of prosperity and adversity.”
Lot and Lou had two sons, Willard Jurey Wright, born in 1875; and Raymond Garfield Wright, born in 1880. Raymond was named after Lot’s friend, and soon to be US President, James A. Garfield. Both boys attended Princeton University and became lawyers. Willard eventually was elected a Warren County common pleas court judge.
Willard’s son, Louisa's grandson, was the famed mid-20th century industrial designer Russel Wright. His American Modern dinnerware was in production for two decades in the mid-20th century and grossed over $200 million in sales, earning it the title of the best-selling mass-produced dinnerware ever manufactured.
For most of her adult life Louisa Wright was a devout and active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Lebanon. Beginning in the late 1880s, she was also was a member of the W. C. T. U., the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.
In 1882, after living on the east side of Cherry Street between Main and Mulberry in Lebanon for years, Lot and Louisa Wright bought a newly constructed house on the northwest corner of Orchard and East Street – 214 E. Orchard Ave. It was in this house, in the Floraville neighborhood on a hill south of downtown Lebanon, that Lot and Louisa raised their two boys.
It was also here where Lot Wright died a 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 22,1900.
The cause of his death was peritonitis brought on by a ruptured appendix. He had been confined to his home for only a few days. Judge Wright had retired from the probate court bench only two weeks prior to his death.
The Western Star reported, “The funeral services were held on Sunday afternoon [February 25] in the Presbyterian Church with which the deceased had been so prominently identified.” Captain Lot Wright died six days after his 61st birthday.
That was not the only tragedy to take place at the Wright home at 214 E. Orchard Avenue.
On Wednesday, February 2, 1902, Louisa Wright and her son Willard where enjoying their noonday meal, when neighbors came rushing into their house. Unbeknownst to the Wrights, “fierce flames” were breaking through the roof of their home.
The Western Star called it "the most disastrous fire which is visiting Lebanon for several years.” The origin of the blaze was in the attic and thought to be from the flue or pipes from the heater. It took over an hour to finally extinguish the blaze.
According to the newspaper, controlling the fire was hampered by the fact "The fire companies [had] been allowed to disband during the past year and were not in good shape to fight an ugly fire, although the volunteers worked heroically.” The "richly furnished” Wright home was gutted and practically a total loss. The estimated damage amounted to $2336, approximately $79,000 in today’s money.
Although the house at 214 E. Orchard Ave. was rebuilt, Louisa Wright is not believed to have lived there again. She instead made her home in a small house at 114 S. Cherry St. about two blocks away, near the Lebanon train station. She sold her Orchard Avenue house later in 1902.
On March 14, 1903, Louisa Wright’s oldest son, Willard, married Harryet Crigler of Springfield, Ohio. In April 1904 their son Russel was born, followed two years later, in 1906, by their daughter Lizabeth Louisa, who was called “Libby Lou.” Willard built a large beautiful three-story Colonial Revival house at 238 Broadway in 1905. It was about two blocks west of the old Wright family home on Orchard Avenue on the Floraville Hill. There is no evidence to show that Louisa Wright moved into her son’s mansion.
The local paper reported on Thursday, September 26, 1907, "Raymond Wright and mother left Monday for Seattle, Washington, where they will spend the winter in probably take up their future home.” Raymond, now a practicing attorney, would permanently settled in Seattle, over 2,300 miles away, and live there for over 60 years.
About 6 months later, on March 5, 1908, The Western Star stated, "Mrs. Louisa J. Wright writes from Seattle, Washington, and renewing her subscription, ‘We do enjoy the paper, it is improving all the time.’” Louisa was ever the optimist.
On February 11, 1909, the paper published one of the last letters sent from T. V. Blackman. He tells how he recently received a letter from Burwell Fox, one of the other “young scoundrels” who used to harass their teacher - Miss Jurey.
Blackman states that Fox sent him current “Kodak” (photograph) of Mrs Lot Wright. The former “Toad” Blackman observed, "Like the rest, Mrs. Wright has had time whiten her hair, and add age to the once vigorous body; but the same sweet face is there, which we all loved, although we rascals who attended her school often caused it to wear a worried look.”
On March 25, 1909, after spending a year and a half in Seattle, it was reported, “Mrs. Louisa J. Wright is expected home from Seattle, Washington next week.”
The 1910 US Census records 67-year-old Louisa Wright living alone, and being the owner of one half of a duplex at 114 S. Cherry Street.
A special gathering took place on Saturday, February 15, 1913, in Lebanon, Ohio. The group met in the “auditorium" of the five-year-old Lebanon National Bank building at 2 North Broadway. The occasion was the celebration of what would have been the 97th birthday of Alfred Holbrook, the beloved educator and founder of the National Normal University, the former South-Western Normal School.
One of the speakers after the celebratory dinner was Mrs. Louisa Jurey Wright. Not only was 1913 the 97th anniversary of Professor Holbrook's birth (he had died in 1909), it was also the 50th anniversary of Louisa Jurey Wright graduating from the South-Western Normal School.
The Western Star, in recording the event, said, “Mrs. Wright is a favorite with Normalites [students and graduates of the National Normal University], old and young, and can refer to the days gone by in a way that always adds merriment to the occasion.”
Later than year, on October 5, 1913, at the first reunion of pupils and teachers of the Genntown School, Louisa Wright was one of several teachers who gave short speeches.
Louisa Jurey Wright died on Monday, February 23, 1920, at the age of 77. She was living as a boarder at 217 W. Silver Street, between Water and Corwin streets. She died exactly 20 years and one day after the death of her beloved husband, Captain Lot Wright.
Her funeral was held at the residence of her son, Judge Willard Wright, at 238 S. Broadway, at 2 o'clock on the afternoon of Wednesday, February 25, 1920.
In the March 4, 1920 issue of The Western Star, the editor-in-chief, John Marshall Mulford, wrote an editorial entitled “Mrs. Louisa Wright.” It said in part:
“Mrs. Wright and her husband were friends of the writer since his early boyhood, and many kind acts and helpful suggestions come to mind as we think of them. In their passing, two sincere friends are lost - rather, their familiar forms have passed from view, for friendship never dies, is never lost. . . .”
Being a “Normalite" and a teacher, our earliest recollections, of Mrs. Wright is as an educator, and an ardent supporter of Dr. Holbrook's school of which she and her husband were graduates. . .
As a teacher, and later as a patron of education, her voice always favored thoroughness in those branches of study she considered the formation of education, . . .
“ . . . with her passing comes a recollection of her optimism, her faith, . . . and we but mourn her absence, realizing another good woman has entered Heaven.”
Excerpt taken from:
The History of Warren County Ohio
Part III. The History of Warren County by Josiah Morrow
Chapter VIII. The Distinguished Dead
This distinguished member of the bar was born at Lebanon December 17, 1807. His father, Enos Williams, was an early teacher of Warren County, and held several important civil offices, and among others, that of County Recorder for a period of fourteen years. John Milton received a good English education. In his boyhood, he assisted his father in the Recorder's office, and also wrote in the office of the Clerk of Court. His handwriting was legible, bold and rapid, and the training he received as a copyist at the court house was of benefit to him in his future profession. He studied law with Judge George J. Smith, and, before he had reached the age of twenty-four years, on the 7th of June, 1831, was admitted to the bar at a term of the Supreme Court held at Lebanon, with Judges Peter Hitchcock and Charles R. Sherman on the bench. Gen. Robert C. Schenck, who had completed his legal studies under Thomas Corwin, was admitted at the same time and place.
Young Williams was poor, and was compelled to rely wholly on his own exertions. In after years, he wrote: "When I went out into the wide, wide world in business, on my own hook, I had two dilapidated shirts and a poor suit of clothes to match them. I opened my office in a cellar, with three musty old Ohio statutes, given me by my old father, which he had held as a public officer. This was my entire stock in trade." He soon acquired distinction at the bar. Not long after he began practice, he became Prosecuting Attorney —a position he held for twelve consecutive years. He was candid with his clients, and never misrepresented a case in consultation to encourage litigation. He charged lower fees for his services than other lawyers of the same rank. His popularity and personal influence with the masses were very great. For several years, he had a larger number of cases on the dockets of the courts than any other lawyer of the county, and was the attorney on one side of almost every important case. He could readily sway the minds of jurymen, and in the examination of witnesses he exhibited consummate skill. In 1850, he was elected a member of the convention which framed the second constitution of Ohio, and in 1857 he was elected Representative in the General Assembly of Ohio as an independent candidate over the regular Republican nominee. He was Major of the militia, and was uniformly known as Maj. Williams. In politics, he was a Whig, and afterward a Republican.
The last years of the life of Maj. Williams are a sad history, over the details of which it is best that the mantle of oblivion should be drawn. Habits of intemperance separated him from his wife and family, and brought him to misery and want before he was yet old. He saw the extremes of life. He rose from poverty and obscurity to wealth and distinction; he sank again to obscurity and poverty. When possessed of considerable means, accumulated by his own energy and ability, he erected for his residence one of the finest mansions which had, up to that time, been constructed in the county; he died without a home. When the legal proceedings were commenced which took from him the ownership and control of his property, he wrote and read in the court in which he had practiced with eminent success: "God help me! I am a miserable and ruined man! Let the curtains of oblivion rest over the whole affair until that great day when all things shall be brought into judgment." He died July 21, 1871, aged sixty-four years, and was buried in the Lebanon Cemetery.
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.”
Written by John Zimkus
A portion of this article was published in the November, 2021 issue of the Medallion, our membership newsletter. If you'd like to receive the Medallion and many other perks (including discounts to events and free admission to all our properties) you can become a member here.
WARREN COUNTY’S OLYMPIC GOLD
by John Zimkus, WCHS Historian/Education Director
Warren County, Ohio made it's first mark in Olympics history with three gold medals in the 1904 St. Louis Olympics. The Modern day Olympics were eight years old at the time, and this was only the third time the revised international competition was held. The winner of the gold medals was Matilda Howell. Her sport was archery.
Matilda Flora Scott was born on August 28, 1859, in Lebanon, Ohio. Called Lida by her family, she was the only daughter of Thomas and Amelia Scott. Her father was a merchant who grew up in Union Township, where his father had a successful wagon making business. Lida's mother was a member of the locally prominent Sausser family who were mostly merchants in Lebanon. Lida attended the Lebanon Union School, where Pleasant Square Park is today. By 1880, her family had move to Cincinnati.
Lida became interested in archery around 1878 as a result of her reading a compilation of witty essays called The Witchery of Archery by Indiana-born poet, essayist, naturalist and archer, Maurice Thompson.
It did not take Lida long to become extraordinarily proficient in archery. She won the Ohio State Archery Championship in 1881 and 1882. Also getting very involved in competitive archery at this time was her father, Thomas Scott.
In the spring of 1883, Lida married Millard Cecil Howell a Norwood Ohio native. By trade he was a coffee broker. Together they would have three children. Millard Howell was also a competitive archer.
It has been said that Lida Scott Howell “had one of the most incredible records ever to be recorded in archery (or for that matter in any other sport.)” Between 1883 and 1907, Lida shot in 20 National Championships, winning 17 of them. Her scores in the 1895 championship set records which were not broken until 1931 – 36 years later.
Lida and Millard, won the National Archery Association's National Championships in 1899, the only time in the history of the association that husband and wife won both titles in the same year.
Out of the nearly 100 sports at the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis Missouri, archery was the only event in which women were allowed to compete. The competition took place on September 19 and 20 and involved six contestants, five of whom were part of Ohio’s
Cincinnati Archers Club. Lida Howell, at 45 years of age, was the nation’s undisputed top lady archer, and coasted to the gold medal in both the Double Columbia and Double National rounds. She also received a gold medal as part of the winning United States archery team.
Also competing in the St. Louis Olympics in archery was her father, Thomas Foster Scott. He competed in the men's double American round and the men's double York round, but did not medal. He was 71 years and 260 days at the time, making him the oldest person known to compete in an archery event at the Olympics. Born in 1833, Scott was also the 3rd-born known Olympian of the modern era, and the 1st-born known US Olympian.
Lida Scott Howell retired from national competition in 1907. She died on December 20, 1938, and is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. Lida was inducted into the Archery Hall of Fame & Museum in 1975.
In 1904 a reporter from the Cincinnati Times Star interviewed Lida Howell. When asked why she preferred archery over other sports, she replied, "Archery is a picturesque game, the range with its smooth green and distant glowing target with its gold and radiating red, blue, black, and white, the white-garbed players, with graceful big bows and flying arrows, makes a beautiful picture.”
Adding to that beauty, no doubt, would be the privilege of watching the grace, form and extraordinary skill of an Olympic Champion archer like Warren County’s Lida Scott Howell.
Marcus Mote, born on June 19, 1817 in Miami County, Ohio, was a self-taught artist who pursued a career in painting from his studio in Lebanon. He was very talented and was able to achieve great success throughout his lifetime. However, today he is not only known for his artistic ability, but also for his Quaker heritage. Even though Quakers were critical of art, Mote was able to harmonize his conservative culture with the progressive ideas of the 19th century in his creation of four panoramas during the 1850’s.
A panorama is a piece of artwork that is considered to be an ancestor of a modern day film. It consisted of a series of painted scenes, each about nine feet high and fifteen to sixteen feet wide, which together would create a story. The scenes would slowly rotate around a hidden mechanism, and as the scenes passed, the story was told by a narrator, called a professor.
Marcus Mote’s first panorama debuted on May 9, 1853 in Lebanon Court House to a large audience. It was a recreation of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Thus, it portrayed the story of Uncle Tom, a slave, and the harsh reality of his life. Mote’s panorama was successful in staying true to the novel’s plot; however, his artistic talent truly exemplified the deep emotions felt by the characters. The panorama’s first public appearance was overshadowed by another panorama exhibit in the area, but it nevertheless received glowing critical reviews.
Mote’s second panorama was based off of Milton’s poems Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. These two poems are descriptions of the biblical story of the Garden of Eden. It premiered on October 14, 1853, about six months after the debut of his first panorama. It also received sterling reviews, especially for Mote’s portrayal of the lush Garden of Eden.
The third panorama, titled the Geological History of the Course of Creation, was Mote’s largest. It was comprised of a total of forty scenes, which were painted on a total of six thousand square feet of canvas. It was inspired by the eternal beauty of Niagara Falls, and required him to do considerable research into geology and paleontology. This research allowed him to create what he believed to be a comprehensive history of the earth and the creation of mankind. Mote was commended for his ability to harmonize the biblical representation of creation and the version maintained by geologists. Its presentation included music directed by a man known as Professor Schuler, and the panorama was very well received by a large audience.
Mote’s fourth and final panorama was a series of scenes promoting the virtues of temperance. For its debut, Mote hired Luximon Roy, an eccentric East Indian prince, to narrate the panorama as well as to share aspects of his culture. The enthusiastic audience considered by the painting as well as the lecture to be brilliant. This panorama was also at a later time narrated by the famous temperature lecturer M.M. Edwards of Cincinnati.
The creation of these four panoramas was a major stepping stone for Mote’s career. The popularity that he attained by creating panoramas stayed with him as he moved on to portraiture and landscapes. Unfortunately, none of these four panoramas exist today. However, from the numerous glowing reviews and descriptions that do exist today, it is evident that he was very talented as well as beloved by the people of Lebanon.
Written by Kaitlyn Barnes
The very popular Jeff Wilson once again paid us a visit to discuss material covered in his books Ohio Legends and Ohio Legends Volume 2. Every page in his books has a short story with an original, expressive illustration drawn by Jeff that brings to life a bit of Buckeye trivia or an oddity about an Ohio inventor, ghost, visionary, hero, crackpot or criminal. Jeff will be showcasing a special “Librarian’s Edition” of his Ohio Legends series that features a “perfect bound” cover and includes many stories never published before.
Ohio Legends Volume 1 & 2 are available in the Museum Shop.
Jeff Wilson is a free-lance cartoonist, writer and illustrator. A life-long resident of the Buckeye State, he lives in Vandalia, Ohio with his wife Patti and enjoys any good, goofy story about Ohio.
- Sylvia Outland, Art Curator
March 14th marked the return of the portrait, featured on Antiques Roadshow, of John Milton Charters and William Morris Charters (1846 - 1848) twin sons of Dr. William Morris Charters (1806 - 1883) and Cynthia Dutton Seely (1809 - 1860). Both portraits were painted, circa 1849, by Marcus Mote a Quaker artist living and working in Warren County. The Betsy H. Maple Trust, represented by Karri Hamilton daughter of Betsy Maple, (second wife of William Chester “Chet” Maple) personally delivered the painting the family gifted to the Harmon Museum. Both paintings descended in the family of Charters Dyche Maple (1899 - 1958) to his sons William Chester Maple (1935 - 2009) and Dixon Charters Maple (1929 - 2001).
Joyce Lovins Browning is a native of Ohio growing up in the Harrison and Okeana areas. She has been performing Living History for over 19 years. She retired after 20 years as the Naturalist Coordinator from Great Parks of Hamilton County in 2018, and now enjoys working as a part-time Tour Coordinator for Ohio Travel Treasures, sending groups on wonderful bus tour adventures. She'll be portraying Annie Oakley in our April Lunch and Learn.
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
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
If you live in Kings, you may or may not know where your town's name came from.
Ahimaaz King founded the Great Western Powder Works in 1877. A wooden dam was constructed to divert water from the Little Miami River into a canal the powder mills used.
Kings built his employees homes, a general store, schools, a church, etc. Almost the entire village of Kings Mills was created to house the employees of King's mills, the first home being Ahimaaz's own. Built in 1885 and patterned after his uncle's located in Xenia, the King Mansion is still a local landmark.
In 1887, Gershom Moore Peters, an employee of Kings', a former Reverend and King's son-in-law, founded Peters Cartridge Company nearby. Peters had invented a machine which simplified and improved the process of manufacturing shotgun shells.
By the time the two companies merged, they were known nation-wide.
In July of 1890, a rail car accident at the station triggered an explosion killing twelve. The resulting fires would destroy many of the company's wooden framed buildings including the station, the freight house, two Peters office buildings, the shell factory, the cartridge loading plant, a warehouse and six employee homes.
As World War I approached, the company began receiving large ammunition orders. With the money, they were able to construct buildings out of brick and reinforce them with concrete, including the factory (that we all recognize) in 1916.
Remington Arms purchased the Peters Cartridge Company in 1934 and it would cease operations in 1944.
There's always something new to see at WCHS properties! We've been working hard to present our ever growing collection in new and exciting ways!
The foundation for the Beedle Log Cabin has been dug and concrete poured.
Currently, in progress at Harmon Museum, we're building and furnishing a Mid-Century Modern Apartment. Our Archeological exhibit received a face-lift and our pre-historic artifacts have been given new life with updated displays. The agricultural collection, in the Farm Heritage Gallery, has been thinned and organized to better showcase the items on display before rotating new items in from storage. And, we'll be able to welcome guests into it all through the Broadway entrance with newly redone front steps.
Glendower Historic Mansion may be closed for the season but the upper floor's wings have been opened up to show the Maid's Quarters and Wash Room to better convey the life of those that also lived in the home.
The newly renamed Armstrong Conference Center (the Old Post Office) has a wonderful sign along with the new Armstrong Gallery of Flight. This gallery is dedicated to the men and women, of Warren County, that made great strides in the frontier of the skies and above.
Carrie Nation: “Lebanon is The Vilest, Wickedest Town Of Its Size I Have Ever Been In.”
by John Zimkus, WCHS Historian/Education Director
Carrie Nation was a flamboyant temperance advocate, and one of the most famous women in America at the turn of the 20th century. She was colorful in her actions, almost always having a hatchet in one hand, and the Bible in the other. She was, however, not very colorful in dress, typically wearing stark black-and-white clothing. She was in many ways bigger than life. She stood 6 feet tall and weighed about 175 pounds.
She was born Carrie Moore in Garrard County, Kentucky in 1846. She got the last name of Nation in 1874 when she married David A. Nation. He was her second husband and 19 years her senior. David was an attorney, as well as a minister. (He first husband was a young physician, Charles Gloyd. She left him after a few months of marriage because of his alcoholism.)
Carrie Nation began her temperance work in Medicine Lodge, Kansas when she started a local branch of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. On June 5, 1900, she felt she had received a heavenly vision. Responding to the revelation, Nation gathered several rocks — "smashers," she called them — and proceeded to Dobson's Saloon. Announcing "Men, I have come to save you from a drunkard's fate," she began to smash the saloon's stock of liquor with her stones.
Carrie’s husband joked that she should use a hatchet next time for maximum damage. Nation replied, "That is the most sensible thing you have said since I married you.” The couple divorced in 1901. By that time, she was nationally known for her attacks on the “demon rum.”
Between 1900 and 1910, she was arrested some 30 times for her "hatchetations," as she called them. Nation paid her jail fines with the money she earned from lecture-tour fees, sales of souvenir hatchets and hatchet pins, and photographs of herself. The sale of souvenir hatchets, at times, earned her as much as $300 per week.
Carrie, because of her barroom destructive ways, was physically assaults numerous times. Many saloons across the country erected signs in their establishments with the slogan — "All Nations Welcome But Carrie.”
In the fall of 1904, The Warren County Fair Association announced that “Mrs. Carrie Nation” would be a “Special Attraction” at the Warren County Fair that year. She was scheduled to speak at 2 p.m., on Wednesday, September 21, 1904, the second day of the four day fair.
Lebanon’s Western Star newspaper, on September 22, reporting on her speech said that Carrie “at once grabbed a cigarette from the mouth of a youngster and proceeded into a short address in which she poured broadsides into the saloons.” It said the fairground crowd “jeered and hooted at her.”
After her talk, Carrie traveled the quarter mile or so south to the heart of Lebanon. She “made a round of the business houses and saloons,” the village’s highest concentration of bars was on E. Mulberry Street in 1904. As she visited the area, she proclaimed the Bible “was her hatchet” on that day. Carrie Nation remained in Lebanon for two more days, leaving on Friday, September 23, 1904.
According to The Western Star, “Carrie Nation’s opinion of Lebanon was not such as would give the town a good recommendation unless people will consider the source. She said, ‘Lebanon is the vilest, wickedest town of its size I have ever been in.’” The newspaper went on to say, “Carrie behaved so badly on the streets that the Marshal [Elmer E. Smith] finally ordered her out of town.” The paper then proclaimed, “She was voted not only a freak but a nuisance.”
Carrie Nation’s visit to Lebanon, Ohio did not turn out all bad for her. It was estimated that she sold $100 worth of souvenir hatchets at 25 cents each. One hundred dollars in 1904 would have a buying power of about $3,000 today.
Carrie Nation died in 1911, nine years before the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution went into effect on January 16, 1920. It prohibited the sale or manufacture of alcohol in the United States. Despite her campaign against the evils of liquor, some historians believe “the establishment of Prohibition was the efforts of more conventional reformers, who had been reluctant to support her.”
She was such a dynamic force 120 years ago, that if the question was put of US citizens back then, or even today, “Which individual did the most to bring on Prohibition?” — I am sure, the answer overwhelmingly would be Carrie Nation.
The following Western Star article was taken from our archives.
May, 1882. "Waynesville, Ohio, May 29. Although this is an old settled neighborhood, and the primitive snakes in the main, have long since disappeared; except the black, garter and rattlesnake and occasionally some of other species, we are once in a while greeted with the report of some monster of this uncanny tribe.
For several years it has been reported that the track of one above the town, of unusual size, had, on different occasions, been seen in the dust, where it had crossed the pike. This report made the timid fearful, while the generality of the people did not seem to fear or care anything about it; and it has been reserved until yesterday to develop one of the most remarkable specimens ever seen, in or out of snake season, and the story thereof is so well authenticated that the more incredulous of the neighborhood on big snake stories are forced at last to lend an attentive ear.
About one mile north of this place is a little village called Crosswicks, in which several colored families reside. Among the rest is John Lynch, who has two boys, Ed. And Joe, aged respectively thirteen and eleven years. These boys were at a small creek on the south side of the village fishing, yesterday. After sitting on the bank a short time they heard quite a stir among some old reeds, grass and brush behind them, and on looking round they saw a huge monster approaching them rapidly. They screamed and, paralyzed almost with horror, started to run, when the snake, or whatever it might be—for they never saw aught like it before; came close up to the older one, and suddenly throwing out two long arms, or forelegs, seized the boy in its slimy embrace, simultaneously producing two more legs, about four feet long, from some mysterious hiding place in its body, and dragged the boy some one hundred yards down the creek to a large sycamore, twenty-six feet in diameter at the base, hollow, and with a large opening on one side. Through this aperture the monster attempted to enter with the boy who by this time was almost dead with fright and unable to make any resistance.
Three men—viz., Rev. Jacob Horn, George Peterson and Allen Jordan—were quarrying stone a short distance above where the boys were fishing, and hearing their screams and seeing the creature yanking one off, hurried in an attempt to rescue the child. They reached the tree just as the snake, who, failing in its first attempt to drag the boy into his den, became alarmed, probably by the cries made by its pursuers, unfastened its horrible fangs and dropped the more than half dead child to the earth. The little fellow was picked up and carried home, and Dr. L.C. Lukens, of Waynesville, summoned to attend him.
In the afternoon about sixty men, armed with clubs, dog, axes, &c., gathered around the sycamore-tree and concluded to cut it down and destroy its fearful tenant. They began cutting, when, becoming alarmed for his safety, the formidable snake leaped from the aperture, threw out its fore and hind legs, erected itself about twelve or fourteen feet, and, with the velocity of a race horse, crossed the creek and ran up a small hill, climbed over a rail fence, breaking it down, and, continuing north a mile, followed by the pursuers, until he reached a hole in a large hill under a heavy ledge of rocks. Some of the men and dogs were so terrified at the beast’s first appearance that they only thought of getting out of the way. But the braver portion followed until the frightful thing made good his retreat underneath the ground.
It will be watched for and killed if possible. It is described as being from thirty to forty feet long, sixteen inches in diameter, and the legs four feet long and covered with scales the same as the body. Feet about twelve inches long and shaped like a lizard’s, of black and white color, with large yellow spots. Head about sixteen inches wide, with a long, black forked tongue and the mouth inside deep red. The hind legs appeared to be used to give it an erect position, and its propelling power is in its tail.
Dr. Lukens said this morning that the boy, his patient, was badly bruised and scratched, horribly frightened, and that he lay in convulsions and spasms until three o’clock this morning, when he fell asleep, but frequently wakened with fright and terror, yet the Doctor thinks he will recover in a few days.
The foregoing is vouched for by the persons whose names are given above, and many more can be given if necessary, the material points having been furnished your correspondent by Judge J. W. Keys, one of our oldest and most influential citizens."
There's a lot more to tell about Lt. Burns (like how he was a Medal of Honor recipient) but that's for another time. Burns is also the main character in author Carol Tonneson's newest book, The Westerner: A Postcard to the Girl He Left Behind, out later this summer!
Nathaniel Grauwelman as well as various staff and volunteer writers.